LIFE OF JEHOSHUA
THE PROPHET OF NAZARETH
An Occult Study and a Key to the Bible
Containing the History of an Initiate
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[PAGE 3] THE only object of the following pages is to aid in dispelling the mists which for many centuries have been gathering around the person of the supposed founder of Christianity, and which have prevented mankind from obtaining a clear view of the true Redeemer, who is not to be found in history nor in external forms, but who can only be found within the interior temple of the soul by him in whom his presence becomes manifest.
It must be left to the intelligent reader to decide whether the accounts given in this book may be accepted literally as historical facts, or whether they are intended, to represent eternal and ever occurring processes going on within the inner consciousness of man. The only key to the understanding of the truth is the power to perceive it; for the truth teaches itself, - not by the light of argumentation, but by its own light, and it teaches nothing else but itself.
All that the reading of books can possibly accomplish, is to aid us in bringing the truth which exists within ourselves to our own understanding, and to drive away the clouds of erroneous conceptions which may keep us from knowing ourselves.
[Page 4] There is nothing to prevent man from rising into the higher regions of thought where the light of the truth exists, except his clinging to erroneous opinions; there is no way of driving away the darkness except by the diffusion of Light.
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
ETERNAL One! Thou self-existent Cause
Of all existence, source of love and light;
Thou universal uncreated God,
In whom all things exist and have their being,
Who lives in all things and all things in Him;
Infinite art Thou, inconceivable
Beyond the grasp of finite intellect;
Unknowable to all except thyself.
Nothing exists but Thou, and there is nothing
In which no Good exists; Thou art, but we
Appear to be; for forms are empty nothings,
If not inhabited by Thee; they are
Thyself made manifest. Addressing Thee
We sin, because we separate ourselves
In thought from Thee who art our very self;
For we are nothing if we are not "Thou",
And Thou art "we"; we have no life but Thine,
No will or thought, no love or strength but Thine;
Thou art our life, our will, our mind, our all;
We are in Thee and Thou in us; Thou art
The "Father" and Thyself in us the "Son".
Thy Spirit fills the universe with glory
And impregnates all Nature with thy power,
Enabling her to bring forth living forms
Of plants and trees, of animals and men;
It fructifies the soul of man and gives
Birth to the "Christ", the saviour of man, [Page 8]
Call'd the divine Atma or the "Lord on high",
The "Master", He who makes immortal all
In whom His presence is made manifest
If He awakens in the heart of man
To the self-consciousness of His existence,
Then will there be no further death, for He
Is perfect and requires no further change.
Thus "Christ" is God made manifest in Man
As man, and no one can attain to God
Except through Him; for He Himself is God
In Man, and He who strives to find His God
Must seek for Him in His own holy temple
Within himself in Spirit and in Truth.
To Him, the Christ, the God in man we pray.
To Him alone, not to external gods,
Nor to the spirits in the Astral Light;
And praying strongly we fulfil our prayers.
For rising up to Him we are Himself,
And grant that which we ask of Him ourselves.
No man knows God; it is the God in Man
Who knows Himself in him and lifts man up
To the conception of what is divine
In his own nature. Rising up to Him
We come to God through Christ, through God to Man,
And to all nature in His Holy Spirit. [PAGE 9]
EVER since the beginning of the Christian era a storm of varied opinions in regard to the supposed founder of what is called "Christianity" has been raging in the world of mind, finding its expression on the external plane in deeds of violence, in innumerable cruelties, wars, atrocities, and crimes, such as are almost beyond the power of human imagination to conceive. From the time of the maniac-emperors, when the Roman arenas were reddened by the blood of the Nazarenes, down to the Middle Ages, when Christians had ceased to be persecuted and became persecutors in their turn; when the scum of all Europe pillaged and plundered the inhabitants of the "Holy Land" in the assumed name of Christ; down to comparatively modern times, when the skies of all European countries were blackened by the smoke ascending from burning fagots, upon which men, women, and children, suspected of heresy, were roasted to death by those who claimed to be the followers of Him who had taught the doctrine of universal fraternal love; - and still further down to our present time, in which the churches struggle to regain their waning powers and wealth, - the cause of all [Page 10] religious warfare has always been a difference of opinion in regard to the nature of "Christ".
While the most fanatical adherents of orthodox theology, entirely ignoring the religious histories of the world, with its Manus, Avatars, Buddhas, and Saviours of mankind, such as are said to have appeared upon this globe millions of years before the advent of modern "Christianity", regard the person of him who is called The Christ as being the "only begotten son" of an extra cosmic creator of the world, conceived in some miraculous manner by a virgin of Palestine, and while they thus apply the most gross and sensual exoteric explanation to a beautiful ancient myth, which hides a sublime and eternal truth; the modern critic either denies that such a person as the Jesus of Nazareth of the Gospels ever existed, or he sees in him merely a man of extraordinary talents, a hero who dared to proclaim what seemed to him to be the truth; a religious reformer, who died like many others for the promulgation of a grand but impracticable idea.
Some of these critics are very profound thinkers; but they have evidently not looked behind the veil that divides the eternal, ideal, but nevertheless real world from the sensual world of illusions, wherein we live. They were unacquainted with the constitution of the "spiritual" organism of Man, and they could only see the mortal part of Jehoshua; while their opinions in regard to his spiritual nature were based upon speculations which may have approached the [Page 11] truth in proportion as they followed their highest intuitions.
Thus Kant regarded him as the ideal of human perfection; John Stuart Mill, as a very extraordinary man; Lord Amberly, as an "iconoclastic idealist"; Fichte, as the first teacher who revealed the unity of Man with the Supreme Spirit; Hegel, as an incarnation of the Logos; Schelling, as a kind of Avatar, i.e. one of the periodical descents of Divinity; Dr. Keim, as a mysterious man, whose glorified spirit inspired his disciples to attempt the reformation of the world; Strauss looks upon him as a moral reformer, who occasionally stooped to imposture to secure the confidence of his adherents; Renan, as an effeminate idealist, an impostor who performed "bogus phenomena"; Schleiermacher, as a man in whom self-consciousness was so saturated with the Divine principle, that he really became a god incarnate; Anatole Bembe, as a modern anarchist and socialist of the most fiery kind; and Gerald Massey, who bases his opinions upon historical researches, finds that Jehoshua Ben-Pandira was born some 120 years before the Christian era, and that the typical Christ of the gospels was made up from the features of various gods.
It appears that those who have attempted to disprove the existence of an historical personal savior of mankind, have done no serious harm to the interest of religion; because the pious mind intuitively feels that the gospel accounts, attributed to the four Evangelists, contain after all a great deal of truth, even if the events [Page 12] which are told therein have never occurred in history; but those who attempt to base the whole foundation of their religious conviction upon the existence of an historical Jesus and ask others to do likewise, may be doing serious harm; for the belief in an historical Jesus can after all be merely a matter of opinion, and a faith based merely upon a possibly fallacious opinion, having no knowledge for its foundation, rests upon a very insecure basis indeed. There are very many well-meaning people upon this earth who imagine that it is indispensably necessary for one's salvation to believe that a man called Jesus of Nazareth once lived and died in Palestine; but it would be difficult to give any intelligible reason why the belief in such an historical person should be necessary for that purpose, or in what way such a belief should differ in its results from a belief in Julius Caesar, Aristoteles, or any other person in history; as all opinions in regard to things of which we have no personal experience are merely opinions and constitute no real knowledge. To believe in an event of which we know nothing is to cling to a superstition, even if the event is actually true. We can have no self-knowledge about persons that existed before we were born; but we may at any time and at every place realize the presence of the true savior, the eternal living Christ within ourselves.
All attempts to explain intellectually the miracles and deeds attributed to the Great Nazarene, for the purpose of making it more plausible, that they have actually [Page 13] occurred in a literal sense, are therefore degrading to religion, and may be looked upon as a sacrilege; for they drag spiritual truths down to gross material life; they force sublime ideas into narrow material forms, and destroy the beauty of the ideal by causing it to appear in a vulgar sensual shape. Even the most exalted virtues with which a poet may endow a personal savior will never give him that luster which shines around the head of the eternal and impersonal Christ, and all attempts to make the beautiful allegories of the Bible agree with historical facts will be unsuccessful, and even appear ludicrous to the unprejudiced and clear-thinking observer. [Gerald Massey says: "The worst foes of the truth have ever been and still are, the rationalizers of the myths, such as the Unitarians. They have assumed the human history [of Christ] as the starting-point and accepted the existence of a personal founder of Christianity as the one initial and fundamental fact. They have done their best to harmonize the divinity of the mythos by discharging the supernatural and miraculous element, in order that the narrative may be accepted as history. Thus they have lost the battle from the beginning by fighting it on the wrong ground." - Gerald Massey, The Historical Jesus and Mythical Christ.].
The question, whether or not the doctrines of the Bible are true, cannot be decided by answering the question, whether or not the events described therein have actually occurred in external life; that proof must be sought in the internal evidence of those doctrines, and this evidence will appear plain enough as soon as they are understood.
The vain attempts to prove rationally the possibility of the occurrence of miracles such as are described in [Page 14] the Bible, are equally absurd; for the indisputable proof that one single miracle had actually occurred, would immediately overthrow the foundation of all religions and destroy the belief in an eternal and unchanging God. God, being himself the Law, or the Cause of the Law, cannot act against himself without committing suicide, and those who are trying to uphold a belief in the possibility of anti-natural or absolutely supernatural occurrences, are denying that God is the ruler of Nature. They degrade him to a fallible being who changes his mind, and is subject to whims, such as are produced by external influences; but what external influences could possibly act upon God, who is self-existent and omnipresent and who includes the All? The fact that no miracle has ever occurred is the most formidable argument for the existence of a universal God; for it proves the existence of universal and unchangeable Law, whose Law-giver must be equally universal and not subject to change. Those, however, who attempt to reconcile the miracles of the Bible with material reason, by seeking to explain them by theories of sleight of hand, or by the spiritistic theory, are to be pitied most; for they prove that they have neither faith which characterizes the Christian, nor sufficient intellect to see where to so-called "realities" end, and where the realm of the fable representing the true Ideal begins.
From "profane history" we can gather very little information in regard to the person of the great reformer. All that we can learn from a few short remarks in Tacitus and Josephus[Page 15] (believed by some to be interpolations) is, that some such person actually existed, and we are led to infer, that he was regarded by some as a sorcerer, by others as one of the would-be reformers and religious fanatics of those times, that he was opposed to the prevailing religious views, and that on account of the attacks he made upon time-honored institutions, upon which the security of the church and the authority of the clergy rested, he was finally put to death.
So-called "sacred history", as contained in the "four gospels", is believed to give a detailed account of his life and his doctrines; but while there seems to be a vein of truth in regard to actual historical occurrences underlying the gospel accounts, the great bulk of the latter is in contradiction to Common Sense, and merely a repetition of different allegories, such as we may find in the ancient books of the Egyptians, Persians, and Brahmins. These ancient myths have been most curiously mixed up with the biography of Jesus of Nazareth and represented as having actually taken place during his life. In fact, the few probable details in regard to the life of Jesus are so much loaded with fables and misinterpreted allegories, that the "New Testament" deserves to be regarded rather as a poem, describing psychological processes, than as a book of history, describing external occurrences.
If we examine that book without any prejudice and without any sectarian bias, we find therein two currents of thought. The first applies to the life of a man, who - [Page 16] if he has not been entirely misrepresented - must have been a great genius, a hero, and a reformer. The second current refers to sacred truths, such as were taught in the secret doctrines of the Arians and Egyptians; truths which we find stated in the books of Hermes Trismegistus, in the Bhagavad-Gitã , and others. In these ancient books we find reference made to the Christ principle long before the name of "Christianity" was known, and the myths of the "Immaculate Conception, the "Son of God", etc., may be clearly traced to this ancient origin, This discovery, far from throwing discredit upon the veracity of the principles upon which primitive Christianity was based, serves rather to strengthen the foundation upon which the original doctrines rest; it does not overthrow the truths stated in the Bible, but goes to confirm them, by showing that the processes thus allegorically described, are not merely events of the past, but that they are continually occurring, and will in all probability continue to occur in the future.
It is usually claimed by those who adhere to a belief in a merely personal and historical Christ, that the gospels were written by the apostles, who having been disciples of Jesus and eye-witnesses of the miracles he performed, knew what they were talking about. Granting - for argument's sake - that these men had left some written accounts; they cannot be held responsible for all the additions and interpolations which were afterwards made by their followers and which cannot stand [Page 17] the test of sound reason and logic. It has however been proved by recent researches, that neither of the four gospels in their present shape was written by the apostles; but that they were probably collected long afterwards by some unknown members of the church, who labeled them with the names of the apostles, so as to impress upon them the stamp of unquestioned authority; while they undoubtedly eliminated from the existing traditions a great deal that may have appeared prejudicial to the interests of the church, or contrary to their own views and opinions.
It is not our intention to enter into a discussion in regard to the origin of the gospels, nor would we expect any great benefit to arise from a controversy in regard to such matters; because in matters of religion and where no knowledge exists, sentiment forms a stronger attraction than reason. No argument is strong enough to force a person to lose his hold of a favorite opinion to which he has resolved to cling; while those whose knowledge is the result of mere argumentation, have usually very little power of spiritually perceiving the truth. Those who cling to time-honored superstitions as well as those who love scepticism and sophistry, will live on the food they have chosen, until they are satiated with it.
What does it matter to us, after all, to know whether or not our ideal Christ has ever existed in history? If we were in a position, or if it were necessary for us to imitate the daily deeds of the man Jesus of Nazareth in [Page 18] all their details, then would it perhaps be important to know whether or not the accounts told of these deeds are literally true; but as we are living in a different age and under different circumstances, we cannot imitate his external life in all its details; but we can look up to him as a high ideal and imitate his inner life, and we may live up to such an ideal without knowing whether or not it has ever been embodied upon this earth. To imitate his thoughts is far more important than imitating his personal acts.
If we look at the image of Jehoshua, seen through the trembling mists of incense, mixed with the vapors of human blood and the smoke of burning heretics, we see merely an unnatural and distorted image of the Jewish Jehovah, a ghastly-looking shadow that seems to be neither a god nor a man. If we look at him from a rational standpoint, and apply to him the rule by which mortals are usually measured, we find that our measure is somewhat too short, for we discover in him a sublimity of character, an unlimited love, a transcendental intelligence, such as is not found combined in one person in the modern history of the world; but if we look at him as being one of the full-grown flowers of humanity, a person whose mind was illuminated by Divine Wisdom, - an Adept, - who possessed the knowledge of his own Higher Self, all that appears strange and impossible in his character becomes at once clear and comprehensible; but we cannot conceive of him in that light, without entering to a certain extent within the [Page 19] mystic realm of occult science, whose key is the power of spiritual perception, called Intuition. Looked at in that light, he stands before us as an ideal Man and as a personification of Divine Wisdom.
The standard of morality and spirituality of a people will always depend on the quality and attitude of the ideals they follow. If their ideals are monstrous and unnatural, they will be vicious and lead unnatural lives; if their ideals are true, they will be guided by considerations of truth. The ideal created by the Spanish monks and which they called their "Christ" was a devil, and their deeds were the actions of devils. The standard of morality and spirituality existing among the various Christian churches of the world, including more than two hundred Christian sects, may be correctly estimated, according to their higher or lower conception of the term "Christ" In many cases we find that conception very narrow, and therefore the doctrines of these sects differ in such cases widely from the doctrines of Christ.
"The Christ" or "Messiah" means the redeeming power of Universal spiritual consciousness, love, and intelligence, while the limited "Christ" of the churches is merely a person, whose love manifests itself at best only inside the church. The real Christ means Universal Life, while the "Christ" of the sects means separateness and favoritism. True Christianity means spiritual enlightenment, universal benevolence, charity and tolerance; Churchianism means mental darkness, stubborn ignorance, selfishness, intolerance, self-conceit, [Page 20] and hate for all who will not submit to clerical rule. True religion, such as may perhaps be found in the far-distant golden age, means that entire renunciation and self-sacrifice, such as we find it described in the Bhagavad-Gitã and in other sacred books of the East, and which is also represented by the ill-understood symbol of the Christian Cross; but modern sectarianism, the offspring of the worship of the bloodthirsty Jehovah, is based upon a concentration of all our hopes and aspirations upon the attainment of some selfish personal benefit here or in the hereafter; upon a craving to save that worthless self, even if its salvation were to involve the ruin of the rest of the world.
True religion - the power to know and realize spiritual truths - is attained by those who can rise above the sphere of their illusive self; sectarianism is kept alive and nourished by the love of men for their own animal self and by the fear to lose that beloved thing. As long as this love of self - based upon an entire misconception of the true nature of Man - is not eradicated from the heart of mankind and replaced by knowledge, the Upas-tree of dogmatism will find therein a soil in which to spread its roots and to reap temporal benefits for the church at the expense of the eternal welfare of its deluded adherents.
In Jehoshua Ben-Pandira we behold a divinely inspired man. Inspired, - not by any external personal deity, - but by the eternal light of Divine Wisdom, that illumined his mind. We behold in him first a Rabbi, [Page 21] a man of great talents, who sought earnestly after the truth, and who, after having been initiated into the ancient Egyptian mysteries, became a prophet and a seer. Having arrived at a knowledge of the truth, he heroically defended it against the priests of the temple and sacrificed his life in the attempt to bring the life of the true Christ, that existed within himself, to the understanding of the masses. He attempted to dispel the clouds of darkness, created by superstition and fear, so that the light of spiritual knowledge might enter the hearts of mankind. He taught the principle of universal fraternal love, of a Love for the sake of love, - not a love on account of expected rewards, but his ideas were too grand, too sublime, to be comprehended by the narrow-minded bigots of his age. He was murdered by those whom he attempted to save, and He - whose whole life-effort was directed to overthrow the superstitious belief in a limited God, separated from humanity and subject to whims and caprices, - was so little understood by his followers, that, after his death, those who claimed to believe in his teachings, made of himself such a limited god, separated him from humanity, and selected him for an object of their external worship.
In "Jesus of Nazareth" we behold a beautiful allegory, representing the spiritual germ of divine Intelligence in the soul of Man, conceived in the heart by the power of the spirit of Divine Wisdom, continually born in the mystic Bethlehem situated in the purest region of the human soul. To speak of Him as an "historical person" [Page 22] is a blasphemy and an absurdity. He never was killed by the Jews, although he is continually crucified by professed Christians. He is alive today and will live forever, and resides in the hearts of those who adore him and obey his commands.
Is mankind nowadays better prepared to receive the gospel of the universal saving power of Knowledge and Love than when Jehoshua lived? Are men ready now to do away with the religion of fear and selfishness and substitute for it the gospel of Freedom ? Will it now be possible for them to comprehend that their beloved self, to which they cling with the grip of despair, as a drowning man clings to a straw, has no permanent existence at all - but is merely an illusion, a product of a continually changing interaction of correlating forces; which, acting within the physical plane, produce that sensation which causes the illusion of isolated existence ? Will the pious be ready to believe, that before they can hope for any immortality of their individual self, they will first have to begin to live by finding that individual Higher Self, their Savior, who exists in a life beyond the separation of form ? Will they be ready to receive the gospel of eternal and universal life in the spirit, or will they regard a doctrine which denies the immortality of the lower self as being identical with denying the immortality of the soul? Have men become intelligent and heroic enough to be free, or must they still be furnished with the crutches of hope and fear to enable them to stand upright ? Are men now their own Masters, or are priestcraft [Page 23] craft and superstition still necessary evils, to keep the ignorant in subjection and terror and to make them obey the law ? Is a religion which is based upon the love of men for their animal selves, and whose only excuse for existence is its expediency and usefulness for political and social purposes, really useful in the end ? Is such a religion calculated to ennoble mankind, or may perhaps the cause for the growth of selfishness and its resulting evils be found in that spirit of egotism upon which that religion rests? Will it be practicable now to proclaim truths, which have at all times been carefully hidden from the eyes of the ignorant, and if not, should not the truth be told for its own sake and irrespective of any consequences that may result therefrom ? Can the knowledge of the truth have any other effect in the end but that of ennobling those who open their eyes to its light, even if the dawn of today will cause a temporary disturbance among the dark mists of ignorance which cover the face of the earth ?
These important questions seem to be well worthy of our consideration, especially at the present day, when the Christian temples all over the world are seen to totter and shake, because they are built upon sand; when the monsters of anarchism, socialism, nihilism, etc., born of ignorance, rear their heads, and tyranny and monopoly, the offspring of selfishness, are vampirizing humanity; when the whole of Europe appears to be threatened by a devastating war, and America is beginning to suffer the ills produced by causes transplanted from the old world to the new. [Page 24]
In regard to so-called science, the age which seems now to be nearing its end has been one of blind materialism; in regard to so-called religion, it has been one of formalism and credulity in supposed historical facts; but it is said that now has the time arrived when one of the seals of the "closed book" spoken of in the Bible is to be opened; that is to say, that the understanding of mankind as a whole will be opened to a comprehension of eternal truths, which for ages past have been misunderstood.
The following allegories describe the processes which are taking place within the inner or thought-life of all who strive for initiation, and which must have therefore also taken place within the inner life of Jehoshua, if that person was what we may well suppose him to have been, - a man illumined by the spirit of Divine Wisdom. [Page 25]
THE TRUE HISTORY OF CHRIST
Forever the Light shineth into darkness, but the darkness comprehendeth it not.
LONG, long ago in the past, perhaps millions of ages ago, at a time beyond human calculation, there was a realm of Light, wherein resided the Spirit of Wisdom. His body was like a Sun, and the living rays emanating from him filled the universe with glory. Matter of a fiery and ethereal kind, such as is unknown to man, filled all space, and the light coming from that Spirit penetrated the realm of Matter and endowed it with life and sensation. Gradually this matter began to cool, centers of attractions were formed, and around these centers still more matter condensed, and they grew into revolving globes traveling with lightning velocity through space, being guided by the Spirit of Wisdom. Upon these globes stones, vegetables, animals, and human beings grew.
But in proportion as this matter became dense and solid, it became impenetrable to the light coming from the Spirit of Wisdom, and the men born therein groped in darkness, until they discovered a phosphorescent substance in the caves of the earth which gave forth a [Page 26] light like a diamond after having been exposed to the sun, and they called it "Ratio" By the light of this stone they were able to see their surroundings. Men and animals used this stone, but in the hands of men it shone brighter than when the animals used it.
But the light which they now possessed threw a false glitter upon the objects which it illuminated and caused them to appear distorted and not as they actually were. The Spirit of Wisdom, pitying mankind on account of their ignorance and darkness wherein they lived, resolved to descend to them; but being unable to make himself visible to men, because their eyes had become petrified and blind, he attempted to manifest himself by assuming a more solid shape in their souls.
He entered the Heart of Man and found it to be a stable, filled with animals of all kinds. There was an ox called the Will, tied to the yoke of passion, and an ass called Reason, led about by erroneous speculations. There was a hog called Intemperance, and a goat called Lechery, and around the door prowled the tiger, the wolf, and the hyena, seeking to gain admittance, while snakes and poisonous reptiles were wriggling and crawling through the cracks of the roof. The stable was full of impurities, the windows were covered with cobwebs, that prevented the light from entering; but in spite of these disgusting surroundings the Spirit of Wisdom remained there and attempted to clean it and transform it into a temple, fit for him to reside therein.
He attempted to make his presence known to the [Page 27] proprietor of the stable, but for a long time his calls were not listened to; for besides the noise made by the animals in the lower part of the building, there was a great noise made in the upper story, which was occupied by traders of all kinds, by lecturers and preachers, scientists, theologians and moralizers, of whom each one tried to make himself heard above the rest.
By some accident the voice of Wisdom attracted at last the attention of the proprietor, but he could not understand what it said, for the language seemed foreign to him. He therefore sent a commission to examine the claims of that Spirit. Sophistry and Superstition, the daughters of Ignorance, and a fellow named Logic, an illegitimate son of a woman called Experience, arrived, accompanied by a dog called Selfishness. They listened to the Spirit and wrote down what he said. They then asked him for his certificates, to prove who he was, and wanted to dispute with him; and as he did not answer their arguments in a manner comprehensible to them, they shook their heads and did not believe what he said. The animals clamored that the strange visitor should be ejected, for his presence disturbed them in their comfort and ease. Moreover, the angel having begun to assume a material form, needed some nourishment to acquire substance and strength, and he abstracted blood from the animals in the stable and nourished himself with it.
Such a state of affairs appeared intolerable to the proprietor of the house, and he resolved to kill the [Page 28 ] intruder. He was, however, afraid to attack him openly, because he feared the light that shone from his body. He had in his employ two servants in whom he trusted, although they were two thieves, who continually robbed their master of his most valuable treasures whenever any opportunity offered itself; but he knew it not, and believed them to be his faithful assistants. The name of one of these thieves was Credulity, and the name of the other was Scepticism, and both were the greatest enemies of the Truth.
One evening the Spirit went into the garden that surrounded the house. He had succeeded in transforming, by his magic power, some of the animals into men, and they followed him; but the proprietor hearing of his whereabouts, sent his servants to have him arrested. But Credulity and Scepticism had never seen the Spirit of Wisdom and did not know him; they therefore applied to Logic, who by a certain trick of argumentation, which he had learned from a sorceress in the West, whose name was Curiosity, managed to come very near to the Truth, and kissed him, and (they) then treacherously overpowered the Spirit of Wisdom and caused him to be crucified. But the Spirit, being immortal, could not die; the men who attempted to kill him merely destroyed his form, and thereby rendered themselves incapable of seeing his outward expression, and the Spirit of Wisdom returned to his eternal home, to descend again and again into the hearts of men and to repeat the same process forever and ever, by being born, crucified, and resurrected every day. [PAGE 29]
A beautiful god is the most noble product of Man.
MAN-CREATED GODS are most wonderful beings. They possess all the virtues and vices of those who made them, and they in return cause their creators to be vicious or virtuous, foolish or wise. It is known to the student of occult science, that if a man consciously and wilfully performs an act, whether it be good or evil, he calls a living power into existence, which reacts upon him, until the strength with which it has been endowed by him who conjured it up, is exhausted, and while it lives, it may be either a curse or a blessing to its creator. Thus it is even with the creating of gods, and the law that applies to an individual man also applies to a people.
From the time of the Babylonian captivity up to the present day a curse seems to have been attached to the Jewish nation. They have been persecuted in almost every country; they have been hated wherever they went. Justly or unjustly, their cowardice, selfishness, and greed have almost become proverbial; as a nation they have surpassed all others in grasping and hoarding wealth; they are as a whole believed to be tyrannical, unrelenting, and obstinate, while on the other hand they [Page 30] excel other nations in such virtues as grow from a state of separateness and isolation, they closely cling to each other, they assist each other in need, they love their families, and become even heroes in the defense of what they may legally claim as their own.
If we attempt to trace the curse which seems to rest upon them to its origin, we may find it in the fact that they have created that cruel, bloodthirsty, and selfish god, whom they called "Jehovah", and the god whom they had created, reflected upon them his own attributes and became the instrument of their punishment. They materialized a grand idea, forced it into a limited form and endowed it with life, and they thereby chained themselves to that form and became its slaves. In creating a separate god of their own, isolated from the universal God of humanity, they became themselves separated and isolated from the rest of mankind; their god, whose favorites they imagined themselves to be, was the outcome of their own selfishness, and he became the instrument of their torture: the birth of Jehovah became the curse which clung to their heels wherever they went.
For millions of years the eternal Brahm, the great and universal Spiritual Sun of Wisdom, had sent his beneficent rays into the world of mind. He knew no distinction of person, but gave the light of wisdom to all who opened their hearts to receive it; the water of Truth descended like rain upon all, and refreshed those who opened their souls to drink it in. Life, Light, and Happiness were accessible to all mankind, without the [Page 31] interference of man-ordained priests, the Universal God asked for no other sacrifice but that which rises up spontaneously from a pure heart, the adoration of absolute Good, - a sacrifice which, kindled by the fire of unselfish Love, rises up like a cloud to the throne of the Eternal and returns again like heavenly dew, showering upon him who offers the sacrifice seven times more of that which he gives.
Thus in ancient times the heaven - ordained priests - that is to say, all human beings who were conscious of the existence of a universal divine ideal - fed the gods with sacrifices of pure and exalted thoughts, and were fed in return by the god [Bhagavad-Gitã , III, 12] they sent their spiritual aspirations from the altar of a pure heart into the highest regions of thought and called spiritual forces into action, which reacted upon them endowing them with knowledge and ennobling their characters. Their "prayers" served to thin the veil of matter by which they were surrounded and to enable them to look beyond the "gates" of their prisons. The higher state of consciousness to which they arose created a new "Jerusalem" in their souls and caused them to realize their own true manhood and their true condition as living, embodied, spiritual powers, kings and lords of creation. They needed no help from external, personal gods; because they were aware of the living presence of the universal Spirit of Wisdom acting within themselves. [Page 32]
But as with the increase of the population the battle for terrestrial existence became stronger, and men, forced by external circumstances, began to give more attention to their animal necessities than to the requirements of a life in the Eternal, as they became strongly attracted to sensual things, and lost proportionately the power to conceive of that which transcends sensual perception; they became unconscious of their own divine nature, they lost confidence in the divine power within themselves, and clamored for help from external sources. They forgot how to pray, and learned how to beg; and as no god appeared to give them the things which they desired, they invented gods of their own. They needed gods who promised to save them from slavery, because having become slaves to Self, they were now too busy to execute the commands of their master, and to attend to his affairs, to give much attention to their salvation, and to work themselves effectively to recover their freedom. Thus the Unlimited, Eternal, and Infinite disappeared from their view, and in its place they created limited, personal, and changeable gods. The god which the Jews created was called "Jehovah", - a name whose real meaning was known only to few, - and they endowed him with all the good and evil qualities which characterized their own selves.
Natural and heaven-ordained priests, such as were conscious of the divinity existing in man, and who refused to render homage to man-made gods, were persecuted and slain; divine worship became a matter of trade and [Page 33] was entrusted to man-ordained clergymen, who had no higher ideal than their own semi-animal selves, represented by the gods who were the offspring of their own imagination. The interest of the church became paramount to the acquisition of Wisdom, external ceremonies and material sacrifices took the place of spiritual aspirations and heart-offerings, hopes of future rewards and fears of punishment in the dread hereafter took the place of that nobility of character which seeks to do good for the love of Good, irrespective of any consequences that may accrue to one's self therefrom. External heavens and hells were invented, and the priests truly possessed the keys to them; for by acting upon the imagination of the believers, they could cause them to believe to be either in heaven or in hell. Thus the eternal Reality, the Truth, was deposed from its throne in the hearts of men, and priest-craft, with its illusions, assumed the sceptre.
When the Jews created their god they lost their own manhood; they lost all confidence in their own power. Thenceforth they trusted in their creature, and the god whose fathers they were, fed them with promises and prophecies, which were never kept nor fulfilled. While the gods of the Romans inspired the latter to perform deeds of valor, this Jewish god promised to accomplish their duties for them. Instead of helping themselves, they now waited for help from their god, and remained slaves, bound by chains of their own construction. But in vain arose to the clouds the odor of burning bullocks [Page 34] and sheep from the altars of the temples; Jehovah had no power to help his worshippers. He was a monster, created by selfishness and needed all he had for himself; he could not give life to the Jews, because his own life depended on the life-energy he received from them; he could not fulfil their expectations, for he had no power but that which was lent to him by his worshippers. Only when men create gods from whom they expect nothing, will their expectations be fulfilled. When they realize this truth; then will the creating of gods become useless, and men will again become able to find the one true and universal God, who fulfils all his promises by acting in and through the organism of Nature and Man.
As long as men have different desires, they will have different gods; as long as they wander at the base of the mountain with many peaks, each man will believe the peak which is most prominently before him to be the highest of all. Only when they have all arrived at the summit, will they know the highest point; only when they have arrived at the highest conception of the truth, will they begin to know the universal God. They will then see that the gods whom they worshiped before, and who seemed so grand, were only the products of illusions, and that standing on the summit, they - on account of the altitude they occupy - are, as it were, the summit themselves.
By worshiping the gods whom they create, men worship nothing else but themselves. They are creating [Page 35] a mental image, which they endow with their own character; they concentrate upon it their thoughts, their hopes and fears, and as they themselves become old and toothless and wrinkled, they are horrified to see the image in the mirror before them change its features. They discover imperfections about their god, where they had imagined everything to be perfect. They then attempt to "doctor" their god; they apply plasters and salves, they paint him and dress him up, they seek to prolong his life; but the new generations, having a younger ideal see him putrefy below the varnish and mask: they want a young god, a god that resembles themselves, and they create a new one for themselves.
Thus gods are continually subject to change. As the character of a nation changes, so changes its god. To reform the gods of humanity, humanity must be reformed. Only when all men are of one mind, will they all have the same God.
But that universal ideal which causes all men to be of one mind cannot be found in external creeds, ceremonies, and forms, nor in adjustable opinions and doctrines; for external appearances, opinions, and theories are continually subject to change. Each human being differs from every other in his external appearance and in the way he thinks. There is only one thing which all men share and which constitutes their humanity: it is the consciousness of being human; the knowledge that they are superior to stones, vegetables, and animals, and that they belong to the great family of mankind. [Page 36] This consciousness does not change as long as men remain human. If they become brutalized they also become unconscious of their dignity as human beings; they then cease to be men and remain human merely in external shape. Likewise, in proportion as men rise up to a realization of what is divine and eternal in man, they become conscious of a higher state of existence; they expand into gods, while they still have the stamp of humanity impressed upon their forms. When all men will have become conscious of this Divine state of existence, then will they all have one common God.
There can be only one Supreme Cause of life, consciousness, and wisdom, and its dominion must extend wherever these three factors exist. Men cannot know God as long as they are not divine themselves; but when in the course of evolution mankind will have thrown off the chains which bind them to the attractions of matter, they will again become able to know within themselves the character of the true and universal God, whose wisdom is manifest everywhere in Nature, whose external aspect is visible in all places, but whose power can be realized only by him in whom God has awakened to self-consciousness. Then will men know that God is One and All in All, and that Humanity is spiritually one without separation and division.
Then will a wail arise from the gods that have been created by man, for their end has come. Then will a wail arise from the Pharisees and the scribes who claim to be the keepers of wisdom and messengers of the gods [Page 37] which men have invented; for the gods, the servants of the church, will be useless, and with them their own authority will be at an end. Then will the people cease to sacrifice to the golden calf, and the kingdom of the true Jehovah, who rejoices within the hearts of men when they kill their animal passions and sacrifice to him their erroneous opinions, will be restored; but those who refuse to open their eyes to the sunlight of truth will remain in darkness and suffer the tortures which they themselves have created by their own morbid imagination.[PAGE 38]
From the conjunction of the Intellect and the Intuition, the Son, whose name is Wisdom, is born.
ONE of the most beautiful countries in Palestine is Galilee. It appears like an oasis in the midst of the desolate sunburnt wastes, so frequently seen in the Holy Land, and in one of its most charming spots is situated the village of Nazareth. Green are the fields and abundant the forests, and in the orchards around the huts composing the village the fig and the lemon grow. To the east is the River Jordan, flowing tranquilly between the gardens and villas situated upon its borders and sparkling in the light of the sun, from the time when that fiery orb rises above towering Mount Tabor until he sinks again below the horizon, behind the cliffs of the Carmel mountains, that loom up in the distant west; while towards the north may be seen a small white strip, the Mediterranean Sea, throwing its foam upon the sandy beach of Phoenicia.
Thus in the mind of man, and in the midst of the wilderness of opinions, a place may be found, deserving the title of "Holy Land", where the river of thought tranquilly flows, illuminated by the Sun of Divine Wisdom, that, ever since the beginning of the world, arose [Page 39] from the East; while in the distant West loom the dark mountains of Scepticism. In that sacred place will the Truth, the true Savior, be known.
At the beginning of the Christian era the village of Nazareth was a collection of huts, built like all small oriental houses of sun-dried clay, put up apparently without any pretension to design. There were none of those broad avenues and streets, comfortable for walking and driving, which we are accustomed to see where European civilization exists; but there was that charming disorder and variety which gives to ancient towns their peculiar character and endows each spot with a certain amount of individuality of its own. The houses were without windows towards the sides of the street, to keep out intruders, and they received their light from interior courts, which in this mild climate served as places for sitting or working during the day and for sleeping apartments at night.
The population of Nazareth, amounting to some four thousand individuals, were for the most part a modest and unassuming people, differing in that respect from the inhabitants of Judea. They were of a mixed kind, consisting of Hebrews, Phoenicians, Arabs, and Greeks, to which were added a number of Roman officers and guards, stationed there for the protection of the interests of the Romans.
As it is usually the case in places where types of various kinds intermingle, the women of Nazareth were very beautiful. They were celebrated on account of [Page 40] their charms all over Palestine; nor could it fail that their beauty attracted the attention of the stately Roman soldiers, and that the latter won the love of the former. Human nature was at those times not fundamentally different from what it is now, and we need therefore not be surprised to hear, that one of the stalwart Roman warriors, whose name was Pandira, fell in love with one of the dark-eyed daughters of Nazareth, and that the fruit of their "illegitimate" union was a son, whom they called Jehoshua, and who, having inherited from his father the manly pride of the Roman, and from his Jewish mother his almost feminine beauty and modesty, became an appropriate vehicle for the unfolding of that great and powerful spirit of wisdom that inspired him to overthrow the altars of the cruel Jehovah and to teach mankind the gospel of fraternal love.
Let not the pious ear be shocked at the statement that Jehoshua was of illegitimate birth; nor need the "historical" fact that he was born out of wedlock lessen our respect for the great reformer; for it is not often that the truth comes in a manner which is considered legitimate among men. They consider only that knowledge legitimate which has for its parents external observation and logic; but the greatest spiritual truths come by intuition, without external signs. They are the products of interior perception and understanding, and they are rejected as being illegitimate by those who reason from the plane of external effects. They descend silently from heaven, they enter the soul during [Page 41] our dreams; they may be communicated to us in visions and are seen by the spirit, but they are not accepted by the sceptical intellect, which is spiritually blind. The way in which such a knowledge arrives is authorized neither by science nor by the church, for sciences and churches belong to external things, and such truths are therefore rejected by the world.
Only those whose souls are pure and immaculate, whose minds have formed no legalized adulterous alliances with pseudo-scientific and erroneous theological dogmas, only those whose hearts cling to no foreign opinions, but possess within themselves the spirit of knowledge, will be able to receive such illegitimate .truths by the power of inspiration. Their souls may become "Mothers of Christ", their minds illuminated by the Holy Spirit of Sanctity, their hearts become living temples of God.
Of Jehoshua's mother little is to be said. Women in oriental countries - then as now - had but little opportunity for receiving an education or for displaying any other accomplishments than their natural talents and physical charms. Ignorant, innocent, and of modest manners, uneducated but kind, sympathetic and beautiful, Stada, like many others of her sex, was guided more by the decisions of her heart than by the calculations of her intellect. Her heart yearned for love, and she hoped to find in Pandira the realization of her ideal. Her story is a mere repetition of millions of others of the same kind. As in the case of her prototype Psyche, [Page 42] her lover departed as soon as she began to find out who he was, and after a period of grief she married a poor citizen, a carpenter, who on account of her beauty and sweetness of temper, consented to become her husband and a father to her child.
In the family of this carpenter and builder of houses, Jehoshua passed the days of his childhood, learning to construct toy-houses and cages for animals. He evidently was a very talented child; for the toy-houses which he constructed were as well adapted for their purposes as the physical form of man is adapted for his soul. While the gospel accounts, whose allegorical language evidently refers to the growth and awakening of the intelligent principle in man, represent Jesus as a supernaturally wise, and therefore unnatural child, the so-called apocryphal gospels speak of him as a wild and mischievous boy, who naturally possessed some powers of black magic, by which he injured his playmates whenever they dared to contradict him or refused to submit to his whims. Considering the latter accounts as having been greatly exaggerated, we may well suppose that, having inherited from his father the temperament of a soldier, he found but little taste in following the profession of his foster-father, and preferred roaming about the neighborhood of the village and a stroll to the mountains, to handling the saw at the carpenter's bench. The illegitimate and therefore unwelcome son of the carpenter's wife was not overestimated or unduly fondled at home, and many a little storm arose in that [Page 43] peaceful house in the village of Nazareth on account of the roaming habits of that boy who loved to stroll away from the village at night, to climb among the rocky recesses of the Carmel mountains, or to sit on moonlight nights upon a cliff, looking out upon the wide expanse of the Mediterranean Sea, dreaming of countries which he had never seen, and wondering what shores were upon the other side of the water.
A schoolhouse may be a good place to educate the Intellect and to bring it to an understanding of external phenomena; but for the expansion of the spiritual Intelligence and the ennobling of character, Nature herself is the best teacher. Great is the superiority of the educated and learned mind over the uneducated; but still greater is the light of those who have been taught by Nature herself, and acquired wisdom independently of the instruction of mortals. Those who spend their lives in schools often acquire a great deal of information in regard to external things, which may be very useful as far as it goes, while at the same time they may lose the capacity to perceive internal and fundamental truths, which are far more important than all they may possibly learn in regard to phenomenal existence. Why is it that often shepherds, hunters, and fishermen, and those who spend their lives in the solitudes of the mountains, the forest, or the ocean are capable of conceiving of very exalted ideas, far beyond the intellectual grasp of the dogmatist? Is it perhaps that the spirit of man, beholding by means of the senses [Page 44] the wide expanse of Nature, is attracted towards the Infinite and Eternal, his legitimate home, and thus loosens the chains that bind him to his terrestrial prison, and thins the veil which prevents men from looking into the realm of the Unknown ? Little does our modern civilization know about that grand school in which the universal spirit of Divine Wisdom is teacher, where the heart expands and the mind conceives ideas too grand to be expressed in the language of mortals; but often, when the physical body is resting in sleep and the intellectual powers of man cease to watch, the spirit, loving his freedom, may steal away from his labor of building his toy-prison house, and roam about in the regions of his eternal home, until he is called back by the awakening senses, to attend to his terrestrial labors.
While rambling through the fields and forests of Galilee the mind of Jehoshua expanded and began to stretch its feelers towards the realm of the Eternal. Often while entering into meditation, half-forgotten memories of previous lives passed upon this planet, flitted before his soul, and indistinct images of the future presented themselves to his spiritual vision. What is "memory" but a power to recollect and spiritually perceive the images of the past impressed upon the Astral Light ? and may not our spirit as it expands and increases in power, not only remember its own previous existences upon this globe, but read in the memory of Nature the whole history of the world? A yearning to know the [Page 45] Unknown filled his soul, and his mind, not being crammed with adopted opinions, drank wisdom from the universal fountain of truth.
As he grew up, the political and religious questions of those times began to attract his attention. Being a Hebrew with Roman blood in his veins, he shared neither the intolerance and hate of the Jews against their oppressors, nor the contempt with which the latter regarded the former, and this fortunate circumstance helped to a great extent to develop in his soul the germs of religious and political toleration, and to cause them, to grow and expand into that love for all humanity without distinction of race and religious opinion, whose representative he became later on.
Why do men quarrel about their opinions in regard to religion ? Has not every one a right to believe what he pleases, as long as he has no knowledge? When real knowledge, such as results from a direct perception and understanding, arrives, then there can be no more quarreling about theories. If a blind man were to deny to one who sees that the latter is able to see, the seer would hardly care to argue with the blind, nor would he be likely to convince him; for real knowledge cannot be taught, it must be gained by experience. What we learn without experiencing it, is merely a matter of opinion. He who quarrels with another in regard to opinions is after all merely quarreling with his own doubts.
Quietly and monotonously passed the days at Nazareth; [Page 46] there was but little trade carried on in that place. Agricultural occupations and the vintage were the things that took up the attention of the inhabitants; but the great event of the year was, when at the time of the festival of the "Tabernacles" and "Passover" the country population went to Jerusalem, to enjoy the sights of the capital and to attend to the customary religious observances. On such an occasion the streets of the capital resembled a fair; the houses were filled with strangers, and on the outside of the city walls camps were put up, where, sheltered by tents and straw-covered huts, the pilgrims cooked their meals and discussed the events of the day.
On such occasions the great temple was crowded from morning till night. Traders of all kinds filled the courts, and even into the sanctuary penetrated the noise of the merchant praising his goods and disputing about the price with the buyer; while in the interior of the temple equally greedy Pharisees sold theological creeds and promises of heavenly rewards to the believers. Some of the halls were devoted to the distribution of justice, and in other halls learned discussions were held. There the letter of the Law was explained with lengthy arguments and elaborate sophistry, while the spirit of the ancient doctrines was denied and driven away. The secret meaning of these doctrines was known to few, and those who knew it were looked upon as being heretics and persecuted by the orthodox adherents of the church.
Thus the temple at Jerusalem resembled the mind of [Page 47] man, where a continual warfare is going on between the interests of the lower animal and reasoning self, and the dictates of divine wisdom are not listened to. In the mind of man, as in the temple of Jerusalem, there exists a continual struggle between conflicting opinions, between selfish desires of different kinds, between doubt and superstition, hope and fear, and the Scribes and Pharisees appealing to the selfish propensities in the constitution of man, often assert their borrowed authority and overpower the truth by means of sophistry and an erroneous application of logic,
Jehoshua was frequently present during those learned disputations. His natural common sense revolted at the sophistry of the Pharisees, by which they perverted the truth, and taking part in the discussions he disconcerted them by his questions and confounded their logic. The intrepidity and intelligence he manifested on such occasions attracted the attention of Rabbi Perachia, a former president of the Sanhedrin, who was more intelligent and liberal than his colleagues. He invited Jehoshua to his house and became his instructor. A strong friendship grew up between the old man and the boy, and as the former was about to visit Egypt for the purpose of prosecuting certain researches in the sciences called occult, he invited Jehoshua to accompany him on that voyage, and the latter gladly accepted the offer. [Page 48]
Man, after having vainly sought for the light of the Truth in externals, and found nothing but darkness, at last discovers that the land of the sunrise exists within his own soul.
HAIL thee, O Egypt, thou sanctuary of ancient mysteries, thou land of magic and wonders! When the truth was driven away from its birthplace in the East by the king of all evils, the love of Self, it found a refuge with thee. Thy indestructible books hold the records of ancient wisdom, and sectarian bigotry has in vain sought to destroy them. With thee they will rest safely, until selfishness dies and men wake up to a consciousness of their freedom. Then will the truth return to them, and they may re-enter the Holy Land of Knowledge.
In vain the powers of darkness have attempted to silence the voice of the truth that speaks through thy stony lips. Sectarian Vandals have broken thy tablets and plastered up thy hieroglyphics; but, thy stones cry out and proclaim the gospel of wisdom. Men have carried away thy monuments, and they have become messengers of light from the East to the West. No more is thy ancient wisdom taught in subterranean caves to the initiated; thy secrets have been profaned by the [Page 49] profane; thy sacred pearls have been thrown before the swine of superstition and to the dogs of blind scepticism; but the swine and the dogs turned away from the pearls and devoured only the dirt with which the treasures were covered. Men have robbed thy temples of precious gold, but the gold which they found turned to ashes in the hands of the selfish, because they did not know its true value. They went to the fountain of truth, to drink of its waters; but their cups were not purified. They communicated to the water their own impurities, and it became a poison to them, causing villainous leprosy, which they communicated to others. They penetrated to the ark that contained the mystery, but they had no key to unlock it; so they carried away the ark and exhibited it in the West, but the mystery remained in Egypt.
To thee, O
Egypt, the true Redeemer was known; not as a man made deity, or as a figure
in history; but as the Spirit of Truth, constituting all that is immortal
in man. Thy Knowledge was too grand to be grasped by the pigmies that invaded
thy soil, desecrated thy temples, profaned thy sanctuaries, travestied the
truths which were taught and made of a sacred myth, that teaches an eternal
truth an historical falsehood.
Who can enter an Egyptian temple or even look at one of these ancient monuments, without feeling a sensation of awe and solemnity, which few Christian cathedrals, with their puppets, manikins, and tinsel, will ever produce? How far more grand and sublime than our [Page 50] modern misconceptions must have been a religion that expressed itself in such gigantic forms! Who but an animal can behold these pyramids, the symbols of immensity, whose bases rest upon the earth, and whose points reach up to heaven, without feeling the oppression of Matter and the desire of the Spirit for freedom ? Who can behold these monuments of a forgotten past, without sensing the presence of that consciousness which fills all space, the Spirit of God still floating over the waters, without limits, indivisible, all in all, present everywhere and pervading every atom ?
Is there any soul in so-called inanimate things, and if not, what causes these stones to speak to our inner consciousness with a voice much louder than that of the occupant of a pulpit ? Is it perhaps that the Truth itself is speaking to us through these stones, while the pulpit orator merely repeats what he has learned, and is therefore merely an echo of the opinions of fallible men ?
Have stars souls, or are they merely dead aggregations of matter ? and if they are without souls, what is the force that keeps their atoms together and guides their revolutions in space ? Why is Supreme Wisdom - a wisdom beyond the conception of Man - everywhere manifest in Nature, if in Nature no consciousness exists? If Nature is an unconscious thing, how can Wisdom exist without Consciousness and Intelligence ? Is Nature, a product of Life, or Life a product of Nature ? and must there not be a Consciousness of some kind, wherever is Life? Is it not reasonable to suppose [Page 51] that what we call "Motion" is a manifestation of Life, and that what we call "Matter" is endowed by the universal Spirit with a certain amount of Life, and that the life of different forms differs in its manifestation merely according to the organization of the Matter composing the forms ? If this is true, then there is no inorganic matter of any kind to be found in the forms of nature, but stones and rocks must have organizations of their own, and each planet its own peculiar life, differing from the life of other stars in the treasury vault of heaven.
If this view is seen to be correct, then will the apparently dead universe, with its unconscious motion and its causeless mechanical laws, be transformed into a thing of life, pervaded with invisible but living and conscious powers, guided by one eternal unchangeable Law originating in divine Wisdom. Then will those dead globes of matter, floating in space and obeying mechanical laws for some unexplainable reason, be changed into a living family of children of the universal God, who are all doing the will of their Father, because it is their Father's will that endows them with life.
But if the suns and stars and all the so-called inanimate things have life, then they must have some kind of consciousness and sensation, even if they are not self-conscious and have no knowledge of individual separate life. They may be subject to loves and hates, to desires and passions, to attractions and repulsions. Then it would seem that the ancient Astrologers were [Page 52] right after all in attributing certain virtues and vices to the different planets and stars and in believing in a certain kind of interchange between their radiations. There is no reason why stars should not be in possession of Intelligence, even if they are not conscious that they are existing as separate beings. Is it not possible that even a high degree of Consciousness and Intelligence may exist in an organism that is not aware of the fact of being an entity different from other entities in the Universe ?
Let us here ask the question, whether a high state of consciousness and intelligence is not possible even in Man without any consciousness of Self. Are not men most happy when they forget their own selves ? Do they not, when they become interested in reading a book or in witnessing a theatrical performance, listening to music, etc, forget for the time being that they are entities existing separately from others ? Do men not even drink the intoxicating cup for the purpose of forgetting Self, and are they not miserable in proportion as they think of themselves ? Men do not cease to live or to think, to be intelligent, to know, to love, and to will, when they forget their own Self; but they then cease to have selfish thoughts, a self-will, and a selfish imagination. If we could be free forever from that sensation of Self, we would not cease to be conscious and intelligent and happy; but we would cease to be limited by that self, and we would all do the will of the universal God and partake of his thoughts. [Page 53]
Perhaps a glance at the ancient books of Wisdom may throw some light upon this matter.
If we open the Bible, the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis teaches us a great truth, taught by the Egyptian Hierophants: "Bereschit bara Elohim, ath ashamain on ath aoris". This is to say: "The First Cause produced the powers which constitute heaven and earth." [The term "heaven" refers to all states of consciousness; "earth", to all forms of matter.] If the First Cause produced all beings, even those that have life, it must be itself the source of all Life. If it produced the powers which constitute Wisdom, it must be Wisdom itself. If the Great First Cause is Spirit, - and what else can we call it? - then by producing all things it endowed them with its own spirit, and all things must have a spiritual basis, which enables them to exist. All things must have "souls", and it is their souls which cause their material constituents to act upon each other, and produce the divine harmony which we observe throughout Nature.
Where do the material constituents of a being end? Are they all enclosed within the shell of its visible form, or may there not be invisible radiations of sensitive "matter", not having entered the solid form, but nevertheless belonging to its organization? Does not the Corona of the sun belong to its substance as much as the fiery globe constituting his inner body? Does not the power which a magnet exercises at a distance belong to the magnet ? May we not look upon a star as being [Page 54] an organized body, whose periphery extends as far as its influence reaches, while its visible globe is merely the visible kernel of the great invisible mass, and may not the same reasoning be applied to all living beings, even to Man ? If this is true, then we are all - like the stars - living within the spheres of each other, and all beings are substantially one, separated from each other merely by the illusion of form.
It is very difficult for man, whose perceptions are subject to the limitation imposed by form, to conceive of the invisible and formless; but he will never be able to obtain the key to the understanding of the divine mysteries of nature, until he realizes the Unity of the All, and knows that the so-called invisible and unknowable realm is the real and substantial world, while the great phantasmagoria of corporeal forms is merely an illusion, produced by aggregations of matter and constructed by the souls of things, the carpenters in the workshop of Nature; the step-fathers of the newly-begotten son of Divine Wisdom.
It is known
that the ancient Egyptians were well versed in Astronomy, and recent discoveries
made in regard to the construction of the Great Pyramid go to show that
they knew in many respects more about this science than the moderns suspect;
but to them the suns and planets were representing invisible realities.
To them the visible corporeal stars were merely external manifestations
of invisible internal powers. Where the present civilization beholds nothing
else but dead material [Page 55] bodies, obeying the mechanical law of gravitation,
whose cause it cannot explain, the ancient Egyptians beheld a universe filled
with life, following the universal law of order and harmony, whose cause
is the Will of the eternal Creator, who produced these forms within the
substance of his own Mind.
The visible terrestrial sun was to them a representation of the invisible spiritual Central Sun of Divine Wisdom, named the Sun-God Osiris (Christ), unknowable to external sensation, but manifesting itself as Horus (Jesus) in the hearts of mankind; becoming "regenerated" within the souls of the pure by the power of our eternal Mother, Isis, the ever immaculate virgin, the goddess of Nature. "God" to them was not a limited being, but the Eternal Cause of all manifestations of power within the realm of Matter and in the kingdom of Spirit, containing within himself everything that exists, and yet in consciousness being superior to all beings. While all things are living and changing in him, he remains always the same; tranquil in his eternal glory and undisturbed by any external influence. He does not descend to us, but the gifts which we receive from Him differ according to the positions we occupy in regard to Him.
Let those who desire to know whether these doctrines are true look within their own minds, for Man is an image of his creator. There they will find a continually changing region of thoughts. Subjective forms of all kinds throng that interior realm, ever changing, and [Page 56] without rest. But if they penetrate deeper, even within the realm of the spirit within, they will find a tranquil place and a principle whose state of consciousness is not affected by the changes going on in the mind, and yet these changes are produced by that principle, sending its rays into the world of ideas existing within the mind. The divine spirit in Man does not descend to the sphere of man's intellectual understanding; but Man may rise up to it in his thoughts. There are periodical changes taking place in the mind of man, similar to the astronomical changes in the universe. There are ebbs and tides of thought, as there are ebbs and tides of the ocean. There are times when Man involuntarily approaches nearer to God, and times when he recedes. The Egyptians knew that all the mental processes going on in the mind of Man are images on a small scale of the processes taking place on a grand scale in the Universal Mind, and that external phenomena are the shadows of internal realities. Being aware of the unity of the All and knowing the nature of the spiritual forces in the Macrocosm of Nature and their correspondences in the Microcosm of Man, they studied the position of the stars, to know the time when Humanity would again approach nearer to the divine Sun of Wisdom. They were able to tell the changes occurring in the spiritual condition of mankind by studying the position of the visible sun to the Zodiac.
But we are entering here upon forbidden ground. Even if we were able to expose the sacred mysteries [Page 57] of the ancient Egyptians to the scoffer and sceptic, it would be a sacrilege to attempt it. Moreover, these mysteries cannot be explained; they are beyond the intellectual conception of mortals. They can only be perceived intuitively by the spiritual intelligence of Man after he has become self-conscious of the divinity of his God.
These sacred mysteries were in the possession of the Holy Brotherhood, and they were taught only to those select few who were fit to be instructed in them; or, to express it more correctly, they were not taught at all, but the candidate was instructed how to act, so that his own spiritual powers of perception might be developed within him, and he become able to see and know such things himself. To be admitted within the sacred precincts of the Crata Repoa, it was necessary, not only to lead a blameless life, but to be in possession of extraordinary talents and strength of character, and to devote one's life entirely to the practical application of the truths that were taught in this order.
There were several degrees in that fraternity, and no one was admitted as a member of a higher degree until he had completely mastered all that was to be acquired in the lower degrees, and which sometimes required many years to accomplish. An initiation in that order or a passing to a higher degree, was a terribly serious matter, having nothing whatever in common with the sham-initiations, mummeries, idle ceremonies, and ill-understood, mysteries of modern secret societies. It was [Page 58] exceedingly difficult to be admitted as a candidate, and still more difficult to pass through the prescribed trials, which were rather of an internal than of an external character. Many of those who did not succeed in standing the tests imposed upon them became insane; others paid with their life the penalty for their daring, or had to remain prisoners in subterranean caves until death came to release them.
Jehoshua applied for admission to one of the members, but was refused; he applied a second time to another member, but was refused again; but after he had applied for the third time, to his great joy he was admitted as a candidate for probation, and he entered the temple at the day appointed for his preliminary instruction. [PAGE 59]
THE MYSTERIOUS BROTHERHOOD
There is nothing more difficult to find than one's own self.
had entered the Egyptian temple,he was led into the presence of the assembled
priests. They questioned him in regard to his object in desiring to enter
their order, and admonished him to desist; warning him of the dangers that
he was to incur, if he insisted in pursuing this way to obtain knowledge
of the secret sciences and to come in possession of the powers which such
a knowledge conveyed. They told him that if he were once admitted, there
would be no possibility to retreat, as he would have to succeed or to lose
his freedom and perhaps even his life; for powers of evil which would be
aroused would conquer him, unless he were strong enough to conquer them.
Jehoshua Ben-Pandira was not to be intimidated; he desired to obtain knowledge and considered wisdom to be more valuable than life. He insisted upon being admitted. He received the blessings of the Brothers, and as each of these venerable men laid his hands upon his head, he felt an electric thrill pass through his frame, that seemed to invigorate him and to give him a power sufficient to overcome all dangers. After this [Page 60] he was given over to a guide called Thesmophores, who blindfolded him and led him away.
He went with his guide through several long corridors, from whose walls the echoes of their steps resounded, and they descended a flight of stairs until at last they arrived at the place of their destination. When the hood was removed, Jehoshua found himself in a cave hewn in the solid rock. It was a high arched vault with massive pillars, cut in a manner to represent figures of men and fabulous animals. The only light which entered into the vault came through a round opening far up in the roof, where a small part of the clear blue sky could be seen. Upon the walls of that prison were written proverbs and mottoes, consisting of extracts from the books of the Egyptian and Indian sages who may have lived in the far-distant past, perhaps even in prehistoric times, when that which we now call Europe formed the bottom of the sea, and another continent was at the height of its civilization at a place where now the ocean rolls its waves.
The room was furnished in the most primitive fashion, containing merely the most necessary requisites. The Thesmophores told the candidate - for such he had now become - that he would have to remain here in solitude for an indefinite period of time. He advised him to occupy himself with thinking of the nature of man and his destiny and to meditate about his own self. He gave him some writing materials and requested him to write down the thoughts that would enter his mind [Page 61] and seem important to him, and after taking leave of the prisoner and wishing him good success, the guide went away.
Thus when the free spirit seeking for knowledge sends its feelers into the tomb of living clay, blindly following the law of reincarnation, he finds himself alone without a guide, left to his own thoughts, and with only a faint light above coming from his former home, while on the walls of the prison house called the Mind, he may find dim recollections of the teachings of wisdom acquired in previous lives.
Jehoshua was now alone. There is nothing more terrible than isolation and solitude to those who know of no other life but that of external sensation and who cannot create their own thoughts; especially if there is no change in their surroundings, to attract their attention and to stimulate them to think. Thinking is an art, and few can think what they wish or hold on to a thought. Men only think what they must; they feed on the ideas that enter their minds without asking. Welcome and unwelcome thoughts enter; they neither come at our bidding nor go away when they are not wanted: they are like disorderly guests that do not obey the rules which the landlord prescribes.
The monotony in which Jehoshua lived remained unchanged. There was no sound of any kind to be heard; he was surrounded by silence; and if it had not been for the small opening in the vault far above his head, he would not have known the changes of day [Page 62] and night, he studied the writings upon the walls, and impressed them upon his memory, analyzing their meaning; and the more he thought about them, the more his mind seemed to expand and new ideas enter. He could not tell from whence they came, but he wrote them down upon the tablets with which he had been provided; and often when in the morning he awoke from his slumber, these tablets had disappeared from his prison, and he knew not what had become of them. He saw no one enter the room, and yet somebody must have taken them away. Likewise the food with which he was provided was supplied by invisible means. It was of the most simple kind, consisting of bread, milk, fruit, and water. It was daily brought to him in some inexplicable manner; how or by what means he could not tell, for it was put into his prison during his sleep. However, he soon ceased to be astonished at such strange occurrences and he began seriously the study of self. As he became accustomed to look within his own soul, a new world seemed to open before him; his imagination grew stronger, and the pictures presented before his inner eye became as objective and real to him as the objects of the external world, only more beautiful, more ethereal, and yet far more substantial than the latter. Visions of things which he had formerly seen, but which had apparently been lost to his memory, appeared again, vivid and real with all their living details; desires entering his heart immediately took objective forms in his mind, representing in [Page 63] seemingly living forms the objects
of which he thought, and thus he saw many beautiful things in his visions, but also many horrible sights, for no man is without evil, and evil thoughts that came to him were likewise represented in seemingly real but horrible forms.
What is this plastic power of the imagination, and what do men mean by calling subjective images "merely works of imagination " ? Can we imagine anything that does not exist ? Are the creations of our thoughts less real to us than the things which the imagination of others created for us ? Is not the universe a product of the imagination of God, and are we not gods in our own inner world, able to create forms from the substance called the Astral Light ?
Gradually Jehoshua began to love this inner life, where he found a world as large as the outer world, with a space as infinite as that of the latter, with mountains and plains, with oceans and rivers, and peopled with beings of various kinds that looked up to him as their god, their creator, drawing life from his Will, and nourishment from his Thought, in the same sense as Man receives his will-power and ideas from the God in the universe, appearing to him in his dreams while asleep, and in visions while awake. Thus Jehoshua lived in the world of the Elemental Powers of Nature, and began to know the constituent parts of that organism called the human soul.
Weeks, perhaps months, thus passed away. Who knows how long he remained in that tomb? He [Page 64] kept no record of the days and nights since he had entered there, and what is time and space, after all, but merely mental conceptions by which we attempt to measure the Infinite? But one day steps were heard to approach; the door which had been closed so long opened, and the Thesmophores entered, congratulating him on his success and inviting him to come to the Portal of Man, to enter as a Neophyte into the first degree of the holy Brotherhood.
They entered a large park, through which they passed, until they arrived at an entrance called the Door of the Profane. There they found a great many people assembled who had been attracted by curiosity to see the new candidate for initiation, for such a rare event was not kept secret, as it was desired that the people should know that there were still men to be found ready to dare all dangers in search of the truth. They thronged the place in front of the door through which Jehoshua passed with his guide, on his way to the Temple of Wisdom; they shouted and made much noise, obstructing the way; but the Thesmophores drove them back, and they passed safely through the crowd.
Having entered the vestibule of the temple, the candidate was taken to a Crypt, where he took a bath, and received new garments, and underwent the prescribed preparation to be introduced to the assembly of the Brothers.
The Portal of Man was guarded by the Pastophores, who, as they arrived, inquired about their purpose [Page 65] and asked Jehoshua various question. Having received satisfactory replies, the door opened, and he entered a large hall, wherein in a semicircle were seated the Brothers, and in their midst the Hierophant. Before this assembly Jehoshua again passed an examination, answering numerous questions in regard to his subjective experiences during his isolation. [Plutarch in Laeon. "Apoph verb Lysand".]
He was then led around the Bisantha, and there the strength of his nerves and his physical courage, by certain methods which cannot be made intelligible to the modern reader, because they involved an employment of certain forces of nature, the secret of which was in the possession of the Atlanteans and Egyptians, but whose very existence is as yet unknown to western civilization. It may be sufficient to say, that if claps of thunder resounded and bolts of lightning seemed to strike the candidate, [Eusebius Caesar, Preparat Evangel] they were not produced in the manner employed in theatrical performances upon the stage, but they were the effects of natural forces, set into action by the occult powers possessed by the Egyptian Adepts. The most horrible spectres appeared, but Jehoshua was not afraid.
Having successfully passed through this trial, he was again taken before the assembly, and the Menies read to him the laws of the Crata Repoa, which, after due examination, he solemnly promised to obey. [Alexander ab Alexandro, Lib V Cap 10] By a certain process [Page 66] process known to the Hierophant, his spiritual vision was then opened; that is to say, he was endowed for a short time with the powers to see certain spiritual verities represented in allegorical forms. He found himself standing between two square columns, called Betiles, and there was a ladder with seven steps [Eusibius Demonstr. Evang. Lib i] and eight closed doors [Origines cent. Cels. p 341]. As he beheld that vision, its meaning was at once clear to him, for spiritual visions differ from mere dreams especially in so far that he who beholds a symbolical vision becomes at the same time aware of its meaning, else it would be useless to show such a vision to him. In that short moment, during which his inner sight was opened, Jehoshua learned to know the fundamental principles of the Cosmos, a science which would require many months of instruction to be described in words and to be brought to the understanding of the not self-luminous intellect.
The Hierophant then spoke as follows: "I am speaking only to you who have the right and the power to hear me. Firmly close all the doors [The external senses] and exclude all the profanes, the sophists and scoffers [ Prejudices]; but you, children of the celestial labor, [Spiritual perception] hear my words: Beware of passions and evil desires; beware of erroneous opinions and intellectual prejudices. Keep your mind continually directed toward the divine source of all existence, strive after a continual realization of the presence of [Page 67] the Supreme; and if you desire to walk upon the Path of Light to eternal Happiness, do not forget for even one moment, that you are living in the consciousness of Him whose power has created the world. He is all things, and all things are in Him. He is self-existent, pure knowledge, pure wisdom; and although He is seen by no man, there is nothing within the Universe that can hide itself from His sight. [Eusebius Preparat Evangel I, i, 3]
Jehoshua had now become a member of the Egyptian Brotherhood. He was taught the laws of Nature, and made to see that there is nothing dead in Nature, but that all forms are manifestations of the one universal power of Life. He was taught the causes of the physical phenomena occurring in the world of phenomena, the nature of Light and Sound, of Heat and Electricity, etc. He was also instructed in Astronomy and Medicine and in the science of Hieroglyphics [Jamblichus, In Vita Pythagor].
The spiritual nature of Man was explained to him and the laws of Reincarnation. How the human monad again and again descends to build up a mortal physical form and to evolve a new personality at each of its visits upon this globe; that the human forms, which we know as men, women, and children, are not the real Man, but merely ever-changing aggregations of matter, endowed with an ever-changing consciousness, unsubstantial although living illusions, doomed to perish when the Spirit retires to its home, to rest from its labor; [Page 68] while the substantial, indivisible, and incorruptible Spirit is the real Man, although invisible to the perception of mortals.
He was taught the signification of the sacred syllable AUM [Plutarch, De Iride et Osiride] and of certain symbolical signs, [Iamblichus, In Vita Pythagor] including the double-interlaced Triangle, the Snake, and the Tau, and his office was to guard the Portal of Man, so that nothing impure would enter; for no one was ever admitted into the sanctuary of the inner temple, unless he first proved himself a faithful guardian of that door by which evil thoughts and desires attempt to enter the mind.
A year or more may have thus passed away, when the new Pastophores obtained permission to enter the second degree, called Necoris. As a preparation for this degree he had to undergo a severe fasting, after which he was introduced into a grotto, called Endymion.
This grotto was furnished in a luxuriant manner. It was without windows, but lamps that were suspended from the ceiling, and fed with perfumed oil, shed a soft light through the room. The richest food and the most delicious wines were set before the candidate, and he was invited to partake; for now - so they told him - he had won the victory, and he might now indulge in sensual pleasures without any risk of sin. The most beautiful maidens waited upon him, and their bewitching smiles told him that he had only to mention a wish, to [Page 69] see it fulfilled. It was evident that he was an object of admiration to them, and that they were willing to be his slaves.
resisted their tempting wiles. His aspirations were for something far higher
than the gratification of sensual appetites; the beauty of corporeal form,
however pleasing it may be to the eye, could not enslave him who had learned
to know the beauty of the Spirit, and as the evening approached, the fair
tempters, with looks full of disappointment and unfulfilled desire, disappeared
one after another, and Jehoshua, after securely locking the door, threw
himself upon a couch.
While he was meditating there, a slight noise attracted his attention, and he saw one of the most beautiful females that mortal eye ever beheld, entering through a secret door, whose existence had escaped his observation. She was of most noble appearance and stately form, clad in loose, flowing garments, and with a sparkling diadem upon her head. Thus may have looked the chaste goddess Diana, when she watched the sleeping Endymion. An expression full of pity and love rested upon her face, as she approached the couch where Jehoshua rested.
"Fear nothing", she said; "I do not come to tempt, but to save thee. I am the daughter of the guardian of this temple, and I have learned the danger which is threatening thee. Dost thou not know that these villainous priests have resolved to kill thee ? for thou [Page 70] hast forfeited thy life by learning some of their mysteries. Thou, a foreigner, hast learned secrets which no one but the Egyptians are permitted to know. This evening they have resolved to kill thee, and the murder is to be executed even tonight. I have come to save thee; I have made sure thy escape: rise and follow me, for I admire thy valor and I do not wish thee to perish".
"Beautiful one", answered Jehoshua, "I will not dispute thy words; but if the priests have resolved to kill me, let them do so; for I have promised to obey the laws of this brotherhood, and I have no right to escape".
"Is there not", answered the temptress, "a higher law than the laws made by these priests ? Is there not the law of nature, superior to all other laws ? Does not the law of thy nature permit and command thee to save thy life?"
"Spare thy words", answered Jehoshua. "I know my duty. I shall remain and await whatever my fate may be".
"Then", said the lady, "I must tell thee what my modesty forbids me to say. It is not the life of a fugitive that I came to offer to thee, but a life of unbounded love, a life of happiness and of luxury. Yes", she continued after a pause, drawing still nearer to him and putting her soft white hand upon his shoulder, " I love thee. Look into my eyes and see whether or not what I am telling is true. Wilt thou bury thy manhood in [ Page 71] these living tombs, to seek after things which exist merely in thy imagination ? Come with me, and I will give thee a substantial happiness far superior to any that thou mayest find within these gloomy walls. Can there be any greater happiness for a man than the love of a beautiful woman? I am rich, I am free, I am beautiful; I love thee with all the passionate love of which woman is capable. Come with me, and thou shalt never repent it".
"Fair one", answered Jehoshua, "all the earthly elements of my material nature are striving to fly to thy embrace; but they are held by the superior will of the spirit. I do not seek for happiness within these walls, nor could I find contentment in the things which thou offerest to me. I seek for happiness in that which is not subject to change; that which thou canst give is subject to decay. I reject thy offer".
"Dare to reject it!" answered the woman. "Dost thou know what a woman whose love is spurned can do ? I shall not leave thee, for my soul clings to thee; to be separated from thee would be death!" As she spoke these words, she drew a dagger from her belt and pointed it to her breast. "Spurn my love", she said, "and this weapon will enter my heart! I will not live without thee; but if I die, my death will also cost thee thy life; for if my dead body is found in this grotto tomorrow, thou wilt be accused of being my murderer, and be executed for it". Seeing that her threats had no effect upon the Neophyte, she threw the dagger [Page 72] upon the floor, and sinking down at his feet, implored him for his love. She tore away her veil, and her luxuriant hair dropped over her shoulders; tears streamed from her eyes, and her appeals ended in sobs.
"Depart!" sternly answered Jehoshua, and the fair one arose and retreated; but as she disappeared from sight, another door opened, and a stream of light entered the room. The Hierophant and some of the Brothers appeared at the entrance, and, congratulating him on the victory which he had gained, they led him to a large hall, where, after submitting to the ceremony of baptism, he was pronounced to be worthy to be admitted to a higher degree.
Thus should he, who is the guardian of the door, beware that no secret entrance is left open, by which a favorite passion may enter; and if the temptress should enter unaware, during his slumber, he should call to his aid the superior power of his awakened Will, and repel her. Then will the door of his soul open, Reason will enter and guide him by the light of Divine Wisdom nearer to permanent Peace. [PAGE 73]
THE MYSTERIOUS BROTHERHOOD (Continued)
To learn the mysteries of the Spirit,
we must descend into the subterranean caves where the treasures are hidden.
AFTER a few
days of rest and contemplation, Jehoshua was told that the time had arrived
when his courage and daring would have to undergo a severe trial. His eyes
were again blindfolded, and he was taken to a subterranean cave, into which
he had to descend by means of a ladder. Having arrived at the bottom, he
removed the bandage from his eyes, according to the directions he had previously
received; but he could see no light. The cavern was dark, and at first he
could not discern any objects; but he heard hissing sounds close by his
side. He made a few steps in advance, and stepped upon a living thing that
was gliding over the floor, and which immediately wriggled itself around
his leg. Then the fact immediately came to his consciousness that he was
in a den of serpents, and that to faint would mean to be lost. Gradually
his eyes became accustomed to the deep darkness, and he discerned the eyes
and forms of the reptiles that lurked [ Page 74] in all the corners. The
cavern seemed to be filled with snakes of all kinds. Twisted together in
disgusting knots, some were lying on the floor, and others wormed themselves
over the rocks. He seated himself upon a stone, and soon the snakes began
to approach, as if to resent his presence. They crawled over his legs, twisted
themselves around his arms and all over his body.
At first Jehoshua was horrified; but his horror was only of a moment's duration, for he immediately called to his aid his higher consciousness and remembered that his terrestrial form, subject to the disgusting embraces of the crawling reptiles, and made of the same stuff as they, was not his real Self, but merely a form to which he - the divine Man - was for the time being attached. This thought enabled him to look upon everything that might happen to his body as if he were an independent spectator. In this way he appealed for aid to his own God, and as he did so, a superior strength, a power unknown before, seemed to pervade his whole body, and now it seemed as if this power had invested him with some property that made him repulsive to the serpents; for soon the reptiles that were in contact with his body left him and retired into their holes.
Thus if man descends to the innermost depths of his soul, he may find it infested with poisonous serpents and venomous reptiles, the symbols of the brood of passions and evil desires; but if he calls to his aid the divine spirit of Wisdom, the persecutions will cease and peace will return. [Page 75]
After having passed through this severe trial, he was released from his prison and led again to the temple.
For a second time his spiritual eyes were opened by the magic power of the Hierophant, and he was made to behold in his vision a Griffin and a turning wheel with four spokes. Then the whole process of Evolution became clear to his understanding, and he saw how in the course of millions of ages, worlds upon worlds had been evolved from the incomprehensible centre. He beheld waves of Life passing from planet to planet, and each fiery orb, each globe, each solar system, had peculiar forms of its own, and all these various forms were manifestations of one and the same Supreme Power, that men call "God", and formed out of its own substance.
The air, the earth, and the water were filled with forms of life, having bodies of a kind of matter too refined to be seen by mortal eyes. Some were luminous, others dark, and the regions above the sphere of the Earth were inhabited by beings of a seemingly supernatural beauty. He saw the Nature-spirits of the four elements. He saw what Man had been in the distant past and what he would be at a future period of time far beyond the calculation of mortals. He saw how the gross material elements of which the Earth is now composed, would in the far-distant future be changed into a substance of a superior and ethereal kind, so that what we now call "Earth" would be like water, and what we call "Water" like air, and what we call "Air" like the [Page 76] ether of space, and with the transformation of all things, Man himself would enter into a superior state of existence.
The science which deals with these problems is far too grand and extensive to be more than merely touched upon in these pages, nor would it benefit the uninitiated reader, if we were to enter into its details; for as long as the interior perception which enables men to perceive these things is not opened, such a discussion will be a mere matter of speculation, serving more for amusement than for the attainment of knowledge.
In this degree he was taught the great law of Karma; that is to say, the law of Cause and Effect, not merely upon the physical plane, where the law of Mechanics exists, but in that higher realm, where divine Justice rules supreme, where Good finds its own reward, and Evil its own punishment. He saw that whatever man may think or do, would produce a corresponding reaction upon himself, and that he who benefited others is thereby benefiting himself, while he who injures others is thereby decreeing his own punishment. He saw that the acts of men are the external symbols of their interior lives, and that every thought and act has a tendency to repeat itself. Thoughts seemed to him like beings struggling for life, seeking to become embodied in acts; and if they were once thus embodied, they clung to their life in the same way as man clings to his, but the power which invested these thoughts with life was the Will, and unless man's thoughts were kept alive by his [Page 77] Will, they died and putrefied like the corporeal things upon the physical plane.
The password of this degree was Heve, and its understanding conveyed a knowledge of the bisexual nature of aboriginal Man. [Clem Alexander, In Protept.]
The length of time during which the Necoris had to remain in the second degree, before he was permitted to enter the third, called Melanephores, depended on his own progress. Many never attained any higher than the second degree; but those who were permitted to advance higher had to pass through the Portal of Death; for this was the name of the door through which they who desired to obtain powers which belong to a higher than merely personal existence had to enter, before they could acquire them.
Without hesitation Jehoshua followed those who were appointed to guide him. They descended into the tombs, where the mummies were kept and which were to be a living tomb to him, if he did not succeed in liberating himself therefrom by his own magic power. The room which he entered was filled with corpses of the dead, while in the midst of the chamber stood the sarcophagus of Osiris still overflowing with blood. The Paraskites - i.e. the men who opened the bodies of the dead - and the Heroi - who attended to the embalming - were at their work. From thence he entered into another room, where he was met by all the Melanephores, dressed in black, They took him before the King, and the latter, [Page 78] addressing him in a very kind manner, advised him to desist from further attempts to penetrate still deeper into the mysteries, and to remain satisfied with that which he had already gained. He praised the Neophyte for his courage and virtues and told him that it were better for him now to remain contented and to desist from further research. He told him that if he would do so, he would be highly honoured by all on account of the knowledge he had already gained; and in token of the high esteem in which he held the Neophyte, the king took his own golden crown from his head and offered it to him. But Jehoshua, understanding the meaning of this symbol, threw the crown down upon the floor and stepped upon it with his foot, saying that it was not his object to be admired and to gratify his ambition for fame or to be praised by men; but that he desired wisdom and desired it for its own sake alone.
As he did so, a cry of indignation arose from those present and a ceremony took place which upon the external plane represented the well-known internal truth, that Ambition is the king of all passions and that to give up one's Ambition is like giving up one's own, self; for man's soul being made up to a great extent of desires, dies the mystic death, when he kills his ruling desire. It is then "as if the heart were bleeding and the whole life of man seems to be utterly dissolved." [M.C. "Light on the Path".]
This was the terrible ordeal through which Jehoshua had to pass, and it is the ordeal through which every one [Page 79] will have to pass, before he can enter the Temple of Wisdom.
Let not the reader suppose that we are describing a farce, such as may be seen enacted in some lodge of some modern "secret society" Whether the events described in these pages ever took place on the external or on the internal plane, or on both, the reader may decide for himself. If such things are enacted merely externally without taking place internally, then they are mere shams. Every external act which is not a true representation of internal life is a sham, and our modern civilization is made up of such shams. Our secret societies have come into possession of some of the forms and ceremonies used by the ancient Egyptians; but they have merely the form; the spirit went away long ago.
The judgment of the departed soul before Pluto,Rhadamantes, and Minos was then enacted; for when the king of Ambition in the soul of man dies, his daughter Vanity dies with him, and in its place arises a sense of one's unworthiness. The accusing, judging, and revenging angels then appear in the soul, until the tortured heart sends its despairing cries to the Redeemer, the Truth; when the celestial powers awaken within, to comfort the soul and guide her to the harbour of Peace.
process or ceremony the whole of Jehoshua's past life, with all the minutest
details that ever took place within his mental organization, appeared before
his vision; but when the initiation was ended, [Page 80] he knew that the
lower elements within his soul had died and that he himself had been changed
into another being. He then received the special instructions belonging
to this degree, and he was especially shown the sanctity of all life and
the full meaning of the words: "Thou shalt not 'kill".
While he remained in this degree, the hierogrammatical art of writing, the history of Egypt, geography, cosmology, and astronomy were taught him; but his principal occupation, in this as in all other degrees, was the cultivation of the power of Intuition, by which man may know the truth and attain wisdom, independent of books or external information and without the necessity of adopting the opinions of others.
For a long time Jehoshua remained in tombs, attending to the disposal of the bodies of the dead; nor was any one of the members of this degree ever permitted to leave them during the rest of their natural lives, unless they attained that magic power, known to the Adept, by which the astral body of man may leave at will the prison house of terrestrial body. Those who were not able to acquire this power had to remain in their tombs, and their duty was to attend to the embalming and the burial of the dead.
Thus the souls of those who are incapable of entering a higher state of consciousness during their terrestrial lives, will have to remain within their living tombs of gross matter, overshadowed by the darkness of ignorance, engaged in ministering to that which is worthless [Page 81] and without eternal life, and to preserve from decay useless memories of terrestrial things. They will continue to follow their worthless occupations and be servants of empty forms and illusions until the angel of death releases them from their prisons, to lead them from the darkness of matter into the eternal darkness beyond.[PAGE 82]
THE HIGHER DEGREES
He who thoroughly knows his own self, knows everything.
to describe some of the mysteries of the higher degrees in the Egyptian
Brotherhood, we are attempting to enter upon a field where only those can
enter who have themselves obtained some experience of practical Occultism;
for how could the magic processes that took place in the "Battle of
the Shadows" be described to persons whose knowledge consists merely
of the information they have received from an age which denies that magic
or spiritual powers exist ? It will require perhaps centuries of scientific
investigation before our sceptics will understand the magic power of the
spiritually awakened Will, and before they can be brought to a knowledge
that feats of Magic do not belong to the realm of the fable, and it may
require many centuries more, before such powers will become the property
of the many.
Our age is the age of what is called "Reason", i.e. semi-animal Reason, not enlightened by Divine Wisdom, but drawing inferences from merely external things. It is ruled by those powers which are allegorically represented in the Bible by the "Pharisees and the Scribes", whose knowledge is based upon deductions drawn from [Page 83] the observation of illusive appearances, which they mistake for the Real, while the real is unknowable to them. In proportion as this fallible reasoning power has increased in strength, have men become unconscious of true Spirituality; that is to say, of the existence of a power to perceive spiritual and fundamental truths. With the loss of spiritual knowledge they have also lost the spiritual Power necessary to control the invisible spiritual forces. True Gnostic has become a thing of the past, agnosticism raises its head and boasts of its ignorance, and Science has become materialized so much that she can deal with nothing but the most gross and sensually perceptible things.
And yet the world is still full of Magic. The magic power of Love still exercises its influence over the hearts; the magic of Imagination still makes men mournful or glad; the Will of the strong still controls by its magic power the mind of the weak, and the foolish are still ruled by the superior magic power of the spirit of those who are wise; but such wonders like that of the growth of a tree, do not surprise us, merely because we are accustomed to witness them every day.
The Egyptian Adepts and Magicians may not have been in possession of all that our modern science knows in regard to the relations which exist between external phenomena; but they had a method, known only to few in our present age, to develop the power to look into that realm called the invisible, but which is a world far more real and substantial than the so-called visible [Page 84] world. Men are prone to jump at conclusions drawn from sensual observation and to regard the visible side of nature as the actual world and to reject that which is beyond sensual perception; but even a superficial reflection will convince man that the terms "visible" and "invisible" are merely relative; for whether or not a thing may be seen by us, depends not merely on its own nature, but also on the construction and quality of the organs of our perception. What may be seen by one, may be invisible to another who is devoid of the organ of sight; and what may be invisible to many, may be visible to those whose inner powers of perception have become open.
The fourth degree of the mysterious Brotherhood was called "The Battle of the Shadows". [Tertullian, De Milits Corona".] In this degree the Christophores - as he was now called - was taught the nature of Good and Evil and how to conquer Evil by Good. He was taught how to cut off the head of the beautiful Gorgon [Medusa] without hesitating on account of her almost supernaturally beautiful form. He was instructed in the art of Necromancy, i.e. the art to deal with the astral bodies of the dead and with those dangerous beings, called Elementals, who inhabit the astral world, and to make them subservient to their will. Woe to him whom the power of spiritual Will deserted even for one moment during these trials; the principles of Evil which he attempted to subject to his Will would [Page 85] then become his masters, and insanity or death was the results.
There is no relative Good without relative Evil. There is no man so pure, as not to have some animal elements within his constitution, and were there such a man, he would not be able to develop higher; for it is this very animal element from which the soul of man draws its nourishment and strength to rise higher and to become more spiritual. Not to destroy, but to make use of the elements of evil in man for the purpose of accomplishing good, is the object of the higher education. When the higher life begins to awaken within the soul and the light of the Spirit penetrates into the regions of the Elementals, these animal Egos begin to revolt and to rise to the surface. They may even appear in objective form and persecute their creator. Then the dread Dweller of the Threshold may show his face. He is nothing else but a product of man's own imagination, but nevertheless living and as real as any other living thing among the so-called realities of this world, and if the candidate for initiation is subject to fear, he may become his victim, for the Dweller of the Threshold will then again and with increased power take possession of his mind.
There is a region in the soul of man in which such Dwellers reside. In very degraded persons this region swarms with living, semi-developed or full-grown animal principles and subjective monstrosities of all kinds and under certain conditions, especially if the physical [Page 86] organism is weakened by disease, they may - so to say - step out of their centre, and assume an objective form, clothing themselves in the grosser elements of matter and becoming visible even to the external senses. [Abundant evidence of such cases may be found in the Acta Sanctorum, although the accounts related therein are treated as fables even by the clergy, who cannot find a rational explanation for them. Modern Spiritualism furnishes similar examples].
But if the candidate in that holy Brotherhood succeeded in overcoming all these obstacles, he became a partaker of the Demiurgos [The creative power in nature] and in possession of absolute Truth. [Athenaeus, Lib 9]. The bitter cup which he was made to drink, caused him to rise above all earthly ills arising from his lower nature, and he received his daily food from the King. [ Diodorus Siculus, Lib. i]. His name was then entered into the Book of Life, and he became one of the judges of the country. His emblem was an Owl, representing Isis, the goddess of Nature; he was presented with a palm leaf and an olive branch, the emblems of Peace. The "password" of that degree was IOA, [Jehovah] and the understanding of its exoteric signification involved a knowledge of the creative principle in Nature. Henceforth he received his instructions from no man, but from the Demiurgic Mind.
He who had attained the degree of Christophores was entitled to apply to the Demiurgos for the still higher degree of Balahate.In this degree he was permitted [Page 87] to see Typhoon [Divinity] in his terrible form; of endless extent, containing within himself all that exists in the Universe; the All-creator and All-destroyer,
"With eyes and faces, infinite in form,
The everlasting Cause, a mass of Light,
In every region hard to look upon;
Bright as the blaze of burning fire and sun,
On every side, and vast beyond all bounds."
[ I.Davies, Bhagavad-Gitã , xi, 14]
But the Balahate
had awakened to a full consciousness of the immortal principle within, and
was no longer terrified to see the destruction of all changeable things.
He now knew the nature of the Secret Fire that regenerates the world and
which renders him who comes into its possession immortal.
In the sixth degree the Adept was instructed by the Demiurgos in all the secrets of Astrology; that is to say, in the science of the spiritual aspects of the stars; he learned to know the directions of the spiritual life-currents, pervading the Soul of the Universe; he became even a being superior to the Devas and Angels and in possession of all spiritual powers.
The seventh and highest degree, called Pancah, could not be applied for, but was conferred by the power of divine grace upon those who were willing to receive it. In this divine degree, the holiest of holies, the ultimate mystery was revealed to the spiritual perception of the Adept. He received a Cross, which he had to wear [Page 88] continually during his terrestrial life, [Rufius, Lib, ii Cap 29] the hair upon his head was cut off, [Pierius, Lib 32] he received the key to the understanding of all the mysteries, [Plutarch, " De amore fraterno".] he obtained the privilege to elect the king of the country, [Synesus, "De Provindentia".] or - to speak in plain words and leave off allegorical expressions - his soul became one with the ruler of All, and he entered into the essence of God. [PAGE 89]
THE WISDOM RELIGION
The inner laws of the universe can be known by studying the inner laws of that little world called "Man".
IT has not been ascertained how long Jehoshua Ben-Pandira remained in Egypt, nor what degrees he attained in the Holy Brotherhood; but it is believed that he underwent many of the severe trials to which those who desired to be initiated into the mysteries were subjected. He was taught many of these sublime secrets, or, to express it more correctly: As the bud of a Lotus flower gradually opens under the influence of the sunlight, so his mind opened to the understanding of the divine mysteries of the Wisdom Religion, He perceived that God had a spiritual and a material aspect; that He is all things, and that for this cause "He hath many names, because he is the One Father, and that He also hath no name, for He is the Father of All" [ Hermes Trismegistus, V 33] - that this one and universal Father had created the world in his own Mind, endowed it with His own Life, and thrown it into objectivity by His own Will.
He perceived and realized that this divine essence which caused the universe to take form and to grow, is the same that forms the corner-stone of the living temple [Page 90] of God, called Man, and that the essence constituting the foundation and the innermost centre of Man is in no way different from that of the universal God, and that therefore "earthly man is a little god in a mortal body, while the God of the Universe is an immortal self-existent Man". [Ibid. IV. 193] He found no death in the universe, but a continual change of form, while the Life that causes these changes of form remains always the same. That which is imperfect has to be remodeled and to become perfect; but that which is perfect and therefore eternal requires no further change.
He saw that the whole of Nature is a thing of Life, subject - like all living beings - to periods of activity and rest; that after a day of activity, lasting perhaps for millions of ages, the great phantasmagoria constituting the universe ceases to be manifest, and is followed by a night of equal duration, during which all things exist in a subjective condition in the mind of the creator, until "God" again awakens from his slumber, to speak once more the divine command:
LET THERE BE LIGHT
Then ends the night; the mystic Sun appears,
Filling all space with Life and Harmony,
With Consciousness and Sound. Again begins
The Wheel to turn, and the celestial Powers,
The Master-builders of the Universe, [ The Dhyan Chohans].
Whose work had ceased with the evening tide,
Begin again their labor. Glowing globes [Page 91]
Of radiant matter, luminous and bright,
Condense and clothe themselves in varied hues,
Evolving shells of rocks and precious stones.
And mother earth puts on her festive dress,
To bid a joyful welcome to her children.
Plants, animals, appear; at last comes Man,
The King, a spirit of ethereal shape,
Form'd of the essence that produces gods,
Surrounded by the paradise which God
Created in his sphere. He is the Lord
Of every living thing, the masterpiece
Of the constructor of the universe;
His substance is the Light, his thoughts divine,
His wisdom great, his happiness supreme.
Thus might he live eternally, in bliss
Unspeakable, communing with himself,
Unconscious of that lower sense of self,
Which causes isolation of the form.
But in the womb of Matter dwells desire,
The ancient tempter. Man averts his eyes
From his celestial source, and he begins
To sink into the darkness. Denser grows
And more compact his form, as he descends
To seek for knowledge in the realm of Matter.
Imprisoned in the form, his senses close
To the perception of celestial things,
And senses of a grosser kind appear,
Fit merely to behold the things of Earth,
For "where man's treasure is, there is his heart";
Uniting with the object he desires,
He shares its nature. The immortal soul
Combin'd with mortal clay is rendered mortal,
And mortal things transformed may rise up
Beyond the region of mortality. [Page 92]
Spirit is Life; but Matter has no life,
Which it may claim its own; the source of Life
Is that celestial Sun, invisible
To mortals, but eternal, self-existent
And glorious, in whose resplendent rays
All beings move and live, by whom we all
Exist, whose altar is the heart of Man.
This is the "Fall of Man" and the descent
Of the bright Spirit to the realms of darkness,
Occurring now as in those ancient times,
When Man was tempted by the mythic snake
For men are still attracted by desire,
Appearing in the beauteous form of lust,
Or in the shape of gold or love of fame,
Appealing to his sense of selfishness,
And thus degrading him, and many sink
To lower depths, while others rise again
By throwing off desire for earthly things,
And gaining knowledge of celestial truths
By bursting through the misty veil of matter
That hides them from the light.
Desire to live
And to enjoy the pleasures of this life
Produces birth in living mortal forms;
Then follows life with all its sufferings,
Its evanescent joys, old age, and death,
And all the ills that follow those whose souls
Remain attach'd to matter; after this
Comes birth again, and thus the wheel revolves
But the celestial Sun
Of happiness continues to shine,
Sending his rays of love, of light, and life [Page 93]
Into the hearts of men and filling them
With longings for their former state of bliss.
And some perceive the light and hear the voice
Of wisdom speaking in their darkened souls,
Speaking to them: "O men! Let there be Light!"
And waking from their sleep they start and listen,
Like one awakening from some idle dream.
Some realize the presence of the Truth
Within their hearts and follow the Redeemer,
And throwing off that foolish love of self,
Their minds expand beyond the narrow limits
Of personality. Then can the prison house
Of flesh no longer hold the glorious spirit,
Which gained freedom from the love of self.
This is the history of man's redemption
Without a passport from a man-made priest.
The great Redeemer speaks to every man,
But many hear the voice and sink again
To sleep, preferring darkness to the light.
What is the cause of all our suffering,
But the desires that chain us to the flesh?
No one is free, but he who has outlived
All love of earthly things, all love of self.
What are the forms of life that please the eye,
But evanescent clouds? and what is man
In his corporeal form but air and dust?
He lords the earth today and feeds the worms
Of earth tomorrow. Who but God can claim
To be immortal? Therefore seek the God
Who speaks within thy heart, and say with him:
"Let there be Light!"- Seek for the light that shines
Within thy heart and learn to know thyself.
Learn to adore, and thou shalt find the Truth. [PAGE 94]
There is no absolute evil. A house divided against itself would fall: an evil power, being evil in the absolute, would be evil in regard to itself and destroy itself. Evil is necessary to afford experience, and experience leads to ultimate good; but those who employ evil means to attain good results associate themselves with evil, and by creating evil will perish with it.
JEHOSHUA had attained in Egypt some of the lower degrees of Adeptship, when he was advised by his superiors to return to Palestine for the purpose of teaching the truth to his countrymen and to lift them up from their state of degradation and superstition; for practical occultism does not consist in merely leading a life of contemplation and virtue and attending to one's own spiritual culture. To do so would after all be only a refined state of selfishness. It is equally necessary to do external work; that is to say, to work for the benefit of others, to help to drive back the powers of darkness and ignorance, to assist in the work of ennobling mankind, and to raise it up to a higher level in the scale of evolution.
Such a work for others brings with it its own reward; for as it has been well said by one of the greatest thinkers and poets, [Schiller]. "A quiet life in a solitude is useful [Page 95] for the development of one's talents; but for the strengthening of the character, and active cooperation in the battle of Life is required".
Jehoshua had attained a high degree of that interior power of perception which enables man to hear the voice of divine Inspiration speak within the heart without any danger of misunderstanding. To accomplish this it is necessary not merely to become a master over one's evil desires, but also to keep the disorderly intellectual powers of the mind subject to the control of the Spirit, so that the Intellect may become our friend and servant, but cease to assume the place belonging to Divine Wisdom. The Intellect is easily influenced by the desires of the lower self, but Wisdom is above all selfish considerations; she recognizes no personal claims which are not in accordance with eternal Truth, The Intellect is changeable and mortal; Wisdom is eternal, unchangeable, and immortal. The Intellect can only become immortal by amalgamating with Wisdom. If the decisions of Wisdom and those of the Intellect are in harmony and identical with each other, then the mortal Intellect rises up to the state of immortal divine Intelligence.
Jehoshua returned to Palestine. His object was to convince his countrymen that God will only help those who help themselves, and that all external circumstances are the results of interior conditions; that if they desired to extricate themselves from their deplorable condition, they would have to call to their aid the [ Page 96] divine power existing within themselves, instead of remaining indolent and expecting external help from a God such as they had created within their own imagination.
There were at the time of which we are writing a number of people in Galilee of more advanced thought than the rest. They were known as the Nazarenes; the majority of them were living on the east side of the river Jordan and in the vicinity of the lake Tiberias, and John the Baptist was their prophet. This man, originally of the priestly caste of the Levites, was looked upon by the Pharisees as being a renegade to their order, because his doctrines did not conform to their orthodox views. He had resigned his sacerdotal office at the temple, with all its emoluments, and chosen a life of poverty. Clad in rough skins, his noble face almost hidden by his shaggy hair and flowing beard, his appearance was awe-inspiring, and his voice was strong, re-echoing in the hearts of men like the sound of thunder that reverberates through the mountains.
"Repent!" he cried; "the day of judgment is near. Listen no longer to the seductions of sensual life, but seek the divine life within you. I do not ask you to give up the pleasures of life for the purpose of becoming misanthropes, but to realize that there is something far higher than merely animal pleasures or erroneous speculations; and if you rise up to the higher regions of thought and learn to know your own higher nature, [Page 97] sensual things will lose their attraction for you, and you will renounce them as worthless objects in the same sense as a grown-up man renounces the toys with which he used to play when a child, and for which he has no further use. I baptize you with the water of truth by directing your thoughts to that which is eternal; but the understanding I cannot give, for that must come from Wisdom, which is greater than Reason. First comes thought, and afterwards comes that interior Illumination by which men are baptized with Fire from the Holy Spirit of Truth, that descends upon those who are pure in heart, like a white dove descending from heaven. Man may be led up to the truth by argumentation, but he can only be saved by knowledge. Reason is the prophet, but Wisdom is the Redeemer. Thought must precede knowledge; but without the light of divine Wisdom thought is like a voice in the wilderness, calling for help; an intellect without Love becomes easily lost in the mazes of speculations and misleading opinions. Therefore you, who desire to be saved, repent of your errors; give up your selfishness, that causes you to seek for knowledge merely on account of the benefits you hope to derive therefrom; open your eyes to see the true saviour, the light of Wisdom, which you may find below the dark clouds of ignorance by which your heart is surrounded".
The fame of John the Baptist had spread all over the country; even the embodiment of selfishness, the great king Herodes, had heard his voice that sounded [Page 98] like the roar of a lion. This man, being a great profligate and entirely attracted by sensual pleasures, would not listen to the warning voice of Reason, but at the same time he was a great coward. He was afraid that what John the Baptist said might be true, after all. He did what the majority of men do at this day when their reason comes in conflict with their desires. He refused to listen to John the Baptist; he had him arrested and put into a prison, so that he might not be disturbed by his voice, and be left in the undisturbed enjoyment of the beautiful Herodias.
For some time Jehoshua remained with this prophet of the desert and his disciples. He taught them some of the truths he had learned in Egypt from the books of Hermes Trismegistus, called in Egypt Meti, [The Gospel according to Mathew] and his companions wrote down some of the fragments he taught, and these fragments were afterwards transmitted to their successors.
After the imprisonment of John the Baptist, Jehoshua retired for a while into the wilderness, to devote himself to meditation and self-examination. There are moments in the life of every man when he feels the necessity to retire within himself and to look into his own interior soul. If he succeeds in locking the door of the chamber of his mind against all sensual thoughts that may arise from external influences, to keep the wandering thoughts steady, "as a lamp sheltered from the wind does not flicker", to plunge down into the [Page 99] mysterious depths of his own innermost being, then may he find the Divinity within his own soul.
Let not this be called fancy. Useless would it be for a man who has not found his own higher self, to imagine that he found it and to believe himself to be a god. Such an assumption would be sure to bring on his perdition. If the internal god reveals himself to man, he does so in a manner which leaves no room for doubt; but which must be experienced before it can be known, and which can therefore not be revealed to those who refuse to receive him.
There are vast solitudes in Judea, where the blazing sun sends his rays into the treeless desert. There nothing is to be seen but bare rocks and loose stones filling the dried-up beds of the creeks, wherein during the rainy season water collects, but where during the rest of the year no moisture is found. No life is there, except perhaps a snake gliding over the sand and an eagle floating high up in the air watching his prey; the heated air scorches the parched lips, and all around us is desolation and death, while overhead expands the sky, the emblem of Infinity.
There are solitudes within the human soul, to which man may retire. There are deserts where nothing is to be seen but a jumble of adopted opinions and theological doctrines, and where reason looks in vain for a drop of the water of truth. Sometimes lakes and rivers appear at a distance; but as we approach, that which appeared to be true proves to be merely a mirage, [Page 100] a work of delusion. Things that look in the moonlight of external reason like precious fruits or like jewels and pearls are often found upon examination in the sunlight of Wisdom to be nothing but worthless rubbish. Over our head shines the sun of Truth in the infinite realm, while in the dark caverns of the soul lurk the snakes of evil desires.
To some such desert Jehoshua retired, and there he fought once more the great battle with his own self. He looked within his soul and he found therein reflected the condition of mankind; for man is an integral part of Humanity, and in proportion as we learn to know our own soul we lose all sense of separateness and realize that we are one with all mankind; we are in humanity, and humanity is within ourselves. As he looked in that magic mirror, - the Soul, - he saw therein reflected the images of all the miseries produced by ignorance, and the ardent desire arose in his heart to save mankind from error; to kill the monster of darkness, to destroy once again the golden calf of self-adulation, and to restore the worship of the Spirit of Wisdom, whose temple is in the soul. While he thought of becoming a saviour to mankind, the sense of the "/" arose in his consciousness, and the tempter approached him in the shape of Ambition, the king of all the powers of evil.
"Powerful one", whispered the tempter, "if thou wilt save mankind, cause these stones to become bread, enable men to employ Intelligence for base purposes; [Page 101] for they will care little for spiritual truths unless they can make them serve some temporal purpose. Their material necessities are nearer to them than the things of whose existence they know nothing, or whether they be at all useful to them. Men do not care for the truth; they only care for the material benefits which may result from its knowledge. Go and improve the material condition of mankind. Teach them how to make gold and to gain easily comfort and luxury. Then, when their terrestrial wants are provided for, will they find time to attend to their spiritual salvation. Go and teach them the hidden secrets of nature, so that they may kill their enemies and acquire riches. Feed the hungry and save them the trouble of working, liberate those who are slaves and too indolent to help themselves, and thou wilt be worshipped by all".
But Jehoshua, rising above the plane of selfishness, repulsed the evil one, and said: "Material wealth and comfort is not all that mankind requires; their spiritual condition is of far greater importance than temporal benefits given to them without their own efforts. The power for good can only grow by a constant battle with evil. It is well that man should learn all the external conditions by which he is surrounded, but every gratification of his selfish desires only calls into existence a legion of other desires and fastens still stronger the links by which he is chained to Matter. 'Evil' is as much a necessary element in the process of evolution as 'good', for the only way to freedom is through suffering [Page 102] only he who has fought in the battle can come out victorious".
"But", answered the evil one, "how wilt thou convince mankind that this terrestrial world is merely a world of illusions, and that there is a higher state of existence ? If thou couldst perform wonders and miracles, they would perhaps be willing to believe. Cast thyself down from the pinnacle of Jerusalem, degrade thyself by descending to the plane of the intellectual understanding, and men will believe in thee. Men do not love the divine truth, because they do not know it; and before they will seek to know it, they must be made to believe that it exists. If thou canst make its existence plausible by performing some wonderful feats, then will they be willing to make a bargain and to exchange terrestrial baubles for celestial treasures. Does not the light eternally shine into darkness, and does the darkness believe that it exists?"
To this the Higher Self of Jehoshua replied: "Divine Wisdom belongs to the realm of Light, and cannot descend to the intellectual comprehension of mortals; those who seek for the truth must themselves rise up to its understanding. [When the truth was brought before the judgment seat of the intellect, and requested to prove intellectually his claims, " he never answered him a word; inasmuch, that the governor (of the mind) marveled greatly". - Mathew xxvii. 12]. Men must come up to divine wisdom; it cannot descend to their level. Moreover, it is not a mere belief in the truth, which will save mankind; [Page 103] they should have their own knowledge. Those who cannot have faith without external evidence, are not in the possession of knowledge. Let them open their eyes for the perception of spiritual things and cease to cling to adopted beliefs. Let them seek for the truth with in themselves, and not within the opinions of another."
"Wilt thou, then", said the demon of Self, "take away the crutches with which poor Humanity hobbles along? Wilt thou destroy her toys and awaken her from the peaceful slumber in which she finds repose? Dost thou know what will be the consequences of such a rash act? Men do not wish to be free from creeds and opinions, for they possess no knowledge. They hate freedom, and prefer to cling to the slavery of their creeds. They do not want to be their own masters, but they must have some one to obey. If thou destroyest their favourite creed today, they will have another one tomorrow. What should they do without a creed? They are afraid to think for themselves; they must have some man to think for them. Thou wilt make them free, but thou shalt not succeed. Fasten their chains, and they will be happy. Give them a herdsman to follow and they will be contented. Give them somebody to obey. Give them by all means an Authority in which they may believe. Behold, I am the Devil of Self; my kingdom extends all over the world. Fall down and sacrifice thy dignity to me, enter my being, appeal to men's love of self, and you will be the ruler of the world".
As he spoke these words, the demon expanded in size, [Page 104] and his body, like an immense cloud of darkness, seemed to extend all over the surface of the earth, and Jehoshua saw that the thoughts and actions of the vast majority of men and women upon this globe were all ruled by selfishness. There were almost none to be found who loved Divine Wisdom for her own sake, while all the rest merely pretended to love her, because they expected favours from her. They loved the Truth merely on account of the benefits that might be derived from its knowledge here or in the hereafter, and thus they did not love Divine Wisdom, but merely her gifts. Not being able to know the Truth, because they were not attracted to it by an unselfish love for Divine Wisdom, they were satisfied with anything, however false, which was represented to them as being the truth, and thus they worshipped their own idols. But there, were a few who actually loved the truth for its own sake, and they appeared like luminous stars within that dark mass of ignorance.
But as Jehoshua looked still deeper into the hearts of men, he found that this love of self was merely a property of the surface of the shell of which men are composed, and that there was, after all, a germ of genuine love of the truth contained within the depths of every human heart. If this germ could be developed and brought to the surface, and the love of self be made to occupy a back-seat, then would the love for absolute Good come to the front, and men would learn to know the Truth. The love of self is inherent in human nature, [Page 105] and it cannot be entirely suppressed as long as men live in corporeal forms; but it can be made to appear as a matter of secondary consideration, while an unselfish attendance to duty should be a matter of the greatest importance to all.
Therefore the Divinity of Jehoshua arose to the surface, and said to the Demon of Self: "Get thee behind me, Satan I" and as he spoke these words, the demon shrank into minute proportions and disappeared from sight, and a flood of light entered the soul of Jehoshua. He now became fully conscious that he had entered a new state of existence; an interior Illumination took place, and he saw that his personality was not his real self, but merely an instrument which he had created for the purpose of fulfilling a mission upon this Earth. He had now gained a great victory over his own illusive self and entered into the sanctuary of the Temple of Truth. [PAGE 106]
THE SERMON UPON THE MOUNT
The Truth teaches nothing else but its own existence;
it is for Man to rise up to that height where he may arrive at its understanding.
JEHOSHUA had now become strong; he had become a prophet and Adept. Before his interior Illumination took place, he had not known that firm conviction which he possessed now. He had perceived the power of the spirit like a blind man, who feels the heat of the sunshine without being able to see the light; but now he had gained true knowledge, he had become acquainted with his Bride, Divine Wisdom; and when during his sermons, being carried away by his aspirations for Truth, he rose into the regions of divine thought to embrace her, his human nature was lost to all consciousness of personal limited existence; his Bride took form in him, and it was no more the man Jehoshua who spoke divinely inspired words; but it was Divine Wisdom herself that spoke through his lips. His whole being appeared on such occasions to be permeated by the Light of the Logos; yea, for all we know, it may have been the Logos itself manifesting through him.
This may explain why, like the Avatars of old, he [Page 107] spoke of himself as being The Christ, The Truth, and The Son of God. This Spirit of Wisdom, that in ancient times had spoken through the mouth of Krishna, saying: "I am the way, the supporter, lord, witness, abode, and friend" [Bhagavad-Gitã , ix 13] I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all existing things", [Ibid, x 20] repeated these words through the lips of Jehoshua, saying: "I am the way, the truth, and the life [John xiv 6] ... I am the Alpha and Omega; the beginning and the end"; [Revelation i. 8] and this divine spirit still continues to speak in the same manner in the heart of every one who is able to rise above the Sphere of Self and to become for the time being one with his God.
He taught in many of the towns and villages of Galilee, and gained the hearts of the people by his great beauty and eloquence and by that power which always inspires those who are firmly convinced that they are teaching the truth. From village to village he went, preaching anew the old gospel of fraternal love; and many times when the doors of the synagogues were closed against him, he may have been seen, standing upon a hill, surrounded by the listening crowd, while the evening breeze played with his long flowing locks, and above him on the distant sky shone that bright constellation of stars called the Southern Cross, as if it were to reveal the future that was waiting for him - a cross upon this Earth and eternal glory in Heaven. [Page 108]
Those few and rare persons, the regenerated ones in the spirit, in whom the Word has become alive, and through whom Divine Wisdom manifests itself, require no preparation for their speeches, nor any elaborate arrangement for their ideas; because it is not their own systems and opinions which they present to their audiences; but it is the Truth itself, expressing itself through them."We are not now referring to those who speak in a trance, or as if controlled by a superior spirit, nor to those who talk of whatever enters their brain; but to those who travel the road to Adeptship, who are able to hear the eternal Word in their hearts, speaking to them with no uncertain sound, and who give it external expression. Thus the bird requires no instructor to know what melody to sing, and in moments of joy or grief, when Nature pours forth her own sentiments, without hypocrisy and without restraint, thoughts rise from the heart to the lips and become words, as the waters of a well rise to the surface without preparation and without artifice - being doubly powerful from being produced by nature.
His words coming as they did, - not from the brain, but from the heart, - went to the hearts of the hearers; being in possession of the truth, "he taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes", [Mathew vii 29] who repeat what they have learned in books, without being themselves convinced of the truth of their doctrines, nor inclined to follow the rules which they prescribe for others.[Page 109]
Thus we find him one evening upon the Mount, in the midst of his followers, teaching them ancient truths in beautiful allegorical forms, which were understood by his hearers, because the truth was with them; but which are not understood by our theologians, because the truth is not with them. Having departed from our modern civilization, having been driven away by clericalism, priestcraft, and external reasoning, crucified and killed by our modern "Pharisees and scribes", the truth has departed from our religious systems, and the allegories of the Bible are not understood, but accepted merely in their external literal meaning, thus degrading Divine Wisdom into mere rubbish. Let us invoke the spirit of Common Sense to enlighten our mind and to explain to us to a certain extent the esoteric meaning of a few of the doctrines taught by Jehoshua upon the Mount. We well know that many words will be required to bring within the grasp of the intellect truths which can be imparted by a few allegories to the wise, and we also know that the explanations given below do not exclude other explanations equally true.
MATHEW, CHAPTER V
I. And seeing the multitude, he went up into a mountain, and when he was set, his disciples came unto him.
being aware of a great multitude of intellectual powers in the mind, desiring
knowledge, went with [Page 110] them into the mountain of Faith, and when
tranquility of the mind was established, the organs for intuition became
2. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying;
Then the Spirit of Divine Wisdom came to the consciousness of the mind, and said: -
3. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven".
Happy are those, whose heads are not full of idle speculations, opinions, and theories, but who are able to receive the truth in its purity, as it comes from the source of all wisdom, being reflected in their minds, like the image of a ship sailing upon a tranquil lake is mirrored in the water. Happy are those who listen to the voice of their conscience and see by the light of their intuition without attempting to pervert by the sophistry of their external reasoning the truths which they intuitionally perceive.
4. "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted".
Blessed are those who do not seek for happiness in terrestrial illusions, but recognize the reality of the ideal world. Their mortal forms may suffer, but by rising mentally to a higher state of consciousness above personality and limitation,they will be comforted.
5."Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.
"Happy are those who have no personal desires, for they are already in possession of all things. What could be offered to [Page 111] increase the happiness of one who is already perfectly happy and who has no ambition to gratify?
6. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled".
Blessed are they who love the truth for its own sake, for by .their aspirations they will rise up to its understanding.
7. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy".
Those whose hearts are full of love and benevolence for all, will attract the love of all others.
8."Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God".
Only in a pure and tranquil soul can the image of Divine Wisdom be reflected and be recognized by the mind without any distortions.
9. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God".
The peacemakers in the mind of man are those spiritual elements which raise him above the sphere of limitation and personality and attract him to the Eternal. Being of a divine nature, they are properly called the children of God.
10. "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven".
Power grows by resistance. Those who overcome temptations and remain true to their spiritual faith, even if they suffer for it, will become stronger in knowledge and in the happiness resulting therefrom. [Page 112]
11 and 12 "Blessed
are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all
manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding
glad, for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets
which were before you".
Such an appeal to the vanity, selfishness, and ambition of men and to their hope for reward, asking them to rejoice over lies and over the ignorance of others, cannot be anything else but a pious interpolation, unless it refers to a certain occult process, during which the lower elemental powers in man become rebellious, when they feel the approach of the truth, and they then begin to revile him.
13. "Ye are the Salt of the earth, but if the Salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted ? It is thence good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of man".
The Will is the life of the soul; but if the Will becomes evil and loses its sanctity, the whole constitution of man will become evil and useless for good. Evil desires will arise which must be "trodden under foot" and overcome by virtue.
14. "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on the hill cannot be hid".
The intelligent powers of men who have acquired wisdom, illumine the mind. Wisdom is self-evident to those who are wise, and even the inferior powers will recognize its beauty.
15. "Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candle-stick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house". [Page 113]
The Wisdom should not be overshadowed by selfish desires.When the mind rises up to the sphere of wisdom, all its powers will become illumined by it
16."Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven".
Do not merely talk, but act according to wisdom, and all the intelligent powers within and without you will then recognize the wisdom from which your actions arise, and rejoice over it.
17."Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil".
A knowledge of the truth cannot cause men to act against divine law, but it will enable them to obey it. It is the misunderstanding and ignoring of the truth and the misinterpretation of the letter of the law, that causes men to disobey the law.
18."For verily I say unto you: Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled".
The divine law of Karma will exist as long as the world exists. It is unchangeable. Prayers without acts avail nothing, for no favours are granted. The true way to pray is to rise up to a higher condition and to become ennobled in character by acting according to the unwritten law. Miracles are impossibilities. If even the least deviation of the Law of Evolution from its course were to occur, its eternal and unchangeable character would be forever destroyed. [Page 114]
19."Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven".
He who acts according to his own will and against the universal Will of God, loses the consciousness of his divine state, and lives in that of his narrow self; but he who acts according to the universal Law rises to its level, and his consciousness expands beyond the limits of personality, partaking of the nature of the divine mind.
20."For I say unto you: that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter the kingdom of heaven".
If you act merely according to the dictates of your external reasoning, and not from a direct spiritual perception of the truth, you are then not in that state of spiritual consciousness which constitutes the divine state of man. No one will enter heaven by argumentation.
21."Ye have heard it was said by them of olden-time: Thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of judgment".
As long as men are not capable of rising up to a perception of the truth, they may desist from evil deeds merely on account of the evil consequences that are believed to follow.
22."But I say unto you: that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of judgment" [Page 115]
But when you attain spiritual knowledge, you will know that it is your own state of mind and your thoughts, on which your future happiness depends; for the inner life of man is his real life; his external acts are merely the shadows of his thoughts. External acts produce effects upon the external plane; but man's thoughts and his will determine the condition of his inner life, and produce lasting effects upon that plane where he will exist when he re-enters the subjective state.
The above examples may be sufficient to show that the allegories of the Bible may be explained in a manner very different from that given by those who imagine that they are the Salt of the Earth and the Light of the World.
The inherent power of the truths which Jehoshua taught, his noble appearance, natural dignity, and kindness of manner gained for him the hearts of the people. On account of the mixed population of Galilee, bigotry and orthodoxy were less prevalent there than in Judea. There were many "heathen" who had no religious prejudices, and even among the Jews there were not a few who had honest doubts in regard to the orthodox creed. The coming of the Redeemer who was to be their king and to drive the foreigners out of the country had been often heralded, and as often were they disappointed in their expectations. Jehoshua made no such claims. He wanted to improve the spiritual condition of the people; an improvement of their external condition would then be the natural consequence. Many recognized in him a man of advanced ideas, and [Page 116] he gained many followers among the inhabitants of that country.
There was, moreover, another circumstance which served to increase his popularity. It is well known to every Occultist that a certain degree of spiritual development is always accompanied by the development of certain occult powers, especially the power to heal diseases by the touch or by a mere exercise of the will, and also the power of reading intuitively the thoughts of others. Such things are not due to the action of any unnatural or supernatural cause; for the power of the Will and the principle of Life are said to be fundamentally identical, and he who can control his own Will becomes thereby able to direct the currents of Life within his own organism, and to transfer them upon others for the purpose of giving health and strength to them. It is likewise believed that those who have obtained the power to control their own thoughts and to steady their minds, may thereby become able to read the thoughts of others, because the mental images created by the latter become reflected and mirrored in the minds of those whose souls are tranquil, and such images may enter their consciousness.
Such powers Jehoshua possessed; he read the thoughts of the people, and knew their condition; and many a case of illness that was considered incurable by ordinary means of treatment was cured by the power of his virtue. As his fame spread, many sick persons were brought to him; he became a healer of [Page 117] the body as well as of the mind. he infused life in the bodies of his followers, and, dispelling the clouds of ignorance, he caused them to open their hearts to the influence of the divine light of the Truth. Thus he traveled through Galilee and Judea, and blessings followed in his path. [Page 118]