Looking Beyond Superficial
Currents in the
Ocean of Theosophy
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
“No one who strives to tread the
path is left unhelped (…) ” [Robert Crosbie]
It has been often said that the theosophical movement does not depend on how many nominal theosophists are there, nor on the visible strength of any institutions built and managed by them.
The present and future of the movement, it has been said, entirely depends on those relatively few earnest workers of different countries and generations who dedicate their whole lives, not so much to the outer and apparent levels of the work, but above all to the actual search for inner and supreme wisdom; and to repeatedly trying to live and act according to the ideal of human progression and perfection.
On referring to the Few, in the opening pages of “The Voice of the Silence”, H. P. Blavatsky meant precisely these dedicated students who are real seekers of the Wisdom. Some of them happen to be conscious aspirants to lay discipleship, or lay “chelaship”.
William Q. Judge had something to say about this level of action in the theosophical movement, which of course corresponds to a certain “layer” in the magnetic aura of the movement.
Judge wrote to a student:
“There are so many questioners who ask about Chelaship that your letter comes quite apropos to experiences of my own. You say that these applicants must have some answer, and in that I agree with you. And whether they are ready or unready, we must be able to tell them something. But generally they are not ready, nor, indeed, are they willing to take the first simple step which is demanded. I will talk the matter over with you for your future guidance in replying to such questions; perhaps also to clear up my own mind. The first question a man should ask himself (and by ‘man’ we mean postulants of either sex) is: ‘When and how did I get a desire to know about chelaship and to become a chela?’; and secondly, ‘What is a chela, and what chelaship?’ ”
These are fundamental questions indeed. William Judge went on:
“There are many sorts of chelas. There are lay chelas and probationary ones; accepted chelas and those who are trying to fit themselves to be even lay chelas. Any person can constitute himself a lay chela, feeling sure that he may never in this life consciously hear from his guide. Then as to probationary chelas, there is an invariable rule that they go upon seven years’ trial. These ‘trials’ do not refer to fixed and stated tests, but to all the events of life and the bearing of the probationer in them. There is no place to which applicants can be referred where their request could be made, because these matters do not relate to places and to officials: this is an affair of the inner nature. We become chelas; we obtain that position in reality because our inner nature is to that extent opened that it can and will take knowledge: we receive the guerdon at the hands of the Law.” 
There may be something of a reward or guerdon at some point, in the form of a greater ability to learn. But it is most important to know from the beginning that discipleship is no status symbol to stimulate people’s vanity and pride. And chelaship is not a comfortable road to tread. It is instead the steep and narrow path.
Discipleship and discipline (two words with the same root-meaning as disciple) mean the condition on which one is able to learn. Disciple is he or she who dedicates his or her life to Learn. Altruistic work, philosophical study and contemplation of universal truths are among the conditions by which one can learn.
If some sectors of the theosophical movement have perhaps “forgotten” the importance of the issues related to the inner learning, then the problem lies with these same sectors. There is always time, though, to recover such a “memory”, either collectively or individually. Spiritual discernment is of the essence. To identify illusions is no secondary aspect of the path. Yet it is not enough to see what is right and what is wrong. Students must examine whether they are not subconsciously identified with the delusions which they can already clearly identify - on a rational plane.
Robert Crosbie wrote:
“No one who sees his mistakes can be a hopeless case. The moment we see that we are deluded, that moment we are no longer deluded, although we may be surrounded by the consequences of delusion and have to work through them. Any trouble and hindrance come from self-identification with delusion and mistakes; this is the delusion of delusions.” 
Besides seeing what is true and what is false, therefore, one must actively give up that which is false, and this is not always easy for individuals, or for groups of individuals. It requires a development of will, and the ability to try. In a letter to a student, Robert Crosbie said this, about the students who lost their compass:
“Speaking of those who have fallen by the wayside, it is quite true that ‘the greater the height the greater the effort to preserve equilibrium’; but this applies particularly when the height is an intellectual rather than a spiritual one, and where the motive is tinged with a desire for self-advancement regardless of the paramount duty to selves. Very often the ostensible motive is not the real one, and in this we frequently deceive ourselves. Ambition also comes in; the desire for the approbation of our fellows may cloud our vision in our effort to maintain it. There are many temptations, some of which may come disguised as angels of light. Our best safe-guard is an unselfish desire to benefit others, with no anxiety about our own progress, while striving all the time to make ourselves the better able to help and teach others.”
And Crosbie added, in the same letter:
“There is no need to grope, nor stagger, nor stray, for the chart that has led many to the goal is in your hands in the philosophy of Theosophy.”
This sentence alone is something to meditate about.
But Crosbie proceeds:
“And let me say here to you: do not be too anxious; abide the time when your own inner demands shall open the doors, for those Great Ones who I know exist see every pure-hearted earnest disciple, and are ready to give a turn to the key of knowledge when the time in the disciple’s progress is ripe. No one who strives to tread the path is left unhelped; the Great Ones see his ‘light,’ and he is given what is needed for his better development. That light is not mere poetical imagery, but is actual, and its character denotes one’s spiritual condition; there are no veils on that plane of seeing. The help must be of that nature which leaves perfect freedom of thought and action; otherwise, the lessons would not be learned. Mistakes will occur, perhaps many of them, but, as is said, ‘twenty failures are not irremediable if followed by as many undaunted struggles up-ward’.” 
The teachings and the information about these deeper layers of theosophical effort and learning can be found at the classical and authentic theosophical literature.
The only real temple is within each individual’s consciousness; yet no one is an isolated island in our humanity, and mutual help is part of the Law.
The price to pay for acquiring a wider perception of the esoteric philosophy is rather simple, yet it is not easy: it is a gradual and total self-transformation by continuously attempting to live according to the teaching and to impersonal ethics.
A practical knowledge of Karma Law must guide theosophical efforts. It is not difficult to see that the right kind of will - inseparable from discernment and vigilance - produces the corresponding sort of magnetism and karma. In due time, these two living factors will have their effects in the proper layers of the magnetic aura to which the true esoteric movement in fact belongs.
 “Letters That Have Helped Me”, by William Q. Judge, Theosophy Co.,
, 1946, 300 pp., see p. 40. Los Angeles
 “The Friendly Philosopher”, Robert Crosbie, Theosophy Co.,
, 416 pp., see p. 147. Los Angeles
 “The Friendly Philosopher”, Robert Crosbie, pp. 7-8.
If you want to have access to a daily study of the original teachings of Theosophy, write to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for information on the e-group E-Theosophy.