Virtual and Effective Initiation

There is a popular Afghan proverb which states: “Zor baalai zor ast” (“For every power, there is a greater power above it”). Hence, what follows from our previous discussions is that if presidents and parliaments are largely controlled and managed by modern-day “bureaucratic empires” and so forth, one should perhaps go a step further and ask who it is which in turn controls and manages these bureaucratic empires, given that these bureaucratic empires cannot operate without some sort of control or management from above. 

In a nutshell, our quest to understand the authority and power behind American bureaucratic empire leads us to an encounter and reckoning with secret societies, and the primus inter pares amongst the secret societies behind the American bureaucratic machinery is Freemasonry, although Freemasonry does not stand alone in this picture. 

As Manly P. Hall wrote: “Masonry as a secret society flourished among all of the civilized groups of antiquity, and in various nations it involved its symbolism with the dominant spiritual convictions then and there prevalent.” Theoretically, those who wield authority and power in these secret societies derive their authority and power from ancient knowledge, and as a result of their ancient knowledge, these secret society members are supposed to be “healers, mystics, and, to a degree, the historians and interpreters of that ancient knowledge which was believed to have descended from superior beings inhabiting a spiritual realm above and beyond earth.” 

Due to the nature of their authority and power as a result of the nature of the knowledge and information which they wield, an individual who belongs to a secret society is “circumscribed with certain obligations of secrecy and prudence” and in turn these obligations are “given in the presence not only of the members of his own community, but also of unseen powers.” The conference of power and obligations onto an individual is part of an initiation process, with initiation amounting to “the entrance into a way that will be traversed thereafter, or again the beginning of a new existence in the course of which possibilities of another order will be developed, possibilities beyond the narrow confines of the ordinary life” to borrow from René Guénon. 

Guénon also wrote: “In the case of initiation…the individual is the source of the initiative toward ‘realization,’ pursued methodically under rigorous and unremitting control, and normally reaching beyond the very possibilities of the individual as such.” Guénon argued that it is the European ‘Renaissance’ which “marks in all respects the consummation of the rupture of the Western world with its own traditional doctrines.” Initiation was not a trademark or patent of the East. Rather, initiation is something familiar even to Westerners, even though the West broke away from the concept or notion of initiation since the ‘Renaissance.’ 

Hence, ‘initiatic knowledge’ has to be sought outside of Western organizations, as Guénon contended. The “descent” since the European ‘Renaissance’ and in turn the need for the “restoration of the possibilities of the primordial state” means that “we must affirm the necessity of an initiatic affiliation, and not in a general way and without further qualification as to the conditions of the age or, even more, of the world concerned.” And as mentioned before, there is a ‘virtual initiation’ which happens without a guide and largely through individual initiative on one hand, and an ‘effective initiation’ that occurs alongside a guide after the ‘virtual initiation.’ 

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