What is Enlightenment MagazineWhen we dive into the Integral movement as mentioned before we no longer find the phrase initiation, but we do see the word enlightenment, which Bailey pretty much sees as a similar process. For many years Ken Wilber and a man named Andrew Cohen actually debated about enlightenment in Cohen’s What is Enlightenment magazine series. In the Transpersonal Psychology movement, that predated the Integral movement, we also see many people involved in the discussion of what enlightenment is. One of the more notable people contributors on the subject is Stanislov Grof, who was one of the founders of the Transpersonal Psychology movement and an associate of Roberto Assagioli, who was a student of Alice Bailey’s. Grof put forward the idea of a spiritual emergence vs a spiritual emergency regarding enlightenment experiences in a few landmark books on the topic. A spiritual emergence is like the smoother process of initiation that Bailey refers to where there are no cleavages, gaps or “uneven unfoldment” involved. A spiritual emergency is opposite and long before Grof or others began to write on the topic, Bailey was setting forth a number of ideas along these lines.

Though there are many people that represent both Transpersonal Psychology and its offshoot of the Integral movement today, I would like to mention one who is pictured on the cover of What is Enlightenment? magazine I have inserted above. On the left is Ken Wilber, who I have mentioned many times in this an d my previous book, Becoming Human. To the right is Georg Feurestein who became a prolific Western more modern day writer on the field of Yoga. The reason I am mentioning Feurestein at this point, is because in regards to the Yoga tradition, we also find the idea of a “Master” or “Guru” initiating someone into a spiritual practice or an expanded level of consciousness. Whether it is one’s guru giving you a sacred mantra, allowing you to begin to study a certain teaching after you have gone through a certain initiation rite, or giving you some “shaktipat” (a transmission of spiritual energy) the parallels with Theosophy are there. We also find this notion in Buddhism. I myself once went through an initation ceremony given by the then head of the Gaden Shartse monastery that would allow me to study White Tara teachings. The Dalai Lama has been known to initiate thousands of people in a Kalachakra rite, that in a similar way gives people permission to begin to study that particular teaching as well.

One of the differences it seems then, between now and when HPB, Besant, and Bailey were writing some 150 to 100 years ago, is that the entire notion of “initiation” is no longer so mysterious. When the Dalai Lama can sit outside Washington DC and give a Kalachakra initiation to thousands, well that makes it a little more “mainstream.” Also, since the time of HPB, Besant, Bailey numerous gurus and lamas have come from India to the West. Some of the more well known names are Chögyam Trungpa , Maharishi Mahesh, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Sri Swami Satchidananda, Paramahansa Yogananda, Sai Baba, Osho, Jaggi Vasudev, and more! Ken Wilber has been known to say that in his opinion all the Theosophical Masters were made up, and people believed in them simply because they didn’t know any better. Now most people have heard about masters, gurus, yogis, sheiks, swamis, lamas and so forth. Ironically, even though we know that many of these more modern gurus, lamas, etc. are real, there still exists a great deal of confusion and even controversy as to what makes any of them truly enlightened, “Self-Realized,” or “initiated.” And, more than ever before there is a lot of discussion and debate about what these terms really stand for in regards to spiritual growth and development. My personal opinion is that this is a good thing, which is why I am attempting to add to the discussion with this book.

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