The Path
A popular term to indicate the way an individual leads a religious
life, especially if the way is prescribed with stages leading
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. The Path
toward a preset goal. With Theosophy this term has taken on
a special meaning in that it is used to denote not only the path
itself but also the probationary path along which an individual
must journey before he can enter on the path proper.
In order to begin the journey down a path, the individual
first must be wholeheartedly devoted to this service. At the entrance
to the probationary path, one becomes the chela or disciple
of one of the masters or perfected beings who have all finished
the great journey, and one must devote oneself to
acquiring four qualifications, which are (1) knowledge of what
only is real; (2) rejection of what is unreal; (3) the six mental
attributes of control over thought, control over outward action,
tolerance, endurance, faith, and balance; and (4) the desire to
be one with God.
During the period of efforts to acquire these qualifications,
the chela advances in many ways. The master imparts wise counsel
and teaches the chela through meditation how to attain divine
heights unthought of by ordinary human beings. The chela
constantly works for the betterment of others, usually in the
hours of sleep. Striving thus and in similar directions, he or she
becomes fitted for the first initiation at the entrance to the path
proper. It may be mentioned that the chela has the opportunity
either during probation or afterward to forego the heavenly life
that is due. The chela may allow the world to benefit by the powers
that he or she has gained, which in ordinary course would
have been utilized in the heavenly life. In this case, the chela remains
in the astral world, from whence he or she makes frequent
returns to the physical world.
There are four initiations that begin a new stage on the
path, and each manifests the knowledge of that stage. On the
first stage there are three obstacles or, as they are commonly
termed, fetters, that must be cast aside, and these are the illusion
of self, which must be realized to be only an illusion; doubt,
which must be cleared away by knowledge; and superstition,
which must be cleared away by the discovery of what in truth
is real.
After this stage is traversed, the second initiation follows,
and after this comes the consciousness that earthly life will now
be short; only once again will physical death be experienced
and the disciple begins more and more to function in the mental
After the third initiation, the disciple has two other fetters
to unloose—desire and aversion, and now knowledge becomes
keen and piercing and the disciple can gaze deep into the heart
of things.
After the fourth initiation, the disciple enters on the last
stage and is finally freed of what fetters remain—the desire for
life whether bodily or not and the sense of individual difference
from fellow human beings. The disciple has now reached the
end of the journey and is no longer trammelled with sin or with
anything that can hinder him or her from entering the state of
supreme bliss, where he or she is reunited with the divine consciousness.
This theosophical scheme of spiritual realization has similarities
with other mystical paths both East and West, but has
a special affinity with Hinduism.
Leadbeater, Charles W. The Masters and the Path. Chicago
Theosophical Press, 1925.

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