Nancy B. Detweiler
For eons, the spiritual journey of humanity has involved alternating spans of time between life in a physical body and life on the plane of spirit. Living within a physical body entails limitations that do not exist during the intervening periods on the spiritual plane.
When we enter a physical body, we leave behind most memories of prior lifetimes on Earth. By age 4 or 5, most of us have forgotten our experiences on the plane of spirit. The reasons for our soul’s choice to enter another physical body are buried within our subconscious minds. We begin to view the present incarnation as the only time we have, or will, experience life on Earth. Sadly, our societal institutions allow us—even encourage us—to remain in this amnesic state of consciousness. The inevitable result is that we feel separated from God and cut off from the root of our being. Not knowing where our roots extend, we view every part of creation as separate from ourselves. We stand alone on an empty island.
We embark on the process of ascension when we open our conscious awareness to comprehending the truth about ourselves and all of creation. We can never learn all there is to know; however, with each new awareness we ascend into fuller consciousness.
Most persons presently incarnated on Earth have thus far—consciously or unconsciously—chosen to follow "the broad path," meaning to meander their way into an expanded consciousness. To walk the broad path is permissible and will eventually achieve the same desired goal. On the other hand, many are choosing to tread the "narrow path" that requires a dedicated and conscious intention to pursue a continuing unfolding of higher consciousness—an awareness that extends into the higher realms of spirit and allows for the existence of an unending cosmos of living beings. The narrow path takes us straight up the mountain. The difference in the disciplinary effort involved is easily understood by comparing two approaches to the summit. One, we can choose to slowly walk around and around the mountain, gradually reaching the top, or two, we can climb the strenuous, rocky path straight up the mountain. Either way, all will eventually attain the goal of ascension.
The major events in the life of Jesus reveal the narrow path to ascension. The narrow path is the Way of Initiation and Service to others. Jesus incarnated at the beginning of the Piscean Age to show us the Way on the Path of Initiation. It has taken humanity an entire age (2000+ years) to reach the stage of consciously desiring to ascend into a higher realization of Truth. We now stand on the brink of a tremendous shift in perception. This shift will lift planet Earth and its inhabitants from the 3rd dimensional, physical plane of awareness to the 5th dimensional realization of a New Heaven and a New Earth.
No negativity can enter the 5th dimension. It is for this reason that each of us must walk either the broad path or the narrow path into 5th dimensional consciousness. Ascension takes place as we become beings of Light and Love, attuned to the divinity within, and cognizant that we are One with all that is. Jesus showed us the Way to accomplish this transformation of self by undergoing the 5 Initiations within public view.
Alice Bailey’s book FROM BETHLEHEM TO CALVARY offers an excellent description of the 5 initiations. I highly recommend it.
In ancient times, initiation took place in the temples of the mystery religions. It was a supervised, orderly, highly secretive process. With the incarnation of Jesus, this initiatory process was unveiled to the public in preparation for the arrival of the Aquarian Age now emerging. For the past 2000+ years, humanity has undergone—to greater or lesser extent—the 1st of the initiations and embarked on the 2nd. Because this process is now taking place in the world, as opposed to inside a cloistered environment, it is continuous and not necessarily accomplished consciously.
Although Christian terminology is used, this description of the Initiations is not meant to exclude other religions. All of the world religions teach a form of the ascension process within their mystical groups.
The 1st INITIATION is depicted by the Birth of Jesus, signifying the birth of the Christ (or Love) energy within us. Integrating this Love energy into our lifestyles requires more than simply attending regularly a church, mosque, or synagogue. Each of us was created to develop as an individual. Our 1st initiation begins as we make the conscious decision to integrate Love into our thoughts, words, and actions. Jesus taught us: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31)
The ascension process is radical. We cannot adopt the Greatest Commandment as the rule of our lives, then support actions on our planet that injure another human being. There are no exceptions in the command to Love. To undergo the 1st Initiation is to become a Disciple of Love. As we integrate Love into every fiber of our being, we are preparing for the 2nd Initiation.
The 2nd INITIATION is illustrated by the Baptism of Jesus. Water symbolizes our emotional nature. To be baptized with water is to be purified. It is a renunciation of our lower emotional nature with its materialism, greed, jealousies, resentments, hatreds, egotism, and negativity. Preparing for the 2nd Initiation can be most difficult because it involves purifying our negative emotions. Purification involves transmuting with Love. This is one reason forgiveness is a major lesson. All negative emotions must be purified, even anger against the person who deeply injured a loved one or us.
Knowing the truth of reincarnation is vital to completing the 2nd Initiation. Understanding reincarnation grants insights that help us learn forgiveness and gives a sense of purpose to our lives and relationships. We come to know that all persons present within our life-streams are there for a spiritual growth reason. For examples: The purpose may be to teach, or to accompany, or to support, even to inflict the pain that awakens us to a higher consciousness through learning to forgive and to love unconditionally. The commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself" includes all those who harm us. Once we truly understand how we progress spiritually by way of repeated incarnations, we realize there is absolutely nothing to forgive. Every individual who has impacted our lives did so as a means of assisting us to awaken to our own greatness, to stretch us into expressing a higher degree of Love.
The baptism of immersion, at an age of accountability, is a more graphic symbol than sprinkling a baby because it involves being submerged into the water (our negative emotions) and being lifted up out of the water (those negative emotions that formerly imprisoned us). Once lifted up, Jesus stood before his Father in Heaven (I AM PRESENCE) and heard the words, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am pleased." (Matthew 3:17) Once we purify our emotional body, we hear this same confirmation from our indwelling God (I AM PRESENCE). Our channel of communication with God is expanded. No longer do we have to depend upon another human being to teach us; we have achieved the spiritual maturity to communicate directly with spiritual realms. At the same time, the temptations to go astray become extremely difficult to recognize.
Immediately following his 2nd Initiation, "Jesus was carried away by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil." (Matthew 4:1) To be tempted by the Devil signifies the very subtle temptations our personality ego presents. Even with the best of intentions, many become trapped in egotism. Because these ego enticements are exceedingly clever, let’s look more closely at the temptations Jesus experienced. Analyzing them can assist us in learning to discern between the personality ego’s voice and the "still, small voice" of the God within speaking to us. (I Kings 19:11-15 is instructive in learning to discern the difference.)
Jesus is about to embark on his teaching ministry. During his sojourn in the wilderness, he wrestles with his personality ego while debating how to go about conducting his ministry. How can he gain the attention of the people?
First, Jesus’ ego considers the rocky soil present throughout much of Galilee. Multitudes of poor, hungry people live there. He could turn the rocks into bread and feed the poor. That would surely convince the people to follow him. Then, Jesus remembers words he read in his sacred text, "It is not by bread alone that man can live, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God." (In Matthew 4:4, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3.) Converting rocks into bread would surely capture the people’s attention, but the resulting satisfaction would be short lived. His ministry must share the words that proceed from the mouth of God and provide lasting nourishment for the soul.
Second, Jesus’ ego ponders jumping off the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem, while calling for the angels to catch him. This time, Jesus can quote a portion of his sacred text that appears supportive of his idea: "For he shall give his angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone." (Psalm 91:11-12.) Wow! Sounds like Jesus has permission to begin his ministry by jumping into the arms of the angels. What a spectacular performance to make known the power of God’s angels! But wait. Jesus recalls his sacred text, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 6:16) The laws of gravity operate automatically throughout the physical plane. To jump from the pinnacle would be to intentionally defy these laws, while expecting God’s angels to rescue him from his foolish action. Even though his ego can use the appearance of scriptural consent, Jesus knows his ministry must conform to the natural laws of physical plane.
Third, Jesus is tempted to sell his soul to the Devil in exchange for worldly power and fame. Surely, if Jesus held a position of powerful leadership in his own kingdom, the people would listen to him. That’s what people do—follow the one who has achieved wealth and fame. Once more Jesus’ ego loses its battle as he remembers another portion of his sacred text: "You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve." (Deuteronomy 5:6-7) The battle is over. Jesus makes his decision. His ministry is to exemplify a life lived as an expression of "God on Earth." As a 2nd degree Initiate, he chooses to become a Son of God, a Son of Light and Love.
The 3rd INITIATION is symbolized by Jesus’ Transfiguration on the mountain top. "Mountain top" denotes higher consciousness. This initiation follows years of loving service to humanity. Jesus has succeeded in overcoming any remnants of egotism within self. He consistently gave all credit for his work to God. Jesus made sure his disciples understood that the words he spoke were not his own. "For I did not speak of myself; but the Father who sent me, he commanded me what to say and what to speak…. Just as my Father told me, so I speak." (John 12:49-50) He made sure those healed in his presence knew the true source of their healing. "Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Then Jesus said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them." (Matthew 8:4) When a man drew near him and said, "O good Teacher, what is the best thing that I should do to have life eternal? [Jesus] said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? There is no one who is good except the one God; but if you want to enter into life, obey the commandments.’" (Matthew 19:16-17) Struggles with his personality ego were over.
"Jesus took Peter and James and John, and brought them up to a high mountain alone; and he was transfigured before their eyes. His clothes shone and became white like snow in such a manner that men on earth cannot make white. And there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus." (Mark 9:2-4) Jesus has proven himself capable of the self-discipline required in order to forego personality ego needs. He has been tested time and time again to make certain the inner strength he needs—to move forward in his initiatory process—is firmly developed. His conscious awareness is now such that he could communicate with Ascended Masters Moses and Elijah. Together, they plan for Jesus’ final soul mission—to demonstrate to the world that there is no death. Jesus is now a 3rd degree Initiate.
Once we achieve the spiritual maturity required to transmute all of our personality ego needs, we are transfigured into Light in our 3rd Initiation. Our conscious awareness is lifted to the realms of the Ascended Masters. Together with them, we plan our final soul mission for this incarnation. We become Lightworkers, who serve humanity in accordance with our talents and lifetimes of preparation. Lightworker service is far more strenuous than simply fulfilling the requirements of a particular vocation. Fulfilling the final soul mission is the 4th Initiation, depicted by Jesus’ crucifixion. We now work hand in hand with the Ascended Masters as we assist in manifesting the Divine Plan on Earth.
Before going into the 4th Initiation, let’s recall that the ancient initiatory process took place within the temples under the close supervision of hierophants, or priests. Today, our initiatory process takes place within full view of others and in a world that is antagonistic towards our efforts. Like Jesus, we are ridiculed, judged to be insane, and ignored by many. We may take one step forward and two steps backward simply because the external pressure to fit into the status quo world is intensely powerful. Our initiatory process cannot follow the systematic steps used in the ancient temples. Our progress is hit and miss … fall down and get up again … until we fully understand the message and meaning of Love. For this reason, we may pass through an initiation while retaining vestiges of unlearned lessons. We move forward as we continually strive to perfect what we have learned. It is, therefore, unwise to attempt to guess which degree of initiation any one individual has achieved. If we guess one level, we may then perceive gaps in spiritual maturity that will disappoint us. The extent of spiritual maturity possessed by any one person is between that person and God. We can much better spend our time evaluating ourselves and discerning our own weaknesses. As an individual, each Earth human must pass through the initiatory process created for this planet. We cannot cling to the coat tails of someone we admire or who appears to know more than we do. To do so slows down our own soul’s progress.
The 4th INITIATION corresponds with Jesus’ Crucifixion. The cross symbolizes the spiritualizing of physical plane matter into everlasting life. At this particular time in our planetary history, many are embarking on their 4th Initiation by working to transform our planet from one of darkness into one of Light. We incarnated to participate—as fulfillment of our major soul mission—in the ascension of our planet Earth. We are working in conjunction with the Ascended Masters and the Galactic Federation of Light. For thousands of people throughout this planet, this transformation has meant laying down their lives, making tremendous financial sacrifices, and keeping on when keeping on has become exhausting. Like Jesus was ridiculed on the cross, many of us have been ridiculed, defamed, and excluded. Many continue on under threats made on their lives and those of their family. Others refuse to allow one arrest after another—even incarceration—to stop them. Most importantly, we strive to remain the epitome of Light and Love in action. We focus on and point to better ways: the Way of Love, the Way of Light.
Jesus taught us, "He who wishes to follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake shall find it." (Matthew 16:24-25) He is describing the 4th Initiation. Jesus was the first one to achieve Initiate status within full view of the public. He showed us the Way.
As he allowed his body to hang on the Roman cross, he realized he had accomplished his soul’s mission. He once said to his disciples, "This is why my Father loves me, because I lay down my life so that I may take it up again. No man takes it away from me, but I lay it down of my own will. Therefore I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." (John 10:17-18) From a "son of man," Jesus progressed through the initiations to "Son of God." He walked the Path of a Son of God. Then, while he hung on the cross of matter, the windows of heaven opened within his consciousness and he spoke to his Father, "It is finished." (John 19:30)
The 5th INITIATION is illustrated by Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension. With the crucifixion of our 3rd and 4th dimensional consciousness and needs on the cross of matter, we stand ready to be resurrected into newness of life—to ascend into 5th dimensional consciousness. Ascension of planet Earth and many of its inhabitants into the 5th dimension marks the beginning of the Aquarian Age—the emergence of a New Heaven and a New Earth. In 2006, we stand on the threshold of this magnificent unfolding.
Weary though we may be, we must continue on! Not only are we to BE Light and Love, we are to DO acts of Light and Love. Then, as we allow our physical plane lives to hang on the cross of matter—of our own accord—we will gaze into the windows of our enlightened consciousness and say to our Father/Mother God, "It is finished."
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth has passed away; and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with [Earth humans], and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and the very God shall be with them and be their God. And he shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor wailing, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things have passed away.’" (Revelations 21:1-4)