This chapter starts the process of explaining some of the spiritual tasks that are required of the Probationary Disciple including the promises and pitfalls as the person starts to inquire into the classic phrase “Who Am I?” and searches for their Soul or “Higher Self.”
NOTE: This book is now in the process of being edited. Once it is completely edited it will no longer be free online. As of 3/21/20 this chapter has not been edited.
SEEKING BETTER WAYS TO OVERCOME SUFFERING
All human beings experience suffering. But, most human beings prior to reaching Group Seven tend to deal with that suffering by finding ways to numb it out or avoid it. They drink, smoke, have sex, get high, eat, shop, get angry, take revenge on each other, get depressed, participate in thrill seeking adrenaline rush activities, focus on making a lot of money, try to get more power and influence over others to feel invulnerable and more. All of these activities are part of the human experience. Even the Aspirant who has taken the first steps onto the spiritual path frequently backslides into these very human ways of coping. That is why Aspirants tend to be attracted to spiritual paths that are pleasant, fun, and don’t demand too much from them. If a spiritual path starts to require too much that might not look and feel fun, Aspirants tend to run away from that particular spiritual teaching or teacher in to find something that helps them feel good by allowing them some of the more “human” methods of coping with suffering described above. Still, suffering continues. The methods humanity normally adopts to feel better ultimately don’t work, even if a spiritual spin is put on them (such as when drinking, drugs, sex, and so forth are all part of a “crazy wisdom” approach to spiritual growth).
As the shift takes place from being an Aspirant into being a Probationary Disciple for the first time there is a deeper concern with examining the nature of suffering itself. For the first time the Probationary Disciple often sees all the ways their attempts to escape suffering have not worked, and may have led them farther down the path of pain. This can bring up a new kind of suffering as an inner sense of failure or shame emerges. The Probationary Disciple may become confused, lost, and depressed. If none of the methods he or she used to get free from suffering didn’t work, then what will? The ability to ask this question is actually a big step. And, though Probationers may feel guilty from having failed to achieve the “happiness” and “inner peace” they so longed for they are least being pointed more in the direction of spiritual methods and practices that will truly give them the deep inner peace, joy, happiness, and bliss they long for.
GROUP SEVEN THEMES: (Seeker Level). Believing in the promise that there are other methods than indulging in the world of the five senses that can bring one closer to true happiness.
AWARE OF LOWER AND HIGHER SELF
Both the Aspirant and the Probationary Disciple (as Little Chelas) are trying to know God, or better understand the Self. Though others may seek to do this on the Emotional Plane (see my book Becoming Human), on the Mental Plane a different and more “scientific” approach is undertaken so the realization of God or the Self can be known as a fact. At first this is pursued in a dualistic way. “I” (as a human being is here) and “I” (as a Spiritual Being) is there. Especially at Bailey’s Probationary Discipleship stage there is a more sincere attempt to better understand these “two selves.” In the Bailey model these two selves are first known as the personality and the Soul. In some traditions they are referred to as our lower self and Higher Self. Regardless what words you use, the general idea is start to understand how these two selves differ from one another.
The personality that we are in the Bailey model goes from being unintegrated, to integrated, to eventually Soul-infused. Unintegrated personalities are guided mainly by impulse, desire, and rudimentary knowledge of how to get by in the world. Because they do not yet possess enough true mind depending on their level of development they tend to be magical, mythical and often tribal in their understanding of God (Gods or Goddesses). Integrated Personalities are more mentally sophisticated making them much better at getting most of their desires met. However, they tend to be selfish, separative, and dominated by the realm of the five senses believing only what they see or what logically makes sense to them. For this reason they tend to be agnostic or atheistic typically throwing the idea of “God” out the window. By the Aspirant and especially the Probationary Discipleship stage the view of God once again shifts. God is no longer non-existent or a being out there somewhere. Rather, God (the Divine, the Self, the Soul) is “in here”, found within subtler realms, and the task is to discover and prove to oneself the existence of this Soul (or Self) so that the personality can eventually become transformed and become more “Soul like” in nature. The nature of the Soul, or the qualities of the Soul, which include compassion, wisdom, discernment, intuition, non-separation, joy, harmony and so-forth are actively sought out and cultivated. Eventually, the personality is so transformed by the nature of the Soul, that it becomes infused by the Soul, until you might say it becomes Soul itself. (See the book The Soul: A Compilation where a summary is given from various Bailey books regarding many of the Soul characteristics individuals must cultivate).
Knowing your self then is a dual process. It includes knowing the Self as Soul, which perceives reality in a certain way behind what only the five senses can reveal to it, and behaves more selflessly according to those perceptions, And, it includes knowing oneself as a personality, which remains locked into the realm of the five senses that keep it dominated by the desire for money, pleasure, and power primarily to benefit its own selfish and separative tendencies. The Probationary Disciple is especially torn between a growing awareness of these two “selves” and their different ways of being. Bailey speaks a lot about these two “selves” in her books, but especially the person on the Probationary Path “is taught principally to know himself, to ascertain his weaknesses and to correct them” (Initiation, Human & Solar, p. 64), primarily because it is these very tendencies within the self as “personality” that need to be examined, understood and transformed if they are to no longer impede the individual’s ability to become the Soul.
Bailey says then that the Probationer is given training in “the disciplining of the life, the growth of character, and 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.“ (Initiation, Human & Solar, p. 65). Here, Bailey is referring to the self as the Probationer’s personality, — physically, etherically, emotionally, mentally — that has to be disciplined and developed so that it eventually as a microcosm can reflect the macrocosm of the spiritual realms. This is usually a rigorous and long process. And, to use modern day language it typically involves “shadow work,” which involves attempting to understand why the personality behaves as it does based upon its social, cultural, familial and psychological conditioning. Without an understanding of this conditioning it is impossible to comprehend all the ways the Integrated Personality will resist becoming Soul-infused. And, because Probationary Disciples have typically not done enough “shadow work” they are often submerged by the old tendencies of the selfish and separative personality in their attempt to become Soul.
GROUP SEVEN THEMES: Various people discuss waking up the the Soul, or Higher Self, and how it connects to what we may call the Personality, or Lower Self.
BECOMING A RAPIDLY EVOLVING PERSON (R.E.P.)
As the Probationary Disciple begins to take a closer look at the self and the Self (Integrated Personality and the Soul), many rapid changes start to occur. Bailey states, “The Probationary Path becomes strewn with many shattered forms, and from lesser cycle to lesser cycle he changes the key, often in one life heightening his vibration several times. See therefore how the life of all aspirants, if progressing with the desired rapidity, is one of constant movement, constant changes and differentiations, and continuous building and breaking, planning and seeing those plans disrupted. It is a life of ceaseless suffering, of frequent clashing with the environing circumstances, of numerous friendships made and transferred, of mutation ceaseless and consequent agony. Ideals are transcended only to be found to be stations on the road to higher; visions are seen, only to be replaced by others; dreams are dreamt only to be realized and discarded; friends are made, to be loved and left behind, and to follow later and more slowly the footsteps of the striving aspirant; and all the time the fourth form is being built.” (Treatise on White Magic, pp. 264). (Note: In the above paragraph I believe Bailey is using the word aspirant to refer to some degree to the stage of Aspirant, but also in the more general sense of those who aspire to any level. Please refer to the chapter on Terms in regards to this). In short, as one of my spiritual teachers told me, when you enter the path at this level you become a Rapidly Evolving Person, or R.E.P., due to all the changes you are rapidly going through.
Typically, most people only go through significant changes when major life crises happen. These crises come in a lot of forms and can include illness, loss of status, financial crises, death of a loved one and more. But, the Probationer Disciple is not just going through a number of crises, he or she is actually precipitating them through the process of “lower self” and “Higher Self” discovery. Remember Probationary Disciples are in Bailey’s Group Seven. Most of humanity, according to Bailey are in Groups Four and Five. Members of Groups Four and Five are typically conformists who will approach their spiritual lives in a more formalized religious manner. They will go to church, mosque, synagogue or a temple not so much to discover the Soul, but to learn how to learn the “spiritual protocol” that will help them be accepted by other members of their society. If they have done something to violate the codes of their tribe or culture, they typically resort to religious rites to integrate them back into the culture or tribe they are getting alienated from, but usually they won’t resort to trying to understand themselves to understand why they did what they did in the first place. A Hindu may ask for a certain ritual to be performed, a Catholic may go to mass and confession, a Protestant may be baptized, a Muslim may pray five times a day, but there tends to be no fundamental change to how they think, feel or behave. And, if Group Four and Five members perform these religious rites and it doesn’t bring them back into the fold where the society or culture around them will help them get their desires met, they will either regress to Group Three (as outsiders and rebels), or jump into Group Six (as intellectual agnostics and atheists) as a way to cope.
Probationary Disciples (and to a lesser degree Aspirants) have none of these options, which facilitates a crisis in and o itself because they have grown out of all these stages. That puts them at odds with most human beings in the world, which produces yet another crisis for them. Plus, most people simply do not perceive the world the way Probationer’s do, because they are still too locked into the realm of the five senses, which causes another point of tension and crisis for Probationers. Because they so rarely see the world the way others do, the Probationary Disciple is more likely to become alienated from family, friends, and the culture around them. Because they are seekers, and not blind believers or dogmatic atheists, Probationers tend to have a lot of questions that makes them alien or annoying to most people around them as well. Worse, because members of Group Seven (Little Chelas, Aspirants, Probationers) sense there is something more than the materialistic world that the rest of humanity glorifies so much, Group Seven members can seem weird, impractical, delusional, and off-putting to others. All of this puts tremendous pressure especially on Probationary Disciples. To cope they may still resort to trying to escape the way Aspirants do “spiritualizing” money, pleasure, and power as a way to fit in and still look good. The problem is Probationers, having already been through the phase of Aspirant, already know that “state” experiences of “getting high” (through “tantric sex,” drugs, and mystical experiences) don’t really work either Though these state experiences can continue to offer a taste of “higher realms” to Probationers, they are much more likely to seek out some more serious spiritual disciplines or approaches. They are wanting a spiritual approach that can being about more real insight and lasting transformation, which again puts even more pressure on them. All this pressure helps the Probationer become a “rapidly evolving persons” or R.E.P., who typically lives on the edge of society, and is struggling to discover what a more serious spiritual path is like apart from the methods tried by the masses of humanity in Groups Three, Four, Five and Six before.
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