Chapter 17 — The First Test

Thus have I heard:

WHEN Ruru awoke the next morning he felt as bewildered as if his very soul had been left behind in his vision, and he went about his usual studies as one in a dream; bemused by mysteries he could not understand.

Narāda made no remark, but observed Ruru's preoccupation with a thoughtful mien. And then, as usual, his disciple took him into his confidence and told him about his experience of the previous night; the holy Hermit listening with an air of absorption mingled with sadness, and he said: "Love and Memory are the same; for that which we do not love we soon forget as a rule, and the more we love the longer we remember—while perfect love can never be forgotten.

"If we lose the object of that love, regret will gnaw like a devouring worm at our hearts for as long as we live. Therefore, if one who has so loved should wish to renounce the world and the senses in his despair, his recollections will stand as an insurmountable barrier on his path of renunciation. The stronger the Soul—the more powerful the memory.

"Those who wish to be free from all the attractions of this illusionary world can only become so by a long and strenuous course of penance and austerity, until all attachments to the earthly realm drop away from them like withered leaves from a tree. But this is only possible for those who have never really loved, and in the end the usefulness of such attainments as real penance and austerity of living and thinking is doubtful, for have not the Gods placed us in this world so that we shall live according to Nature's Laws?

"It is nevertheless necessary to emancipate our inner Spirit, the Higher Mind, so that it becomes like a fountain of pure nectar and only goodness streams forth from it towards others.

"True Love for the ONE real counterpart of one's Self will not stand in the way of such perfection if the Two be really One in the sublimity of their spiritual attainments and aspirations. Then, the awakening and the freedom from earthly shackles will be equally great for both, and doubly strong—lasting for all Eternity.

"There is then a holy bond between these two which never can be severed, nay, not even by Death himself, for the seeming separation will only serve to force the links still closer together. Then Memory becomes a flaming Torch; nor can there be regret, but only an almost intolerable longing. The only attribute needed then will be patience; for the time must come when Death the Separator will become Death the Uniter.

"True love is harder to conceal than the Sun at noon; and I want you to remember all this in times to come when you think of that which you saw last night in the olive grove."

Ruru understood and turned away to hide the tears that welled up in his eyes; and now he knew the reason for the lines of grief which were written by Destiny upon his Master's countenance; for grief can never be disguised any more than joy . . . or Love.

Narāda continued: "Meanwhile the One unforgettable and unforgotten will be as an inextinguishable spark among the ashes of the past; for true Love is divine, and as indivisible as Ardhanār, the double aspect of Shīva, or Ardhanārīsa and Parāngada. Love and Recollection are the same, like Smaradāsa, who was the slave of love and recollection.

"In reality Love depends on the memory of first creation, and when the lovers find their Mate there blazes forth within their hearts a holy fervency that cannot be quenched."

Narāda taught Ruru manifold wondrous secrets and his words were ever clothed in a rosy splendour, so that the more the disciple listened to the Muni's Wisdom the further was he carried away by the eloquence of his Teacher; as if he were a leaf in a rushing stream, profluent on the luminous waves of that coruscating erudition.

One day Ruru said to the Muni: "I have heard so many teachings about the Three Worlds and those beyond, and also about the lower regions where the evil spirits dwell, and I have been told that Earth itself is the lowest Hell of all and that there is no lower: please, Master, what is the Truth of the matter?"

"My son," replied the holy Hermit, "you have been misled. The lowest rung of the Seven Spiritual Spheres is the Earth, which to some is Hell, true enough, peopled with a host of evil beings who want to destroy them; but this is not the full truth. There are six Spheres of Darkness and Sin below the Earth, as well as Six Spheres of Light and Goodness above it. The Earth, therefore, occupies a central position, partaking of the spheres above and below to a certain extent.

"The Earth is at the same time the highest of the seven lower spheres and the lowest of the seven higher. But you should understand that the term 'lowest spheres' does not mean that these are inside the Earth; nor are the Higher Spheres necessarily above it. The term 'Sphere' really means 'condition,' or 'rate of vibration.' It is possible for some of the spheres to mingle or mix with that of the Earth, or with each other, the Earth thus forming part of them as far as their different octaves of vibration are concerned, for these may overlap, as it were. This is one of the reasons that one may 'sense' good or evil beings, conditions, or vibrations if one is more 'sensitive' than the average person. The terms 'Path to the Sun' and 'Path to the Moon' should be interpreted in this way to some extent. Nevertheless, there is a Path to the Sun, and one to the Moon also; but the real secret of this I may only whisper to you and not speak aloud.

"When the Golden Logos within the Hidden Sun sends forth His Fiery Breath, a cosmic System with its central sun and its rings of planets is born; each inhabited by a Son of the Hidden Logos, and they are called Planetary Lords, or Creators, within and around every Planet. Anon, HE, the Blue-eyed One, draws in that Breath of Flame, and all that is material within the cosmic system is put to sleep, or dissolved in nameless Naught.

But never forget, my dear son, that it is as useless to endeavour to find the Ultimate Secret of the Hidden Logos, or of the Supreme Deity of the Universe too, as it is in vain for a diver to try to find within the ocean's depths a drop of rain that fell within it a thousand years or a second ago. And no single being can bewilder the senses of Chitragupta, the Recorder of all our acts, either, so that he may become blind to our faults and only sees our virtues."

"Is it possible for all men to understand such secrets?" asked Ruru, "and can all learn the technique of meditation and concentration, so that they may see themselves as they were in the past as I have learnt to do?"

"Nay, my son," was the reply; "the memories of our previous lives wander about in the darkness of oblivion, unless we learn the laws by which we may awaken them. But this is given to a few only; the rest walk about in the dream of NOW!

"Likewise the ultimate secret of Yoga is concentration; but only an occasional seeker has the strength of will and purpose to penetrate its mysteries."

Thuswise was Ruru taught all that may be known, even to the greatest Sage, and every day, beneath the empurpled sky of night, he awaited the moment to commence his dawn meditations; and when the Sun rose up he was lost in the Arcana of the Higher Worlds while around him the crows ate the daily offerings, for which reason the crow is called "Balibuk." And Garuda—the King of Birds—looked on with smiling eyes. And when Ruru's Higher Mind went forth in this manner in order to learn Wisdom, a circumambient mist wrapped him in its soft vapours, and the gilded image of worldly knowledge with its base of clay lay broken at his feet.

Poised on the bright Plumage of Illumination he found Peace in the balance of the Holy Laws of God.

And afterwards he arose from his meditations like a gleaming swan rises from the lake: glittering with the dew-drops of Inner Enlightenment; glowing with happiness, and soaring up to the Infinitudes of boundless Bliss. Light extended to whitest glory, to which, in comparison, the light of day is like a saturnine shadow of the night.

And all the time wise instruction issued from his Master's mouth like a very flame and burnt up the sevenfold veil of illusion. New visions winged their way towards his inner sight, that hidden eye which is petrified and closed in most human beings on account of the previous ill-use made of it by their ancestors who lie buried in the fogs of times long gone; and his spirit was deluged with an ocean of beauty. He had crossed the Barrier and knew that sin is not what humans think it is, but that it is a mirage within the mirror of imagination and man-made laws and customs, varying in every clime and contradicting one another; being but a means of torture to their warped and shapeless thoughts.

And now his Master considered that the time was fully ripe for the final instructions, and he started Ruru on a course of strictest training in the highest magical Sciences, which was needed if his disciple were to become ready for the great Initiation which awaited him; a sacred and awful step towards Adept-ship.

He taught him to forge from virgin steel a sword and a dagger, but no wand, cup, or pentacle, "for," he declared, "those latter are the instruments used in the black ceremonies, and although the dagger and sword are also used in black magic, in your case they should be used mainly to frighten the elemental forces which may threaten to assail you."

He instructed Ruru in the magical Alphabet and in the correspondences of classification of the Universe, and taught him certain formulae for the practise of conjurations, banishings and purifications. Ruru also learnt how to make the magical links in natural things and phenomena properly, and how to avoid obsession by an evil spirit.

"Magic," the Master said, "is the exercise of Will by which changes may be made in worldly spiritual conditions. In fact, every act of the will is magic when it is carried out by means of material things, and even by spiritual means.

"By means of Force all changes are made, for nothing can be achieved without Force setting in motion the material and spiritual atoms. If you raise your hand you use force, spiritual, on account of your will, material, by using your muscles. But you cannot use force if either the spiritual or the material means are not available. You cannot raise your hand by spiritual will if your arm is completely paralysed for instance, for the material part of your brain which controls your arm is out of action. Therefore, it is necessary to understand fully all spiritual and material forces and conditions before you may try to perform a magical operation of the higher sort, and you must have the practical ability to carry out your intentions.

"By an act of powerful Will it is possible to call to aid the forces of the Universe, which will obey the behests of the Adept. To a true Adept there are no limits in his progress in the Spiritual Realms; nor can his intellectual freedom be restricted in any direction.

"It is only ignorance which prevents a man from controlling all Nature. He does not know that everything he perceives is, in a way, part of himself; and that by identifying himself with that which he wishes to influence, he can obtain direct control of that object or subject. He may then transform the force within it to another force, such as he wishes to direct and use, if he knows the secret; and there is no limit to Force in the Universe. When he applies this, that, or any other force to his own purposes, he affects at the same time all other forces, as well as conditions in the Universe; for each action is like the ripple caused by a stone thrown in the middle of the ocean: these ripples extend and spread in every direction, affecting the whole of that ocean. You will therefore see that there is no such thing as isolation for any being whatsoever. All are part of the Whole, and their actions influence the whole Universe by means of these spreading ripples, just as they are influenced in turn by the ripples, or vibrations, set in motion by all other beings.

"But no man can make use of any vibrations or forces unless he is fitted in every way to attune with them whenever he wishes to do so. A man who is without any spiritual sympathy cannot become a great poet or artist of any sort, nor even a small one. Neither can a man who is of a very sensitive nature do the work of a butcher, or even an ordinary artisan, successfully. All have their own place in the Universe, and they must continue in their various capacities until they have earned the right to proceed a step further, or higher.

"Magic is the Art and Science of knowing all things, identifying one's Self with them, and using them for good only. One will then learn to know the difference between what he is and what he thought himself to be."

And then Narāda developed these teachings, which can only be mentioned in passing in this record, until Ruru had attained a complete understanding and mastery of the Laws.

He also learned the table of states and powers of the Universe, of which but a faint glimmer exists in the Upanishads; for the truly holy principles cannot be discussed in front of the multitudes, who would not be able to grasp the meaning of the divine Laws because they go far beyond the Ahankāra, or the I-making faculty, which refers everything to the individual, or "doer." Such things are but the beginning of true Spiritual Wisdom, to be cast aside by the Adept. It has been truly said that "Into blind darkness do they plunge who bow before un-wisdom (which is intellect), to even greater darkness, as it were, they go who yet again in wisdom find delight." True Wisdom, such as was taught by Narāda, is the equivalent of the Great Light which is Darkness to those who do not know it: for it is far beyond mere intellect.

"Who knoweth Wisdom and un-wisdom both, together with un-wisdom he crosseth over death, by Wisdom immortality is reached." Thus say the Upanishads; but who but the Sage who is a very mine of Sacred Wisdom shall understand this saying to the full? for it is beyond explanation to the average mind.

Narāda explained the true meaning of the three Mantras known as numbers sixteen, seventeen and eighteen of the Kathopanishad,* which are supposed to be an 'interpolation'—but are nothing of the sort, and they have ever been the despair of all the commentators who have used the 'interpolation' idea as a cloak to cover up their ignorance.

*These are the three Mantras which have never been deciphered before by any one, apart from Narāda, together with numbers 14 and 15 leading up to them:

  1. [Death rejoined:]
    Now unto thee that I declare; give ear to me, for I know [well], O Nāchiket, the fire that leads to heaven. Know that this fire, stored in the hidden place [in the heart, or in buddhi], is both the means of reaching endless worlds and [also] their foundation.
  2. So he told him that fire, the source of the worlds, what stones [for its altar], how many, and how. And he said back, in turn, what he had explained, [so that] Death in delight said it over again. With affection to him the great-souled one rejoined:
  3. Unto thee here and now a boon further I give. By thy name [alone] shall this fire ever go. Take further this garland of manifold form.
  4. The triple Nāchiketas, with the three attaining union, following the threefold [path of] deeds, sails over birth and death; knowing the god, adorable, from Brāhman born, omniscient, [and] realising him, unto that place he goes for ever and for aye.
  5. The triple Nāchiketas this triad knowing, thus knowing practiseth the Nāchiketa [rite]; before [he dies] he casteth off Death's meshes, [and] leaving grief behind joys in the heaven-world.
    (Then follow the next three Mantras thus:)
  6. This is thy fire, Nāchiketas; that leads to heaven! which thou didst ask for with thy second boon. Thine truly will this fire the people call. Boon third, O Nāchiket, demand.
    [Nāchiketas said:]
  7. That famous doubt as to man's after state—He is, some say, He is not, others say—this would I know by thee informed. Of boons this is boon third.
  8. [Death replied:]
    The very gods of old had doubt upon this point. Truly it is not easy to be known; subtle is this law. Another boon, Nāchiketas, demand; press thou me not, from this thou set me free.

Narāda's explanation ran as follows, and Ruru understood now that the 'Triple Nāchiketas' were: the Spark, the Higher Mind and the Soul, who, following the threefold path of deeds, sail over birth and death. At birth the lower mind is the human body with its material sensations; at death the Astral Body replaces it as a Vehicle for the Higher Mind. But both contain the Sacred Fire within their hearts during the time of earthly life, when the Astral and the human body—or lower mind—intermingle in one visible form. The 'three stones of the altar' knowing God are the Soul, the Higher Mind and the Life-giving Spark, that is to say: in the case of pure and evolved human beings; and we cannot regard the lower mind as the fourth stone, for it is a gross material vehicle only which cannot 'know' God as it has not the necessary higher perceptions of the other 'stones.'

The 'Boon' in mantram 16 means that the 'Fire'—which here means the Soul, Higher Mind, Spark and Astral Body—(the 'garland in manifold form') shall not be sent into incarnation again, but will proceed to its proper place in the Fourth Realm, where it will be known henceforth by the secret name it has always had, no matter what were its human names during previous incarnations. And they: 'from the adorable Brāhman born, omniscient, and realising Him,' unto that 'Path' they 'go for ever and for aye.'

The triple Nāchiketas this triad knowing, thus practiseth the Nāchiketa (or rite); before he dies he casteth off Death's meshes (by passing through the second and third Astral Realms with the swiftness of an arrow, arriving at the Fourth, whence no return need be), leaving grief behind—now joys in the heaven-world, or Fourth Higher Spiritual Realm.

And this is the FIRE (within the heart in attunement with the Sacred Golden Flame of the Fourth Realm) that leads to (that) Heaven, for which Nāchiketas longed when asking for his second boon. And the beings in the Fourth Realm will know the purity of his Hidden Fire and acclaim it as his (and their) own.

And Ruru was astonished at the seeming simplicity of it all, and he could not see at first why no other commentator had never been able to explain it before. But there was behind this simplicity the complicated Wisdom of his beloved Master, which can be attained only after many years of meditation, observation, attunement and inspiration, though many would-be 'seekers' think it can all be mastered in a few weeks or months! And, according to the Holy Scripture, even the Lord of Death asked to be excused from answering the riddle; for, said he, referring to the third boon, which is but an extension of that which Narāda had just explained: 'Truly it is not easy to be known: subtle is this Law, press thou me not, for this thou let me free.' And it may well be that the ancient Sage who wrote these verses in the Kathopanishad deliberately avoided a direct answer because he wished to keep this great Teaching a secret.

And Narāda taught Ruru the true meanings of Dharma and Adharma, or Cosmos and Chaos, and the tremendous Forces used by the Gods who turn Chaos into ordered Cosmos. He learnt that 'Self' is other than 'I', for Self is the true Immortal Soul and Higher Mind, and 'I' the earthly (and the astral) body that perisheth.

And then he taught Ruru the greatest secret of all, which is the manner in which the Three Principles of Man and the Three of his Mate become One when they have reached the real state of sacred Wisdom-Purity in the Highest Realm above the Fourth; a blending so sublime that it resembles a Flame of many colours; soft, yet blazing with Joy indescribable. Then the Two—yet One—reach Purusha, or Brahmā-hood, and no longer can they be known by any beings in the first four Spiritual Realms below them.

But they are not then soundless, touchless, and formless, as it is taught by those who do not know the Truth, but a sublimation of these three and all other principles and senses. They see and hear, taste, smell and feel that which no other being below them in evolution can; and they are then utterly Divine and Powerful.

Beyond the senses is the Soul; beyond the Soul the Highest Essence; beyond that Essence the Great Self; beyond the Great Self the Highest Increate. His Form is beyond all vision, but by Soul—Soul ruling the Higher Mind—is he revealed. Those who know this become Immortal.

And Ruru learnt the secrets of the Seven Life-powers that come from God, seven flames, seven foods to feed the flames, which are enlightenments, seven worlds in which the life-powers move in secret; seven placed in each. And he learnt that A-um is the bow, the Soul the bolt, and Brahmā the mark, which by concentration alone can be hit, so that the Adept becomes ONE with Brahmā. He . . . in whom heaven, earth and interspace are woven; He can be known by the Soul alone, until the Mind can qualify for union and the astral body be sanctified. He is the Bridge to Immortality, and the purified Adept will be seated in God's bright Shrine, the Aether, where He is beholden by the wise in spirit.

And having taught Ruru the holy Laws, his Master said: "Remember this: speak Truth only and observe the laws. Let nothing turn you from your studies, meditations, concentrations and attunements. Do not turn away from any of these, nor from good works and holy Teachings, nor from thy duty to the Gods. A-um! May He protect us both and keep us in his favour. May strength of purpose grow in us, and may our Studies be Illuminated; and let there be no dispute! A-um. Peace!! May Shri, the Goddess of Fortune and Beauty hold her protecting hand over you without asking, my Son; for She is One who cannot be summoned, but comes when She lists. And do not forget that he is a true sage who knows when to stop in the course of any enterprise or prayer."

And now Narāda made preparations for a preliminary Test, so that when Ruru should undertake the Great Test, leading to Initiation if successful, he should be ready and prepared. First, Ruru entered the fire of self-examination, in order to purify himself finally. And when, after several days, his Master considered that the time had come he said to him: "Remember during this Test that he who faces the fierce grimaces of the devilish monsters of the lower worlds must go forward . . . for destruction awaits him who hesitates or turns away."

Then he placed a goblet of wine on a bed of pure Kushā Grass, a very sacred kind of Darbha grass; and he told Ruru to take the dagger in his hand and become still within while concentrating on the goblet, which glowed with deep red rays. And as Ruru's soul rose up in meditation it seemed to him that the atmosphere became like a sea of colour, containing all the rainbow tints between bars of black and white, gold and green, with many lights and shadows, pearly mists, transparencies and glows. And the bars of white and colours became peopled with a host of heavenly beings, irradiant and splendid. But suddenly they all vanished, and from behind the zebrine shades of the bars of black came forth a troupe of fierce-looking monsters, led by a gigantic demon who came straight at Ruru. Ruru sprang up and grasped his dagger with a firm hand, ready to strike should the demon attack him. But from out of the depths of his consciousness there sounded the voice of the Master.

"What are you intending to do, Ruru?"

"Kill him with my dagger!" he cried in a frenzy of excitement.

"Not so, my son," said the voice; "you should not do that, for it would give him power to enter your body, and use it for his vile purposes . . . and then you would have to dwell for ever amongst those shades."

Ruru stood still, grasping the dagger, its point towards the elemental spirit. Fearlessly he gazed at him, and the demon wavered, looking from Ruru's eyes to the dagger and back to his eyes again. Slowly he began to fade away, his legions with him, and the whole region became a vivid red, until Ruru came out of his vision and realised that he was still looking at the goblet. The wine flamed in the crystal cup with a rosy glow, as if it were the heart of a God. With a deep sigh Ruru looked around him and saw the Muni standing near the lotus pool; deep in thought.

Ruru jumped up, and running towards Narāda said: "But for Thee I should have failed; how can I thank thee, dear Master?"

"Nay, my Son," replied Narāda; "you have saved yourself, for I did not aid you in any way."

"But I heard your voice, advising me not to kill the demon, dear Master!"

"That was not my voice, but the voice of your own and inner Master, your guiding Angel, your Soul, my beloved disciple. Always trust that holy voice, for it will lead you away from all the pitfalls of error if you will but hearken to its kind admonitions.

"The greater Test will now commence very soon; but I have no fears for you. But whatever happens: remain steadfast and courageous, and above all: remain calm and have faith in the protecting hand which always leads the pure in heart and mind."

Next: Chapter 18 — The Great Initiation

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