This post looks at the last two major factors involved in Alice Bailey’s stage of Accepted Discipleship (which is primarily the equivalent of Integral’s Turquoise and Indigo levels). As we dive in further we examine service and the very controversial task of contacting the “Master.” The post looks at some of the glamours and distortions related to the notion of contact, and what the Integral and Transpersonal movements have to say thus such a thing, especially in light of what Wilber calls the “pre/trans fallacy.”
According to the Alice Bailey teachings one of the things that happens when we get towards the end of Accepted Discipleship is what she calls “contact with the Master.” She goes on to say that this contact does not happen unless an individual has demonstrated factually that he/she is of effective service in the world. As for Integral, though it does not have effective service in the world as a requirement in their stages of spiritual development, the notion of service can be inferred beginning to some extent with their Green level and becoming more “effective” by their Turquoise and Indigo levels. As for contact with a “Master,” that is a whole other thing in the Integral world, leading us into what Ken Wilber calls his “pre/trans” fallacy.
What is the pre/trans fallacy? In short, it indicates how certain spiritual experiences can regress us backwards into “pre-rational” states of spiritual growth and development, instead of lead us beyond where we are at into “trans-rational” states of spiritual growth and development. To hear Ken Wilber himself talk about this, I invite you to watch this clip. And, to help you understand his terminology I am putting the Integral chart in again as well, inviting you to look at the “Tran-Rational” black bar to the left of the chart that begins around the end of Integral’s “Teal.” I also, invite you to see how “pre-rational states” take us back down to Amber and below. Also, please take note of the black bar that talks about “Preonventional,””Conventional,” “Postconventional,” and “Post-postconventional.” That will help you understand the clip as you listen to it in light of what I am sharing on this blog.
So, how does the pre/trans fallacy relate to the notion of “contact the Master?” Let’s explore.
Perhaps one of the most difficult things in Alice Bailey circles to deal with is the notion of “contact with the Masters.” Having walked both in Ageless Wisdom and Integral circles, what I can say is that there is a great deal more skepticism and inquiry about this whole “Masters” notion in the Integral realm than is found in the Ageless Wisdom realm. For me personally, that was a breath of fresh air. Though I greatly admire and cherish many people within Ageless Wisdom circles, all too often the idea of being in touch with the “Masters,” “the Christ,” “the Buddha,” “the Planetary Logos,” “Sirius,” “the Pleaidians” so on and so forth emerged. Sometimes even fights would emerge among people whom I admired over who was really in touch with which Master, or how many Masters they were in touch with. Then, there was the off-shoot of groups just outside Ageless Wisdom circles who seemed to want to “one-up” each other with a kind of “who I am in contact is far more evolved than who you claim to be in contact with.”
What then is going on here? And, how are we to discern? Are we making such claims because we are regressing and have not integrated “pre-rational” states, as Wilber might describe it? Or, are we breaking into higher “trans-rational” realms. Well, to begin with please note the word rational! As Wilber says in his video clip, trans-rational includes the rational mind. It does not cut it out. As Bailey would say the mystically inclined non-rational person has to include the occultist at some point (the more rational and scientifically minded individual). So, in many ways Wilber and Bailey are in agreement here. You cannot go beyond unless you at the same time integrate in all the stages that have come before.
How then do we approach the notion of contact with the Masters, rationally, objectively, and with great discernment? To begin with I will start with what Alice Bailey has to say about it, which leads us back to service. Why? Because in the Bailey teachings service comes before contact.
4) Engage in More Effective Service With a More Humble & Loving Heart
We have learned so far in tasks one through three that Accepted Disciples are capable of using first and foremost their minds in dispelling a significant amount of glamour. In fact, in Glamour: A World Problem, Alice Bailey states quite clearly that most glamours are of an emotional nature and have to be dissipated through the mind, not through the intuition. This reminds me of the Buddhist practice of analytical meditation. One needs to rigorously train the mind to perceive clearly, and then after the mind is polished enough it can enter the “buddhic” or intuitional plane correctly. (Placing the Bailey chart here again for reference. Please notice how the “intuitional plane comes after the mental plane including the mind in a “trans-rational” way, as Wilber describes it).
After glamours are dissipated the Accepted Disciple also needs to learn how to achieve a state of impersonality and also how to rightly love others in a wise, intelligent, compassionate, and skillful way. At the same time the Accepted Disciple needs to blend the two approaches of mystic (heart) and occultist (head) in an “Integral” way (to borrow a word from the Integral model). In short, the Accepted Disciple is effective in accessing both manifest and unmanifest realms. Or, to borrow from Integral, they can access all Quadrants.
Part of being able to access all Quadrants in Bailey terms is being able to be of effective service in the world. That means, your interior insights can skillfully be used in ways to create exterior change! In Bailey terms, this requires “right human relations.” To put it bluntly, you have to become very skillful in getting along with people, without losing your integrity, in order to get things done. To take only one quote from Discipleship in the New Age, Vol I by Alice Bailey, “How can right relations be established upon Earth if the accepted disciples in a Master’s ashram are themselves unable to react to the idea and to preserve among themselves right relations, correctly, unanimously, and unerringly?” pp. 731 – 732. In short, if “Accepted Disciples” can’t even get along with each other, how can they truly be effective in the world?
Another thing stressed by Alice Bailey in order to become effective in service is to hold a point of tension. This involves a “true sense of values and freedom from minor preoccupations.” p. 735. Because we are not able to have true perspective and a sense of proportion we are then told that, “the majority of disciples are not even 60% effective because their points of tension are scattered all over the personality and are not focused where the individual point of tension should be.” p. 735 Instead of being focused on helping others, we become absorbed with our own personal status and needs. We are then asked the following set of questions regarding service that we are meant to answer. They are as follows (also from Discipleship in the New Age, Vol I by Alice Bailey).
- 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?
- 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 my Master?
- Have I worked with impersonality in relation to my fellow disciples and co-workers, no matter what their status?
- Have I perserved the needed spirit of 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 silence?
- Do I realize exactly where I stand? Whom I can help? And to whom I must look for example, aid and understanding? p. 739
Notice how practical the above list is. In many ways it involves all of Integral’s quadrants! It is not enough to have an interior/subjective/individual sense of how great your service is, or what kind of spiritual connection you think you have. Even Bailey writes in such a way to indicate there must be some exterior/objective/group proof of how well you are doing.
If someone believes they are in touch with Masters and can’t even pay their own bills, it might warrant an objective outer look! In fact, the Alice Bailey books are full of information about what contact with a Master will be like. Almost always, such contact is in the form of intuitions, or inspirations, regarding how to be more effective in your service. That is all. Along with Glamour: A World Problem, and the Discipleship in the New Age books, there is a great deal of information in Esoteric Psychology, Vol II in the section on “Disesases of Occultists and Mystics” that lists over a dozen different things someone may be in touch with apart from a “Master.” In general, we are told time and time again to forget about being in touch with a Master, and focus on service instead. We are also told in the Bailey books that many people have been way more effective and of use in the world who knew nothing about Masters, than those who were. The obsession with being in touch with the Master, over doing effective service, is one of the reasons the original Discipleship group (described in the Discipleship in the New Age books) was disbanded. At the same time, we are told that at some point there will be recognition from “the Master” who at first is one’s own soul, especially as we near the end of Accepted Discipleship.
Where does Integral come down on all this? Quite frankly, they mostly avoid it. There is one book from a professor I had at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology who did try to address some of this. His name was Arthur Hastings and the book was With the Tongues of Men and Angels: A Study of Channeling. (You can read a little bit about the book here). Outside of this, the Integral and Transpersonal movement seems to want to avoid the whole Master issue, seeing it as either a hoax or a movement back into Pre-rational levels (like Amber). That in many ways is sad, because it avoids real thoughtful discussion and research along these lines. It also tends to cause many Integral people to throw the “baby” (what is good about the system of spiritual growth set forth by Alice Bailey), out with the “bathwater” (all the glamours and distortions about this subject).
The avoidance of looking more objectively at what contact with Masters means even the Bailey circles also is not helpful. If those who care about the Ageless Wisdom teachings really wanted to know what is required to be in touch with a “Master,” the first step is to get acquainted with their own teaching, because there is a great deal of good information in there to discuss and debate about the distortions of contact. If we can understand what our own teaching says along these lines, we might also be able to have a more rational, and therefore post-rational, or trans-rational discussion with those in the Integral movement. Until then, we are not likely to get very far, and the odd way many Integral and more scholarly research minded people may look at those in the Ageless Wisdom movement, especially in regards to their talk of “Masters,” may very well be justified.
Have comments, questions, suggestions? They will be posted so long as they are civil and expand the discussion.
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