Posted by on June 22, 2023

Halcyon, the Temple, and the 36 Pledge

by Marti Fast

Given June 18, 2023

in the Blue Star Memorial Temple

I came to Halcyon and joined the Temple in 1975. It doesn’t seem possible that two-thirds of my life has been woven of and into the Temple fabric, gradually changing me, helping me grow, testing and tempering me. That is the journey for many of us as we commit to study and live the Teachings to the best of our ability each day.

I was blessed to have many fine mentors when I came here. I remember being told early on that living in the microcosm of Halcyon could enhance our spiritual trajectory and understanding in ways that would inspire ten times the inner growth we might experience elsewhere. At the time, I thought that fast track would be pretty slick, but some big life lessons taught me that growth spurts also mean you have to catch up to yourself at some point. The truth is that as each of us dedicates ourselves individually to our beliefs and ideals, we bring additional potency to them, and as each individual’s consciousness is expanded through group living and purpose, the group’s development is enhanced. From the individual to the collective and back to the individual, spiritual growth is exponential as we test each other and help each other grow — and oh my, do we ever test each other!

I think what this really means is that together, we become better through group unity. We must recognize that unity is something we can only do together; we cannot do unity alone.

Halcyon was formed under the ideals of the Temple as an intentional community, one that has steadfastly maintained itself and its integrity for over 120 years. Some might say that Halcyon isn’t that big and there don’t seem to be very many members, so what possible role could the Temple have that would keep it viable for this long?

There is something special that spiritual seekers find here. Since 1903, almost six generations of regular, everyday folks have dedicated their lives and resources to intangible spiritual goals in this quirky little village called Halcyon, sacrificing their means and labors to make the Temple and the community stronger. Today we — also regular, everyday folks — are an integral part of that purpose, carrying on a commitment made to our Higher Selves and to the Temple work.

We mark the passage of time in our history with three anniversaries of the Temple work. On August 5th we will open our 124th Annual Convention; each November 15 we celebrate the 1898 founding of The Temple in Syracuse, New York; and each New Year’s Day marks the official shift of the Temple Center from Syracuse to this place called Halcyon.

On January 1, 1903, Francia A. LaDue, the first Guardian in Chief, and Dr. William H. Dower M.D., who became the second Guardian in Chief, quietly commemorated a new chapter of the Temple work here on the West coast. About a year after they established the Temple headquarters in a building that stood very near to the present-day Central Home, Dr. Dower purchased the Coffee Rice Mansion on Highway One. This stately three-story Victorian was renamed the Halcyon Hotel and Sanatorium, and in 1904 it commenced its life as the vibrant center for Temple activities and service to humanity.

 Under Dr. Dower’s direction “the San,” as it was called, functioned as a healing center in his pioneering work in the treatment of alcoholism, tuberculosis, and drug addiction. It served as a cultural center, attracting many area citizens to lectures and plays and classes and concerts. It was a hotel, housing visitors who arrived by train at the Oceano Depot and were then transported the last mile by horse-drawn carriage. Until the Blue Star Memorial Temple was completed in 1924, the San served as the meeting place for 19 annual Temple Conventions and other Temple meetings.

This Center was chosen by the Masters for a particular kind of work, and through the efforts and dedication of Mrs. LaDue, Dr. Dower, and scores of other souls, Temple life has gone on in its profound, quiet, human, often bumpy, divine way for way over a century. On the surface it doesn’t look like much of note happens here, but beneath the mundane day to day comings and goings, the 12 decades of lives lived in service to something grander have resonated on the inner planes, guided by this direction from Master Hilarion:

You must never lose sight of one fact: The higher purpose, the aim of all who are true Templars, was and still is the preparation of a place where it might become possible for the overshadowing Christ to enter and send forth the message which the world has waited for so long. It would be truly impossible for such an overshadowing of the spiritual forces to enter and dwell with a number of disaffected, treacherous, inhuman elements. It could not do the work for which It came, even if it were possible to come. Such a place requires quiet, concentration, aspiration, unified endeavor and faith in each other and the common purpose. These are essential; all else is nonessential.

For many of us, this place is like a spiritual satellite dish meant to listen for divine signals from above and within. There is a wonderful word to describe what the Temple work is about. Nexus, which comes from the Latin, means a binding, joining, or fastening. Its definitions include these: 1) a means of connection; a tie; a link; 2) a connected series or group; 3) the core or center, as of a matter or situation; 4) a specialized area of the cell membrane involved in intercellular communication and adhesion. I think of the Temple as being like a doorway, a nexus or a link that allows contact between the inner and outer planes.

I have always appreciated the symbolism of the Temple building, because it reminds me of why I am here and how I am linked with all of you. The outer walls of the Temple are formed in the shape of a convex triangle that represents the Heart of God, and by inference, the fullness of the human heart and its infusion with spirit. By correspondence, at the core of all created matter is a heart, a central cell, or a nucleus, and these centers are the links through which Universal life force is transmitted and radiated to each particular pattern of organic structure.

When we look up from the inside of the Temple Heart, we see the three great beams that radiate out from the center point or central cell of the ceiling to the three corners of the structure, representing holy Trinities and the overarching genesis of Truth in the world’s great spiritual traditions. As the beams gracefully meet the walls, the ceiling transitions into the band of 26 clerestory windows encircling this room, representing the glow of divine intelligence, or Light from above. Each window has eight triangular panes designed in the shape of the Cross of Balance, symbolizing the union of heaven and earth.

One Sunday many years ago I sat here during the Feast, listening to the words of prayers I’ve heard the first Sunday of every month for as long as I’ve lived here. The morning light was playing on the windows, and the architecture seemed to come alive; it was as if the symbolism so carefully crafted into walls and windows animated itself into the room, allowing the architectural elements to paint an ideal picture of the interconnections of people, spiritual traditions, and responsibility to the whole of humanity.

We often talk about the Light in our Teachings and Mantrams. In this building, the light passes through each pane of opalescent, milky glass, which to me symbolizes unique individuals who are connected to each and all of the others, radiating light from above and into the world. The patterns in the windows swirl and flow in a predominant direction, depending on how the glass was cut and the way the builder oriented each panel in the frame. With changing times of day and the angle of the light, the color can shift to the blues, the pinks, or the whites. Some of the windows have small cracks or pits in them, like the wrinkles and scars of maturity that we earn over a lifetime. Quite a few panes had to be replaced one year, after vandals threw rocks at the building. Those newer panes have gradually taken on the patina of time that distinguishes the older, original pieces of glass. Age, character, life experience, and the tempering of time show on our individual human faces just as they do in these windows, reflecting how we impart the unique qualities of our inner light.

There are Templars and disciples all over the world in all walks of life who, like us, are practicing Brother-Sisterhood, listening, praying, and becoming fit vessels to perceive and transmit the impulse of the Avatar. Each person in each center has a unique job to do, just as the Temple in Halcyon is unique from any other spiritual center. What we hold in common with those other centers is that we are all seekers of universal knowledge and Divine wisdom, living in conscious service to humanity. Service to humanity is what links us together into a diverse, ecumenical network of spiritual transmitters, and we are connected together through these remarkable inner doorways called our hearts.

I believe that part of what the Master Hilarion tells us in The True Purpose of the Temple is that humanity is a family made up of tribes and clans and nations, and that our job on the physical plane is to practice in these smaller groups how to live together, work together, and trust in each other as we learn to receive the impulse of God — and in turn, to become effective transmitters of that impulse to others. The Master sent those words directly to the Temple family through our founders, and there is no doubt that we have a critical role in continuing to prepare this place as one of “quiet, concentration, aspiration, unified endeavor, and faith in each other and the common purpose.” The name Halcyon means calm, peaceful, and tranquil, and it is no accident that most who visit here feel something different, an intangible yet definite nourishment that draws them back and back again.

Why are people attracted to this place to be part of Temple life? Karmically, we are tied together into this work. Human beings don’t usually remember past incarnations, but through lifetimes of soul development and pledges made and kept, we have become deeply connected to the Temple family as well as to our families of birth. Our goals and aspirations link us together, and they can be compared to a form of numinous DNA coding, invisibly binding and directing us through a mutual commitment, over many incarnations, to live our ideals and work for the greater good.

There is a template, an intelligent pattern, behind the Temple work, and we hear about it at least once each month during the Feast of Fulfillment, the Temple’s Communion service. This template is called the Pledge of the Order of the 36, and it states what we believe in. If you’ve been to one Feast or many, you’ve heard that Pledge and maybe thought it was a big snooze, like pretty impressive legalese. But if you really listen, you may discover it’s actually a guide for human and divine evolution as we understand it through the Temple philosophy. The impulse conveyed through the 36 Pledge is the same impulse that motivated our founders and our forebears in 1898 and 1903, and it’s what continues to guide our spiritual commitment to the Temple today.

When we ask to join the Temple organization, our personal inner commitment is structured into a series of ever-deepening steps, called Orders, which are taken in service to humanity. We first become part of the Order of the 49, which is an exoteric outer order where we learn the foundations of occultism and right living. If we decide to make a more conscious commitment as a server for the higher good, we enter the Order of the 36, and the Pledge we hear at every Feast provides an inner reminder of what we have committed ourselves to do and to be.

In a nutshell, the 36 Pledge is a statement of faith in — and commitment to work in harmony with — the Law of Love, which is the motivating force of creation. It is what guides the evolution of every order of life from humans to angels, from the infinitely great “stars and sun in celestial spaces” to the infinitely small universes of atomic structure. It is a cyclical flow of Life-Light-and-Love that emanates from the One to the All and back again, a Law of Balance with a cause and effect structure that compassionately helps us learn and evolve as connected members of the human family.

The Pledge urges us toward practice of the Golden Rule, which is the only guidance any of us really needs to live a good life — whether or not anyone is watching us on TikTok or social media or anywhere else — as we give our best effort in each moment to make the world and our relationships better. Just like the bees and the ants, the smallest action from each single unit adds energy to the health of the hive, the colony, the family, the community, the State, the Nation, the world — to the human race as a whole — and that energy flows back to us, through us, and from us again in a boundless cycle of growth and evolution.

That cyclical flow of energy is represented in the Pledge of the 36. This document describes how the Law of Love circulates to and through the Universal Lodge of Masters, to and through the Temple, to and through the Agent, to and through each of us. Like a spiritual circulatory system, our lives and actions return over and over again to the Law of Love. Here is an oversimplified description of the Pledge:

1.   The Law of Love is The Great Unifier behind the harmonious evolution of all creative force and consciousness. Every atom, molecule, human being, and star in creation evolves under a divine, geometrical plan, which the Master DK (Djwal Khul) called “the Life Expression of God Himself.”

      We promise to work in harmony in unity with the Law of Love.

2.   The Law of Love continues its flow to us through the Universal Lodge of Masters, the Divine Intelligence that guides the Cosmos and which is expressed in the form of Dhyan Chohans, The Lords of Light, and Dhyani Buddhas, They of the Merciful Heart. These Highest of the Gods evolved to Mastery over eons past through the same evolutionary journey we’re on, and they serve as guides for our human evolution. In this section, we hear the entire reason for the Pledge in five words: I DESIRE TO SERVE HUMANITY.

      We promise to faithfully follow the guidance and direction of the Lodge of Masters  in our service as members of the Order of the 36.

3.   The Law of Love, or universal consciousness, is reflected to us through correspondences that we understand best through our intuition. The Law of Love manifests through correspondences to sacred geometry, which are reflected in the Temple of the Universe, the Temple of Humanity, and the Temple of the People.

As individual cells in the Temple organism, our job is to work together in building it up and helping it grow, and our efforts are circulated in accord with the Law of Love. As quirky individual beings, it isn’t always easy for us to believe in and treat everyone else in the Temple organization as if they were blood kin — but kinship is our job, and the Pledge emphasizes mindfulness in refraining from unkind actions and unfair criticism of anyone in the Temple family.

We recognize that we can’t do unity alone, and promise to work together for the goal of unity through Brother-Sisterhood.

4.   In the structure of the Temple organization, the Law of Love circulates through and is reflected in the Agent, a human being used by the Masters as a central cell and a guide for the group on the physical plane. The work and vitality of the Temple depends on the well-being of every single member of this spiritual family.

      We promise to support both the Agent — the Guardian in Chief — as well as the group, by working together for the greater good of all.

5.   Finally, the Law of Love flows to us through the Master Hilarion, who is the particular guide for the work of the Temple of the People. His teachings and guidance provide an abundance of direction and understanding from One who earned Mastery through the same human journey we are on. In the last sentence of the Pledge, Hilarion makes a promise to us:

      And with Thee, my disciple and child, I, Hilarion, thy Servant and Master, offer to share my Love, my Labor, my Sorrow, my Suffering, the Cross of my Human Woe, the Crown of my Spiritual Joy.

These words of the Master emphasize that life lived consciously is a long path of trial, error, and learning in the cyclical journey expressed in the Pledge. Through time immemorial, human beings have made — and will continue making — countless mistakes in judgment, perception, and action, sometimes veering off the Path of becoming our best selves. During the second part of the Feast service we hear a tender passage that articulates our human condition and the boundless support we receive from the hosts of the inner spheres. Listen to this:

Although each human soul must tread that path alone, we have faith to believe that Thou, Divine Father-Mother, hath given thy angels charge concerning us, and that we shall not stray beyond their power to reach out and help us in any extremity.

Most of us have experienced tests and trials when it seemed that somehow, something or someone intervened in our behalf. In times of darkness and danger, of upheaval or change, we serve others by becoming the hands and hearts of a higher vibration, which reaches deep to channel strength and courage beyond comprehension and human ability. This assistance flows to us and through us, and it is comforting to know we have a boundless source of help from beyond and within us, on multiple planes of being.

The wealth and richness of the Temple Teachings circulates spiritual nourishment through the Occult or hidden wisdom that is held for us and released to us in proportion to our efforts and comprehension. The words and structure of the Pledge demand our study and commitment in order to live them each day. Wherever we find ourselves serving on this great journey of life, the development of our intuition will bring new light to the dimensions of our understanding, efforts, and awareness.

Each of us is an expression of the Divine.

Service is a manifestation of that Divine, in the unique ways we individually allow that Light to flow through us and into our little corners of the world.

Service is how we elevate humanity.

Service is how we extend the Touch of the Divine, the Hand of God, to our sisters and brothers in kinship and in Love.

Service is what the Pledge is about, what Temple life is about, and what we are about.

Service is the heartbeat of the Temple Work.

 — Marti Fast

Posted in: Temple Talks