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". . . And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: . . . And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof . . ." (Revelation 21)

The "holy city, the new Jerusalem, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband . . . the Lamb's wife" is the Biblical symbol for the City of Light of which we spoke. The Light that shines in it, however, is neither sun nor moon light. It is the effulgent Glory of God. It is the Light of the Host, of the divine Pleroma — a Light which transcends the obvious, emotional, overwhelming light of the sun. It is the emanation of the Logos, not the radiation of the divine Eros. Not even exactly an emanation, but as is said in Revelation, the "wife" of the Logos. It is the mastery of the Master, the "Robe of Glory" in Gnosticism, the Nirmanakaya Vesture in Eastern esotericism, of the man who has passed through the four gates of the light and reached the fifth — which is not a gate but the actual welcome of the City of Light, whose "key" is placed into the keeping of him who thereby becomes a Master.

We can trace this symbolism in the Buddhistic or theosophical teachings concerning the four great Initiations, the four Paths, and the step beyond which is the winning of the mastery. We can trace it, though less clearly, in the Gnostic systems of our first centuries, or rather in the few remains thereof which have resisted the spiritual vandalism of the Fathers of the Church. In our previous "Meditations" we reserved the term of "Initiation" for the fourth "Gate", symbolized by Libra and the Autumn equinox. There is justification in this procedure, for it is only at the fourth gate, the Western gate, that man, as a spiritual Individual, takes the great step from which there is no return; a step which involves a complete re-polarization of spiritual being and the rebirth of consciousness at a truly universal level.

At the three preceding gates the Individual was growing ever more perfect — if one considers the cycle of transformations at the purely spiritual level. And perfection was gained through hard struggles and by overcoming many crucial tests in the true spirit of sacrifice. But until the fourth step is taken the Individual may yet fall. From this point of view each of the "avatars" represents a test of power. In Aquarius, the Individual's willingness to dedicate his power and consciousness to those of a lower level is tested. In Taurus, the purity of his motives and the strength of his focalization in Self — so that he be not drawn into the whirlpool of the earth's elemental energies — are the issues at stake. In Leo, the solar man is tested for his pride.

These tests constitute indeed initiations, if successfully passed. Yet the true "entrance into the Kingdom of God" is not made certain until the power of the Scorpio avatar burns through the Individual; who, thereafter, rises as a phoenix out of his ashes. This supreme experience regenerates the Individual utterly and beyond recall. The Individual thereby becomes a focalization of the celestial Whole. He dies as a solar Individual and is reborn as a Ray from the Universal, a star within the Constellation. This death is described in occultism as the destruction of the causal or solar body — the final Crucifixion. After this, the Initiate of the Western Gate, or Arhat, is formally received in the City of Light and invested with the mastery of his Ray; that is, the power of all those who belong to this Ray or Constellation becomes his to use, within the limits of his individual ability to use it efficiently for the Whole.

It is this unanimous power of the Host which constitutes the "Bride" of every perfected Adept. A truly significant designation; because the wife of a man — in all pure and natural earth-born societies — represents actually the total power of the tribe for the man to use, in order to bear forth a progeny and thus to serve the purpose of the perpetuation of the tribal whole. The pure bride is concentrated virgin potency, to be fecundated and made operative by the man's action. She is the "Virgin of Light" who meets the would-be Master on the inner side of the City's walls. She is the mastery to be assumed by the Initiate. Through this assumption of power and responsibility, he becomes actually a Master, the bearer of a progeny of universal deeds through which he truly proves himself a "Star", a participant in the Life of the Universe of Light which is the Body of the Deity.

In ancient Hermetic books it is said that there are twelve "Virgins of Light", who thus correspond in Revelation to the "twelve apostles of the Lamb" whose names are inscribed in the "twelve foundations" of the wall of the new Jerusalem (21-14), or thee "twelve angels" guarding the gates on which are written the "names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel" (21-12). The names of apostles or tribes are written on the walls or gates of the City; a name representing the form or individual structure of being. But the "Virgins of Light" themselves are the substance of the City, differentiated according to the twelve Constellations or Rays to which the Initiates respectively belong by spiritual birth-right.

In Hindu occultism and in The Secret Doctrine we hear of the six shaktis or universal life-potencies synthetized in a seventh which is called Daiviprakriti, the "Virgin of Light", and which represents the fifth cosmic plane. It is so, because it is only after the four steps, stages or planes are left behind that man reaches in the fifth the actual power of mastery — the possession of the shakti or Virgin of Light. The fifth refers to the apex of the Pyramid, to Sanat Kumara, to the realm of stars, to the Creative; whereas the realm of suns — considered as suns because of their relation to a system of planets which as Individuals they energize — is that of the four.

The City of Light "lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth . . . twelve thousand furlongs . . . and . . . the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel." (Revelation 21 — 16,17.) All these numbers are based on 4 and 12 (4 under a threefold differentiation); but they all refer to the outer shape of the City, to the foundation, the walls and the gates. This is so because the fifth is to be conceived as existing either within or above the four. The foundation of mastery is the regenerative event of the fourth stage on the Path. In Rosicrucian symbolism, the Rose blossoms out of the heart of the Cross; and the Rose is again the "Virgin of Light", the "Bride" of the reborn. The fifth is contained within the fourth; the City within its walls. And the substance of this City, which is Light itself, is an emanation from the "Glory of God".

If it is written that the new Jerusalem "comes down from God out of heaven", this means that, even in the crucial happening of the fourth stage — the true Initiation — the man who dies and is reborn is actually reborn "from God" and "out of heaven". This is the mystery of the "Marriage of Heaven and Earth". The new Jerusalem is the sacred Cube "clear as crystal" which descends upon and fills the vacuum left by the "death" of the Initiate. The substantial man has vanished, burned in the fire of the sacrifice, but his form — the exact space he occupied — is there, a vacuum to be filled with God-emanated substance.

The "measure of a man" remains; but when it is filled with Light "out of heaven from God" one may no longer speak of a man, but of an "angel". The vacuum that was man is occupied by the City of Light, and the Master is born. Only the substance dies the death of all things of earth, however pure and radiant; but the form or "name" remains. A Master is the exact form of what had been a perfected man, filled with the mastery which is the "Glory of God".

Obviously such symbols can but awkwardly describe the reality of a process which transcends our earth-conditioned imagination. Thus the fact that the images overlap and are not always absolutely consistent. Various angles of vision are needed even to suggest what is occurring, and only the intuitive understanding may lead one to sense the continuity, coherence and rationality of a process which essentially is beyond rational moulds of thought. Rationality provides only the form of the process. It can never lead us to the perception and realization of the Light. It can never draw to us the "Virgin of Light" — any more than reason can ever give birth to vibrant and life-giving love. And in an emphasis upon the form of the process it is easy indeed to find oneself without a real awareness of substance; a beautiful structure with no indwelling life; a perfect lamp without fuel; a would-be master without mastery.

At less exalted levels, the same process can be said to operate. Here mind may be found unmarried to soul, intellect bereft of feelings. The City of Light can be seen reflected in pools of materiality and selfishness, as the "Ville Lumie're", Paris — a symbol of European creativeness turned sterile and perverted; as the metropoles and Broadways of the old and the new world. To the Living Civilization is opposed the purposeless and spiritless cosmopolitanism of modern capitals, the congested emptiness of our Fifth Avenues and Main Streets. And motion picture stars dispense emotional thrills to a mob of office workers who have no roots anywhere, no spiritual or earthly stability in lives barren of happiness and of love.

Yet through means dark and chaotic mankind is stumbling upon the way to a progressive mentalization and objectivation of consciousness. It may not seem that it is so in a period when emotionalism, be it religious or political, is sweeping most nations, and intellectual sanity is rarely to be found. But men are almost unavoidably led to emotional fanaticisms and irrational enthusiasms or fears when they face conditions which they cannot understand. The machine has so transformed our living conditions that we face helplessly vistas of power and problems of organization with which we cannot cope on the basis of precedents. And, their habits disrupted and their frameworks of thought and feeling shattered, the masses, and even the elite, break down in worship, in fear or in hatred.

Dictators arise. Suns autocratically rouse and vitalize helpless planets and the lives thereon. Streams of emotional power sway the confused, the weary and the oppressed. A new age may rise. A new dawn may be hidden beyond towering skyscrapers and mountains of greed. The awesome complexity of economic and social relationships need not bewilder us any longer. Men learn quickly the techniques of new machines and new industries. Will they not be as quick to learn the technique of living in a world of cities when benevolence takes the place of selfishness, and cooperation supersedes fierce competitive struggles?

Yet before such a change can occur men's earthly personalities must become light, emerging from the realm of dark, from light-reflecting planets to effulgent, light-radiating stars. Only to learn the use of intellectual powers will not give mastery to the individual. Machinery and the knowledge of intra-atomic forces will not lead mankind to the perfect Synanthropy, the organic wholeness of all men.

Therefore the ancient Books made it clear that the practice of the "great virtues" was necessary, if the first Initiations were actually to lead the individual to citizenship in the City of Light; if the tests of the avatars in Aquarius, Taurus and Leo were to be met successfully according to the "Law of Light", which is that of conscious sacrifice and of intelligent love. Therefore Shamballah, the City of Light of the Buddhist esoterists, is located in the fastness of the Gobi Desert — symbolically if not literally — beyond the Himalayas standing as a barrier which only the purest in heart and the most daring may cross. The symbolical pilgrimage of Hindu civilization led from Southern India to the Himalayas, then to the beyond. It was exemplified in the life and deeds of Shri Sankaracharya, the great Southern Indian Initiate, from whose famous commentaries of the Bhagavat Gita sprang eventually the devotional movements of early medieval India. Upward rose the devotional tide, unfurling over the foothills of the Himalayas. But how many succeeded in crossing the forbidding ranges and reaching the City of Light, the abode of Sanat Kumara, the central point of the total spiritual consciousness of Man, whose Presence dwells within the "sacred cube of Light"?

These may be symbols; but they may be realities. And perhaps symbols are the only true and permanent realities, because they are not of the earth alone, but "out of heaven from God". Every symbol which has lived in the hearts and minds of generations has proven itself to be, in ever so little a way, a City of Light. The light that dwelt in that "City" is the light of Meaning that ever radiates from the altar whereon burns the fire of pure and living Intelligence. Emotions sway human souls hither and thither. The passionate tides of the sun vitalize alike the things that creep in the mire and the things that soar toward the resplendent summit of the Sacred Mountain. From the humus of the past all seeds rise under the compulsion of the loss of equilibrium which is karma, born of action; all things bear progeny under the heat of desire, be it the purest or the most elemental. But secure beyond the snowy ranges of every soul's Himalayas, Shamballah, source and symbol of all true Intelligence, remains, unaffected and serene — a Constellation of cool and radiant stars.

This Intelligence that resides at the core of all that is truly human — fire that burns phantasms of passionate suns and of troubled moons, fire which surges clear from the altar of wholeness and equanimity standing at the last milestone of the Middle Path trodden by the Wise and the Free — may it illumine our humble quest for that Jewel of Significance mounted upon the Rod of the One Initiator! Behind the altar stands the wondrous Countenance, lifting His wand of power and of peace. In Him all the light of Meaning seems to concentrate, so dazzling is He who gave to mankind the fire of Intelligence. Indeed He is Himself the altar, the fire and the light. And in that threefold essence He lives and radiates within all Shamballahs.

For in every man there is a potential Shamballah, and in every man may burn the fire of Intelligence upon the altar of wholeness and equanimity, at the center of the City of Light. In this City is revealed the mystery of Form which is also Radiance, Mind which is also Love, Beauty which is also Compassion. In this City there is perfect Order, but also intense livingness and free spontaneity; and the core of all is Meaning.

Every initiation is an entrance into a new realm of Meaning. Through it, symbols that were only passing realities acquire that supreme seal of significance which makes them immortal sparks of the fire of Intelligence. It is that very fire which burns throughout the worlds. From it, galaxies receive their multitudinous light; and men who are true to the divine pattern are set aglow with its flaming power through long vigils of search and solitude. A flaming power which orders all things, yet is as nothing. A fire whose intensity burns through the most inert crystallizations of substance, yet which is cool and pure, unswayed by emotional storms of suns and planets alike.

How can one speak of that Intelligence in whose simplicity is hidden the greatest mystery, in whose exaltedness all spiritual quests find peace and fulfillment? It is in every one; yet only one here and there is alive with its fire. It lights all things; yet men prefer to struggle through the heat of earthly or solar emotions. Every moment reveals it operating; every day is singing with its melody — yet eyes do not see and ears fail to hear the revelations of the Presence that quickens all things that have form and name.

Sanat Kumara! Eternal symbol of that all-vivifying Intelligence, living Fire that burns in the souls that are creative and free, great Purifier and Giver of light — we accept the challenge of thy Sacrifice, and ground our search in thy significance. Divine Youth, who came to this heavy earth from the Morning Star, bringing to us the Promethean gift, we accept thy name as our standard. We go forth in the light of Intelligence, bearing thy gift to those who yet shun its costly splendor and fear its responsibility. And may it be this, our nobility, that we shall grow in understanding and wisdom, in the power to bring to the confused and the weary new names and new symbols in which thou shalt truly abide, O Master of Names, Source of all Meaning. For each name and symbol is a potential Shamballah. And while the City of Light abides beyond time and change, yet, because men weary of the old and become confused by the accretions which cling to once pure Images, as barnacles to a ship, it is needful indeed that new names be revealed — new streams gushing forth from the immortal Rock of Significance, a new feast of symbols for hungry souls, new mansions for new men.

This edition copyright © 2008 Michael R. Meyer
All Rights Reserved.

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