Dr. Stewart Bitkoff, Contributor
The goal of the mystical school is the completed person. The completed person has added a degree of spiritual development to their other capacities. This spiritual development is accomplished through an interaction between the Master, the student and Path.
The school exists to help make the world a better place, one person at a time and is the original school/classroom without walls. Learning takes place on many levels and is directed by a Master who has completed the journey. This entire enterprise is blessed and guided by a Spiritual Hierarchy and the grace of the Path. In order for learning to occur it must be the right time, with the right people and in the right place.
In today’s spiritual market place there are many options. The student wishing to complete their spiritual journey is faced with different choices; often selecting learning experience which appeals to them, thereby missing other essential elements and failing to benefit from a complete system. Because the student thinks he/she can direct their own study or make a choice about which path to follow, the journey is often flawed from the start. While spiritual schools are similar to other forms of learning and past traditional learning experience is helpful, there are different or spiritual parameters which effect outcome. Most often the potential student is unaware of these and simply feels about in the dark.
The purpose of this discussion is to help the student understand some of the factors involved in the operation and selection process of a mystical school.
Before beginning, first the student must accept a humbling fact. In this area of inquiry, most ordinary rules do not apply and generally students have a limited understanding of how mystical schools operate. These schools are unlike other classroom situations or seminars that one takes. In these, if we are interested in the course of study, we apply to be accepted and meeting entry requirements, we pay our fees and begin. In some ways, these learning experiences are set-up like a business. The more students, the most gain for everyone. The assumption being, with correct preparation and desire, most students can benefit from what is being taught.
Yet, mystical schools are not set-up this way. They are very selective. You cannot gain entrance by applying for admission because you are interested. There must be an inner call which the Teacher or Master perceives in the student. This the Master does through inner spiritual cognition. This call, or higher impulse operating in the student, is the basic element which gives the school life and vibrancy; also, it is this elemental energy which the Master connects with to perceive, teach and function. In fact, the goal of the mystical process and the work of the entire school are the refinement and use of this elemental spiritual energy. The student meets the entrance requirement if this capacity is already at a sufficient level where it can be called forth and further developed. Additionally, the student must be leading a balanced life, free of limiting emotional disorder and part of the society in which they live. While spiritual capacity is in everyone, often, it is not ready to be worked on in a beneficial way. In most, this capacity is covered over by ‘the dust of selfish living’ and the student has work to do before this element can be refined by the school. To begin prematurely can harm the student and create unbalance.
Second, most mystical schools which specialize in the refinement of this higher impulse/energy are hidden. Generally, they do not take out advertisements in the local newspaper inviting applicants. Often, they do not look like schools with classrooms and buildings set aside for learning. They might take the form of a business, a professional society, be in a hospital, or a local highway department. The meetings might be held in someone’s home after work or in their office during lunch. Learning might be transmitted spiritually while the student is sleeping or while they are working. The student might be told to continue their normal routine of work and play and read a series of books. They might be directed to enroll in a correspondence course and given selected pieces to read and comment upon.
In this model, ordinary life is the classroom, the course of study is specific to the student and study is directed by a Master. Here there is a minimum of time away from others. The end product being a completed person; one who has added refined spiritual capacity and is better able to serve in their community. Students are taught to participate in the world and help make it a better place.
The Master Knows
The completed person, who is Master or Guide, is able to show the way to potential students, because they have traveled the path themselves. The Master has completed the journey that is, reached a high degree of spiritual development, and has been given permission to teach and guide others. Not everyone is needed to do this. In the spiritual hierarchy, there are many functions and duties. Teacher-ship is one function and set of responsibilities.
Most students feel they can determine a Master by the way he/she speaks, makes them feel or by the powers displayed. Yet, it is the spirit as liberated that knows the true Master. Like calls to like and the Master embraces the student’s heart, located in the
Spirit- setting it free. The Grace of the Path is the enabling energy factor; acting as a nutrient to release the student’s inner spiritual capacity. Other characteristics of the Master include: an over riding concern for the student’s well being; provision of an individual course of study specific to the student which is varied with general practices for everyone; and the capacity to provide everything the student needs to reach spiritual completion.
The Master exists because of the student’s need. Both benefit from this interaction and form a strong bond. This is a spiritual bond and the Master’s primary responsibility is to show the student their own latent inner capacity and how to refine it. Without a Master few would reach higher; getting lost in the mire of self-deception, struggle for spiritual powers, and false teachings.
The Master can teach in any format. All things have an aspect of the Divine and the Master is able to show this to the student. Depending upon the culture and the needs of the people, the format will vary. In our culture, psychological, self-help, improved health and scientific vehicles are currently being employed.
Filling the Emptiness
Deep within, the student has a hunger, an emptiness, which can only be filled by the Light of Eternity. This ‘great hunger’ leads people in all kinds of directions and has been described as a burning desire, restlessness or unease. It is an inborn spiritual need and most people try to fill this primal hunger with secondary phenomena. Because of this action, they are never truly satisfied and rarely accept the primal emptiness for what it is. Sadly, many spend much of their lives never satisfied, seeking a variety of secondary phenomena, always looking in the wrong direction.
The Master calls to those students who are able to perceive this unease as a spiritual need. These students because of an inner sincerity, or latent degree of spiritual capacity, quickly connect with the Master’s call, thereby defining the inner hunger. This initial caress, felt in the heart, is an initiation by the Master into the mystical school. Spiritually, the Master caresses the student with the Light of Eternity and the student is accepted. This is an inner knowing which both the student and Master share; it is life changing and becomes the yardstick for future experience. The essence of the school and its course work is to refine the capacity to perceive this spiritual energy. The student is taught this through the initial spiritual caress.
In the journey to spiritual completion, the learning is without end. Many are the spiritual experiences and lessons. Quickly, the student learns these experiences and higher capacities are provided to make the student a better person who is more fully equipped to serve their community. This is a natural, gradual process of learning and the student is expected to maintain all areas of daily life- becoming more responsible. Spiritual responsibilities are in addition to other duties.
In this school, rarely, is a student asked to live apart from others and or not participate in the affairs of the world. If this occurs, it is for a short period and to teach something specific. All human capacities, skills, and abilities are needed to make the world better. Spiritual capacity is one aspect of a healthy, more complete life; serving as center from which other capacities emanate.
The Path consists of the Master, students, Spiritual Hierarchy (of which the Master is part) and the inner essence or energy. In this realm, the inner essence is most like the Universal Mind or Consciousness. Some call this Consciousness, the Light or God. This Consciousness is the very substance of the universe and gives life and direction to all living things. It is all loving and kind; giving life and vibrancy to the Path. Without this sacred essence all would wither and die. The Spiritual Hierarchy guards this essence and reflects it daily into the world. This is the very fabric of life.
Within each soul there is a spark of this Consciousness which connects us spiritually to all things. It is this essence, or heart, the Master calls to and awakens. When this consciousness is fully awake the student is completed and able to consciously participate in their own higher destiny and the higher destiny of the universe.
The Path exists to help each student reach completion and ensures the spiritual evolution of the universe. Each traveler must choose to embrace the Light and help others. This action cannot be forced. In part, it is the duty of the Spiritual Hierarchy to ensure that opportunity exists for students to awaken and protect the planet from spiritual harm.
Right Time, Right Place and Right People
In order for individual spiritual learning to take place, this learning must occur under certain conditions. These conditions include: right time, right place and right people. This alignment of factors precludes everything else and is contrary to the way things are taught in most other schools. The model of working daily on a subject is useful in some forms of learning, but is limited within the context of spiritual learning and higher knowledge.
In the ordinary classroom, the closest we come to spiritual learning or cognition is the ‘Aha!’ experience. Ordinarily, this learning experience occurs after a period of readiness and preparation. After the student has been struggling with a problem, suddenly, when the correct combination of factors align, the student grasps what he has been working on-‘Aha!’ From a spiritual perspective, this experience can be described as a holistic understanding of what is being taught. This coming together occurs on different levels of consciousness simultaneously.
Also, in another way, spiritual learning is unlike other forms of learning. You cannot gain spiritual knowledge simply because you want it and will work hard to get it. While these traits are useful in many things, in this endeavor, this mind-set will only slow you down. You cannot get there with linear thought- it only takes you part of the way. Holistic and spiritual thought have a different set of rules-like those mentioned above.
Higher cognition and intuitive perception develop naturally and gradually over a period of time. With the guidance of a Master, there is a period of preparation and a slow building of impacts; until the student is able to independently perceive on their own.
About the Author
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff, spiritual traveler, poet, is a student of Sufi Mysticism and the perennial philosophy. Professionally specializing in the healing applications of therapeutic recreation, psychiatric rehabilitation and mental health treatment; he holds a doctorate in education and served on the faculties of multiple colleges and universities.
Stewart is also the author of Sufism for the Western Seeker, published in 2011, was nominated by ‘Foreword Magazine’ for Adult Non Fiction Religious Book of Year Book of the Year Award, placing 4th (honorable mention) and is a must read, as well as The Ferryman’s Dream. Both books are also in Kindle format and available on Amazon.com or local bookstore.
Register for an upcoming retreat weekend with Dr. Steward Bitkoff atop Bangor Mountain, in the beautiful Pocono Mountains, Kirkridge Retreat Center on Sufism & Enlightenment, May 30- June I, 2014. For information is available here: http://kirkridge.org/programs/upcoming-programs/ – click on Detailed Information for full program highlights.
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