Becoming an Initiate
In The Ultimate Frontier is a list of the qualifications for attaining Brotherhood. For purposes of elaborating on them, they are:
To many, some of these goals seem unreachable--that perhaps only a few special ones will attain cosmic consciousness or superlative health and stamina, for example. Yet, on questioning Richard about each of the qualifications, we discover that perhaps the goal of Initiation into the Brotherhoods isn't so impossible after all. Here's what he had to say:
Q: I would like to ask how a person can measure his standing within each of the requirements for Initiation and pursue each one of the characteristics separately, if I may.
Q: All right, in your opinion, what constitutes a burning desire to be a Brother? Does that mean you should think about Initiation all through the day?
Richard: That's hardly practical. A person needs to give proper and full attention to earning a living and rearing children and taking care of all the necessary activities of the day. However, being mindful of how each activity fits in with the goal of Initiation is characteristic of those who are working effectively toward attaining First Degree. In other words, consider if all the things you're doing and thinking enhance or detract from that goal. This is what keeps your desire alive and burning rather than being lukewarm or kept as banked embers by being only occasionally thought about. To think of yourself as unworthy or to doubt whether you can achieve Initiation, which so many others have achieved before you, tends to throw cold water on that fire.
Q: That brings up the question of maintaining one's enthusiasm. How do you overcome lapses of that?
Richard: Well, occasional lapses do happen to everyone; so don't put yourself down because of it. It helps to remind yourself of the fact that every Ego has been given all the mental tools to become an Initiate, and the opportunity and information to move in the right direction is available to everyone. You can feel good about yourself if you strive to do your best. Not necessarily the best you know as an ideal, but the best you can at the stage you're at.
Q: Does keeping up with nightly retrospection on the Great Virtues indicate a burning desire?
Richard: Retrospection is one of the daily disciplines the Brotherhoods recommend, and a person earnestly on the path toward Initiation certainly pursues their acquisition of virtue regularly and thoughtfully. That fits in with my definition of a burning desire, but I suppose a person could consistently do the virtue retrospection without desiring any rewards beyond the happy benefits of relating toward others virtuously.
Q: Does frequent, sincere prayer for help in attaining Initiation indicate burning desire?
Richard: It's definitely an indicator, in my view. The Higher Beings who answer prayers cannot confer wisdom or virtue. Those have to be self-gained, but They can provide protection against influence by nether spirits, and They can bring valuable learning challenges into one's environment when asked for.
Q: How would you describe a willing personality as it pertains to gaining Initiation?
Richard: It is that quality of attitude which makes one lend a hand wherever it is seen to be needed. It relates to doing those things that serve one's fellow human beings and doing them joyfully, without the expectation of being praised or compensated monetarily. Saints quite simply derive great satisfaction from tirelessly helping others. That seems to me to be a trait founded on love. When you love people, you naturally want to help them when they need it. The Brotherhoods would certainly find it difficult to carry out Their purposes if Their members were grousing and reluctant to exert themselves.
Q: Let's discuss Cosmic Consciousness as a requirement for Initiation. First, are there levels of skill in experiencing astral awareness?
Richard: I find the use of the word "skill" a bit out of line in discussing clairvoyance. There are stages the normal person graduates through. One usually first begins to discern etheric Vital Body auras on the second plane of existence around living plants and animals before being able to "see" the mental auras of human beings on the Astral Plane. Clairvoyance at any level is usually preceded by clairsentience--the ability to sense bioelectric energy fields and feel the presence of human entities on the Astral. Clairvoyance occurs safely and naturally through the acquisition of the Great Virtues.
Q: Why do you say "safely?"
Richard: Forcing oneself into astral perceptions through meditative trance states or breathing exercises or astral travel techniques puts the practitioner in contact with astral entities on the same spiritual level as oneself because that is who one is en rapport with vibrationally. Such forcing can also open a person to lower astral types against whom he doesn't yet have natural protection by being spiritually evolved. I equate spiritual development with psychological and emotional maturity. The reason Adelphi emphasizes the practice of the Great Virtues is because that effort is central to one's attaining clairvoyance and enhancing positive karma. We've put a lot of effort into preparing information on this and publishing the Great Virtues Workbook because it is so important in several areas.
Q: I've wondered if a person who can control his clairvoyance can experience the Astral Plane and communicate with Egos there while walking down the street and simultaneously experiencing the physical.
Richard: Sure, that's possible.
Q: How is communicating with discarnate Egos learned without "hearing voices" on the way to learning clairvoyance?
Richard: Such communication is mind to mind on the Astral and relates to telepathy rather than clairvoyance. Any spirit voices heard at any time by anyone, regardless of their Egoic advancement, is suspect. An advantage of being clairvoyant is that you can "see" the aura of the spirit and thus determine his positive or negative character and intent and, to some degree, his spiritual advancement. Without your clairvoyance, the validity and authority of a spirit's communication is not to be trusted. The best way to avoid 'hearing voices" is to avoid any occult exercise that allows or invites a spirit to take over your brain so as to be heard by you in your head.
Q: Let's move on to the basic requirement of superlative health and stamina. Does this mean being free of all disease all the time? I'm thinking about the common cold here.
Richard: The viruses that cause colds keep mutating, and so they challenge the immune systems of everyone regardless of their Egoic advancement. A properly functioning immune system will take care of any kind of infection quickly. The better one's health and attitudes, the more effective is one's immune system. A truly healthy person's response to a cold virus new to him may be nothing more than a runny nose and malaise for a day, whereas a marginally healthy person may need to be in bed for a week and feel utterly miserable. During epidemics and plagues, virtually no one escapes infection, but some people develop almost no symptoms while others die.
Q: So how does one achieve superlative health?
Richard: A person's body depends entirely on the raw materials fed to it for growth and maintenance. If even one element is consistently in short supply or missing from your diet, your body chemistry cannot function properly and fully. The modern ways of growing, processing, and cooking foods leave the body in a state of semi-starvation, and this situation demands supplementation of your diet with vitamin concentrates and minerals. Plants cannot absorb the minerals which are essential to human physiology when those minerals have been long ago leached from the soil. The human body cannot manufacture many essential microminerals. They must be supplied from the outside. Proper exercise is also important to stamina and muscle function. My Teachers emphasized that I needed to become a nutritional expert and eat only pure foods for my own good health. Everyone needs to do the same for themselves. Without good health, one does not have the stamina to withstand the stresses of everyday life and still have energy left over for attention to spiritual growth. Dragging one's tail through life does not allow for enthusiasm and burning desire. A cheerful, willing attitude depends on good health, and good health is greatly enhanced by a positive attitude; these two traits operate in a mutually dependent manner, which can grow in either an ascending or descending spiral. Doing the Brotherhoods' Work requires the ability to perform well intellectually and physically. Without being in top-notch condition, it's almost impossible to be of much value to oneself, let alone to the Brotherhoods' great program.
Q: That brings me to the requirement of having no negative karma in order to become an Initiate. That seems reasonable enough; otherwise, one would be a weak link within the Brotherhoods. But how do you know if you have negative karma?
Richard: If negative things happen to you that are beyond your control or your setting into motion, then you can reasonably deduce they are the settling up of negative karma. This applies to physical and economic and emotional karma. Of course, if you initiate dumb moves or harmful actions, you can expect direct negative responses.
Q: How can a person overcome negative karma?
Richard: Quite simply through good works. Fortunately, karmic carryover from previous incarnations can hold off until a person has a chance to grow up and counter hurtful acts with positive ones, thus canceling pending retributions.
Q: What can you say about needing skill in a trade, art or profession to qualify for Initiation?
Richard: Simply that a person needs to know how to earn a decent living, and that usually requires specialized knowledge and proficiency. Women usually are good at a number of skills relating to mothering and homemaking, and they may also develop manual arts to a high degree. Men tend to excel in engineering, construction and manufacturing professions. Both genders do well in the healing arts. All the above require training and practice to hone their skills, and in the process these involve the Great Virtues of Precision and Efficiency.
Q: Okay. Last but not least is the requirement of having a balanced personality. What does that involve?
Richard: Briefly, it means that you need to evolve your mental, practical and spiritual traits equally well and in balance with one another. One needs to be not overbalanced in either practicality or spirituality, but rather well evolved in both these traits as well as having high intelligence.
Q: You made it sound easier for me to become an Initiate. Thanks.
Richard: Breaking anything into smaller bits improves one's impression of its being doable. It's also good to remember that our Creator and God intended for everything in our Egos, brains and environment to lead us to eventual Mastership, which is the whole purpose of human existence. Higher Beings designed everything to move us toward this ultimate goal. They want us to succeed, and They are helping in every non-interfering way They are allowed. If we follow the "course," we will graduate.