This post takes a more in depth look at what Bailey calls the “Problems of Guidance” that are found primarily on the Probationary Path, which I have also associated with the 6th Subplane of the Mental Plane. This first post on the topic looks at the “problems of guidance” in general, and then focuses mainly on the problems that come in regards to living people.
CHAPTER TEN: GROUP SEVEN, Part Three
GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS LEVEL, CONT.
PROBLEMS OF GUIDANCE – OVERVIEW
One of the things that goes along with devotion and a mystical attitude is a need to have someone or something to be devoted to. None of this is new. As we saw in the book Becoming Human, the over-whelming majority of humanity has devotional like tendencies. What they are devoted to is primarily people who can help them get their basic desires for money, pleasure/sex, and power met in both this life and the after-life. This is part of what Bailey calls their “Atlantean consciousness” that is a left over from the Atlantean tendency to be overly emotional and kama-mansic, where the mind is mainly focused on fulfilling the desires of the five senses, and overly influenced by desire, emotion, and impulsemo more than any level of true mind. Mainly belonging to Groups 4 and 5 (and somewhat to Group 3), they tend to be devoted out fear and desire more than any true mystical tendency. For example, when they pray it is mainly to ask “God” to take away an illness, to give them something materially, or to bring a “soul-mate” to them in the way of a partner. As we saw in the book Becoming Human, there is nothing wrong with any of this. This kind of devotion simply reflects a desire to fulfill what psychologist Abraham Maslow called a hierarchy of needs for security, food and shelter, love and belonging and so forth.
What is perhaps surprising is how after this kind of devotion is left behind in Group 6 where the agnostic and atheistic tendencies are adopted due to having become the “rich and famous” who essentially have met all their desires through logic and the power of their own minds, it is adopted again at Group 7. Bailey indicates there are two reasons for this. One, just as Group 7 has to recapitulate the Lemurian consciousness and bring it to a higher level, it is starting to do some of this as well with Atlantan consciousness. So the magical thinking of Groups 2 & 3, the mythical thinking of Groups 4 & 5, and the more agnostic tendencies of Group 6 all seem to become jumbled up in Group 7 Probationers as they attempt to sort out what is truth and what is not. And, at the same time Group 7 Probationary Disciples are trying to disidentify with what the realm of the five senses alone reveal to them. Through meditation practices and altered state experiences they are experiencing something beyond what the five senses reveal to them, but they lack the training and discernment to really understand what these experiences are, and are not!
Devotion then becomes a strange mixture of both logic and naiveté in Group 7. They no longer have magical thinking processes the way Group 2 and 3 people types tend to have. Or, do they? Is everything like angels, fairies, magical powers, demi-gods and goddesses just made up by a confused mind that doesn’t understand anything about the natural world? Or, is there some truth beyond just interpreting all these things as fantasy and myth the way Group 6 types tend to do? Maybe these spiritual beings exist as states of energy. Maybe, they live in another dimension. Maybe they are “ancient aliens” and so forth. Group 7 Probationers may no longer believe in anthropomorphic type renderings of the Divine (like God as a human being living up in the sky somewhere). But, that does not mean they do not have some level of reality to them, even if they are just viewed as archetypes. And, just because “God” does not seem to exist out there in the sky somewhere, does that mean we simply reject “God” altogether the way Group 6 types tend to do and throw devotion to “God” out the window? Or, is there something more to this “God” thing than we have understood before? Probationers are on a quest to find this out. And, according to Bailey as Probationers seek to relate to “God” in a new way, they run into what Bailey calls certain “problems of guidance.”
Most of the discussion on the problems of guidance is found in Bailey’s Esoteric Psychology, Vol. II (pp. 480—492). This section is broken into two parts. The first part talks about the problems that exist in regards living human beings. It briefly addresses some difficulties in finding living human beings who can act as teachers and guides to help us understand the Divine. Ideally, they do so from a perspective that no longer limits us to Group 6 processes of rational thinking. But, these teachers or guides also need to be careful not to confuse Probationers in such a way they regress back into the mythological thinking of Groups 4 & 5, or the magical thinking of Groups 2 & 3. Probationers are prone to make this kind of regression because they are probing areas of awareness that go beyond the realm of the five senses, and they will not always understand how to interpret the phenomena they are encountering. The problem with finding a qualified teacher is made even more difficult because today, decades after Bailey wrote her books, we are saturated with New Age and New Thought type teachers who set themselves up as spiritual advanced or enlightened teachers, usually after they have had some sort of mystical experience or sudden spiritual awakening that makes them believe that they are immediately qualified to lead everyone else. Setting oneself up this way we will discover is particularly a temptation for those who are only Probationers themselves, or have reached Bailey’s next stage of Chela in the Light.
The second part talks about Probationers who are getting in touch with teachers and guides who are not in the physical body and goes specifically into the practice of channeling. Though channeling was going on in Bailey’s time, since her passing mainly due to the New Thought and New Age movements, we have thousands of people everywhere who claim to be channeling advanced spiritual beings who can help guide us all into spiritual enlightenment. Some of the more famous ones who have emerged since Alice Bailey are channeled beings like Seth (channeled by Jane Roberts), Ramtha (channeled by JZ Knight), or Abraham (which is actually said to be a group of advanced souls channeled by Esther Hicks). Though channeling is a huge phenomena few people take the time to actually analyze what is going on here. What I find interesting then, is how almost a century ago, Bailey was attempting to do this. Not by simply saying, “Channeling is good, or channeling is bad.” But, by making some serious attempts to answer the questions of what goes on during the process of channeling, and who, or what, is being channeled in the first place?
Unfortunately, Group 7 Probationers may be too immersed in the problems of guidance to understand that it is really a “problem” in the first place. And, usually they don’t get clear that there is a problem until they learn the hard way and slowly make their way into Group 8. Still, having come out of Group 6 with their hard won propensities to be a little more logical, at least Group 7 people are more equipped to want to understand what is going on regarding the problems of guidance. They don’t want to just toss their hard won Group 6 more logical propensities aside. However, for a time they may be lost until they move more into the 5th subplane of the Mental Plane, where they start to become more objective and clear regarding phenemona that goes beyond the realms of the five senses. Keeping this in mind let’s start by looking at Bailey’s problems of guidance that come about from exposure to living humans.
PROBLEMS OF GUIDANCE — PEOPLE WHO ARE LIVING
Regarding problems of guidance with people who are living, Bailey felt people could be overly influenced by people in three main categories: 1) those who were in religious organizations; 2) those in Mental Science and New Thought groups; 3) those within esoteric spiritual traditions. Reviewing this list myself, I pretty much conclude that you could be negatively influenced by anyone within a religious or spiritual persuasion. The question then is how to sort through the negative and positive types of persuasion within these three main groupings. Fortunately, Bailey addresses that somewhat.
Let’s being then with the first category — those connected to religious organizations of all denominations and persuasions. Here Bailey asserts that the problem is two-fold. The first difficulty is comes about when the Probationer is trying to switch from the dualistic approach to divinity that traditional religious groups have (I am here and God is out there), to a more unitive in approach (I am One with God who is within and at One with everyone and everything). As most esoteric spiritual traditions teach, God is both transcendent (out there) and immanent (in here). Within the Emotional plane we have seen with Groups 2, 3, 4 and 5 that God is related to mainly as transcendent (out there somewhere). Then as we move into Group 6, God isn’t anywhere, because God doesn’t exist. But, in Group 7 the Probationer is discovering once more that God does exist, but God is more immanent, “in here,” and essentially God is “me.”
In short, Probationers tend to become mystics, and as we are seeing they do not always know what to do with their mystical and devotional tendencies. Because they see the Divine as more immanent, they don’t want to go back to a transcendent view of the Divine that creates an anthropomorphic human like God in the sky, who uses hell fire and brimstone to control them. They may also be actively rejecting many exoteric religious ideas viewing religious teachings in a more metaphorical and symbolic, than literal way. They may even struggle with the word “God” wanting to have a name for God that is more feminine like “Goddess.” Or, to have a name that includes both sexes, like Mother/Father God, or God/Goddess. And, they may even pick a name that is totally devoid of gender like Spirit, the Universe, the Presence, the Infinite, the Divine, etc. The problem of guidance here is not so much that they will be led by traditional groups back into believing in an anthromorphic God, Goddess, or Spirit. The problem is the Probationer no longer knows how to relate to the views of “God” that so much of humanity still adheres to and is influenced by. They can feel lost around those with more traditional views, and even reject and disparage these more traditional views. Ironically this can create a similar kind of fanaticism and lack of tolerance that mirrors the very groups they seek to get away from. “It’s God/Goddess!” “Those who believe in anthropomorphic Gods are fools!” “Down with God, up with the Goddess!” “Stop using the God or the Goddess word! Look inward!” “Those people are just too stupid to see that the Divine is in them and the Divine is everywhere.” I could go on with examples. The point is the critical mind is too present, and the sense of pride is too strong in the Probationer, who cannot appreciate the development processes that exist in the unfoldment of the Divine. For this reason, in their devotion and idealism to the “right path,” the “inward, esoteric, metaphorical, mystical path” Probationers can become quite separative, judgmental, and critical of any group that is more exoteric in nature.
Which leads us to the next group that Bailey places into the category of problems of guidance, those who are part of the Mental Science and New Thought groups. To let you know at the time that Bailey was starting to write her books (the 1910’s to 1940’s), these movements were becoming increasingly popular. Mary Baker Eddy, Ernest Holmes, Norman Vincent Peale, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were all on the scene about the same time that Alice Bailey was. The Science of Mind movement, the Church of Religious Science (now called the Centers for Spiritual Living) movement, and the Unity church movements were growing rapidly and in many ways still are today. Since Bailey’s time their ideas have greatly influenced the entire motivational speaker and “mega church” movements that still surround us today. For example, some of the popular speakers connected to the New Thought movement include people like Anthony Robbins, Les Brown, Terry Cole-Whitaker, Debbie Ford, Marianne Williamson, Michael Beckwith, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Jean Houston, Shakti Gawain, Louise Hay, Napoleon Hill, Carolyn Myss, Byron Katie, Joe Vitale, Iyanla Vanzant, and even Oprah to name just a few. Within Christianity itself Robert Schuler, Joel Olsteenl Joyce Meyer, Rick Warren are a few mega church leaders who picked up New Thought ideas and popularized them under a more palatable Christian tone. Especially in the United States where the Mental Science and New Thought movements flourished, their “positive thinking” or “think and grow rich” ideas have shaped generations now. So why are so many people in this illustrious list grouped into a category that comes under a heading known as the “problem of guidance” according to Bailey? Because for Bailey, too many people in the Mental Science and New Thought movement went to the opposite extreme of traditional religious points of view.
On one hand it was good that these New Thought types helped to get rid of the notion that people are a victim of fate, karma, or some anthropomorphic God’s whim for them. That helped many Group 4 and 5 members move into Group 6 where they were able to reject traditional ideas of God, without rejecting God altogether. And, as I see it many Group 6 types are Little Chelas at the Aspirant stage (see the later chapters of my book Becoming Human). On the other hand, too many of these New Thought types distorted deeper spiritual by going to the opposite extreme. Now, in typical Group 6 fashion, humans threw God out and made themselves “Masters of the Universe” to the point where it was taught that every human being was entirely responsible for anything that happened to them because they had failed to control everything within and around them (even the entire universe itself), with the power of their own minds. To use Bailey’s own words with New Thought groups “attempt to stir the subjective man into the acceptance of a definitely opposite condition [from passive and resigned acceptance]. He is taught that there are no wrong conditions except as he himself creates them; that there is no pain and nothing undesirable; he is urged to recognise that he is divine and the heir of the ages and that the wrong conditions, limited circumstances and unhappy occurrences are the result of his own creative imagination. He is told they are really non-existent.” (Esoteric Psychology, Vol. II, p. 483). In other words these groups have swung from teaching that human beings are helpless, bad and fallen sinners lorded over by whimisical and often irrational anthropomorphic God (in the way traditional religions teach it), to each individual is an all good and all powerful God (or Goddess) him or herself.
Now God transcendent has been replaced by God immanent, allowing the God “in me” to essentially do whatever I want to, because I am all good and all God. As already mentioned these kind of groups appeal mainly to Group 6 Little Chela Aspirant types. But, for Little Chelas at the Probationer stage, both traditional religious approaches and New Thought approaches lose their appeal. Probationers at the Group 7 level then can feel a little lost. They sense the truth of what Bailey asserts when she says that people need to realize “that destiny never intended man to be a helpless victim of circumstance or the self-hypnotised tool of an affirmed, but undeveloped, divinity” (Esoteric Psychology, Vol. II, pp. 484). We are neither all bad or all good. The Divine is neither all transcendent or all imminent. Human beings (and in fact all of creation) are both. The struggle though for Probationers is that even though they know this at some level, they do not exactly know how to apply the transcendent and imminent principles in their lives with ease.
Which leads us Bailey’s final group in regards to her Problems of Guidance in regards to living human beings — problems that come from connection with those who are involved in various esoteric groups. (See Esoteric Psychology, Vol. II, pp. 484—486). First of all to clarify, esoteric groups tend to be comprised of people who are looking for the inner more symbolic/metaphoric meaning of exoteric religious and spiritual truths. They also tend to want to discover for themselves in a more scientific way the “secrets of the ages” regarding spiritual truths. And, they tend to strike more of a balance regarding transcendent notions of the Divine “out there” and the imminent notions of the Divine “in here” without going to either extreme. On one hand you might think that involvement in esoteric groups would be really beneficial to Probationers because they are seeking to strike a balance in their views of Divinity. However, Bailey points out that these groups too have their own problems, especially as they tend to lead Probationers into believing that they are now “special” because they are now part of a “more-evolved,” “esoteric,” “special” and even often “secret” group that links them up to “more evolved” and “special” fellow disciples, teachings and teachers.
I am reminded of one such group I belonged to in my twenties for a time. In that group we were given a number of meditation techniques through an oral teachings that we were told was “secret.” One technique above all was especially “secret” and it was drummed into us how we should never disclose it to anyone unless that person had been initiated into our teaching and had been adequately prepared. Because I was a voracious reader, one day I ran across a book and was shocked to discover that our very secret technique had been published for everyone to get their hands on. Worse still, I found it in yet another book that had already sold over three million copies, and was popularized as simply a “stress management” book. Suddenly, my specialness bubble was radically burst. I was confused, in shock and didn’t know what to do. The loss of feeling special sadly put a dent in my firm devotion to the teacher and the teaching I was following. If millions of people had access to these techniques and didn’t have to go through all the training I was going through, had I just been duped?
In one way it served me to get knocked off my specialness pedestal. It was good to be forced to widen my mind and heart and recognize other esoteric (and even exoteric) groups, teachers, and teachings around me. Still, looking back I can see there is some truth to what I was told about making sure that certain techniques only be given out to people who are ready for them. Today in our social media and increasingly integrated world, it might be said that nearly every previously esoteric technique and teaching can be found on the Internet. But, that in and of itself causes another problem of guidance, mainly the lack of it. Just as we worry about giving the secrets for making dirty bombs and nuclear weapons to anyone who might make negative use of this kind of information, there is wisdom in not indulging in certain spiritual techniques until we are prepared for them. Not because it should be a secret technique, but because if we do not have the foundation of humility and preparation in place, we can do great harm to ourselves. It is very much like someone diving into a pool before they even know how to swim. Or, it is like trying to put 1,000 watts of electricity into a bulb that can only handle 200 volts! And, yes, maybe there are people out there who can grab ahold of certain advanced techniques and apply them safely and with care. But, those people are few and far between, especially when they are grabbed ahold of by Little Chelas (Aspirants and Probationers) who tend to want to move too quickly due to their misplaced enthusiasm, lack of humility, and arrogance that makes them ignore or forget the value of taking certain precautionary and preparatory steps.
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