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Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey - Chapter V
The four or five men associated with my husband and myself in the Tuesday afternoon class rallied around us. Two of them twenty-four years later are still working with us and two of them have passed over to the other side. We had not the faintest idea how to handle such work. We had none of us - with one exception - ever belonged to a correspondence school or knew anything about handling people by correspondence. All we had was good intention, a burning desire to be of some help, and three books on occult subjects. Since that time over 30,000 people have passed through the school. Many hundreds who joined the school, ten, twelve, or eighteen years ago are still with us and the work of the Arcane School is known and recognized in almost every country in the world except Russia and about four other countries.

Had we possessed the slightest indication as to the extensive and all-engrossing work ahead of us I question very much whether we should have had the courage to even make a start. Had I appreciated the headache and anxieties it would entail and the responsibilities any esoteric school has to shoulder I know I would not have attempted this work; but fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and I rushed.

I could have done none of this without the support and wisdom of my husband. I shudder to think of the mistakes I would have made, the errors in judgment of which I would have been capable and the legal end of it in which I would have found myself embroiled. His clear legal mind, his impersonality and his constant failure to get excited when I thought he should, has saved me constantly from myself.

It is not an easy thing to run an esoteric school. It is [194] far from easy to take the responsibility to teach people true meditation. It is difficult to tread the narrow, razor-edged path which leads between the higher psychism, or spiritual perception, and the lower psychism which many people share with the cats and dogs. It is not easy to discriminate between a psychic hunch and an intuitive perception and then, also, take hold of peoples' lives spiritually, when they voluntarily put themselves into your hands for training, and give them what is needed. None of this would have been possible for me to the extent it has been had it not been for the wonderful help given by the workers at Headquarters and the student-secretaries out in the field. We started with one room. We now (1947) have two floors at 11 West 42nd Street with a very large staff of workers, with Headquarters in England also and in Holland, Italy and Switzerland. Today, apart from the Headquarters Staff we have a group of 140 secretaries, senior students who help in the instruction of the other students. These secretaries are scattered all over the world and it is owing to their disinterested and voluntary help given steadily over the years that we are able to keep the work going.

When the work started there were certain basic principles which we were determined should govern all the activities of this group. I am anxious to make these clear because I think they are fundamental and should govern all esoteric schools and because after I am dead and gone I want to feel that these principles will still determine policies. The basic training given in the Arcane School is that which has been given down the ages to disciples. The Arcane School, if it is successful, will not therefore in this century at least have a large membership. Those ready to be trained in the spiritual laws which govern all disciples are rare indeed, though we can look for an increasing number. The Arcane School is not a school for probationary [195] disciples. It is intended to be a school for those who can be trained to act directly and consciously under the Masters of the Wisdom. There are in the world today many schools for probationers and they are doing great and noble and necessary work.

It was for a long time the cause of great bewilderment to me why the T.S. and particularly the E.S. members were so bitterly antagonistic to the work which I was trying to do. I knew it was not due to our earlier activities in the society and that it was based on something else and that puzzled me. It had seemed to me and still does that there is room in the world today for hundreds of true esoteric schools and that they all should be able to work in cooperation with each other, supplementing each other and helping each other.

I puzzled over this for a long time and then in Paris in the early 1930s I asked Mr. Marcault, then the head of the T.S. in France, what it was all about. He looked at me with blank astonishment and said that they naturally objected to my not putting people into the E.S. instead of into my own group. I looked at him with equal astonishment and told him that in the Arcane School we had four different brands of Theosophists, four different kinds of Rosicrucians and that not one of them wanted to join the T.S. of which he and I were members. I reminded him that no one was admitted into the E.S. unless they had been for two years members of the T.S. and I asked him why people who were ready for esoteric training should be kept waiting for two years in some purely exoteric group. He had no answer to this and I increased his bewilderment by pointing out (which I now see was not exactly tactful of me) what a pity it was that the Arcane School and the esoteric section could not work happily together. I pointed out that the E.S. was the best school for probationers in the world as it fed the fires of aspiration and nurtured devotion in its membership [196] but that we were a school for training people to be "accepted disciples" - that is, those on the last stages of the probationary path and that our emphasis was impersonality and mental development. I added that we made our work deliberately eliminative, only keeping those who would really work hard and who showed signs of true mental culture. I told him that we dropped hundreds of the emotional, devotional type and that if only we could work together I could have passed many of these people on to the E.S. He was neither impressed nor pleased and I cannot say that I blamed him. It was not that I meant to be derogatory in my statement for to my mind both groups are equally needed; both can serve a spiritual purpose and whether one is a probationer or a disciple one is still a spiritually oriented human being requiring training and discipline.

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