Discipline: Physical

(1) The discreet magician is one who sees to the readiness of his lowest vehicle to carry the fire wherewith he works, and this he accomplishes through discipline and strict purity.

(2) If occult students disciplined the life more wisely, if they studied the food problem more carefully, if they took the needed hours of sleep with more determination, and if they worked with cautious slowness, and not so much from impulse, (no matter how high the aspiration) greater results would be seen, and the Great Ones would have more efficient helpers in the work of serving the world.

(3) Drastic physical disciplines are often attempted today by well-intentioned aspirants; they practise celibacy, strict vegetarianism, relaxation exercises, and many kinds of physical exercises, in the hope of bringing the body under control. These forms of discipline would be very good for the undeveloped and the lowest type of human being, but they are not the methods which should be employed by the average man or the practising aspirant. Concentration upon the physical body only serves to enhance its potency, and to feed its appetites and bring to the surface of consciousness that which should be securely secluded below the threshold of consciousness. The true aspirant should be occupied with emotional, not physical, control and with the effort to focus himself upon the mental plane, prior to achieving a stabilised contact with the soul.

(4) The rule as given to applicants consequently concerns their ability to accept and adhere to a self-imposed discipline. Through the means of that discipline, the control of the physical and astral natures are demonstrated by the applicant to himself, and the effect of the discipline is to reveal to him certain inevitable and basic weaknesses, such as control of the animal nature, the powerful imposition of desire, a sense of superiority, of pride and of separativeness. His ability to sustain the discipline, and his appreciation of himself for so doing, plus a sense of superiority to those who are not so disciplined, are all indicative of essential weaknesses. His fanaticism, latent or expressed, emerges in his consciousness with clarity, and – when he is sincere – he is conscious of having brought about a measure of physical purity; but at the same time, he is left with the awareness that he may be starting with the outer and the obvious, when he should be beginning with the inner, and with that which is not so easily contacted or expressed. This a great and most important lesson.

It is also an interesting illustration of the technique of the Masters, whereby They permit a fallacy to remain uncorrected (because it is originated by the disciple himself and must be dissipated by him also), and the use of language which conveys a wrong impression. By so doing, the user of the language discovers eventually his erroneous approach to the truth.

The true disciple does not need vegetarianism or any of the physical disciplines, for the reason that none of the fleshly appetites have any control over him. His problem lies elsewhere, and it is a waste of his time and energy to keep his eye focussed on “doing the right things physically”, because he does them automatically, and his spiritual habits offset all the lower physical tendencies; automatically these developed habits enable him to surmount the appeal of those desires which work out in the fulfilment of lower desire. No one is accepted into the circle of the Ashram (which is the technical name given to the status of those who are on the eve of initiation, or who are being prepared for initiation) whose physical appetites are in any danger of controlling him. This is a statement of fact. This applies particularly and specifically to those preparing for the first initiation.

(5) Some very sincere devotees and promising applicants, are so preoccupied with form and its disciplining, that they have no real time to give to soul expansion. They are so interested in their reactions to their self-imposed discipline, or to their capacity to conform, or their failure to accept discipline, that the spiritual truths – seeking entrance into their hearts – fail to make such an entrance. Temperance in all things, the wise use of all sustaining forms, and self-forgetfulness, are the hallmark of the disciple, but not of the beginner. Many disciples today, who should be functioning in the Hall of Wisdom, are still fanatically working in the Hall of Knowledge, and are still so earnest over the physical disciplines, that the disciplines of the soul are ignored. I would ask you to reflect on this.

Let me repeat: the physical disciplines are of value in the beginning stage, and impart a sense of proportion and an awareness of defects and of limitations. These have their place in time and space, and that is all. Once the world of the soul is entered, the disciple uses all forms wisely, with understanding of their purpose, and with freedom from excess; he is not preoccupied with them or fundamentally interested in them. His eyes are off himself and are fixed on the world of true values. He has no sense of self-interest, because a group awareness is rapidly superseding his individual consciousness.

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