The Life of Alice Bailey – part 2

She wrote twenty-four books and what they are is actually tools for living, and they really open a window into this inner world that leads to a tremendously deeper understanding of our relationship to God and our reason for being in the world at this time and serving the plan of God.

Robert: Welcome to Inner Sight. Today’s show is Alice Bailey – part 2, and we’re taking a look at her life through her autobiography, which so many people have bought and enjoyed. Have you ever come across someone in life who you were highly interested in, who you strongly felt something for, or you admired in some way? And have you ever wondered how that person reached their particular state of mind or being? How were they molded in such a way as to make them the type of person they eventually became? Well, those particular questions were presented to Alice Bailey, and after a while she began to write her autobiography. One of the thoughts that motivated her was the idea of explaining to people how she had developed as a person. Many people had asked her how she had gone through so many challenges in her life, how she had become so radically different in so many ways, viewing life from a totally different perspective and changing her perceptions about reality and truth. So, Alice Bailey did us all a favor and she wrote her autobiography more or less with that particular idea in mind, of explaining how she had become the person that she eventually was. Let me quote from her book: “A friend of mine felt that I would really render a service if I could show people how I became what I am from what I was. It might be useful to know how a rabid, orthodox Christian worker could become a well-known esoteric teacher. People might learn much by discovering how a theologically minded Bible student could come to the firm conviction that the teachings of the East and of the West must be fused and blended before the true and universal religion—for which the world waits—could appear on Earth.” Can you briefly summarize what we talked about in the first program on Alice Bailey?

Sarah: We started out with a description of her early years because it defined her foundation. She was English by birth, born in 1880 into an upper-class family in Britain. She was orphaned at the age of nine, and after that grew up with her relatives, divided between two households of her family. One household was broad minded in the religious sense, and the other was much more fundamentalist in the Christian religion. She was tutored and given an extremely excellent private education. She was raised to be the upperclass young lady of Victorian times, which meant that she was extremely sheltered and isolated from a lot of the world’s realities. When she was a young woman she had such a fervent religious belief that she was drawn into missionary work and she went to India to be a kind of a missionary to the British soldiers stationed throughout India. She found that this was her first real life-opening experience because she met many different people of different classes, as well as encountering the life of India, which she loved. While she was there, she fell in love with a soldier who was not of her class and she married him. The family was not happy about that and they sent the young couple to the United States for him to study at Lane Theological Seminary in Ohio where he became a minister in the Anglican Church, which is called the Episcopalian faith in this country. After he had his seminary education, they lived in a number of different small towns throughout California. She had three daughters in rather rapid succession, and at the same time great personal difficulties with her husband because it turned out that not only was he a minister, but he was also a wife beater. She had really terrible experiences trying to work out a relationship with him. The town in which she lived knew about it; his superiors in the church knew about it; it was an extremely difficult situation. Finally, she was able to separate from him, but at the cost of becoming impoverished. She ended up so destitute in rural California during the early part of the 20th century that she had to go to work in a sardine canning factory. She had no other life abilities as an upper-class British woman, other than knowing how to make lace, and that was about it. She reached a point in her spiritual life where she felt her Christian faith was just not enough to sustain her. Her foundation was really knocked away from her through her suffering, and that was what opened her heart, mind, and soul to a new view of spiritual reality.

Dale: Yes, it was about that time that she became interested in what is known as Theosophy. She met a couple of elderly ladies who had studied with the founder of Theosophy, and so she began to take an interest in that and she really began to grow. I think it was at that point when she discovered she had a mind, and she said that she began to exercise and use her mind.

Sarah: She read widely.

Dale: Yes, and she became very active in the Theosophical Society there in Southern California, becoming a lecturer, counselor, and teacher in Theosophy. So, that was the beginning of the second part of her life; it was a big turning point in her life around age 35.

Sarah: Maybe we should take a minute to explain what Theosophy is. In essence, it’s the study of world religions or world faiths, which incorporates both the Eastern and Western spiritual traditions, particularly the more hidden or esoteric religious or spiritual teachings which run through many of the world’s faiths. Judaism, Islam, Christianity all have an esoteric tradition, and Theosophy focuses on that.

Dale: Right, and so her work was very much involved in Theosophy. In fact, she met her second husband, Foster Bailey, while working in the Theosophical Society. They were planning to be married just about the time when the war came along, so that disrupted a lot of the activity and work that they were doing. It was also at that time when she began to do her real work in life, the writing of the books that we now know as the Alice Bailey books, the twenty-four volumes of esoteric philosophy. That was a rather interesting time when she met this person, who has been referred to as the Tibetan.

Robert: Having read the autobiography myself, I was very impressed by her sense of ethics and how she was so strongly dedicated to never betraying the best within herself. Whenever she was presented with any type of conflict, whether it was moral or deciding what road to take in life or when she was confused, she would always ask herself what Christ would do in that particular situation? Then, whatever answer she came up with would be the path that she would follow. So, after reading her autobiography I looked upon her as being highly spiritual, highly moral, and someone who constantly followed the best within herself. Can you describe how Alice Bailey and the Tibetan worked together and why he chose her as his secretary?

Dale: It’s difficult to explain that, but let’s just say it was prearranged on the inner side, at the soul level.

Sarah: I think people can understand that, in the sense that each of us comes into this life with a mission, a plan or purpose, which our soul seeks to work out through the circumstances of our life.

Dale: That’s a good way to put it. This person, this source, who actually dictated most of the books to her, turned out to be a Tibetan lama. Now this was not a discarnate being, but a flesh and blood person who lived, as he described, on the borders of Tibet, and he was an abbot in the lamasery. He contacted her mentally, through her mind, by what is called telepathy. Now we might think that this is kind of spooky, but it isn’t. It’s a very common way of communicating and most people have this capability; we just don’t realize it.

Sarah: Usually it’s on the level of knowing somebody’s going to telephone. (laughter)

Dale: Yes, that sort of thing. We’ve all had the experience of two people having the same thought at the same time.

Sarah: Usually a very mundane thought. (laughter)

Dale: Yes, one person expresses an idea or a thought and the other person says they were just thinking the same thing.

Sarah: And then both say, “Great minds think alike.”

Dale: Essentially what this is, is two minds that are vibrating in sync. I’m not telepathic, but this is the way I understand it, that there is a synchronicity between the two minds, because every mind has a vibration rate and when they’re in sync together, then ideas, thoughts, and understanding can pass between people at the same time. I think this is the way that this Tibetan lama contacted Alice. He was able to synchronize his mind with hers. They built up a very close relationship, so he was able to project his thoughts into her mind, and she was able to attune to his mind and able to bring through and register these thoughts and write them down very carefully; he would drop them into her mind and she would write them down. That’s essentially how they worked for 30 years.

Sarah: And maybe we should stress the fact that Alice had an extraordinarily clear, lucid, fluid mind, lest people think, well, that would be interesting for me to attempt to do. She really had an extraordinary mind, we’re told by those who knew her well. It was very well stocked through her tutoring as a young woman and her wide, wide reading. She read virtually all the Hindu texts, the Upanishads, The Secret Doctrine. The Bible she knew backwards and forwards. So, her mind was well prepared for this work they did together.

Dale: Right, she was very well suited. They had a very close, warm relationship, and I think what carries the thoughts is this relationship of love. As long as there is love there, then there will be this communication because love acts like a carrier wave for our thoughts.

Sarah: So, you think that love has to be present for people to have a telepathy between them?

Dale: I think so. There has to be a good, warm relationship there for a real good accurate contact, I would say.

Robert: What’s amazing is that she wrote twenty-four volumes of books that are highly interesting and believe me, if you want to know more about yourself, the nature of reality, our place in the universe, these books are certainly worth reading! You said that she had two life projects. Could you explain what these were?

Sarah: Well, Dale mentioned that when he said that she came into life with this relationship with the Tibetan teacher already established. All of us, as I said, have an agenda that our soul hopes to accomplish through our living and her soul’s plan included the writing of these books with the Tibetan teacher. It took thirty years of work, and when the last book was completed, she died within the month. The other project that her soul ordained for her was the establishing of an esoteric school, which she did. She established it in the early 1920s; it’s called the Arcane School and it’s still in existence and offers spiritual training and training in meditation, leading to a life of service. The work is offered in English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Greek, and most recently we’ve opened a Russian section. This is an extraordinary accomplishment on its own. She began the Arcane School with a little group of about ten men who wanted to study with her. As I mentioned earlier, she was very learned in the Secret Doctrine, which is the major work of Theosophy, as well as having a deep understanding of Hindu spiritual texts and of the Christian Bible. So, she began a little reading group with them. They would meet in her office in New York City, once a week. They started, I think, in about 1921. Then, when she went away for the summer to Long Island, she began to write them letters on a regular basis, giving them more instruction. So, you can see that the Arcane School began from something very small and humble in its origins. It’s a remarkable project because the work is conducted entirely on the level of the soul, you could say. There are not classes offered where people come together in an outer way. I think this was probably the result of her experience with Theosophy, wouldn’t you say?

Dale: Yes, she had some rather unusual and maybe bad experiences with Theosophy that we don’t need to get into, but that’s one reason why she established a correspondence school. The school was done entirely through the mail. She set it up that way and that’s the way it’s still carried on today, by correspondence. That’s why we’re able to reach many, many thousands of students all over the world, in many different languages.

Robert: Why the word arcane? Why did she choose that word?

Sarah: That supposedly was the name that Helena Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy, had hoped to give to her esoteric school. That particular school was never realized in Blavatsky’s time, but when Alice formed her school, she gave it the name Arcane School. Arcane, meaning hidden or removed from sight. It refers to the Ageless Wisdom and to the esoteric strain of teaching, which I said runs throughout all the major world religions. It’s not hidden in the sense that you don’t have access to this knowledge, but it’s hidden in the sense that you have to seek it out, and through study, pondering, meditation, and reflection, gain an understanding of it. It’s not easily accessible. So, in that sense, it’s arcane and the school is intended to develop adult men and women to become disciples; the word literally means learning boy. A disciple is one who is learning and who applies that spiritual learning in service.

Dale: Yes, service is one of the three pillars of the school, which are study, meditation, and service. These we emphasize in the schoolwork, in the development of discipleship as a way of life. It isn’t necessary that one withdraws from life. In fact, it’s recommended that you stay active in life and become an active disciple, learning boy, in the world. You learn about the world and about the energies and forces that govern the world and try to see the world in those terms.

Sarah: She also traveled throughout her life and lectured widely. She traveled throughout Europe and spent a great deal of time in the United Kingdom every summer. For many years, she would give classes and lectures in Switzerland. She was said to be a superb public speaker. She also wrote her own books in addition to writing these books for the Tibetan teacher, and they’re still in print. One book is ‘From Bethlehem to Calvary’, which is a study of the life of Jesus, which traces the events in Jesus’s life and development to the spiritual path of initiation. Another is ‘From Intellect to Intuition’, which is a book on meditation. Another book, ‘Consciousness of the Atom’, was based on a series of lectures that Alice gave in New York on the atom, and it’s absolutely fascinating. A fourth book that she wrote is ‘The Soul and its Mechanism’, which is an in-depth study of the personality and the vehicles, so to speak, the mind, the emotions, and the physical-etheric body through which the soul manifests. Another book is ‘Labours of Hercules’, which is a series of lectures she gave on astrology. She also wrote a commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which is one of the great Hindu texts. This is called ‘Light of the Soul’.

Dale: Yes, she wrote twenty-four books and what they are is actually tools for living, and they really open a window into this inner world that leads to a tremendously deeper understanding of our relationship to God and our reason for being in the world at this time and serving the plan of God. I think that’s what’s really important to me, as I understand it.

Robert: How did she view the modern spiritual seeker’s orientation or needs?

Sarah: Well, I think this is one of the most interesting aspects of Alice Bailey’s contribution. She understood and spoke to the Western spiritual seekers needs. I think that it’s been a common assumption that one has to go to the East and sit at the feet of an Eastern teacher to receive spiritual training, and certainly that is one method and many people from the West do that. But Alice Bailey designed the form of training through the Arcane School and through her own writings that speaks to the needs of the Western spiritual seeker, meaning the person who lives in the very active, pressured, materialistic, highly mentally developed atmosphere of Western life. She understood that the modern spiritual seeker is not a baby and doesn’t need a guru, a teacher guiding him, but has the soul within to lead that person forward and through meditation; to come into contact with the soul, the first master, the master in the heart.

Robert: What would you say is so unique about Alice Bailey’s life?

Sarah: Oh, there are so many things. One was that she was a woman, another that she was a devout Christian from a very narrow fundamentalist background who was broken open, you could say, by life experience and hardship. She had an extremely clear and lucid mind. She carried on her work in spite of a great deal of physical hardship. She was very, very ill the last ten years of her life, and as I said, died within the month after having completed the last book. She had a very clear sense of Hierarchy and of humanity’ spiritual readiness to take part in God’s plan for our world. She was very active at a time of the world war, and she did her very best to encourage the United States entrance into the war because she saw clearly that it was the fight of the forces of darkness and light.

Dale: And that’s one reason, I think, why there is so much emphasis in their books on the need for goodwill and right human relations in the world. That’s a theme that runs through all of the books because they were written during the very difficult years between two wars, World War I and World War II. In fact, goodwill was such an issue with them that she made the statement once that goodwill has to come first, if there is ever to come peace, and this has been forgotten. People have attempted to initiate a period of peace before there has been any demonstration of goodwill. And there can be no peace until goodwill is the conditioning factor in all human relations.

Robert: The goodwill for one’s fellow man, for humanity, has to be in the heart first before we can ever have peace. I think she’s absolutely right about that. And in closing, we invite you to ponder on this thought. Goodwill is the touch stone that will transform the world. Goodwill is love in action. It is the energy that draws us together in right relationship. There is a world prayer called the Great Invocation. It’s a call for light, love, and goodwill to flow into the world and into our hearts. Let’s listen for a moment to these powerful words.

Sarah: Closes the program with the adapted version of the Great Invocation.

(This is an edited transcript of a recorded radio program called “Inner Sight”. This conversation was recorded between the host, Robert Anderson, and the then President and Vice-President of Lucis Trust, Sarah and Dale McKechnie.)

(Transcribed and edited by Carla McLeod)




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