By: Manly Hall
Few realize that even at the present stage of civilization in this world, there are souls who, like the priests of the ancient temples, walk the earth and watch and guard the sacred fires that burn upon the altar of humanity. Purified ones they are, who have renounced the life of this sphere in order to guard and protect the Flame, that spiritual principle in man, now hidden beneath the ruins of his fallen temple. As we think of the nations that are past, of Greece and Rome and the grandeur that was Egypt's, we sigh as we recall the story of their fall; and we watch the nations of today, not knowing which will be the next to draw its shroud around itself and join that great ghostly file of peoples that are dead.
But everywhere, even in the rise and fall of nations, we see through the haze of materiality, justice; everywhere we see reward, not of man but of the invincible One, the Eternal Flame.
A great hand reaches out from the unseen and regulates the affairs of man. It reaches out from that great spiritual Flame which nourishes all created things, the never dying fire that burns on the sacred altar of Cosmos — that great fire which is the spirit of God. If we turn again to the races now dead, we shall, if we look, find the cause of their destruction. The light had gone out. When the flame within the body is with- drawn, the body is dead. When the light was taken from the altar, the temple was no longer the dwelling place of a living God.
Degeneracy, lust, and passion, hates and fears, crept into the souls of Greece and Rome, and Black Magic overshadowed Egypt; the light upon the altar grew weaker and weaker. The priests lost the Word, the name of the Flame. Little by little the Flame flickered out, and as the last spark grew cold, a mighty nation died, buried beneath the dead ashes of its own spiritual fire.
But the Flame did not die. Like spirit of which it is the essence, it cannot die, because it is life, and life cannot cease to be. In some wilderness of land or sea it rested once again, and there rose a mighty nation around that flame. So history goes on through the ages. As long as a people are true to the Flame, it remains, but when they cease to nourish it with their lives, it goes on to other lands and other worlds. Those who worship this Flame are now called heathens. Little do we realize that we are heathen ourselves until we are baptized of the Holy Spirit, which is Fire, for fire is Light, and the children of the Flame are the Sons of Light, even as God is Light. There are those who have for ages labored with man to help him to kindle within himself this spark, which is his divine birthright. It is these who by their lives of self-sacrifice and service have awakened and tended this fire, and who through ages of study have learned the mystery it contained, that we now call the "Initiates of the Flame."
For ages they have labored with mankind to help him to uncover the light within himself, and on the pages of history they have left their seal, the seal of Fire. Unhonored and unsung they have labored with humanity, and now their lives are used as fairy stories to amuse children, but the time will yet come when the world shall know the work they did, and realize that our present civilization is raised upon the shoulders of the mighty demigods of the past. We stand as Faust stood, with all our lore, a fool no wiser than before, because we refuse to take the truths they gave us and the evidence of their experiences. Let us honor these Sons of the Flame, not by words, but by so living that their sacrifice shall not be in vain. They have shown us the way, they have led man to the gateway of the unknown, and there in their robes of glory passed be- hind the Veil. Their lives were the key to their wisdom, as it must always be. They have gone, but in history they stand, milestones on the road of human progress.Let us watch these mighty ones as they pass silently by. First, Orpheus, playing upon the seven stringed lyre of his own being, the music of the spheres. Then Hermes, the thrice greatest, with his emerald tablet of divine revelation. Through the shades of the past we dimly see Krishna, the illuminated, who on the battle- field of life taught man the mysteries of his own soul. Then we see the sublime Buddha, his yellow robe not half so glorious as the heart it covered, and our own dear Master, the man Jesus, his head surrounded with a halo of Golden Flame, and his brow serene with the calm of mastery. Then Mohammed, Zoroaster, Confu - cius, Odin, and Moses, and others no less worthy pass by before the eyes of the student. They were the Sons of Flame. From the Flame they came, and to the Flame they have returned. To us they beckon, and bid us join them, and in our robes of self -earned glory to serve the Flame they love.
They were without creed or clan ; they served but the one great ideal. From the same place they all came, and to the same place they have returned. There was no superiority there. Hand in hand they labor for humanity. Each loves the other, for the power that has made them masters has shown them the Brother - hood of all life.
In the pages that follow we will try to show this great thread, the spiritual thread, the thread of living fire that winds in and out through all religions and binds them together with a mutual ideal and mutual needs. In the story of the Grail and the Legends of King Arthur we find that thread wound around the Table of the King and the Temple of Mount Salvart. This same thread of life that passes through the roses of the Rosicrucians, winds among the pedals of the Lotus, and among the temple pillars of Luxor. THERE IS BUT ONE RELIGION IN ALL THE WORLD, and that is the worship of God, the spiritual Flame of the universe.
Under many names He is known in all lands, but as Iswari or Ammon or God, He is the same, the Creator of the universe, and fire is His universal symbol. We are the Flame-Born Sons of God, thrown out as sparks from the wheels of the infinite. Around this Flame we have built forms which have hidden our light, but as students we are increasing this light by love and service, until it shall again proclaim us Suns of the Eternal.
Within us burns that Flame, and before Its altar the lower man must bow, a faithful servant of the Higher. When he serves the Flame he grows, and the light grows until he takes his place with the true Initiates of the universe, those who have given all to the Infinite, in the name of the Flame within.
Let us find this Flame and also serve it, realizing that it is in all created things, that all are one because all are part of that eternal Flame, the fire of spirit, the life and power of the universe.
Upon the altar of this Flame, to the true creator of this book, the writer offers it, and dedicate it to the one Fire which blazes forth from God, and is now hidden within each living thing.
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