LIFE OF JEHOSHUA
THE PROPHET OF NAZARETH
An Occult Study and a Key to the Bible
Containing the History of an Initiate
Part 2 of 2 - For part 1
The true history of Christ (An Allegory) 25
The mysterious Brotherhood 59
The mysterious Brotherhood , continued 73
The higher degrees 82
The wisdom-religion 89
The temptation 94
The sermon upon the mount 106
The doctrines of the Christ Spirit 118
The great renunciation 145
The temple 157
The hero 166
The final initiation 180
The church 186
THE DOCTRINES OF THE CHRIST SPIRIT
There is only one absolute Truth. Being universal, it is seen alike by all who are able to perceive it.
[Page 118] EVER since the most ancient times Divine Wisdom has taught the same doctrines through the mouths of the wise. Hermes Trismegistus, Confucius and Zoroaster, Buddha and Jehoshua, Plato and Socrates, Saint Martin and Jacob Boehmen, Theophrastus Paracelsus and Cornelius Agrippa, Shakespeare and Shopenhauer, and innumerable others have taught the same truths more or less complete, and each of these teachers clothed them in a form most suitable to his own understanding or adapted to the comprehension of his disciples.
For the sake of illustration, we will take a few examples from ancient books that existed before the Christian era; namely, the Bhagavad Gita, the books of Hermes Trismegistus, the Dhammapada of the Buddhists, and add corresponding verses of the Christian Bible, to show the similarity of these doctrines.
I. "The wise man, ever devout, who worships the One, is the most excellent; for I am dear above all things to the wise man, and he is dear to me". - Bhagavad Gita, VII. 17.
2. "Embrace me with thy whole heart and mind, and whatsoever thou wouldst learn, I will teach thee". - Hermes Trismegistus, II. 3 [Page 119]
3. "He who reflects and meditates receives ample joy". - Dhammapada.
4. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, and with all thy soul". Matthew, XXII. 37.
I. "I (Brahm) was never non-existent, nor thou, nor those rulers of men, nor shall any of us hereafter cease to be". - Bhagavad Gita, II. 12.
2. "I am that Light, the Mind, thy God, who am before the moist nature that appeared out of darkness, and that bright lightful Word is the Son of God". - Hermes Trismegistus, II. 8.
3. "He who has traversed this hazy and imperious world and its vanity, who is through and has reached the other shore, is thoughtful, guileless, free from doubts, free from attachment, and content, - him I call indeed a Brahmana". - Dhammapada.
Abraham was, I am". - John, VIII. 58.
that spread out this All can never perish. No one is able to cause the destruction
of the Eternal". - Bhagavad Gita, II. 17.
2. "What is God? Immutable and unalterable Good". - Hermes Trismegistus, I. 22. "God and the Father is Light and Life of which Man is made. If, therefore, thou learn and know thyself to be of the Life and Light, thou shalt again pass into the Life". - Hermes Trismegistus, II. 50.
3. "He who takes refuge with the (eternal) Law is delivered from all pain". - Dhammapada.
4. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my Word (power) shall not pass away". - Luke, XXI. 33.
a man, having cast off his old garments, takes others that are new, so the
embodied soul, having cast off the old bodies, enters into others that are
new". - Bhagavad Gita, II. 22. [Page 120]
2. "That which is unchangeable is eternal, that which is always made is always corrupted". - Hermes Trismegistus, II. 22, 23.
3. "He who knoweth that this body is like froth and has learned that it is as unsubstantial as a mirage, will break the flower-pointed arrow of Mara and never see the king of death". - Dhammapada.
4. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit". - John, III. 6.
embodied (soul) in the body of every one, oh son of Bharata! is ever indestructible,
wherefore thou oughtest not to mourn for any living thing". - Bhagavad
Gita, II. 30.
2. "Of the soul that part which is sensible is mortal, but that part which is governed by reason is immortal". - Hermes Trismegistus, I. 37. "Man is mortal because of his body, and immortal because of the substantial Man". - Hermes Trismegistus, II. 26.
3. "Happy is the arising of the Awakened. Even the gods envy those who are awakened". - Dhammapada.
4. "I live, but not I, but Christ lived in me". - Gal. II. 20. "He that hath the Christ (in him) hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath no life",- I John, V. 22.
flowery kind of language is spoken by the unwise, who pride themselves in
Veda words (in false reasoning and superficial logic), whose souls are full
of lust, who regard (a sensual) heaven as the highest good. ... The doctrines
of these men, whose minds are carried away by mere words, are not formed
for meditation".- Bhagavad Gita, II. 42.
2. "Terrestrial things do profit nothing the things of heaven; but celestial things profit all things upon the earth".- Hermes Trismegistus, I. 72. "To the foolish and evil, wicked and vicious, covetous, murderous, and profane, I am far off, giving place to the avenging demons". - Hermes Trismegistus, II. 56. [Page121]
3. "Men driven by fear go to many a refuge, to mountains and forests, to groves and sacred trees, but that is not a safe refuge. . . . The thoughtless man, even if he can recite a long portion of the law (prayer), but is not a doer of it, has no part in the priesthood, but is like a cowherd, counting the cows of others". - Dhammapada.
4. "Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven". - Matt. VII. 21. "This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me". - Mark, VII. 6.
intelligence nor self-possession belongs to the undevout man. There is no
peace for him who is not self-possessed, and without peace how can there
be happiness?"- Bhagavad Gita, II. 66.
2. "He that through error of Love loveth the body, abideth wandering in darkness, sensible, suffering the things of death". - Hermes Trismegistus, II. 40.
3. "Fools of little understanding have themselves for their greatest enemies, for they do deeds which must bear bitter fruits". - Dhammapada.
4. "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God". - John, III. 13.
is the oblation, Brahma is the sacrificial butter, Brahma is the fire, the
burnt offering is by Brahma. Into Brahma, will he enter who meditates on
Brahma in his work". - Bhagavad Gita, IV. 62.
2. "The like always takes to itself that which is like; but the unlike never agrees with the unlike". - Hermes Trismegistus, I. 84. "That which in thee seeth and heareth, the Word of the Lord and the Mind, the Father God, differ not from one another and the union of these is life". -Hermes Trismegistus, II. 19. [Page 122]
(spiritual) knowledge there is no meditation; without meditation there is
no knowledge. He who has meditation and knowledge is near to Nirvana.''
4. "He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without me ye can do nothing". - John, XV. 5. "Whoso eateth (aspires) my (spiritual) flesh (substance) and drinketh (absorbeth) my blood (my power) dwelleth in me and I in him".-John, VI 56.
the Yogins constantly practice devotion, fixed in a secluded spot alone,
having thought and self subdued . . . thinking on Me, intent on Me".
- Bhagavad Gita. , VI 10.
2. "Depart from that dark light, be partakers of immortality, and leave or forsake corruption". Hermes Trismegistus, II, 78. "Why have you delivered yourselves over unto death, having power to partake of immortality" "O ye people, men born and made of the earth, which have given yourselves up to drunkenness and sleep and to the ignorance of Good, be sober and cease your surfeit, whereunto you are allured and visited by brutish and unreasonable sleep". - Hermes Trismegistus, II. 75.
3. "The disciples of Gautama are always well awake, and their thoughts day and night are always set on Buddha. Like a well-guarded fortress with defences within and without, so let a man guard himself. Not a moment should escape, for they who allow the right moment to pass suffer pain". - Dhammapada.
4. "When thou prayest (meditatest), enter into thy closet (thy soul), and when thou hast shut the door (of the external senses), pray to the Father, which is in secret". - Matthew. VI. 6. "Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation". -Matthew, XXVI. 41.
who sees Me everywhere and everything in Me, him I forsake not, and he forsakes
not Me".-Bhagavad Gita, VI. 30. [Page 123]
2. "Shining steadfastly upon and around the whole mind, it enlightened all the soul, and loosing it from the bodily senses and motions, it draweth it from the body and changed it wholly into the essence of God. For it is possible, o Son, to be deified while yet it lodgeth in the body of man, if it contemplate the beauty of Good". - Hermes Trismegistus, IV. 18.
3. "Self is the lord of self; who else could be the Lord? With (the lower) self well subdued, a man finds a lord such as few can find". - Dhammapada.
4. "That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us".- John, XVII. 21.
am the source of all things; the whole (universe) proceed from Me. Thinking
thus, the wise, who share my nature, worship Me". - Bhagavad Gita,
2. "The glory of all things, God, and that which is divine, and the divine Nature, the beginning of things that are". - Hermes Trismegistus, III. i.
3. "All that we are is the result of what we have thought; it is made up of our thoughts". - Dhammapada.
4. "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made. In Him was (is) the life, and the life was (is) the light of men".- John, I. 3.
who is the same to friend or foe ... to whom pain and blame are equal; who
is silent, content with every fortune, steadfast in mind, and worships Me,
that man is dear to Me". - Bhagavad-Gitã, Gita.
2. "The strife of piety is to know God and to injure no Man, and in this way it becomes Mind. Such a soul, being pious and religious, is angelic and divine. After it is departed from the body, having striven for piety, it becomes the Mind or God". - Hermes Trismegistus, IV. 64.[Page 124]
3, "Let us live happily, not hating those who hate us; let us dwell free from hatred among men who hate us. Let a man overcome anger by love, evil by good, the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth". - Dhamm
4. "Love your enemies; bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that persecute you". - Matthew. V. 40.
The above examples, if their esoteric meaning is compared, will be sufficient to show the great resemblance between the doctrines of the "New Testament" and those of the Eastern sages. But the circumstance that they refer to the same fundamental truths is by no means an indication that the writers have plagiarized each other.
The truth exists;
it is as free as the air to all who are able to grasp it; it can neither
be invented nor monopolized by man. Men may grasp and remodel ideas, and
express them in new forms; but the truth is one and universal; it may be
seen and described in one part of this globe as well as in another; it is
eternal and does not change; and the doctrines it teaches through the mouths
of those whose minds are illumined by wisdom, a million of years hence,
will be the same which it taught a million of years ago. These doctrines
The Spirit of Christ still teaches to those who will listen to him; for
he is not dead, but lives as an immortal power whose name is Divine Wisdom,
"The Word". [Page 125]
is said to have taken place in the history of the Jews is taking place today.
Continually does Desire, to which Man is wedded, seek to alienate him from Reason,
and by appealing to Passion she often succeeds in his destruction.
GAY was the throng which crowded the halls at the fortress of Makur, where the birthday of Herodes the Great was to be celebrated. Stately soldiers with glittering armours and helmets, beautiful ladies clad in rich garments and adorned with their most precious jewels, filled the rooms; Nubian and Arabian servants were seen hastening through the corridors; the walls were adorned with costly hangings and with an abundance of garlands and flowers, to prepare for the banquet, for a great orgy was to take place in that castle, to please the great king; while in its subterranean dungeons languished the prophet John the Baptist. Let us throw a glance at the supposed history of those times.
Herodes Antipas, the king of Judea, was an object of hate and fear to the Jews, who, in their turn, were to him an object of ridicule and contempt. Trusting in the power of the Roman army, by which he was supported, and in the favour of the Emperor, he laughed at the mutterings of the discontented people, as long as they did not disturb his comfort. Only when one or the [Page 126] other of those rebellious spirits, more daring or more ambitious than the rest, became too obnoxious to him, he nodded his head, and the noise-maker paid the penalty for his rashness by a slow death of starvation upon a cross or by the more merciful punishment of execution by the sword.
He was a great profligate; but his profligacy would not have been an object of serious reprobation by the Jews, who were themselves an indolent and profligate people, if he had not continually offended their vanity by treating them and their religion with mockery and disdain; but under the existing circumstances, his licentiousness formed one more welcome pretext for the discontented people to denounce him in private and to point at him scornfully and hatefully whenever it could be done without any risk to themselves.
He was married to an Arabian princess, the daughter of a neighbouring king. His wife was a beautiful, modest, and unpretending woman; but having become satiated with her charms, he became subject to an animal passion for Herodias, the daughter of his half-brother. This proud and ambitious woman accepted his proposals, and to remove the most important impediment in the way for the accomplishment of his incestuous design, the king made up his mind to murder his wife. The plan failed, because the queen, having discovered the plot through the information received by a faithful servant, fled with a few trustworthy friends across the frontier to Arabia, to seek refuge in the house of her [Page 127] parents, This incident and the circumstances connected with it created a great scandal all over the country; but Herodes, infuriated at thus having the mask torn from his face, considered any further attempt at secrecy unnecessary, and resolved to defy public opinion. He therefore took Herodias to his court, and lived with her in open disregard of all decency and propriety.
Thus we often see that the great king of selfishness in Man is more enamoured of some Vice generated by the reasoning intellect, the half-brother of Wisdom, than of his legitimate wife, Knowledge, the daughter of Intuition; and when the latter sends her faithful servant, whose name is Conscience, to him, to reproach him for his infidelity, he attempts to kill her and drive her away from his heart. But when Conscience has once departed, Vice begins to show herself openly in defiance of all restraint.
Among those who most denounced his immorality was John the Baptist. Fearless and uncompromising, his voice thundered like the roar of a lion through the desert, and its echo was heard at the palace of the Tetrarch. Death and destruction and a day of judgment were foretold by the prophet, and repentance enjoined. Tyranny, vanity, and cowardice always go hand in hand; and for a while Herodes became seriously frightened. Thinking that at all events it might be well to make an attempt to escape the penalty due for his sins, he sent to John to inquire by what means the angry God could be pacified. John, however, was inexorable. He replied [Page 128] that divine justice could not be bribed or bargained with. No prayer, no sacrifice, no ceremony, he said, would avail. He demanded cessation of the incestuous intercourse, a return to Knowledge, and a separation from the ambitious woman.
Reproaches and accusations always smart when they are based upon truth. Such language Herodes was not accustomed to hear, nor would he submit to be made to appear to himself a villain. Still more angry was the beautiful Herodias, because she saw her plans for the future and her position threatened by the fanatical reformer. It required but little persuasion on her part to induce her lover to give the order for the arrest of John the Baptist, and to imprison him in the fortress of Makur.
More than this Herodes was not willing to do. He did not want to kill Reason, but he wanted to silence its voice whenever it was unwelcome to him. In vain Herodias wept and represented to him that John deserved to be punished by death, and that she could not be contented as long as the prophet was permitted to live, because his very presence was a reproach to her. Herodes knew that John, who was of a noble family, had many influential friends, and that to kill him would be to court an open rebellion; but there was still another cause which prevented him from consenting to the request of Herodias and to murder the prophet; for he suspected that perhaps, after all, the prophecies foretold by John might come true; and if so, what better means of [Page 129] protection against the ills that were to come, could he find than the prophet himself, who might act as his counsellor.
Moreover, John, imprisoned in the subterranean dungeons below the castle of Makur, was there as little capable of annoying the king, as if he had been already dead. There he might preach and denounce as much as he pleased; there was no one to listen to him. He therefore treated the requests of Herodias for the death-punishment of John the Baptist, as the results of a womanish whim, and he at last forbade her to mention this subject again.
But who can baffle the designs of a woman whose vanity has been offended ? Who can silence the voice of vice, if reason is not permitted to speak? Herodias knew the weak points in the character of Herodes, - his sensuality and love of pleasure, his lewdness and pride, - and she resolved to have recourse to a trick, to extort from him that which she no longer dared to ask.
Herodias, as may well be imagined, was a beautiful woman. Stately was her form, and faultless her features. From her large dark eyes, overshadowed by long, drooping lashes, seemed to flash a supernatural fire, which made men her slaves, while a bewitching smile played around her lips, as if she were rejoicing over the victories she so easily gained over the senses of men. Her bearing was full of haughtiness and pride: thus must Judith have looked as she entered the tent of Holofernes [Page 130] to cut off the head of the king; thus may have looked Messalina when she feasted upon Roman patrician blood. But while she might have been regarded as an incarnation of pride, and a personification of lust, she appeared nevertheless very modest. These lips which seemed to scorn the world, could flatter and plead, this graceful form could bow down at the approach of the royal voluptuary, and submit to the embraces of one whom she despised at heart.
What did she care for Herodes ? His person was nothing to her but an instrument by which she hoped to attain that which she desired, - the crown. If he had not been a king, she would have spurned him and detested his touch; but she well knew that the surest way for a woman to render a man her slave, is to appear to be submissive to him, and to obey his wishes even before they are uttered. Thus she ruled over Herodes, while Herodes dreamed of ruling over her.
She had committed a mistake by asking of him the life of John the Baptist; she ought to have been more careful, and induced Herodes to offer that life to her spontaneously, and apparently without her request. This mistake had to be remedied; for the head of John the Baptist had to fall, if she did not want to live in constant dread of his influence. "Who is this John", she said to herself, "that we should hesitate to put him to death? A beggar, like so many others that we have silenced when they became too noisy, and no one dared to reproach us for it. He, a worm, has [Page 131] dared to crawl into my path, and to oppose my will. I will not recede; I will crush him under my foot and go on: let his blood come upon himself".
She had asked for a clandestine interview with Kaiphas, the high-priest of the temple at Jerusalem, and one night he came to her in disguise. She asked him for his aid to annihilate John the Baptist, or to find a pretext to have the prophet accused and condemned by law as a heretic and infidel; but while Kaiphas offered no serious objection to the imprisonment of the prophet, whose violent speeches were liable to produce a schism in the church and to lessen the authority of the clergy, he would not listen to any proposals in regard to his murder; for John was of his caste, - even if he was a renegade, - and he harbored a certain amount of admiration for him.
Thus the beautiful Herodias was left to her own resources. She once attempted to have recourse to some practices of sorcery, in which she had received instruction from an Egyptian woman; but her ceremonies were of little avail, because the powers of evil which she invoked could not affect the pure soul of John the Baptist: they reverted to her own bosom and filled her heart with despair.
But if the powers of darkness were not able to do her bidding, there was a being, ever ready to comply with her wishes, namely, her own daughter Salome, the fruit of a former marriage of Herodias; a charming girl of about fifteen years, who was universally acknowledged [Page 132] to be the most beautiful young lady at the court of Herodes, and a most graceful dancer; and it had not escaped the attention of Herodias, that the eyes of the lascivious king often rested with a passionate glare upon the unripe charms of her daughter.
One day Salome had found her mother in tears, and after begging her to confess the cause of her sorrow, Herodias took her daughter into her confidence and confided her secret to her. Then the two women concocted a plan which was to cost John the Baptist his life. Salome was not a malicious girl; but she was exceedingly frivolous, inconsiderate, and vain, and flattered herself she was able to accomplish a thing in which even her mother had failed to succeed, and to outwit the king. As to John the Baptist, she cared no more for him than if he had been a slave.
In pursuance of the plot into which they had entered, Herodias made arrangements for a great festival to be held at Makur, to celebrate the birthday of the king. To that place the court resorted with a gathering of selected guests. Herodes was to be surprised by the magnificence of the feast.
The banquet was opened in a large hall of the castle. On three sides of the room tables and couches were arranged in horseshoe form, opening towards the entrance, which was hung with heavy curtains. In the midst of the half-circle upon a somewhat elevated platform there was a throne for the king and Herodias, while at both sides the courtiers and the ladies were [Page 133] seated. Costly wines and rich viands were served, music and songs and various plays increased the hilarity of those present, but the best of all the performances was to come off at midnight.
At that time a number of selected beauties of Jerusalem, expert dancers, entered. They were dressed and ornamented in a manner calculated rather to expose their charms than to hide them. They performed an Arabian dance, that excited the senses of the half-drunken king to the utmost degree. But now in the midst of it the dancers made room, the heavy curtain opened, and Salome the beautiful whirled into the room, nude, excepting a transparent film-like texture, thin as a spider's web, serving as an ornament during her dance. As the beauty of the moon, the queen of the night, surpasses the stars, so the beauty of Salome outshone the rest of the dancers, as she went through the most graceful gyrations. Her magnetic gaze was directed upon the king, as if he were the sole object of her desires and the rest of the assembly did not exist for her; and when the dance ended and a storm of applause filled the room, she stood before the king, looking imploringly at him, her hands folded over her palpitating bosom. She was the personification of vanity and desire.
"A kingly entertainment, indeed!" stuttered the intoxicated Tetrarch, who had not recovered from his surprise. [Page 134]
"And worthy of a kingly reward!" said Herodias, in a loud voice, so that all present could hear it.
This remark excited the pride of Herodes. "Yes!" he said; "ask whatever thou desirest, and thou shalt receive it from me".
"Then give me at once the head of John the Baptist, laid upon a golden plate", answered Salome.
For a moment the king stared at her in terror and in surprise. He saw that he had been outwitted; but he was too proud to retract his promise, and, as if ashamed of his hesitation, he answered with a forced laugh and sent one of the most stalwart servants immediately to execute the command.
The above is
an account of events supposed by many to have taken place in Palestine at
the beginning of the Christian era, although there is no historical evidence
for it; but what every one may know by his own self-examination is, that
in the kingdom of the soul of semi-animal man selfishness is the king, represented
as Herodes; and the voice of reason, represented as John the Baptist, cries
like a voice in the wilderness. In many cases man does not wish to listen
to that voice, nor does he wish to destroy it, unless, reduced by Passion,
the daughter of Desire, he complies with her request, destroys his own reason,
and thereby himself.
The Truth is
self-existent and independent of the opinions of men. It has not a stone
upon which to rest its head, nor does it require any logical argument to
It is known to all who are willing to receive it when it enters their heart.
A CRY of indignation arose all over Judea when the foul murder of John the Baptist became known. The rich and the poor alike denounced, in unmeasured terms, that act of tyranny and cowardice. It seemed as if this had been the straw that broke the long-enduring camel's back, and in many parts of the country an open rebellion was threatened; for John was not merely a general favourite with the people and the accepted prophet of the Nazarenes; he was also of the Levitic caste, whose members were considered sacred. Now was the time for the long-expected Saviour to come. If he had appeared at that time and proved his authority by a few miracles, he would have had no end of admirers; but the redeemer did not come.
The Romans, full of security in their superior strength, remained quiet and looked upon the existing confusion as disinterested spectators. They knew that there was no hero among the Jews who could act as a leader, and the few persons who were inclined to act as such, counteracted each other's efforts by their own petty [Page 136] envies and jealousies. The Jews claimed that something must be done, but there was no one to do it; they all waited for Jehovah to perform some miracle, but the miracle was not performed; nor would an open rebellion without a great and heroic leader have been successful, for the Romans were well prepared for such an event; and although they seemed to be inactive, they silently took measures to suppress an insurrection. They acted wisely in not irritating the excited populace, for soon the sensation caused by the murder ceased to be a novelty; bread-and-butter affairs became again more important in their eyes than politics, and even the noisiest braggarts who had fought great battles with their tongues, quieted down.
At the beginning of the excitement Jehoshua was traveling in Judea; but when he heard of the murder of John the Baptist, he returned to his friends, the Nazarenes, to consult with them what measures were to be taken. He well knew that while the passions were raging, it would be useless for him to preach the gospel of wisdom to a people whose reason was dead, and any attempt on his part to occupy the position of a leader would have immediately caused him to be suspected of being a political agitator. To occupy such a position was not his desire. It was not his intention to interfere with the political institutions of the country; but to raise humanity up to a higher region of thought, to bring them nearer to a realization of the nature of true manhood, and to elevate their character and their sense [Page 137] of morality, upon which a change for the better in their external condition would follow as a natural consequence.
All external conditions are the outcome of internal conditions. This is as true in regard to a people as it is true in regard to a man, a society, an animal, a plant, or a rock. We cannot change the nature of a tree by trimming its branches; we cannot change the character of an animal by depriving it of its limbs; we cannot change the character and the natural conditions of a people by forcing upon it conditions which are unnatural, because they are not the outcome of interior growth. The law of Karma is an universal law which acts within communities, yea, even within solar systems, as it acts in regard to individuals. A vice forcibly repressed, unless displaced by a virtue, will accumulate strength until the pent-up force is followed by an explosion. Man is whatever he makes himself by his thoughts. A people on the whole may be looked upon as a compound individual, made up of a great many personalities, and yet being one entity to which the same law applies. A vicious man would drop back into vice tomorrow, if his sins were forgiven today; a people that cannot bear freedom would soon return to slavery, even if they were liberated by some miracle-worker.
Individuals, as well as communities, grow spiritually in proportion as they rise up to a higher ideal. If their ideal is lowered, they sink; if it becomes exalted, they [Page 138] will be elevated accordingly; slavery is an unnatural condition for men, but a natural condition for slaves; freedom is only made for the free. What will merely external reforms amount to, as long as the heart is not reformed ? Does a villain become less of a villain if we dress him in beautiful garments ? What will it serve to cut the branches of evil as long as the roots and the trunk remain ? Heroes are the product of the growth of ideas. Reformers come when the time for reform is ripe; if they appear and bloom prematurely, they will produce no fruits. Luther and Napoleon were the products of their times; they did not create reforms before the necessity for reform had created them; the characters that appear upon the stage of life are the products of previously existing ideas; external life is merely a shadow-picture, representing upon the wall of matter the picture contained within the magic lantern of the mind. Ideas are everything; personalities, if compared with ideas, are nothing. Persons are only useful if they are instruments for the execution of ideas; a person who is not a vehicle for an idea is merely a corpse.
Long-continued and abject fear of Jehovah had made the Jews a nation of cowards. They had no power to help themselves, because they excluded the saving grace of God from their hearts. They needed an external saviour, an outward redeemer, one that would come riding upon the clouds, presenting credentials to secure an undisputed belief in his authority to save; a god, invested with thunder and lightning to destroy [Page 139] their oppressors. They were a people amongst whom individual selfishness had become so concentrated, that no true patriotism was to be found. There was at that time no Marcus Curtius among them, willing to sacrifice his personal self for the benefit of his country; those who were called patriots, were inspired by the love of self and of vanity; they expected to receive some reward from almighty Jehovah.
The more their self-confidence failed, the louder became their appeals to the god which they had created in their imagination. The odour arising from burning bodies of animals went uninterruptedly up to the clouds, to tickle the nostrils of the sleepy deity, to wake him up and induce him to fulfil his promises and to send the long-expected redeemer: but Jehovah would not awaken.
Such times were propitious to increase the authority of the priest and to fill the money-bags of the church. Not to allow any profit to escape the clutches of the church, the temples were partly turned into stables and bazaars, where animals of various kinds, such as were used for sacrifice, were kept for sale. Cattle and sheep, goats and pigeons, were waiting for the priestly butcher knife, to have their throats cut after a bargain was made. Helpless beasts were killed to please the bloodthirsty god; while those who killed them suffered ferocious monsters to grow up within their own souls.
Those who speculate upon human vanity and greed, easily accomplish their purpose. At those times the [Page140] ignorant believed that to obtain gifts from God, it was necessary to make gifts to the church; then as now those who were able to pay for expensive ceremonies and church-service were considered the most pious and worthy to be respected. Well may the better-informed Pharisee then as now have laughed in his sleeve at the foolishness of the pilgrim who emptied his savings into the treasury of the church, to buy with material wealth things which could exist nowhere but in his own imagination; but deception was considered to be unavoidable and necessary, to secure a firm footing for the church in the hearts of the people and to keep them in subjection to the laws of order.
Clad in long-flowing robes, upon which were embroidered in gold, sentences from the sacred scrolls, the Pharisees went about public places, praying in loud voices and making a public display of their piety. No more did God speak in the hearts of men, for men had lost their power to hear; but instead of the voice of God they heard the voice of the priests, who claimed to be the keepers of the truth. They said that their words were the words of God, and to prove their authority pointed to the books of the law and the prophets and explained them in a manner most suitable to the interests of the church. But the people believed what they were told, for their John the Baptist was dead, having been killed by their own Herodes, and could not enlighten them in regard to this matter.
Owing to the ignorance and selfishness of the scribes, [Page 141] external worship had become entirely divorced from the internal one, and empty forms and ceremonies were considered of far more importance than knowledge. Religion became a servant of clerical interests, and matters of theology became mixed up with political affairs.
All attempts to unite the interests of church and state will always degrade religion and weaken the state by creating a rival power within the latter. True Religion has no other interest but the ennobling of the soul; she is above all temporal and egoistic considerations; she does nothing for the purpose of gaining material wealth or to gratify personal ambition; such things are done by the church, but not by religion. A government that needs the assistance of priestcraft to frighten the people into submission is a government of slaves, and itself a slave to the church. It is weak, and becomes still weaker by dividing its power with the Pharisees. Religion ought never to be used as a means to accomplish an unreligious purpose; true religion has for its purpose the final union of Man with the universal God, and rests upon a knowledge of the nature of the relations existing between God and Man; but the foundation upon which priestcraft rests is the self-love of man and his desire to obtain rewards which he does not deserve. This selfishness is inherent in the animal nature of Man; it is the rock upon which sectarianism rests, and it is as everlasting as the mountains; for as long as men exist in semi-animal forms, their higher aspirations will be mixed with selfish desires. As long as they possess [Page 142] no knowledge of self, they will be helpless and ignorant; as long as they cannot protect themselves against their own selves, they will look to the state for the protection of their bodies, and to the church for the salvation of their souls. They may do away with certain forms of superstition and abolish some creed; they may for a time imagine themselves to be free; but as long as they are not free from their own selfish desires, they cannot be really free: for the devil who keeps them in chains is within their own selves; he goes with them to the church and wherever they go. If they do away with one superstition, it will be merely to replace it by another; if they break the chains of one master, they will soon crave for another to protect them against their own selves.
As long as men are not able to govern their own desires, as long as they possess merely opinions but not knowledge, they cannot be free, and require a master to lead them; but they have a right to demand that their master should know more than they know themselves, and that he should assist them in gaining knowledge and not force them to remain ignorant. However much it may be in the interest of mankind to attain knowledge, it is not in the interests of their masters that they should attain it; for if men were to attain knowledge, they would become free and need no other master but their own selves. Thus the interests of priestcraft are in continual conflict with religion, and will remain so until mankind comes a step nearer to God in spite of the resistance offered by the church.[Page 143]
Woe to the
church that speculates upon the ignorance of mankind; it will be a power
of evil and perish in darkness. Woe to the state that cannot stand without
being propped up by the church. It may find the support pleasant and useful,
but the time may come when the spirits that have been evoked grow strong
and will not retire at our bidding, and they then become a curse to the
country and overpower the state that called them to its aid.
At the time of which we are writing, the alliance between the state and the church at Jerusalem was not very strong; for the views of the Romans in regard to theology were different from those of the Jews. But the Roman government recognized the rights of the Sanhedrin to have laws of its own, and it even lent its aid to enforce these laws; and thus while the want of energy among the Jews, originating in their religious beliefs, made it easy for the Romans to keep the Jews in subjection, the recognition of the temporal authority of the church created - so to say - a Jewish government within the Roman government, weakening the latter and producing conflicts between the two, besides nourishing a rebellious spirit among the Jews, which had to be kept down by the overwhelming power of the Romans.
Similar conditions may be found to exist even at this day in that "Jerusalem" known as the Mind of Man. In a well-governed Mind the king of Reason enlightened by Wisdom ought to rule supreme; but if he forms an alliance with Selfishness, Reason will lose its power, [Page 144] and a kingdom of Ignorance will be established within the kingdom of Reason. Then will the edicts of the "church" enter in conflict with the laws given by the legitimate ruler, and Reason will be lost unless Wisdom comes to its aid.
Thus the processes
that are continually going on within the Mind of individual men resemble
the processes taking place within the Mind of Humanity; and as the thoughts
of individual man find outward expression in his features and in his acts,
likewise the thoughts of Humanity find expression in personalities and historical
events; for the visible world is nothing else but a stage upon which the
inner life of humanity is enacted, a place where man's subjective and real
existence finds an external representation in that sphere of illusions called
the physical world. [Page 145]
THE GREAT RENUNCIATION
We can attain
the High only by rising above that which is low. The life of the God in
necessitates the sacrifice of his attraction to the animal elements existing in his constitution.
GREAT was the joy with which the Nazarenes welcomed him whom they now recognized as their Master. His mind had expanded, his spirituality had become strong, and his very presence seemed awe-inspiring and holy. There was no wavering or uncertainty in his decisions; he had grown to that full stature in which man's thoughts become his words, and words become acts; he had gained the power to control his own mind, and in doing so he controlled the minds of others. His superiority was so self-evident, that his former friends now became his disciples, and his followers looked upon him as if he were something more than mortal, - a god. Nor was such a belief unjustifiable; for he had become so much united to his own divine inner Self, that the divinity of the latter seemed to permeate even his mortal frame and to attract to itself other spiritual influences of the same kind, whose presence was manifested on several occasions.
Thus once he went with some of his disciples upon the top of a high mountain, and as he stood there, he became deeply immersed in meditation, while his companions, [Page 146] not wishing to disturb the sacred silence, watched him from the distance. Then it appeared to them as if a light of a supernatural kind were emanating from him, and in that light they beheld the presence of two Adepts, whom they supposed to be Moses and Elias of old.
Such an occurrence need not be regarded as impossible or incredible by the sceptic. The Higher Self, the divine Adonai, the "Spirit" of Man, is not a poetical fancy or a metaphysical hypothesis to those who have risen up to his sphere. There are perhaps few persons who have not at least once in their lives, perhaps during the days of their childhood, felt that such a "guardian spirit" was near, and there is abundant evidence in the biographies of heroes and saints, in ancient and modern history, going to show that man's Higher Self may manifest itself visibly to the lower self, and that it may have spiritual intercourse with its own equals, in the same sense as a mortal man may communicate with other mortals upon this earth.
As to the nature of man's divine Self we are informed by the ancient Bhagavad Gita, that: "In this world there are two existences, the perishable and the imperishable. The Perishable consists of all living things, (the Senses, etc.); the Imperishable is called the Lord on high. But there is another, the highest existence, called the Supreme Spirit, who as the eternal Lord (Iswara) [The Logos (Christ), John x 9] pervades the three worlds and sustains them"; [Page 147] and we are furthermore informed by the same source, that: "Some by meditation perceive the soul within themselves by themselves . . . , while others, who know it not, hear of it from others, and worship, and these too, devoted to the sacred doctrine, pass over death".
These views are amply corroborated by the teachings of Jehoshua, who speaks of himself on many occasions, as if he had become one with that divine Self, while the apostle Paul and others repeat the same doctrine in regard to the corruptible and incorruptible body. [Colossians i. 27. II Corinthians iv 16. I Corinthians xv 53].
Again he began to teach in the towns of Galilee and Judea, and more than ever his fame spread over the country and penetrated even within the walls of Jerusalem. The members of his family, who were astonished to see him acquire such a renown, went to him, to claim him as one of their own. But Jehoshua had outgrown that stage in which ties of blood form any attraction to man; he had become one with his soul, and that soul was not the son of a mortal woman. He was a genius, and the Universal Spirit his Father; he was above all terrestrial considerations, living entirely in the realm of the Ideal. Our parents are the progenitors of the physical forms which man temporarily inhabits during his earthly life; but that form is not the real self of the regenerated man, who existed from all eternity. [John v 26].
Jehoshua therefore said: "Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? He who does the will of our [Page 148] eternal Father is my brother, my sister, and mother". [Mathew xii. 50] He was so taken up and absorbed by the one grand idea of universal fraternal Love, that he lost sight of the earthly ties that bind personalities to each other. In his superior state he ceased to be an individual man in all but external form; it was as if his soul had become unconscious of inhabiting a separate state of existence, and had mixed with the universal indivisible divine Spirit.
How can such a superior state be realized by those who cling to the illusion of Self ? How can it be understood by an age whose fundamental principle upon which its religion and science, politics and social intercourse are based, is the illusion of Self, and to which a renunciation of personal existence appears to be identical with annihilation ? And yet Christians claim to believe such things in theory; for the fundamental doctrine upon which original Christianity was founded is the sacrifice of personal existence, which leads to a resurrection in a life beyond personality and mortality.
What is the signification of the Christian Cross ? Is it merely a memento of an historical event, to remind the present generation that some eighteen hundred years ago, an honest man was executed as a criminal by being nailed to a cross ? Then if that man or God had been executed by means of a gallows, a gallows would have become the emblem of the Christian faith, and [Page 149] gallows in the place of crosses would now be seen in churches and houses and upon the tops of the spires of Christian places of worship. No! The Cross has a far deeper signification; it is a symbol that was known thousands of years before the advent of modern Christianity ; it may be found in Indian cave-temples and upon relics dating from antediluvian times. It cannot mean the death of a god, for gods are immortal and cannot be killed; it means the entire cessation of all thoughts of self - of all self-love, self-will; it means the mystic death, the renunciation of everything belonging to personality and limitation, and the entering in a life in the Infinite, Unlimited, and Eternal. This renunciation of Self is the great "stone of contention" in the way of those who desire to become immortal while they yet cling to their personal self. [Mathew viii 35]. This superior state is one of spiritual consciousness above all sense of personality; it is a happy, and therefore a "heavenly", state. It requires no keys of bishop or pope, nor any permission to be obtained by a clergyman, to enter its portals; it merely requires the power and the ability to give up one's love for the lower self and to join the consciousness of the Higher Self, which already exists in "heaven".
How could the prohibition of a priest or the malediction of a pope ever prevent a man from rising up to a higher region of thought or entering a higher state of consciousness ? If man's soul is able to wing itself up to [Page 150] those celestial heights, no interdict will be able to prevent it. How could the permission of a church enable man to enter into a region of thought which he is not able to enter, because he clings with the grasp of despair to his lower perishing self ? Verily a church claiming such a power is like the Pharisees of old, of whom Jehoshua said: "Woe to you, hypocrites! who devour the widows' houses, pretending to give spiritual gifts, while you do not possess them yourselves", [Mathew xxiii 14].
This doctrine of the entire renunciation of Self is the great mystery which the Spirit of Christ has taught at all times through the mouths of the sages; it is the great secret which Jehoshua vainly attempted to bring to the understanding of a selfish nation; it is the great truth which Divine Wisdom still continues to teach. Jehoshua's disciples did not grasp this idea; for when he explained to them that it was necessary to give up personal existence, to gain that life which is eternal, "they refused to go any further with him". They, too, dreamed of a sensual heaven; their aspirations did not rise higher than to gain an everlasting terrestrial life in a material heaven, where, unburdened from gross matter, their astral egos might enjoy a life resembling the one upon this planet, but without the sufferings of the latter; a life where there are still personal likes and dislikes, attractions and desires, social intercourse and amusements; a life in a limited, although ethereal form, full of change, and therefore not self-existent and not eternal. [Page 151]
But Jehoshua spoke of a heavenly state, where no one is married nor given in marriage; where there is no distinction of sex or race or of religious opinion; where each individual soul is a spiritual power, a note in the great symphony that constitutes the harmony of the All; a state in which we will all be one in Divinity, as we are now one in Humanity; an existence where all are cemented together by the universal principle of Love, where individual consciousness is swallowed up in the inconceivable happiness of eternal and universal existence, of which men cannot conceive intellectually as long as they cling to form, and which is therefore like nothing to them.
A kingdom after this pattern Jehoshua wanted to establish even on this earth. He wanted to unite all mankind by the power of fraternal love, to do away with injustice, superstition, and priestcraft, to bring each individual up to a conscious realization of his own divine nature, to induce men to cultivate their spiritual talents and to develop the spiritual powers which slumber in every soul. He well knew that all men are not alike, and that there can be no external equality upon the material plane as long as the process of evolution lasts. Permanent equality would mean a permanent cessation of progress; it would be characterized by an absence of that necessary stimulus which causes activity; but he knew that all men had the same natural rights for the attainment of knowledge, and that they all were entitled to see the truth and to strive after supreme and eternal [Page 152] happiness. He wanted to give them a higher, a true Ideal, which would raise them up into the highest regions of thought to a nobler conception of Man, and thus by ennobling them save them even from their material degradation, by and through their own efforts.
Great is the power of Wisdom! It captivates even those who are not able to see it, provided they do not wilfully repel its light when it seeks to enter the heart. The soul feels the power of wisdom, even if the intellect cannot grasp it. The doctrines of Jehoshua captivated the minds of the people; they began to look upon him as the promised saviour, who had come to destroy their enemies, to make the poor equals of the rich, and to supply all with comfort and happiness. Some believed him to be an incarnation of John the Baptist; others imagined they beheld in him the spiritual power of an Avatar. The Pharisees and the scribes of the temple at Jerusalem searched their sacred scrolls; but they could find no prophecy of any star that was to arise from Nazareth; they would not believe that any good could come out of that place. His language sounded insulting to them, because it exposed their failings; his doctrines were undermining the foundation upon which their church and its dogmas rested. He deserved death, and it was necessary by all means to secure his person, to prevent further mischief to the interests of the church. In Galilee he was secure as long as he created no political trouble with the Romans; the authority of the temple of Jerusalem did not extend beyond [Page 153] certain limits. They consulted with each other about means to coax him to come to Jerusalem; they tried to bribe his family to induce him to go there, and his brothers advised him to go. [John vii 3].
The idea of going to Jerusalem, to give the finishing stroke to his work, had already entered the mind of Jehoshua. He well knew the dangers connected with such an attempt; but now he had grown strong and powerful and risen above all personal considerations. His personal safety seemed to him not worthy of a moment's thought; it was the truth - not his person - that he desired to defend; and if his mortal body were to die in his attempt at defending the truth, the cause which he advocated could only gain by such a sacrifice.
In vain his friends pleaded that he should not thus risk his life. Dark clouds of the future rose up before his clairvoyant vision; but above these clouds he saw a light, as if a thousand suns were bursting forth in the sky, filling infinite space with its glory. He beheld his human personality like a hardly perceptible speck of dust in the boundless ocean of matter. Was it worth while to consider what became of such an insignificant thing, when the whole of humanity was to be saved from ignorance ?
Let the would-be wise of the world call such a state of mind a product of a "morbid imagination", "hallucination", or whatever they please. To the vulgar everything [Page 154] is vulgar, and the worm crawling under the ground can realize nothing else but the presence of earth. To the coward, courage would be an abnormal state; to the stingy, generosity is a pathological condition; to the foolish, knowledge belongs to the unknowable; to the selfish, unselfishness is an absurdity. When our philosophers will be able to answer intelligently the question, What is Matter? then will it be time for them to study what is Consciousness or Spirit. When our anthropologists will have learned something more about the constitution of Man than merely his phenomenal aspect, when our naturalists will know more than the mere superficial laws of nature, and our "Divines" are divine in truth and not merely in name, then will it be time to argue the questions of eternity and immortality with them. Until that time arrives, "the wisdom of the worldly wise will be foolishness in the eyes of Divine Wisdom". [John vii 3]
In our utilitarian age the most useless things are looked upon as Real and Useful, and that which is of the highest use in the end is regarded as an Illusion. Matter is said to be all, and Spirit is said to be nothing. But of what use would Matter be without life and without thought ? how could we utilize Matter, if we had no Intellect to employ it, and what is the Intellect but an activity of matter produced by the stimulus coming from what is called "Spirit" or God?
The time of the festival of the Tabernacles was approaching [Page 155] preaching, and this was considered by Jehoshua as the most appropriate time for his visit to the capital of Judea. At that time the city would be filled with great crowds from the country, upon whose good natural common sense he might rely to a certain extent, because they were less sophisticated than the inhabitants of the city, whose opinions and sentiments change like the wind, where a hero may be glorified today and stoned to death tomorrow.
The followers of Jehoshua saw that the storm was approaching. Some of the more timid ones began to regard him as a fanatic, whose rashness was about to bring on his destruction, and they silently retired to their homes. Others believed that the long-expected day of judgment was about to appear and that some great miracle was to take place. They went with him, because they hoped to get some celestial reward, and they already began to dispute which one of them would be the greatest in heaven. Many believed that he would never reach Jerusalem alive, that the priests would cause him to be murdered on the way, to avoid the sensation which was certain to be created by his open arrest. Perhaps on account of these considerations Jehoshua kept his plan secret and did not start for the capital with the usual caravan, but left soon afterwards by a different route, going by the way of Sichem and through the country of the Samaritans, known as the place where works of charity are performed.
It is said
that when he entered Jerusalem, he rode [Page 156] upon an ass: nor could
it have been otherwise; for the truth cannot enter the soul of man unless
sitting upon the ass of self-conceit, and those who attempt to enter the
temple of knowledge carrying that ass on their backs will be left outside.
There is only one Temple in which the Truth can manifest its divinity; it is that living and conscious organism which constitutes the soul and body of Man.
THE unexpected arrival of Jehoshua at Jerusalem was to the Pharisees of the temple like a thunderbolt coming from a clear sky. They had given up all hopes of drawing him into their net, and believed that he would not dare to come to Jerusalem, and now the bird arrived voluntarily and without any coaxing. But the bird was an eagle, and was likely to tear the meshes with his claws and punish his assailants with his beak.
The first information they received of the arrival of their enemy came through the triumphal shouts of the multitude at the temple, to which Jehoshua had immediately gone and where he inspired his hearers with the living fire of truth that came from his heart.
They went to the place where he spoke and they asked him by what authority he was teaching, and he answered them that he taught by the authority of that omnipotent power which inspired the ancient prophets; but that only those who were true themselves would be able to perceive the truth speaking in him; and when they asked him to prove that his doctrines were true, he said: "The doctrines which I teach are not my own, [Page 158] but it is the Truth which teaches them through me. He that teaches his own doctrines and theories speaketh of himself; he is acting under the impulse of earthly ambition and seeketh his own glory and not the glory of God; but he that seeks to glorify, - not himself, - but God, by giving expression to the truth of which he is conscious, is true, and no evil can be in him.[John vii 16]. Live so, that you may know the truth, not by external appearances and argumentation, but by its own inherent power.[John vii 24]. Be true, and you will know the truth". [John viii 47].
"The organism of Man", he said, "resembles a kingdom; its capital is the Mind, and its temple the soul. In that capital and temple there are many false prophets, as there are in Jerusalem. There are the Pharisees of sophistry and false logic, credulity, and scepticism; and the 'scribes' are the prejudices and erroneous opinions engrafted upon the memory. Do not listen to what these false prophets say, but listen to the voice of wisdom that speaks in your heart; for verily I say unto you, the temple, built of speculations which the scribes have erected, will be destroyed, and not one of the dogmas and theories of which it has been constructed will remain, when the day of sound judgment appears. [Mathew xxiv. 2]
"See the truth enters your heart, bearing the palm leaf, the symbol of peace. Let it abide in you, and abide yourself in the truth. There is no other worship [Page 159] acceptable to the universal God, but to keep his commandments, which he reveals to you through the power of Divine Wisdom, whose voice speaks in your higher consciousness. Love one another; and as you grow in unselfish love, so will you grow in wisdom.
"Those who are seeking for Truth in external things will not find it, for the external world is merely a world of appearances, and not of absolute truth. The Spirit of God is pervading the universe, but the physical senses are not constituted to see it; neither can the finite intellect comprehend the Infinite. Seek for divine wisdom within yourself; then will God come to reside in you, and you will find him. He that hates the truth hates God, for the Truth is divine and comes from God. If you let. the spirit of Wisdom abide in your hearts, it will guide you into the light of knowledge; but when it departs from your heart, then will you abide in the darkness of ignorance, and your soul will weep and lament, but the animal instincts within you will rejoice, for they love darkness and are sorely grieved by the light of the truth.
"Open your hearts and see the image of the true God within them. He is not to be found in man-made temples and churches; and if any one tells you, Christ is in this church, or he is in that one, do not believe it, but seek for God within your own heart. Let not the Pharisees and the scribes and the intellectual powers of your mind mislead you, but listen to the divine voice of Intuition, which speaks at the centre of your own soul". [Page 160]
It may easily be imagined that such language exasperated the Pharisees and the sceptics; nor would it be tolerated by them today. They attempted to have Jehoshua arrested upon the spot, but they did not succeed, because the populace took his part. There is an eternal battle going on in the mind of man and on the external plane between error and truth, between speculation and intuition, between true religion and priestcraft, and the two combatants are often so intermingled with each other, that it is exceedingly difficult to distinguish them from each other and to tell where the truth ends and where falsehood begins. Every attack made upon the erroneous opinions and the selfishness of the church autocrats is misrepresented by the latter as an attack upon religion; not upon their religious views, but as an attack upon religion itself. Their church is their God, and the interests of the church are their religion; it is all the God and the religion they know; they can form no conception of a God without priestcraft, nor of a religion without church-benefits. Having all their lives kept their minds within the narrow grooves prescribed for them by their creeds, having become accustomed to worship an unnatural, limited, impossible, and helpless God, who needs the assistance of the clergy to teach mankind; the universal, omnipotent, omnipresent Divinity, the Christ, whose light shines into the hearts of men is non-existent to them; and although they preach such Christ with their mouths, repeating the sayings of the ancient books of wisdom, without understanding [Page 161] their meaning, nevertheless they deny him in practice and reject him on every occasion. They preach love and act hate; they claim to love God, but the God they love is fashioned after their own fancies, and by loving him, they love nothing else but themselves. Their God is a limited, personal, circumscribed and narrow-minded God, and their love is equally narrow-minded and intolerant.
Such and similar truths Jehoshua attempted to bring to the understanding of the people in the temple of Jerusalem. "The spirit of Wisdom", he said, "that speaks in me and through my lips, and whose voice every one of you might hear within his heart, if he knew how to listen to it, is the way, the truth, and the life. It is the light of the world, and he that followeth it, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.[John viii 12]. He who has become conscious of the existence of that light within his soul will not die, for he then lives in the light and the light lives in him. [John vi 57] I am not asking you to believe what Jehoshua says, but I ask you to seek for the truth within your own selves, so that you may know that the truth is speaking through me; [John v 30] for the truth is self-evident to those that are true, and requires no other certificate but its own self. [John v 36] I am not here to do the will of the terrestrial elements composing that frame, but to do the will of the Supreme Intelligence, from whom all spirits are born. [John vi 38]. You are now [Page 162] worshipping something of which you know nothing; but the time will come when men will rise up to an understanding of that God who is not a product of the imagination of man, and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth. [John iv 22]. Salvation must come from within yourself; it does not come from without. It cannot be bought with sacrifices nor be conferred upon you by a clergyman, but it is attained by the sacrifice of yourself. If the spirit of God does not live within you, how can you expect to live ? [Romans viii 8] for the spirit of God is Life and is immortal in Man. The gods which men have created are the servants of their churches; but the true God is greater than the church. There is no temple worthy to be the residence of the God of Humanity, but the living souls of those who are pure in their hearts. [Luke xvii 21]. There is no salvation without sanctification". [Hebrews xii 14].
Such unorthodox language was as intolerable to the Pharisees as it would be to their modern successors, if it were publicly repeated today. Such language, if tolerated, would overthrow the authority of the church and of that god who is believed to belong to the church. What would be the use for men to hire a priest to intercede with God, if God accepted no intercession ? What would become of the doctrine which taught that the Jews were the favourite people of Jehovah, if Jehovah had no favourites and was no respecter of persons, but a universal Spirit, dispensing life and light to all [Page 163] without partiality? "This man", they said, "must surely be possessed of a devil"; and they consulted with each other how they might kill him; but they dared not to attack him openly, because he was very popular, for there were many among the crowd who had been mentally blind all their life, and who now became able to open their eyes and to see the light of the truth.
The people always admire courage and intrepidity; they well knew the dangers by which Jehoshua was surrounded, and the fact that he remained within the walls of Jerusalem and continued to teach in the temple, in spite of the threatening danger, gained for him their hearts.
There was an old law, which said that whoever attempted to create contempt for the prevailing methods of worship, or to cause disrespect in regard to the established forms of religion, should be stoned to death without the privilege of a hearing, without judgment, and without defence. According to this law, Jehoshua had many times incurred the penalty of death, but the Pharisees did not dare to arrest him, on account of his great popularity.
But an event occurred which brought on the end.
As the mind of man, the temple of the living God, becomes converted into a stable and trading shop, if selfishness is permitted to enter. likewise the temple of Jerusalem had become converted into a stable and market-hall by the selfishness of the Pharisees. The courts of the temple and even the interior halls were [Page 164] filled with stalls, where merchants sold their goods, and the noise made by the seller who praised his goods, and the buyer who attempted to cheapen the price, penetrated into the innermost sanctuary.
Grieved at this desecration, and while carried away by his ardour, he overthrew one of the stalls where trinkets were sold, and his enthusiastic listeners followed his example. Immediately the selfish passions of the audience were aroused; their instincts told them that an opportunity had arrived for plunder, and a fight ensued, during which the merchants lost their goods and were driven from the temple, while thieves enriched themselves with their stores.
This unfortunate occurrence broke the spell by which Jehoshua ruled the hearts of the people. Brute force can never be an ally for the promulgation of the truth. Wisdom is a spiritual power, and external measures are useless for its purpose unless they are guided by wisdom. For one moment only the great reformer had lost the mastery over himself, and now a crime had been committed. At that moment he had ceased to be a representative of the truth and become an offender - not merely against the laws of the church, but against the divine law of justice. As long as he contented himself with denouncing the selfishness of the Pharisees, he merely appealed to the power of reason, but by his perhaps involuntary and unpremeditated act, he had appealed to the unreasoning instincts of the populace and entered into relation with the elements of evil. [Page 165] By this act he had ceased to be a reformer, and become a disturber of the peace.
The Pharisees were not slow to recognize the advantage they had gained by this event. They now appealed to the sense of justice and reason, and Jehoshua had to leave the city to avoid arrest. He went to the village of Ephraim and remained there with his disciples.
History is said to be always repeating itself. Even the Pharisees of the world and the reasoning powers in Man are willing to listen to the voice of the truth as long as it does not come in conflict with their selfish interests. All men admire the truth, as long as he remains in his cage and does not threaten their self-interest; but when he overthrows a favourite creed, then will they drive him away from the city. Then will the spirit of Wisdom have to retire to some quiet place, to wait until the storm of the passion has ceased, when it may again attempt to enter the heart. [Page 166]
is impermanent and illusive depends for its existence on external conditions.
That which is real and permanent finds the necessary conditions within itself.
IT is not often that an error committed does not cause another. Jehoshua, in overthrowing the stall at the temple, had committed a mistake; his flight from Jerusalem was another one; it was dictated by prudence and necessary to save his person from danger, but personal considerations of any kind should never be allowed to enter the mind of the true Adept, if they are in conflict with justice. He who has risen entirely above the sphere of selfishness, to that plane to which few are able to rise, acts only in accordance with justice, - a justice blind to all personal claims. Such justice demanded that he should have remained and faced the consequences of the act for which he was morally responsible. He well knew that if he were to deliver himself to his enemies, it was not justice but revenge that would await him; but he perceived that it was wrong for him to have left Jerusalem, and that it would have been his duty to remain at his post. Moreover, the row at the temple had caused a misunderstanding in regard to the doctrines he taught, and it was necessary to correct this mistake.[Page 167]
His first act of imprudence could not be remedied - the stolen goods would not be restored; but to remedy the second mistake was in his power, and the fact that it was his duty to return to Jerusalem was strongly impressed upon his mind. In spite of the entreaties of his friends, he therefore resolved to return, and he selected for that purpose the approaching festival of the Passover.
From a worldly and personal point of view such a resolution appears absurd; but from the standpoint of the higher self it was reasonable, because it was right. His reason and logic told him that, while he would expose himself to a great danger if he returned to Jerusalem, he would probably not even find an opportunity to explain his position; but his intuition told him that by returning he would act in accordance with justice. The intellect argues and speculates to find out what may be true, but Wisdom knows the truth without any argumentation. His intellect told him not to expose his person to danger; but intuition told him to go without fear: for even if the Pharisees would take undue advantage of him and act unjustly towards his person, that was their own affair, which he had not to consider; for no man can be made responsible for any other acts than those which he performs himself or wilfully causes others to perform. Logic came and told him that it would be far more reasonable for him to escape, for he would be able to do a great deal more good for humanity by continuing to live, than if he [Page 168] were to go to the capital and permit himself to be killed by his enemies; but Divine Wisdom bade him to go to Jerusalem, and to leave the consequences to God.
The preparations for the Passover festival had begun; the city became filled with strangers, and once more Jehoshua and his disciples were on their way to Jerusalem. It was publicly known that the Sanhedrin had issued an order to have him arrested as soon as he should enter the gates of the city; and when it became known at Jerusalem, that in spite of the threatening danger he was on his way to return, his friends rejoiced at his courage, and they went to the suburb to meet him. They received him with exclamations of joy and made him ride in their midst. Thus they entered the gates and baffled the vigilance of the priests, who did not dare to arrest him while he was surrounded by so many adherents.
Thus does the soul of man rejoice when, after a period of darkness during which the truth had departed, and sin and selfishness assumed the rule, wisdom, the king and saviour, appears again at the gates. At such a solemn moment the passions flee to their dens, superstitions retire to their corners. Peace accompanies the king and enters with him, and the whole interior world is filled with light and resounds with solemn harmonies, while from all the intelligent powers arises a glad Hosanna.