MASTERS AND THE PATH BY C.W. LEADBEATER
After reading this session, you may be interested in the entire content of this book. Fine, then I have attained my goal.
THE BROTHERHOOD OF ADEPTS
The world is guided and directed to a large extent by a Brotherhood of Adepts to which our Masters belong. Theosophical students make all sorts of mistakes about Them. They often regard Them as a great monastic community, all living together in some secret place. They suppose Them sometimes to be Angels, and many of our students have thought that They were all Indian, or that They all resided in the Himalayas. None of these hypotheses is true. There is a great Brotherhood, and its Members are in constant communication with one another; but Their communication is on higher planes and They do not necessarily live together.
As part of Their work, some of these great Brothers whom we call Masters of the Wisdom are willing to take pupil-apprentices and teach them; but They form only a small section of the mighty Body of Perfected Men.As will be explained later on, there are seven types of men, for every one belongs to one of the seven Rays into which the great wave of evolving life is distinctly divided. It would seem that one Adept on each of the Rays is appointed to attend to the training of beginners, and all those who are coming along His particular Ray of evolution pass through His hands.
No one below the rank of Adept is permitted to assume full responsibility for a novice, though those who have been chelas for a number of years are often employed as deputies, and receive the privilege of helping and advising promising young aspirants. These older pupils are gradually being trained for their future work when they in turn shall become Adepts, and they are learning to take more and more of the routine work off the hands of their Masters, so that the latter may be set free for higher labours which only They can undertake. The preliminary selection of candidates for discipleship is now left to a large extent in the hands of these older workers, and the candidates are temporarily linked with such representatives rather than directly with the great Adepts. But the pupils and the Master are so wonderfully one that perhaps this is almost “a distinction without a difference.”
THE THREE DOORS
There is a poem which says:
Three doors there are to the Temple–
To know, to work, to pray:
And they who wait at the outer gate
May enter by either way.
There are always the three ways; a man may bring himself to the Master’ s feet by deep study, because in that way he comes to know and to feel; and certainly He may be reached by deep devotion long continued, by the constant uplifting of the soul towards Him. And there is also the method of throwing oneself into some definite activity for Him. But it must be something definitely done for Him with that thought in mind: “If there be credit or glory in this work I do not want it; I do it in my Master’ s name; to Him be the glory and praise.” The poem quoted above also says: “There be who nor pray nor study, but yet can work right well.” And that is true. There are some who cannot make anything much of meditation, and when they try to study they find it very hard. They ought to continue to try both these things, because we must develop all sides of our nature, but most of all they should throw themselves into the work, and do something for their fellow-men.
That is the surest of all appeals– to do a thing in His name, to do a good act thinking of Him, remembering that He is much more sensitive to thought than ordinary people. If a man thinks of a friend at a distance, his thought goes to that friend and influences him, so that the friend thinks of the sender of the thought unless his mind is much engaged at the moment with something else. But however much occupied a Master may be, a thought directed to Him makes a certain impression, and although perhaps at the moment He may not take any notice, yet the touch is there, and He will know of that and will send out His love and His energy in response to it.
But a wrong conception of God is one of the most serious hindrances under which a man can suffer. The idea of the Jehovah of the Old Testament, bloodthirsty, jealous, mean and cruel, has been responsible for an amount of harm in the world that cannot easily be estimated. Any thought of God which induces fear of Him is absolutely disastrous, and precludes all hope of real progress; it shuts a man up in the darkest of dungeons instead of leading him onward and upward into the glory of the sunlight. It draws round him a host of the type of elemental which revels in fear, gloats over it and intensifies it by every means within his power. When a man is in that parlous condition it is all but impossible to help him; wherefore to teach a man (still more, a child) such a blasphemous doctrine is one of the worst crimes that anyone can commit. The disciple must be utterly free from all cramping superstitions of this kind.
THE MASTERS AND THE BROTHERHOOD
ALL this while, the Adept, besides using His pupil as an apprentice, has been preparing him for presentation to the Great White Brotherhood for Initiation. The whole object of the existence of that Brotherhood is to promote the work of evolution, and the Master knows that when the pupil is ready for the stupendous honour of being received as a member of it, he will be of very much more use in the world than before. Therefore it is His wish to raise His pupil to that level as soon as possible. In the Oriental books on the subject, written thousands of years ago, are to be found many accounts of this preparatory period of instruction; and when reference has been made to it in the earlier Theosophical literature it has been called the Probationary Path– the term referring not to being put upon probation by any individual Adept, but to a course of general training preparatory to Initiation. I myself used the term in Invisible Helpers, but have lately avoided it on account of the confusion caused by the employment of the same word in two distinct senses.
The method really adopted is readily comprehensible, and is in fact much like that of some of our older Universities. If a student wishes to take a degree at one of those, he must first pass the entrance examination of the University and then be admitted to one of the Colleges. The Head of that College is technically responsible for his progress, and may be regarded as his tutor-in-chief. The man will have to work to a large extent by himself, but the Head of his College is expected to see that he is properly prepared before he is presented to take his Degree. The Head does not give the Degree; it is conferred by that abstraction called the University– usually at the hands of its Vice-Chancellor. It is the University, not the Head of the College, that arranges the examination and confers the various Degrees; the work of the Head of the College is to see that the candidate is duly prepared, and generally to be to some extent responsible for him. In the process of such preparation he may, as a private gentleman, enter into whatever social or other relations with his pupil he may think proper; but all that is not the business of the University.
Just in the same way the Great White Brotherhood has nothing to do with the relations between a Master and His pupil; that is a matter solely for the private consideration of the Master Himself. The Initiation is given by an appointed Member of the Brotherhood in the name of the One Initiator; that is the only way in which an Initiation can he obtained. Whenever an Adept considers that one of His pupils is fit for the first Initiation, He gives notice of that fact and presents him for it; the Brotherhood asks only whether the man is ready for Initiation, and not what is the relationship between him and any Adept. It is not Their affair whether he is at the stage of probation, acceptance or sonship. At the same time it is true that a candidate for Initiation must be proposed and seconded by two of the higher members of the Brotherhood– that is to say, by two who have reached the level of Adeptship; and it is certain that no Master would propose a man for the tests of Initiation unless He had with regard to him the certainty of his fitness which could only come from very close identification with his consciousness.
When an ego is initiated he becomes part of the closest organization in the world; he is now one with the vast sea of consciousness of the Great White Brotherhood. For a long time the new Initiate will not be able to understand all that this union implies, and he must penetrate far into the sanctuaries before he can realize how close is the link, and how great is that consciousness of the King Himself, which all Brothers to a certain extent share with Him. It is incomprehensible and inexpressible down here; metaphysical and subtle it is beyond words, but nevertheless a glorious reality, real to such an extent that when we begin to grasp it everything else seems unreal.
We have seen how the accepted pupil may lay his thought beside that of the Master; so now may the Initiate put his thought beside that of the Brotherhood and draw into himself just as much of that tremendous consciousness as he at his level is able to appreciate; and ever as he draws it into himself he will be able to receive more of it, and his own consciousness will widen out so that narrowness of thought will become impossible for him. And just as the accepted pupil must take care not to cause disturbance in the lower vehicles of the Master, lest he should interfere with the perfection of His work, so must a member of the Brotherhood never introduce anything discordant into that mighty consciousness, which is acting as a whole.
He must remember that not by any means the whole of the Brotherhood is doing the same work as our Masters. Many of Them are engaged in other labours which require the utmost concentration and the most perfect calm, and if some of the younger members should sometimes forget their high calling, and cause ripples of annoyance to disturb the Brotherhood, it would affect the work of those Greater Ones. Our own Masters might perhaps overlook that, and be willing to endure a little occasional worry of that kind for the sake of the future when the new member will be making really great use of the powers of the Brotherhood; but we can quite understand that Those who have nothing to do with the training of individuals might say: “Our work is being disturbed, and it is better that those who have such immature personalities should stay outside.” They would say that nothing was lost, that progress can be made just as well outside, and that pupils could go on making themselves better and stronger and wiser before gaining Initiation.
So wonderful is the expansion of the Initiate’ s consciousness that it is most apt to speak of the change as a new birth. He begins to lead a new life “as a little child,” the life of the Christ; and the Christ, the intuitional or buddhic consciousness, is born within his heart. He has also now the power to give the blessing of the Brotherhood– a tremendous and overwhelming force, which he is able to give or send to anyone, as he judges to be most appropriate and useful. The power of the Brotherhood will flow through him just as much as he will let it flow; it is for him to use the power and to remember that he has the entire responsibility of directing it for whatever purpose he may choose. The benediction given by the Officiant at Initiation means: “I bless you; I pour my force and benison into you; see that you in your turn constantly pour out this good-will upon others.”
The more confidence the new Initiate has the greater will be the flow of force through him. If he feels the least hesitation, or is weighed down by the responsibility of letting such a tremendous power flow through him, he will not be able to use this wonderful gift to the full; but if he has that qualification of Shraddha– perfect trust in his Master and in the Brotherhood, and the utter certainty that because he is one with Them all things are possible to him– he may go through the world as a veritable angel of light, shedding joy and benediction around his path.
The consciousness of the Great White Brotherhood is an indescribably wonderful thing. It is like a great calm shining ocean, so strangely one that the least thrill of consciousness flashes from end to end of it instantaneously, and yet to each member it seems to be absolutely his own individual consciousness, though with a weight and a power and a wisdom behind it that no single human consciousness could ever have. This magnificent sea of “cosmic consciousness” of the Brotherhood is something so great, so wonderful, that there is nothing else in the world like it: even those who belong to it by virtue of having passed the First Great Initiation can catch only glimpses of it, can remember only a little of it here and there. It can be felt fully only on the nirvanic plane, on which the Brotherhood primarily exists, though it has its manifestation on the lower planes, even down to the physical world.
As the band of pupils is all one in the Master, so is the Brotherhood all one in its Lord. The members may freely discuss a point among themselves, yet it is as though different aspects of a case presented themselves in the same mind, and were by that mind weighed one against the other; but one is all the time in the presence of a tremendous, an almost awful serenity, a certainty which nothing can ever disturb. And yet somehow in all that every suggestion is welcomed; indeed, there is the sensation that the whole Brotherhood is alertly and eagerly waiting for each individual’ s contributions to the subject before it. There is nothing down here to which this consciousness can be adequately compared; to touch it is to come into contact with something new and strange, yet inexpressibly wonderful and beautiful, something which needs no evidence and no comparison, but asserts itself to be of a higher and unknown world.
Though individualities are so strangely merged in this, yet are they at the same time sharply separated, for the assent of each Brother is required to every decision of importance. The rule of the King is absolute, yet He carries His vast council with Him, and is at every moment willing to consider any point that occurs to any member of it. But this great governing body differs utterly from any parliament of earth. Those who stand above the rest in positions of authority have not been elected, nor have they been appointed by some party organization; they hold their positions because they have won them– won them by superior development and greater wisdom. None doubts the decision of his superior, because he knows that he really is a superior– that he has greater insight and a fuller power to decide. There is, there can be, no shadow of compulsion that these Supermen shall think or act alike; yet is their confidence in their mighty organization so perfect that it is unthinkable that in the long run they should differ; it is only in the case of such a Brotherhood under such a King that we can fully realize the beautiful wording of one of the Collects of the Church of England: “In His service is perfect freedom.”