On Personal Dignity and Initiation, Part Two
Social Media and Dignity
With the advancement of social media and the internet over the last twenty years, we have seen an increase in the ease of availability of various qualities and quantities of metaphysical teachings along with increased access to others on the Path. This access includes many previously unavailable authors and teachers. However, with this ease we have seen fulfillment of the adage “familiarity breeds contempt,” as basic common courtesies and personal dignities have broken down. Because there are few meaningful repercussions, many people treat those they are conversing with in a manner that is too familiar and often abusive. This is no different in the “esoteric communities,” and is something that each of us as individuals must avoid at all costs – for the cost is our personal dignity and, with that, our personal power. From it, we will lose our Shekinah, our Shakti, our Secret Fire.
Energy is the basis of everything. The more you have, the more you can be and do. Self-control allows for the ability to restrain as well as direct energy, rather than allowing for its dissipation in excess or repression. Once again, we continually find ourselves being brought back to the Middle Pillar of life, or the famous axiom, “all things in moderation.” Anyone who has ever applied this principle to their life knows that moderation is much harder than it sounds. It takes tremendous effort and discipline to not simply slide off into extremes. Yet, this does not mean that we are not capable of extreme action; if anything, we are all the more so, only we recognize its value as needed, rather than as a life-style.
This brings us back to initiation. If initiation takes us to extremes, then moderation in daily living is its fulcrum. It is the balance point of consciousness that allows us to know the fullness of human experience without being swallowed by any one aspect of it. This ability to know our center, to move off of it, and to return to it, is the basis of magical power or dignity. Self-discipline and restraint consists of focus and single-pointed action – actions can then be so joyful, restraint is particularly easy, and no effort whatsoever! Joy in effort is its own discipline; the fruits of the work, their own reward. As Milton wrote, “Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely: and pined his loss” (Paradise Lost, Book IV).
We can see from the following excerpts that personal dignity and the accomplishments and powers it confers are something that define the adept and carry over from life to life. Dignity is another word for Virtue; the Virtues of the various aspects of the Tree of Life are what provide us with internalized power – power that comes directly from the core of our Being. It is this power that Dubuis referred to in his essay “Magic” when he spoke of distinctions amongst different forms of magic.
“The basis of magic is that a world of higher energy can transcend the laws of a world of lesser energy. Hence the “secret” of magic is to have access to a world of energy greater than that of our Earth to have authority on it.
Natural magic: this is where the person has natural access, i.e., by himself, to a higher inner world. Whether that access was obtained by a long evolution of the being or by his own initiation, the result has the same value, since the level of consciousness makes positive actions possible. The magic thus practiced is on an ethical plane or higher level than what is called “white magic” in artificial magic.
Artificial magic: it also uses the energy of a higher world but it is a world in which the magician has no direct access; therefore he will resort to practices which are known by the name of ceremonial magic because they are similar to ceremonies and they use different types of rituals. These operations give the magician momentary access to the laws of a higher world so he can also change the laws of our world to act according to his will.
In all these operations, we must not believe the laws of nature are violated. The magicians are strictly required to follow the natural laws of the world where they have access, otherwise they would be ineffective. The power of these laws will give results in our world inaccessible by current laws.”
Compare these words to those of Julius Evola below.
Dignity, Destiny and the Royal Art
“During the Middle Ages, Albertus Magnus, in reference to the efficacy of the rites employed for the achievement of the opus magnus, claimed that “one has to be predestined to this.” Several other authors in the initiatory field have expressed their views in more of the same terms. In some popular Indian expositions the same idea has been expressed by saying that the person who can really achieve at yoga must be endowed with the privileged qualities, which have been acquired, through strenuous efforts, in previous lives…these popular expositions merely convey the…idea and emphasize the need for privileged, innate, and natural qualifications. In this dimension what really matters are not intellectual fancies or mere wishes, but rather something organic and essential. Agrippa reminds us that “man’s self-transcendence is the key to all magical practices and is the arcane, necessary, and secret thing required to engage in such practices.” Agrippa’s view…is universally valid. Usually a distinction is made between “natural dignity” (in which, according to Agrippa, even some elements determined by “fate” may play a role) and a dignity acquired through one’s efforts, through a specific lifestyle, and even through “some religious practices”… Natural and acquired dignity involve a certain degree of inner calm or of natural regal impassibility. When strength is combined with impassibility, it may become what somebody described as a “cold, magical quality.” At a certain level, that quality may even be strengthened by renunciation… When one renounces or does not crave, or does not seek, the relationship between subject and object is turned around; what ensues is a state of self-sufficiency, wholeness, and independence from things…at the same time, it is the object that is attracted to the subject…Renunciation is also needed to acquire the power to possess and objectify or benefit from something without being bound to it.” [From The Yoga of Power by Julius Evola (Inner Traditions).]
Crowley and Regardie both spoke of the “lust for results” as a serious impediment to occult work: the peculiar notion of cultivating both desire and indifference as a pre-requisite for rituals to work their magic effectively. There must be desire at the time of the ritual and indifference at the moment of its climax, so that the energies invoked may be released to do their job. Such a state must be cultivated in daily life as well, as indifference to the activities around us – renunciation of the world is not fleeing into the wilderness or a cave, but seeking happiness within ourselves, and not allowing it to be dependent on the changing norms of the external world. The dignity derived from this state of renunciation allows the necessary transcendence for success. In this, we become the heroic figure of mythology, or as Eliphas Lévi states, “We are the sons of our deeds.”
So where does this leave us? We are to experience all that life has to offer, including the extremes – but not allow ourselves to be pulled into these extremes. We are to recognize and rejoice in the very center of our Self, but not allow it to be a shell that we hide behind out of fear of life. Rather, it is to be our source of guidance and insight, even in the most chaotic of conditions. With this, we realize the truth behind Milton’s words: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” In this way, the Path of Return reveals to us that our journey to illumination is nothing less than the journey to our own inner dignity and power, from which we learn the meaning of what Francis Bacon wrote: “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”