Mudrashram Institute of Spiritual Studies
Avoiding Exploitation in the Disciplic Relationship
By George A. Boyd © 2003
There are several different stages of the disciplic relationship with a Master or Initiate. These are described below.
Severing the Disciplic Link
As mentioned before, the Wheel Attunement of accepted discipleship can be broken at the Masters whim. This is normally done when the disciple has committed rather grievous offenses in the eyes of the Initiate. These can include:
Testing by the Master
It is pointed out that the Masters standards or requirements may be higher than the disciple can live up to at any given time. The disciple may be discouraged by this experience and leave the Path or may redouble his/her efforts with an aim to please the Master doing whatever is required to fulfill the Masters wish. These standards, moreover, may not seem reasonable or rational, but may actually be the Master testing the disciples loyalty and love.
This continual testing of the disciple is viewed in many traditions as a means of purifying the disciples character and perfecting the disciples ability to selflessly serve the Master. The task, from this perspective, is only a vehicle through which the Master can work on the disciple to spur greater dedication and devotion.
The Master, appearing to be never satisfied with whatever the disciple does, may seek to challenge the disciple to do more, to do better, to push the envelope of what the disciple believes is possible. In this way, through the metaphor of the task, the Master stimulates the disciples growth and reformation.
However, the disciple must use discernment to discriminate between the manipulation of a spiritual charlatan and the genuine spiritual teaching and command of a God-inspired Master. Both may be seen to resort to "spiritual theater" (Lila), but their motivation is vastly different. It is vitally important to determine exactly what motivates the Initiates behavior and whether or not you are being exploited. Consider this before and after carrying out the task.
The on-again, off-again love and affirmation of the Master, coupled with episodes of chastisement and seeming abandonment, is disconcerting to the disciple. When the disciple is sincere about making progress on the Path, loves the Master, and serves the Initiate selflessly, it is hard to understand and accept this capriciousness of the Initiate.
The breaking of the Wheel Attunement (which can be voluntarily re-established by the Master at any time) can be especially disconcerting and upsetting. From the disciples standpoint, this may not seem justified, when the disciple has been devoted and loyal. In some cases, when an individual has been traumatized in early life by abandonment by a parent or a loved one, this spiritual abandonment is doubly painful because it re-awakens old wounds.
Where We Stand
This tradition of spiritual game playing, "spiritual theater," "Divine Sport," or Lila, as it has been called, is not embraced by the Mudrashram® Lineage. We believe that spirituality and growth is best sustained by unconditional love and appropriate support, and steady encouragement of the aspirants progress. We also believe that the disciplic relationship does not need to be dramatic and capricious; instead, we see that it exists to help the disciple to grow and mature personally and spiritually.
For this reason, we advocate being clear about our expectations to those who study with us and to help the aspirants understand what we communicate to them. We show the aspirant gratitude for whatever they do in service. We certainly seek to avoid re-traumatizing aspirants by playing with their minds and hearts, but instead offer them tools by which they can rehabilitate their abilities and overcome the wounds of the past. Furthermore, we attempt to match tasks with the disciples ability, and if the disciples effort is nonetheless unsatisfactory, then we attempt to point out a way that correction can be made. We believe it is in this climate of steady affirmation that the disciple can best make progress, and avoid both trauma and exploitation.