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The second initiation in the Bible
by Rev. Howard Ray Carey

Just as in the gospel account the first initiation is symbolized by the birth of the babe at Bethlehem, so is the second initiation indicated by Jesus' baptism at the river Jordan. This, we note, is said to have happened a long time (30 years) after the birth, and points to the fact that a long span of time, usually several incarnations, intervenes between the first and second initiations.

Such a significant event, of course, involves much more than mere baptism by water. The real ceremony, according to the Ageless Wisdom, takes place high on the inner planes, while the physical body is asleep. So the biblical account of Jesus' baptism is but an outer symbol of a far-reaching change of consciousness taking place within, and since water is the most common symbol for the astral or emotional plane, the biblical account of immersion in water is most appropriate.

In the esoteric literature it is well established that the second initiation can be undergone only after a long and difficult struggle with personal desires and emotions, culminating in a large measure of Soul mastery over this 'watery' sphere. In Jesus' case this mastery undoubtedly was symbolically achieved during the first thirty years of His life while He was subjected to the stresses and strains of family life, relating to an aging father, a saintly mother, and sibling competition with His brothers and sisters. According to tradition, He assumed greater responsibility upon the death of Joseph, becoming male head of the household.

In The Masters and the Path, C. W. Leadbeater has an interesting discussion of the three 'fetters' which the first degree initiate must 'cast off' before he is prepared for the Baptism initiation. The first of these fetters is the delusion of the separate self. This has to be replaced by the realization of oneness in the true Self. The second fetter is the glamour of doubt or uncertainty, especially in relation to the truth of reincarnation and karma, or the law of cause and effect. The third fetter is described as superstition, or the belief that the rites and dogma of any one religion are necessary for salvation, or that we have to deal with the so-called 'wrath of an angry God'.

Surely these and any other necessary tests had been met and mastered by Jesus before He presented himself to John the Baptist for baptism at the river Jordan. But from another point of view, since the Ageless Wisdom teaching is that Jesus came into that incarnation as a third-degree initiate, let us realize that Jesus repeated or recapitulated the process of the first three initiations for our benefit ---- the benefit of humanity.

Now let us look more closely at the symbols given to us in the gospel story concerning this event. Since between the first and second initiations we are engaged in a struggle with a tumult of emotions such as resentment, fear, worry and depression, it is indeed appropriate to picture oneself being submerged in the water (the emotions) in preparation for being raised up out of the watery sphere as the victorious climax of that long struggle. Remember, too, that when immersion is undergone it is the officiant who lifts the candidate up out of that watery element in which symbolically all of us have been immersed.

Thus we see that, for us, the officiant is our higher nature which lifts us up out of our astral turmoil where we could so easily drown ---- in fear and depression, for example ---- for the little personal self has no power of itself to rise to a new element and a higher level of consciousness. Looking at it differently we can see that it is the Christ within us, who has come to birth in our heart center, who lifts us up out of the morass of our troubled emotions.

The dove and the voice are two more important symbols given to us in the gospel account of the event which we are considering. ''When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him. And lo, a voice from heaven, saying, 'This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.''' (Matt. 3:16-17)

From ancient times to modern the dove has been the pre-eminent symbol of peace. Thus in the observance of the 40th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, 1,500 doves were suddenly released, rising rapidly into the air, suggesting the urgent thrust of humanity for peace.

And with the triumph of the second initiation, the heaven-sent dove of peace comes down upon us, bringing serenity to the previously troubled waters of the astral body. The heavenly word, ''This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased,'' is perhaps even more significant. This means that assurance comes from the inmost Spirit that we really are divine, beloved sons and daughters of God. Let us attune our hearing to that true inner voice. For if we will but listen we will find its divine counsel, given not just at a high moment of initiation, but many other times as well. Remember that the whole time between initiations has been described as an initiatory process.

Some have been puzzled about Jesus' three temptations coming in that wilderness experience immediately after His baptism. There are different ways of looking at this 40-day period. From our point of view let us see the period as the time it took for the inner plane initiatory experience to be stabilized on the physical brain level of active consciousness. That had to happen before Jesus was properly equipped to enter into His active ministry. And it has to happen with us following our second initiation ---- taking perhaps 40 months or even many years ---- before the high vibrations and high consciousness of the Baptism experience come to be fully registered in our outer consciousness, so we can properly utilize our transformed and serene astral body in the service we are called upon to give.

After His 40 days of fasting, the first temptation Jesus faced was the suggestion to use the magical divine power attained to turn stones into bread to satisfy His own hunger. And think how often we are likewise tempted to use our increasing insights and powers 'to feather our own nests', so to speak. Let us consider: can we, like Jesus, overcome this temptation by remembering that we really are not this body, and therefore we also are not to live by bread alone but by the word which comes from God, or from the Monad within?

In the second temptation Jesus saw himself on a pinnacle of the temple being tempted to employ astral phenomena ---- in this case the power of levitation ---- to come floating down from that pinnacle before the astonished pilgrims making their way to a temple ceremony. This would be an immediate way to gather a large following. But the followers would be a crowd of people fascinated by the magic of astral phenomena instead of a band of men committed to the long hard way of self-sacrifice leading to the cross. This temptation seemed to hold little appeal for Jesus ---- quite in contrast to the large numbers of people today who are captivated and side-tracked by some glamorous forms of psychic phenomena.

But the third temptation was undoubtedly the most severe for Jesus. It is said this took place on a high mountain, which symbolically means a high level of consciousness. There He was shown all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and was told all this would be His if He would just fall down and worship 'satan'. What a drastic fall that would have been. For it would have meant resorting to political intrigue and military strategy in the attempt to win the world to himself. But at this high level Jesus saw clearly that 'satan' would not be able to deliver on his deceptive promise. For through the clear lens of truth it is clearly seen that there is but one kingdom, not many, toward which humanity is to move, and that is the Kingdom of God. That kingdom is established only through love, which is also the way of the cross.

These three temptations come in many forms and differing garb. But essentially they are the ones we all have to face, perhaps at many times, and especially after the second initiation has been experienced on the high mental planes and we are in the process of seeking to stabilize the newly-attained powers on the outer-plane level of understanding and usage.

Alice Bailey points out that the tempting voice repeatedly said to Jesus: ''If you are the Son of God...'' And a basic temptation for all of us is that of doubting our sonship, our divinity. Do we dare to deal with the reality that we truly are divine (in our Soul nature)? For once we say ''yes'' to that challenge, realizing our divinity, then we have to act ---- to serve ---- from that high level. We know it is far from easy! But once we are fully committed to that purpose, we have all the help we need from the Hierarchy for achievement.

As Alice Bailey points out (in From Bethlehem to Calvary, p. 220): ''With Christ, desire was transmuted into Power.'' So will it be with us when, in His spirit, we walk His way.

This article is a chapter from The Joy of Christ's Coming This book by the late Rev. Howard Ray Carey was published by Share International Foundation in 1988. It is not currently available in hard copy form. Copyright © Share International Foundation.  Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard version unless otherwise indicated. 

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First published April 1999, Last modified: 15-Oct-2005