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 recognize 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 fellow-men.
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 materializing 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 pre-occupied 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 fulfill 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 pre-occupation; 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 blue prints 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 nor 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 decentralize 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 fellow-men.
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 pre-occupied with the personnel of the group and not with the group soul. You, as disciples, are too pre-occupied with the inter-personality relationship and are not sufficiently focussed upon the group-soul and upon the Master, the center 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 materializing 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 recognizes those who recognize 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 recognition’s:
- The recognition of the vision.
- The recognition of the Plan, for vision and Plan are not the same.
- The recognition which the Master accords to a group of dedicated aspirants when he accepts them as his disciples.
- Your recognition of the Master’s ideas as goals to future endeavour.
- Your recognition of each other as souls and servers.
When these recognition’s 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 agonizing 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 realize 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 realization of today’s opportunity that the personality aspects of their lives will fade out in their consciousness and their main pre-occupation 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.