Extracts on the Arcane School

From The Unfinished Autobiography of Alice Bailey:

Mr. Richard Prater, an old associate of W. Q. Judge and a pupil of H. P. Blavatsky came to my class one day and the next week turned his entire Secret Doctrine class over to me. Among the papers which he gave me was one in which H.P.B. expressed her wish that the esoteric section should be called the Arcane School. It never was and I made up my mind that the old lady should have her wish and that was how the school came to get its name.

The basic training given in the Arcane School is that which has been given down the ages to disciples. The Arcane School, if it is successful, will not therefore in this century at least have a large membership. Those ready to be trained in the spiritual laws which govern all disciples are rare indeed, though we can look for an increasing number. The Arcane School is not a school for probationary disciples. It is intended to be a school for those who can be trained to act directly and consciously under the Masters of the Wisdom. There are in the world today many schools for probationers and they are doing great and noble and necessary work.

The Arcane School is non-sectarian, non-political, but deeply international in its thinking. Service is its keynote. Its members can work in any sect and any political party provided that they remember that all paths lead to God and that the welfare of the one humanity governs all their thinking. Above everything else, this is a school in which a student is taught that the souls of men are one.

I would like to add, also, that this is a school wherein belief in the spiritual Hierarchy of our planet is scientifically taught, not as a doctrine but as an existent and demonstrable kingdom in nature. There has been much church teaching given about the kingdom of God and the kingdom of souls. These are but terms for the phrase used above, the Spiritual Hierarchy of the planet.

It is a school wherein true, occult obedience is developed. This occult obedience involves no obedience to me or any other head of the School or to any human being. No oaths of allegiance or personal pledges to any individual are requested or exacted from students in the Arcane School. They are taught, however, prompt obedience to the dictates of their own soul. As the voice of that soul gets increasingly familiar it will eventually make them members of the Kingdom of God and bring them face to face with Christ.

We tell the students that if the School succeeds in deepening their spiritual life in widening their horizon and in increasing their mental perception it is up to them to work it out in the church, society, organisation or group, the home or community in which their lot is cast. Because of this we have active students who are members of the various theosophical organisations, each of which regards itself as the only true one. We have students belonging to four different groups of Rosicrucians. We have church members, Catholic and Protestant, Christian Scientists, Unity people and members of almost every possible organisation which has a spiritual or religious basis. We take people who have no beliefs at all but who are willing to accept an hypothesis and attempt to prove its worth. The Arcane School is therefore non-sectarian, non-political, but deeply international in its thinking. Service is its keynote. Its members can work in any sect and any political party provided that they remember that all paths lead to God and that the welfare of the one humanity governs all their thinking. Above everything else, this is a school in which a student is taught that the souls of men are one.

One of the interesting developments in the school has been our steady stiffening of the requirements of membership. Increasingly we find ourselves rejecting students who are strictly on the emotional level and emphasising the necessity for some mental focus and development, if the more advanced training of our senior degrees is to be given. As the years go by and the need of the world becomes more crucial the paralleling need of trained disciples also becomes increasingly apparent. The world has to be salvaged by those with both intelligence and love; aspiration and good intention are not enough.

From the writings of the Tibetan, Djwhal Khul:

It was my wish (as it is the wish of many associated with the Hierarchy) to see an esoteric school started which would leave the membership free, which would bind them by no pledges or oaths and which would—whilst assigning meditation, study and giving esoteric teaching—leave people to make their own adjustments, to interpret the truth as best they could, to present to them the many points of view and at the same time communicate to them the deepest esoteric truths which they could recognise if there was that in them which was awakened to the mysteries and which, even when read or heard, could do them no harm if they lacked the perception to recognise the truth for what it was. Such a school was started in 1923 by Alice A. Bailey with the aid of Foster Bailey and certain students of vision and spiritual understanding. She made it a condition that I should have nothing to do with the Arcane School, and that I should have no control over its policies and curriculum. Even my books were not used as textbooks and only during the past three years has one of them, A Treatise on White Magic, been adopted as a course of study and that at the very earnest request of many students. Also, some of the teaching upon the antahkarana (which will appear in the fifth volume of the Treatise on the Seven Rays) has been used for two years in one section of the fourth degree, entitled Weavers in the Light. The teaching on glamour has been given as some of the reading matter for another section.

No obedience is expected in the Arcane School, no emphasis is laid on "obeying the Master," for no Master is running the school. Emphasis is laid upon the one Master in the heart, the soul, the true spiritual man within each human being; no theology is taught; the student is under no compulsion to accept any interpretation or presentation of truth; he can accept or reject the fact of the Masters, of the Hierarchy, of reincarnation, or of the soul and still remain a member of the school in good standing. No loyalty is expected or asked, either to the school or to A.A.B. Students can work in any of the occult, esoteric, metaphysical or orthodox groups and churches and still be members of the school. They are asked to look upon such activities as fields of service wherein they can express any spiritual help they may have gained through their work in the school. Leaders and senior workers in many occult groups are working in the Arcane School, but they feel perfectly free to give their time, loyalty and service to their own groups.

This school has been in existence for twenty years [written in 1943] and is now entering into a new cycle of growth and usefulness—along with the whole of humanity—and for this due preparation is being made. The keynote of the school is service, based on love of humanity. The meditation work is balanced and paralleled by study and by the effort to teach the students to serve. (Discipleship in the New Age, pp. 781-82)

I have, therefore, been interested in three phases of the work: the books, the Arcane School, and the New Group of World Servers. The impact made upon the world by these three aspects of the work has been definitely effective and useful. The sum total of the useful work accomplished is what counts and not the criticisms and the misunderstanding of those who, basically, belong to the old order, and to the Piscean Age. They are, therefore, unable to see the emergence of the new ways of life and the new approaches to truth.

I have stood all this time behind the scenes. The books and pamphlets have been my responsibility and carry the authority of truth—if truth is there—and not the authority of my name or of any status which I might claim, or which might be claimed for me by the curious, the inquisitive and the devotee. I have dictated none of the policies of the school or interfered in its curriculum; for them A.A.B. is responsible. My books and pamphlets have been made available to school students along with the rest of the general public. (Ibid., p. 785)

The Arcane School is not a training school for initiation and the goal is not to help the student to get into an ashram or to contact a Master. The purpose of the Arcane School is, and always has been, to help the student to move forward more quickly on the Path of Discipleship. It does not deal either with the problems incident to the Probationary Path nor of the Path of Initiation. The Master Djwhal Khul has stated that in the new age the field of training for the disciple is in the New Group of World Servers. (Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. II, p. xii--Introduction by Foster Bailey)

The organising and work of the Arcane School is the spiritual project of A.A.B. and with it I have nothing whatsoever to do, nor shall I ever in the future guide or take any part in the affairs of the Arcane School. That is the task of those whom A.A.B. will choose to carry on. It is a living organism which will grow of its own inherent potentialities and under the spiritual inspiration of the energy coming from the Ashram of the Master K.H. in which A.A.B. is a worker and disciple. (Ibid., pp. 82-3)

The Arcane School is not one of my activities or enterprises, and has never been. In view of the condition of esoteric schools (so called) in the world, when A.A.B. organised the Arcane School she deliberately refused to let me have anything to do with it, and I fully concurred in her decision. The extent of my connection with the School lies in the fact that I outlined for her the degrees of the School, and once or twice—in my instructions used in the Disciples Degree—I appealed to the students for cooperation in some matter. Forget not that these instructions were not School instructions, but were the early form of my books and went out unchanged to the general public. Also, it has only been within the last five years that any correspondence course for the School has been arranged around one or other of my books. (Ibid., pp. 83-4)

1. The Arcane School trains disciples. Its curriculum is therefore eliminative. Its standard cannot be lowered. It is not a school for probationers. It will consequently always remain relatively small.

2. It is a school for adults wherein occult obedience is developed. This is not obedience to man-made rules or school obediences, but involves soul obedience.

3. This is a school wherein belief in the Hierarchy is scientifically taught, not as a doctrine but as an existent and provable natural kingdom; the rules of the Ashram and the dual life of the disciple are emphasised.

4. This is a school wherein the student is taught that "the souls of men are one."

5. No claim for place or power is made, and the claim of being an initiate is never heard. The Headquarters Group and the workers in the School are there because of spiritual inclination.

6. The Arcane School is non-sectarian, non-political and international in its thinking. Service is its keynote. Its members can work in any sect and in any political party, provided they remember that all paths lead to God and that "the One Humanity" governs all their thinking.

7. The fundamental doctrines of the Ageless Wisdom, recognised all over the world and as expounded in my books, constitute the foundational teaching of the Arcane School. This is so, not because they are my books but because they are part of the continuity of the Ageless Wisdom and constitute the latest emanation of the Ageless Wisdom issued by the Hierarchy. They must not be permitted to become a Bible of a sect...A.A.B. must not be turned into an occult authority. Those connected with the Great White Lodge favour no Bibles or authorities—only the freedom of the human soul. The teaching matters, not the source or the form. (Ibid., pp. 87-8)

One thing I would however like you clearly to grasp and that is the pattern which underlies the various aspects of the work now in process of expansion. A brief diagram should make the relationship clear, and these relationships are factual today:

working through
using many agencies, among them
working through
the Triangles, the Goodwill work, the Invocation work
allied with

The energy of the New Group of World Servers could be likened to the antahkarana which connects humanity with the Hierarchy and provides a channel of contact with the Ashrams of the Masters. The Arcane School can be considered as one of the results of the activity of the New Group of World Servers. There are many others scattered all over the world. The same holds true of the Service Activities. No esoteric group is soundly handled and correctly motivated unless the spiritual energies which are available to it and the knowledge and the wisdom unfolded find expression in definite service. The service activities are, therefore, an expression of the livingness of the Arcane School and that relationship must be valued and preserved. (Ibid., pp. 88-9)

It is necessary for you to remember that this group effort which I initiated with the assistance of some of the older and more experienced Masters, is by no means completed; it may be (and probably is) an experiment in this particular life for you, but next life may evoke from you a new attitude and a deeper comprehension of what is subjectively going on. It has been your lack of comprehension and of understood opportunity which has distressed me and bewildered A.A.B. Like all disciples, she had at first to work in the dark; she knew nothing in her physical brain consciousness of the Masters or the Hierarchy when she started to serve, but she continued to serve for many years till discovery rewarded her or (should I perhaps say?) recovery of ancient links and knowledge clarified her vision and her position in regard to truth. Slowly she now withdraws into that service which will (within the Ashram) enable K.H. to do more deeply spiritual work in collaboration with the Christ. It was to train her and thus enable her to do this that she undertook, alone and without my help, to found and organise the Arcane School; it gave her much needed training and experience and enabled her to demonstrate the quality of the teaching and that esoteric psychology which is the major task in each Ashram and particularly in the second ray Ashram. (Ibid., p. 101)

A great experiment is being attempted in the Arcane School. It is an endeavour to lift off the shoulders of the Masters the training of aspirants for discipleship and thus to prepare them to take their stand upon the periphery of an Ashram—in this case mine. I am thus lifting much along this line off the shoulders of other Masters. Masters such as K.H. and M. deal only at this time with trained disciples—such are the exigencies of world work. In the advanced section of the Arcane School this experiment is going on… (Ibid., p. 746)

The founding and the work of the Arcane School. This was started by A.A.B. to train those ready for esoteric teaching and to prepare them for the stage and work of Accepted Discipleship. The world today is full of groups occupied with the task of helping one or other of the groups of aspirants and seekers to be found everywhere, or with the more general undertaking of raising the mass consciousness. The Arcane School was therefore formed for two purposes:

a. Primarily to aid the Hierarchy in its work during the world crisis—a crisis for which the Hierarchy has been long prepared. The Arcane School was not and is not the only group with this objective, but it is definitely among the most influential.

b. To train probationary disciples to become accepted disciples, so that the Hierarchy could find those who could safely carry spiritual power and be channels of love and understanding to the world.

You can see, therefore, that the Arcane School is not so much engaged in helping the individual as in aiding the Hierarchy to salvage humanity. For this work, training is required, and the Arcane School provides this. (The Externalisation of the Hierarchy, pp. 322-23

…its aim is to train those disciples who can implement the Plan and thus prepare for the reappearance of the Christ; the Arcane School can therefore provide a trained body of workers. (Ibid., p. 633)

Foster Bailey on the discipleship of Alice Bailey:

A.A.B.’s last incarnation was dominated by two objectives, one of which was specifically hers and the other a collaboration with D.K. in his heavy task of providing the bridging teaching needed between the old Piscean age and the new Aquarian era.

She came into incarnation with a fixed purpose of creating a new age esoteric school for discipleship. There was a growing number of aspirants to discipleship with some esoteric knowledge, and this had been greatly augmented by the disciple, H.P. Blavatsky, but there were all too few trained, effective, accepted disciples. If there had been more, the crisis of the world war might have been handled on the mental plane and not precipitated through into physical warfare. 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.”

She asks us to keep the Arcane School bright and shining as it is now, to keep it filled with the saving power of a world-wide gathering of loving hearts, which it is, and to see to it that we truly serve. (written December 16, 1949, one day after Alice Bailey’s death)