The concept of a cosmic master was popularised towards the end of the 19th Century by the Theosophical Society under H.P. Blavatsky. Another book, The Mahatma Letters by A.P. Sinnett, also a member of the Society, created an image of superhuman beings in the minds of generations of members of the Society, and these perceptions have now become part of modern mystical knowledge.
A universal aphorism, “When the student is ready, the Master will appear”, became a beacon for many aspirants on the mystical path.
Another saying, “Seek the Master within”, is perhaps a more realistic and less frustrating instruction.
However, what almost everyone agrees on is the role of a Master as a teacher, specifically teaching the path to cosmic enlightenment.
The term “Master” has a long history, dating back to the Egyptian dynasties through to the Essenes, the mystics of the Middle Ages, the esoteric societies of the 19th Century, up to the organisations of the present time.
A Master was considered a worker of miracles raising the dead, curing the sick, materialising objects and appearing in the spirit to disciples. Many of the descriptions appear fanciful, but their enduring lore, appearing in the legends of many diverse peoples, must lend some credibility to their claims.
Modern science has also given us two related disciplines to help us understand the nature of a Master. The first is the theory of evolution, and related to it, the principles of neuroscience.
Most humans consider themselves separate from the universal evolution that permeates every aspect of nature; from primitive amoebas to homo sapiens, the ultimate in evolution. Or so we believe!
Levels of Consciousness
From our vantage point we can broadly discern four distinct levels of evolution, with some overlapping in between.
Each one is characterised by a consciousness and a corresponding physical form. Modern science tells us that consciousness is related to some electromagnetic or neurological properties of an organism’s nervous system.
Literally at the rock bottom on the evolutionary scale are the metals and crystals whose electrochemical qualities can be regarded as a primitive form of consciousness. Certain metals even exhibit rudimentary forms of memory.
Reaching out from the soil is the next level, that of plants. Partly in the ground, partly rising to the sky, modern science has revealed electrochemical processes in plants that can be regarded as a primitive, vegetative form of consciousness. Plants even have the ability to communicate with one another, especially if being attacked by predators.
Next is the animal kingdom. Freed from the soil, they are still constrained to move horizontally to the earth. Even the early ancestors of birds, in the form of lizards, were constrained to the surface of the earth. Here we have vastly increased neurological activity, heating the body and enhancing its consciousness.
Then, according to conventional science, we reach the pinnacle of evolution: humankind.
Its outer form has become vertical and with its brain it has become dominant in the evolutionary chain. Its brain has also given it a special form of consciousness, that of self. This self-consciousness, however, has separated us in our minds from the universal consciousness that permeates all of creation. We are not even aware of the myriads of little bundles of consciousness that keep the body going.
Do these steps of evolution not remind us of the outer coverings of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Firstly, they were created from the soil; then covered in leaves and finally animal skin. And after attaining self-consciousness by eating from the Tree of Knowledge, they left the Garden of Eden, thereby losing their realisation of the universal consciousness.
Only by again reaching that universal consciousness will they return to the Garden, but now with a conscious realisation of God.
How does all this fit in with our modern concept of evolution?
Evolution is a process whereby an organism adapts to a hostile environment. Conventional wisdom states that this occurs by mutation of cells, the robust surviving the perils of their environment. However, could organisms not also by some primitive will select, or direct, their evolution?
This, the Lamarckian viewpoint, is unpopular with mainstream science, but studies during the 1980’s of the Escherichia coli bacterium have shown that this could be possible.
But are we still subject to some hostile environment to which we need to adapt in order to survive? Our brain, after all, has given us dominance over the physical world.
But has this same brain not become our greatest liability?
Is anxiety not a greater threat to humans now and in recent history than any other pathological cause? Stress impairs the immune system and makes the body vulnerable to infections and other ailments. And do not many people seek refuge in a “Garden of Eden” induced artificially by medication and drugs?
The control of anxiety lies at the root of many religions.
Have the great teachers of these religions not shown us how to reach serenity by a development and control of our consciousness, to re-enter the Garden of Eden and commune with God, and reach this God-like consciousness amidst the demands of our human society?
This state of consciousness has become well-known through its popularisation during the past century. Its originator, the distinguished psychiatrist Richard Maurice Bucke (1837-1902), identifies in his book Cosmic Consciousness (1901) levels of consciousness, culminating in what he describes as “cosmic consciousness.”
This consciousness, experienced momentarily, brings an exalted sense of union with all of creation, serenity and a feeling of eternity. At the same time a brilliant light is experienced internally. Its result is a heightened level of creativity, making these ‘enlightened’ ones very practical, self-assured people in everyday, mundane life.
There is, however, another aspect to this experience that is rarely mentioned, namely, the aspect of Will.
Our everyday life is governed by the will of our self-consciousness.
We are not aware of the will that keeps our heart beating or those of the white blood cells that rush to combat foreign intrusions into our body. Neither are we aware of the will that makes trees, insects and grass grow and which makes them compete with other entities on the evolutionary battleground.
We sometimes refer to this will as instinct.
One of the realisations of cosmic consciousness is a momentary attunement with this universal, subconscious will, or so to say, with the will of God. This realisation never leaves the memory of the those that experience it.
They remain assured that the will of God will henceforth guide their mundane will and shall, when needed, protect them.
In mystical knowledge, it is claimed that the experience of cosmic consciousness is the ultimate aim on the mystical path. It is however, just the beginning on another scale of consciousness.
Development of the Cosmic Master
In this new environment, newly enlightened people face similar difficulties to those of the first amphibians that struggled onto land. Having tasted union with the consciousness of creation and its will, the enlightened ones now face the task of reaching this union voluntarily and on a continual basis; not as a hermit, but immersed in the rigours of daily life.
In this striving they become more aware and attuned to the will of creation and move delicately balanced between the will of the self and the universal will.
Gradually they find themselves in partnership with God, creating apparent miracles by blending their human will with that of God.
These miracles follow natural law, albeit mysterious to us.
The true Cosmic Masters are in development. After long effort, they are able to voluntarily raise their consciousness to a cosmic level and, tuning to the power of the cosmic will, they take direct part in the processes of creation.
It is this ability on the cosmic threshold that makes humanity unique on the evolutionary scale.
The union with our God brings inescapable responsibilities. Although they are raised above the norms and human-made laws of society, and have earned the right to “do what thou willt”, they are now constrained by universal law.
However, on this borderline they are still influenced by the will of the self in order to survive the rigours of daily, earthly life. Knowing now what is good (the absence of which is evil), the penalty for disobedience of the cosmic ordinances is hardly imaginable.
The Cosmic Masters have survived those tests. Their actions are in accordance with the will of God. But by inhabiting a human body they still remain frail to the imperfections of its consciousness and its will. It is the realisation of this duality that engenders the sympathy, if not pity, for struggling humanity.
Our Cosmic Masters are part of nature and achieve all according to natural law.
They will in all likelihood appear more normal, mundane and boring than most other people. They have no need for worldly excitement. We may only faintly discern such people. A deeper recognition, however, is only attained if our own consciousness is attuned towards theirs. But often their consciousness merely rubs off on us in passing, leaving puzzlement, but also a strange, ethereal joy.
The fanciful beliefs in the power of a Master will disappear in the coming years.
These enlightened beings, acting in accordance with the Will of the Cosmic, still remain hampered by their physical bodies. Although this body, a part of nature, is in a better condition than most, it still remains subject to the inevitable laws of growth and decay.
But the Cosmic Masters, as Magister Templi, have such control of their physical body, particularly of its nervous system, that its conservation beyond the average life-span appears miraculous to others.
The Master’s body survives as long as the Cosmic intended it to, and its function is not curtailed by the abuses of ordinary humankind.
No reference to Masters can be made without mentioning the Great White Brotherhood, or “GWB”.
This body is held in awe as the Elders of humankind, omniscient and omnipotent. Like all other creatures, the members of this body do not have a separate existence from us. On the contrary, attaining Cosmic Consciousness has made them more part of nature than anything else.
The instinct that pervades all creatures has merged into a conscious realisation in their minds. In the same way that animals (us included) have a communal instinct, their enlightened, or awakened, instinct has become the egregore of the GWB, causing them to remain in communion with one another at all times and to act accordingly.
Acting against this communal Will results in an automatic severance of the cosmic bond and be “cast from heaven.”
Some mystery remains, however.
By what mechanism does the soul personality of a Master survive the demise of its earthly vehicle? And how does a Master have access to the impressions of the ancient past, not only of itself, but also of others?
One can only surmise that some future science of genetics will answer those questions.A future science will also give a neurological explanation for the inner light experienced with cosmic consciousness and its transformation of the nervous system to accommodate a higher level of consciousness.
The faith in such a science brings an assurance of eternal life and consciousness, and a hope for embattled humanity.
Adaptation of “What is a Master?” by Pieter Wagener from the Rosicrucian Beacon, March 2020.