VIII - Practice of Theosophy: Living the Life
3) Aspiration, Discipleship and Initiation
- The Trinity of the Path
(HPB, Articles, "Chelas")
The word "Chela" simply means a disciple; but it
has become crystallized in the literature of Theosophy, and has,
in different minds, as many different definitions as the word
"God" itself. Some persons have gone so far as to say
that when a man is a Chela he is at once put on a plane when
each word that he may unfortunately utter is taken down as ex
cathedra, and he is not allowed the poor privilege of talking
like an ordinary person. If it be found out that any such utterance
was on his own account and responsibility, he is charged with
having misled his hearers.
Now this wrong idea must be corrected once for all. There are
Chelas and Chelas, just as there are Mahatmas and MAHATMAS. There
are MAHATMAS in fact who are themselves the Chelas of those who
are higher yet. But no one, for an instant, would confound a
Chela who has just begun his troublous journey with that greater
Chela who is a MAHATMA.
In fact the Chela is an unfortunate man who has entered upon
"a path not manifest," and Krishna says that "that
is the most difficult path."
(HPB, Articles, "Chelas and Lay Chelas")
From Book IV of Kiu-te, Chapter on "the Laws of Upasans,"
we learn that the qualifications expected in a Chela were:--
1. Perfect physical health;
2. Absolute mental and physical purity;
3. Unselfishness of purpose; universal charity; pity for all
4. Truthfulness and unswerving faith in the law of Karma, independent
of any power in nature that could interfere: a law whose course
is not to be obstructed by any agency, not to be caused to deviate
by prayer or propitiatory exoteric ceremonies;
5. A courage undaunted in every emergency, even by peril to life;
6. An intuitional perception of one's being the vehicle of the
manifested Avalokitesvara or Divine Atman (Spirit);
7. Calm indifference for, but a just appreciation of everything
that constitutes the objective and transitory world, in its relation
with, and to, the invisible regions.
Such, at the least, must have been the recommendations of
one aspiring to perfect Chelaship. With the sole exception of
the 1st, which in rare and exceptional cases might have been
modified, each one of these points has been invariably insisted
upon, and all must have been more or less developed in the inner
nature by the Chela's UNHELPED EXERTIONS, before he could be
actually put to the test.
(HPB, Articles, "Esoteric Character of the Gospels")
The first key that one has to use to unravel the dark secrets
involved in the mystic name of Christ, is the key which unlocked
the door to the ancient mysteries of the primitive Aryans, Sabeans
and Egyptians. The Gnosis supplanted by the Christian scheme
was universal. It was the echo of the primordial wisdom-religion
which had once been the heirloom of the whole of mankind; and,
therefore, one may truly say that, in its purely metaphysical
aspect, the Spirit of Christ (the divine logos) was present in
humanity from the beginning of it. The author of the Clementine
Homilies is right; the mystery of Christos--now supposed to have
been taught by Jesus of Nazareth--"was identical" with
that which from the first had been communicated "to those
who were worthy," as quoted in another lecture. We may learn
from the Gospel according to Luke, that the "worthy"
were those who had been initiated into the mysteries of the Gnosis,
and who were "accounted worthy" to attain that "resurrection
from the dead" in this life . . . . "those who knew
that they could die no more, being equal to the angels as sons
of God and sons of the Resurrection." In other words, they
were the great adepts of whatever religion; and the words apply
to all those who, without being Initiates, strive and succeed,
through personal efforts to live the life and to attain the naturally
ensuing spiritual illumination in blending their personality--(the
"Son") with (the "Father,") their individual
divine Spirit, the God within them. This "resurrection"
can never be monopolized by the Christians, but is the spiritual
birth-right of every human being endowed with soul and spirit,
whatever his religion may be. Such individual is a Christ-man.
On the other hand, those who choose to ignore the Christ (principle)
within themselves, must die unregenerate heathens--baptism, sacraments,
lip-prayers, and belief in dogmas notwithstanding.
In order to follow this explanation, the reader must bear in
mind the real archaic meaning of the paronomasia involved in
the two terms Chréstos and Christos. The former means
certainly more than merely "a good," and "excellent
man," while the latter was never applied to any one living
man, but to every Initiate at the moment of his second birth
and resurrection.17 He who finds Christos within himself and
recognises the latter as his only "way," becomes a
follower and an Apostle of Christ, though he may have never been
baptized, nor even have met a "Christian," still less
call himself one.
The word Chréstos existed ages before Christianity was
heard of. It is found used, from the fifth century B.C., by Herodotus,
by Æschylus and other classical Greek writers, the meaning
of it being applied to both things and persons.
(Wm. Q. Judge, Articles, "The True Theosophists Path")
Know then, Disciples, that you only can lift yourselves by your
own efforts. When this is done, you may have the knowledge that
you will find many to accompany you on your heretofore lonely
journey; but neither they nor your Teacher will be permitted
to push or pull you one step onward.
Live well your life. Seek to realize the meaning of every event.
Strive to find the Ever Living and wait for more light. The True
Initiate does not fully realize what he is passing through, until
his degree is received. If you are striving for light and Initiation,
remember this, that your cares will increase, your trials thicken,
your family make new demands upon you. He who can understand
and pass through these patiently, wisely, placidly--may hope.
Additional Related References of Interest
1.) HPB, Articles, "Are Chelas 'Mediums'?"
2.) HPB, Articles, "Chelas and Lay Chelas"
3.) HPB, Articles, "Chelas"
4.) HPB, Articles, "Mahatmas and Chelas"
5.) HPB, Articles, "The Esoteric Character of the Gospels
All the above articles can be found on BN under Blavatsky Articles.