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|Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey - Appendix - What is an Esoteric School|
|III. The Truths Taught in the True Esoteric Schools
It should be noted that many of the truths, hitherto imparted under the term "esoteric," have either not been so, or are now entirely exoteric. The esoteric truths of the past are the exoteric fundamental truths of the present. During the past one hundred years, the esoteric doctrines and the secret teaching of the Ageless Wisdom - given to the public often under the pledge of secrecy - have become public property. The nature of man as taught in the mystery schools of the past has - under other names - become recognizable as modern psychology. The mystery of the astral body, of the etheric body and the mental body are now dealt with in our universities, in our psychological courses, dealing with the vitality of the human being, his emotional nature and the mind. The belief in the Masters was a closely guarded secret; now They are discussed from public platforms in all our great cities. The way of meditation and its techniques were closely guarded subjects and the public was taught that such teachings were dangerous; today, this idea is exploded and scores of people throughout the world meditate, make alignment and arrive at soul contact and knowledge. The truth has also been veiled and hidden by a vast body of secondary teaching which has sidetracked the interest of the enquirer, and engrossed his attention through the importance attached to phenomena. Posture, the use of ancient formulas, words and mantrams, breathing exercises, mysterious hints as to the raising of the kundalini fires, the awakening of the centers and other enticing aspects of secondary occultism have caused people to lose sight of the fact that much of the above, being in the realm of phenomena, is concerned with the physical body, its correct adjustment, its vitalization and energizing and that it deals with effects and not with the essential causes of the effects. All these phenomenal results will be demonstrated normally, safely and sanely as well as automatically when the inner man - emotional and mental - is en rapport with the spiritual world and is beginning to function as a spiritual being. This secondary approach to truth has done much harm to the cause of real occultism, and has properly disturbed the best minds in the spiritual field.
In the schools now forming, the emphasis is upon soul awareness,  spiritual knowledge, and understanding of the higher forces, direct and first-hand knowledge of the spiritual Hierarchy which governs the life of our planet, a comprehension (progressively developed) of the divine nature and of the Plan which, in obedience to the will of God, is increasingly conditioning world affairs. The laws governing the individual, humanity and the kingdoms in nature are studied and the whole Science of Relations (as it is unfolded in our evolving world) becomes the practical interest of the disciple. As he establishes right relations with himself, with the world of spiritual being, in the world of human living and with all forms of divine life, the awakening of his own nature will automatically take place, his centers will become vital sources of spiritual power, and his entire constitution will swing into rhythmic activity and consequent usefulness. All this will, however, happen because of his correct adjustment to God and man, to his unfolding understanding of divine purpose and to his knowledge of the various scientific techniques and laws which condition all phenomena, man included.
I am anxious to make this clear. The Arcane School being one of the newer intermediate schools deals with the ordinary fundamentals of the secret doctrine but only as a foundation for the new unfolding teaching. Breathing exercises are only given after several years' work, and no emphasis is laid upon their importance because right breathing (esoterically understood) is not dependent upon control of the lungs and the breathing apparatus but upon correct orientation and the rhythmic adjustment of the life to the spiritual order and to circumstance.
The psychology of the inner man, as it conditions the centers in the vital body, is also studied; the emphasis, however, is upon the psychological aspect and not upon the centers; these will function correctly when the thinking is sound and the man is living successfully the dual life of the disciple: right relation to the world of souls and to the Hierarchy, and right relations to his fellowmen in the life of every day.
After a preliminary grounding in the ordinary fundamentals, and a period of ascertaining the measure of understanding possessed by the student, plus some basic instruction in the nature of meditation, the new schools will teach the following subjects.
1. The Science of Impression. The disciple is taught to be sensitive to "impressions" coming from his own soul and, later, from the  Master and the Ashram. He is taught to interpret these impressions correctly by means of his trained and illumined mind; he learns to distinguish between that which comes from his own subconscious nature, that which is telepathically recorded as coming from the world of thought and from the minds of other men, and that which comes from the world of spiritual being.
2. The Science of At-one-ment. By means of this, the disciple is taught integration and coordination, contact and fusion between soul and personality and, later, direct relation between the highest spiritual aspect and his personal self. This leads in sequential process to the steady unfoldment of consciousness and prepares the student to profit from the teaching to be given in the Schools for Initiation. The nature of initiation, as an expression of great expansions of consciousness and as the result of self-directed integrations, is also studied.
3. The Nature of the Hierarchy. He learns that the Hierarchy can be directly contacted and known by those who undertake the necessary training and submit to discipline. This must be self-imposed and adapted to the nature and point of development of the individual disciple. The various grades in the Hierarchy are discussed, the nature of the initiations to be taken is taught, and the work of the Christ, as Head of the Hierarchy, is studied. Thus the disciple has a clear picture of the inner group which is his goal.
4. The Science of Meditation. This with its techniques, and its various stages (alignment, concentration, meditation, contemplation, illumination and inspiration) are gradually mastered and by its means the disciple is taught the right use of the mind, right control of thought and right interpretation of all spiritual phenomena. He learns the meaning of illumination with its seven stages, and begins (with increasing effectiveness) to live the inspired life of a Son of God.
5. The Laws of the Spiritual World are studied and the disciple learns to apply the laws to himself, to events, to the world and to humanity.
These Laws include, among many others:
These laws concern the manifestation of the world of spiritual values and impulses through the medium of the world of material phenomena.
6. The Plan, of which the Hierarchy is the custodian and which underlies all planetary happenings, furthering the divine purpose, is brought to the attention of the students; its working in the past, bringing humanity to its present point of development, is studied; the happenings of the present are interpreted in terms of God's plan and are investigated as a prelude to the future; the immediate step ahead is also deeply considered and the active participation of the student invoked. Later, when the disciple becomes an active conscious part of the Hierarchy, he is familiar with the broad outlines of the divine purpose and can cooperate intelligently with the immediate task.
7. The Energies and Forces, which are the very substance of creation, have to be understood and eventually controlled. The disciple learns that all that is manifesting in and on our planet is nothing but an aggregation of forces, producing forms, and that all is movement and livingness. He begins by learning the nature of the forces which make him what he is, as a man; he then learns to bring in a higher energy, that of the soul, to control these forces. He studies the nature of the spirit, soul and matter, usually calling them life, consciousness and form, or life, quality and appearance, and thus gains some insight into the nature of the divine Trinity and the electrical nature of all phenomena, including the human being.
8. Esoteric Psychology is also regarded as of major importance. This marks a shift of attention away from the more material presentation of the old schools of esotericism, with their emphasis upon planes, the material building processes and the constitution of the forms. In the new schools, the emphasis will be upon the nature of the soul within the forms and upon that creating agent who works with and in the material world. The seven major types of people are studied; their characteristics are investigated, plus their relation to the seven groups into which the Hierarchy is divided and the seven great Rays or Energies (the emanations that the Bible calls "the seven spirits before the throne of God"). Thus the synthesis of all manifestation becomes apparent and the place of the part within the whole can be clearly seen. 
There are many subsidiary studies about which the disciple must know something prior to entering the future Schools of Initiation but the above will indicate the general curriculum which will be undertaken in the newer schools. The Arcane School is attempting to give a general grounding in these basic fundamentals, so that the student can profit by the wealth of literature and teaching which the remainder of this century will produce.
The student has, first of all, to gain a general idea of the esoteric teaching; he will then know along which of the many lines he, as an individual, must go; he has to learn to apply the teaching in a practical way, transmuting theory into practice and demonstrating to himself the necessity and the possibility of his dwelling in the world of meaning. He will then recognize the relation of all events, individual, human and planetary, and the why and the wherefore of all happenings. As he gains a knowledge of esoteric psychology and masters some of the techniques of the meditation process, he is enabled to place himself upon the correct rung of the ladder of evolution; he knows then what is, for him, the next immediate step and his next goal for unfoldment; he knows also what he has to give in the service of humanity and whom he is able to help.
He begins to participate consciously in the great school of spiritual experience; in that school he eventually finds all his questions answered and his problems solved. He discovers that the major prerequisites for successful esoteric work are patience, persistent effort, vision and sound discriminative judgment. Given these, plus a sense of humor, an open mind and no fanaticism, the disciple will have rapid progress upon the "Lighted Way," as the Path is often called. He will find himself finally standing before the Door of Initiation upon which the words of Christ are inscribed, "Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you."
January 1944 
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