There is and has been a natural order in the densification into and through matter from the One/All essence-undefined. On each level there is a new gathering of form-structure-mind and a new level of function, together with that corresponding form or forms. We could reasonably say that at each of those points, or spheres of harmony, there is a corresponding "initiation" or entry in beginning anew. This continues into the densest of creation and incorporates all the being(s) and functions along the way. As differentiation continues, so does the corresponding initiation.
In people, or the path of the soul and mind, the last initiation from the point of view of coming into earth is the birth. This satisfies the journey into being. This also then becomes the first initiation in the return path or journey to the undefined. The stages along the way then become mirror images of the journey into the world. The steps from the point of view of return are the initiations or beginnings-entries into that level or sphere.
This is reflected in the initiations of the paths of return, and continues in the growth in the Way. As there is an order in and of light coming into the earth, so too is that orderly process or journey retraced. There is the leaving of a "trail of breadcrumbs" that is followed back, and that is called by many names, one of them being the spiritual path.
As that order is followed back in so called "attainment" but really in re-member-ance, there are steps which correspond to those taken to enter this level. So we have the path or way to return to oneself. In that densification and laying the foundation for the return, there are many different avenues - each relating to the degree of development of the earth and the souls within it. These have been called the paths or schools or religions. They were brought into being for the step by step or stage by stage growth of the greater "soul" in its recognition, return, and reassimilation. Each one had different characteristics such as was needed at the time, and each one has qualities which resonate, or appeal to the different qualities of the individualized soul. As there was differentiation in the path going out for these purposes, so too do they all rejoin in common on one level or sphere upon the return.
So from a large overview of initiation we can consider the paths or schools as part of the greater path into matter and from matter to its source. The function of the person in this earth then becomes to link, as much as possible, while still "in" the body, of the awareness of that source; and to live in the larger body with that point of view at the same time.
From the point of view of the spiritual school, initiation is the starting point in a process or level of attainment. It is also an entry point in or through an organization or structure, and sets the pattern for future growth and the top level which can be reached.
As stated, initiation can be conveyed through someone in a body, without a physical form, or attained to - in which case it them becomes more of a function. When it is applied through a human or intermediary, its limiting factors are the intention and awareness of the initiator. However, even though it can take place on all those levels and more, it is important that it does take place through the person of the human. This not only completes the cycle into the earth, but also provides the direct link for the return to spirit. In no way does this minimize the importance or value of higher initiation, it only completes them.
If one is initiating another into a membership in a club or organization, this is very different in intent as compared to initiation into a path or connection to an unseen body.
However, in either case there is an acceptance both from the point of view of the initiator and the one taking the step of initiation. From the initiator, it is a welcoming into the group, way, and/or goal which it represents. From the point of view of the initiate, it is an acceptance within him or her of becoming a member - joining - the process, path, or organization; and is with the understanding that he seeks to grow into the fullness of that to which the initiation points.
Of the two major divisions of initiations, one being through a person or being, and the other being that which is attained to, we can make further distinctions. In the case of the former, the limitations have to do with the intent and goal of the group and process; while with the latter, it is of more universal function and applicability. Further, the tool of initiation may be applied as a personal binding (uniting) when it comes through a being - with a physical body or not; while from the standpoint of attaining to a level, it is a confirmation of past progress and and opening of the way from the divine side of life itself for the next stage.
There are other distinctions such as that the levels to which one attains and has opened, are in many ways not determined alone by what the person initiated is purposely seeking, so much as the response to the real intent, level, and need of both the person and the process. They are; however, limited to those who have actually reached that level of awareness - to one degree or another. Thus the opening of consciousness can grow to fullness within the framework of the initiated level, and is put into practice through the person and his life before he moves on to the next stage. So there may be a growth from the particular to the universal; from limitation to unlimited; from function as student to teacher, to the Teaching, and to that which is the Source of all of them. Each stage begins anew the process of acceptance, growth, fulfillment, assimilation, and assumption; which then has the possibility of reaching to and beginning the next. But it should be emphasized that at those levels, the choice of who to initiate - or welcome/open the way is not dependent upon the seeker, but upon the True One.
From the point of view of the person who does the initiation, there are two general approaches. One is that the person himself or herself is the one of authority and offers and accepts the initiate. The other is that there is a greater authority that passes through the initiator to the initiated.
In the case of the former, we find the situation of most clubs, groups, and organizations - religious or not. The limiting fact is the intent of the group and awareness of the initiator. So in the case, for example, of a service group whose goal it is to become an aid to society, that will limit the function of the initiator to open the way for that to take place. If the initiator is averse to some kinds of service, his attitudes will be carried with and influence the initiation. For the larger process of opening to take place, an individual will have to grow beyond that particular aversion.
In the case of a religious group or organization in which one becomes a member through initiation and the goal is to become a better person and conscious or aware of the meaning of certain teachings and then stages; how to apply them in life; and eventually become aware of their context - perhaps even to the extent of becoming aware of a spiritual ideal, saint, person of attainment, or originator of their path; and then possibly to pass this understanding or awareness on to another - the initiation is an opening to that level, together with its limitations. This is the case with most so called secret organizations and religious/spiritual groups.
There is another type of initiation through a person or being which is more universal in nature. In this case, a person applies initiation as the tool used for joining with the initiate and opening a path or way to greater attainment which culminates in a level beyond the limitations of either the personal initiator or the group. It is set forth as a way to reach the higher level which, regardless of name, is the same in function - for all who reach it.
This then can be a path of A to C or another path by a different way which also will get to C. Both reach that same end; it is only the way that is different.
In this case, the initiated will reach the goal of either and become to the same starting point for the next step. This is usually the case where there is some universal goal; or goal which in function goes "across the board", above the lines of distinctions and differences.
In this case, when the initiator acts as the conduit through which the greater initiation or beginning may flow, the initiated one enters into a process which can lead to a situation of less or no limitation. The application of initiation is the tool used to link one to both the process and the ultimate goal.
In the case of spiritual initiation through a guide and order, there generally are two functional aspects. One is the linking to the goal and the other the linking through the individual. The linking to the goal is also considered as the ladder to the universal. One point of view is as if there now is a pipe or tube directly from the goal and to the initiated, which also includes all those associated with the larger group. From another point of view that connection and inclusion is always there, but this formalizes and concentrates or focuses it; and sets the function of it into more conscious action on the part one initiated. It may be different in form than another grouping or another ladder, but both ladders lead to the same roof. In addition, through acceptance, it opens the way for direct contact - in both directions - from or to all the beings or persons who make up the rungs of this ladder; although that too is possible and present at all times in a non formalized structure. From any of the rungs one may branch off and follow it to the the same goal or more. So in this case, the universality of the goal can be reached not only directly up the ladder, but also through following any of its rungs. This of course does not limit in any way, the potential for contact with any being not "included" in this direct lineage. That may be considered and the lineage of an Order, or ordering. The limitation, if any, is only in the consideration of Who makes up this lineage.
As to the person through which the initiation comes, this one (the initiator), in many cases is also considered and accepted as the guide or teacher of the initiated. In situations where this is so, there is a uniting between the two. The tool of initiation links them and there is a direct flow from each to the other within the expanded heart. So the clarity and awareness of the initiator has a direct effect upon the level and clarity of that which is transferred.
The initiator also has a tie or link to the person or being who initiated him. So the person he initiates can follow the path through him to his guide - or through him to that to which he is attuning - and so forth - to the end. Each time he steps to the next guide on the ladder he also can experience their qualities, approach, mind, awareness, and point of view - and at any time can also branch off from them - using that one as a stepping stone to their goal. This is also a spiritual lineage or heritage; however it has more specific aspects of the persons or beings. This is the path many people follow in the attuning to the one above - the ladder and its rungs if you will. What it does is to provide a connection, through the person of the guide or teacher, to the next step to the source. Each step along the way one will encounter another point of view, other qualities, and other approaches - all to and from the same thing. So in this way - through the body, mind, heart,and breath of the person initiating, one finds a channel and means of contacting all others with that ordering and transmission of light. It is through attunement of the heart, breath, and mind that this takes place.
So in this case - the last one we have discussed - there is a dual aspect to the initiator. There is a linking to the source directly and through the order of the teacher/guides who have come before, and also a linking through the individual initiator/guide, that persons guides, and the bodies of the initiate.
While functionally active, and the way in which most true spiritual initiation takes place, it also has its limitations. This limitation, however, is also one of its strengths. It is the separation of the path from another ordering of the divine light. The strength is that is provides a focus to follow a path, as it is easier to be more single minded without the diversions of other approaches. In this way, the benefit of one tradition or method is that it can be followed with less distraction and the goal is potentially reached more quickly. The limitation and potential problem is that until one has reached the goal of the universality of experience and the beginning of universal initiations, there is a certain degree of provincialism - or living in a province as compared to living in all the country. There is a tendency, especially for the more insecure or limited personality, to cling to their own grouping and build it up over that of another.
The ordering of the Divine light through the channels comes from and reaches the same goal, but the methods, influences, approaches, and stresses may vary. That is no cause or reason to build one over the other; think that one is better or more important or valuable, yet in a very subtle way (and sometimes even in in very open ways) that is what is done. And as the grouping becomes more solid in life and crystallized in structure and form - through centers, teachers, books, programs, etc.; the more there is a tendency for this solidity to also affect the inner attributes and approaches of those within that structure.
There is one other element that is present, and very dangerously limiting, from a certain point of view. And that is the case where the organization - and here we are speaking from the view of the ordering of light through form and structure - espouses a universal source and goal without division, distinctions, or separations; yet at the same time has a physical-social-mental structure which, because of its very nature divides or separates. Thus one can "say" that they come from and accept all others in the spirit of unity as one; yet at the same time separate themselves from others through form.
This can take place even among those with the best of intentions. There are several paths and teachings which all point to the same truth. In some of them, they say that all other people who come to that truth are in fact of "them" also. That is, if there is one reality, it may be called or referred to is some way or name by one group; and by another name or way by a different group. But those in each group will claim that when another reaches that reality, they are part of "their" representation of the ideal.
Carried to a ridiculous extreme, it is like saying there is one "gobbledy" and we call the gobbledy "gook". And further that all others - whatever they call themselves or their path, approach, or method; when they are aware of that universal "gobbledy" are also actually a "gook" too. What happens when the other person or group, or ordering of the Divine light calls the same universal reality by a different name is that they create another separate barrier to overcome - and another subtle, or not so subtle, distinction. In this case the second Divine Ordering might say "there is one reality and we call it floofer" and whenever one attains to it, the are the "all". So, whether a person calls it that or not, we understand that, and say that before everything this existed, and accept and welcome everyone who reaches this universal awareness, understanding, and function, as also one of "all". So here we have both gobbledygook and flooferall saying the same thing and subtly dividing themselves by also saying that the other is a member of theirs. This distinction does dissolve away at the universal levels, but at anything less is insidious.
So also, then there is another initiation. This is the universal initiation through the person or being. This is very similar in function to the true spiritual organizing through a path or way. It too has two dimensions or aspects. One is through the individual initiator and one from the universal connection or goal.
In this case, the requirement for the person through which the initiation takes place is that that one much have reached the level - through experience, living, and actual present point of view - of unity. It must be inclusive and both knowing of and accepting of itself - without distinction or difference. That is the base. The linking then that take place from this person to the initiated is the same as described before, but the "personal" ladder to the guide above, and so forth, is missing. In this case, the link is to the One and the Source.
The second aspect of this initiation is also similar in function to that described before. But in the case the lineage is not limited to one line. Here it includes also a conscious tying to or opening of the pipe of guidance and influence from the one True Being, but also incorporates all those who have gone before or who are part of the process - one might say those who make up the many faces of the ONE GUIDING SPIRIT - as active guides for the initiate. So in this case there is no distinction of path, way, or approach. All are accepted as guides of the initiate; and as this process has originated through that One as "them"; functioning as one body or "face" then they make themselves available for the process. In this way, the distinction of way dissolves. The attunement is also through the breath, heart, and mind.
This raises one question. To what "group" or "order" does the initiate "belong". To many who are of the various orderings of Divine Light, it will only be at the level of universality that the recognition and full acceptance will take place. But from the point of view of the initiator, and the guidance that is offered to and accepted by the initiate - to whom it is stressed that this is only an intermediate goal to realize - the way is opened so that person truly is a member of all groups as part of the one ordering in light. This then opens the door for that person also to function within any of these groups, according to and by mutual acceptance of their own customs, paths, way, and intentions; and to feel not only as part of them, but also as part of all. It opens the possibility of a true human "organization" without distinction.