The Path of the Disciple
Nicholas Roerich "Pearl of Searching"
Dedicated to the past, present and future disciples of Agni Yoga
This course is designed for those who wish to enter the path of the disciple, approach the Brotherhood of Shambhala, follow a master and ascend over time to higher levels of the Hierarchy.
We take the necessary basic knowledge for granted. This can be found in the books of Agni Yoga, in the 36 Booklets "Introduction to Agni Yoga" (see www.lebendige-ethik-schule.de/hefte.htm) and in the courses "Experiment Immortality", "Introduction to Agni Yoga" and "The 10 Pillars of the Practice of Agni Yoga "(videos see www.lebendige-ethik-schule.de/webtv.engl.htm, texts of the videos see www.lebendige-ethik-schule.de/tvtexte.engl.htm).
2. Stepping forward to the Presence of the Teacher
The first step on the way of the disciple and the key to advancement is the act of stepping forward to the presence of the teacher (Hierarchy 176; Fiery World III, 138). You cannot be a disciple if you do not go to school regularly and meet your teacher there. Without guidance by a teacher no progress on the spiritual path is possible.
Just imagine, your teacher lived physically incarnated within walking distance in your neighbourhood. If you are his disciple, it would be your natural desire to see him as often as possible. You love him after all! You long for his presence, his words and instructions, for the holy atmosphere of his home!
In your normal everyday life there will hardly be any changes: You cannot leave your partner and your children. You have to continue to work for your livelihood. This means: You shall have to find time for meetings with your teacher usually in the morning before and in the evening after your working day, as well as, possibly, shortly at noon, and during the holidays.
3. How to find your Teacher
How you can find your teacher is described in detail in Booklet 5 “The Hierarchy” of "Introduction to Agni Yoga" (www.lebendige-ethik-schule.de/hefte.htm) and in the video “The Hierarchy” of the Series “Introduction to Agni Yoga (www.lebendige-ethik-schule.de/webtv.engl.htm, text of the video see www.lebendige-ethik-schule.de/tvtexte.engl.htm).
If you did not yet find your personal teacher, you can start with stepping before one of the great saints (Francis of Assisi, Sergius of Radonezh, Katerina of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Mahatma Gandhi, Helena Roerich, Nicholas Roerich etc.) or before the Brotherhood of Shambhala as a whole.
If you continue to advance on the path of the disciple, your teacher will make himself known in due course. Trust in the principle: When the disciple is ready the Teacher appears. (Helena Roerich, Letters Vol. I, letter of 21.07.1934)
4. Stepping before the Teacher in Spirit
Unfortunately, hardly any of you can expect that his teacher, or any real spiritual teacher, lives in the neighbourhood or is incarnated in this time on earth at all. Therefore, the disciple must learn to visit his teacher in spirit.
This is one of the great improvements that Agni Yoga conveys to mankind: You can save the effort of a trip to India. You can learn, like Helena Roerich, to lead a real conversation with a creature of the spiritual world, with your not incarnated teacher, in a purely spiritual way.
Agni Yoga says: 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)
How this is achieved is described in the video "Communion with the Higher World (Meditation)" of the Series "The 10 Pillars of the Practice of Agni Yoga" (see www.lebendige-ethik-schule.de/webtv.engl.htm, or text of the video at www.lebendige-ethik-schule.de/tvtexte.engl.htm).
The more you are practicing, the more clearly you will be able to hear in spirit the voice of your teacher and his instructions.
5. Why stepping before the Teacher?
You step before the teacher because he alone knows the plan for your personal education and for your personal service to the common good, your personal mission on earth, your place in the Hierarchy and the solving of your Karma.
From him you can learn what you need to do at each new day in order to take another step on the spiritual path, to contribute another stone to the construction of the New World and to fulfill your earthly obligations.
You should consult the teacher not only according to your moods, but daily or weekly at certain fixed times, and thus introduce a salutary rhythm.
Even the teacher must adapt to you: If you sometimes call him urgently several times a day, and then do not send a word for months, you cannot expect that a natural connection is being created.
7. Cleaning of everyday Life
You will see how the regular stepping before the teacher alone - even if no conversation comes about and you receive no message or inspiration - has a cleansing effect on your whole earthly life:
Necessarily everyday life will become a preparation for the hour at the feet of the teacher, because you will have to overcome one or the other bad habit, without that the teachers even has to speak one word to you:
You will probably not want to step before one of the masters of the earth charged by an overfull stomach or smelling of garlic, alcohol, cigarettes or sweat. You cannot turn to a great sage to receive spiritual instruction, if you are unable to avert your thoughts at least for an hour from your worldly projects, amusements, concerns and difficulties.
Therefore, the act of stepping before the teacher requires some purification. And the hour at the feet of the teacher is - even if nothing else happens - a time of elevation which has, just as the visit of a concert hall or a church, a purifying effect.
This experience shines on your everyday life: You realize that in spite of everything holiness is possible in this unholy world. You will strive to transfer as much as possible from this exalted mood into your daily life, and to preserve it there as long as possible. You will endeavour, as far as possible, to adapt your earthly life and that of your surroundings to this example of a higher life.
8. Application for tentative Admission as Disciple
The next step on the way of the disciple is to formally apply to be adopted as a personal disciple by a teacher.
It is true that each one has his teacher in the form of his guardian angel, his spiritual father, the next higher link in the chain of Hierarchy, to which he is connected.
This relationship, however, is initially unconscious and later limited to occasional questions or requests for help. A real relationship of teacher and disciple in the actual sense of the word does not come by itself.
A disciple in the esoteric sense is the member of a community that consists of the teacher and his classmates. Thus, acceptance as a disciple at the same time means to be accepted into this community.
A disciple in the true meaning you can only be when a teacher has received you into such a community, into his school. This was so at all times: If you wanted to become a disciple of Plato, you had to enter the Academy, a disciple St. Francis of Assisi had to be received into his monastery, a disciple of Buddha into his ashram, and a disciple of Jesus had to be included into the circle of the apostles.
Today it is no different, except that the admission in most cases occurs no longer physically but in spirit. It is all about the timeless community anyway to which you want to belong, whose members obviously are not all incarnated at the same time as you.
The application for admission as a disciple, even just tentatively, is a big step. Read again the Mahatma Letters: From them it transpires that most applications must be rejected for lack of suitability of the candidate.
So you have to consider very carefully if you are already ripe for this step. Better you examine yourself before the teacher does it!
Your self-examination must relate in particular to find out whether you are able, in the middle of your physical everyday earthly life, to abide to the Rule of the Disciple, the 10 Pillars of the Practice of Agni Yoga. It is obvious: He who cannot comply with the Rule of the ashram (and this not only in the ashram itself, but also during the time in which he is sent with a mission down to the material world), cannot be received into a community that has placed itself under this law.
It will therefore be wise if you, before you approach the teacher with your request, fix a trial period for yourself in which you try to live according to the Rule. If you succeed, you may apply.
This does not mean, however, that you will be accepted without further consideration. There are many other aspects which the teacher has to take into account, especially your karma and your inner maturity. Compliance with the Rule is only a necessary, but not a sufficient condition to be accepted and received.
10. Tentative Admission as disciple
When you are ready, the teacher will accept you as his personal disciple - obviously tentatively only.
The regular trial period is seven years. That might seem to you as quite a long time. But remember that your position as a disciple is not limited to your current short life on earth, but in principle extends indefinitely over many lifetimes on the material level as well as after the death of the body in the other world. As a preliminary stage preceding such a long lasting connection, seven years of testing are not much.
It is solely in the hands of the teacher to extend or to shorten the probation period.
11. Transfiguration of life
With your acceptance as a disciple your life will completely change inwardly. This spiritual reality must henceforth determine your entire earthly existence. The new goal of your life is now to be adopted during this lifetime permanently as a personal disciple. Everything else must serve this great objective or step back behind it.
As an example, Milarepa is before our eyes, who set himself the goal to acquire Buddhahood during one lifetime, and actually reached this objective. (.See W. Y. Evans-Wentz, Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa, 2nd edition London 1958)
Your external, everyday life first changes little outwardly. You continue to fulfill your worldly obligations. But the mental frame of your life has completely changed by the fact that you now strive to another objective than before.
12 Entering the Ashram of the Teacher
As a disciple, even on trial, you have to enter the ashram of the teacher and be included as a member in the community, which consists of the teacher and your fellow disciples.
You form as of today a spiritual family. The teacher is your spiritual father, your classmates are your spiritual brothers and sisters.
As of today, you take part in the life of the ashram, especially in the training and the service to the common good.
Only with the entry into the ashram of the teacher, your position as a disciple of a master and your entering the spiritual path turn from an abstract figment of a Sunday preaching to a concrete reality of life. You now take part in all, even the smallest details of the life of the teacher and in the wholesome customs of the community. Thus you are really incorporated into the Hierarchy.
One must see clearly: Most students of esotericism make progress maybe in theory but not in practice because they avoid the crucial step of entering the ashram of the teacher.
This step as well is done in most cases in spirit, because in these days there are no physical ashrams of the Brotherhood on earth. You become a monk of an Inner Monastery. The temple is within your heart.
The Contributions will be continued