Commentary on Rule IV for Applicants


Rule IV for Applicants: “Let the disciple tend the evocation of the fire, nourish the lesser lives and thus keep the wheel revolving”.

The Sentences:

A.     Let the disciple tend the evocation [evolution] of the fire;

1.      In this injunction to the disciple care and vigilance are required. To “tend” is to supervise with care and constancy.

2.      Perhaps we all know what it is to “tend” a fire in the fireplace or a campfire. A fire can be left to burn on its own (once it is started, which may often difficult enough), but the shifting of the burning wood may threaten a fire’s coherence, and unless the burning wood is readjusted through tending, the fire may not burn to its completion.

3.      The materials in a fire (let us say, wood) will only burn if they are rightly positioned.  The process of burning, alone, will not necessarily provide for an optimum positioning. Such re-positioning requires supervision, and a knowledge of how to relate the burning elements to each other in such a way that the life of the fire as a whole is promoted. It must be ensured that everything that should burn is kept in contact with the fire.

4.      There was a discrepancy between the AAB CDRom and the usual text of this Rule.

5.      In the usual text we are told that the disciple must tend the “evocation” of the fire. First we will look at the implications of this word—“evocation”.

6.      An “evocation” is an answer to an invocation; it is a response (in this case) by lives of a lesser grade than the invoking agent—the disciple (functioning under the influence of the soul).

7.      There is a lesser type of burning which must be evoked. The channels of transmission must be kept clear so that the burning may proceed.

8.      To the degree that the disciple tends to the purification of his/her vehicles, to that extent he/she “tends the evocation of the fire”.

9.      The lower fires will not answer properly, nor follow their properly destined paths, if they are obstructed. Those obstructions are alleviated with the disciple follows the right natural laws in relation to his/her vehicles.

10.  Right habits of living, right diet, a sufficiency of sleep at the right hours, right exercise, the taking of sunshine and fresh air when possible—all these are purificatory and tonic measures which promote the evocation of the fire.

11.  Thus, the disciple is invoking an evocation of Fire by Friction in its natural progression. The etheric-physical mechanism remains healthy and the natural life of the instrument follows its destined course without undue disturbance.

12.  Fire by Friction also applies to the emotional and mental bodies. The lower fires must ‘burn’ properly within these bodies as well.

13.  There are many rules for emotional and mental hygiene. One expedient is, simply, to choose ones emotions and thoughts, or at least, not to indulge and repeat emotions and thoughts which one knows to be obstructive or destructive.

14.  We have all had the experience of having the vital fires of the etheric-physical mechanism dampened by wrong emotional and mental states. Emotional outbursts, for instance, are often followed by the feeling of exhaustion. Depressive thoughts devitalize.

15.  In cosmos all is fire. Through occult experience, the student comes to recognize which fires are “goal-fitting” (to use the words of Master Morya), and which are counterproductive, given the goal to be achieved.

16.  Another and more important kind of evocation, however, is also occurring—the evocation of soul energy.

17.  The disciple invokes the soul. By right and constant invocation, the evocation of the soul is assured.

18.  Necessary fires are found in two directions—below and above. The disciple “tends” the lower fires and, in a way, “tends to” the evocation of the higher fires.

19.  Now to focus for a moment on the error on the AAB CDRom. The text gives the word “evocation”; the first edition of the CDRom gives the word “evolution”

20.  Although, I discovered that the word “evolution” was probably an error, I found this thought intriguing and significantly related to the progression of the fire.

21.  We could think not just of the “burning” of the fire, but the “evolution” of the fire. What could this mean? For whether or not “evolution” is the correct word within Rule IV, the fire does, as it were, evolve.

22.  That which evolves, develops progressively. A sequence of desirable steps or unfoldments is suggested.

23.  The fires are to e-volve not de-volve. This means that they are to ascend and not (except in special cases) descend.

24.  What does it take to become sensitive to whether the fire within one’s energy system is ascending or descending. In a certain important sense evolution is elevation. Rising fire is, generally, heading in the right direction.

25.  Probably, we have all had the experience of rising or descending fires. For instance, different physical, emotional or mental processes may cause sensations in different areas of the body and in the chakras associated with those areas.  Master Morya tells us that “A burdened stomach is the sign of the cessation of ascent.” (Agni Yoga 206)  This, no doubt, is a familiar state to most, and there will be accompanying sensations to indicate that the fire has descended. Perhaps the fire must rise before one can truly think again.

26.  We see, therefore, that a certain attentiveness to the etheric-physical system is required, along with an understanding of how the subtle bodies (astral and mental) affect that etheric-physical system.

27.  Simply put, fires can be detected as localized excitations and patterned flows.

28.  Our task to ensure that the fires do not go out (or burn “low and dim”), and that the flows occur in the right direction.

29.  It is practical work, but it cannot be allowed to capture all of our attention. Perhaps what is required is a kind of peripheral awareness which detects the lowering of the intensity of the fire or misdirection of the fire. When this attention reveals a problem, something can be done.

30.  To improve the situation one must, for the most part, work psychologically and spiritually. To some extent the imagination is a useful tool for reinvigorating and redirecting the fire. That imagination can be turned to the etheric body—a more effective direction than focusing it upon the physical body. Working with the etheric body is causative and less dangerous than concentrating upon the dense physical body, per se. But, in general, it is mental-emotional work which is most useful in the reinvigorating and redirection of the fires. The fires will intensify or rise automatically when thought and emotion are sustained at a certain level or elevation.

31.  The quality of thought (and respondent emotion) relate directly to the quality, intensity, position and flow of the fires (which follow the thought). “Energy follows thought”.

32.  Emotion is “respondent”. It is difficult simply to “feel” something or to emote spontaneously (though many actors have mastered the ability). To change feeling and emotion, the best and usual course of action is to change thought.

33.  Thus to tend the evolution of the fires, the first prerequisite is to tend the quality and direction of thought. Feeling and emotion will usually change accordingly, though it may take some repetition.


B.     nourish the lesser lives,

1.      What are the lesser lives? Shall we say the atoms, molecules (atomic aggregates) and cells of each of the three vehicles of the personality?

2.      From another perspective, the lesser lives are the lunar elementals which are the life of the three lower vehicles—physical, emotional and mental.

3.      We realize that the quality of the tiny atomic and molecular lives must change or be elevated as spiritual evolution proceeds.

4.      The various subplanes of the vehicles are composed of different complexities of atomic aggregations (according to Occult Chemistry, by Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater). The lower the subplane, the more complex and aggregated its atoms—i.e., the more molecular are its atoms. As evolution proceeds, a greater and great percentage of atomic subplane matter is present in the vehicles. Effectively, this means that matter of the lower subplanes is less present in the vehicles, and that, eventually, the entire vehicle will be composed of atomic subplane matter. In effect this means that the six lower subplanes no longer exist in the personality vehicle of the arhat. In the case of an initiate of the fourth degree (an arhat) the personality vehicles are composed entirely of matter of the atomic subplane.

5.      The evolution of the atoms within a personality vehicle occurs by two principal means:

                                                               i.      Vibratory elevation

                                                             ii.      And a resultant ‘unbinding’ of complex atoms resolving them into their simpler components.

6.      Probably there are differences in the quality of even atoms of the atomic subplane. The pitch of such atoms can, it would seem, be increasingly raised.

7.      The nourishing of the lesser lives occurs by

                                                               i.      exposing them consistently to the fire

                                                             ii.      increasing the quality  of the fire to which they are exposed

8.      ‘Nourishment’, thus, is a kind of vibratory elevation, and vibratory elevation comes through

                                                               i.      persistent ‘burning’

                                                             ii.      and, exposure of that which must be burned to higher energy sources.

9.      Nourishing the lesser lives is, therefore, not just a question of seeing to the quality of nutrients for these vehicles. It is that, partially. Good food, good emotions and good thoughts do, in fact, nourish the lesser lives.

10.  However, contact with the soul and the application of ‘soul streams’ definitely elevate and nourish the tiny lives within the various personality vehicles, and, in a larger sense, nourish the four more inclusive elemental lives—the physical, emotional, lower mental and personality elementals.

11.  Thus, meditation and whatever means allow for the descent of soul influence, are a primary means of nourishing the lesser lives.

12.  When streams of energy from the soul (or from sources higher than the soul) impact these lesser lives, their pitch is raised, they are purified, and they are detached from forms of inferior quality (forms created within any particular personality vehicle) and built into forms of higher quality.

13.  The correct sounding of the word, OM

, the “Word of the Soul”, is one of the primary means of nourishing the lesser lives.

14.  No longer then are these lesser lives sustained only by the AUM (the Word of the matter aspect); it is the Word of the second aspect of divinity, the soul that offers sustenance.

15.  It is clear that we are being asked to tend to the condition of our instrument. We have a certain responsibility for the elevation of the lesser lives. Their elevation is also our elevation.


C.     and thus keep the wheel revolving.

1.                  We ask ourselves, “Which wheel?”

2.                  There are many wheels. Each form of life is a wheel. Each atom is a kind of wheel as is each molecule and each cell. Are there cells of a kind within the emotional and mental natures? Some teachings speak of “thought cells”. Further occult research is needed.

3.                  Each chakra is also a “wheel”, and these wheels, we are told, must begin to spin at an increasingly rapid rate.

4.                  But in this Rule we are asked to take action which will keep the “wheel” revolving. It is a single wheel. Which wheel is this?

5.                  One type of wheel which must continue to revolve is the wheel represented by any personality vehicle—for instance, the astral vehicle, the mental vehicle, and (perhaps) the etheric vehicle. In A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, we learn that these vehicles rotate as on an axis. Probably the various cycles we experience in relation to our mind, emotions and body are related to this rotation.

6.                  What is the rate of their revolution? Is it fixed (depending on the kind of vehicle), or can there be differences in the rate of rotation depending upon the quality of the matter composing these vehicles? This represents an area of occultism in relation to which no further information is given in the Teaching. We can follow the hints and prepare for a time when further occult research will be possible.

7.                  But there are two or three of such vehicular wheels correlating with the lunar vehicles, and the Rule seems to refer only to one wheel.

8.                  Perhaps, therefore, the wheel referenced is the “Wheel of Rebirth”—the turning of which indicates progress within the reincarnational process.

9.                  No doubt this wheel will turn whether or not the human being attempts to assist its turning by improving the quality of his/her life. However, it is possible that real progress in the turning of this greater wheel depends upon the “evocation of the fire”.

10.              If the Wheel of Rebirth turns more rapidly, incarnations will be more frequently spaced and spiritual progress will also be more rapid. The effect of what might be seen as a “tightening spiral” will operate, and a sluggish response to the Saturnian opportunities offered by reincarnation will be overcome.

11.              We are told that as evolution proceeds, incarnations are taken with greater rapidity, perhaps because the devachan (“heaven”) experience is foregone, and the soul eagerly re-enters life in the three worlds in order to serve, as well as to be free of the influence of these lower worlds.

12.              The revolving wheel rolls on into the future in order to fulfill soul purpose. In general, the slower the wheel, the more sluggish, the less rapidly is soul purpose fulfilled. (Account must also be made of specialized work on the inner planes which may slow the rate of reincarnational return.)

13.              The purification of the matter of the three vehicles through the proper nourishment of these vehicles, thus, promotes the turning the wheel of rebirth. The higher the vibratory ‘pitch’ of the atoms of the vehicle, the more the incarnated soul wants to move on and move forward with rapidity (meaning more incarnations at shorter intervals). The incarnated soul does not become “stuck”; metaphorically, the “wheel” does not become stuck, but turns onward progressively, always presenting new opportunities which are successfully met because the personality vehicles are in a fit condition to do so.

14.              Probably all of us have had the experience of apparently unproductive “rotary motion”—when we are exposed to the “same old thing” without signs of progress.

15.              We are saying, then, that tending the evocation/(evolution) of the fire and, thus, nourishing the lesser lives, transforms this simple, relatively non-productive rotary motion into a kind of progressive “spiral cyclic motion” which leads to the more rapid redemption of the entire lunar nature.


D.    Here comes an injunction to the disciple to remember his responsibility to those many lesser lives which, in their sumtotal, compose his triple body of manifestation.

1.      The theme of responsibility is sounded.

2.      All greater lives have a responsibility to the lesser lives which constitute the vehicles of expression of these greater lives.

3.      An injunction is not quite an “order” or a “command”, but it is a serious directive towards a particular action. When an injunction is given, it is understood that if the disciple knows what is good for him/her, he/she will follow or obey the injunction.

4.      Why should the greater have a responsibility to the lesser?

5.      In a way, the greater is not other than the lesser. The lesser is simply a diversification or emanation of the greater. Therefore, the responsibility of the greater to the lesser is the responsibility of the greater to itself.

6.      Appearances to the contrary, there is no real separation; of this the Ageless Wisdom assures us.

7.      The welfare of the whole is the welfare of each, and the welfare of each contributes to the welfare of the whole. There is no true consummation unless each aspect of the whole is fulfilled.

8.      Responsibility is, therefore, a keynote of cosmos. Cosmos means “order and beauty”. That order and beauty will not be achieved (nor the Divine Plan consummated) unless the welfare of each unit is tended by the greater life in which it is included.

9.      Thus, the “Greater Good” demands the responsibility of the whole to the part—the responsibility of the whole of oneself all parts of oneself.

10.  If we (as human beings) despise or reject the lesser lives which compose our vehicles of manifestation, we are “at war with ourselves”.

11.  Such a mistaken attitude is more than occasionally found in earnest aspirants. It is based on incomplete vision and a sense of separateness. Having discriminated the Self from the not-self, such aspirants forget the greater truth that, really, there is no not-Self. Thus, they become a “house divided”, and in their spiritual practices work against integration and harmonization. The policy is doomed to failure and by its pain reveals the possibility of a more sane and balanced approach.


E.     Thus is evolution possible, and thus each life, in the different kingdoms of nature, consciously or unconsciously, fulfils its function of rightly energising that which is to it as is the planet to the sun.

1.      Perhaps we can think of the Sun as the nucleus of an atom and the planet as an electron.

2.      The electron revolves around the nucleus (though the method of its revolution is by no means a simple as some of the early models of the atom have suggested).

3.      Evolution occurs through the relationship of the center to the periphery and the periphery to the center. Each is evolving through this relationship—not just the lesser factor.

4.      The responsibility of the greater to the lesser is expressed in the words, “rightly energizing”. The greater is always the source of the sustaining, uplifting energy. It pours forth upon the lesser, revolving unit, that which is required for continued revolution and also for elevation.

5.      This idea causes us to ask ourselves: “To what am I as a planet is to the Sun”; “To what am I as a Sun is to a planet?”

6.      For many of us the soul is our “Sun” and we, as the personality, are a “planet”.

7.      For others, the spiritual triad has taken the place of the Sun, and the soul-infused personality is as a planet.

8.      For others, still, it is the monad which represents the solar factor, and all principles, vehicles and planes below the monadic are, as it were, ‘planetary’.

9.      The lesser must revolve around the greater for the sake of ‘incremental vivification’. It is impossible for the lesser to absorb the greater all at once. The revolution provides ‘cyclic exposure’ from all angles, and thus a gradual assimilation of the intensity and quality of the greater.

10.  In many ways, we are as the “Sun” to the lunar lords who inform our vehicles of personality expression. We are a still greater “Sun” to the tiny atoms which compose these vehicles.

11.  Obviously, the brighter our “Sun” is shining—i.e., the more expressive of the soul/triad/monad we are, the greater will be the benefit to those lives who, to us, are ‘planetary’.


F.      Thus will the unfolding of the plan logoic proceed with greater accuracy.

1.      The accuracy of the unfoldment of the plan depends upon the approximation of lesser patterns to greater pre-existent greater patterns.

2.      “Becoming” approximates itself to “Being”.

3.      When cycles proceed in an uninterrupted manner and when the work to be accomplished during such cycles is relatively uninhibited, then the gradual, cyclic building work proceeds as it should. The building process then results in a product which is accurately “true to design”.

4.      We all know that “haste makes waste”. Sloppy and haphazard building yields a poor result.

5.      But building that occurs with rhythmic regularity (cyclically) is most often truer to the spiritually-destined design.

6.      Can we build in beauty and accurately—i.e., true to design? Our cooperation with the lesser lives will determine our success. The devic lives, are, after all, the “lesser builders”. They are built into the intended forms through the use of a cyclic process.


G.    The kingdom of God is within, and the duty of that inner hidden Ruler is twofold, first, to the lives which form the bodies, physical, astral, and mental,…

1.      We are dealing here, metaphorically, with the relationship between the Sun and the Moon, between the king and his subjects, between the ruler and those who must obey his rule.

2.      It is said that “noblesse oblige”, which means that those of noble rank have an implicit obligation to those of lesser rank.

3.      Hierarchy is a hierarchy of service. In such a hierarchy, all rise through serving.

4.      Usually, we think of the duty of a subject to his/her master. This Rule, however, reverses that usual perspective.

5.      What really is the “Kingdom

of God

”? Is it not a ‘vibratory domain’ characteristic of the soul and informing Solar Angel?

6.      Why is it called a “kingdom”? Perhaps because of its laws and rules, the principles under which it operates.

7.      In that “Kingdom” the Laws of the Soul prevail and regulate all happenings. These laws are as follows:

                                                               i.      The Law of Sacrifice

                                                             ii.      The Law of Magnetic Impulse or of “Polar Union"

                                                         iii.      The Law of Service

                                                           iv.      The Law of Repulse

                                                             v.      The Law of Group Progress or of “Elevation”

                                                           vi.      The Law of Expansive Response

                                                          vii.      The Law of the Lower Four

8.      It is interesting that these laws are only secondarily for the welfare of the greater unit (though, of course, they benefit that greater unit).

9.      They are all laws which focus initially on the benefit of the lesser units included within the life of the greater unit.

10.  We are reminded of the Christ’s statement: “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” Or the following principle which I shall paraphrase: ‘He who would be greatest among you—let him be the servant of all’.

11.  When we say that the “Kingdom

of God

is within”, we are told that we cannot find it in the world of the senses or of personality response (thought ultimately—once “The Highest and the Lowest Meet”— all these lower vibratory domains are necessarily included within that Kingdom).

12.  The one who finds his/her true center has found the ‘Seat of Power’ within that Kingdom.

13.  It is interesting that the “Inner Ruler” has more than one duty. The first duty is to the lesser lives. The lesser must first be served.

14.  However, there are, implicitly, also duties to the higher lives which include the serving unit as a part within a greater whole.

15.  Sometimes disciples make a mistake thinking they must first serve the higher before serving the lower. But the higher they seek to serve is greatly involved serving the lower. So he/she who seeks to cooperate with the higher must serve those the higher seeks to serve.

16.  Hierarchy is turned towards the welfare of humanity. Therefore, those who would serve Hierarchy must first serve humanity (just as Hierarchy is seeking to do).

17.  Those who think of serving Hierarchy without serving humanity are really, selfishly, serving only themselves and their wish for rapid spiritual progress.


H.    and then to the macrocosm, the world of which the microcosm is but an infinitesimal part.

1.      Again is emphasized the idea that the first service is to the microcosm. Only when the microcosm is properly served can attention be turned to the service of the macrocosm.

2.      Of course, service is service, and when one serves the microcosm, one is, essentially, serving the macrocosm.

3.      The word “then” alerts us to the sequence. First things first. To obey this sequence is to avoid certain glamors of the Path.

4.      The word “infinitesimal” is interesting. Is it used with technical accuracy here? Probably not, as it is a mathematical term conveniently adopted in customary language to mean “very small” instead of ‘next to infinitely small’.

5.      Contemplation upon the infinitesimal is a rewarding and humbling process.

6.      Our range of vision is so small. What we consider a tiny unit is really huge compared to aspects of divinity so tiny that we have no notion of them.

7.      That which we consider great, may well be relatively ‘infinitesimal’ when compared to units or Beings of so great a scope that, again, we can have no real notion of them.

8.      For every disciple there is an ‘effective range of comprehension’ and also an ‘effective range of service’. Really, both ranges are very small, but they are wide enough for our purposes, and within those ranges we must function.

9.      Sometimes speculation allows us to attempt to comprehend the incomprehensible vastness, but the idea of such a Being must remain vague and very general.

10.  Equally, this is so with respect to the incredibly tiny. The tiniest presently detectable sub-atomic particle is a ‘monster’ compared to what we might call the ‘ultimate particle-event’.

11.  In this Rule for Applicants we are asked to focus our nurturing attention of that which is smaller than ‘we’ are. This focusing is a lesson in humility, which, after all, is “an adjusted sense of right proportion”.

12.  We learn the humbling lesson that unless the lesser advances, the greater cannot advance.

13.  Even a Master must ensure that He has a replacement before He can move on.

14.  The notion of pride disappears when we consider the relative value of each category or unit within the Universal Hierarchy.

15.  Perhaps, at length, we can learn to look in all directions and see nothing but a sameness, regardless of the apparent hierarchy of development (which, in a relative sense, is also an important recognition and must be considered).

16.  It is fitting that this is the fourth rule, related thus to the Moon (distributor of the fourth ray) and to the sign Cancer (the fourth sign) ruled by the Moon and relating to the ‘home’ of the lesser lives.

17.  But Cancer is also related to the Ashram (one’s true ‘home’), and one can only be a member of an Ashram when one is oriented towards the service of the lesser lives, and tending the fires which enable them to evolve.