The Process of Initiation

The Process of Initiation

The Awakening of Universal Consciousness




The following article was first published
in “The Theosophist”, India, June 1886,
599-600. Original title: “Initiation”.



As everyone knows, in all the great religions of old time, there were certain grades among the devotees, and the successive steps by which these grades were attained were marked off by initiation into the mysteries.

Such initiations still exist among the votaries of the Wisdom-Religion and, being by their very nature involved in the most profound mystery, much curiosity has been awakened as to the their precise character. There are many who seem to look upon initiation as a purely mechanical process which depends solely upon the will of the initiator, and some seem inclined to blame the stewards of the mysteries for not publishing whatever knowledge they may possess as widely as possible, so that it may be within the reach of any individual of an enquiring turn of mind.

The really important part of initiation is however the fitness of the candidate himself. Just as it is said in the Bible that new wine put into old bottles is liable to burst those bottles, so, in like manner, if esoteric knowledge is imparted too far in advance of the progress already made, the mental balance of the candidate will be upset and madness is liable to supervene.

Hence the attitude we should adopt is not so much one of an intense desire for initiation – often but a form of ambition, the wish to be wiser than our fellows – as an intense determination to do everything in our power to fit ourselves for reception as initiates.

If it is true that “the whole universe is an aggregate of states of consciousness”, it would seem to follow that the real difference between one who is an initiate and one who is not lies in the fact that the former looks at all things from a totally different standpoint to the majority of men.

It is not that he has acquired certain items of knowledge that others do not possess, such as the way to manipulate the hidden forces of nature, but that he is on a higher plane of consciousness altogether. If such a higher plane has been attained, it will follow that his whole range of ideas will differ from that of others and he will be sensible of the operation of causes of a more far-reaching character than those cognised by others. He will be as it were in the possession of higher and superior information and so will be able to form juster conclusions and this fact alone will give him enormous power.

The action of the entire universe is but a detailed manifestation and example of the action of mind on matter, governed at the highest point by the action of the universal mind. Between the finite human mind of the ordinary uninitiated individual and this universal mind lie an infinite number of gradually ascending degrees, and the higher the plane of consciousness the nearer is the approach to the universal mind which is, as it were, the mainspring of the whole.

Although there are no hard and fast lines in nature yet these various grades may be marked off into great main divisions; and it is the successive attainment of these, one after the other that is represented by the degrees of initiation. When one plane of experience has been exhausted, there is needed, as it were, a fresh impulse to enable us to go on higher and this it is that is supplied at the time of initiation.



The article “The Process of Initiation” was published at the associated websites on 30 December 2020.   


Helena Blavatsky (photo) wrote these words: “Deserve, then desire”.