A Cosmic Initiation: The Magus
It is beginning to become clear that these Rosicrucian steps of initiation--as presented by Paul Foster Case in his THE TRUE AND INVISIBLE ROSICRUCIAN ORDER--resemble a kind of spiral that continues to cover the same territory, but as it moves forth surges wider while plunging deeper.
In essence, it seems that the goal is to attain (hopefully) to that state which we call Cosmic Consciousness. In the last grade, Magister Templi, we focused on the inner: soul, individuality, personality coming to know within the reality of a World Soul.
Let us see, now, what Case has to say of this last Rosicrucian grade: A Magus "completes the circle of life expression and ascends to the position of unity with the One Reality. His works never contradict the Law, nor do they destroy it. Always they are fulfillments." And, finally, the Magus "is simply the calm, untroubled observer of the play of events that work together to bring about the inevitable success of the Operation of the Sun, or Magnum Opus."
I believe Hegel, too, addresses this last grade of the Magus, once again presenting the culmination in terms of process: "*History* is a *conscious* self-mediating process...Spirit is emptied out into Time; but this...Becoming presents a slow-moving succession of Spirits, a gallery of images, each of which, endowed with all the riches of Spirit, moves thus slowly just because the Self has to penetrate and digest this entire wealth of its substance."
And "as its fulfilment consists in perfectly *knowing* what *it is,* in knowing its substance, this knowing is its *withdrawal into itself* in which it abandons its outer existence and gives its existential shape over to recollection. Thus absorbed in itself, it is sunk in the night of its self-consciousness; but in that night its vanished outer experience is preserved, and this transformed existence--the former one, but now reborn of the Spirit's knowledge--is the new existence, a new world and a new shape of Spirit."
Still, even at this grade of the Magus, I contend that most of us are still in an "in-between state"--between the *latter* aspects of the night of self-consciousness whilst attaining a glimmer of what Cosmic Consciousness might be.
The best way I think I can illustrate this is through some works by James Fowler (from his STAGES OF FAITH: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND THE QUEST FOR MEANING) and Evelyn Underhill (from her book, MYSTICISM).
Fowler presents six stages of faith (human) development-- but let me begin with Fowler's Stage 5. To quote, "Unusual before mid-life Stage 5 knows the sacrament of defeat and the reality of irrevocable commitments and acts...Alive to paradox and the truth in apparent contradictions, this stage strives to unify opposites in mind and experience. It generates and maintains vulnerability to the strange truths of those who are 'other'...this stage's commitment is freed from the confines of tribe, class, religious community or nation."
Proceeding, Fowler says that "The new strength of this stage comes in the rise of the ironic imagination...a capacity to see and be in one's or one's groups most powerful meanings, while simultaneously recognizing that they are relative, partial and inevitable distorting apprehensions of transcendental reality. (Its danger lies in the direction of a paralyzing passivity or inaction, giving rise to complacency or cynical withdrawal, due to its paradoxical understanding of truth.)"
Fowler continues: "Stage 5 can appreciate symbols, myths and rituals...because it has been grasped, in some measure, by the depth of reality to which they refer. It also sees the divisions of the human family vividly because it has been apprehended by the possibility (and imperative) of an inclusive community of being."
Evelyn Underhill harps in, discussing the mystic particularly: "The greater the mystic, the sooner he realizes [at Fowler's Stage 5] that the Heavenly Manna which has been administered to him is not yet that which the angels are full fed."
Even so, she stresses that "Nothing less will do; and for him the progress of Illumination is a progressive consciousness that he is not for the sunny shores of the spiritual universe, but for the 'vast and stormy sea of the divine.'"
Fowler agrees with this, in that he wistfully states that "in some few cases this division yields to the call of the radical actualization that we call Stage 6."
Fowler's Stage 6 is about Universalization. To quote: "State 6 is exceedingly rare. The person best described by it have generated faith compositions in which their felt sense of an ultimate environment is inclusive of all being. *They have become incarnators and actualizers of the spirit of an inclusive and fulfilled human community.*"
Fowler notes that "They are 'contagious' in the sense that they create zones of liberation from the social, political, economic and idealogical shackles we place and endure on human futurity."
Continuing, "Living with felt participation in a power that unifies and transforms the world, Universalizers are often experienced as subversive or the structures (including religious structures) by which we sustain our individual and corporate survival, security and significance."
And "many persons in this stage die at the hands of those whom they hope to change. Universalizers are often more honored after death than during their lives. The rare persons who may be described by this stage have a *special grace* that makes them more lucid, more simple, and yet somehow more fully human than the rest of us. Their community is universal in extent. Particularities are cherished because they are vessels of the universal, and thereby valuable apart from any utilitarian considerations. Life is both loved and held too loosely. *Such persons are ready for fellowship with persons at any of the other stages and from any other faith tradition.*"
Underhill describes this stage perhaps even more succinctly: "The capital marks of the state are: 1.) A complete absorption in the interests of the infinite, under whatever mode. It is apprehended by the self. 2.) A consciousness of sharing *its* strength, acting by *its* authority, which results in a complete sense of freedom, an invulnerable serenity, and usually urges the self to some form of heroic effort or creative activity. 3.) The establishment of the self as a 'power for life,' an actual parent of spiritual vitality in other men."
Hegel has lots to say about Fowler's Stage 6--but first, we need to backtrack into Stage 5 and move forward into Stage 6.
From his PHENOMENOLOGY OF SPIRIT, Hegel notes: "The content of the language of conscience is the *self* that knows itself as essential being...For universal self- consciousness is free from the *specific* action that merely *is*; what is valid for that self-consciousness is not the *action* as an *existence,* but the *conviction* that it is a duty."
Continuing, "The declaration of this assurance in itself rids the form of its particularity. It thereby acknowledges others, is the same as them..for they are just this pure self-knowing and willing...and which for that reason is also recognized and acknowledged by *them.*"
"In the will of the self that is certain of itself, in this knowledge that the self is essential being, lies the essence of what is right. Therefore, whoever says he acts in such and such a way from conscience, speaks the truth, for his conscience is the self that knows and wills. But it is essential that he should *say* so, for this self must be at the same time the *universal* self."
Moving further with Hegel regarding Universalization, he states that "It is the *actual* 'I', the universal knowledge *of itself* in its absolute opposite, in the knowledge which remains *internal,* and which, on account of the purity of its separated *being-within-self,* is itself completely universal."
Proceeding, "The reconciling *Yea* in which the two 'I's' let go their antithetical *existence,* is the *existence* of the 'I' which has expanded into a duality, and therein remains identical with itself, and, in its complete externalization and opposite, possesses the certainity of itself. It is God manifested in the midst of those who know themselves in the form of pure knowledge."
Perhaps...the duty of the illuminated soul has something to do with creativity, with love?
Evelyn Underhill, in her MYSTICISM, talks of the destiny of the Cosmos. She says that "the mystic knows that destiny. It is laid bare to his lucid vision...He is the 'hidden child' of the eternal order, an initiate of the secret plan...He is the pioneer of Life on its age-long voyage to the One and shows us, in his attainment, the meaning and value of that life...this secret plan of Creation flames out... its exultant declarations come to us in all great music, its magic is the life of all romance."
Underhill proceeds: "It's law...the law of love...is the substance of the beautiful, the energizing cause of the heroic. It lights the altar of every creed."
Now how does Hegel perceive living out this Law of Love? Perhaps, as he say, "it is the Science of Knowing in the sphere of appearance: the two together, comprehended History, form alike the inwardizing and the Calvary of absolute Spirit, the actuality, truth, and certainity of his throne, without which he would be lifeless and alone. Only from the chalice of this realm of spirits foams forth for Him his own infinitude."
Summation: In this particular series on Rosicrucian Initiation, via Paul Foster Case and G.W.F. Hegel, illumination points to the attainment of Cosmic Consciousness--which very few actually experience. Nonetheless, it is the pursuit of such that remains significant. Both Hegel and Case believe that through preparation, through personal individuation, that one can hope to attain Cosmic Consciousness.
I, myself, am not quite as convinced. Noting from other sources, Cosmic Consciousness oft occurs with people young and unprepared. It seems to come during times of crisis, when one's state of consciousness is somehow altered.
As for altered consciousness, and the techniques abundant to induce such, I shall not speak. Virtually all major religious and spiritual systems provide an army of techniques-- and, in today's world, the techniques have moved beyond the spiritual into drugs and technology.
Rather, I will end this series simply with a *description* of what it seems to be having experienced Cosmic Consciousness. I shall rely upon an old mainstay, Maurice Bucke, M.D., quoting from his landmark book COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS.
Bucke himself claims to have experienced Cosmic Consciusness. He notes that in a state of quiet he felt himself "wrapped around as it were by a flame-colored cloud. For an instant he thought of fire, some sudden conflagration in the great city; the next he knew that the light was within himself."
Meditating upon the event, Bucke felt the "the prime characteristic of cosmic consciousness...is a consciousness of the cosmos, that is, of the life and order of the universe." He continues that "along with consciousness of the cosmos there occurs an intellectual enlightenment of *illumination* which alone would place the individual on a new plane of existence...would make him almost a member of a new species. To this is added a state of moral exaltation...a feeling of elevation, elation, and joyousness, and a quickening of moral sense."
There also comes "a sense of immortality, a consciousness of eternal life...not a conviction that he shall have this, but the consciousness that he has it already." Bucke also states that "doubt of God and of eternal life will be *impossible.* Each soul will feel and know itself to be immortal, will feel and know that the entire universe with all its good and with all its beauty is for it and belongs to it forever."
In evolutionary terms, Bucke--in discussing the work of the illuminative, the Magus--strongly declares that "he hopes to furnish aid to his fellow men in a far more practical and important sense. The view he takes is that our descendent will sooner or later reach, as a race, the condition of cosmic consciousness, just as, long ago, our ancestors passed from simple to self-consciousness."
So--at this point, I shall end this series. The story of the series is about an individuation process, steps leading to a comprehension of a World Soul of which we are aspects, that, in turn, actualizes into a Reality for the lucky few. Finally, there is the evolutionary Hope, for all of us, although it might be millennia upon millennia away.
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