NOT SURPRISINGLY, the first reaction of most people towards a discarnate teacher is that they have no need of him. They prefer to manage their life for themselves. What then has such a teacher to offer which cannot be obtained from earthly teachers or learned direct from life? The first answer to such an over-broad question is: ‘Nothing’. In essence the whole task of such a teacher is to be true towards the wisdom of the ages and towards the processes which life itself brings about.
His purpose is to help gradually to bring about on earth the same ways of learning as are in use in the further world, and which all of us will encounter there in due course. These ways are by a mutual interpenetration of thought, by demonstration through experience, by the gradual deepening of perception, and above all through living in an ever-fuller companionship of love.
Such a purpose can very naturally be misunderstood.
It is not to give his students an easy path into happier realms after death, nor is it to shelter them from the hardships and endurances of earth. It is to help them achieve maximum spiritual growth and fulfilment of purpose. A guide’s working tools are his love and wisdom, humour, compassion, and a deep insight into human character.
Too often we see those who feel drawn into the spirit disregard everything appertaining to the material; this is not right, it is not necessary. Whilst people are encased in their flesh we can still train them in their mind and spirit because the mind-spirit relationship is very near.
It is part of the teaching’s strength and not a weakness that it lies within the broad stream of human experience. Nevertheless discarnate teaching does offer a unique contribution because it also relates to a field of living of which much of mankind prefers to remain unaware, or to largely ignore. Further, and very important, it is presented in terms which relate very precisely to each pupil. The guide draws very close to his charge because his insight needs to be directed to his special and immediate situation. The pupil finds the teacher does not abandon his task lightly. It is a serious relationship or it is nothing.
It is not surprising that such a relationship - deeply traditional though it is in some ways - is to most modern people unfamiliar, unexpected and perhaps unwelcome. The teacher has to make use of two difficult routes, by making use of the services of a medium or sensitive, and, usually later, by direct telepathic contact with the more interior aspects of the pupil’s mind. The pupil’s independence however is always insisted upon.
The important thing is that I want you to be free. I want your thinking to be free. I want you to be so free that what we have been talking to you about will bear your critical analysis and will still ring through to you as truth and acceptable.
The teaching is thus concerned with each pupil’s own spiritual commitment or possible commitment. Quite rightly the pupil does not give this lightly. In any teaching situation the collaboration of the pupil is obviously vital. To the newcomer the obvious question is likely to be: why should I pay any attention to what these alleged teachers say?
This is a robust enough attitude. The guides’ way of dealing with objections is very practical. They neither claim nor protest too much. Their method of answering is the very simple one of producing year in and year out the goods they see are necessary to their listener. In spiritual things as in others the proof of the pudding lies in the eating. Those who only glance at the pudding will not know as much about it as those who taste it. It is perfectly reasonable for some people to say that neither the look of the pudding, nor the kitchen which produced it, inspire any confidence to taste it. No one can object to such a stance.
These teachers as will be seen later in no way ask or wish to be taken on trust. They are pleased when a pupil brings to the encounter important parts of his nature by which to judge the material. They do not ask that he shall bring the whole of himself, for, as the pupil will find, it is not at all likely that he has yet succeeded in finding it. For that reason he cannot bring it. One of the teacher’s tasks is to help him find it, or some of it.
We are trying to take fear away from the people of the world, we are trying to heighten their perceptions, and take them into the inner core of being. You know the simile of an onion: we take a skin away, and another skin away. This is what we try to do with people, take the skins away.
The validity of communication as genuine experience grows if a sizeable number of people from various walks of life find themselves accepting it, within the different values of their separate temperaments. They provide a concourse of valuations, based on independent life experiences. Before communication with a guide is accepted as valid, a considerable period of scepticism is normal.
The guide after all cannot be seen in his own person: he is obliged to make some use of part of the medium’s personality. In almost every case he will be someone unknown, whom the listener has never met. His memory therefore has nothing with which to compare the teacher’s presentation of himself. The teacher has to make his impact completely de novo establishing his reality by whether his values lodge themselves in his listener, and awake a living resonance there. The listener will also be judging from more everyday levels how far his presence rings true as a human being. Whatever his views express, they will be expected to be reasonably consistent, clear enough to permit of accurate understanding, and gradually commanding respect. In time, if the communicator passes these tests, and is accepted as a teacher, he will be expected to provide a wider horizon - intellectually and spiritually - than the recipient’s own. This will be what makes him worth listening to.
This is naturally well understood by the guide. He claims no authority either of person or of office. The teachings of The Tibetan telepathically received by Alice Bailey, all contain the same foreword:
“...I am a brother of yours, who has travelled a little longer upon the Path than has the average student, and has therefore incurred greater responsibilities.
The books are sent out with no claim for their acceptance. They may, or may not, be correct, true and useful. It is for you to ascertain their truth by right practice and by the exercise of the intuition… If the statements meet with eventual corroboration, or are deemed true under the test of the Law of Correspondences, then that is well and good. But should this not be so, let not the student accept what is said.
In slightly more personal terms the teacher who adopted the name Silver Birch says:
“I am not an infallible spirit teacher who never makes mistakes and has achieved the summit of progress. That cannot be so… Because the more you achieve the more you realise there is to be achieved… We never ask you to take us on trust. We do not say that you must do what we suggest. Nor do we insist that there are no other ways by which you can obtain a greater attunement with the Great Spirit.
What we do affirm, and with all the strength at our command, is that the truths of the spirit can be tested by your reason, intelligence and experience. There is no threat of punishment if you say we have told you things which you do not accept…If anything we say from our life cannot pass the bar of your reason and makes it revolt, if it insults your intelligence, reject it.
We have to appeal not to the lowest, but to the highest within you, so that you will give your cooperation and allegiance because you desire to do so.”
This attitude is absolutely basic to all this school of teaching. Its material is derived from two areas: gained from former experience on earth, and earned in an enriching way in the different environment after death. To receive acceptance today this will have to be much more than wish-fulfilment, or a rehash of religious orthodoxy. Listeners will seek to know how much of their own character will prove of value when carried over after death and ask what processes in this further life will bring them new insight. They will assess whether the teacher’s words are truly drawn from deeper and different experience than their own.
Confidence, naturally enough, grows if one finds that a teacher first offers a convincing insight into one’s own earth character and its accompanying problems. He shows he can help the pupil to loosen the knots in his character by offering an altered perspective on his problems. When the pupil comes to see them in a new way, the problems often largely disappear as a result. The teacher is expected too to speak to the listener’s own interior world with more effective insight than the listener has been able to acquire for himself. Clearly this involves a matter of stature.
If a student schools himself to come to the teacher openly, without too tight a schedule of preconceived tests, demands and concepts, he will have discovered one of the open secrets; that the teacher needs living-space to allow him to present both himself and his material in his own way. Only thus can a wider framework be presented.
A gradual but true collaboration can then begin. On both sides, as with more ordinary relationships, patience and continuing good will are part of the ballast, which help to keep the ship moving forward steadily.
The guide offers us a goal of being. In doing so he brings his own quality of peace. He tells us we can already take some of the same steps as he; earth life is as open to these as is the life he now enjoys. Hence the learning process he shares with us. In fact, as he emphasis’s, all learning is continuous learning.
It does not end at a fixed point of achievement and certainly not comparatively soon after the event of death.
Many expect a judgment already finalised through the choices and happenings of the life just concluded, a retrospective judgment with rewards and punishments on a foreordained scale. Teachers declare on the contrary that the process of judgment is really one of self judgment, or more accurately self-recognition. It shows us what we have really made ourselves to be, and the consequences which flow there from. These continue until we ourselves set about altering or modifying them. As we act, we learn.
What needs to be learned may prove surprising to the present view we take of ourselves. To take a simple and obvious illustration. Let us suppose one has cheated a considerable number of people, even if at the time one gave oneself the most logical and convincing reasons that it was not really cheating, nor, properly regarded, even wrong - thus cheating oneself as well. To meet again every one of those who have been cheated cannot but be an unpleasant confrontation in which one is shown up, for the true facts are now clearly seen by all. However long delayed, this involves remorse for former actions, and then the need for some kind of restitution. The burden has been lifted from the formerly oppressed to the oppressor. As a result of this the oppressor learns, in time, to change his own nature. In this way, although the consequences have been inescapable, he too ultimately draws a benefit from them. But the benefit has a price that of gradual and painful recognition of his own self. No external wrath has been imposed by any external God. He is cleansed by the later consequences of his own former actions.
There has been no punishment meted out and justice in the other world is justice such as man never knows on earth.
Here at work is one of the basic spiritual laws which as guides teach, underlay life. A law of compensation, of equilibrium and balance. Why, it will be asked, does this continuation of life result in the moral consequences described? Why should not the further span continue to repeat the apparent escapes from consequences so familiar on earth? Why should not the race continue to the strong? But all the discarnate testimony clearly points to the contrary. It shows that many of these burdens of mortality - one’s mental and emotional attitudes - at first accompany one into the inner world. There they await regeneration. They do not disappear of themselves. Moreover it is found to be impossible to live fully in the larger inner world whilst still clinging on to familiar but now outmoded things of the former outer self.
Consequences, however, are only part of the story. There is as well growth and development, and here the testimony is emphatic. The better parts of man are as fully engaged as his worst. Provender is for both.
Teachers are therefore needed. The inner side of life on earth and the inner world beyond clearly provide very deep areas of relationship. Communication can be through words, but later more truly through a mutual and free flowing process of telepathy. Telepathy is speech grown clearer. It is hard to share in experience not yet one’s own, but communicators are most anxious to help us to do so; to show us a way to come to understand something of that experience, to deepen spiritual insight and thus come to it for ourselves. This is a difficult task for both sides.
It is a very strange and complex pattern that you people on the earth are part of, how we can utilise one person to transmit to another things or words or books - this is part of our way of working through others, how we get the individual woven into a fabric, so that they all become part of sharing the whole. We must make a supreme effort to quicken and deepen the earth people’s consciousness to make them again lift themselves, to make themselves more attuned so that they might receive intuitively without the voice of the medium.
This suggests that they know us better than we know ourselves. They look for the hidden self, more valuable than the daily self which weighs it down.
But men and women unfortunately often shut away or fail to find their own potentially valuable qualities which therefore remain for the time being largely unexpressed. That can form a tragedy. Guides are able to help because they usually possess, and demonstrate as well developed within themselves the qualities unawakened or banished in the one they aim to help. Should this not enable them to see more and to have more to give? By their own consciousness, playing upon lacking parts in the man on earth, they impregnate him with their own qualities, but of course it is only the man on earth who can bring about the parturition.
After death we continue where we left off, but with the privilege of self-judgment growing more and more clear as part of our change of condition. Some may think this is almost too simple to be true. However, if true it cannot be doubted that it is logical. It is also reassuring if consequences are not unalterable but can gradually be overcome. We can remake our role in the life ahead by remaking ourselves. That is the important thing. We can also do it on earth. The teacher is speaking to our present as well as to our future. The scenes around us, found after death, will be wide or narrow according to the dimensions of our own nature. What we are able to see depends upon what we are, upon our moral cognition and inseparable from it. The same process, though a little more hidden, can be observed at work on earth. Teachers concern themselves much with this. In doing so they are teaching simultaneously how best to live both on earth and beyond it.
Instruction is naturally graded to what a pupil can absorb. When the guide speaks to the everyday outer man, he is not of course addressing the whole of him. How can he? Therefore much early work lies in bringing confidence to the pupil to begin to live more deeply than through the comfortable habits of his daily self. The guide often delegates this early work to relatives and peers who demonstrate that since their death they have gradually enlarged their horizons. They try to tell a little of what they now see and which has altered them as a result. Their continuing existence guarantees his own. It is very usual for the guide to defer his appearance. If the pupil listens to his former peers with care, then the guide will come and give him instructions. He seeks to speed up spiritual living on earth, through a quickening in the individual.
Just because relatives and peers are closer to the pupil’s outer self, they are still somewhat bound up, as he is, with personal and local concerns. Their advice, though good, lies within a limited sphere. However much they do indeed give in generous support and help, they are likely to be tolerant towards some degree of self-interest because they themselves have not altogether left it behind. Inevitably in time the pupil finds himself beginning to look beyond their help. Sometimes he hardly knows why. Really the new horizon is beckoning him on earth in exactly the same way as it is beckoning to the relatives and peers beyond. Things do not stand still for either.
A guide’s work is necessarily rather uphill though he does not reveal it is so. Everyday facets of the pupil are often reluctant and resistant. The guide has to win these over, has to convince the pupil that he is on his side, and that he knows what he is talking about. Perhaps the pupil believes himself willing to listen. So he may be, but has he the equipment within him needed to respond fully? If not the guide has to awaken it.
Naturally if the outer and the inner are not in harmony the teacher will meet with conflict in the relationship. After all nearly every man and woman on earth is his or her own private walking predicament, though certainly without fully knowing it. This predicament consists in not recognising much in one’s own nature, which, from behind the scenes, governs the flaws of character and temperament and forms their true sources however plausibly they can be attributed elsewhere.
You have to remember that you are imperfect beings living in an imperfect world. If the Great Spirit wanted you to be perfect you would not have been placed on earth. You have the choice, the free will, as to how you utilise the gifts, the powers, and the talents with which you are endowed.
The essence of life on earth is it offers stark contrasts and polarities. It provides goodness and the lack of goodness.
The object of earthly life is to make available a variety of experiences, to enable the soul to exercise its divine potential and emerge stron1er as a result. And so you will have crime, sin and violence.
In coming to recognise these imperfect aspects and to cleanse them, the inner part of the self gradually takes more command. The focus of living gradually changes. All this lies very much in the guide’s attention. He cares about it more than the pupil at first is able to do. The pupil’s outer self, broadly speaking, is insufficiently concerned with the guide’s work on his very behalf, therefore the approach of the guide needs at times to be indirect and subtle. Gradually the pupil comes to recognise this, and begins to look out for apparently irrelevant sentences which are really inner instruction. These are often the more meaningful because they have to be thus introduced with a certain element of sleight-of hand. It is a way of bypassing outer resistances much as the Freudian dream does. In order to pick them up correctly the pupil has to be alert. The guide of course is aware of the degree of his pupil’s interior resources; he carefully studies it, as the pupil finds out.
It becomes apparent that the guide-pupil relationship has a degree of likeness to other teaching relationships of an inner type, where for instance the drama takes place in the novitiate or the monastery. In both, the unworthy parts of the pupil are the target for change, realignment and ultimate transformation. The difference when a guide is the teacher is that the pupil remains out in the world, free to accept or reject, not bound by any vows or imposed disciplines. Relationships with a guide whilst seemingly of apparent ease are nevertheless a modern equivalent for earlier more formal and harsher disciplines.
As the student comes under closer attention his outer and inner sides become less opposed, and begin to fall into more fruitful counterpoint. After all they have to live together within the same person. In place of mediaeval monastic disciplines undergone in order to devalue the outer self altogether - as it were to cast it out like an orphan - the modern purpose lies more in a gradual change of emphasis. Some of the outer values, at first so insistent, and with their growing and complicating demands, fall away quite naturally once the pupil recognises he is free to ignore their insistences; free too to grow tired of them. In the supreme example of Mother Teresa, every moment of outer life is devoted and dedicated to an inner purpose of love which, because all distractions have steadily been put aside, has become simplicity itself. A guide does not demand such lofty (and to most of us frightening) aims for his student. He respects his present possible pace. The student comes to see he has been planted where he is on earth firmly and benevolently by life’s laws, and that he is constantly making choices which, however slightly, are altering and re-creating his own being. These are the areas upon which the guide’s kindly insights are focused.
Of course it is an essential part of one’s passport to earth that one has faults. Many, whilst admitting to a few faults, feel these can fairly easily be reduced or brushed off altogether when wished, and that on the whole they do not matter too much. The faults one is aware of, a guide has said, are the superficial ones; real work only starts by becoming sensitive to undiscovered ones. They are not to be found by easy observation. By working to put right recognised faults the layers of more serious ones begin to be revealed.
Acting to transform faults however must never be in order to obtain a supposed increased reward but simply because they are faults and therefore a blot upon the moral landscape of the world just as much as an ugly building in a physical landscape. That is hard fact.
Adapting the old saying, it is of no use the workman blaming his tools when the tools are made up of his own character. Since a much-extended life lies ahead the pace can be restful if so preferred, instead of one of haste and panic, during the process of transforming the ball and chain upon one’s feet into positive qualities.
The pupil recognises too that the guide never blames him; he simply gives encouragement. Inevitable imperfection is the very warp upon which earth experience has to be threaded. The guide is always generous in recognising where the imperfect pattern also has good strands.
In human relationships much complaint and ill will grows from disappointed expectations. This melts away when insight heals the bruises which lie behind the disappointments. Petty domestic wars can often be terminated readily. If the warfare is not real enough to have a long term continuation, why not end it swiftly? If however there can be no mending, the breaking up of a relationship, however painful, can be a treaty which, unlike some treaties, can end a war for good. Small issues, in the light of long term, are no longer the former monstrous giants they seemed; the false life which has sustained them evaporates easily enough. Time as we say is a great healer; the certainty of extended time a much greater one. The pupil has often obscured things by looking at them through the lens of his outer nature; he need no longer altogether do so.
It is a natural thing for man to want to be happy, and it has taken us many lives to find that happiness comes from within, and is met with happiness from without, but unless the happiness is stretched out from within, and the peace comes from within, you cannot receive, you are as a block of ice. This is what is happening in the world where men are building up a hard casing about themselves, sensitive, kind people whom life has hurt, who have felt their ideals rejected and discarded, who feel that they have not succeeded. They build up this hard veneer, not understanding that it is based on man’s own values of what is success.
But how can we tell whether the guide is right, or if his words only offer delusion, or are even intended ultimately to deceive? It is not wise at all to take the bona fides of every guide for granted. Is his very facelessness used to hide his true motive? There is a very good key to tell a guide’s status. No true one will claim too much for himself or his pupil or make over-forceful demands; his clavichord is well tempered.
‘Suppose it all to be wrong?’ is the question bound at times to trouble both medium and listener. Unlike orthodox religion, the teacher does not seek to overcome the doubt by assurance of revelation. He simply says ‘Look more deeply into your self, and you will find your own assurance there’.
Thus by the very training he gives, a true guide is providing the tools of discrimination which will in time enable the pupil to recognise his own stature a little more truly. Right use of his experiences both on earth and beyond has enabled the guide to purify himself, and this he explains is just what his pupil can do. The laws may be somewhat densely hidden on earth; nevertheless they are at work. By inner development we gradually come to see this. So in time we become in ourselves the confirmation of the guide’s teaching. Our own natures prove his point. Is it so strange, fellow human being as he is, that his later experience and our present experience run in parallel and that the same true values exist and go on existing for both? On death a man remains still in the same boat; he does not transfer to quite a different boat, headed in some different direction.
A well-known posthumous contribution from Oliver Lodge puts it in this way:
“These two bodies are his here and now… the clay to the potter. It is worthwhile endeavouring to take not only himself, as he calls this limited physical body, in hand but to take his two selves and perfect them so that he has a second body, his spirit body, ready perfect when the time of death comes.”
Dean Matthews of St Paul’s made a somewhat similar statement in his lifetime:
“…it seems to me reasonable to believe that we are now weaving our spiritual bodies as we go along. They are being formed by our thoughts and acts of will and imagination during this life.”
It can readily be seen why the guide has little interest in distracting questions of what one should or should not do. Whether for good, or comfort, or even for base self advantage, the pupil’s decision has to be his own. He cannot call upon the guide (though he often tries to) to short-circuit his task. In brute fact, whether his decision is right or wrong, he can learn from it. Different decisions bring about different lessons; that is all, and some unfortunately are more costly than others, especially if they directly involve other people.
Spiritual levels gradually change. Each student seeks the values which speak to his present condition, and at the same time puts out antennae towards more exacting values. The guide calls on one’s ability to commence to hit more difficult targets.
Life which has passed is no vanished blank period, gone for nothing. Many men and women become ready to absorb deeper teaching as a result of former lessons imposed by life itself, through disciplines which at the time were sometimes difficult to face, but which now bear fruit. The rich complexity and apparent confusions of earth life lead in many different ways from one step on the Jacob’s Ladder to the next. Why seek to herd others into the same particular and possibly narrow pathway one has known for oneself? Every level, sincerely explored, offers its own opportunities for commitment.
Teaching is available up and down the scale.
There is no sense in longer life extended over thousands of years, without this growth to accompany it. Else life would be as painful a trial as to the Wandering Jew.
Let us now look at some of the sustaining values which the guide offers to us, from himself, for our own direct use.
“The Coming of the Teacher” is an extract from Hidden Man by Paul Beard published by White Crow Books.