The preservation of mystical knowledge is possible only when the chain of succession exists – and first of all, this must be the succession of experience. Knowledge clothed in words means little; the main thing is one’s own experience, without which understanding of the real sense of the words you have learned is simply impossible. The experience of revelations are accessible only selectively; the experience of achieving higher states of consciousness and being are accessible to every real seeker.
The direct transmission of experience is what guarantees the preservation of mystical knowledge. Such is possible if a certain system of teaching people exists, which to a certain extent guarantees the reception of one’s own mystical experience for all those studying. Here you cannot get by with seminars and trainings, because human nature is such that repetitive action on it does not yield lasting results. Perhaps with few exceptions. In order to overcome one’s habit of identifying oneself with emotions and the mind, in order to develop perception to the extent when mystical experience becomes accessible to it, a person must do certain work on himself, which is hard to carry out without the proper guidance. Therefore, in all ages, mystical schools were created which described their Way – in accordance with the time, place and people. That is, at the level of knowledge which existed at that time, taking into account cultural and religious traditions customary where the mystics worked, and finally noting the state of the people seeking the teaching. From age to age, all these factors change, and depending on them, the mystical Work takes on various forms.
Mystics have existed in all times. Many of them saw their task to transmit and preserve mystical knowledge received by them in various forms and almost never without preliminary efforts. But knowledge is not preserved in books – they can serve as an impetus and a foundation for an internal search, but no more. The search must be carried out by a person, and only he who has achieved spiritual transformation may be a new bearer and preserver of what the Sufis call Knowledge. It cannot be full-fledged unless it is confirmed by experience, if it is not the result of one’s own experience. Knowledge about God has no meaning if you do not feel His Presence, if you do not sense a connection with Him, and if you do not receive an answer to your prayers. You can collect everything there is, information about following the Will of God and of service to Him, but until you yourself sense the impulse of Will and fulfill what is demanded of you, your knowledge will be the equivalent of empty philosophizing. So only he who has advanced along the Way, working on himself, can preserve, accumulate and transmit Knowledge.
Therefore, the problem of direct transmission of mystical knowledge was always an urgent question for mystics. It can be said that for many of them, this problem was one of the most important. They created exercises and practices that were supposed to lead their students to gaining their own experience, and that means to a certain knowledge – as a minimum about themselves. But to penetrate the curtains which close people’s minds is hard even with the best practices. Certain limitations always exist – in both the student and in the exercise he is performing. For example, there is a restriction on time, when the opportunity for an internal breakthrough or transformation arises and disappears without being used. There are individual limitations for each student connected to his external life – with work or the place and conditions of residence, due to which both the performance of practices and live contact with a Master become difficult. But the main restrictions in teaching are hidden in the student himself. These are the conditionality and prejudice of his mind; customary psycho-emotional reactions; and a mass of suppressed energies in the ethereal body. The habit of identifying attention with all reactions and ideas of the mind is also a serious obstacle in the work on oneself, and a lot of time is also spent on overcoming it – and growing awareness.
Direct teaching enables the verbal transmission of knowledge to be done more effectively through constant contact, when the student’s blunders can be indicated again and again, gradually breaking down his false conceptions of the Way, about himself, and other things. But that is still not enough. Therefore, the majority of Masters share their being with their students. In part this occurs naturally – being in the field of presence, in the field of Consciousness of the Master already produces an effect on the student, raising his own presence in himself. The student grows faster and easier due to this state of awareness, and in general his efforts in internal work begin to bear more fruits. A person can grow accustomed to anything, however – even the presence of the Master is not an exception to this rule. If a student does not apply constant serious efforts toward growing his awareness, then upon reaching a certain “ceiling,” the field of the Master no longer advances him in any way. This fact contains the explanation for why many people have found themselves side by side with great Masters in the course of many years, but they themselves never reached the heights of the state of awareness. They relaxed – after all, the field of the Master contains the sense of comfort which turns into a trap for many students who have decided for themselves that everything is already fine.
Out of the necessity of transmitting experience and knowledge are born methods enabling the realization of it, bypassing the mind of the student. It is possible, for example, to create a situation in which a student can himself sense the Divine Presence. You can share with the student certain aspects of the higher levels of being which will become definitive for him and an impulse toward advancement, and new experience. Even so, it cannot be said that the creation of such situations somehow radically influences the student’s being or greatly changes it. Basically, such demonstrations are supposed to give a person a taste of what is not attainable to him yet, but toward which he may go. Moreover, without a certain preparedness of a student, expressed in an already fairly-developed perception – such a demonstration is almost impossible to conduct. The Master may produce certain effects on the student from the level of his being, but most often he simply becomes a conductor of higher impulses. As a rule, this is developing impulses, although sometimes the Master may become a conductor of God’s Grace, and then the student obtains a chance to pass through a stage of transformation. Of course, it will be far from full, but it will bring real changes in the student’s being. Again – to the extent that the student will be ready for the acceptance of Grace.
Among the impulses coming through the Master, there exists even the impulse of Knowledge which represents itself as pure Light. Even so, the transmission of knowledge in the direct sense of that word does not take place. The Master does not transmit anything concrete, and the impulse of Knowledge also does not contain a clearly-designated message. Knowledge is acquired by the student through the effect of the energy of Light, which – breaking through the curtains of the mind and feelings – enables a person to see the truth about himself, or some question whose solution is extremely important for him. The student’s readiness for the reception of the impulse of Knowledge has great significance here, too, because no Light can penetrate to a person who has closed all the doors and windows to it. The lack of desire to interact, or internal resistance arising for the most diverse reasons make a student unprepared for such transmissions, although he himself may nevertheless believe that he is quite ready; it is just that the Master is not trying hard enough. But neither grace nor the most high impulses can be transmitted to a person who closes himself, even if unconsciously.