L A D D E R   O F   A S C E N T
Selections from the Agni Yoga Series

Presented before the Agni Yoga Society, October 9, 2007

     1. It is a natural desire to want to know how the transitions into different spheres are accomplished. It is not difficult to understand that purified Agni is the decisive factor. If we gradually fill a balloon with combustible gas, it will begin to rise proportionately. If a balloon cannot retain the gas it will descend. This is a crude example of the principle governing transition into the various spheres of the Subtle World. The subtle entity can ascend by itself if its fiery seed is appropriately filled. Fire—the transmuter—helps to assimilate the new and higher conditions. Agni facilitates the understanding of the language of each sphere, because the intercourse of beings becomes more refined as the ascent is made. Of course, the high Guidance does not forsake the striving ones, but for assimilation of Guidance devotion is needed. Thus, a being can ascend the ladder—there is no other symbol which can more accurately define the ascent of the spirit. If a being is detained on one step, the cause is apparent in the aura. So many travelers quite unexpectedly find themselves a few steps lower! The usual reason for such retrogression is some earthly remembrance which engenders cravings. The Guide considers a store of patience indispensable to protect those who stumble. But one should not draw too frequently upon this precious energy. The being who can discover the cause by himself will actually ascend more quickly. Truly, ascent is accompanied by the joy of new companions, and finally the earthly asp of envy falls away, and thought-creativeness is no longer impeded by the currents of malice. But one should prepare even now for mobility of consciousness. A torpid consciousness obstructs the striving of Agni. Thus, let us envision perfectly clearly the ladder of ascent. Fiery World I, 621.

     2. You should point out to all newcomers that there are endless degrees of discipleship and of the approach to Light, and that each one can occupy only that degree which corresponds to his past accumulations; likewise, he can ascend the ladder only by his own intensive striving in the present. Letters Of Helena Roerich II, 22 July 1935.

     3. The consciousness not blended with the Lord cannot strive to the law of accumulation in the Chalice. Only the power of the Cosmic Magnet can bring the spirit close to the Teacher. Verily, the one who adheres to the Higher Consciousness receives the power of thought. Only when a spirit accepts all transmissions from Above can he broaden his consciousness, otherwise the power concealed within the Chalice cannot be awakened. Thus, the thread of the bond is the ladder of spirit upon which the power of the spirit ascends. Creativeness is affirmed by way of this wondrous thread. Thus, the ascent of the spirit proceeds through its bond with the Lord. Hierarchy, 155.

     4. It is essential to preserve unity under ordinary, earthly conditions in order to attain at least an approximation of Our unity. May people rejoice, knowing that somewhere there exists the Ladder of the Worlds! This very idea will serve as a bridge for evolution. It is the ignorant preacher who teaches indifference towards the highest unification, but such limiting advice will certainly not help anyone on the earthly plane, for every limitation closes doors and deprives one of fresh air. Supermundane II, 448.

     5. Unfortunately, in his desire for immediate progress and for greater knowledge, a person quite often throws himself into a search for other Teachings and other Teachers and divides himself, losing his place on the ladder of ascension. Letters Of Helena Roerich I, 29 August 1934.

     6. The Teaching should be read under different conditions, yet the effect will not be always identical. At a time of consternation the Teaching will bring tranquility, at a time of affliction-consolation, at a time of doubt-affirmation, but in order to absorb the reality of the Teaching, one must repress one's casual sensations by penetration into the treasury of Hierarchy. Not merely as a comfort has the Teaching been given, but for advancement upon the ladder of ascent. Fiery World II, 285.

     7. Any labor undoubtedly gives joy to someone. The joy may not be great, but it might also be vast. The manifestation of universal joy is produced by labor.
     Let us not forget that in the Supermundane World such joy is incorruptible. It creates gratitude. This unity of vibrations helps the traveler in his supermundane pilgrimage. In this special attention must be given to the fact that the gratitude is not directed to the laborer personally, though these pure feelings will follow him on Earth as well as in the Supermundane World. He will not know those who are grateful to him. The most treasured step on the ladder of ascent is the impersonal, self-healing step upward.
     Cooperation is valued when it is strengthened by devotion. Thus let us understand labor as an action of united joy.
     The Thinker saw labor as supermundane joy. Supermundane IV, 844.

     8. The most essential is not to accomplish a tightly knit communal life, but to learn to manifest in general a spirit of collaboration and magnanimity in everyday life and in all conditions; Therefore, each attempt at friendly cooperation should be welcomed, for all these efforts will become steps on the great ladder of achievement. Letters Of Helena Roerich II, 23 July 1936.

     9. Does an Arhat rest? You already know that a change of labor is rest, but the true repose of an Arhat is his thought about the Beautiful. Amidst various labors, thought about the Beautiful is the bridge and power and stream of benevolence. When the shutters of selfhood are being fastened everywhere, when fires are extinguished in the darkness, is it not the time to reflect about the Beautiful? We anticipate a miracle, we strive to break the lock, but the ladder of the Arhat is only in the Beautiful. Fiery World I, 177.

     10. In general, most people cannot endure residence on the Earth in continuous tension. Yet it is possible to inure them to conditions in certain chemical laboratories, where the newcomer is completely unable to breathe and where those who work there regularly do not even notice the pressure. Such an example must convince one of how possible it is to accustom oneself to constant vigilance, as to a magnet of tension. Whoever places a foot upon the ladder of ascent finds the initial step difficult. Thus Maya passes into conscious realization of the cosmic tension. Fiery World II, 253.

     11. To preserve an unusual frame of mind means to proceed to the Fiery World. Under the ordinary conditions of life such a frame of mind is not easy, but precisely it must not be set aside. One should not enter the temple otherwise than prayerfully. In prayer existence is uplifted and made better; therefore each prayer, as also each exaltation, must be better than the preceding one. Each step of the ladder of the spirit must be traversed. How majestic is the Ladder to the Fiery World, which has in a year three hundred sixty six steps by day and three hundred sixty six by night! Every step is distinct from every other, and let each one be better than the preceding one. Joy toward the Teaching, will it not be a true adornment of a step? In each joy for the Teaching is already contained new cognition. Often one cannot express in words this step, given in joy. It is indisputable, and what a veritable mountain is ascended in the prayer of joy! Pains are alleviated by it, the task is made successful by it. No one and nothing can block this joy. Thus shall we have the advantage of success. The same thing may be wished to all, because on the ladder of the spirit there is no crowding. Let each one rejoice at the sheer beauty of a new step. Why should anyone go backward? But it is difficult and burdensome to lose what has been already traversed. Downfall is always harmful, even for the body. One can imagine how ruinous it is for the spirit, for the fiery being. Contact with Fire already produces a special kind of tissue, which glows on the upward, and is reduced to ashes on a downward path. The ladder of ascent is the measure of magnanimity, consequently magnanimity may be achieved daily. Fiery World II, 280.

     12. In general, fearful wayfarers are not fitted for the path. Can one imagine a swimmer who is afraid of the water? Likewise harmful is fear before advancing into the Subtle World. Only steadfastness and aspiration to the Highest can further the ascent. He who strives toward something beloved does not count the steps of the ladder. Thus, it is necessary to love in order to attain.
     Brotherhood teaches this means of ascent. Brotherhood, 321.

     13. Regard nothing as belonging to you; the easier for you not to damage things. Think how best to adorn each place; the surer will you protect yourself from rubbish. Consider how much better than the old must each new thing be; by this will you affirm the ladder of ascent. Think how beautiful is the morrow; thus will you learn to look forward. Think how cruel is the condition of animals; thus will you start to pity the lower. Reflect how small is the Earth; thus you will improve your understanding of relationships. Think how beautiful is the sun hiding behind the Earth's sphere; thus will you restrain yourself from irritation. Think how white are the doves in the sun's ray; thus will you strengthen your hope. Think how blue is the sky; thus will you approach eternity. Think how black is darkness; thus will you guard yourself against the cold of retreat. Think courageously about the Images of the Great Ones; thus will you follow the line of unity. Think what happiness it is to walk upon the crust of the planet, imbuing it with the consciousness of the spirit. Think what happiness it is to walk under the rays of constellations, being a focal point of rays millenniums of years old. Think about Our Hand, which guides vigilantly; thus will you prolong the thread of life. Illumination, III:III:6.

     14. Thus, all of us are guilty for ourselves and others, for we cannot isolate ourselves from the rest of humanity and from the Cosmos. Verily, the Cosmos is in us and we are in it. But only the realization of this unity makes it possible for us to join in such an existence. The fundamental problems of the meaning of our existence were resolved long ago, but people do not wish to accept this, for no one wants to take RESPONSIBILITY for each thought, each word, and each deed. And we shall return to Earth until we fulfill this accepted responsibility - by perfecting ourselves, Earth, and also all its surrounding spheres. After concluding our earthly perfectment, we shall cross in a glorious radiance of manifold Beauty to the far-off worlds, the next step of evolution upon the ladder of infinite perfectment. Letters Of Helena Roerich II, 7 October 1935.