(1) A disciple is one who above all else, is pledged to do three things:
a. To serve humanity.
b. To co-operate with the plan of the Great Ones as he sees it and as best he may.
c. To develop the powers of the Ego, to expand his consciousness until he can function on the three planes in the three worlds, and in the causal body, and to follow the guidance of the higher self and not the dictates of his three-fold lower manifestation.
A disciple is one who realises simultaneously the relative significance of each unit of consciousness, and also its vast importance. His sense of proportion is adjusted, and he sees things as they are; he sees people as they are; he sees himself as he inherently is, and seeks then to become that which he is.
A disciple realises the life or force side of nature, and to him the form makes no appeal. He works with force and through force; he recognises himself as a force centre within a greater force centre, and his is the responsibility of directing the energy which may pour through him into channels through which the group can be benefited.
The disciple knows himself to be - to a greater or less degree - an outpost of the Master's consciousness, viewing the Master in a twofold sense:
a. As his own egoic consciousness.
b. As the centre of his group; the force animating the units of the group and binding them into a homogeneous whole.
A disciple is one who is transferring his consciousness out of the personal into the impersonal, and during the transition stage much of difficulty and of suffering is necessarily endured. These difficulties arise from various causes:
a. The disciple's lower self, which rebels at being transmuted.
b. A man's immediate group, friends, or family, who rebel at his growing impersonality. They do not like to be acknowledged as one with him on the life side, and yet separate from him where desires and interests lie. Yet the law holds good, and only in the essential life of the soul can true unity be cognised. In the discovery as to what is form lies much of sorrow for the disciple, but the road leads to perfect union eventually.
The disciple is one who realises his responsibility to all units who come under his influence, - a responsibility of co-operating with the plan of evolution as it exists for them, and thus to expand their consciousness and teach them the difference between the real and the unreal, between life and form. This he does most easily by a demonstration in his own life as to his goal, his object, and his centre of consciousness. (1 - 71/2).
(2) The disciple, therefore, has several things at which to aim:
A sensitive response to the Master's vibration.
A practical purity of life.
A freedom from care. Here bear in mind that care is based on the personal, and is the result of lack of dispassion and a too ready response to the vibrations of the lower worlds.
Accomplishment of duty. This point involves the dispassionate discharge of all obligations and due attention to karmic debts. Special emphasis should be laid, for all disciples, on the value of dispassion. . . .This means the attainment of that state of consciousness where balance is seen, and neither pleasure nor pain dominates, for they are superseded by joy and bliss. We may well ponder on this, for much striving after dispassion is necessary.
(1 - 73).
(3) Each step up is ever through the sacrifice of all that the heart holds dear on one plane or another, and always must his sacrifice be voluntary. (1 - 82).
(4) By availing themselves of the present day of opportunity, and by conformity to the rules for treading the Path, will come to many in the [Page 87] West the chance to take these further steps. That opportunity will be found by the man who is ready in the place where he is, and among the familiar circumstances of his daily life. It will be found in attention to duty, in the surmounting of tests and trials, and in that inner adherence to the voice of God within, which is the mark of every applicant for initiation. Initiation involves the very thing that is done from day to day by any who are consciously endeavouring to train themselves: the next point to be reached, and the next bit of work to be accomplished is pointed out by the Master (either the God within or a man's Master if he is consciously aware of Him) and the reason is given. Then the Teacher stands aside and watches the aspirant achieve. As He watches, He recognises points of crisis, where the application of a test will do one of two things, focalise and disperse any remaining unconquered evil - if that term might here be used - and demonstrate to the disciple both his weakness and his strength. In the great initiations, the same procedure can be seen, and the ability of the disciple to pass these greater tests and stages is dependent upon his ability to meet and surmount the daily lesser ones. "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much", is an occult statement of fact, and should characterise the whole daily activity of the true aspirant; the "much" is surmounted and passed, because it is regarded simply as an intensification of the normal, and no initiate has ever passed the great test of initiation who has not accustomed himself to pass lesser tests every day of his life; tests then come to be regarded as normal, and are considered, when encountered, as part of the usual fabric of his life. When this attitude of mind is attained and held, there exists no surprise or possible defeat. (1 - 183/4).
(5) For a disciple, direct alignment with the Ego via the centres and the physical brain, is the goal of his life of meditation and discipline. (3 - 1149).
(6) A disciple is one who seeks to learn a new rhythm, to enter a new field of experience, and to follow the steps of that advanced humanity who have trodden ahead of him the path, leading from darkness to light, from the unreal to the real. He has tasted the joys of life in the world of illusion and has learnt their powerlessness to satisfy and hold him. Now he is in a state of transition between the new and the old states of being. He is vibrating between the condition of soul awareness and form awareness. He is "seeing double". (4 - 58/9).
(7) A similar state of affairs exists in the early stages of the path of discipleship, and the final stages of the probationary path. The disciple becomes aware of capacities and powers which are not as yet intelligently [Page 88] under his control. He experiences flashes of insight, and of knowledge which seem unaccountable and of no immediate value. He contacts vibrations and the phenomena of other realms, but remains unaware of the process whereby he has done so, and is incompetent either to renew or recall the experience. (4 - 165).
(8) When a man literally walks in the light of his soul, and the clear light of the sun pours through him - revealing the Path - it reveals at the same time the Plan. Simultaneously, however, he becomes aware of the fact that the Plan is very far as yet from consummation. The dark becomes more truly apparent; the chaos and misery and failure of the world groups stand revealed; the filth and dust of the warring forces are noted, and the whole sorrow of the world bears down upon the astounded, yet illuminated aspirant. Can he stand this pressure? Can he become indeed acquainted with grief and yet rejoice forever in the divine consciousness? Has he the ability to face what the light reveals and still go his way with serenity, sure of the ultimate triumph of good? Will he be overwhelmed by the surface evil and forget the heart of love which beats behind all outer seeming? This situation should ever be remembered by the disciple, or he will be shattered by that which he has discovered.
But with the advent of the light, he becomes aware of a new (for him) form of energy. He learns to work in a new field of opportunity. The realm of the mind opens up before him, and he discovers that he can differentiate between the emotional nature and the mental. He discovers also that the mind can be made to assume the position of the controller, and that the sentient forces respond with obedience to mental energies. "The light of reason" brings this about - light that is always present in man, but which only becomes significant and potent when seen and known, either phenomenally or intuitionally. (4 - 355).
(9) This is an intensely practical work, on which we are engaged; it is likewise of such proportions that it will occupy all of a man's attention and time, even his entire thought life. . . . Discipleship is a synthesis of hard work, intellectual unfoldment, steady aspiration and spiritual orientation, plus the unusual qualities of positive harmlessness, and the opened eye which sees at will into the world of reality. (4 - 583).
(10) Enquire the Way. We are told by one of the Masters that a whole generation of enquirers may only produce one adept. Why should this be so? For two reasons:
First, the true enquirer is one who avails himself of the wisdom of his generation, who is the best product of his own period, and yet who remains [Page 89] unsatisfied, and with the inner longing for wisdom unappeased. To him there appears to be something of more importance than knowledge, and something of greater moment than the accumulated experience of his own period of time. He recognises a step further on, and seeks to take it, in order to gain something to add to the quota already gained by his compeers. Nothing satisfies him until he finds the Way, and nothing appeases the desire at the centre of his being except that which is found in the house of his Father. He is what he is because he has tried all lesser ways and has found them wanting, and has submitted to many guides, only to find them "blind leaders of the blind". Nothing is left to him but to become his own guide and find his own way home alone. In the loneliness which is the lot of every true disciple, are born that self-knowledge and self-reliance which will fit him in his turn to be a Master. This loneliness is not due to any separative spirit, but to the conditions of the Way itself. Aspirants must carefully bear this distinction in mind.
Secondly, the true enquirer is one whose courage is of that rare kind, which enables its possessor to stand upright and to sound his own clear note in the very midst of the turmoil of the world. He is one who has the eye trained to see beyond the fogs and miasmas of the earth, to that centre of peace which presides over all earth's happenings, and that trained attentive ear which (having caught a whisper of the Voice of the Silence) is kept tuned to that high vibration, and is thus deaf to all lesser alluring voices. This again brings loneliness, and produces that aloofness which all less evolved souls feel when in the presence of those who are forging ahead.
A paradoxical situation is brought about from the fact that the disciple is told to enquire the Way, and yet there is none to tell him. Those who know the Way may not speak, knowing that the Path is constructed by the aspirant as the spider spins its web out of the centre of his own being . . .
Obey the inward impulses of the soul. ... It is no easy or flattering task to find oneself out, and to discover that perhaps even the service we have rendered, and our longing to study and work, has had a basically selfish origin, and resting on a desire for liberation, or a distaste for the humdrum duties of everyday. He who seeks to obey the impulses of the soul, has to cultivate an accuracy of summation and a truthfulness with himself, which is rare indeed these days. Let him say to himself "I must to my own Self be true", and in the private moments of his life, and in the secrecy of his own meditation, let him not gloss over one fault, nor excuse himself along a single line. Let him learn to diagnose his own words, deeds, and motives, and to call things by their true names. Only thus will he train himself in [Page 90] spiritual discrimination and learn to recognise truth in all things. Only thus will the reality be arrived at and the true Self known.
Pay no consideration to the prudential considerations of worldly science and sagacity. If the aspirant has need to cultivate a capacity to be truthful in all things, he has likewise need to cultivate courage. It will be needful for him to run counter consistently to the world's opinion, and to the very best expression of that opinion, and this with frequency. He has to learn to do the right thing as he sees and knows it, irrespective of the opinion of earth's greatest and most quoted. He must depend upon himself and upon the conclusions he himself has come to in his moments of spiritual communion and illumination. It is here that so many aspirants fail. They do not do the very best they know; they fail to act in detail as their inner voice tells them; they leave undone certain things which they are prompted to do in their moments of meditation, and fail to speak the word which their spiritual mentor, the Self, urges them to speak. It is in the aggregate of these unaccomplished details that the big failures are seen.
There are no trifles in the life of the disciple, and an unspoken word or unfulfilled action may prove the factor which is holding a man from initiation.
Live a life which is an example to others. Is it necessary for me to enlarge upon this? It seems as if it should not be, and yet here again is where men fail. What after all is group service? Simply the life of example. He is the best exponent of the Ageless Wisdom who lives each day, in the place where he is the life of the disciple; he does not live it in the place where he thinks he should be. Perhaps after all the quality which produces the greatest number of failures among aspirants to adeptship, is cowardice. Men fail to make good where they are, because they find some reason which makes them think they should be elsewhere. Men run away, almost unrealising it, from difficulty, from inharmonious conditions, from places which involve problems, and from circumstances which call for action of a high sort, and which are staged to draw out the best that is in a man, provided he stays in them. They flee from themselves and from other people, instead of simply living the life.
The adept speaks no word which can hurt, harm or wound. Therefore, he has had to learn the meaning of speech in the midst of life's turmoil. He wastes no time in self pity or self justification, for he knows the law has placed him where he is, and where he best can serve, and has learnt that difficulties are ever of a man's own making, and the result of his own mental attitude. If the incentive to justify himself occurs, he recognises it [Page 91] as a temptation to be avoided. He realises that each word spoken, each deed undertaken, and every look and thought, has its effect for good or for evil upon the group.
Is it not apparent, therefore, why so few achieve and so many fail? (4 - 583/7)
(11) Some Words of Cheer. . . . It is only as the disciple is willing to relinquish all in the service of the Great One, and to hold naught back, that liberation is achieved, and the body of desire becomes transmuted into the body of the higher intuition. It is the serving perfectly each day - with no thought or calculation about the future - that brings a man to the position of the perfect Server. And, may I suggest one thing? All care and anxiety is based primarily on selfish motive. You fear further pain, you shrink from further sad experience. It is not thus that the goal is reached; it is reached by the path of renunciation. Perhaps it may mean the renunciation of joy, or the renunciation of good reputation, or the renunciation of friends, and the renunciation of all that the heart clings to. I say perhaps; I say not, it is so. I but seek to point out to you, that if that is the way you are to reach your goal, then for you it is the perfect way. Aught that brings you rapidly to Their Presence and to Their Lotus Feet, is by you to be desired and eagerly welcomed.
Cultivate daily, therefore, that supreme desire that seeks solely the commendation of the inner Guide and Teacher, and the egoic response to good action dispassionately performed.
Should bereavement come your way, smile through it all; it will end in a rich reward, and the return of all that has been lost. Should scorn and despising be your lot, smile still, for only the look of commendation that comes from the Master, is the one to seek. Should lying tongues take action, fear not, but forge ahead. A lie is a thing of earth and can be left behind as a thing too vile to be touched. The single eye, the unalloyed desire, the consecrated purpose, and the ear that turns in deafness to all earth's noise - such is the aim for the disciple. I say no more. I but desire that you do not dissipate needless force in vain imaginings, feverish speculations, and troubled expectations. (2 - 43/4).
(12) The problem of all disciples remains the same. This is to live simultaneously the acutely sensitive inner life of the Pilgrim upon the path of life, of a human being in the world of human events; to live the group life of the pledged disciple, and the mass life of humanity; to fulfil his own spiritual destiny, through the medium of a controlled personality and, at [Page 92] the same time, to participate fully in the life of humanity upon Earth - this is no easy task. (16 - 498).
(13) The disciple has to take himself as he is, at any time, with any given equipment, and under any given circumstances; he then proceeds to subordinate himself, his affairs and his time to the need of the hour - particularly during the phase of group, national or world crisis. When he does this within his own consciousness and is, therefore, thinking along lines of the true values, he will discover that his own private affairs are taken care of, his capacities are increased, and his limitations are forgotten. (11 - 196).
(14) The mobilisation of every disciple is demanded at this time, and when I say "this time" I refer to the present time and the next fifty years. This mobilisation involves the focussing of the disciple's energies, his time and his resources on behalf of humanity; it requires a new dedication to service, a consecration of the thought-life (do you realise what that would mean, my brothers?) and a forgetfulness of self which would rule out all moods and feelings, all personality desires, resentments, grievances, and all pettiness in your relations with your fellowmen. On the physical plane, it would mean the conditioning of all active, outer living so that the whole of life becomes one focussed active service. I would ask you to study the above phrasing, using it as a light of revelation so that you may know wherein you are lacking, and what you have to do. (5 - 98/9).
(15) What I and all who are affiliated with the Hierarchy, seek to do at this time of desperate crisis, is to find those who are dependable points of living energy, and through them pour out the love, the strength and the light which the world needs and must have if this storm is to be weathered. . . . Many disciples are not young and the settled habit of thought and of the feeling life is not easy to disrupt. They must, however, be disrupted and must feel no resentment. (5 - 100).
(16) Disciples and advanced Egos on the Probationary Path receive instruction . . . to test out their fitness for special work lying in the future, the type of that work being known only to the Guides of the race. They are tested for aptitude in community living with a view to drafting the suitable ones into the colony of the sixth sub-race. They are tested for various lines of work, many incomprehensible to us now, but which will become ordinary methods of development as time progresses. (1 - 66).
See also: "The Six Stages of Discipleship". (5 - 673/773).
(1) The discreet magician is one who sees to the readiness of his lowest vehicle to carry the fire wherewith he works, and this he accomplishes through discipline and strict purity. (3 - 1015).
(2) If occult students disciplined the life more wisely, if they studied the food problem more carefully, if they took the needed hours of sleep with more determination, and if they worked with cautious slowness, and not so much from impulse, (no matter how high the aspiration) greater results would be seen, and the Great Ones would have more efficient helpers in the work of serving the world. (2 - 105).
(3) Drastic physical disciplines are often attempted today by well-intentioned aspirants; they practise celibacy, strict vegetarianism, relaxation exercises, and many kinds of physical exercises, in the hope of bringing the body under control. These forms of discipline would be very good for the undeveloped and the lowest type of human being, but they are not the methods which should be employed by the average man or the practising aspirant. Concentration upon the physical body only serves to enhance its potency, and to feed its appetites and bring to the surface of consciousness that which should be securely secluded below the threshold of consciousness. The true aspirant should be occupied with emotional, not physical, control and with the effort to focus himself upon the mental plane, prior to achieving a stabilised contact with the soul. (17 - 579).
(4) The rule as given to applicants consequently concerns their ability to accept and adhere to a self-imposed discipline. Through the means of that discipline, the control of the physical and astral natures are demonstrated by the applicant to himself, and the effect of the discipline is to reveal to him certain inevitable and basic weaknesses, such as control of the animal nature, the powerful imposition of desire, a sense of superiority, of pride and of separativeness. His ability to sustain the discipline, and his appreciation of himself for so doing, plus a sense of superiority to those who are not so disciplined, are all indicative of essential weaknesses. His fanaticism, latent or expressed, emerges in his consciousness with clarity, and - when he is sincere - he is conscious of having brought about a measure of physical purity; but at the same time, he is left with the awareness that he may be starting with the outer and the obvious, when he should be beginning with [Page 94] the inner, and with that which is not so easily contacted or expressed. This a great and most important lesson.
It is also an interesting illustration of the technique of the Masters, whereby They permit a fallacy to remain uncorrected (because it is originated by the disciple himself and must be dissipated by him also), and the use of language which conveys a wrong impression. By so doing, the user of the language discovers eventually his erroneous approach to the truth.
The true disciple does not need vegetarianism or any of the physical disciplines, for the reason that none of the fleshly appetites have any control over him. His problem lies elsewhere, and it is a waste of his time and energy to keep his eye focussed on "doing the right things physically", because he does them automatically, and his spiritual habits offset all the lower physical tendencies; automatically these developed habits enable him to surmount the appeal of those desires which work out in the fulfilment of lower desire. No one is accepted into the circle of the Ashram (which is the technical name given to the status of those who are on the eve of initiation, or who are being prepared for initiation) whose physical appetites are in any danger of controlling him. This is a statement of fact. This applies particularly and specifically to those preparing for the first initiation. (18 - 125/6).
(5) Some very sincere devotees and promising applicants, are so preoccupied with form and its disciplining, that they have no real time to give to soul expansion. They are so interested in their reactions to their self-imposed discipline, or to their capacity to conform, or their failure to accept discipline, that the spiritual truths - seeking entrance into their hearts - fail to make such an entrance. Temperance in all things, the wise use of all sustaining forms, and self-forgetfulness, are the hallmark of the disciple, but not of the beginner. Many disciples today, who should be functioning in the Hall of Wisdom, are still fanatically working in the Hall of Knowledge, and are still so earnest over the physical disciplines, that the disciplines of the soul are ignored. I would ask you to reflect on this.
Let me repeat: the physical disciplines are of value in the beginning stage, and impart a sense of proportion and an awareness of defects and of limitations. These have their place in time and space, and that is all. Once the world of the soul is entered, the disciple uses all forms wisely, with understanding of their purpose, and with freedom from excess; he is not preoccupied with them or fundamentally interested in them. His eyes are off himself and are fixed on the world of true values. He has no sense of [Page 95] self-interest, because a group awareness is rapidly superseding his individual consciousness. (18 - 127/8).
ON THE THRESHOLD
(1) The Dweller on the Threshold is usually regarded as presenting the final test of man's courage, and as being in the nature of a gigantic thoughtform or factor which has to be dissipated, prior to taking initiation. Just what this thoughtform is, few people know, but their definition includes the idea of a huge elemental form which bars the way to the sacred portal, or the idea of a fabricated form, constructed sometimes by the disciple's Master to test his sincerity. Some regard it as the sumtotal of a man's faults, his evil nature, which hinders his being recognised as fit to tread the Path of Holiness. None of these definitions, however, give a true idea of the reality. (10 - 21).
(2) The Dweller on the Threshold is illusion-glamour-maya, as realised by the physical brain and recognised as that which must be overcome. It is the bewildering thoughtform with which the disciple is confronted, when he seeks to pierce through the accumulated glamour of the ages, and find his true home in the place of light. (10 - 22).
(3) The Dweller on the Threshold, always present, swings however into activity only on the Path of Discipleship, when the aspirant becomes occultly aware of himself, of the conditions induced within him as a result of his interior illusion, his astral glamour, and the maya surrounding his entire life. Being now an integrated personality (and no one is disciple, my brother, unless he is mental as well as emotional, which is a point the devotee oft forgets) these three conditions (with the preponderance of the effect in one or other of the bodies) are seen as a whole, and to this whole the term "Dweller on the Threshold" is applied. It is in reality a vitalised thoughtform - embodying mental force, astral force and vital energy. (10 - 27).
(4) The Dweller on the Threshold does not emerge out of the fog of illusion and glamour, until the disciple is nearing the Gates of Life. Only when he can catch dim glimpses of the Portal of Initiation and an occasional flash of light from the Angel of the Presence, Who stands waiting beside that door, can he come to grips with the principle of duality, which is embodied for him in the Dweller and the Angel. ... As yet, my words embody for you symbolically a future condition and event. The day will surely come, [Page 96] however, when you will stand in full awareness between these symbols of the pairs of opposites, with the Angel on the right and the Dweller on the left. May strength then be given to you to drive straight forward between these two opponents, who have for long ages waged warfare in the field of your life, and so may you enter into the Presence where the two are seen as one, and naught is known but life and deity. (10 - 39/40).
(5) The Dweller on the Threshold is oft regarded as a disaster, as a horror to be avoided, and as a final and culminating evil. I would here remind you, nevertheless, that the Dweller is "one who stands before the gate of God", who dwells in the shadow of the portal of initiation, and who faces the Angel of the Presence open-eyed, as the ancient Scriptures call it. The Dweller can be defined as the sum total of the forces of the lower nature, as expressed in the personality, prior to illumination, to inspiration, and to initiation. The personality per se, is, at this stage, exceedingly potent, and the Dweller embodies all the psychic and mental forces which, down the ages, have been unfolded in man, and nurtured with care. It can be looked upon as the potency of the threefold material form, prior to its conscious co-operation and dedication to the life of the soul, and to the service of the Hierarchy, of God, and of humanity.
The Dweller on the Threshold is all that man is, apart from the higher spiritual self; it is the third aspect of divinity, as expressed in and through the human mechanism. This third aspect must be eventually subordinated to the second aspect, the soul. (15 - 312).
(6) Memory . . . is not simply just a faculty of the mind, as is so often supposed, but it is essentially a creative power. It is basically an aspect of thought, and - coupled with imagination - is a creative agent, because thoughts are things, as well you know. From ancient recesses of the memory, from a deeply rooted past, which is definitely recalled, and from the racial and the individual subconscious (or founded and established thought reservoirs and desires, inherited and inherent) there emerges from individual past lives and experience, that which is the sumtotal of all instinctual tendencies, of all inherited glamours, and of all phases of wrong mental attitudes; to these, (as they constitute a blended whole) we give the name of the Dweller on the Threshold. This Dweller is the sumtotal of all the personality characteristics which have remained unconquered and unsubdued, and which must be finally overcome before initiation can be taken. Each life sees some progress made; some personality defects straightened out, and some real advance effected. But the unconquered residue, and the ancient liabilities are numerous, and excessively potent, and - when the soul contact [Page 97] is adequately established - there eventuates a life wherein the highly developed and powerful personality becomes, in itself, the Dweller on the Threshold. Then the Angel of the Presence and the Dweller stand face to face, and something must then be done. Eventually, the light of the personal self fades out and wanes in the blaze of glory which emanates from the Angel. Then the greater glory obliterates the lesser. This is, however, only possible when the personality eagerly enters into this relation with the Angel, recognises itself as the Dweller, and - as a disciple - begins the battle between the pairs of opposites, and enters into the tests of Scorpio. These tests and trials are ever self-initiated; the disciple puts himself into the positive or conditioning environment wherein the trials and the discipline are unavoidable and inevitable. When the mind has reached a relatively high stage of development, the memory aspect is evoked in a new and conscious manner, and then every latent predisposition, every racial and national instinct, every unconquered situation, and every controlling fault, rises to the surface of consciousness, and then - the fight is on. (16 - 207/8). See also: (6 - 47/8).