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Verifying that to Which We Testify
In the disciplines we come to the heart of discipleship. Discipline in its truest sense means training that corrects, molds, strengthens, or perfects. From Disciplines of the Holy Quest comes this further clarification:
When the desire for God is equaled by a willingness to change and grow spiritually, the individual is slowly and watchfully graduated into the state of discipleship.
Reverend Flower A. Newhouse, Disciplines of the Holy Quest
The essence of discipleship, then, is in living the Life and following the Way. It is designed to achieve transformation through our willingness to apply the disciplines in our daily lives. It is both creative and practical, perceiving possibilities on the one hand and pursuing their realization on the other. But of the two perspectives, the greatest amount of discipline is required on the practical side when the blueprint of aspiration must be steadfastly converted into accomplished reality.
The disciplines concentrate upon two kinds of changes: those of consciousness and those of character. Consciousness must always be lifted and expanded, purified and drawn toward the Light. It is the part of us that must be self-emptied and God-filled and, as it is the focus of spiritual will, obedient and channeled. Consciousness is a personal and private experience shielded from the eyes of the outer world and, if we choose, we may camouflage its contents. Character, on the other hand, tends to be public and observable and through one's character an accurate assessment of one's underlying consciousness may be inferred. Character, then, is the outward indicator of where we stand on the path and whether or not progress is taking place. Since it has its beginning in a superior state of consciousness, it is a valid measure of one's inner state. A deficit of character may result from two conditions: either a weakness of will in one who aspires Godward or a deflection of will in one who conspires for selfish ends. The hallmark of character is its singular dedication to the service of that which is greater than self—ultimately, God.
The disciplines themselves aim at the transformation of both character and consciousness. In this sense the unfoldment of character equates to preparation for initiation and the upliftment of consciousness corresponds to preparation for illumination. These are precisely the purposes of the disciplines.
There are two fundamental disciplines: one with an inner orientation and the other with an outer orientation. All the remaining disciplines are aspects or combinations of these two basic forms: the disciplines of centeredness and the disciplines of relatedness.
Centeredness is literally centering our entire attention upon God and the inner worlds such that we are attuned, receptive, and responsive-an instrument of Divine Will. The Lord Emmanuel spoke of this when He said: