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Initiates of the Flame

By Manly P. Hall

Chapter II - The City of Shamballa

In every mythology and legendary religion of the world there is one spot that is sacred above all others to the great ideal of that religion. To the Norseman it was Valhalla, the City of the Slain, built of the spears of heroes, where feasting and warfare was the order of the day. Here the heroes fought all day and reveled by night. Every day they killed the wild boar and feasted on it, and the next day it came to life again. In the Northland they tell that Valhalla was high on the top of the mountains, and that it was connected to the earth below by Befrost, the Rainbow Bridge; that up and down this bridge the Gods came, and Odin, the All-father, came down from Asgard, the City of the Gods, and worked and labored with mankind.

Among the Greeks, Mount Olympus was held sacred, and here the gods are said to have lived high on the top of a mountain. The Knights of the Grail are said to have had their castle among the crags and peaks of Northern Spain on Mount Salvart. In every religion of the world there is a sacred spot: Meru of the oriental, and Mount Moriah and Mount Sinai (upon which the tablets of law were given to man); all those are symbols of one universal ideal, and as each of these religions claimed among the clouds a castle and a home, so it is said that all the religions of the world have their headquarters in Shamballa, the Sacred City in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia.

Among the oriental peoples there are wonderful legends of this sacred city, where it is said the Great White Lodge or Brotherhood meets to carry on the governing of world affairs. As the Assirs of Scandinavia were twelve in number, as Olympus had twelve gods, so the Great White Brotherhood is said to have twelve members, which meet in Shamballa and direct the affairs of men. It is said that this center of universal religion descended upon the earth when the polar cap, which was the first part of the earth to crystallize, became solid enough to support life. Science now knows that not only does the earth have two motions, that of rotation upon its axis and revolution around the sun, but that it has nine other motions, according to Flammarion, the French astronomer. One of these motions is that of the alternation of the poles; in other words, some day that part of the earth’s surface which is now the North Pole will become the South Pole. Therefore it is said that the Sacred City has left its central position and after much wandering is now located in Mongolia.

Those who are acquainted with the Mohammedan religion will see something of great interest in the pilgrimage to the Kabba at Mecca, where thousands go each year to give honor to the Stone of Abraham, the great aerolight, upon which Mohammed is said to have rested his foot. Old and young alike, some even carried, wind through desert sands and endure untold hardships, many coming from great distances, to visit the place they cherish and love. In India we find the same thing. There are many sacred places to which pilgrims go, even as the Templars went in our Christian religion to the Sepulcher of Christ. Few see in this anything more than an outward symbol, but the true student recognizes the great esoteric truth contained therein. The spiritual consciousness in man is a pilgrim on the way to Mecca. As this consciousness passes upward through the centers and nerves of the body, it is like the pilgrim, climbing the heights of Sinai, or the Knight of the Grail returning to Mount Salvart.

When the spinal fire of man starts upward in its wanderings, it stops at many shrines and visits many holy places, for like the Masonic brother and his Jacob’s Ladder, the way that leads to heaven is upward and inward. The spinal fire goes through the centers or seed ground of many great principles, and worships at the shrine of many Divine Essences within itself, but it is eternally going upward, and finally it reaches the great desert. Only after pain and suffering and long labor does it cross that waste of sand. This is the Gethsemane of the higher man, but finally he crosses the sacred desert, and before him in the heart of the Lotus rises the Golden City, Shamballa.

In the spreading of the bone between the eyes called the frontal sinus, is the seat of the divine in man. There, in a peculiar gaseous material, floats, or rather exists, or is, the fine essence which we know as the Spirit. This is the Lost City in the Sacred Desert, connected to the lower world by the Rainbow Bridge, or the Silver Cord, and it is to this point in himself that the student is striving to rise. This is the Sacred Pilgrimage of the Soul, in which the individual leaves the lower man and the world below and climbs upward into the Higher Man or Higher World, the brain. This is the great pilgrimage to Shamballa, and as that great city is the center for the direction of our earth, so the corresponding great city in man is the center for his governmental system.

When any other thing governs man, he is not attuned to his own higher self, and it is only when the gods, representing the higher principle, come down the Rainbow Bridge and labor with him, teaching him the arts and sciences, that he is truly receiving his divine birthright. In the Orient the student looks forward with eager longing to the time when he shall be allowed to worship before the gates of the sacred city; when he also shall see the Initiates in silent conclave around the circular table of the zodiac; when the veil of Isis shall be torn away, and the cover lifted from the Grail Cup.

Let the student remember that all of these things must first happen within himself before he can find them in the universe without. The twelve Elder Brothers within himself must first be reached and understood before those of the universe can be comprehended. If he would find the great Initiates without, he must first find them within; and if he would see that Sacred City in the Lotus Blossom, he must first open that Lotus within himself, which he does, petal by petal, when he purifies and attunes himself to the higher principles within. The Lotus is the spinal column once more; its roots, deep in materiality; its blossom, the brain; and only when he sends upward nourishment and power, can that Lotus blossom within himself—blossom forth with its many petals, giving out their spiritual fragrance.

Sometimes you will see in store windows funny little Chinese gods or oriental Buddhas sitting on the blossom of a lotus. In fact, if you look carefully, you will find that nearly all of the oriental gods are so depicted. This means that they have opened within themselves that Spiritual Consciousness which they call the Shushuma. You have seen the funny little hats worn by the Hindu gods. They are made to represent a flower upside down, and once more, like the rod of Aaron that budded, we see the reference made to the unfolding of consciousness within. When the lotus blossom has reached maturity, it drops its seed, and from this seed new plants are produced. It is the same within the spiritual consciousness, which, when the plant is finished and its work is done, is released to work and produce other things.

In the Western World the lotus has been changed to the rose. The roses of the Rosicrucian, the roses of the Masonic degrees, and also those of the Order of the Garter in England, all stand for the same thing, the awakening of consciousness and the unfolding into full bloom of the soul qualities of man. When man awakens and opens this bud within himself, he finds, like the gold pollen in a flower, this wonderful spiritual city, Shamballa, in the heart of the lotus. When this pilgrimage of his spiritual fire is accomplished, he is liberated from the top of the mountain, as in the ascension of Christ, and the spiritual man, freed by his pilgrimage from the Wheel of Bondage, rises upward from among his disciples, the convolutions of the brain, with the great cry of the Initiate, which has sounded through the Mystery Schools for ages when the purifiedstudent goes onward and upward to become a pillar in the temple of his God. With that last cry the true mystery of Shamballa, the sacred city, is understood and he joins the ranks of those who in white robes of purity, their own soul bodies, gaze down upon the world and see others liberated in the same way, and who also sound the eternal tocsin, “consumatum est” (it is finished).



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