Initiation Ritual for Plane 3
Salutes in omnibus punctis trianguli!
Beloved Members of the Esoteric Hierarchy:
You have completed Plane Two of the Ordo Summum Bonum, as we previously announced. We are now to extend to you the privilege and honor of participating in the initiatory rites of Plane Three.
You will recall that the Initiation that you conferred upon yourself before entering the Second Plane was based on the hermetic teachings, that is, upon the rites and doctrines attributed to that esoteric luminary, Hermes Trismegistus. In fact, it will prove beneficial to you to reread Part One of that ceremony as a prolegomenon, reviewing the history and legends associated with Hermes Trismegistus.
From the archives of Europe
With the exception of the history, the ritual and precepts expounded in the Initiation of Plane Two were prepared from the archives of the esoteric orders of Europe with which AMORC, of course, has affiliation. Originally we informed you, in one of the latter Degrees of the Order, that you would be introduced to some of the traditional rituals and teachings of the other related, initiatic orders whose origin is authentic. Again we wish to extend these elevating matters to you, thus giving you affiliation in spirit with the noble orders and masters of the past.
On this occasion we are to present you with a brief history of Taoism. It is a Chinese religio-philosophy. In fact, it embodies philosophy, metaphysics, mysticism, and religion. A brief outline of the principal doctrines of this centuries-old movement will likewise be recited. Then, some of the teachings will be incorporated in the actual Initiation ritual which you are to perform.
Parts of Taoism have been included in the rites and ceremonies of some of the esoteric orders. We feel, therefore, that you, too, should be familiar with them as a point of knowledge before advancing to the Third Plane.
First, we are going to discourse briefly on the nature of initiation from a manuscript transmitted from European archives years ago to the then Imperator, Dr. H. Spencer Lewis. The word, initiation, is from the Latin word, initium, which literally means "beginning." This beginning 1s an introduction to a way or process of understanding, a personal evolvement or evolution. Commonly, those who receive such an initiation were termed the mystes, especially during the period of classical Greece and its mystery schools.
The candidates, those to receive initiation, were likewise generally known as the Profane. This meant that they had experience only with the secular world and had not yet been introduced to that mystical experience that occurs through the process of initiation. Simply put, it meant that their consciousness was as yet profane as compared to the exalted state ensuing from initiation. In initiation the profane is orientated, he is given proper direction as to the course of his spiritual life and also as to his mundane living. Through initiation, he is unfettered, freed from bondage to certain false beliefs and assumptions. He is led from the darkness of ignorance with respect to further knowledge and is brought into the light of greater understanding. It is then assumed that if the profane is truly initiated he has likewise been purified. He has shed any biases or prejudices with which he might have been burdened.
Initiation, we are further told, lays out the path that the profane should pursue through the introduction of traditional symbolism in which are incorporated universal truths. These symbols are certain signs, gestures, and words which convey simply a specific gnosis or knowledge. They do so in such a manner that thereafter whenever the symbols are seen, there is communicated to the individual and in his own interpretation, the full depth of their meaning. Symbols, thus, are an economy of language, and a language all men can come to understand.
Still another function of initiation is to transmit to the profane, the initiate, a power. The symbols, like keys, are intended to open within the psychic self certain channels of power which the initiate will experience during the initiation or thereafter. Further, an initiate's associations, his personal contact with those who are his initiators and who have previously experienced the fruits of initiation, will result in their transmitting some of their awakened psychic powers to him. At times we have all been in the presence of someone who inspired· us, who gave us self-confidence and a renewed outlook upon life. Such persons did this through no tangible means. They consciously or unconsciously caused an excitation, a stimulus of our own psychic organism. This is precisely the kind of transmission which should occur through initiation.
The fact that the initiation is self-conferred does not detract from these attributes or advantages. Primarily, every initiation constitutes an intimate experience had by the self. Even though there may be a whole complement of robed officers in a temple, conferring the initiation, unless the initiate has that personal experience of which the initiation is the essence, he has not been initiated. Consequently, if in one's Sanctum this state is realized singly, one has then been duly initiated. The great masters, in solitude, in forests, or on mountaintops, or along the seacoast, experienced profound meditation. Their experience and the thoughts they had led to a psychic initiation, a raising of the consciousness to a more profound understanding.
Whatever enlightenment or revelation the initiate receives during his initiation, the added power he acquires, it is his obligation to pass along. The flambeau (the torch) he has received, he must pass along to others. This does not mean that he is obliged to initiate another in the ritual unless authorized to do so by a superior officer. It does mean that as a consequence of the extension of his own personal powers and knowledge, he is morally obligated to assist others to elevate themselves. In fact, the true initiate has a feeling of ebullience, the intense desire to perform some altruistic act following his own initiation.
In true initiation it is not so much of an accretion, the acquisition of a new external knowledge, as it is a personal unfoldment, a kind of awakening, a realization of an a priori wisdom of the soul. The great Initiates, such as Akhnaton, Moses, Pythagoras, Jesus, Raymund Lully, Francis Bacon, Martinez de Pasqually, and Louis Claude de Saint Martin, all experienced this personal unfoldment in their initiations.
We are likewise informed and are certain that you personally realize that true initiation brings about a transformation in the character of the initiate. It arouses altruism, selflessness, simplicity, forgiveness, tolerance, and an ineffable feeling of harmony with life and the Cosmic.
Ritual is Essential
Ritual is essential to initiation, even self-initiation. It is an important psychological factor. In fact, initiation actually has been termed a "ritual drama." This means that certain precepts are portrayed in a ceremonial and dramatic form, arousing the higher emotions and sentiments. For this reason, the mere reading of an initiation script is unmoving; we find little response therein. But, if we faithfully perform it, we feel something that the words, alone, cannot convey. The ritual and ceremony are but a framework in which the esoteric purpose is made manifest. It becomes a direct link with the Cosmic powers.
How much many members miss by merely reading their Initiation manuscripts instead of performing them! Some think that if they are not moved by the reading of the manuscript, it would be no use to perform it. Such an attitude is the equivalent of reading the label on a symphonic recording and doing nothing more! Little emotional satisfaction can be realized by just reading the title of a recording or merely the name of the composer.
There are several conditions necessary for the proper conference of an initiation. In the manuscript to which we have referred, these have been enumerated and explained. We shall refer to them here.
The place of initiation should be reserved exclusively for such a function. This means setting aside a place that will not be defiled by any vulgar, indecent, or immoral actions. If no established, separate place can be secured for initiation, then whatever place is selected for the occasion must be consecrated to it. This consecration is a process of purification. The burning of flambeaux (candles) symbolizes the purging process of fire. It depicts the cleansing of our minds.
It is necessary to select the proper Cosmic moment for the initiation, the best time psychologically. Certainly, one should not undertake such a solemn activity if he is mentally or physically distressed. The attitude of mind is an important determining factor in the success of an initiatory rite. Sincerity, humility, alertness, spiritual idealism—these are necessary qualifications. The manuscript to which we have referred, advises against the performance of an initiation in the middle of the day or in bright sunlight. The early morning or evening are preferable. Mystically, they are times of greater tranquility.
It is likewise admonished that the candidate eliminate profane elements; he should not dwell on secular or material things during the ceremony or immediately prior to it. He should fill his mind with noble thoughts and assume an attitude of receptivity, seeking harmony within. He should avoid that which might cause a perturbance of any kind.
The mystical relationship between the candidate and his initiator should be one of father and son, a true paternity in the fraternal and mystical sense. There must be a ready reciprocity between the initiate and the initiator.
In the event of a personal Sanctum initiation, the initiator is invisible. It is the Master Within. It is your real, your sincere self in the ceremony. Reciprocity in the form of sincerity is necessary. You cannot be a hypocrite to yourself. You, yourself, can evaluate your motives in performing an initiation.
Now we shall proceed with a brief history of Taoism.
Taoism started as a philosophy and developed into a religion during the Han Dynasty of China (206 B.C. -A.D. 200). Sometimes Taoism is called the religion of anarchy. Its ancient books revolt against civilization. The early Taoist said that man, naturally and simply, is good: The complex demands made upon him by society have made him selfish and grasping. These writings recite the competition of industry and the avarice which such activities inculcate. The products of civilization, it is related, incite envy and avarice and encourage immorality.
Lao-Tze is the traditional founder of Taoism. Lao-Tze modestly declared himself a mere transmitter of a vast store of earlier knowledge. He asserted that his teachings were really those of Hwang-Ti, a legendary "civilizer of China" of about 2697 B.C. He further declared that the little book, Yin Fu King, is the actual writings of Emperor Hwang-Ti and the record-of his teachings. However, another work, the Tao-The King, is actually what may be termed the gospel of Taoism. This is declared to be the only surviving book of Lao-Tze. The work is held to rank among the great books of the world.
We are told that when Chin Shih Huang became emperor of China in 221 B.C., the country was greatly in need of peace. He is said to have adopted Taoism because of its spontaneity and noninterference principles. This appeared to promise co-operation with the diverse elements of the empire.
During the disturbed period of the second century, leaders formed sects which are the parents of today's form of Taoism. One such leader, Chang Ling, produced a book of charms. He exacted five measures of rice from those who received his teachings. Another leader, Chung Chuch, induced the sick "to confess their sins" in a quiet place. They, too, were required to make an offering of rice and wine. They were likewise obliged to recite certain sacred writing and to pray. Chung Chuch's personal charge for his services was also "five measures of rice."
The confessions of the sick and of those who admitted sin were carried to a mountain and buried in the ground. It was said that such written confessions were first soaked in a river. In this way the confessions were thought to be disseminated to the genii of the heavens, earth, and water.
In the third century, A.D., "a sectarian movement opened a dynasty of so-called Taoist popes, with the title of Celestial Teacher borne by the family of Chang." As has been the custom among religious administrations to this day, these chiefs levied taxes upon the faithful and their descendants. They finally established a permanent seat, that is, a headquarters, and were officially recognized in the year 748. A commercial corruption came about that is also reminiscent of certain religious practices in our time. Later chiefs, through their emissaries and priests, established a lucrative business selling amulets and charms to ward off evil persons and influences or to invoke protection from supernatural powers. This was obviously a program of exploiting the superstitious. Finally, however, the family of Chang was dispossessed by a communistic section of the national army in 1927.
Another influence of Taoism is the Moti or Mo Tzu, during the Han period (206 B.C. to A.D. 200). It is related that only Taoists could stand against the increasing pressure and influence of the Confucianists. As a consequence, many persons came to these Taoists for protection and for peace of mind. However, Mo Tzu was considered a pacifist by a certain element of the population. Such an attitude was not popular in an age of war. Time has vindicated Mo Tzu, however, since he has been placed among the immortals.
As a philosophy, Taoism sought unity, not necessarily in an organization but in knowledge and in human experience. The Tao, as a conceived universal Cosmic force, inspired mystics to seek unity with it. Through such unity the mystics hoped "to bring unity and peace to a distracted world."
As a religion, Taoism sought to gain power over nature and over man himself. This is the more primitive aspect of Taoism, as it is of every religion. It is the magical application of religion. Man believes that he can find in a religion certain supernatural keys, through prayer and ritual, by which he can unlock special powers of nature so as to do his bidding or that he may control them at will. He likewise thinks that, by some magical practices, he may gain dominion over the mind and will of humans. There is not a modern religion that does not, in its rituals and practices, inherit this belief in man's ability to invoke supernatural powers to gain the fulfillment of some human desire.
During the fourth century, B.C., a new astronomy was introduced into China from the West. It taught that the heavens revolved around the Earth as a solid block, and that the pole star was the pivot of this revolution. It was said that the motion of this revolution was caused by two principles, one, the Yin, being negative, and the other, the Yang, being positive. Rosicrucians will immediately recognize in this the principle of duality, as the underlying force of the universe. These two principles, Yin and Yang, operated through "five forces: water, fire, wood, metal and soil." Yin and Yang caused these five forces to produce all the other phenomena which we perceive. In other words, the negative and positive principles caused the five forces to so combine in a myriad of ways as to produce all the realities of the universe. Further, these dual polarities were responsible for man's behavior in his response to them.
There is an old Taoistic formula: "One Yin, one Yang, is Tao." We interpret this to mean that the combination of the two opposite polarities constituted the universal energy, Tao, or the Cosmic. Though Tao is all—there is nothing beyond or behind it--yet it is not transcendent. It participates even in the most mundane worldly manifestations as well as what is thought to be spiritual phenomena.
Another important term of the Taoists is Te. This designates the receiving aspect of Tao. The word literally means "to receive." Whatever receives the vital principle of the Tao, its dual polarity, that is Te. The Tao-Teh King states: "The Tao gives life through mortal power. It nourishes them, through substance gives them form, by environment it completes them." Thus we see that Tao is the universal energy which enters into things. The function that arises from that penetration of Tao is the Te. Still another way of understanding Te is to think of Tao, the universal energy, as a cause. Whatever follows from it, as an effect, is Te. Consequently, Te "includes both the physical and moral aspect of nature and life of man."
Te has likewise been defined as a kind of self-realization of Tao. We interpret this to mean that Te is whatever truly manifests the nature of Tao. When man realizes himself, when he is conscious of himself, of his psychic being, that self-realization the Taoists would call Te. It would be man's becoming aware of the Tao, the Cosmic Essence within himself.
The following quotation from the ancient writings as to what Tao is reveals a similarity to the Rosicrucian definition of the Cosmic. Tao is "that which supports heaven and covers the earth; it has no boundaries, no limits, its heights cannot be measured nor its depths fathomed; it enfolds the entire universe in its embrace and confers visibility upon that which of itself is formless."
Mysticism plays a prominent part in Taoism. The root of Taoism is not in reasoning nor necessarily in discussion. Rather, it is in mystical experience, that is, in realizing the Tao, a unity with it. A Taoist mystic has said that, to realize the Tao "reason should be abandoned as it obscures knowledge which is innate." A true way to knowledge of the Tao (of the Cosmic) is through meditation and such attunement as brings about a mystical state.
The mystic path advocated by the Taoist mystics is much the same as that expounded by mystics throughout history. It consists of the traditional detachment from worldly interests, that is, secular interests must not dominate the consciousness of the individual. Further, there must be discipline, a resoluteness to follow whatever procedure or mode of living is conceived as essential to the mystic. There must also be abstinence, a certain forbearance from certain customs or habits which might interfere with the mystical state. Finally, there is the illumination that comes with a union with Tao.
To the Taoist mystics the Tao is a fountain of ethical and moral qualities which the mystically enlightened individuals must pursue in their own lives. Succinctly put, the Tao contains all the qualities of good which man has come to express in moral and ethical codes. The essence of moral perfection lies within man because his being is a creation of Tao. It is necessary, however, for man inwardly to perceive this perfection of Tao and to give it expression outwardly in his behavior and his relation with his fellow human beings.
Taoism had its practical aspects. The Taoist censured the materialism and sensual interests of his day much as do the moralists today. They were critical of luxury. To them luxury was an extravagance, a waste of human and natural resources. They censured the political leaders for their heavy taxation of the people and their dissipation of funds on civil luxury. These Taoists urged frugality and light taxation—"that people go hungry is due to the fact that the rulers waste taxes, that people are difficult to govern is due to the meddlesomeness of rulers." "The more beautiful the palaces, the more barren and neglected the fields. To adorn oneself with beautiful garments, to carry sharp swords, to be glutted with food and drink, with treasures in abundance--this means robbers and begging. These had nothing to do with the Tao." These remarks remind us of the words of the old Hebrew psalmists who inveighed against overlords of their times and their dissipation.
The Taoists takes the position that, if the state is in disorder, it indicates that "the ruler has lost the power of Tao; heaven is displeased." More simply put, a chaotic state implies that the chiefs of state are not being guided according to the inner counsel of Tao, that is, spiritually directed. It means that they have lost contact with the infinite wisdom within.
Many of the doctrines of Taoism are syncretic, that is, borrowed from other sects with which the early Taoists came into contact. For example, the Taoistic karma is inherited from the Buddhists. To each evil deed they attached appropriate punishments to be exacted either in this life or the next. What the punishments are to be was declared in the "Book of Rewards and Punishments by the Great Supreme." This reference to a book is, of course, allegorical. It alludes to the Cosmic Mind to which all things are known and in which all laws are extant. Still another way of saying it is that in the Cosmic are those laws already in existence which we, consciously or unconsciously, invoke by our conduct and subsequently manifest as just compensation—either as adversity or as munificence.
The Taoist doctrines related that "The Great Supreme (Tao) says: Misfortune and fortune have no door; men themselves incur or win them; recompense follows virtue and vice as the shadows follow substance." The more worldly, those who could not think in abstract terms, reduced karmic punishment to concrete terms of their own interpretation. Thus, "for all great sins of man twelve years of life are cut off; for small sins, one hundred days …"
Taoism in modern China, prior to Communist domination of that country, was divided into two schools, the north and the south. The northern school is the more abstract in its teachings. It emphasizes meditation, metaphysical speculation, and breathing practices. It was headed by the so-called Taoist pope who had charge of a hierarchy of priests. Behind modern Taoism there remains the basic concept of a Cosmic energy (Tao) of which man is a part. Modern Taoism proclaims that by obedience to this universal energy man can obtain health, wealth, offspring, and a peaceful life. But if man opposes Tao, he will meet with misfortune, failure, disease, and death.
This concludes our summary of the history and general concepts of Taoism. Next, we will proceed to the actual Initiation Ceremony. We urge every member of the Ordo Summum Bonum to make an effort to perform the ritual ceremony which will be sent. If it is not possible to perform it shortly after its arrival, then, at least conscientiously read the same for the present. One must realize, however, as we have often said, that the reading of an initiation completely fails to convey the emotional and psychic experience which actual participation provides and which, after all, constitutes true initiation.
You will read the instructions for preparation carefully before proceeding with the actual Initiation Ritual. Then, you will set a time when you can be assured of privacy and a reasonable quiet for performing this ceremony.
A—Place two candles on your Sanctum altar. Put them opposite each other. Space them six inches apart. Do not ignite them until told to do so in your ritual. Have matches available for the purpose. Do not put the matches on your Sanctum altar.
B—Just before proceeding with the ritual, ignite the incense in your censer and place it between and a little in front of the candles.
C—Subdue the light in your Sanctum. Keep just enough light to read by and to see your Sanctum altar. Be seated in front of your Sanctum altar, if possible.
D—Place your ritualistic apron on your person.
E—Have a candle extinguisher upon your altar at the right.
F—You will, in this ritual, be referred to as the Profane. This is the traditional term of the esoteric orders and applies to all candidates for Initiation. It means one who is as yet not inducted into the more exalted state which the Initiation is to confer. Master refers to the Initiator who will confer the Initiation. In this instance, you are dual in functioning, serving both as Initiator and the Profane.
Profane: (When the Sanctum altar has been prepared, you will be seated and proceed to read and to act as directed.)
Master: "The Great Supreme, Tao, is ever active. Tao is all; it is pure being. Being cannot be inert. Its movement cannot be directional, for there are neither boundaries nor directions to being. Thus, the movement of Tao is one of interaction, acting upon itself. This interaction is of two states, an oscillation from the lesser to the greater intensity, from a more to a less of what it is and the reverse again. "Come with me, Oh Profane, that I may illustrate this universal nature of Tao."
Profane: (You will rise and take this manuscript in hand and walk to a point directly in front of your Sanctum altar. Now light the candle to your left.)
Master: (Read slowly the following:) "Tao, the everlasting Infinite First Cause from which all things in heaven and earth proceed, Thou dwellest in all things and all things are of thee. Behold Yang, the positive quality of Tao. (This alludes to the lighted candle.)
"It can never rest, for it extends itself."
Profane: (Now light the candle on your right.)
Master: "In its extension Yang does not change positions, for there is neither space nor place within Tao. For whatever is, is of Tao. Thus, the activity of Tao is but a change within the intensity of its being. Its essence ever oscillates between extremes. The lesser intensity is ever Yin, the negative opposite.
(This alludes to the lighted candle on the right.)
"Nothing ever is in itself Tao. Things may only seem so, for Tao is formless. Thus, there is a constant transition, a movement from Yang to Yin and from Yin back again to Yang."
Master: (Read slowly:) "See before thee the burning incense. It is of the dual principles of Yin and Yang, as even thou art made. All things, as this incense, are Te; they are recipients of the forces of Tao manifesting in them. We never perceive Tao in its pure state. We only experience its action in the creation of things, and such are Te.
"Be seated and meditate upon this teaching as it relates to yourself."
Profane: (Retire to your seat, close your eyes and meditate for a few moments on what you have read of the Master's words.)
Master: "In the Sacred Book, Tao-Teh King, or the book of the Values of Tao, we are told: 'God, the everlasting Infinite First Cause, from whom all things in heaven and earth proceed, can never be defined nor named. Now, he who would gain a knowledge of the nature and attributes of the nameless and indefinable God, must first set himself free from all earthly desires, for unless he can do this, he will be unable to penetrate the material veil which is interposed between him and those spiritual conditions into which he would obtain an insight.'
"Meditate a moment, Beloved Profane, and see whether, of all your desires, the most supreme in your consciousness is to experience the Absolute, the Divine Principle. If other desires are closer to your heart, then never can you penetrate the veil between the finite and infinite worlds."
Profane: (Once again meditate for a few moments. Contemplate your desires. Is there one that is related to the most noble aspects of your being? Does it seem to spring from what you conceive to be your spiritual or exalted self? Is such a desire the most dominant? Are all others, though seemingly necessary, serving this higher one?)
Master: "The duality of Tao is displayed in all the values of knowledge. When you have gained a knowledge of that which constitutes beauty, you shall also have gained a knowledge of that which constitutes the reverse. When you have gained a knowledge of that which constitutes goodness, you shall also have gained a knowledge of that which constitutes evil; for all things stand in mutual relation to each other, and so it has been said:
Nothing and something are related terms,
Easy and hard are the same;
The long to the short a proposition affirms,
Which the high to the low also claim.
The tones and the notes are but modifications
And before and behind only changed situations.
"Rise, Beloved Profane."
Profane: (Rise and walk to the Sanctum altar, carrying with you this manuscript and stand before it and read:)
Master: "Hearken to these words: Unify your attention. Do not listen alone to that perceived by the ear but listen to that perceived by the heart. Do not alone listen to that perceived by the heart, but listen to that perceived by the soul. That which you understand does not come by the ears alone but by the heart. The spirit should then be empty and take hold of reality. The unity with Tao is not obtained except by emptiness. It is the emptiness which is the renewing of the heart."
Master: "Extinguish the flambeaux (candles), for now thou knowest that thou are of Yin and Yang. All that thine eyes gaze upon shall remind thee of these two interacting principles of Tao."
Profane: (Extinguish first the left candle and then the right and continue reading.)
Master: "Beloved Profane, all men seek treasures. But of all treasures maximum contentment is the greatest in life. There is no greater calamity than not to be contented. There is no greater evil than continually increasing desires. Upon your crossing of the threshold to a greater vista of learning, realize that he who understands sufficiently to be content is continually content.
"I now give unto thee the password of the Third Plane of the Ordo Summum Bonum. It is Te. It is that which receives and manifests the dual principles of Tao, the Cosmic energy. Thou and all things art Te."
Profane: (Make the Sign of the Cross. This concludes your Initiation into the Third Plane.)