At the stage of Discipleship, the soul ray comes into increased conflict with the personality ray and the great battle of the pairs of opposites begins. The soul energy slowly dominates the personality ray, as it in its turn has dominated the rays of the three lower bodies.
At the stage of Initiation, the domination continues and at the third initiation the highest kind of energy which a man can express in this solar system—that of the monad, begins to control.
In reference to the pairs of opposites and their conflict, it might be of interest to note the following facts: Students would do well to bear in mind that there are several pairs of opposites with which they have sequentially to deal. Etheric energy, focussed in an individual etheric body, passes through two stages prior to the period of discipleship:
1. The stage wherein it assimilates the force latent in the dense physical form: the energy of atomic substance, thus producing a definite fusing. This causes the animal nature to conform entirely to the inner impulses—emanating from the world of pranic influence, where the entirely undeveloped man is concerned, and from the lower astral world where the average man is concerned. It is this truth which lies behind the statement that the dense physical body is an automaton.
2. The moment, however, that an inner orientation towards the world of higher values takes place, then the etheric force is brought into conflict with the lowest aspect of man, the dense physical body, and the battle of the lower pair of opposites takes place.
It is during this stage that the emphasis is laid upon physical disciplines, upon such controlling factors as total abstinence, celibacy and vegetarianism, upon physical hygienes and exercises. Through these, the control of the life by the form can be offset and the man set free for the true battle of the pairs of opposites.
This second battle is the true kurukshetra and is fought out in the astral nature, between the pairs of opposites which are distinctive of our solar system, just as the physical pairs of opposites are distinctive of the past solar system. The battle of the opposites upon the lower spiral can be seen taking place in the animal kingdom. In this process, human beings act as the agents of discipline (as the Hierarchy in its turn acts towards the human family) and the domestic animals, forced to conform to human control, are wrestling (even if unconsciously from our point of view) with the problem of the lower pairs of opposites. Their battle is fought out through the medium of the dense physical body and the etheric forces, and in this way a higher aspiration is brought into being. This produces in time the experience which we call individualization, wherein the seed of personality is sown. On the human battlefield, the higher aspect of the soul begins to operate and eventually to dominate, producing the process of divine-human integration which we call initiation. When an aspirant reaches that point in his evolution wherein the control of the physical nature is an urgent necessity, he recapitulates in his own life this earlier battle with the lower pairs of opposites and begins to discipline his dense physical nature.
Making a sweeping generalization for the human family en mass, this dense-etheric conflict was fought out in the world war, which was the imposition of a tremendous test and discipline. We should ever remember that our disciplines are self-imposed. They grow out of our limitations and opportunities. The result of this test was the passing on to the Path of Probation of a very large number of human beings, owing to the purification to which they had been subjected. This purificatory process in some measure prepared them for the prolonged conflict upon the astral plane which lies ahead of all aspirants, prior to achieving the goal of initiation. It is the "Arjuna" experience which lies ahead of many today. The world war was a climaxing point in the process of "devitalizing" the world maya. The individual must learn to think in terms of the MASS activity, and the preparatory effect where humanity, as a whole is concerned.
Many people are occupied today with exactly the same process and conflict. On a tiny scale, that which was worked out in the world war is being worked out in their lives. They are busy with the problems of maya. Hence today we find an increasing emphasis upon the physical cultures, disciplines and upon the vogue for physical training, which finds its expression in the world of sport, in athletic exercises, military training and preparation for the Olympic Games. These latter are in themselves an initiation. In spite of all the wrong motives and the terrible and evil effects (speaking again with a wide generalization), the training of the body is preparing the way for millions to pass upon the Path of Purification. Is this a hard saying? Humanity is under right direction, even if, during a brief interlude, they misunderstand the process and apply wrong motives to right activities.
There is for disciples, the duality of the Dweller on the Threshold and the Angel of the Presence when they face each other. This constitutes the final pair of opposites. The Dweller can be defined as the sum total of the forces of the lower nature as expressed in the personality, prior to illumination, to inspiration and to initiation. The Dweller embodies all the psychic and mental forces, which, down the ages, have been unfolded in a man. The Dweller is all that a man is, apart from the higher spiritual self. This third aspect must be eventually subordinated to the second aspect: the soul. The two forces the Angel and the Dweller are brought together—face to face—and the final conflict takes place. Again, you will note, that it is a meeting and battle between another and a higher pair of opposites. The aspirant, therefore, has three pairs of opposites with which to deal. (the last conflict takes place on the mental plane. It is faced upon the Path of Initiation, while the battle on the astral plane is faced upon the Path of Discipleship.mdb)
DEVELOPMENT and ALIGNMENT of the BODIES
We can now come to a study of the previous tabulation in connection with the method whereby the soul appropriates the various bodies, how they are developed and inter-related, and finally how alignment is brought about. The last part of the tabulation was outlined in such a manner that many of the problems facing the psychologist at this time can be dealt with from an esoteric angle. Perhaps some light may then be forthcoming. We should bear in mind two things:
1. That such terms as "mental unit", "permanent atom", etc., are symbolic ways of expressing a difficult truth. The truth is that the soul is active on all the three lower planes, and that it is a type of energy, functioning in a field of force, thus producing an activity of some kind.
2. That the permanent atoms are not really atoms at all, but simply focal points of energy, which are of sufficient power to hold coherently together the substance required by the soul with which to create a form of expression.
The soul itself is a major center of experience in the life of the Monad. The lower bodies are centers of expression in the life of the soul. As the consciousness of the man shifts continuously into the higher bodies through which expression can become possible, the soul gradually becomes the paramount center of experience in consciousness and the lesser centers of experience (the lower bodies) assume less and less importance. The soul experiences less through them, but uses them increasingly in service.
In thinking of the focal points of soul energy upon the mental, astral and physical planes, we will not think of the permanent atoms as material centers, or as germs of form, which is the prevailing idea. We will think of them as an expression—attractive or magnetic in quality—of soul energy, playing upon energies which have in them the quality of responsiveness to the positive aspects of energy with which they are brought in contact. In elucidating this problem, it might be said that the problems of psychology fall into two major groups:
1. A group of difficulties wherein the psychologist has to deal with those people whose vehicles of expression, as centers for the gaining of experience, are not adequately responsive to their environment for the soul. When this is the case, the centers in the etheric body are diversely but only partially awakened, and the glandular system, is correspondingly mediocre and irregular.
2. Another group of difficulties concerns those human beings whose vehicles of expression, as centers of experience, are over-developed and over-stimulated without adequate conscious control by the soul. This development is primarily focused in the astral body, leading to over-sensitivity of the solar plexus center or of the throat center, and occasioning consequent difficulty. Much of the thyroid instability of the present time is based upon this.
There is a third class of difficulties which concern those who are on the Path of Discipleship, but these we will not consider here. In these latter cases there is an abnormal over-sensitivity in the vehicles, the rush of force through from the soul, via the centers, presents real difficulty, and responsiveness to the environment is over-developed in many cases. These conditions are governed by the point in evolution, the ray type, the quality of past karma, and the present family, national and racial inherited characteristics.
As we study let us bear in mind that it is the soul as a center of consciousness and the vehicles as centers of experience with which we are concerning ourselves. Remember that a man's consciousness is usually centered sequentially in the three bodies and the centers of experience for him are primarily the field of his consciousness. He is identified for long with the field of experience and not with the real self. As time goes on, his center of identification shifts and he becomes less interested in the field of experience and more aware of the soul as the conscious, thinking individual. The comprehension of each of us will depend upon where we each, as individuals, lay the emphasis, and where we are awake and alive and of what we are conscious.