SECTION THREE - THE SIX STAGES OF DISCIPLESHIP - Part 4
"The stage wherein the disciple is taught how (in emergencies) to attract the Master's attention. This has the peculiar name of the Chela on the Thread."
The whole question of psychic sensitivity of the higher kind is involved at this stage. I have taught in my writings most clearly and definitely the undesirability of the lower psychic experiences. This has been done as the need to warn aspirants anent this matter is great. The difficulty is enhanced by the fact that lower psychics are not easily reached and warned as they are ever determined that their clairvoyant and clairaudient powers are indicative of the advanced type of high spiritual unfoldment. Their minds are closed to all warnings and they function often behind a barrier of smug self-satisfaction. They forget that the aboriginal races and animals are all psychic and register that which the more mental types fail to record. The rank and file of the people are inherently astral in their activities, their interpretations of phenomena and their attitudes and focus. It is necessary, then, to enforce the warnings and awaken the average psychic to the undesirability of his astral life.
Disciples, however, put no aspect of the divine manifestation outside their range of experience. They know that psychism in its lowest phases is a part of the divine expression and is of an essentially higher nature than the purely physical processes of living in the body. A disciple cannot say that now because he is a disciple, he will not be subject to this, that or the other experience. He has to be prepared for all experiences  and to face the fact that eventually all disciples have to become psychics, both higher and lower, as was the Christ. The only safeguard for which he works is to prevent the lower powers demonstrating until the higher psychic faculties are functioning; then the lower are controlled and operated (if I might so express it) from the level of the higher consciousness. There is, to the mind of the disciple, only life and form and he is learning to handle the life processes through the medium of the form so as to produce a divine manifestation.
The world today is entering a phase of extreme sensitivity. Disciples must train themselves to help. The shift of the consciousness of ordinary and mediocre individuals will be on to levels of conscious astralism and the veil between the seen and the unseen will rapidly disappear. How can disciples be of service in that difficult period if they have no experience in the distinction and interpretation which must exist between aspects of phenomena? How can they rescue and safeguard others if they fear to enter into realms of life where the lower psychism rules? I am not asking you to cultivate psychic powers, but I do ask you to hold yourselves in guarded readiness to see and hear on all levels of service, and to know what you see and hear, interpreting it correctly, unblinded by prejudice and fear. The Path of Discipleship is not an easy one but its compensations are adequate. Psychic sensitivity is involved in the understanding of this phase of discipleship.
In your thoughts as you endeavour very briefly to study this stage, there must exist a correlation between the chela, the Ashram in which he is working and the Master. This correlation and the growth of this triangular relationship is always brought about through a realisation of tension. There has been much given to students upon the theme of the thread, the sutratma and the antahkarana. This thread leads from the Hierarchy and a point of tension in that Hierarchy (such as the Master at the centre of any Ashram) to distant places, to many planes and into many hearts. This thread enables the disciple (if he has been permitted to learn how to use it) to return instantaneously to his centre of work and to reach at any desired moment the "Master of his life." This triangular relation might be depicted thus:
The Soul * * The Ashram
An extension of this idea lies behind much that I have taught anent the Wesak Festival and should be in your minds when you prepare to participate in it.
The Buddha * * The Christ
The entire subject of the chela on the thread and the techniques involved in this state of consciousness are all related to the capacity of the human being, under soul control, to be magnetic and to "emit the vibratory call which can penetrate to the ear of the One Who holds the thread." This is quoted from a very ancient manuscript in the Archives of the Hierarchy, dealing with this stage of discipleship. I am for the first time making this information available in a brief and necessarily veiled and inadequate form to the disciples, assembling this cycle at the call of the Hierarchy. Only those who are at this stage of discipleship will really comprehend what I say and profit by the hints.
This fourth stage is only possible to a disciple who has been an accepted disciple for more than one life and who has demonstrated his ability to work with selflessness and pertinacity. The requirements can be stated as follows:
1. The disciple has succeeded in decentralising himself and is no longer the point of dramatic interest on his own little stage. He is no longer preoccupied with his feeling  nature and the excessive self-interest, evidenced by so many, no longer controls his thoughts and aspiration.
2. The disciple can now work with impersonality, no matter how his own personal nature may be reacting. This means that his own feelings, thoughts, likes, dislikes and desires are no longer the controlling factors; he is conditioned in his daily activities and relationships only by those intentions and activities which are for the good of the group. He will not sacrifice any individual to the group good until after due effort to help that individual understand and demonstrate right relationship; but he will not hesitate to take firm action as need and opportunity arise.
3. The disciple has developed a sense of proportion as to the work and the relative value of his contribution to the Master's work and the Ashram life. He is engrossed in the task and the opportunity and not with the Master and with his individual position in the Master's thoughts. Most disciples in the early stages of their novitiate never forget that they are disciples. This is what the Master Morya has called the "smug recollection of the self-engrossed mind." It is a form of veiled pride which beginners find it difficult to avoid. Never for a minute do they forget the fact of their discipleship and the fact of the Master, no matter how active their service; yet—if they were truly working from a point of tension—they would forget His very existence in the work to be done for their fellowmen.
4. The chela on the thread has reached a point where the higher correspondence to the so-called "split personality" is to be found, or (to word it otherwise) where that state of consciousness, of which the split personality is the shadow and the distortion, makes its appearance. The disciple is conscious simultaneously of two states of awareness or two points of concentrated activity:
a. The point of spiritual tension wherein he is focussed and which he endeavours to preserve inviolate and constant.
b. The focussed sphere of activity in the three worlds, through the medium of which he carries out his work and service as a disciple.
These two related points are not in reality two separated activities, except as they emerge in the consciousness of the disciple upon the physical plane and express his objective and his subjective life. They are incident to his having to work in time and space and through the medium of a physical brain. The second point of focus should be in reality an externalisation of the inner point of tension. In these words, you have the key to the true science of discipleship, to the developing relation of the human centre and the hierarchical. It concerns also the work of the Buddha and the Christ, as They represent the point of tension at Shamballa and in the Hierarchy.
Most disciples are not working from a point of spiritual tension, but from a point of personality focus—a step forward indeed from that of the average unthinking person but one to which they cling unduly long. As long as a man is focussed in his personality, the point of spiritual tension will evade him. He will be driven by personality aspiration and not by ashramic force and this focus in form will lead to trouble both to the individual aspirant and to his group. Spiritual tension, as a result of complete dedication of the personality to the service of humanity, stimulates and empowers but does not evoke the lower life of the personal self.
These are the requirements which the disciple must meet before he is taught to reach the Master at will and when an emergency arises.
I would like here to call your attention to the attitude of the Master at this stage of His chela's progress. As the name implies, the disciple at this point is permitted to call the attention of the Master; this is permissible only when the chela can be trusted to use the privilege solely for purposes of group service and never for himself or his own benefiting. This signifies that the disciple is capable of handling his life and problems himself and is not likely, therefore, to intrude his personal crises into the life of the Ashram. It implies also a chela of such devotion and essential basic selflessness that the Ashram needs no protection from his vibratory activity; he  never exacts from the Master any of the potency which rebuffs, as it is esoterically called. The Master knows that if a call comes from the chela on the thread, it will not be a waste of His time to respond, because the call will always be launched on behalf of group need and for the establishing of group purpose.
No matter what the Master is doing or what His preoccupation, He must respond to that call, for it is the endowed right of the trusted disciple to send it out when emergency demands it. You might ask how the chela knows that he can "get through" to the Master, using here a colloquialism. I can assure you that a complete inhibition rests upon him when the call may not be sounded—an inhibition, arising on his side of the relationship and not imposed by the Master—and he neither wants nor attempts to sound the call when there is a question in his mind. It is a matter of clear intuitive perception, the recognition of an unimpeded channel and an act of spiritual will. It is in reality a process of invocation and evocation. This whole concept of the chela on the thread lies behind the distorted teaching about the prerogatives and privileges of the priesthood and the relation of the Pope, for instance, to God or of the "elect" to the Deity. This latent and unfulfilled ideal is that of the chela on the thread and the Master and His Ashram, interpreted by the ecclesiastical consciousness as the Church. When the coming world religion is built around the work and the activity of the world disciples and knowers, then we shall see these symbols, called the "rights and prerogatives of the priesthood," correctly interpreted and truly expressed. The same symbolic inferences are also to be seen in the Brahmin caste in India.
This responsive relationship and interplay is only attained after a long cycle of the outer relation of the accepted disciple upon the periphery and finally within the Ashram. It does not come about as the result of any effort to fit oneself for this position of power and of influence in service. It is simply the silent and almost unconsciously achieved result of that self-effacement and self-forgetfulness which distinguishes the accepted disciple; he is decentralised and engrossed in the fulfilment of the divine Plan to the best of his ability. It is the reward, if I might so express it, of the worker who knows what  he has come into incarnation to do and who is endeavouring with dedication to do it. The driving urge of his life is the need of humanity and his expanding awareness of the immediate next step that man must take.
The major tasks of the Master when a disciple first enters His Ashram is to make him think along the lines of decentralisation. This involves the shift of the disciple's consciousness from himself to the work to be done and, incidentally, the answering of the questions:
1. Do you, in reality, know what your life task is?
2. Have you tried to carry this out in your current life processes?
3. Is your main objective the building of character and the development of purity? If this is so, do you not think that you should be on the Path of Probation and not deluding yourself with the idea that you are on the Path of Discipleship?
4. Are you preoccupied with human need or are you engrossed with your own position as a disciple, with your own spiritual problems, and with the delusion of the terrific difficulties in your personal life?
As long as you believe that your life is one of all engrossing interest and also one of exceeding hard places, you are only in the very early stages of accepted discipleship and have not yet cast off ancient habits of thought. These questions have eventually to be answered before the student has what I might call "the full freedom of the Ashram."
The Ashram, you must remember, is externalised only in so far as it provides a point of spiritual tension. From that Ashram, disciples go out to work in the world. The outer group, working in the world, or the exoteric Ashram, is externalised by reflecting the radiance of the inner Ashram and by establishing a magnetic field of spiritual power. This is done just in so far as the members of the Ashram who are found on its outer periphery relate themselves to the inner Ashram and therefore react to the note and quality of the inner group, gathered around the Master.
An Ashram is not a group of people seeking spiritual realisation. It is a centre of group activity, swept by energies which  (when given full and proper sway) enable the group to carry out the Master's plan and meet human need. You may wonder perhaps why I so constantly emphasise this need. I do it because that need is the main and urgent principle of invocation; it can and will evoke hierarchical response and thus put two centres—that of Humanity and the Hierarchy—en rapport. This is a group correspondence to the invocation of the soul by the personality and its subsequent evocation upon the plane of every day living, thus leading to a consequent fusion. An Ashram or Master's group is, therefore, a centre of invocation and when the individual disciple becomes a chela on the thread, it is as the reward of selfless service—carried forward at any personal cost. Then the Ashram can be a centre of unique world potency.
Chelas on the thread employ a peculiar technique, according to their ray; they work always through the head centre. By means of this centre, they sound out the call (an inaudible call, from the physical plane angle) which (vibrating along the thread) reaches the Master. These techniques are, however, taught directly to the disciple by the Master when He recognises His chela's right to the privilege. I cannot give these techniques direct to you. When you are "on the thread," you will inevitably have the information given to you.
This thread is not the antahkarana but a linking thread of living light. This the Master projects as the disciple's service evokes a response from Him. This evocation, however, increases its potency as the disciple builds the antahkarana between the personality and the Spiritual Triad. The chela on the thread eventually has the life thread (one aspect of the antahkarana) connected with this ashramic thread and hence the establishment of monadic control of the individual which (in its group form) signifies the control of the Hierarchy by Shamballa. The lesser and the greater relationship must ever be borne in mind.
To the average aspirant, the implications of this stage of discipleship are valuable from the angle of emphasising what has not been achieved. The implications are, therefore, negative. This is frequently desirable where accepted disciples are concerned whose attitude should be positive and intelligent.  The Law of Positive and Negative Relationships underlies all these stages. That which is higher is, at first, always negative to that which is lower; then interim changes take place which make the higher positive to the lower and lead, therefore, to the steady ascending of the Way of Life and the Ladder of Spiritual Ascent.
Stage V. The Chela within the Aura.
The definition, as given earlier by me, runs as follows:
"The stage wherein he is permitted to know the method whereby he may set up ... a call which will entitle him to an interview with the Master. At this stage, the disciple is called a chela within the aura."
It is a stage of discipleship which is far in advance of that attained by most disciples, because it connotes almost complete at-one-ment between the disciple and the Master's group. He has already been accorded the privilege of invoking the attention of the Master in times of emergency and is sure of His response. He has advanced from the point when he was being trained to become an integrated and useful unit in the Ashram to where he is a trusted agent. His orientation is now fixed and though he is subjected to many tests and difficulties, these are increasingly concerned with the group life and condition and not with himself. I refer not here to the difficulties of any ashramic group or to those connected with any group affiliation the disciple may rightly hold upon the physical plane, but to his responsiveness to the group need of humanity. Where this responsiveness exists, it means that the whole is of greater importance to him than the part. This in no way negates his ability to work with individuals or to give understanding love and compassion to those in his path of life who need it. But he has arrived at a sense of right proportion and of correct organisation of his life processes, trends and activities in time and space. He can then be depended upon always to substitute the good of the whole for individual good, as the personality might see it.
The Master knows that in the chela who has reached this stage He has a dependable instrument and one who can be regarded as no longer a drag on the life of the group. I have pointed out to you before this how difficult is the process of absorbing a new disciple into an Ashram; he has to be taught to advance gradually from the periphery of the group consciousness towards the centre. Each step forward necessitates care on the part of the Master in order to see that the Ashram is preserved from all disruptive activity. It is only when the chela has achieved "occult serenity" that he can be permitted to focus himself permanently within the group aura. This happens when he becomes conscious of the peculiar and specific vibration of the Master's aura. Hence, as you can well see, the need for serenity.
I would point out that serenity and peace are not identical. Peace must ever be temporary and refers to the world of feeling and to conditions susceptible of disturbance. It is essential to progress and an inevitable happening that every step forward is marked by disturbances, by points of crisis and chaos, replaced later (when successfully handled) by periods of peace. But this peace is not serenity and a chela is only permitted to dwell within the Master's aura when serenity has been substituted for peace. Serenity signifies that deep calm, devoid of emotional disturbance which distinguishes the disciple who is focussed in a "mind held steady in the light." The surface of his life may be (from the worldly angle) in a state of violent flux. All that he cherishes and holds dear in the three worlds may be crashing around him. But in spite of all, he stands firm, poised in soul consciousness and the depths of his life remain undisturbed. This is not insensitivity or a forced auto-suggestion, neither is it a capacity to exteriorise the consciousness in such a manner that individual events and happenings are ignored. It is intensity of feeling transmuted into focussed understanding. When this has been attained, the chela has the right to live within the aura of the Master. There is nothing now in him which will require the Master to sidetrack His attention from vital efforts to the unimportant task of helping a disciple.
An accepted disciple, therefore, advances—if I may so express it—through the medium of three vibratory realisations:
1. He reacts to the vibration, the note or the quality of an Ashram, according to his ray type. The periphery of a Master's sphere of group control is contacted by him and he becomes an accepted disciple in full waking consciousness. The Master is aware of his presence upon the outer fringe of His consciousness; his fellow disciples are also aware of another point of light within the Ashram, largely because of the effort they have to make to offset the new chela's personality reactions to the new mode of life, to the effects wrought into his consciousness by his penetration into the world of meaning and to the out-surging of his devotion to the Master. It becomes the task of more advanced chelas to protect the Master from the violent reactions of the new chela and to stand between Him and the neophyte. Some initiate-chela takes him in hand and acts as intermediary. The chela (as I have earlier pointed out) is in touch with the Master when, and only when, the Master so desires and it would be good and helpful to the entire group.
2. He realises increasingly the nature and note of his Ashram and advances from the periphery into the sphere of influence of the Master and His group; he then begins to participate more and more in the group life and is less and less interested in himself. He becomes, consequently, a more valuable asset in the Ashram and is entrusted with specific duties and tasks for which he is individually responsible to the initiate-chela in charge of him. The Master begins to contact him with greater frequency and—because he is becoming decentralised and his own growth and development are of less and less importance to him than service for others—he is permitted to attract the Master's attention when help is needed for the group, and thus becomes a chela on the thread. The antahkarana is being rapidly built and the inflow of life from the Spiritual Triad increases slowly and regularly. He has reached a point where, upon the outer plane, he is gathering around him a sphere of influence as a result of his soul radiation, via the personality. It might be stated that no disciple becomes a chela on the thread until he has many people in the outer world who (on a lower turn of the spiral) are to him what he is to the Master—chelas  on the thread. In a distorted and frequently unsatisfactory fashion, he is engaged in forming his own group and today this is very often the case. The world is full of struggling disciples, intensely preoccupied with forming organisations, with gathering around them those whom they can help, thus striking a particular note and learning the rudiments (the rudiments, I repeat, my brother) of group work as the Hierarchy seeks to see it carried out.
3. He responds powerfully and (from his point of view) quite unexpectedly to the realised vibration of the Master as He functions at the very centre of His group. He has known the Master's vibratory call; he has become aware of the quality of the Ashram which is evoked by the Master. Now he is admitted to the secret place to be found at the very heart of the Ashram and becomes a chela within the aura.
The aura of any form of life can be defined as the quality of a sphere of radiatory activity. Very little is as yet known about auras, and a great deal of nonsense has been written anent the matter. The aura is usually spoken of in terms of colour and of light, due to the nature of the vision of the one who sees and the apparatus of response which is in use. Two words only describe an aura from the point of view of occult knowledge and they are "quality" and "sphere of influence." What the clairvoyant really contacts is an impression which the mind rapidly translates into the symbology of colour, whereas there is no colour present. Seeing an aura, as it is called, is in reality a state of awareness. That the seer may in all sincerity believe that he has registered a colour, a series of colours, or light, is entirely true in many cases, but what he has really recorded is the quality of a sphere of radiatory activity; this he does when his own individual sphere of radiatory activity is of the same nature and quality as that contacted. Most seers register the astral range of vibrations of a person or a group and this through the medium of their own astral body. The impact of a truth or of a mental concept and its recognition is an expression of a similar contact, carried forward this time into the realm of the mind.
This explains the truth lying behind all so-called "expansions of consciousness" to which the mind of man can respond;  he registers a constant succession of vibratory impacts, emanating from spheres of activity; these range all the way from the early stage of increasing awareness through the development of the five senses and the three vehicles of contact in the three worlds of human experience to those recognitions which lead a man into the sphere of influence of a Master and later enable him to take what is termed one of the major initiations.
These spheres of radiatory activity are ever present even when unregistered and unrecognised. The evolutionary process is one of developing a response apparatus with which to register them; having done so, the next step is to react intelligently to such contacts, thus producing an ever increasing range of awareness which finally constitutes the sum total of consciousness.
I cannot here enlarge upon this theme as it proceeds under the impelling force of evolution. I am only here concerned with the fact of a Master's sphere of radiatory activity and its peculiar quality and ray colouring (occultly understood).
The factor lying behind and thus making possible each of the six stages of discipleship is the existence in the disciple of qualities, radiatory activities and emanatory impulses which correspond to those emanating from some particular Ashram. These, when they have evoked a response and drawn the disciple to the periphery of the sphere of activity of such an Ashram, gradually intensify their magnetic, attractive quality; they awaken to still greater potency the same qualities in the disciple, occultly pulling him closer to the central point, which is the focus of all the trained ability and the high-powered spiritual life of the Master at the very heart of the Ashram.
It is at this point that the disciple awakens to the realisation that his three bodies or vehicles—etheric, astral and mental—are only the reflections of the three aspects of the Spiritual Triad and that they can give him the key to his own being and also the capacity to respond to the threefold vibration of the Master, as expressed through His aura.
The teaching that the personality must be destroyed is a distortion of the truth; his focus of consciousness has to be shifted from the threefold lower nature into that of the Triad and this with the aid of the threefold soul nature. The mode of this progressive shifting is response to an ever higher rate of  vibratory activity. Just as soon as there exists, in the consciousness of the disciple, the ability to respond to the quality and the radiation, emanating from an Ashram, he moves forward into that sphere of influence. That in his own aura which is akin to the quality of the Master's aura is trained, intensified and purified. His own radiatory activity is enhanced as the ashramic life plays upon his vehicles until in time he becomes the chela within the aura. In a faint way, his vibration and that of the Master tend to synchronise.
I would point out that in this way, the disciple begins to make a significant contribution to the life of the Ashram. Each disciple who penetrates into the aura of the Master through similarity of quality and vibratory activity enriches and intensifies the group with which he is thus affiliated. As time elapses, the Ashram of a Master becomes increasingly potent, magnetic and radiant. Within that aura the initiate-disciple carries forward his work, standing at the radiant centre of the group life and working from thence outwards in service. He is ever careful to protect that centre from any quality of his own aura which is not in harmony with the quality of the Master and to keep (as far as may be) outside his own consciousness any thoughts or desires which might disturb the group aura. When he is admitted to this stage of discipleship that is his responsibility, and such a privilege is never accorded to him unless he is able so to guard himself and the sphere of influence of which he is now a part.
You can see, therefore, that the Hierarchy itself is only a great Ashram with a triangle at the centre, composed of the Christ, the Mahachohan and the Manu. Symbolically speaking, this triangle constitutes one radiant centre, for the radiatory activity of each of these Great Lords is such that They are swept into each other's auras in such a way that there is a complete blending and fusing. Every Ashram radiates some one major quality according to the ray of the Master at the centre; in the same way the Hierarchy radiates the quality of the second divine aspect, just as the all-inclusive Ashram (to which we give the name Shamballa) has the outstanding characteristic of the first aspect, life itself. This is not a quality, but that of which quality is an emanation.
The Master's aura (which determines the aura of the entire Ashram) has three outstanding radiations as far as the responsiveness of the disciple is concerned:
1. The radiation which comes from the higher levels of the mental plane, or from the lowest aspect of the Spiritual Triad. The potency of this radiation and the extent of the sphere of influence will be determined by the extent to which the Master is spiritually in touch with the Mind of God. I do not use the word "consciously" in this connection and when dealing with conditions above egoic levels. It is this particular radiation which evokes a response from the embryonic abstract mind of the disciple when the antahkarana is being built and is the first kind of contact to which the neophyte responds in the later stages of the Probationary Path. A direct line of influential approach is made between the Master and the awakening disciple as follows:
a. The manasic permanent atom of the disciple.
b. The knowledge petals of the egoic lotus.
c. The lower concrete mind "held steady in the light."
d. The throat centre.
e. The brain of the disciple upon the physical plane.
This is all of it necessarily relative but the moment that the disciple has established this line of approach to the Spiritual Triad (even in a small measure) he makes his first response to the aura of the Master. The distinction between the aura of the Master and the aura of the Ashram is that the Master's aura is dynamic and the group aura is influential, yet the two together constitute the group aura. When this initial response is made it results eventually in the disciple becoming the chela within the aura.
2. The radiation which comes from the plane of buddhi or of the spiritual intuition. This is an expression of the love nature of the Master and is that which enables Him to be in touch with the Heart of God. It might be noted here that these three radiations emanating from a Master and enhanced by the similar, though much less powerful, radiations of the inner members of the Ashram are the  factors which put the Master and the Ashram in contact with that which is occultly spoken of as the physical Sun, the heart of the Sun and the Central Spiritual Sun.
The line along which this vibratory activity of the Master reaches the disciple and draws him finally within the aura is:
a. The buddhic permanent atom, or the intuitional vehicle of the advanced disciple.
b. The love petals of the egoic lotus.
c. The astral body in its highest aspect.
d. The heart centre.
3. The radiation which comes from the atmic level or the will aspect of the Spiritual Triad. This is the emanatory expression of the capacity of the Master to enter into the Council at Shamballa, to register the purpose of God and to work with the Plan, which is the expression, in any given cycle, of the working out of the divine Will. This aspect of the Master's radiatory activity is of so high a nature that only the advanced initiate-chela can register it. It is transmitted into the physical consciousness of the disciple along the following lines:
a. The atmic permanent atom or the focus of the spiritual will, the first aspect of the Spiritual Triad.
b. The sacrifice petals of the egoic lotus.
c. The etheric vehicle in its highest aspects.
d. The head centre.
e. The centre at the base of the spine, which is aroused into activity in response to the vibratory radiation of the other four points of transmission.
You will note from a study of the above how abstruse and difficult it is to put into words the nature of the vibratory activity of the Master. All I can do—in default of your intuitive understanding—is to put into technical and academic terms (thereby crystallising the truth and somewhat distorting it) that which cannot be expressed.
This threefold radiation of the Master, as it expresses His planned activity and sphere of "influential emanation" is that which draws the disciple into His aura—not in this instance  the aura of the Ashram but of that which makes the ashramic aura possible—the Life of the Master.
One interesting fact might here be given. The moment when an initiate-chela has intensified his vibration so that it is identical with that of the Master and can hold that rate of vibration as his normal radiatory quality, then he himself becomes a Master. In every Ashram, there is always at a given moment some one disciple who is being trained to take the Master's place eventually, thereby releasing Him for higher and more important work. As you know, I was the senior disciple of the Master K.H. and when I became a Master, I released Him for higher work and my place in His group was taken by another disciple on the second ray; two disciples are needed to bring about the complete liberation of a Master from all ashramic work and I was the first of the two chosen to do this. The other has not yet made the grade. When this process of identification takes place, a moving forward of every member in the entire Ashram becomes possible, e'en though it seldom happens. Symbolically speaking, it might be described as a potent expanding impulse which widens the circle of the Ashram so that higher levels can be touched and lower spheres of influence can be included.
Some day, it will be all "realised Hierarchy" for the Hierarchy is but a state of consciousness with the life aspect, Shamballa, at the centre, and the circle of humanity constituting the emanating factor, the radiatory influence or the aura, whereby the other kingdoms in nature are evoked into responsive activity.
This is a broad and general picture of this stage of discipleship as I have attempted to convey its individual implications and its more esoteric group results. More I may not say, nor can I enlarge upon the process whereby a chela within the aura can at will and for the meeting of some urgent need confer with the Master in the Ashram. One thing only can I tell you. The Master always has three disciples who are His closest cooperators and intermediaries. They have emerged "into His consciousness," as it is called, in response to the radiatory activity of His threefold spiritual nature. They work very closely with Him and watch over the other disciples in the group  according to their need, their ray and their point of development. You will remember in this connection how even the Christ had three disciples who were closer to Him than the other nine. This is ever true. In the Biblical story anent the Christ, you have—among other things—conveyed a picture of an Ashram as technically constituted and of the Hierarchy as it essentially exists. There were the three disciples, beloved and close; then the nine, who completed the inner Ashram. Next came the seventy who were symbolic of the Ashram as a whole and, finally, the five hundred who typified those upon the Probationary Path who were under supervision by the Master, but not by the three, the nine and the seventy until the time comes to admit them to the Path of Accepted Discipleship. In the greatest Ashram of all, Sanat Kumara has the same sequence of relationships among the great Beings Who form His group of active workers. Bear in mind, however, that these figures are symbolic and not factual. The number of disciples in an Ashram varies constantly, but always there are the three who are responsible to the Master for all ashramic activity, who are in His closest councils and who carry out His plans. The chain of Hierarchy is great and immutable and the sequences unalterable.
In considering the theme of the chela within the Master's aura, we have seen that the true pledged disciple who has reached the stage of being an accepted disciple passes from point to point within the circumference of a Master's sphere of influence until he reaches a period wherein he consciously "knows" his Master's aura. Now that, my brothers, is a perfectly meaningless phrase, but it is technically and esoterically correct. I will paraphrase its significance for you in an endeavour to give you some of the vital implications.
1. He is aware not only of the Master, but of what is in the Master's mind. That means that he is telepathically en rapport with his Master.
2. He is consciously past all inward discussion of what the Master wants him to do. He knows the part which he has to play.
3. He responds sensitively to the Master's aura not only upon the inner planes of life and in the Ashram proper,  but also with his physical brain. He moves within the aura in his daily physical plane life. This process necessarily falls into five stages:
a. He is telepathically en rapport. His mind and his brain respond to the Master's mind.
b. He is, therefore, mentally aware of the content of the Master's mind. This affects his life and service and his mind constantly formulates the telepathic impressions into organised formulas which are then available for directive processes.
c. Being, at this stage, relatively free from glamour, he is able to respond from the angle of sensitivity and feeling and consequently able to bring through the Master's plans (his share of them) on to the astral plane.
d. Etherically, he can begin to work with and use the ashramic force which his Master and his soul can make available to him to use upon the physical plane. He becomes what is called a "projector of force" and can then produce results upon the physical plane.
e. His brain becomes consciously aware of the simultaneity of the above four processes so that he passes into a new phase of conscious discipleship. Through his own soul and the Master's sphere of influence the Plan lies open before him. I would point out that this is not only a higher stage of discipleship but presupposes initiate understanding.
The neophyte knows that the goal of the occultist is to work with forces. He fails, however, to recognise that this may not be consciously done until—
1. He has for a long time been simply a channel. I would have you reflect on that thought. The attainment of the capacity to be a pure channel and an unimpeded distributor is the first goal and it takes a long time. The force usually dispensed by a disciple, until the channel stage is automatic and established, is normally coloured by personality distinctiveness (even if a high grade personality).  The time has to come when the disciple can, at will, distribute the ashramic and group-soul energy in their pure state.
2. He has, therefore, to distribute energy and not force. There is much confusion in the minds of many disciples upon this matter. Until a man is an initiate of high degree, he seldom dispenses energy. He works with forces and they concern the three worlds. It has been said (esoterically) that "when the disciple can distribute the four forces and make their seven notes heard, each note of the seven having a fourfold expression, he is not able to work with energy. When he works with energy, he works with seven and not with twenty-eight." Reflect upon this. I would add that the twenty-eight belong to the seven and when the disciple works with seven, he normally and automatically releases the twenty-eight, working under the impression of the seven ray qualities.
3. He has to learn the uses of distinction and of synthesis. Herein lies a potent occult hint of special use to workers.
4. He is aware of the dangers incident to the untrained neophyte endeavouring to distribute forces, to direct so-called energies in a specific and particular direction. He realises his goal is to be a channel for a long time through purity of life, correct orientation, and non-criticism. This correct orientation involves a paradox with which all disciples must wrestle, i.e., to be oriented to the soul, and, consequently, to the Ashram and to be oriented at the same time to humanity. Only disciples close to the Master's heart (technically understood) and, therefore, consciously aware of His aura have the right—I had almost said privilege—to direct force in specific directions. When their status is not that, their task is to act as channels for the distribution of energy in a general and universal but not in a specific manner.
A Master and, to a far higher extent, the Christ, suffers far more from those in His Own household than from those in the outer world; His work is more impeded by the advanced aspirants than by the intelligent thinkers. Bear this in mind at this time. It was not the cruelty of the outer world of men which  caused the depths of sorrow to the Christ when on earth; it was His Own disciples, plus the massed sorrow—spread over the entire cycle of life, past, present and future—of humanity.
Disciples gravitate into world groups and many of them are doing far more efficient work than those gathered together into esoteric groups. The advanced accepted disciple has always his own group which he gathers around him for active and creative work. I would remind you of this. The gauge of a disciple's capacity lies in his influence—through pen, word of mouth, and personal influence—upon other people.
Under the Law of Correspondence, there is ever a numerical relation with established numerical entities. The six stages of discipleship are naturally related to the six schools of Indian philosophy which were in reality the six "seed schools" for all philosophical surmise and work. There are not six types of Ashrams corresponding to the six stages of discipleship because there are seven Ashrams (one for each ray type) and all the six stages of discipleship are related to all the Ashrams and all the seven ray types express (at some stage of their unfoldment upon the Path of Discipleship) these six steps towards the centre.
The centres, as used by the disciple in his unfolding progress, are dependent upon the ray type to a great extent but it is not my intention to take up this subject of the centres in this series of instructions. I shall be dealing with the subject at some length in the final part of A Treatise on the Seven Rays.
I would like, however, to make clear at this point that the Master never uses a disciple's centres as distributing agencies for force. In the last analysis, the centres are (when functioning correctly) reservoirs of force and distributors of energy, coloured by specific quality and of a certain note, vibration, and strength. On the final stages of the Path of Discipleship, they are entirely controlled by the soul, via the head centre, but it should be borne in mind that after the fourth initiation and the disappearance of the causal body, there is no form aspect or vehicle which can hold the disciple a prisoner or any way limited. After the third initiation, the lower centres have no control whatsoever over the outer mechanism of response; from  the standpoint of the highest occult training and when the disciple is in the Ashram itself, the centres are viewed as simply channels for energy. Until the time of the third initiation, they assume temporary importance in the training process because it is through them that the disciple learns the nature of energy, its distinction from force and the methods of distribution—the latter being one of the last stages in the training process.
The constitution of the ego, or Soul, is the factor of paramount importance to the Master in the task of training the disciple for hierarchical work. This necessarily involves the three higher centres (head, heart and throat). It is with the so-called egoic lotus that He is concerned and this is a point which the disciple is very apt to forget. The soul is preoccupied with its own life; the details of the personality life (its inadequate expression or shadow in the three worlds) simply make no impact whatsoever upon the soul consciousness. As the violence of the personality life grows, the soul which has been increasingly the recipient of the best the aspiring personality has to offer and which has been slowly turning its attention towards the mind of the personality, becomes also aware of an opposing factor to true soul expression upon the outer periphery of life. Then the battle of the higher pairs of opposites begins—the battle between soul and personality, consciously waged on both sides. That is the point to have in mind. This conflict culminates, prior to each of the first three initiations, in the confronting of the two opponents; the Dweller on the Threshold (of initiation, my brother) and the Angel of the Presence stand face to face. But with that battle, we are not here concerned. We are occupied with the theme of the response to hierarchical energy as embodied in the Master's aura and from thence transmitted to the disciple. The channel or channels of direction (there are three of them) might be expressed thus:
I. The Hierarchy.
1. The Master.
2. The Ashram.
3. The soul of the disciple.
1. The disciple.
2. The antahkarana.
3. The three higher centres.
This is the broad and general process, reaching from the universal (as far as the individual disciple is concerned), to the particular, i.e., the disciple in a physical body.
The detail of the descent of energy or of the process of spiritual inspiration (both these phrases pictorially present the concept of response to the Master's aura) might be put as follows:
1. The Master's aura.
2. The egoic lotus or soul body.
3. The inflow of ashramic energy, via
a. The sacrifice petals or the will aspect.
b. The love petals or the love-wisdom aspect.
c. The knowledge petals or the mind aspect.
This process will be affected by the ray type of the disciple.
4. The response from the disciple upon the physical plane and the receptivity of his centres to the activity engendered by the soul, under impression by the Master would be as follows: