A Study in
George Sidney Arundale
First published 1926
From “The Masters
And The Path”
C. W. Leadbeater
FOR the Arhat henceforth the consciousness of the buddhic plane is his while still in the physical body, and when he leaves that body in sleep or trance, he passes at once into the unutterable glory of the nirvanic plane. At his Initiation he must have at least one glimpse of that nirvanic consciousness, just as at the First Initiation there must be a momentary experience of the buddhic, and now his daily effort will be to reach further and further up into the nirvanic plane. It is a task of prodigious difficulty, but gradually he will find himself able to work upwards into that ineffable splendour.
The entry into it is utterly bewildering, and it brings as its first sensation an intense vividness of life, surprising even to him who is familiar with the buddhic plane. This surprise has been his before, though in a lesser measure, whenever he mounted for the first time from one plane to another. Even when we rise first in full and clear consciousness from the physical plane to the
astral, we find the new life to be so much wider than any that we have hitherto known that we exclaim: “I thought I knew what life was, but I have never known before!” When we pass into the mental plane, .we find the same feeling redoubled; the astral was wonderful, but it was nothing to the mental world. When we pass into the higher mental plane, again we have the same experience.
At every step the same surprise comes over again, and no thought beforehand can prepare one for it, because it is always far more stupendous than anything that we can imagine, and life on all those higher planes is an intensity of bliss for which no words exist.
European Orientalists have translated nirvana as annihilation, because the word means “blown out,” as the light of a candle is extinguished by a breath. Nothing could be a more complete antithesis of the truth. Certainly it is the annihilation of all that down here we know as man, because there he is no longer man, but God in man, a (sod among other Gods, though less than They.
Try to imagine the whole universe filled with and consisting of an immense torrent of living light, the whole moving, moving onward, without relativity, a restless onward sweep of a vast sea of light, light with a purpose, if that is comprehensible, tremendously concentrated, but absolutely without strain or effort - words fail. At first we feel nothing but the bliss of it, and see nothing but the intensity of the light; but gradually we begin to realise that even in this dazzling brightness there are brighter spots (nuclei, as it were) through which the light obtains a new quality that enables it to become perceptible on lower planes, whose inhabitants without this aid would be altogether beneath the possibility of sensing its effulgence. Then by degrees we
begin to realise that these subsidiary suns are the Great Ones, the Planetary Spirits, Great Angels, Karmic Deities, Dhyan Chohans, Buddhas, Christs and Masters, and many others who are to us not even names, and that through Them the light and life are flowing down to the lower planes.
Little by little, as we become more accustomed to this marvellous reality, we begin to see thatwe are one with Them, though far below the summit of Their splendour, part of the One that dwells somehow in Them all, and also in every point of space between; and that we ourselves are also a focus, and through us at our much lower level the light and life are flowing to those who are still further away (not from it, for all are part of it and there is nothing else anywhere, but) from the realisation of it, the comprehension and experience of it.
Madame Blavatsky often spoke of that consciousness as having its centre everywhere and its circumference nowhere; a profoundly suggestive sentence, attributed variously to Pascal, Cardinal de Cusa and the Zohar, but belonging by right to the Books of Hermes. Far indeed from annihilation is such
consciousness; the Initiate reaching it has not in the least lost the sense that he is himself; his memory is perfectly continuous; he is the same man, yet all this as well, and now indeed he can say: “I am I,” knowing what “I” really means.
It may sound strange, but it is true. No words that we can use can give even the least idea of such an experience as that, for all with which our minds are acquainted has long ago disappeared before that level is attained. There is, of course, even at that level, a sheath of some sort for the Spirit, impossible to describe for in one sense it seems as though it were an atom and yet in
another it seems to be the whole plane. The man feels as if he were everywhere, but could focus anywhere within himself, and wherever for a moment the outpouring of force diminishes, that is for him a body.
The man who has once realised that marvellous unity can never forget it, can never be quite as he was before; for however deeply he may veil himself in lower vehicles in order to help and save others, however closely he may be bound to the cross of matter, cribbed, cabined and confined, he can never forget that his eyes have seen the King in His Beauty, that he has beheld the land which is very far off - very far off, yet very near, within us all the time if we could only see it, because to reach nirvana we need not go away to some far-distant heaven, but only open our consciousness to its glory. As the Lord Buddha said long ago: “Do not complain and cry and pray, but open your eyes and see; for the light is all about you, and it is so wonderful, so beautiful, so far beyond anything that men have ever dreamed of or prayed for, and it is for ever and for ever.”
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