SECTION THREE - THE SIX STAGES OF DISCIPLESHIP - Part 1
THE SIX STAGES OF DISCIPLESHIP
THE SIX STAGES OF DISCIPLESHIP
1. The stage wherein a disciple is contacted by the Master through another chela on the physical plane. This is the stage of "Little Chelaship."
2. The stage wherein a higher disciple directs the chela from the egoic level. 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. A using of a thoughtform of the Master.
d. A contact in meditation.
e. A definite remembered interview in the Master's Ashram.
This is definitely the stage of Accepted Disciple.
4. The stage wherein, having shown his wisdom in work, and his appreciation of the Master's problem, the chela is taught how (in emergencies) to attract the Master's attention and thus draw on His strength, knowledge and advice. This is an instantaneous happening, and practically takes none of the Master's time. This stage has the peculiar name of a "Chela on the Thread" or sutratma.
5. The stage wherein the chela is permitted to know the method whereby he may set up a vibration and 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 the knowledge for anything except the need of the work; no personality reason or distress would prompt them to use it. At this stage the chela is called "one within the aura."
6. The stage wherein the chela 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 prepared for an immediate initiation or, having taken initiation, is being given specialised  work to do in collaboration with his Master. The chela at this stage is described as "one within his Master's heart."
There is a later stage of still closer identification, where there is a blending of the Lights, but there is no adequate paraphrase of the terms used to cover the name. The six stages above mentioned have been paraphrased for occidental understanding and must in no way be considered as translations of the ancient terms.
SIX WORDS FOR DISCIPLES
1. Recollection, resulting in concentration.
2. Response, resulting in an interaction between higher and lower.
3. Radiation, resulting in a sounding forth.
4. Respiration, resulting in creative work.
5. Reunion, resulting in the at-one-ment.
6. Reorientation, resulting in a clear vision of the Plan.
THE SUBLIMATION OF THE FIVE HUMAN STAGES
The life has climbed the stairway long through daily use of form. Through the lesser three, with progress slow, the long path has been travelled. Another door stands open now. The words sound forth: "Enter upon the way of real desire."
The life, that only knows itself as form, enshrouds itself in vivid red, the red of known desire, and through the red all longed-for forms approach, are grasped and held, used and discarded, until the red changes to rose and rose to palest pink, and pink to white. Forth flowers then the pure white rose of life.
The tiny rose of living life is seen in bud; not yet the full blown flower.
The picture changes form. Another voice, coming from close at hand utters another phrase. The life continues on its way. "Enter the field where children play and join their game." Awakened to the game of life, the soul passes the gate.
The field is green and on its broad expanse the many forms of the one moving Life disport themselves; they weave the dance of life, the many patterned forms God takes. The soul enters "the playground of the Lord" and plays thereon until he sees the star with five bright points, and says: "My Star."
The way of red desire fails. It loses its allure. The playground of the sons of God no longer holds appeal. The voice which has twice sounded from out the world of form sounds now within the heart. The challenge comes: "Prove thine own worth. Take to thyself the orange ball of thy one-pointed purpose." Responsive to the sounded word, the living soul, immersed in form, emerges from the many forms and hews its onward way. The way of the destroyer comes, the builder and again the tearer down of forms. The broken forms hold not the power to satisfy. The soul's own form is now the great desire, and thus there comes the entering of the playground of the mind.
But in these dreams and fantasies, at times a vision comes—a vision of a folded lotus flower, close petalled, tightly sealed, lacking aroma yet, but bathed in cold blue light.
Orange and blue in some more distant time will blended be, but far off yet the date. Their blending bathes the bud in light and causes future opening. Let the light shine.
Into the dark the life proceeds. A different voice seems to sound forth. "Enter the cave and find your own; walk in the dark and on your head carry a lighted lamp." The cave is dark and lonely; cold is it and a place of many sounds and voices. The voices of the many sons of God, left playing on the playground of the Lord, make their appeal for light. The cave is long and narrow. The air is full of fog. The sound of running water meets the rushing sound of wind, and frequent roll of thunder.
Far off, dim and most vaguely seen, appears an oval opening, its colour blue. Stretched athwart this space of blue, a rosy cross is seen, and at the centre of the cross, where four  arms meet, a rose. Upon the upper limb, a vibrant diamond shines, within a star five-pointed.
The living soul drives forward towards the cross which bars his way to life, revealed and known.
Not yet the cross is mounted and, therefore, left behind. But onward goes the living soul, eyes fixed upon the cross, ears open to the wailing cries of all his brother souls.
Out into radiant life and light! The cave is left behind; the cross is overturned; the way stands clear. The word sounds clear within the head and not within the heart. "Enter again the playground of the Lord and this time lead the games." The way upon the second tier of stairs stands barred, this by the soul's own act. No longer red desire governs all the life, but now the clear blue flame burns strong. Upon the bottom step of the barred way he turns back and passes down the stairs on to the playground, meeting dead shells built in an earlier stage, stepping upon forms discarded and destroyed, and holding forth the hands of helpfulness. Upon his shoulder sits the bird of peace; upon his feet the sandals of the messenger.
Not yet the utter glory of the radiant life! Not yet the entering into everlasting peace! But still the work, and still the lifting of the little ones.
DISCIPLESHIP AND PAIN
"The sons of God, who know and see and hear (and knowing, know they know) suffer the pain of conscious limitation. Deep in the inmost depths of conscious being, their lost estate of liberty eats like a canker. Pain, sickness, poverty and loss are seen as such, and from them every son of God revolts. He knows that in himself, as once he was before he entered prisoner into form, he knew not pain. Sickness and death, corruption and disease, they touched him not. The riches of the universe were his, and naught he knew of loss.
"The lives that enter into form along with lives self-conscious, the deva lives which build the forms indwelt by all the sons of God, they know not pain or loss or poverty.  The form decays, the other forms retire, and that which is required to nourish and keep strong the outer, lacks. But lacking also will and planned intent, they feel no aggravation and know not clear revolt."
A word about pain might be in place here, though I have naught of an abstruse nature to communicate anent the evolution of the human hierarchy through the medium of pain. The devas do not suffer pain as does mankind. Their rate of rhythm is steadier although in line with the Law. They learn through application to the work of building and through incorporation into the form of that which is built. They grow through appreciation of and joy in the forms built and the work accomplished. The devas build and humanity breaks and through the shattering of the forms man learns through discontent. Thus is acquiescence in the work of the greater Builders achieved. Pain is that upward struggle through matter which lands a man at the Feet of the Logos; pain is the following of the line of the greatest resistance and thereby reaching the summit of the mountain; pain is the smashing of the form and the reaching of the inner fire; pain is the cold of isolation which leads to the warmth of the central Sun; pain is the burning in the furnace in order finally to know the coolness of the water of life; pain is the journeying into the far country, resulting in the welcome to the Father's Home; pain is the illusion of the Father's disowning, which drives the prodigal straight to the Father's heart; pain is the cross of utter loss, that renders back the riches of the eternal bounty; pain is the whip that drives the struggling builder to carry to utter perfection the building of the Temple.
The uses of pain are many, and they lead the human soul out of darkness into light, out of bondage into liberation, out of agony into peace. That peace, that light and that liberation, within the ordered harmony of the cosmos are for all the sons of men.
FROM THE OLD COMMENTARY
"The assuaging waters cool. They slowly bring relief, abstracting form from all that can be touched. The quivering  fever heat of long repressed desire yields to the cooling draught. Water and pain negate each other. Long is the process of the cooling draught.
"The burning fire releases all that blocks the way of life. Bliss comes and follows after fire, as fire upon the waters. Water and fire together blend and cause the great Illusion. Fog is the product of mist and steam and noise, veiling the Light, hiding the Truth and shutting out the Sun.
"The fire burns fiercely. Pain and the waters disappear. Cold, heat, the light of day, the radiance of the rising sun and perfect knowledge of the Truth appear.
"This is the path for all who seek the Light. First form, and all its longing. Then pain. Then the assuaging waters and the appearance of a little fire. The fire grows, and heat is then active within the tiny sphere and does its fiery work. Moisture likewise is seen; dense fog, and to the pain is added sad bewilderment, for they who use the fire of mind during the early stage are lost within a light illusory.
"Fierce grows the heat; next comes the loss of power to suffer. When this stage has been outgrown, there comes the shining of the unobstructed Sun and the clear bright light of Truth. This is the path back to the hidden centre.
"Use pain. Call for the fire, O Pilgrim, in a strange and foreign land. The waters wash away the mud and slime of nature's growth. The fires burn the hindering forms which seek to hold the pilgrim back and so bring release. The living waters, as a river, sweep the pilgrim to the Father's Heart. The fires destroy the veil, hiding the Father's Face."
DISCIPLESHIP AND ITS END
There is a curious and ancient Atlantean chant which is no longer used but in those far off times was chanted by the initiate who took the third initiation—the consummating initiation of that period. It goes as follows. The translation of the symbols in which it was written necessitates the loss of rhythm and potency.
"I stand between the Heavens and Earth! I vision God; I see the forms God took. I hate them both. Naught do  they mean to me, for one I cannot reach, and for the lower of the two I have no longer any love.
"Torn I am. Space and its Life I cannot know, and so I want it not. Time and its myriad forms, I know too well. Pendant I hang betwixt the two, desiring neither.
"God from high Heaven speaks. There is a change. I hear with ear attentive, and, listening, turn my head. That which I visioned, yet visioning could not reach, is nearer to my heart. Old longings come again, yet die. Old chains of glamour snap. Forward I rush.
"Myriads of voices speak and halt me in my tracks. The thunder of the sounds of earth shuts out the voice of God. I turn me on my forward path, and vision once again the long held joys of earth, and flesh and kin. I lose the vision of eternal things. The voice of God dies out.
"Torn again am I, but only for a little time. Backward and forward shifts my little self, e'en as a bird soars into heaven and settles back again upon the tree. Yet God, in His high place, outlasts the little bird. Thus do I know that God will victor be and later hold my mind and me in thrall.
"Hark to the joyous paean that I chant; the work is done. My ear is deaf to all the calls of earth, except to that small voice of all the hidden souls within the outer forms, for they are as myself; with them I am at-one.
"God's voice rings clear, and in its tones and overtones the little voices of the little forms dim and fade out. I dwell within a world of unity. I know all souls are one.
"Swept am I by the universal Life and as I sweep upon my onward way—the way of God—I see all lesser energies die out. I am the One; I, God. I am the form in which all forms are merged. I am the soul in which all souls are fused. I am the Life, and in that Life, all little lives remain."
These words, chanted in the ancient formulas on peculiar and selected notes, were most potent and brought definite results in certain ancient ceremonies that have long since died out.
The world today is going through a preparation period and an interlude of adjustment to the new world and the new order which is coming into being. This new world is verily a new creation and with its activities the Masters are today engaged, working as always through the medium of Their disciples. In this preparatory period, the Masters are today occupied, among other things, with preparing disciples for constructive work for service and eventually for initiation. They are consequently occupied with forming new groups of disciples who can gradually be integrated into existent groups and be available for world service. It is planned to do this on a large scale because of world need and the willingness of the world aspirants to take the personal risks, incident to this preparatory work.
There are certain very simple rules to which I would refer and which form a foundation of truths which you already accept as necessary to all spiritual advancement. These are the accepted requirements and are recognised as present in all whom the Masters take in hand and weld into Their groups for service. They are:
1. The recognised need to tune in, as far as the individual aspirant can, on world need as it is gradually emerging. It must be borne in mind that the requirements for those who will work at this bringing into being the new world will be of a different nature in many ways from the past. This must be carefully borne in mind. The world need must be approached mentally and spiritually and not emotionally. So many aspirants and would-be disciples are emotional; they shrink from the facing of existent facts and approach problems from their own preconceived ideas of service and their own established idealisms.
2. The achievement of a finer sense of values. Rest, amusement, idleness, argument and criticism have no real place in a disciple's life for the next few years. A sane handling of the physical mechanism will be required, plus a divine indifference to personal feeling and health reactions. Complete dedication to the meeting of human need;  utter consecration to the Plan; intelligent cooperation with all whom you recognise to be senior disciples; adequate care to take right action in circumstances so that your efficiency is not impaired; the conservation of energy through silence and through that constant radiation which is based on self-forgetfulness—that is what is asked of the disciple in the world today, this is what the Hierarchy expects and this is what will eventually open the door of initiation. That door has to be opened more widely at this time by the accepted disciples of the world so that more and more of the human race may more easily enter. Self-interest will not open it.
3. The development of a fluidity of mind and attitude which will recognise the fact that—though the Plan stands—techniques, presentations, idealisms and methods must necessarily change. This is not an easy thing to do. The Plan, as I have outlined it to you in the past, was but a skeleton outline and simply an underlying basic structure. It was the steel scaffolding of the new world-to-be as regards that part of it which you could aid in materialising.
It is not easy for the average person to be fluid and to change details and methods in relation to that which has been taught in the past and about which he has evolved definite and distinct ideas. Are you, therefore, prepared to throw these overboard and work in the way which will meet the new world need under the new incoming influences?
The disciple upon whom the Master can most confidently depend is the one who can—in periods of change—preserve that which is good and fundamental while breaking from the past and add to it that which is of immediate service in the present. An attitude of spiritual compromise is right, needed and very rare to find. Most of the things about which there may be argument and contention among disciples concern methods and relative non-essentials; they deal with points of organisation. They are not so important as the inner unity of vision and the ability to concede where no wrong is involved and where a fellow worker fails to see the point. Disciples need to see to it that they do not hinder by any form of self-assertion,  or by the imposition of their own ideas or by any authoritarianism, based on past procedure. Ponder on this. The disciple who is sure that he is always right and who is confident that his interpretation of what is needed is infallibly correct and that others must be moulded into cooperation with his planned procedures can greatly hinder the good work. The task of the modern disciple is to sense need and then to meet it and this, again, is part of the new emerging technique of invocation and evocation.
The life of a disciple is a gradual but steady moving in towards the centre, and accepted disciples are definitely a part of the Hierarchy. The Hierarchy is a place of fusion of all souls upon the higher levels of the mental plane. Just in so far as a person comes under soul impression, then soul control and final identification with the soul, just so far does he move towards the centre of fusion. As your love for humanity increases and your interest in yourself decreases, so will you move towards that centre of light and love where the Masters stand in spiritual being.
Later, we will consider the various stages of discipleship but in the meantime it is of value for you to focus your attention upon the relation of the Hierarchy to all accepted disciples. It is just because you are beginners that the whole subject evokes your deep interest. The beginner is full of questions upon all sorts of subjects. The trained disciple is so preoccupied with the Plan, so infused with love for his fellowmen that his entire orientation is towards the service of the Plan and not towards his own individual progress or towards the Master. The closer he gets to the centre and towards the Master, the less attention the Master pays him and the less he is occupied with thinking about the Master. In the early stages, he perhaps necessarily thinks much about his relation to the Hierarchy, to the Master and to his own soul. In the intermediate stage, he is occupied with the achieving of a sense of proportion and a right inner adjustment so that "he faces two ways and each way sees the same vision." In the final stages when he is the disciple who is also the Master, his consciousness is absorbed into the will of the Creator; his attitude is one of unchanging love and his work is that of radiation— a radiation which evokes activity in others, initiates a response from his fellowmen and carries the Plan the next step forward in meeting the immediate need of humanity.
In this creative work to which I have referred above and to which all disciples can contribute, the work and the task of the Masters is to project into the world those thoughts and those formulated divine ideas, those concepts and significances which embody—at any one time—the immediate Plan for humanity. A Master, therefore, searches for those minds which are sensitive to this Plan. He is not primarily occupied in looking for people who are good—so-called. Self-forgetfulness and straight kindness means ever harmlessness and that connotes the utmost good. He seeks for those types of people who can respond in unison to that aspect of the Plan for which the Master is responsible and for those who can be taught to subordinate their personalities to its requirements. They have no selfish purposes and desire nothing but only to aid the Master and those senior disciples who may be working under His supervision at some aspect of the Plan. This involves, as I have pointed out, their training in adaptation, in the recognition of true values, in fluidity of ideas, and selfless work for their fellowmen.
A Master's group is not a place wherein disciples are taught to make their personality adjustment and soul contact. It is not a place where character discipline is imposed and right relations established between the personnel of a group of junior or senior disciples. The rules for instituting soul control are ancient and well-known. They have to be practised for long periods before the stage of accepted discipleship is reached. The contest with the lower nature and the building in of the needed qualities which are essential to the world worker are the normal theme of life experience and, therefore, humanity in its intelligent brackets is constantly and steadily undergoing this training. The capacity to work in collaboration with others at some directed piece of work is a part of the evolutionary process itself and is inevitable. I want to make entirely clear to you that the practices of a purificatory nature and the cultivated right habits of thought which are the major undertaking of an aspirant's life are not the major undertaking of the disciple.  They are regarded as incidental and foundational; they concern the handling of the personal self and are the task of the individual soul and are carried forward under soul supervision and not under the supervision of a Master. What, therefore, is the contribution and work of the disciple?
The group of every Master is distinguished by its thought content, contributed by the disciples and used by the Master in His work for humanity. Therefore, the thought life of every disciple must be conditioned by three factors:
1. By its power. This is dependent upon right spiritual instinct, right understanding and interpretation of ideas and correct formulation of these ideas.
2. By its purity. This grows naturally out of a growing capacity for unlimited, non-separative love, clear vision and the unimpeded flow of soul force.
3. By its correct precipitation. This precipitation of thought is due to clearly directed intent, to comprehension of the purpose for which a group of disciples exists, and an increasingly intelligent participation in the Master's creative activity.
The group of a Master is a focus of power, built up by the Master in three ways:
1. By the potency of His Own thought life, evoked by His response to the united hierarchical purpose and a growing ability to respond to Shamballa.
2. By His ability to integrate the centre of power (His group for which He has made Himself responsible) into the immediate activity of the Hierarchy.
3. By His wisdom in His choice of collaborators. His group of disciples will be effective in world service and useful to His Superiors just in so far as He employs judgment in gathering together the men and women whom He is preparing for initiation.
I use the word "initiation" here because I want all disciples who read my words to realise that initiation is not something which they undergo as a result of any training which they may receive from a Master or because they have reached a certain  stage of advanced evolution. It is a process of continuing integration into centres of force, i.e., into a Master's group, into the Hierarchy as a whole and consciously, and—as disciples attain adeptship—into Shamballa. You can see, therefore, that a Master can be greatly hindered or aided in His work for humanity by His choice of disciples. They should ponder on this fact because in so doing the process of decentralisation will proceed more rapidly and their love and service will consequently increase with a paralleling certainty and surety.
I would have all disciples grasp this clearly and so get into their consciousness the idea of contribution, watching their thought life with care, so that there may be in it that which will increase the potency and purity of the ideal which at any time is dominating the group and which will be of such a quality that it will precipitate that "pool of thought" with which all disciples can be in rapport and entitled to use.
I would have you also remember that a Master's group is a centre of energy into which the disciple is precipitated and that its effect upon him, as a personality, is eliminative and evocative. Those two words cover the life of every disciple. They are singularly descriptive of what is happening to humanity, as the process (so long foretold) of externalising the Hierarchy and restoring the Mysteries upon the outer plane, is slowly proceeding. The Hierarchy is essentially the group of the Lord of the World; it is His Ashram. In this statement lies the enunciation of a relatively new truth as far as human knowledge is concerned. Before the Hierarchy can work more openly and with fuller recognition by mankind, there must be the elimination of all hate and all sense of separateness and the evocation of good will and right human relations as the result of the activities of all disciples. The widespread recognition of the evil of the present war and of errors in every national policy make it possible eventually to produce a general attitude which will clear the way for the needed right adjustments. It is the same process of awakening and of consequent strife which disciples experience in their individual lives and which prepare them for the stage of accepted disciple.
The vortex of force into which the disciple is plunged (by right of his own effort and the decision of his Master) gives him  a needed training in the handling of those energies which are the substance of all creation, thus enabling him to contribute to the creation of the new world. There is always a new world in process of forming; the keynote of the work of every disciple can be summed up in the familiar words: "Behold, I make all things new."
Two questions always arise the moment the stage of discipleship is discussed: the problem of occult obedience and the nature of the vision. I would like to deal with these right at the beginning of any help which I may be able to give you. What is this occult obedience which a Master is supposed to exact? Today, the Masters are dealing with the highly mental type of disciple who believes in the freedom of the human will and consciousness and who resents the imposition of any so-called authority. The intellectual man will not accept any infringement of his freedom, and in this he is basically right. He objects to having to obey. This is today axiomatic. Out of this fundamental question, lesser ones arise which I would like to cite. Has the disciple to obey the slightest hint which the Master may give? Must every request and suggestion be accepted? Must all that a Master says be accepted as true and infallibly correct? Is the disciple wrong when he refuses (if he does) to recognise the Master's point of view and the statements He may make? Will the fact of Accepted Discipleship limit his freedom of opinion or choice, coerce his judgment and make him simply a replica in thought of the Master's thought? These are questions of importance.
The obedience required is obedience to the Plan. It is not obedience to the Master, no matter what many old-style occult schools may say. The obedience which is asked of you is based on your growing recognition of the Plan for humanity, as it emerges in your consciousness through the processes of meditation and through definite service, based upon a growing love of your fellowmen.
The obedience demanded is that of the personality to the soul as soul knowledge, soul light and soul control become  increasingly potent in the mind and brain reactions of the disciple. This whole problem of occult obedience would not arise at all if the rapport between soul and personality or between the disciple and the Master was complete and soundly established. The entire question is based upon the blindness and lack of knowledge of the disciple. As the rapport becomes more firmly established, no fundamental divergences of opinion can appear; the aims of the soul and the personality blend and fuse; the objectives before the disciple and the Master become identical, and the group life conditions the service rendered by both of them. It is, therefore, the limitations of the disciple which prompt the question and his fear that too much may be asked of him by the Master and his soul. Is this not true, my brother? It is the holding on to your personality interpretations, wishes and ideas which leads you to draw back from the word obedience. It is your liking for yourself and for your own point of view which—literally and factually—makes you afraid of a too prompt acquiescence in the known suggestions of the Masters. I would have you remember that suggestion is all that a Master ever makes to a disciple, even though He may make positive statements about human affairs. These statements may be entirely correct; the neophyte, however, is usually too blind or prejudiced by his own individual point of view to accept them. Obedience can only be rendered when there is a developed understanding and an inclusive vision; if that is lacking, the passing of time will adjust the matter.
This brings up the question of the vision, its nature and extension. Is this vision, which must exist before the disciple seeks admittance into a Master's group, a gradually unfolding process or an unconscious remembering of something once sensed and seen? Here lies the crux of the problem. Let me explain. The vision is a symbolic way of experiencing revelation. The gradual unfoldment of each of the five senses brought a steady emerging revelation of God's world and a constantly extending vision. The development of sight brought a synthetic aptitude to focus the results of all lesser visions brought to the point of revelation by the other four senses. Then comes a vision, revealed by the "common sense" of the mind. This  demonstrates in its most developed stage as world perception where human affairs are concerned, and frequently works out in the vast personality plans of the world leaders in the various fields of human living. But the vision with which you should be concerned is to become aware of what the soul knows and what the soul sees, through the use of the key to soul vision—the intuition. That key can only be used intelligently and consciously when personality affairs are dropping below the threshold of consciousness.
I would ask you: How much of your present so-called vision is dependent upon what others have seen and how much you discovered for yourself by climbing arduously and earnestly the Mount of Vision and (from that eminence which you have arrived at alone) looking out over the horizon towards the next peak of attainment for humanity? A disciple becomes an Accepted Disciple when he starts climbing towards the vision, towards the mountain top; he can also register consciously what he has seen and then begins to do something constructive towards materialising it. This, many throughout the world are beginning to do. A man becomes a World Disciple in the technical sense when the vision is to him an important and determining fact in his consciousness and one to which all his daily efforts are subordinated. He needs no one to reveal the Plan to him. He knows. His sense of proportion is adjusted to the revelation and his life is dedicated to bringing the vision into factual existence—in collaboration with his group.
It is, therefore, a gradually unfolding process up to a certain stage. After that stage has been reached, it is no longer the vision which is the dominant factor but the field of experience, of service and of achievement. Ponder on this. Some day you will understand. There is both an unconscious deflection towards the vision and a conscious orientation towards it. There is one aspect of the vision which is oft forgotten by many disciples. That is the necessity—inherent in the right appreciation of the vision itself—for each who records it to become "bestowers of the vision." The moment that that takes place, the whole situation changes. Through the thoughts of all beginners runs the note of striving after the vision, of searching for it, of ability or inability to contact it and, frequently,  the distortion of the vision by defining it in terms of already imparted truths. The attitude of the neophyte is, therefore, based upon the need for vision, upon individual, personal need. But (upon the path of Accepted Discipleship) the disciple must get away from this because it is the path of spontaneous unconscious self-forgetfulness. The vision, once seen, becomes so important, that how you feel about it and your adherence to it seemingly fades out. You become absorbed in the vision and this absorption takes place upon the physical plane. Both mind and brain are preoccupied with what the soul knows and that is ever vision for the personality.
I referred above to the existence of disciples and of world disciples. A world disciple is a man or woman who has made real progress in the adjustment between the particular and the universal, between the specific and the general and between his own sphere of environal conditions and the outer world of needy souls. The problem with which such disciples are occupied is not the adjustment of relations between the inner spiritual man, the soul and its instrument, the personal lower self. Their major interest is how to fulfil the immediate personality obligation and, at the same time, produce an effect upon the environing world of men because of a strong inner compulsion and the need they feel to shoulder the service and the responsibility of their Master and His group. These men and women are always accepted disciples in the academic sense of the term and are able to render themselves receptive to spiritual impression; they do this, if they choose, at will. They are integrated people from the personality angle and susceptible at all times to soul contact. They are not yet perfect, for they are not yet Masters; the fourth initiation still lies ahead for them but their own imperfections are not their major point of soul attack or their major preoccupation; world need and world demand for spiritual and psychic aid rank paramount in their consciousness. They are clear-visioned as to people but they are basically non-critical; the recognition of imperfection is automatic with them but in no way negates loving understanding and readiness to assist on any level where the need appears to be of importance.
 World disciples think in terms of groups with a steadily developing measure of inclusiveness. Their own group, their own circle of co-workers and their own field of service are seen by them in right proportion because they are not divorced from the environing All. They are active focal points for the Forces of Light in the three worlds of human endeavour and are to be found in every field and school of thought.
I am not going to define for you active discipleship as ordinarily understood. Every esoteric student knows its significance, its implications and its responsibilities. I seek to develop in you that sense of world need and that capable usefulness which will make each of you who read and understand my words a disciple in truth and in deed. The primary task of the Masters is to develop in Their disciples a world sense which will enable them to see the immediate situation against the background of the past, illumined by the light of knowledge of the Plan which always concerns the future—except for those rare spirits who think ever in terms of the whole. The blueprints for the immediate plan are in the hands of the world disciples; the working out of these plans under the inspiration and help of the world disciples is in the hands of all accepted disciples everywhere. Neither world disciples or accepted disciples are mystical visionaries or vague idealists but men and women who are intelligently and practically seeking to make the ideal plan a factual experiment and success on earth. Such is the task in which all of you have the opportunity to help. Your ability to become world disciples eventually is dependent upon your capacity to decentralise yourselves and to forget your personalities. This forgetting involves not only your own personalities but also the personalities of your fellow disciples and co-workers and of all you meet. It means, also, that in the future you go forward into a greater measure of service, impelled thereto by the fire of love in your hearts for your fellowmen.
One factor that should be touched upon here is that frequently disciples handicap themselves because, not having learnt to forget their personalities, they have an attitude of deep concern over demonstrated past failures and a consciousness of very real inadequacy. They become over preoccupied  with the personnel of the group and not with the group soul. You, as disciples, are too preoccupied with the inter-personality relationship and are not sufficiently focussed upon the group-soul and upon the Master, the centre and the focal point of energy of the group. If you would reject all criticism, if you cultivate the joy of relationship and seek ever to participate together in whatever spiritual blessing may be outpoured for the helping of the world, if you seek to contact the Master as a group, if you are in a position to know your group, and if you tune out all anxiety as to success or non-success in the apportioned service, you would greatly aid in the task with which the Master of any group is confronted. The needed fusion can always take place among disciples when they meet on the level of the soul and when the service to be rendered is the dominant factor and not so much the how of rendering it; for this each disciple is independently responsible.
The Master does not train a group of men and women to be good and obedient disciples, carrying out His wishes and working out His purposes. He is training them eventually to take initiation and become Masters themselves and He never loses sight of this objective. You, as disciples, have, therefore, to learn to handle force and to draw energies into the destined area of service and this is a fact you must constantly have in mind. Disciples are chosen by the Master because, in spite of any or all personality limitations, they respond in their individual measure to the immediate vision of the united Hierarchy and to the methods which They propose to employ in materialising this vision. The hierarchical vision (as far as you can understand it) is the response of the Masters to the higher impression to which They are subjected and to which They accord Their assent according to ray and not according to point of development. The Master recognises those who recognise the Plan and are trying (with full or with qualified dedication) to help bring it about. He then stimulates them as a group, because they have identity of vision and dedication; this enables them, under that stimulation and inspiration, to become more effective in the chosen (self-chosen) line of service. I would have you, therefore, ponder carefully upon the following recognitions:
1. The recognition of the vision.
2. The recognition of the Plan, for vision and Plan are not the same.
3. The recognition which the Master accords to a group of dedicated aspirants when He accepts them as His disciples.
4. Your recognition of the Master's ideas as goals to future endeavour.
5. Your recognition of each other as souls and servers.
When these recognitions are properly understood, there will then be eventual recognition, by the Hierarchy, of a group of disciples who can be used as a channel through which spiritual energy, light and love can be poured into a needy and agonising world. The group will then be endowed with power to serve but it will not be power given to it by the Master. It will be a potency which it has engendered itself. This power which disciples wield comes as a response to a life rightly lived and love fully given. There is a great law which can be embodied in the words "to those who give all, all is given." This is true of the individual disciple and of a Master's group. Most aspirants to discipleship today do not know or realise this law; they do not give freely and fully either to the work of the Hierarchy or to those who need. Until they do, they limit their effectiveness and shut the door on supply, not only for themselves but for the group with which they are affiliated in service. Herein lies responsibility. The clue to supply is personality harmlessness and the dedication of all individual resources to the service of the Great Ones, without restraint and spontaneously. When you, as a disciple, try to live harmlessly—in thought and word and deed—and when nothing is held back materially, emotionally or from the angle of time, when physical strength is so given and the gift of all resources is accompanied with happiness, then the disciple will have all that is needed to carry on his work and the same is true of all working groups of servers. Such is the law. Perfection is not yet possible, it is needless for me to say, but greater effort on your part to give and serve is possible.
The time will, therefore, surely come when you will, as individuals and as part of a Master's group, subordinate your  personal lives to the need of humanity and to the intention of the Master. You will be and not struggle so hard to be; you will give and not fight constantly the tendency not to give; you will forget your physical bodies and not give so much attention to them (and the result will be better health); you will think and not live so deeply in the world of feeling; you will sanely and wisely and as a normal procedure put the work of the Master and of service first.
What is that work? To provide a working intelligent and consecrated group of servers through whom hierarchical plans can be carried forward and to demonstrate, upon the physical plane, a focal point of spiritual energy. This can then be employed by the Hierarchy to help humanity everywhere, particularly in this time of crisis. The plans of the Hierarchy, as they embody the will of Shamballa, can be and are carried out; the process, however, is either a conscious one or an unconscious mass response to impression. Among the disciples of the world, the response and subsequent activity is a conscious one and leads to intelligent undertakings.
The task of the Master is to evoke from His disciples such a depth of consecrated love and such a realisation of today's opportunity that the personality aspects of their lives will fade out in their consciousness and their main preoccupation will be: What must be my service at this time? What are the non-essential things in my life to which I should pay no attention? What is the task to be done? Who are the people I can help? Which aspects of the Master's work should I endeavour to give the most help at this time? These questions must all meet with a balanced, intelligent and non-fanatical response and answer.
In considering this whole subject of discipleship there are certain things of which I would like to remind you. If you will reflect upon them you will find they may change somewhat your idea of what constitutes discipleship but they will also enrich your general concept anent this subject.
The first point which I would like to bring out is that accepted disciples are in training for initiation. If, when they  approach the Path of Discipleship they fail to grasp this fact and to give the fullest cooperation, they postpone the time of that initiation. Their grasp of the fact will be demonstrated in the intensity of their proffered service. Planned service is one of the modes of the training. Disciples in the early stages of their work are apt to be primarily interested in themselves and in their own reactions and attitudes to the Master. The fact that they are working in a Master's group seems to them the fact of paramount importance.
The second thing which I would like to point out is that there is a great difference between a Master's group and His Ashram. This is seldom realised. Many people can be found in a Master's group but the personnel of His Ashram is picked out of that of the group. In a group, the Master is in touch with and aware of the aspiring disciple and he has had a definite contact with Him, but this has involved a personality as well as a soul relation. But in an Ashram only that is to be found within the sphere of influence of an Ashram which is of the soul. Nothing of the personality is allowed to enter in—personality reactions, disabilities, limitations, personality thoughts and all that is material and connected with the lower nature, never reaches the Ashram at all. In the early stages, therefore, of a disciple's work, it is possible that there is little or nothing that the disciple will be able to contribute of any kind for a long time. Only those positively sensed intuitions and those definite soul impressions and impulses which the disciple may succeed in evoking (through meditation and growing purity of intention) can contribute anything to the life of the Ashram. There is consequently a law which protects the Ashram from your limitations. I have been using the word "Ashram" quite definitely in my effort to lead you to discriminate between a group and an Ashram. An Ashram is basically formed of those who through their knowledge, devotion and service have worked their way out of a group into an inner centre where the Master's energy, wisdom and effort is more easily available. In order to work their way from the group into the Ashram, disciples will need most carefully to discriminate between their high grade personality inclinations, their  responses to truth and ideals and their true soul reactions, spiritual wisdom and intuitive perception.
The third point which I would like to bring out is that disciples when they form part of an Ashram are subjecting themselves to a greatly increased pressure and are in a position to participate in much wider distribution of energy than heretofore. Today, as the Coming One nears the earth and draws closer to humanity, and as the inflow of spiritual energy from Shamballa into the hierarchical Centre becomes greater, there is a great keying up of human receptivity and a greatly augmented stimulation is taking place with varying effects. This involves an intensified aspiration and spiritual determination. It also signifies an opportunity of an unprecedented nature.
You have been told that when the Buddha came and worked on earth, many aspirants entered the ranks of accepted disciples and many disciples took one or other of the major initiations. There was, therefore, a definite shift of the personnel of the Hierarchy and a great expansion towards Shamballa and, at the same time, towards humanity. When the Christ made His appearance on earth, there was a similar and still greater climaxing effort which culminated in the inclusion of disciples in the Masters' inner Ashrams. Hitherto, these Ashrams had been kept for those who had taken the first initiation. Before the time of Christ only those who had taken the first initiation and were initiate formed the Ashram. Owing, however, to the growing sensitivity of humanity, it was then decided that disciples could be admitted into the Ashrams and so be mentally and astrally en rapport with the inner group and begin to form part of the Master's sphere of directed influence.