A talk given by Sant Kirpal Singh, in Miami, 1 January 1964

First of all, we should know what initiation means. Initiation is no ceremony, no rite, no ritual, no offering. It is just like a school, in which a lesson is given; and for that lesson, first the inner theory is explained, and then an inner experience is given.

We are all children of God. God is light, and we are also light, being of the same essence as that of God. But our light is enveloped by different coverings – physical, astral, causal and supercausal. It is just like a lamp that has two, three or four coverings over it; it appears as if there is no light there. But when you shake off one covering, you have some light; when you shake off another one, more light; and, as you shake off all the coverings, you see it is all light. Similarly, we are light, children of light, but we are enveloped by so many coverings. Initiation means to raise up our soul and shake off the coverings: first, the one of the physical body, which is the iron curtain, I would say: to raise the soul above body-consciousness – physical consciousness – and open the inner eye to have an experience of light, and also to open the inner ear to hear the voice of God, or the music of the spheres. This is what is actually meant by the word ‘initiation': to be initiated into the beyond.

"Learn to die so that you may begin to live." For that, what do we have to do? We are souls – conscious entities; the seat of our soul in the body is (at the) back of the eyes. You must have seen some man dying: the life withdraws from underneath, goes up to the back of the eyes, and the eyes are upturned; then the drop-scene, which is called death, comes. So the seat of the soul in the body is at the back of the eyes; but it enlightens the whole room – the whole body. Those rays of the soul, you might say, which are enlivening the whole body, are to be withdrawn and brought to the back of the eyes; there the inner eye or the single eye opens; we see the light of God. That is why Christ said, "If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light."

Now we have two eyes. How can the two eyes become single? That's a practical question. Similarly all other Masters said, the third eye that is at the back of the eyes should be opened. But that opens only when our life current or sensory current is withdrawn to the back of the eyes. This is the first step.

Many ways have been prescribed for this. And many of them are man-made; they are time-consuming, difficult, and hazardous, too. And these days we are hereditarily not fit for them. They involve the prana system, breathing, etc., or coming to some conclusion by intellectual wrestling – but that is not seeing.

So it is a matter of practical self-analysis: how to die while alive. Plutarch tells us, "Those who are initiated into the beyond, their souls have the same experience that they have at the time of death."

So we have to withdraw our soul to the seat of it, which is at the back of the eyes. If you can do it of your own self, well and good. Anybody and everybody is welcome; a blind man needs two eyes to see. If not, then in that case, we need the help of someone who knows the way, who is competent to do it. And who is competent to do it? Not the son of man, mind that. It is the God in him, which is manifest; that, with little thought, has the power to raise our souls above the bondage of mind. That costs him nothing. God made all creation with one thought of His. Of course, God resides in every heart; there is no heart without Him; but God is not manifested there. What is the reason, why?

Our soul is under the control of mind, mind is under the control of the outgoing faculties, and our attention is diffused into the world outside through the outgoing faculties: we are identified with the world. So we do not know that Power. That is there, of course. By withdrawing our attention from outside and then rising above the senses, we open the eyes and see that it is there. "If you shut the doors of the temple of the body, you will see the light of heaven."

That is what initiation really means. Before we go to Him, our inner eye is closed and our inner ears are also closed. They are "sealed", as the scriptures say. So somebody – who is He? The God in Him, who is manifest – comes across to those who are really hankering after God: There is food for the hungry and water for the thirsty. The Master appears when the disciple is ready. That's a God-made arrangement; no man's arrangement. He sees some child is after Him; then He makes some arrangement to bring such a seeker after Truth somewhere where He is manifest. And that manifested God is competent to give him that experience of light and of hearing the music of the spheres. This is what is meant by initiation. That is why Christ said to his disciples: "Blessed are you who hear things that the old prophets and righteous men could not hear." (Matthiew 13:17)

So, there is something of seeing and something of hearing – hearing the voice of God and seeing the light of God. That is already within us; that is the controlling Power, which is keeping us in the body; otherwise, we would have run out of the body: the two eyes are open, the two nostrils are open, but we cannot leave it.

So this is exactly what is meant by initiation. That effects no religion, because religions are our schools of thought which we have joined to have this very truth. Truth is one: God is light and God is music of the spheres. A blind man is truly defined by Master, not as one who has no eyes on his face, but as one whose inner eye is closed. In the terminology of the saints, a blind man is one whose inner eye is closed, although he has two eyes on his face.

When you come to Him, you are blind. When He gives you a meditation sitting, you see light; you testify it. When you return, you are not blind any more. When you close your eyes, you see darkness; the one who is competent removes that veil of darkness, and the light sprouts forth; and you testify that it is so – that is what is meant by initiation. And here the ABC starts. "There are so many mansions in the house of our Father." The one who is competent to bring your soul up into the beyond and give you an experience of the light of God and the voice of God is also competent to guide you when you rise above body-consciousness and traverse into those planes. It is the God in Him, which is called God Power or the Guru Power or the Christ Power. This is the ultimate goal before us as a man; and the purpose of joining various religions is only that. You'll find that a true Christian is defined as one who sees the light of God; a true Hindu or a true Sikh or a true Mohammedan or a true anybody is defined in scriptures as one who sees the light of God. You've joined various schools of thought; this is the first step. To remain in some school or college is a blessing; but if you remain there and don't have that purpose for which you joined it, I think you have not derived the full benefit of joining that particular school.

Of course, we have taken the first step required for the preparation of the ground; that is, the reading of the scriptures, the saying of prayers, the performance of certain rites and rituals. What is their purpose? By reading scriptures we know what the Masters said on the subject. You can also only have their right import when you sit by somebody who knows the way. Those who simply try to interpret the scriptures at the level of the intellect cannot do full justice to the work. "God is light," they say. But intellectuals say, "It is the light of the intellect." It is substantial light.

The scope of reading the scriptures ends there: in creating an interest in us to have those very experiences that the Masters had in their lives. So what does performing rites and rituals or saying prayers mean? That is meant to develop love and devotion in us for God. Those are good actions; they are required for the preparation of the ground. But seeing is still above all. Seeing arises to the soul when it is liberated from mind and the outgoing faculties. That is why all Masters said, "Man know thyself."

So this is actually what is meant by initiation. When Masters come, they don't advocate one religion or the other. They simply tell us of the highest teaching that all Masters gave, the teaching which we have forgotten, and which they have revived. And who revives it? The God in them, that's all. This is what is required.

First, who can unite you with God? Only God's Grace, alone, can unite you. First resign everything to God. Second, there are some preparatory things required: a strict vegetarian diet – the avoidance of all meat, fish, fowl and eggs. Why? Perhaps people think that these things give strength. What do animals eat? How strong they are! They count power in terms of horsepower. Now there's a campaign going on in the West for vegetarian diet. About fifteen world vegetarian conferences have been held so far. Only one has been held in India, and fourteen have been held in the West. There's a campaign going on everywhere for the vegetarian diet. They have come to know that it is superior to the meat diet in every respect. This is one reason. The second reason is that we have to control our passions. The use of anything that goes to flare up passions, we have to avoid. That's the main thing. If a doctor comes and advises you, the patient, not to take solid food, you have to obey. This is a helping factor.

Similarly, we are conscious beings. We have to become more conscious. So the use of anything that goes to make our consciousness morbid, we have to eliminate; that is all intoxicants – all of them.

And further, have a good character. These are the necessities – the helping factors – in becoming initiated. Even if you get initiation and don't live up to it – "Take heed that the light which is within you is not darkened."

This is what is meant by initiation, and these are the preparatory grounds. There is food for the hungry and water for the thirsty. Perhaps, as the reaction of the past or by passing through various vicissitudes of life, by discrimination we know what to do. This is a sort of hunger within us to have some safe refuge to go to – a haven. So God sees when this hunger has arisen in such persons. He is within us. He makes some arrangement to bring us in contact somewhere where we can be initiated into the beyond. That does not affect any religion – that is the basic principle of all religions, which we have forgotten – that's all. By a parallel study of religions, you'll find that. They all gave out the same thing: light and sound is the way back to God. This is the God-into-expression Power – the two aspects of it.

Remain where you are; there is no need of changing any religion. Simply be true to your own religion. I've met the heads – the ministers – of most of the various religions. These teachings are there in their scriptures, but they themselves do not know it. They know only the elementary steps, and they don't refer to these things. If they do make reference to them, people ask, "Give us this (practical experience), please!" Then? It is better not to mention them.

To err is human. We forget. Masters come from time to time to revive that very forgotten lesson. So this is no new formation. This helps everyone to be true to the teachings of his own Master to whom he belongs. That's all. I think this clarifies what initiation is and what the helping factors, the requirements for initiation, are.