To give you a general background on me (Lisa Love), for starters I was raised in the Christian tradition and found myself to be a natural mystic. In my teens, I became interested in psychology and parapsychology. That led me to attend college in 1978 where I furthered my studies in psychology and also took a number of classes in comparative religions. I graduated with my Bachelor’s in psychology in 1982.
Between 1982 to 1984 I furthered my education in psychology, receiving my first Masters in Marriage, Family, Child Counseling. In 1984, I became aware of the Ageless Wisdom teachings as put forth by two women — Lucille Cedercrans and Alice Bailey. Since that time a majority of my life has been spent seeking to understand their teachings and attempting to apply them in my life in a practical and not just a theoretical way.
In 1989, I went through a series of spontaneous mystical experiences following two years of rigorous meditation work. At the time they happened to me I had no conceptual understanding of what was going on. Fortunately, I found a book titled Transformations of Consciousness by Ken Wilber. That book gave me the first clues that what I was experiencing may in fact have been experienced by others. Because Wilber’s book was so helpful, I began to read his other books out at that time (Spectrum of Consciousness, Up From Eden). Over the decades I have since gone on to read the majority of the books he has continued to produce. I have also studied extensively writings of various mystics and spiritual traditions that thankfully over the years helped me extensively in the understanding of many of my spontaneously induced “state” experiences.
As part of my quest to understand what happened to me, in the early 1990’s I also received an MSE in Esoteric Psychology that focused on Alice Bailey’s approach to spiritual psychology. I also received extensive training in Psychosynthesis, based on the teachings of Roberto Asssagioli, a student of Alice Bailey’s work. I then went on to teach classes in Esoteric Psychology attempting to pioneer the field. Next, I completed a PhDE is Esoteric Philosophy based on the teachings of Alice Bailey, Theosophy (focusing mainly on the writings of Helena Blavatsky), and the esoteric side of various religious traditions such as the Kabbalah. As a side note, during the 1990’s I began teaching meditation leading people on meditation retreats. Strangely enough I even started working for a small start-up company called America Online (obviously it didn’t stay small) attempting to teach (of all things) meditation through their emerging online campus. Teaching meditation through the emerging Internet where even chat was considering “pioneering” was no small feat. The frustration of trying to teach meditation and other classes online when all I had available to me was chat with some emojis caused me to innovate a number of online teaching techniques. Seeing what I had done America Online asked me to teach 200 of their teachers what I had learned. Those techniques went on to become mainstream and now with technology continuing to advance, have even become out-moded.
Between 2000 and 2005, I launched a website called Soul to Spirit that focused on comparative religious study, spiritual teachers and practices of various faiths, and more. Soul to Spirit also included a radio program where I interviewed emerging musicians, artists, New Thought and Transpersonal Psychology people (Georg Feuerstein, Shatki Gawain, Deval Premal & Miten, Wayne Teasdale to name a few) attempting to give them greater exposure to people who may not have been in their traditional market. During that same time period I went on to receive an M.S. in Transpersonal Psychology. And, I completed all but the very tail end of my Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology where literally a few months before completing it, I went broke during a divorce and was no longer able to pay the high price of finishing that degree. I am therefore a Ph.D. (abd) or “all but dissertation,” meaning all the necessary college programs and the research for the dissertation were completed, but final stage of interviewing twelve people to wrap up my research on Wealth and Spirituality was not.
To get these degrees I went to ITP, or the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (now known as Sophia) primarily because I thought they would be open to the Alice Bailey teachings (at least in a minimal way). I also wanted to go to ITP over Pacifica, (which focused on the works of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung whose writings I was familiar with), because I thought ITP would be much more open to the writings of Ken Wilber, whose books I found invaluable.
While completing my Master’s at ITP I discovered that the openness to the Ageless Wisdom teachings as presented by Alice Bailey was limited. After submitting my Masters thesis I experienced a clash of views with a certain faculty member. I argued in my Masters’ thesis that there was more than one enlightenment experience. My thesis also challenged the popular version of “unity consciousness” claiming that it was not the last step in spiritual evolution. In fact, I cited many references, primarily from Alice Bailey, stating that what most people considered “enlightenment experiences” or having reached an apex known as “unity consciousness” was actually just the very first step regarding a series of enlightenments (or initiation experiences to use Bailey’s term) to come. My thesis also argued that the Transpersonal community and even Ken Wilber (someone I still greatly respect) could benefit from some of what the Ageless Wisdom teachings had to offer. Sadly, I ran into a great deal of difficulty in regards to my views.
In fact because of my “radical views” I almost did not get to complete my Master’s degree, because one professor objected to them finding my assertions to be ridiculous. Fortunately, the head of ITP intervened (thank you Robert Frager), and I made it through. Ironically, years after I received my Masters from ITP in 2002, books like After the Ecstasy, the Laundry and Halfway up the Mountain emerged beginning to argue the same points I had asserted. Later, the magazine What Is Enlightenment? (which I had a subscription to) also started drifting towards my (or Bailey’s) views.
While getting my education at ITP the Integral movement started to emerge and some of my professors from ITP even became part of Integral. Because I still loved what Ken Wilber had to say, I became a member of the Integral online community early on and deepened my understanding of Wilber’s evolving model into AQAL by keeping abreast of his other books and especially his audio/video teachings on this topic (of which I have listened to and watched extensively).
Still, even though at this point in my life I had dedicated decades now to understanding various models of spiritual evolution (Psychosynthesis, Transpersonal, Integral, Sri Aurobindo, Paul Bruton, Swami Satchidandna, classical Theosophy, and more recently Yogananda’s more profound works), I felt frustrated with all these models. Having been exposed so young to the Ageless Wisdom teachings, and having spent literally decades (and even at times years non-stop everyday) immersed in reading and re-reading what these books had to offer, I felt I had to find a way to show in a more clear, organized and lucid manner precisely what Alice Bailey’s teachings really have to offer.
Personally, I get why it has been so hard to bridge Bailey’s work more into the mainstream. One of my professors at ITP, Arthur Hastings, gave his view of the Bailey teachings in his book With the Tongues of Men and Angels: A Study of Channeling. In that book Alice Bailey didn’t come out looking to well. Hastings mentioned how difficult her writing is to follow (it is) even making it a point to talk about how many run-on sentences she has (she does). Later I learned that Ken Wilber also did not have much that was positive to say about Alice Bailey, when I heard him in an audio talk with a woman who was once part of the Arcane School, who had now “grown out of Bailey’s teachings” and now preferred Integral.
Fortunately, even though they did not have positive things to say, I at least resonated with their views. As most people will tell you, Bailey’s books are maddeningly difficult! They lack organization and to really understand her system quite frankly you have to do what I have done. You need to read and re-read and re-read her books over and over again. (To date I have read each book now except one at least five times and I continue to read and re-read them). Even then I have discovered you can get things wrong. For example, you often find just one sentence that seems to throw the organization of the entire model off. That is why since I started this blog in 2016, I have thrown up numerous charts revising and revising the correlation of terms I have found in Bailey’s books. I also find it hugely frustrating to have so many terms being used to reveal what these stages are. Honestly, I confess, Bailey’s model seems way too complex. Regardless, for some crazy reason I have continued in this quest to try to figure her system out. Maybe it is because I like doing puzzles when I am mentally stuck. I think I have done over 1000 on Microsoft’s puzzle app.
Though I am doing my best to put the pieces of the puzzle of Bailey’s model together, please understand that even though I now believe my understanding and organization of her model is pretty good, I still may come across sentences in Bailey’s books that mess everything up. (By the way if you feel you have a Bailey reference that might throw my current understanding of her model off, feel free to email me about it. I do not see my ideas as final. This is still a work in progress).
Another reason so many people have had difficulty with Bailey’s writings is because they are considered even by Bailey to be a channeled teaching. One of Ken Wilber’s complaints about the Bailey writings seems to be attached to this whole “channeled by DK and Masters” bit associated with her writings. This is unfortunate especially since the forward to every Bailey book states that the author has no interest in them being seen as teachings from some Master. Instead, those who read the books are encouraged to understand and apply what the books say without considering where they may have come from. If the model for spiritual evolution and ideas shared have validity in your life experience, accept them. If not, reject them. That is the only way to prove whether they are valid or not.
But, I get it, Ken Wilber. I understand why you want to associate Bailey’s teachings with what you call the “myth of the given.” There is a tendency for those involved in the Bailey teachings to take them all verbatim and swallow them whole because they believe they came from some advanced being and therefore the truth of every word “is a given.” In fact, I have personally had people from various Bailey groups tell me that “every word is the truth right down to every period in every book.” (Yes, that really did come out of the mouth of one of the main followers of Bailey’s writings). I countered this statement by asserting my right to think for myself and quoted how Bailey herself said we should keep an open mind. Instead, I was basically told “These writings were from a Master, and who am I to question a Master?” I agree, Ken Wilber, “myth of the given” indeed!
In fact, I have personally complained to myself that among certain Bailey circles I am having not just one book thumped on my head (the Christian Bible I grew up with), I am now having twenty-four books thumped on my head in a fundamentalist way. That is a lot of thumping. For this reason I have done something very controversial in Bailey circles. I have chosen in this blog and in my books to ignore the idea that these books were written in some special way. Instead I am just asking people to read them on their own terms. From my own experience I consider this an invaluable approach. Wanting you to think for yourself is the main reason throughout this blog and my books you will find that I do not here me say D.K. or the Tibetan says (D.K. or the Tibetan was said to have telepathically conveyed the writings to Bailey). I simply state Bailey’s model says, or Bailey wrote. For those devoted to D.K. or the Tibetan, I know my approach to omit his name may upset you. But, I am doing this precisely because I want to stop focusing on who supposedly wrote the teachings and focus on the teachings themselves.
By the way Ken Wilber, yes there may be those who are prone to the “myth of the given” in the Bailey world, but the “myth of the given” also exists in the Integral world. After all people may now be running around saying “Ken Wilber says” as if your word is now gospel. Even you know Ken, that the tendency to make claims like “D.K says” or “Bailey says” or “Wilber says” is connected to a certain stage of spiritual development (Integral Green for example, or Bailey’s Little Chelaship stage). So perhaps we can consider the “myth of the given” connected to a stage of development and not to a particular group of people. That way we all avoid the “myth of assumption” where we assume we understand something (like a certain teaching) more fully than we do. (Note: To see how Bailey felt about people wanting to accept her teachings without criticism or question, or to see how she felt about people wanting to say “D.K. says” go to this page on my blog. You will see how she was not in favor of it at all).
Finally, I want to point something interesting going on between the Integral and the Ageless Wisdom teachings — namely why are they so similar? Have Integral writers and researchers actually borrowed from what the Ageless Wisdom teachings have had to say without giving them credit? After all, they have been around for over 100 years now. I have even put up a video on this blog, showing the links between Alice Bailey and how she had both direct and indirect influence over some of the ideas that emerged in the the Transpersonal and Integral fields. Maybe then the teachings are similar because people have borrowed from Bailey without giving her credit. And, if there was a tendency to borrow from Bailey and omit giving her credit, maybe that is partially due to the fact is due to a few things. First, Bailey is a woman. She even started her work (1919) before women had a legal right to vote. Like many women (even in 2020 as I am writing this), she may have struggled to have men around her give her fair credit. These men may have preferred to simply take her ideas and turn them into their own (Jean Gebser who Ken Wilber drew a lot of his own Integral inspirations from may have been one of these for example. Watch my video).
Another reason Bailey’s ideas may not have been credited is that they not only came from a woman, but from a “channeled source” probably making them too threatening to mention in academic circles. Roberto Assagioli, was one of Bailey’s main students. He created Psychosynthesis, and we know for a fact many of his ideas were inspired by Bailey. I believe Assagioli most likely hid his connection with Bailey precisely because it was difficult enough to get his own simplified version of Bailey’s model accepted by academia, let alone complicate the attempt to get his ideas regarding the emerging field of spiritual psychology accepted by throwing some “channeled” teaching into the mix.
Regardless of whether there was a direct borrowing from Bailey’s works without crediting her for it, something valuable is occurring. Mainly various models of spiritual evolution are all reaching similar conclusions. I hope this because all these different approaches are discovering that in fact this is how humans actual go through their human and spiritual evolution! To me that is far more valuable than whether Bailey was borrowed from, credited, or not.
On the flip side, along with being frustrated at times with Integral’s failure to look more carefully at the Ageless Wisdom teachings, I have often felt annoyed with how those associated with the Ageless Wisdom teachings fail to take the responsibility to integrate these teachings more into the mainstream. And, I get irritated with how few of Bailey’s ideas are actually investigated or tested to see if they are actually true or not, something Bailey herself said we needed to do.
Maybe that is why despite my bias towards the Ageless Wisdom teachings, I keep running back to Integral (and also Transpersonal) time and again. To me they just seem more practical. They care about getting integrated into our academic university system. They care about testing out their theories. Heck, even though the one professor at ITP didn’t want me to pass my Master’s Thesis because she couldn’t relate to what I was asserting, I had tremendous respect for arguing that these theories theories need to be tested out more. Maybe that is why I volunteered as her research assistant at one point when she took on a cherished notion of how group work should be done at ITP. She actually had the gumption to interview students from over the years to see if this model of group work actually got the results in spiritual transformation ITP group leaders claimed it did. The end result? It didn’t.
Because I wanted the Bailey teachings to take a more academic view, at one point I was attempting to get the Bailey teachings to become part of an accredited university program. Though ultimately spirituality needs to be experiential, as someone with an accredited Bachelor’s in Psychology and two accredited Master’s degrees (one in Marriage, Family, Child Counselor and one in Transpersonal Psychology), I had come to value the need to be more discerning and to attempt actual research.
For example, when I went through my spontaneous spiritual awakening, I was dismayed to see how I got next to no help from those within the Ageless Wisdom circles. Despite the fact that Bailey’s teachings were created primarily to help establish the emerging field of spiritual psychology, those who read the books seemed to have little to no interest regarding learning how to help people practically who were going through the very experiences Bailey was writing about. Fortunately, I did get the help I needed, primarily from those within the Transpersonal and Integral circles who again tended (and still tend) to focus more on the application of ideas to see how theories actually work. Considering that so much of Bailey’s writings were designed to do the same thing, it is sad for me to see how too many people associated with the Bailey teachings continue to be immersed more in her theory than the application of it.
Fast forward to today and sadly the gap between Bailey’s teachings and other approaches to spirituality still exists too much. I sincerely hope then that this blog, and the books emerging from it, help to bridge this gap. As this bridge is built I hope the field of Spiritual Psychology will be vastly improved.
Finally, I want to stress that I do not see myself as an “expert” on either the Ageless Wisdom, Transpersonal, Integral or other approaches to human and spiritual evolution. I am primarily what I would call a seeker. Like probably most of you, I am trying to find a way to be a good human being and answer some profound questions about life. I hope this blog helps stimulate your own understanding in such a way you take what is useful and apply it to your life. As for what is not useful? May you happily discard it and go on your way! And, if you feel you have something useful to share with me about your own thoughts, please feel free to comment. I would enjoy hearing from you.
Peace – Love – Light,