Initiation may be described as a trial or a test which every earnest spiritual aspirant has to pass through and which helps to determine if the aspirant is ready to take the next step on the Path. There are levels and levels of initiation, wherein the aspirant is subjected to progressively difficult trials. Just as, when one learns horse-riding, one is made to ride the horse that initially walks, then trots, then canters, and only finally is he given to control a galloping horse; so, too, in the process of Initiation. We need guidance in the process of unfoldment, so that we do not get into serious psychological and moral problems.
Mr. Judge observes that there are two kinds of meditation: (1) Meditation practised at a set time, or an occasional one, and (2) Meditation of an entire lifetime, that single thread of intention, intentness, and desire running through the entire lifetime. "The mysterious subtle thread of a life meditation is that which is practised every hour by philosopher, mystic, saint, criminal, artist, artisan and merchant. It is pursued in respect to that on which the heart is set." In the same way, Initiation can be a set and solemn occasion, for which the candidate is prepared and that he is aware of in advance. But before coming to that stage, writes Mr. Judge, each aspirant has to learn to face "daily initiations," which come from moment to moment. They are met in our relation with our fellows, and in the way we react to all circumstances of life. And if we fail in these, we never get to the point where greater ones are offered. If we cannot bear momentary defeat, if a chance word from someone shatters our self-esteem, if we give way to the desire to harshly judge others, or if we are oblivious of our most apparent faults, then we cannot build up necessary strength to be masters of nature. Further:
In From the Book of Confidences, when the disciple expresses his desire to know something concerning initiation, the sage advises him not to look for a special trial and that there would be hourly trials and daily initiations. The sage speaks of initiation through one's daily duties. When the disciple describes the daily duties as dreary routine that he could never bring himself to love, the sage explains that the world is kept going because everything in nature performs its repetitive duty without complaining. For instance, the stars follow their course through the sky, cyclically; the seasons and the tides repeat themselves, and the heart pulsates endlessly and repeatedly without complaint. How can you hope to come to your initiation by escaping the "repetitioned sweep of daily toil"? asks the sage. One has to be prepared to perform every humble labour as though it were exalted and to serve the powerful, the rich, the ignorant, as though they were Holy Ones.
Next, the disciple expresses his desire to be guided. He asks the sage that if only he was told "go there," "do this" or "do that," he would rejoice to do as directed. The sage replies that if he were to guide the disciple through clear-cut instructions as to what and how to do, the disciple would surely fail in his initiation. He would deprive the disciple of the opportunity to strengthen the muscle of Will. "I would steal from thee thy sovereign power of choice which makes of thee a God."
When one aspires to reach perfection and enlightenment, one is faced with strange and awesome trials of initiation. We are mistaken if we look for some special difficult test or trial through which we can show our moral strength. Mr. Judge writes:
For the earnest and devoted workers of Theosophy, Mr. Judge mentions that it is likely that they have successfully passed through some trials and have been initiated in some past life, but they do not carry its memory in the present life. Mr. Crosbie writes:
There are various degrees of initiation. An occultist can see in the aura of the person signs and marks that indicate the degree of his advancement. Mr. Judge mentions that it is no use pretending to be more advanced than we actually are. He writes:
In some so-called esoteric bodies there are initiations performed for money with elaborate rituals and ceremonies. In the ancient times, initiations took place in the crypts, caves, temples, and pyramids where the neophyte underwent a series of physical and psychological trials, through which he proved his strength and readiness for spiritual rebirth. During the Mysteries, the candidate for initiation was taught, by dramatic representation, "the origin of things, the nature of the human spirit, its relation to the body, and the method of its purification and restoration to higher life. Physical science, medicine, the laws of music, divination were all taught in the same manner." (The Theosophical Glossary)
Swami Dayanand Saraswati describes Diksha or highest initiation, in his Veda-Bhashya, thus:
After passing through a series of initiations, at the last initiation, the disciple comes face to face with the Dhyani Buddha of the hierarchy to which he belongs, and he is allowed to behold his future self—the Augoeides.