Excerpt for Your Path Into Higher Worlds by , available in its entirety at Smashwords




Smashwords Edition

Copyright © 2016 by Bożena Podstawska

Written in 1922 by Józef Świtkowski

Original title: Droga w światy nadzmysłowe – raja yoga nowoczesna

Translated by Bożena Podstawska

Edited by William Robinson

Table of Contents

Foreword to the First Polish Edition (1922)

Foreword to the Second Polish Edition (1936)

Chapter 1 – The Goal and Measures

Chapter 2 – Rules

Chapter 3 – Mystery Schools

Chapter 4 – The Path

Chapter 5 – Results

Chapter 6 – Yama (Cleansing)

Chapter 7 – Niyama (Acquisition of Virtues)

Chapter 8 – Asana (Life Attitude)

Chapter 9 – Pranayama (The Rhythm of Life)

Chapter 10 – Pratyahara (Control of Attention)

Chapter 11 – Preparation

Chapter 12 – Dharana (Concentration)

Chapter 13 – Imagination

Chapter 14 – Dhyana (Meditation)

Chapter 15 – Inspiration

Chapter 16 – Samadhi (Yogis’ Trance)

Chapter 17 – Contemplation

Chapter 18 – Samyama (Higher Consciousness)

Chapter 19 – Intuition (Conscience)

Chapter 20 – Enlightenment

Chapter 21 – A Fond Farewell

About the Author

Foreword to the First Polish Edition (1922)

This book is for the few who do not consider higher worlds to be a mere legend – a legend which should be doubted. For the few who do not need any rational reason or experiment to prove the existence of such worlds. Furthermore, this book is for only a small percentage of them. Most people will consider the path described in this book to be too long and tedious; they often think that guidelines found elsewhere will suffice to get an access to para-sensory, higher worlds. If those worlds, so called “para-sensory worlds” – obtained by mechanical techniques – satisfy them, they have not matured enough to know or they do not desire to find other worlds.

Therefore, this is a book for mature people. In it, I speak to mature readers: I do not explain totally elementary ideas. I assume the readers are already familiar with some basic metaphysical concepts, and they have already studied some of the works quoted in my book. If a reader reads my book carefully, he will realize that – despite its small volume – it contains enough content for many years of self-development. It is not enough to read and understand its words; it is necessary to live by them, to implement them into one’s character, to re-build oneself from the very foundation. This is much more difficult than doing mechanical exercises quoted in other textbooks. The exercises provided in such books may have been simply copied uncritically from other compilations, or have been deliberately written in order to cause harm.

By so saying, I do not attempt to over-estimate the value of my work. It is possible, that it may also prove to be harmful: especially for those who omit the requirement for one’s high moral level. For people without morals – and their purposes – this book may be harmful indeed. However, for my target readers, this will be the path that leads to the higher words they yearn: a path which is undoubtedly difficult and tedious, but which is also certain. In this book, all the advice and instruction are things that I have myself experienced. Some readers may think, at first, that not enough instructions are given; however, when such a reader fully understands the methods, he will be able to create his own exercises. Perhaps, one day, he will put his exercises into a book that is more comprehensive than this one: one which is the first in the Polish language, and therefore, is not free from faults and shortcomings.

Foreword to the Second Polish Edition (1936)

During the 14 years that have passed since the first edition of this book, some of its readers might have reached the level of enlightenment, while others may be still on the preparatory level. Others might have become disappointed, considering the rules set forth in this book to be too demanding for them, and put the book aside. Despite all my efforts to hide my real name, I have received many letters from my readers. They contained either expressions of joy due to finding the right way of living and achieving internal happiness, or they contained requests that I dispel some doubts and make some corrections and rectification in a later edition.

These requests were mainly of two kinds: first, to remove Sanskrit terminology, allegedly confusing, and second, to express my firm opinion about eating meat, about consuming caffeine and alcohol, and about bodily pleasures. Let the fact – that the content of the book has been left nearly unchanged – serve as my answer to these requests. I have only added two short paragraphs to explain more precisely the role of the physical body in the spiritual development.

The title of the book is Modern Raja Yoga. Therefore, the book tries to show how ancient Indian Raja Yoga now applies to contemporary Western culture. Western culture, to this day, has not created any terminology – in any of its languages – to replace Sanskrit names that describe ancient concepts. That is why these terms cannot be replaced in my book. However, I attempted to write the book in such a way that the reader – without being over-concerned with the technical terminology – should be able to start the self-development that leads to the gate of the “path”.

The second question asked by my readers – the one about banning the consumption of meat and certain drugs – is a simple misunderstanding. This type of prohibition may be important in textbooks that deal with the culture of the body: with hatha yoga, or with ritualistic magic. In this book, however – a book that deals exclusively with the culture of the soul – such bans would be contradictory to its intent. Giving attention to the care of the physical body – even if done merely in the form of bans or commandments – would only prove that the physical body deserves special care. The truth is that caring about the physical body should take no more time than a reasonable person would devote to tending to his livestock or machines.

I add these two explanations to complement the foreword to the first edition, which otherwise remains unchanged.

Chapter 1 – The Goal and Measures

You have taken this book into your hand. This suggests that some kind of motivation may lay behind that act: something more than sheer curiosity, one that makes you seek a path. A path that you could tread yourself, instead of merely reading about one that others followed and are following ahead of you. Maybe you have been wandering and searching for a long time, maybe you have felt that the broad and frequently treaded road that all people around you utilize is not sufficient for you. It may seem too simple for you, too easy, but most of all: too horizontal. The vast majority of ordinary people follow this road, slowly, comfortably, without much effort but also without many rewards. They do not have to give much, and, in exchange, they do not receive much. But you feel that you would like to sacrifice more in order to receive more. You would like to make the greatest efforts – give everything you have – to accomplish everything that is worthy of such efforts: to accomplish everything you are capable of achieving.

It is good, that this broad and overcrowded road has already become too flat for you. It is good that you want to leave it and are ready to walk on the path which is shorter and steeper but makes your ascent to the top faster. Your aspiration does you credit because it indicates that you have matured enough to enter the path. But, before you decide to enter it, examine yourself carefully and estimate your strength. Evaluate yourself strictly and soberly, ask if you really want to give all yourself, everything – unreservedly. Ask yourself if you will not get so discouraged that you will soon fall down from the path and back onto the comfortable road.

There is no doubt that you will fall from the steep slope repeatedly before you are able to keep firmly on it. The important thing is that – when you fall down – you get quickly to your feet again, despite any wounds or bruises, and that you do not feel sorry for yourself. Without delay, you use all your determination to climb onto the path again. You should make sure that your eagerness to embark on the path is not merely a temporary whim: because you have become disappointed with your everyday life due to some failure.

However, as you have taken this book into your hand and are determined to read it, this may mean that your intentions are honest and stable. Maybe there is nothing in your present life that you find purposeful and worth of effort. Maybe you look on people around you as if they were children whom you have surpassed. You feel that you need to stop playing in a childish way and take on activities of a more serious nature. If their lives always seem to you to be aimless and pointless, you may be ready for the path. If you constantly feel some emptiness – not only in the face of some recent disappointment of yours – but even in times of success and satisfaction: maybe you have truly become ready for the path. Bear in mind, however, that the path described in this book is the shortest and steepest of all: very soon you may find yourself too far away from the broad road to be able to get back down onto it.

There are other paths available as well. They may be longer but they are not as steep and arduous as this one, and – more importantly – they do not turn aside so radically from the common road followed by most of the humankind. If you chose one of them, you would still have constant connection with everything that people call “the world”, and your return to the common road would be always available. Even though these roads are not so steep and demanding and the pace is not so fast, they also lead upwards. The paths of scientific studies, artistic creativity, or social work – they are all too difficult for idlers but always accessible for you. One of them might be adequate for you: having chosen it, you could put as much effort into it as you wish, and climb as high and as fast as you wish. These roads are relatively comfortable because they do not require such enormous load of work on yourself: you direct your activity mostly outwards, on objects, and it is always easier.

However, if you still feel that they will be too easy – if you truly want to work on yourself – you have many paths to choose from. There is a choice of paths between the two extremes, very distinct from each other: the path of Hatha Yoga at one end, and that of saints at the other. They are also paths, but they are not easy at all. Yet, if you choose one of them, you can still expect something for yourself. You may say: I give everything I am, all that I am worth, and I expect to receive as much as I am worth in exchange.

On the other hand, if you choose the path described in this book, you will not be able to say so. If you choose it, you can expect nothing: no benefits, no rewards, nothing but the feeling that you have done everything you are capable of, that you have not wasted anything, that you have not neglected anything.

That is why it is absolutely essential that you are aware of the aim you are going to pursue. It is not enough to tell yourself: I am not satisfied with the life that everybody around me leads. I must find something more fulfilling for myself. Consider how you define something more fulfilling. If you want more satisfaction for yourself, you will not find it on this path; in that case – you should turn towards hatha yoga. If you want to fulfill your curiosity of extra-sensory worlds, you will discover them on the path: but only after you have stopped craving to know them. If you want to obtain magical powers and extraordinary abilities, you will also get them: when it has become absolutely impossible that you might use them for personal advantage.

As you can see, the path does not offer much. But if you still wish to pursue it despite this fact, or especially because it does not offer any personal advantages, it means that you have truly grown up to it. You have grown to it, because you have already outgrown an erroneous belief that there is any other good other than the common good.

Your aim must be absolutely unselfish. You must want nothing for yourself, nothing for your own pleasure or personal benefit. Your only desire, your only aspiration must be always the common good: not only the good of all people, regardless their nationality, race, religion, culture and moral level, but also the good of the entire universe, that is the good of all creatures living in it: animals, plants, higher beings, and all the creation. Do not think that you are too small and weak to be of any use for angels or plants; when you are on the path, your forces will grow to a superhuman, inconceivable strength. This is because you will be approaching God, and thus, you will participate in God’s omniscience and omnipotence.

God wants nothing for himself. Therefore, if you are going to follow God’s path, you have to get rid of all your egoism, you have to forget about yourself. Are you ready to eliminate your ego permanently? Are you always ready to say: Not mine, but Thy will be done? If you can do this, and if you are truly determined to renounce every single thought of yourself, all your egoistic traits; then you are truly ready for the path. Enter it boldly: do it right now, today. If you hesitate or delay, it means that you have not grown to it yet.

Soon, you will realize how much this path gives you, how much invaluable treasure you can find on it; this is because you do not desire nor seek it. First of all, you will find infinite peace, it will be sweet and tranquil: God’s peace. You will find health of the soul and even of the physical body: health so flowering and sound that it could never have been achieved by living in the most advantageous conditions elsewhere. You will find unlimited knowledge: not the knowledge that can be found in books and learned by using your memory and brain, but the direct knowledge acquired by seeing and comprehending. You will also find that which people call clairvoyance, even though they do not believe in it: you will be able to see inside the Earth and far distant lands, look into human souls and angels’ spirits, and talk both to the so-called dead and the alive, no matter how far they are from you. Finally, you will find all those magical powers and incredible abilities which have given some people either the reputation of a saint or the notoriety of a wizard; you will have all of them, without exception, for your unlimited disposal.

You will find all these on the path: you will find them gradually, more and more with each step, without any effort or attempts by you. You will find yourself surrounded by wealth, power, respect, fame but – at that time – all of them will have become worthless for you. They will all seem to you to be yet other, more heavy burdens: ones that bring new and more extensive duties. But you will manage to fulfil all of those duties because you will not desire anything for yourself.

Until now, you might have been searching for this path, without the clarity of what you were seeking. You have had the premonition that somewhere, beyond all what you knew and experienced in life, there must be something more, something else, something higher: something more real. Things that other people perceive as real and valid, have lost their value of realism and truth for you. You have been looking for something beyond it because ordinary, everyday desires and aspirations of humankind have become insufficient for you.

Do you know why they are insufficient? Because within you, there exists something more than in your brothers. The Divine Spark has already awakened within you. The same spark does exist in your brothers but they know nothing about it. It is too early for them to feel it within themselves. But you have been sensing it, maybe unknowingly at first, but you feel it, without doubt. In your soul – in the core of your existence, something new, so far unknown – has started living: like an unborn baby developing in the womb of a young mother. The Devine Spark now exists in you, because you are mature enough to be conscious that it is a part of you. In other people, it is still dormant, but in you, it has already awakened. That is why you long for something unknown, something real and authentic which cannot be found in the mundane world.

Now, you can feel clearly and undoubtedly that there is something more in you than your bodies – these visible and incorporeal layers. You realize that when you pass the gate of death, you will take those layers off, one after another: first your physical body, then the etheric and astral ones and finally, your mental body. But who will take them off you? It will be you, the real you. You are already able to intuit that these bodies are not you, that for you they are rather like layers of clothing. You live inside them but they are not you. What will remain of you when they have been taken off? That which remains is you, your Divine Spark, your higher self. What is immortal, authentic and true in you – that will remain and survive beyond death and all demises.

You are becoming aware of the immortal particle within you: this is why, what may seem sufficient for your fellow brothers, has become unsatisfactory for you. You have started seeking something more because there is something more within you. You have already learned how to hear the “voice” of your conscience: it speaks silently within you. From now on, you will be able to hear it; at first, not all the time, but often. This is the voice that told you that you are not your outer layers; it gave you a constant sensation of dissatisfaction with yourself and with the world. Sometimes, you may still ignore it but you will never be able to deaden or repress it in yourself completely; now, when the higher self – the Divine Spark – is alive in you.

So now, you can see your goal more clearly. Instead of the mortal and trifling, you would like the eternal and divine to be the master within you. You do not want to be a slave of your bodies anymore, not even the more subtle ones, like the astral or mental bodies. You want to learn how to rule them, how to change them into useful tools that are always obedient to your higher self. In some way, you feel that you will not learn how to rule them anywhere in the ordinary world; therefore, you wander and seek.

Until now, your bodies have ruled over you, they were doing whatever they wanted with you and you obeyed them without any resistance. Before now, you simply did not realize that it was possible to disobey them nor how that was possible. But now, your higher self is awakening in you and claiming its rights. Before now, it was animal instincts that ruled over you, but now God in you is to lead your way. If you start a battle against yourself – that is, one against your bodies – you will not be able to reach your goal. Your goal is not division or conflict, but unification. Your lower nature should become compatible with your higher self; they should harmonize and unite. The aspirations of these two parts of yourself cannot be inconsistent anymore; they are to be attuned and harmonized. Your lower self must unite with the higher one. Such unity is called yoga in Sanskrit; if you prefer more modern term, you might call it synthesis.

Therefore, your goal is yoga. Do not hesitate to use this term only because it was coined and used by ancient Indians. Since their times, humankind has made much progress in development but still not as much as to make Yoga obsolete. You must have noticed this yourself: how very few people around you have already united with their higher self. Of course, Yoga seen as an idea or a goal, should not be mistaken for the methods leading to this goal: that is, for the systems of Yoga. From the very start, the goal has not changed: but systems and methods change as mankind develops. Today, the ancient Indian Raja Yoga would not only be fruitless, it might even mean development goes backwards. At the time of ancient Indians, a unity of higher and lower self was not possible in a wakeful state: at that time man was not advanced enough to be able to maintain his awareness while reaching into the higher planes. Achieving Yoga – the unification – back then was only possible when in the state of Samadhi; the state that we could call a trance or magnetic sleep. On the other hand, nowadays, the goal is not to experience Yoga only in short moments of an unconscious trance but in full wakefulness, with full awareness. Today, this is possible because we have made sufficient progress in development. Therefore, do not be surprised or annoyed by the term yoga or other Sanskrit words being used in this book: we do not have alternate names for them.

You should understand that today, if you want to have Yoga as your path – as your method – it must differ from ancient Indian Yoga. There are many abilities that ancient Indians had to develop by means of methodological exercises; you do not have to work on them because they are already developed in you. But you have to work on other techniques, those which were completely unknown to ancient Indians. Even their raja yogis were not matured enough for them at that time, so they could not even coin names for them. Therefore, do not confuse the method of Raja Yoga with the goal of raja yoga; likewise, it would be a mistake to confuse the initiation of Egyptians or Christians with their goal.

As you can now see, what you need is the capability: you have been seeking it but could not find it anywhere. You might have come across some books with mysterious titles, allegedly containing valuable tips for yoga exercises; but your infallible voice told you that you could not trust those tips and advice. This is yet more evidence of how your Divine Spark rules over you when you let it speak, when you let it reign. If it tells you that what you are reading now is wrong, do not hesitate: stop reading. This soundless voice within you will always give you the best advice. But it will not forbid you to read. Rather, you may expect other people to try to discourage you; but again, your conscience will tell you if you should listen to them or not.

As for the choice of measures for practicing yoga, which is for entering upon the path, it is again the voice of your conscience: your higher self that will do the choice because it knows infallibly what suits it best. You can find excellent methods in a small book which you have known since your childhood and you might have even learned by heart. This is the Catechism, the everyday Christian Catechism. It will lead you onto the path as surely as the rules of some of the arcane schools of thought. It will lead you, provided, of course, that you not only know its mandates by heart but also put them into practice in your everyday life. For some people, the Catechism seems to be incomprehensible and insufficient; this is because they only know it from reading, not from living by its principles. They only repeat its words with their mouths, instead of putting its contents into practice and live it. However, even the path of the Catechism may still seem too slow for you. If it is so, take another book into your hand, you may already know it: The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. Now, if you read this book carefully and with full understanding, you will not say that it is too simple. You may say that its directives are less accessible for you because they were intended for monks, while you live in the world. Remember, however, that everyone who truly wants it, can try to imitate Christ. This is why, in the next chapters, you will find many quotations from this book; you will see that it is unequalled. The words spoken on the pages of this book will merely supplement it, but they will not improve it.

From those two books you can gain some idea about the measures that should be used to give you access to the path. If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments. Without this, you will never reach access to the path, even if you explore all principles of all mystery schools. For this path, you must be well-prepared and also mature enough. You have to prepare proper dwelling for your higher self, for the Divine Spark within you. This dwelling must be properly lit and cleaned. Therefore, you have to purify your soul as well as your physical body. You have to work on all your bodies: the physical, etheric, astral and mental ones. These are what you have called yourself, until now. The guidelines for such work on yourself is exactly what you can find in the Catechism and in The Imitation of Christ.

Do not think that you can omit this work on yourself or substitute it by something else. There are some paths which provide methods of achieving certain powers without such moralizing work upon you. However, these substitute measures can give you only substitute powers – that is surrogates or imitations – and these are not what you are looking for. Nevertheless, your inner voice has told you that such paths are not for you. They are for those who cannot or do not want to take a more serious approach. But you can, and – more importantly – you desire it; you want it deeply and truly.

When a student is ready the Master appears, says the ancient proverb. This means that before you find your Master, you must get prepared. Without this preparation all your efforts to attract a Master’s attention will be futile. On the other hand, you can be absolutely certain that a Master will see and approach you as soon as you are ready – but never before you are ready. So, if it seems to you that you should have already met your teacher but you have not done so far, this apparently means you are not prepared well enough. You have not deserved his attention yet. As soon as you are prepared – as properly as required – you should never doubt that you will have become worthy of attention.

As Annie Besant rightly wrote:

His entrance on his Path places him in the position of a disciple or chela, on probation, and some single Master takes him under His care, recognizing him as a man who has stepped out of the highway of evolution, and seeks the Teacher who shall guide his steps along the steep and narrow path which leads to liberation. That Teacher is awaiting him at the very entrance of the Path, and even though the neophyte knows not his Teacher, his Teacher knows him, sees his efforts, directs his steps, leads him into the conditions that best subserve his progress, watching over him with the tender solicitude of a mother, and with the wisdom born of perfect insight. The road may seem lonely and dark, and the young disciple may fancy himself deserted, but a “friend who sticketh closer than a brother” is ever at hand…” [Besant A., The Ancient Wisdom]

You have to become familiar with such darkness and loneliness from the very first moment of embarking on the path; darkness and loneliness will be your companions for much of the way. Realize that you are climbing upwards, above ground level. So far, you have been treading on the earth; you have been surrounded by people. Everything seemed to be full of motion, sound and light. Now, where you are going, there is vast space and very few people; you are entering unfrequented paths. Notice however that so far, treading on the earth was not very noisy and crowded at all; it only seemed to be that way to you. You felt loneliness and emptiness among the hustle and bustle of the world. So, this loneliness of the path should not frighten you. Besides, that solitude will not be real because the Master is always at hand, even if you cannot see him yet.

Your Master, great and invisible, watches and leads every step you make. When you enter the path, you will quickly see the effect of his care. Your life, so far, that has been quite steady and quiet, now will start changing constantly, as if it has accelerated. Changes in comfortable and difficult life conditions will become more frequent: periods of intensive activity will be followed by periods of dullness and emptiness. After periods of quiet, weeks or months of intense activity may follow, so intense that someone else would not have strength to endure them. The constant change between storms and good weather is sent upon you by your Master so that you can experience changeability and futility of everything that is material: you can detach your thoughts from worldly matters more easily. Everything, whatever you desire, you will possess, but never at the moment of that desire; only when the need for it goes away. Finally, you will discover that the importance of these things is not in them themselves, but in your desire for them. At the moment when you are most certain that people or things belong to you, that is when they will leave you. At such moments, the loneliness and emptiness will seem, to you, to be almost brutal, unbearable. You should realize that your Master will be especially close to you at such moments. And, after all, you decided to sacrifice everything, to renounce everything in order to obtain the access to the path, to follow his footsteps: he who had nowhere to lay his head.

These are the measures leading to the gate of the path. It is no surprise that you will meet only a small number of people on the other side of it. For others, it is also too hard and difficult: to renounce everything, all personal passions, every thought about themselves. That is why the path has an impression of being empty and dark. But it is dark only temporarily. It appears dark for you because you are still without light. Later on, when the Divine Spark in you expands into the powerful fire, it will illuminate the space around you. Then, your way will be well illuminated because you will have become the light yourself. There is no sun on the path – such as there is on the earth – on the path, everyone must be their own sun.

Chapter 2 – Rules

So, you have decided to embark on the path, to enter it immediately and irretrievably. You have decided to do it today and not half-heartedly, but completely. When you made the firm decision to embark on the path, a feeling of elation immediately appeared somewhere in the depth of your soul: it was as if a heavy burden had fallen off your shoulders. This is a foretaste of the liberation which awaits you at the end of the path. At the same time, you also felt a type of sacred fear, similar to that which is felt by people just before death. This is not really a fear of what might come, but rather the certainty that it will be something great, astonishingly magnificent, something that has never been experienced before now.

Let this holy reverence for the unknown and the greatness that awaits you on the path be the proof that you have already grown ready for it. If you were not mature enough, you would not approach the gate of the path with this holy reverence or apprehension but with self-confidence of a presumptuous person. Cherish and cultivate this sense of reverence in your soul; later it will develop into one of your most powerful abilities.

Your task is to prepare the proper dwelling for your higher self. That is why you have to cultivate feelings of a different kind to those you knew before now. The feelings of bitterness, sadness, depression, envy, dissatisfaction, arrogance, overconfidence, or ambition: they each would make a dwelling too unhospitable for the Divine Spark which will live within you. It is not possible to do much progress on the path if you approach it only mentally, without developing and cultivating appropriate emotions. Even now, while you are reading these words, you should try not only to fully comprehend and carefully consider them, but also to feel them most vividly. Do not be afraid that such self-control might lead to the annihilation of your ability to feel emotions. That would mean the diminution and depletion of the soul has occurred, while your purpose is to enrich and develop it. Only one who tries to enter the path before being mature enough would show such a coldness in their heart.

Now, the time has come for you to learn the rules that are required on the path.

The rules are always and everywhere the same, as they lead to the same goal. The first rule of all schools is the acquisition of knowledge. Even though the knowledge to be acquired may differ in different institutions, there are always teachers and students in every school.

The second rule is that only someone who once was a student, can become a teacher. Your Master who leads you on the path was once a student, as you are today. A false teacher would be one who gives advice to others without having previously gone through the school himself. There are no self-taught people on the path; such people have created their own personal systems: they would be worthless or even harmful for others. Therefore, do not expect that your Master will give you any personal knowledge: do not expect that he will share his personal opinions or experiences with you. No, he will simply lead you and show the way which you have to follow yourself.

A Master will not give you ready answers and will not do anything for you. He will only point out how things can be done: he will give you the principles and help you to correct your mistakes. But he will not give you strength, knowledge or even encouragement; you must want them yourself. He will not explain anything to you, he will only lead you into the conditions where you can find a solution yourself, if you truly desire and seek it. Giving someone ready answers would not be a real help; that would be merely charity. You should also learn this principle from your Master: you will not help anyone by giving him something, whether material or spiritual. You can only be truly helpful by helping others to help themselves.

Furthermore, do not expect to see your Master in his physical body: connection with him cannot be achieved by personal acquaintance but by growing spiritually to his level. The connection with guru (Master) can be only achieved by raising yourself to the spiritual plain where masters reside, not by trying to bring them down on our earthly plain. Do not expect to see any of them but always be ready to answer when they speak to you. A layman, chela (a student) is merely a person who lives in the ordinary world and honestly desires spiritual enlightenment. He has stepped over the boundary line separating him from masters and drawn their attention to himself. He works while masters observe him. Whether he sees a master or not, this has no influence on the results of his work; his good thoughts, words and deeds will bring forth fruit as surely as bad ones. [Blavatsky H.P., Lotusblüten]

In the above quote, a Sanskrit word has been used again; you should get used to this. Guru means a teacher: a Master who takes a student into his guardianship and leads him along the path. Chela is a student who has already gone through a trial period. Before this probationary period he is still a layman, apprentice, student. You are probably able to assume that a certain preparation period – or a trial period – leads to the path. Crafts guilds – a long time ago – had something similar to this. Back then, a person who wanted to be a craftsman, had first to enter an apprenticeship – a training or schooling – in a workshop. During this period he was a student, an apprentice, and had no right to do the job himself. He only had to serve his Master and learn how to use the tools and do the work. His Master watched him and when the Master considered the student to be capable, he let him into his craft workshop to be a probationary chela. Only if a student showed proper skills, could he become a journeyman, and finally, after years, a Master. These requirements in craftsmanship were modelled from the requirements of ancient mystery schools. Knowing these facts, it will be easier for you to understand the rules of such secret schools.

The old craft guilds took their rules for educating young journeymen from the rules of ancient mystery schools. Incidentally, such secret knowledge was once part of every craft. Every Master had his own trade secrets which he had achieved by years of perfecting his craft. Therefore, he was very careful about choosing his students: he needed reliable companions who would not reveal his secrets outside. This is still the same in today’s mystery schools. A student must pledge, take an oath, that he will never reveal any secret. Do not think, however, that revealing secrets means revealing them to someone else. They are not that kind of secret. If you speak about them, it only means that someone unprepared – who is not mature enough to understand them properly – will understand them incorrectly. For example, tell the first person you see today that you are working on preparing a dwelling for the Divine Spark within you. He will either not understand you at all, or will misunderstand you. This is the first of your “secrets”: you realize that it cannot be “revealed” to anyone. It will be the same with other secrets that you will obtain while on the path.

A student is allowed to enter the temple of higher cognition when he has proven himself to be worthy.

The task to be accomplished now is often described as having to swear an oath never to betray the secret teachings. However, the term oath and betray are inaccurate and even misleading. There is no question here of an oath in the ordinary sense of the word. Rather, it is a matter of experience. We learn how to apply the secret teachings, how to place them at the service of humanity. Only now do we begin to understand the world properly. What is important is not to conceal and withhold the higher truths but to learn to present them tactfully, appropriately, and in the right way. What we learn to “keep silent” about is something quite different. We now acquire the noble quality of silence with regard to many things that we used to talk about before – and especially with regard to how we used to talk about them. We would be poor initiates if we did not place the mysteries we have experienced at the service of the world as much as possible. The only obstacle to communication in this area is the failure of others to understand what we say. Naturally, the higher mysteries are not suited to aimless talk and chatter. But this is not to forbid a person who has reached this stage of development to speak. No one, neither a human nor any other kind of being, will ever impose such an oath upon us. We alone are responsible. We must learn to discover within ourselves what is to be done in every situation. The oath means nothing more than that we are ready to bear such a responsibility.”[ Steiner R., How to Know Higher Worlds]

Now you understand what is meant by all those oaths and secrets in mystery schools. Do not expect that you will ever take such oaths or pledges before any high entity. It is the same with your commitment to join the training and become a student of secret knowledge. You are not making any commitments to anybody but to yourself. And if this commitment seems to you to be less important, and less sacred, than if it had been taken in front of the other person: this would only prove that you are not yet ready for the path. Now, you will understand better what Helena Blavatsky says about this kind of the commitment:

If a man who is mature for enlightenment, wants to be admitted as a Master’s apprentice, he must bear in mind the agreement with his Master, whether made tacitly or formally, and never forget that this commitment is sacred. This means there is a trial period of seven years. If throughout this time a student is faithful to his Master, through all temptations, then he may become initiated and from then on, he can directly communicate with his Guru. And it is for the Master to decide whether a student, despite his mistakes and sins, is to receive any signs or clues. Only the Guru, who knows the motives and reasons that pushed a candidate to sin, has the right to decide whether the potential candidate should be encouraged. Hence, the first and necessary condition is that a student is to be devoted and faithful to his Master for the duration of the whole trial. The more often the magnetic connection between two of them is broken, the more difficult it becomes to rebuild it; it cannot be required of the Master to waste his force in establishing a connection with someone whose future dropping out the path can be foreseen. Yet, so many of those who expect in advance some proofs of distinction, without meeting the requirements, make complaints to the Master instead of admitting their mistakes! They break the connection ten times a year, and then, they want it to be fixed. I would like to tell those who are dissatisfied, although no one promised them anything: Did you fulfil your duties and keep all your promises? Did you, who blame Masters – those embodiments of compassion, patience, justice and love – who blame them of not favoring you enough, did you lead a sacred life and fulfill the requirements imposed on you? Which of you can tell with a pure heart and conscience that you never made any serious mistake and never doubted Master’s wisdom; that you never sought tips from others in your impatience to achieve secret powers; that you never failed to fulfil your duties, whether with you thoughts or deeds. Only if you are such a person you can blame others, not yourself. Undoubtedly, many are called but only few chosen, not many have the patience to persevere to the end, most candidates do not like the simple persistence and consistency of the goal. [Blavatsky H., Lotusblüten]

You can learn a lot from these bitter words of Blavatsky-chela. She addressed them to those who had not grown to the path yet but, in their self-conceit, thought that they were entitled to commence being a chela. Remember this well: it may happen that during seven long years of the trial period you will fall down, get discouraged and give up the path. After that, you might say that, apparently, there are no masters as none have given you any sign of their existence.

Accept that you are going to spend seven years as a probationary student. If you are still not prepared sufficiently after seven years, you will have to start another seven-year probationary period or to give up the path and come back on the wide common road. The rule of every mystery school, both ancient and modern, is always the same: first, there is seven years of probation. When you complete this trial successfully, there will be another seven year period: a period of enlightenment. When the probation is completed: when a student – having gone through the trial successfully –everything that a chela needs to know has been learned. Only then can the student be initiated to become a qualified chela (journeyman) and then work together with Masters. Both of these seven year periods – one as a student, one as a chela – can be doubled or even tripled, if they are not completed satisfactorily. However, failing a trial three times permanently excludes a student from a mystery school. Any other admission to the path will be postponed until his next incarnation.

You will understand easier why each period lasts seven years (and not, for example, four or ten years) when you recall that human life is also divided into several phases, and each of those lasts for seven years. For the first seven years of life, a man builds the physical body, the second period of seven years is for building the etheric body, the third period for the astral body and the forth for the mental one. Only when a man is 29 years old, has his lower self become fully matured. However, even though completely built, these bodies change every seven years: or more accurately, they have the potential to change. After seven years have passed, not one particle in a human body is still the same. It is largely a matter of his choice, if a man builds duplicate replacement particles, or whether they are improved ones. A chela should thoroughly rebuild his bodies, replace all their particles for new, nobler ones. He needs seven years for this task; it is impossible to do it faster. If the work is not completed during seven years, the rebuilding process must be extended for another seven years.

Now, you are no longer surprised that as many as seven years are needed to simply prepare oneself for the path. Until now, you might have believed that you were already prepared, simply because you were searching for it. But it only means that you just wanted to start getting prepared. So, do not expect that you will immediately have a Master by your side and that you will see signs of his presence and care very soon. Your task for the first seven years is to show that you are worthy of his attention. On the other hand, do not doubt that you may see some signs of his care during your preparation period: you will see such signs if you deserve them. There will be exactly as many of them, and exactly of the kind, that you deserve.

Of course, they will not come in the form of secret letters, from your Master, which you find in some carefully locked room: or in the form of books that marvelously come into your possession. Seemingly, there will be nothing spectacular, nothing that you could boast about to people around you to show them as being proof of your Master’s interest in you. But if you carefully observe the events of your life – if you manage to link them in the chain of reasons and effects – you will be certain that something is happening that was not there before.

You may start meeting certain people, apparently by chance. They are not masters, but tools in a Master’s hands: blind and completely unaware tools. Sometimes, they may tell you something that they have heard from someone else, or bring you a book that would be completely useless for them. Even though totally unaware of the reason, they will always bring you exactly what you need and can make use of. You should understand that these small incidents are guidelines from your Master. You only have to distinguish them from the myriad of daily events to utilize them for the purpose of your preparation.

In the next chapters I will describe precisely what the preparation period looks like. For now, you only have to realize that preparations today are totally different from those of early Christians, and even more different than those used by ancient Egyptians or Indians. You were born with some abilities, abilities that people in ancient times had to develop in themselves by slow and tedious work. In the same way, your task is to develop abilities that will be present in people born a thousand years from now. You are to accelerate the course of natural development, to be at the forefront of humankind, to be a leader in its progress. Therefore, the initial thing for you is to prepare your invisible bodies in which your higher self will dwell. That is why you will not find any hygienic or gymnastic instructions, or even any breathing exercises on the next pages of this book. You might find this kind of instructions in a Hatha Yoga course book, but, for you, they are unnecessary.

If, after seven years of preparation, you successfully complete the trial period, you will be among those few who attained enlightenment after only one seven-year period. The second stage is much more serious but it will be slightly less difficult for you. Now, you are not in any danger of losing your footing with each step you take; you will have learned how to walk with balance on a steep slope. But now, you will encounter unexpected traps and snares of a different nature. Of course, they will not be set for you by your Master or another entity; it is you – and no one else – who set these traps for yourself. On the level of enlightenment, you will gradually achieve more and more knowledge and power. For your lower self, for your self-conceit and egoism, this may pose a dangerous temptation: you may start perceiving yourself as being omniscient and omnipotent. When such haughtiness deceives you, you will not follow Master’s footsteps anymore; you will want to follow your own ones. Each time, this will lead you to the wasteland; returning is always sad and humiliating.

During the period of enlightenment, you will go through the second, subsequent, hall; there are going to be three of them, they correspond to three major Guas in Sanskrit – tamas , rajas and sattva – and also to three Rosicrucian powers: Ahriman, Lucifer and Christ. Helena Blavatsky in The Voice of the Silence says about these halls:

Three Halls, O weary pilgrim, lead you to the end of toils. Three Halls, O conqueror of Mara, will bring thee through three states into the fourth and thence into the seven worlds, the worlds of Rest Eternal. If thou would’st learn their names, then hearken, and remember.

The name of the first Hall is Ignorance – Avidya. It is the Hall in which thou saw’st the light, in which thou livest and shalt die.

The name of Hall the second is the Hall of Learning. In it thy Soul will find the blossoms of life, but under every flower a serpent coiled.

The name of the third Hall is Wisdom, beyond which stretch the shoreless waters of Akshara, the indestructible Fount of Omniscience.

If thou would’st cross the first Hall safely, let not thy mind mistake the fires of lust that burn therein for the sunlight of life.

If thou would’st cross the second safely, stop not the fragrance of its stupefying blossoms to inhale. If freed thou would’st be from the karmic chains, seek not for thy Guru in those Mayavic regions. The Wise Ones tarry not in pleasure-grounds of senses. The Wise Ones heed not the sweet-tongued voices of illusion. Seek for him who is to give thee birth, in the Hall of Wisdom, the Hall which lies beyond, wherein all shadows are unknown, and where the light of truth shines with unfading glory.

If through the Hall of Wisdom, thou would’st reach the Vale of Bliss, Disciple, close fast thy senses against the great dire heresy of Separateness that weans thee from the rest.” [Blavatsky H., The Voice of the Silence]

As you may know, The Voice of the Silence is a part of the collection of treatises called The Book of the Golden Precepts. They have existed in India for a very long time; some of them are of pre-Buddhist origin. Realizing that, the archaic tone of The Voice of the Silence should not be a surprise for you. You should also be aware that we have advanced much in our development since the times of ancient Indians. So, you are able to understand the context of the above excerpt, especially of the last of the quoted paragraphs: the Indians still had to close their senses against the great dire heresy – that is against the madness of ego or egoism – in order to reach the Vale of Bliss (nirvana). But nowadays, our task is different: we are not to escape into the Vale of Bliss because our duties are here, on the earth. Closing your senses to achieve peace would be a mistake: you are supposed to master your senses, not to close them. You will learn how to do this on the fifth stage of the path. Your ahamkara (ego) is no longer an obstacle for you but rather your aid: thanks to your desire for an individual life you can be useful to other people. Without it, you would be only an unproductive member of society, its burden.

The first hall is the earthy, physical plane. Avidya – ignorance, tama, Ahriman – rules over it. The fact that you are looking for the access to the path indicates that you are already growing above this plane. Fires of desire ceased to be the light of your life, you do not follow your desires and instincts blindly anymore, and you do not want to be their slave but the ruler.

In the second hall, you will find the blossoms of life: the astral plane is abundant in forms. But there, a serpent – rajas, Lucifer – coils under each flower; this is why Eliphas Levi calls the astral plain “the big serpent”. There, you might seem to find a teacher very quickly but it would be a false teacher. In these regions of madness, only wizards or ignorant spiritualists look for their masters. This is merely a Hall of Learning: you should get familiar with its beautiful – but deceptive – illusions, but you should not stay there.

Only in the third hall can you reach your Master. The mental plane is the lowest of those on which Masters work. So, before you reach this hall, do not expect to see your Master or to receive any direct news from him. From the third hall, and from the levels above it, spurts the never drying spring of omniscience: akshara, intuition. The light of uncovered truth only shines there. Before now, you could have reached the Hall of Wisdom only in a state of a deepest, dreamless sleep and you could not preserve any memories of it after waking up. On the path, you will learn how to bring inspirations received from the mental plane to your awareness. You will also learn to identify imaginations of the astral world when you are awake and fully conscious; so far, you have been only able to remember fragments of some of them, from your dreams (svapna). Having gone through these high levels of the path, you will reach the forth state of awareness, turiya, which the ancient Indians could only reach in a trance (samadhi). However, for you it will be accessible at any moment, even when awake, and you will not need to lose your consciousness: your memories will last. But before that, before you have become a chela, a long journey awaits you.

Now, you see the association between the three halls mentioned in The Voice of the Silence and the three stages of the path. Preparing for the path takes place on the physical plane: you should acquire as much as possible on this plane to be able to reach the Hall of Learning. There, you will gradually go through the enlightenment, completely different from that obtainable by physical senses. Your astral senses will open; gradually, you will enter the plane of glamorous illusion (mara), ruled by the king of illusion, who has in his crown a jewel so bright that the mortal get blinded by it. Perhaps you know the beautiful story about Lucifer who, while falling down from the heaven, lost the jewel from his crown, which later served as a goblet in which Holy Grail was kept. Its meaning is more than symbolic and you will understand it later.

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