This post looks at the last two major factors involved in Alice Bailey’s stage of Accepted Discipleship (which is primarily the equivalent of Integral’s Turquoise and Indigo levels). As we dive in further we examine service and the very controversial task of contacting the “Master.” The post looks at some of the glamours and distortions related to the notion of contact, and what the Integral and Transpersonal movements have to say about such a thing, especially in light of what Wilber calls the “pre/trans fallacy.”
According to the Alice Bailey teachings one of the things that happens when we get towards the end of Accepted Discipleship is what she calls “contact with the Master.” She goes on to say that this contact does not happen unless an individual has demonstrated factually that he/she is of effective service in the world. As for Integral, though it does not have effective service in the world as a requirement in their stages of spiritual development, the notion of service can be inferred beginning to some extent with their Green level and becoming more “effective” by their Turquoise and Indigo levels. As for contact with a “Master,” that is a whole other thing in the Integral world, leading us into what Ken Wilber calls his “pre/trans” fallacy.
What is the pre/trans fallacy? In short, it indicates how certain spiritual experiences can regress us backwards into “pre-rational” states of spiritual growth and development, instead of leading us beyond where we are at into “trans-rational” states of spiritual growth and development. To hear Ken Wilber himself talk about this, I invite you to watch this clip. https://www.integrallife.com/video/pre-trans-fallacy
And, to help you understand Wilber’s terminology I am putting the Integral chart in again, inviting you to look at the “Trans-Rational” black bar to the left of the chart that begins around the end of Integral’s Teal. I also, invite you to see how “pre-rational states” take us back down to Amber and below. Also, please take note of the black bar that talks about “Preconventional,””Conventional,” “Postconventional,” and “Post-postconventional.” That will help you understand the Wilber clip as you listen to it in light of what I am sharing on this blog.
So, how does the pre/trans fallacy relate to the notion of “contact the Master?” Let’s explore.
Perhaps one of the most difficult things in Alice Bailey circles to deal with is the notion of “contact with the Masters.” Having walked both in Ageless Wisdom and Integral circles, what I can say is that there is a great deal more skepticism and inquiry about this whole Masters notion in the Integral realm than is found in the Ageless Wisdom realm. For me personally, that was a breath of fresh air. Though I greatly admire and cherish many people within Ageless Wisdom circles, all too often the idea of being in touch with the “Masters,” “the Christ,” “the Buddha,” “the Planetary Logos,” “Sirius,” “the Pleaidians” so on and so forth emerges. Sometimes fights even emerged over who was in touch with which Master, or even over how many Masters they were in touch with. To compound things there are the off-shoots of groups outside Ageless Wisdom circles who are into channeling and seem to want to “one-up” each other with a kind of “who I am in contact is far more evolved than who you claim to be in contact with” and that is “what makes me so special” competition.
What is going on here? How are we to discern what is really happening? And, as we make claims of being in touch with “Masters” are we regressing back to unintegrated “pre-rational” states, as Wilber might describe them? Or, are we breaking into higher “trans-rational” realms? Well, to begin with please note the word rational! As Wilber says in his video clip, trans-rational includes the rational mind. It does not cut it out. As Bailey would say the mystically inclined non-rational person has to include the occultist at some point (the more rational and scientifically minded individual). So, in many ways Wilber and Bailey are in agreement here. You cannot go beyond unless you at the same time integrate all the stages that have come before. Or, you cannot get to the buddhic/intuitional realms unless you bring the rational mind along.
How then do we approach the notion of contact with the Masters, rationally, objectively, and with great discernment? To begin with I will start with what Alice Bailey has to say about it, which leads us back to service. Why? Because in the Bailey teachings service comes before contact.
Task4) Engage in More Effective Service With a More Humble & Loving Heart
We have learned so far in tasks one through three that Accepted Disciples are capable of using first and foremost their minds in dispelling a significant amount of glamour. In fact, in Glamour: A World Problem, Alice Bailey states quite clearly that most glamours are of an emotional nature and have to be dissipated through the use of the rational mind, not through the use of the intuition. This reminds me of the Buddhist practice of analytical meditation. One needs to rigorously train the mind to perceive clearly, and then after the mind is polished enough it can enter the “buddhic” or intuitional plane correctly. (Placing the Bailey chart here again for reference. Please notice how the intuitional plane comes after the mental plane indicating how the mind is being used in a “trans-rational” way, as Wilber describes it). It also reminds me of the Tibetan Buddhist tendency to question and debate. You think you know something? Then engage your mind and be able to prove it among your qualified peers.
After glamours are dissipated we are told the Accepted Disciple needs to achieve a state of impersonality and learn how to rightly love others in a wise, intelligent, compassionate, and skillful way. (Please see my previous posts on the Stages of Discipleship and on Accepted Discipleship to learn more). At the same time the Accepted Disciple needs to blend the two approaches of mystic (heart) and occultist (head) in an “Integral” way (to borrow a word from the Integral model). In short, the Accepted Disciple becomes very effective in accessing both manifest and unmanifest realms. Or, to borrow from Integral, they can access all Quadrants.
In regards to Accepted Discipleship we are told as the subjective, interior part of one’s inner world and understanding is being developed, that the outer capacity to serve must likewise unfold. This is similar to beng able to access all Quadrants in the Integral model. That means, your interior insights can skillfully be used in ways to create exterior change for the better in the world. In Bailey terms, this requires “right human relations.” To put it bluntly, you have to become very skillful in getting along with people, without losing your integrity, in order to get things done and further a more inclusive world view. To take only one quote from Discipleship in the New Age, Vol I by Alice Bailey, “How can right relations be established upon Earth if the accepted disciples in a Master’s ashram are themselves unable to react to the idea and to preserve among themselves right relations, correctly, unanimously, and unerringly?” pp. 731 – 732. In short, if Accepted Disciples can’t even get along with each other, how can they truly be effective in the world? And, if seemingly evolved spiritual people only bicker and argue with each other and don’t have the needed characteristics of impersonality and love, are they even Accepted Disciples, or just Little Chelas, or Chelas in the Light (to use Bailey’s terms. Please see the posts on Stages of Discipleship to learn more).
Another thing stressed by Alice Bailey in order to become effective in service is to hold a point of tension. This involves a “true sense of values and freedom from minor preoccupations.” p. 735. Because we are not able to have true perspective and a sense of proportion we are then told that, “the majority of disciples are not even 60% effective because their points of tension are scattered all over the personality and are not focused where the individual point of tension should be.” p. 735 Instead of being focused on helping others, we become absorbed with our own personal status and needs. (To put it another way, the three lower chakras with their emphasis on money, sex/pleasure, and power once again take hold). We are then asked the following set of questions regarding service that we are meant to answer. They are as follows (also from Discipleship in the New Age, Vol I by Alice Bailey).
- How effective is my work in relation to my sphere of activity?
- How effective is my thinking and planning in relation to what may lie ahead in the immediate future?
- What results can I recognize as the fruit of my work?
- Do I feel that my work has been satisfactory from the standpoint of my soul, and, incidentally my Master?
- Have I worked with impersonality in relation to my fellow disciples and co-workers, no matter what their status?
- Have I perserved the needed spirit of of loving cooperation?
- Do I recognize truthfully my own and my co-disciples’ limitations and do I then move forward with those who are serving alongside of me without criticism and silence?
- Do I realize exactly where I stand? Whom I can help? And to whom I must look for example, aid and understanding? p. 739
Notice how practical the above list is. In many ways it involves all of Integral’s quadrants It is not enough to have an interior/subjective/individual sense of how great your service is, or what kind of spiritual connection you think you have. As Bailey also writes, you have to indicate in some exterior/objective/group way how well you are really doing.
If someone believes they are in touch with Masters and can’t even pay their own bills, or lacks the skills to get along with people through impersonality and love, then that person might want to take a more objective look. In fact, if the topic of channeling and contact with the Masters was compiled, one would discover that the Alice Bailey books are full of information that would refute most peoples’ glamorous assumptions. Almost always, it is said that contact happens usually in the form of intuitions, or inspirations, regarding how to be more effective in your service. It has nothing to do with how special you are, or with helping you or anyone else find a job, win some money, get a soulmate, or anything having to do with your own personal issues and struggles. That doesn’t mean that these struggles are not important, or worthy of compassion, it is just not what Masters are said to care about. Instead, it is said that they expect you to have gotten these things in order enough, to no longer have them get in the way of your everyday service.
Some of the books that we might compile information on regarding contact with the Masters include the books Telepathy and the Etheric Vehicle, Glamour: A World Problem, and the Discipleship in the New Age books. There is also a great deal of information in Esoteric Psychology, Vol II in the section on “Diseases of Occultists and Mystics.” Regarding channeling for instance, this book lists over a dozen different things someone may be in touch with apart from a Master including their own sub-conscious. In general, we are told time and time again to forget about being in touch with a Master, and focus on service instead. We are also told in the Bailey books that many people have been way more effective and of use in the world who knew nothing about Masters, than those who were. The obsession with being in touch with the Master, and not understanding that what is more important is doing effective service, is one of the reasons the original Discipleship group (described in the Discipleship in the New Age books) was disbanded. At the same time, we are told that at some point there will be recognition from the Master who at first is one’s own soul, especially as we near the end of Accepted Discipleship.
Where does Integral come down on all this? Quite frankly, they mostly avoid it. There is one book from a professor I had at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology who did try to address some of this. His name was Arthur Hastings and the book was With the Tongues of Men and Angels: A Study of Channeling. (You can read a little bit about the book here). Outside of this, the Integral and Transpersonal movement seems to want to stay away from the whole Master issue, seeing it as either a hoax or a movement back into pre-rational levels (like Amber). That in many ways is sad, because it avoids real thoughtful discussion and research along these lines. It also tends to cause many Integral people to throw the “baby” (what is good about the system of spiritual growth set forth by Alice Bailey), out with the “bathwater” (all the glamours and distortions surrounding the notion of Masters). None of this is helpful.
Avoiding taking a more objective look at what contact with Masters means even in Ageless Wisdom circles is also problematic. If those who care about the Ageless Wisdom teachings really wanted to know what is required to be in touch with a Master, the first step is to get acquainted with their own teaching, because there is a great deal of good information there to discuss and debate about regarding the distortions of contact. By understanding what our own teaching says along these lines, we might also be able to have a more rational, and therefore post-rational, or trans-rational discussion with those in the Integral movement. Until then, we are not likely to get very far, and the odd way many Integral and more scholarly research minded people may look at those in the Ageless Wisdom movement, especially in regards to their talk of Masters, may very well be justified. On the other hand, if presented rationally (by including for example what is said about contact in a variety of religious/spiritual traditions and how this contact can be distinguished between pre-rational and post-rational levels), we might have quite an interesting and illuminating discussion. And, we might be more inclined to avoid the topic of getting caught up in “what Master(s) we are in touch with,” and enter more clearly into a deeper understanding of the entire subject of contact and what it means for becoming more loving, useful, and of intelligent service in our world.
Finally, I would like to close with this quote from Discipleship in the New Age, Vol I regarding this stage. It emphasizes a compassionate approach we can take when trying to sort this entire theme of contact out.
“The angle of the contacts which become possible upon the Path of Accepted Discipleship are well known but cannot be described in too much detail. They vary according to person, and ray. I would only ask you to have these modes of approach in mind, remembering that they do occur and occur in varying degrees of clarity and at various stages upon the Path. They are as you know:
- A dream experience.
- A symbolic teaching.
- The thoughtform of a Master.
- A direct contact with the Master in meditation.
- An interview in a Master’s Ashram.
The first three are more usually the experience of the probationary disciple. The last two are undergone by the accepted disciple. They have their astral or lower psychic counterparts. They are, in this case, not all glamour and illusion and are not basically reprehensible, for they are—in reality—the seed or guarantee of future inevitable experiences upon the Way. People do see thoughtforms of the Masters, for those thoughtforms exist; they do receive symbolic teachings upon the astral plane or in the dream states. Beginners and the inexperienced are then apt to do one of two things: over-estimate the experience and believe it to indicate a high spiritual development; they begin to lean upon the experience and to substitute this astral happening for the future reality or they dismiss it as undesirable lower psychism, forgetting that so-called lower psychism is only so when the interpretation and the use of the experience is at fault. It is the task of the accepted disciple to aid in the interpreting, to indicate direction and to point out the significance of the experience to the neophyte. Workers in the spiritual field should bear this carefully in mind and remember that—as a result of the war, of tension and of aspiration towards the New Age—these dreams and visions, these episodes of symbolic teaching, these contacts with thoughtforms will steadily increase and are indicative of growth and of expansion. Undirected, unexplained and misinterpreted or laughed down and ridiculed, they can greatly hinder and can be forced to descend into the category of true lower psychism; rightly interpreted and explained, they can constitute a series of graded revelations upon the Way to light; they exist then as guarantees of future knowledge and as signposts of a relative achievement. But they are not the reality when astrally focussed.” pp. 732 -733
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