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|Discipleship in the New Age I - The Six Stages of Discipleship - Part II|
Two questions always arise the moment the stage of discipleship is discussed: the problem of occult obedience and the nature of the vision. I would like to deal with these right at the beginning of any help which I may be able to give you. What is this occult obedience which a Master is supposed to exact? Today, the Masters are dealing with the highly mental type of disciple who believes in the freedom of the human will and consciousness and who resents the imposition of any so-called authority. The intellectual man will not accept any infringement of his freedom, and in this he is basically right. He objects to having to obey. This is today axiomatic. Out of this fundamental question, lesser ones arise which I would like to cite. Has the disciple to obey the slightest hint which the Master may give? Must every request and suggestion be accepted? Must all that a Master says be accepted as true and infallibly correct? Is the disciple wrong when he refuses (if he does) to recognize the Master's point of view and the statements he may make? Will the fact of Accepted Discipleship limit his freedom of opinion or choice, coerce his judgment and make him simply a replica in thought of the Master's thought? These are questions of importance.
The obedience required is obedience to the Plan. It is not obedience to the Master, no matter what many old style occult schools may say. The obedience which is asked of you is based on your growing recognition of the Plan for humanity, as it emerges in your consciousness through the processes of meditation and through definite service, based upon a growing love of your fellowmen.
The obedience demanded is that of the personality to the soul as soul knowledge, soul light and soul control become  increasingly potent in the mind and brain reactions of the disciple. This whole problem of occult obedience would not arise at all if the rapport between soul and personality or between the disciple and the Master was complete and soundly established. The entire question is based upon the blindness and lack of knowledge of the disciple. As the rapport becomes more firmly established, no fundamental divergences of opinion can appear; the aims of the soul and the personality blend and fuse; the objectives before the disciple and the Master become identical, and the group life conditions the service rendered by both of them. It is, therefore, the limitations of the disciple which prompt the question and his fear that too much may be asked of him by the Master and his soul. Is this not true, my brother? It is the holding on to your personality interpretations, wishes and ideas which leads you to draw back from the word obedience. It is your liking for yourself and for your own point of view which - literally and factually - makes you afraid of a too prompt acquiescence in the known suggestions of the Masters. I would have you remember that suggestion is all that a Master ever makes to a disciple, even though he may make positive statements about human affairs. These statements may be entirely correct; the neophyte, however, is usually too blind or prejudiced by his own individual point of view to accept them. Obedience can only be rendered when there is a developed understanding and an inclusive vision; if that is lacking, the passing of time will adjust the matter.
This brings up the question of the vision, its nature and extension. Is this vision, which must exist before the disciple seeks admittance into a Master's group, a gradually unfolding process or an unconscious remembering of something once sensed and seen? Here lies the crux of the problem. Let me explain. The vision is a symbolic way of experiencing revelation. The gradual unfoldment of each of the five senses brought a steady emerging revelation of God's world and a constantly extending vision. The development of sight brought a synthetic aptitude to focus the results of all lesser visions brought to the point of revelation by the other four senses. Then comes a vision, revealed by the "common sense" of the mind. This  demonstrates in its most developed stage as world perception where human affairs are concerned, and frequently works out in the vast personality plans of the world leaders in the various fields of human living. But the vision with which you should be concerned is to become aware of what the soul knows and what the soul sees, through the use of the key to soul vision - the intuition. That key can only be used intelligently and consciously when personality affairs are dropping below the threshold of consciousness.
I would ask you: How much of your present so-called vision is dependent upon what others have seen and how much you discovered for yourself by climbing arduously and earnestly the Mount of Vision and (from that eminence which you have arrived at alone) looking out over the horizon towards the next peak of attainment for humanity? A disciple becomes an Accepted Disciple when he starts climbing towards the vision, towards the mountain top; he can also register consciously what he has seen and then begins to do something constructive towards materializing it. This, many throughout the world are beginning to do. A man becomes a World Disciple in the technical sense when the vision is to him an important and determining fact in his consciousness and one to which all his daily efforts are subordinated. He needs no one to reveal the Plan to him. He knows. His sense of proportion is adjusted to the revelation and his life is dedicated to bringing the vision into factual existence - in collaboration with his group.
It is, therefore, a gradually unfolding process up to a certain stage. After that stage has been reached, it is no longer the vision which is the dominant factor but the field of experience, of service and of achievement. Ponder on this. Some day you will understand. There is both an unconscious deflection towards the vision and a conscious orientation towards it. There is one aspect of the vision which is oft forgotten by many disciples. That is the necessity - inherent in the right appreciation of the vision itself - for each who records it to become "bestowers of the vision." The moment that that takes place, the whole situation changes. Through the thoughts of all beginners runs the note of striving after the vision, of searching for it, of ability or inability to contact it and,  frequently, the distortion of the vision by defining it in terms of already imparted truths. The attitude of the neophyte is, therefore, based upon the need for vision, upon individual, personal need. But (upon the path of Accepted Discipleship) the disciple must, get away from this because it is the path of spontaneous unconscious self-forgetfulness. The vision, once seen, becomes so important, that how you feel about it and your adherence to it seemingly fades out. You become absorbed in the vision and this absorption takes place upon the physical plane. Both mind and brain are preoccupied with what the soul knows and that is ever vision for the personality.
I referred above to the existence of disciples and of world disciples. A world disciple is a man or woman who has made real progress in the adjustment between the particular and the universal, between the specific and the general and between his own sphere of environal conditions and the outer world of needy souls. The problem with which such disciples are occupied is not the adjustment of relations between the inner spiritual man, the soul and its instrument, the personal lower self. Their major interest is how to fulfil the immediate personality obligation and, at the same time, produce an effect upon the environing world of men because of a strong inner compulsion and the need they feel to shoulder the service and the responsibility of their Master and his group. These men and women are always accepted disciples in the academic sense of the term and are able to render themselves receptive to spiritual impression; they do this, if they choose, at will. They are integrated people from the personality angle and susceptible at all times to soul contact. They are not yet perfect, for they are not yet Masters; the fourth initiation still lies ahead for them but their own imperfections are not their major point of soul attack or their major preoccupation; world need and world demand for spiritual and psychic aid rank paramount in their consciousness. They are clear-visioned as to people but they are basically non-critical; the recognition of imperfection is automatic with them but in no way negates loving understanding and readiness to assist on any level where the need appears to be of importance. 
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