AGNI YOGA WEB TV
„THE PATH OF THE DISCIPLE“
Living in the continuous Presence of the Teacher
Dear Agni Yogis,
our fast-moving and, above all, extremely complicated time requires – and rightly so! – short, concise solutions. Today, no active man in the thick of life has the leisure anymore to track down entangled trains of thought and to study page-long small print "instructions for use" for the spiritual life. This urgent need for a simple recipe for the growth of your spirit we now propose to satisfy.
You may actually sum up the entire practice of Agni Yoga and indeed of all world religions in one single exercise!
You can live as if God – Agni Yoga says: as if your teacher – were by your side. You can imagine him watching you. You may ask yourself:
How would I behave if Jesus were standing at my side? (Gambarelli "St. Catherine prays with Jesus the liturgy of the hours")
You do not have to do any more than that. Then you will always act worthily and properly. You do not need any rituals or ceremonies. You do not have to go to church, read any scriptures, or change your everyday life in any way. The entire spiritual practice is comprised in this one exercise.
You are looking for a cure-all for all kinds of distress, temptation or depression? Here it is!
This is true not only for a disciple in the esoteric sense, but for every ordinary practitioner of a faith as well. The one keeps his teacher, the other God, as he understands him, a third Jesus or a great saint, yet another his hero or his ideal constantly before his eyes.
Therefore, this exercise belongs to both Series "Spiritual Exercises" and "The Path of the Disciple". We give it so much space because over thousands of years it has proven to be particularly fruitful. Furthermore, by practicing it you can learn a lot about the Higher Worlds and their relationship to the material level.
Section I: Living in the continuous Presence of the Teacher
Nicholas Roerich „Glory of the Himalayas“
It is an age-old exercise to live in the constant presence of God. This was part of the spiritual practice at all times and in all religions and teachings of wisdom.
Let us look at some examples: Plato has practiced this exercise:
They ignore the most important possibility, which transforms the human consciousness. They forget that continuous, concentrated thought about what one reveres most is the surest way. There is no need to burden the consciousness with petty details. One must first of all concentrate upon what has been chosen as the leading concept. When people learn to keep their ultimate goal continuously in mind they will acquire a better kind of memory, one that may be called synthesized. One need only concentrate! Such an achievement is possible even amidst earthly tribulations. A strong anchor can save a ship even during a storm. The Thinker constantly thought about His chosen Muse. He did not hide the fact that in days of turmoil He remained firm only because of Her who was His source of strength. (Supermundane 451)
The Thinker said, “Learn to revere the Muses, who help you to become heroes. The Muses lead you to heroic deeds, they accompany you in battle and in labor, and greet you with garlands of victory. The Muses note your heroic deeds and sacrifices.The Muses transform your sufferings into beauty. The Muses will not abandon those who revere them. Know how to serve the Muses, the Gate-Keepers of the Beautiful.” (Supermundane 188)
The Bible advises:
I have set the Lord always before my face, for he is at my right hand, that I shall not be shaken. (Acts 2, 25, Psalms 16, 8)
According to the Rule of St. Benedict, it is one of the instruments of good works,
Be aware that God’s gaze is upon you, wherever you may be. (4, 49)
Furthermore, let us hear about the spiritual world of St. Catherine of Siena: During housework, she imagined to serve not her family but Jesus and his disciples:
During her labour she constantly thought of her husband, Christ, whom she served directly with her work! So, when she did work in the kitchen or carried the food to the table, she remained was always in the most holy, and she always strengthened herself by the presence of the Redeemer. (Raimund von Capua, Das Leben der Hl. Katharina von Siena, 54)
St. Klara Fey taught:
Walking in the presence of God is the easiest, the safest and the fastest means of perfection.
Alfons Rodriguez, Teresa of Avila, Francis of Sales, Gerhard Tersteegen and many other saints also practiced this exercise.
In our time, the great theologian Martin Niemöller asked himself in all his actions:
What would Jesus say to that?
2. Brother Lawrence
A true pioneer and great teacher of the life in God's presence was the Carmelite monk Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection (bourgeois name Nicolas Herman, 1614-1691).
The most sacred, the simplest and the most necessary exercise in the life of the spirit is to live in the presence of God; for you shall have your joy in His divine company and get used to it by addressing Him in a humble way, communicating with Him with loving affection of heart, at any time, even every moment. (Brother Lawrence)
He was no more than an insignificant lay brother. He worked in the kitchen of his monastery, where there was catering for more than 100 monks. In the midst of this exhausting and hectic work, he sanctified himself through the practice of the visualization of God. With time, Brother Lawrence became a spiritual counselor and guide to many.
The real and special character of brother Lawrence was the constant visualization of God and the quiet, intimate communion with God, which through manifold practice has become a habit and entirely natural for him. His life was nothing other than a constant visualization of God and a childlike, pure walking before God. (Tersteegen)
Even these days you may read with much benefit the chapter on Brother Lawrence in Gerhard Tersteegen's book "Leben heiliger Seelen" (“Selected Biographies of Holy Souls”). There you will find quotes from his words and writings. We shall cite some of his sayings in the course of this Broadcasting. If instead of "God", you read "teacher", they are still very much up-to-date even today.
3. Teachings of the Temple
The precursor of Agni Yoga, the Teachings of the Temple, transmitted by Mahatma Hilarion, puts the following core message, "The Avataric Mantram", at the centre of daily practice:
I will endeavour to realize the presence of the Avatar as a living power in my life.
(Teachings of the Temple Vol. II, Lesson “The Avataric Mantram”)
Let all who feel and believe the truth of the Presence of a Redeeming Cosmic Force repeat the above daily and constantly. The earnest endeavor to realize His Presence daily will help in His Manifestation. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. I VII, 356)
This is a great promise: When more and more people behave as if a Mahatma were at their side, we will create an environment around us so pure that one day a member of the Brotherhood may actually physically incarnate in our midst. He could then personally guide and govern us to our own great benefit, as it once was in ancient Egypt, and thus create a new, higher culture.
You see, our exercise is more than just a little private pleasure.
We are actually preparing the creation of the New World!
4. Agni Yoga
Nicholas Roerich „Agni Yoga“
Agni Yoga is based on this age-old tradition and continues and refines it.
The disciple asks: "I do not think I am yet ready to live near God."
Yes, speaking of the presence of God means indeed aiming too high: God as the head of the Universe is responsible for billions and billions of living beings. He cannot take care personally of you little worm. Others are responsible for this (See our Broadcasting "Who (or what) is God?").
More appropriate, therefore, is the concept: Practice to live in the continuous presence of your teacher. Thus, the exercise runs today:
Live the way you would live if your teacher were constantly standing next to or behind you.
Man must freely choose to be permeated with the presence of the Great Teachers. (Supermundane 882)
Command your heart to come as close as possible to the Teacher. If you have to affirm the Teacher in words, begin to converse with Him as if He were right beside you. (Heart 285)
We may call this practice a virtual path: You imagine something. You live "as if" your Master were present. Thereby you will create not a material, but, as we shall discuss shortly, an equally effective spiritual reality.
It is useful to hold constantly in imagination before oneself the Image of the Teacher as that which is the most precious to bind you with the Supreme. (Hierarchy 68)
"How does this exercise look like practically?"
Very simple: At the three meditation times in the morning, at noon and in the evening, you continue to step before the face of the teacher (see the Broadcasting "Become a Disciple!"). During these minutes, until now already you have dwelled – in spirit – at his feet.
At these times, the teacher is close to you. Now you can have a heart-to-heart conversation with him, as we had discussed in the Broadcasting "Communion with to the Higher World – Meditation". His presence becomes a spiritual reality that you can feel.
My only desire is to keep me incessantly in His holy presence, by paying attention to God in simplicity, looking up to Him in heartfelt love, and constantly conversing with Him in a silent and secret communion of heart, as if I were really seeing Him present. I may say that my soul has been living with God for more than 30 years. (Brother Lawrence)
Now we go one step further and say:
The disciple lives and works constantly in the vicinity of his teacher.
You practice, even in the two periods of time between the meditations, in your normal everyday life, to behave as you would behave if a Master were present.
This exercise is like a constant prayer. Active and meditative life become one. You are always connected, whatever you are doing.
The time of work is not different from the time of prayer. I am in the possession of God during the restless activities of my kitchen – where often many people want different things at once – as quietly as if I were on my knees in front of the altar. (Brother Lawrence)
In the beginning you will have to remember every 15 minutes, later hourly, to do the exercise. Over time, it will become your favorite habit.
Through manifold repeated practice, by which Brother Lawrence has so often recalled his mind to the Presence of God, he has developed such a strong habit that immediately after any external business, often in the midst of it, even if he is most absorbed in it, his mind rises to God and stands above all things by clinging and motionless adhering to Him, as to his centre and place of rest. (Tersteegen)
That requires a great deal of inner discipline. Your thoughts are constantly deviating. You have to keep focusing them on the ideal. The exercise is easy to understand but not necessarily easy to carry out.
6. Worthy Behaviour in the Presence of the Teacher
Piero della Francesca „St. Hieronymus and a Devotee“
"What is the purpose of this exercise?"
We are now coming to the crucial point: The presence of your revered teacher will induce you to behave worthily. In his proximity you cannot help but comporting yourself properly!
One must accustom oneself to a worthy conduct before the Image of the Hierarch. (Fiery World II, 356)
The consciousness of the high presence has a purifying effect. It leads you to ask at every thought, every word and every deed: Are they are fit to be heard by his ear and to be seen by his eye?
Can I lie before the Master? Can I conceal anything from the Master? Can I contemplate treason in the presence of the Master Himself? Thus let each reflection only strengthen and restrain one from the evil of faintheartedness and dark thoughts. (Fiery World II, 118)
Rude thoughts and ugly words prohibit themselves. In the presence of such a high-ranking personality you will certainly not want to whine or complain, scold or curse, react irritated or hurt, or selfishly push your small personal concerns to the foreground! No, on the contrary, you will make every effort to present yourself in the best light possible!
Saint Klara Fey says:
If your best friend, whom you honour, whom you love, were with you at all times, would you do something before his eyes that would offend him, that might displease him? Certainly not! But now your God, your Lord, does not depart from your side. How perfect, then, should your demeanour be, how pure and holy the thoughts that you think before him, how careful the words, which you utter before him, how perfect the works, which you carry out before him! (St. Klara Fey)
Near a great Master, you pull yourself together, involuntarily straighten yourself up, as in the case when a beautiful woman crossed your path, or take a stance as if you step before the presence of a king.
You will always obey the Higher Will, for under the observation of a Hierarch you cannot allow yourself to be disobedient.
That alone is necessary for us: To once and for all renounce everything that does not lead us to God and to get used to a constant communion with Him. We need no other secrets, no high wisdom; we have nothing more to do than to realize that God is present in our innermost heart, and to address Him all the time, asking for His grace so that we may discern His Will in doubtful things and faithfully carryout the Will which we have recognized. (Brother Lawrence)
The visualization of the teacher creates a solemn atmosphere. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, his proximity transforms the space around you into a sanctuary. This is the simplest and surest means of raising you to a state of higher vibration, in which, like in a material temple, you are immune to all base temptations.
One needs to preserve a sense of solemnity, for this feeling will not permit petty irritations and decay. (Heart 435)
When you live in the magnificent world of the teacher, you are always full of vitality and joy of being, whatever happens to you.
Solemnity impels one to the Heights. (Heart 476)
The father watches over the development of his child. The disciple is being supervised by his Master. Just be aware of that, and you will always comport yourself accordingly.
As of now, your life in all, even the smallest details takes place under the eyes of your teacher.
That will serve as an incentive and an obligation to you! Shape your life in such a way that it pleases your Master! Prove to him that you are a good, a devoted disciple! This idea will guide you to a proper and appropriate bearing in every, even the most difficult situation of life.
One cannot lie before the Truth, nor conceal anything in the face of the all-pervading Light. (AUM 47)
This practice provides protection against temptation and sin without any compulsion in a natural way. It induces you even without the much-feared external discipline to
reject everything that demeans the communion with Us. (Agni Yoga 183)
7. Help in Everyday Life
Theodor Josef Ethofer „The Knighting of Viktor Count Boos zu Waldeck“
"Are we talking about my education only?"
No, the exercise is not only of educational value. It is also a great help in everyday life: In moments of oppression, tension or apparent hopelessness, you can always carry out within a second a short "emergency meditation": The consciousness of being under higher protection will give back to you immediately the necessary tranquillity, strength and serenity.
The practice helps you to maintain in all circumstances an attitude that is in accordance with your dignity and position as an immortal spirit or disciple of the teachings of wisdom. About St. Francis of Sales, who also practiced this exercise, his friends said:
His attitude has always been as reverential as that of a man who stands before a great king.
It enables you to master the hustle and bustle of everyday life without agitation.
It has been noticed that Brother Lawrence in his kitchen, though he was overburdened with the most distracting tasks and had much to do, nevertheless always kept his mind collected in God. His work often piled up to such an extent that he alone did what two were used to doing, but he was never seen toiling either with haste or with indolence. He always observed the due measure and due order, always maintained a calm and quiet nature, and always remained steady and in imperturbable peace. (Tersteegen)
When Brother Lawrence was able to lead a spiritual life in a large-scale kitchen (!) thanks to this habit, you too can sanctify your everyday life in this way.
For me, there is no difference between the time of work and the time devoted to prayer. In the noise and confusion of my kitchen, where constantly the most varied orders are given, I keep directing my thoughts to God and feel surrounded by such a silence, as if I were on my knees before the Most Holy Sacrament. In His service, I prepare the pancake that I just have in the pan. When the work is done, I kneel and thank God, because through his grace I can and may work. And when I get up, I am happier than a king. (Brother Lawrence)
The consciousness of the presence of the teacher is useful not only to the individual, but also to spiritual communities, from a family or a community sharing a flat to a village or kibbutz: When all the members behave as if the Master were present, there can be no unworthy quarrelling and no egotism.
All ask: "What advice would he give?", and then strive in common to find the best answer.
8. Living in the higher Culture of the New World
The teacher elevates your way of life. His proximity frees you from bad habits or outdated customs. You will not dare under his eyes, in the purity of his aura, to light a cigarette, to drink a glass of beer, or to eat meat.
We had already talked about what it would be like to spend a few days in the world of Helena Roerich in the Kulu Valley (Broadcasting "Become a Disciple!"). In her house you cannot help imitating her and living according to her habits – the customs of the Brotherhood! As soon as more and more people join in this concept, the higher culture of the New World will emerge quite naturally by itself.
Spiritual discipline, much dreaded and rejected by most people, loses its scare. Without the slightest physical or psychical compulsion, it turns into a child's play, a matter of course that you no longer think about!
9. No Illusion
"Is not the teacher's presence mere imagination, pure phantasy?"
No, not at all! You are creating a subtle reality! Remember: In the Subtle World, everything is created by our thoughts (see the Broadcasting "The Supermundane World"). There, a thought alone brings about what was desired:
Express your wishes cautiously. Remember about the rajah who wished to receive a beautiful palace, and did receive it, but who, on entering it, thought about an attacking tiger, which then appeared and tore him to pieces. (Community 168)
Use these higher possibilities of your Higher Self: With a pure imagination, you may summon high beings to your presence, as we will discuss shortly.
Above all, however, recognize: From a purely practical point of view, it actually does not matter whether the teacher is really physically present or whether you just imagine that: The result in both cases is the same:
You are behaving worthily!
We are not playing games. One day – at the latest after death – you really want to be admitted to the abode of the teacher in the Subtle World. The best preparation for that is the virtual path. Thereby, you can try and practice the higher lifestyle that is cultivated above there already now down here.
"Can you give an example?"
Let us come back to the physical visit to Helena Roerich in the Kulu Valley: You will achieve the same salutary effect when you "only" imagine that you are living with her, or that she moves into your house (as in previous times people used to invite a spiritual guide to live with them in their home):
You assume a higher lifestyle.
The actual physical presence of the teacher is not necessary at all. When you live as if he were present, you are being guided by his spirit.
Let us unfold our imagination! Let us be like children: Let us play that we live in the presence of a great Master!
Let us summon the courage to realize: The spiritual reality is as important as the material reality!
10. Teacher living next door
We would like to mention a variant of our exercise:
If the idea of the teacher's presence is too mystical for you, we may say: Behave as if your Master were temporarily absent: He is near, in the adjoining chamber, and may enter your room at any moment. Then you have to be watchful and prepared for his appearance. He must not surprise you at a behaviour which would make you blush.
We act wisely if we behave toward the deceased as we would toward an absent friend. You should have the same attitude toward Us. (Supermundane 354)
11. Living in the Presence of a Classmate
Caspar David Friedrich „Zwei Männer in Betrachtung des Mondes“
Finally, there is a last modification of the exercise:
Imagine your best friend, together with whom you go to school with the same teacher, is always with you.
In business life important negotiations are always being led in pairs, in the army a guard always consists of two persons, and fighter jets never take off alone. Likewise, it is customary since ancient times never to send a monk from of the monastery out into the world alone, but always to assign him a companion to accompany him on the way.
Two comrades support each other and call each other back to the right path if need be – whether they are walking together physically or "only" in spirit.
Section II: Keep the Portrait of the Teacher constantly before yourself
We can still extend and refine our exercise. Let us move on to the next step:
1. Set up the Portrait of the Teacher
It is an age-old tradition in all religions to worship and even pray to the images of saints, of the Mother of God Maria, of Jesus or of the angels, which have been set up in church, at the wayside or at home on the family altar. (Titian "Saint Catherine of Alexandria in prayer")
Such a portrait is like a talisman. It cleanses and heals you and your surroundings. Through the image the faithful turn to the Higher Powers and ask them for protection and help.
"That is often superstition. How can we refine this practice to fit the needs of today? "
Agni Yoga advises: Prepare a picture of your teacher. If you know his name, for example Plato, Francis of Assisi, Sergius of Radonezh, Helena Blavatsky or Mahatma Gandhi, you can easily procure a portrait of him.
Good art makes us feel the spirit of a saint. Icons, the paintings of saints of the Middle Ages, as well as paintings by modern, inspired painters fill an entire room with a sublime vibration that uplifts us humans as well. (Jusepe de Ribera “Onuphrius”, Nicholas Roerich "Vassilissa the Wise", "Sergius the Builder")
Place the portrait of your teacher at your bedside, on your desk and on the altar before which you meditate.
The picture helps you to maintain the consciousness of the teacher's presence.
Hang the picture on the wall behind your workplace. Then the people who come to you to ask for advice or help see that you are acting selflessly on orders from Above.
The portrait of one of the Mahatmas should hang in every home and every office. Thereby we express that here the Higher Will is being carried out in the name of Hierarchy.
2. Keep the Portrait of the Teacher constantly before yourself
Margareta Maria Alacoque
You can further refine this practice: Learn to get along without the material picture. Do not just look regularly at the physical portrait you have placed in different places. Rather, let the spiritual image of your Master appear before your inner eye.
One must have before oneself the Image of the Hierarch, in order to find in all cases a basis of friendliness. (Fiery World II, 89)
Do not lose sight of this mental image. Every now and then, look up to it. Keep constant eye contact. Imagine the face of your teacher as lively as possible:
Is he smiling or is he crying about your behaviour?
It is reported about St. Klara Fey:
You could see several times how her heart turned to the one she loved and was always looking for. Unconsciously to herself – otherwise she would have anxiously tried to hide it – she made a small turn of the head, her eyes became brighter than usual and assumed a very intimate, meaningful expression. When you talked to her, you clearly saw the beautiful, loving look she turned aside about every fifteen minutes, as if to turn to someone with sincerity.
Address the subtle picture with prayers or questions. This is the first step of a conscious, spiritual communication with the non-incarnated teacher.
We had already said (see the Broadcasting "Communion with the Higher World – Meditation"): We finish every meditation with the words:
"Father, thank you for the presence of your spirit. I follow you. May your portrait always stand before my eyes."
We do not advocate rituals. People should not burden themselves with ceremonies, and should realize that only inner striving will bring them to perfection. Let them visualize the Image they revere. For such inspiration rituals are superfluous. Everyone, in the purity of his own heart, can commune with the Teacher. Thus can Earth be filled with good aspirations. Such people will not be left in solitude, for the ultimate goal of Goodness will unify all seeking hearts. (Supermundane 306)
Section III: Take the Teacher into your Heart
We continue to progress and get to know another extension of the exercise:
1. Take the Portrait of the Teacher into your Heart
Margareta Maria Alacoque
Not only can you keep the teacher's image before your – physical or mental – eyes. You may also internalize it and take it into your heart.
This is the first step on the path of the heart.
The Image of the Master, impressed upon the heart, will not grow dim and at any hour will be ready to help. This path of the heart is the most ancient, but it requires a considerable expansion of consciousness. One should not speak of the heart from the very first conversation, for then one may over-burden it aimlessly. It is likewise aimless to speak of love if the heart does not yet contain the Image of the Master. But the hour strikes when one must indicate the power of the heart. I advise addressing oneself to the heart, not only because the Image of the Master is already close but for cosmic reasons. It is easier to cross an abyss if the link with the Master is strong. (Hierarchy 85)
Only the path via the heart gradually leads to a real connection with the teacher.
It should be remembered that the link with Hierarchy is stronger than armour. By what means did many warriors and leaders escape direct danger? Precisely through the link with the Highest Ones. The manifestation of such a bond demands the constant retention of the Image of the Master in one’s heart. (Fiery World I, 623)
Follow this path through many incarnations, and you will eventually gain access to your Master.
Are there many who can have direct access to such a Teacher? This does not mean that the Teacher is inaccessible, no, verily, he is the closest. But this closeness cannot be endured by all. It is revealed without harm only to him who has carried the Image of the Teacher for many centuries in the innermost recesses of his heart. Without this age-old accumulation and the established magnetic link, it is difficult to absorb the rays that are sent by the ‘Invisible’ Teacher. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 12.07.1938)
Let yourself be guided and protected by the picture within you.
Let the Sacred Image, guarded in the heart, serve as a guidepost. (Fiery World I, 666)
If the Image of the Teacher lives in our hearts, how can we worry about tomorrow! (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 24.09.1935)
2. Take the Teacher himself into your Heart
Margareta Maria Alacoque
Finally, you may take not only the portrait, but even the teacher himself into your heart.
"How should I imagine that?"
Well, are you not carrying your beloved one, your parents, children and friends or your native village in your heart? Now let your Supratemporal Father move in there.
Learn how to guard the thread with the Teacher and to fill the heart with the Master. (Hierarchy 158)
Let the Master enter your heart. Without the Master it will be narrow in the empty heart. (Hierarchy 79)
Let the Master live in the heart. Let Him become as inalienable as the heart itself. Let the Name of the Master be inhaled and exhaled with each breath. Let each rhythm of labour resound with the Name of the Master. (Fiery World II, 118)
"What does that mean exactly?"
Ponder the words, the instructions and the example of the life of your hero constantly in your heart.
Fill your heart with love for the teacher. May the mantram "I love you, Father!" (Fiery World II, 296) continuously occupy your mind.
You carry that in your heart, which to you is most important in the world. The heart of every man is attached to something. Your real treasure is that what you have truly made your own and preserve unwaveringly in your innermost being.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6, 21)
Everyone has a centre of life around which everything else revolves: One has taken into his heart a sweetheart, mammon, the grandchildren or a pet. Another one lives completely in the memory of the good old days or for an idea, a dream of the future. The heart of a third beats for food or drink. Still another one is wholeheartedly devoted to his football club or his hobby.
May the treasure in your heart be the teacher.
The realization of Higher Forces is not taught in schools, nor given from outside, but it lives precisely in the heart, being the very cornerstone of the remembrance of the life in the Subtle World. One may say—be blessed, you who have preserved in your heart the most Beautiful. (Fiery World II, 96)
Stepping before the Master can be experienced only by the heart. Filling the heart with the Master propels each quality of the spirit. Nothing external replaces the filling of the heart with the Master. (Fiery World III, 138)
If you preserve the teacher firmly within your heart, he will always be close to you, even if he is physically absent or not incarnated at all.
After having chosen the Master and the Guru no retreat is possible. Then you will feel that the Master is not somewhere far-off and that the silvery thread is above you. You have but to stretch out your hand! One should feel the Master and the Guru in the heart. (Hierarchy 112)
It is not easy to be without the Master. Repeat the Name of the Master not only with the lips but ponder it in your heart, and He will not leave it—like a stone pressed into a crevice by the mountain waters. We say Cor Regale when the Master of the Heart enters into the predestined chamber. One should shield oneself by the Master. (Hierarchy 86)
This is the way to success.
We should learn to act independently but should remember that success comes only if the heart is filled with the Master. Verily, such a heart sparkles like a Sword of Light; it flames, succours and sustains. Thus, I advise to strive with all the forces of spirit in order to surround the heart with armour. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 21.01.1931)
Imbued with his spirit, you are forearmed and need not fear anything or anyone.
To those who are seized with fear, say that when the Master lives within the heart, no hair will fall from one’s head. (Hierarchy 79)
How is the entrance upon the path of Service defined? Certainly, the first sign will be renunciation of the past and full striving to the future. The second sign will be the realization of the Teacher within one’s heart, not because it is necessary thus, but because it is impossible otherwise. The third sign will be the rejection of fear, for being armed by the Master one is invulnerable. (Hierarchy 196)
Through this heart connection you are attached to the Hierarchy. Like your possessions (see Broadcasting "Selflessness"), you may also transfer your hardship to the higher levels of the Hierarchy and thereby relieve yourself.
If you feel an unbearable anguish of the heart, transfer it mentally to the Master. Thus you may join your heart with the Inexhaustible Source—Hierarchy. The adherence of the heart to Hierarchy is a continuous action. In case of need one may even orally address the Master. Upon all steps of Hierarchy there is the same transmission and communion. And how majestic is this Ladder of Immeasurable Help. (Fiery World II, 94)
Katharina von Siena
"How should I proceed in practice?"
Let the teacher enter your heart in meditation in the morning. Then, throughout the day be vigilant so that nothing can drive him out of there.
Fill your heart with the Master so fully that no enemy can enter it. (Hierarchy 79)
You can carry your teacher within your heart always and everywhere, especially during the everyday labour.
He who in his labour hopes to bring the best efforts for the good of humanity must take the Master into his heart. (Hierarchy 295)
A high degree of concentration and watchfulness is required in order to maintain this state of the mind unimpaired.
Each one can try to strive to his Teacher, but he must strive so intently that he forgets all surroundings. We do advise the easy way to escape the earthly labyrinth. It is contained in the striving of the heart to Us. Let this striving be silent. Let the heart give its sign. All of Us have known such striving and We can say the more striving, the better. (Supermundane 72)
Above all, you have to keep your heart pure. The teacher cannot live in a dirty room.
Preserve your heart in purity, in order that I may enter there and surround you with armour. (Hierarchy 79)
With impure thoughts, feelings, words or actions, you yourself expel the Master from within you.
The Bible describes the connection with the invisible teacher as follows:
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5, 8)
Here is a hymn from Johann Sebastian Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" which you might hum over and over again, because of the beauty of its melody and the wisdom of its words:
Make yourself pure, my heart, I want to bury Jesus himself, for he now within me forever shall have his sweet rest. World, depart from my heart, let Jesus enter! (Mache dich, mein Herze rein”)
4. Fill yourself with the spirit of the Teacher!
Nicholas Roerich „The Command of the Master“
"I still do not quite understand: How should the teacher get into my heart?"
Because you are thinking of a physical being! However, it is not so much a person that enters your heart, it is the spirit of the Master!
Constantly present is the spirit of your teacher. You feel his love, his kindness, eminence, power, severity, care, greatness, solemnity and tautness.
Thus, taking in the Master into your heart means:
Fill yourself with the spirit of the teacher!
When his spirit enters your being, you yourself become loving, kind, eminent, powerful, severe, caring, great, solemn and taut!
5. Think, feel speak and act in Accordance with the Spirit of the Teacher
Saint Benedict of Nursia
When you are filled with the spirit of your teacher, his voice speaks within you – in your heart!
Now you just have to master the exercise of directing all your thoughts, feelings, words and deeds through your heart, (we will talk about that in the Broadcasting "Bring the Soul to Life") – then you will think, feel, speak and act at every moment in accordance with his spirit.
My only concern is that I do nothing, talk nothing and think nothing which might displease Him. I hope that if I do with all faithfulness what I can, He will make of me what pleases Him. I have surrendered to Him in such a way that I do not want to pick up a straw from the earth against His command and from any other instinct than out of pure love for Him. (Brother Lawrence)
Then not you but he expresses himself through your thoughts, words and deeds. Thus, he can act on earth through you, without having to incarnate himself.
Where the spirit of the teacher reigns – where people think, feel, speak and act in his way – there the teacher himself is alive, present and influential!
Their only consideration is the concentration on the chosen Great Ideal, on the unwavering and constant striving to approach it. Such concentration continues unceasingly. Whatever such a yogi or disciple is doing, his thought is always occupied by his Ideal. Everything is performed in the name of this Ideal, and he always feels in his heart the love and the presence of this Image. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 21.07.1934)
To realize spiritual guidance does not just mean to obey the instructions of an (incarnated or not incarnated) teacher. You also need to be able, if no instruction is available (or if you do not understand it) to find the right solution by following the spirit of the teacher.
Only in this way can the Hierarchy act on earth: The Hierarchs cannot take care personally of every detail of your earthly everyday life and should not be expected to give advice on every tiny little matter.
In order to follow the spirit of the teacher, you have to imagine:
How would the teacher himself think, feel, speak or act?
The closer you are to him in spirit, the easier you will find the right answer.
Thus, you tiny little human being are actually working in cooperation with the Great Hierarchy of Light!
I affirm that each action must be coordinated with the thinking of the Teacher; such help is true collaboration. (Supermundane 4)
When you carry the Master in your heart, others whom you meet will also sense his presence, the proximity of a higher power.
What Brother Lawrence taught others by words and by letters, he showed much more forcefully by his own example. By the mere sight of his person one was uplifted and placed into the presence of God, however busy one was. (Tersteegen)
As long as you are acting in the name of the Hierarchy, you will be allowed to use the power of the Hierarchy.
In My Name go through life, and you will conquer the darkness. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden I, 269 )
These, My people, can use My Power. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 285 )
6. Become as the Teacher is
Nicholas Roerich „Archat“
Filling your heart with the teacher is a highly creative concept: When you direct your thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds through the heart which is imbued with his spirit, the result will be:
You behave the way the teacher himself would behave in your place.
This is how you practice true discipleship. The exercise quite naturally induces you to think, feel, speak, and act as the teacher does. You imitate him. Thereby with time you will become like him.
Emulation of the Teacher is the taking of the Image of the Teacher into one’s heart. (Agni Yoga 653)
When the spirit of the Master dwells within you, you gradually become as pure and powerful as he is. Then you appear on the stage of the world like a teacher! Then you are a teacher.
Then, like the ancient prophets, you are permeated with the Supreme Spirit and express it in all your words and deeds. You can step before the people with a Higher Mandate, like Jesus "as one having authority" (Matthew 7, 29). You can actually be filled with this spirit at every moment.
Let us affirm the enthusiasm of the spirit. To be filled with the spirit means to place oneself in direct communion with Hierarchy. All kinds of magical methods, even inner concentration, are used in attempts to achieve Higher Communion. But the new approach to the Highest directs one to the example of ascetics who above all approach direct Communion through the heart. We learn of prophets and saints, who never fell into a frenzy, yet whose every word was a word of the Covenant. If you ask Me what methods are befitting our times, I say: You must prepare yourselves for direct Communion. All conventional measures are already mediocre in themselves. Even in the Ancient Covenants we see prophets who were always saturated with spirit. (Fiery World II, 236)
7. From Imagination to Reality
You are currently undergoing a very important process: You are experiencing how a phantasy or imagination gradually becomes a reality:
First you "only" imagine, the teacher is present. Then you envision how he would think, feel, speak or act in your place. Later you act in his spirit, which is already a material reality. Finally, with time you actually become like him.
This is how it always works. First, in the Subtle World, we have to create an idea, a thought-construction (as, for example, Plato's design of an ideal state in his work "The Republic"). Then we can begin to densify this spiritual reality more and more to the point that eventually it becomes a material fact.
From idea to ideal to everyday life – that is the path of Agni Yoga.
The idea begins to live and becomes influential. We now understand why Agni Yoga says (Broadcasting "The Supermundane World"): A thought is a living being that develops in space.
8. Continuous Connection
When the spirit of the teacher enters your heart, a connection is established between your heart and the heart of the teacher; just as you have a heart relationship with a beloved one, parents, children or your homeland.
The connection with the teacher only grows from a dead abstraction to a living reality by your being united with him in the heart – constantly, even if you and he are living in different places or are incarnated on earth at different times.
A true, lasting spiritual connection goes beyond the limits of one incarnation and the limitations set by matter, time and space.
Establishing this heart relationship with the teacher is the first step for any disciple who wants the connection to become so deep that it eventually becomes almost visible as a Silvery Thread.
To lean in the heart upon the Master is the first condition on the path to the Fiery World. Of course, Guidance must be recognized in spirit and heart, for the acceptance of the Hand of the Master is alone insufficient without devoting the heart to the Master. One must understand that law which unites the Teacher with the disciple, because without the manifestation of complete attachment to the Master there can be no bond. A full acceptance of Guidance means a conscious communion. (Fiery World III, 106)
The connection with the Master transfigures your earthly life. In the most ordinary circumstances, it opens a window to infinity, giving even the grey everyday existence the highest splendour. In his presence, there can be no trivial or boring occupation. Your entire life becomes a mere service to God.
We speak about everyday life as a constant connection, then the Supermundane World will take its proper place. (Supermundane 714)
A higher joy finds its way into your life.
There is joy in that the thread of the heart can be in constant communion with the most Beloved. (Brotherhood 555)
Through this channel vitality, that means psychic energy, spiritual strength flows down to you.
Psychic energy is developed especially during conscious communion with Hierarchy. This communication should be practiced throughout one’s entire life, and will then become firmly established. The Image of the Teacher will become ever-present, and the flow of the new, vital currents will be manifested in all endeavours. This will become the foundation of the feeling that people call optimism. The Thinker said, “I know that my power is multiplied when I appeal to Heaven. May Heaven provide me with a particle of its power.” (Supermundane 382)
The constant link to the Hierarchy is one of the characteristic features of the New Man. He is never alone, never left on his own, but (like a soldier via radiotelephone) always connected with his superiors and comrades. From this he draws a power that the old man does not possess.
When the link with the Master is strong, mountains can be moved. (Hierarchy 146)
You must learn to continuously maintain this spiritual connection in the midst of everyday material life.
The link with the teacher must be understood in all its vitality, not only on holidays but amid all labours. Indeed, such a constancy is inaccessible to many. The Sacred Fire must always be alight. (Fiery World III, 526)
Let us follow the example of Helena Blavatsky, who, whatever happened to her, remained always firmly attached to her leaders.
Even in the most difficult moments she was striving to Us. Such will power inevitably results in a powerful vibration. No misfortune could make her forget the Brotherhood. Not even a shipwreck could interfere with her concentration. She held firmly to the thought about the Brotherhood, and this focus intensified the sacred vibration. (Supermundane 135)
Section IV: Actual Presence of the Teacher
So far we have only acted “as if". You “only” imagined that the teacher were near you. Now we go one step further and discover:
The teacher is really present.
The disciple must strive in the consciousness so as to realize the presence of the Teacher in spirit. Those who envision the nearness of the Teacher are not quite wrong. This is better than light-mindedly to forget entirely about the Teacher. (Fiery World I, 346)
"How am I to understand that?"
Let us approach this question scientifically:
1. Heaven is near
"Heaven" or the Subtle World is not far away and certainly not somewhere in the stratosphere! It is very close! Imperceptible to the physical senses, it surrounds or permeates the material world in the same way as the soul imbues the body.
The Subtle World is characterized not so much by the peculiarities of the place as by the beings living there. They are the ones who are staying in your environment. Thus, when we say, "Heaven is near," we mean above all: The inhabitants of the spiritual spheres are around you.
A vivid example of how you can imagine the constant presence of subtle beings is given by Jean-Paul Sartre in his famous book "The Chips are Down".
There you find a vivid description of how the souls of the deceased take part in earthly life, by observing partly sympathetically, sometimes annoyed the doings of the incarnated people. To many a living one there follows at every step, like a shadow, a long row of curious ancestors, relatives, former companions, friends or enemies from the realm of the soul.
Each one who approaches brings with him many dwellers of the Subtle World. This is not obsession, but simply an affinity of auras. We are all surrounded by dwellers of the Subtle World, and each approaching one brings his own retinue. (Supermundane 452)
Every incarnate man is surrounded by both friends and enemies. Without fail, the many cares and hatreds of former lives gather around one. (Supermundane 84)
2. Continuous Presence of Subtle Beings
August Malmström „Dancing Fairies“
The scientific basis for the actual presence of the teacher is: There is no void in the Universe. Every existing space is filled with living beings.
Every place on Earth is filled with subtle entities. (Supermundane 52)
No one should think that the space around us is empty. On the contrary, we can feel with our hearts the presence of invisible beings. (Supermundane 197)
Man is constantly surrounded by subtle beings.
The approach of fiery and subtle beings is characterized by a tremor of the heart and a sensation of cold or heat. But, then, if we are continually surrounded by beings of the Subtle World, why do we sense them only occasionally? (Fiery World I, 451)
Why do people only sometimes sense physically the presence of subtle beings? They are surrounded by them, yet they rarely sense them. Here we touch upon a very remarkable fact. Earthly beings feel it when the subtle dwellers contact their consciousness, either because of their own desires or because of affinity of auras. (Fiery World II, 419)
Every human being constantly attracts those subtle beings that correspond to his nature.
The Subtle World is really striving toward the earthly one, but in full correspondence. Consequently, if people would strive toward evolution, they would attract evolving beings. (Fiery World I, 304)
Friend, light your lamp. Welcome guests will appear. (Supermundane 867)
All your thoughts, feelings, words and actions depending on their quality attract high or low beings.
They realize that each human action attracts concordant dwellers from the Supermundane World. They will not accept as true that each of their thoughts evokes a multitude of invisible entities that can be helpful or harmful, depending on their thinking. (Supermundane 600)
Every appeal of an embodied spirit evokes a response. It depends upon who asks. One can attract and keep near oneself lofty forces. Also, the lowest spirits may settle about oneself. One receives what one wishes. (Leaves of Morya's Garden II, 100)
When you have become sufficiently refined and your chakras or centres open up, you will be able to communicate with these invisible beings. A high spirit is in contact with high beings, a low one with those from lower spheres.
People sense equally the breath of the Higher World. They are set equally atremor in heart and body. They understand the Voice of an Envoy of Light. With difficulty they return to the common earthly state. Such manifestations, and the ecstasy of the spirit at contact with a Higher Being, are unforgettable to all alike. (Fiery World I, 604)
People should recall how they were instructed in the Subtle World, how Luminous Beings approached them, and how the growth of their consciousness permitted these Instructors to come close. The same thing takes place in the earthly life. (Supermundane 433)
A hermit was once asked how he could dwell in continuous silence. He was much surprised and said, “On the contrary, I am never silent, but converse constantly—so many companions visit me.” The hermit had drawn so near to the invisible world that it had become entirely perceptible to him. (AUM 41)
The Invisible Helpers are always at your side. If they are good, they will provide you with comfort, strength, joy, love and guidance.
When a man asks for help, he feels that there must be something real near him. (Supermundane 84)
Many dwellers in the Subtle World would like to offer their knowledge, but they are denied the opportunity because of various prejudices and fear. (Fiery World I, 555)
Let us express our gratitude to the invisible saviours. Some call us, others embrace us with a slight breath, still others fill us with joy or sadness, or whisper advice to us. A fool will say: I alone do all that. Ignorance makes a man conceited. It would be wiser for him to say: I apply all my forces, yet I accept gratefully each invisible help. (Supermundane 197)
3. Continuous actual Presence of the Teacher
Among the beings from the subtle world that constantly surround is of course above all your teacher!
I am with you. (Leaves of Morya's Garden I, 154 )
Be assured that I am near you. (Heart 314)
Thus, we say scientifically correct: The teacher is present not as a physical being on the material plane, but as a "spirit", a subtle being on the subtle level of the pyramid of the worlds. You just have to become aware of his presence!
It is useful to train oneself in understanding how close the Masters are. Just as it is impossible for a person to do without food, he should attach himself to the Hierarchy. (Heart 205)
The teacher does not live somewhere far away, but in the Spiritual World around you! You cannot see him, but you may feel his proximity of his spirit with your higher, inner senses. That is as if he were in the next room.
The teacher is always in sight, within earshot and within hailing distance!
Your chosen teacher is always with you – even if he is physically absent and even if he is not incarnated at all on earth at the moment. What a blessing to know: Your beloved father, leader, guardian angel, patron saint or protector is constantly around you!
The best remedy, the best weapon, is your understanding of Our Care. Affirmed in union with Us, you will proceed invincibly. Displaying the example of achievement, you will grow to the stature of giants. (Leaves of Morya's Garden I, 320 )
I would be glad to summon you nearer—provide the opportunity! My Hand is with you in each courageous action. (Community 197)
You are not alone! Your longing for a great friend and helper at your side can be fulfilled.
Man will ask, “Are You always with us?” We can be, but man must want it. (Supermundane 72)
People should think about the proximity of the Powers of the Higher World. Independent of the conditions of life, these Powers are able to stand at the shoulder of every striving spirit. (Heart 285)
4. Refine your Senses, feel the Presence
Now we come to a very important point: You may believe me or not, when I tell you that the teacher is in actual fact close to you.
Of value is only if you experience this closeness yourself!
Brother Lawrence was not content with mere knowledge. With him exercise was paramount. It was not enough for him to know that there is an Omnipresent God. He wanted to live in God, with God and in front of God, always visualizing the living God; and in this he practiced himself in all places, in the kitchen and in the cellar, in the church and in the chamber, on healthy days and among the most violent pain in diseases. And it was this exercise that made him so blessed. (Tersteegen)
Your faith is dead unless it becomes an experience!
Although living in the continuous presence of God is at first arduous, practiced with enduring loyalty, it produces miraculous effects in the depths of the soul. The faith becomes more alive and stronger in all situations of our lives, especially in distress, because through this practice we very easily gain the assistance of God’s grace in all temptations and in the unavoidable contact with others. As the soul becomes accustomed to this practice of faith, it sees and feels, through mere contemplation, its God present, and therefore can appeal to Him easily and strongly, and receive from Him what it needs. And the further the soul progresses, the more alive becomes its faith. This faith finally grows so pervasive that the soul can say, "I no longer believe, I see and experience." (Brother Lawrence)
"How can I make this experience?"
There is only one way:
We must train, refine and sharpen our higher inner senses in order to feel the presence of the spirit of the Teacher.
I pass among them and they see Me not. (Leaves of Morya's Garden I, 66 )
Who is the helping One? Who is present? I sense Thy touches. (Supermundane 312)
One of the most important statements of Helena Roerich is:
If one seriously devotes oneself to the service of Light, one is never alone spiritually. In all moments of your life, learn to remember that you are watched continuously by the Eagle Eye and the Flaming Heart of the One who called you! Our gross body and the insufficient refinement of our senses are the only obstacles that prevent us from realizing His Presence. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 08.11.1931)
Remember this! There are friendly or hostile beings in your environment, and you do not even notice them! If your organism and its higher organs –– the centres or chakras – were just fine enough, you would be able to sense who or what stays close to you and influences you and your life.
Thus, firmly resolve to participate in our training program for the refining of your spiritual perception! You can learn to sharpen your inner senses, especially the feeling of the heart, so that they are able to grasp the non-material reality.
Strengthen the awareness of Our Presence in your life. Invoke Our Power for your deeds. (Leaves of Morya's Garden I, 13 )
Many people sense this closeness. They experience that they really receive advice, comfort, help and guidance. They feel the subtle reality that helpers, higher powers are standing by their side.
There is consolation in Infinity and in the realization of the constant presence of the Higher Force. (Fiery World III, 513)
It is sad to see how they make a real experience and then immediately deny it because their intellect is unable to fit it into their limited worldview.
They do not dare to speak of an invisible living being and to call it teacher, father or patron saint. Or they assume in vain self-aggrandizement that they have come in contact with God Himself.
Just as important as the presence is to feel the absence of the teacher! There is little value in forcing you to worthy behaviour by external prohibitions. The better way is to experience the overwhelming happiness when you are close to him, and the delusion (about yourself!) when you have moved away from him.
Then discipline and self-control will no longer be threats, but purposeful means in order to reach the desired goal.
You alone decide whether the Master is present and how close you get to him.
5. Presence of Fellow Disciples, Brothers and Sisters
Let us go one step further: Not just the teacher is near you, but many other subtle beings as well with whom you are connected from your past existences in the physical or in the Subtle World:
Especially your soulmates, your true brothers and sisters, your fellow disciples, together with whom you are going to school with the same teacher. You form a Supratemporal Family.
Imagine the various levels of the Spiritual World around you like a house with several floors: Your teacher stands above you. He lives and works one floor higher. Your classmates and co-workers are on the same level as you and live in the rooms next door. Your own disciples are staying on the floor below you.
In this world, you are not alone, but among true friends, embedded in a spiritual community.
One day, when you will have refined yourself sufficiently, you will be able to sense the presence of your non-incarnated soulmates, relatives, friends, fellow disciples, and co-workers.
You will be able to lead a conversation with them in spirit, as Christ did in his transfiguration with Moses and Elias. (Matthew 17, 1-8) (Raphael "Transfiguration of Christ")
You will even be able to consciously work together with them! These helpers from the Spiritual World will assist and advise you on projects that are approved by the Hierarchy, as we have already discussed in the Broadcasting "Service to the Common Good".
In this can be seen the participation of the Subtle World: When the spirit chooses a definite task, it adapts itself to many assisting influences. Often there remain in the Subtle World allies and co-workers who control the concomitant circumstances. Thus one can observe many scarcely perceptible impulses that lead to definite aims. (Fiery World I, 551)
Since entering the monastery, I regard God as the goal and end of all thoughts and desires of my soul. When I started my work in the kitchen, I said with childlike trust in God: 'My God, as you are with me and I, according to your order, must direct my mind to these outward things, I ask you for the Grace that at the same time I may stay with you and communicate with you; for this to succeed better, my Lord, please do work together with me, accept my work and possess all my desires.' Thus, in the midst of my work I continued in a confidential conversation with Him, until finally through many and multifold exercises I had reached such a state in which it is just as impossible for me not to think of God as it was at first difficult for me to get used to it. (Brother Lawrence)
This exercise is the only way to stay in touch with your non-incarnated soulmates, the true, eternal family to which you belong.
6. Presence of your Disciples
We had said (Broadcasting "The Hierarchy"): Not only are you a disciple of a greater one, but on the descending line of Hierarchy, you yourself are a teacher of smaller ones. Among the Subtle Beings who cling to your heels and are always around you, are therefore also your own true, eternal disciples!
These little brothers and sisters are your spiritual children! They look up to you. They admire you. They want to imitate you and learn from you how they can walk the earthly path in dignity.
Do not disappoint them! You have to be a role model for them! Their presence should induce you to an exemplary behaviour.
7. Attachment to the World of the Teacher
Nicholas Roerich „Star of the Morning“
Now, unfortunately, I have to pour a little water into the wine of the beautiful words on the happiness about the teacher's presence:
We humans are given the opportunity to live in the world of the teacher. But we have to earn this privilege through a worthy comportment. If you are in a low vibration, in a state of aggressiveness, anger, hate, irritability or depression, you cannot approach the teacher and he will not show himself to you.
The Subtle World is close – but not always the one of the teacher: In an impure atmosphere, only lower, unclean beings will surround you.
You yourself either approach or move away. As on earth, so in Heaven: If you behave inappropriately, you will have to leave the world of the teacher.
To understand this better, we must take a short detour into the realm of theory. Agni Yoga uses a term that we mention here for the first time and which unfortunately is often translated incorrectly:
Agni Yoga is given to attach people to the Higher World. (Hierarchy 397)
"What does that mean?"
We had just said: Heaven is near. The spiritual world is not bound by the limitations of matter, time and space. It exists all around us.
It arches like a bell over every place of the earth. The material plane is only the lowest level, the basis of the Pyramid of the Worlds, which includes the Subtle and the Fiery World as well.
The three worlds form a unit. They exist at the same time at every place.
You should imagine the higher, spiritual worlds as a stage set, an invisible to the outer senses, but nevertheless real scenery against which your material earthly life takes place.
This spiritual background of your material life is formed by your own thoughts, feelings, wishes, dreams, ideas, ideals and imaginations. That means:
The material level can be modified to a limited extent only. But the spiritual world in which you live you define yourself.
We have said already several times with Schopenhauer and Agni Yoga: Everyone lives in his own world, regardless of the external circumstances (see among others the Broadcasting "The Significance of Consciousness"). This of course does not relate to the material, but to the subtle plane of the pyramid of the worlds.
When the three worlds are one, this means: The material plane on which you are living is always connected to a subtle sphere. This might not be true for cows, but human beings cannot exist without a mental order of their physical existence.
Therefore, every material place on this earth has a spiritual superstructure: Over the area "Germany", for example, we have created a Subtle World, which consists not only of a state with all its laws, regulations, rules and officials, called "Federal Republic of Germany", but also of the habits, customs and traditions as well as scientific, religious and ideological ideas that have developed here over the millennia.
You are always connected to the spiritual world.
The question is: to which level, to a low or to a high one?
In the Subtle World there is an infinite variety of thought-constructions, ways and forms of life, from the highest, noble to the lowest, primitive ones. They all strive to embody themselves on earth as a material reality. Which one of these ideals you choose and arch as a spiritual superstructure over the physical plane where you are living, is entirely up to your choice.
You can live in Plato's ideal state, in the "order" of a gang of robbers, or as in the jungle in a world of selfishness, injustice, and struggle of everyone against everyone.
In other words:
You can attach any location on earth to any (higher or lower) level of the Subtle World.
We now return to our subject and allow the abstract knowledge we have gained to bear fruit:
You can attach yourself to the Subtle World in which your teacher lives and works, wherever and in whatever material circumstances you are living.
You can choose his abode as the spiritual world, the subtle scenery against which your material life takes place.
We do not want to fall into a mysticism which makes you believe that the teacher will sit down on a chair that is made ready for him.
What a presumption! How dare you summon the teacher and dispose of his time and movements! What do you know, with which urgent cosmic tasks he is busy right now!
"Attachment" is the magic word. The better view is: Not the teacher comes to you, but you put yourself in his presence. You attach yourself to his world as closely as you can.
"All that is still pretty abstract. Can’t you explain this more concretely? "
8. Living in the Village of the Teacher
Nicholas Roerich „Tibet Himalayas“
Let us unfold once more our imagination:
Where does a teacher live? With his disciples in an Ashram, a sanctuary or a temple. (Nicholas Roerich "Star of the Morning")
A wise teacher is a magnet that attracts many followers. At the feet of his home there will be a settlement, a village. There are dwelling those people who have not yet risen so high that they can be accepted as disciples into the Ashram, but who nevertheless want to live in the new order, the higher culture that forms around the Master under his guidance.
In the Other World this ideal is already a reality. After your death you may live in such an Ashram or village.
On earth, for the time being, we are not ready for that yet. Here we are still in the preliminary stage, the virtual way of living "as if". But thereby we are preparing the material realization of our dream.
We will talk about the life of the disciples in the Ashram in the Broadcasting "Living in the Ashram of the Teacher". Today, we are addressing the "normal" practitioner who wants to enjoy the benefits of living under the guidance of a great master and spiritual leader without immediately becoming a disciple.
For him we offer another variant of our exercise:
Imagine living in a village at the feet of the teacher's Ashram. (Nicholas Roerich "Island of Rest")
You choose this settlement as the spiritual background against which your material, earthly life takes place.
You live like the citizens of a medieval city, who in their everyday life and work always had the castle above them, under whose protection and guidance they stood.
Like this castle, the Ashram of your teacher is situated above your dwelling – not physically, but in spirit.
In scientific terms, we say:
If the Subtle World is everywhere, the teacher's (subtle) village can be the spiritual superstructure of material life anywhere in the world.
"How do I practise this theory?"
By attaching your earthly home to the village in the Subtle World.
Again, you should not think so much of a place. You are joining a community! As long as the conditions for physical communities are not yet ripe; as long as there is not a single place in the world where people are living together according to the rules of Agni Yoga, you have no choice but to become a member of a spiritual community.
The spiritual community of the subtle village becomes a reality on the material level in various places. Your house, too, wherever it stands, can become a part of it.
Then, the pyramid of the three worlds looks like this: Material level: your place of residence or home; the scenery of the Subtle World around you: the village at the feet of the teacher's Ashram; Fiery World one level up: The Ashram of the teacher.
The attachment is effected via the heart. That is why we said: You carry the teacher in your heart.
You cannot imagine your virtual life in the teacher's village lively enough: The Ashram is always in sight. From your home and place of work you look up there over and over again and make sure that you are still attached to the world of the teacher. (Albrecht Dürer "Knight, Death and Devil")
The teacher visits every house in the village during the day. He comes to your home, too, discusses the upcoming work and exercises and examines the results you have achieved. You, like the other inhabitants of the village, visit the Ashram every now and then for meditation, training, exercises and service.
"I do not quite understand yet. What exactly am I to do in order to attach myself? "
Wherever you are, you must overcome the separation of the worlds and realize the ideal of the unity of all three worlds.
Usually, the material plane is separated from the top of the pyramid, from the supreme spheres of the Fiery World, and is attached to lower layers where untruth, injustice, ugliness, and lovelessness reign. Then the picture of the pyramid of the worlds looks like this:
You accomplish the union of the worlds by creating the conditions of the higher levels on earth.
Shambhala is the indispensable site where the spiritual world unites with the material one. To work there where the spirit has descended into matter, the conditions of both planes must be met. (Leaves of Morya's Garden II, 88, 91)
You have to bring the earth closer to Heaven, only then the latter will not be far away from where you live!
In general this means: Wherever you stand, you establish the Cosmic Order, realize the Higher Will, and enforce the principles of truth, justice, beauty, and love, which apply in the higher spheres.
Regarding the attachment to the world of the teacher that means in concrete terms: You create at your place the same pure and solemn atmosphere as it prevails in the settlement at the feet of the Ashram. You follow the rules and customs governing there. You live according to the way of life observed in the Upper World, in a village under the guidance of a Master.
The age-old demand applies:
As in Heaven, so on earth.
This means: Heaven on earth is realized when we create a spiritual order in which that what is valid and forbidden above is also valid and forbidden below.
We will go into the details of the important and fruitful habit of attaching oneself to the world of the teacher in later Broadcastings.
9. Happiness near the Teacher
Nicholas Roerich „Pearl of Searching“
It is an indescribable exhilaration to be able to live in the world of the teacher in peace, quietness, joy, equanimity and unshakeability, in harmony with the Higher Spheres, with the Order of the Cosmos, and with you yourself (your Higher Self).
When you are living in the presence of the teacher, the paradise on earth has become a reality for you! (Nicholas Roerich "Pearl of Searching")
Look for such a happiness not in the outer world, but in the heart, in a state of your consciousness!
In distress, temptation, and affliction, you may always seek refuge in this spiritual world.
Do not give up this closeness! Nothing external can prevent it! Only you yourself can move away!
Section V: Unification with the Consciousness of the Teacher
The exercise of living in the continuous presence of the teacher will gradually make you one with him in quite a natural way – not physically, of course, but in spirit! Eventually it comes to a unification of the consciousnesses.
You can transfer your consciousness into that of the teacher.
You know how the voice of the Teacher is transmitted; but there can be a coming together in consciousness, not using words but transporting one’s consciousness instantaneously into the consciousness of the Teacher. One almost ceases to be aware of oneself; but the Chalice is filled to the brim with straight-knowledge. Such a union surpasses words, for it nurtures one with straight-knowledge. Of course it is not easy to attain such a state; but with expansion of consciousness it comes by itself, if not hindered by ignorance. All forms of communion are made possible by such a consciousness. (Agni Yoga 563)
Or you fill your consciousness with the consciousness of the teacher.
It was never said that one should burden the Master. On the contrary, it was repeated, “Be imbued with the Master!” There is a great difference between timid and inactive imposing a burden and imbuing the entire being with the consciousness of the Master. (Hierarchy 149)
In both cases, you become in a sense a part of the teacher. Disciple and teacher become virtually identical, at least in consciousness. You think, feel, speak and act in his spirit. You are both filled with the same spirit. You are, as the Bible so beautifully says:
Of one heart and of one soul. (Acts 4, 32)
He who is united to the Lord is one spirit with him. (1 Corinthians 6, 17)
"How can I achieve such a union?"
The first step is to work together with the teacher by appearing and acting on earth in accordance with his intentions.
Working together on a great project is the best way to get closer to one another.
You may continue to deepen this habit until you finally achieve a complete union of the consciousnesses.
If I say, “I am always with you,” will many people believe it? They would even be afraid to believe in a unified consciousness. For them each such unification means a violation of their selfhood, and as such is utterly impermissible. They will never appreciate the tenfold increase in energy that arises from the cooperation of consciousnesses.
But without such cooperation the entire Teaching of the Heart would be impossible. Why give out all these details if a mutual reinforcement cannot take place? But if this principle is attainable, then it is likewise possible to extend it until it blossoms into the full unification of consciousness called Paloria.
In the case of those who have acknowledged the unification of consciousness and gone on to attain it, how greatly can they expand their work for the Common Good! Of course, I am speaking about the inner spiritual work, which the blind can neither perceive nor appreciate. (Heart 150)
As an almost visible sign of this connection, the "Silvery Thread" between disciple and teacher is formed, about which we had already spoken. (see the Broadcasting "Meditation").
The most wondrous thread is the silver one uniting the heart of the Hierarch with his disciple. The light of the spirit is nurtured by this might. Therefore, when We speak of a united aura, We have in mind the actuality of the bond! Thus one can attract the best opportunities. Hence the sacred union of the Hierarch with the disciple is evidenced when the disciple’s consciousness is striving toward the consciousness of the Hierarch. Thus a wondrous step is built by a blended heart! (Hierarchy 156)
The unification of the consciousnesses allows you to work with the power of the Hierarchy. You attain an immense expansion of your possibilities: Your forces are growing, doubt, fatigue and fear are dwindling. You succeed, just as the Master would succeed if he himself would act.
If you can visualize the Image of the Teacher in your consciousness with the most complete clarity you can transfer your consciousness into His, and thus act, as it were, through His Power. (Hierarchy 90)
As an invincible sword, the consciousness identified with the Master smites all obstacles! Doubt cannot find shelter where a flaming consciousness is kindled. There will be no fatigue where the inexhaustible Source of Forces is admitted. Fear cannot penetrate into the temple of invulnerable armour. Thus, I advise acceptance of My Shields, not through recourse to a saving protection, but by conquering through the blending of consciousness. I vouch for success if you are imbued with the Master! (Hierarchy 149, 150)
You gain higher knowledge which would not be accessible to you alone.
True understanding comes to us through closeness to the Hierarch and the unification of our consciousness with the consciousness of the Hierarch. But such unification may take place only when our inner essence is purified to such an extent that it is able to perceive and respond to the vibrations sent by the Great Teacher. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 12.04.1935)
Under the teacher's shield you are invulnerable.
Through the heart one is able to transmit one’s consciousness along the Chain of Hierarchy, thereby increasing one’s strength and making oneself invulnerable. It means that for such vital achievements three elements are necessary: the heart, the Hierarchy, and the concept of indivisibility. (Heart 582)
Above all formulas there exists the power of the spirit. One has but to unite it, through one’s heart, with the Hierarch, in order to become invulnerable. Thus, one should face each assault courageously, not avoiding even the most terrifying. (Fiery World II, 91)
About the Order of the "Brothers Hospitallers" founded by St. John of God, Agni Yoga says:
The Brothers of Mercy were able to enter places where the plague was raging without being contaminated, because they had committed their consciousness to Christ irrevocably and indivisibly. Such an exchange of consciousness created flashes of fire with an invincible power to purify. (Heart 582)
Agni Yoga calls this sublime state “Hiero-inspiration”.
The ray of the Higher Consciousness is united with the rays of the close consciousnesses through fiery striving. When, in the creation of good, the spirit is tensed in a fiery transport, the spirit is always unified with the Higher Consciousness. Each action can acquire a double force by the unification of the rays. The unified consciousness is the most immutable shield. The ray can pierce the consciousness, but We call the unification of the rays of the consciousness Hiero-inspiration. (Fiery World III, 210)
For the quickest self-perfecting and development of spirituality the most essential is a constant thought about the Highest Hierarch; this is the sacred concentration about which so much is written and which so often is misunderstood. Remembering the Luminous Image every moment of the day and night and doing all our work in His Name, we are gradually establishing the sacred union, which will finally give us the great power of Hiero-inspiration. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 11.04.1934)
Section VI: Transmit the Image of the Teacher to the third Eye
The last and highest variant of our exercise is to permanently transmit the image of the teacher to your third eye. This is the perfection of the practice of keeping the image before your inner eye, which we have just discussed.
I myself do not practice this aspect yet because of the dangers involved, but would at least like to briefly report what Agni Yoga has to say about it.
How can you ineffaceably imprint the image of the teacher on your inner being?
When your consciousness prompts you to the necessity of possessing the constant Image of the Master, retire to a quiet place and direct your sight upon the chosen Image. After gazing intensely upon the Image, close your eyes and transmit it to the third eye. Exercising thus you will attain a vivid Image, and you will feel a special intensified tremor of the heart. Soon the Image of the Master will remain inseparably with you. You can test yourself before the sun, and you will still see the Master before you, sometimes without colour, but afterward vividly and even in action. (Hierarchy 89)
The concentration must be very high in order to allow you to see the picture as clearly as possible.
One must visualize the Image of the Teacher with utmost precision, even to the minutest detail, so that the Image may not falter, or suffer distortion, or change its outline, as frequently happens. But if, following the exercise of concentration, one succeeds in invoking a constant Image of the Teacher, through this one may gain the greatest benefit for oneself, for one’s nearest ones, and for the work. (Hierarchy 90)
As always, you are warned against exaggeration and application of the exercise in the wrong place or at the wrong time.
I suggest that you avoid overdoing the mental exercises. In the polluted atmosphere of cities such concentration will merely lead to errors. Therefore, do not be in a hurry to impress upon the third eye the Image of the Teacher. It is better if you are able to fill your heart with a constant memory of and love for the Great Image. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 16.01.1935)
You should consider this step very well, because the image remains engraved, even if you should turn away from this teacher later.
But remember, one must decide irrevocably, because in case of treason the constant Image will be a constant reproach. (Hierarchy 89)