Again and again, the soul incarnates and in consciousness passes through the stages outlined above. But gradually a higher sense of values supervenes. There comes a period when desire for material experience and for ambitious personality satisfactions begins to fade out. The consciousness aspect then passes through all the stages upon which we have touched but in reverse order, and this time upon the upward arc, corresponding to the evolutionary stage in the great cycle of natural processes, concerned with the form life. It expands slowly from the consciousness of ambition through activity and the succeeding unfoldments, to the stage of approach to the divine reality upon the mental plane and that of the final appropriation, wherein the consciousness of man becomes merged in that of the soul upon its own level, and finally appropriates in full awareness the One.
When the consciousness of the soul, incarnate in a human form, arrives at a realization of the futility of material ambition, it marks a high stage of personality integration and precedes a period of change or of a shift in activity. During this second stage upon the Path of Return, the shift of the consciousness is away from the physical body altogether, into the etheric body, and from thence into the astral body. There duality is sensed and the battle of the opposites takes place. The disciple makes his appearance as Arjuna. Only after the battle and only when Arjuna has made his fateful decisions, is it possible for him to make his approach upon the mental plane to the soul. This he does by
1. Realizing himself as a soul and not as the form. This involves a process of what is called "divine reflection", which works out in two ways. The soul now begins definitely to reject the form, and the man, through whom the soul is experiencing and expressing itself, is himself rejected by the world in which he lives.
2. Discovering the group to which he belongs, blocking his way of approach until he discovers the way of approach by service.
3. Identifying himself with his group upon his own ray and so earning the right to make his approach, because he has learnt the lesson that "he travels not alone".
Then comes that peculiar stage of transcendent aspiration, wherein desire for individual experience is lost and only the longing to function as a conscious part of the greater Whole remains. Then and only then can the conscious soul appropriate the "body of light and splendor, the expression of the glory of the One" which, when once assumed, makes all future incarnation impossible, except as an act of the spiritual will.
Therefore, it will be seen that we begin and we end with an expansion of consciousness. The first one led to the inclusion of the material world, and the second one includes or appropriates, consciously and intelligently, the spiritual world. We see the desire consciousness transmuted into aspiration for the spiritual realities and the focused, vital approach to the kingdom of God. We see the appearance on the physical plane of the imprisoned consciousness, limited for purposes of defined, intelligent development, within an evolving form, and the final emergence upon the mental plane of the enriched, released consciousness into the full freedom of the Mind of God. We see the activity of the conscious mind of man slowly expanding until it becomes the activity of the illumined mind, reflecting the divine consciousness of the soul. We see the ambition of the conscious man transformed at first into the spiritual ambition of the pledged disciple and finally into the expression of the Will of the Monad, in the initiate.
From the conscious appropriation of form back again to the conscious appropriation of divinity is the work carried forward and the plan of Deity worked out.
For the majority, the expert assistance of the modern trained educator and psychologist, the churchman or the physician, will suffice to give the needed aid, particularly when three happenings eventuate, which will inevitably be the case before so many decades have gone by:
1. These 4 types of experts: educators, psychologists, churchmen and physicians, will work in conjunction with each other.
2. The fact of the soul will be admitted as a reasonable hypothesis, and the fact that there may be an indwelling entity, seeking to control in some measure the mechanism, will also be accepted.
3. The Law of Rebirth will be regarded as a law in nature, and place will be given in the thoughts of these 4 groups of human helpers, for a man's past and his rapidly developing future.
In this treatise, we are considering those more advanced people who constitute the intelligentsia of the world, who are upon the probationary path, or who are nearing the Path of Discipleship. Until there is sufficient pronounced development to allow of a true diagnosis, it is not possible to say definitely what is the ray of the personality. The defining of the egoic ray comes later still and can only be surmised at first from the nature of the conflict of which the personality is aware, based as it will be on a growing sense of duality. It will also be capable of expert diagnosis from certain physical and psychical characteristics which indicate the quality of the higher nature of the person concerned, and also through a study of the type of a man's group affiliations as they begin to appear upon the physical plane.
A man who—being, through personality predilection, a creative artist—suddenly takes a deep and profound interest in mathematics, might be inferred to be coming under the influence of a second ray soul; or a man, whose whole personality was definitely upon the sixth ray of fanatical idealism or devotion to an object of his idealism, and who had functioned during life as a religious devotee, and who then switched the center of his life interest into scientific investigation, might be, therefore responding to a fifth ray soul impression. We shall study the process of coordination and the methods whereby two great integrations take place:
1. The integration of the personality. The means whereby the consciousness of a person sifts out of one body into another, so that a definite expansion of consciousness takes place and it begins to be active in all the 3 personality vehicles simultaneously.
2. The integration of the personality and the soul so that the soul can function through any one body at will, or can function through all the three bodies which constitute the personality simultaneously.
This will lead us to confine ourselves to the study of the more pronounced types, which are primarily the mystic, the aspirant, the notable people, and those who constitute the people with psychological problems of our present time and period. Step by step, the unfoldment of the nervous system has paralleled that of the inner psychical apparatus, and the glandular equipment has faithfully reflected that of the great centers of force, with their inter-connecting lines of energy. Step by step, the consciousness of man has shifted from:
1. That of the purely animal, with its emphasis upon the natural physical appetites, into that of the vital being responding to the impacts of an environment which he does not intelligently understand. This is the primitive state of consciousness and lies far behind us today.
2. That of a vital primitive being into that state of consciousness which is colored almost entirely by desire for material satisfaction. This in time transmutes itself into that of an emotional response to the environing conditions, leading thus to an intensified ""wish-life"" a development of the imaginative faculty. It ends finally in the production of the Mystic, plus an intense devotion to an ideal of some kind or another.
3. That of the vital, emotional, desire emphasis and state of longing into that of a mental consciousness—intelligent, enquiring, intellectually sensitive, responsive to thought currents and reacting with increasing sensitivity to the impact of ideas.
4. That of one or another of these states of consciousness, alternating in their emphasis or predominantly active in some one or other of these lower aspects, to that of integrated personality, selfishly occupied with self-emphasis, self-interest, self-expression and so demonstrating as a great or intrepid individual, demonstrating power and purpose in a world which he exploits for his own selfish ends.
When this stage is reached, the focus of the life is predominantly material and the man is ambitious, effective and powerful. Yet there slowly arises in him a divine discontent. Another shift in consciousness takes place and he reaches out, at first unconsciously and later consciously, to the life of a dimly sensed reality. The soul is beginning to make its presence felt, and to grip in a different sense than hitherto, and in a more active manner, its vehicles of expression and of service.
Little by little, the consciousness of the third aspect of divinity is coordinated with that of the second and the Christ consciousness is aroused into activity through the medium of experience in form. Man begins to add to the gained personality experience of the three worlds of human endeavor, the intuitive spiritual perception which is the heritage of those who are awake within the kingdom of God. Paralleling this development of the consciousness in man is the evolution of the instruments whereby that consciousness is brought en rapport with a rapidly expanding world of sensory perception, of intellectual concepts and of intuitive recognitions. As the consciousness shifts from one body to another, the centers in man's etheric body are awakened in three major stages, though through the medium of many smaller awakenings.
1. They begin to develop from that of the "closed bud to that of the opened lotus". This takes place during the period of ordinary evolution.
2. The petals of the lotus become vibrant and alive. This is the stage of personality integration.
3. The heart of the lotus, "the jewel in the lotus" also becomes actively alive. This is the period of the final stages upon the Path.