This post moves into what I have summarized as the second task of the Chela on the Thread stage, which is one of the Six Stages of Discipleship. I have titled this task Group Resonance, which means from this point forward the concern for individual enlightenment is dropping away with group enlightenment, or group initiation, becoming the focus. As always I will attempt to correlate these stages with Integral, though that task is becoming more and more difficult.
We are One. That is a popular phrase for many to assert, but much more difficult to live. To use a Buddhist phrase, it means increasingly we need to become sensitive to “dependent arising.” To put it another way, ALL sentient beings arise together. No one goes it alone. The more we sink into this realization the more even the notion of individual enlightenment fades away, as we understand all the interconnected elements that lead to any one sentient being’s success.
In the Ageless Wisdom teachings, this shift from individual enlightenment to group enlightenment is emphasized quite a bit, especially in the book Rays and Initiations by Alice Bailey. As we move into the Chela on the Thread stage and the tasks to be accomplished, the awareness of “dependent arising” and “group enlightenment” become more critical than ever before. But, first, in case you have jumped into this post out of sequence, let me once again list the four major tasks of the Chela on the Thread.
Chela on the Thread — Major Tasks: List
- Discern Between Higher and Lower Psychic Powers
- Achieve Group Resonance
- Learn the Science of Impression and Contact
- Establish Continuity of Consciousness
Chela on the Thread — Major Tasks: Brief Summary
2. Achieve Group Resonance.
What is group resonance and why is it important here? To begin with it continues to anchor that realization of Oneness, not just in a mental or theoretical way, but in having to walk the talk. If you review the tasks I mentioned in Accepted Discipleship, you see that they the tendency towards criticism and a feeling of separation increasingly need to die down. To walk the talk of Oneness, you have to demonstrate that you can get along with people, especially those who are in a similar thought-form, teaching, passion, and area of focus as you along spiritual lines. Be it helping to improve the world politically, through the education system, economically, artistically, psychologically, scientifically, by helping to reform the various existing religious systems, through helping to improve the environment, and so forth — you have to demonstrate that Oneness as fact in your everyday relations once and for all. You give up the magical thinking ideas (related to Group 3/Red and Group 4/Amber) notion that some one person out there will save you with the power of a superhero, or that you will save others in a super heroine like fashion. Only the group can do this as a whole. Even if there is a leader at the center, the group must provide support. That is why at this stage you need to find your ashram or group, and shoulder your share of demonstrating “heaven on Earth” responsibly, powerfully, intelligently, and lovingly.
What is an Ashram?
Which leads me to the question, what is an ashram? In the book Discipleship in the New Age, I, Alice Bailey starts to define what the word ashram means by stating the following: “An Ashram is not a group of people seeking spiritual realisation. It is a centre of group activity, swept by energies which (when given full and proper sway) enable the group to carry out the Master’s plan and meet human need.” p. 747 She goes on to say, “An Ashram or Master’s group is, therefore, a centre of invocation and when the individual disciple becomes a chela on the thread, it is as the reward of selfless service—carried forward at any personal cost. Then the Ashram can be a centre of unique world potency.” p. 747 – 748
These are important distinctions. As popularly used, most people talk about going to India to visit an ashram. Or they may visit an ashram in their own country. As mentioned before, the man I am in relationship with helped to build the ashram in the United States called Yogaville during a period of 20 years. What is important to note is that these are physical communities. Though there are a few in these communities more devoted to the ideals held by the guru, teacher, or Master who heads the ashram (in Yogaville it was to demonstrate a synthesis among the world’s religions), more often than not people visit these places for “spiritual development.” They want to meditate, practice yoga, study, and go on retreat to work out the stress in their lives. All of that is well and good. Nothing wrong with personal and spiritual development. It’s just in the Alice Bailey model, that focus puts you at the stages of Little Chelaship, Chela in the Light, and to a slight degree Accepted Discipleship. In Integral, these stages line up mostly with their Green, Teal, and even Turquoise. The more you go into Alice Bailey’s stage of Accepted Discipleship, the more you have handled for the most part your personal glamours, emotional hangups, mental distortions, and personal problems with money, sex/pleasure, and power. These things have been mastered to a high degree and are no longer an issue.
Rather, in the Alice Bailey model at the stage of Chela on the Thread we enter an ashram which is “a centre of group activity, swept by energies which (when given full and proper sway) enable the group to carry out the Master’s plan and meet human need.” p. 747. What are we to make of these words? First, we discover that we become part of an ashram due to our resonance with the group. That ashram is focusing on a particular aspect of “the Plan.” To make these phrases more understandable think of it along these lines. All over the globe there are groups of people dedicated to human rights. Their “plan” is to reflect the truth of at-one-ment and unity of all human kind as a living reality in the physical world. Anyone who resonates with this effort is being “swept” into the “centre of group activity.” At the center of the human rights movement there are people who are focal points of the group. In a sense they lead the group with their greater clarity of vision, strength of will, largeness of heart, courage, and intelligent skill. Think of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. for example. But, to be part of the civil rights movement you didn’t need to go sit an a physical ashram with them. You simply need to get on board and be “part of the Plan.” Through your thoughts and actions you resonate with the group and help to bring civil rights about. Which is why Alice Bailey is trying to shift the focus away from spiritual development to how useful you may be to the purpose or plan of the group.
She says in her book Discipleship in the New Age, Vol I along these lines, “The major tasks of the Master when a disciple first enters His Ashram is to make him think along the lines of decentralisation. This involves the shift of the disciple’s consciousness from himself to the work to be done and, incidentally, the answering of the questions:
- Do you, in reality, know what your life task is?
- Have you tried to carry this out in your current life processes?
- Is your main objective the building of character and the development of purity? If this is so, do you not think that you should be on the Path of Probation and not deluding yourself with the idea that you are on the Path of Discipleship?
- Are you preoccupied with human need or are you engrossed with your own position as a disciple, with your own spiritual problems, and with the delusion of the terrific difficulties in your personal life?
As long as you believe that your life is one of all engrossing interest and also one of exceeding hard places, you are only in the very early stages of accepted discipleship and have not yet cast off ancient habits of thought. These questions have eventually to be answered before the student has what I might call ‘the full freedom of the Ashram.'” p. 747
Now, not all ashrams are externalized (like in the case of Gandhi, where he and his followers around the world were clearly visible to others). We are told that inner ashrams also exist, which are best seen as focal points of thoughts or ideas held along certain lines that others can resonate to. Take the notion of alternative energy for example. Perhaps you are thinking along the lines of certain approaches to alternative energy that have not yet been invented. They are simply ideas. You can discuss those ideas with others. You can meditate on those ideas and in a sense telepathically link up with others who might be thinking along the same lines. You may actually meet some of those people in the physical world. Or, you may not. Still, you are linked together in an “ashram” because your thoughts are becoming centralized around this particular idea of alternative energy that you one day hope to externalize, perhaps as Elan Musk did in his start up of his company named after the famous inventor, Tesla.
Which leads us to an interesting point of contemplation. In the Alice Bailey model, the thrust of spiritual development seems to lead towards the following factors: 1) Realization of and Identification with the One or the Absolute, which is said to be the culmination of the mystic path. 2) Dependent Arising, a phrase I am borrowing from Buddhism, which helps to bring about the motivation to become a Bodhisattva. 3) Going out to save and salvage the world as a Bodhisattva, so that all sentient beings may become enlightened 4) Saving the world by understanding what the Plan is that helps bring a heaven on Earth, (which is more in alignment with the occult method of working in the manifest world). 5) Working in group resonance as you attempt to understand and implement the Plan. 6) Shifting the focus to group enlightenment and to groups working with groups to help enlighten the entire world.
Since this blog has as part of its intent to compare the Ageless Wisdom method to Integral, it becomes more clear why the comparison, especially at the stage of Chela on the Thread is falling apart. Let’s take a look again at the chart I have created on Levels and Terms.
What we see is that as we get into the Alice Bailey model on a deeper level, the comparisons with Integral are already exhausting themselves. Here we are at the Chela on the Thread stage and we are into the top levels of Integral, which they are barely theorizing about. We are also only at the end of Alice Bailey’s second initiation, which in her books is not even the first major initiation, which is her third initiation. (That is why at the 3rd initiation, or 3rd expansion of consciousness, you are called an initiate). Part of the reason the break down is happening is because Integral does not put a focus on group enlightenment, which from this point forward Alice Bailey strongly shifts into.
Alice Bailey also puts a strong focus on being in the world (as an occultist who is very effective working within the manifest realms), as well as realizing the Unity of all things in the unmanifest realms, (which is the main focus of the mystic). In the previous stage to this one, of Accepted Discipleship, these two paths we are told in her system have to come together. We have reached a point in human evolution, she is implying 100 years ago, where as we move forward we will no longer be able to just sit in a cave somewhere, disconnected from the human condition, and meditate. That is part of a 2000 year cycle she states (called the Age of Pisces that is colored by the mystical path), which is coming to an end. In the next 2000 year cycle, as we enter the Age of Aquarius, Alice Bailey says we will be dominated by the occult/scientific method, and for this reason things will look quite different. Already, since she wrote her books we are seeing that with the increased inter-connection of our world through all the scientific advances and new technology. In fact, the scientific revolutions that have happened since when Alice Bailey was writing from the 1910’s to mid 194-‘s are astonishing and in many ways prove the truth of what she is saying. And, we have just begun the Age of Aquarius here. We have nearly the entire 2000 year cycle to live out yet. Along with these changes the approach to spiritual life will also be quite different, which is something her books were trying to reflect.
Keeping this in mind let’s go back to the Chela on the Thread notion of entering the ashram with some final thoughts. How do we know whether we are moving into the ashram or not? We can start by asking the following questions. To begin with are our thoughts focused along specific lines to bring through some new ideas into manifestation in our world? As we seek to manifest some part of the plan are we a part of a group effort, leaving the notion of our own individual enlightenment or realization behind? Do we keep the Buddhist idea of “dependent arising” in view? As we do so are we effective in what we are accomplishing in the outer world? Do these accomplishments reflect our inner realizations, meaning we are walking the talk without deception, hypocrisy, or through selfish motivations that we try to justify as non-existent or necessary? Can we get along with others as we manifest ideas along similar lines, or do we want to hold ourselves up as some sort of special enlightened being, making ourselves special and exclusive? If so, we are demonstrating that we have not achieved the impersonality required at the stage of Accepted Discipleship, and are showing traits more indicative of the Chela in the Light and even Little Chelaship stages.(As examples of those who have achieved higher levels in Baiiley’s model, witness for example the humble nature of the Dalai Lama who considers himself a simply monk, or of Pope Francis who asks for others to pray for him and you get the sense of the humility required we are talking about . They represent people who seem to have most likely passed through the stage of Chela on the Thread at the very minimum as they seem to fulfill it’s many requirements).
In conclusion, as we close out this notion of entering the ashram, we need to remember that an ashram as defined here is a focal point of ideas and thought that people are tapping into for the purpose of finding ways to improve the world around us so the notion of unity and at-one-ment become realized “on Earth as it is in heaven.” In fact we may be better off replacing the word ashram with the words “focused thought along the lines of a particular service that others in turn resonant to and seek to actualize in the manifest realms.” If you keep this in mind, as you hear the word Ashram used in the Alice Bailey books (or for those of you who follow the teachings of Lucille Cedercrans), you may eliminate a lot of confusion.
Have comments, questions, suggestions? They will be posted so long as they are civil and expand the discussion.
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