An introduction to why I became interested in Alice Bailey’s model on how human consciousness evolves and why it is still so very relevant in our times.
Before I tell you a little bit about Alice Bailey and why I am writing this book, I want you to know a little bit about me, how I discovered the Alice Bailey teachings, and some biases I may bring to this book. To begin with I was born and raised in Michigan within a middle class family belonging to the Protestant faith. Spiritually, I was raised mostly as a Lutheran. Founded by Martin Luther, the “Lutherans” were the the first “protesters” (or “protestant” faith), to emerge out of the Catholic church they had been indoctrinated into. Not only was my mother a Lutheran, my great grand-parents came from Germany where Martin Luther lived. To this day I still possess the German Bible I inherited from them. On my father’s side I got some of the Presbyterian ethic, which makes sense considering his ancestors were mainly from England and Scotland where this Protestant sect emerged from. My father’s ancestors were also “protesters” in another way, because some of them, like my direct relative Commodore Matthew Perry, played key roles in the American Revolution. Commodore Matthew Perry was also famous for having gone to Japan in the 1700’s. In fact the book Shogan, that I so loved as a teenager, was inspired in part from Commodore Matthew Perry’s life. This also means that a love of both the East and the West was genetically encoded in me.
Though my father was proud of this protester, pioneer, and rebel background of his ancestors, he was not too pleased to see it showing up in me when during my undergraduate program I branched out from my Protestant faith and started to take college courses on Eastern religions. My father was especially shocked and dismayed when at age 22, I got into the used Honda he had just given me after I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, and headed out to California. With only some clothing, the car, and $600 to my name, I left hoping to find a way to pay for the graduate school program in Marriage, Family, Child Therapy I had just been accepted into. Though they were two extremely difficult years, I made it through the program, but in hindsight I can see that attending the graduate school program was not the real reason I had felt the pull to California. What does all of this have to do with the Ageless Wisdom and Integral teachings?
First, it demonstrates my willingness early on to venture into less accepted kinds of philosophical and spiritual thought. Second, it shows how at times I wonder who is really running my life? You see very soon after I arrived in the illustrious state of California, I met a man at a bookstore who handed me a flyer to a class that would dramatically change my life. The class, by a woman named Lucille Cedarcrans was on meditation and also on something known as the Ageless Wisdom. I had never heard of the Ageless Wisdom before, though looking back I can see that as a teenager I was already being exposed to some of the ideas connected to the Ageless Wisdom teachings. In the class I learned about some amazing women, such as Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Alice A. Bailey. Blavatsky I discovered had co-founded something known as The Theosophical Society. A woman who came from the Russian aristocracy, Blavatsky traveled the world in the late 1800’s gathering information on various religions, spiritual practices, and esoteric teachings. In many ways you could say Blavatsky was the first person to pull together spiritual teachings from all faiths (both East and West) in modern times. Blavatsky was also keenly interested in psychic and spiritual phenomena, and the interface between science and religion. Considering she did all of this at a time when few women were allowed to travel alone in the world, no woman anywhere on the planet had the right to vote, and most women were viewed as unintelligent second class citizens who couldn’t think for themselves — well in my view that makes Blavatsky all the more remarkable. In fact, even today most people barely understand the deep spiritual and philosophical concepts Blavatsky wrote about.
Then there was Alice A. Bailey, another remarkable woman, who was at first part of the Theosophical Society, but ended up branching out into sharing her own views. Though most people are not aware of it her writings even today are helping to develop the fields of Esoteric Psychology, Esoteric Healing, and Esoteric Astrology. In fact, all three of these fields are still just starting to incorporate her progressive ideas, which claim that in order to truly understand anyone we need to to know what level of consciousness they are functioning at. Today, the idea that there are many levels (or a spectrum) of consciousness is gaining more ground. In her writings Bailey also claimed that during certain points of our evolution we make quantum leaps in our spiritual development. Borrowing from the Theosophical tradition, she called these leaps “initiations.” Each “initiation” represents an enlightenment experience that takes your consciousness to a whole new level of awareness. When I first encountered the Ageless Wisdom teachings I was so intrigued with them I spent the majority of my late twenties and nearly all of my thirties full time reading and re-reading what Bailey had to say within the 24 books she wrote in her lifetime.
Though my pioneering spirit loved this journey, my rebellious and protester spirit often struggled with many things Bailey had to say. Frequently, I doubted, felt frustrated, and at times I was totally exhausted with reading her books. One reason was her writing style. Many of her books have numerous run-on sentences. At times they seem to lack coherence and may even seem contradictory in nature. Next, was my struggle with the content itself, which often left me feeling lost. Frequently, I would switch between being in awe of what I was reading, to thinking it was absurd, to being in awe again. Still, I persisted. When I got frustrated, skeptical, or exhausted, I would branch out to see what teachers from different religious and esoteric traditions were saying about the evolution of consciousness and spirituality. This included extensive training in Psychosynthesis, Transpersonal Psychology, Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga, Ken Wilber’s Integral studies, Buddhist, Vedic, and Hindu teachings, and more Theosophy. Though I gained many fruitful insights from these other sources, I kept coming back to Alice Bailey. Why? Mainly because I found Bailey’s ideas so interesting. Even today, over 100 years later, most of her ideas have still not been mainstreamed. Despite what some people believe they are not passé. They are not “old.” They do not represent some past archaic teaching. Quite the opposite. They still represent pioneering work. But, if they are so pioneering why do so few people know about them? Worse, why do so many people flat out reject them?
Maybe it is because for most people Bailey is almost impossible to understand. As I see it Bailey’s twenty-four books are a lot like a massive jigsaw puzzle. You are given the pieces, but no picture to look at to so that you have an idea of what the puzzle will eventually look like. That makes it hard to sort the pieces out and figure out where they all go. The good thing about this approach is that it forces anyone who reads her works to cultivate the spiritual intuition. And, if you are going to persist you have to keep an open mind and continue to investigate on your own. That is not as much the case when you believe you are reading something that already is presenting to you the facts from an authority figure.
This last sentence may surprise some people familiar with the Bailey writings. Because often people are told that Bailey was writing something from an authority, a man she called D.K., or the Tibetan. Which means if you are aware of this person known as the Tibetan, you will be surprised (and maybe even dismayed) then to see that throughout this book I never mention him. Instead, I talk about the Bailey writings, or the Bailey teachings. Or, I say a quote is from Bailey. Why? I am doing this primarily because I believe firmly in what the prelude to every Bailey book suggests — it doesn’t matter who the source of the teachings is. What matters most are the teachings themselves. Therefore as the prelude of her books continues to say, feel free to question the teachings, experiment with them, and try them out for yourself. They may be right. They may be wrong. Study them, apply them to your life, keep an open mind and regardless of who you think wrote them find out the truth of the teachings (or lack thereof) within the light of your own Soul.
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