Esoteric discipleship training has focused historically through what we might call the "lens of integration" – i.e., the process of expanding our consciousness and becoming a clear channel for energy flow. We work on aligning the physical/etheric body with the emotional and then with the mental body. We then recognize that we are indeed Soul and that, just as we have mechanisms for all parts of our physical body to communicate and coordinate with each other, we have and can strengthen the Antahkarana to facilitate our energetic communication and coordination. Thus we become aware of our ability to function within the Spiritual Triad, and gradually that we are indeed part of the Monad.
We might think of this "lens of integration" as the inner "vertical" aspect of our spiritual development (recognizing, of course, that our energetic field is a sphere, not two dimensional). But focus on this vertical expansion is only part of our spiritual development. "Vertical growth and horizontal growth must parallel each other.... A more intense inner life and a more vital life of service are ... dependent upon the other" (DINA1:534-535).
Note that the Tibetan does not say "vertical growth and horizontal service." He says "horizontal growth," inferring the need to also expand horizontally. He also comments: "Your service at present is vertical and concerns those who are with you upon the upward way — your group, your personal friends, and yourself.... Your service should become horizontal and expandingly inclusive" (DINA1:568; emphasis added). Again we have the concept of expansive development linked to our horizontal relationships.
Part of our training is to view ourselves through the "lens of integration" and become aware of where we stand in terms of vertical "reach" (i.e., with regard to our personality integration, our relationship with Soul, and our relationship with the Spiritual Triad) and spiritual qualities (i.e., detachment, impersonality, divine indifference). We need to develop the same kind of gradated awareness of the inclusiveness of our horizontal relationships, beyond our immediate esoteric circles. We need a schematic, similar to that of the human constitution, to allow us to monitor and evaluate our "horizontal" expanding inclusivity or “reach” as well as the qualities that are critical for right relations. The following are suggested circles of expansion for our horizontal "reach" that we can monitor:
- Our "in group" – those that we relate to as whole, multifaceted beings, as persons in their own right, relatively free of stereotypic assumptions
- Neutral strangers – those we make neutral to positive assumptions about
- Offending acquaintances – those we know and dislike, fear or even hate
- Offending strangers – those we fear and dislike without knowing them
- Nonhuman persons – those nonhumans deserving of respect that we currently tend to objectify
As we apply a "lens of service" to our interpersonal relationships, what attributes are critical for generating goodwill, which is an ultimate aim of service? Compassion and gratitude are certainly key to recognizing others as part of the same One Life, as are the core traits of a server: self-forgetfulness, harmlessness, and right speech. As well, we can use the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a reference point, which emphasizes treating others with dignity and respect.
"Initiation is essentially an expanding series of inclusive recognitions" (R&I:341), both vertically through integration and horizontally through service. As we work toward initiation as disciples, "the goal ... is the merging of the vertical way of life with the horizontal way of service." (R&I:113)