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Thinking About Discipleship

 

©2001 by George A. Boyd

When people talk about someone being a teacher’s disciple, they usually base that categorization upon generally accepted criteria for discipleship. Some of the criteria are shown below:

1. Implicitly following behavioral guidelines or commandments from the Master, with an aim to change behavior, modify character traits and habits, and model yourself after the Master. Studying teachings, reading books or scriptures authored by the Master or about the Master with an aim to understand the Master’s teachings.

2. Changing belief to align with the beliefs advocated by the Master. Believing in and relying upon the Master for guidance, succor and direction.

3. Identify yourself personally as a follower of the Master, stating to others that the Master is your teacher or Savior, attending meetings of the Master regularly, wearing clothing, jewelry or other items which identify you as a follower of the Master.

4. Following a teacher in the spirit through the Nadamic path, showing spiritual devotion, loyalty and allegiance to that teacher, regarding the Master as the embodiment of the spiritual goal, surrendering body, mind, wealth, possessions and spirit to the Master.

5. Exclusively using techniques advocated by the Master and eschewing all techniques of other groups, receiving guidance on using techniques correctly by that Master, receiving initiation (diksha) by that Master, and daily, faithfully and fastidiously practicing those techniques to enhance and accelerate spiritual development.

6.Exclusively meditating or contemplating upon seed thoughts or objects as directed by the Master. Traveling with the Master on the Inner Planes, going with the Master to the stage of his or her own development, being shown a form or forms of the Divine by the Master and worshipping, serving and obeying that form of the Divine revealed by the Master.

7. Dwelling as an ensouling entity or nucleus of identity upon the Path of the Master, receiving Grace, translation and inner awakening from the Master on a regular basis with an aim to make spiritual progress and reach the same state of attainment as the Master. Regarding the Master as the embodiment of the Divine, the goal of spiritual development and your spiritual ideal.

Items 1 through 3 are personal criteria, which include observable behavioral, belief or character changes of the personality. They are components of exoteric religion and spirituality (swamartha). Items 4 through 7 are transpersonal criteria, which involve non-observable actions by the attention and the attentional principle, the spirit and the ensouling entity in relation to the Master. They are components of esoteric religion and spirituality (paramartha).

We contend that while you may follow a spiritual teacher and study with him/her, the teacher grants the relationship of discipleship when you earn it after a long period of inner development and inner maturation. It is a relationship of trust, faith and love that facilitates your spiritual development that is sustained, unbroken and loyal.

This state of your one-pointed devotion comes only upon your realization and conviction that there is no better or higher or truer path that you can follow. If any doubt exists that this is the best, highest or truest path, then this inner conviction will not arise in your heart and your relationship with the Master will be ambivalent and less than whole-hearted.

We recommend that you examine yourself to discover with which teachers you have affiliated and considered yourself as their disciple or devotee. Review the generally accepted criteria for discipleship.

Notice what sparked the conviction that this Master was your spiritual ideal, what you changed in yourself to follow and commune with that teacher and what you did to sustain that practice. If you have left that relationship with this Master, notice what changed your conviction about the Master and how that affected your behavior, belief and spiritual practice.

We recommend that you read in the section For the Seekers the other articles in this web site about discipleship, so that you may understand the more esoteric components of this sacred relationship.

We suggest in these articles that much of what is generally accepted criteria for discipleship in the mind of the believer may not be necessarily reciprocated or recognized by the Master, leading to a widespread delusion of discipleship on the part of the adherents of many of the world’s religions. We underscore that certain inner markers of maturity and mastery must be established before accepted discipleship is granted, and the disciple is empowered to teach in the Master’s name.

We hope that reading these articles will clarify your understanding of discipleship and you will avoid the pitfalls of becoming involved in a deleterious cultic relationship. A clear understanding of what discipleship entails is prerequisite to moving into the deeper stages of spiritual life and expressing the Soul’s highest potential.

 

 

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