Quotes from Classic Theosophical writers like H.P. Blavatsky, W.Q. Judge, the Mahatmas Koot Hoomi and Morya and others.
Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, first series, C. Jinarajadasa, letter 30, p. 73
To Laura C. Halloway: the lake in the mountain heights of your being is one day a tossing waste of waters, as the gust of caprice or temper sweeps through your soul; the next a mirror as they subside and peace reigns in the 'house of life'. One day you win a step forward; the next you fall two back. Chelaship admits none of these transitions; its prime and constant qualification is a calm, even, contemplative state of mind (not the mediumistic passivity) fitted to receive psychic impressions from without, and to transmit one's own from within. The mind can be made to work with electric swiftness in a high excitement; but the Buddhi-never. To its clear region calm must ever reign.
Light on the path, part 1:
Before the eyes can see they must be incapable of tears. Before the ear can hear it must have lost its sensitiveness. Before the voice can speak in the presence of the Masters it must have lost the power to wound. Before the soul can stand in the presence of the Masters its feet must be washed in the blood of the heart.
(4) Work as those work who are ambitious. Respect life as those do who desire it. Be happy as those are who live for happiness.
(5) Remember that the sin and shame of the world are your sin and shame; for you are a part of it; your karma is inextricably interwoven with the great karma.
remember that the soiled garment you shrink from touching may have been yours yesterday, may be yours tomorrow.
Abstain because it is right to abstain - not that yourself shall be kept clean.
(8) ... stand alone and isolated, because nothing that is embodied, nothing that is conscious of seperation, nothing that is out of the Eternal, can aid you.
Grow as the flower grows, unconsciously, but eagerly anxious to open its soul to the air.
(9) Desire only that which is within you.
(10) Desire only that which is beyond you.
(11) Desire only that which is unattainable.
(12) For within you is the light of the world - the only light that can be shed upon the Path. If you are unable to perceive it within you, it is useless to look for it elsewhere. It is beyond you, because when you reach it you have lost yourself. It is unattainable, because it for ever recedes. You will enter the light, but you will never touch the flame.
(20) All steps are necessary to make up the ladder. The vices of man become steps in the ladder, one by one, as they are surmounted. ...
give your aid to the few strong hands that hold back the powers of darkness from obtaining complete victory [over mankind.] Then do you enter into a partnership of joy, which brings indeed terrible toil and profound sadness, but also a great and ever-increasing delight.
Light on the path, part 2:
(9) Regard earnestly all the life that surrounds you.
(10) Learn to look intelligently into the hearts of men.
Intelligence is impartial; no man is your enemy; no man is your friend. All alike are your teachers. Your enemy becomes a mystery that must be solved, even though it takes ages; for man must be understood. Your friend becomes a part of yourself, an extension of yourself, a riddle hard to read. Only one thing is more difficult to know - your own heart.
The Idyll of the White Lotus, third of the Three Truths
Each man is his own absolute law-giver, the dispenser of glory or gloom to himself; the decreer of his life, his reward, his punishment.
Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnet , letter 24b, p. 183, chr. letter 85b, p. 262
Ever since I undertook the extra-ordinary task of teaching two grown up pupils ... I have been regarded by all our chohans as a lunatic.
Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, second series, p.98
Have faith in your soul power, and you will have success.
Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnet, letter 35, p. 243; chr. letter 54. p. 148
In the olden time, this want was supplied by the Guru, who guided the chela through the difficulties of childhood and youth, and afforded him in oral teaching as much as, or more than through books the food for mental and psychic growth. The want of such a "guide, philosopher and friend," (and who so well deserves the tripartite title?) can never be supplied, try as you may.
H.P.Blavatsky , Lucifer IV, 348, ft.. Blavatsky Collected Writings XI p. 300-301, ft
Chelaship has nothing to do with means of subsistence or anything of the kind, for a man can isolate his mind entirely from his body and its surroundings. Chelaship is a state of mind, rather than a life according to hard and fast rules, on the physical plane. This applies especially to the earlier, probationary period, while the rules given in Lucifer for April last pertain properly to a later stage, that of actual occult training and the development of occult powers and insight. These rules indicate, however, the mode of life which ought to be followed by all aspirants so far as practicable, since it is most helpful to them in their aspirations.
G. de Purucker, Studies in Occultism, pp. 30-31
I tell you that there are at times more tragedies in the life of a Messenger than you could easily understand, for a Messenger is sworn to obedience in both directions - obedience to the general law of his karman from which he may not turn aside a single step, and obedience equally strict to those who sent him forth. There are in such cases problems to solve which break the heart, but which nevertheless must be solved.
It is this pernicious doctrine of ever relying upon extraneous help that leads to the collapse - physical, mental, moral, and spiritual - of well-meaning, but weak and unbalanced minds. It slays the patient of the mesmerizer and the mental healer, the neophyte of the sorcerer, and the dilettante of Reform. Neither success nor safety is to be found outside self-development.
It is clear that once the human body is admitted to have direct relation with such higher worlds (psychic, astral, elemental), the specialization of the organs and parts of the body will necessitate the mention of all parts of the human organism without exception. In the eyes of truth and nature no one organ is more noble or ignoble than another. The ancients considered as the most holy precisely those organs which we associate with feelings of shame and secrecy; for they are the creative centres, corresponding to the Creative Forces of the Kosmos.
Subjective, purely spiritual 'Mediumship' is the only harmless kind, and is often an elevating gift that might be cultivated by one.
Blavatsky Collected Writings XI, p. 254
... followed with a selfish aim, Theosophy changes its nature and becomes demonosophy. That is why Oriental Wisdom teaches us that the Hindu Yogi who isolates himself in an impenetrable forest, like the Christian hermit who, as was common in former times, retires to the desert, are both of them but accomplished egoists. The one acts with the sole idea of finding in the One essence of Nirvâna refuge against reincarnation; the other acts with the unique idea of saving his soul - both of them think only of themselves. Their motive is altogether personal; for, even supposing they attain their end, are they not like cowardly soldiers, who desert the regiment when it goes into action, in order to protect themselves from the bullets? In isolating themselves as they do, neither the Yogi nor the "saint" helps anyone but himself; on the contrary, both show themselves profoundly indifferent to the fate of mankind whom they fly from and desert. Mount Athos contains, perhaps, a few sincere fanatics; nevertheless even these have unwittingly gotten off the only track that could lead them to the truth - the path of Calvary, on which each one voluntarily bears the cross of humanity, and for humanity.
... Gautama the Buddha only remained in solitude long enough to enable him to arrive at the truth, to promulgation of which he devoted himself from that time on, begging for his bread, and living for humanity. Jesus retired to the desert for forty days only, and died for this same humanity. Apollonius of Tyana, Plotinus and Iamblichus, while leading lives of singular abstinence, almost of asceticism, lived in the world and for the world. The greatest ascetics and saints of our own day are not those who retire into inaccessible places, but those who pass their lives in travelling from place to place, doing good and trying to raise mankind.
Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, second series, p.97
Chelas, from a mistaken idea of our system, too often watch and wait for orders, wasting precious time which should be taken up with personal effort.
Yoga exacts certain conditions ... One of these conditions is seclusion in a place where the Yogi is free from all impurities - whether physical or moral
... If anyone has by such study gained powers, he cannot remain long in the world without losing the greater part of his powers - and that the higher and nobler part. So that, if any such person is seen for many consecutive years laboring in public, and neither for money or fame, it should be known that he is sacrificing himself for the good of his fellow men.
Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, second series, p. 37
If she (HPB) speaks of herself as a third person in her conversation with you, pay no attention.
Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, second series, p.101
An accepted chela does not become free from temptation, probations and trials.
Mahatma Letters, letter 54, p. 311; chr. letter 92. p. 299
human being contains within himself vast potentialities, and it is the duty of the adepts to surround the would-be chela with circumstances which shall enable him to take the "right-hand-path" - if he has the ability in him. We are no more at liberty to withhold the chance from a postulant than we are to guide and direct him in the proper course.
Mahatma Letters, letter 64, p. 354, chr. letter 134, p. 441
The mass of human sin and frailty is distributed throughout the life of man who is content to remain an average mortal. It is gathered in and centered, so to say, within one period of the life of a chela - the period of probation. That which is generally accumulating to find its legitimate issue only in the next rebirth of an ordinary man, is quickened and fanned into existence in the chela -- especially in the presumptuous and selfish candidate who rushes in without having calculated his forces.
Stepping on the path is like walking up to the lords of Karma, snapping one's fingers, and saying "check please..."
The K.H. Letters to C.W. Leadbeater, p. 13
Chelaship is an educational as well as probationary stage and the chela alone can determine whether it shall end in adeptship or failure.
... If I were to demand that you should do one thing or the other, instead of simply advising, I would be responsible for effect that might flow from the step and you acquire but a secondary merit. Think and you will see that this is true. So cast the lot yourself into the lap of Justice, never fearing but that its response will be absolutely true.
Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, second series, letter 51, p. 97
[chelaship] is an educational as well as probationary stage, and the chela alone can determine whether it shall end in adeptship or failure. Chelas, from a mistaken idea of our system, too often watch and wait for orders, wasting precious time which should be taken up with personal effort.
For, to work for mankind is grand, its recompense stretches beyond this brief dream of life into other births. So now, you my chela, choose and grasp your own destiny. You wish to heal the sick, - do so; but remember your success will be measured by your faith - in yourself, more than in us. Lose it for a second, and failure will follow.
Have faith in your soul power, and you will have success.
Mahatma M. to Hartmann, Blavatsky Collected Writings VIII, p. 446
Let me give you an advice. Never offer yourself as a chela, but wait until chelaship descends by itself upon you. Above all, try to find yourself, and the path of knowledge will open itself before you, and this so much the easier as you have made a contact with the Light-ray of the Blessed one, whose name you have now taken as your spiritual lode-star. [He became a Buddhist]
Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, first series, p. 26, letter 6
The process of self-purification is not the work of a moment, nor of a few months but of years - nay, extending over a series of lives. The later a man begins the living of a higher life, the longer must be his period of probation, for he has to undo the effects of a long number of years spent in objects diametrically opposed to the real goal. The more strenuous his efforts and the brighter the result of his work, the nearer he comes to the threshold. If his aspiration is genuine - a settled conviction and not a sentimental flash of the moment - he transfers from one body to another the determination which finally leads him to the attainment of his desire.
Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, first series, p. 28, letter 7
It is not necessary that one should be in India during the seven years of probation. A chela can pass them anywhere.
To accept any man as a chela does not depend on my [the Mahatma's] personal will. It can be only the result of one's personal merits and exertions in that direction. Force any one of the 'Masters' you may happen to choose; do good works in his name and for the love of mankind; be pure and resolute in the path of righteousness (as laid out in our rules); be honest and unselfish; forget your Self but to remember the good of other people - and you will have forced that 'Master' to accept you.
It is by doing noble actions, and not by only determining that they shall be done, that the fruits of the meritorious actions are reaped.
Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, first series, p. 31, letter 9
Sigh not for chelaship; pursue not that, the dangers and hardships of which are unknown to you.
Verily many are the chelas offering themselves to us, and as many have failed this year as were accepted on probation. Chelaship unveils the inner man and draws forth the dormant vices as well as the dormant virtue. Latent vice begets active sins and is often followed by insanity. Out of 5 lay chelas chosen by the Society and accepted under protest by us, 3 have become criminals and 2 are insane. Throw a glance around, make an enquiry at Bareilly and Cawnpore, and judge for yourself.
Be pure, virtuous, and lead a holy life and you will be protected. But remember, he who is not as pure as a young child better leave chelaship alone. I have forbidden at the Headquarters to send any letters to me.
P.S. The process of self-purification is not the work of a moment, nor of a few months, but of years, nay extending over a series of lives. The later a man begins living the higher life the longer must be his period of probation. For he has to undo the effects of a long number of years spent in objects diametrically opposed to the real goal.
Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, letter 4, p. 17, chr. letter 5 p. 19
It is true that the married man cannot be an adept, yet without striving to become "a Raja Yogi" he can acquire certain powers and do as much good to mankind and often more, by remaining in the precincts of this world of his.
A direct "order" is a rare thing indeed and a most serious one.
Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, first series, p. 32, letter 10
He who damns himself in his own estimation and agreeably to the recognized and current code of honor, to save a worthy cause may some day find out that he has reached thereby his loftiest aspirations. Selfishness and the want of self-sacrifice are the greatest impediments on the path of adeptship.
Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, first series, p. 92, letter 43
It is a familiar saying that a well matched couple 'grow together', so as to come to a close resemblance in features as well as in mind. But do you know that between adept and chela - master and pupil - there gradually forms a closer tie; for the psychic interchange is regulated scientifically, whereas between husband and wife unaided nature is left to herself. As the water in a full tank runs into and empty one which it is connected with; and as the common level will be sooner or later reached according to the capacity of the feedpipe, so does the knowledge of the adept flow to the chela; and the chela attains the adept level according to his receptive capacities. At the same time the chela being an individual, a separate evolution, unconsciously imparts to the master the quality of his accumulated mentality.
Blavatsky Collected Writings XI, p. 105
True Occultism is the destruction of the false idea of Self, and therefore true spiritual perfection and knowledge are nothing else but the complete identification of our finite "selves" with the Great All. It follows, therefore, that no spiritual progress at all is possible except by and through the bulk of Humanity. It is only when the whole of Humanity has attained happiness that the individual can hope to become permanently happy - for the individual is an inseparable part of the Whole.
Hence there is no contradiction whatever between the altruistic maxims of Theosophy and its injunction to kill out all desire for material things, to strive after spiritual perfection. For spiritual perfection and spiritual knowledge can only be reached on the spiritual plane; in other words, only in that state in which all sense of separateness, all selfishness, all feeling of personal interest and desire, has been merged in the wider consciousness of the unity of Mankind.
This shows also that no blind submission to the commands of another can be demanded, or would be of any use. Each individual must learn for himself, through trial and suffering, to discriminate what is beneficial to Humanity; and in proportion as he develops spiritually, i.e., conquers all selfishness, his mind will open to receive the guidance of the Divine Monad within him, his Higher Self, for which there is neither Past nor Future, but only an eternal Now.
Blavatsky Collected Writings X, p. 127
"When the pupil is ready, the teacher will be found waiting," says an eastern maxim. The masters do not have to hunt up recruits in special -shire lodges, nor drill them through mystical non-commissioned officers: time and space are no barriers between them and the aspirant; where thought can pass they can come.
Mahatma Letters, let. 29, chron letter 29 p 91
...the first requisite in even a simple fakir, is that he should have trained himself to remain as indifferent to moral pain as to physical suffering.
Mahatma Letters, let. 38, p. 248, chron letter 33, p100,101
It is he alone who has the love of humanity at heart, who is capable of grasping thoroughly the idea of a regenerating practical Brotherhood who is entitled to the possession of our secrets. He alone, such a man - will never misuse his powers, as there will be no fear that he should turn them to selfish ends. A man who places not the good of mankind above his own good is not worthy of becoming our chela - he is not worthy of becoming higher in knowledge than his neighbour. If he craves for phenomena let him be satisfied with the pranks of spiritualism. Such is the real state of things. There was a time, when from sea to sea, from the mountains and deserts of the north to the grand woods and downs of Ceylon, there was but one faith, one rallying cry - to save humanity from the miseries of ignorance in the name of Him who taught first the solidarity of all men. How is it now? Where is the grandeur of our people and of the one Truth? These, you may say, are beautiful visions which were once realities on earth, but had flitted away like the light of a summer's evening. Yes; and now we are in the midst of a conflicting people, of an obstinate, ignorant people seeking to know the truth yet not able to find it, for each seeks it only for his own private benefit and gratification, without giving one thought to others. Will you, or rather they, never see the true meaning and explanation of that great wreck and desolation which has come to our land and threatens all lands - yours first of all? It is selfishness and exclusiveness that killed ours, and it [is] selfishness and exclusiveness that will kill yours - which has in addition some other defects which I will not name. The world has clouded the light of true knowledge, and selfishness will not allow its resurrection, for it excludes and will not recognize the whole fellowship of all those who were born under the same immutable natural law.
Mahatma Letters, let. 43, chron letter 42 p. 113
Our [the Mahatmas] greatest trouble is to teach pupils not to be befooled by appearances.
Mahatma Letters, let. 45, chron letter 47, p130-131
I [the Mahatma] can come nearer to you, but you must draw me by a purified heart and a gradually developing will. Like the needle the adept follows his attractions. Is this not the law of the disembodied Principles? Why then not of the living also?
Mahatma Letters, let. 49, chron letter 20, p74
... the misuse of knowledge by the pupil always reacts upon the initiator; ... in sharing his secrets with another the Adept, by an immutable Law, is delaying his own progress to the Eternal Rest. ... Loitering on the way does not conduce to a speedy arrival at the journey's end. ... a Price must be paid for everything and truth by somebody, and in this case - WE [the Mahatma's] pay it.
O.D.L., first series, p. 76-78
In the doing of world-work, the agent [of the Mahatma's] may often be actually led by overseeing directors to do things which they choose to have done, without his being at all conscious that his mind is not functioning under the sole impulse of its controlling Ego. Applying this not unreasonable or unscientific theory to the whole history of the Theosophical Society, who can say in what proportion of cases any of us has been unconsciously doing what had to be done, but might not have been done if not external influence had given us the push? And how many of the wretched mistakes, missteps, and injurious eccentricities that have occurred, or been shown, by either of us [H.P. Blavatsky or Olcott], were due to our just being left to follow our own wrong impulses, the result of our temperaments, ignorance, moral weakness or bigoted prejudices? People often wonder why the various scandals, such as the Coulomb and lesser ones which we have had to suffer from, were not foreseen and prevented by the Masters; why H.P.B. was not forewarned of what traitors would do; and why, in the seemingly most serious crisis, no help came, no spiritual guide appeared. Of course, such questions imply the absurdity that Mahatmas, who implicitly believe in and govern their own actions by the strict rules of Karma, would take us, like so many puppets on wires, or so many poodles being taught tricks, and put us through set motions, to the meddling with our Karma, and the consequent interference with our rights. What the evolution of society needs at a particular juncture is, perhaps, that a certain person should do, write, or say a certain thing which, once done, brings after it a whole train of consequences. If that necessary thing involves no Karmic wrong to the individual, the mental impulse to do it may be given him, and so the sequence of cause and effect be begotten.
Damodar, p. 524,525
[K.H. says about E.W. Fern, a possible future chela: ]
... The option of receiving him or not as a regular chela - remains with the Chohan. M. has simply to have him tested, tempted and examined by all and means, so as to have his real nature drawn out. This is a rule with us as inexorable as it is disgusting in your Western sight, and I could not prevent it even if I would. It is not enough to know thoroughly what the chela is capable of doing or not doing at the time and under the circumstances during the period of probation. We have to know of what he may become capable under different and kind of opportunities. Our precautions are all taken. ... In the meanwhile, I have an advice to offer. Watch and do not say a word. He was, is, and will be tempted to do all manner of wrong things....
Damodar, p. 602 & Lotusblüten, LXV, p. 146-148
[A letter from Mahatma M. to Franz Hartmann]
Let me give you an advice. Never offer yourself as a chela, but wait until chelaship descends by itself upon you. Above all, try to find yourself, and the path of knowledge will open itself before you, and this so much the easier as you have made a contact with the Light-ray of the Blessed one, whose name you have now taken as your spiritual lode-star ... Receive in advance my blessings and my thanks. [Dr. Hartmann became a Buddhist.]
Damodar, p. 605, also Blavatsky Collected Writings Volume VIII, p. 450
[letter from Mahatma Morya to Franz Hartmann]
We [the mahatmas] are leaders but not child-nurses. The weak ones, not the strong ones, are in a constant need of definite 'orders,' and at times our chelas satisfy their wishes. This is willing slavery, but no healthy growth. Step forward and try to see clearly yourself what is most needed for the Society. Seek out what your duty may be, and carry it out. If you do the right thing, I will be at your side; but I will not give any advice, and will not involve myself in anything, unless it be unavoidably required, and you were in great doubt.
Blavatsky Collected Writings IV, p. 170
Our correspondent need not trouble himself as to what might be the consequences, if all the world should turn ascetics and chelas and train for adeptship. There are enough realities in this life for us to look into, without concocting such wild contingencies to vex ourselves withal. There was never at time yet, nor ever will be, while this human race lasts, when anything more than a small minority would devote themselves to the mighty task of self-conquest and spiritual evolution. The adept is as rare as the flower Vogay tree, which, the Tamil proverb says, is most difficult to see. So what our friend read in Hints on Esoteric Theosophy referred to the ideal man, the living - and most necessary - type of human perfectibility. The mere certainty that such rare powers - psychical and intellectual - and such moral grandeur, as he exemplifies, are within human reach, gives dignity to our common nature and a worthy model to look up to, and, in some degree, pattern after.