The role of the disciples:

In the beginning, the job of the would-be disciple is to search. Jesus's words in the Sermon on the Mount are crystal clear:

Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

In other words, anyone who wants Truth can have it. Thomas Merton, the twentieth-century Catholic mystic, comments:

In the end, no one can seek God unless he has already begun to find Him. No one can find God without having been first found by Him. (The Silent Life, p. vii)

Kirpal Singh explains further, in response to a question about whether the questioner was ready or prepared enough to be initiated:

I tell you, I tell you. The man in whose heart this question of the mystery of life has entered is fit. it is God's grace that this question has arisen. That day is the greatest in a man's life on which the question of the mystery of life enters his heart. It cannot be stamped out unless it is solved. That this question has arisen shows that God wants to give you what you hunger for. "There is food for the hungry and water for the thirsty."... (Talk given by Kirpal Singh, January 23, 1964, quoted in Russell Perkins, The Impact of a Saint, p.65)

It has often been argued by mainstream exoteric religious institutions that the esoteric tradition is "elitist," since only a few people are fit for initiation and spiritual growth. But Kirpal Singh's answer given above should show the falsity of that argument. In fact, the esoteric tradition is universalist: its understanding of the nature of human beings (that they are literally children of God, with the Name or Word of God as their essence) and its view of the present condition of the human soul (stuck in the cycle of births and deaths) both demands that everyone must ultimately be saved (which parent would see his/her children lost to him/her forever, if she or he could do something about it?) and explains the universe in such a way that it is possible: the cycle of births and deaths, while not viewed as positive, does have the advantage of allowing plenty of time for us to come to the conclusion that we want to find God. Dr. W. Y. Evans-Wentz, speaking from within the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, explains it this way:

The ethical incongruity of an eternal Heaven for the elect among human beings and an eternal Hell for the damned finds no place in the Doctrine of the Buddha. So long as there is one being, even the lowliest, immersed in suffering and sorrow, or in Ignorance, there remains one note of disharmony which cannot but affect all beings, since all beings are the One; and until all are Liberated there cannot possibly be true Bliss for any. (Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, p.11)

Even the famous Gnostic definition of souls as pneumatic, psychic, or hylic (i.e., spiritual, mental, or physical), understanding the pneumatic to be people who instantly respond to the esoteric message, the psychic to be people who are capable of responding after some thought, and the hylic to be people who will never respond, loses its "elitist" sting when we realize that this is a description of souls at any given moment, not an ultimate statement about them. All esoteric schools either teach reincarnation-the cycle of birth and death-or something like it (e.g., "the pre-existence of the soul"). Such a cosmic view allows for some scope in the dealings of the soul with God and some opportunity for the soul to learn, digest, and profit from its experiences in any given life. This view makes the meaning of Jesus's parables in Luke 15 crystal clear, while the exoteric understanding of those parables, when coupled with the dogma of an eternal hell based on the beliefs of one life, makes a mockery of them. Thus within the esoteric tradition, the hylics can easily change their status as their experience makes it possible, and the psychics who don't want to respond at first can learn differently. As Luke 15 and many other writings of the Masters make clear, God is searching for us, and He will find us-sooner or later-when we want to be found.

Consider the following question asked of Kirpal Singh, and his answer:

Master, will everybody eventually find a perfect Master and go back to God?

Surely ... He looks after everyone... . ("It is He Who Sends, It is He Who Gives," Sant Bani, Vol. VIII, No.3, September 1983, p.32)

P. D. Ouspensky sums up the whole idea of searching and its relation to the spiritual in this way, using the word "superman" in the same way as Nietzsche and Shaw:

Man finds superman within himself when he begins to look for him outside himself, and he can find superman outside himself when he has begun to look for him within himself. (A New Model of the Universe, p.129)

And Swami Ji Maharaj (Shiv Dayal Singh) of Agra adds:

God is within every one, but nobody knows Him. People commit sins while He looks on, but He does not prevent them, and makes them go through Chaurasi [the cycle of births and deaths]. What good then, is this God to us? But when we meet a Satguru [Master of Truth] and He explains to us in what form God is present in our hearts, then we are informed and avoid bad deeds, and escape Chaurasi. Hence it is necessary to seek a Satguru, foi He is the God manifest, and the search for the unmanifested God is not possible without the help of a Satguru. Those who don't do so will neither find God nor escape Chaurasi, but waste this precious human life. And whoever seeks the Satguru will surely find Him, for the Satguru is an incarnation eternally present upon this earth. (Sar Bachan II: 208)

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