The Mudrashram Home Page

The Reading Room

The Psychic Room

The Meditation Room


To Order Our Services


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.

  1. Imaginary Discipleship — based on "faith" and blind belief, one claims to be a disciple of a Master when no connection has been formed. Justification for this establishment of this purported disciplic relationship may be based on interpretation of scriptures.

  2. Dream Communion — a spiritual teacher, when beginning to work with an aspirant, may appear in the aspirant’s dreams. Here the content is contaminated by productions of the aspirant’s unconscious mind, and the teaching appears in a veiled, symbolic form.

  3. Inspirational Attunement — a spiritual teacher may make an attunement with the individual’s Superconscious mind to awaken innate gifts or abilities. The aspirant may experience this as a sudden illumination or peak experience. This state cannot be replicated by the aspirant’s own effort, so it is perceived as a supernal infusion from on high.

  4. Formal Initiation (diksha) — here the individual is granted attunement in the presence of an Initiate, marked by transference of Light and spiritual energies (Shaktipat) and induction of a state of spiritual illumination (samadhi). This immersion in Light may also be accompanied by instruction in esoteric spiritual methods.

  5. Communion with the Guide — here the aspirant is led to commune with a radiant astral form of the guide (nuri swarup), who leads and counsels the attentional principle and/or the spirit of the aspirant.

  6. "Wheel Attunement" — here the Initiate builds a bridge of Light between the Soul of the Master and the Soul of the disciple. This establishes a permanent connection between the disciple and the Master. This is the state of formal accepted discipleship in many traditions. This bridge of Light may be severed at the Master’s whim.

  7. Union with the Beloved — here the disciple ascends spiritually to the same level as the Master. This ultimately leads to the state of being able to initiate, guide and make attunement with others. Here the disciple has become an Initiate.

Severing the Disciplic Link

As mentioned before, the Wheel Attunement of accepted discipleship can be broken at the Master’s whim. This is normally done when the disciple has committed rather grievous offenses in the eyes of the Initiate. These can include:

  1. Breaking of spiritual or monastic vows.

  2. Revealing esoteric secrets or techniques given under an oath of secrecy when it is not appropriate to do so.

  3. Defaming or reviling the Master, speaking ill of the Master to others, trying to deceive the Master, betraying the Master.

  4. Disobeying a direct command of the Master (Agya).

  5. Failing to meet the Master’s standards in carrying out a project directed by the Master.

  6. Voluntarily leaving the Path by the disciple’s choice, usually done with formal notification to the Master.

  7. Inability of the disciple to maintain a connection with the Master for karmic reasons, e.g., the disciple’s addiction to drugs or alcohol, sexual behavior in violation of the Master’s commandments, or the disciple’s inability to meditate from deterioration of psychic integrity or personality decompensation (resulting in psychosis).

Testing by the Master

It is pointed out that the Master’s 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 Master’s wish. These standards, moreover, may not seem reasonable or rational, but may actually be the Master testing the disciple’s loyalty and love.

This continual testing of the disciple is viewed in many traditions as a means of purifying the disciple’s character and perfecting the disciple’s 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 disciple’s 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 Initiate’s behavior and whether or not you are being exploited. Consider this before and after carrying out the task.

Ecstatic Caprice

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 disciple’s 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 aspirant’s 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 disciple’s ability, and if the disciple’s 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.

The Mudrashram Home Page

The Reading Room

The Psychic Room

The Meditation Room


To Order Our Services