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What is discipleship?

What is required
of a disciple?

Types of communion
with an Initiate

Discipleship in the
Mudrashram®
tradition

 

Becoming a Disciple

 

By George A. Boyd ©2001


Note: in this article we will use the terms Initiate, Guru and Master interchangeably to represent Mastery on any level of the Great Continuum of Consciousness, without using the title in its technical sense. [For example, a Guru is technically a title used to someone who has gained Mastery in the Supracosmic Sphere.] We will use the term aspirant and chela synonymously to represent an individual who is seeking to make progress on the spiritual path and gain greater mastery of meditation practice. The term chela technically refers to the attentional principle of the individual who is receiving spiritual instruction from a Master teacher.


What is Discipleship?

Discipleship is a spiritual relationship that is not frivolously established, that requires faithfulness and commitment by both Guru and chela to the common goal of raising the aspirant to states of communion, Mastery and Liberation. Conditions that need to be met to establish a Guru-disciple relationship are detailed in the table below.

Guru

Chela

The Master has the ability to initiate on the level of the disciple's ensouling entity.

The chela must be able to gain union with the ensouling entity at will in full consciousness.

The Guru is established in the state of Mastery on the level of the disciple's ensouling entity, either essentially [e.g., the Guru's ensouling entity dwells on that level] or through the adoption of an immortal form upon that level.

The chela must be prepared to assume the responsibilities and accept the challenges that initiation in this order of being entails. The chela, who is at a lower order of spiritual development than the Guru, must be willing to receive Grace and guidance from this teacher, and follow the teacher's precepts. This requires a willingness to learn and humility.

The Guru must assume responsibility for the karma between the Guru's state of spiritual evolution and the disciple's. The Guru ensures that karma is progressively worked out.

The chela must be willing to do meditation practice and to receive the Light from the Guru to actively dissolve karma.

The Guru must make an attunement with the disciple's ensouling entity. In some traditions, attunement may be made concomitantly with the attentional principle, the spirit, and/or nuclei of identity.

The chela must utilize the Grace imbued in the spiritual attunement to make spiritual progress, to grow in virtue, ability, and wisdom. The chela must recognize the opportunity afforded by this established attunement and capitalize upon it.

The Master must be given a mandate by the Divine to work with this disciple.

The chela must seek to draw closer to the Divine by spiritual communion, progressive initiation, and the unfolding revelation of successive bands of the Great Continuum of Consciousness.

The Guru must faithfully discharge the spiritual duty towards the disciple to ensure that progress is steady and the spiritual goal is attained.

The chela must honor and respect the Guru, and obey the moral obligations and guidelines required by the Guru's teaching.

The Guru must protect the disciple on the inner Planes from negative forces and entities.

The chela must stay away from deleterious influences. This can include avoiding inappropriate diet, improper behavior, unsuitable relationships, negative content in books and other media, use of intoxicants, and frequenting environments that subject the disciple to temptation. The chela must check his or her wayward patterns of thinking and behavior to reform character and eliminate self-destructive habits.

What is required of a disciple?

Intense self-discipline is required of the would-be disciple. Frankly, many seekers are unwilling to make the sacrifices required to limit their lifestyle and behavior. While the Guru asks that these sacrifices be made with an aim to purify the disciple spiritually and reform character, many seekers find that they cannot live up to these stringent demands, and rapidly fall away from their well-intentioned promises on the day of initiation.

The potential disciple must first determine whether a teaching resonates with the inner core of truth before seeking a Guru-disciple relationship. Thoughtful exploration of the teaching and faithful practice of precepts and meditation must come before asking the Guru to grant the yoke of discipleship. Further, the aspirant must be clear that he or she can commit to the requirements of the Path before seeking conscious spiritual communion with this Initiate.

Before promising to serve the Guru, the aspirant must be willing to carry out the task to completion and the full satisfaction of the Master. Failure to keep this commitment may effectively block the granting of further boons or blessings by the Master. In the wake of grievous dereliction of duty that earns the Master's displeasure, this flagrant betrayal of trust may even result in the withdrawal of the Master's attunement. This leaves the would-be disciple with the task of finding his or her own way across the Great Sea of Darkness without further help from the Guru.

Types of Communion with an Initiate

There are three types of communion with an Initiate:

  1. Anonymous ministry

  2. Personal teacher/mentor relationship

  3. Conscious spiritual communion

In anonymous ministry, the Master works with the ensouling entity, spirit, and attentional principle of others without those individuals having awareness of who is doing the ministry. It is common for these individuals to attribute the Light they are receiving to the god-man, savior or prophet of their faith.

In the personal teacher/mentor relationship, the Initiate gives practical guidance, spiritual discourse, meditation instruction, and helps the aspirant refine character. This relationship is established at the level of the personality. At this point, the aspirant is not advanced enough in meditation to commune with the Master's radiant Guide form on the inner Planes.

In conscious spiritual communion, the chela knows who the Master is, communes with the Master's Guide form, and travels with the Guide on the inner Planes. With sufficient preparation and inner development, this leads to the establishment of accepted discipleship, where the chela is empowered to minister on behalf of the Master.


Discipleship in the Mudrashram® Tradition

Excerpted from "Stages of Disciplic Training" in the Satsang Program

[Swami Charan Das states:]

"Discipleship is a phase of successive training and mastery in the school of spirituality. The Mudrashram® tradition recognizes 36 degrees or markers of discipleship that must be mastered before someone can reach the level of accepted discipleship. An accepted disciple is an individual who is empowered to teach on our behalf, to initiate others, to bestow the sacred mudras."

[Information about these 36 degrees are given in our Satsang Program Home Study Course.]

The Seeker's Dilemma

"Many seekers feel confusion when they encounter the disparate and often conflicting messages of spirituality that he or she receives at gatherings of spiritual and religious groups…"

[I will summarize the remainder of Swami Charan Das' discourse.]

This is because different groups work on different levels of the Great Continuum of Consciousness, and have varying requirements for initiation and discipleship. If the seeker is not careful, he or she can create imbalances by skipping ahead in the spiritual journey, working on levels beyond his or her spiritual cutting edge.


[Swami Prabhu Maharaj begins his discourse here.] He adds to Charan Das' remarks,

"It is tempting indeed to jump up and work at the level of the First Cosmic Initiation, and unfold spiritually at the feet of a Yogi Preceptor. It is ecstatic to open up into one of the Supracosmic Paths, to be filled with the scintillating, empowering ray from a Guru. It is rapturous to be lifted into the Ocean of Love on one of the Transcendental paths, bathed in the glorious radiance and beauty, and infinite love of a Sat Guru."

"But…" Swami Prabhu Maharaj cautions, "work in these higher octaves well beyond your rightful station can create in you a sense of incompleteness and dissatisfaction. You may congratulate yourself that you are doing spiritual college studies, when in actuality you are still in second grade."

"For this reason, as part of the Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation, we do a reading for you to help you identify your spiritual cutting edge, and the development you have made in other octaves of the Great Continuum of Consciousness. We do this so you can start in the right place, so you may build your spiritual temple in a stable way, in a balanced way. In a way that will not make you a fanatic or lunatic raving on in the night."

"We then teach you in the Mudrashram® Advanced Course in Meditation how to recognize these higher octaves within you, and how to sense your spiritual cutting edge. We do this so you can know for yourself and not just take our word for it."

"Discipleship is not supposed to be a journey of blind faith, of fearful obedience, of occasional clouded glimpses into a world of mystery and splendor. You are meant to see, to know, to progressively master in full consciousness each of the steps of the process of inner development."

"We will help you if you seek our help to go through these stages. But the struggle, the inner battle, the sacred victory–this you must eke out by your own spiritual work. The Master cannot do this for you: you must take the mantle of mastery at each stage, at each step of the journey for yourself."

"We can train you through each of these stages of discipleship if you choose to study with us. You are free to come and go. This is not a prison. We are a school on how to become spiritually free…"

"Make the decision to develop yourself spiritually. You prepare plans to progress in your career, improve your health, make more money, and enhance your relationship. Set goals for your spiritual development, also."

"Take time to pray and meditate. Make an altar, a sacred space in your home. Continually expand your inner vision into new areas of the Great Continuum of Consciousness. Progressively advance in meditation so you can concentrate even more minutely, so your inner vision becomes clearer and clearer. Meditate until you can go up and stand in the presence of your Soul, in the presence of whatever Masters you love, and you can look into the face of God."

"This is not impossible to you. We will give you the tools [of meditation techniques] if you don't have them. If you have these tools, use them. You will experience your progressive growth and mastery day by day."

"You will be like water, wearing away the stone, cutting through mountains, cutting through mile after mile of earth, until you reach the sea. This is your spiritual destiny. May you be awakened and empowered to fulfill it."

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