SERVING THE MASTERS
Many students of Theosophy are greatly drawn to the inner side of the Theosophical teachings. What may have been to them a mere theory when they began becomes in a great number of cases a strong belief later on, and the earnest one strives to convert that belief into a matter of knowledge. The existence of the Masters has been a focus of attraction to many; the finding of the Masters has been the most desired pursuit in a few cases. Many have desired greatly, but have not found, for the reason that the finding of the Master was but a secondary object of their lives. Had they been honest with themselves, they would have recognized this, and would have made further efforts, or would have been content to leave things as they were. Instead of that, they have felt in some sense disappointed, if not actually injured, because they have not attained to first-hand knowledge of the Masters. However, the efforts they have made have not been really in vain, for the ideal they have sensed will, as time goes on, become more and more real, and will eventually bring them - perhaps it will be a matter of another life - safely to the feet of the Master.
There are seasons for the growth of discipleship; periods in the history of evolution when discipleship can be more easily attained than at other times. It is not a question of favouritism on the part of the Masters, or even the demands of the world-service in which They are engaged. Just as there are seasons for sowing and harvest, so is there in the realm of discipleship the sowing of the seed in the core of the Ego, and the sprouting forth of that seed, affecting both egoicand personal consciousness; for the growth in the sphere of consciousness reflects itself in our limited brain-awareness.
As far as this physical world is concerned, there are times (the result of the activities of the Law of Cycles or Periodicity) when the task of realization becomes easier of attainment. This may be said to be an illusory effect merely; but, from the point of view of the actional plane (Kriyaloka), it is not so. Just as the rising and setting of the sun every morning and evening are illusions, but may be taken advantage of for purposes of ritual and worship, so also certain periods may be, and are, utilized for the realization of discipleship. Such an opportune season is used by the Great Ones for starting Occult Schools, spiritual movements, etc. Such a period was chosen by our Masters for the founding of the T.S., and that was why in the early days of the Society so many were fortunate in contacting the Masters in their brain-consciousness. It is clear that one of the immediate fruits of discipleship is the knowledge and experience of the intimate relationship with the Master in brain-consciousness.
The man who would find the Master must make the search the dominant aim of his life. If we are prepared not to be deterred by any kind of obstacle or difficulty, if we do not hesitate to sacrifice everything and have the courage to destroy in ourselves those things which hinder, we are at least doing our part, and we may be well assured that the Master will not fail in His duty.
The first idea that we want to grasp clearly is that the finding of the Master is an absolute possibility for us; that it is a certainty for us, provided that we have strength and energy enough to go on and pursue our course without breaking down in physical health. People sometimes think that to tread the Path is a matter of consciousness only, and that material bodies are not of great importance. Bodies, however, do matter infinitely, and one of the qualifications that Masters require from would-be disciples is that they bring to Them fit and healthy bodies, in and through which Their work can be done. A wrecked body is of no use to Them. It may seem harsh, perhaps, that people who meditate and study, who lead as conscientiously as they can the spiritual life, and who thus perhaps in consequence overstrain their nervous systems - because of this must be thrown aside. We must look at the matter from the Masters' point of view. What use will a person be to the Masters if he or she breaks down every time after a little piece of work? The life of discipleship is a strenuous life. The Master may want to use the disciple day after day, at any hour, at any time; He may have to tax his endurance considerably. It is therefore not difficult to see that the physical body must necessarily play a great part in the calculation that the Masters have to make before They accept anyone as a disciple. Realize that a disciple is an outpost of the Master's consciousness, and therefore the true disciple must have Ego-consciousness directing and guiding his brain-consciousness, and he must be careful not to admit into the latter anything that might affect the wonderful consciousness behind, that might prevent the Master working through him at any time. It will easily be seen that this constant alertness and self-collectedness must be a great tax on the nervous system. Similarly it follows that all the subtler bodies should be in a healthy condition, for the strain on them will be great too, since our psychic and mental life must be arranged as far as possible in accordance with that aspect of the Master which we contact. For the Master, and He alone, must be the centre of our universe, if it is to coincide with the Masters' world.
How many of us make the Master our all? If we examine ourselves we shall see that we are very far away from the Master. Our world is differently built from His, and therefore there is little reason for us to be surprised that He does not pay attention to us. We must make Him the core of our consciousness, and thus the centre of our cosmos.
There are two simple rules - simple as all spiritual things are - which will help us in our efforts at realization, if we apply them. First, whenever we think, whenever we feel, whenever we have to act, our first questions should be: "I am thinking this thought, I am feeling this feeling, I am about to do this act - would the Master do it if He were in my place?" And if the answer to our question be in the affirmative, then ask: "How would the Master think this thought, feel this feeling, do this act?"
This is a very strenuous practice to follow, but it is the right principle to work on; for he who does this proves that he is making the Master, and not his little personal self, the centre of his consciousness. Very few are willing to make this sacrifice in its entirety. Some are ready to surrender portions of their consciousness to the Master, but reserve rights over the residue. This will not do, if we are to gain what we say we want.
We are apt sometimes to take life too seriously in a wrong manner, and we do this because of an unconscious egotism that is in us. We think we are here to save other people's souls and the world, and we think this because we do not realize that it is only by leading our own life in terms of the above teaching that we become instruments in the hands of the Great Ones. And although we try to live according to fixed laws of meditation and study, like the rich young man in the parable, when the Master wants us, we cannot follow because we have great possessions, intimate possessions - psychic, mental and physical - and we cannot let these go. They are the real centre of our Cosmos, not the Master. Thus we are not able to contact Him, for we cannot respond to His note.
If we want the Masters, we must observe the laws. There are many things in each of us that are not in themselves bad things - some of them are exceedingly good - or which are comfortable to ourselves and not harmful to the world, but they may not be of any use to the Master. Are we prepared in our mental, emotional and physical natures to get rid of everything that is not useful to Him, be it good or bad? We have constantly to eliminate the personal ' I ' - often an attractive and beautiful creature - for it has no place in the plan. It is depressed, and must find consolation. It is irritated and must be soothed by praise. It must have attention of some kind or other. We must learn that it is the Master and not the personal ' I ' who commands attention.
The Master wants an equipoised consciousness in which He can work all the time. He does not want depression, He does not want elation, which are things of the personal consciousness. How are we to judge of ourselves? One way is this: if we are depressed, the first thing we should note is that there is someone capable of depressing us; so also with elation. The one mood which we require is the mood of permanent affection which expresses itself in bliss. The highest attribute of God in Hindu literature is Bliss - Ananda. That is what we want. It is that phase which brings the touch of the Master's consciousness to us. If we realized, we should know that that alone is of supreme moment to us, that nothing else in the world matters. What matters it if people praise or blame us? These things, as the Gita says, "come and go, impermanent," and the advice is given us: "Endure them bravely, O Bharata" - and that endurance not in the spirit of a martyr. That again is often misunderstood. Experience of joy or suffering is common to all. But for the student of Occultism to feel Bliss in suffering marks a stage of inner growth. The weapon of silent suffering, not for the paying off of karma but for the positive work of generating spiritual forces, is not understood by the world and is not likely to be. Crucifixion is misinterpreted. That experience is not the paying off of karma, but a spiritual generation of certain forces where suffering means joyous lifting of some of the heavy burdens of materialism, in the true significance of the word. From our point of view the blazing fire must cause torments, in the act of consuming, to wood and coal; but that is really not so. Crucifixion in the true sense is analogous to the process whereby fire reduces wood to ashes, the wood takes upon itself the property of fire, and in allowing itself to be so reduced, sends forth the fragrance inherent in it. It is a crude simile, but signifies a great occult truth.
There is an inner life in each of us which is to become in course of time, if it has not already so become, part of the Master's consciousness, and there is an outer consciousness which we may use in so far as we do not ruffle the inner consciousness. Knowledge comes to a disciple from the inner pole in proportion as he teaches others. He evolves efficiency, not because he is in constant communication with the Master, but because, having experienced a touch of that great consciousness, he himself begins to work. It is slow, plodding persistent life. Slow is the process, and bit by bit the whole lesson has to be learned; and the only really wonderful thing about it is that, when once we have really touched the Master's consciousness, outside things do not matter to us. The real disciple may say with truth: "Men may come and men may go, but I go on for ever." The permanent consciousness we aspire to is one which is above death, above stagnation, above decay; it is ever unfolding; its great quality is the quality of giving, giving, giving all the time, and getting nothing from the outside world save avenues for greater service.
We crave too many things from the outside world when we desire to attain to discipleship. We forget that discipleship implies the motion of one big sweep of an outgoing current, and it is so powerful that no other current from without can besmirch it. Remember H.P.B.'s wonderful description of herself as a disciple: "I am a window through which the light comes." Discipleship, according to H.P.B., is a matter of difference in direction of the flow of life-currents. It assumes the capacity in people for allowing themselves to be flooded by the sunlight of Life and recognizing themselves as mere windows. It is not so much a privilege as a great responsibility, and its recognition grows with the growth of discipleship. Our attitude should be one of thankfulness that we are or may become windows through which the sunlight pours, and that there are souls willing to receive that sunlight. The disciple, then, must be the friend of all creatures. His life is open and broad, a life of bliss. He is ready to take in hand any work that the Master wants done; it does not matter to him whether he sweeps a floor or whether he delivers a lecture; he also learns to realize the fine truth: "They also serve who only stand and wait." We must be patient enough to wait - patient enough and big enough to understand the outside world from the Master's point of view, and that only comes when we get rid of our anxiety to save the world. We are constantly trying to clear up other people's jungles instead of our own, and we find a difficulty in that they will not let us do it. Why should they? They have their own job to do. Ours the task of becoming windows for the light, which others may gladly use in the purifying of their own natures, in illuminating their own minds and hearts.
Then there is the positive side of building faculty - physical, emotional and mental -- which the Masters want. The disciple, unlike ordinary men, must not depend on books or libraries for his work in the world. If he has time to consult them, well and good, but he must have the mental faculty which has the power of co-ordinating all the departments of life and activity. Many students of Theosophy have half recognized this truth, but have misinterpreted it. They make reliance on the Masters' help an excuse for very inadequate study, and for the non-preparation of lectures. This, of course, is not what is meant. What is required presupposes a very keen intellect - a faculty too often discounted by present-day Theosophists. The disciple must bring his knowledge from within. He cannot say to the Master: "I cannot do such and such a thing, I have not studied it." He has to take up the work and have a mind sufficiently sharp and concentrated to use it for the performance of any task, for the illumination of any subject.
Similarly with feelings. Most of us have psychic natures tinged with numerous unimportant and petty feelings. The disciple needs a few fundamental feelings - pure, big, strong emotions. The Masters do not want only good people. The churches are full of these. They want powerful workers. The disciple must have a few dominating qualities in his astral body, all rooted in the great quality of affection, so that he can help all, and is in a position to give through his affectionate nature many things that people want. A disciple must be able to adapt himself to circumstances wherever he is put, and to help all in varied environments. Therefore are necessary in his nature emotions of character that the Master can use - the great emotions of Power and Compassion. In physical-plane life, facility is required to do the Masters' work well. The disciple must gain accuracy as far as space is concerned, punctuality with reference to time, purity with regard to causes. That is what the Master wants in terms of space, time, and causality.
Discipleship is a gradual process, though the culminating point will come in a flash. It comes from within, and is not a matter of bestowal from without. Disciples make themselves, by their own inner growth. You cannot impart discipleship. It is a new aspect of consciousness gained by toil, and its salient characteristic is the knowledge of itself, its condition and position. It does not rely on others for that information, it is self-contained.
In the culture of consciousness by concentration of mind-forces, by the purification of the emotional nature and the planting therein the seeds of Vairagya and Bhakti, dispassion and devotion, by the permeation of the spirit of self-abnegation in all activity, so that work assumes the form of sacrifice - thus men and women grow silently, inch by inch into discipleship. We cannot come to it by outer work, but can only grow into its light by an inner process of which meditation, study and constant practice at control of the lower self are but parts. From time immemorial, discipleship has been recognized as a stage of spiritual life, and we can attain to it today. It is difficult to achieve, it is rare of attainment; but what even a very few have done, that we can do.