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In the Ascended Master Teachings of a number of movements in the Theosophical tradition, Ascended Masters are believed to be spiritually enlightened beings who in past incarnations were ordinary humans, but who have undergone a series of spiritual transformations originally called initiations.
Both "Mahatma" and "Ascended Master" are terms used in the Ascended Master Teachings. Ascended Master is based on the theosophical concept of the Mahatma or Masters of the Ancient Wisdom. However, Mahatmas and Ascended Masters are believed by some to differ in certain respects.
According to the Ascended Master Teachings, a "Master", "Commoner", "Shaman", or "Spiritual Master" is a human being who has taken the Fifth Initiation and is thereby capable of dwelling on the 5th dimension. An "Ascended Master" is a human being who has taken the Sixth Initiation, also referred to as Ascension, and is thereby capable of dwelling on the 6th dimension. An "Ascended Master" is a human being who has regained full union with his "Mighty I AM Presence." When a human being has regained full union with his "Mighty I AM Presence," that state of full union is referred to as "Ascension." Technically, a human being "ascends" when he takes the Sixth Initiation, and not before then.
A "Chohan" (Lord) of a "Ray" is an Ascended Master who has been placed in charge of one of the 12 "Rays" (until recently, 7 Rays were generally known, and 5 Rays were "secret"), due to having an extraordinary natural spiritual affinity for that Ray. A "Ray" is a concentrated stream of spiritual energy emanating, ultimately, from the Godhead. Each "Ray" is the embodiment/expression of one of the 12 great God-Qualities, such as Divine Will, Divine Wisdom, Divine Love, etc. The "Chohans (Lords) of the Rays" thus constitute a special grouping of Ascended Masters (Sixth Level Initiates).
Those who have taken the Seventh Initiation hold the Senior Administrative Posts in the Great White Brotherhood on Earth. These senior administrative posts are divided into 3 departments: The Department of the Manu, the Department of the Planetary Christ, and the Department of the Mahachohan. "
A "Lord of the World" is a human being (or another organism) who has taken the Ninth Initiation. According to ascended master teaching, The Ninth Initiation is the highest Initiation possible on, what is believed to be a 9th-dimensional planet grid such as Earth by Ascended Master Teaching believers. They believe this will be until the end of 21 December 2012. Sanat Kumara (a "Lord of the Flame" originally from the higher-dimensional levels of the planet Venus) was the original being who held the spiritual office of "Lord of the World" here on planet Earth.
The term "Ascended Master" was first used by Baird T. Spalding in 1924 in his series of books, "The Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East" (DeVorss and Co.). Godfre Ray King further popularized this concept of spiritual masters who had once lived on the earth in his book Unveiled Mysteries  (1934) by Guy Ballard (1878-1939). Ballard was the founder of the first "Ascended Master Teaching" in modern times, known as The "I AM" Activity (in full: The "I AM" Religious Activity of the Saint Germain Foundation ). The teachings were continued and embellished by later organizations such as The Bridge to Freedom (founded 1951) (known in the 1980s as The New Age Church of the Christ, and later as The Bridge to Spiritual Freedom), The Summit Lighthouse (founded 1958) and its successor organization the Church Universal and Triumphant, and various other organizations such as the White Eagle Lodge (1936). A more modern form of the teachings, which did not rely on "channeled" messages, was given by a former associate of Godfre Ray King, Pearl Dorris, in Mount Shasta, California, beginning on October 20, 1972, and continuing until her death in Yreka, California in 1990 (See her biography: Lady Master Pearl, My Teacher by Peter Mt. Shasta, also the book she helped channel, Step by Step: Ascended Master Discourses). Her emphasis was on learning to feel and identify with the I AM Presence within, rather than invoking the "Presence" as an external mental principle. Under her tutelage, Peter Mt. Shasta was trained to continue the Masters' teachings, working today to incorporate the inner teachings of the Far East and their emphasis on self-observation, with the dynamic I AM teachings that uses affirmations to develop mastery in daily life. See Apprentice to the Masters: Adventures of a Western Mystic, Book II. In Peter Mt. Shasta's third autobiographical book My Search in Tibet for the Secret Wish-Fulfilling Jewel he mentions the widely held belief in Tibet that yogis ascend, jalus (Tibetan), by dissolving the five elements and raising the Nirmanakaya and Sambogakaya bodies into the Dharmakaya (known also as Atman, Monad, or I AM Presence).
The rays, the divine evolutions of peoples and planets are represented by 7 colors (new age) and more 5 colors (new age gold or solar rays). The colors of new age and solar rays are (in order): 1 blue (power of faith); 2 yellow (obedience); 3 pink (beauty; geniality); 4 white (ascension; peace; light); 5 green (nature); 6 red (true resurrection); 7 violet (New Age of Master Saint Germain); 8 turquoise (lucidity); 9 magenta (divine wonder; justiciars); 10 gold (materialization of wealth); 11 orange (sunshine); 12 Opaline (renewal).
Students of Ascended Master Teachings organizations (also known as Ascended Master Activities) believe that the Presence of Life — God — individualizes as "Mighty I AM Presences," which then incarnate in lower-dimensional subtle and gross bodies throughout the created universes. They believe that their Teachings have been given to humanity by the Ascended Masters. Ascended Masters are believed to be individuals who have lived in physical bodies, acquired the Wisdom and Mastery needed to become Immortal and Free of the cycles of "re-embodiment" and karma, and have attained their "Ascension" (the Sixth Initiation). They consider the Ascension to be the complete permanent union of the raised and purified outer self with their Mighty "I AM" Presence - that True Identity that is the unique Individualization of Almighty God residing in each person. This knowledge is believed to have previously been taught for millions of years only within "Ascended Master Retreats" and "Mystery Schools". It is believed by adherents of the Ascended Master Teachings that this wisdom was partially released by the Theosophical Society beginning in 1875, by C.W. Leadbeater and Alice A. Bailey, and began to have more detailed public release in the 1930s by the Ascended Masters through Guy Ballard in the I AM Activity. However, theosophists maintain that the concept of Ascended Master is an exaggeration and corruption of the more modest theosophical concept of "Master of the Ancient Wisdom." A similar problematic conflation of the term exits in the case of the Alice Bailey teachings.[self-published source?] (p. 111) The term Ascended Master was first introduced in 1934 by Guy Ballard [note :contradicts earlier statement "The term "Ascended Master" was first used by Baird T. Spalding in 1924] in his work titled Unveiled Mysteries, a book which he said was dictated to him by the Ascended Master St. Germain. Other Ascended Master Teachings are contained in The Bridge to Freedom (1951), Mark Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet's The Summit Lighthouse (1958) (reorganized as the Church Universal and Triumphant in 1975), The Temple of The Presence (1995), The Hearts Center (2002), the I AM University (2004), and various other organizations such as the White Eagle Lodge (1936) and the Aquarian Christine Church Universal, Inc. (2006).
Beliefs about Ascended Masters
Originally presented by Helena P. Blavatsky in the 1870s, the idea of the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom or Mahatmas was adopted by people who at some point had had a connection with the Theosophical movement, such as Alice Bailey, Helena Roerich, and Manly P. Hall. Later on many other organizations, especially in the United States, developed the concept of Ascended Masters, which departs from the theosophical one in several aspects.
It is believed that Ascended Masters are individuals who were formerly embodied on the Earth and learned the lessons of life during their incarnations. They gained mastery over the limitations of the matter planes, balanced at least 51% of negative karma, and fulfilled their Dharma (divine plan). An Ascended Master, in such an understanding, has become God-like and a source of unconditional "Divine Love" to all life, and through the Ascension has united with his or her own "God Self," the "I AM Presence."
It is further claimed by various groups and teachers that the Ascended Masters serve as the teachers of mankind from the realms of Spirit, and that all people will eventually attain their Ascension and move forward in spiritual evolution beyond this planet. According to these teachings, they remain attentive to the spiritual needs of humanity and act to inspire and motivate its spiritual growth. In many traditions and organizations, they are considered part of the Spiritual Hierarchy of Earth, and members of the Great Brotherhood of Light, also known as the Great White Lodge, Great White Brotherhood, or Universal White Brotherhood (per Peter Deunov).
According to Alice Bailey and Benjamin Creme there are sixty Masters of the Ancient Wisdom, defined as beings who have reached the Fifth Level of Initiation or above, with Djwhal Khul in a pivotal role as the master who telepathically dictated the many esoteric teachings in Baileys' books. Elizabeth Clare Prophet revealed, by taking "dictations" from them, the names of many dozens of additional Ascended Masters that were previously unknown.
The concept of recognizing the spiritual self, one's own psychological and karma battles and how to overcome them, and eventual Ascension of all humanity is covered in James Redfield's Celestine Prophecy and its sequels, The Tenth Insight: Holding the Vision and The Secret of Shambhala: In Search of the Eleventh Insight. These books, while controversial, are recent popularizations of the concept of Ascension.
In Ascended Master teachings there is also mention of Serapis Bey, a being who was incarnated as a high priest in one of the "Temples of the Sacred Fire" on Atlantis, and who migrated to Egypt at the time of the destruction of Atlantis. It is also believed[by whom?] that he was incarnated as the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III (who constructed the Temple of Luxor to the god Amon) and also as Leonidas, the King of Sparta, who was killed in 480 BC defending the pass of Thermopylae against the invasion of Greece by Emperor Xerxes I of the Persian Empire. According to teachings of Agni Yoga, Serapis Bey purports to be, in past lives, the Roman king Numa Pompilius, and the philosophers Confucius, Plato and Seneca the Younger (Lucius Annaeus Seneca). He is referred to in the book Supermundane as The Thinker.
Universal All-Pervading Presence of Life
This is properly called Isness; students of the Ascended Master Teachings believe that there is One God, the "Universal All-Pervading Presence of Life", "The One", Who is the Source of all Love, Light, and Truth in existence, and that all forms of existence and consciousness emanate from this "Allness of God" - "The One". The Voice of the I AM states "All Life is One"  and that there is "One Substance, One Energy, One Power, One Intelligence" as the Source of all consciousness and creation. This Divine Being and Mind is considered to be above and distinct from all creation (in the sense of classical theism), transcending all creation yet interpenetrating all existence. Belief in this one God stresses the essential unity of the spiritual and material components of the universe. God creates through Individualized Identities that have distinct Self-Consciousness and that make up the Spiritual Hierarchy of Creation, yet remain connected through the flow of the "River of Life" and "Lifestream" to the one undivided God — the All in All — the Good — the Source from which all Life, Light, and Love come.(or from which all things, yin & yang come. Even what one may perceive as darkness "evil" or "bad" is in someway working out for the Good and toward the elevation and ascension of all people. All things pervading or pouring out from the One perfect intelligent mind i.e. God), there is always an uninterrupted Oneness that is maintained with the Allness of God. From the One God all other realities, including Hierarchy, humanity and the material universe, are the result of a process of emanation.
The Individualized "I AM" Presence
This is properly called Atma Brahman; adherents of the Ascended Master Teachings believe that each person is an incarnation of an "Individualized Presence" of the "Most High Living God" — the "Mighty I AM Presence" — as part of humans' very nature and being. God (as Life and Love) manifests in the 7 octaves of the created universe through individual Divine Identities. As embodied individuals, we are the outer expression of that God Self in form. It is our unique and immortal True Identity, yet always sharing in the Allness of the ONE GOD.
The founder of the Theosophical Society, Helen Blavatsky, in the late 19th century brought attention to the idea of secret initiatory knowledge, by claiming her ideas were based on traditions taught to her by a group of highly enlightened yogis which she called the Mahatmas or Masters of the Ancient Wisdom. These Mahatmas, she claimed, were physical beings living in the Himalayas, usually understood as Tibet:
... they are living men, born as we are born, and doomed to die like every mortal. We call them “masters” because they are our teachers; and because from them we have derived all the Theosophical truths ... They are men of great learning, whom we call Initiates, and still greater holiness of life.
After Blavatsky's death in 1891, the concept of the Mahatmas was developed by her successors in the Theosophical Society leadership, Annie Besant and Charles W. Leadbeater, who described them in great detail and added Master Jesus and Maitreya. In Leadbeater's book, The Masters and the Path (1925), the Masters are presented as human beings full of wisdom and compassion, albeit still limited by human bodies, which they choose to retain in order to keep in touch with humanity and help in its evolution.
Later organizations that used many of the teachings of Theosophy for their own purposes, developed concept of Ascended Masters which bears some important differences with the Theosophical one. The ascended master Saint Germain has been releasing the ancient teachings in a more modern and simplified form, as can be found in the books of Peter Mt. Shasta, which show how the Masters can work with those who have an open heart and the desire to benefit humanity.
Other beliefs about Ascended Masters
Belief in the Brotherhood and the Masters is an essential part of the beliefs of various organizations that have continued and expanded the concepts released in the original Saint Germain instruction in the 1930s through The "I AM" Activity. Examples of those believed by the ones proposing these teachings to be Ascended Masters would be the Master Jesus, Confucius, Gautama Buddha, Mary the Mother of Jesus, St. Paul of Tarsus, Megha Alcorn as known as Megan Sebastian, Ashtar Sheran, Merku, Sanat Kumara, Aaron as known as Alaje, Aleph, Hatton, (aka Hilarion), Melchizedek, Archangel Michael, Metatron, Kwan Yin, St. Germain and Kuthumi, the currently living Master Mindo, as well as dozens of others.
Unveiled Mysteries says:
Truly the Great Ascended Masters are Gods. It is no wonder in the mythology of the ancients that their activities have been brought down to us in the guise of myth and fable. They wield Tremendous God Power at all times because they hold with unwavering determination to the Great God Presence and hence all Power is given unto them for they are All-Perfection.
When Jesus said, 'All these things I have done, ye shall do and even greater things shall ye do,' he knew whereof he spoke," continued Saint Germain. "He came forth to reveal the Conscious Dominion and Mastery that it is possible for every human being to attain and express while still here on Earth.
Jesus is one of the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom in Theosophy and is one of the Ascended masters (also collectively called the Great White Brotherhood; with white being in reference to the light) in the Ascended Master Teachings, a group of religions based on Theosophy. The Master Jesus is regarded by Theosophists, was regarded by Alice Bailey and was later regarded by students of the "Ascended Master Teachings" as the Master of the Sixth Ray.
It is believed by Ascended Master Teachings organizations that the Master Jesus was "Chohan of the Sixth Ray" until December 31, 1959, when, according to Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Lady Master Nada fully took on that Office in the Spiritual Hierarchy. According to Prophet, Jesus became World Teacher, along with Kuthumi, on January 1, 1956, succeeding Maitreya, who took the Office of "Planetary Buddha" and "Cosmic Christ". This belief is not accepted by adherents of traditional Theosophy and the followers of Alice A. Bailey and Benjamin Creme - they believe that the Master Jesus is still the Chohan of the Sixth Ray and that Maitreya is still the World Teacher.
According to Elizabeth Clare Prophet, the Prophet of the Church Universal and Triumphant, the largest Ascended Master Teachings religion, the Master Jesus incarnated twice as the Emperor of Atlantis, once in 33,050 BC and again in 15,000 BC. He did this in order to aid the white magicians in the war of the white magicians and the black magicians that was going on in Atlantis at that time.
According to the Ascended Master Teachings, Jesus was also incarnated as Joseph of the Coat of many colors in the 17th century BC/16th century BC (approximately between 1650 BC and 1550 BC), as well as King David (who lived c. 1037 BC until around 970 BC), and Elisha in the 9th century BC.
According to the post-1900 publications of Theosophy (specifically, the writings of Charles W. Leadbeater, Alice A. Bailey, and Benjamin Creme, as well as the Ascended Master Teachings of Guy Ballard, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Geraldine Innocente, Joshua David Stone, and other Ascended Master Teachings teachers), Sanat Kumara is an "advanced being" of the Ninth Initiation (the highest Initiation possible on planet Earth) who is regarded as the Lord or Regent of Earth and of humanity, and the head of the Spiritual Hierarchy of Earth who dwells in Shamballah, a city said by Theosophists and those adherent to the Ascended Master Teachings to be a floating city on the etheric plane above the Gobi Desert.
It is believed by these authors that he is the founder of the Great White Brotherhood, which is composed of Masters of the Ancient Wisdom (Fifth Initiation), Ascended Masters (Sixth Initiation), Chohans and Bodhisattvas (Seventh Initiation), Buddhas (Eighth Initiation), and highly spiritually-evolved volunteers from other worlds, who have all joined together to advance spiritual evolution on Earth.
Sanat Kumara was mentioned briefly by the theosophist Helena Blavatsky. She claimed he belonged to a group of beings, the "Lords of the Flame", whom Christian tradition have misunderstood as Lucifer and the fallen angels.
Sanat Kumara gained greater prominence when her follower Charles W. Leadbeater wrote that Sanat Kumara was the "King" or Lord of the World, and the head of the Great White Brotherhood of Mahatmas who had revealed the principles of theosophy.
Later theosophists such as Alice Bailey and Elizabeth Clare Prophet have embellished the story with further details. He is usually depicted as having the appearance of a 16-year-old boy.
Comparison with Masters of Wisdom
There is considerable difference between the concept of Masters of the Ancient Wisdom in Theosophy (as described by Blavatsky, Olcott, Sinnett, and others) and the current concept of Ascended Masters, developed by Guy Ballard and Elizabeth Clare Prophet fifty-five years after the Theosophical Society was founded.
They added more than 200 new "Ascended Masters" that they claimed to receive dictations from in addition to receiving dictations from the original Masters of the Ancient Wisdom of Theosophy.
The Ascended Masters, as their name suggests, are supposed to be Masters who have experienced the miracle of ascension, as it is said Jesus did. The original teaching, channeled by Guy Ballard, was that a new Ascended Master would not die but would take the body up with him. This teaching of ascension is in direct opposition to the Theosophical teachings. Mahatma K.H. refers to the idea disparagingly in one of his letters to Sinnett:
There was but one hysterical woman alleged to have been present at the pretended ascension, and ... the phenomenon has never been corroborated by repetition.
Blavatsky also rejects ascension as a fact, calling it "an allegory as old as the world." In the Theosophical view, the Masters of Wisdom retain their physical bodies.
The Masters of the Wisdom are not like the Ascended ones, who are said to become Godlike, all-powerful beings beyond the laws of nature. In their teachings, the Theosophical Masters even denied that such beings exist. Mahatma K.H. wrote:
If we had the powers of the imaginary Personal God, and the universal and immutable laws were but toys to play with, then indeed might we have created conditions that would have turned this earth into an Arcadia for lofty souls.
In their letters, the Mahatmas constantly talk about the "immutable laws" of the universe, and that they can help humanity only within the limits of these laws.
Proponents of the Ascended Masters sometimes attempt to account for these discrepancies by claiming that when the Theosophical Society (TS) was founded most of the Theosophical Mahatmas were still "unascended Masters". This leaves room to detach the Ascended Masters from the limitations. However, the Mahatma K.H. wrote: "We are not infallible, all-foreseeing 'Mahatmas' at every hour of the day." As he explained: "An adept—the highest as the lowest—is one only during the exercise of his occult powers." In fact, according to the Theosophical teachings, the higher the adept, the less we are likely to hear from him:
The more spiritual the Adept becomes, the less can he meddle with mundane, gross affairs and the more he has to confine himself to a spiritual work ... The very high Adepts, therefore, do help humanity, but only spiritually: they are constitutionally incapable of meddling with worldly affairs.
In the Theosophical view the Masters do not pay attention to personal desires. Theosophy teaches that the psychological ego is false, that the idea that we are this body, emotions, and mind is a mistake of perception and the source of sorrow. It says that real happiness comes only as an unsought by-product of reducing rather than increasing our attachment and identification with the personal. Blavatsky wrote that "Occultism is not . . . the pursuit of happiness as man understands the word; for the first step is sacrifice, the second renunciation." K.H. agreed with this when he wrote: "We—the criticized and misunderstood Brothers—we seek to bring men to sacrifice their personality—a passing flash—for the welfare of the whole humanity." During the early times of the Theosophical Society, some members, misunderstanding the nature of the Mahatmas, would bring HPB some personal requests to ask of them. In a letter Blavatsky explained:
The Masters would not stoop for one moment to give a thought to individual, private matters relating but to one or even ten persons, their welfare, woes and blisses in this world of Maya [illusion], to nothing except questions of really universal importance. It is all you Theosophists who have dragged down in your minds the ideals of our Masters; you who have unconsciously and with the best of intentions and full sincerity of good purpose, desecrated Them, by thinking for one moment, and believing that They would trouble Themselves with your business matters, sons to be born, daughters to be married, houses to be built, ...
This kind of interest is a very marked feature of the Ascended Masters. The Ascended Masters Teachings teach ways to attract material or emotional possessions to a person's life, and also how to dissolve unpleasant karma, a conception that the Theosophical Mahatmas emphatically opposed. For example, K.H. wrote: "Bear in mind that the slightest cause produced, however unconsciously, and with whatever motive, cannot be unmade, or its effects crossed in their progress—by millions of gods, demons, and men combined." In fact, the Ascended Masters are portrayed as cosmic fathers who will take care of their followers' problems. In contrast, Mahatma M. said: "We are leaders but not child-nurses."
Maitri is Sanskrit for "loving kindness." The historical Buddha was reported to have said near the time of his death in the 4th century BCE that many Buddhas (awakened ones) had come before him, and that in the future another Buddha would come who would be greater than him, and who would embody "Maitri." This prophecy created the expectation of a Buddha Maitreya, which was probably fulfilled in the advent of the being now called "Jesus," likely Apollonius of Tyanna, who on his travels in India and the Far East was reported in many texts to have been called, "Issa," probably short for "Rishi" (great sage). His teachings embody that principle of loving kindness. Maitreya or Lord Maitreya is described in Theosophical literature of the late 19th-century and subsequent periods as an advanced spiritual entity and high-ranking member of a hidden Spiritual Hierarchy, the so-called Masters of the Ancient Wisdom. According to Theosophical doctrine, one of the Hierarchy's functions is to oversee the evolution of Humankind; in accord with this function Maitreya is said to hold the so-called Office of the World Teacher. Theosophical texts posit that the purpose of this Office is to facilitate the transfer of knowledge about the true constitution and workings of Existence. Humanity is thereby assisted on its presumed cyclical, but ever progressive, evolutionary path. Reputedly, one way the knowledge transfer is accomplished is by Maitreya occasionally manifesting or incarnating in the physical realm; the manifested entity then assumes the role of World Teacher of Humankind.
The Theosophical concept of Maitreya has many similarities to the earlier Maitreya doctrine in Buddhism. However, they differ in important aspects, and developed differently. The Theosophical Maitreya has been assimilated or appropriated by a variety of quasi-theosophical and non-theosophical New Age and Esoteric groups and movements. These have added, and advanced, their own interpretations and commentary on the subject.
Development of the concept
The first mention of Maitreya in a Theosophical context occurs in the 1883 work Esoteric Buddhism by Alfred Percy Sinnett (1840–1921), an early Theosophical writer. The concepts described by Sinnett were amended, elaborated on, and greatly expanded in The Secret Doctrine, a book originally published 1888. The work was the magnum opus of Helena Blavatsky, one of the physical founders of the Theosophical Society and of contemporary Theosophy. In it, the messianic Maitreya is linked to both Buddhist and Hindu religious traditions. In the same work Blavatsky was to assert that there have been, and will be, multiple messianic (or messianic-like) instances in human history. These successive appearances of "emissarie[s] of Truth" are according to the Blavatsky writings part of the unceasing oversight of Earth and of its inhabitants by a physically hidden Spiritual Hierarchy, called Masters of the Ancient Wisdom. The Theosophist, ""Alice Bailey,"" who broke with the Indian branch of the Theosophical Society, and who was heavily influenced by orthodox Christianity, started the expectation that the ""Maitreya" would actually be reborn on the earth as a physical being, fulfilling the Christian ideal of a Second Coming, rather than the New Age ideal of the Christ being reborn in the heart of each individual.
Initiation is a concept in Theosophy that there are nine levels of spiritual development that beings who live on Earth can progress upward through. Within these levels, there are four basic levels of spiritual development that human beings on Earth progress through as they reincarnate, although evil acts may cause bad karma which may cause one to temporarily regress. It is believed[by whom?] that when souls have advanced to the fourth level of initiation, they have reached enlightenment and have no further need to reincarnate. At the fifth level of initiation and beyond, souls have the opportunity to become members of the Spiritual Hierarchy. This concept was developed by both C.W. Leadbeater and Alice A. Bailey beginning in the 1920s.
According to C.W. Leadbeater, Initiation is a process by which "we try to develop ourselves not that we may become great and wise, but that we may have the power and knowledge to work for humanity to the best effect." According to Alice A. Bailey, Initiation is the "process of undergoing an expansion [toward higher levels] of consciousness" It is believed by Theosophists that all souls that have reached the fourth level of initiation and evolved beyond the necessity to reincarnate. Those who do not elect to become pratyeka buddhas and go directly into Spiritual Hierarchy governing nirvana, gradually evolving upward through all of these six higher levels of consciousness over thousands or millions of years, and later over billions or trillions of years, with other higher levels beyond.
The concept of Initiation is also recognized in the Ascended Master Teachings, a group of religions based on Theosophy. In the Ascended Master Teachings, the Sixth Initiation is referred to as Ascension. The first six initiations were named by Charles W. Leadbeater and Alice A. Bailey after the six most important events in the life of Jesus
The Great White Brotherhood
The Great White Brotherhood, in belief systems akin to Theosophical and New Age, are said to be supernatural beings of great power who spread spiritual teachings through selected humans. The members of the Brotherhood may be known as the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom or the Ascended masters. Various people have said they have received messages from these beings, including most notably [Helena Blavatsky (Theosophy), Aleister Crowley (Thelema), Alice A. Bailey (New Group of World Servers), Guy Ballard ("I AM" Activity), Geraldine Innocente (The Bridge to Freedom), Mark L. Prophet & Elizabeth Clare Prophet (Church Universal and Triumphant) and Benjamin Creme (Share International).
The Masters are collectively called the "Great White Brotherhood" by various theosophists and esotericists. The use of the term "white" refers to their advanced spirituality (in other words, that they have a white colored aura) and has nothing to do with race. Blavatsky described many of the Masters as ethnically Tibetan or Indian (Hindu), not European. She did, however, describe them as being from all cultures and races, such as the "Greek gentleman" known as Hilarion.
Belief in the Brotherhood and the Masters is an essential part of the syncretistic teachings of various organizations that have taken the Theosophical philosophical concepts and added their own elements. Examples of those believed to be Ascended Masters by these organizations are: Jesus, Sanat Kumara, Gautama Buddha, Maitreya, Confucius, Lord Lanto (Confucius' historical mentor), Mary (mother of Jesus), Lady Master Nada, Enoch, Kwan Yin, Saint Germain, and Kuthumi, to name but a few. It is believed that all of these put aside any differences they might have had in their Earthly careers, and unite instead to advance the spiritual well-being of humanity.
Within "The I AM Activity" (founded by Guy Warren Ballard in the early 1930s), contact and cooperation with the Ascended Masters became a central part of each member's life. Through the Ballards as "Messengers", the Ascended Masters were believed to have regularly communicated with the students of "The I AM Activity." Those Addresses (known as "Dictations") were delivered before gatherings of members in Conclaves held throughout the United States of America, and published in the monthly periodical The Voice of The "I AM", and some were collected and reprinted in the "green books" of The Saint Germain Series. In all, 3,834 Dictations from the Masters were received through Guy and Edna Ballard. Other "Ascended Master Activities" believed that the Ascended Masters, Cosmic Beings, Elohim, and Archangels continued to present a program for both individual development and spiritual transformation in the world. They believe that further instruction from the Ascended Masters and the rest of the Spiritual Hierarchy continued through new Dispensations with new Messengers, such as The Bridge to Freedom, The Summit Lighthouse, and The Temple of The Presence.
The Aquarian Church
The Aquarian Christine Church Universal, Inc. (ACCU) is a denomination founded in 2006 based on The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ transcribed from the Akashic Records by Levi H. Dowling. The Aquarian Christine Church actively promotes Ascended Master Teachings and shares many beliefs in common with the I AM Movement, White Eagle Lodge and New Thought and Theosophical groups. The book "Initiations of the Aquarian Masters: The Theosophy of the Aquarian Gospel" by ACCU founder Jacob L. Watson, expounds on the church's teachings which draw heavily from the writings of A.D.K. Luk (pen-name of Alice Beulah Schutz) (April 10, 1905 - Jan. 14, 1994), the Saint Germain Series published by the Saint Germain Press (The Saint Germain Foundation), and especially from "The Lost Years of Jesus" compiled by Elizabeth Clare Prophet and published by The Summit Lighthouse.
René Guénon wrote a detailed critique of Theosophy titled Theosophy: history of a pseudo-religion (1921). In the book Guenon speculated that Blavatsky had acquired all her knowledge naturally from other books not from any supernatural masters. Guenon points out that Blavatsky spent a long time visiting a library at New York where she had easy access to the works of Jacob Boehme, Eliphas Levi, the Kabbala and other Hermetic treatises. Guenon also speculated that Blavatsky had borrowed passages from extracts of the Kanjur and Tanjur, translated by the eccentric orientalist Sándor Kőrösi Csoma, published in 1836 in the twentieth volume of the Asiatic Researchers of Calcutta.
K. Paul Johnson suggests in his book The Masters Revealed: Madam Blavatsky and Myth of the Great White Brotherhood that the Masters that Madam Blavatsky claimed she had personally met are idealizations of certain people she had met during her lifetime.
Also see the article “Talking to the Dead and Other Amusements” by Paul Zweig New York Times October 5, 1980, which speculates that Madame Blavatsky's revelations were fraudulent.
Robert Todd Carroll in his book The skeptic's dictionary (2003) speculates that Blavatsky used trickery into deceiving others into thinking she had paranormal powers. Carroll further speculates that Blavatsky had faked a materialization of a tea cup and saucer as well as written the messages from her masters herself.
- "Ascended Master". Encyclopedia.com.
- Partridge, Christopher ed. New Religions: A Guide: New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities, Oxford University Press, USA, 2004. Describes the Theosophical Society and religious organizations based on a belief in Ascended Masters, such as The I AM Activity, The Bridge to Freedom and The Summit Lighthouse. pp. 330–334.
- King, Godfre Ray. Unveiled Mysteries. Chicago, Illinois: Saint Germain Press, 1934, p. vii: "The time has arrived, when the Great Wisdom, held and guarded for many centuries in the Far East, is now to come forth in America, at the command of those Great Ascended Masters who direct and protect the evolution of mankind upon this Earth."
- Saint Germain Foundation. The History of the "I AM" Activity and Saint Germain Foundation. Schaumburg, Illinois: Saint Germain Press, 2003.
- The Bridge to Freedom Journal (1951-1961) Reprinted by Ascended Master Teaching Foundation, 1989.
- Lewis, James R. Church Universal and Triumphant in Scholarly Perspective Center For Academic Publication 1994.
- White Paper - Wesak World Congress 2002. Acropolis Sophia Books & Works, 2003.
- Braden, Charles S. These Also Believe, MacMillan Publishing Company 2000, pp. 257–307.
- King, Godfre Ray. The Magic Presence. Saint Germain Press 1935. page 89, 95
- Luk, A.D.K. Law of Life - Book I (Pueblo, Colorado: A.D.K. Luk Publications, 1989), pp. 1–78, 91–102, 120–143, 215–216. The name "A. D. K. Luk" was the pseudonym of Alice Beulah (Schutz) Booras (April 10, 1905 - Jan. 14, 1994)
- Rogers, Mark (2014-02-13). The Esoteric Codex: Theosophy I. Lulu.com. ISBN 9781312011144.[self-published source]
- White Paper - Wesak World Congress 2002. Acropolis Sophia Books & Works 2003
- Watson, Jacob L. "Initiations of the Aquarian Masters: The Theosophy of the Aquarian Gospel" Outskirts Press, 2009. ISBN 978-1-4327-4598-1
- Luk, A.D.K.. Law of Life - Book I. Pueblo, Colorado: A.D.K. Luk Publications, 1989, pp. 23-27.
- Prophet, Mark L. and Elizabeth Clare Lords of the Seven Rays. Summit University, Livingston, Montana, USA, 1986, p. 149.
- Prophet, Mark L. and Elizabeth Clare Lords of the Seven Rays, p. 153.
- Prophet, Mark L. and Elizabeth Clare Lords of the Seven Rays, p. 150.
- Roerich, Elena Ivanovna. Letters to America. In 4 Vols (1923–1952). T. 4. Moscow: Sfera, 1999.
- The Voice of the I AM. Saint Germain Press December 1940 page 32
- The Voice of the I AM, Saint Germain Press, July 1942, p. 7.
- Blavatsky, H. P. (1968 ). The Key to Theosophy. London: Theosophical Publishing House.
- See also: K.H. Letters to C.W. Leadbeater
- "Adventures of a Western Mystic: Apprentice to the Masters" (Church of the Seven Rays, 2010)
- I AM Ascended Master Dictation List, Saint Germain Press Inc., 1995, Listing of those who are claimed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity
- Schroeder, Werner Ascended Masters and Their Retreats Ascended Master Teaching Foundation 2004, Listing of those who are believed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity and The Bridge to Freedom
- Luk, A.D.K. Law of Life - Book II. Pueblo, Colorado: A.D.K. Luk Publications, 1989. Listing of those who are claimed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity and The Bridge to Freedom
- Booth, Annice The Masters and Their Retreats, Summit Lighthouse Library June 2003, Listing of those who are believed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity, The Bridge to Freedom, and The Summit Lighthouse
- Shearer, Monroe & Carolyn. I AM Adorations, Affirmations & Rhythmic Decrees, Acropolis Sophia Books and Works, 1998. Listing of those who are claimed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity, The Bridge to Freedom, The Summit Lighthouse, and The Temple of The Presence
- Prophet, Mark L. and Elizabeth Clare. Lords of the Seven Rays, "Profiles of the Ascended Masters", pp. 13-394. Lists more than 250 Ascended Masters.
- Bailey, Alice A, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire (Section Three - Division A - Certain Basic Statements), 1932, Lucis Trust, 1925, p. 1237.
- Luk, A.D.K. The Law of Life: Book II, Pueblo, Colorado: A.D.K. Luk Publications, 1989; pages 267–272.
- Prophet, Mark L. and Elizabeth Clare Lords of the Seven Rays Livingston, Montana: Summit University Press 1986 page 225
- Prophet, Elizabeth Clare and Prophet, Mark (as compiled by Annice Booth) The Masters and Their Retreats Corwin Springs, Montana:2003 Summit University Press Pages 142-143
- Bailey, Alice A. Initiation, Human and Solar New York: Lucis Publishing, 1922, p. 56.
- I AM Ascended Master Dictation List, Saint Germain Press Inc., 1995, Listing of Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity
- Schroeder, Werner. Ascended Masters and Their Retreats, Ascended Master Teaching Foundation, 2004. Listing of those who are believed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity and The Bridge to Freedom
- Luk, A.D.K. Law of Life - Book II. Pueblo, Colorado: A.D.K. Luk Publications, 1989, Listing of Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity and The Bridge to Freedom
- Booth, Annice. The Masters and Their Retreats Summit Lighthouse Library, June 2003. Listing of those who are believed to be Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity, The Bridge to Freedom, and The Summit Lighthouse
- Shearer, Monroe & Carolyn. I AM Adorations, Affirmations & Rhythmic Decrees, Acropolis Sophia Books and Works, 1998. Listing of Ascended Masters by The I AM Activity, The Bridge to Freedom, The Summit Lighthouse, and The Temple of The Presence
- Prophet, Elizabeth Clare and Prophet, Mark (as compiled by Annice Booth) The Masters and Their Retreats Corwin Springs, Montana: Summit University Press, 2003, p. 143.
- Sanat Kumara at ascension-research.org
- A Progress Report On Our Ascension at luisprada.com
- Schroeder, Werner. Ascended Masters and Their Retreats, Ascended Master Teaching Foundation 2004. Describes the founding of Shamballah by Sanat Kumara
- Blavatsky, Helena Petrovna. The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, Theosophical Publishing House, 1888. Sanat Kumara - Volume I: pp. 89, 457–458; Volume II: pp. 106, 140, 319, 584.
- Blavatsky, Helena Petrovna. The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, Theosophical Publishing House, 1888. Volume II, pp. 243 ff.
- Leadbeater, C.W. The Masters and the Path. Adyar, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1925 (Reprint: Kessinger Publishing, 1997), pp. 296-299.
- Prophet, Elizabeth Clare and Prophet, Mark (as compiled by Annice Booth) The Masters and Their Retreats Corwin Springs, Montana:2003 Summit University Press--See Profiles of the Ascended Masters Pages 13-394--More than 200 Ascended Masters are listed.
- Barker, A. T., and Vicente Hao Chin Jr., eds. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett from the Mahatmas M. and K. H. in Chronological Sequence, p. 5. Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1998.
- Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. 8, p. 389. Wheaton: Theosophical Publishing House, 1977-91; See also CW 4:359-60.
- Barker, A. T; Vicente Hao Chin Jr., eds. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett from the Mahatmas M. and K. H. in Chronological Sequence, p. 474. Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1998.
- Barker, A. T; Vicente Hao Chin Jr., eds. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett from the Mahatmas M. and K. H. in Chronological Sequence, p. 450. Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1998.
- Barker, A. T; Vicente Hao Chin Jr., eds. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett from the Mahatmas M. and K. H. in Chronological Sequence, p. 257. Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1998.
- Blavatsky, H. P. Collected Writings vol. 6, p.247. Wheaton: Theosophical Publishing House, 1977-91.
- Blavatsky, H. P. Collected Writings vol 8, p. 14, Wheaton: Theosophical Publishing House, 1977-91.
- Barker, A. T., and Vicente Hao Chin Jr., eds. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett from the Mahatmas M. and K. H. in Chronological Sequence, p. 222. Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1998
- C. Jinarajadasa, Early Teachings of the Masters p. iv. Chicago: Theosophical Press, 1923.
- Barker, A. T., and Vicente Hao Chin Jr., eds. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett from the Mahatmas M. and K. H. in Chronological Sequence, p. 77-78. Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1998.
- Eek, Sven, ed. Damodar and the Pioneers of the Theosophical Movement, p. 605. Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1965
- Leadbeater, Charles W. The Masters and the Path, Adyar, Madras, India, Theosophical Publishing House, 1925, p. 166.
- Bailey, Alice A. Initiation, Human and Solar New York: Lucis Publishing, 1922, p. 12.
- Barrett, David (1996). Sects, 'Cults', and Alternative Religions: A World Survey and Sourcebook. London: Blandford. ISBN 0-7137-2567-2.
- Sinnett, Alfred Percy. The Occult World. Boston: Colby & Rich, 1882.
- Sisson, Marina Cesar. Helena Blavatsky and the Enigma of John King; originally published as Informativo HPB, No. 3, 4 and 5 English translation.
- Melton, Gordon J.; Partridge, Christopher. New Religions: A Guide: New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities, Oxford University Press, 2004.
- The Great White Brotherhood in the Culture, History and Religion of America. Summit University Press, 1975.
- Partridge, Christopher ed. New Religions: A Guide: New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities Oxford University Press, USA 2004. Describes the religious organizations based on a belief in the Ascended Master Teachings, such as The I AM Activity, The Bridge to Freedom and The Summit Lighthouse. pages 330 - 334
- The Bridge to Freedom Journal 1951 - 1961 Reprinted by Ascended Master Teaching Foundation 1989
- Watson, Jacob L. "Initiations of the Aquarian Masters: The Theosophy of the Aquarian Gospel"
- Guénon, René (2004). Theosophy: history of a pseudo-religion. Alvin Moore, Jr. and Cecil Bethell (trans.). pp. 82–89.
- Johnson, K. Paul. The Masters Revealed: Madam Blavatsky and Myth of the Great White Brotherhood, Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1994.
- Zweig, Paul. “Talking to the Dead and Other Amusements”, The New York Times, 5 October 1980.
- Carroll, Robert Todd. The skeptic's dictionary, 2003, p. 376.
- Braden, Charles S. These Also Believe MacMillan Publishing Company 1960 (Reprint 2000). The classic study of minority religions in the United States of America. ISBN 0-02-514360-3
- Cranston, Sylvia. H. P. B. : The Extraordinary Life & Influence of Helena Blavastsky. G. P. Putnam's Sons 1993 ISBN 0-9662115-1-0
- Godwin, Joscelyn (1994). The Theosophical Enlightenment. SUNY Press. ISBN 0-7914-2152-X
- Hall, Manly P. The Secret Teachings of All Ages "An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy Being an Interpretation of the Secret Teachings Concealed within the Rituals, Allegories and Mysteries of all Ages" H.S. Crocker Company, Inc. 1928 (Reprint: Tarcher 2003) ISBN 1-58542-250-9
- Leadbeater, C.W. The Masters and the Path. The Theosophical Publishing House 1925 (Reprint: Kessinger Publishing 1997). ISBN 1-56459-686-9
- Partridge, Christopher ed. New Religions: A Guide: New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities Oxford University Press, USA 2004. Describes the Theosophical Society, The I AM Activity, The Bridge to Freedom and The Summit Lighthouse. ISBN 0-19-522042-0
- Saint Germain Foundation. The History of the "I AM" Activity and Saint Germain Foundation. Saint Germain Press 2003 ISBN 1-878891-99-5
- King, Godfre Ray. Unveiled Mysteries. Saint Germain Press 1934. ISBN 1-878891-00-6
- Saint Germain. I AM Discourses. Saint Germain Press 1935. ISBN 1-878891-48-0
- Shuddhaanandaa Brahmachari. The Incredible Life of A Himalayan Yogi: The Times, Teachings and Life of Living Shiva, Baba Lokenath Brahmachari, Lokenath Divine Life Mission. 2004. ISBN 81-87207-07-8
- Mt. Shasta, Peter. My Search in Tibet for the Secret Wish-Fulfilling Jewel ISBN 978-0998414317
- Mt. Shasta, Peter. Apprentice to the Masters: Adventures of Western Mystic, Book II ISBN 978-0692570449
- Mt. Shasta, Peter. Lady Master Pearl, My Teacher ISBN 978-0692356661