Initiation and eternity
The 2nd sense of initiation: the hypothetical transmission of an eternity?
If learning is essentially a transmission of a gestural practice, and education a transmission of intellectual knowledge, initiation could be defined as a transmission of experiences and emotions with two possible purposes: belonging to a community and the modelling of a transmutation. This is perhaps why it is often misunderstood and subject to so many interpretations.
At the time of the ancient pre-Egyptian civilizations, initiation was essentially intended to enable integration into communities possessing knowledge of the "mysteries"; there was no possibility for human beings to escape death; only the Gods were immortal. We owe it to the priests of ancient Egypt (after the fall of the ancient Empire around 2000 BC), to have gradually introduced the possibility for "valuable" human beings to hope to reach Eternity with the notions of "great time" and "small time".
Since then, initiation has had the two meanings we know it has today: access to specific communities and the acquisition of the conditions for admission to "Paradise"!
Today, initiation retains an undeniable archetypal evocative power! From the end of adolescence, the human being starts looking for an initiation! The experiences are multiple: entry into the adult world, mystical crisis, search for occult powers, attraction for mysteries, not to mention scientific attraction!
If initiation, in its community integration version, seems banal, it still retains great psychological importance because it conditions the feeling of social "success".
But the second meaning also arouses great interest. All the ambiguity of the initiatory "orders" is contained in this problem: how can we offer an answer to such a strong demand concerning our post-mortem future? For the reality is often disappointing and the emotional content, in the best of cases essentially hedonic, is not always equal to the hope sought.
Freemasonry takes pride in not promising anything and in repeating that only tenacious personal research could provide an answer, although this does not prevent the many more or less delirious interpretations of the rites (cf. the "oswald wirth mania")!
But what request are we talking about? What is the content inspired by this desire for initiation? What is the experience, what are the emotions that everyone hopes to possess?
Wisdom? Knowledge of the key to the "mysteries" of existence? The viaticum to go beyond the "mirror"?
Perhaps a little of all this, but fundamentally wouldn't it be the elixir of immortality, also called the key to eternity? With the aim of escaping the anguishingly programmed end of life?
We find this quest in many passages of the initiatic contents with expressions such as "death of the profane", "rebirth", "elevation", "eternal orient".
Depending on the culture, this can be done in reference to immaterial concepts such as God, Allah, the Great Architect of the Universe, the spirits or the philosopher's stone. But the essential remains the hope of an immortality projected most often in another "world"!
Of course, it is a hope even if for many it is also a belief, and no one knows if this idea of a transmission achieved through initiation will be real!
All human beings are one day or another tapped by this question; many are those who doubt, who abandon this quest, who indulge episodically in the superstitions of gambling and chance, or who let themselves be carried away in the whirlwind of earthly pleasures!
Moreover, while in archetypal tribal society this transmission of emotions was done in an esoteric mode, i.e. through a guide, a true initiate, in modern society it has become dehumanized and most often uses the stereotype of a ritual, a sort of prompter read by individuals with little proximity to the recipient. The result is greater difficulty in accessing the "substantial marrow".
The quest for immortality, even if it can be formulated in other ways, remains a fundamental element of human psychology. In spite of the scientific knowledge acquired in the last two centuries, the demand remains strong and even in Freemasonry, we do not take the risk of rejecting it; certain obediences and certain rites with "high" grades do not hesitate, by taking advantage of a so-called "tradition", to claim even to be able to bring an answer to it!
Still, as long as generational renewal is a biological reality, one can understand what Spinoza meant in his "Treatise on the Reform of Understanding" (1661):
"In the end I decided to seek if there was not some true good which could be communicated, something whose discovery and acquisition would give me eternal and unceasing joy. »