In the beginning was Initiation. The flesh profiteth nothing; the mind profiteth nothing; that which is unknown to you and above these, while firmly based upon their equilibrium, giveth life.
In all systems of religion is to be found a system of Initiation, which may be defined as the process by which a man comes to learn that unknown Crown.
Though none can communicate either the knowledge or the power to achieve this, which we may call the Great Work, it is yet possible for initiates to guide others.
Every man must overcome his own obstacles, expose his own illusions. Yet others may assist him to do both, and they may enable him altogether to avoid many of the false paths, leading no whither, which tempt the weary feet of the uninitiated pilgrim. They can further insure that he is duly tried and tested, for there are many who think themselves to be Masters who have not even begun to tread the Way of Service that leads thereto.
Now the Great Work is one, and the Initiation is one, and the Reward is one, however diverse are the symbols wherein the Utterable is clothed.
Hear then the history of the system which this lection gives you the opportunity of investigating. Listen, we pray you, with attention: for once only does the Great Order knock at any one door.
Whosoever knows any member of that Order as such, can never know another, until he too has attained to mastery.
Here, therefore, we pause, that you may thoroughly search yourself, and consider if you are yet fitted to take an irrevocable step.
For the reading of that which follows is recorded.