While the Third degree, encourages us in the expression of unconditional love the Fourth degree leads to the recognition that the power of love can control matter.
This initiation serves as proof that all matter is God and it is achieved through surrender and crucifixion.
The lesson to be learnt and accepted is that the true self cannot pass away.
Jesus crucifixion illustrates the Earth Initiation, which will come as crucifixion of the body, mind or soul. It applies to everyone.
The Earth Initiation leads to the dissolution of the ego. The disciple faces this experience to realize that all matter is God.
In order to facilitate this realization we have to surrender our personal ego and allow it to be crucified in the rough and tumble of daily life. There is a need to accept all criticism and to forgive one’s attackers.
To do this we can develop the habit of silently saying to our enemies, “I forgive you, will you forgive me?”
The true initiate says “Father-Mother God, I accept the need for this situation, please show me how to resolve it”, and then waits for light to to be shed on the situation.
This surrender is a tempering process and your centre of identity gradually shifts from the personality to the Self, which cannot be destroyed.
This phase tends to bring some suffering into our lives and so it can help to accept that the negativity we experience from others (and ourselves) is motivated by our own karma and ignorance.
Whatever comes our way cannot harm us in our essential Self and it is simply karma playing itself out. The more you can just witness what happens to the body-mind with dispassion and detachment, the more readily you awaken to the silent Presence.
It is natural when on the receiving end of conflict to want to assert ourselves and as any psychologist will tell you self-assertion is one of the indicators of a healthy ego. However, once your integrated personality has emerged and you are successfully making your way, it needs to be surrendered.
The "I" thought is the final illusion to released.
We can more readily accept this when we become aware of the actual tension of identifying with the personality self. This process in which we identify with the mind and ego is the most subtle of knots and it keeps us prisoners of the planet.
Surrender and the opening of the heart are one and the same process and they lead to the experience of the Self and the recognition that we are all One. We come to know that there is nothing that is truly separate from us.
There is a story that illustrates this vision. An awakened man was walking along the road one day when he was set upon by thieves. They robbed him, stripped him of his clothes and beat him to within an inch of his life.
Then they ran off and some passers by came to the victim's assistance. As they tended to his wounds they asked him if he knew who had beaten him. In response the man told them that those same robbers who had beaten him and taken all that he owned, were the same people who were now tending to his wounds.
In the yoga traditions they say that the individual who has had the vision of the Self regards the saint and the beggar, the dog and the man who eats the dog, as one and the same. They are all manifestations of the Self, whether pleasant or unpleasant from our human vantage point.
There is One Life, expressing Itself through many different vehicles. Hence in the Grail tradition it is said that all matter is God.
The experience of the Fourth degree is akin to entering a wasteland, where there is little solace on an emotional or personality level. It leads us towards a complete and utter reliance upon our divine Indweller.
When we are being challenged on all levels, only the living experience of the silent Presence brings peace. It is like we are caught up in an unpleasant illusion and the only thing that helps the scales fall from our eyes is the experience of the Self, the Reality which transcends time, space, karma and the ego.
During my psychotherapy training at the Hofbauer Centre we were shown a series of paintings of a man to illustrate the growing relationship to God. In the first painting there was a cross which symbolized God in this person's awareness and it was a small cross in the background of the painting.
The more the man's suffering intensified the larger that symbol became until in the last painting the cross had come into the foreground and was his entire focus.
The more we suffer at the personality level the greater is the motivation to surrender to the Divine and that is the lesson of the Earth Initiation.