Frequently asked questions
about the Arcane School
The founding of the Arcane School was Alice Bailey’s soul chosen project to train disciples for cooperation with the Hierarchy and part of a dual service she performed for the Hierarchy, the other half of which was the writing the books of the Ageless Wisdom in cooperation with the Tibetan Master. Foster Bailey wrote of this work, “The Arcane School was her chosen contribution to hierarchical work and was approved by her Master. Neither K.H. nor D.K. ever controlled her or the creation of the Arcane School. That was her privilege, win or lose.”
The School began in 1923 following the publication of the books Initiation, Human Solar and Letters on Occult Meditation when Alice A. Bailey found herself in receipt of many letters and enquiries. The writers wanted to know more about meditation and how to practise it. They asked for guidance in their search for truth without being subjected to the usual limitations of dogmatic creeds and without pledging allegiance to some new cult or ism, some personality or authoritarian teaching. In order to meet this demand, Mrs. Bailey began writing a monthly letter dealing with esoteric teaching and methods of personal training. Upon this basis the courses and work of the Arcane School have been developed.
The Arcane School exists to provide training for those who feel impelled to realise the fuller measure of their innate spiritual capacities for the benefit of humanity. It is assumed that applicants wish to fit themselves for a sacrificial life of active service in some area of human need.
The function of the School is to assist those at the end of the probationary path to move forward on to the Path of discipleship, and to assist those already on that path to move on more quickly and to achieve greater effectiveness in service.
“The Adept”, we are told, “is self-taught and self-initiated.” The School can only place in the student’s hands the methods and rules whereby others have achieved; the burden of proof and achievement lies with the student, and also the capacity to relate the unfolding spiritual powers to the life of outer service. This is fundamental to discipleship in the New Age and constitutes the underlying purpose of the Arcane School. Emphasis is laid upon group work and the requirements for discipleship in the Aquarian Age. Esotericism is a practical way of life.
The work of the Arcane School is carried on by correspondence through the headquarters group in New York, London and Geneva. The headquarters exist to guide, help and advise in the work and spiritual life of Arcane School students and to assist in the right trends and expansion of the group life and work in conformity with need and opportunity. The discipleship value of the worldwide group as a whole to the work of the Hierarchy is dependent upon the quality of the entire School membership, and all students in the Arcane School accept their right share of responsibility for the maintenance and development of the group work as an instrument of service. There are no classes, no examinations and there is no competition. The work is individual and confidential. Each student’s progress is evaluated individually and not compared with or measured against the spiritual growth of another. Each student is expected to think, meditate, and search out the truth for himself according to his own need and understanding, learning through acquired spiritual independence the significance of interdependence in group work. Each student is also assigned to a Secretarial Group. A Secretary is a student in the School who has agreed to work with students in the earlier degrees and oversee their work. The Secretary corresponds with the student and is available to answer any questions that might arise.
Students in different parts of the world, who may never meet or know one another, work together in the service of group meditation and study, helping to precipitate the ideas on which the new civilisation and culture will be founded. Students living in the Americas and parts of the Far East who work in English or Spanish are served through the headquarters in New York; those in Great Britain and the Commonwealth through the London headquarters; and all students working in the different European languages through headquarters in Geneva. Postal library services are available at each headquarters.
A free lending library of occult and esoteric books is maintained by the Arcane School at each headquarters for the benefit of students. Its services are also available to the public and books may be borrowed by mail. It is not possible, however, for books to be sent abroad.
The Arcane School provides a practical training which will help the aspirant in his self-initiated efforts to “know himself” and his place of service in relation to those ahead of him in evolution to whom he may look for help, and to those whom he in turn can serve. Essentially, the Arcane School puts into the hands of the student tools and methods successfully applied by others, and leaves it to them to experiment with application in their own lives.
The work of the School falls basically into three interdependent parts, no one of which can be carried forward successfully without the other. They are: meditation, study and service. The nature and form of individual service is left entirely to the student to decide on the basis of motivations and inclinations, and of personal circumstance.
The role of the headquarters group and those who act as secretaries in handling the work of students, is to help them do their own thinking, and to make available to them the pooled experience of the worldwide group, in the form of a steadying and guiding influence.
The formal courses of study extend over several years. The first, or preparatory, course normally spans six months’ work. It includes a study of the Constitution of Man and of certain basic occult facts relating to the life of discipleship. A rhythm of meditation and the process of reorientation and evaluation of the daily life are established.
The second course of work concentrates on the means whereby the personality is integrated and aligned and the emotional nature brought under the control of the mind by the use of “the magical powers of the soul”. At this time also a study of the “Problems of Humanity” is introduced complementing the occult work. This study continues in varying form throughout the School training programme. All disciples are in training for service to humanity.
The purpose of the next course of study and meditation is the integration of soul and personality, thereby creating a sensitive instrument of service for the Masters’ use.
During the following years further instruction and guidance are given on the building of the Antahkarana—the bridge of consciousness between the soul-infused personality and the Spiritual Triad. Related courses of study accompany this work and emphasis is placed on a recognition of the right sphere of discipleship service appropriate to each student’s ray and equipment.
The training offered throughout the School in the different courses of study and meditation is, therefore, eliminative of the unready and of those unwilling to make the needed effort and adjustments. The Arcane School is a place for hard work and is a long-term course of study. Depending upon one’s application to the work, the training can take between 8-13 years or more to complete. Students are sent regular study sets that they work with. Each month students are asked to send in a report on their meditation work and regular study papers as well.
The Arcane School does not require students to sever connection with organisations or churches with which they may be affiliated. The only requirement that must be imposed concerns the adherence to the technique of occult meditation presented in the School courses of work. No student should attempt to follow the meditative practices presented in the Arcane School concurrently with any others. Should this injunction not be regarded, the School cannot be responsible for the confusion and impasse that may result, and would feel free to drop from its membership any student who disregarded this warning. It should be borne in mind that in occult meditation the student is literally learning dexterity in the reception, handling and transmission of energies, and that only one method and technique can safely be used at a time.
The work in the School is not elementary or on a probationary path level and a certain familiarity with the esoteric science is therefore assumed. Should this not be the case, a course of preparatory reading is often recommended.
The Arcane School is supported entirely by the voluntary contributions of students. There is no established fee for the courses of training. Students are expected to give what they can, but decide themselves what to give. Annually a statement of the financial condition of the School is sent to all students so that they may be kept informed. The sustained and regular contributions of the students are the means by which the work of the School has been carried on through its many years of growth.
A disciple is one who, above all else, is pledged to do three things:
Discipleship is a word in constant use among aspirants in the world, both in the East and in the West. Discipleship could be defined as the final stage of the path of evolution. It is the stage in which a human being knowingly takes a pledge to impose the will of the soul (which is essentially the will of God) upon the lower nature. Upon this path the aspirant submits to a training process through a systematised and applied discipline, producing a more rapid unfoldment of the power and the life of the soul.