AGNI YOGA WEB TV
„THE PATH OF THE DISCIPLE“
BROADCASTING 1: How do you find your Teacher?
Dear Agni Yogis,
we shall be talking today about one of the most important subjects of Agni Yoga: How can you find your teacher?
Agni Yoga insists: Without a teacher there is no progress on the spiritual path. Alone, you will not advance at all, or at least so painfully slow, that you will lose the connection with the progressing evolution.
It is stated clearly and unambiguously: You cannot practice Agni Yoga without a teacher. Nevertheless, there is hardly any Agni Yogi today who knows or who at least seriously and with all his strength searches for his teacher.
All religions of all times teach: To walk the Spiritual Path – the path to God – means to follow someone who is ahead of you on the same trail. It means to go on the same path on which all the great Masters have already walked long before you.
Only succession gives foundation to all strivings. All that exists proceeds by the law of succession. Hence, each isolation results only in the loss of that what has been ordained. (Hierarchy 61)
On this path you cannot go wrong. If you deviate from it, you are lost.
Nicholas Roerich "Gelugpa Monastery"
Without something above you, you do not know where to turn, and wander about aimlessly and without orientation. This is the disease of our time: Men refuse to recognize anything greater than themselves and deny the Hierarchy.
In the dark of the night one should look for the Guiding Hand. (Supermundane 358)
1. Leading Principle
In order to put the hierarchical principle in practice in your everyday life, you have to follow the path of succession: It is a natural endeavour of every creature – not only of man! – to seek someone greater than himself and to imitate him. Within each of us lives
the intense longing of the human heart for some one-some thing, above and beyond itself, by or through which it may attain to a more perfect state. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. I, Lesson 6 „Illusions and Ideals”)
Remember your childhood! Every child has his hero. Is not it deplorable that you have lost this pure ideal?
Life without heroes is no life at all. Ask all who dwell on Earth if there was ever a time in which they had no heroic image before them. Every schoolchild will acknowledge that he has always cherished in his heart a chosen ideal. Great deeds inspire the best impulses. Children will also acknowledge that although no one taught them to revere a hero, this feeling developed from within. (Supermundane, 463)
If you wish to ascend, it is sensible for you to look up to those who have already reached the next level. The little souls follow the great ones. Thus, Hierarchy turns from an abstract concept to the guideline of your earthly life.
Only when Our Testament is applied in life can the higher step be taken. Thus We affirm Hierarchy based upon the law of succession. When the Cosmic Law is realized, a true understanding of the Chain of Hierarchy is established. Thus, the one who better fulfills this Law will be closer to Hierarchy. The Hierarchy of Service is but the manifestation of the fulfillment of an even Higher Will. Only in this way do We affirm the Law of Hierarchy. And thus does Cosmic Law enter life. (Agni Yoga 659)
You will be able to grow only if you orientate yourself to the higher levels and follow their example.
Only contact with the Higher can give the direction. (Hierarchy, 63)
In approaching the great we grow. (Hierarchy 193)
Only there you can find true models.
The visions of Mastery have drawn him from the lower levels of mediocrity. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. I, Lesson 32 „How long, o Lord!)
The kings of spirit—where are they? Often people place themselves on the level of a king of spirit, forgetting that the most essential quality of a king of spirit is his following of a Hierarch. Thus, let humanity remember and ponder upon how to become true kings of spirit! Not by self-glorification do we reach the kingly step of spirit. Therefore, We advise each one to follow a Hierarch. (Hierarchy 408)
2. Follow the Masters
The religious doctrines of our days suffer from a grave error: They deify great teachers such as Buddha, Jesus, or Mohammed to such an extent that the faithful are scarcely able to find a living connection with them.
Medievalism made an inaccessible idol of Christ and deprived him of any humanity, therefore also of divinity. Such a forced separation of Christ from human essence threatened and still threatens a complete break in the communion of humanity with the Higher World.
By propagating the dogma of Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God, the Church contradicts the very sense of the prayer given to us by Jesus Christ himself, “Our Father which art in heaven.” And also the words of the Scriptures, “So God created man in his own image.” (Genesis 1:27)
Thus, by claiming the exclusiveness of sonship and divine origin for Jesus Christ, the Church, by that very claim, forever divorced him from mankind. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 02.04.1936)
The Masters are doing their utmost to counteract this disastrous trend. They continually descend to the material level in order to approach us humans as far as possible. Let us look at the image of a real, living God:
When men began to make of Christ an inaccessible idol, there began a period of visions of Christ in most realistic forms. He appeared as very close to men, entering into their daily life.
After St. Augustine the church began its plunge into the darkness of the Middle Ages, and Christ was locked behind a barrier of gold. In order to break it, Christ Himself descended even in lesser Images in order to manifest again the grandeur of communion in unity. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 125)
As an Agni Yogi, however, you know: All higher creatures, right up to God, were once ordinary human beings like you and me. They lived in circumstances, no better than ours today, and have risen from there.
One should not conceive a Great Soul to be entirely distinct. Each Mahatma began his ascent from the very midst of the people, having only dared to choose the difficult path of the Great Soul. (Hierarchy, 304)
As the Sons of God have worked their way up from the very bottom to the heights where they are now dwelling, you, as a disciple who wishes to imitate them, have no choice but to follow them on the same track.
Every single one of us must climb the same rugged path that the Masters have trod in loneliness, poverty and struggle, if we would ever reach the heights on which they stand. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. II, Lesson „The Gulf between”)
In order to bring all substance of creation up to the point of consciousness which the Creators themselves enjoyed, it was necessary that it should pass in turn through what the Creators had before passed through in other worlds, in other lives. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. II, Lesson „Fall of the Angels“)
The worship of a master alone is abstract and dead. The succession of a master is a living practice of daily life.
The book of Thomas à Kempis “The Imitation of Christ” has long been appreciated in the East not only by virtue of its content but because of the meaning of its title. In the midst of medieval idolatry of Christ, the voice of Thomas à Kempis resounded in protest. From behind the walls of a Catholic monastery rang out a voice to clarify the Image of the Great Teacher.
The very word imitation comprises a vital action. The formula—Imitation of Christ—is an achievement of daring innate in the conscious spirit that accepts all responsibility of creation. Truly, the conscious disciple dares to approach the Teacher in imitation.
In accordance with the servile medieval consciousness, it would have been fitting to say, “The Worship of Christ.” But the ascending spirit dared to pronounce a call to imitation. (Agni Yoga 13)
What is more natural than to follow those who are a few steps ahead of us on the path?
I say to you, "follow me" (for I cannot carry you), and I point to you the milestones along the Path which I have travelled. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. I, Lesson 25 „Selflessness, the one Thing needful“)
It is of the utmost importance that you realize: The whole striving, the whole success of a Mahatma consists in stimulating imitation. He has come to earth with the aim to find disciples who follow him to the heights. If he is unable to convince anyone to walk the same path, his sacrifice was in vain and his mission has failed.
Wherein lies the success of a yogi? It is not in the attraction of crowds, not in the conversion of multitudes. But, near the works of the yogi, one can observe how others imitate him. Consciously or unconsciously, voluntarily or involuntarily, people begin to do the same thing. Even his enemies, while cursing him, follow the same path. It is as if a special atmosphere had gathered about the actions of the yogi.
This is a true success, when neither money nor fame, but the invisible fire kindles human hearts. Desiring to imitate him, these ignited hearts enter the yogi’s atmosphere.
The yogi is not a preacher. He seldom speaks to the crowds. But the works entrusted to him grow with a special bloom. Others do not even acknowledge the flourishing of these works, whose intended purpose is not to capture them, but to ignite their hearts. (Agni Yoga 375)
Jesus is a Master who has shown us a path and who is walking ahead of us. He unmistakably called upon us to follow him:
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16, 24)
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10, 38)
We humans distort his intentions terribly when we lift him up into Heaven and cover his image with a wreath of impenetrable dogmas, instead of simply following him on the Spiritual Path.
Every claim Jesus made for Himself he made for every other man and woman in the world, asking only that they should travel the same path He had trodden if they would win the same station. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. II, Lesson „Faith in Christ a spiritual Guidepost“)
The source of this distortion is indolence: The fatal tendency to indulge in abstract worship rather than to redesign one's daily life in accordance with the teacher's commandments.
He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. (1 John 2, 6)
To be a Christian means to become like Christ. To be a Buddhist means to turn into a Buddha.
Every one that is perfect shall be as his master. (Luke 6, 40)
Each of you can become a disciple of Christ: You only have to follow him! The one who best and most faithfully carries out this task will become like him and thereby renew his image on earth – exactly as St. Francis of Assisi did, thereby giving a shining example.
The Mahatmas are watching us humans and know very well who of us is really following them, who only makes empty words, and who even opposes them.
We have a list of those following a Hierarch, those denying a Hierarch, and those who openly oppose the Most High. (Hierarchy 409)
Section II: The Teacher
It is a true catastrophe in the spiritual sense: For centuries, since the prime of the monks' orders, the Western world has ceased to produce any real teachers of life; namely masters who practice the sanctification of their Ego first hand, and instruct disciples to imitate them.
Our culture brings forth priests who make beautiful words on the pulpit on Sundays, and heaps of abstract, comfortable and non-committal literature. But there is no one who sets an example; no one who himself advances exemplarily on the eternal path of the soul in such a way that he inspires the best disciples to succession.
The world has a shortage of teachers. (Supermundane 866)
It has come so far that that what is actually the highest mission of every human being, namely the succession of a great master, is regarded as unheard of. We are lacking a whole tradition, mental attitude, and readiness, which are, however, sorely needed if the development is to go upwards again in the spiritual sense.
The thought of obedience to a Teacher is alien to people. (Hierarchy 30)
The Law of Hierarchy demands that the Western man accepts the Eastern concept of teacher and disciple (Guru and Chela). Only in this way can we build a new, higher and more beautiful step of evolution.
Blessed India! You alone have guarded the concept of Teacher and disciple. One can ask a Hindu boy if he would want to have a Guru. No word is needed in reply, because the boy’s eyes will shine with desire, striving, and devotion. (Agni Yoga 205)
Only when you decide to take a teacher and follow him, will the spiritual path turn from a dead, non-committal abstraction to a living reality which shapes your whole everyday existence.
It is the very essence of the Spiritual Path to choose a spiritual leader and prove to be a worthy disciple of him.
1. No Progress without a Teacher
Nicholas Roerich “Guru”
Nobody among you would consider to become a craftsman, for example a carpenter or a shoemaker, to start a career as pianist or violinist, or begin with a sport like tennis or chess, without making an apprenticeship with a master of the subject.
When people will accept the concept of the Teacher, a new step will be prepared. Much, much does humanity lose in failing to accept this concept. All new ways are thus barred to humanity, and the quests must begin with this acceptance. (Infinity II, 494 )
Of course, you will only obstruct your own development if you refuse to learn from those who know better than you.
The disciple in rejecting the Teacher acknowledges his own ignorance, because he arrests his development. (Hierarchy 128)
This is particularly true for those walking on the Spiritual Path.
One’s path cannot proceed without Higher Guidance. (Fiery World III, 90)
For the growth of consciousness there is needed proximity to the magnet of an already fiery consciousness. (Fiery World I, 662)
It is the teacher alone who elevates the disciple up to a higher level.
Truly, who will uplift the spirit of the disciple if not his Teacher? Only the Higher can uplift the lower. (Agni Yoga 665)
The Guiding Hand is the Uplifting Hand. (Hierarchy 33)
It would simply not be goal fitting to refuse to follow those who have advanced farther than we ourselves.
By giving to a disciple the synthesis of his accumulated experience, a teacher helps him to save precious time for quicker and farther advancement and for individual creativeness. Without the continuous handing down of accumulations, what would happen to evolution? If everybody had to learn by using only his personal experience, rejecting the Leading Hand, we should not move far from our ancestors of the Stone Age! (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 21.01.1931)
This is also exactly what Jesus taught:
I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14, 6)
Therefore, it is impossible to practice Agni Yoga without a teacher.
There where the Fiery Teacher is absent the direction will not be on the side of the Teaching. One cannot realize the great Teaching without the Fiery Teacher, without the striving of the spirit to the World of the Teacher. The Guiding Principle is the Fiery Teacher. One cannot pass without Him, one cannot advance without Him, one cannot attain without Him. (Fiery World III, 154)
2. No New Creation without Leadership
Nicholas Roerich “Warrior” (Draft for the opera Prince Igor)
He who places himself outside of Hierarchy will neither be able to find the right way nor to fulfill his mission. It is sad to see how in this way many great, well-intentioned efforts remain without result.
When understanding is not founded upon Hierarchy, the manifestations of the focus cannot be so vitally displayed, and each one who isolates himself cannot find his way to Us. Thus, there are so many roaming shadows who cannot turn the affirmed key. Thus so many strivings are lost in space. (Hierarchy 171)
The non-acceptance of a Teacher leaves the disciple without guidance, and no action of such wandering spirits has any constructive importance. Thus, each spiritual striving must lead to the search for a Guide. (Hierarchy 140)
Have you ever asked yourself why your exertions are not successful? Only a Hierarch can guide your actions to the right direction.
He who strives upward without Hierarchy may be compared to an archer who shoots arrows heavenward with closed eyes, expecting that one of the arrows will reach a bird. All chance must be eradicated from life. We know in which direction we move, and we trust our Leader—only thus will no arrows be aimlessly lost. (Hierarchy 193)
Therefore, a firm connection with the Hierarchy is the indispensable foundation of every construction.
How can a tree stand powerfully if one tries to uproot it? Only contact with the pure current gives balance to the forces. Hence, only the roots of Hierarchy can uphold a structure. Hence, one must understand unity with the power expressed by the Higher Might. (Hierarchy 192)
How can one create without acknowledging a Higher Leader? How can one build without sensing the thread that binds one with the Hierarch? How can one expect sendings when the spirit does not unfold to meet the Light? (Hierarchy 127)
3. Personal Connection with the Hierarchy
The Hierarchy is a chain. To be a part of this chain means: You are connected to a chain link above and to a chain link beneath you. Each of us is at the same time both a disciple of a higher one and a teacher to all those standing beneath him.
Each Teacher remains also a disciple, for amid Hierarchy he will be a link in the Chain of Eternity. Likewise in the descending line, each disciple will also be a teacher. It is a mistake to think that certain initiations elevate one to the step of absolute Teachership. (AUM 492)
It is necessary to point out the chain of Teachers, each of whom is the disciple of a Higher Teacher. (Agni Yoga 333)
Your teacher is nothing else than the next higher link in the chain of the Hierarchy, to which you have to tie yourself firmly. Through him only are you connected with the still higher levels and with the Supreme Will emanating from the very top. The teacher is your personal connection with the Hierarchy.
In cosmic creativeness everything is built upon succession. Only attraction to the Chain of Hierarchy can lead to the path to Infinity. (Hierarchy 164)
It is only by attaching yourself to your teacher that you yourself become a link in the chain. Thereby the Hierarchy, wherever you are standing, becomes a living reality of your everyday material earthly life.
As you are being helped from above, you support those who stand beneath you. You follow your teacher, who in turn, being at the same time a disciple himself, follows an even greater one, and your disciples follow you.
The manifested succession of Teachers glows as a string of interplanetary pearls. Add also your own pearl! (Agni Yoga 83)
People have always instinctively sought the proximity of the great Masters.
Precisely, the emanations of a pure earthly teacher raise the vibrations all around him, sometimes over a tremendous area. Thus, not only is space purified, but sometimes even the fires of the individuals who surround him are kindled. That is why, in ancient times, it was considered a great privilege to live near a Teacher and serve Him, as this provided the possibility of contact with his aura. The East knew then and deeply revered the sacred Laws. And in present-day India it is considered a blessing if a holy man chooses to live in one’s vicinity. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 09.07.1935)
Section III: Finding the Teacher
1. Search, Call and Answer
Therefore, if you want to walk the path of Agni Yoga, you have to search for your teacher, for the next higher, guiding level of the Hierarchy. You must know your true father! To whom else do you want to turn when you are in need and require advice or support?
Friends, if you wish to approach Us, choose a Teacher on Earth and place your guidance in His care. Each one should have a Teacher on Earth. (Agni Yoga 103)
Precious is the bold desire to seek, because he who seeks finds. If the desires of the spirit are sublime it can discover sublime forms, and in imitating them it can contribute to perfectionment. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 100)
There is a necessity established by law which you may safely rely upon: The higher levels take you under observation as soon as you arouse their attention by your search, your aspiration and your actions.
How to find the Teacher? Let us not forget that the laws of the will possess the property of attracting the attention of whomsoever the call concerns. (Community 177)
Do you not know that a sincere, ardent call of the heart and the consequent deeds act as a most powerful radio and inevitably reach the Great Heart? Therefore, if your friend is ardently striving toward Light, this very fact makes him known to the Great Teacher. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 24.06.1935)
This law actually forces your teacher to turn his eyes onto you.
The Teacher is ready to accept every sign of devotion. Devotion and readiness forge the bond between the worlds. (Agni Yoga 349)
To accept any man as a chela does not depend on my personal will. It can only be the result of one’s personal merit and exertions in that direction. F o r c e any one of the “Masters” you may happen to choose; do good works in his name and for the love of mankind; be pure and resolute in the path of righteousness (as laid out in o u r rules); be honest and unselfish; forget your Self but to remember the good of other people – and you will have f o r c e d that “Master” to accept you. (Jinarajadasa, Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom I, Letter 7, p 28)
2. Purification, Refinement, Obedience, Striving
Tintoretto “Baptism of Christ”
How can you find your master? The first prerequisite is: Walk yourself the Spiritual Path and obey its laws! Only in this way can you prove to him that you are worthy to be accepted as a disciple.
If we long for an undeferred Advent, then the ways should be cleared without delay. Day and night one must be accustomed to fulfilling the Decrees and being imbued with the Covenants. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 271 )
Above all, a thorough purification is required. Physically or spiritually polluted you cannot dare to step before the face of a great saint.
Cooperation will develop depending on the power and purity of thinking. Thus, man alone prepares his place in the Supermundane World. The appearance of the Teacher depends on a high level of thinking of the seeker. (Supermundane 860)
Instruction will come in no uncertain way to the disciple who has fitted himself by purification for such instruction. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. I, Lesson 112 “The Divine Spark”)
3. When the Disciple is ready, the Teacher appears
Nicholas Roerich “Pearl of Searching”
The great spiritual law says: "Once the disciple is ready, the teacher appears." The disciple must have developed already a high and strong striving on the path towards that great ideal which the teacher embodies and exemplifies.
The Teacher invariably appears when the disciple is ready. This law is immutable. The Teacher will not lose a single moment if He sees the disciple is ready. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 23.10.1937; Vol. I, letter of 08.11.1934)
What does readiness mean? Helena Roerich gives three important explanations. First, readiness requires complete devotion:
If the Teaching is applied, if patience is indomitable, if courage, fearlessness and devotion burn in your heart with an inextinguishable flame, you will attain your aim, and the Great Teacher will not delay in manifesting himself in some way. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 17.05.1937)
Readiness requires further: Question yourself: What are the qualities of a disciple? Make an effort to acquire them and to renounce all those habits which are incompatible with your ideal.
The great Covenant “When the disciple is ready the Teacher appears” is seldom understood. There are not many who ask themselves what this readiness actually is. Should not this readiness consist of certain qualities? The trouble is that people do not want to realize that at the foundation of this readiness, and of all the achievements, there is the following of a great ideal, involving a fiery transmutation of all our feelings, of our whole character. People would rather give up various excesses and thoughtlessly, mechanically perform their pranayama, than surrender even one habit that stands in their way to spiritual achievement. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 21.07.1934)
Finally, readiness means: Maximum concentration on the chosen ideal, which takes precedence over all other exertions.
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.
When such a constant presence of the chosen Image comes into the life of a disciple, when there is no further deviation, then there is true readiness; the Teacher appears and the disciple under observation is accepted. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 21.07.1934)
It is not you who decides. The teacher alone knows when a disciple has reached that stage where he is suitable and receptive to personal instruction.
The Teacher knows who discriminates and who will be able to receive the gifts. (Hierarchy 407)
4. How to search?
Searching means: Look for people who are close to you.
Each one who enters the path of discipleship (and this is not just studying occult literature) must firmly decide in the depth of the heart which of the Great Teachers of the Brotherhood is the nearest for him; then, one must completely surrender oneself to this High Guidance, without any limitations, any conditions. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 06.05.1934)
In practice, you may visit spiritual centres in your neighbourhood and get to know the spiritual leaders who are teaching there.
Search also for historical periods and countries you feel connected with.
Look for communities you may be related to: For example Pythagoreans, Plato's Academy, the Stoics, the medieval monks' orders, Samurai, Theosophists and the like.
Above all, you should study the lives, writings and letters of the great world teachers, saints, and spiritual heroes of all times and all confessions, from Pythagoras to Gandhi, from St. Catherine of Siena to Helena Blavatsky. In this illustrious circle you will certainly find a spirit who is akin to you.
Choose that Light-bearing Hierarch who is nearest to your spirit and surrender yourself to his guidance, for, verily, each Great Hierarch of Light is the reflection of God upon Earth. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 01.02.1935)
Develop your psychic energy, your spiritual powers, your higher, finer, inner senses. They will infallibly point out the right direction. According to the law of correspondence, your higher self is quite naturally drawn to the teacher who is in harmony with your nature.
Each one receives a Teacher in accordance with his own consciousness. (Hierarchy 242)
Your own Higher Self will make known the teacher, when you are ready, for that Higher Self is in constant communication with the Higher Selves of others, and only It is able to make the connection between you and others on the same line, who may karmically become your instructors. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. I, Lesson 117 „The Circuit of the Soul”)
5. Do not necessarily look for a physically incarnated teacher
Nicholas Roerich “St. Francis of Assisi”
Your search does not necessarily have to be directed to a teacher living today. You can as well be led by a Benedict of Nursia or a Ramakrishna, by a Teresa of Avila, Hildegard of Bingen or Mother Teresa, who are no longer physically dwelling on earth:
The spirit, whom they themselves have followed, speaks from their lives, their words, their deeds, and their writings in such a clear language that you, too, can follow him.
One’s Teacher is not necessarily discovered in a neighbor’s house; it is possible to guide at a distance. (Community 177)
If the very beautiful Image of St. Francis is so close to you, do choose him as your Teacher. Why should you turn to another’s Guru—have your own. Why not try to follow the great example of St. Francis? In our present age, with its almost universal worship of the golden calf, a revival of the teaching of poverty would be a most salutary counterpoise. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 10.12.1936)
Of course, it would be easier for you to join a contemporary teacher and be taught and guided by him. Of course, it would be a blessing for mankind if there were many Ashrams with enlightened masters and their disciples to whom the seeker could turn.
However, as this is not the case in our time, because, as it is said in the Teaching, all the sanctuaries of the spirit were destroyed (AUM 109), you have no choice but to strive for an even greater achievement: To learn to be led by the spirit directly, without mediation by other men.
In any case, a teacher, the higher he stands, reflects less his personal, individual self, and more the spirit which fills him.
One must first find within oneself the ability to understand guidance by thoughts. (Supermundane 837)
The lives of many saints, for example Catherine of Siena, Johanna of Orléans (Joan of Arc), Margareta Maria Alacoque or Bernadette of Lourdes prove that spiritual guidance from the world beyond is possible and often practised.
If the soul of a man is evolved to the degree where it is possible for him to interiorly recognize the presence of the Christos, it will be a matter of indifference to him personally whether that Avatar will appear in a physical body or not. In the process of development, he would have created within himself a psychic center of action within which a response would be aroused by the mental stimulus of another who was attuned to the same key. Perfect devotion to, and inter-communication with, the Christos, would attune the consciousness to the key-note of the Christos. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. I, Lesson 197 “The Avatar”)
The connection with the teacher is of a supratemporal and spiritual nature. It is not restricted by the limitations of matter, space and time. When you open your heart and allow its strings to resound, the teacher is always with you, even if his body has left the physical plane already centuries ago.
One must strive in the consciousness so as to realize the presence of the Teacher in spirit. (Fiery World I, 346)
Thus, the teachers themselves say:
I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28, 20)
Even now, of course, I am with you in spirit, though absent in body. So, consider how you can hold me back with you. To tell the truth, I will never leave you without taking you with me. (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Letter 116)
Every one of you who is willing to serve, humble, God-fearing, eager in the Scripture, vigilant in prayer and anxious for brotherly love, should believe that I am not far from him. For how should I not be present to him in spirit with whom I am one heart and one soul? (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Letter 143, 2)
The great goal is: To advance so far on the path of purification, to refine your inner, spiritual senses to such an extent that you can hear the voice even of a non-incarnated teacher.
The Teacher watches the progress of the yogi. The sign of his progress will be the ability to hear the voice of the invisible Teacher. (Agni Yoga 174, 181, 185)
Bear in mind that your efforts should be directed to the development of your own higher centers of consciousness, so that it will be possible for you to contact your friends on higher planes without an intermediary. (Teachings of the Temple Vol I, Lesson 213 “Automatic Revelations”)
It is vital that you become a follower, a practitioner and a disciple of a particular philosophy and spiritual practice, for example a Pythagorean, a Stoic, a Samurai, or an Agni Yogi, and that you live according to its rules, habits and laws.
A good teacher is someone who exemplifies this philosophy whenever he has lived. His perishable personality is not in the foreground.
6. Do not aim too high
Remember: You must be worthy of the teacher you have chosen – the higher he stands, the more. Therefore, do not aim too high! Do not pursue an unachievable ideal. Be sure to stick to the next higher step of the Jacob’s ladder.
We must realize the whole chain of Hierarchy, holding strongly to our nearest link. Woe to the one who tries to skip this link and thus loses his connection. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 19.10.1929)
It is a typical beginner's error to think that, already after the first steps on the Spiritual Path, one is entitled to turn to highest masters such as Buddha, Jesus or a Mahatma of the Brotherhood for personal guidance.
The love you feel for these Great Souls may be genuine. It is, however, the love of a soldier for his general, in whose leadership he blindly trusts, although he can at most watch him from afar. As opposed to that, your personal guide is the officer or corporal standing closest to you. You cannot yet dare to turn to the general directly with your personal request.
If someone is to lead you, he must not stand too far above your own consciousness. Do we really believe that the greatest masters like Christ Jesus will guide many of today’s human beings?
The Teachers never had many disciples. One can remember the small number—sixteen, or twelve, or even fewer. (Agni Yoga 438)
It is known of Nicholas Roerich that he only had two disciples: Boris Abramow and Alfred Hejdok.
The number of true disciples is very limited. Once, a Great Teacher was asked whether he had many close disciples, and he answered, “Less than the number of fingers on one hand.” (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. II, letter of 04.11.1935)
There rules the age old principle: As below, so above. That means: No beginner on the piano or the violin, as a conductor or tennis player, would dare to direct his request to be accepted as a pupil immediately to highest masters such as Arthur Rubinstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Herbert von Karajan or Steffi Graf.
You would not believe the man or woman who told you he could take you just as you are and place you in the ranks with Beethoven or Michelangelo by giving you lessons for a year or two in music or sculpture. (Teachings of the Temple Vol I, Lesson 11 “Knowledge and Power”)
Rather, you have to slowly and arduously work yourself up through many intermediate stages, through intermediaries of the high art, through disciples of disciples of a disciple of the great Master, until you become, on one distant day, worthy of the highest consecration –personal guidance by a Mahatma.
The man who is not truly humble, universally kind, just and wise could not hold up his head in the presence of the Masters long enough to present his claims to discipleship. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. I, Lesson 231 “The Unknowable”)
Therefore, worshiping and following the saints is much more realistic than believing that every small man could turn directly to the highest levels, to Jesus, to angels or archangels, or even to God himself. The saint is the next level of evolution and thus the natural mediator between man and the higher spheres.
To those who, with unveiled eyes, can behold the wisdom, beauty and perfection of the law of all laws, evolution, the perfected man, or Master, is a natural sequence, without which an impassable gulf appears between the higher and lower man, between man and angel. Look where you may in Nature's realms, you will find no great gaps between its different degrees, and this fact alone proves the possibility of a final realization of the animating hope of the human race, the perfectibility of man. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. III, Lesson “The Fruit of Life”)
You also have to recognize: For a teacher, every disciple is a burden and a great responsibility. He can, therefore, accept only those who have sufficiently proved their suitability; otherwise he would waste his precious time and energy.
Almost no one realizes what an extreme burden the Teacher takes on by accepting a disciple. Therefore the Great Teachers, who guard the world, who direct the universal processes toward good ends and who participate in gigantic cosmic battles, can accept only those in whom They have no longer any doubt. Only those can be accepted who have gone through many fiery tests and have proved their readiness and devotion, not in comfortable environment but on the edge of the abyss: hence, the small number of accepted disciples. (Helena Roerich Letters Vol. I, letter of 21.07.1934)
7. The Teacher as your spiritual Father
Rembrandt "The Return of the Prodigal Son"
Ultimately, you recognize your master through spiritual kinship: The teacher is your true, spiritual father; he whom Jesus calls the "Father in Heaven".
He helps you to your second, spiritual birth, educates you like child, guides your steps and accompanies you on your Spiritual Path – not only today in your present incarnation, but already for thousands of years.
The Chela must rise or fall with his Master, and the first great reality that dawns upon his awakening consciousness is a recognition of his kinship to – his oneness with – that Master; and having once recognized, he cannot repudiate Him; his duty, his pleasure, his very life, is bound up with that of the Master. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. I, Lesson 32 “How long, o Lord!”)
Just as you have only one physical father, you only have one teacher as well. Those who constantly change from one guru to the other are going astray.
The Master is not only acting as the Father of a family, he IS that Father to the chela if both are parts of one Group Soul, and no more than the child can supplant his own physical father by delegating the functions of a father to some other man, can the disciple, even temporarily and unconsciously, supplant the Master by delegating the functions of that Master-Father to another, by accepting the admonition, directions or advice of that other. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. I, Lesson 232 “The Relationship between Teacher and Chela”)
This spiritual connection stands higher than any physical one.
To the earnest disciple his Teacher takes the place of father and mother, whereas they give him his body and its faculties, its life and causal form, the Teacher shows him how to develop the inner faculties for the acquisition of Eternal Wisdom. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. III, Lesson “What is a ‘Lodge Agent’?”)
Remember! You know your father from your life in the world beyond before your present earthly existence.
To advanced souls like Helena Roerich, who have cultivated a firm, conscious connection with their teacher for thousands of years, he shows himself already in their childhood.
Urusvati [Helena Roerich] has kept in her heart from early childhood the revelation that the Teacher of Light lives “somewhere.” Only memories of reality could call forth in a child’s consciousness such a vivid image. We rejoice to see that Our co-workers, from their first conscious hours, bear within themselves an image of what they have previously seen.
When a pilgrim has been sent out with Our mission, if he has already been in contact with Us in the past, illumination is received even in infancy. We come to him in various Images. His silver thread is stretched tautly to Us. (Supermundane, 21)
So if you strive to establish and strengthen this connection now, you will not have to search so arduously and for such a long time in your next life until you find your teacher.
8. Find your Teacher through Love
Nicholas Roerich “The Command of the Master”
Ultimately, it is love that leads you to your spiritual father.
Through love will you come to Me. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden I, 61 )
A disciple aspiring to become an Agni Yogi must sense the full power of the flame of love for his Teacher. (Agni Yoga 623)
Do you not feel the joy of the intimate contact with the one to whom you can look up, whom you can trust, from whom you can learn, who elevates you, and with whom you are safe?
Urusvati loves the communion with Us. It cannot be ordered, it cannot be intellectually evoked, only the power of love can bring it into life. What is needed is simply a strong feeling. One must love the momentary contacts, and should feel the beautiful wings that they provide! We value each such bridge of love. (Supermundane 337)
In your search for the teacher, use the real power of love: It actually has an attracting force!
Once the energy of the heart swells up with love and devotion, the luminous spiral will whirl out into space and, naturally, will encounter the Teacher’s ray due to the law of attraction. (Heart 250)
When you appeal to your "Father in Heaven" with burning love and longing – how could he remain silent?
A call of love will bring response from the Beloved. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden I, 83 )
As below, so above (AY 225): Exactly like the terrestrial, the supermundane powers as well respond more surely the more urgently they are being invoked.
Can one cite an example when the quest of a pure consciousness was not answered? (Agni Yoga 93)
As on earth, so in heaven the best connection to another being is forged by love.
Neither concentration, nor command of the will, but love for Hierarchy produces direct Communion. What can more strongly unify than the mantram—“I love Thee, Master!” In such a call it is easy to receive a ray of cognition. (Fiery World II, 296)
Nothing can separate souls bound by love. (From the Mountain Top, Vol I, Lesson “Love is God”)
9. Address your Teacher without a name
“The Sermon on the Mount” Church of St. Matthew, Copenhagen
It is crucial that you remain unshakably convinced that your teacher actually lives. There is a next link in the hierarchical chain for everyone. Everyone has a spiritual father, you, too. You have lived with him before this incarnation in the world beyond and will return to him after death.
All one’s being knows that the Teacher of Light does exist. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 351 )
It may seem that the bond with the Teacher does not exist, and that the Teacher does not exist, but he who knows says: “Maya, begone! I know my bond with the Teacher.” (Community 201)
Thus, if you only do not know his name yet, you may still turn to him without a name and simply and lovingly call him "father".
A blessed Guide is given to each of you, for your happiness. Turn to Him alone, with all the strength of your spirit. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden I, 83 )
10. Example Yogananda
Read the famous "Autobiography of a Yogi" and learn how Yogananda, after some trials and tribulations, finally meets his teacher, Sri Yukteswar; how father and son magnetically attract each other; how they recognize each other at first glance, and how they are filled with the certainty that they are meeting not for the first time.
So will it be when you face your teacher – at the latest after death in the world beyond, but also one day in a – physical or spiritual – encounter on the material level.
11. My Personal Experience
Filippo Lippi "Adoration in the forest"
The connection with the teacher is an intimate relationship, about which one should not really speak in public. Just because you might learn from my experience, I will briefly tell how I found my teacher:
Soon after the first steps on the Spiritual Path, I felt a deep longing to recognize my spiritual father and to communicate with him. I started my search by reading biographies of saints. Quite naturally, a few figures came to light, to whom I felt a spiritual proximity.
One day I had work to do in Berlin. In a break I visited the picture gallery there. For a long time, I lingered in front of the mediaeval painting of an Adoration which at first glance has nothing special about it.
A few weeks later I had to go to Berlin again. Again there was a break, and I went once more to the same museum – but only to look at the same painting for a second time. It exerted a strong attraction on me. It seemed to summon me: "Come back to me. I still have something to tell you."
Though I am very fond of admiring the old masters, it is nevertheless unusual that I visit the same museum twice within a few weeks’ time.
Again I lingered for a long time in contemplation before the painting. Only now did I notice a brochure with more detailed information on the works exhibited. Through it, my attention was drawn to the fact that in the background of my painting there is depicted a saint who is looking at the scene. He had so far completely escaped my attention.
Moved to my heart, I read that he was one of those saints to whom my reading had already attracted me.
This evident superior guidance gave me the joyful assurance that I had found my teacher.
This realization was later confirmed and strengthened again and again by many other smaller signs.
Thus, already in my early youth, I felt related to the country where and to the time when my teacher was incarnated.
I immersed myself in his life and read his writings. Especially in the letters which he wrote to his monks when he was traveling, I felt so personally addressed as if a father was speaking to his son. Probably I was physically present in the refectory centuries ago, when these letters were read in the original to the community.
In this way, you, too should search, namely by sensitively reading the signs that life itself offers to you.
Merely open your eyes, because there are many signs around. (Hierarchy 54)
12. Beware of false Teachers!
Today as at all times, there are a lot of false prophets. Many self-proclaimed shepherds are looking for a flock – while it should be the other way round!
You must learn to distinguish true from false teachers. If you follow the wrong leader, you will miss the path, and all your efforts will be in vain.
The key question is: Does he show a path? Is it a spiritual path, or does he address the lower self, the physical, the material? And does he himself walk the path he is pointing out to others?
In the West there have appeared many self-proclaimed yogis, magicians, teachers, hypnotists, and occultists, who make use of phenomena produced by the will. Brilliantly multiplying their coins, they teach people, for a fee, how to improve their material condition; how to induce others to trust them; how to win influence in society; how to gain success in business; how to compel others to obey their orders; and how to turn life into a rose garden. In teaching others to develop the will, some of these teachers may seem to be following a good path, but because they do not indicate any goal in this journey, they serve only to worsen the already ugly conditions of life. (Agni Yoga 404)
Only the one who teaches not abstract principles, but above all their practical application in everyday life can furnish an example and serve as a guide.
When you insist on the application of Yoga in life, then you will be true teachers. (Agni Yoga 176)
He who does not respect the free will of the disciples or aims at earning money with his teaching will not be a true master.
Do not listen to the teacher who demands a fee for his teaching. The Teaching cannot be bought or obtained by coercion. (Agni Yoga 93)
Regard wealthy prophets with special caution—in reality they do not exist. True, We cannot let a messenger go hungry, but earthly wealth with all its burdens must not become a Dragon on the Threshold. (Heart 588)
False prophets work only for their own gain, and their activity has nothing to do with the Teaching about the New Life. If one should ask those false prophets how much silver they have accumulated, they would remain silent, knowing that the Teaching is for each of them as a milk cow. One of the signs of Armageddon is the enormous increase in the numbers of false prophets. They appear in all countries and offer whatever the crowds desire. (Supermundane 336)
At all times and in all religions the principle applies:
Freely it has been given to you, freely give. (Matthew 10, 8)
Higher knowledge cannot be sold for a pottage of lentils. (Supermundane 504)
13. Do not ask too much from your Teacher
Hans Memling "St. Benedict"
Finally, do not form false, unfulfillable ideas of your teacher. If he is the next higher link in the infinite chain of Hierarchy, he does not stand so high above you that he is able to work miracles.
One should not bring to the concept of the Teacher expectations of anything supermundane. The Teacher is the One who gives the best advice for life. (Agni Yoga 43)
The teacher will be a guiding tutor—a friend who points out a shorter and better path. (Community 108)