Notwithstanding the many articles which have
appeared in this magazine upon the above subject, much misunderstanding
and many false views seem still to prevail. What are Chelas, and
what are their powers? Have they faults, and in what particular
are they different from people who are not Chelas? Is every word
uttered by a Chela to be taken as gospel truth?
These questions arise because many persons have entertained very
absurd views for a time about Chelas, and when it was found that
those views should be changed, the reaction has been in several
cases quite violent.
The word "Chela" simply means a disciple; but
it has become crystallized in the literature of Theosophy, and
has, in different minds, as many different definitions as the
word "God" itself. Some persons have gone so far as
to say that when a man is a Chela he is at once put on a plane
when each word that he may unfortunately utter is taken down as ex cathedra, and he is not allowed the poor privilege of
talking like an ordinary person. If it be found out that any such
utterance was on his own account and responsibility, he is charged
with having misled his hearers.
Now this wrong idea must be corrected once for all. There are
Chelas and Chelas, just as there are MAHATMAs
and MAHATMAS. There are MAHATMAS in fact who are themselves the Chelas of those who are higher
yet. But no one, for an instant, would confound a Chela who has
just begun his troublous journey with that greater Chela who is
In fact the Chela is an unfortunate man who has entered upon "a
path not manifest," and Krishna says that "that is the
most difficult path."
Instead of being the constant mouthpiece of his Guru, he finds
himself left more alone in the world than those who are not Chelas,
and his path is surrounded by dangers which would appall many
an aspirant, were they depicted in natural colors, so that instead
of accepting his Guru and passing an entrance examination with
a view to becoming Bachelor of the Art of Occultism under his
master's constant and friendly guidance, he really forces his
way into a guarded enclosure, and has from that moment to fight
and conquer or die. Instead of accepting he has to be worthy
of acceptance. Nor must he offer himself. One of the Mahatmas
has, within the year, written "Never thrust yourself upon
us for Chelaship; wait until it descends upon you."
And having been accepted as a Chela, it is not true that he is
merely the instrument of his Guru. He speaks as ordinary men then
as before, and it is only when the master sends by means of the
Chela's Magnetism an actual written letter, that the lookers-on
can say that through him a communication came.
It may happen with them, as it does with any author occasionally,
that they evolve either true or beautiful utterances, but it must
not be therefore concluded that during that utterance the Guru
was speaking through the Chela. If there was the germ of a good
thought in the mind, the Guru's influence, like the gentle rain
upon the seed, may have caused it to spring into sudden life and
abnormally blossom, but that is not the master's voice. The cases
in fact are rare in which the masters speak through a Chela.
The powers of Chelas vary with their progress; and every one should
know that if a Chela has any "powers," he is not permitted
to use them save in rare and exceptional cases, and never may
he boast of their possession. So it must follow that those who
are only beginners have no more or greater power than an ordinary
man. Indeed the goal set before the Chela is not the acquisition
of psychological power; his chief task is to divest himself of
that overmastering sense of personality which is the thick veil
that hides from sight our immortal part the real man. So long
as he allows this feeling to remain, just so long will he be fixed
at the very door of Occultism, unable to proceed further.
Sentimentality then, is not the equipment for a Chela. His work
is hard, his road stony, the end far away. With sentimentality
merely he will not advance at all. Is he waiting for the master
to bid him show his courage by precipitating himself from a precipice,
or by braving the cold Himalayan steeps? False hope; they will
not call him thus. And so, as be is not to clothe himself in sentiment,
the public must not, when they wish to consider him, throw a false
veil of sentimentality over all his actions and words.
Let us therefore, henceforth, see a little more discrimination
used in looking at Chelas.