This initiation of renunciation (called “The Crucifixion” by Christian believers) is so familiar to the majority of people that I am hard put to it to say that which will arrest your attention, and thus offset a familiarity which necessarily lessens the importance of the theme in your consciousness. The idea of crucifixion is associated in your minds with death and torture, whereas neither concept underlies the true meaning. Let us consider some of the significances connected with this fourth initiation.
The sign of the Cross – associated in the Western world with this initiation and with the Christian faith – is in reality a cosmic symbol, long antedating the Christian era. It is one of the major signs to be found in the consciousness of Those advanced Beings Who, from the distant sun, Sirius, the seat of the true Great White Lodge, watch over the destinies of our solar system, but Who pay particular attention (why They do so is not yet revealed) to our relatively little and apparently unimportant planet, the Earth.
The word “crucifixion” comes from two Latin words signifying to “fix on a cross” (I have asked A.A.B. to look this word up in the dictionary so that you can have a sense of surety). The cross referred to in reference to this particular initiation is the Cardinal Cross of the heavens. It is to this cross that the disciple shifts at the fourth initiation, from the Fixed Cross of the heavens. This fixed cross is the one on which he has been crucified from the moment he found himself upon the Path of Probation and passed from thence on to the Path of Discipleship. On that Path – having transcended the world of phenomena and established an unbroken contact with the Monad, via the antahkarana – he renounces the Mutable Cross of existence in the three worlds (the world of appearances), and after a period of time he transfers from that cross on to the Fixed Cross, which is set up in the world of meaning where he has steadily learnt to dwell. This covers the period of the first three initiations. Now, being liberated through renunciation, he needs no longer to undergo the tests, trials, and difficulties which crucifixion on the Fixed Cross inevitably entails; he can now take his place upon the Cardinal Cross, with all its cosmic implications and opportunities which are then conferred. This – as far as the individual is concerned – is necessarily symbolic and figurative in its teaching. As far as the Heavenly Man is concerned, however, the application is not symbolic. It is far more factual. From the angle of the supreme Masters on Sirius, our planetary Logos, Sanat Kumara, is still on the Fixed Cross; He mounted the Mutable Cross in the first solar system; the Fixed Cross still holds Him in this solar system “fixed in His place”; in the next solar system, He will transfer Himself to the Cardinal Cross, and from “thence return to that High Place from whence He came.” You can see, therefore, why I emphasize the fact that these three crosses are simply symbols of experience in relation to the individual disciple. Let us consider this a little more closely:
- The Mutable Cross governs the three worlds and the astral plane in particular. On this cross the average man is “crucified” until he achieves the needed experience and consciously reorients himself to another phase of unfoldment.
- The Fixed Cross governs the five worlds of human development and conditions the experiences of all disciples. Through the discipline and the experiences thus gained whilst on this cross, the disciple passes from one renunciation to another until complete freedom and liberation has been achieved.
- The Cardinal Cross governs the Master as He passes through the remaining five initiations; the fourth initiation is, curiously enough, governed by neither the Fixed Cross nor the Cardinal Cross. The disciple is descending from the Fixed Cross and seeking to mount the Cardinal Cross, and it is this transition period and experience which practically govern Him. It might therefore be noted that there are three initiations which test the disciple as to knowledge and experience: the first, the second and the third; then there comes an initiation of transition, followed by five initiations which the Master undergoes upon the Cardinal Cross.
It should be remembered that the distinctive nature of the man upon the Mutable Cross is that of self-consciousness; that the disciple upon the Fixed Cross is rapidly becoming group conscious when the experiences undergone have been rightly assimilated; and that the Master on the Cardinal Cross is distinguished by a universal consciousness which passes finally into cosmic consciousness – a state of being unknown to you, even in the wildest flights of your imagination. The first hint of the growth of cosmic consciousness comes when the disciple passes through the sixth Initiation of Decision. He determines then (by means of His enlightened will and not His mind) which of the seven Paths He will decide to follow. From that time on, the consciousness of the greater Life which enfolds our planetary Logos, as He enfolds humanity within His consciousness, increasingly controls the attitude, the awareness and the activities of the Master.
You can see, therefore, how this initiation of crucifixion (which the Christian world has appropriated for itself) is far vaster in its implications than students suspect. Yet this appropriation was intentional under the divine Plan of the Hierarchy, for always some great Teacher – by His life and teaching – will call attention to some particular initiation. The Buddha, for instance, in His Four Noble Truths, stated in reality the platform upon which the initiate of the third initiation takes his stand. He desires nothing of a personal nature; he is liberated from the three worlds. The Christ pictured for us and emphasized the fourth initiation with its tremendous transition from the Fixed Cross to the Mount of Ascension, symbol of transition, through initiation.
This crucifixion initiation has a major instructive feature. This is preserved for us in the name which is frequently given to this fourth initiation: the Great Renunciation. One tremendous experience is vouchsafed to the initiate at this time; he realizes (because he sees and knows) that the antahkarana has been successfully completed and that there is a direct line of energy from the Spiritual Triad, via the antahkarana, to his mind and brain. This brings to the forefront of his consciousness the sudden and appalling recognition that the soul itself, the egoic body on its own level, and that which for ages has been the supposed source of his existence and his guide and mentor, is no longer needed; his relation, as a soul-infused personality, is now directly with the Monad. He feels bereft and is apt to cry out – as did the Master Jesus – “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” But he makes the needed renunciation, and the causal body, the soul body, is relinquished and disappears. This is the culminating renunciation and the climaxing gesture of ages of small renunciations; renunciation marks the career of all aspirants and disciples – renunciation, consciously faced, understood and consciously made.
I have hinted earlier to you that this fourth or Renunciation Initiation is closely linked with the sixth initiation and with the ninth. The sixth initiation is only possible when the initiate has definitely made the needed renunciations; the reward is that he is then permitted to make a perfectly free choice and thus demonstrate his essential and gained freedom. The ninth initiation (that of the Refusal) has in it no element of renunciation. It is not a refusal to hold, for the initiate is at the point where he asks and holds nothing for the separated self. At that final planetary initiation the Master is brought face to face with what might be called cosmic evil, with that reservoir of evil which cyclically overflows the world, and also with the massed group of masters of the Black Lodge. He refuses recognition. This I will deal with later when we take up that particular initiation.
In connection with this Initiation of Renunciation there are some most interesting correspondences which throw a bright, illuminating light upon its significance. They are known to you in some measure, because I have dealt with the significance of the fourth Ray of Harmony through Conflict, and the fourth kingdom, the human, in my earlier writings; it might, however, serve some useful purpose if I bring some of them together and show how this Initiation of Renunciation is of supreme importance to humanity and to the individual initiate who is, of course, a member of the fourth kingdom. First of all, this great act of renunciation marks the moment when the disciple has nothing in him which relates him to the three worlds of human evolution. His contact with those worlds in the future will be purely voluntary and for purposes of service. I prefer the word “renunciation” to the word “crucifixion” because the last word simply emphasizes the suffering undergone by the initiate as he renounces all that is of a material nature and becomes a permanent and (if I may use such a term) a non-fluctuating and unchanging member of the fifth kingdom in nature, the kingdom of God, called by us the Hierarchy. Forget not that the three worlds of ordinary evolution constitute the dense physical subplanes of the cosmic physical plane.
Crucifixion embodies the concept of extreme physical suffering of a protracted nature, its last “three hours” according to the Bible story, typifying the three planes of our evolution. On all three planes, the disciple renounces; on all three planes he is, therefore, crucified. It connotes the ending of a life and – from the cosmic angle – of the personality life of the soul through many incarnations. If it is a statement of fact that the time sense is the response of the brain to a succession of states of consciousness or of events, and if it is equally true that (to the soul) there is no such factor in consciousness as time but only the Eternal Now is known, then the three worlds of incarnated being constitute one unit of experience in the life of the soul – an experience which ends at the crucifixion, because the soul in incarnation definitely, consciously and by the use of the enduring will, renounces all, and turns his back upon the material world, finally and for ever. He has mastered all the uses of the three worlds of experiment, experience and expression (to use three terms with which I have familiarized you in my other books), and now stands liberated.
Each initiate who makes this renunciation and undergoes the consequent crucifixion is in a position to say with the first of our humanity to do so, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me.” So spoke the Christ. The initiate is lifted up by his renunciation – which he makes through the “blood of the heart” – out of the world of material phenomena, because he has freed himself from any desire for them, from any interest in them and from any hold they may ever have had over him. He is completely detached. It is interesting to note that the Master Jesus underwent the renunciation initiation whilst at the same time the Christ was raised up at the seventh or Resurrection Initiation. So the two stories of these two great Disciples are parallel – One so obediently serving the Greater, and the Christ submitting His will to that of His Father in Heaven.
This initiation is therefore, in a unique sense, a culminating experience and a point of entrance into a new life for which all the past has been a preparation. After the ninth initiation, the Refusal Initiation, there comes a cosmic repetition of the Renunciation experience, this time devoid of the crucifixion aspect; the initiate at that great moment renounces or refuses contact with the cosmic physical plane on all its seven levels of awareness, unless he has chosen (at the sixth Initiation of Decision) the Path of World Service.
During the experience of the initiatory process in its first three phases, the initiate rejects control of the energies which are seated in the three centers below the diaphragm; he renounces their use for personality or selfish reasons. The center at the base of the spine has received and distributed the energy of self-will (the will of the lower self) and is emptied and stands ready for the dynamic reception of the higher will which – using the spinal channel as the pathway or the symbol of the antahkarana – will pour into it from the highest head center. The sacral center which has received and distributed the energy which has fed the physical appetites to a far greater extent than is at present realized, is also under control – a control which is related to normal and proper direction from the throat center and to the preservation of life on the physical plane, if the initiate chooses to incarnate for service ends. The solar plexus center, which has received and distributed the energy of the astral plane, the energy of desire and of emotion, is likewise cleansed and purified; its energy is transmuted to such an extent that it can pass under the complete control of the heart center, which henceforth and until the seventh Initiation of the Resurrection is “that whereby the initiate performs his hierarchical obligations.” Therefore, at the Great Renunciation, the three lower centers reach a point of utter purification or speaking symbolically – of utter emptiness. No energy of their own (related to the selfish aeonial past) is left; they are simply pure receptacles for the energies of the three higher centers. The three lower centers are related to the three worlds of personality evolution; the three higher centers are related to hierarchical work and living and are under the control of the initiate – a control which becomes increasingly perfect until the seventh Initiation of Resurrection. At that momentous resurrection, they become no longer of service; the Master needs no energy centers, and His consciousness is transcended and transformed into a type of awareness of which those who have not experienced these initiations know nothing. If He chooses to take a physical vehicle (as many will when the Christ reappears and the Hierarchy is externalized on Earth), the Master will “function from the above to the below” and not (as is the case today with all disciples, though naturally not with the Masters) on “the below towards the above.” I am here quoting ancient phrases to be found in the archives of the Hierarchy. They will therefore need no centers on the etheric levels of our planetary physical plane.
At this fourth initiation the initiate begins to function entirely and always upon the fourth plane, the buddhic levels of the cosmic physical plane – our intuitional plane. This is the case whether you count from below upwards or from above downwards. You have here again an indication of the central position of this initiation and of its importance. It is preceded by three initiations and succeeded by three initiations, leading up to that of the seventh or final planetary initiation, because the remaining two initiations are fundamentally not related in any way to our planetary Life. It is because of this permanent transition of the initiate’s “living focus” – lifted out of the three worlds on to the buddhic plane – that the concept of resurrection has crept into the Christian teaching so that the Crucifixion Initiation is portrayed as preceding the Resurrection Initiation; this is in reality not the case, except in a lesser degree and as symbol of future experience.
In the same way, the concept of sacrifice has permeated all the teaching anent the Crucifixion or the Renunciation Initiation, both in the East and in the West. This is a sacrifice idea associated with the concept of pain, agony, suffering, patience, prolongation and death. Yet the true root of the word remains the same and gives the true significance: “Sacer,” to make holy; that is what in truth happens to the initiate; he is “made holy”; he is “set apart” for spiritual development and service. He is separated off from that which is natural, material, transmitted and handicapping, trammeling and destructive, and from that which lessens right activity for that which is new. He learns to define the Wholeness which is his divine right and prerogative.
The beauty of the interpretation of this initiation and the reward to those who attempt to penetrate to its true meaning and significance are untold; it requires, however, the teaching of the East and of the West to arrive at the true understanding of the experience. The concept of a clean break with the old life in the three worlds of experience which has characterized the work of the soul for so long is obvious. It is death in its truest and most useful form; every death, as it takes place today and on the physical plane, is therefore symbolic in nature, pointing to the time when the soul finally “dies” to all that is material and physical, just as the human being dies to all contact in the three worlds before resuming incarnated living.
On the buddhic or intuitional plane (the fourth level of the cosmic physical plane) the mind nature – even that of the higher mind or the level of abstract thought – loses its control over the initiate and is henceforth only useful in service. The intuition, the pure reason, complete knowledge illumined by the loving purpose of the divine Mind – to mention some of the names of this fourth level of awareness or of spiritual sensitivity – takes its place and the initiate lives henceforth in the light of correct or straight knowledge, expressing itself as wisdom in all affairs – hence the titles of Master of the Wisdom or Lord of Compassion given to Those Who have taken the fourth and the fifth initiations; these follow very closely upon each other. From the buddhic level of awareness, the Master works; on it, He lives His life, undertakes His service and furthers the Plan in the three worlds and for the four kingdoms in nature. Let this not be forgotten. Also, let it be remembered that this achievement of focus and this attained freedom are not the result of a symbolic ceremony, but are the result of lives of suffering, of minor renunciations and of conscious experience. This conscious experience, leading to the fourth initiation, is a definitely planned undertaking, arrived at as true vision is gradually conferred, the divine Plan is sensed and receives cooperation, and intelligent aspiration takes the place of vague longings and sporadic efforts “to be good,” as it is normally expressed by aspirants.
It will be clear to you, therefore, why this fourth initiation is ruled or governed by the fourth Ray of Harmony through Conflict. The harmonizing of the lower centers with the higher, the harmonizing or establishing of right relations between the three worlds of human evolution and the buddhic plane, the rapport gradually being brought about by each succeeding initiation, between humanity and the Hierarchy, plus the service of establishing right human relations among men – these are some of the results which you even now grasp theoretically; these you will also grasp practically and substantially one day in your own experience. It is with this ray energy that the initiate works as he makes the Great Renunciation and is transferred thereby to the Cardinal Cross of the Heavens. This is the energy which enables him to live in the Eternal Now and to renounce the bindings of time. Through the entire experience he fights against that which is material; under the law of our planet (and, if you only knew, under the law of our solar system) nothing is achieved except by struggle and conflict – struggle and conflict associated on our planet with pain and suffering but which, after this fourth initiation, is devoid of suffering. A hint as to the purpose for which our little planet exists and its unique position in the scheme of things can here be noted.
As I mentioned earlier, the initiate now works from “above downwards.” This is only a symbolic mode of speech. Like his great Master, the Christ, when he seeks to serve humanity he “descends into hell” which is the hell of materialism and of physical plane life, and there labors for the furtherance of the Plan. We read in the Christian teaching that “Christ descended into hell and taught the spirits which are in prison” for three days. This means that He worked with humanity in the three worlds (for time and the process of events are regarded by philosophers as synonymous in meaning) for a brief period of time, but was called (on account of His unique task of embodying for the first time in world history the love principle of divinity) to be the Head of the Hierarchy.
The same concept of working in the three worlds of physical plane existence (in the cosmic sense) is embodied for us in the phrase found in the New Testament that “the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” This is the veil which, symbolically speaking, divides or shuts off humanity from participation in the kingdom of God. This was rent by the Christ – an unique service which He rendered both to humanity and to the spiritual Hierarchy; He made it easier for a much quicker communication to be set up between those two great centers, of divine life.
I would ask you to ponder this Initiation of Renunciation, remembering ever in your daily life that this process of renunciation, entailing the crucifixion of the lower self, is only made possible by the practice of detachment every day. The word “detachment” is only the Eastern term for our word “renunciation.” That is the practical use of such information which I have here given to you. I would ask you also (curious as it may seem) to get used to crucifixion, if you care to use that word; to permit yourself to get accustomed to suffering with detachment, knowing that the soul suffers not at all, and that there is no pain or agony for the Master Who has attained liberation. The Masters have each and all renounced that which is material; They have been lifted out of the three worlds by Their Own effort; They have detached Themselves from all hindrances; They have left hell behind and the term “spirits that are in prison” no longer applies to Them. This They have done for no selfish purpose. In the early days of the Probationary Path, selfish aspiration is foremost in the consciousness of the aspirant; however, as he treads the path, and likewise the Path of Discipleship, he leaves all such motives behind (a minor renunciation) and his one aim, in seeking liberation and freedom from the three worlds, is to aid and help humanity. This dedication to service is the mark of the Hierarchy.
You can see, therefore, how the Buddha prepared the way for the Initiation of Renunciation or of Crucifixion by His teaching and His emphasis upon detachment. Think on these things and study the great continuity of effort and cooperation which distinguishes the Members of the spiritual Hierarchy. My prayer and wish is that your goal may be clear to your vision and that the “strength of your heart” may be adequate to the undertaking.
Excerpted from “The Rays and The Initiations” by Alice Bailey & Djwhal Kuhl