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It seems that most seekers who are dedicated to IIH have started the practices a number of times, either restarting from scratch after faltering from the way, going back to better master previous lessons which were incompletely learned or occasionally intentionally repeating the entire course.
Why is this? Is it due to lack of spiritual maturity, lack of understanding of the enormity of the task, lack of practical support for how to go about the work itself, or just that such repetition is one way to gain ability?
When I first came across Bardon, there were no IIH commentaries, and the hopeful student had to pretty much ponder the conundrum of how to tackle the exercises in the best way on his or her own. Now there are three or four well known commentaries on IIH (see my Resources page).
Mostly the advice about preliminaries before starting the course centre on a few well known and well discussed principles – for example, proper intention for spiritual progress beyond gaining of occult siddhis, reading through all the books in sequence first, only starting after ensuring you have enough time on day to day basis or else postponing the task entirely.
‘Preliminary Practices for Franz Bardon’s Initiation into Hermetics’ is Ray Del Sole’s first book, a prelude to his Light on the Path to Spiritual Perfection series. The book is structured as a description of 21 tasks and 10 tips for the reader. The view that Ray presents here is that if the student devotes some months to preliminary effort (coupled with certain other prerequisites) before the work itself, then their attempt and effort is much more likely to meet with success.
The first 12 tasks are for mental development, the next four for astral and the final five for physical development.
And what of the tasks and tips themselves?
In a sense a few of the tasks are relatively apparent, like reading the books through in order, refining ones character, and getting fit and healthy.
Other tasks like gaining assistance from alternative healthcare practitioners like homeopathists, acupuncturists or hypnotherapists, or making a specific dedication or vow before the Almighty before starting, would probably only become apparent to the student after some years of effort.
Still others, like the suggestions on additional spiritual literature or the chakra development exercises, wouldn’t really be apparent to anyone who hadn’t been specifically told about those, either through a teacher or a more experienced student (or perhaps with a good, practical knowledge of yoga for the chakra exercises).
Those who have found and seriously considered Bardon’s practices with an open heart mostly consider the Bardon system as The Universal Initiating System, beyond compare for anyone who has, through necessity or choice, to make their own way along the path. Ray has vast spiritual experience gained over a number of years and it is apparent in his writings that he shares the same views and in the truest sense, it seems that his writings are entirely in accord with Bardon’s teaching.
Masters and other spiritually enlightened persons tend to say that those with the right intention, tenacity and trust in the divine are guaranteed to make progress but for those seekers trying to find a foothold it seems like there are few concrete offers of assistance and few, if any, guarantees on the path.
In the same way that the Bardon exercises cannot really be comprehended through solely intellectual study, there is probably also no single text that can be intellectually absorbed and that will then provide a surefire preconditions for success in IIH. The entire value will be in the manner to which a student can take the preliminary tasks discussed here, put them into action, and make them his own, so to speak. The reader will also appreciate that such an approach is also in fact the only way to proceed with IIH itself.
If the tasks and hints here save you even a small amount of effort then Ray’s small text could be well worth the cover price. I have had very helpful progress through the advice given.