What We Are
A lecture by W E Butler called What We Are, which gives
a fuller account of how the school was founded, and of the purpose
of its activities by the late Walter Ernest Butler.
I want to talk to you on a subject
which repeatedly crops up in
various letters to me from would-be students and from others who
are interested in the occult. They say, "What are your aims?
What are you? Are you simply a teaching group? Are you a lodge?
Are you an esoteric fraternity? What are you?" Well, that
is quite a legitimate question, and I want to try to answer it
here. But I better answer it by explaining to you how the whole
thing arose. In this case, the longest way around is, as is often
the case, the shortest way home.
Many years ago, more than half
a century, I came into contact with the man whom I regard as my
first teacher in esoteric matters: Robert King, or "R.K."
as we used to call him. During the time that I was working with
him in those early days, I was introduced to one person who was
his particular teacher. And before very long I was working with
R.K. on various esoteric work, under the guidance and influence
of this particular teacher. When, later on, circumstances moved
me away from R.K., and I was on my own, this teacher informed
me that I, too, was one of his pupils; and for all the time which
has elapsed since then, he has been my guide, philosopher, and
friend in the background.
Now I am not going to say who
he is-or whom I think he is-neither am I going into any esoteric
explanations concerning him; whether he is a master or an adept
or what he is. These titles mean very little. The proof of this
pudding is always in the eating. Many people can say "master"
and at the same time they are simply telling a lie. Many people
can claim to be gurus, to be teachers, but their teachings are
very poor; there is very little in them. Those who really know,
do not shout about it; and those who shout about it, do not really
However, it is from this man
that I derive my contact. He has given me a certain work to perform,
and during the last fifty years I have been doing that work. Not
only in speaking, in lecturing to various bodies of people, not
only in writing, but in other ways. For occultism is not a theoretical
thing; it must by its very nature be practical. And so every occultist,
worthy of the name, is constantly engaged in practical occult
When I joined the Fraternity
of the Inner Light, I told Dion Fortune of this present teacher
I had and she was very interested, and she made contact with him.
As a result I had certain, shall I say, privileges, which some
of the other members did not have. Not that I had done anything
to earn them; but I was able to effectively work in the Inner
Light, and therefore I did see a little more perhaps than some
of the other members.
But at the same time, during
the whole period up to the death of Dion Fortune, I was held back.
I was not encouraged to do certain work. He said, when the time
is right, you will be able to do this work far more efficiently
than you would be able to do at the present time. But even then
I did not know just what this work was.
Then, shortly after the death
of Dion Fortune, I had been experimenting with writing. I never
thought I could write; but I tried, in the response to the wishes
of some friends of mine. And lo and behold-I found that I could
write, to some extent at all events. I am one of my own most severe
critics in this respect, because I know what writing should be,
and I know the best I can do, and the two are a good many yards
apart. Nevertheless, if no-one ever wrote because they were not
up to standard, nothing would ever be produced.
But this writing showed me that
the teacher was steering me onto a new line of work. I had done
quite a bit of talking and lecturing in various parts, on various
platforms, Theosophical, Spiritualist, call it what you will-all
over the place. But now, to write. I was always very mindful of
that comment made by one character, "O, that mine enemy had
written a book." Well, that old Biblical character (Webmaster:
Ernie was wrong here the actual words of the quote are by Percy
Bysshe Shelly from Peter Bell the Third, Part 6, Damnation: "O
that mine enemy had written A book!" -- cried Job: -- a fearful
curse,". Though it may be Shelley's translation of Job, Cpt
31, vv 35-37) had something, because once you write a book, you
are the target for all kinds of criticism.
Those who dispute our passage,
those who get in our way, those who hinder us, call out something
in us. They call out a resistance; we begin to fight against the
disputed passage, we want to prove ourselves. And therefore, those
who are very often thought of as our enemies, turn out in the
end, to be our best friends.
Now that is true in occultism
as in everything else, and I found, that when I had, as it were,
served my apprenticeship to criticism, that I was better prepared
to write more. I had learnt valuable lessons. I learned that much
of the criticism was valid; and I had to swallow my pride and
admit that much of what the critics said was true. Now, this bears
upon my later work. Because, by disciplining myself with the regard
to the standard of my writings, I began to be able to draw, shall
I say, nearer, in some respects to the teacher.
Then came the time when certain
people left the Fraternity of the Inner Light to form a definite
publishing firm, Helios Book Services. And they started a Qabalistic
course, and because the chief operator found that he was overwhelmed
with other things which he had to do, the course was passed over
to me. There were only a few lessons written and published, and
I had to provide the rest. So I sat down and wrote about forty
lessons, and those lessons form the bulk of the course which we
are giving out at the present time.
But after I had been writing
a while I discovered, to my great astonishment, that the teacher
was playing an active part in it. He was telephatically influencing
me so that I began in these lessons to give out some ideas of
which I had previously been ignorant. It was not until well into
the course that I realised the way in which the teachings were
developing, and I was most interested to see how that development
Now, basically, our course is
not so much a technical course on the Qabalah-there are many books,
there are many publications, there are many societies, too, which
give out a more detailed Qabalistic teaching-but we were using
the Qabalah as a means to an end. We were using it as a basic
framework of the course, and in that course we were attempting
to help our students to develop interiorly some of the powers
which are associated with the Qabalah. And, as a matter of fact,
we have found that a comparatively great number of our students
have begun to make supernormal contacts of various kinds. They
have found that there are powers within them which can be developed.
In our prospectus we always say
that we do not claim to develop psychic powers. Neither do we,
but we are aiming at something much deeper. However, as you aim
at one thing, you very often hit another; and what we have done
is to train the subconscious mind of our students in such a way
that if the psychic powers are at all near the surface, they tend
to come to the surface and to show themselves. And so it has been
with a good number of our students.
In order that they should not
come to any harm because of that, we have put in the course safeguards
all along the line. You will not notice them particularly; they
are hidden. But they are there. So it is a perfectly safe course
for anyone to attempt-if they do what they are told. We do not
take any responsibility for those egotistic so-called occultists,
or occult students, who do not worry about any warnings whatsoever,
but who go their way, doing their own thing and landing up in
the same old troubles and difficulties that innumerable students
of the Mysteries have landed in throughout the ages. These things
are not fool-proof. We give the warning. Do what you are told.
If any student tries to do something else, then he may, and probably
will, be rather sorry for himself later on.
The contact, upon which our course
is built, is an Egyptian contact. We do not say much about that.
That is something which the student grows into in the course of
his work. But it is generally an Egyptian school. That does not
mean to say we all float about wearing the robes of Osiris or
the robes of Isis. We do not make of it a silly mythological thing.
But we do say, that the forces which are working in our course,
are the forces which were also working in the old schools of Alexandria
at the time when the Mysteries were just drawing to their close
and the new teaching of Christianity was emerging as a power in
the land. The teaching which was given in Alexandria in those
days, was a composite teaching. Alexandria was a city which faced
upon the world; East and West met in Alexandria. There the great
schools were formed. And it is with that contact that we are concerned.
We work in the spirit of the
old Mysteries of Egypt. Which, incidentally, does not conflict
with what we also say about working in the spirit of the Rose-Cross,
for the Rose-Cross Mysteries stem very largely from pre-Christian
Egypt. But Christianity gave them a particular slant; it "baptised
them into Christ" as they said in the old days: they were
taken up into the very fabric of the new religion. And therefore,
they are there in the Mysteries of the Rose-Cross; they are there
as the fundamental teachings of both the pagan Mysteries and Christianity.
As the student proceeds in his
studies, certain things open up for him. He may understand what
is happening; or he may not. There are gleams which are given
to him, lights in the darkness which he may follow. He is not
bound to follow them; many do not. Many do not see them, but go
through the course, as they have gone through many other courses
perhaps; they come out at the other end; they say, "Well,
it has been a good course, I have enjoyed it, and... good afternoon."
While there are others, who have followed certain lights which
are given them, and have found something much deeper in the course
than the teachings which are cyclostyled and sent out to the students.
And then they have found that there is a link there which they
can take up; they can come into living contact with that old,
old school which once taught in Alexandria, which still exists
as a teaching power in the astral light; to which some of our
students have gained access, to which many of our students can
gain access, if they will do the work which they are given.
We cannot do more than that.
We cannot tell a person, "Oh, we guarantee to put you in
touch with the Egyptian school," we cannot tell a person
that "Alright, tomorrow evening an ancient Egyptian will
call at your house and he will initiate you into the Mysteries."
All that is so much illusion, so much maya. We do not work like
that. The schools of the Mysteries do not work like that. But
if the student follows the teachings, then at one point or another,
pointers-signposts-will be observed, lights will be seen in the
darkness; and if those lights are followed, then they lead to
something much deeper than our course, on the surface, appears
will now speak of our hopes and our aspirations. First of all,
may I point out that we are not doing this work for our own sake.
We are doing it because it is a Work which has been given us to
do, by Those who are our Superiors; by those Enlightened Ones
under whom we work.
Now when I say that, you may
think that we are claiming a good deal; well we are, we are claiming
quite a lot, and we hope that you will take the claim in the spirit
in which it is made.
It is not the pipe which should
be proud because the water flows through it. The pipe does not
produce the water; the water flows through it. And we are in the
same position; we are giving out that which we have been given.
And when we have done that, when we have tried to give it out
in the most efficient way, then all our particular property in
the matter is concluded.
But, what do we hope? We hope
that among our students there will be those who can see below
the surface, who will endeavour to gain some kind of contact for
themselves, will follow some of those lights which are shown to
them, and who will themselves come into conscious contact with
the forces and the people who stand behind this school, and who
direct it from the Inner Planes.
It is possible for any student,
if they can follow out the instructions, to gain some measure
of contact with our unseen helpers. Some measure, I say, because
of course, depths of contact vary very largely with each personality.
Some personalities are so impervious to these things that it needs
an earthquake shock to get anything through. Others are so hypersensitive
that they not only get a great deal through, but they also badly
distort much that does come through. And between the two extremes
we have to work. We follow the Middle Path.
And so we strive to produce people
who are first of all mature in mind, controlled in emotion, physically
sound, and balanced in temperament and in outlook. Now that is
a real programme.
For we start first with the physical
world in which we are. It is not the slightest use for a student
to go ahead on the inner planes without any regard whatsoever
for the physical world in which he has to live, that physical
world into which he came deliberately in order to accomplish a
certain task. He does not accomplish that task by running away
And those students who think
that they are going to achieve spiritual altitudes by running
away from life are just as great fools as those misguided sannyasins-holy
men-in the East, who go up in the heights of the Himalayas and
there meditate in the forests away from humanity, only contacting
it through their chela who goes out with their begging-bowl to
But the true occultist, whether
he be of the East or West, having made his contact, turns out
again to the world and lives in the world. There are a certain
number who do retire from the world, but they have a very valid
reason for doing so, and that reason is not likely to be one which
the average student knows anything at all about.
To be unbalanced is a danger,
and so many of our students tend at the beginning to be a little
unbalanced with regard to this question of the material world.
But we tell you, from our particular point of view, that you must
bring all the powers of your occult training to bear upon your
physical world, upon the work which you are doing; upon your families,
upon your friends, upon everyone with whom you come in contact.
Now that does not mean getting
along and lecturing them on the beauties of occultism. Neither
does it mean claiming that you have the power to bring them to
the place where you are-no-one has that power. Everyone comes
to the place where they belong, and you cannot push them any further
than the line or rather the point at which they have reached.
It is as though you remove the
shell from the egg where the chicken is hatching, too early. The
chicken could not live because you let in light and air before
time. So, in this work you can let in light and air to the personalities
of some people in such a way as to do them harm. They`re not ready
for it yet.
So you have to balance your enthusiasm
with discretion and discrimination. It has been said that discrimination
is the first virtue of the Path. There will be those to whom you
can speak freely, and whom will take what you give them as a starving
man would take manna in the desert.
There are others to whom you
may speak who will be repelled, who will think only of the worst
side of the subject as they have read it in the media, or heard
it on television, or gained it in some other biassed way. They
will simply import all the things they have heard and place them
upon the idea which you are putting forward, the result being
that you do not help them very greatly.
But you need not argue with these
people, you need not get hot and bothered about them, you need
not go to extreme lengths to try and force the truth into their
thick heads, because it will only come out again. You might just
as well give them your point of view if they ask for it. If they
say they will consider it, let them consider it. But do not on
any account, try to force your occult knowledge upon any person
whatsoever. If you do, you are committing the sin of breaking
You may give out what you get.
You may give out teachings, and those who are ready for them will
at once assimilate them. Others will be repelled; others will
not take much notice. But never, never attempt to force these
teachings upon any human being.
I hope I have made that quite
clear, because it is one of the most important points in all schools
of occultism of the Right-Hand Path. It makes it difficult sometimes,
because when we see someone whom we could influence quite easily
to take the right line by using the occult powers, we must not,
we may not under any consideration use those powers for that end,
for we should be breaking the boundary of another personality.
Unfortunately, the brethren of
the Shadow have no such inhibitions. They can and they do break
boundaries, and this is how you can tell one occult school from
another. If you find an occult school which interferes with the
personalities of its students, which gives them minute instructions
to do this or not to do that, which governs their lives to a great
extent, then steer clear of that school.
No coercion of any kind is in
the right way as far as the Right-Hand Path is concerned; and
you do not want to touch the Left-Hand Path if you can help it.
If you do, you will reap sorrow. Much sorrow. Of course, to some
extent everyone does touch the Left-Hand Path-we are all human-but
to do it deliberately as an occult student is asking for trouble.
And you get it.
But what is the purpose really?
Why are these great spiritual centres, these great teaching centres?
What are they after achieving, what do they want to do? What is
the object of all these different schools of occultism? What do
they really aim at?
They aim at developing human
beings to a point at which they can consciously cooperate with
the forces of Light and of evolution. And that is something big.
Because when they can do that, they begin to move into new dimensions
of space, of time, of consciousness. They begin to bring out from
within them that which they really are. They begin to be gods.
"Know ye not that ye are gods, Sons of the Most High?"
So says the Bible, and it is quite true. But we are gods not in
the making; we are gods in the unfolding, or the unveiling. For
within us is that spark of Divinity which already is. We do not
become gods, we are gods.
All men are spirits; all men
are gods now. But it does not yet appear, in us, that such a god
exists. Our consciousnesses are not yet developed to the point
at which that god can become manifest; but very gradually that
god within us is becoming manifest. It is an evolutionary manifestation,
even as we believe the Eternal, the Logos, working through all
matter, is gradually expressing Himself, until finally the Earth
shall be filled with the knowledge of God, with the power, the
ambience, the radiance, the very essence of the Eternal.
And so we are part of that great
scheme. And each one of us who is following the esoteric path
is as one climbing a mountain-side, roped to others below. We
can only go forward if we lift others up; and the fact that we
go forward is because others beyond us are lifting us up too.
We are all helping each other in a great chain of lives. And those
who are above us have to a greater extent evolved their minds,
their consciousnesses, to a point at which more and more fully
the indwelling Light is shining forth. They are becoming Gods
made Manifest in the Kingdom of Earth. Do not forget that: all
these things happen in Malkuth, in the Kingdom of Earth.
Now that is important. If we
think of ourselves as advancing, we must always think of ourselves
under the two modes of advancement: we go forward to gain power;
we look back to give it out. To use another metaphor, unless we
can leave the sanctuary where we have received the power, and
come out through the outer gates and outer court into the world
of men, and give out that power to those who need-then we are
not occultists, whatever we like to call ourselves.
We cannot, by ourselves, gain
perfection. "Selfish salvation there is none," says
the Roman-Catholic Church. It is quite true. Always, every step
we take, we lift up the whole world. "I, if I be lifted up,
will draw all men unto me" said the Christ, and it is quite
true for us too: for as we are lifted up, so we too draw up with
us those with whom we are in contact, and that lifts the whole
level of the world a little higher. Matter itself is lifted up
by our endeavours. Something, something of consciousness, comes
a little more fully into manifestation, even in the mineral life
of this world, when we advance upwards. So we are the Rescuers
of Matter. And it does matter, to us and to the world, what we
do. "No man liveth to himself alone; no man dieth to himself
alone." And what we do affects everyone else.
I do want to get that clear,
I want to get that home to you in whatever language or lack of
grammar I have, nevertheless as forcibly as possible, that that
is what we are aiming at. We are not trying to make an open school
of the Mysteries where people can, as it were, gain a degree in
occult science and stick it on the wall, but we are trying to
establish the spiritual Power here in this twentieth-century world
in such a way that it may lift up a little of the heavy burden
of the sin and the suffering of the world. For the occultist is
not separate from the world, he is part of it. And he must, as
he lives, affect that world for good or for evil.
In the beginning of the Gospel
of St John, it says, "the Light shines in the darkness, and
the darkness cannot overcome it." Imagine a million and million
of miles of space. Dark, dark space. But in that million of miles
of dark space you light one small candle. And it shines in the
darkness. And all the millions and millions of cubic miles of
space cannot extinguish that one little candle. The darkness cannot
overcome the Light, but the Light always will overcome the darkness.
And that is the promise for us for the future; the Light shines
in the darkness of this world, as it always has been shining throughout
the Ages. It is within us and without us, and we have to work
upon ourselves in order that that Light may shine forth and so
reinforce the Light which shines around us, until everyone is
aware that the inner Light in ourselves and the outer Light around
us are aspects of the One Light in which the whole universe is
bathed; of which indeed the whole universe is a manifestation.
And we are trying to help our
students to gain a little more knowledge of the Light, by working
in the power of the Great Light which lights all manifestation.
"Know this, O Man, sole
root of fault in Thee, is not to know Thine own Divinity".
And so the mystic is seeking to unite that inner divinity of his
with That from which it came. "The Ground of the Soul"
that point is sometimes called in mysticism, that Point in ourselves
where we are open to God, where is That within us which is of
God. So it might well be said of us, "Ye Gods and Sons of
the Most High," for there dwells God. Not a part of God-you
cannot have parts of an Infinity. All the Power, all the Presence
of the Omnipotent, Omnipresent Eternal Being are there within
each one of us. The whole lot, everything.
Here we come into contact with
something which we cannot define. We cannot put lines around it
at all. The darkness cannot comprehend it-again you get that idea
of getting around it. You just cannot do that. Our finite minds
can only think in images, in symbols, and those images and symbols
are in themselves but shadows of any image or symbol which you
may ever devise.
The mystic reaching upwards to
God in that way does not worry about the phenomena. He simply
goes ahead. And so, for the mystic, the retreat from the things
of the world is not only logical but is absolutely necessary.
But even as you go up to the Throne, even as you advance in the
mystical state until you do open up yourself to that Fullness
of the Divine pleroma within you, yet if you are truly seeking
the Will of God, then you must, of necessity, come down into the
physical world to do the Will which you have glimpsed on the mount.
So the mystic, if he is a true mystic, will always return to the
world in order to help it.
Now I think I have covered most
of the points which I wished to cover in this little talk. I have
left lots of rough ends because I have never believed in doing
all the work, and I must not do your thinking for you. You must
do your own thinking. Never rely on anyone else permanently. It
is very handy sometimes to rely on somebody, whether it be on
the physical or the superphysical planes; to lean back for a while
and let them take the load; just so that you can get your breath
again. Then you got to start again, on your own.
But we are not alone. Around
us are our comrades of the Unseen, and within us, the presence
of the Eternal God, in Whom we live and move and have our being;
to Whom we aspire, and in Whom we find our true Peace.