The relationship of our human ego to its inner divinity is perhaps the deepest and most inclusive of mystic teachings. It is well expressed in the prayer of Socrates that the outer man should so live as to be at one with the inner man and, in a different way, in the Christian concept of atonement where man and God are to be reconciled through Christ. But this story of atonement applies not only to mankind, but to the cosmos as well.
The divine or cosmic Self is the unity behind all of its manifestations, and its urge to become spiritually fulfilled mirrors itself everywhere and directs the evolutionary impulse in all things. Outer forms are eternally changing in order more fully to reflect the growth of inner centers which in turn follow the lead of the divine universal Self. In brief, as the Self of an entity evolves, it not only works appropriate changes in its outward expressions but likewise influences the progress of other lives. These interrelationships are not just physical, those that we can see and touch; they also take place in worlds of existence we cannot openly observe. Our secret thoughts and feelings, for example, affect the thoughts and feelings of others, and simultaneously leave their impress on the kingdoms below as well as above our own. In this way all the hosts of lives evolve together, the different kingdoms contributing each to each and to the universal becoming of the whole.
Can we conceive of the dramatic change in consciousness that makes it essential for an entity in one kingdom to seek manifestation in the next one above? We can imagine the gulf in awareness of Self that lies between the animal and human kingdoms; but what of the kingdoms of life higher than the human? The traditions of mankind have always spoken of divine beings existing in other worlds, and surely such advanced beings do exist, subject to the same pattern of inner unfoldment. The evolutionary possibility of becoming "as gods" lies before each of us as part of the natural growth of our human ego toward its divine parent. This great step, however, cannot be taken in one stride because the span in consciousness at present between us and the state of the gods is too vast. We are not yet even fully human, as are those of universal achievement who appear from age to age bringing enlightenment anew. These are human, as we, but Adepts in stature. Every generation has whispered of their existence and of the path they follow. Their accomplishments can be ours once we realize our spiritual dignity.
At the time of universal beginnings something of our own inner nature participated in the creation of worlds and forms, for in a real sense all degrees of stellar Being exist within man. As we come to know ourselves, we achieve atonement with the divine reaches of universal consciousness. The sacred Mysteries of every land were gateways to this inner evolution: the individual awakening of human consciousness to the cosmic Self.
"Discipline precedes the Mysteries": there were and are many disciplinary devices, depending on individual need. In each case the purpose is to overcome the gross qualities of character -- greed, avarice, lust, covetousness, hate, envy, and so on, which are the karmic threads that bind man to the wheel of earth existence, confining the consciousness rather than setting it free. Life is the great teacher, and the first step in discipline is to learn how to bring spiritual values into daily living. Some of the qualities needed and sought are love for all, harmony, patience, indifference to personal pleasure or pain, and courage to pursue truth. Consistent practice of these virtues cuts the bonds holding us within our limited field of experience and works the change from personal awareness to universal values. This is the "secret" path or way that if faithfully pursued reconciles man with God and makes the outer and the inner man be at one. We then discover that we already are what we would become.
What mysterious magic kindles the fire in us to begin in earnest this transformation? Is this awakening the result of eons of an individual evolutionary aspiration to achieve, or is it an expression of the universal Self in its, to us, incomprehensible ways? Perhaps, like lightning, it is a meeting in rare persons of destiny of life-consciousness or force, down from heaven and up from earth, a symphony of sound and light, a meeting of gods and man. This is the evolutionary destiny that lies before us all: like winter birds returning, there will be few at first, but, as the long cycles pass they will increase in numbers, a part of nature's ever becoming.