Research Writer Sir Godfrey Gregg D. Div, OHPM, ROMC
The facts of daily life often seem at variance with the principles of spiritual living. This is the disciple’s great problem how to live as a soul in the world of form, how to practice positive harmlessness.
All those who aspire to tread the path of discipleship in the world today are faced with the problem of duality, with the difficulty of adjusting their achieved subjective understanding of the inner reality of the soul to the harsh, materialistic, so-called realities of physical plane living in a society largely dedicated to the pursuit of the things of the world for the satisfaction of selfish personal desire. That the materialistic focus of modern society is undergoing change, and consequent turmoil in the process, is abundantly true; but such change, while becoming clearly manifest on a world-wide scale, may not seem nearly so apparent to the individual aspirant in reference to his own near environment, immersed as he often is in a veritable whirlpool of conflict between the truth as inwardly recognizes it and the denial practiced by his daily associates. For it is not likely that many of the average aspirant’s or disciple’s business acquaintances have any large grasp of spiritual truth as it manifests in world affairs.
Indeed, it may often seem that the disciple’s immediate environing conditions are going in exactly in the opposite direction to those idealized in the plan for humanity. Nevertheless, these close environing conditions present the disciple with his chief problem. He must learn to overcome them in the light of his own soul, and it is this problem of objective environment which entails that dual focus of attention involved in that particular pattern of activity which is called the dual life of discipleship.
The dual life of discipleship results from the conflict between the inner subjective reality and the outer glamour and illusion, between that which is and that which seems to be, between the truth of the spiritual life and the falsehood of materiality. It has to do with the resolution of the final pair of opposites before the portal of initiation – the Angel of the Presence and the Dweller on the Threshold.
The problem of the disciple is summed up in the words of Christ: ‘No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon’. But then again he indicated that certain adjustments must be made with the world, for the Kingdom of God is not yet manifest on the physical plane: ‘Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves’.
In the latter statement is found one of the great occult dual principles of skill in action, the combination of the serpent wisdom, as it has been called from ancient times, with the harmlessness of that immemorial symbol of peace, the dove. All too often organized religion seems to have emphasized the meekness and harmlessness of the dove but has failed to teach the power of the deeper spiritual wisdom which makes of harmlessness a positive force rather than a negative one. On the other hand, the legions of materialism employ to the fullest extent the serpent of evil knowledge (it can hardly be called wisdom) and scoff at the supreme principle of harmlessness.
The individual disciple, therefore, must continually make the necessary daily adjustments, practicing wisdom yet with the motive and effect of utter harmlessness, and seek ever to adapt the soul energy of which he is increasingly becoming a channel to the requirements of daily living. In short, he must live as a soul in the world of form. The seemingly duality and the resultant conflict with which he must contend is actually a manifestation of spiritual progress, although to the aspirant it seems that the reverse is true. There is duality because he sees the great difference between the perfect world of the divine soul and the imperfect world of form, and for a long time he is faced with apparently irreconcilable pairs of opposites.
‘Hence,’ says the Tibetan, ‘the frequent reaction of the disciple to the fact that for him, as yet, there is no point of peace. Peace was the objective of the Atlantean aspirant. Realization is that the Aryan disciple. He can never be static; he can never rest; he is constantly adjusting himself to new conditions; constantly learning to function therein, and then subsequently finding them pass away to give place, in their turn, to new. This goes on until the consciousness is stabilized in the Self, in the One. Then the initiate knows himself to be the on looking Unity, watching the phenomenal phantasmagoria of life in form.
‘He passes from one sense of unity to a sense of duality, and from thence again into a higher unity . . . This dualistic stage is that of the aspirant and of the disciple, up to the time of his training for the third initiation. He begins with the knowledge that he is a spiritual entity confined in a form. His consciousness for a long period of time remains predominantly that of the form . . . . Then the point of balance changes, and the soul appears to dominate from the standpoint of influence, and the entire consciousness aspect begins to shift into the higher of the two aspects. Duality, however, still persists for the man is sometimes identified with the soul and sometimes with his from nature; this is the stage wherein so many earnest disciples are at this time to be found. Little by little, however, he becomes “absorbed” in the soul in all forms until the day dawns when he realizes that there is nothing but soul and then the higher state of unity supervenes.’