It's possible that some readers of this blog who have only come to it recently are not aware of its initiating inspiration, referred to in the title of the blog. I am not saying the writings here have any special authority. For better or worse they are just me but they do derive in part from experiences I had as a young man when I was given instruction by beings from the spiritual world who are traditionally referred to as Masters. The word describes souls who have mastered their lower nature, overcome the world, the flesh and the devil and passed out of the ordinary human kingdom into the fifth kingdom, that of souls united in full consciousness with God. In Christian terminology this would be souls who have achieved theosis which is very different to salvation as it implies that the soul has not just turned to God but has actually made the spiritual journey that leads to the divinization of consciousness. Here's the difference. Salvation means to follow Christ. Theosis is to become like him in the sense of allowing him to be born and grow to maturity in your heart. This is a long and arduous process but the saints and other great spiritual figures of the past have proved it can be done by those prepared to make the necessary sacrifice of the earthly self. That is what the Crucifixion means.
There follows an article, slightly edited, from my book The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man which explains something about these Masters. I know some people are suspicious of such beings, fearing demonic deception but we should not let the existence of fake coin blind us to the reality of authentic currency. At the same time, deception assuredly does exist but that is what we have intuition for, to sort out true from false.
What Are Masters?
In this article, I hope to shed some light on the idea of discarnate spiritual Masters as the enlightened guides of humanity, and to set out what they are and what they are not. This is an area in which there is a lot of illusion and confusion. The purpose of the article is to show why that is so and to clarify, for believer and sceptic alike, what remains a difficult subject.
For over a hundred years now the idea of spiritual Masters has been well established in Western esoteric thought and, one might add, myth. These are alleged to be beings who have gone beyond the need for the human experience and now exist in a state of elevated consciousness, free of the limitations of material form as we know it. They have realised their oneness with God. The Theosophical Mahatmas were probably the first of these Masters to be presented to the general public but many other groups and individuals have claimed contact with similar or identical beings since, and there are a number of teachings, received in various ways, supposedly deriving from them. Some of these teachings can be spiritually instructive. Others are clearly false. What is the reality behind all this, if indeed there is one?
The Masters as presented by the Theosophists started off as flesh and blood figures, enlightened but physically incarnate though dwelling in Himalayan remoteness. Recent research has suggested that they may originally have been based on actual people encountered by Madame Blavatsky on her wanderings; people she then used as models for the Masters who would therefore be largely her creation, in appearance at least. But that’s certainly not how they were thought of at the time and subsequent Theosophical leaders expanded on the original picture of the Masters considerably, elevating them to almost Christ-like figures which is slightly odd since they were essentially Buddhists. They promoted the young Krishnamurti as their intended mouthpiece only to be discomfited when he rejected the position intended for him, apparently turning his back on the whole idea of Masters. However, the concept of spiritual supermen did not go away. It was taken up by other groups and is now an intrinsic part of New Age thought with a variety of channelled communications purportedly emanating from what has come to be called the Spiritual Hierarchy. For the interested layperson separating fact from fiction in all this can be something of a challenge.
You might think that either such Masters exist or they don’t exist but it’s not quite that straightforward. In a famous passage, Dion Fortune said “The Masters as you picture them are all ‘imagination’. I did not say that the Masters were imagination (but) the Masters as they are supposed to be in popular would-be esoteric thought are pure fiction.” This remark makes clear that the Masters are real but they are not as we think they are or as presented by some of those claiming to represent them. This does not necessarily mean that such people are deliberately misleading us and to understand why this is so we have to understand something of the composition of the higher worlds from whence these people say they derive their inspiration.
Esoteric thought tells us that between the physical and purely spiritual worlds there exists a realm corresponding to the human psyche which is often called the astral plane. This is non-physical but still material in that it is a plane of form and multiplicity. It has no permanent reality but is formed of the wishes, desires and thoughts of human beings built up over thousands of years. It is the world to which belong the emotions and the imaginative impulses of humanity, and, significantly for our topic, the substance of which it is formed is readily responsive to thought. What this means is that the psychically sensitive person can either create, through imagination and aspiration, an image of a Master or else ‘tune in’ to a pre-existing one. If he lacks spiritual discernment he may mistake the image for the reality. This image or thought-form is not inert like a statue but may acquire a kind of life of its own. It may be capable of giving teachings that reflect its creator’s already existing spiritual knowledge and thus give the impression of a certain attainment.
This is one source of confusion, one that relates to the imagination spoken of by Dion Fortune, but the matter is further complicated by the fact that there exist on this astral plane disembodied beings who may pose as, or even consider themselves to be, Masters. These beings may have a sophisticated knowledge of the inner worlds but that does not mean they have transcended identification with the ego self which would be the case with a genuine Master. This is why they still function at lower levels. They may give teachings which to the intellect seem good and true but which will lack the transformative impulse that would come from one who might give similar teachings having personally realised their essence. Moreover, these lesser teachings will always contain flaws that act like vinegar in milk, souring the whole.
The Masters are not focused in the psychic worlds. They are not, except in the rarest of cases, the beings that communicate through channelling. Their field of operation is the spiritual world which transcends the phenomenal realms of change and multiplicity of which the psychic is still a part. Only very seldom do they descend below this level. They are not the exotically named and elaborately titled figures of occult fantasy.
What then are they? They are men made perfect who have overcome all attachments to the material world and, putting the matter in good old-fashioned terms, cleansed their souls of sin. They are human souls, like us, but they are at one with their source in God as we are not. For them the earthly mind is no longer the focal point of consciousness but that which gives form to consciousness, and their teachings and methods of teaching reflect this reality. Hence, their preferred means of communication is not mind to mind but soul to soul which is to say, on an intuitive rather than a mental level, through impression not words. They teach spirituality spiritually.
Now this does not mean that the Masters never communicate more directly. Most certainly not everything that is claimed to emanate from them does so but there are occasions when they approach incarnate humanity on a less rarefied level, and a small number of teachings have been transmitted that do bear their imprint. It is not for me to say what may or may not be authentic. That is something we must work out for ourselves since this is how we develop spiritual discernment, and the awakening of the mind in the heart is the principal goal of all spiritual endeavour. One thing I would say though. The Masters teach of and from the soul by which I mean the spiritual component of our being which exists beyond form and the mind as normally conceived. They certainly do not deny the individual but the bedrock of their teaching is that we should forget our everyday, earthly self, the ego, and strive to live in God. Any teaching which does not have this at its heart is not from them.
If we would hear the Master's voice we must learn to step out of the worldly mind and disentangle ourselves from attachment to material things, not just objects but ideas as well. If we wish to respond to the true Masters and not their astral reflection then we must subdue what relates to the astral plane within us, self-centred desire, wishful thinking, pre-conceived ideas and the like. We must be able to remain faithful to the highest that is within us regardless of pressures from outside which can take many forms and include even the apparently wise.
What motivates the Masters as teachers is love. If we can summon up in ourselves just a fraction of that love they can draw near to us. We may not be consciously aware of their presence but they will be able to inspire us and bring us into a closer union with our own soul which, after all, is the real goal of the spiritual path.
Christians who are dubious about such matters should know that this is just another term for the Company of Saints. We should certainly be alert to demonic deception as we should to fake gurus in the spiritual world, of whom there are plenty. We should always ask how much of the spirit of Christ is present here. The advice given by St John in chapter 4 of his 1st epistle remains the touchstone.