THE THREE HIGHER PLANES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
We have now reached that stage of our presentation of the subject of the Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians, and particularly of that phase known as the Seven Planes of Consciousness, in which we ask the student to consider those phases of Consciousness above the Plane of Animal Consciousness. Accordingly our present consideration is with those three great Planes of Consciousness which begin with the Plane of Human Consciousness, and include the Planes of the Consciousness of the Demi-Gods, and which find their highest manifestation on the Plane of the Consciousness of the Gods.
While these three higher Planes of Consciousness are included in the Rosicrucian symbol of the seven Planes of Consciousness, i.e., the seven linked circles, the Rosicrucians have also a special symbol by which they seek to indicate these three wonderful higher Planes of Consciousness, viz.: the symbol of the three linked circles (see illustration). It will be noticed here, also, that each of the circles are linked with the two on either side of it,—the circumference of each circle extending over that of the two others on either side of it; this indicates that each Plane of Consciousness is blended with the others, a truth which will be made more apparent as we progress without commentary on the teaching in this chapter.
V. The Plane of Human Consciousness
The Plane of Human Consciousness, as its name indicates, is that plane of conscious activity which is manifested by human beings, high and low, in varying degrees. This Plane of Consciousness, like all the others of the Seven Planes of Consciousness, is divided into seven sub-planes, and each of these
into seven, and so on, as explained in preceding chapters of this book. Moreover, at one pole this plane is linked with, and blends into the highest sub-planes of the Plane of Animal Consciousness; while at its other pole it blends into the lower subplanes of the next highest plane, i.e., the Plane of the Consciousness of the Demi-Gods. Again, following the symbol of the Three Linked Circles, the same individual who manifests on the Plane of Human Consciousness is (in a measure) in touch with the two higher planes, known, respectively, as the Plane of the Consciousness of the Demi-Gods, and the Plane of Consciousness of the Gods.
The reason that the Rosicrucians place these three higher planes of consciousness in a trinity of circles, apparently apart from the lower four planes, is that on these three higher planes of consciousness the individual soul manifests Self-Consciousness, or the consciousness of “I Am,” in at least a certain degree; while on the lower four planes this consciousness of “I” is entirely absent, and the mental activity is more or less automatic and instinctive. This distinction will be brought out as we proceed.
On the very lowest forms of Human Consciousness, the man’s mental and emotional activity is but little more than that of the higher animals—in fact, in some cases the animals actually seem to display a greater degree of intellectual power, though on instinctive lines. But even in the lowest forms of human life there appears at least a faint glimmering of Self-Consciousness, or the conviction that “I Am I,” that form of consciousness by means of which the human individual becomes aware of himself as an individual entity. This, rather than the degree of intellectual development, is the characteristic distinguishing mark of the human being.
It is quite difficult to describe clearly in words the actual distinction between the highest forms of animal consciousness, and the lowest forms of the self-consciousness of the human being, although the difference between the highest animal and the highest man in this respect is quite marked. Admitting the difficulty of the explanation, it may be said that while even in the case of the highest animal the consciousness is always directed outward, in even the lowest type of man there is at least a faint degree of the inward direction of consciousness. The animal always thinks of outside things, while even the primitive man occasionally thinks of himself—makes himself the object of his own thoughts, in at least the sense of considering his own feelings, ideas, etc., and comparing them with others previously had by him. Or again, there is no “inside world,” or “something within,” to the animal; while man always (at least in some degree) is aware of the “inside world,” or the “something within” as distinguished from the “something without.”
A favorite illustration of the psychologists, employed by them to point out the distinction between the “simple consciousness” of the higher animal, and the “self consciousness” of the human being is stated by a writer as follows: “A horse standing out in the cold sleet and rain undoubtedly feels the discomfort, and possibly the pain, for we know by observations that the animals feel both. But the horse is not able to analyze his mental states and to wonder when his piaster will come out to him; or to think how cruel it is to keep him out of the warm stable; or to wonder whether he will be taken out in the cold again tomorrow; or to feel envious of other horses who are indoors; or to wonder why he is compelled to be out on cold nights, etc., etc.—just as a man would do under the same circumstances. He is aware of the discomfort, just as is the man and he would run home if he could, just as would the man. But he is not able to pity himself, nor to think about his individuality or his personality, as would the man—nor does he wonder whether such a life is worth living, after all. He ‘knows,’ but does not ‘know that he knows,’ as does the man. The animal cannot ‘know himself.'”
But we must not fall into the error of supposing that the primitive man, or even the less-developed individuals of modern civilization, possess this faculty of self-conscious to a high degree. On the contrary, with both of these types this form of consciousness may be said to exist merely in a “dawn state”—and yet the “dawn” is a distinct advance upon the darkness of the mental night. A modern psychologist says of the comparatively higher forms of self-consciousness: “Many persons never have more than a misty idea of such a mental attitude. They always take themselves for granted, and never turn the gaze inward.”
The development of the higher forms of self-consciousness may be noted in the gradual unfoldment of the mind of the young child—for on the mental, as well as on the physical plane, the young of the human being rapidly passes through and reproduces the stages of the evolution of its ancestral forms. At a certain stage of the mental evolution or development of the young child there comes a particular period at which the child seems to awaken to a dawning realization that it is an individual, instead of being merely a bunch of feelings and desires. Up to a certain point the young child speaks of itself in the third person, i.e., as “Johnny,” “Mary,” etc. Then all of a sudden it begins to employ the terms “I” or “Me” in speaking of itself—though it may make grammatical errors in using these pronouns, nevertheless, there is never any doubt left that the child knows just what they stand for: it knows “I am I.”
Some psychologists call attention to the fact that many children experience a feeling of something akin to terror when they first reach this sense of “I,” or individuality. Some writers have testified to having felt a strange sense of Aloneness, and detachment from all other things, when this sense of individuality first burst upon them in early childhood. In some cases the fuller dawn of self-consciousness is accompanied by a newly developed bashfulness, shyness, or that more or less morbid state known by the common name “self conscious.” With the faculty of introspection, there often comes the tendency to employ the same too freely, and thus to become morbid on the one hand, or else foolishly egotistical and vain on the other hand.
A writer well says of this particular state of newly awakened consciousness: “Although this feeling of separateness and apartness grows less acute as the man grows older, yet it is always present to a greater or less degree until a still higher stage is reached, when it disappears. And this self-conscious stage is painful to many. Many find themselves entangled in a mass of mental states which one thinks is himself, or inextricably bound up with himself, and the struggle between the awakening Ego and its confining sheaths is very painful in some cases. And this becomes more painful as the individual advances in self-consciousness and nears the end at which he is to find deliverance. Man eats of the Tree of Knowledge and begins to suffer, and is driven out of the garden of Eden of the child consciousness in which the individual has lived like the birds, concerning not himself about the affairs of his higher nature. Man pays dearly for the gift of Self-Consciousness—yet it is worth it all, for finally he reaches heights of higher consciousness and is delivered from his burden.”
With the dawning awareness of one’s own mental states, one comes to the realization that other human beings possess similar states, and one begins to speculate and reason about the working of these states in others. Then comes the desire to communicate one’s ideas to the mind of the others, and to appeal to his feelings or reason. All this promotes the development of Intellect and logical thought, which is a marked characteristic of evolving human consciousness. Man begins to seek for an answer to the many “whys” which are presenting themselves to him, and he seeks to reason from the known to the unknown. He proceeds to invent appliances conducive to the accomplishment of things which lie desires. He harnesses his Intellect to the chariot of his Desires, and drives it along by command of Will, the chariot-driver.
Man, indeed, pays a price for this advanced consciousness, as we have said. He pays a constantly increasing price as he advances into the new territory of conscious existence and experience. The more he knows, the more he desires; and the more he desires, the more does he suffer from the pain of not having. Capacity for pain is the price man pays for his advance in the scale; but he has a corresponding capacity for pleasure accompanying it. He has not only the pain of unsatisfied desires for possession of material things, and physical wants, but also the pain arising from the lack of intelligent answers to the ever-increasing volume of problems presenting themselves for solution to his evolving intellect; and lie also has pain of unsatisfied longings, disappointments, frustrated aims and ambitions, and all the rest of the list.
The animal lives its life and is contented—for it knows no better. If it has enough to eat, a place to sleep, a mate, it is satisfied, and asks no more—it has few needs, and, while its degree of happiness is not great, it lacks the capacity for mental and emotional pain possessed by those higher in the scale. And many men are but little above this stage—they are easily satisfied; they are ignorant of the unsatisfied desires which render others unhappy. They have no unanswered questions—they do not even dream of the existence of such questions. But as man progresses, his wants multiply, and his pain increases. New wants are but partly satisfied, and the unsatisfied remainder bring pain to him. Civilization becomes more and more complex, and new wants and lacks manifest themselves. Man attaches himself to “things,” and creates for himself artificial wants which he must labor to meet. His intellect often fails to lead him upward, and too often merely enables him to invent new and subtle means and ways of gratifying his senses in a way impossible to the animals or primitive man. Some men make a religion of the gratification of their sensuality and their appetites, and sink below the level of the beasts in this respect. Others become vain, conceited, and filled with an inflated sense of the importance of their personality. Others become morbidly introspective, and spend their time analyzing and dissecting their moods, motives, and feelings. Others exhaust their capacity for pleasure and happiness, by looking outside of themselves for happiness, instead of within. These are the dark shadows cast by the bright light of Human Consciousness, however—the shadows always found as the “opposite” of all real evolutionary progress.
As man progresses in the scale of Self Consciousness, however, he finds himself gradually detaching his sense of the Self from its sheaths and working tools. He begins to realize that there is an “I Am” within his being, to which all the feelings, the emotions, the desires, and even the thoughts and ideas, are but incidents. In this high stage he perceives himself to be an “I Am” surrounded by his mental and emotional tools and belongings—a Sun surrounded by its whirling worlds and activities. He realizes that the Ego is not only superior to the body, but also to the “mind” and feelings; and he learns now only how to master and intelligently use his body, but also how to intelligently master and use his Intellect and his Emotions.
A well known writer has said of Man in this advanced stage: “If we are willing to believe in this mastery over the body, we must be prepared to believe in the mastery over our own inner thoughts and feelings. That a man should be a prey to any thought that chances to take possession of his mind is commonly among us assumed as unavoidable. It may be a matter of regret that he should be kept awake all night from anxiety as to the issue of a lawsuit on the morrow, but that he should have the power of determining whether he should be kept awake or not seems an extravagant demand. The image of an impending calamity is no doubt odious, but its very odiousness (we say) makes it haunt the mind all the more pertinaciously and it is useless to expel it.
“Yet this is an absurd notion—for man, the heir of all the ages: hag ridden by the flimsy creatures of his own brain. If a pebble in our boots torments us, we expel it. We take off the boot and shake it out. And once the matter is fairly understood it is just as easy to expel an intruding and obnoxious thought from the mind. About this there ought to be no mistake, no two opinions. The thing is obvious, clear and unmistakable. It should be as easy to expel an obnoxious thought from the mind as it is to shake a stone out of your shoe; and till a man can do that it is just nonsense to talk about his ascendancy over Nature, and all the rest of it. He is a mere slave, and prey to the bat-winged phantoms that flit through the corridors of his own brain. Yet the weary and careworn faces that we meet by thousands; even among the affluent classes of civilization, testify only too clearly how seldom this mastery is obtained. How rare indeed to meet a man. How common rather to discover a creature hounded on by tyrant thoughts (or cares or desires), cowering, wincing under the lash—or perchance priding himself to run merrily in obedience to a driver that rattles the reins and persuades him that he is free—whom we cannot converse with in a careless tete-a-tete because that alien presence is always there, on the watch.
It is one of the most promising doctrines of certain schools of occult philosophy that the power of expelling thoughts, or if need be, killing them dead on the spot, must be attained. Naturally the art requires practice, but like other arts, when once acquired there is no mystery or difficulty about it. And it is worth practice. It may indeed fairly be said that life only begins when this art has been acquired. For obviously when, instead of being ruled by individual thoughts, the whole flock of them in their immense multitude and variety and capacity is ours to direct and dispatch and employ where we list, life becomes a thing so vast and grand compared with what it was before, that its former condition may well appear almost antenatal. If you can kill a thought dead, for the time being, you can do anything with it that you please. And therefore it is that this power is so valuable. And it not only frees a man from mental torment (which is nine-tenths at least of the torments of life), but it gives to him a concentrated power of handling mental work absolutely unknown to him before. The two things are correlative to each other.
“While at work your thought is to be actually concentrated in it, undistracted by anything whatever irrelevant to the matter in hand—pounding away like a great engine, with giant power and perfect economy—no wear and tear of friction, or dislocation of parts owing to the working of different forces at the same time. Then when the work is finished, if there is no more occasion for the use of the machine, it must stop equally, absolutely—stop entirely—no worrying (as if a parcel of boys were allowed to play their devilments with a locomotive as soon as it was in the shed)—and the man must retire into that region of his consciousness where his true self dwells. I say that the power of the thought-machine itself is enormously increased by this faculty of letting it alone on the one hand, and of using it singly and with concentration on the other. It becomes a true tool, which a master-workman lays down when done with, but which only a bungler carries about with him all the time to show that he is the possessor of it.”
If the student will master the idea expressed in the above several quoted paragraphs, he will indeed become a Master of Mind. And if he will extend the idea to the field of his Emotions, and will put into practice there the same idea and method, he will also become a Master of his Emotions—an accomplishment of inestimable value. But, before doing either of these things he will find it necessary to come to a full realization of the fact that his Self—his real “I”—is a Something superior to and transcending both his Thought and his Emotions. He must enter into a vivid realization of the “I AM,” before he may hope to be able to say “I Do” regarding these accomplishments. As the old Rosicrucian masters were wont to say: “When the ‘I’ knows itself to be the Self and Master, then only is it able to take its throne and enforce its will upon its subjects in the world of its thoughts, desires, feelings, and emotions.”
Not only may the enlightened “I” manifest its power along the lines above indicated, but it may also work its will in that region which popular modern psychology has chosen to call “The Sub-Conscious Mind.” The latter is merely that great region of mind outside of the limits of the concentrated field of attention. In that great region a great part of the thinking of the average man is performed, the results being flashed into the field of his attention in a more or less haphazard way. Without going deeply into the subject, we would say here that the man who has grasped the reality and power of the “I” is able to issue positive commands to this part of his mental machinery, and not only cause it to perform the work of thought classification, induction and deduction, for him, but also to present the report of such work to his conscious attention at any specified time and place. The Masters of Mind relieve themselves of much of the drudgery of ordinary intellectual processes in this way, and obtain results logically perfect and ready for use, according to the measure of training and direction which they have been able to impose upon the aforesaid regions of their mind.
In conclusion, it should be called to the attention of the student that the average man “consciouses” only on some of the lower subplanes and subdivisions of The Plane of Human Consciousness; and that there are wonderful regions within that great plane awaiting the exploration of the wise of the race, and the generations of the distant future. The wise of the race are not waiting for the centuries-long slow evolution of the bulk of the race, but are taking the “short cut” to the higher sub-planes by means of careful training along the lines indicated by capable teachers who have demonstrated the virtue and value of the methods which have been known to and taught by the advanced occultists for thousands of years, the Rosicrucian Teachings being splendid examples of such achievements.
Even without calling upon the two still higher Planes of Consciousness, the enlightened race may reach heights of mental achievement which are so far above those dreamed of by the average person of the race as to appear like the wildest fiction.
VI. The Plane of the Consciousness of the Demi-Gods.
There is a Plane of Consciousness so much higher than even the Plane of Human Consciousness—of even the highest sub-planes of that great plane—that the Rosicrucians have applied to it the somewhat fanciful term of “The Plane of Consciousness of the Demi-Gods.” This, because the individual who attains these heights, and is able to “conscious” on this plane is so much higher than mere Man that he seems to be “almost as the gods.” The Rosicrucians teach that on this high plane of being dwell certain very advanced souls—once men, but now almost as gods when compared to men—who aid in the great work of the advancement of the race of men in the general course of spiritual evolution.
The teaching is that the race as a whole is slowly evolving on to the said higher Plane of Consciousness, and long ages from now will “conscious” normally on it. In the meantime, however, certain advanced souls have transcended the Human Plane, and have passed on to the higher plane, where they aid and assist the rest of the race. Moreover, to the individual whose unfoldment is rapid, from one or more of many well-known causes, there come at times “flashes of consciousness” from the higher plane aforesaid, which at least for the time being bring the individual into conscious contact with that plane. The pages of the mystic records are filled with statements of experiences of this kind. In certain forms of poetic fervor, religious exaltation, and mystic experience, these flashes come and are then recorded by the individual experiencing them—the record, however, usually being given in the terms of the philosophy, religion, or general belief of the person experiencing the contact or “illumination,” the person not fully realizing from just what source the flash of Truth has come.
In recent years many of these experiences have been classified and included in works of writers, under the general name of “Cosmic Consciousness.” In most cases the persons having attained these experiences, and those who have recorded them, are of the opinion that the flash of consciousness realized is the highest possible. But, as wonderful as are these experiences, they are in most cases but flashes of insight of the light of some of the lower sub-planes of the great Plane of the Demi-Gods—countless higher planes being existent and awaiting the unfoldment of being to experience their light and glory, and beyond all of such there existing the highest plane of all, the Plane of the Gods, to which all the rest is as but a faint shadow of the reality.
The characteristic feature of the Plane of Consciousness of the Demi-Gods is that of Oneness with Universal Life—the consciousness of the Life of All-Manifestation. Varying in many degrees and forms, of course, this is the characteristic feature of all experiences of this great plane of conscious activity. On this plane, the individual feels in close touch with all the rest of Creation—a united part of (not apart from) the ALL. The experience of even a slight momentary contact with this plane of being constitutes the common “mystic experience,” of which sages, seers, poets, and illumined souls of all ages have sung, and regarding which they have tried to inform us in words inadequate to the task. The study of these mystic reports throw much light on the subject, and is well worth the time and attention of all true students of the Rosicrucian teaching. But the student must always remember that these experiences are not the end of all thought on the subject, nor the final word of Truth. As valuable as is this part of the teaching, it must never be mistaken for the highest peak of the Mountain of Truth.
To those who have experienced the flashes of Illumination, or the glimpse of the Fire of Cosmic Consciousness—both of which classes of phenomena belong to the Plane of the Consciousness of the Demi-Gods—there has come a realization of the actual Oneness of Life in the Universe, and an actual awareness that the Universe is animated by One Life which is diffused among and permeates every portion of its extent and manifestation. To such has come an assurance that there is nothing “dead” in the Universe—that every part and portion, individual and collective, is instinct. with Life. Not only this, but for at least the time of the experience there has come a sense of absolute certainty that the individual is in touch with this One Life, and is an actual centre of activity within its presence.
It should be pointed out, moreover, that in such experiences there is not merely the intellectual conviction of the certainty of the facts just stated, but that, on the contrary, there is manifested an actual. “knowing,” direct and immediate, of such facts. The person having the experience knows these things just as he knows that he himself is alive and present in the universe. It is impossible to convey the exact nature of this consciousness to any who have not had at least a faint flash of it. It can be described only in its own terms.
In most of these cases, while the actual consciousness has passed away after a few moments, there has been left a memory which abides ever with the individual, and which gives to him such a certainty of the truth of which he has been a witness that nothing can ever shake his conviction thereof. It must be remembered that these flashes of consciousness are prophecies of the stage of consciousness which at some future time will become the normal state of consciousness of the race. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that there exist certain advanced souls on this earth to whom this stage or state of consciousness is the normal and habitual one—and in whom there always exists a realization in actual consciousness of At-One-Ment with the Universal Life. Such beings are indeed Demi-Gods, as compared to the average human being. Some of the great world leaders—the founders of great religions, and others of their kind, were filled with this consciousness and strove to make it manifest in a veiled form to their followers who were not strong enough to bear the full truth. Many of these great souls are still present on the earth-plane in the flesh, in newly incarnated forms, continuing their work and striving to uplift the race.
A modern poet expressing the conviction of Universal Oneness of Life uses terms which will be recognized by all who have had flashes of Cosmic Consciousness, as follows:
And not apart as they seem to be;
And the blood of Life has a single heart,
Beating through God, and clod, and Me!”
Walt Whitman, who himself had experienced Cosmic Consciousness, says of the experience:
Another sun, ineffable, full dazzles me,
And all the orbs I knew, and brighter, unknown orbs,
One instant of the future land, Heaven’s land.”* * * * * * * * * *
“I cannot be awake, for nothing looks to me as it did before,
Or else I am awake for the first time, and all before has been a mean sleep.
* * * * * * * * * *
“When I try to tell the best I find, I cannot;
My tongue is ineffectual on its pivots,
My breath will not be obedient to its organs,
I become a dumb man.”
Tennyson, according to his friends had glimpses and flashes of Cosmic Consciousness, and in many of his poems he has given expression to the thoughts and feelings which had come to him at that time. The following is a good illustration of the latter:
That sees and stirs the surface-shadow there,
But never yet hath dippt into the abysm,
The Abysm of all Abysms, beneath, within
The blue of sky and sea, the green of earth,
And in a million-millionth of a grain
Which cleft and cleft again for evermore
And ever vanishing, never vanishes * * *
And more, my son, for more than once when I
Sat all alone, revolving in myself
That word which is the symbol of myself,
The mortal symbol of Self was loosed,
And passed into the Nameless, as a cloud
Melts into Heaven. I touched my limbs, the limbs
Were strange, not mine—and yet no shadow of doubt,
But utter clearness, and through loss of Self
The gain of such large life as matched with ours
Were Sun to spark, unshadowable in words,
Themselves but shadows of a shadow-world.”
Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke, of Toronto, Canada, a number of years ago published a book entitled “Cosmic Consciousness,” in which he grouped together a number of very interesting experiences along these lines which had been related by those experiencing them; Dr. Bucke himself, as well as his friend Walt Whitman, and several other close friends, had experienced flashes of this same stage of consciousness. He deduces the following general idea from the consideration of these experiences:
“Superimposed upon self-consciousness as is that faculty upon simple-consciousness, a third and higher form of consciousness is at present making its appearance in our race. This higher form of consciousness, when it appears, occurs as it must, at the full maturity of the individual, at about the age of thirty-five, but almost always between the ages of thirty and forty. There have been occasional cases of it for the last two thousand years, and it is becoming more and more common. In fact, in all appearances, as far as observed, it obeys the laws to which every nascent faculty is subject. Many more or less perfect examples of this new faculty exist in the world today, and it has been my privilege to know personally and to have had the opportunity of studying, several men and women who have possessed it. In the course of a few more millenniums there should be born from the present human race, a higher type of man, possessing this higher type of consciousness. This new race, as it may well be called, would occupy toward us a position such as that occupied by us toward the simple conscious ‘alulus homo.’ The advent of this higher, better and happier race would simply justify the long agony of its birth through countless ages of our past. And it is the first article of my belief, some of the grounds for which I have endeavored to lay before you, that a new race is in course of evolution.”
In another part of his book, Dr. Bucke gives the following general characteristics of the special type of experiences recorded by him in the book:
“I have, in the last three years, collected twenty-three cases of this so-called cosmic consciousness. In each case the onset or incoming of the new faculty is always sudden, instantaneous. Among the unusual feelings the mind experiences is a sudden sense of being immersed in flame or in a brilliant light. This occurs entirely without worrying or outward cause, and may occur at noonday or in the middle of the night, and the person at first may feel that he is becoming insane. Along with these feelings comes a sense of immortality; not merely a feeling of certainty that there is a future life—that would be a small matter—but a pronounced consciousness that the life now being lived is eternal, death being seen as a trivial incident which does not affect its continuity. Further, there is an annihilation of the sense of sin, and an intellectual competency, not simply surpassing the old plane, but on an entirely new and higher plane. * * * The cosmic conscious race will not be the race that exists today, and more than the present is the same race that existed prior to the evolution of self-consciousness. A new race is being born from us, and this new race will in the near future possess the earth.”
Emerson is his wonderful essay on “The Over-Soul” clearly indicates his knowledge of the experiences mentioned herein in connection with what has been called “Cosmic Consciousness.” The following quotations therefrom will serve to disclose his general thought on the subject: “Always, I believe, by the necessity of our constitution, a certain enthusiasm attends the individual’s consciousness of that divine presence. The character and duration of this enthusiasm varies with the state of the individual, from an ecstasy and trance and prophetic inspiration—which is its rarer appearance—to the faintest glow of virtuous emotion, in which form it warms, like our household fires, all the families and associations of men, and makes society possible. A certain tendency to insanity has always attended the opening of the religious sense in men, as if ‘blasted with excess of light.’ The trances of Socrates; the ‘Union’ of Plotinus; the vision of Porphyry; the conversion of Paul; the aurora of Behmen; the convulsions of George Fox and his Quakers; the illumination of Swedenborg are of this kind. What was in the case of these remarkable persons a ravishment has in innumerable instances in common life been exhibited in a less striking manner. Everywhere the history of religion betrays a tendency to enthusiasm. The rapture of the Moravian and Quietist; the opening of the internal sense of the Word, in the language of the New Jerusalem Church; the revival of the Calvinistic Churches; the experiences of the Methodists, are varying forms of that shudder of awe and delight with which the individual soul always mingles with the universal soul. The nature of these revelations is always the same; they are perceptions of the absolute law. They are solutions of the soul’s own questions. The soul answers never by words, but by the thing itself that is inquired after. * * * We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal One. And this deep power in which we exist, and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing, and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are One. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun and moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul. It is only by the vision of that Wisdom that the horoscope of the ages can be read, and it is only by falling back on our better thoughts, by yielding to the spirit of prophesy which is innate in every man that we can know what it saith. Every man’s words, who speaks from that life, must sound vain to those who do not dwell in the same thought on their own part. I dare not speak for it. My words do not carry its august sense; they fall short and cold. Only itself can inspire whom it will, and behold, their speech shall be lyrical and sweet, and universal as the rising of the wind. Yet I desire, even by profane words, if sacred I may not use, to indicate the heaven of this deity, and to report what hints I have collected of the transcendent simplicity and energy of the Highest Law.”
So such are the general reports of the nature and character of these glimpses of this Universal Consciousness which men here and there have experienced in all times. Let us now consider the powers kindled in those to whom glimpses (or more) of this consciousness has come. For an increase in “knowing” always brings with it an increase in power, according to the law of cause and effect.
In the first place, the possession by an individual of even a faint dawn of this Universal Consciousness, by whatever name it may be known, endows him with a certain “in touchness” with all the rest of Life. By a subtle intuition he may, under favorable circumstances, speak, write, paint, act, or produce music representing phase of vital, mental, and emotional activity transcending any actual experience on his own part. Such an individual becomes “en rapport” with, or “in tune” with, the manifold variety of living forms, and is able to produce a representation thereof through his own expression. This is the secret of the “genius” of great artists, writers, musicians, poets, and others who express through their own respective mediums or vehicles the messages they receive from the other forms of life with which they are connected by subtle filaments of unity. Such a one can “enter into” (in imagination) the life experiences of any and all forms of life, and to then represent them in visible or audible form in a degree depending upon their own development.
Moreover, such individuals are “universal” in their sympathies, and can feel with any form of life with which they come in contact. And as a consequence of the latter, they tend to inspire in other persons and living creatures a “liking,” fellowship, and understanding. Many of the great illumined souls of the race, having this consciousness in at least some degree, find themselves “at home” with all manners and conditions of mankind, and in many cases with the lower life forms as well. Sympathy has been defined as “a fellow feeling,” and it may be seen at once that when one has a feeling of fellowship with all Life (and such individuals have this to some degree), then there are created certain bonds and links of sympathy and unity which serve to unite the individual more or less strongly to all living things. In the case of the great teachers of the race, such as the founders of the great religions and similar souls, we find that universal sympathy with and understanding of all life which sets such individuals apart as marked and distinguished men, and imparts to them a universality which makes them citizens of all countries and dwellers in all time.
Again, we find that in the case of many individuals of this type there exists a certain power of attraction for other forms of life and things, which enables them to attract to themselves those conditions, environments, and persons best adapted to their wellbeing and happiness; and which also gives them certain so-called “miraculous” powers over Nature. He who is consciously identical with Nature is able to work “miracles” with Nature. We cannot go deeper into this subject at this time and place, for several very good reasons, but the above is a strong hint to those who are prepared to hear and understand the truth concerning certain phases of Life and Nature.
What we have said so far in our consideration of the individuals manifesting flashes or glimpses of this phase of consciousness, applies in a much greater degree to those who have penetrated fully into the higher sub-planes of this great Plane of Consciousness. On this planet, and on others, dwell Beings so fully awakened and unfolded in this phase of consciousness that they are as Supernatural Beings to the ordinary human being. Many of such beings are performing important offices in the unfoldment of the race, and the betterment of mankind. Many of these people have been regarded as Angels or Demi-Gods by ordinary people with whom they have come in contact in the past, and many of them are the Invisible Helpers of whose presence many of the race have been made aware by actual experiences.
Many of the White Magicians of the race belong to the higher phases of this great Plane of Consciousness. And, alas, some who are what is known as Black Magicians have managed to “break into the Kingdom of Heaven” on these planes, and have prostituted their power; but to such inevitably comes punishment by Nature herself, and are either forced into the legions of Light or else are disintegrated and destroyed by the very forces of Nature which they have set into operation for selfish and ignoble purposes.
VII. The Plane of the Consciousness of the Gods
If, as we have seen, it is most difficult to speak in understandable terms concerning the phases of life and activity on the last mentioned Plane of Consciousness, what must be the difficulty of even hinting at the life and activities of the highest plane of all—the Plane of the Consciousness of the Gods
On this highest of all Planes of Consciousness, however, dwell beings so high in the scale of knowledge, power, life, and bliss that even the imagination of the advanced student or teacher can scarcely grasp the idea. This is the Plane of the Gods, in verity—of being so far advanced that they are practically akin to the conception of the Gods created by man to account for the Universe, and to serve as objects of worship.
On this Plane are Personal Gods—many of them—but none of them, alone, may be regarded as GOD, in the sense of the Eternal Parent or Infinite Reality. For even the highest of them have their limitations and restrictions, and all are but Manifestations of the Infinite Unmanifest. Each of these exalted Beings has had its beginning or birth in Manifestation, and each will finally have its ending and disappearance into the Infinite Unmanifest, where all sense of separateness and personality will disappear.
The highest authorities inform us that the characteristic element of this highest form of all consciousness is the conscious realization of the individual that he IS identical with the Infinite, and is only apparently separated therefrom by the most tenuous and subtle veil of illusion.
Strange as it may appear to one not acquainted with the subject, glimpses and flashes of this consciousness, in rare instances, filter down into the consciousness of individuals on this earth at the present time, and have done so in the past. Many of the brave souls and keen minds of the Illumined have actually pierced the veil of this plane, and have been almost blinded by the light that has flashed upon them.
The consideration of this Plane of Consciousness must be closed here, for reasons which the advanced occultist will at once realize, and which the less advanced student must be told are adequate. Many, not prepared for the full Light must be protected from spiritual and mental blindness by being exposed to rays before they have become accustomed to the lesser lights of the Truth. Rest assured, however, O student, that when your eyes are ready to gaze upon the Sacred Flame, it will no longer be hidden from you.
The Truth in Symbols
There are certain truths which cannot be well expressed in words, but which may be at least partially expressed in symbols. To those who feel a desire to penetrate rather more deeply into the Mystery of. the Three Higher Planes of Consciousness, we call attention to the symbol accompanying this particular chapter of this book. There is a wealth of knowledge and important information hidden in this symbol, undiscoverable to the many but at least partially discoverable by the few. To the Few, we offer the following suggestions concerning this Symbol.
Your attention is called to the fact that each circle in the symbol is called to and blended with the one on either side of it. Accordingly in the circular extent of each circle there is to be found FOUR different spaces or regions, as follows: (1) Its own unblended space or region; (2) the space or region in which its own space or region is blended with that of one of the neighboring circles, which constitutes a shield-shaped space; (3) the space or region in which its own space or region is blended with that of the other neighboring circle, constituting a shield-shaped space; and (4) the space or region in the very centre of the symbol, in which the space or region of each circle is blended with that of both of the other two—thus producing a Triune Region. This arrangement, again, furnishes us with SEVEN distinct regions, as follows (giving each circle the name of a letter, as A, B, or C, respectively) I. Circle A; II. Circle B; III. Circle C; IV. Space A-B; V. Space A-C; VI. Space B-C and finally VII. Region A-B-C, at the centre. There are thus three unblended areas; also three blended areas of two elements; and finally one blended area of three elements; the latter combining within itself all three elements in equal proportion. Let him who wishes for the Light solve this Riddle of the Symbol!
Excerpt taken from The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians, by Magus Incognito, 
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