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Discipleship in the New Age I - The Six Stages of Discipleship - Part V
I would here again remind you that all these stages are related to work in the Ashram and to the life and vitality of the inner group. This group is composed, as you know, of old and experienced disciples and initiates and also of neophytes in various stages of development and also of disciples, passing through the many different stages of the Path. It is these widely different types of active disciples which bring about the interrelation between the outer and the inner Ashrams, between the objective group upon the outer plane and the very much larger inner group. This brings me to a question which may quite normally arise in the minds of those working in the outer group and loosely related to the inner group: Is the level of the consciousness of the outer Ashram determined by the personnel of that group or by its relation to the whole Ashram of which it forms a relatively small part? When this question is posited by a member of an Ashram, it indicates a definite preoccupation with the personnel of the group and not with the group as an aspect of some Master's Ashram. Disciples need [728] to remember that an Ashram is not confined to a few who may know each other and who may even meet together as Ashram members. An Ashram is an international group; it is composed of souls in incarnation and out of incarnation; it is a synthesis of initiates of various degrees and of accepted disciples. The Masters do not regard those who have taken the first initiation as initiates. This is a point which needs re-emphasis.

Disciples who have taken the second initiation are regarded as "probationary initiates," and only when they have taken the third initiation are they truly initiate from the standpoint of the Hierarchy. The first initiation is sometimes spoken of as the "Lemurian Initiation" and the second as the "Atlantean Initiation," but the third initiation - that of our Aryan race - is technically regarded by them as the first initiation. This is a new angle upon which I would ask you to think. The term, therefore, of Accepted Disciple covers the stages of the first and second initiations; when a disciple has taken the third initiation, he is no longer technically an accepted disciple, even though he still remains in a Master's group until he has taken the fourth initiation. I am pointing out these technicalities so that there may be clarity and proportion in your thinking.

An Ashram is, therefore, representative of all stages of unfoldment, from the most advanced to beginners, such as those who read these instructions. The point of importance to each disciple in an Ashram is whether he can step up his consciousness and his conscious response to the ashramic vibration so that he does not hinder the planned activities of the Ashram. Must the senior and the more advanced initiate-disciples halt, or wait and step down their activities so as to give the less advanced the time and opportunity to measure up to them? The question therefore is: Do the senior disciples wait or do the junior disciples hinder?

I would assure you that the standard of measurement is not a dead level and I would assure beginners that they cannot hinder the advanced members of an Ashram, but that they can throw themselves out of the sphere of activity, though not out of the group. It is the unready and the untrained who do the waiting, not the ready and the truly dedicated. [729]

The task of the Master is to stimulate as many as possible in his group to work consistently on levels of spiritual activity, wherein the fire of the will-to-love may animate and dominate. Frequently, a part of the Ashram is still struggling with the first stages in the task of understanding the fires of the mind; these must be first comprehended and their fiery essence quenched before the fire of the will-to-love can flow through the disciple.

The point to be grasped is that the work of the Ashram goes on and disciples and initiates (whose hearts are aflame) continue to work unimpeded. This covers the individual reaction to the Ashram personnel. But where all the group are aflame with love and are living as souls, then the Ashram becomes a vital center or vortex of force and dynamically effective. The effort of the Masters who work through the method of forming Ashrams is to bring about as rapidly as possible this unity of love and intention (will). It is only the beginner who is preoccupied with his individual effect in an Ashram. The trained, released disciples are more concerned with the task to be carried on and with the work to be done. An individual disciple may suffer in his personality as a result of the failure of his group brothers to understand or to arrest the fire of their minds, but he goes on steadily with the work and his personal effectiveness, as a serving unit, remains unaffected. He knows that some day they will be liberated from themselves. In the meantime, he labors to offset their influence and to this extent his task is harder, but he knows that they are on the way to understanding; he knows too that at present they cannot help but see in him and even in their Master the very qualities which are dominating them. For, my brother, we see in others what is in us, even when it is not there at all or to the same extent. Disciples need to learn the distinction between true analytical insight and so-called criticism. A Master does not criticize the members of his Ashram. He seeks to analyze for them the points wherein they may hinder the usefulness of the service of the Ashram. There is a basic distinction between this constructive aid and the criticism which is based on a sense of personal superiority and a love of fault finding. [730]

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