Occult tradition has it that where is the Atlantic Ocean today there once existed the great continent of Atlantis. Tales of the wisdom possessed by the Atlanteans and of their material grandeur came to the Greeks through the priests of Egypt, and Plato in his Timaeus and Critias makes mention of this lost land. Its last remnant sank under the waves in 9564 B.C. Creating a devastating tidal wave that left behind in men's memories the tale of a Flood that drowned every creature “that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of very creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man”.

Many thousands of years before this cataclysm, however, Atlantis was at the height of its civilization, and the capital city of the Atlantean empire was known far and wide as the City of the Golden Gate, from a gate of gold in it that was the emblem of the power of its emperors. In this city there ruled for ages a dynasty of Perfect Men known to tradition as the Divine Rulers of the Golden Gate.

These Divine Rulers of the Golden Gate were, in the key-dey of Atlantean culture, Adepts and Initiates of the Great Brotherhood; not only were they men with wisdom and power to direct the destinies of the mighty Atlantean empire, they were also sages versed in the Divine Mysteries. During the period of their rule in Atlantis, they formed a collection of mystical and occult treatises, some written by the Divine Rulers themselves, and others by the initiated Priest of Atlantis. These works, of profoundest philosophy and highest spirituality, were copied and translated into the languages of the various peoples that were governed by the Divine Rulers in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. With the passing away of the dynasty of the Divine Rulers began the decadence of Atlantis, and the treatises slowly disappeared one by one. Yet not all the treatises. Fragments of some still remain in the ancient literature of China and India.

Among the texts of Taoism in China, there is to be found an exquisite fragment known as The Classic of Purity. It gives the essence of a philosophical system later known as Taoism, whose last historical exponent was Lao Tse in the fifth century B.C. The scribe Ko Hsuan says of this work: “ I got from the Divine Ruler of the eastern Hwa; he received it from the Divine Ruler of the Golden Gate; he received it from the Royal Mother of the West”. (Texts of Taoism, translated by James Legge, Vol. 40, Sacred Books of the East.

The treatise expounds the mystery of the Tao, “the Way” the Heart of all Being, the Logos. From far off Atlantis thus we hear of the Tao: “The great Tao has no bodily form, but It produced and nourishes heaven and earth. The Great Tao has no passions, but It causes the sun and the moon to revolve as they do. The Great Tao has no name, but It affects the growth and maintenance of all things. I do not know Its name, but I make an effort, and call It the Tao”.

Fragments of other Atlantean treatises are to be found as the nucleus of some of the most ancient Upanishads of India. Wherever in them we hear of Tat, “That”, the Absolute Being, we find the teaching of Atlantis, which later the Aryan Hindus assimilated with their polydaemonism of Varuna, Mitra, Indra and the other gods, thus giving rise to the heno-theism so characteristic of India. Thus in the Katha Upanishad, we have Atlantean fragments: “One thing is the right, while the sweet is another; these two tie a man to objects apart. Of the twain, it is well for who taketh the right one; who chooseth the sweet, goes wide of the aim. The right and the sweet come unto a mortal; the wise sifts the two and sets them apart. For, right unto sweet the wise one preferreth; the fool taketh sweet to hold and retain”. “The singer is not born, nor dies He ever; He came not anywhence nor anything was He. Unborn, eternal, everlasting, this, ancient; unslain He remains though the body he slain. If slayer things he slays, if slain thinks he is slain, both these known naught; this slays not nor is slain”. (Mead and Chatterji's translation).

Another fragment of a treatise probably forms the first recension of the Bhagavat Gita, that part of the poem which speaks of the Absolute super-personally as “That”, “He”, “The Man”, in contradistinction to that other part that identifies the Absolute with Shri Krishna, an incarnated Divine Hero.

Yet another treatise of the Divine Rulers of the Golden Gate we have in the oldest and original nucleus of the present work, Light on the Path. This original nucleus consisted of thirty aphorisms or rules, each a text for philosophical expositions, containing in a condensed form many principles of life and conduct for the aspirant and the Initiate. Copies of this treatise, as too of all the other treatises of the Divine Rulers, have been preserved by the Adept Brotherhood in their museums for the use of themselves and their pupils.

Light on the Path as it now stands consists of three elements,distinguished in the present edition by three kinds of type.

1- The oldest part, the original thirty rules, is printed in large type. These thirty rules from far off Atlantis were later translated into archaic Sanskrit, and were then written down on ten palm leaves, having on each of the leaves three of the rules. Then one of the Masters of Wisdom, known among us as “The Venetian”, when He lived in Alexandria in the third century A.D., Transcribed them into Greek for the use of His pupils. Among these pupils was Iamblichus, known to us in His present incarnation as the Master Hilarion.

2- The Venetian Master of Alexandria, in transcribing from Sanskrit into Greek, added to the rules certain introductory remarks and explanations. These form the second element of the book and are printed in the smaller Roman type.

Early in the year 1885, the Master Hilarion caused to be written in English through “M.C.”, Then a leading member of the London Lodge of the young Theosophical Society, the original thirty rules and the explanations given Him by His teacher in far off days. M.C. (Mabel Collins), a lady of much literary ability,had from past lives earned the privilege, and it fell to her lot to be a channel for a work the Master Hilarion desired to do for the world through The Theosophical Society. Each rule with its explanations was presented, in the form of a many dimensional concept, before the mind of M.C., who, then, in full waking consciousness, but nevertheless under the Master's guidance, wrote down in English as we have them now. Light on the Path was then published, and bore on the title page the following words: “Light on the Path – A Treatise written for the personal use of those who are ignorant of the Eastern wisdom, and who desire to enter within its influence. Written down by M.C., a Fellow of The Theosophical Society”.

Immediately on its publication,the Theosophists hailed it as a masterpiece and a priceless contribution to Theosophical literature,and we find a prominent Theosophist,the late Judge P. Sreenavas Row of Madras, writing a series of annotations to the work in The Theosophist of June 1885, and in subsequent issues.

3- Almost immediately after the publication of Light on the Path, the Master Hilarion once more gave to the world through M.C. some additional teaching, explanatory of what He had already given. This is the third element in the book and is printed in italics. The Master Hilarion's additions are known as the “Notes”, and for the first edition they were printed separately; in the second edition the “Notes” were printed in their appropriate places in the body of the book.

The present reprint,except for difference of type to distinguish the three sources, follows the text of this second edition, which in America was the first edition of the work.

Later M.C. herself wrote a series of “Comments” to the book; they will be found in some editions of Light on the Path, but, valuable though they no doubt are to the student,they are not embodied in this edition, as in our judgment and that of older students they do not altogether reflect the spirit of the great Teachers to whom we owe the original thirty rules,the elucidations on them, and the “Notes”.

The composite character of Light on the Path will be clearly seen by each student. He will note that usually three brief rules come one after another, followed by a fourth long rule, which is a commentary on the three that precede it. Indeed it will be found that each of the three brief rules, it it is to be fully understood,must be taken with that part referring to it in the fourth longer rule,with the addition of some word that forms a connecting link, thus:

“1- Kill out ambition, (but) work as those work who are ambitious. 2- Kill out desire of life, (but) respect life as those do who desire it. 3- Kill out desire of comfort, (but) be happy as those who desire it. 13. Desire power ardently. And that power which the disciple shall covet is that which shall make him appear as nothing in the eyes of men. 14. Desire peace fervently. The peace you shall desire is that sacred peace which nothing can disturb, and in which the soul grows as does the holy flower upon the still lagoons 15. Desire possessions above all. But those possessions must belong to the pure soul only, and be possessed therefore by all pure souls equally, and thus be the especial property of the whole only when united. Hunger for such possessions as can be held by the pure soul, that you may accumulate wealth for that united spirit of life which is your only true self”.

There exists another work by M.C. written under the direction of the Master Hilarion,and reference is made to it by Him at the end of Part I of Light on the Path in these words: “Regard the three truths. They are equal”. These three truths are in Chapter VIII of Book II of The Idyll of the White lotus.

In Light on the Path as we have it today there are forty-two rules, with explanations and notes. They are divided into two groups of twenty-one rules each. Part I, with the first twenty-one rules, deals with the life of the aspirant “in the Outer Court”. They are “the first of the rules which are written on the walls of the Hall of Learning”. The Hall of Learning is a symbolic phrase used in another mystic work, The Voice of the Silence, to describe the astral world and the states of consciousness appropriate to that realm of being.

Part II of the work will be understood in its fullest significance only by those who are the accepted disciples of a Master of the Wisdom, and have “entered upon the Path”. It contains instructions on the life of the Initiate on his upward way, till, become more than man and on the threshold of divinity, he passes to become himself a Master of the Wisdom.

The exquisite fragment on Karma, which follows Light on the Path, is from the Venetian Master, though also written down by M.C. It too has the indescribable spiritual quality of the larger manual and reveals to us some glimpses of the light of the “Grail”.

What Parsifal is to lovers of music, that Light on the Path is to aspiring souls: a never-ending source of inspiration and wonder. They both proclaim that gospel of gospels that teaches men to seek God, not for a life of blessedness in heaven , but for one of service on earth lifting a little of the heavy Karma of the world.

C.JINARADASA. Past international president of The Theosophical Society

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