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Discipleship in the New Age I - The Six Stages of Discipleship - Part VI
Another thing which disciples are apt to forget is that the Master has to protect the larger Ashram as a whole from the reaction of those who are learning to work in smaller supervised groups and in cooperation with their more experienced brothers. Sometimes disciples become discouraged - from a natural morbidness, self-centeredness, lethargy and sometimes [739] good intentions - and endeavor to resign from the Ashram or group. This they can only do exoterically, for the esoteric link always persists, though it may be temporarily negated in the need of the larger group to protect itself from some unit in its midst. The members of an Ashram and accepted disciples are always engaged in world work and effectively so. Newcomers and beginners have to be trained to participate in that work and ample scope is always provided to this end.

Certain periods come when disciples have to be faced with clear and definite questions, in the answering of which they discover themselves and the scope and fruitfulness of their demanded service. Some of these questions might be expressed as follows:

  • How effective is my work in relation to my sphere of activity?
  • How effective is my thinking and planning in relation to what may lie ahead in the immediate future? We have an instance of this today, in connection with the plans for a postwar world and the need for intelligent and spiritual reconstruction activity.
  • What results can I recognize as the fruit of my work?
  • Do I feel that my work has been satisfactory from the standpoint of my soul and, incidentally, of my Master?
  • Have I worked with impersonality in relation to my fellow disciples and co-workers, no matter what their status?
  • Have I preserved the needed spirit of loving cooperation?
  • Do I recognize truthfully my own and my co-disciples' limitations and do I then move forward with those who are serving alongside of me without criticism and with silence?
  • Do I realize exactly where I stand? Whom I can help? And to whom I must look for example, aid and understanding?

One of the first lessons a disciple has to learn is to recognize what is occultly called "hierarchical progression." This enables the disciple to place himself consciously at the point to which evolution and spiritual unfoldment have brought him and, therefore, recognize those whom he can assist from the stand [740] point of his greater experience and those to whom he must look for like aid.

This is a hard first lesson. The neophyte is always more consciously conceited than is the experienced disciple. It was the need for the understanding of this fact of hierarchical progression which prompted me to choose the six stages of discipleship as our study theme. To be a disciple does not mean that all within the Ashram are upon the same rung of the ladder of evolution. It is not so. An Ashram is composed of all degrees, ranging from that of a disciple who is taking his first steps upon the arduous path of training, up to that of a disciple who is a Master of the Wisdom. This hierarchical progression is something warranting careful consideration. I would remind you of the Law which states that "we grow through the medium of our recognitions." A recognition, when it is seen as an aspect or fractional part of a greater whole, is the seed of a major expansion of consciousness. A stabilized expansion of consciousness connotes initiation. This is an occult statement of major importance.

It is essential that disciples cultivate the attitude of spiritual recognition and they will find their lives greatly enriched when they do so. Contact with disciples, initiates and Masters is ever evocative in the result. The power they normally and unconsciously wield has a dual effect. It draws out the best and evokes the worst whilst presenting situations with which the disciple must deal. Every disciple is a focal point of power to some degree. The more advanced the disciple, the greater the force or energy which will radiate from him; this necessarily presents situations which the lesser disciple has to handle. The true disciple never does this with intention. The theory (so prevalent among occult groups) that the leader or some senior working disciple must stage situations in order to develop the pupil is contrary to occult law. The moment, however, you step into the range of the radiation of a Master or of any disciple senior to you, then things are bound to happen in your life. The radiation is effective when rightly received, registered and consciously used to bring about the sensed and needed changes. Eventually when the disciple's vibration is constant and responsive to the higher one, the two can then be synchronized. [741] It is this synchronization which characterizes all grades of initiates and which indicates to an initiate of a higher degree that an initiate or disciple of a lower grade can be admitted into the higher ranks. Synchronization is the key to initiation.

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