In considering any subject from Philosophy or Science to Literature, it seems the first step is to define the field of enquiry. Just what is it we are to consider and will there be any boundaries? Esoteric training is in the broadest sense so all encompassing as to make the term almost meaningless. The moment we look at a happening, a thought, a feeling, or perhaps an inspiration, in considering its “meaning” we have crossed a line into a new realm. Every pursuit of something as yet unknown fits into this category, and is in that broad sense Esoteric Training because in such pursuits the student is essentially self taught. The moment he asks the question “why?”, with regard to what he observes in his world, his quest has begun. Only he is qualified to say when he has found the answer. There is an implication of detachment in the question “why?” even if it is voiced as a complaint about some outside circumstance to which he feels he has fallen victim. And then, even this could be seen as the beginnings of the journey toward the conscious direction of one’s life when looked at retrospectively from some future time, whether it is recognized at this moment or not.
There are stages and classifications that can be made within the realm of this inner training and we will certainly take this discussion to a greater depth in a number of them. We are all on our own path and yet we all simultaneously share the path of the evolution of consciousness and will tend to encounter similar problems at similar stages of our development. Those who have gone before us can serve as guides, if we let them. It is, in the last analysis, only the individual student who can determine the approach he will take to life and learning. The guides of the race are there to lend a hint when the student is open to their aid, but the responsibility lies with the student alone.
Formal training can hasten the process of development because the student is guided by those who know the path from their own experience and have gained insight and wisdom. They have developed the ability to see firsthand what the student is only able to perceive in fleeting moments, and to imagine. They apprehend the meanings behind events because they perceive the world of energy and force, and have learned to work on these planes with facility. They can forewarn of pitfalls along the way and suggest practices and visualizations based on their knowledge of these things rather than having the student feel his way along the path blindly until he has gained the ability through trial and error, to see for himself.
This is always the way the early parts of the path are traversed. The eager neophyte opens many doors looking for a system or method that will suit his personality equipment, although he may not be conscious of the fact that this is what he s doing. He just thinks he is “dabbling” in something. In the early stages of character building the student is not aware that he is a student. He is awakening to the need for integrity in his life but he does not know what he is integrating. He is trying to do the right thing in each circumstance because that is “what you do”. He is already practicing right aspiration, he is likely to be looking at his occupation and other aspects of his orientation outside of the context of what he might consider “religious” matters. Harmlessness, right speech and other aspects of the philosophies are creeping into his consciousness because he is realizing that he has a responsibility to “act” a certain way.
This can cause conflict in his life as he establishes this new rhythm. Old ways will resurface at weak moments and he will fail to live up to what he is learning over and over as he develops this feeling of responsibility. In my experience it was prompted by the birth of my daughter. It made me want to be a better man. When I later took conscious control of my life and started traveling this road with intent, I did look back to this period of my life and realize that it had been a turning point. One of many, and I had been on the path long before I knew it consciously. I had begun a process of “cleaning up my act” which was purifying my body and bringing my emotions under control. I stopped drinking alcohol along the way and became physically active and healthy again.
Without the alcohol causing friction in our lives my wife and I reached new levels of intimacy and communication. We talked openly about the things we could do to make our relationship better and then did them because we were aspiring to a better life and decided these things would get us there.
This leads to a kind of vigilance about one’s behavior. The student is detaching from the situations and seeing from a different kind of vantage point what impact a particular kind of stimulus is having, and metering the response instead of just reacting. He is living the examined life.
Perhaps the student at this stage has already been consulting books and other media for help in dealing with these situations but he is really still on his own in the sense that he is finding his way based on the experimentation of living in the world. All of the development in the life of the disciple is born of this livingness and the active observation of the reactions of the personal self by the shifting of the identity to a higher level within the myriad aspects of the individual human consciousness. He is looking at everything in a new way and soon he becomes aware of this too.
A moment must be reached when a commitment is made and this good-hearted wanderer becomes a disciple of the truth and knows he can never go back to the way he lived before. He must live up to what he knows, and he must know. There comes a need to understand, and then the Universe becomes the University. He is a conscious traveler on the path and I believe this is where true esoteric training can begin.
He has been inspired to study and the mind and awareness are being honed, but the next step is to turn consciousness upon itself through the use of Meditation. Meditation applied within a disciplined program rather than an occasionally practiced form of relaxation. There are many forms of meditation and the student must find his own way in to an effective form. I found my way to the Arcane School and find an amazing affinity to the work of the Tibetan Master Djwahl Kuhl. In that way he is my teacher and I believe that through his work I have gained a better understanding of the world. He once said a true esoteric school would never be large and I can see very few people who are really working on themselves in a serious way, but many are fertile ground for the seeds of future development if encouraged just a little.
The true nature of the path we trod is that the student cannot be denied what he has earned, any more than he can be given what he has not. That is because he travels the path of wisdom. This is knowledge lovingly applied. If you do not live this lesson you don’t get to see the next. To an extent we can move on but there is an undeveloped part of us that we now must drag along until we deal with it. These things eat away at people and cause irritation. We see adults that simply turn back into their child self under circumstances they have not learned to deal with. For me it came out as anger. Some get depressed or feel hurt, some act out, I got angry and yelled. There are also those who become observers in their own lives and recognize those things in themselves that the average person can only see in other people. The immediate goal is to become one of them. All we need to do is to begin paying attention, and Meditation facilitates conscious awareness. That seems redundant on its surface, but we truly become aware of being aware.
Coupling the meditative practice with the topical study of the spiritual principles brings the student concurrently into the intellectual grasp and personal experience of the process being undertaken. Rather than blindly following meditation instructions, the student is taught why he is visualizing in a certain way and what it symbolizes. I have found that this process has brought the teaching out in my life. I am living the teaching and the teaching is living me.
The introduction of service as a living ideal amplifies every part of the process. This is the “living the teaching”, and “living up to what you know” part. We can serve as examples to those around us; examples of harmless living and open loving and tolerant attitudes. I try to help anyone any way that I can. I have many gifts and talents and I give them freely. This type of behavior is contagious, like all else. It brings a different kind of awareness into the equation. The awareness of interdependence, unity, community, family, and an attitude of gratitude.