What Is Your Rank?
“What is your rank?”
Of all the ideas I have ever had--whether eventually jettisoned, promulgated for the purpose of semi-Self-aggrandizement, or hoarded like a Rosicrucian before there were web sites with PayPal donations--few notions seem as intuitionally (therefore “Theosophically”) true to me as the existence of a hidden Psycho-Spiritual Hierarchy.
I suppose my interest in hierarchies began in high school when I ran across Thomas Jefferson’s concept of the “natural aristocracy.” Unfortunately, America’s third president seemed to reserve his dais for individuals with observable talents, abilities, virtues, etc. Not really feeling that I had any of these things in abundance, I soon lost interest in the type of aristocracy which required some sort of demonstration of my superiority.
In college, as good or bad luck would have it, I ran across Frederick Nietzsche and his Ubermensch. This German word means “Superman” or “Overman,” and the concept immediately appealed to me. The stellar thing about Ubermensch seemed to be that one didn’t have to prove anything in order to regard oneself as a lord over all the unsuspecting vassals like friends, family, and strangers—not only common strangers but also Nobel prize winners and Mother Teresa as well. Just a little sneering at Christianity and “herd-morality,” and one could be catapulted “beyond good and evil” right into the very exclusive Ubermensch Club.
Looking back, it seems pretty embarrassing. Frankly, much of my life has been pretty embarrassing; however, perhaps my Ubermensch phase should win some sort of prize. Top this for ego-formation-aggrandizement if you can: I even took the trouble to buy some stick-on letters and drive around with UBERMENSCH on the back of my Volkswagen microbus for a while [see photo].
Now, Helena Blavatsky’s “Master” reputedly precipitated messages from the Astral Realm into railroad cars in order to communicate with her. In my case it was just some smart-aleck on the street who gave me Preternatural Guidance. One day when I came out to where I had parked, I found this written in the dust of my microbus:
Point taken. . . .
Point taken only for a while, that is. . . . There were also many other similar lessons to be learned during the rest of the fourth Seven-Year Psychomaturation Cycle (age 21-28) and beyond. (Actually, the potential to discriminate between the Self and Desire-Mental semi-Self ego-creations starts roughly at the midpoint of the previous cycle, age 17 ½.) My “rank” at that time would have been this: S-R6.x(PC4). Basic Self-Realization (S-R) might have been pretty much the same (a who-can-argue? estimated “Sixth Degree”), with .x representing an unknown numerical progression toward the probably unknowable Undifferentiated Seventh Degree of Self-Realization; however, I would have then been (PC4) rather than the (PC7) I am now. No award: I just got older. All (PC4) means is that I was in the fourth Psychomaturational Cycle at the time. The esoteric significance is that I might have had the same limbic-tainted mental construct of Ubermensch during earlier cycles; however, I would likely not have been able to psychologically be it—in other words, be at least temporarily transmogrified into an egoic semi-Self using that particular differentiation of Consciousness.
To better understand this, it should be remembered that when someone is in Desire-Mental consciousness, the importance is not what he or she is saying or doing; rather, it is what deluded like/dislike-tainted (but seemingly rational) ego-formation he or she is trying to project by means of what he or she is saying or doing. The underlying psychology is this: “I really am the idea I am drawn to and perhaps promoting. It is a superior idea. Therefore, I am superior.” An ist can sometimes be a good clue to this type of consciousness—e.g., feminist, communist, tribalist, globalist, spiritualist, etc. (Do you privately regard yourself as a Theosopher or a Theosophist?)
Not only were there more Fourth Cycle lessons ahead, but also, since I had already passed through the Animating, Physical, Desire-Feeling Cycles, there were many other potential ego-formations which could be indulged as well (they typically change back and forth from moment to moment). For example, semi-Selves could still be easily formed on the perhaps daily occasions when I drifted into Third Level, Desire-Feeling consciousness. The underlying psychology: “I really am my desires, aversions, affections, disaffections, feelings, or emotional reactions to things.”
(Incidentally, one of most common psychological traits of high-schoolers is that they regard themselves and their groups as superior simply because they like or dislike certain clothing styles, types of music etc. This Desire-Feeling consciousness is not necessarily limited to “I really am my attraction to the way I look, act, etc.”; it can also be in the form of depressing semi-Self delusions like “I really am my loathing for my overweight body, unpopularity, etc.”)
Indeed, it was not very long after I had scraped the letters and adhesive residue off my microbus that I also did some notable semi-Self ego-creating with this “perpetually adolescent” variety of consciousness. For example, I had taken a liking not only to Krishnamurti’s general message (a Desire-Mental trigger) but also and more significantly, to his World Savior image (a Desire-Feeling trigger); therefore, (via sort of a non sequitur) I joined the Theosophical Society. I especially admired the fact that Krishnamurti had been more-or-less regarded as the “Star” in the Order of the Star of the East. “Star of the Midwest” did not quite have the same ring to it; however, a Jesus/Buddha/Charlton Heston wanabe must start from where he finds himself. Thus, I began to do some writing and speaking on Theosophical subjects and for a while served as president of the Michigan-Wisconsin-Illinois Theosophical Federation.
Since role-playing or image-managing is a principal feature the Desire-Feeling variety of differentiated consciousness, I bought an outfit that I thought looked vaguely Indian-mod and regularly wore some Theosophical “bling” in the form of a medallion of the Society’s symbol hanging on a garish gold chain on the outside of my shirt [see photo].
This look did not last too long, however. I really don’t remember the reasons I decided to give myself a major makeover. Perhaps it was because I didn’t think I appeared “heavy duty” enough for the Theosophical subjects I was tackling; or perhaps it was the fact that not even one of the mostly gray-haired ladies in my audiences had ever been motivated to throw her room key up on stage. In any case, I redesigned myself as World Savior. Looking back at it now, what I think I must have been shooting for appearance-wise was some sort of judicious balance between Guru Nanak and one of the Bee Gees [see photo].
While it is a relatively easy thing to identify the misguided ego-formations of the past, it is another thing to recognize them in the moments they are trying to take center stage psychologically. That, of course, is what Self-Realization is all about. It is also the way that one can estimate one’s own rank. If one can more-or-less promptly recognize that one is in—or realize that one has just been in—Fourth-Level Desire-Mental consciousness, for example, one can estimate that one has attained at least Fifth-Degree Self-Realization. If one can, even if only rarely, reestablish the “Once-Removed Vantage” vis-a-vis Fifth-Level Mental (desire/emotion-free ideation) consciousness, one may conjecture that one has at least begun the long psychological journey associated with the Sixth Degree of Self-Realization.
What is your rank? Thus you see that one’s position in the Psycho-Spiritual Hierarchy is all a matter of a person’s own private guesswork.
But all the guesswork in the world might be somewhat pointless if the person is not also interested in how he or she can use the advancing psychological features of his or her particular position in the Hierarchy. The Third Object of the Theosophical Society should not take a backseat to the other two. Whether a person is officially affiliated with some organization or not, the possibility not only to study, but also to actually awaken and use, “latent powers” should be a principal draw for Theosophy in its broadest sense. If one only studies material science, one can only receive what material science has to offer. If, on the other hand, one has a little faith in the epistemological definition of Theosophy—“Intuitive knowledge or wisdom resulting from direct experience of one's Transcendent Nature”—one might indeed surprise oneself by what one is able to do by means of it.
Simple Psychotech #3:
Simple Psychotech #3 may become especially important for a Fifth- or Sixth-Degree individual as he or she ages. After such a person has gone through most of the Psychomaturational Cycles, the potential for becoming energy-drained and “I-embrangled” can be considerable. Many older “older souls”—the time-honored second older in this sentence refers to Degree of Self-Realization rather than chronological age—may need more than what material science and conventional psychology currently has to offer. Frequently, merely finding enough motivation for vibrant day-to-day living can be a major problem. Fortunately, H.P.Blavatsky suggests [in KEY TO THEOSOPHY, pp. 66-7] a Psycho-Spiritual “technique” which may be helpful:
“ENQ. Is there any other kind of prayer?
“THEO. Most decidedly; we call it WILL-PRAYER, and it is rather an internal command than a petition.”
Here, unfortunately, we run into an all-too-familiar problem. How can one understand and apply even down-to-earth Theosophical knowledge and wisdom when it is presented in a way that is much more abstract than it is concrete? In this case, how exactly can one know how to go about WILL-PRAYING? Certainly, H.P.B.’s additional explanations on the subject are tantalizing; however, they also seem somewhat like a big blanket of abstractions perhaps purposely thrown over this subject, a blanket that perhaps all but authentic Theosophers might suffocate under before they can crawl out and experiment with WILL-PRAYER for themselves:
“It is a mystery rather; an occult process by which finite and conditioned thoughts and desires, unable to be assimilated by the absolute spirit which is unconditioned, are translated into spiritual wills and the will; such process being called ‘spiritual transmutation.’ [. . .] The only homogenous essence, our ‘will- prayer’ becomes the active or creative force, producing effects according to our desire” [p.68]
I’m sold. I’ll try it. But please just give me some better hint on how to do it. . . .
Alas, H.P.B. says little more on the subject of WILL-PRAYER. (However, earlier [p.26] she had given a strong warning about hypnotism; this may or may not be a clue that “self-hypnotism” and WILL-PRAYER are in the same ball park.) Thus, a Theosophical psychologist is pretty much on his or her own except, of course, for his or her faithful allies: 1) Intuition, 2) Microcosmic Analogy, and 3) Experimentation.
1) Intuition may the most important of the three. If nothing about the possible validity of WILL-PRAYER resonates with your own “Internal Treasury of Ineffable Knowledge and Wisdom,” just move along; do not waste your time.
2) Microcosmic Analogy simply means that one can profitably analogize/homologize as Above, so below in the actual direction indicated by the first part of this Hermetic axiom. The Above which might be useful here is an Eastern philosophy which likely has been esoterically associated with the modern Theosophical Movement since the days of Blavatsky and Olcott. Perhaps surprisingly, it is not Vedanta but Sankhya.
One of the six schools of classical Indian philosophy, Sankhya is far too complex to present adequately in a short space. That would be unnecessary, anyway, since all that is required for the construction of an analogy with an individual’s psychological nature is the basic understanding that Sankhya sees the universe as consisting of only two realities: Purusa (Self, Atman, Undifferentiated Consciousness “I,” etc.) and Prakriti (“Matter-Spirit [‘Circular’] Continuum of Substance”; i.e., everything—even dream pictures and abstract ideas—that is not Consciousness). The Experiencer and the experienced.
Frankly, it is difficult to see how one could make any sense out of Theosophy at either the macrocosmic or microcosmic level without this fundamental perspective to help fashion a “working hypothesis.” Sankhya’s probable originator, a sage named Kapila, did not necessarily provide a “true” philosophy; however, he certainly provided a useful one. Not only does it analogize nicely at the down-to-earth psychological level, but it also provides a possible answer to a very vexing question for both Cosmogenesis and “Psychogenesis”: How can Pre-Existing, Oh-So-Pure Consciousness become contaminated in the first place? Sankhya’s explanation goes something like this: Purusa/Atman/ Self shares such a mutually rarefied nature with Buddhi/Spirit, which occupies the highest position on the Matter-Spirit [“Circular”] Continuum of Substance (Prakriti), that “ingress” is thereby made possible.
The result? The famous, at least in old-fashioned scribal circles, Atma-Buddhi (Self-Spirit). H.P.B. is not always so consistent about defining the usually more psychologically/intuitionally-flavored Buddhi as “Spirit”; however, she indeed does so in several places, one of which is in THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY [p.135]. After talking about Atman as the Higher Self, she goes on to say, “Buddhi (the spiritual soul) is only its vehicle.” [words in parenthesis are H.P.B.’s]
Conceivably, then, the Consciousness-interpenetrating/transporting vehicle of Spirit is also able to “merge” with Breath/Animating Force (Fohat, energy, prana, etc.) in somewhat the same way (i.e., by similarity in rarefaction). From there, Animating Force mysteriously becomes physical matter (e=mc2 [?]) which evolves, probably just like Darwin said it did, from inorganic to organic and eventually to Australopithecines/etc. and ultimately to h*** sapiens with physical, emotional, and sooner or later quite respectable mental natures. Thus, Consciousness or Self can thereby potentially and eventually become associated with—contaminated or tainted by—all the differentiations of Substance.
[If you did not skip the foregoing segment on Microcosmic Analogy, congratulations and welcome to the real Esoteric Section; here is your License Key for a one-year subscription to Experimentation below: 127syek-933moor-ruoy-222worht81-,seidal3.]
WARNING: This possible version of WILL-PRAYER is not for everyone. Like Viagra, it works miraculously, but you should stop immediately if you notice any minor side effect like blindness.
It should be mentioned, I suppose, that at some point I mostly gave up on my unproductive World Savior ego-formations. After that, there was another embarrassing phase where I practiced a little hypnotism and self-hypnotism. My motivation for this was probably just interest in the most primordial, most powerful, most perilous differentiation of Substance of all—the Animating Force. Control It; control everything, was my modest hope.
Eventually, though, I also gave up hypnotism. I came to the conclusion that it was improper to fool around with other people’s psyches, even for good purposes like helping them lose weight or give up smoking. I did not completely give up on self-hypnotism, but I started thinking that it was too time-consuming and also was a tad “vague” in terms of results. Furthermore—and this might also apply to both my own and to H.P.B.’s version of WILL-PRAYER as well—going overboard on self-hypnosis seemed more than a little like one robot trying to program another robot. For example, if one were strongly attracted to the idea of being a millionaire, one could post-hypnotically suggest oneself to work incessantly toward that goal. The problem, of course, might be that the “robot you were born with” might have other tendencies/”scars” (skandhas), incarnated lessons/consequences (karma), or individual life-duties (dharma) which require a more normal family life, the cultivation of artistic or intellectual pursuits, or even just reasonable rest and care of oneself.
On the other hand, one purpose for trying to attain a higher rank in the Psycho-Spiritual Hierarchy is to open the potential for “operating from” a partially non-robotic state—what is sometimes called the Buddha-Manas (Spirit-Mental, Sixth) Level of consciousness. To be able to do this with great skill and consistency would make one a “Master” or “Adept,” of course. Nevertheless, even for lesser mortals, WILL-PRAYER can be a significant “upgrade” from Self-Hypnosis 1.0 and serve as very valuable tool—if used prudently.
The main thing is to realize that WILL-PRAYER is not in any way dependent on imagination or wishful thinking. It involves a true latent power. To convince oneself of that, it might be helpful to undertake a “preliminary experiment” before moving on to the main odd-science project:
First, just sit comfortably in a chair. Rest your hands on your knees. Silently say, "Raise your right forefinger." For most individuals nothing will happen. Next, exhale as completely as possible. Do not automatically inhale. When your need to take the next breath becomes almost unbearable, silently say, "Raise your right forefinger." For most individuals the forefinger will promptly obey. If the individuals had said something like, “Be more productive than ever today,” there would have probably been at least some psychological compliance with that verbal directive as well.
Actual WILL-PRAYER does not involve near-asphyxiation, however. Its greater sophistication and efficacy is based upon the Microcosmic Analogy that can be constructed with Sankya philosophy. Is just a matter of analogically realizing the significance of two pronouns: I and you.
Purusa (Consciousness, Self) is I; Prakriti (Substance, everything else) is (regarded by the I) as you. That is the all-in-all—Macrocosmically on the universe-scale and Microcosmically on the personal psychological-scale: the Experiencer and the experienced.
For a second time, just sit comfortably in a chair. Rest your hands on your knees. Silently say, "Raise your right forefinger." For most individuals nothing will happen. Next, silently repeat (perhaps for a minute or two if necessary) to yourself, "you, you, you, you, you. . . ." Then silently say to yourself again, "Raise your right forefinger." If you are a Master/Adept, or even mostly just an experimenting robot, you will probably have instantly made an obedient little homunculus out of your forefinger.
Undoubtedly, of course, the "internal commands" H.P.B. referred to in her version of WILL-PRAYER had loftier purposes than merely making her body parts twitch. Similarly, the recommendation here is for general directives on the order of "Grow better and healthier in every way" or things more specific like “Upon getting up, exercise on the treadmill longer and more enjoyably than ever.”
Whatever else any attempted WILL-PRAYER can or cannot do, it can certainly beautifully illustrate the definition of Microcosmic Theosophy: "Practical application of intuitive knowledge or wisdom at the human level, especially psychological insights and tools for the transformation of ordinary life into extraordinary life.”
It should be noted, however, that using this psychological tool may not necessarily speed-up one's advancement in the Psycho-Spiritual Hierarchy. In fact, there is always the possibility that overuse might even stall one's progress in Self-realization for a little while. After all, those who have the easiest lives are not always those with the most motivation for undertaking and/or continuing the Theosophical Quest.
"After long years of experimenting with many versions of WILL-PRAYER what is your rank now?"
“Still S-R6.x(PC7),”I answered.