THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS© ( PASADENA – US )
There are so many questioners who ask about Chelaship that your letter comes quite apropos to experiences of my own. You say that these applicants must have some answer, and in that I agree with you. And whether they are ready or unready, we must be able to tell them something. But generally they are not ready, nor, indeed, are they willing to take the first simple step which is demanded. I will talk the matter over with you for your future guidance in replying to such questions; perhaps also to clear up my own mind.
The first question a man should ask himself (and by "man" we mean postulants of either sex) is: "When and how did I get a desire to know about chelaship and to become a chela?"; and secondly, "What is a chela, and what chelaship?"
There are many sorts of chelas. There are lay chelas and probationary ones; accepted chelas and those who are trying to fit themselves to be even lay chelas. Any person can constitute himself a lay chela, feeling sure that he may never in this life consciously hear from his guide. Then as to probationary chelas, there is an invariable rule that they go upon seven years' trial. These "trials" do not refer to fixed and stated tests, but to all the events of life and the bearing of the probationer in them. There is no place to which applicants can be referred where their request could be made, because these matters do not relate to places and to officials: this is an affair of the inner nature. We become chelas; we obtain that position in reality because our inner nature is to that extent opened that it can and will take knowledge: we receive the guerdon at the hands of the Law.
In a certain sense every sincere member of the Theosophical Society is in the way of becoming a chela, because the Masters do some of Their work with and for humanity through this Society, selected by Them as Their agent. And as all Their work and aspiration are to the end of helping the race, no one of Their chelas can hope to remain (or become) such, if any selfish desire for personal possessions of spiritual wealth constitutes the motive for trying to be a chela. Such a motive, in the case of one already a chela, acts instantly to throw him out of the ranks, whether he be aware of his loss or not, and in the case of one trying to become a chela it acts as a bar. Nor does a real chela spread the fact that he is such. For this Lodge is not like exoteric societies which depend upon favor or mere outward appearances. It is a real thing with living Spirit -- men at its head, governed by laws that contain within themselves their own executioners, and that do not require a tribunal, nor accusations, nor verdicts, nor any notice whatever.
As a general thing a person of European or American birth has extreme difficulty to contend with. He has no heredity of psychical development to call upon; no known assembly of Masters or Their chelas within reach. His racial difficulties prevent him from easily seeing within himself; he is not introspective by nature. But even he can do much if he purifies his motive, and either naturally possesses or cultivates an ardent and unshakeable faith and devotion. A faith that keeps him a firm believer in the existence of Masters even through years of non-intercourse. They are generous and honest debtors and always repay. How They repay, and when, is not for us to ask. Men may say that this requires as blind devotion as was ever asked by any Church. It does, but it is a blind devotion to Masters who are Truth itself; to Humanity and to yourself, to your own intuitions and ideals. This devotion to an ideal is also founded upon another thing, and that is that a man is hardly ready to be a chela unless he is able to stand alone and uninfluenced by other men or events, for he must stand alone, and he might as well know this at the beginning as at the end.
There are also certain qualifications which he must possess. These are to be found in Man: Fragments of Forgotten History towards the close of the book, so we will not dwell upon them here.
The question of the general fitness of applicants being disposed of, we come to the still more serious point of the relations of Guru and Chela, or Master and Disciple. We want to know what it really is to be a pupil of such a Teacher.
The relation of Guru and Chela is nothing if it is not a spiritual one. Whatever is merely outward, or formal, as the relation established by mere asking and acceptance, is not spiritual, but formal, and is that which arises between teacher and pupil. Yet even this latter is not in any way despicable, because the teacher stands to his pupil, in so far forth as the relation permits, in the same way as the Guru to his chela. It is a difference of degree, but this difference of degree is what constitutes the distinction between the spiritual and the material, for, passing along the different shadings from the grossest materiality to as far as we can go, we find at last that matter merges into spirit. (We are now speaking, of course, about what is commonly called matter, while we well know that in truth the thing thus designated is not really matter, but an enormous illusion which in itself has no existence. The real matter, called mulaprakriti by the Hindus, is an invisible thing or substance of which our matter is a representation. The real matter is what the Hermetists called primordial earth; a, for us, intangible phase of matter. We can easily come to believe that what is usually called matter is not really such, inasmuch as we find clairvoyants and nervous people seeing through thick walls and closed doors. Were this matter, then they could not see through it. But when an ordinary clairvoyant comes face to face with primordial matter, he or she cannot see beyond, but is met by a dead wall more dense than any wall ever built by human hands.)
THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS© ( PASADENA – US )