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SECTION THREE - THE SIX STAGES OF DISCIPLESHIP - Part 2

This is the opportunity which is held out today before the aspirants and probationary disciples. This effort might be termed an externalisation of the Ashram. You have been told that it is the intention of the Hierarchy to restore the Mysteries on earth. This is the first step towards that objective. If this embryonic externalisation succeeds in functioning and if those participating in this new effort manage to work with unity, love and understanding, and if this proves so strong as to withstand all disintegrating forces, then it may be possible later to increase the membership, power and size of any Ashram. [696] This lies entirely in the hands of the group. Every new person who is put in touch with the Ashram becomes a definite responsibility. The work of integration and of absorption lies with the Ashram and not with the individual. This is not easily apparent until disciples are accepted and integral parts of the Ashram. Such disciples constitute a definite problem.

The question now arises: How does a Master form and organise His Ashram or inner group of which the personnel is provided from the outer group of aspirants? It must surely be apparent to you that a Master, in forming His Ashram, proceeds as automatically as does the Creator. He meditates; He visualises; He speaks and that which He seeks to create and to materialise (in line with the hierarchical Plan) begins to take form. By the power of His focussed and directed thought, He attracts to Him those whose type of mind synchronises with His, because of ray, karmic relationships, point in evolution and love for humanity. In the words focus and direction lie the key to any technique or method of contributing to what I might here call the reservoir of thought which is an Ashram. It is a sustained focus, plus a dynamic direction which makes this reservoir of thought contributory to world service and creatively effective. The important thing for an accepted disciple to grasp is what the Master is seeking to accomplish through the medium of His group. This entails, finally, the enquiry, in the mind of the disciple, as to whether he thinks, focusses and works along lines similar to that of the Master. How close is the disciple to the Master's thoughts? The Master is prevented by occult law from using any pressure or power in the effort to swing the minds of those whom He is influencing into unison with His. He may not impose His will upon the disciple; His desires, aspirations and wishes must not be the enforced directing agency in the lives of those with whom He is in touch. He may impress their minds with what He feels is needed in periods of world crisis. He can express to them what He feels should be done. But it remains for the disciple to decide and prove. Disciples are in a Master's group because of similarity of ideas, even though they sense and express those ideas far less clearly than He does and see the vision as through a glass darkly. But their innate convictions are [697] basically the same and their task is to discover the points of contact, the analogous idealism for the group effort and then to submerge their entire individual lives and activities in the recognised effort. Behind this effort stands the Master—an initiating and distributing centre of power.

Every Ashram or inner group is essentially a reservoir of thought and that reservoir has for its spring or source, the ideas, dreams, vision and aspiration of the Master. This is impulsed by His monadic potency, influenced by the One Who is His Master and developed and fed by His experience, unfolded as His wisdom grew and His capacity to further the hierarchical Plan had been dedicated, used and increased. Then it becomes a clear pool of thought, augmented and fed from the spring of many lives, from the pure vision and consecrated dreams of many disciples.

To this reservoir of pure thought, every pledged disciple is asked to make his contribution and, if he can do so, it will enable the Ashram to meet the need and help every aspirant to pass off the Probationary Path on to the Path of Accepted Discipleship. Every centre or focus of power has a definite sphere of influence and a true, active Ashram is a positive force within the centre which we call humanity.

The disciple now naturally and rightly questions how thought power and spiritual instinct are related, how they can work constructively and how their interdependence demonstrates. I wonder how I can make the idea clear to you? Let me first call your attention to the fact that it is instinct which leads a disciple to respond to a Master's call or note, to His vibration and to His group. Instinct, in its early stages, is the name given to the response of the material mechanism to its environing material world—the three worlds of human evolution. Later, upon the evolutionary ladder, the mind appears as an interpreting agency and the nature of the mechanism and of the environment is slowly understood. The relationships become clarified. Spiritual instinct is the capacity of the soul to register contact with the Hierarchy of which the soul is inherently a part, just as in the body a man's mechanical, instinctual responses, reactions and reflexes are an integral part of the material mechanism. In the case of the spiritual instincts, [698] it is the intuition which interprets and illumines the mind. The power of thought as employed in the work of the Ashram is dependent upon the power of the disciple to focus and raise the conscious mind, to contact the soul and evoke the intuition. When that has been successfully done, then comes the unison of the three factors: mental illumination, soul impulse and intuitive perception. This triple combination will produce that type of thought which will be effective in activity, productive of the Plan, conducive to selflessness and motivated by love.

According to the ability of the group, as a whole, to function under the impetus of the spiritual instinct will be the success of the Master to carry out His plans through the medium of the group. Under divine law, He may not work alone; He cannot work alone. He can inspire, teach, ask for cooperation and give guidance as to the needed work. Beyond that, no Master may go. In this world cycle, the work of the Hierarchy is conditioned by the disciples, and they can well understand, therefore, why the last fetter cast off by a Master is irritation! No initiate can form a true Ashram until all capacity to misunderstand, to express irritation and to criticise has vanished. The power of thought of a Master, if misused, could be a potent destructive force. He must be able to trust Himself before His Ashram can run on right lines and with safety.

In this work of assembling the necessary thought power for constructive work, the etheric web is definitely involved. It leads then to a reorganisation of the web. Academic explanations do not help the student to understand this. When the mind (the instrument of thought) is the vehicle of soul life, soul light and soul love, and the etheric web is responsive to the inflow of energy from the mind, then the reorganisation of the individual etheric web takes place. The individual etheric body is only a part, an aspect, of the etheric web of humanity; the steady reorganisation of the many parts leads to a transformation of the whole, when enough time has elapsed.

The medium through which this takes place is the Mind. The mind creates or formulates  those thoughtforms (or embodied energies) which express, upon the mental plane, the measure of the disciple's understanding of the Plan, and his [699] ability to convey the embodied mental energy to the etheric body—unimpeded by the emotional nature or by any lower upsurging desire.

The etheric body is a web of light energy, impulsed or motivated by the type or the quality of the energies to which it responds, from the angle of evolutionary development. It might be stated that:

1. Unevolved or savage man responds simply to prana or physical energy, vitalising the appetites of the lower nature, developing the instincts and thus laying the foundation of a physical vehicle as the outer garment of the soul. At this stage, intellect is embryonic; the physical appetites and the five senses are dominating factors. All this is due to the activity of prana as it pours through the etheric or vital body.

2. Average man is impulsed by desire which is an energy, emanating from world desire and which—developing or organising the astral body—generates desire-energy. It pours into the vital body and galvanises physical man into those activities which will lead to the satisfaction of desire. This is a parallel process to the work of prana, impelling the animal instinctive nature into activity. These necessarily parallel and produce conflict—the first clash (within the man) of the pair of opposites. Gradually, the pranic energy becomes automatic in its activity; the shift of the consciousness is into the astral or desire body and the functioning of the instinctual nature drops below the threshold of the consciousness. Man then focusses his life in the astral vehicle and his etheric body becomes animated by the potent inflow of desire-energy.

3. The developed man, with an integrated personality, gradually brings the etheric body under the control of mental energy and his physical plane activity is not then so much implemented by instinct or desire as by thought energy, dedicated to and expressing the nature of the man's plan. This plan indicates increasingly his intelligent desire—selfish in the early stages, complex and dualistic in the intermediate stages but slowly responding to the world plan and to the divine intent for humanity.

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4. Finally, when the power of the Triangles (the spiritual name given in The Secret Doctrine to the soul) is being imposed upon the personality, then their energy supersedes the other energies and the personality—focussed now in the mind and responsive to soul impression—expresses upon the physical plane, through the medium of the physical brain and the body, the intent, potency and nature of the all-inclusive soul.

The individual etheric web galvanises the automatic physical body into activity. The energies, controlling the physical body through the medium of the etheric web, are the four mentioned above. The conflict in the brain consciousness of the evolving human unit begins to assume importance when the man starts to recognise these controlling energies, their source and their effects.

It is immediately obvious that the work of the disciple is, therefore, almost entirely within the realm of energy and forces. The study of occultism is the study of forces and of their origin and effects. An Ashram is a place wherein this study enters the laboratory or experimental stage. The disciple is supposed to be in process of becoming aware of the forces and energies which condition him as an individual; these originate within himself and produce changes and specific effects in his life-expression upon the physical plane. When he knows himself to be the "Life and the lives" (as The Secret Doctrine puts it), a sum total of forces and a controlling energy, then he can be a world disciple and work significantly in an Ashram.

It will be apparent to you, therefore, that when a disciple enters into an Ashram and works in closer relation with his Master than heretofore, he begins to collaborate as far as is in him with his fellow disciples; then you have (in terms of occultism) a repetition of the relation between the "Life" of the group (in this case, the Master) and "the lives" (in this case, the disciples), of the central energy and the responding forces. From the Master's angle of the group problem, duality enters into the group expression. He, the central energy, must work through the forces. From the angle of the disciple, a force (which is himself) is brought into relation with other forces; [701] it must, at the same time, become responsive to an energy, that of the Master. This response comes through the recognition of identity of purpose, of origin and of nature, but not identity in the field of expression. You can see, therefore, that an Ashram is, indeed, a very vortex of forces, set in motion by the many types of energy within the ring-pass-not of the Ashram itself. The basic principles of dualism make themselves felt as the energy of spirit makes its impact upon soul force and personality force. Forget not that a Master expresses monadic energy, whilst disciples in His group are seeking to express soul energy and are doing so, in some measure, through their love and service. To this soul energy, they add personality force which arises from their being, as yet, focussed in the personality life, even whilst aspiring to soul consciousness. Herein lies their usefulness from the Master's point of view and herein lies their difficulty and—at times—their failure.

Disciples within the Master's group or the Master's Ashram have a potent effect upon each other, for everything in their nature is accentuated. The Master has to watch carefully to see that He does not unduly stimulate the disciples' vehicles through the very fact of His relation to them.

The individual disciple has, therefore, to watch the effect of three groups of energies which all make an impact upon him:

1. Those within his own nature (physical, emotional and mental) and those which come to him from his own soul.

2. Those which make an impact upon him as they come to him from other members of the Ashram or group. This effect will be dependent upon his being detached where he himself is concerned and thus responsive to what comes from them. The occult law is that the more you love the more you can respond to and include the point of view, the nature and the force of your fellowmen. This is vitally true also of a group of disciples. What protects most disciples from too great a sensitivity is their preoccupation with themselves and with their own  development.

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3. Those transmuted forces which come to the disciple from the Master or are definitely transmitted to him by the Master.

The goal for all work done by disciples, either in group formation or in the Ashram, is the expression, within the group, of the causal creative process. This is summed up in the words which I have already quoted to you "the Life and the lives." You have the analogous idea and its sequence of effects in the realisation that the Master (spirit or Monad) reflects Himself in or inspires the disciple (soul) and the latter is thus enabled to demonstrate soul activity upon the physical plane.

I would like to consider in greater detail the nature of a Master's group, sometimes called an Ashram. It might be valuable if I endeavoured to define an Ashram to you and so leave you with a clear idea of the difference between a Master's particular group, and the many outer groups which, though working under His inspiration and upon the Plan, are not definitely and technically His Ashram.

An Ashram is a subjective fusion of individuals and not of personalities, gathered together for service purposes. It is a blending of individual activity into one whole—a whole which is united on objective and vision but which may (and frequently does) have differing methods and techniques. The work of the Ashram is essentially the presentation to the world of those service purposes which are carried forward as seems best to the individual disciple, under the "impression of the Master" and with the cooperation of His group. A group of disciples is not pledged to do the same type of work in the same way and at the same time. They are pledged to work under the inspiration of their soul, as their souls may direct and dictate, strengthened by contact with the Master and with each other. They are related to each other through identity of vision and of vibration, plus mutual respect and complete freedom—particularly the latter.

As you ponder on this, I would ask you to realise that an Ashram is not a group of people, working under the tutelage of some Master. This is an important point to  remember. It is—as said earlier—a magnetic point of tension, a fusion of [703] energies, directed towards a common centre and involving two magnetic factors:

1. A united urge towards group formation upon the mental plane. This is the higher correspondence to the herd instinct of the animal world and of the world of men, but is of a spiritual nature and quite differently motivated. The lower herd instinct is motivated largely by the instinct of self-preservation; the higher by the recognition of the immortal nature of the soul, and by the instinct to serve even with the sacrifice of oneself. The law of "death unto life" controls. When the magnetic pull of the group is adequately strong, then comes the death of the personality life. Until, therefore, the group of disciples in all its parts expresses this outgoing sacrificial urge, it is not an Ashram.

2. The magnetic pull of the positive centre at the very heart of the group; that means the magnetic pull of the Master. As you well know, theoretically at least, at the centre of the Ashram stands ever the Master, or else an initiate or a world disciple. His task is to blend and fuse the energies, tendered and proffered by the group (under the urge to serve) and to indicate the field of service. The mode of this instinctual activity is called occult obedience and this is voluntarily rendered and unitedly followed. When any group—working in this way under a Master—is moved by one spiritual impulse and functions through one firm organisation (like electrons around the positive nucleus in an atom), the potency of the group will become immediately effective and not before.

I would at this point indicate to you that the so-called inner Ashram is to the outer group what the soul and its vision is to the individual disciple, working in his personality vehicles. It is the place of interior resort. Disciples can, therefore, grasp their growth towards fusion as an Ashram (in process of physical exteriorisation) by the development of their spiritual recognition of the inner group potency and their facility to contact the Master—both as individuals or in group formation.

One of the things which a Master has to do is to teach His disciples to study and register truthfully their usual point of [704] daily focus. This constitutes the true introspective training, and when followed sanely and wisely leads to the realisation of the true, persistent, inner level of consciousness; it fosters also a recognition of the need to overcome limitation (frequently not the limitations usually registered) and the necessity for breaking the barriers imposed by the personality. This whole process might be summed up in the following words: The purpose of the Ashram and the training which it gives is to enable the disciple to live truly on every plane which he has succeeded in opening up to his consciousness. It is important to remember that no one is integrated into an Ashram until he has pierced beyond the confines of the purely personal levels of awareness; until he is sensitive to the ray and quality of the Master of the Ashram, and until he is normally soul conscious. The achievement of this involves great responsibility, and it is the shouldering of this responsibility which brings about the first indications of what I might call "ashramic consciousness"—a consciousness devoid of self-interest and always preoccupied with the essentials of spiritual living.

The primary preoccupation of chelas at the beginning of their technical training is of a very varied nature and the Ashram life is usually merely an interesting background for daily experience and not the factor of importance which it should be, and not the main interest in the foreground of the consciousness. The necessities of daily living, the many and diverse family contacts, the resentments against life and its impacts, a dislike of criticism and of being misunderstood, the many problems of character, the pressures of psychic unfoldment and the pettinesses of circumstance frequently loom so large that awareness of the Ashram and its life is only an occasional inspiration instead of a fixed habit of life. The ability to make comparisons to the detriment of others (particularly of one's own fellow disciples or of one's own circumstances), the fear to let go and throw all one is and has into the life of the Ashram, foreboding as to the future and a host of mental thoughtforms, plus undue attention to the cyclic life of the physical body, present the Master with an appalling  picture of the liabilities with which He is confronted. The factor of the attitude of the Master is one which disciples are very [705] apt to forget because they are so basically interested in themselves and in their reactions and problems.

It might here be noted that disciples in an Ashram are primarily occupied with world affairs. As a group they are pledged to world work; as individuals, they are learning so to work. Would-be disciples need to distinguish between the effect (magnetic and dynamic) of the group and the conscious effort which the group may make, under united desire and the direction of the Master, to reach the minds of those directing world affairs and world happenings. The outer happenings are, to a certain point, predictable; they are the precipitated effects of hidden causes which lie deep in the subconsciousness of humanity. These can be noted and (up to a certain point) offset or stimulated by the group potency. This is one of the major tasks of the Hierarchy. The Masters work in the light and in the realm of causes. Disciples are as yet necessarily involved in the world of effects and, therefore, of illusion. To work dominantly with the focal points of spiritual energy upon the outer plane immediately involves certain factors:

1. A deep unerring love which "sees" in the light. Love is truly the revealer.

2. The power to withdraw completely, as individuals and as a group, from the world of physical reactions, emotional biases, and to work purely on mental levels. There the disciple is focussed in his lower mind, but consciously oriented towards the soul and is becoming increasingly sensitive to the intuition and towards the vision and the Plan, as well as towards the group soul and to the Master—all in this order of response.

3. Next follows the power, as a group, to formulate the desired thought-effect in such a manner that it will reach the mind or the soul of those you seek to contact, to project the thoughtform, built in such a way that it will be of the type and quality needed to evoke response, and so meet the need of those the disciple is seeking to help and strengthen. The projected thoughtform will embody the light and love, as well as the idea of the group in conformity with group vision.

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For how many is this kind of work possible? Not many, as yet. Disciples are usually more preoccupied with their desire to help than with the scientific techniques of helping. They need to take the desire for granted and then forget about it. I would ask all disciples at this time to make it their major effort to see the vision clear; to recognise, and know for what they are, those who are in high position, guiding humanity and whose responsibility it is to lead humanity out of slavery into freedom. Aid them with love because they are where they are through their individual destiny and the guidance of their souls. Life must be seen truly and faced as it is—not realistically from the world standpoint but realistically from the standpoint of the soul, whose vision is long and inclusive and who sees life as it is.

The acceptance of facts is one of the first duties of a disciple. In the task of aiding humanity, as a part of the Master's group or Ashram, the fact that there are men and women placed in positions of power to carry out the divine plan is one of the first to be faced. This must be done uncritically, avoiding constant recognition of their limitations, with an understanding of their problem, with realisation of the call of their souls to yours and the pouring upon them of a constant stream of "loving understanding." They are more advanced disciples than you are—little as this may be realised. They are—consciously or unconsciously—under the "impression" of the Masters; there is little that the average disciple can do for them in moulding their thought or in shaping their decisions. I refer of course to the leaders of the Forces of Light upon the outer physical plane. But disciples and aspirants can surround them with a guarding wall of light and love; they can refrain from handicapping them with thoughts of criticism which can swell the tide of criticism which the worldly minded pour out upon them. As to attempting to reach and influence the leaders of the forces of materialism, I would ask you to refrain. It can more easily be done because the personality of the disciple will provide an open door of approach. But they are far stronger than the average disciple and the task would, therefore, be one of extreme  danger.

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In the Aquarian Age (which is now so near, relatively speaking), there will be an externalisation of the inner Ashram upon the outer plane. Disciples, initiates and world disciples will meet for the first time in human history as disciples, recognising each other and recognising the Master of their group. The inner Ashram is a focus of souls, free and unlimited; the outer Ashram—under the future Aquarian experiment—will be composed of a focus of personalities and souls. Limitation will, therefore, exist; responsibility will require conscious recognition and there will be a necessary slowing down of both action and perception in the outer space-time world.

The true Ashram (of which the coming outer Ashrams will be but reflections) is not for lower concrete mind discussion. It is a focal point of receptivity; it embraces the effort to establish mutual contact through an united recognition of the vision, of the esoteric basis of life and the laws governing action. It is not a place, however, for long and silent meditation processes, for it is a point of tension where, together, the Ageless Wisdom in its more esoteric aspects is discussed, where the nature of soul relationship is recognised and where the fusion of auras and the inter-blending of the "Triangles" goes forward consciously. An Ashram is the state of mind of a spiritual group. It is a point of united thought; it is a centre for the clarification of the vision and not of physical plane methods of work. As disciples learn to integrate themselves into a Master's Ashram, they discover that the first thing they have to do is to establish a basic harmony between themselves and their fellow disciples and to reinforce the contact between their own souls, the ashramic group and the Master. Then they learn to comprehend—through discussion and experiment—the nature of the energies which are seeking world expression, and the nature of the forces which must be reduced to powerlessness, if these new incoming energies are to prove effective in bringing about the desired changes under the Plan.

They learn also that there is no weakness and no strength in themselves, as individuals, which may not be submitted to the group "gaze"; thus they arrive at the stripping away of all the "veils" which prevent the clear light of the soul from shining [708] forth. The goal of all work done in the Ashram of any of the Masters is Truth—on all levels and at all times. As disciples learn thus to work from the point or centre of light, understanding and truth into which they are being steadily integrated, their exoteric usefulness and effective service will be greatly increased; they will—as a group—know what has to be done and find eventually that it is done.

The major task of the Master in the early stages of training His disciple is to bring to an end the period of the disciple's intense preoccupation with himself, with his service, with his reaction to the Master or the promise of future contact with the Master, with his own ideas anent discipleship and his personal interpretations of truth. The Master takes a group of people with fixed ideas (which they are entirely sure are correct, being the best and highest they have been able to grasp to date) and with the conviction that they have reached a point where they have registered certain spiritual values and concepts, where they have evolved their own formulations of truth and where they are eagerly demanding the next step. The first thing, therefore, which He has to do is (using a strong and perhaps a strange phrase) to blast them wide open, give them a deep sense of insecurity as to the formulas and symbols of the lower concrete mind and so prepare them for the reception of newer and higher approaches to truth. This is frequently brought about by forcing them to question all the conclusions of the past.

We have all—disciples and initiates of all degrees—to enter the secret place of initiation with a sense of blindness (or loss of direction) and with a feeling of complete destitution. The disciple needs to bear in mind that he has to become "a moving point and hence a line"; he ascends towards the Hierarchy and assumes the correct spiritual attitude but, at the same time, he descends into what he erroneously regards as the depth of human difficulty and iniquity (if necessary), preserving always his spiritual integrity but learning three important lessons:

1. The recognition that he shares all human tendencies, good and bad, and hence is able to serve.

2. The discovery that the thing which he most despises and fears is the thing which exists most strongly in him, but [709] which is as yet unrecognised. He discovers also that he has to explore and know these despised and feared areas of consciousness so that they become eventually an asset, instead of something to be avoided. He learns to fear nothing; he is all things; he is a human being but he is also a mystic, an occultist, a psychic and a disciple. And—because of all these acquired states of consciousness—he becomes eventually a Master. He has "mastered" all stages and states of awareness.

3. The uselessness of past attitudes and dogmatic ways of looking at life and people (based usually on tradition and circumstance) when they separate him from his fellowmen.

When he has really learnt these three things, he is initiate.

PART IV

As we study the various stages in discipleship through which all must pass, we shall discover that one of the things which happens is the irradiation of the daily life. This irradiation emanates from the world of meaning in which the disciple is learning to live consciously and always. One of the problems with which the Master is engaged in relation to His group of disciples is to teach them the deep significance of the familiar and also the importance of the truths which underlie all platitudes. This is perhaps the most difficult task of all because of the habitual reaction to the familiar and the need to do two things: Prove that the familiar veils an important reality and that by penetrating to the "world of meaning," the disciple discovers that he can enter into the first stage of the period of preparation for accepted discipleship.

The first stage which we must study is that of "Little Chelaship." In dealing with this stage, as with them all, I would remind you that I am approaching the subject from the angle of what the Master has to do, and not from the angle of the disciple's work. There has been so much written on that subject from the angle of the disciple and so many books put out on the subject that familiarity with the theme militates against true apprehension. The effort to understand has been focussed upon the disciple and his problems of character and personality.

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It will not be possible for me to indicate the work in detail. I intend only to show you as far as is possible how a Master prepares the probationer to step from off the Probationary Path on to the Path of Discipleship. At this point, I would like to point out that I shall be dealing with a period covering the stages of discipleship from the first stage to that of adept. At the fourth stage, the disciple emerges out of his Master's group and becomes what is esoterically called "a fixed aspect of the Hierarchy." This is a phrase which is necessarily quite meaningless to you. He comes then under the influence of Shamballa and the mode of preparing people for association with that first major centre is very different to that of preparing them for participation in the work of the centre which we call the Hierarchy. The one involves the development of love and of group consciousness; the other involves the unfoldment of the will and the attainment of the stage to which Patanjali gives the name of "isolated unity." This is a phrase which is quite meaningless to any one below the degree of the third initiation. In this discussion, I shall not be dealing with preparation for the various initiations and their specific differences. I shall be dealing with the growth of what is called "ashramic intimacy," with the approach of the disciple to the world of souls and to the unfoldment of his consciousness in relation to the Hierarchy. I shall be concerned with his growth in sensitivity and his subsequent and consequent growth in creativity—not the creativity of form as much as the creativity of vibration, its impact upon the world of men and the consequent later appearance of responsive organisms, in contra-distinction to created forms. I would ask you to reflect upon this thought.

This growth in sensitivity is difficult to understand. The members of a Master's group and of His Ashram have to become increasingly sensitive—sensitive to the Master and to His pledged workers. You cannot be made sensitive or be rendered sensitive by some type of process or ordered training. Men and women are sensitive, only they do not know it, being so preoccupied with outer matters, with form life and objective things. Let me put it this way: What you say to yourself and to others—through your spoken words or your life—is so noisy that it is not easy to be what you are and to be recognised as a [711] spiritual being. The Master is guided by what He knows of you in your quiet moments of aspiration, by what you have demonstrated for years to be your fixed life tendency and by the manner in which you react at moments of crisis or tension. The task of the Master is to stimulate the disciple to be at all times what He knows him to be at his highest times. That is a simple and almost childish way of putting it but it serves to express the general idea. A Master does this because the need of the world for decentralised, forward-looking, loving and intelligent workers is so great, particularly at this time. Many have reached the point where they may become sensitive if the loud assertions of personality are dimmed and the light of the soul is permitted to pour through. Then the Master can be known and contacted. When you can get away from yourselves and your personal reactions, your own interpretations, and your personal demands, you will discover for yourselves how and in what manner the Master is seeking to impress you and the group with which you may be affiliated. You will become sensitive to that impression. You can then facilitate (as it is called) the activity of the Master by a profound and deep interest in the esoteric life to the exclusion of your own and also of the Master's individuality. There are many ways which can then be revealed which will aid the interplay between you, the disciple, and the Master.

As all the rays are the subrays of the second ray, we shall be primarily concerned with the second ray modes of working with disciples; they form the basis of all the other techniques. The differences which may appear lie in the application of processes according to ray type and the utilisation of emphasis upon certain centres. Again, I would ask you to ponder on this phrase because it contains much information for those who can bring the light of the intuition to bear upon it. I shall be dealing with the relation of a Master and His group to the individual disciple and not so much with the attitudes and procedures of the disciple. This, you will note is a somewhat new slant.

Basically and essentially, the disciple's attitude is not really of much importance in  comparison with the effect of the Hierarchy and its techniques upon him. The results are [712] inevitable, because they are dependent upon two important factors:

1. The first factor is that directed, hierarchical impression is not imposed until the man has fitted himself through self-discipline to respond to it and is, therefore, nearing the end of the Path.

2. The second is the factor of group response. This means response in two directions:

a. To sensed human need, leading consequently to a pledged life of service.

b. To soul impression, leading to spiritual sensitivity.

When these two factors are established—even if unknown to the disciple in his waking consciousness—the grip of the soul upon the personality becomes irrevocable. Then, and only then, the Master can begin to work and the response will be effective, real and lasting.

Now let me enumerate for you again the stages with which we shall be dealing:

1. The stage wherein the disciple is contacted by the Master through some chela upon the physical plane. This is the stage of Little Chelaship.

2. The stage wherein a higher disciple directs the chela from egoic or soul levels. This is the stage called a Chela in the Light.

3. The stage wherein, according to necessity, the Master contacts the chela through:

a. A vivid dream experience.

b. A symbolic teaching.

c. The using of a thoughtform of some Master.

d. A contact with the Master in meditation.

e. A definite, remembered interview with the Master in His Ashram.

This is definitely the stage of Accepted Discipleship.

4. The stage wherein, having shown his wisdom in work and his appreciation of the Master's problem, the disciple is taught how (in an emergency) to attract the Master's attention and thus draw upon His strength and knowledge and advice. This is an instantaneous happening [713] and practically takes none of the Master's time. This has the peculiar name of the Chela on the Thread, or Sutratma.

5. The stage wherein the disciple is permitted to know the method whereby he may set up a vibration or a call which will entitle him to an interview with the Master. This is only permitted to those trusted chelas who can be depended upon not to use their knowledge for anything except the need of the work. No personality reason or distress would prompt them to use it. At this stage, the disciple is called a Chela within the aura.

6. The stage wherein the disciple can get his Master's ear at any time. He is in close touch always. This is the stage wherein a chela is being definitely and consciously prepared for immediate initiation, or—having taken initiation—is being given specialised work to do in collaboration with his.... At this stage, he is described as the Chela within the Master's heart.

7. There is a later stage of still closer identification, where there is a complete blending of the Lights, but there is no adequate paraphrase of the terms used to convey this name.

I would have you note that the six stages above mentioned have been translated and paraphrased for occidental understanding and must in no way be considered as translations of the ancient terms.

Stage I. Little Chelaship.

This stage is so definitely exoteric that many people have left it far behind. The first indication that a man has reached that stage (from the angle of the Master) comes when the "light flashes out" in some one life; thereby the attention of the Master is attracted to the person. It might be said that the preface to the Master's interest falls into four parts and it is only when all four are found present together and simultaneously that this happens:

1. The aspirational intent of the man upon the physical plane suddenly succeeds in enabling him to make a soul [714] contact. The moment that that takes place the light in the head is momentarily intensified.

2. The karmic agitation of the man's life becomes greatly increased and—apart from his own individual karma—he, for the first time, consciously takes part in and shoulders a part of the karma of his group. This dual karmic undertaking sets up a veritable vortex of force in the group aura. This attracts hierarchical attention.

3. The next point is not so easy to explain or grasp. You have been told that the soul is in deep meditation for the greater part of the cycle of lives of any one individual, and that it is only when a fair measure of personality integration is set up that the soul's attention is drawn away from its own interior considerations and egoic affairs to those of its shadow. When this happens, the egoic group is definitely affected and the Master (upon the same ray as that of the soul concerned) becomes aware of what is esoterically called "a downward gazing soul." On the Path of Discipleship, the ego is all the time consciously aware of the striving personality and there comes a stage when (towards the end of the Path of Evolution) the soul recapitulates the evolutionary processes of involution and evolution. Soul energy descends and personality force ascends and this takes place through a process of conscious descents and ascents. I refer here to the process which is undertaken by the soul under hierarchical impulse, and not to that in which the personality invokes the soul under the desperate need brought about in the lower consciousness by the gradual cessation of desire.

4. Gradually the antahkarana is built and in this way the "greater Light and the lesser light" are consciously related. A path of light and energy is established or created between these two divine aspects. As time goes on, there appears in the egoic group what is technically known as the "linking light" or the "bridging radiance." This is the Path referred to in The Old Testament as "the path of the just is as a shining light which shineth more and more until the day be with us." In the esoteric [715] books it is referred to in the following terms: "Before a man can tread the path, he must become that path himself."

These four stages have been described in The Old Commentary in the following terms:

"The point of light shines forth. It waxes and it wanes. The point becomes a line through the starting of a vortex and from the centre of the whirling force, there comes a voice—invocative and clear.

The One Who sits in silent work, alone and unafraid (because the part is not alone and the group is unafraid) looks down, catches the light, reflects the whirling force and hears the voice.

Then from the silent point of power, a Word goes forth: Be still. Be silent. Know that I am God. The needed work will now begin.

Between the Great One and the little striving one, communion is established; the interplay begins; the mind assumes its rightful place. The Path is surely laid."

When the four aspects of inter-related activity are present, then what might be called "spiritual habits" begin to form and are steadily established. Their united effect serves eventually to attract the attention of the Master. The contact is still too feeble and the grip of the soul upon the personality is still too weak to warrant the Master Himself doing anything directly with the aspirant. The stage is one of pure mysticism and of selfish spiritual purpose. The recognition of group relationship is missing; the knowledge of group inclination is not present; there is no true, unselfish desire to serve. There is only a vague desire for personal liberation, for personal integrity and for personal lasting happiness. This has to be changed into group emancipation, group cohesion and group joy.

The first stage, therefore, in the training of such an aspirant is to relate him to a more advanced disciple who will lead him gradually onward and give him the help he needs. The reason for this is that the disciple is closer to the aspirant, far from perfection himself and is also learning to serve. This stage of development covers the period of occult enquiry and esoteric [716] investigation and usually is spread over several lives. The aspirant at this stage runs from one teacher to another, according to inclination, opportunity and necessity. He is an example of instability but is carefully watched by the disciple who has transcended this particular stage of volatility; his task is to see that the aspirant escapes from this "network of futility," as it is sometimes called, and that he gradually settles down to the later stage of interior investigation.

During all this period, the Master pays no attention whatsoever to the aspirant. It will be a long time before the aspirant will be admitted into His presence and make a personal contact. The chela who is supervising this interim stage reports to the Master at rare and widely separated intervals; it is only when the aspirant has reached the point where he "can enter into the light of the Angel," that the Master begins to take over his training. The disciple is now, irrevocably and finally, ready. This takes place at the third stage, that of Accepted Discipleship.

These stages are all of them related to one or other of the initiations. This one, called Little Chelaship, is related to the first initiation. This initiation is connected with the physical plane and, for a very large number of people (as I have several times pointed out) lies far behind. All true aspirants have taken the first initiation. This fact is indicated by their intensive struggle to grow into the spiritual life, to follow the way of determined orientation to the things of the spirit and to live by the light of that spirit. I believe that many who read my words will recognise these determinations as the basic motivation of their lives. This stage is a correspondence to the process of individualisation in Lemurian times and the stage of Little Chelaship is sometimes referred to as the "period of the Lemurian consciousness" leading, through the Atlantean stage of a Chela in the Light, to the Aryan stage of Accepted Discipleship. At this stage, the third and real preparation for initiation is consciously undertaken, because by then integration has been stabilised and the man is full grown and mature in his consciousness and is ready to subject himself to hierarchical  impression without reservation.

There is no need further to enlarge upon this preliminary phase, upon the weary, though inspiring path of discipleship. [717] Much has been given out to the world anent this matter with almost undue emphasis upon purification, service and devotion. The reason that I say this is that they should be assumed to constitute part of the exoteric life expression of all true aspirants. They are not esoteric causes but exoteric effects of inner attitudes.

As we continue our studies on the Stages of Discipleship, I would point out anew that for the majority of the aspirants in the world and for highly advanced people with a humanitarian consciousness, the first stage lies far behind. Many people today are "accepted disciples" and that is, as you well know, the third stage, and behind them, therefore, lie three experiences:

1. The stage of "Little Chelaship"—elementary, testing and disturbing. It is sometimes spoken of as the "stage wherein the roots of the man-plant are shaken; the stage in which they (up till now embedded) are loosened and air and light disturb the peace of ages. This is the peace of death, the age of stone, the tomb of life."

2. The stage of "Chela in the Light." About this stage I am now going to speak.

3. The first initiation. This initiation ever precedes the stage of accepted discipleship. No Master accepts a disciple and takes him into His ashram in whom the birth of the Christ has not taken place. Saul must become Paul, as the Christian phraseology puts it. The babe within the womb of time emerges into the world of men and, from the standpoint of complete identification with matter (the mother), he becomes himself and seeks consciously to tread the ways of life and to become what he is. This is an esoteric repetition of the physical process of becoming a separate individual. Between the stages of "isolated individuality" and "isolated unity" lies one to which the name of "isolated identity" is given. It is with this stage we are concerned and its esoteric implications. Isolated unity describes the stage which the Master has  reached; isolated individuality is that of the disciple; isolated identity (with the soul) is that of the disciple up to and including the third initiation.

a. Isolated unity is the consummation of the Aryan [718] consciousness. Isolated identity is related to the Atlantean consciousness, from the angle of the higher correspondence.

b. Isolated unity is connected with the mental plane, is governed by the fifth Ray of Concrete Knowledge or Science, and is a reflection of the will-to-know. Isolated identity is connected with the astral plane, is governed by the sixth Ray of Devotion or Idealistic Sensitivity and is a reflection—distorted and unstable—of the will-to-love. Isolated individuality is connected with expression upon the physical plane, is governed by the third Ray of Active Intelligence, and is a reflection—again distorted and unsure—of the will-to-be.

On the buddhic plane, the plane of the divine intuition, these lower three expressions and their higher prototypes are harmonised and the expansive work of the three initiations (second, third and fourth) produces an absorption, a fusion and a blending process between the disciple and the soul (and eventually between humanity and the Hierarchy) which prepares for a major contact between man and the Monad. When this takes place, the soul, creator of reflection and shadow, is discarded because that point of consciousness has served its purpose. The shattering of the causal body takes place and nought is then left but fully conscious form and spirit. Until, however, man has taken the higher initiations, he cannot comprehend the significance of the above comments.