The Treading of the Way
The aspirant is endeavoring to become a magical creator and to accomplish two things:
- Recreate his instrument or mechanism of contact, so that the solar Angel has a vehicle, adequate for the expression of Reality. This involves, we noted, right type, quality, strength and speed.
- Build those subsidiary forms of expression in the outer world through which the embodied Energy, flowing through the recreated sheaths, can serve the world.
In the first case, the aspirant is dealing with himself, working within his own circumference, and thus learning to know himself, to change himself and to rebuild his form aspect. In the other case, he is learning to be a server of the race, and to construct those forms of expression which will embody the new ideas, the emerging principles, and the new concepts which must govern and round out our racial progress.
Remember that no man is a disciple, in the Master’s sense of the word, who is not a pioneer. A registered response to spiritual truth, a realized pleasure in forward-looking ideals, and a pleased acquiescence in the truths of the New Age do not constitute discipleship. If it were so, the ranks of disciples would be rapidly filled and this is sadly not the case. It is the ability to arrive at an understanding of the next realizations which lie ahead of the human mind which marks the aspirant, who stands at the threshold of accepted discipleship; it is the power, wrought out in the crucible of strenuous inner experience, to see the immediate vision and to grasp those concepts in which the mind must necessarily clothe it, which give a man the right to be a recognized worker with the plan (recognized by the Great Ones, if not recognized by the world); it is the achievement of that spiritual orientation, held steadily – no matter what the outer disturbance in the physical plane life may be – that signifies to Those Who watch and seek for workers, that a man can be trusted to deal with some small aspect of Their undertaken work; it is the capacity to submerge and to lose sight of the personal lower self in the task of world guidance, under soul impulse, which lifts a man out of the ranks of the aspiring mystics into those of the practical, though mystically minded, occultists.
This is an intensely practical work, on which we are engaged; it is likewise of such proportions that it will occupy all of a man’s attention and time, even his entire thought life, and will lead him to efficient expression in his personality task (imposed by karmic limitation and inherited tendency) and to a steadfast application of the creative and magical work. Discipleship is a synthesis of hard work, intellectual unfoldment, steady aspiration and spiritual orientation, plus the unusual qualities of positive harmlessness and the opened eye which sees at will into the world of reality.
Certain considerations should be brought to the notice of the disciple which – for the sake of clarity – we will tabulate. To become an adept it will be necessary for the disciple to:
- Enquire the Way.
- Obey the inward impulses of the soul.
- Pay no attention to any worldly consideration.
- Live a life which is an example to others.
These four requirements may sound at the first superficial reading as easy of accomplishment, but if carefully studied it will become apparent why an adept is a “rare efflorescence of a generation of enquirers.” Let us take up each of these four points:
1. Enquire the Way. We are told by one of the Masters that a whole generation of enquirers may only produce one adept. Why should this be so? For two reasons:
First, the true enquirer is one who avails himself of the wisdom of his generation, who is the best product of his own period and yet who remains unsatisfied and with the inner longing for wisdom unappeased. To him there appears to be something of more importance than knowledge and something of greater moment than the accumulated experience of his own period and time. He recognizes a step further on and seeks to take it in order to gain something to add to the quota already gained by his compeers. Nothing satisfies him until he finds the Way, and nothing appeases the desire at the center of his being except that which is found in the house of his Father. He is what he is because he has tried all lesser ways and found them wanting, and has submitted to many guides only to find them “blind leaders of the blind”. Nothing is left to him but to become his own guide and find his own way home alone. In the loneliness which is the lot of every true disciple are born that self-knowledge and self-reliance which will fit him in his turn to be a Master. This loneliness is not due to any separative spirit but to the conditions of the Way itself. Aspirants must carefully bear this distinction in mind.
Secondly, the true enquirer is one whose courage is of that rare kind which enables its possessor to stand upright and to sound his own clear note in the very midst of the turmoil of the world. He is one who has the eye trained to see beyond the fogs and miasmas of the earth to that center of peace which presides over all earth’s happenings, and that trained attentive ear which (having caught a whisper of the Voice of the Silence) is kept tuned to that high vibration and is thus deaf to all lesser alluring voices. This again brings loneliness and produces that aloofness which all less evolved souls feel when in the presence of those who are forging ahead.
A paradoxical situation is brought about from the fact that the disciple is told to enquire the Way and yet there is none to tell him. Those who know the Way may not speak, knowing that the Path is constructed by the aspirant as the spider spins its web out of the center of his own being. Thus only those souls flower forth into adepts in any specific generation who have “trodden the winepress of the wrath of God alone” or who (in other words) have worked out their karma alone and who have intelligently taken up the task of treading the Path.
2. Obey the inward impulses of the soul. Well do the teachers of the race instruct the budding initiate to practice discrimination and train him in the arduous task of distinguishing between:
- Instinct and intuition.
- Higher and lower mind.
- Desire and spiritual impulse.
- Selfish aspiration and divine incentive.
- The urge emanating from the lunar lords, and the unfoldment of the solar Lord.
It is no easy or flattering task to find oneself out and to discover that perhaps even the service we have rendered and our longing to study and work has had a basically selfish origin, and resting on a desire for liberation or a distaste for the humdrum duties of everyday. He who seeks to obey the impulses of the soul has to cultivate an accuracy of summation and a truthfulness with himself which is rare indeed these days. Let him say to himself “I must to my own Self be true” and in the private moments of his life and in the secrecy of his own meditation let him not gloss over one fault, nor excuse himself along a single line. Let him learn to diagnose his own words, deeds, and motives, and to call things by their true names. Only thus will he train himself in spiritual discrimination and learn to recognize truth in all things. Only thus will the reality be arrived at and the true Self known.
3. Pay no consideration to the prudential considerations of worldly science and sagacity. If the aspirant has need to cultivate a capacity to walk alone, if he has to develop the ability to be truthful in all things, he has likewise need to cultivate courage. It will be needful for him to run counter consistently to the world’s opinion, and to the very best expression of that opinion, and this with frequency. He has to learn to do the right thing as he sees and knows it, irrespective of the opinion of earth’s greatest and most quoted. He must depend upon himself and upon the conclusions he himself has come to in his moments of spiritual communion and illumination. It is here that so many aspirants fail. They do not do the very best they know; they fail to act in detail as their inner voice tells them; they leave undone certain things which they are prompted to do in their moments of meditation, and fail to speak the word which their spiritual mentor, the Self, urges them to speak. It is in the aggregate of these unaccomplished details that the big failures are seen.
There are no trifles in the life of the disciple and an unspoken word or unfulfilled action may prove the factor which is holding a man from initiation.
4. Live a life which is an example to others. Is it necessary for me to enlarge upon this? It seems as if it should not be and yet here again is where men fail. What after all is group service? Simply the life of example. He is the best exponent of the Ageless Wisdom who lives each day in the place where is the life of the disciple; he does not live it in the place where he thinks he should be. Perhaps after all the quality which produces the greatest number of failures among aspirants to adeptship is cowardice. Men fail to make good where they are because they find some reason which makes them think they should be elsewhere. Men run away, almost unrealizing it, from difficulty, from inharmonious conditions, from places which involve problems, and from circumstances which call for action of a high sort and which are staged to draw out the best that is in a man, provided he stays in them. They flee from themselves and from other people, instead of simply living the life.
The adept speaks no word which can hurt, harm or wound. Therefore he has had to learn the meaning of speech in the midst of life’s turmoil. He wastes no time in self pity or self justification for he knows the law has placed him where he is, and where he best can serve, and has learnt that difficulties are ever of a man’s own making and the result of his own mental attitude. If the incentive to justify himself occurs he recognizes it as a temptation to be avoided. He realizes that each word spoken, each deed undertaken and every look and thought has its effect for good or for evil upon the group.
Is it not apparent therefore why so few achieve and so many fail?