This post is connected to the ones on the Chela on the Thread: Science of Contact. To understand this subject more clearly, it is important to take a look at the topic of channeling. This posts begins by looking at what channeling is and how the Ageless Wisdom teachings and Integral have approached it.
Welcome to the world of channeling, a word that implies tuning in somewhere to receive information of some kind. Not so long ago, channeling was a mysterious process. People knew information came from the “inner realms,” they just didn’t try to understand it very much. Even today those at the Group 4/Amber levels of consciousness who do not have very developed minds, give too much weight to channeled information without bothering to really question it. Be it Abraham (channeled by Esther Hicks), Seth (Jane Roberts), Ramtha, the Archangel Michael, the Pleiadians, and so forth, the focus is not so much on what the channeled material actually says, but that it comes from a seemingly “enlightened” and highly evolved source.
Only as we move into the Group 5/Amber-Orange levels where the logical mind starts to kick in do we start to more closely examine what is going on here. By Group 6/Orange, we scarcely pay attention to where information and inspirations comes from having discounted almost all of it as make believe. Most of this is because of the materialistic focus that discounts inner realms as even being real. Instead the focus shifts mainly to technologies that allow almost everyone to see and talk to people in a more seemingly tangible way “through the network” by way of cell phone technology, GPS tracking systems, satellite surveillance systems, computers and more. Never mind that few people understand the mechanics of how all of this works. It just does. But, that doesn’t make the process less mysterious, or the subject of where do thoughts, ideas, and inspirations come from any less relevant to explore.
By the Group 7/Green stage the interest in channeling may start up again, but not until we get through the Stages of Discipleship known as Accepted Discipleship, and especially the Chela on the Thread do we really develop the discernment to understand what channeling is really all about.
In the world of Transpersonal Psychology (related to Integral), I had the good fortune to take courses from Arthur Hastings, who along with William Braud, were two professors at the college I went to dedicated to psychic research and investigation. Arthur Hastings’ book With the Tongues of Men and Angels is one of the few books taking a more serious and objective look at channeling out there. To begin with he describes channeling as “a process in which a person transmits information or artistic expression that he or she receives mentally or physically and which appears to come from a personality source outside the conscious mind. The message is directed towards an audience and is purposeful.” p. 4 Hastings’ book goes on to explore the history of channeling, various types of channeling, famous channeled books (the Koran, Book of Morman, Course in Miracles), and famous channelers like Edgar Cayce, Jane Roberts, and even Alice Bailey. He even goes somewhat into an objective assessment of where channeling comes from such as outside entities or from one’s own unconscious.
Naturally, since he mentioned Alice Bailey (connected to the Ageless Wisdom teachings), I was anxious to see what he had to say about her. I was not surprised at his slant, but admittedly disappointed. To let the readers of this blog know, I have deliberatly stayed away from talking about the source of Alice Bailey’s teachings precisely because the notion that it is channeled teaching often leads to distorted conclusions by people.Though I perceived Hastings as trying to take an objective look, his assessment was like most who go after her books. He focused primarily on the glamorized notions of there being a Hierarchy of Masters who supposedly are running the world behind the scenes for the good of us all. And, he mentioned that her writings were often confusing, contradictory, and frequently had run on sentences. He even mentioned one sentence he counted had 55 words (p. 88). Hastings also concluded that the teachings of Alice Bailey according to the model used by Ken Wilber as of 1980, mostly came from the astral levels of consciousness (p. 88).
As someone who had spent over a decade reading and re-reading all 26 books of Alice Bailey’s works (some four to five times through), I could understand why someone taking a quick look at Bailey’s work would conclude as he did. Many people will admit the books are not easy to follow. The fact is the source of Alice Bailey’s teachings states they were not written for those reading them in the 1910’s t0 mid 1940’s. They were written for people who would live one hundred years later around 2010 to 2040, which is the time period we are in now. Coincidentally, only in recent times with high speed computers, have we been able to view the Alice Bailey books in formats that would allow us to make compilations and finally see the whole structure they were laying out. What you come to realize is that the books do not contradict themselves when the compilations come together. Yes, they can be confusing, and this blog is one attempt to clear the confusion up. What I can say personally, is whoever wrote these books, wrote them as if the people reading them already understood what they what was being said. It is like handing a book on calculus to those just learning mathematics. The author doesn’t care if the people at that time really could not understand what was being said at the time they got the book. But, if they persisted in mathematics and got to calculus, then they would.
Keeping this in mind, I strongly recommend Arthur Hastings book. And, moving beyond Hastings very limited critique, I would now like to share what Alice Bailey herself has to say about channeling, in this and posts to follow.
I will start with a quote from Esoteric Psychology, Vol II regarding what is called the Problem of Guidance. This quote comes from a section of the book that is attempting to address the “Diseases of Occultists and Mystics.” These diseases come about due to distortions in understanding, especially regarding the subtle realms. The Problem of Guidance is really referring to channeling, and attempts to get in touch with other realms. As I share the quotes below, keep in mind they were written 80 years ago, long before modern day psychology, let alone Transpersonal Psychology, or even Integral Psychology evolved.
Please note. the BOLD HEADERS (Churches, New Thought Schools, Esoteric Schools, Meditation and Yoga Schools have been placed there by me. They are not in the book. Also, I have summarized my insight in blue after each section of quoted text to better distinguish my thoughts from those quoted from the books.
“The Problem of Guidance is a peculiarly difficult one to handle, for it is based on an innate instinctive recognition of the fact of God and of God’s Plan. This inherent, instinctual, spiritual reaction is being exploited today by many well meaning reformers who have, however, given no real attention to the subject, or to the phenomena of the outer response to a subjective urge. They are, in the majority of cases, blind leaders of the blind. We might define the problem of guidance as the problem of the method whereby a man, through processes of auto-suggestion, throws himself into a state of negativity and (whilst in that state) becomes aware of inclinations, urges, voices, clearly impressed commands, revelations of courses of conduct which should be pursued or of careers which should be followed, plus a general indication of lines of activity which “God” is proposing to the attentive, negative, receptive subject. In this state of almost sublimated awareness to the insistent demands of the subjective realms of being or of thought, the man is swept into a current of activity which may succeed in permanently orienting his life (often quite harmlessly and sometimes most desirably) or which may have only a temporary effect, once the urge of response has exhausted itself. But in any case, the source of the direction and the origin of the guidance is vaguely called “God”, is regarded as divine, is spoken of as the voice of the “Christ within”, or as spiritual direction. Many analogous terms are used, according to the school of thought to which the man may belong, or which has succeeded in attracting his attention.
We shall see this tendency towards subjective guidance of some kind or another developing increasingly as humanity becomes more subjectively oriented, more definitely aware of the realms of inner being, and more inclined towards the world of meaning. It is for this reason that I desire to make a relatively careful analysis of the possible sources of guidance so that at least men may know that the whole subject is vaster and more complicated than they had thought, and that it would be the part of wisdom to ascertain the origin of the guidance vouchsafed, and so know, with greater definiteness, the direction in which they were headed. Forget not that the blind, unreasoning subjecting of oneself to guidance (as at present practiced) renders a man eventually a negative impressionable automaton. Should this become universally prevalent and the present methods become established habits, the race would forfeit its most divine possession, i.e., free will. There is no immediate fear of this, however, if the intelligent men and women of the world think this problem out. Also there are too many egos of advanced nature coming into incarnation at this time to permit the danger to grow out of all bounds, and there are too many disciples in the world today whose voices are ringing loudly and clearly along the lines of free choice, and the intelligent comprehension of God’s plan” (pp. 480 – 482)
The main points I take away from the above quotes is the fact that guidance, or channeling (which involves entering into the subtle realms), is something that will increase, and not decrease as time goes on. Understanding what it is and what level the information is coming from is essential. In the next post I will talk about what level various channeled information may be coming from according to what the Alice Bailey books have to say. But, for now I would like to add the following thoughts, which I for one in the year 2016 when I am writing this, find remarkable. Again from Esoteric Psychology, Vol II, the quotes below describe how various groups tend to approach guidance or channeling, and how they may be distorted in their approaches.
Esoteric Psychology, Vol II pp. 482 – 485 below.
“It might be of profit if I indicated anew the various schools of thought who feature “guidance” or whose methods and doctrines tend to the development of an inner attentive ear, and yet who fail to teach the distinctiveness of the sources of guidance, or to differentiate between the various sounds, voices and so-called inspired indications which that attentive ear may be trained to register.
The emotionally inclined people in the Churches of all denominations and persuasions are ever prone to find a way of escape from the troubles and difficulties of life by living always with a sense of the guiding Presence of God, coupled to a blind acquiescence in what is generalised as the “will of God”. The practice of the Presence of God is most definitely a desirable and needed step but people should understand what it means and steadily change the sense of duality into the sense of identification. The will of God can take the form of the imposition of life circumstance and conditions from which there is no possible escape; the subject of this imposition accepts it and does literally nothing to improve or truly better (and perhaps avoid) the circumstances. Their destiny and situation is interpreted by them as such that within the imposed ring-pass-not and lines of limitation they determine placidly, submissively to live. A spirit of submission and acquiescence is inevitably developed, and by calling the situation in which they find themselves an expression of God’s will they are enabled to bear it all. In some of the more sublimated states of this acquiescence, the sensitively inclined person voices his submission, but fails to recognise that the voice is his own. He regards it as God’s voice. For them, the way of understanding, the recognition of the great Law of Cause and Effect (working out from life to life) and the interpretation of the problem in terms of a lesson to be mastered would spell release from negativity and blind, unintelligent acceptance. Life does not demand acquiescence and acceptance. It demands activity, the separation of the good and high values from the undesirable, the cultivation of that spirit of fight which will produce organisation, understanding, and eventual emergence into a realm of useful spiritual activity.
(MY COMMENTS: The above paragraph speaks really to what the Alice Bailey books call those in Groups 4 to 5, and what the Integral teachings call Amber, in terms of levels of consciousness and understanding. Most noteworthy to me is the statement that we need to move from duality to a sense of identification, which is the same as taking a non-dual approach. The paragraph also emphasizes a need to shift to what the Alice Bailey books call Group 6 and what Integral calls Orange, where a more pro-active approach is happening in regards to one’s life. At Group 6/Orange there is also more of a tendency to reject guidance from “out there” and to look to oneself as a seemingly separate entity for insight).
NEW THOUGHT SCHOOLS
People who participate in the activity of those schools of thought which are called by many names such as Mental Science schools, New Thought groups, Christian Science and other similar bodies are also prone to drift into a state of negativity, based on auto-suggestion. The constant re-iteration of the voiced, but unrealised, fact of divinity will eventually evoke a response from the form side of life which (even if it is not worded guidance) is, nevertheless, the recognition of a form of guidance and leaves no scope for free will. This is a reaction on a large scale, from the one dealt with above. Whereas in the one case there is found a blind acceptance of an undesirable lot because it is the will of God and that Will therefore must be good and right, in the second group there is an attempt to stir the subjective man into the acceptance of a definitely opposite condition. 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.
In the two schools of thought, the truth about destiny as it works out under the Law of Cause and Effect and the truth about man’s innate divinity are taught and emphasised, but, in both cases, the man himself is a negative subject, and the victim either of a cruel fate or of his divinity. I am wording this with deliberation because I am anxious for my readers to realise that destiny never intended man to be a helpless victim of circumstance or the self-hypnotised tool of an affirmed, but undeveloped, divinity. Man is intended to be the intelligent arbiter of his own destiny, and a conscious exponent of his own innate divinity, of the God within.
(MY COMMENTS: To begin with I would like to mention that the main founders of the New Thought movement, Charles Fillmore and Ernest Holmes, were in Los Angeles at the same time Alice Bailey was, and there is evidence both men interacted with schools like Theosophy dedicated to the Ageless Wisdom teachings. (Side note: Though they were not part of the New Thought movement, Alice Bailey also had direct interactions with Carl Jung while in Europe and Roberto Assagioli was one of her direct students). I personally have always found the above critique of the New Thought movement interesting, and it is one I am sure even today many New Thought churches and organizations would reject. Yet, it is something to ponder that “affirmed, but undeveloped, divinity” is a problem. Even Ken Wilber has made similar critiques about the New Thought movement. What is also intriguing to me is how New Thought is viewed as what psychology would call a “reactive formation.”
In reaction to what the mainstream churches were advocating — we are born evil and through passive prayer we may be able to placate God in a helpless or “negative” way to hopefully be released from our sins and fate — New Thought went to the opposite extreme. With their Affirmative Prayer (which I have been personally trained in) you are indeed taught that everything is “good and right” and that there are “no wrong conditions except as he himself creates them” as the quote says above. Now instead of being all bad, we are all good. The Ageless Wisdom teachings say the truth is somewhere in the middle. Developmentally speaking something becomes bad if we don’t consciously outgrow it. And, it only becomes good when we can consciously see and embrace it. Still, the New Thought movement still teaches as the Bailey quote above suggests. With the hugely popular rise of The Secret in 2007 — a book inspired a lot by the teachings of the Hicks who came out of the New Thought movement and channeled teachings of a group of beings called “Abraham”– eighty years after the above comments were made by Alice Bailey, we see this problem of all is wonderful and you just have to magically create your reality is still hugely the case. How interesting then that such a critique of this kind of teaching was made of this group so long ago, which in many ways still holds true today).
Again, schools of esotericists, theosophists and rosicrucians (particularly in their inner schools) have also their own forms of this illusion of guidance. It is of a different nature to the two dealt with above, but the results are nevertheless of much the same quality and reduce the student to a condition of being guided, often of being directed, by illusionary voices. Frequently the heads of the organisation claim to be in direct communication with a Master or the entire Hierarchy of Masters, from whom orders come. These orders are passed on to the rank and file of the membership of the organisation and prompt unquestioning obedience is expected from them. Under the system of training, imparted under the name of esoteric development, the goal of a similar relationship to the Master or the Hierarchy is held out as an inducement to work or to meditation practice, and some day the aspirant is led to believe that he will hear his Master’s voice, giving him guidance, telling him what to do and outlining to him his participation in various roles. Much of the psychological difficulties found in esoteric groups can be traced to this attitude and to the holding out to the neophyte of this glamorous hope. In view of this, I cannot too strongly re-iterate the following facts:
- That the goal of all teaching given in the real esoteric schools is to put man consciously in touch with his own soul and not with the Master.
- That the Master and the Hierarchy of Masters work only on the plane of the soul, as souls with souls.
- That conscious response to hierarchical impression and to the hierarchical plan is dependent upon the sensitive reaction which can be developed and made permanent between a man’s own soul and his brain, via his mind.
- That the following points should be borne in mind:
- When a man is consciously aware of himself as a soul, he can then be in touch with other souls.
- When he is consciously a disciple, he is then in touch with, and can collaborate intelligently with, other disciples.
- When he is an initiate, other initiates become facts in his life and consciousness.
- When he is a Master, the freedom of the Kingdom of Heaven is his, and he works consciously as one of the senior members of the Hierarchy.
But—and this is of prime importance—all these differentiations relate to grades of work and not to grades of persons; they indicate soul expansions but not graded contacts with personalities. According to the realised soul development upon the physical plane will be the response to the world of souls of which the occult Hierarchy is the heart and mind.
The guidance to which the adherents of many esoteric schools so often respond is not that of the Hierarchy but that of the astral reflection of the Hierarchy; they respond therefore to an illusory, distorted, man-made presentation of a great spiritual fact. They could, if they so chose, respond to the reality.
(MY COMMENTS: Ironically, Arthur Hastings’ book gives almost the same critique of those involved in the groups listed above who mainly follow the Ageless Wisdom teachings, as Alice Bailey does. Hastings, like most scholarly people, has a natural skepticism to the notion of Masters. To be honest, so do I. But, what if we put the words Tibetan Lama or Saint, or Nirvana, or Spiritual School in there? Would we react as much? For example, we could say “that Tibetan Lama’s and Saints work only on the plane of soul.” Or, we might say, “when he is a Tibetan Lama or Saint, the freedom of Nirvana is his, and he works consciously as one of the senior members of the Spiritual School.” The reason I change the words is because it helps drive home Alice Bailey’s point. Her system is attempting to outline psycho-spiritual developmental stages of growth that all human beings go through at some point or another, if you use reincarnation as a model of reality. Yet, too often her entire system gets taken down to the Group 7/Green or Group 4/5 Amber Levels where the entire notions of Masters, Hierarchy, and Kingdom of Heaven become seriously distorted as they are taken far too literally and not metaphorically. She described this as a serious problem eighty years ago, and quite frankly it is still one today).
MEDITATION AND YOGA SCHOOLS
Apart from the ordinary occult and esoteric schools found in the world today, there are groups of people as well as solitary individuals who are practicing various forms of meditation and of yoga. This is true both of Eastern and Western aspirants. Some of these people are working with real knowledge, and, therefore, quite safely; others are profoundly ignorant not only of techniques and methods but also as to the results to be expected from their efforts. Results there must inevitably be, and the major result is to turn the consciousness inward, to develop the spirit of introspection, and to orient the man or woman to the inner subjective worlds and to the subtler planes of being—usually to the astral realm and seldom to the truly spiritual world of souls. The mind nature is seldom invoked and the processes pursued usually render the brain cells negative and quiescent whilst the mind remains inactive and often unawakened. The only area of consciousness which remains therefore visible is that of the astral. The world of physical and tangible values is shut out; the mental world is equally shut out. I would ask you to ponder on this statement.”
(MY COMMENTS: More historical footnotes. Alice Bailey was also in Los Angeles at the time Paramanhansa Yogananda emerged. Before coming to Los Angeles she was a Christian missionary in India, where yoga was being practiced. And, she was familiar with Swami Vivekananda’s visit to the Theosophical Society before Yogananda arrived. So, she had a lot of exposure to the practices and philosophy of yoga. She also wrote quite a remarkable commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, the main philosophical text of yoga. In light of the quoted text above I would like to point out that Alice Bailey is not saying what she does about not using the mind in regards to advanced practitioners of yoga — quite the opposite. They do more then invoke the mind nature, they move beyond the pitfalls of Book Three in the Yoga Sutras, which talk about psychic powers, and move straight into non-dual awareness, what Alice Bailey calls identification, spoken about in Book Four of the Yoga Sutras. Her comments are for those who enter into yoga and do not take the philosophical system seriously. With the huge popularity of what revered yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar spoke of as “boga yoga”, or yoga unhinged from the philosophical tenants, what Alice Bailey speaks about is more true than ever before.
In summary, I have attempted in this first blog on channeling to lay the foundation of how a more serious discussion and understanding of this phenomena needs to take place during the Accepted Discipleship stage, and especially by the Chela on the Thread stage of Alice Bailey’s system. In the next blog, I will do a more thorough job of trying to assess where channeled teachings actually come from.
Have comments, questions, suggestions? They will be posted so long as they are civil and expand the discussion.
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