On Personal Dignity and Initiation, Part One
I recently asked a friend, who is the holder of several esoteric lineages, if he would consider conferring one or more of them on some people who have expressed a sincere interest in the esoteric traditions of the French and Italian schools. He stated that he would, but there were several conditions. First, no Communists allowed. Given the experiences he and others have had under the terror of communist revolutionary movements and the fact that communist regimes had destroyed so many esoteric lines, this was understood. Second, no sexual deviance was permitted. Given the role of nature in the forces of life, and that the experiencing of these forces – the forces of life – are increased by esoteric practice, this was also easily understood. Third, all must be of the noble class or character. His background, being that of Italian nobility, made this more than an issue of class in the socio-economic sense, but, instead, one of class in the personal sense. That is, one who has “class” or personal style, personal dignity, and bearing in what they do.
The important implications of this are manifold, but in summary we can say that in both the inner and outer worlds, the man or woman of nobility, of dignity, has power and authority over themselves. They have the ability to restrain, and therefore to attain. They can be trusted.
In short, they know how to behave in public as well as in private, so that they do not bring shame upon themselves or those who have trusted them with life, liberty, wealth, health, wisdom, and the means to acquire and sustain them all. In the Masonic Charge it says, “Let our pleasures be innocent and not open us up to public derision.”
While there are no hard-and-fast rules that we can give, there are some guidelines that can help; even if one is uncertain of their application because of time and place, or cultural setting, these guidelines can be summed up in the following:
- The person of dignity treats others – even enemies – with respect.
- Because they know the power of the word they are not crude or vulgar.
- They also know the importance of silence.
- They do not meddle in the affairs of others or offer unsolicited advice.
- They are generous when the opportunity arises, as personal generosity is expressive of their unending confidence in their own personal mastery.
There are, of course, others that can be added – we see them listed in the various attributes given to the Rosicrucians.
Initiation and Dignity
Personal dignity is found in having self-control and self-respect, and in demonstrating these qualities by how we treat others. This treatment of others is not limited to ideal situations, such as day-to-day activities, but also (and of particular importance) in moments of crisis and extreme emotion. It is only then, when pressure comes to bear, that we really know who we are and what we are capable of achieving. The three aims of Aghora Tantra are for the initiate to overcome fear, self-loathing, and disgust. For our purposes, we can summarize these in the following manner: overcoming fear is essentially overcoming the fear of death; overcoming self-loathing is overcoming our limited sense of self and what we are capable of achieving and doing; overcoming disgust is realizing the fundamental common base of all phenomena and thereby seeing it all as equal, in that it can and will be transformed into something else.
If we do not seek out extreme and demanding situations with which to test ourselves – as done in some schools of tantra, magic, and alchemy – then we have to wait until life brings them to us. The advantage of seeking them out on our own terms is that they happen when we are still capable of having the assistance of a teacher or companion on the Path who can help us if things go badly. This is why any true initiation changes us and carries over from incarnation to incarnation – and why it is always dramatic and traumatic to some degree. In being this way, it forever changes our perception of our very self. It provides us with an experiential foundation that allows us to more naturally be dignified and relaxed in our thoughts, words, and deeds.