Studies in Occult Philosophy — G. de Purucker

Transactions of the Headquarters Lodge  (part 14)

Root-Races and Life-Waves
The Seven Colors of the Spectrum
Requisites of Chelaship — I
Requisites of Chelaship — II

Root-Races and Life-Waves

A. A. B. — Is there any relation or connection between the “other humanities” [see Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy , p. 457], that follow our Human Life-wave, and the seven human races that start contemporaneously at the commencement of our Manvantara, spoken of by H. P. B.?

A. B. C. — There is one phase of this subject, “other humanities,” on which many questions have been asked and to which I should like to speak.  This phrase, “other humanities” on other globes of the planetary chain, has given rise to much speculation and some confusion of thought, followed by some enlightening study and research, the result of which is as follows:

In this case the phrase “other humanities” is used as a generalizing term for the other “life-waves” below man, which are all potentially human.  It does not mean that there are other hosts of monads that are exactly and specifically in the same human stage as we are, i.e., self-conscious, thinking manases, evolving on other globes of this planetary chain concurrently with our evolution on Globe D. That would be contrary to the rest of the teaching on the subject.

The phrase, I believe, is meant to remind us of the essential hierarchical unity with all the monadic hosts which primarily sprang from man and which will ultimately achieve the human state.  The mineral, vegetable, and beast kingdoms are all our younger brothers, vital part of ourselves.  They are differentiations of the chain hierarchy of which man is the crown on Earth.  Hence they receive the impress of his character, and, in a broad way, his name, signifying that they are potentially human.

H. S. — In direct answer to the question, I do not think there is any connection, except perhaps an analogical one, between the other life-waves, sometimes called ‘humanities,’ and the seven human races that started contemporaneously on our globe.  This latter point has often been a subject for discussion among students.  It seems reasonable to believe that the first Root-Race was different from the others, just as the first Round on our globe was different from the others; and that it was made up of seven aspects of humanity, foreshadowing the later development that has taken place and is still to take place in the other Root-Races.  We know that in the evolutionary scheme each Root-Race develops one Principle — or shall we say sub-principle; and surely the seeds of these seven types of development were sown when man first appeared on this Earth in this Round.  H. P. B. also speaks of these seven races as evolving simultaneously on seven different portions of the globe [The Secret Doctrine , Vol. II, p. 1], but whether this means that the Sacred Imperishable Land which we are taught was the home of the First Root-Race was not one geographical locality but was seven localities known in Theosophy under a collective name is a question we have never been able to solve.

G. de P. — Just what did H. P. B. mean in using that phrase “different humanities”?  It does not mean different bodies of human beings, as we now understand ourselves, but was a phrase adopted by her to hammer home the point that however unevolved the different classes of evolving monads may be, they all were on the way to humanity, i.e., to become “men,” and therefore are by courtesy, as it were by forecast, “human beings,” “humanities.”  That is what the different “humanities” following each other around the globes of the chain are: the different classes of monads of which our human stock is one class.  Our human stock again is sub-divided into subordinate classes, smaller classes, families of men.

Now with regard to the other part of the question: this is something that has plagued the thought of many, many, many students; and it is understandable too, because it is a very ticklish point, and yet it is easily explainable.  When human evolution began on this Globe in this Fourth Round, or in any other Round, it was a life-wave beginning to evolve, which means a class of monads, themselves sub-divided into seven subordinate classes; and as the life-wave reached our Earth and struck it, of course it did so more or less as a whole — forerunners, however, of each subordinate class reaching the Earth and grouping themselves, not only each class to its own, but all the subordinate classes more or less together, just as we men do in a town: divide into families and classes, and yet we aggregate as a town.

Consider a ray from the sun as a light-wave.  We know that it is sevenfold.  We can, if we wish, say that the ray of light is sub-divided into seven subordinate rays, the solar spectrum, which combine and form one compound ray.  Now when a ray of light touches our globe, it touches it as a full compound ray or light-wave, i.e., life-wave; which is but another way of saying that it has seven subordinate rays.  Thus, consider a life-wave to be a light-ray from the spiritual Sun making its round.  When this life-wave or light-ray reaches our globe, at the beginning of human evolution on this globe, it does so as a whole.  I do not mean it is all there, there in totality, but all its seven parts are represented; in other words all the subordinate classes have representatives in the first contact with the globe.  Each subordinate class has its forerunners forming a scouting-party, as it were.  These scouting-parties touch the globe, evolution begins, the sishtas begin to awaken and to work, and afterwards there come pouring in the bulk of the egos.  Just so is it when a sun-ray-tip touches the Earth: that ray-tip, so to speak, is septenary, sevenfold, it has all the spectral colors; and once the contact is made, the ray thereafter pours down and through that channel all that is in it.

There are thus two definite points of teaching here: the seven life-waves of “humanities” mentioned by me a moment agone as the life-waves making their rounds through the globes, comprise our human life-wave as one among them; but, referring to our human life-wave alone, it also is sevenfold, as was indicated by the forerunners of our human life-wave which reached the Earth at the beginning of the Fourth Round on this Globe: our own human life-wave reached this Globe with representatives of all its seven subordinate colors or minor classes of human monads, most of them as forerunners of the main body.

It is a very interesting thing that the seven classes of men, of mankind, i.e., the human life-wave, began their evolution together.  What else would we expect?  Pause a moment in thought.  Think analogically.  When a human being is born into this world, the body is not born first, and then when it is grown up there occurs the birth of the astral; and then when that has grown up the prana comes in.  Birth takes place — actually a very mysterious and wonderful process — on different planes at the same time.  While the body is coming into birth, the other principles in a man’s constitution are beginning to arrange themselves, and form themselves, each in its own sphere, each in its own way, making man’s sevenfold constitution.  Not only the birth of the human being, but the growth of a seed, a flower, what not, follows the same rule of more or less contemporaneous activity in all the principles of the entity.  Thus the entire human life-wave initiated human evolution on our Globe in this Round with seven different sub-classes, most of them, however, being forerunners or representatives each of its own part of the septenary life-wave.

The Seven Colors of the Spectrum

I feel that all that has been said this evening on the subject of the seven colors of the spectrum has been beautifully said, informative, instructive; and personally, putting myself in the mind of each speaker, I think I can truthfully state that I agree with everyone, which means, however, coming to the answer that I was hunting for, I agree with none!  A strange paradox!  Everything that has been said has been true; but yet it was not that one answer to the question that I was seeking for.  In all humbleness of spirit, with all the reserve which I feel that I should make, subject to correction by a greater mind than anyone here, than my own certainly, I would say this: that not one of the colors of the spectrum in essence is superior to any of the others.  They are all divine in origin.  Since the Sun is the vehicle of a Divinity, whatever flows forth from it is rooted in the Divine.  That statement was made.  But by comparison on the plane of material existence, and having in view the work which each of the effluvia from the Sun does on this scale of matter, of differentiated life, we are bound to make distinctions (and this was not what I had in mind), and say that Atman is colorless, Buddhi is yellow, and so on.  Kama is red.

But now listen carefully.  As one speaker pointed out — and I speak of it in especial because the same thought was running in my mind — do not get it in your heads that red is an evil color.  It is no more evil than gold or than green or than yellow or than any other color.  It is misuse of force which is evil, not the force itself.  “Desire [Kama is the Sanskrit term] first arose in the bosom of It” — the Boundless — the spiritual yearning, the desire to manifest its transcendent glory.  Every time you have an aspiration in your heart for greater things, every time you yearn to become at one with the Spirit within you, you are in the Kama-principle; and every time when in this beautiful aspiration you guide your steps wisely, with wisdom, then you are likewise in the color of the indigo, Buddhi-Manas, both working together.

Now, here is the answer that I was aiming for.  Any one of the seven colors of the solar spectrum is itself septenary — or denary, as you will.  You can divide it into seven or ten; and these subdivisions merely repeat in the small what the great originates.  Isn’t it obvious?  You cannot cut a slice out of an apple and get something different from the apple.  Consequently, every minutest portion of infinity contains every essential element and force that infinity contains.  Consequently, every subdivision or sub-plane contains its own repetitive septenary which it derives from the surrounding universe.  The microcosm simply repeats the Macrocosm.

Now, then, examine: A man whose svabhava or svabhavic character let us say is in the red or kama, if he lives in the Atman part of it is living on a far higher plane than a man whose essential svabhava is golden yellow, and yet who lives in the lower.  It is the principle that you live in that places you on the Ladder of Life.  If you live in the Atman, the highest part, the spirit, the essential Self, the divine part of any color, of any force, of any element, you are matched only by your own feelings, and you are in the higher state of consciousness, and living far more nobly than a man who may be dwelling let us say in the indigo, but on a very low plane of it.  A humble man born in a humble station of life, without education, crippled in body, everything against him — I am using this as an illustration — but nevertheless who has the mind of a Seer and the heart of a god, is planes above a man who is born with a golden spoon in his mouth, with all the education that the world can give to him, and yet who lives with a heart filled with vipers and evil.

H. P. B. once told her students that an artist — and you know what irregular and foolish lives artists often live — that an artist who in his heart sincerely yearned to be a better man, and to live a better life, even if he failed constantly, had greater chances of chelaship than a priest in a church who was wearing the skin over his knees hard by kneeling and praying to “Almighty God” every day, and who inwardly had a heart which was a den of vipers.  That was the idea.  It is the plane on which you live which places you where you belong.  The thing is to strive to live in the highest plane where there is no color, where all is colorless glory.  As soon as you descend into color, you descend into manifestation and differentiation producing a corresponding amount of maya and consequent ignorance.  Color shows manifestation, differentiation, the world around us, matter, in their densest and most condensed form.

Now take the spectrum: Red, orange, yellow, run through the scale to the ultra-violet.  A new red begins, and if you follow it into invisible light, you will be passing upwards, till you reach a still higher red, after passing through the intermediate stages.  Deduction: There is a divine kama, there is a debased kama; there is a divine Buddhi, there is a human Buddhi, which is the reflection of the other.  The point is that every plane is subdivided and is patterned after its grand plane.  Therefore no matter in what station of life a man may be born, no matter to what “Ray,” as some say, he may belong, this does not place him.  What places him is where his consciousness is focussed.  If it is focussed upwards, rising into the Atman, into the colorless sphere, then he contains divinity.  In the Absolute no one color is more spiritual than any other, because all are born from the heart of Divinity.  When we come down into the worlds of differentiation, of existence, then we are obliged to make divisions.  In the abstract — and this is not contradictory of what has been said — it is perfectly true that the more rapid the vibration, the greater the frequency of vibration a color has, the closer to matter it is; because what we call matter, physical matter, is intensity of vibration, of force.  That is what produces the atom, the electrons, and all the rest of it.  Modern science is now saying that they are all composed of energy-points, points of electricity, intense vibration.  The greater the frequency of vibration, the more condensed the substance is.  Follow out the thought, but do not jump to the conclusion that because violet is a very intense vibration, therefore it is the least spiritual of the colors.  There is an Atman to the violet, a Buddhi in the violet, and so on down the scale.

Requisites of Chelaship — I

G. de P. — I would like to know, Mr. Chairman and Companions, what in your judgment is the characteristic or distinguishing mark of chelaship.  I do not mean any outward sign.  Those can be imitated; but what is it really which makes or distinguishes or characterizes the chela as compared with other men?

M. S. — I would like to answer this question.  In my study of the present chapter, this thought came to me: That the true chela is he who in his merely human part utterly surrenders to that higher part which the Leader in this chapter so beautifully calls the Companion of Stars, the inner god; and the influence of which is stepped down to, the human ego by the Reincarnating Ego.  It is the human ego surrendering entirely to the spiritual law as given to it by the Reincarnating Ego.

H. T. E. — As the signs which indicate chelaship are not of an external nature, they would not be such as could be communicated to anyone except perhaps another chela; and further they would be of a kind which the chela would be reluctant to speak about.

G. de P. — What Dr. Edge says is quite true.  Perhaps I had better rephrase my question.  It may not have been clear, but I think Miss Madeline has got the fundamental idea.  Instead of asking then, “What is the distinguishing mark or characteristic,”  I will phrase my question this way: What is it in or of the chela which makes him such?

C. J. R. — When H. P. B. said that the first test of true apprenticeship was devotion to the interests of others, she gave the secret password to open the door to the path.  This was, of course, only the first test, but whatever comes later, such as the attainment of knowledge and power, will turn to ashes unless inseparably combined with a burning desire to help suffering humanity.

G. F. K. — I should think that what would characterize a chela as distinct from the ordinary man would be the acquiring of a vision, or, perhaps, the conquering of illusion in a fuller degree, so that through the conscious tearing away of the veils of maya he would get a vision of what life really meant.  Then, having this Vision, he would know that the only possible way to live in accordance with Reality, consciously to live, would be a positive decision to devote himself to the service of others.

J. H. F. — One of the characteristic marks of chelaship I would say is a love for truth and a searching for it, as a drowning man struggles for air as the one thing above all most desirable.  Naturally the love of truth is of varying degree, and the attainment of it, to be in any way successful, must include what Professor Ryan referred to as “the first test: Devotion to the interests of another” and ultimately of all men — in a word, impersonality.  We can come to a knowledge of truth only in the degree that we seek for it impersonally — not solely for ourselves or our own satisfaction, but for the sake of all men, for the service of all.

H. T. E. — So far we have heard of several attributes which a chela might or might not possess; but as he would possess these in common with other people who are not chelas, they cannot be said to be characteristic of chelaship.  What we need is a definition, not an enumeration of attributes.

S. E. — ‘Chela’ in a technical sense means slave, slave to the command or behest of a Guru or of Truth as the Higher Self points it out.  It does not mean perfection, however — far from it.  A chela can have all the wonderful qualities enumerated tonight, but also quite a few pretty bad ones not mentioned.

We must distinguish between ‘chelaship’ as it is understood in the Orient and the ‘chelaship’ of Theosophists in the West.  There are strict rules governing the lives of the chelas in India and Tibet and they all have some sort of Guru or Teacher who directly or indirectly guides their lives. ‘Chelaship’ among Western people, or more particularly Theosophists, is something less tangible.  As I see it, it means a focussing of one’s thoughts, aspiration, and desires along lines of spiritual endeavor and in accordance with the teachings that we have received.

It is erroneous to imagine that chelas are necessarily altogether saintly people.  In fact their efforts to forge ahead along lines of least resistance react on them in many ways and the animal nature of man rises up in protest; it is here that a chela has to win or lose.  So when we see any Companion troubled by evil, let us judge not too hastily his character.

E. V. S. — I want to express my agreement with what Mr. Eek said, because I think that what constitutes a chela is setting one’s feet on the Path ; and this does not mean that suddenly one begins to manifest all the virtues.  In fact, we are told that when one becomes a chela, he is immediately faced with all the difficulties and weaknesses of his nature.  Therefore we ordinary beings can’t judge of each other, as to who is a chela or who isn’t, by the difficulties he has in his life; because one who is having the hardest times and the greatest trials to overcome may be one who has advanced far on the path.  And even failure does not mean giving up one’s status as a chela, as long as one continues fighting (that is, wisely), and keeping at least a foothold on the path.

I also agree with Dr. Edge.  I don’t think anyone less than a Teacher can tell who is a chela; but I think it is fairly simple to say who isn’t.  Anyone who advertises the fact that he is one, whether openly or by creating a mystery about himself, certainly isn’t one; nor is one who is condemnatory of others and always trying to show how much more evil others are than himself.  So I suppose we could arrive at it by a process of elimination.

G. K. — I think it might be called the mark of the Hierarchy of Compassion, speaking broadly and including the noble qualities that this term implies, at least aspiration and strong effort towards them.  It is the mark the soul would set, in a way, upon those who are living for others and not for self, consciously and determinedly so living.  It would not be a visible mark or sign, and would not be perceived by the majority, though they might see in us a certain kindliness and sympathetic understanding; but those who bear this mark, and above all the Teachers, I believe, would see it definitely as a distinguishing mark or sign.

O. T. — A chela is one who is dominated by something greater than himself, the innermost part of his being, the Master, and whose faith and devotion are so unswerving that in spite of personal shortcomings, this Master can infill his mind with a vision of universal truth and guide it to the Teacher in possession of this very truth.

A. B. C. — The characteristic which distinguishes the chela from other men is the flame of pure impersonal love burning in his heart.  As the dominant characteristic of the Master of Compassion is the spirit of divine harmony and compassion, so it is by the similitude to the Master that a man becomes a chela.  It is this similitude by which the disciple is recognized and drawn to the Master.  It is kinship of spirit.

L. R. — A chela is one whose great hunger for Truth makes him willing to pay the price of his personal self that he may become the Truth.  This would include all degrees of chelaship and all the virtues required for it.

O. I. C. — It seems much easier to enumerate qualities which a chela should or should not possess, than to tell what it is that constitutes one a chela.  Let me offer the following: That which constitutes one a chela is a definite alliance by deliberate choice with the Order of Compassion.  If there are unconscious chelas, they have made that alliance in previous incarnations.  The possession of many noble qualities does not itself constitute chelaship.  All the religions have had saints and heroes, who were not chelas.  Chelas may have bad qualities, even very bad qualities, but being chelas they are on the best road for the rapid overcoming of those qualities.  They are chelas because they are definitely and by continuing choice devoted to the work of the Order of Compassion.  That devotion causes them to be accepted as chelas.  If they adhere to that choice and devotion, the noble qualities which a chela should have will be developed in them more quickly than by any other means.

F. L. G. — The question can be answered in a very few words.  One who has an unceasing love for humanity would through this love express all the attributes and qualities that we have been talking about: impersonality, compassion, service, etc.

G. L. D. — To my mind, any individual aspiring to chelaship has had a vision of truth conveyed to his brain-mind and intelligence from his higher spiritual essence, and henceforth his whole life is devoted to the search for truth in self-forgetful service to his Teacher and all humanity.

A. J. S. — Sooner or later, to a serious student of Theosophy comes the urge to devote everything — every faculty, all he possesses, to the service of humanity.  In other words, he wishes to live the life of a chela.  He sees that the farther reaches of the chela-life are greatly to be desired.  He soon learns that if he live the life he shall know the doctrine — the deeper teachings — and with this desire in his heart he feels the need of a Teacher.

What are the requisites for one wishing to lead the chela-life, for one wishing to become a chela?  We are told that among others there are three leading ones: Devotion, Duty, and Loyalty — Devotion to an ideal which requires the utmost of our spiritual will to follow day after day; Duty — one’s own duty — rightly performed, the doing of which brings indescribable peace, as when, after wandering over and having retraced many roads, we find the right one at last; and which rightly done leaves no thing to be undone; and Loyalty, which brings trust and confidence in oneself and in others.  These three requisites for chelaship have among all peoples been considered the foremost virtues.  We, as Theosophists, owe the observance of these qualities to ourselves, to others, and especially to our chosen Teacher.  It is expected of us.

The Teacher gives inner life and inner light.  He guides the soul of the chela through its development, onwards and upwards through greater trials, greater responsibilities.  For the chela meets a karmic quickening which may condense into his present incarnation the experiences of many ordinary lives.  He meets trials joyfully, knowing that each trial successfully passed means the dropping of one more veil of illusion on the path to Masterhood.

I. L. H. — The question was: “What is it in or of a chela that makes him such?”  May I venture a brief definition: A progressively more and more complete identification of oneself with impersonal ends for the betterment of Humanity, coupled with an ever-increasing effort to fit oneself to carry out better the duties which such service entails.

W. E. S. — In terms of the seven principles of man and nature, we might say that the Mahatman lives in the Buddhic principle, the average man in the Kama-Manasic.  The nearer an individual shifts his center of consciousness to the Buddhic part of his constitution and keeps it there, the closer is his approach to Mahatmahood.  The chela is one who has learned to do this with a larger degree of concentration than the average man.

S. Z. — Wouldn’t a chela be one in whom the inner god has become awakened to some extent, and who has a teacher, whether he is conscious of it or not?

E. J. D. — I think that the answer by Mr. Zurek is the best yet.  When we consider that man is the expression of a divinity on earth, and that any good man and a myriad Christians can feel, by aspiration, the presence of this divinity — the ‘Father in secret’ spoken of in the New Testament — we see that something more than sensing that divine Presence is needed in order to get direct teaching and instruction from that source.  The Mahatmans are in contact with that divinity, and we, if we understand how to constitute ourselves their pupils, have their help in learning to reach our own divinity.  A chela, then, is one who is being taught by a Master of that art, the means to make his divinity vocal within him.

G. de P. — Mr. President, Mr. Chairman, and Companions: I think that my question has been beautifully answered by all who have spoken, and anything that I could say would merely be in addition.  Indeed, if we analyse the answers that we have heard, I think we may divide them into two classes: those weighing heavily on what we may call the Life, and those weighing heavily on what we may call the Knowing.  It is an interesting study in psychology to me, knowing you all as well as I do, to see how the individual svabhava has come out in your answers.  Some are profound and devoted students who are reaching the Light along the Path of Wisdom.  Others, equally profound and devoted students, are marching steadily towards the inner glory by what we describe as living it.  Now, if you will combine these two ways, unify them into one, in which both blend indistinguishably, then I think you will have not only the signs and marks and characteristics of all chelas, who you will remember are of many grades from the super-gods downwards to us, but you will likewise know how to become a chela, a greater chela, a still greater chela, yourselves.

There are many characteristics and distinguishing marks, if we analyse the chela in his life, and many of them have been pointed out.  But do you know, I think if I were asked what it is in and of a man which makes him a chela, I think I should ponder quite a long time, and then I believe I should give this answer: A growing indifference to himself, and an increasing interest in all that is.  There we have the path of morals, of ethics, of wisdom; and we have the Life: a man who has completely lost interest in himself, has no pleasure in evil-doing, because all evil-doing is selfish, for personal, selfish ends.  It is just as simple as that.  Not my will, as the great Syrian Chela and Master said, but Thine, his inner god’s, a Ray of the spirit of the Universe, the law of infinite love and compassion and harmony and pity and wisdom and peace.  Man, when he thus loses interest in himself, grows progressively greater.  It is a strange and interesting paradox.  By expanding, his interests enlarge instead of being constricted around his own core of being; he breaks the bonds and expands.  His former and present self becomes uninteresting.  The world, all mankind, the Universe, he loses himself in, and becomes it; and there is the secret of all initiations, from the greatest to the least.  Indeed, no man can pass through an initiation until he can do this in some degree.  He cannot simply because he cannot lose himself.  He cannot enter into other things.  He is all ‘I.’ The Universe is ‘I’ and ‘thou,’ I, and the world — the duality.  He never can forget himself and be the other, for his whole understanding, his whole compass of thought and feeling is I.  That is all there is to it.  The chela is he who is becoming uninterested in himself and accordingly more interested in others, in the world.  That is why there are three grades of training.  Experience of ages has shown that three are required: training, study, and a growing lack of interest in yourself.  And then comes the fourth stage, when you really feel that all other men’s interests are infinitely more important than your own.  The greatest Buddha, the greatest teacher, the greatest man or woman, is he who is uninterested in himself and loses himself in what we call others.  That is chelaship.  It is a reversion of feeling, to embrace the Universe and recognize it.  The ‘I’ is no longer ‘I,’ it is All.  And yet how difficult it is for Occidentals to understand that we are all one, and yet for ever individuals.

There are as many chelas as there are individuals in the Universe.  I sometimes think that everybody is a chela in degree.  I sometimes think that even the greatest sinner, as we say, is a chela, because he is learning, poor devil!  Of course he is not a great chela, he is a very weak and humble one, a poor, stumbling, weak specimen of mankind.  A true chela hence is one who is living the Life and knows the Knowing, and combines the two into one, and thereby loses interest in himself, forgets himself.  Self-forgetfulness, love of others: if men could only follow this as a life even in their ordinary intercourse, if we could only realize how uninteresting I am and how awfully interesting the other fellow is.  That is all there is to chelaship; and the greatest man is he who can express that the most, the best.  That is why, as the Buddha said, we attain Nirvana, we attain, the stage of the “samma-sambuddha,” when the dew-drop slips into the shining sea, when the little knot and point and focus of I-consciousness expands to be the Universe.

I will add this: I for one have no patience with those who segregate themselves from others and go out, away from others, and think that they are holier than others.  That is not chelaship.  You can starve till your bones stick through your skin, and you can burn yourself and torture yourself until the body, wracked with pain, dies; and you are no more chela than a snap of the fingers, because all your searching is upon yourself; you become an imbodiment of self-seeking egoism.  That is not the way to attain chelaship.  Chelaship is an inner being, an utter self-forgetfulness in its greater reaches, it is an inner change and forgetting yourself; and in proportion as you do it, so much farther will you be on the chela-path, because of an ever-enlarging consciousness and wisdom and love.

Requisites of Chelaship — II

G. de P. — I should like to know if chelaship is something added unto us by a way of life and a living, or is it something which pours out from ourselves as from inexhaustible fountains?  Or is it both?  This question seems to me to be basic.

M. F. — We have been told that there are many potentialities within each one of us, and it is only by contacts that we make that these potentialities will be awakened.  I think that chelaship is a potentiality that we all have; but I believe that it needs the contact of a greater soul to bring forth that potentiality into action.

G. L. D. — I should think that chelaship is something added to us to a certain extent because it draws forth from us higher and higher feelings and stages of consciousness that induce us to work ever upward, at the same time awakening us to our responsibilities to all around us; and the consequent self-evolution and expansion of consciousness brings us so much nearer to the divine qualities that are inherent in man’s constitution, and every element of his nature is worked upon and all of the lower qualities are thereby raised one stage.

F. F. W. — As a military man of many years’ experience, there is an analogy brought to my mind based on the military life in its true ethical background: Groups of men are taught by drills and tests to evoke from their own minds and wills and increase their bodily strength to do the necessary co-operative acts.  The chela-path seems to me to be in a similar manner the evolving of ourselves with the help of those who are instructed to develop ourselves into a higher degree so that we are more able to accomplish the greater object.

E. W. L. — It seems to me that the chela-life is prompted first by a law within oneself filtering into the mind of the man, and it assumes or becomes almost a conversational life with the Master within or a walking with that Master; but it requires a Teacher or helper to guide one even to his own Master.

A. B. C. — The question is: Is chelaship or the chela-life the drawing forth of what is within or the adding of something from without?  And as I understand the answer, it is both.  As man is a part of, inseparable from, and a ray, as it were, of this infinite heart of the universe, all is within waiting to be evolved; but ages and ages would be required to bring it out by the sole process of evolution alone.  It is a part of the nature of this universe that this very interlinking and interlocking of things should make it the function of those who would develop the higher to help the lower.  We have there the law of compassion.  We have brotherhood.  We have love.  And so those that have developed their consciousness so that it embraces a larger love express a greater degree of this inner divine infinity.  They are the Masters.  It is a part of their life, an expansion of themselves, to share this wider consciousness with their chelas so that the process of the chela’s evolution becomes enormously hastened.

I remember a letter by one of the Masters’ chelas written in the early days of the Theosophical Society before Mme.  Blavatsky had her special group of students, to the members of the Pacific Coast, stating that if you had a Master it would bridge over many incarnations of evolution, save many, many incarnations of this long pitiless struggle, because a Master having already evolved greatly shares with you; you get a portion of his consciousness, of his life, his state of divine being.  In one of his letters in the book Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, K. H. said this, which will illustrate what I mean: there was a tank filled with water, and another empty.  One represents the Master, the other the chela, and they connect as it were by a pipe, and the empty one fills.  That is one illustration only.

But remember this fundamental proposition of The Secret Doctrine , on page 17, Vol. I, that there is no state of evolution gained by any evolving being, except by effort and merit.  This process of chelaship is a process of reaching nearer and nearer to the Master, a process of ever becoming more like the Master, sharing therefore in his limitless consciousness and compassion.

S. E. — Chelaship or discipleship implies the presence or the existence of a Teacher.  Hence it is obvious that the disciple doesn’t pour from himself the so-called benefits, if that is the proper word, but he is given them.  Now the law of Karma obviously has brought the disciple in position where he has contacted the Teacher.  Previous lives have brought the two together, and consequently it is only the result of previous aspirations which has placed the disciple in a position of learning more.  For some reason the question of discipleship has come up frequently here during our last meetings, and I think many of us have given the question more thought on that account.  It may be possible that our Human Ego will so open itself to the influences of the Higher Self that de facto it establishes the relationship of chela and guru within the constitution of the individual himself, this relationship corresponding to the outer relationship between an accepted chela and guru in the accepted sense of the East.  The former can exist without the latter, but the latter cannot exist without the former, and it is only when the two blend that the full awareness of chelaship takes place.  I believe that discipleship in its ultimate sense or meaning is a desire to live a purer and a more spiritual life.  It is an intense sympathy and love of one’s fellow man, a desire to see everyone happy in the best sense of the word — not a happiness that requires position, fame, etc., but the happiness that comes from a mind and soul one in the knowledge of spiritual humbleness or spiritual aspirations.

F. C. C. — I think that the life of chelaship is rather an attitude of mind — an attitude of mind which is a dedication of every act of our lives from the meanest to that which seems to us the greatest, the divinest.  Consciousness expands in ever growing quality as we are able to live more and more in conscious dedication.  Thus we naturally grow nearer to that heart of the Universe which is the ultimate of the chela-path.  As we travel thus in dedication it will at the cyclic and karmic time bring us to that Teacher who will open to us wider views, or who will point out wider horizons, or who will point out our stumbling-blocks.  This help comes from without, but that help we cannot take unless we have that inner attitude of dedication which alone enables us to accept the helping hand of a Teacher pointing the way along the Path.

G. de P. — As usual, it has struck me that all the answers have been beautiful and profound, they show advancement in study; and yet, I do not think that any of the answerers got just the drift of my question, doubtless my own fault, due to the difficulty of phrasing a question in such fashion that everybody will understand just what is meant.  Most of the answers, possibly all, seem to point out the way to become aspirants for chelaship, and it is splendid that your thoughts should be running on these lines.  But my question called for answers directly to this point: Is chelaship itself a giving or a receiving, a pouring out or a putting in.  I do not know that I could pick out a question harder to answer.  I have pondered upon this all my life, and I am not yet completely satisfied that I have even a fair answer, but I think I have, and I am going to try to give to you what I think the proper answer is — but I assure you it is not a complete answer.

I think the reply lies in the words of the great Syrian Avatara, which in substance are: Seek ye the Kingdom of the Divine — the Kingdom of God as it runs — and all these other things will be added unto you.  And that means everything: things of matter, things of the mind, things of the spirit.  Why?  You have your answer in the one word Evolution.  Pause a moment and follow me in thought.  A beast runs past a beauteous flower.  What does the beast get from seeing that flower?  A man a moment afterwards passes along the same path, reaches the flower, pauses, looks at it.  What does the man get?  Perhaps little more than the beast.  But let a man of a different type come along that road, and see that flower and look into its heart.  What does he get?  A revelation not only of transcendent beauty, but a sublimity of thought.  He sees something.  Why?  Because he has aroused in himself something that the beast has not yet evolved forth; and that the first man had not.  The first man had more than the beast, but not as much as the second man.

You have to become before you can be.  You have to pour out from yourself what is within, lying latent, before you can receive the revelation from without.  If the revelation is not pouring out — marvelous paradox — you will not be able to read and interpret the Universe around you.  You will pass unseeing by.

What is genius of any kind?  What is even the inventive power that some men have?  Ability to see!  It is in them, and the outer world is a stimulus, brings forth what is within already.  You cannot receive anything from without before it is already within, awakened, aroused.  Teach a child in the womb if you can the wonders of the solar universe.  There is no response, there is no receiving capacity.  But wait till the child is born and grows to become a man, and that which is within him has come out, the understanding.  Then comes comprehension.

Seek ye first the divine within yourself, cultivate it, evoke it, awake it; and just in proportion as you do this, you will be receiving from without, because you give from within.  You give yourself.  You cannot receive anything from without until there is something within you to receive, a receiver.  You pass unseeing by.  That is just why the Masters are higher than we, are greater chelas than we, because they are greater receivers, simply because they are greater givers.  You have to have that within yourself calling for recognition before you can receive and recognize.

Now that is, as I understand it, a good answer to my question: Is chelaship a receiving from without, or a giving from within?  It is neither alone, but both together — a paradox.

And reverence due to the Teacher?  Nothing dignifies a man so greatly.  It is the man of servile soul who is afraid to recognize grandeur in some other man.  He is not big enough.  He is afraid of giving himself grandly.  The little man is afraid of being ‘sat upon,’ or snubbed, he won’t admit that the other man is greater than he.  The man who really is great inside recognizes grandeur in other men, and bows to it because he himself is inwardly a great man.  He recognizes the security of his own manhood and can render homage and reverence and respect because he has them within himself.  Reverence for a Teacher is a beautiful thing, and a sign of inner growth; and it is merely servility thinly disguised to consider that you, I, anyone is so frightfully independent and superior to others that he won’t recognize greatness when he sees it.  He has not it within himself.

It is precisely the same rule that teaches us to reverence the glory in the heart of a rose.  We have it in us.  We see it in the rose and render homage.  To see beauty in the stars, their wonders, their mystery, their hid secrets, their stately movements in their orbital circuits: What is there more exquisite, more beautiful, more thought-provoking to look at than the flame of fire?  What is fire? “Combustion.”  Isn’t that an illuminating answer!  What is a man?  “Flesh and bones.”  Isn’t that an illuminating answer!  But to me they are not answers.  They are just marks of stupidity.  To me a man is a thought-producer, a lover, a giver, a genius, a creator, a power.  A rose is a mystery, something from the invisible heart of Being exhaling itself in a marvelous beauty of form, perfume, color, and above everything else, something still grander, something that suggests the Beyond.  You have the secret of chelaship just there.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition