In the beginning was Initiation. The flesh
profiteth nothing; the mind profiteth nothing; that which
is unknown to you and above these, while firmly based
upon their equilibrium, giveth life.
In all systems of religion is to be found a system
of Initiation, which may be defined as the process by
which a man comes to learn that unknown Crown.
Though none can communicate either the knowledge or
the power to achieve this, which we may call the Great
Work, it is yet possible for initiates to guide others.
Every man must overcome his own obstacles, expose
his own illusions. Yet others may assist him to do both,
and they may enable him altogether to avoid many of the
false paths, leading no whither, which tempt the weary
feet of the uninitiated pilgrim. They can further insure
that he is duly tried and tested, for there are many who
think themselves to be Masters who have not even begun to
tread the Way of Service that leads thereto.
Now the Great Work is one, and the Initiation is
one, and the Reward is one, however diverse are the
symbols wherein the Unutterable is clothed.
Hear then the history of the system which this lection gives you the opportunity of investigating.
Listen, we pray you, with attention: for once only does the Great Order knock at any one door.
Whosoever knows any member of that Order as such, can never know another, until he too has attained to mastery.
Here, therefore, we pause, that you may thoroughly search yourself, and consider if you are yet fitted to take an irrevocable step.
For the reading of that which follows is Recorded.
THE HISTORY LECTION
Some years ago a number of cipher MSS. were
discovered and deciphered by certain students. They
attracted much attention, as they purported to derive
from the Rosicrucians. You will readily understand that
the genuineness of the claim matters no whit, such
literature being judged by itself, not by its reputed
Among the MSS. was one which gave the address of a
certain person in Germany, who is known to us as S.D.A.
Those who discovered the ciphers wrote to S.D.A., and in
accordance with the instructions received, an Order was
founded which worked in a semi-secret manner.
After some time S.D.A. died: further requests for
help were met with a prompt refusal from the colleagues
of S.D.A. It was written by one of them that S.D.A.’s
scheme had always been regarded with disapproval. But
since the absolute rule of the adepts is never to
interfere with the judgment of any other person
whomsoever—how much more, then, one of themselves, and
that one most highly revered!—they had refrained from
active opposition. The adept who wrote this added that
the Order had already quite enough knowledge to enable it
or its members to formulate a magical link with the
Shortly after this, one called S.R.M.D. announced
that he had formulated such a link, and that himself and
two others were to govern the Order. New and revised
rituals were issued, and fresh knowledge poured out in
We must pass over the unhappy juggleries which
characterized the next period. It has throughout proved
impossible to elucidate the complex facts.
We content ourselves, then, with observing that the
death of one of his two colleagues, and the weakness of
the other, secured to S.R.M.D. the sole authority. The
rituals were elaborated, though scholarly enough, into
verbose and pretentious nonsense: the knowledge proved
worthless, even where it was correct: for it is in vain
that pearls, be they never so clear and precious, are
given to the swine.
The ordeals were turned into contempt, it being
impossible for any one to fail therein. Unsuitable
candidates were admitted for no better reason than that
of their worldly prosperity.
In short, the Order failed to initiate.
Scandal arose and with it schism.
In 1900 one P., a brother, instituted a rigorous
test of S.R.M.D. on the one side and the Order on the
He discovered that S.R.M.D., though a scholar of
some ability and a magician of remarkable powers, had
never attained complete initiation: and further had
fallen from his original place, he having imprudently
attracted to himself forces of evil too great and
terrible for him to withstand.
The claim of the Order that the true adepts were in
charge of it was definitely disproved.
In the Order, with two certain exceptions and two
doubtful ones, he found no persons prepared for
initiation of any sort.
He thereupon by his subtle wisdom destroyed both
the Order and its chief.
Being himself no perfect adept, he was driven of
the Spirit into the Wilderness, where he abode for six
years, studying by the light of reason the sacred books
and secret systems of initiation of all countries and
Finally, there was given unto him a certain
exalted grade whereby a man becomes master of knowledge
and intelligence, and no more their slave. He perceived
the inadequacy of science, philosophy, and religion; and
exposed the self-contradictory nature of the thinking
Returning to England, he laid his achievements
humbly at the feet of a certain adept D.D.S., who
welcomed him brotherly and admitted his title to the
grade which he had so hardly won.
Thereupon these two adepts conferred together,
saying: May it not be written that the tribulations shall
be shortened? Wherefore they resolved to establish a new
Order which should be free from the errors and deceits of
the former one.
Without Authority they could not do this, exalted
as their rank was among adepts. They resolved to prepare
all things, great and small, against that day when such
Authority should be received by them, since they knew not
where to seek for higher adepts than themselves, but knew
that the true way to attract the notice of such was to
equilibrate the symbols. The temple must be builded
before the God can indwell it.
Therefore by the order of D.D.S. did P. prepare
all things by his arcane science and wisdom, choosing
only those symbols which were common to all systems, and
rigorously rejecting all names and words which might be
supposed to imply any religious or metaphysical theory.
To do this utterly was found impossible, since all
language has a history, and the use (for example) of the
word «spirit» implies the Scholastic
Philosophy and the Hindu and Taoist theories concerning
the breath of man. So was it difficult to avoid
implication of some undesirable bias by using the words
«brotherhood,» or any other to designate
the body of initiates.
Deliberately, therefore, did he take refuge in
vagueness. Not to veil the truth to the Neophyte, but to
warn him against valuing non-essentials. Should
therefore the candidate hear the name of any God, let him
not rashly assume that it refers to any known God, save
only the God known to himself. Or should the ritual speak
in terms (however vague) which seem to imply Egyptian,
Taoist, Buddhist, Indian, Persian, Greek, Judaic,
Christian, or Moslem philosophy, let him reflect that
this is a defect of language; the literary limitation and
not the spiritual prejudice of the man P.
Especially let him guard against the finding of
definite sectarian symbols in the teaching of his master,
and the reasoning from the known to the unknown which
assuredly will tempt him.
We labour earnestly, dear brother, that you may never
be led away to perish upon this point; for thereon have
many holy and just men been wrecked. By this have all the
visible systems lost the essence of wisdom.
We have sought to reveal the Arcanum; we have only
Now when P. had thus with bitter toil prepared all
things under the guidance of D.D.S. (even as the hand
writes, while the conscious brain, though ignorant of the
detailed movements, applauds or disapproves the finished
work) there was a certain time of repose, as the earth
Meanwhile these adepts busied themselves intently
with the Great Work.
In the fullness of time, even as a blossoming tree
that beareth fruit in its season, all these pains were
ended, and these adepts and their companions obtained the
reward which they had sought—they were to be admitted to
the Eternal and Invisible Order that hath no name among
They therefore who had with smiling faces
abandoned their homes, their possessions, their wives,
their children, in order to perform the Great Work, could
with steady calm and firm correctness abandon the Great
Work itself: for this is the last and greatest projection
of the alchemist.
Also one V.V.V.V.V. arose, an exalted adept of the
rank of Master of the Temple (or this much He disclosed
to the Exempt Adepts) and His utterance is enshrined in
the Sacred Writings.
Also He conferred upon D.D.S., O.M., and another,
the Authority of the Triad, who in turn have delegated it
unto others, and they yet again, so that the Body of
Initiates may be perfect, even from the Crown unto the
Kingdom and beyond.
For Perfection abideth not in the Pinnacles, or in
the Foundations, but in the ordered Harmony of one with
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