The Life of Discipleship
Reflections by Arcane School students on the Life of Discipleship
It appears to me that the sense of responsibility flows from the central truth that there really is only one life, one consciousness and one soul. With this recognition, it is obvious that there are many levels and directions of response ability. Being a cell in a greater being implies that we have a direct responsibility to the greater being, because our health and actual existence is part of this greater being, and we contribute our portion to the health and well being of the greater. Our fellow humans, then become fellow cells and their health and well being are also our concern because they, too, contribute to the greater. Even as we expect the cells in our body to be healthy and contribute to our well being, at the same time we are responsible for the health and well being of our cells. The environment, the planet itself, the lower kingdoms, all being part of the greater become our responsibility also. So in practical application, I have to relate to others as “fellow cells”, travelers on the way, and always attempt to give the love and respect to be accorded a Son of God to everyone I meet. I cherish the love and devotion accorded me by my cats and dogs and provide for them the best I know how. Keeping the environment as clean and pristine as possible becomes important and leads me to living simply with as little impact on resources as possible.
The Builder of Life
The personality is the builder. The soul is the foreman. The Monad is the Architect. The builder works under the direction of the foreman, reviewing the plans, then constructing as perfectly as possible the form. As the builder becomes more experienced, he aspires to work directly with the Architect, to prove himself experienced enough, competent enough to attract the Architect’s attention and to be worthy to work directly with him in materializing the Architect’s plans and in furthering His purpose. The builder’s work must be quite perfectly attuned to the Architect’s vision in order to attract the Architect’s attention; this requires careful, persistent and mindful attention to the intention of the Architect over much time.
Music - A Path to the Centre
All paths lead to the great Centre, and the path wisely chosen fits the personality and spiritual needs of the pilgrim. It can be entered in one manner or the other, but in the end must be both of the heart and of the mind. My sense of the highest music, the music of the spheres as it is sometimes approached on this plane, resonates in the heart through melody and harmony, but also in the mind through perfection of structure and proportion. (Here, examples for and against can be hotly debated!—but each music lover is at the center of his particular music universe, and being one of those, I am utterly convinced of the universal validity of the world of sound in which I delight...).Such balanced music is a form of straight-knowledge, wordless, resonating through both heart and mind as a path to the Divine. The inspiration from above, to composer and performer in whatever genre (a Bach chorale or a Louis Armstrong cornet solo) connects into other human souls and so resonates back to the Centre. The worlds interpenetrate.
Hierarchy is at the heart of synthesis
It is very important that Humanity get a true picture of the Hierarchy, as best as it can. For this to happen the whole idea of "hierarchy" must be clarified. The present duality of hierarchy and equality must be bridged. Hierarchy is at the heart of synthesis, the natural flow of energy/force transmission upwards and downwards; each unit taking in and giving out according to his capacity and assumed responsibility. It is only the separating lower mind which is threatened by hierarchy, and conversely uses this idea of hierarchy for selfish ends. All class distinctions are the idea of hierarchy distorted by the illusion of separation. The idea of gratitude runs through hierarchy; gratitude of the higher for the lower and vice-versa. Only when there are those to serve can the server serve. One arm reaching up to be pulled up, the other extended down to lift up is the basis of hierarchy. Hierarchy is essentially the chain of being within a synthetic system.
The Path Within
Never is the spiritual path “elsewhere” or “external”; rather, it is found within one's own internal environment.The path is but the system of synapses guiding light from one cell to another within the delicate organ of a man's brain; and it is the triad of suture connecting personality to soul to Monad.The Path does not require a man to seek outside himself for anything; rather, the information needed to proceed is awaiting discovery within the mechanism of everyone.When, eventually as every man does, one reaches the Dweller on the Threshold, it is the realization that the self is what has prevented forward progression that is the most difficult to accept and move past - not fear of the unknown, but the blame of a thousand unfulfilled dreams, and the inertia of ten thousand lives which must be overcome.Overcoming one's self is the greatest battle waged by any disciple.
The Heart: The Organ of Sensation
The theme invites an understanding of the function of the heart, being the organ of sensation. It seems, then, that the heart influences the reaction of the senses, and is the “first…to discern much, before the brain dares to reflect”.
There is meaning in the fact that the heart “beats”. The easy analogy is a drum beating, or, a drum being beaten. The vision is not so much how the thing happens, but the vision is upon the reverberations that inevitably result from contact, as between soul and personality.
The finer interpretation involves the engagement of the higher faculties – in this case, the more efficient and enhanced senses moving beyond their capacity and exerting effort results in the “event” of contact with the soul, which is striving hard to meet “me” in another dimension. “I” bring baggage that I must now unload.
The heart pulses, and creates the “sound” or vibration that causes the reverberation, which is applied to its “objects” like a soothing, balmy gel. And we, the objects, thrill throughout; and we see ourselves differently.
The subjective recognition of the group has been increasing and I have always tried to work in the spirit of a group dynamism of love and goodwill. This is an intuitive sense that is brought about by the realization of Oneness and of etheric connection. The ideals of the group can be stated to be Love, Connection and Transmutation. The group, working on the inner side but extending its influence to the outer planes, has been the fundamental motor bringing down the Will of God through his Plan. And, consciously or unconsciously, the group has been used as a tool so that God’s Plan is materialized on Earth. Thus the group is necessarily instilled with the ideals above-mentioned. These three ideals have always been the vanguard of the group’s mission. It is thus that I understand the group’s objectives to be Goodwill, the breaking down of barriers and the re-connection with the Self. These objectives are the missionary statute of the group. Because the Plan is continuously being sensed and because the group has always been those responsible for adjusting their ways and methods to meet the Purpose of the Plan, the components of the group have been building towards these objectives – era upon era, year after year – through their ideals and using their techniques. The objectives are the earthing of the ideals with Love expressing itself through goodwill, Connection through the lack of barriers and Transmutation through the connection with the Self. As goodwill inflames the will of the server to self-forgetfulness, he proceeds to work carefully to build the bridge over the chasm of the opposites and thus spark off the re-instatement of the collaboration between Spirit and matter. Thus the server works and thus will his work be affected.
It is doubtful whether there is anything that has more practical meaning with respect to human experience than the antahkarana, the bridge between lower and higher mind—the personality and the spiritual Triad. Its construction lies at the heart of any effort to respond to the cry of humanity. All of the problems that human beings and other life forms on this planet experience directly relate to it. If there are to be positive changes in the experience of the body of humanity, such as the global redistribution of the resource of money and improved human relations from micro to macro levels, then there must be men and women who are building the antahkarana, whether consciously or unconsciously, and in so doing are contributing to its collective construction. They function as catalysts within this body of humanity, and because they are becoming increasingly soul-infused they provide the energetic stimulus for other people, as well as other life forms, to awaken more fully to the truth of the soul. Thus, spiritual energies that can nourish, uplift, and ultimately transform the multitude of life forms on this planet are encouraged to move forward in the evolutionary process.
Detachment is a quality of the soul that disciples must cultivate while treading the path. When practicing detachment one takes on the role of the observer and observation is the key to healing the fractures that not only prevent integration of the soul infused personality but can assist in the spiritual transformation of humanity itself.
In the life a man, if the energy impacting his etheric body is directed through the unrefined personality the physical plane expression becomes distorted. This distortion is glamour and illusion, which has many causes, two of which are memories of the past or the worries of the future imprinted upon our emotions or mind that collectively conditions the etheric body. It is like looking at the part instead of the whole, or like looking at an object through a cloudy lens. The outward expression is therefore distorted and can reflect itself in judgment or opinion which is a fragmented piece of the whole. For the disciple, practicing observation keeps the experience in the present moment. It is like looking at an experience from a fresh perspective. It is here in this place that it takes on a deeper meaning and the disciple can observe the event with understanding and from a completed point of view. Isn't this the definition of Love? Practicing observing along with the meditations and service allows one to remain poised, and gives one the choice to react (expend energy) or not react (keep silent). The motive is no longer centered in the lower self. What used to be a reaction of emotion or manipulation is now becoming an outward expression of the qualities of the Soul. These qualities are centeredness, poise, harmlessness, the ability to remain connected and the outward expression of love.
In addition to having an individual entity, glamour and illusion have a collective dimension. Andrew Cohen of EnlightenNext states it so eloquently when he speaks of "deconstructing your culturally created self". This self is the culturally conditioned self - the sum of conscious and unconscious ideas that represent the way you assume life is supposed to be. It is the shoulds and the shouldn'ts we all have absorbed from our shared history of culture and ethnicity. It can be subtle or not so subtle beliefs, ideas, and ways of seeing the world that is so deeply entrenched in our consciousness that we may not even be aware of it. This of course, is not always a bad thing. It becomes a problem when it hinders the advancement of spiritual transformation and human evolution. By observation, meditation and service we can bring to light and deconstruct that which blocks the way to our collective spiritual transformation. Each individual who is determined to strike a blow at his own glamour and illusion assists in striking it collectively.
The next obvious question that we should ask is once we observe glamour, illusion and the obstacles that keep us from integration, what do we do? How do we unveil the truth that lies behind the glamour and illusion? We are told by the Tibetan to practice the Technique if Indifference. Indifference is maintaining a neutral attitude towards everything that IS the Not - Self. This is indeed detachment. I like what the Tibetan has to say in Glamour: A World Problem (p.243)"....if you could but grasp the full significance of detachment and stand serene as the observing Director, there would be no more waste motion, no more mistaken moves and no more false interpretations, no wandering down the bypaths of daily living, no seeing others through distorted and prejudiced vision and above all - no more misuse of force." This is the hope for all disciples.
A Thought on the Desired Result of Esoteric Training
I seek to accede to the Hermetic injunction, “Man, know thyself”, and in so doing to know my Self in all Selves; to know the seeming diversity of lives as but the apparent ‘pixellation’ in manifestation of the One Life. In the language of computer graphics, pixellation is an effect caused by expanding an image or a section of an image at such a large size that individual pixels, small points of light that in total comprise the true image, appear to the eye as separate entities. Conversely, in the process of decentralisation (or ‘de-pixellation’) self-identity is transferred to a greater number or group of pixels, the group as an entity now occupying the same volume of visual space in perception as the previously centralised single pixel. The analogy may be pursued further as group self-identification expands to include other groups, and so on ad infinitum, drawing ever closer to the reality of Oneness and Unity.
Meditation (coupled with service and study) is the manner par excellence of establishing contact with the soul. Through the use of occult meditation there develops an alignment and integration of the personality, a necessary prerequisite to becoming a soul infused personality. It stabilizes the emotional body, stimulates the mental body and supports the building of the antahkarana. The personality alignment and integration produced creates a more perfect channel for the expression of soul energy into the world and allows the soul to eventually communicate via the mental plane with the physical brain. This opens the way for the expression of the soul in the everyday life with its effects upon ones associates and environment. This produces a situation whereby the aspirant acts as a channel for bringing through into the phenomenal world ideas generated from the soul as well as a greater sense of the plan and the service that one might render. This service may not be that which the personality envisioned.
Occult meditation is a group experience and connects the meditator with her own soul, the ray group of which it is a part and the new group of world servers. For students involved in esoteric schools it also connects the meditator with the school group and its rhythm and purpose. This contact with the group serves both the aspirant and the group, expanding the groups' capacity for service and orienting the aspirant to group life. Meditation is thus an act of service itself. It will allow the meditator to utilize the energy and insights generated from meditation (and the resultant soul contact) in a practical manner in support of the plan. This can manifest in a myriad of ways, a few might be expressed as follows:
Meditation on Laughter
I need to know my place – What is my place in the scheme of things? What is or are the qualities I bring to my group? Enthusiasm, perseverance, courage, sense of beauty, grace, joy – flow (dance) laughter…What is laughter? One’s innermost clear, vibrant resonance of one’s full livingness in bliss (the true laughter that is: abandoned – trusting – confident and at the ready to respond to Life in its amazing variations). Laughter shakes the congealed energies of lower lives and pushes them into active participation rather than shivering sheepishly under a blanket of self-pity and misery. Laughter energizes, fills the lungs with the love of God for His Nature. It creates energetic animation and invigorates cells into creativity. Laughter is the vessel that pushes through barriers and carries one into the adventure of discovery. Laughter warms the body, moves the environing circumstances into place of fitness and joy. It cracks open the impeding wall of fear and calls for celebration: the celebration of life, and, in the most difficult circumstances, it calls for the celebration of our steady bearing of the opposite pulls and our willingness to see through adversity. It is a valid endeavour to celebrate and chant the Elegy of Laughter as a vibrant, impulsing and balancing act of indomitable faith at all times in all places. Laughter is the full embodiment of the joy, bliss and purpose of the heart’s ray with full understanding of its demands, implications, and circumstantial adjustments.
The power, wisdom and intelligent, if spontaneous, activity of laughter makes of it the more superficial yet essential externalization of the profundity of the Universal Sound.
The Relationship of Oneness
Early on in the Arcane School training, we explore the meaning of right relationship. What is right relationship? Is there one right way of relationship? We come to understand that right relationship is a complex subject right at the heart of the esoteric life, for it is how we perceive and act upon our inter-connectedness. The more we can see the synthesis in action all around us the better we can serve where we are needed. More consciousness, more inclusiveness yields better results and skills, but we come to understand that discipleship training is one of subjective learning and of great care in maintaining balance and alignment.
So, all the subjects given to discuss reveal interdependent relationship, the understanding of which can lead us forward on the path of initiation. Remembering also that at our present moment in time, the seventh Ray of Synthesis is revealing and manifesting greater expressions of relationship. As matter and spirit on our planet Earth grow into closer relationship much is revealed and changed. So it is important for us to be aware of and study such subjects as given by the Tibetan. Perhaps we also come to realize that relationship comprehension is on many levels and experienced differently in our various bodies—physical, emotional, mental, atma, buddhi, manas—and we are aware that the gift of the initiations is to be able to hold greater relationship in all the bodies at one time. Just to think of the ability of a Master, Chohan, Buddha or planetary Logos, puts this idea into perspective. Truth is understanding the relationship of Oneness.
Overcoming the "Fractoids"
While one could list a whole host of personal "problems" that slow the personality's fusion with the Soul, the main difficulty for every aspirant lies in the underlying nature of reality: all substance, ourselves included, is composed of elements of redeemed and unredeemed matter. This point is central, because it takes the focus off the details of our own individual lives (which can become all-absorbing) and directs our attention to the more abstract nature of the problem at hand. "One's problem" is less one's own, but rather a universal problem seeking to manifest through the life of humanity. This greater group challenge requires an approach that makes use of the abstract mind, rather than attempting to analyze with the concrete mind. For example, rather than following all the interesting and transfixing verbal obfuscation that thinking about one's "problems" tends to create, I have come to label anything which seems to misalign or fracture my personality's soul relationship as "fractoids." These "fractoids" come in many forms: misinformation, old habits, and subtle forms of laziness, pride, anger, impatience, fatigue and even illness. What I have discovered in practice is that beyond a certain reasonable point, any attempt to "understand" these issues simply gives the "fractoid" new life, and these "fractoids" do seem to possess energy and desire to live. They WANT you to think about them, worry about them, and fuss over them, because thoughts and attention give them life and help them grow. A classic example of the "energy follows thought" principle.
In contrast, I have found that if I simply label these urges as they arise, they tend to diminish. For example, I might say to myself: "Oh, that's just impatience!" This labeling seems to help deactivate the impulse, and its tendency to take the bit in the teeth and run, so to speak. Taking a few moments to realign my consciousness and redirect my attention also limits the impact of "fractoid" energy. I have also learned the importance of maintaining a rhythmic routine of physical and mental maintenance to avoid the weaknesses that can occur with fatigue. I used to think it was wise to maintain a good health routine for the sake of the body; now I see the well-rested, healthy body as a vital tool for the mind and the soul. I have learned to slow down and work in a calm, rhythmic and energy-conserving fashion, rather than wasting energy in useless thoughts and actions, a tendency that leaves one's system open to "fractoid" invasion.
As far as limits on soul demonstration in outer expression, I have found that it is very easy to be drawn into other people's energy fields and find yourself unconsciously operating at an unplanned or undesirable vibration. I find this occurs with less frequency, but the temptation to "fuse" with another person rather than "stand alone in the light of one's own soul" occasionally inserts itself before you can consciously put a stop to it. I have always had a weirdly "open" energy field and a generally empathetic emotional body that reaches out towards other people in a way that causes this undesirable fusion. I am learning to alter the empathy to a mental level that seems to retain the positive benefits without causing the disruption of being temporally drawn into another's energy system.
A Report From The Middle Point
“Of form and consciousness, the circle and the point are the natural symbols. This applies equally to the atom, to man, to the planet and to the solar system.” (Discipleship in the New Age II, p. 250)
“At this middle point there is a coming and a going; there is relation and contact; there is increased opportunity and inspiration; there are focal points of transmutation, of transition and of transformation. It is towards this area of merging and of fusion that you are now asked to move.” (Discipleship in the New Age II, pp. 609-10)SEE DIAGRAM OF POINT IN THE CIRCLE
The deep spiritual impressions received in Taurus and the higher interlude are being expressed through increasing refinement in the lower interlude, especially as Scorpio approaches. For this student, the last six months have been a living, yet gradual, self-revealing evolutionary expression of Ray IV Harmony through Conflict played out through the energies of Taurus, Scorpio and Sagittarius.
During the week before the Taurus full moon, the “Middle Point” diagram and passage from DINA II, pp. 609-11, was received and meditated upon prior to its discussion in the morning session of the Arcane School Conference. The deep impact of the meditation upon the Middle Point was noted: “The visualisation of the two-dimensional diagram illustrating the point of contact and of overlapping…between the ashram of D.K. and that of K.H rapidly turned into a three-dimensional diagram, wherein the two interpenetrating circles became the two globes of an hourglass connected through the ‘middle point’ through which the ‘sands’ (or ‘disciples’ or ‘units’) are continuously coming and going, finding increasing opportunity and inspiration.” The visualisation of a dynamic hourglass brought to mind “the diamond shaped formation of the inter-related energies… (or) … the ‘diamond soul’ of which the Buddha is an exponent (Esoteric Astrology, p. 605), and as a result, the macrocosmic Dorje of diagram four (EA, p. 610) was envisioned as including within its base the infinitely microcosmic Dorje of diagram five (EA, 611) and resulted in the drawing of the “Double Dorje”. As Above, So Below.
Over the past six months the visualisation of the Double Dorje has rendered the dynamic meditative synthesis of the manifesting monad expressing the Great Invocation and the Affirmation of the Disciple within the Constitution of Man. The challenge has been to remain true to—and retain—the above visualisation, while at the same time, incorporating the even deeper and more inclusive dynamic elements included within the Hints and Revelations of Formula One.
Artistically speaking, the graphically staid placement of the differing centres within the microcosmic dorje had to somehow accommodate these deeper, more abstruse elements of “coming and going, relation and contact” experienced within the “area of merging and fusion” which is the middle point. But how? For one of the basic visualised seed-thoughts of Formula One is The Discovery of the Point Within the Circle, and, initially, one is able to visualise oneself as a soul infused personality and also the Master and his ashram of aspirants, disciples and initiates as each being a respective “point within a circle”. Vertically each point is absorbed within a greater, more inclusive point while horizontally the circumference of each circle increasingly yet gently radiates as its power wanes and it is enfolded within a larger, more inclusive whole. But how, graphically, can the macrocosmic Dorje be illustrated as a dynamic, active ingredient within the Middle Point—as a most microcosmic point within the “Middle Place” existing between two ashrams within “The Great Interlocking Directorate of the Hierarchy”? Upon much reflection and study of the patterns, it was realised that “the human soul corresponding to the Sun” found within the microcosmic Dorje is, in fact, the middle point common to each diagram, and thus The Discovery of the Point Within the Circle graph was drawn.
“There are six ancient formulas or symbolic forms” the Tibetan tells us, “which are to be found in the archives for disciples….They are in the form sometimes of symbols and sometimes of words, and are amongst the oldest formulas in the world. They have been used down the ages by all disciples and initiates of the Great White Lodge” (Discipleship in the New Age II, p. 246). To condense his later six definitions of formulas: “They are second ray presentations of soul ideals. Essentially, they are geometrical forms, lying behind all exoteric manifestations; even when presented as words or phrases they are susceptible of being reduced to definite forms. They are building patterns. They express significance and intention…They are rightly oriented energy patterns. They are related to the world of meaning… [and] veil that which is in process of being revealed. They are revealing patterns” (Ibid., pp. 363-64).
Such abstruse considerations apply to each of the six formulas. For in whatever format one is found, each is a “revealing pattern”. “This is peculiarly so in connection with Formula One,” the Tibetan tells us further, for when rightly used it brings about:
a. The revelation of group feeling.
As the Tibetan discusses each of the six formulas, he employs a discussion of hints and a most aptly named discussion of Points of Revelation—a name which in itself embodies two reactions first addressed in Formula One:
a. The reaction which is called the “formula of revelation”.
For literally hundreds of pages (as evident in the above citations) the visualisation of the point within the circle emerges from the discussion—especially that of Formula One.
The cogent, intelligent reaction to Formula One has indeed been difficult to express in accurate words or graphs (the graph of The Discovery of the Point Within the Circle, as discussed earlier, is testimony to that fact), and it has involved the following esoteric appreciation that the Great Invocation is essentially a formula of the “geometrical forms lying behind all exoteric manifestations”. To briefly repeat, each formula is a “revealing pattern” which, when rightly used, brings about:
a. The revelation of group feeling.
For a moment, consider the revelation of the Master Djwal Khul to be not only the centre of an ashram, but also to be the point of revelation of the Christ’s Own mantram within the circle of humanity. Consider that through this most significant mantram The Revelation of the Point of Life at the Centre of all Forms is revealed. And finally, that the geometrical form of the point within the circle is intimated through the initial wording of the four stanzas; for the initial phrases of stanza one and stanza two refer to the emanating points of light and love, and the initial wording of stanza three and stanza four refers to the circles (or “centres”) through which the point of life expresses, adjusts and effectuates its purpose. The concluding line or fifth stanza is essentially the “Revelatory Radius”, the One Antahkarana which relates the point and the circle through the expressed realisation of their innate Oneness—for the point and the circle are One.
Considering the Tibetan as the centre of light and power within the circle of his ashram, and specifically in the role of preparing disciples as a group for initiation through review of the six formulas, he tells us: “I am at this time carrying the current teaching upon initiation a step forward and am seeking to show that it is not essentially a process of soul-personality fusion (though that has to be a preliminary step) but of monad-personality integration, carried forward because of an attained alignment with the soul. Initiation is in fact the essential and inevitable process of transferring the primary triplicity of manifestation into the basic duality of spirit-matter. It is the ‘dissolution of the intermediary’, and to this the crucifixion and death of the Christ was dedicated and intended to be the revelation” (DINA II, p. 258). Within Formula One this teaching of initiation as a process of monad-personality integration carried forward because of an attained alignment with the soul is termed the Revelation Of Group Feeling, “for it concerns united group sensitivity or response, outwards to the world of men, inwards to the Hierarchy, and upwards to the Monad. It does not concern the sum total of the petty moods and feelings of the personalities of the group members” (DINA II, p. 248). This teaching within Formula One thus expresses a deep subjective group relationship which itself strengthens the attendant “constant relationship” of group members with the Master, the centre of light and power within the circle.
The process of monad-personality integration carried forward because of an attained alignment with the soul was indicated by the Tibetan in his diagram of the middle point which, he tells us: “can be applied most usefully to the relationship between the soul and personality, wherein the ‘encroaching light of the soul obliterates the dim light of the personality, and within that lighted area the disciple learns to stand’” (EA, p. 610). A feeble attempt to depict this obliteration of the dim light of the personality was rendered in the graph of The Discovery of the Point Within the Circle by leaving the solar plexus and the lower centres void of colour while “colouring in” the human soul (the common factor to both the higher and lower triangles) along with the head, heart, ajna and throat centres (as being representative of the centres of the human monad, Shamballa, Hierarchy and humanity). As Above, So Below.
Formula One itself, the Tibetan tells us, places emphasis upon the “eye” as it appears in various guises: The Eye of God, The Eye of Vision, The Eye That Knows. “Behind all the ideas lies the concept of seeing, of a Seeing One, looking on at the created whole” (DINA II, p. 265). To this student, the following excerpt serves as a fitting concluding comment on Formula One and the Points of Revelation of each of the six formulas: “Revelation is a generic term covering all the responses to the activities of the eye of the mind, the eye of the soul, and the ‘insight’ of the Universal Mind which contact with the monad gives. Sight is the greatest of all the developments in the world period in which the Logos is seeking to bring the subhuman kingdoms to the point where human vision is theirs, to bring humanity to the point where spiritual vision is developed and hierarchical insight is the normal quality of the initiate sight, and to bring the members of the Hierarchy to the point where universal perception is theirs” (Telepathy, 56).
Understanding the Soul Through Purification and Service
Because the soul is one of the ultimate intangibles, it is natural that human beings have struggled to define its nature. The problem is made even more difficult by the fact that at the earliest stages of spiritual development, the soul is only sensed; its nature and existence are known in the abstract, but not in actual practice. So we all grapple with the difficulty of describing something that seems of vital importance, but whose actual nature is only superficially understood, or understood in a flash of clear light which fades with the attempt to translate abstract experience into concrete words. Hence, people from every age and stage of development have seen and expressed various aspects of the soul, describing a part or parts, focusing on various aspects, such a location in the body or relationship to the incarnate individual; most definitions seem to be only partial explanations of the soul’s true nature. It is possible that beings in human incarnation, striving at different stages of spiritual development as they are, will never be able to fully and completely describe the soul’s full nature. To be so able, might mean that one was passing out of the human phase altogether and at any rate, I am not sure that such a description would be meaningful. What matters is actual experience arrived at by hard labor of purification and service.
I believe that at least some of the differences in soul description stem from a confusion over the different parts of the human being’s bodies. Some focus on the mental body, seeing the soul primarily as part of the mind, or what lies in back of the mind. The soul is then located or particularly tied to the brain and often its individuality is stressed, as when people speak of "my soul" when they really mean their personality’s innermost thoughts and experiences. Others associate the soul with the heart and with the love aspect of human nature. It has always seemed to me, for example, that Rudolf Steiner associates the soul with the heart and includes personal feelings, strivings and impulses in the concept of the soul to a surprising degree. Still others associate the soul with the physical or etheric/physical body, seeing the soul as a life-force, or life-principle which animates the whole being during its life. Seeing the soul as peculiarly linked with the body prompts this group to focus on its exact location in the body, offering various possibilities as the soul’s seat.
Since the soul is the essence of the human being, it makes sense to me that its full nature includes something of all the common definitions. Surely it does give us some of our individuality; certainly it animates and sustains our physical form; naturally the level of the soul’s growth and experience shines through the incarnate being, informing natural orientation, behaviors and spiritual levels of all living things. The soul is so intimately tied up with the individual’s life, his or her thinking, willing, being, that it is no surprise that it is difficult to grasp its essential nature.
Yet in my limited experience, the soul is not just life force or will or mind, but is in fact the quality of those expressions. The soul is, or channels from the monad, all the various aspects of quality: love, compassion, courage, skill, generosity, the list is long and varied and includes all the virtues that humans have been able to grasp over the ages. As such, it should come as no surprise that while religions vary the world over, descriptions of the ideal man or woman remain fairly constant over time and place. As abstract quality, the soul animates the individual, while silently encouraging an elimination of all the external marks of individuality, all the husks that veil pure quality. When the limited attitudes, the un-reflected habits, the repetitive and useless thoughts are finally stripped away, then the soul’s quality can shine forth. Thus, in the end, it is not longer "I" who loves and cares and serves, but love itself, caring itself, serving itself that animates and acts through the form.
Because of this abstract, or personality less nature, the soul is fundamentally a paraclete or a bridge between all living beings and between concrete manifestation and the creating Spirit, or Monad. The soul mediates force from the monad, building up quality in the living being until it can blend with the monadic force. While people stand at very different levels of spiritual attainment, we are linked through the potential for soul development and through the soul and later through the Monad itself. Since the actual or potential nature of the soul is the same in every living thing, and because the possibility of communication at the soul level exists (either actually or potentially), the soul stands as the great link between all levels of existence.
Alice Bailey’s teaching of the three bodies, physical, emotional and mental is particularly useful in understanding the soul'’ nature. When one reflects upon the three bodies all as various grades of form, and when one works, or is directed to work, at cleansing these bodies, it is easier to disentangle the soul from the individuality. The soul no longer seems like the essence of me, but gradually begins to appear as quality that transcends the personal nature entirely. The soul emerges as a force and as a quality, as a guide and as a pattern, for all mental, emotional and physical action. The soul is an expression of God’s nature; the form makes this expression possible in concrete circumstances. Pure soul expression seems to be near that state of doing that humans identify as "flow." One forgets the self in the task, something outside the self-flows through, animating the body in a physical task, or speaking through the mind or emotions in mental or emotional work. It is ultimately tied to action; one "flows" when one is acting, expressing, doing, and this state of timeless, effortless, productive, creative being is a sign of the soul’s essential nature. The soul is skill-in-action, animated by the qualities that express love; the soul is purposeful and graceful, its actions or being link living beings to their true relationships and elevate to true nature. This, at least, is what I understand at this point in time.
In The Externalisation of the Hierarchy (p.496) tension is called “the objective of all true meditation work”. In “Agni Yoga” (S.260) we read: “The so-called state of Nirvana is not rest but the highest tension of energy.”
Why is it so? And why is it so important for those who are treading the Path to understand the nature of tension and to be able to achieve it in meditation?
Perhaps, it will be easier to understand the above statement and to apprehend the nature of tension if we consider the tension created by the musical sound produced by the masterly technique of an accomplished musician. It can be found, for example, at the point of climax in any profound musical composition. Such point is usually characterised by the extreme tension. But not the tension which shatters all your senses, but the tension which can be described as bliss. It represents the high point of concentration of energy which uplifts and sends into a state of bliss not only the musician, but all the listeners. It fills one with a sense of accomplishment, of perfect harmony and balance with oneself and with the world. It gives one the sense of 'being on the top of a mountain', experiencing the perfect affinity and unity with the world. It propels one into the heights of achievement and fills one with strength directed to the victory of pure Light over darkness.
Such tension brings constructive energy and makes one radioactive and capable of carrying the gained strength and radioactivity into the world. This radioactivity is love. Tension is called the Law of Existence as it ever acts as a driving force towards progress and evolution.
Visualisation is an occult skill or ability obtained through steady structured meditation work. As the body, mind and soul are aligned the plan for the soul can be sensed gradually until it is more fully ‘seen’ and then gradually enacted in form.
Visualisation involves all the senses not just sight. It is a ‘seeing with the senses’ i.e. the vision may be heard, it may be sensed or felt perhaps in one body or another, or it may be literally seen in pictures with the inner eye. In my own case the vision is sensed sometimes spontaneously and sometimes following specific enquiry in meditation or contemplation. One cannot usually see the whole vision at any one time but more an unfolding of the vision and as much, perhaps as one is able to cope with or comprehend at any one stage.
As a soul I am quite committed and naturally drawn to a certain field of service and can see what needs to be done individually and within the larger scale of things in my field generally. There are times however, when it is as if the plan is occluded whilst another sub-plan for the soul is played out, or, indeed further experience has to be gone through in order to deepen and enrich the work. Layer upon layer of the vision is built up like a great painting or sculpture and indeed I believe this is part of the visualisation process. It is almost as if one’s entire vehicle is itself being ‘sculpted’ as the soul dominates the bodies more and more fully. Another facet is noticed, another layer added or removed. Sometimes the process is like that of a mountaineer where just as he thinks he has reached the peak, a whole new stretch of cliff faces appear before him.
What matters I believe is to be conscious at any one stage as much as possible, to take note of the process and to make use of the continual unfoldings. Visualisation can also be more of an active process where a vision is consciously brought about through concentrated mental will. Here the intention needs to be pure and the creator has to be sure of what is being created. Many people like the idea of getting what they want but then when they get it they don’t like it, or doubt it in some way if it doesn’t exactly match the vision. Not everything comes to us quite in the way we want it or even how we sensed it, even in the finest meditations. The point is to be broadly conscious of the whole field of one’s creative process or service and clear on the intention behind the desire. Also to be broadly conscious of the many ways something may play out. Indeed where others are involved or there are external situations of any kind, then it is inevitable that the visualisation may have to be adapted. This must be true even or perhaps especially as the plan for humanity works out, with its’ inevitable twists and turns due to the free will aspect of man and material forces which may hijack, negate or complicate the best laid plans by Hierarchy.
Equally the creative process itself, perhaps by its own nature, requires an element of chaos and creative freedom. As long as the basic structures are in place, a creative outpouring of a mental thought form can take many shapes.
The Dance of Will
Will is the first dynamic ray informing all life, from particle to galaxies, while dancing with love, which is the second magnetic ray that binds the universe in an ever-evolving coherent whole. In this unbroken universal dance, Will directs the world toward the mastery of beauty.
All forms exist in order to express truth. Will is the revealer of the flaming truth within each form.
Will is active intelligent purpose lovingly applied. Intelligence and love are inherent qualities of the will; they make the manifestation of the will possible. They guarantee its intelligent application and its magnetic power to draw to itself what is needed for the expression of the divine purpose.
The Creativity of the Soul
It is the soul of man that creates, through the creative imagination. It creates its outer form and in fact, the desire nature of the soul has created our 'now', limited by form. It creates through the agency of the mind, building thoughtforms on the mental plane and objectifying desire on the astral plane. The soul externalises thoughts and desires upon the physical plane. The soul, which knows no separation on its own plane, is not only occupied with the form of its visionary objectives but also with the qualities or the meaning of that which is hidden behind the veils of such visions. It reaches out to both the divine and to man and it therefore occupies the midway point between the world of ideas and the world of form. The soul is true "creativeness".
The disciple is the outer form of the creativity of the soul and our sense of awareness is occupied with subjective contact and not outer sense perceptions. We are responsible to our soul and we learn to work on the inner planes of meaning and it is our duty to assist in the bringing into the brain consciousness of man that the world of meaning is reality for humanity. When one considers and understands this, we realise that disciples have a huge responsibility both to divinity and to man. We must therefore be scrupulously vigilant in ensuring that any creativeness is purified by love and that it has passed through the fires of our beautifully shaped, strong and cleansed hearts. There can be no warpage. The healthy heart will reveal to us that which is true; that which is false will lose form. It is the only way to know the power and purity of any created thoughtform, either given or received.
The human condition prior to the integration of the personality
In considering the human condition prior to the integration of the personality, and because the majority of humanity at the present time demonstrates emotional polarisation there is an understandable yet unworthily patronising tendency in certain esoteric circles to associate this proclivity with an innate evolutionary immaturity which would disqualify the emotionally polarised from meaningful “active involvement” as students or servers upon the Path.
In this connection we should be unwise indeed to lose sight of the fact that mental polarisation per se is no qualification for a “free ticket to the Mysteries”.It is, however, a signal landmark upon a stretch of the Path upon which such polarisation has been achieved, not only as a result of an irrevocable evolutionary current, but also at the price of an immense effort to change the imbalance of a personality dominated by the emotional body to one directed by the mind.
Nevertheless, even in the case of achieved mental polarisation, we must recognise that true equilibration is still a relatively distant goal, for an integral imbalance will ever remain for so long as any one personality vehicle “dominates” another.In the case of the mental and emotional natures a union, rather than a see-saw of polarisations, is what is required.
“There must be a uniting of the mental and emotional natures before there can be a wedding of the illumined mind and the love-wisdom nature of the soul.”(Discipleship in the New Age, Vol.1)
Accordingly, having suggested that both emotional and mental polarisation essentially constitutes a state of imbalance and a lack of integration, we can proceed to an observation of the typical relationship between the emotional and mental bodies when one dominates (rather than moderates) the other.
Characteristically a dominant emotional nature will enslave the mental faculties.Here it is of interest to note the Encarta English Dictionary’s definition of “enslave”, viz. “to take somebody prisoner and claim … ownership of that person and his labour.”This is indeed the case when the mind is in servitude of the form-directed desire of the emotional body.We might even go further and suggest that under such circumstance the mind functions to all intents and purposes as a mere subservient chattel of the emotional nature, having, like Yudhishthira in the dice game of T he Mahabharata, lost its own self-hood.
The fetters which bind the acquiescent mind are not of iron, but of illusion.Likewise the halter by which the servile mind is led is fashioned from its own obeisance to that illusion.Yet paradoxically these shackles may begin to loosen as we reach our lowest ebb, on the threshold of awakening to the vacuity of form-directed desire, as self-pity bewails:
“Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded.” (Mary Shelley – ‘Frankenstein’)
The quintessence of the mentally polarised person is his ‘monochrome’ rationality, his tendency cerebrally to dissect that which for lesser mortals loses its quality and meaning in dissection, his undemonstrativeness, his characteristic inability to “suffer fools gladly”, his preference for planning and preparation over impulsive activity and his wariness of that which derives from the emotional nature.Often the archetypical “cold fish”, those in his environment may frequently be inclined to wonder whether he possesses an iota of “feeling”.
Clearly this is not a description of one who has striven to equilibrate and unify the emotional and mental vehicles, but rather of one who, by dint of what might be described as a process of ‘alternating polarity’ upon the cycle of the Rays, is “serving his time” at the mental end of the see-saw.DK/AAB clearly enunciate the characteristics of one who, on the other hand, has as it were “pulled himself up by his own bootstraps” from emotional to mental polarity, and this, of course, represents an altogether different evolutionary outcome from that described above, whose “skeleton in the closet” is his inhibited emotional nature.
This ghost, yet to be laid, should not be unfamiliar, even to those who have intentionally struggled, and who struggle still, to liberate the mind from the ‘earthward’ gravitational pull of the astral, and who, with the most earnest of intentions, are inclined to view with a degree of disapproving condescension those who wallow yet in a sea of emotional reactions to that which appears to them to be the “vagaries of mortal existence”.
In the final analysis, the translation from emotional inhibition to compassion and from the disequilibrium of polarity to confluence is achieved through the union of the mental and emotional natures in order that “they may be one”. (John 17:11)
On the Points of Crisis
In the human journey one stage and period makes possible the next. To resist evolution is to oppose the inevitable. The threshold experiences between cycles are normally identified as crises, when outlived forms die away and new outlines of life come into existence. Without the strength to endure the threshold phase one will not see the opportunity within a crisis. It is within endurance that opportunity reveals itself.
"A crisis is an opportunity riding a dangerous wind" says a Chinese proverb. Often crises provide opportunities to move from comfort zones to uncharted territories of consciousness and related activity.
Crises can spring from a macro level, from racial cycles, global trends. These contain hidden complexity codes that shape human nature, create global diversities, and drive evolutionary change. These dynamic macro forces attract and repel individuals and forge the rise and fall of nations and cultures.
Contrary to popular misconception, karma is beyond punishment and reward. It exists as part of our holographic universe's dualistic operating system to teach us responsibility for our actions and creations.
When these creations are out of tune with the Laws that inform the Universe, they often manifest in the disharmony known as diseases, war, natural disasters, calamities, crises.
This can occur not only in individuals but in entire civilizations. What is considered a crisis, simultaneously serves as a powerful stimulus for transformation and transcendence. Since the beginning of time, the human race has been called upon to meet crises of transformation, in order to develop certain manifested qualities. How the races meet those evolutionary crises determines the level of conscious appropriation of the new set of vehicles of expression.
The crises our generation is facing right now is an invitation to transcend unsustainable lifestyles. Currently humanity, on the whole, is consuming natural resources at a rate that is roughly 30% above the maximum rate of consumption that could still be considered as sustainable. Scientific evidence states that shortly we are all going to suffer from the consequences of using up natural resources at a far higher rate than they can be replenish by natural process. If we dedicate all our human creativity toward the goal of re-designing our methods of production and consumption in a way that enables us to live within the limits of nature, our quality of life will almost certainly increase. For this to happen we will have to create a new equilibrium between human desires and necessities and the actual reality of the level of consumption that the planet can sustain. This is requiring a major shift in consciousness and activity.
Crises may start from the deep values that flow beneath and inform what one believes and does. When I change the code of values, I change the way I look at the world, I outgrow from what was meaningful before, towards another set of values that will help me to understand the world in a different way, therefore haying an impact how I interact with the world.
On individual level crises can spring from within in the interplay between energy and force of varying vibrations, between soul and personality, between the Spiritual Triad and the soul-infused personality. The seed of improvement is always within us; sometimes it takes a crisis to nourish and encourage their growth, in order to produce a new field of magnetic activity.