By James A. Long
In spring the formal Christian celebrations of Easter have as their object the honoring of Jesus Christ, an Avatara. An avatara comprises three elements: first, the radiation of divine light from an inhabitant of higher worlds, which then finds expression through the intermediate nature of one of the Guardians of humanity who, in turn, uses the physical vehicle of a selected pure individual. This is a rare occurrence, possible when a divinity successfully makes the "descent" (which is what avatara means) into its "underworld" -- our earth. The intermediary is an advanced bodhisattva or buddha who receives and transmits the divine energy in and through an outstanding individual in order to fulfill the compassionate mission of shedding light on the hearts and souls of his fellowmen.
Similarly, the human initiant who successfully emerges from a like experience must have been able to attract the essence of divinity and withstand the terrific temptations of the initiatory trials. In the process he descended into worlds beneath him, which he has long since outgrown, in order to test the strength of his growth and, if strong enough, return. Just to return is not sufficient: in descending into his underworld he must likewise shed light there, as light was shed upon him from above his world. In withstanding the opposition to that sharing, he comes back triumphant: he has fulfilled a responsibility to the entities below, and also contributed to the inner health of civilizations to come. His achievement is of the nature of that grander sacrifice made by the Sons of Mind when they descended from a higher plane to stimulate intelligence in the young human race -- a sacrifice that is continually being made for our well-being.
At the spring equinox, perhaps without our knowing it, we have an added opportunity to affect for good all within our purview and responsibility, including the life-atoms in their circulations throughout our constitution. And if at this time of year we feel the synthesis of the higher facets with the lower in ourselves, in a communion of reality (instead of appearances), we too will partake of an illumination that reaches beyond ourselves to others.
All our experiences, circumstances, problems, difficulties, trials, and successes, take place in the arena of natural karma. This is true not only on the human level but of necessity on all levels of consciousness -- from the worlds of the gods to the worlds below. We may not find ourselves in the chamber of initiation for many lives to come. On the other hand, every day and every night we are in the chamber of an initiant, and that initiant is ourself -- an initiant going through the temptations and trials of the descents into the underworld of his own nature. This is what W. Q. Judge had in mind when he spoke of the "daily initiations" that every aspirant on the Path undergoes.
Each one of us in his small way has the opportunity that the Avatara has in his larger way. When life and karmic circumstances press us into the atmosphere of the underworld -- which can occur in our day-to-day contacts and conversations and thoughts and actions -- it remains for us in returning from those dark thoughts and emotions to succeed or fail: Did we in the process shed some light on those thoughts and actions, whether of ourselves or of others, while in the cavern of gloom? If we thought solely of ourselves when we were in those depths, then whatever light we might have shared will be dimmed and those about us will have received little or nothing. Our experience will virtually have been in vain because it will have strengthened the selfish side of our nature rather than the unselfish.
There will be daily initiation all along the way, and we are bound to make mistakes, all of us, but we need not shy away from circumstances in which we have once failed. The true occultist will transform those mistakes into stepping stones to future successes.
We are all traveling on the Path. It is a long slow process, but the more we let the light of divinity shine upon our aspirations, the more surely will we become co-disciples with our higher self on the path of renunciation and pure discipleship in the service of the Great Ones.
(Reprinted from Sunrise magazine, February/March 1988. Copyright © 1988 by Theosophical University Press)