The Chela Path

By G. de Purucker

Beautiful indeed is the bond between teacher and disciple: the sense on the part of the disciple of utmost confidence and love, so that nothing, he feels, could be hid from his teacher's knowledge; and on the part of the teacher, the understanding, the compassion, the love, yea, sometimes and often indeed, commendation. If the disciple has gratitude towards his teacher, the teacher in a sense has gratitude towards his disciple, for he sees in him the growing life of a new Master of Compassion to flower forth in the aeons to come.

Be of good cheer! Follow the pathway upon which you have entered. Follow it faithfully despite the mistakes that you may make, and the stumbling blocks that you have to pass over. Follow that pathway leading ever more inward to the god within you: it will lead you to the very heart of the universe; and as you advance along this path, you will gain an accession of inner power, an increase of inner faculty, and a growth of the spiritual and intellectual portions of your constitution, which will be the opening to you of doors through which you may look with each new recurrence ever farther inward towards that heart of the universe.

Every initiation is but the opening of a new door of experience in the realms of the inner life. Each new door closes behind you forevermore. You never can pass backward; but while you find yourself in a new world for the time being, with added faculty, with increase of power, with new powers within you to exercise, nevertheless you will always see another door ahead of you. These "doors" are likewise called "veils," and as you pass one veil, there is always another veil beyond. Each new temple-chamber, veiled the one from the other, contains a greater light than the last one entered.

Great indeed is the reward of those who succeed -- ineffable, glorious; and that success is but the beginning of still greater successes to follow, for every step ahead opens up a new vista of possibilities in the endless and ever-changing panorama of the life of the universe. Every step forward is a going into a greater light, in comparison with which the light just left is shadow; but the holy light of truth and light and love shines through every veil, and that light liveth forever in you, for it is your essential self.

Becoming one with your essential self, passing veil after veil of obscuring, personal vehicles -- whether those vehicles be physical or astral or psychological or mental, or even spiritual -- going ever more and more inward or upward, you approach ever more and more near, ever closer to the inner god, which is the essential life of that truth; and hence when you become it, your consciousness from being merely human becomes the consciousness of the universe. The inner god of you is one of the spiritual building blocks of the boundless universe, and the boundless universe is a fabric, a web, of consciousness. Knowing yourself, you shall know all things.

The way of growth is not a difficult way. It is called a steep and thorny path, but it is so only to the selfish, acquisitive, passional, lower man. The way of the spirit is the way of light, it is the way of peace, it is the way of hope, it is the way to the sun. Set your feet firmly on this path; follow it and attain!

On this difficult path the aspirant is sustained by the love of his guide, but he must walk every step along the pathway to victory alone. He is not carried there. Every step he himself must take. In ordinary human existence we make our own way in the world, we feed ourselves, we inform ourselves, we train ourselves. If that is a necessity here, it is tenfold the same necessity in the esoteric life. There must we ourselves win everything, because we are simply bringing out what is within us; our own will, our own consciousness, must become awakened, fully awakened, and by our own efforts.

You cannot see unless you use your own faculty of vision. You cannot understand by someone else's understanding. You must gain everything you ever have, in the esoteric training. You yourself must awaken in your own soul the holy flame; and it is the same with every other step in spiritual and intellectual progress that you make. You yourself must experience the unspeakable delight of compassion -- the ineffable feeling of being at one with the All. You yourself must be the vehicle of the inner light, must gain it. It is both in you and above you, invigorating you and inspiring you.

Spiritual light comes to you from within; you do not receive light -- the light of the spirit -- from outside. All that the teacher can do is to help you to brush away the enshrouding veils of selfhood in many different manners and in diverse and divers ways.

All spiritual illumination comes to you now, and ever will come to you, from the Master within yourself. There is no other possible pathway to the light. All growth is from within; all illumination is from within; all inspiration is from within; all initiation is from within.

Aspiration is real prayer; it is a constant raising of ourselves from day to day, trying each day to go a little higher towards the god within. This means harmony, inner harmony, peace. Therefore, having harmony and peace within you, in your mind, in your heart, that state of mind and heart will reflect itself in your physical body, and your body will function harmoniously, which means that it will function in health.

Moreover, an atmosphere of lofty conceptions and of kindly thoughts clarifies and refines the auric atmosphere around every human being, and it is the bounden duty of every disciple on the path to do just this. Aspirations towards high and noble things even refine the atoms of our entire constitution.

The disciple should have always in mind the consciousness of, the brooding thought about, these teachings. They should be held in your consciousness continually. There should be a brooding over them. They should go to bed with you and be with you when you arise, be with you when you are clothing yourself, or bathing yourself, or eating your meals, even when you do your duties. Have the mind brooding all the time on these wonderful doctrines. This "superconscious" mind is the root of you, the divine essence, on and in which this brooding consciousness dwells.

Such is meditation: taking a subject for thought and dwelling upon it in thought in an impersonal way, meanwhile searching within yourself for the answer, for more light upon it; and if this method of meditation be faithfully followed, finally light will come. Exercise makes it so easy, habit endows it with such attractiveness, that finally the time will come when you will be meditating all day long, even though your hands may be busy with your daily tasks. Inexpressible happiness and peace are in it.

One does not need to go into his private chamber and to sit or to stand or to lie, and with an effort of the will try to whip the brain to think of certain things. Concentration means centering your mind on a point of thought or object of thought and holding to it. It is easy to accomplish and the way to do it is to be interested in a thing. If you are really interested in a thing your mind automatically will concentrate itself upon it.

But the best form of meditation is the constant thought, yearning, aspiration, to be your best, to live your noblest, and to keep this thought with you day and night. If the yearning to be one's best and to live one's noblest is derivative from the spirit of compassion, welling up in the heart like a holy river of energy, it will lead one quickly to the Gates of Gold.

Yet, the next step on the path is taken when the disciple is ready: it all depends upon the disciple; the teacher can do nothing except to awake him; the disciple is the one to decide. For when the disciple is ready, the teacher is waiting.

There comes a time in human evolution when a man or a woman arrives at a point where he wants to concentrate all his energies -- spiritual, intellectual, psychical, astral, vital, physical, everything -- on one object, namely, to make himself a fit servant and servitor of his fellow human beings without any other distractions or calls of duty. This is called chelaship: the state of discipleship. But this path of discipleship is for the few.

Those who follow this pathway of spiritual progress and illumination -- disciples of the esoteric life, living the chela life -- have pledged themselves to give up self for the world, to have no personal property of their own, to give up life and all that there is, to the holiest cause they know. For these disciples of the life beautiful, nonresistance is right: they have sworn never to strike back; never to lift a hand in self-defense if the attack be on the chela alone; never to protect one's personal self against libel or slander, that is, if it be only for the protection of the individual's personality; to turn the other check when smitten; and give one's shirt also when the cloak is asked. But even these chelas are pledged to check wrong, to stay the pathway of evildoing, to stop it if possible, when the evildoing is directed against another; because an esotericist will do for another what he may never do for himself.

The chelas close their minds to pleasures as to pains: for the ideal man is one whose will is not swayed nor is his judgment biased either by pleasure or by pain. The superior man is one who stands firm and is not led astray by pleasure, nor does he weaken under pain.

The chelas give themselves to benefit the world; they give up all personal matters in order that they may live for the universe. These few give themselves; and more it is possible for no one to give. This is the path of the Buddhas and of the Christs.

Chelaship, or the training for Masterhood, is a strenuous and heart-stirring work. Every step of it is joy, although at times there come psychological reactions which must be guarded against. The chela life may be likened to the man who is engaged upon some important, fascinating, most interesting, but very strenuous physical work. He labors, he tires, the breath comes quick and fast, the sweat bedews his brow, and bedews his body, but yet he feels growing under his hand, as it were, a work of marvelous beauty. He is inspired to give to it every ounce of strength that is in him. The chela knows that over the distant hills, perhaps for him, if his karma is favorable, not so far distant, there lies the temple of wisdom, and that its doors will open for him if he can reach it, and reach it clean and strong. If he reaches it with soiled feet, with feet which he has not washed with the tears of his eyes and the blood of his heart, he must retrace his steps, or wait until the time come when no longer will the heart bleed, and no longer will the eyes be blinded with the tears of selfish personal devotion to merely personal ends. Then the eyes will be lightened with the undying inner flame, and the heart will, as it were, beat only for others, because it will be utterly self-forgetful. Then beauty, then inexpressible joy, then unimaginable strength and peace, will enter into his life.

Chelaship in itself is not difficult. In itself it is easy, almost inexpressibly easy. It means giving up pain, giving up sorrow, giving up anger, giving up lust, giving up selfishness, giving up all the things that injure us and blind us and cripple us and retard us. It means being clean, sweet, fresh, strong, pure, beautiful. It means beginning to live the life of an incarnate god. It means becoming at one with one's inner god, ever more and more; a little at first, a little more at the next effort, and so forth, for at each effort the chela gains more and more of the inner light, of the inner life, of the inner inspiration -- of the inner Buddhic splendor. In other words, it means becoming ever more and more at one with the inner Master. In every human being there is now, even now, an exalted entity, a Mahatma.

The life of chelaship is a beautiful life, and the first rule is: to live to benefit mankind. This is the first step in vision, the first step of spiritual growth, the first step of upward progress -- not to live in order to benefit yourself, but to benefit the universe; which, indeed, and from another standpoint, is yourself, for it is you and you are it.

The chela life actually is the simplest thing in the world: to be kindly, to be gentle, to be just, and to cultivate your spiritual and intellectual powers. Do not be swept away ever by anger or passion. Not only do they not pay, but thereby you make bad karma which some day you will have to meet and overcome.

Be self-forgetful; be impersonal and therefore unattached to matter; be detached and therefore impersonal. Be great of heart and great of soul, and then you can attain by being impersonal. Bear injustice with equanimity, thereby you become magnanimous -- great of heart. Never strike back; never retaliate; be silent; be patient. Protect others; protect yourself not at all.

Forgive injuries. With a heart filled with love for all that is, and complete and perfect forgiveness of all injuries, past, present, and to come, the chela surrounds himself with a mighty protective power, for these spiritual energies purify the heart; they stimulate the intellect; they elevate the soul. Thus will your soul shine through your body like a lamp shining through glass, and you will illuminate not only those with whom you are, but by your peace, by your quiet, you will lighten and will light the pathway for them.

Be bold in your learning, but not overbold. Be courageous as you press forward on this old, old path of the ages, leading to the heart of the universe; but be not rash. Guard well your speech, lest something pass out unseen with the words: for you can never recall it. Dare, will, know, and be silent!

Let yourself grow naturally as the flower opens its petals, as the bud opens its heart. Is there any reason or need why the eyes should be continuously blinded with tears, and why the feet should be continuously washed with the blood of the heart?

Do not be discouraged if you fail, if you do not live up to your noblest. Do not even waste time in regretting; it is weakening. Simply make up your mind: I will not do it again! And then if you fail, repeat: I will not do it again, for by so doing I alone am the loser. The day will come when, by the constant repetition of the mantram, the continuous aspiration of both the heart and the mind, and by the continuous striving or effort to be the best, the most beautiful, that is in you, you will suddenly be it, suddenly you will become it.

In living the chela life you simply exchange things that you detest inwardly, that you hate, for things that are beautiful, helpful; exchanging weakness for strength, ugliness for beauty, blindness for vision, darkness for light. Do not struggle; do not strive; do not fret; do not worry yourself. Be natural; be patient; be calm; be peaceful; be not impatient, be very patient. Take things as they come and strive continuously; strive after what you love best and feel to be truest, and let all the rest go. Do your duty by all, no matter at what cost to yourself, and you will find that there is an unspeakable joy in it all. Then, sooner or later, there will come the opening of the inner eye, the vision, the opening of the inner senses, the becoming cognizant of the most wonderful and strange things around you.

The spiritual faculties are within you, and can be cultivated to an infinite extent. When the inner eye is opened you shall have spiritual clairvoyance -- vision of universal sweep, limited only so far as you as an individual can interpret, can receive, can contain -- and the spiritual ability to see and to see aright; and in seeing to know that your seeing is truth. When you have allied yourself with the god within you, the spiritual power will show you how to see things at whatever distance. You immediately see things at enormous distances through the inner spiritual eye. Your consciousness is there, whither you have cast it. You can sit in your armchair and see, with eyes closed, all that you care to see at great distances. This can be done not only in this exterior world but you can penetrate into the interior and invisible worlds with this spiritual vision, and thus know what is going on in the worlds spiritual and ethereal; and remember also that these inner and invisible worlds are the basis or root of this mere cross section which we humans call the physical universe. This physical universe is just one phase or plane of the great universe of boundless life.

In Tibet this power is called the hpho-wa, which means the power to project your consciousness (which means also your will) to any distance that you may please: on earth, to the moon, to any other planet, to the sun. This is possible, because the cosmic spaces are your home. You are they and they are you. The very powers which work in them are also in you. The very substances out of which they are born and builded, you also are builded out of. You are native there; and therefore manifesting such a power is a natural thing to do.

Another spiritual power is true and genuine clairaudience: the ability to hear with the spiritual auditory power or faculty -- the inner spiritual ear -- even what the Gods are saying and doing. Having this power you can hear the music of the spheres, for every celestial orb, as it swings along its pathway, sings its own majestic paean, and everything on earth or elsewhere, animate or so-called inanimate, being a collection of atoms, is therefore a symphonic melody, a symphony, the aggregated volume of sound being composed of the notes of each and every singing entity, and every atom thereof is a singing entity, so that our physical bodies themselves are imbodied song.

Every little atom is attuned to a musical note. It is in constant movement, in constant vibration at speeds which are incomprehensible to the ordinary brain-mind of man; and each such speed has its own numerical quantity, in other words, its own numerical note, and therefore sings that note; so that had you this spiritual clairaudience, the life surrounding you would be one grand sweet song and you yourself would sing a song, your very body would be, as it were, a symphonic orchestra, singing some magnificent, incomprehensible, musical symphonic composition.

With the awakened power of the inner spiritual ear you would hear as a song the opening of the rosebud, and its growth would be like a changing melody running along from day to day. You could hear the green grass-blade grow. You could hear every hair on your head as it lengthens in growth, for growth is movement. The growth of a little child you would hear as a prolonged chorus of singing atomic entities.

Then, with the awakened spiritual power you can transfer your thoughts without a word -- voiceless speech -- and your consciousness and your will to any part of the earth and actually be there, see what goes on, and know what is happening there.

Another spiritual faculty is the awakened understanding: the faculty which enables you to discriminate between thoughts and thoughts, things and things, to know one from the other. It is a sister of almighty love: for understanding is also of the very nature of the heart of the universe. You have it within you. You can understand all things if you cultivate it: why the grass grows, why the bloom is on the peach, why your fellow human beings live, why you are here, what the stars in their courses are constantly singing to you, why hate and love, night and day, summer and winter, heat and cold, and all the other pairs of opposites, exist in the universe.

But the greatest faculty, the greatest power of all is that, when you have found yourself, when you have begun to know yourself, you will discover within you incomprehensible mysteries, beautiful, sublime, indescriptible, grand; and the most wonderful of them all is the power of almighty love, for this is the very cement of the universe, which holds all things in steady, orderly, sequential courses -- nature's supremest, grandest power; and nothing in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, or in the regions under the earth, can stay its passage or forbid its penetrating power. It is all-permeant, it penetrates everywhere, and when you radiate love you produce love in others, because you yourself become lovely, because of its irradiating influences arising in your own heart. Becoming one with it -- with what you are within your own inner being -- you become a god, a very god, for such a god you are in your inmost -- Sun of the Sun in very truth. The divinity within you is a glory, a glory which is indescriptible, shining, splendid, emanating spiritual energy and power all the time.

Thus the powers you should cultivate in order to grow, to be, to succeed, are those which nothing can withstand, which nothing and none can resist, which work day and night, in the silence and in the storm, always zealously, the very heart-energy of the universe, of which you are a child. It is these powers which you should cultivate: love, intelligence, compassion, pity, forgiveness, and such fruits of these as are gentleness, kind-heartedness, mildness of spirit. For you never can obtain these spiritual powers until every vestige of the selfish selfhood is washed out of you; for nature will not allow it. The very way by which to gain wondrous powers is by giving up the selfhood which prevents those powers from acting.

Therefore I say to you: go to the sun within you, take the kingdom of heaven by violence for it is yours, it is your spiritual heritage.

There are dangers that beset the path of the chela, but he learns how to act so as to overcome them. He learns to understand and therefore to feel that, as he becomes like unto the gods, he must follow godlike ways. He has a free will. Having this free will it is his bounden duty to exercise it; and in exercising it, he is bound to exercise it always in impersonal ways and for impersonal objects; and the greater the degree in which the chela can do this, the more quickly does he advance along the path. The higher one goes, the more necessary is it to forget self progressively ever more and to work in harmony with nature's laws.

When the chela acts through and by his spiritual nature alone, he becomes at one with nature and therefore works with her, and nature regards him as one of her creators and follows him obediently. Hence, because he works with nature there is no reaction from nature upon him, and thus the chela rises above karma and becomes at one with the heart of the universe, doing nothing contrary to natural law; consequently there is no reaction. He works with nature, because he is at one with the impulses of his own heart. The higher you go along the evolutionary pathway, the more careful must you be; therefore you should be most careful of what you think and feel, and of the acts that you do. You have learned, at least in some degree, how to use your will, and what will be the result of it, and nature will hold you correspondingly responsible. As the law of the universe stands, you either rise or fall by every thought that you have and by every act that you do. At every instant of human existence you stand at a parting of the ways -- the right hand or the left.

Take no thought of the consequences. Think only of doing the duty and doing it well, and let the rest go. That is the road of peace, the road of happiness, the road leading ever more and more upward.

A self-conscious feeling of personal or individual spiritual superiority is an actual danger. Wrench this feeling from your heart and cast it forever from you. It is a serpent which will bite and sting your inner life. Be impersonal!

For the greatest of dangers is the sense of spiritual pride. Cast it out and work on yourself until you purge your heart of its pride of egoism. Desire and pride are sometimes mistaken for intuition and the sense of one's real fitness.

And yet, it is the desire to know, not for yourself or even for the mere sake of knowing in an abstract sense, but for the sake of laying knowledge on the altar of service, which leads to advancement on the path. Oh, the immense power behind this thought and fact! It is this desire for impersonal service which purifies the heart, clarifies the mind, and impersonalizes the knots of the lower selfhood, so that they open and thereby become capable of receiving wisdom. It is this desire which is the impelling force, the driving engine, carrying the disciple forward ever higher and higher.

It is only the personal self, the lower self, that hinders progress. Reflect upon it! Remember that it is the veils of selfhood, the selfish longings, the selfish impulses, the desire to be and to achieve for self, which hinder progress. Have no desires! Do not even long to succeed! Be crystal clear in your mind, as impersonal as the spirit which is the root of you.

Do not long for light; be not agitated and anxious or even eager to advance. Avoid all emotional disturbances of any kind, even those of a higher kind. Instead, be collected; be calm; keep your mind pellucid as a mountain lake and your soul unruffled by any passing breeze of thoughts of self.

Quiet are the places where growth takes place. Still are the chambers where light enters the heart. Nature's most majestic processes are silent, peaceful, quiet. All growth is quiet, and takes place without striving, in the silence. Battle, strife, activity, hustle, bustle -- all these things are signs of human imperfections, and of a lack of knowledge of the wisdom of the heart doctrine. It is indeed the way of heaven not to strive. Therefore do your work quietly, efficiently, easily. Be still and grow; be as active spiritually as you are quiet outwardly. Then your mind will reflect the golden splendor from the sun of light within yourself, your inner god. The only thing that prevents your receiving this light is the enshrouding veils of selfhood: selfishness, egoism, anger, hate, envy, and ignoble desires of all kinds. These things the disciple must be taught to face and to kill in himself; if he does not, they will kill him.

Has it never occurred to you to resist a favorite temptation and to overcome it, and to look down at the slain self, the ugly thing that formerly had you in its grip, and wonder how you could ever have been the victim of something so vile?

Lift your soul in quiet thought upward. Love will guide the wings of your soul to your spiritual sun. Strive not; nevertheless advance. Be not anxious to achieve; nevertheless work to achieve. Blind not yourself by anxiety nor enfeeble your steps with longing; nevertheless go ahead, move, advance. Be at peace.

Refine your thoughts; cleanse your mind; purify your heart. A pure heart and an eager intellect will carry you through everything. A love for all beings and things, both great and small, will form a rampart, a protecting wall, about you, so strong and impenetrable that nothing will reach your heart beneath that wall of love. Carve your way by your will -- the mystical sword -- and thus forge ahead.

Your spiritual will is not only your buckler of salvation, but it is the sword, so to say, with which you can hue your way to self-conquest, which means peace, and wisdom, and love, and bliss.

Behold the truth before you: an eager intellect, an open mind, an unveiled spiritual vision, perception of truth, the spiritual will evoked and active so that you become supreme first over yourself, so that thus you have absolute self-command, and so that even the elementals and the elementaries of the astral world cannot in any wise control you. Know yourself, control yourself, and then you will be a master of life.

You cannot study this inner spiritual life of you too intensively. It is compact of truth, of almighty love, of compassion, of pity, of all the elements in the universe which produce, through the intelligence and hearts of men, kindliness, brotherhood, gentleness, and things of good and high report. This study of our spiritual being shows us that we must break through the enshrouding veils of the lower selfhood and penetrate within to the divinity, to the inner god, which is the heart of the heart of each one of us. Then, when we have reached that sublime goal, we shall have the impulse to turn around, as do the glorious Buddhas of Compassion who turn backward on the path, and help our fellows trailing along behind. This compassionate act is what all true spiritual saviors of men do.

  • (From Golden Precepts of Esotericism by G. de Purucker)

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