15. Non-attachment is freedom from longing for all objects of desire, either earthly or traditional, either here or hereafter.
Non-attachment can also be described as thirstlessness. This is the most correct occult term to use as it involves the dual idea of water, the symbol of material existence, and desire, the quality of the astral plane, whose symbol is also water. The idea of man being the “fish” is curiously complete here. This symbol (as is the case with all symbols) has seven meanings; two are of use in this place:
- The fish is the symbol of the Vishnu aspect, the Christ principle, the second aspect of divinity, the Christ in incarnation, whether it is the cosmic Christ (expressing Himself through a solar system) or the individual Christ the potential savior within each human being. This is the “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Col., I, 27.) If the student will also study the fish Avatar of Vishnu he will learn still more.
- The fish swimming in the waters of matter, an extension of the same idea only carried down to its more obvious present expression, man as the personality.
Where there is no longing for any object whatsoever, and where there is no desire for rebirth (ever the outcome of longing for “form-expression” or material manifestation) then the true thirstlessness is attained, and the liberated man turns his back upon all the forms in the lower three worlds and becomes a true savior.
In the Bhagavad Gita the following illuminating words are found:
“For the possessors of wisdom, united in soul-vision, giving up the fruit of works, freed from the bondage of rebirth, reach the home where no sorrow dwells.
“When thy soul shall pass beyond the forest of delusion, thou shalt no more regard what shall be taught or what has been taught.
“When withdrawn from traditional teaching, thy soul shall stand steadfast, firm in soul-vision, then shalt thou gain union with the Soul.” (Gita II, 51, 52 and 53.)
J. H. Woods makes this clear in his translation of the comment by Veda Vyasa which is here appended:
“Passionless is the consciousness of being Master on the part of one who has rid himself of thirst for either seen or revealed objects.”
“The mind stuff (chitta) – if it be rid of thirst for objects that are seen, such as women, or food or drink or power, if it be rid of thirst for the object revealed (in the Vedas) such as the attainment of Heaven or of the discarnate state or of resolution into primary matter – if even when in contact with objects either supernormal or not, it be, by virtue of elevation, aware of the inadequateness of objects – will have a consciousness of being Master…”
The word “traditional” carries the student’s thought away from that which is usually regarded as the object of sensuous perception into the world of thought forms, into that “forest of delusion” which is constructed of men’s ideas about God, heaven or hell. The sublimation of all this and its highest expression in the three worlds is that “devachan” which is the goal of the majority of the sons of men. Devachanic experience must, however, be transformed eventually into nirvanic realization. It may be of value to the student to remember that heaven, the object of aspirational desire, which is the outcome of traditional teaching, and of all formulations of doctrinal faiths has several meanings to the occultist. For the purpose of a clearer understanding the following may be found to be of use:
- Heaven, that state of consciousness upon the astral plane which is the concretion of the longing and desire of the aspirant for rest, peace and happiness. It is based upon the “forms of joy.” It is a condition of sensuous enjoyment, and being constructed for himself by each individual is as varied as there are people participating in it. Non-attachment has to be achieved with respect to heaven. It is realized as enjoyed by the lower self, and by the man when bereft only of his physical body, prior to passing out of the astral body on to the mental plane.
- Devachan, that state of consciousness upon the mental plane into which the soul passes when deprived of its astral body and functioning in, or limited by, its mental body. It is of a higher order than the ordinary heaven and the bliss enjoyed is more mental than we ordinarily understand by the word, yet nevertheless it is still within the lower world of form and will be transcended when non-attachment is known.
- Nirvana, that condition into which the adept passes when the three lower worlds are no longer “attached” to him through his inclinations or karma, and which he experiences after he has:
a. Taken certain initiations,
b. Freed himself from the three worlds,
c. Organized his Christ body.
Strictly speaking those adepts who have achieved non-attachment but who have chosen to sacrifice themselves and abide with the sons of men in order to serve and help them are not technically Nirvanis. They are Lords of Compassion pledged to “suffer” with, and to be governed by, certain conditions analogous to (though not identical with) the conditions governing men who are still attached to the world of form.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Book 1 – The Problem of Union
Stage VI – The Chela within the Master’s Heart
We arrive now at a consideration of the last of the six stages of discipleship. This was described by me in the following terms:
“The stage where the disciple is in close touch always; he is being definitely prepared for immediate initiation or having taken initiation – is given specialized work. At this stage he is described as a Chela within his Master’s Heart.”
One thing I would here emphasize as I seek to give some light upon this subject. Being within the Master’s Heart in no way indicates a love-relationship between Master and disciple. The normal reaction is that at last the disciple has merited the right to be truly loved and, therefore, to be truly close to the Master. His life or lives of service have brought him at last the reward; he has now free access to the Master in the closest possible and mutual relationship of loving understanding. This stage of discipleship has absolutely no reference to this at all.
For another thing, brother of mine, when the disciple reaches this stage he is no longer what you understand by an accepted disciple. He is an initiate of high standing and of elevated degree and has passed out of the supervision and the safeguarding of a Master into a direct relation with the Master of all the Masters, the Christ, who is the central point in the Hierarchy, just as the Master is the central point in an ashram. The Master is the heart of his group and the Christ is the heart of the Hierarchy. The closer one gets to realization, the clearer becomes the concept that the point at the center and the periphery are one.
The significance of the word “heart” is the significance of life itself, as it beats eternally at the very heart of the universe. Within that life, the initiate now consciously stands, realizing himself not so much as being a recipient of life, but as a distributor of life. This is a very different thing and holds the key to this stage of discipleship.
The “Master’s Heart” is a technical term, indicating the sources of life and many analogous interpretations. There is at this stage and after a certain major initiation, a direct line of energy or of life – sensed, recognized, active and utilized – between the conscious disciple and
- The disciple’s heart center.
- The heart center in the head.
- The egoic lotus, which (until the fourth initiation) is the heart center of the monadic life.
- The Master at the center of his group.
- The Christ, the heart center of the Hierarchy.
- The life of the Monad which begins to make itself felt at the third initiation.
- The Lord of Life himself, the heart center of Shamballa.
The line of relationship then extends from these onward and outward, and upward (spherically considered) to the Life at the very center of our Earth’s “alter ego,” the planet Venus, to Jupiter and thence to the solar Lord himself and on to a point in the Sun, Sirius. You can see, therefore, how different this stage is from what might be imagined. It is one which marks a new departure or beginning and a great transition. It is a stage which one enters through the open door of Nirvana, the beginning of the Path of the Higher Evolution. It is a stage which marks a specific location (if such an inappropriate word can be used) of the disciple upon that upward Way which is revealed by the lighted Way; it is the attainment of the innermost point of realization, called esoterically “within the heart.”
Discipleship in the New Age I – The Six Stages of Discipleship – Part IX
We are on that path of transition (can we call it the Path of Discipleship?) which will lead us into a new dimension, into the interior world of true fact and right energy. It is a world in which only the spiritual body can function and only the eye of spirit can see. It cannot be perceived by those whose inner perception is unawakened and whose intuition sleeps. When the spiritual body begins to be organized and to grow, and when the eye of wisdom slowly opens and trains itself to see truly, then there will come the indications that the Christ, latent in each son of God, is beginning to control and to lead man into the world of spiritual being, true meaning and essential values. This world is the kingdom of God, the world of souls, and – when manifested – is that expression of divine life which we can call the fifth kingdom in nature. But it cannot yet be generally perceived. It is through the process of initiation that this world stands revealed.
Before initiation can be given, the significance of the above ideas must be grasped, and certain great developments are necessarily presupposed. These requirements can be seen working out in the life of every disciple at this time, and, for those who have eyes to see, they can be seen actively bringing changes in the race.
Aspiration is a basic requirement, both in the individual and in the race. Today humanity aspires to great heights, and this aspiration is responsible for the great national movements seen in so many countries. At the same time, individual disciples are striving anew towards illumination, incited thereto by their longing to meet world need. Spiritual selfishness, which has been such a characteristic of aspirants in the past, has to be transcended and transmuted into love of man and a sharing in the “fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.” (Phil., III, 10.) Self must be lost to sight in service. Service is rapidly becoming the keynote of the time, and one of the incentives in racial endeavor. The meeting of disaster and the undergoing of painful experiences is ever the lot of the individual disciple. It is becoming obvious that the world disciple, humanity itself, is now deemed worthy of such a testing. This universality of difficulty, in every department of human life and excluding no group, indicates that mankind as a whole is being prepared for initiation. There is purpose underlying what is happening today. The birth pangs of the Christ within the race have begun, and the Christ will be born in the “House of Bread” (which is the meaning of the word “Bethlehem”). The implications of our present world pain and suffering are too obvious to need further explanation. There is purpose underlying all world affairs at this time, and there is reward at the end of the way. Some day, sooner perhaps than many may think, the portals of initiation will open wide to the suffering world disciple (as they have ever opened in the past to individuals), and humanity will enter into a new Kingdom and stand before that mysterious Presence Whose light and wisdom shone forth before the world through the Person of Christ, and Whose voice was heard at each of the five crises through which Christ passed. Then will mankind enter into the world of causes and of knowing. We shall dwell in the inner world of reality, and the outer appearance of physical living will be known to be only symbolic of inner conditions and happenings. Then we shall begin to work and live as those who are initiate in the mysteries, and our lives will be regulated from the realm of reality where Christ and His Disciples of all time (the Church invisible) guide and control human affairs.
The goal which They have in view and the end towards which They are working has been summed up for us in a commentary upon an ancient Tibetan scripture. The words are as follows:
“All beauty, all goodness, all that makes for the eradication of sorrow and ignorance upon earth must be devoted to the one Great Consummation. Then when the Lords of Compassion shall have spiritually civilized the Earth and made of it a Heaven, there will be revealed to the Pilgrims the Endless Path, which reaches to the heart of the universe. Man, then no longer man, will transcend Nature, and impersonally, yet consciously, in at-one-ment with all the Enlightened Ones, help to fulfil the Law of the Higher Evolution, of which Nirvana is but the beginning.”
– Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, p. 12.
Such is our goal. Such our glorious objective. How can we progress towards this consummation? What is the first step that we must take? In the words of an unknown poet:
“When thou canst see
Beneath the outer seeming
The causes which to all effects give birth,
When thou canst feel, in warmth of sunlight streaming
The Love of God, encircling all the earth,
Then know thyself initiate in the Mysteries
The wise men ever deemed of greatest worth.”
From Bethlehem to Calvary – Chapter One – Introductory Remarks on Initiation
This rather unexpected responsive activity has necessitated much increased activity on the part of the Hierarchy, in order to offset the consequences of any premature inflow of the will force. After the third initiation, when the soul body, the causal body, starts to dissipate, the line of relation or of connection can be and is direct. The initiate then “stands in the ocean of love, and through him pours that love; his will is love and he can safely work, for love divine will color all his will, and he can wisely serve.” Love and intelligence then become the servants of the will. Soul energy and personality force contribute to the experience of the Monad in the three worlds of life service, and then the agelong task of the incarnating spiritual man is finally accomplished. He is ready for Nirvana, which is but the Way into new fields of spiritual experience and of divine development – incomprehensible as yet, even to the initiate of the third degree. This Way is revealed only when the antahkarana is built and completed and the man becomes focused in the Triad as consciously as he is now focused in the threefold lower nature.
Then, and then only, is the true dualism of the divine nature apparent and the illusory duality disappears. Then you have Spirit-matter, Life-form. For this the triple experience of the unfolding consciousness is only preparatory. Through the unfolding consciousness, the initiate knows the significance of life and the uses of form, but stands completely unidentified with either, though blending these dualities in himself into a conscious synthesis. The attempt to convey his state of mind, in words that but limit and confuse, leads to apparent contradictions, and this is one of the peculiar paradoxes of the occult science. Do the above imparted facts make sense to you? Have they meaning for your mind? I think not. You have not yet the needed equipment through which the type of implied awareness can work, or the realization of that true Self-consciousness which would produce in you an understanding reaction. I simply, make the esoteric assertion; later will come apprehension of the truth and that consequent energizing which always comes when any abstract truth is truly appreciated and assimilated. But the time has not yet come for the comprehension of the above information. Disciples and aspirants grow through the means of a presented vision – unattainable as yet but definitely an extension of the known and previously grasped. Such is the mode of evolution, for it is ever a pressing forward towards the sensed.
The Rays and the Initiations – Part Two – Section One – The Aspirant and the Mysteries of Initiation
After the major initiations are undergone, the state of consciousness of the illumined and liberated adept is such that language serves only to blind and to hinder true understanding. The consciousness of the initiate is of so lofty a nature that it can only be described in terms of release, of negation, and through the emphasis of that which it is not. It is a state of No-thing and Non-ego, for all egoic awareness is superseded by a state of Being and of consciousness which is only capable of comprehension and expression when form life is of no further use to the perfected spiritual life. It is a state of non-individuality, yet with the subconscious knowledge and gains of the individual experience. The center of consciousness is so far removed from any individual separate identity that that particular factor has faded entirely out, and only the macrocosmic life is sentiently realized. It is a state of non-activity from our present angle of vision, because all individual reactions to the activity of matter or to that state of being which we call egoic, have dropped away, and Life and Mind can no longer be swept into motion by any of the factors which have hitherto produced what we have called soul activity and form existence.
Nevertheless, though the consciousness is other than all that has been hitherto known, and though it can only be expressed in terms of negation, the truth must be borne constantly in mind that the greater awareness must always include the lesser awareness. Consequently all possible actions and reactions, identifications and focusings, awarenesses and contacts, ray impulses, approaches and withdrawals, and all possible expressions of the divine activity and qualities, phenomenal and non-phenomenal, are included in the state of Being which is now the natural state of the liberated and enlightened spiritual Existence. All are possible of recovery through the will or in response to a need, but the spiritual Being is no longer held by them or identified with them. Each of the stages on the great Path of Liberation or Enlightenment with which we have been concerned – Individualization, Initiation and Identification – have led the Life or the spiritual, interior man, from point to point, from quality to quality, from realization to realization, from phenomenal appearance to spiritual living, from physical awareness to sentient, emotional awareness, and from that to mental differentiation and separateness. He has been carried from hell to heaven, from heaven to Nirvana, from the life-conditioning of the personal Ego to that of the group soul, and thence to that of the liberated state of pure intuitional life. He has passed from form experience as a whole to that complete freedom from all vibratory impressions which it is the nature of pure Being (divorced from phenomenal existence) to demonstrate. But at the same time, nothing is lost of capacity, or quality or of sentient awareness. This is beautifully expressed for us in the words of the Old Commentary, found in the archives of the Masters.
“The quality of life fades out.
It flickers and is gone.
Yet the Blessed Ones reveal at will that quality.
The color pure remains.
The nature of life in form fails to appear.
It flashes forth a little while, then disappears.
The Blessed Ones, at will, can take a form,
yet are not then the form.
The seven great rays sweep into manifested life.
They are, and then are not. All is and all is not.
But the Blessed Ones at any time can sweep forth into manifested light.
They carry then the potencies of spirit to meet the need expressed.
Light holds Them not; Their purpose is not imprisoned; Their will is not subdued.
They appear and disappear at will.”
(An expression of the truth of this can be seen demonstrating in the world each full moon of May, when the Buddha flashes forth into manifestation, for the fulfilment of the Plan and at the urgent behest of His own spiritual will.)
“Naught holds the Blessed Ones.
Neither the deities nor form; neither desire nor mind;
nor any quality of life.
Pure life they are; pure being and pure will;
pure love and pure intent;
this is all that unenlightened man can grasp, and only that in part.
- The Blessed Ones are not, and yet They are.
- The Blessed Ones know naught, and yet know all.
- The Blessed Ones love not, yet offer love divine.
- The Blessed Ones remember not, yet all is recollection.
- The Blessed Ones remain in isolation pure; and yet at will can take a form.
- The Blessed Ones dwell ever in the high and lofty place, yet oft can walk on earth in light phenomenal.
- The Blessed Ones manifest not through form; yet are all forms and all intents.”
Esoteric Psychology II – Chapter I – The Egoic Ray – The Growth of Soul Influence
(1) The Period of Pralaya between two Incarnations
This is of a triple nature and affects the substance of the three vehicles, physical, astral and mental, reducing the form to its primitive substance, and dissipating its atomic structure. The energy of the second aspect (that of the form-builder) is withdrawn by the will of the Ego, and the atoms composing the form become dissociated from each other, and are resolved into the reservoir of essence to be recollected again when the hour strikes. This condition is brought about gradually by stages of which we are aware.
The first stage is the withdrawal of the life force in the etheric vehicle from the threefold (dense, liquid and gaseous) dense physical body and the consequent “falling into corruption,” and becoming “scattered to the elements.” Objective man fades out, and is no more seen by the physical eye, though still in his etheric body. When etheric vision is developed, the thought of death will assume very different proportions. When a man can be seen functioning in his etheric physical body by the majority of the race, the dropping of the dense body will be considered just a “release.”
The next stage is the withdrawal of the life force from the etheric body or coil, and its devitalization. The etheric coil is but an extension of one aspect of the sutratma or thread, and this thread is spun by the Ego from within the causal body much as a spider spins a thread. It can be shortened or extended at will, and when the period of pralaya has been decided upon, this thread of light, or of solar fire (note the word “solar”) is withdrawn, and gathered back to the atomic subplane where it will still vitalize the permanent atom and hold it connected within the causal body. The life impulses are then – as far as the physical plane is concerned – centralized within the atomic sphere.
The third stage is the withdrawal of the life force from so that it disintegrates in a similar manner and the life is centralized within the astral permanent atom. It has gained an increase of vitality through physical plane existence, and added color through astral experience.
The final stage for the human atom is its withdrawal from the mental vehicle. The life forces after this fourfold abstraction are centralized entirely within the egoic sphere; contact with the three lower planes is still inherently possible by means of the permanent atoms, the force centers of the three personality aspects.
In each incarnation the life forces have gained through the utilization of the vehicles,
- An increased activity, which is stored in the physical permanent atom.
- An added coloring, which is stored in the astral permanent atom.
- A developed quality of strength, or purpose in action, which is stored in the mental unit.
These are wrought into faculty in devachan.
Devachan is a state of consciousness, reflecting, in the life of the Personality, that higher state which we call nirvanic consciousness, and which is brought about by egoic action. It is but a dim reflection in the separated units (and therefore tinged with selfishness and separative pleasure) of the group condition called nirvanic. In this high state of consciousness each separate identity, though self-realizing, shares in the group realization, and therein lies bliss for the unit. Separation is no longer felt, only unity and essential oneness is known. Therefore, as might be naturally deduced, there is no devachan for the savage or little evolved man, as they merit it not, and have not the mentality to realize it; hence, therefore, the rapidity of their incarnations, and the brevity of the pralayic period. There is little in their case for the Ego, on its own plane, to assimilate in the residue of incarnations, and hence the life principle withdraws rapidly from out of the mental form, with the resulting impulse of the Ego to reincarnate almost immediately.
When the life of the personality has been full and rich, yet has not reached the stage wherein the personal self can consciously cooperate with the ego, periods of personality nirvana are undergone, their length depending upon the interest of the life, and the ability of the man to meditate upon experience. Later, when the Ego dominates the personality life, the interest of the man is raised to higher levels, and the nirvana of the soul becomes his goal. He has no interest in devachan. Therefore, those upon the Path (either the probationary Path, or the Path of Initiation) do not, as a rule, go to devachan, but immediate incarnation becomes the rule in the turning of the wheel of life; this time it is brought about by the conscious cooperation of the personal Self with the divine Self or Ego.
A Treatise on Cosmic Fire – Section Two – Division D – Thought Elementals and Fire Elementals