“Initiation” and “Initiate” are terms (like so many in modern metaphysical circles) which are given a variety of somewhat ill-defined meanings. It is usually necessary to deconstruct what a particular person, group, or tradition means when they use these terms, because they may be used with very different meanings.
A friend once mentioned to me having attended a Tibetan Buddhist empowerment Initiation, where the Lama in charge said to the hundreds of people gathered there that “Everyone who is here shall receive this Initiation. And only three people present shall receive this Initiation.” What this indicated was that there was a very real difference between what the average person in the audience received as the “Initiation” and what the few people present who were more deeply karmically connected to that particular Tibetan lineage would be receiving at the same time.
We need to understand what a particular speaker or body of work means when they use the term “Initiate” or “Initiation”.
Some common variations of meanings for “Initiation”:
- As a transmission of spiritual energy/knowledge from a high teacher or tradition to an individual. This may be a vague concept or may be highly precise regarding what exactly is transmitted (for instance, a particular esoteric ability or activation of a latent structure in their energy field) and to what part of the recipient’s energy field (for instance, to a particular chakra or location in the column of energy above the head).
- As an acceptance into (and creation of real energetic cords of connection with) a particular spiritual lineage. Note that this is self-evidently different from those people who will recite a long list of “Initiations” they have received from different teachers and schools; had they created core linkages to all these different sources, their energetic body and karma would be complicated indeed! However, they may have received a particular energetic download in those Initiations, although those energetic downloads may still be different in quality and intensity than that received by a person anchored in that tradition (see the above anecdote about the Tibetan Initiation ceremony).
(Please note that it is possible for people to have received deep initiations from different traditions during specific previous lifetimes on Earth. So for example, there are people who received advanced initiations in the old Egyptian tradition, the Himalayan Tradition, the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the Rosicrucian tradition etc., with a particular lifetime (or multiple lifetimes) spent primarily within one of these traditions. In many cases, there is a hidden connection of that person to particular spiritual beings who worked through each of these traditions, so that although the person received initiations in different traditions at different times, each tradition’s initiation process was linked to specific higher beings which weave their activity through multiple traditions. One example of a high level being who works through multiple traditions is the being known as Archangel Michael in the Western Tradition. This is a topic addressed in advanced levels of Spiritual Science.)
- As an attainment of the ability to create effects in the phenomenal world through purely spiritual means (The Magician).
- As an attainment of the ability to directly perceive non-physical spiritual realities (The Seer).
- As an attainment of a conscious understanding of spiritual realities and processes which are unknown by the average person.
One of the mistakes often made in regards to how people consider “Initiates” is that they tend to have unrealistically idealized fantasies of what these people should be like. For instance, often it is expected that an Initiate has one or more of the following attributes:
- All-knowingness, usually in the form of either literally knowing everything about the spiritual essence of the people they meet and/or knowing all possible knowledge in the world (conceptual and/or practices). In the desire to reach up to this unattainable ideal, it is common for self-styled gurus or masters to “cop an attitude” regarding other traditions and approaches. This usually takes the form of either dismissing the knowledge and practices of other teachers/traditions as inferior and irrelevant (when in reality they do not really understand those other approaches), and/or forbidding their students to study with other teachers or traditions.
- Total purity of motive and action. We hardly need to begin deconstructing this idea, given the long list of examples of spiritual teachers who have manipulated students and abused their trust. This abuse is just as prominent among Eastern “gurus” who expect students to follow their guidance without question as it is among Western spiritual teachers.
- The gift of total and instant healing for any person at any time (should they choose to give it), regardless of any karmic consequences or other considerations.
- Infallibility and Inerrancy. There is a deep-seated subconscious desire in most human psyches to follow a leader whose every word and action is pure gold, whom we can passively follow and through their complete direction of our lives we can attain blessedness. Not only is this a formula for the “Mass Psychology of Fascism”, but it also leads to cult-like atmospheres in groups. This is true not only in fringe groups, but also many major religions have leaders who are seen in this light. A well-known example is the proclamation in the 1800’s of “Papal Infallibility” in the Catholic Church (i.e., what the Pope says “from the Chair” in his authority as Pope is infallible and is essentially the direction of Christ himself); numerous self-aware Catholics left the Church at that time due to what they perceived as a disastrous mistake being made by the Church in making that proclamation. (The Church did allow one to be a “dissenting Catholic” and not fully accept that notion without immediate Excommunication).
Even highly advanced Masters can still make mistakes.
If this were not the case, then these Masters would have lost the divine gift of free will which is a major part of the purpose of human evolution. For this and other reasons the Rosicrucian tradition (in its spiritual reality, not necessarily in some of the self-proclaimed “Rosicrucian organizations” existing today) insists that each student be autonomous and clearly understand everything that they are undertaking on the path; no deference to the direction of another person is appropriate. A Rosicrucian teacher may cross their arms, sit back and refuse to say one word when a person comes to them asking what they should do in their life, if the teacher perceives that the person would be too influenced by their comments to then be able to make their own independent decision.
This article has been excerpted from Course 4 of The True Rosicrucian and Holy Grail Tradition online series.
Here is the full Table of Contents for the PDF handout which accompanies Course 4 of this 6-course series:
COURSE 4 Table of Contents:
ANCIENT AND MODERN FORMS OF SPIRITUAL INITIATION
- THE SEVEN STAGES OF CLASSICAL & GRAIL INITIATION
- THE SEVEN ROSICRUCIAN STAGES OF HIGHER KNOWLEDGE
- THE MEANING(S) OF “INITIATION”
- THE CHANGE IN INITIATION FROM ANCIENT TO MODERN TIMES
- INITIATION, GROUP WORK AND “STRUCTURE”
- THE “NEW MICHAELIC YOGA”
- A MODERN SCHOOL OF ROSICRUCIAN INITIATION
- SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT: SOME TERMS AND PRINCIPLES
- BACKGROUND TO THE “SEVEN HEAVENLY HALLS” MYSTERY: EGYPT AND ISRAEL
- HERMETIC WRITINGS AND THE SEVEN PLANETARY SPHERES
- THE INITIATION JOURNEY THROUGH THE “SEVEN HEAVENLY HALLS”
- THE FIRST HALL: THE SPHERE OF THE MOON
- THE SECOND HALL: THE SPHERE OF VENUS
- THE THIRD HALL: THE SPHERE OF MERCURY
- THE FOURTH HALL: THE SPHERE OF THE SUN
- THE FIFTH HALL: THE SPHERE OF MARS
- THE SIXTH HALL: THE SPHERE OF JUPITER
- THE SEVENTH HALL: THE SPHERE OF SATURN
- BEYOND THE SEVEN HALLS
- THE EIGHTH SPHERE
- RESOURCES FOR UNDERSTANDING THE MYSTERY OF THE EIGHTH SPHERE
- THE GREEK DOUBLE HEXAGRAM AND CROSS PRACTICE
- SIMPLE PENTAGRAM AND HEXAGRAM PRACTICE
- RESONANT SOUNDS OF THE SEVEN PLANETARY FORCES PRACTICE
- MEDITATION ON GEOMETRIC TRANSFORMATIONS