CHAPTER VII - THE PROBATIONARY PATH
THE PROBATIONARY PATH
Preparation for Initiation.
The Probationary Path precedes the Path of Initiation or Holiness, and marks that period in the life of a man when he definitely sets himself on the side of the forces of evolution, and works at the building of his own character. He takes himself in hand, cultivates the qualities that are lacking in his disposition, and seeks with diligence to bring his personality under control. He is building the causal body with deliberate intent, filling any gaps that may exist, and seeking to make it a fit receptacle for the Christ principle. The analogy between the prenatal period in the history of the human being and that of the development of the indwelling spirit is curiously interesting. We might look at it in this way:—
1. The moment of conception, corresponding to that of individualisation.
2. Nine months' gestation, corresponding to the wheel of life.
3. The first initiation, corresponding to the birth hour.
The Probationary Path corresponds to the latter period of gestation, to the building in the heart of the babe in Christ. At the first initiation this babe starts on the pilgrimage of the Path. The first initiation stands simply for commencement. A certain structure of right living, thinking, and conduct has been built up. That form we call character. It has now to be vivified and indwelt. Thackeray has well described this process of building, in the words so often quoted:—
"Sow a thought and reap an action; sow an action and reap a habit; sow a habit and reap character; sow character and reap destiny."
The immortal destiny of each and all of us is to attain the consciousness of the higher self, and subsequently that of the Divine Spirit. When the form is ready, when Solomon's temple has been built in the quarry of the personal life, then the Christ-life enters, and the glory of the Lord overshadows His temple. The form becomes vibrant. Therein lies the difference between theory and making that theory part of oneself. One can have a perfect image or picture, but it lacks life. The life can be modelled on the divine as far as may be; it may be an excellent copy but lacks the indwelling Christ principle. The germ has been there, but it has lain dormant. Now it is fostered and brought to the birth and the first initiation is attained.
Whilst the man is on the Probationary Path he is taught principally to know himself, to ascertain his weaknesses and to correct them. He is taught to work as an invisible helper at first and for several lives is generally kept at this kind of work. Later, as he makes progress, he may be moved to more selected work. He is taught the rudiments of the Divine Wisdom and is entered into the final grades in the Hall of Learning. He is known to a Master, and is in the care (for definite teaching) of one of the disciples of that Master, or, if of rare promise, of an initiate.
Classes are held by initiates of the first and second degrees, for accepted disciples and those on probation, between the hours of ten and five every night in all parts of the world, so that the continuity of the teaching is complete. They gather in the Hall of Learning and the method is much the same as in the big Universities,—classes at certain hours, experimental work, examinations, and a  gradual moving up and onward as the tests are passed. A number of the Egos on the Probationary Path are in the department that is analogous to the High School; others have matriculated and are in the University itself. Graduation results when initiation is taken and the initiate passes into the Hall of Wisdom.
Advanced Egos and the spiritually inclined, who are not yet on the Probationary Path, attend instructions from disciples, and on occasions large classes are conducted for their benefit by initiates. Their work is more rudimentary, though occult from a worldly standpoint, and they learn under supervision to be invisible helpers. The invisible helpers are usually recruited from amongst the advanced Egos. The very advanced, and those on the Probationary Path and nearing initiation, work more frequently in what might be termed departmental work, forming a group of assistants to the Members of the Hierarchy.
Methods of teaching.
Three departments of instruction watch over three parts of man's development.
First: Instruction is given tending to the disciplining of the life, the growth of character, the development of the microcosm along cosmic lines. The man is taught the meaning of himself; he comes to know himself as a complex, complete unit, a replica in miniature of the outer world. In learning the laws of his own being, comes comprehension of the Self, and a realisation of the basic laws of the system.
Secondly: Instruction is given as to the macrocosm, the amplification of his intellectual grip of the working of the cosmos. Information as to the kingdoms of nature, teaching as to the laws of those kingdoms, and instruction as to the working of those laws in all kingdoms and  on all planes is given him. He acquires a deep fund of general knowledge, and when he reaches his own periphery he is met by those who lead him on to encyclopaedic knowledge. When he has attained the goal, he may not know every single thing that there is to be known in all the three worlds, but the way to know, the sources of knowledge and the reservoirs of information are in his hand. A Master can at any time find out anything on any possible subject without the slightest difficultly.
Thirdly: Instruction is given in what might be termed synthesis. This information is only possible as the intuitional vehicle co-ordinates. It is really the occult apprehension of the law of gravitation or attraction, (the basic law of this, the second solar system) with all its corollaries. The disciple learns the meaning of occult cohesion, and of that internal unity which holds the system as a homogeneous unit. The major part of this instruction is usually given after the third initiation, but a beginning is made early in the training.
Masters and disciples.
Disciples and advanced Egos on the Probationary Path receive instructions at this particular time for two special purposes:—
(a) To test out their fitness for special work lying in the future, the type of that work being known only to the Guides of the race. They are tested for aptitude in community living with a view to drafting the suitable ones into the colony of the sixth sub-race. They are tested for various lines of work, many incomprehensible to us now, but which will become ordinary methods of development as time progresses. The Masters also test for those in whom the intuition has reached a point of development that indicates a beginning of the co-ordination of the buddhic  vehicle, or—to be exact—has reached a point where molecules of the seventh sub-plane of the buddhic plane can be discerned in the aura of the Ego. When this is so They can go ahead with confidence in the work of instruction, knowing that certain imparted facts will be understood.
(b) Instruction is being given at this time to a special group of people who have come into incarnation at this critical period of the world's history. They have come in, all at the same time, throughout the world, to do the work of linking up the two planes, the physical and astral, via the etheric.
This sentence is for serious consideration, for it covers the work that a number of the newer generation have come to do. In this linking up of the two planes people are required who are polarised in their mental bodies (or, if not polarised there, are nevertheless well rounded out and balanced) and can therefore work safely and with intelligence in this type of work. It necessitates primarily people in whose vehicles can be found a certain proportion of atomic sub-plane matter, so that direct communication can be effected between the higher and the lower via the atomic cross-section of the causal body. This is not easy to explain clearly, but a consideration of the diagram in "A Study in Consciousness," by Mrs. Besant, page 27, may be helpful in explaining some matters that are apt to puzzle.
We must recognise two things in pondering the subject of the Masters and Their disciples. First, that in the Hierarchy nothing is lost through failure to recognise the law of economy. Every expenditure of force on the part of a Master or Teacher is subjected to wise foresight and discrimination. Just as we do not put university professors to teach the beginners, so the Masters Themselves work not individually with men until they have attained a certain stage of evolution and are ready to profit by Their instruction.
Secondly, we must remember that each of us is recognised by the brilliance of his light. This is an occult fact. The finer the grade of matter built into our bodies, the more brilliantly will shine forth the indwelling light. Light is vibration, and through the measurement of vibration is fixed the grading of the scholars. Hence nothing can prevent a man's progress forward if he but attends to the purification of his vehicles. The light within will shine forth with ever greater clarity, as the refining process goes on, until—when atomic matter predominates—great will be the glory of that inner man. We are all graded, therefore, if it may be so expressed, according to the magnitude of the light, according to the rate of vibration, according to the purity of the tone and the clarity of the colour. Who our Teacher is depends therefore upon our grading. Similarity of vibration holds the secret. We are frequently told that when the demand is forceful enough the Teacher will appear. When we build in the right vibrations and attune ourselves to the right key, nothing can prevent our finding the Master.
Groups of Egos are formed:—
1. According to their ray.
2. According to their sub-ray.
3. According to their rate of vibration.
They are also grouped for purposes of classification:
1. As Egos, according to the egoic ray.
2. As personalities, according to the sub-ray which
is governing the personality.
All are graded and charted. The Masters have Their Halls of Records, with a system of tabulation incomprehensible to us owing to its magnitude and its necessary intricacies, wherein these charts are kept. They are under  the care of a Chohan of a Ray, each ray having its own collection of charts. These charts, being in many sections (dealing with incarnate, discarnate, and perfected Egos), are again all under the care of subordinate guardians. The Lipika Lords, with Their vast band of helpers are the most frequent users of these charts. Many discarnate egos awaiting incarnation or having just left the earth, sacrifice their time in heaven to assist in this work. These Halls of Records are mostly on the lowest levels of the mental plane and the highest of the astral, as they can be there most fully utilised and are most easily accessible.
Initiates receive instruction directly from the Masters or from some of the great devas or angels. These teachings are usually imparted at night in small classes, or individually (should the occasion warrant it) in the Master's private study. The above applies to initiates in incarnation or on the inner planes. If on causal levels, they receive instruction at any time deemed advisable direct from the Master to the Ego on causal levels.
Disciples are taught in groups in the Master's ashram, or classroom, at night, if in incarnation. Apart from these regular gatherings, in order to receive direct teaching from the Master, a disciple (for some specific reason) may be called to the Master's study for a private interview. This occurs when a Master wishes to see a disciple for commendation, warning, or to decide if initiation is desirable. The major part of a disciple's tuition is left in the hands of some initiate or more advanced disciple, who watches over his younger brother, and is responsible to the Master for his progress, handing in regular reports. Karma is largely the arbiter of this relation.
Just at present, owing to the great need in the world, a slightly different policy is being pursued. An intensified training is being given to some disciples by some Masters  Who have not hitherto taken pupils. The press of work on the Masters Who do take disciples being so great, They have delegated some of Their most promising pupils to some other Masters, drafting them into small groups for a brief period. The experiment is being tried of intensifying the teaching, and of subjecting disciples, not initiates, to the frequent strong vibration of a Master. It involves risk, but, if the experiment proves successful, will tend to the greater assisting of the race.