With this post we move beyond the levels typically talked about by Integral and enter territory that demands increased exploration and understanding. As conveyed by the Alice Bailey teachings this stage of Chela on the Thread requires increased mastery of the subtle (or psychic) realms, a process that is talked about to some degree by Integral, but not in the same way, or in the same amount.
To understand this stage of spiritual development we will need to look at how the Ageless Wisdom teachings view the subtle realms, especially in regards to psychic powers. As with all of these posts it is impossible to do more than an initial orientation, but there is some hope that you will at least comprehend the difference between what the Ageless Wisdom teachings call higher and lower psychic powers by the time this post is done.
For starters, the phrases “higher and lower”can actually be deceptive. For example, in the chart below used by students of the Ageless Wisdom, the model looks quite linear. Like a staircase it appears as if we go from one step firmly to the next. Actually, this is not quite the case.
Though the chart looks linear, it could also be viewed as holons. Here the levels weave together into one whole. And, these wholes tend to “breath in and out” so to speak something the picture I am inserting alludes to, but is still not an adequate representation of the true process in a visual sense. But, it is the best I can do for now.
Another problem with the linear/staircase model is as we go from level to level there may be gaps in development. We may jump over certain steps and not complete them sufficiently. In the book Esoteric Psychology, Vol. II by Alice Bailey they call these gaps “cleavages” (a word that I am sure meant something quite different between the 1910’s up to the 1940’s than it does in our time today). In modern terms we might call these gaps “spiritual bypasses.” They are stages we think we have completed sufficiently, but we have not. There are “cleavages” or “cracks” in our development. And, unless we go back and fill in the gaps, it can cause problems in our spiritual growth and development later.
Going back to the theme of how the Chela on the Thread has to understand the difference between higher and lower psychic powers, let’s use the linear model for now. To begin with please notice that essentially there are seven major levels with seven sub-levels within each level. These levels are called “planes” in the Ageless Wisdom teachings. When dealing with the psychic powers we are mainly concerned with the following planes: Physical, Emotional, Mental, Intuitional, and Spiritual.
Within the Mental Plane, you will notice a dotted line. Below this dotted line we have levels of mind that are considered to be lower mind, which is comprised of a mind that is concrete and literal. (In many ways this relates to Integral’s Orange level and is described in this direct quote from Ken Wilber, taken from Introduction to Volume Seven
of the Collected Works, Part II.
“5. Orange: Scientific Achievement. At this wave, the self “escapes” from the “herd mentality” of blue, and seeks truth and meaning in individualistic terms—hypothetico-deductive, experimental, objective, mechanistic, operational— “scientific” in the typical sense. The world is a rational and well-oiled machine with natural laws that can be learned, mastered, and manipulated for one’s own purposes. Highly achievement oriented, especially (in America) toward materialistic gains. The laws of science rule politics, the economy, and human events. The world is a chess-board on which games are played as winners gain pre-eminence and perks over losers. Marketplace alliances; manipulate earth’s resources for one’s strategic gains. Basis of corporate states .”
Going back to Alice Bailey’s model, above the dotted line we have the three sub-planes of the mental plane that have to do with abstract mind, which sees things in a more symbolic and metaphorical way. Within those three sub-planes of the higher mental plane you also see a multi-colored flower. This is the “Egoic Lotus” that we have been talking about in previous posts. Within this “lotus” there are twelve petals, which stand for twelve levels of spiritual development.
These petals are activated at certain stages and eventually open up (symbolically speaking) fully when the stage is complete. Once again the following chart helps to build analogies regarding what these levels are about.
Finally, we see that as the petals of the Egoic Lotus unfold completely, the lotus begins to activate the Intuitional plane (also known as the Buddhic plane or plane of At-One-Ment).
The reason I have taken some time to outline these planes, or levels, is because if we are to understand higher and lower psychic powers, we need to know what level they are associated with. With this understanding let’s view the charts that can be found within the Alice Bailey books about psychic powers. They both come from Esoteric Psychology, Vol II. The first chart below shows the various psychic powers according to major plane first. (Note: Astral = Emotional. Buddhic = Intuitional. Atmic = Spiritual in our previous chart). The various psychic powers are then divided up into sub-planes. In our chart above there are seven sub-planes within each major plane. These sub-planes are each given a number. 7 equals the lowest sub-plane. 1 is the highest sub-plane. As we get into the abstract mind realms (the three highest sub-planes on the mental plane), these are called “formless” planes because they are getting so abstract in nature. With this understanding feel free to study the chart below.
What you will notice is that on the physical sub-planes the “psychic powers” are simply a description of the physical senses. On the emotional/astral level, the psychic powers seem to be connected to what most people talk about when they mean psychic in the popular way it is used. The word clairaudience means essentially “clear hearing.” Another word for it is telepathy. Clairvoyance means “clear seeing.” Some people believe they see auras or spirits, which would fit in here. Clairvoyance in modern times also includes remote viewing, where you can see something or someone at a distance. Often clairsentience is used in psychic circles instead of psychometry. Both terms relate to having to “touch” something (like an object) to get a sense of what is going on with someone, or have a “clear feeling sense” of what is happening with an individual. Sometimes in modern terms this is also called being sensitive or empathic.
All these terms are frequently used in things like psychic hot-lines. And, when most people think of calling a psychic for advice, they mostly want these approaches. These “powers” are also intensely glamorized by the public. Psychics on popular call in lines can get up to $27 USA dollars a minute for their services. Decades ago, when the actress Shirley McClain was making channeling a popular phenomena, I met someone who was balking at paying my $60 an hour counseling fee, but was at the same time happily paying $3000 an hour to the channeler Shirley McClain recommended. Even among spiritual and esoteric people, a huge deal can be made over these psychic powers as if they make someone especially spiritual or gifted. Not to mention I have met remote viewers who were being paid large sums of money by the military for their abilities as well.
Which leads us to the shocking realization that these psychic powers are said to exist way down on the emotional plane, and for the most part use of them means someone is less evolved, not more evolved in the stages of spiritual evolution. In fact, when we look at the Integral model psychic powers often get lumped into what they call the pre-trans fallacy, where they are actually “pre-conventional” (mental) thinking, rather than “trans” beyond it, which fits in with what Alice Bailey has to say. If we remember that animals and even insects can have these kind of psychic powers even more than humans have them, we begin to understand that something else is going on regarding spiritual evolution. In fact, many animals and insects are have a much better capacity to see, hear, smell, taste, and sense through touch than humans ever will.
That takes us back to the chart of how psychic powers evolve over the various levels of spiritual development. This time I will put it up according to the senses as they evolve up the scale from physical, to emotional, to mental, to intuitional/buddhic, to spiritual/atmic. (Note: I once had a teacher who said there is really no such thing as Extra Sensory Perception or ESP. Rather it is EXTENDED sensory perception that is happening, which is what this chart represents.
As you review the chart you may notice some words that seem like they don’t belong because we do not typically associate them with “psychic” powers. These words include healing, discrimination, active service, comprehension, divine vision, spiritual discernment, and more! Maybe we need to go back to understanding that the word psyche was first associated with the word soul. The soul in the Alice Bailey model is equivalent with the phrase “egoic lotus,” which again is more fully activated when we have mastered the lower concrete mind to a large measure, and have been activating the abstract (symbolic/metaphoric) mind as well. (Note: In the Integral system the abstract mind levels include mainly their Green, Teal and Turquoise levels, a fact we have discussed in previous posts, especially as we related them to the Ten Groups in the Alice Bailey system).
With this in mind, why understand psychic powers? Why not just let them go and evolve beyond them? I wo
let me do my best to pick one sense and go up the planes or levels.
As I do so, please view what I say as a brief and incomplete attempt. For example, the sense of TOUCH. Obviously, on the physical level we know what touch means. Interestingly enough, science now knows that when we physically touch someone in a prolonged way, like through hugging, oxytocin, the bonding (and some say “love”) hormone is released. Even at the lowest physical level, touch creates some sort of connection or bond. Perhaps this is one reason touch can be so healing. As we go up the Alice Bailey model to the emotional level, we see the word psychometry being used, which is the act of touching an object that belongs to someone to try to get a “feel” for what is going on with a person. Sometimes, as mentioned before psychics use the word “clairsentient” or even “empath” to describe trying to be “in touch” with someone mainly at a feeling level.
Moving away from the emotional level, which is where most psychic phenomena occurs, as shifting to the mental plane, we notice the phrase “planetary psychometry” is then used. This again is trying to get in “touch with” or get a “feel” for what is going on in the mass consciousness. There are other words for this kind of person, which seem less glamorous. One such word is “sociologist,” someone who is trying to get in touch with what is happening to societies, or large groups of people. To understand how words like these could be included at the level of mind, we need to remind ourselves that as we move into the plane of mind at first the concrete mind is developed. In the Alice Bailey teachings this is also called the “logical” or even “scientific” mind. Granted, a sociologist, is someone who belongs to the “soft” scientists in academic circles. Still, a scientific approach is used. Polls are taken. Research is done. Charts are studied. Data is collected. Then, through the power of the analysis and in some cases even the level of intuition, conclusions are made as to what is going on.
These conclusions lead to understanding. Understanding leads to action! You want to do something about what you are discovering? Then shift it up a notch and we move into the intuitional realm and its association with healing. What an interesting word to use at such a high level. Normally we think of physical healing or emotional healing (when someone feels moved or touched). We might even consider someone being healed by having a change of thought. But, what does healing look like on the Intuitional Plane, the plane of at-one-ment?. Perhaps it is related to helping large masses of people feel connected, become uplifted, and end up being more in “touch” with each other.
I have not talked much about the various types used in the Alice Bailey model, but for a moment I will talk about how certain types may approach healing at this level. For example, a hard core scientist may develop a cure for a disease. An artist or musician may create something that unites large bodies of people and through an emotional catharsis or release they all feel unified and transformed (think of Beethovan’s Ode to Joy for example). A loving Bodhisattva or Christ like person may so move the masses with his or her love, teachings, speech, or words, a large body of people wake up (think of the hugging saint, Ammaji). A leader of a nation may use his/her political skills to move the masses along some new way of governing themselves that we all become more whole/healed/at-one in the process (like Gandhi). Taking it one more level up into the Spiritual or Atmic plane in the Alice Bailey model, and we find the word “active service.” Active service is the sustained, persistent, consistent dedication of using all your “powers” to “touch” the lives of the masses and help them heal. (That is one reason Gandhi was called Mahatma Gandhi, we was Mah – Atma, or was thought to have his consciousness reside upon the Atmic, or Spiritual plane).
Again, none of these things are typically thought of as “psychic powers,” but the point is in the Alice Bailey model they ARE! They are also the “higher psychic powers.” Think about it, what creates a greater sense of wholeness or unity on a larger level? Someone telling you by holding a set of keys that a certain individual may feel angry at you (which can be very useful information for that person and even healing at some level), or someone coming up with a cure that heals millions of people? Yes, both are healing and helpful at some level, but the degree of help is different.
Also, the more you utilize the higher psychic powers, the more then mind is used. One of the biggest complaints scientific and logically minded people have with psychic powers as they are popularly used, is that for the most part they are little better than a 50 – 50 guess! Overwhelmingly psychics are off-base, overly vague, giving advice that is no better than spewing pop psychology, or worse. Few psychics, because they are so based primarily in their emotions, are willing to admit this. Even if they use their minds more, they typically only tap into lower levels of the concrete mind, meaning that in addition to their distorted view of things, they also now take things too literally. The Tarot cards or tea leaves you throw really mean those exact specific things you read about or “intuit” without question. They are not symbolic of specific things. They are those things, not indicators.
Take astrology, where the symbols of a chart are interpreted as exact and absolute predictors of human behavior, instead of symbolic indicators. And, even when some astrologers do see symbolic indicators, they fail to interpret the symbols of the chart based on someone’s level of consciousness. In listening to the audio series of Kosmic Consciousness by Ken Wilber, he emphatically points out that when astrologers have been researched, overwhelmingly they are wrong. Time and again they are unable to accurately predict events or match up a chart with the right person when put to the test. What Wilber doesn’t consider is that the scientists, as well as the astrologers being tested, are looking at a chart too literally. Neither is looking at the symbolic nature of the chart in a way where those symbols evolve depending on the level of consciousness of who we are talking about, which in turn might generate a more accurate reading and scientific measurement.
What does all of this have to do with the Chela on the Thread? As we will understand even more in the next post, a deep understanding of psychic powers at all levels (higher and lower) has to be sorted out once and for all. Only this way can the Chela accurately navigate subtle, or psychic realms, without getting lost, or regressing backwards into “pre” conventional (or mental plane) levels, that keep one lost. And, only then can the Chela eventually use all the psychic powers, higher and lower, with wisdom and in service.
To highlight this I will close with a direct quote from Alice Bailey and Discipleship in the New Age, Vol I. “The world today is entering a phase of extreme sensitivity. Disciples must train themselves to help. The shift of the consciousness of ordinary and mediocre individuals will be on to levels of conscious astralism and the veil between the seen and the unseen will rapidly disappear. How can disciples be of service in that difficult period if they have no experience in the distinction and interpretation which must exist between aspects of phenomena? How can they rescue and safeguard others if they fear to enter into realms of life where the lower psychism rules? I am not asking you to cultivate psychic powers, but I do ask you to hold yourselves in guarded readiness to see and hear on all levels of service, and to know what you see and hear, interpreting it correctly, unblinded by prejudice and fear. The Path of Discipleship is not an easy one but its compensations are adequate. Psychic sensitivity is involved in the understanding of this phase of discipleship.” p. 743
With this in mind the following posts will attempt to help us distinguish between higher and lower psychism in more detail.
Have comments, questions, suggestions? They will be posted so long as they are civil and expand the discussion.
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