The Dual Life of Discipleship
Articles By John R. Haberman
The facts of daily life often seem at variance with the principles of spiritual living. This is the disciple's great problem how to live as a soul in the world of form, how to practise positive harmlessness.
All those who aspire to tread the path of discipleship in the world today are faced with the problem of duality, with the difficulty of adjusting their achieved subjective understanding of the inner reality of the soul to the harsh, materialistic, so-called realities of physical plane living in a society largely dedicated to the pursuit of the things of the world for the satisfaction of selfish personal desire. That the materialistic focus of modern society is undergoing change, and consequent turmoil in the process, is abundantly true; but such change, while becoming clearly manifest on a world-wide scale, may not seem nearly so apparent to the individual aspirant in reference to his own near environment, immersed as he often is in a veritable whirlpool of conflict between the truth as inwardly recognizes it and the denial practiced by his daily associates. For it is not likely that many of the average aspirant's or disciple's business acquaintances have any large grasp of spiritual truth as it manifests in world affairs.
Indeed, it may often seem that the disciple's immediate environing conditions are going in exactly in the opposite direction to those idealised in the plan for humanity. Nevertheless, these close environing conditions present the disciple with his chief problem. He must learn to overcome them in the light of his own soul, and it is this problem of objective environment which entails that dual focus of attention involved in that particular pattern of activity which is called the dual life of discipleship.
The dual life of discipleship results from the conflict between the inner subjective reality and the outer glamour and illusion, between that which is and that which seems to be, between the truth of the spiritual life and the falsehood of materiality. It has to do with the resolution of the final pair of opposites before the portal of initiation - the Angel of the Presence and the Dweller on the Threshold.
The problem of the disciple is summed up in the words of Christ: 'No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon'. But then again he indicated that certain adjustments must be made with the world, for the Kingdom of God is not yet manifest on the physical plane: 'Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves'.
In the latter statement is found one of the great occult dual principles of skill in action, the combination of the serpent wisdom, as it has been called from ancient times, with the harmlessness of that immemorial symbol of peace, the dove. All too often organized religion seems to have emphasized the meekness and harmlessness of the dove but has failed to teach the power of the deeper spiritual wisdom which makes of harmlessness a positive force rather than a negative one. On the other hand, the legions of materialism employ to the fullest extent the serpent of evil knowledge (it can hardly be called wisdom) and scoff at the supreme principle of harmlessness.
The individual disciple, therefore, must continually make the necessary daily adjustments, practising wisdom yet with the motive and effect of utter harmlessness, and seek ever to adapt the soul energy of which he is increasingly becoming a channel to the requirements of daily living. In short, he must live as a soul in the world of form. The seemingly duality and the resultant conflict with which he must contend is actually a manifestation of spiritual progress, although to the aspirant it seems that the reverse is true. There is duality because he sees the great difference between the perfect world of the divine soul and the imperfect world of form, and for a long time he is faced with apparently irreconcilable pairs of opposites.
'Hence,' says the Tibetan, 'the frequent reaction of the disciple to the fact that for him, as yet, there is no point of peace. Peace was the objective of the Atlantean aspirant. Realisation is that the Aryan disciple. He can never be static; he can never rest; he is constantly adjusting himself to new conditions; constantly learning to function therein, and then subsequently finding them pass away to give place, in their turn, to new. This goes on until the consciousness is stabilised in the Self, in the One. Then the initiate knows himself to be the on looking Unity, watching the phenomenal phantasmagoria of life in form.
'He passes from one sense of unity to a sense of duality, and from thence again into a higher unity . . . This dualistic stage is that of the aspirant and of the disciple, up to the time of his training for the third initiation. He begins with the knowledge that he is a spiritual entity confined in a form. His consciousness for a long period of time remains predominantly that of the form . . . . Then the point of balance changes, and the soul appears to dominate from the standpoint of influence, and the entire consciousness aspect begins to shift into the higher of the two aspects. Duality, however, still persists for the man is sometimes identified with the soul and sometimes with his from nature; this is the stage wherein so many earnest disciples are at this time to be found. Little by little, however, he becomes "absorbed" in the soul in all forms until the day dawns when he realises that there is nothing but soul and then the higher state of unity supervenes.'
-A Treatise on White Magic by Alice A. Bailey.
The key to the resolution of the apparent duality which continually surrounds us is found in the statement given above, 'There is nothing but soul'. It is an esoteric truth that one cannot register any vibration from without unless there is a correspondence within himself to that particular type of vibration.
An inner conflict is caused therefore when the aspirant registers within himself the vibrations of the lower desires, of selfish grasping and materiality from the environment with which he is surrounded. He is disturbed by these impulses and is apt to attribute them to his own lack of spiritual development, while the truth is that it is spiritual development which is pulling him away from the 'husks of the world' with which he was once completely at home. Yet the memory of these things remains and causes a correspondence to be set up in the personality vehicles to the impulses, mostly astral, which emanate from the environment.
A Positive Harmlessness
Much of the distress caused by the registration of astral vibration from environing associates could be eliminated if the aspirant would follow the simple but difficult procedure of raising his consciousness to the soul whenever necessary and focusing his attention upon the higher mental plane, where the lower vibrations cannot reach. Such an activity, however, if one is to follow the occult law, must be accompanied by the practice of a positive harmlessness, a mental attitude which seeks to transmit practical love or goodwill to others and thus not to resist evil but to overcome evil with good.
There is of course no easy formula for practising discipleship in the world today. It is all much easier said than done, as any sincere esoteric worker can testify. Yet the goal of discipleship is set before us, and all disciples must learn to overcome and to the necessary extent control environing conditions in order to carry forward effectively the work for which they have assumed responsibility.
One may live in an environment where racial prejudice is predominant, yet he must keep himself free from such prejudice, at whatever cost to himself may be found necessary in the circumstances. Likewise, most of us live in an environment where the making of money appears to be the supreme objective and everything else is subordinated to that one materialistic goal, while the inner spiritual realities are subordinated to that one materialistic goal, while the inner spiritual realities are disregarded. Here again the work of flesh and blood alone will surely fail, and the disciple must, like the proverbial Daniel in the lion's den, stand alone on his own spiritual footing, realizing that money is but the concretisation of substance and that in the last analysis, 'The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein'.
In is said that in the aspirant's personal attitude towards money is found the test for his fitness to tread the path of discipleship. Every disciple is called upon to assume personal responsibility for the proper handling of the money which comes into his hands and to co-operate with his group in attracting the vast sums which are needed if the Hierarchical Plan is to be carried on to completion, if the Kingdom of God is to manifest on the earth and the reappearance of the Christ become an actually.
Besides those mentioned above, the disciple will detect other undesirable influences in his surroundings. If he is honest, he will recognise all of them as influences by which he himself was once dominated and which he is even now still in the process of overcoming hence the duality and the struggle. And then at length the aspirant or disciple finds that in overcoming the inertia and resistance of his environment he is in effect overcoming his own past, consisting of the present life and the lives which have gone before, according to the laws of rebirth and of karma.
In this inner subjective life, could the disciple but realize it fully, there is really no duality. He, the personal self, and the soul, are essentially one, constituting 'a son of God in manifestation whose nature is light'. But to achieve that point of light in consciousness which knows no duality or separation, the disciple must first overcome the triple pull of the three worlds, the maya of the physical, the glamour, and the illusion of the mental, the three of which combined comprise the Dweller on the Threshold.
For the encouragement of those who so strive towards the light, it is written in the Book of Revelation:
'To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life.'