I’d like to comment on the topic of “Lineage.” There are certain things about it that are not perceptible from outside, especially in our current ethos of DIY spirituality and Western hyper-individuation.
In the East, it is considered a mark of authenticity that a teacher is connected-to or represents one or more initiatic lineages. This is true in Sufism, Taoism, Buddhism, Yoga — and many shamanic paths. Among the Sufis, when a student is elevated to the rank of “lineage holder” (a Buddhist term, but the concept exists in all the paths), s/he is presented with a scroll iterating the names of the masters in the line, with one’s own name added to the bottom.
The “Initiatic Lineage” is a real thing. It’s not a human contrivance, but a particularized stream of Divine Guidance having a certain integrity and reality that originates beyond the “mind realms.”
The masters who form the historical embodiment of the Lineage were living human beings who had human problems and attained awakening in their human life. They are, in a sense, more alive than we here in 3-D reality, and because the Lineage is beyond time & space, they are as alive “now” as they were in historical life — AND they are free of the constraints of their human bodies & personalities, though the felt-sense of their natures and predilections still comes through at times.
So it’s not just history; it’s more like a pedigree carrying the genetic traces and natures of the masters in the line. It’s not just the blessing-power but the aggregate practical wisdom of what’s needed to catalyze human transformation.
“Initiation” is the connecting of a living person’s incarnation with this stream of spiritual power. In theory, it can happen without the agency of a living initiator, but the actuality is more rare than the claims of it. Let’s say that the external, living Initiator is a living part of the stream. You need wheels for the car to move.
The capacity to act as an Initiator, a living agent of the Lineage, depends on a certain level of *developed capacity*. The empowerment is in a sense “grafted on” by one who has the authority to act as an Empowerer-of-Initiators (e.g., the head of an Order), and it confers the authority/permission-under-guidance to act in certain ways as a catalyst to the spiritual unfoldment of other human beings. (The wheels need properly-inflated tires properly bolted to the axles…)
What’s transmitted through the Lineage can be spiritual power, it can be overall guidance to a particular tack in life, it can be insights into what’s happening “under the hood” of perceptible reality, and it can even be practices & techniques, new or old.
And to be very clear: This is quite different from “channeling.” I have difficulty explaining just how, but it’s got to do with how the mind-realms are constructed and what lives there, and how individuated consciousness can abide in “the stack” of the planes of reality.
AND it is accountability. As an Initiator, I am VERY aware of the living presence of my Lineage acting upon me in the “relative world.” As a lineage-holder, I am accountable to the living Lineage itself, which I feel as a powerful presence enveloping and interpenetrating me when I teach, and to my own living mentors, peer-advisers, dharma-family.
Of course all this can be misused, as anything real can be misused. There are false claims of lineage. And a lineage-teacher is not immune to fucking up, GOK. Sometimes we receive the empowerment as an Initiator because we need it, not because we deserve it, and in that case we have to trust that our own Initiators know what they’re doing…