We continue with an attempt to understand Stage Two: Chela in the Light, one of the Six Stages of Discipleship found in the Ageless Wisdom teachings and relate it to the Integral model as put forward by Ken Wilber.
Spinning off of the first stage, Little Chelaship (which usually has an intense interest in being a spiritual somebody), we move into the next stage of Chela in the Light that begins to reveal to the person their englamored, myopic, distorted, overly focused on “states” and finding ways to get high, way of being. In short, they begin to enter the “light” of real spiritual love. We will now begin to review what Alice Bailey has to say about this stage and how it relates to the stages proposed by Integral and Ken Wilber. For starters let me once again put in the chart of Terms and then summarize this stage as presented by Alice Bailey.
Stage Two: Chela in the Light
In many ways we could say that this stage is one of starting to grow up spiritually and “get real” to use a modern phrase. Branching off from the stage of Little Chelaship, where one is very much self-centered spiritually (though one rarely sees it), this stage starts the process of coming down from the “highs” of spiritual life, into the nitty gritty of spiritual living. Before that happens however, this person enters this stage very much on fire. That fire was ignited when the intersection of the higher soul light merged with the lower personality light creating a “light flashing forth.” Aware of the inner realities for the first time, this person is now usually on fire to change the world! Referring to Discipleship in the New Age, Vol I, we are told that as one enters into being a Chela in the Light there exists, “the loving intention to fire the entire world with the new idea of the ‘spirit of relationship,’ beginning with the disciple’s own self, his family and immediate group.” (p. 720) With a youthful like enthusiasm (no matter what the age), there is an attempt to “spread the good news” not of doctrine (which is an Amber/Group 4 & 5 stage), but of the inner realizations of Spirit or God that have descended on one.
For this reason a certain fanaticism exists at this stage. Due to the intense spiritual “states,” “highs,” and experiences there is an impulse to “fire up others”and to help them see the light one is learning to see as well. No surprise that a certain charisma exists, and with a fiery intensity, the person at the Chela in the Light stage often gathers a following of others equally on fire. The problem is everyone at this stage tends to lack discernment. Often “Little Chelas” gather around “Chelas in the Light” who tend to make a lot of their spiritual standing. And, at the same time they are boasting about their high spiritual status, Chelas in the Light (and their followers) are typically equally concerned with covering up their many spiritual flaws.
Afraid to admit flaws exist, Little Chelas and their Chela in the Light leaders tend to become very defensive and protective. The end result is one of creating cliques, or tellig themselves they are a “special group,” who feel that they have the best way and the best teacher compared to everyone else. Even if they like to say there are many paths to truth, down inside they know that they most likely have the “best Truth” of them all. Since this is a spiritual stage, regardless of the spiritual tradition, Little Chelas and Chelas in the Light can be found everywhere (including those who follow the Ageless Wisdom and Integral teachings).
Far from judging this stage, we can have humor with it and see it as a natural phase. At the same time it can be troublesome. One of the biggest difficulties along with the sense of specialness that emerges here is the tendency towards criticism. Alice Bailey states that “there also seems to be an emphasis on substituting the fire of the mind with the fire of love.” Mental and spiritual pride is a big problem for anyone who emphasizes the fire of mind. Because the fire of the mind is highlighted there is often a level of pride and specialness people have in knowing a certain teaching and being associated with certain spiritual people. The text goes on to say, “The fire of the material aspect (the fire of the personality) is still too prevalent and too powerful in the lives of aspirants. It renders them harmful. I would remind you that the fire of the mental plane (that is, of the mind) is the reflection (and the distorted reflection) of the fire of spirit. Some disciples use only the fire of the mind; in their highest and best moments, they attempt to use the fire of love to offset the fires of the critical mind but at the best it is no spontaneous flow but a laborious effort to be nice, to refrain (through drastic disciplining of themselves) from uttering the things which their critical minds say or to act upon the opinions they have formed through the use of the fire of mind.” p. 720. She goes on to say, “There is no true love in action but only much personality effort to be non-critical.” p. 721
Overcoming the sense of being special and of being too caught up in the mind and critical are just a few of the things that must be confronted at this stage. We are also told that a Chela in the Light has to master the following tasks to get to the next level. The person 1) shifts from the astral plane (emotional reactivity and emphasis) to the mental plane; 2) learns to distinguish the pairs of opposites (personality emphasis vs soul/love emphasis); 3) becomes aware of glamour (emotional and kama/manasic or desire/mind distortions) and the need to be free from it. Regarding glamours, Alice Bailey in her book Glamour: A World Problem lists at least 52 glamours that have to be confronted as one heads into the Chela in the Light stage and beyond. Clearly, to get through this stage there is a lot of spiritual work to pursue.
Perhaps the biggest task at this level involves having to go through a big dose of humility (not easy for some who place themselves in pretty high standing spiritually). Despite the fact that the person here usually attracts a following and becomes a powerful influence, they must still learn to recognize and acknowledge those who are “more advanced than himself and by learning to give due weight to their words and suggestions.” Especially if someone has cut themselves off from spiritual traditions that tend to regulate inflated egos with checks and balances in place to keep them humble, spiritual teachers (and their followers) at this stage may go through a series of crushing blows in the way of a teacher or group falling from grace (as seen in sex scandals, money abuses, power hungry paranoia and violence to others, and other all too common difficulties found in spiritual circles). All of these “falls” are meant induce humility amongst the leader and followers. The end result is one of being more cautious and recognizing that there really is no such thing as a special group or special teacher. Any spiritual group or spiritual teacher is ultimately just one amongst many spiritual leaders, teachers, and groups that exist all over, and have to learn at some point to be humble enough to love, respect, and cooperate with each other. .
Finally, we are told again that a major part of this stage is learning to avoid “criticism.” Though there is a need to for discernment, that is different from criticism. At this stage the “criticizing disciple has reached a point where his judgment is so based on love that he produces no personality effects in his own life or that of his fellow disciples.” Learning how to lead with love at this phase is then very essential. This is not a mushy love that throws out discernment. It is a skillful and intelligent love that knows how to grow others spiritually in such a way that they truly wake up spiritually. As the Chela in the Light wakes up others, he/she has to learn to do so in a way that does not smash others in the process because the spiritual teacher is using ignorant, naive, or forceful methods that end up being more abusive and debilitating instead of helpful. The fire of the personality we are told in the Bailey teachings is a “fire by friction.” It causes friction in others. Better, we are told, to use the fire of the soul, which is a “solar fire.” Solar fire warms and frees others from their selfish tendencies without harming or burning them. Only when a Chela in the Light deals enough with his/her own personality shadow can they liberate others more through the power of love, than through the love of power (distorted as love).
The final thing I would like to share about the Chela in the Light stage are these closing thoughts from Alice Bailey about learning to work with karma. They read as follows:
- “He works off unavoidable karma as intelligently and consciously as possible.
- “He takes on some karma which ordinarily would be precipitated in some later life.
- “He begins to shoulder some of the general karma of humanity….”
- “He begins to work to comprehend planetary karma, though as yet he undertakes no responsibility in this connection [until after the third initiation].
The greatest difficulty I have with this comparison is that in the Integral model not enough emphasis is put on characteristics that are very important in the Alice Bailey teachings. These include: humility, harmlessness, selflessness, and working effectively with other groups not similar to your own. Yes, you can find some emphasis on all of these in Integral. After all one of the premises of Integral is learning to “integrate” and respect truths found everywhere. Still, there seems to be a lot more emphasis in the Ageless Wisdom teachings on developing a model where becoming harmless is a major goal, with intellectual understanding as a secondary approach. (Though I confess those who dive into the Ageless Wisdom teachings can get just as critical and intellectual as anyone else). To begin with let me once again put up the chart on the Integral model.
And, here again are quotes about Teal from Integral.
“Higher principles rule relativism. Aware of system interrelatedness, interdependence. 4th person perspective expanded in historical time. Experience of enduring core self integrating multiple subpersonalities into coherent complex self identity and self story. Aware of current self as culmination of prior development.”
Plus these quotes directly from An Overview of Developmental Stages of Consciousness compiled by Barrett C. Brown, Integral Institute April 3, 2006.
Values: Bottom line: Qualities and responsibilities of being. Basic theme: Live fully and responsibly as what you are and learn to become. What’s important: The magnificence of existence (over material possessions); flexibility, spontaneity, and functionality; knowledge and competency (over rank, power, status); the integration of differences into interdependent, natural flows; complementing egalitarianism with natural degrees of ranking and excellence; recognition of overlapping dynamic systems and natural hierarchies in any context. Where seen: Peter Senge’s organizations; W. Edward Deming’s objectives; Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time; chaos and complexity theories; eco-industrial parks (using each other’s outflows as raw materials)
Self-Identity: Main focus: Linking theory and principles with practice; dynamic systems interactions Qualities: Comprehends multiple interconnected systems of relationships and processes; able to deal with conflicting needs and duties in constantly shifting contexts; recognizes the need for autonomy while parts of a system are interdependent; recognizes higher principles, social construction of reality, complexity and interrelationships; problem finding not just creative problem solving; aware of paradox and contradiction in system and self; sensitive to unique market niches, historical moment, larger social movements; creates “positive-sum” games; aware of own power (and perhaps tempted by it); seeks feedback from others and environment as vital for growth and making sense of world. How influences others: Leads in reframing, reinterpreting situation so that decisions support overall principle, strategy, integrity, and foresight
Two Models Compared.
What you will notice here is how the two don’t really fit that well. You just don’t see the same emphasis on how the “fire of the mind” can squash the “fire of love” and how the fire of love needs to win out. Instead, at Integral Teal there is a lot about the mind and how it is used. The focus in Integral/Teal still seems to be too focused on mental gymnastics. Even if one is understanding wholes, it is still a mental understanding of wholes. It is not about how to love holistically. Even if one is “comprehending multiple interconnected systems of relationships and processes” it is a mental comprehension. All of this can lead to a powerful intellect, something that those in Ageless Wisdom teachings can also develop (especially with their love of abstruse esoteric knowledge). That is precisely why in the Ageless Wisdom model there is a warning that one should be cautious in their application of the “fire of the mind” at the expense of the “fire of love.” In Integral at the Teal level, love is not yet as emphasized.
There are some statements that imply caution in what is written about at the level of Integral Teal. The text on Teal states that one can become “aware of own power (and perhaps tempted by it).” That fits with the Chela in the Light descriptions. And, the remedy to this Integral states is to seek “feedback from other and the environment as vital for growth and making sense of the world.” One could infer that means stay humble and connect to other groups and those who may be more advanced than you to help you be humble, it is just not that bluntly inferred.
Also, in the Ageless Wisdom model there is an emphasis on becoming too fiery, which linked to an emphasis on experiencing lots of mystical “states” (which is a major focus especially at the previous Little Chelaship stage), can make one become mentally and spiritually superior. Overcoming these temptations of superiority, through the application of real love is a big part of what the Chela in the Light stage is all about. I just don’t see that emphasized in the same way in Integral texts.
Instead, Integral Teal seems to be more about using the firey mind to overcome the tendency of their “Green” stage, which loves everyone in a mushy way and abhors the idea of hierarchy. Green may desire to love, but it doesn’t really know how to love. Green lacks skillful means in their approach. Teal is not as naive. Instead, Teal is busy, “complementing egalitarianism with natural degrees of ranking and excellence; recognition of overlapping dynamic systems and natural hierarchies in any context.” All of this is well and good. It helps to know what you are doing. Using plants, instead of people, as a metaphor, some need more water and light, some less. Unless you know how to intelligently take care of someone, you may actually harm them in your loving attempts.
So, developing the mind helps. In the Alice Bailey model, there is just a lot more emphasis on ensuring that one develops the heart as much as the mind, or imbalance is the ultimate result. After all a big focus in the Ageless Wisdom teachings is about learning to be more selfless, humble, harmless, and group oriented. A lot is also said about learning to submerge your ego, let go of the critical mind, practice loving kindness and so forth. Sure, many followers of the Ageless Wisdom teachings neglect this. They may be at the stage of Chela in the Light as well, pontificating on reams of esoteric knowledge leaving others mystified, englamoured, over-whelmed, discouraged and possibly even degraded in the process. The point in putting forth these stages in the Ageless Wisdom model is to exactly warn anyone in any spiritual group, about the dangers of the fiery mind here. Yes, Integral talks about this somewhat. But, it appears they do not do it as much as the Ageless Wisdom teachings do. Keeping these distinctions in mind we will move on to the next post and the stage of Accepted Discipleship.
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