Discipleship and practice
An extensive look at modern discipleship and the role of Transmission Meditation in bringing people into alignment with the Soul, thereby serving the world and hastening personal spiritual evolution.
This article is excerpted and edited from a talk given by Benjamin Creme at a Transmission Meditation Conference held in San Francisco in July 1990.
It is a truism in occultism that no new teaching can be given until that already given has been put into practice. This is a law. There is no way you can take in anything higher until you have put into practice what you have already received. Mainly, people approach esotericism as if it were an academic subject in which you take exams and get a degree. It is not like that at all. Certainly there are degrees, degrees of initiation, but you can become an initiate without knowing anything about esoteric theory or practice at all, by living naturally, intuitively, the life of a disciple.
You have to do it one way or the other. You can do it intuitively, or through the acquiring of knowledge and the application of the rules and precepts in your life, moment to moment. It is an all-day affair. In my experience, most people set about being a disciple in a very lukewarm way. He/she fits it into their everyday life when there is a moment to spare. The average disciple does not realize that the disciple is a different person from the rest of humanity. The rules and laws which apply — even the laws of cause and effect and of rebirth — which affect humanity willy-nilly — affect the disciple differently, according to his ability to work within them and to manipulate them to the soul’s needs.
A disciple, or anyone who has the aspiration to become a disciple, must recognize first of all that he is an ordinary human being who has made a pledge and has taken in hand the development of his own evolution. He is learning to work with the soul and to carry out its purpose. The soul’s purpose, whatever other purposes it may have, is, under the Law of Sacrifice, to work with the plan of evolution in so far as the disciple can intuit it and put it into effect in his or her life. Only the rudiments of the plan may become real in his or her consciousness, but in so far as these aspects do become real, it behoves him or her to put it into effect in life. Actually doing this is very rare indeed.
It is not the forces of evil that worry the Christ and the Masters of the Hierarchy. They can cope with the forces of evil rather well. Most people think that the main obstacles to the externalization of the Hierarchy and the spiritualization of the life of humanity are the problems involved with the forces of materiality. There are such problems. But some of the quickest responders to that materiality are the disciples of the world. It is the ingrained materiality, and, above all, inertia, of disciples as well as everyone else that keeps humanity in thrall to the forces of materiality, the forces of evil as we call them.
Disciples are doubly responsible. They have the responsibility of ordinary humanity but extra responsibility because they know some aspects of the truth. They have taken upon themselves to do something about changing the situation in the world, and to change their own nature in such a way as to work intelligently with the Plan. Yet people are so steeped in materialism — it is so ingrained in the vast body of even the world’s disciples, that little or no action is taken by any of us to remedy the situation. We remain as engrossed in materialism as anyone else. That is the problem for the Christ and the Masters: not the forces of evil, but the inertia, the crippling inertia of the disciples of the world.
I learned recently from my Master that the average number of minutes in which people in the Transmission Meditation groups around the world are actually aligned, in which the physical brain and the soul are aligned — and so they are being transmitted through and therefore doing the work of Transmission — is astonishingly small.
Why is this? There has to be a reason why, after 10 years, you are still doing so poorly — for example, this is the 10th year in which I have come to the United States and the 10th year in which some of you have been doing Transmission Meditation.
"What have you been doing all these years?" I ask myself. Of course it is a question of polarization. If one is astrally polarized — and the majority of people in these groups are — it is more difficult to hold the attention at the ajna center and so be aligned for longer than a few minutes at a time. Also people do not seem to know the difference between being aligned and not being aligned. They really think they are aligned. I am sure all of you are shocked by this statement. You imagine you are aligned yet, quite frankly, most of the time you are not.
What are you doing if you are not aligned? I suggest that you are in a state of reverie. You are ruminating. You are in a state in which your attention is hovering around the solar plexus. But since you know that Transmission Meditation involves focusing your attention at the ajna centre, and since from time to time, when you remember, you can bring the attention back there, you forget that it has dropped. But within a few minutes it has dropped. If you add up the few minutes in which it is really held at the ajna centre and in which you are transmitting, it comes to — on average — four to five minutes in the hour. Some people do only an hour’s Transmission in the week. That is four to five minutes in the week. It is not a lot. ‘The Role of Transmission Meditation in the Development of the Disciple’ (the title of a previous talk, printed in Share International July/Aug 1989) is something which does not apply to people who are doing four or five minutes’ actual Transmission in the week. Little can be expected to happen in that time.
Nevertheless enough happens to make Transmission Meditation a powerful way to serve. If you are transmitting four or five minutes in the hour even for only one hour a week, you are receiving the benefit of these spiritual forces through the chakras in a way still more powerful than you would have achieved by any other method, given the same amount of time and effort.
The point is, people do not make much effort. They think they do. They mean well. Everyone means well. Everyone imagines that they are working quite hard. But from a Master’s point of view they are only playing at being in a Transmission group, playing at helping the world. A Transmission Meditation group contacts spiritual energies which transform the whole world — politically, economically, socially and so on. Most people are contributing to this only for a few minutes a week, yet they feel that they are in a very potent, powerful situation — which they are; but only because these energies are so potent, so powerful, are these short minutes of actual Transmission worth anything at all.
Discipleship, for most people, is an activity which they fit into their general life. They go through the motions. Their first priority is to earn their living. Everyone — almost everyone — has to earn their living. That is true for everyone at every level. That takes precedence, it would seem, over everything else that people do. Then you must have vacations. That is the second priority. If you have family, you have to look after them and clothe and feed them and take them on vacation and so on. People will spend enormous amounts of time, energy and money on vacations, on restaurant meals, on having a nice, pleasant, civilized time. There is nothing wrong with that. Except that it has nothing to do with discipleship.
Discipleship means commitment to the life of the disciple and that is distinctly different from the life of the average human being. He is in the world, part of the world, totally identified with and serving the world, and yet, in a curious way, he is isolated from the world. He is in the peculiar position of isolation amidst the maelstrom of everyday living. And the disciple feels things more powerfully, more painfully than other people. Everyone can see the pain, the suffering of the world — the starving millions, poverty, earthquakes, the terrible diseases which ravage humanity. Everyone is moved by that. But the disciple very often sees it more clearly than others. And being more sensitive to that suffering because aware of being a soul in incarnation and committed to serving and relieving it, he/she feels it more than most people.
So why does he not act on it? Well, of course, people do act on it. Many people devote themselves totally to the service of the world, to removing the agony of the world. But they tend not to be students of esotericism. They tend to be people who could not care less about esotericism, who have no sense of being anything very special, but are simply committed to service. They are disciples carrying out the actions and undergoing the training of discipleship through service without even giving it a thought.
How much more can you do when you do give it thought, when you do know yourselves as disciples, consciously seeking to fulfil the requirements of discipleship. What is missing in the life of the average disciple is a sense of vocation — of vocation as a disciple. Discipleship in a sense is a vocation. You are called to it: not by God but by your own soul. Your own soul makes you a disciple. You are a disciple as soon as you contact your soul and your soul drives you forward.
The average disciple, however, simply fits his vocation into his everyday life. He does not see it as the aim of this particular incarnation. He does not, therefore, generate the fire which makes discipleship what it should be: a path which will take him as fast as possible to the door of initiation.
You cannot enter the door of initiation lukewarm; it has never been done. Sooner or later that lukewarm attitude has to change. If not in this life, then in the next or the one after. The soul is in no hurry. The soul has endless time, all infinity. But if you are in a hurry, if you sense the world need, you can be sure that just being a disciple when it is convenient, when there is nothing better on television, when you are feeling better, when you are no longer in pain or your stomach is not upset, is not enough. People allow all sorts of little things to prevent them from being a disciple: the fatigue of the physical body — which everyone shares — is nothing special. Everyone’s body is deficient in some way and they have pains, illnesses, suffering of all kinds. The point is not to let it get you down or prevent you from carrying out your actions.
Two of the great disciples of recent years known to us — Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Alice A. Bailey — were ill for a great deal of their lives. But they never let illness prevent them from serving the world as few have done. As you know, for 30 years Alice Bailey served as the amanuensis of the Master DK. For much of that time she was ill and sat up in bed writing until she could not write any more, literally could not write another word. Then the Master changed the procedure and she was able to read His teaching on a kind of internal screen, which she read out and recorded on tape for someone else to type from. For years she worked under extreme disability.
Madame Blavatsky was ill with kidney and half a dozen other diseases for the last 13 years of her life. Only her Master, the Master Morya, kept her in the body so that she could finish her work: bringing to the world The Secret Doctrine.
These two initiates brought the will to bear on the work. They ignored the physical body. They ignored their upset emotional states brought about by family discord and very often calumny and treachery from those closest to them. They ignored all that and got on with the work of being disciples: doing their work for the plan. If they could do it, others can do it. Of course, being third and fourth degree initiates, respectively, made it easier for them. They were not only mentally but spiritually polarized. If you are spiritually polarized you are living and working as a soul and the soul’s energy is propelling you forward all the time and carving the path for you. But the will still has to come into play — especially if the physical body is disabled or the emotional body disturbed.
If you are polarized on the astral plane, however, as most people are, you are subject to all the limitations and illusions of that plane. What can you do about it? You must bring the mind to bear. It is the light of the soul focused through the mental body, through the mind, that dissipates the glamour. You must look at the glamours, not be content with them but work continuously to overcome them, instead of saying, "That’s how I am, I am afraid, what can I do but live in fear?"
You do not have to live in fear. No one has to live in fear. Fear is a glamour like every other glamour, the worst there is, underlying, I believe, most other glamours. It must be overcome by anyone who has any hope of standing before the Initiator.
You cannot take initiation, become initiate, while you live in fear. You can never become a Master until you have, not just courage, but the total absence of fear. You need courage to tackle the fear and to demonstrate in your life that forward looking, advancing impetus and effort of a true disciple.
Let me quote a few statements which the Master DK gave through Alice Bailey to show you how the Masters have always looked on this matter: "When the Self is known and not simply felt, and when the realization is mental as well as sensory, then truly can the aspirant be prepared for initiation. I would like to point out that I am basing my words on certain basic assumptions, which for the sake of clarity I want briefly to state. Firstly, that the student is sincere in his aspiration and is determined to go forward no matter what may be the reaction of and upon his lower self. Only those who can clearly differentiate between the two aspects of their nature, the real self and the illusory self, can work intelligently. Secondly, I am acting upon the assumption that all have lived long enough and battled sufficiently with deterrent forces of life to have enabled them to develop a fairly true sense of values. They are not to be kept back by any happenings to the personality or by the pressure of time and circumstance, by age or physical disability. They have wisely learned that enthusiastic rushing forward and a violent energetic progress has its drawbacks, and that a steady, regular, persistent endeavour will carry them further in the long run. Spasmodic spurts of effort and temporary pressure peter out into disappointment and a weighty sense of failure. Nevertheless, intention and effort are considered by us (the Masters) of prime importance and are the two main requisites for all disciples, initiates and Masters. Plus the power of persistence. The whole secret of success in treading the occult path depends upon an attitude of mind. When the attitude is one of concrete materialism, of concentration upon form, and a desire for the things of the present moment, little progress can be made in apprehending the higher esoteric truths. The moment a man becomes consciously powerful on the mental plane, his power for good is a hundredfold increased. Most men do not yet distinguish with accuracy between themselves as the thinker, persistent in time and space, and the vehicle through which they think, which is ephemeral and transient. One of the first lessons which a disciple needs to learn is that where he is strongest and where he finds the most satisfaction is very frequently the point of greatest danger and weakness."
Everyone wants higher teaching. Everyone wants something they have never read or heard of before — whether or not they have put into effect what they already know. People are greedy in their curiosity. They want more sensation, the sensation of the new. But the sensation of the new will never take you to the door of initiation — only the application of certain laws: the law of service, the law of sacrifice, the building of the antahkarana, the removal of all perception that the physical, emotional or mental bodies are of any consequence at all to the soul, except as vehicles of expression. Once understood, this relates you to the path of discipleship, and will bring you to the door of initiation more directly than anything else. It is not a question of more teaching, though everyone wants more teaching, more techniques, more tools. They have all the techniques, the tools, the teaching, more than enough, more than they could ever use, or ever do use. Most do not put into practice the teaching already given.
There is no higher teaching than that which we can actually put into practice. If it cannot be put into practice, it does not matter whether it is so high that it can be understood only by eighth degree initiates. It does not mean anything to you unless you can put it into practice.
Use the teaching which has already been given. Put it into practice and you will advance faster than your greatest expectations. When you do this, when you put teaching into practice in this way, it becomes your own, no longer an abstract teaching, an academic subject. It becomes yours. You become the path. The path unfolds before you as you practise the requirements of discipleship. The path is not over there, or in that book, or in this technique — it is something which unfolds out of your consciousness. The path for everyone is unique.
Of course, there are certain basic, fundamental requirements which never change, which are of the nature of deity itself. Remember that the path of discipleship leading to initiation, and the path of initiation leading to Mastery, is the path to God. It is the path of the unfolding of one’s divinity. That is what it is about, and one should never forget that.
Most people tend to forget it. It becomes peripheral to their lives, which is like saying that my very nature is peripheral to my life; my life is peripheral to me. But I am my life. If I am not my life, I am nothing. How can your own life and the movement towards the expression of that divinity be peripheral to your day-to-day life?
You have to make it your vocation. If you want to become a disciple, you must become fiery with enthusiasm. You have to move in a state of joy, of commitment, of high expectation that you are following a path which will lead you to initiation. Otherwise your action will be so lukewarm it will take the next 50 incarnations to reach what you can reach in this incarnation.