How Long Does It Take?
By Mark Stavish
for The Wyoming Valley Society for Esoteric Studies<
Copyright 1999 Mark Stavish, M.A.
The familiar question “So, how long does it take before I see results?” is often heard in an esoteric lodge or group, after explaining an esoteric technique to a newcomer to the Work. By asking “How long does it take?” the student reveals several things that are endemic to modern esotericism.
Lack of Patience: Quarterly Reports and Annual Earnings
Many folks approach esotericism as if they were looking at a business plan: short term thinking, quick returns, minimal investment, and regular reinforcement through ‘dividends’ (paranormal phenomena) seem to be the areas of focus. This lack of ‘long term investment’ strategy short changes their teachers, fellow lodge workers, and most importantly themselves.
The truth is real, inner growth takes time! If it takes a minimum of eight to twelve years to become a doctoral candidate in the arts or sciences, how can we expect it to take any less to become proficient in esoteric practice? Note that the key word here is proficient, not expert, or master, but technically capable with dependable results. Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, a student of the later W.E. Butler, and co-founder of Servants of Light (SOL), stated in one interview that it takes nearly ten years to become skilled in magical techniques. Jean Dubuis, founder of the French alchemical society, The Philosophers of Nature, has often stated that it can take up to twenty years of serious esoteric practices to develop a working dialogue with one’s “Inner Master”.
In the Rosicrucian Manual published by the Rosicrucian Order (AMORC), there is a section devoted to the topic of psychic illumination and the attaining of Cosmic Consciousness. The article, written by the organizations founder Harvey Spencer Lewis, makes several points that are worth restating.
- The most progress is often made by those least concerned with it.
- Psychic development is uneven, and often only manifests itself in times of great need.
- The length of time for Mastership is unimportant.
“Looking at it broadly, the five or six years required to bring the average member to the very threshold of Mastership, as compared to one’s whole cycle of incarnations, is like a pencil dot on a line a mile in length. But how we can magnify that dot and lose site of the line!”
Yes, in five or six years it is possible to bring a student to the ‘very threshold of Mastership’. Yes, the threshold, but not across! In the Golden Dawn, the first three and a half years were spent practicing only one or two rituals. The next few years involved learning core techniques which many schools now take for granted. Thus, five or six years of intense and specific study was required to learn the necessary techniques to bring one to the inner point where they might actually become an Adeptus Minor (i.e. inner initiation), and not just in theory.
Very few students ever progress inwardly that quickly, but along the way they have the interior experiences that drive them onward to that point, where one day, they will cross the threshold into true mastership. This crossing may be in this incarnation or in another. The relevance of time is important only to the ego, and not to the soul. If your desire is truly soul inspired, then time will be unimportant to you, and the domain of service will be important.
If you seek to grow, then serve, and serve anonymously, from behind the adepts veil. Then you will be in good company and the crossing will not be far off.
All esoteric exercises are designed to repair our psychic vehicles from the ‘damage’ they incurred in the taking on of incarnation. Since they speed up the process of repair, or reintegration, on the cosmic scale their effects are nearly instantaneous, it is only to the time-space of Earth that makes it appear long or short. However, some ideas are worth keeping in mind when doing exercises.
It has been stated to the author by both Jean Dubuis, and Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki that it can take up to 18 months for an esoteric process to work itself through. In addition, exercises aimed at the lunar world, of which most are, can take several months for integration, but, we find they are most powerful in relationship to lunar cycles. Thus, we may be doing an exercise everyday for several months, but find that it is most ‘effective’ for the days of lunar strength during the month. Although we are not sensing it, the effects are accumulative, but the power is expressed most easily during the full moon.
Other exercises aimed at Briah take even longer, as they can be effected in their initial stages by the effects of the solar year. Thus, a minimum of an entire year may be needed for these exercises to be established within our psyche. Like the ‘lunar’ exercises however, once they are in place, or their function re-established, we are no longer dependent on astrological cycles for their functioning, it is always available to us.
Concentration: or Why System Junkies Fail
Concentration is one of the key fundamentals to success, visualization and meditation are the other two. But concentration is not just a mental faculty, it is also an attitude, an approach to ones inner life. If we spend all our time looking for the ‘right system’ or combination of techniques that will give us the experience we are seeking then more often then not we defeat ourselves. Pick a system and set of daily practices and stick to them! Good solid basics give more results than the most complex of magical endeavors. Accumulating initiations and techniques from diverse sources takes us away from what really matters — the initiation into our Heart, and conversation with our Inner Master. It is better to chant ‘OM’ everyday for the rest of your life and nothing else than to technically know a half dozen systems of magic and end up with nothing but psychic indigestion. Keep it simple and direct, like the flight of an arrow, and then you will hit your mark.