SAYINGS OF THE ANCIENT ONE.
By Douglas Western.
Among the occult classics possessed by students of the Ancient Wisdom there is none more universally spread than ‘Light on The Path’. 1 Now, after lying dormant for high on fifty years, one whom Madame Blavatsky would call a ‘true Philaletheian’ (lover of truth) is shedding light on two books which are, virtually, extended commentaries on the fortytwo Rules; and more than a few of us will be shocked to learn how little we have understood of them.
‘The Sayings of The Ancient One’ 2 and ‘The Occult Way’ 3 by P. G. Bowen are unique; every sentence is charged with meaning and reveals an inner knowledge which is rare indeed. In the present volume the three lessons in True Occultism are
“. . . fields of experience wherein consciousness may exercise itself, and so gain direct knowledge of the laws of universal nature. Let the student impress this last sentence on his mind, and think upon it until he realises its full significence.” 4
Reading it should be no mere reading; it should be an experience accompaniedby inner shocks, tensions and resolutions.
“Light on The Path and The Path to Manhood are not two, but one, and should be studied together as one. The former, lacking the questions, suggests that Mable Collins established subjective contact with an Initiate who impressed on her enquiring mind the answers.” 5
These lessons appeal strongly to the Devotional type or student 6 – but – let him now read Rule 20, Part 1, ‘Light on The Path’, and take heed. Rule 17. Seek out the way. Rule 18. Seek the way by retreating with in. In different words the same thing is said by Patanjali, Book 1, Sutra 73 – ’The right use of the will is the steady effort to stand in spiritual being.’ 7 Rule 19. Seek the way by advancing boldly without. This is expressed by The Ancient One as ‘If thou would‘st be perfect O Servant of Life thou must dwell in the Light and work in the Shadow.’ 8
But how? “. . why, it is often asked, are the words of the teacher so vague and paradoxical; and why does he say so much about what has to be achieved and so little about how to achieve.” 9 In ‘The Occult Way’ , and nowhere else, is to be found the help needed by the student floundering with these injunctions. Lesson V. INVOCATION ?] this implies the creative use of spiritual powers for the raising of the Self into wider freedom. Lesson VI. EVOCATION. The Self, now relatively balanced, and freed from the Powers of the World – Ambition, Desires of Sensation and the Sense of Separateness – can dwell in the Light and work in the Shadow ‘Light on The Path’ Part 2, Rule 17. Inquire of the inmost, the One, of the final secret, which it holds for you through the ages. In ‘The Occult Way’, Lesson VII, NATURAL MAGIC, the student who has mastered the art of Invocation and Evocation is given directions on how to assemble the Four Magic Weapons of the Druids, and may come, intuitively, to understand something of the ONE, the MASTER, the ANCIENT ONE.
In ‘The Way of a Pilgrim’ 10 to a little work compiled by one of his neophytes from the author’s letters to students across the world, he writes?] THE WAY TOWARDS DICIPLESHIP 11 is positively, the simplest version of the genuine occult doctrine treated, that exists. It was written with intense care, with the intention of giving the simplest statement of the subject possible to human words, without running counter to the essential Law.”
The writings of P.G.Bowen, or any advanced teacher, are to be seen as information by means of which knowledge may be acquired; and they are “. . to direct you into the begining of a Way of Living — a way which if diligently followed will lead you on, step by step, to discover for yourself all the truth of life you will ever need or ever can use.” 12 In like manner ‘The object of a Parable is not that of a Problem; it does not seek to convince, but to suggest. It takes the thought below the surface of the understanding to the deeper intelligence which the world rarely tasks. It is not sunIight on the water, it is a hymn chanted to the Nymph who harkens and awakes below. ‘ 13
This book is written as a guide for genuine seekers who will do well to first study Section VII, Hints and Explanations for the Student; particular attention being given to the pages dealing with the technique of meditation, and the establishment of a self that is not personal, before using the Imagination creatively: “. . because it is the SOUL which is the central character in those lessons, not a personal self as is the case in an ordinary book.” Familiarity with his use of CAPITALS, Proper Names, and italics is most important as he makes perfectly clear; yet many people who, in the world of form, are regarded as intelligent do seem unable to grasp their significence. Their purpose is to differentiate between the three planes of Being. Thus we have the infinite SELF which is LIFE; the Higher Self of the Being which aspires to the spiritual; and the personal self — which has been called a thing of shreds and patches built by desire and self?]will. 14
Now, reader, what have you to say to Evelyn Underhill who, in her book ‘Practical Mysticism’ points her finger at her reader and says “Likely enough, if you really knew yourself – saw your own dim character perpetually at the mercy of its environment; your true motives stripped for inspection and measured against eternal values; your unacknowledged self-indulgences; your irrational loves and hates – you would be compelled to remodel your whole existence.” Accept the challenge, and aided by the first four lessons of ‘The Occult Way’ in the conscious evolution of the Self and you may ‘learn to look intelligently into the hearts of men.’ 15 The Pilgrim now ’. . . has chosen to see and to read, but his task is one that daunts many, for to learn to see and to read in a world wherein all are blind is to quit companionship for lonliness.’ 16
Some students are sure to ask ‘But how does all this fit in with the Teaching of Jesus? It is the Teaching of Jesus as given to his diciples. In connection with a prevalent misunderstanding of True Spiritual Healing, the author says “That highly occult book the Bible, when understood, makes this perfectly clear.” 17Again of the Bible he says “There the Message appears clouded and marred by the hands and minds of many different translaters and interpreters . . .” “Yet for all this for those of vision, the Light of the Spirit shines throughout the Bible, and in many parts blazes forth so brilliantly that even the blind become conscious of its presence.” 18
This commentary could not end with anything more apt and to the point than is a quotation by Madame Blavatsky, of whom the author says “I accept H.P.Blavatsky, as the direct agent of advanced teachers, and have a profound respect for her knowledge, but of her great works I have read only as much as suffices to convince me that she KNEW.” 19
“. . the one Self has to forget itself for the many selves. What every man needs first is to find himself, and then to take an honest inventory of his subjective possessions, and bad or bankrupt as it may be, it is not beyond redemption if we set about it in earnest,” “. . he who works for himself had better not work at all, rather let him work for others, for all. For every flower of love and charity he plants in his neighbours garden, a loathesome weed will disappear from from his own, and so this garden of the gods – Humanity – shall blossom as a rose. In all Bibles , all religions, this is plainly set forth — but designing man have at first misinterpreted and finally emasculated, materialised, besotten them. It does not require a new revelation, let every man be a revelation to himself. Let once man’s immortal spirit take possession of the temple of his body, drive out the moneychangers and every unclean thing, and his own divine humanity will redeem him, for when he is thus at one with himself he will know the ‘builder of the Temple.’ ” 20
A Bowen Neophyte.
1 Mable Collins, Light on The Path. Theosophical Publishing House Ltd.
2 P.G.Bowen, The Sayings of The Ancient One. Theosophical Publishing House Ltd.
3 P.G.Bowen, The Occult Way. Theosophical Publishing House Ltd.
4 page 74.
5 page 145.
6 page 75.
7 Charles Johnston translator, The Yoga Sutras at Patanjali. Out of Print.
8 page 63.
9 page 71.
10 P.G.Bowen, The Way of a Pilgrim. Out of print.
11 page 64.
12 page 14. 1978 Edition page 10.
13 Bulwer Lytton, Zanoni. Note page 406.
14 Christmas Humphries. Buddhist Society, London. Concentration & Meditation.
15 Part 2, Rule 10.
16 page 57. 1978 Edition page 52.
17 page 46. 1978 Edition page 41.
18 page 123. 1978 Edition page 116.
19 page 18. 1978 Edition page 14.
20 H.P.Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy, Section IV.