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CHAPTER I - Part 2

It was a Sunday morning. The previous Sunday I had heard a sermon which had aroused all my aspiration. This Sunday, for some reason, I had not gone to Church. All the rest of the house-party had gone and there was no one in the house but myself and the servants. I was sitting in the drawing-room reading. The door opened and in walked a tall man dressed in European clothes (very well cut, I remember) but with a turban on his head. He came in and sat down beside me. I was so petrified at the sight of the turban that I could not make a sound or ask what he was doing there. Then he started to talk. He told me there was some work that it was planned that I could do in the world but that it would entail my changing my disposition [36] very considerably; I would have to give up being such an unpleasant little girl and must try and get some measure of self-control. My future usefulness to Him and to the world was dependent upon how I handled myself and the changes I could manage to make. He said that if I could achieve real self-control I could then be trusted and that I would travel all over the world and visit many countries, "doing your Master's work all the time." Those words have rung in my ears ever since. He emphasised that it all depended upon me and what I could do and should do immediately. He added that He would be in touch with me at intervals of several years apart.

The interview was very brief. I said nothing but simply listened whilst He talked quite emphatically. Having said what He had come to say, He got up and walked out, after pausing at the door for a minute to give me a look which to this day I remember very distinctly. I did not know what to make of it all. When I had recovered from the shock, I was first frightened and thought I was going insane or had been to sleep and dreaming and then I reacted to a feeling of smug satisfaction. I felt that I was like Joan of Arc (at that time my heroine) and that, like her, I was seeing spiritual visions and was consequently set aside for a great work. What it was I could not imagine, but pictured myself as the dramatic and admired teacher of thousands. This is a very common mistake on the part of beginners and I see a lot of it today in connection with various occult groups. People's sincerity and aspiration do succeed in bringing them some inner, spiritual contact and they then interpret it in terms of personality success and importance. A reaction of over-stimulation. This reaction was succeeded by one in which the criticism He had made of me became uppermost in my mind. I decided that maybe after all I was not in the class of Joan of Arc but simply some one [37] who could be nicer than I had been and who could begin to control a rather violent temper. This I started to do. I tried not to be so cross and to control my tongue and for some time became so objectionably good that my family got disturbed; they wondered if I was ill and almost begged me to resume my explosive displays. I was smug and sweet and sentimental.

As the years went by I found that at seven years intervals (until I was thirty-five) I had indications of the supervision and interest of this individual. Then in 1915 I discovered who He was and that other people know Him. From then on the relationship has become closer and closer until today I can, at will, contact Him. This willingness to be contacted on the part of a Master is only possible when a disciple is also willing never to avail himself of the opportunity except in moments of real emergency in world service.

I found that this visitor was the Master K. H., the Master Koot Hoomi, a Master Who is very close to the Christ, Who is on the teaching line and Who is an outstanding exponent of the love-wisdom of which the Christ is the full expression. The real value of this experience is not to be found in the fact that I, a young girl called Alice La Trobe-Bateman, had an interview with a Master but in the fact that knowing nothing whatsoever of Their existence, I met one of Them and that He talked with me. The value is to be found also in the fact that everything that He told me came true (after I had tried hard to meet requirements) and because I discovered that He was not the Master Jesus, as I had naturally supposed, but a Master of Whom I could not possibly have heard and one Who was totally unknown to me. Anyway, the Master K. H. is my Master, beloved and real. I have worked for Him ever since I was fifteen years old and I am now one of the [38] senior disciples in His group, or—as it is called esoterically—in His Ashram.

I make these statements with a definite purpose in mind. So much nonsense has been talked along these lines and so many claims made by those who have not the experience and the mental and spiritual orientation required, that true disciples are ashamed to mention their work and position. I want to make it easier for such disciples in the future, and to "debunk" the nonsense put out by many esoteric (so-called) schools of thought. The claim of discipleship is ever permissible; it gives nothing away and only carries weight if backed by a life of service. The claim that one is an initiate of a certain status is never permissible, except among those of the same rating and then it is not necessary. The world is full of disciples. Let them acknowledge it. Let them stand together in the bonds of discipleship and make it easier for others to do the same. Thus will the existence of the Masters be proved and proved in the right way—through the lives and testimonies of those They train.

Another happening about the same time carried conviction to me of another world of events. It is something which—at the time it occurred—I could not have imagined, having no indication that such a happening was possible. Twice I had a dream in full waking consciousness. I called it a dream because I could not imagine at that time what else it could possibly be. Now I know that I participated in something that really took place. At the time of this dual occurrence this knowledge lay outside my field of ordinary recognition. Herein lies the value of the happening. There was no opportunity for auto-suggestion, wishful thinking or an over-vivid imagination.

I twice (whilst living and working in Great Britain) took part in an extraordinary ceremony and it was nearly two [39] decades after my participation that I discovered what it was all about. The ceremony in which I took part, I eventually found out, actually takes place every year at the time of the "Full Moon of May." It is the full moon of the Hindu calendar month of Vaisakha (Taurus) under its ancient name. This month is of vital importance to all Buddhists and the first day of this month is the national holiday known as the Hindu New Year's Day. This tremendous event takes place each year in the Himalayas. It is held in a valley and is not a mythical, subconscious happening but a real, physical plane occurrence. I found myself (whilst wide awake) in this valley and forming part of a vast, orderly crowd—mostly oriental but with a large sprinkling of occidental people. I knew exactly where I stood in that crowd and realised that it was my correct place and indicated my spiritual status.

The valley was large and oval shaped, rocky and with high mountains on either side. The people, crowded in the valley, faced towards the East and towards a narrow, bottle-necked passage at the end. Just before this funnel shaped passage there stood an immense rock, rising out of the floor of the valley like a great table, and on the top of the rock was a crystal bowl which looked as if it was three feet across. This bowl was full of water. Standing ahead of the crowd and in front of the rock were three Figures. They formed a triangle and, to my surprise, the one at the apex of the triangle seemed to me to be the Christ. The waiting crowd appeared to be in constant movement, and as they moved they formed great and familiar symbols—the Cross in its various forms, the circle with the point in the centre, the five-pointed star and various interlaced triangles. It was almost like a solemn, rhythmic dance, very slow and dignified but quite soundless. Suddenly, the three Figures before the rock stretched out Their arms towards the heavens. The [40] crowd froze into immobility. At the far end of the bottle-neck a Figure was seen in the sky, hovering over the passage and slowly approaching the rock. I knew in some subjective and certain fashion that it was the Buddha. I had a sense of recognition. I knew at the same time that in no way was our Christ belittled. I got a glimpse of the unity and of the Plan to which the Christ, the Buddha and all the Masters are eternally dedicated. I realised for the first time, though in a dim and uncertain manner, the unity of all manifestation and that all existence—the material world, the spiritual realm, the aspiring disciple, the evolving animal and the beauty of the vegetable and mineral kingdoms—constituted one divine and living whole which was moving on to the demonstration of the glory of the Lord. I grasped—faintly—that human beings needed the Christ and the Buddha and all the Members of the planetary Hierarchy, and that there were happenings and events of far greater moment to the progress of the race than those recorded in history. I was left bewildered, because to me (at that time) the heathen were still heathen and I was a Christian. Deep and fundamental doubts were left in my mind. My life was henceforth coloured (and is today) by the knowledge that there were Masters and subjective events upon the inner spiritual planes and in the world of meaning which were a part of life itself, perhaps the most important part. How could I fit these things into my limited theology and my daily life. I did not know.

It is said that one's deepest and most intimate spiritual experiences should never be discussed or related. This is fundamentally true and no true "experiencer" is the least interested in such discussions. The deeper and more vital the experience, the less temptation is there to tell it. Only beginners with a theoretical, imaginative event in their consciousness [41] claim such experiences. But with deliberation I have related the two above subjective events (or was the first subjective?) because it is time that people of standing and who are recognised as sane and intelligent should add their testimony to that of the frequently discredited mystic and occultist. I have a good standing as an intelligent, normal woman, an effective executive and creative writer and I choose to add my certain knowledge and conviction to the witness of many others down the ages.

All this time, I was given to good works. I was an ardent Y.W.C.A. worker. I was present (on sufferance on account of my youth) at the meetings of the heads of the organisation, because my aunt was the president. I spent much time visiting at large house parties where I was welcome because I was Alice La Trobe-Bateman and where I wrestled with the souls of my contemporaries in order to get them saved. I was very good at saving souls, but I wonder now—from the angle of more worldly wisdom—if they did not get saved with rapidity in order to get rid of me, so pertinacious and earnest was I. At the same time, the mystical trend of my life was steadily deepening; Christ was an ever-present reality to me. I would go off on to the moors in Scotland or wander away alone in the orange groves of Mentone in the south of France or the hillsides of Montreux on Lake Geneva and try to feel God. I would lie on my back in a field or by a rock and try to listen to the silence all around me and to hear the Voice—after the many voices of nature and within myself were stilled. I knew that behind all that I could see and touch there was a Something that could not be seen but which could be felt and which was more real and more truly essential than the tangible. I had been brought up to believe in a God Transcendent, outside His created world, inscrutable, unpredictable, [42] often cruel (to judge from what The Old Testament reports), loving only those who recognised Him and accepted Him, and slaying His only Son so that people like me could be saved and not perish everlastingly. Innately I criticised this presentation of a loving God, but automatically accepted it. But He was far away, distant and unapproachable.

Yet all the time, something within me, inchoate and indefinable, was reaching out after God Immanent, after a God behind all forms, Who could be met everywhere and touched and really known, Who truly loved all beings—good and bad—and Who understood them and their limitations and difficulties. This God was not at all the tremendous and awful Deity to which the Christian Church, as I knew it, bowed down. Theologically, however, there was no such person. There was only a God to be appeased; Who was jealous of His rights; Who could murder His only Son in some illogical scheme to save mankind and Who was not as truly kind as the average parent to his offspring. These were the thoughts which I thrust away from me as wicked and untrue, but subtly, behind the scenes, they nagged at me. Yet there was always Christ. I knew Him; He struggled and yearned over humanity; He agonised to save them but seemed quite unable to save them on a large scale and had, therefore, to stand by and see them go to hell. I did not formulate all this clearly to myself at this time; I myself was saved and happy to be saved. I was working hard to save others and it was too bad that God had created hell but, naturally, I assumed that He knew what He was doing and—in any case—no real Christian questioned God: he simply accepted what he was told was God's dictum and that was that.

This was my spiritual background and field of thinking. [43] From the worldly angle things were not so easy. My sister and I had not married in spite of opportunity, a good stage setting and wide personal contacts. I think it was a very real relief to our uncles and aunts when we came of age, passed out of the Courts of Chancery and were definitely on our own. In effect I came of age when my younger sister reached the age of twenty-one.

A new cycle then started for us. We each of us went our own way. It turned out that our interests were totally different and the first cleavage between us appeared. My sister chose to take a medical degree and after some months of coaching went to Edinburgh University where she had a brilliant career. As for me, at the time I did not know exactly what to do. I had an exceedingly good classical education; I spoke fluent French and some Italian; I had enough money to take care of myself most comfortably in those comfortable and relatively inexpensive days. I had a firm belief in Christ, for was I not one of the elect; I believed in a heaven of happiness for those who thought as I did and a hell for those who did not, though I tried not to think too much about them after doing what I could to save their souls. I had a really deep knowledge of the Bible, good taste in clothes, really good looks and a most profound and complete ignorance of the facts of life. I had been told absolutely nothing about living processes and this was the foundation of much disillusionment as life went on and—at this time—I seemed subject to a most curious "protection" in the peculiar and unusual work which I chose to do in my next life cycle, from twenty-one to twenty-eight. I had led an entirely protected life and had gone nowhere unaccompanied by a chaperone, a relative or a maid. I was so innocent that for some reason I was apparently entirely safe.

[44] A peculiar happening when I was about nineteen years old demonstrates this. I had gone to stay at one of the great houses in England, taking my maid with me. Needless to say I cannot specify the name or place. I was the only person in that very large house party without a title. The first night that I was there, I noticed that my maid was preparing to sleep in the little sitting-room off my bedroom and when I expressed surprise she told me that she did not intend to leave me alone, whether I liked it or not. I did not understand any more than I understood much of the conversation at meals. The many guests were, I am convinced, bored stiff with me; they considered me the complete idiot. The innuendo and the significance of the repartee left me guessing and feeling a fool. The only consolation I had was that I was well-dressed and smart and could dance. After I had been there two days, one morning, after breakfast, a very well-known man—charming, fascinating, good looking but with none too good a reputation—asked to speak to me. We went into what was called the red drawing-room and when we were alone he said: "I have told your hostess that you are leaving on the 10:30 train this morning; the dog-cart will be around in time to take you to the station and your maid already has orders to pack your things." I asked him what on earth I had done. He patted me on the shoulder and replied: "I'll give you two reasons. One is that you are a spoil sport from the point of view of most of the people here, although not from mine, for you always look so puzzled or so shocked. The other is that you do not look shocked sometimes when you should. That is really serious. I decided that you did not know any better and that I had better see that you were taken care of." I left as he had arranged, not knowing whether to he flattered or hurt. The episode, however, indicates not only [45] the stupidity and ignorance of girls of my class in those Victorian days, but also the fact that some very fast men are very nice and have understanding.

With this background and this equipment and with a firm determination that I was going to save lost souls, I set about doing something which I believed would be useful. I meant, however, to be free at any cost.