|rosanista.tripod.com||Simplified Scientific Christianity|
When we speak of spiritual sight we are not speaking symbolically, or of a vague something, an ecstatic feeling or the like, but of a definite faculty as real as physical sight and as necessary to perception of the spiritual worlds and to true insight into superphysical conditions as physical sight is indispensable to a comprehensive insight into material things.
The spiritual sight of which we speak is not to be confused with clairvoyance developed in spiritualistic circles. The latter depends upon a negative state of mind where the inner worlds are reflected in the consciousness of the sitters, as the surrounding landscape is reflected in a mirror. Such a method gives sight, but insight concerning the thing seen is lacking in the negative clairvoyant as much as in the mirror. He is in a position similar to that of a man tied on a horse without rein or bridle, who is carried wheresoever the horse pleases. Such a faculty is a curse. The properly trained clairvoyant is not tied; he can get on or off as he pleases, has rein and bridle on his horse; he is master, the other a slave.
Certain negative phases of clairvoyance are also developed by taking drugs, by crystal gazing, etc. In all such cases the faculty is a danger and a detriment, being uncontrolled by the Spirit. Drugs have a fearfully destructive effect on the different vehicles of man. But the most dangerous method of development is indiscriminate breathing exercises. Many a man is in the insane asylum today or his body lies in a consumptive's grave, on account of having practiced breathing exercises in development classes, taught by persons as ignorant as himself. Breathing exercises, when necessary, are never given in classes, as each pupil is differently constituted from every one else; each consequently needs individual exercises, and different mental exercises also to accompany them. Only through individual instruction from a competent teacher can spiritual sight and insight be developed in perfect safety. The foregoing remarks apply only to breathing exercises for esoteric development and not to exercises for physical culture, which are excellent when practiced in moderation.
The questions then arises: How may the true teacher be found, and how distinguished from the imposter? This is a momentous question, for when the aspirant has found such a teacher, he is in a safe haven and will be guarded against the great majority of dangers which beset those who through ignorance or elfish motives steer their own course and seek spiritual powers without endeavoring to develop moral fiber.
It is an axiomatic truth that men are known "by their fruits," and as esoteric scholarship demands from the pupil unselfishness of motive, it is a fair inference that the teacher must possess this attribute in a still higher degree. Thus, if a man proclaim himself a teacher and offer his knowledge for sale at so much per lesson, he falls below the standard set for the pupils. That he must obtain money to live, and similar excuses for charging for tuition, are all sophistries. Cosmic law cares for him who works with it, and any teaching offered on a commercial basis is not the highest knowledge, for that is never bartered for an actual or implied material consideration, but in every case comes to the recipient as a right, as a result of merit; and even if the true teacher desired to avoid instructing a certain person, he would be compelled by the Law of Consequence to give him the instruction when earned. Such an attitude would be unthinkable, however, for there is joy inconceivable among the Elder Brothers of humanity over every one who commences to walk along the path of life everlasting. On the other hand, anxious though they are, they may not reveal their secret to any one before he has proved by steadfastness and unselfishness, to be a safe guardian of the resulting immense power for good or evil. If we allow our passions to run riot, if avarice and greed are the mainspring of our actions, we hinder progress instead of helping our fellow man, and until we have learned to use aright the powers we have, we are not fitted to do the greater work demanded of those who have been helped by the Elder Brothers to develop their latent spiritual sight and to gain the spiritual insight which makes this faculty of value as a factor in evolution.
Therefore, "The Path of Preparation" precedes "The Way of Initiation." Persistence, Devotion, Observation, and Discrimination are means of attainment, for by these the vital body is sensitized. By persistence and devotion the chemical and the life ethers become capable of taking care of vital functions in the dense body during sleep. A cleavage takes place between those two ethers and the two higher, the Light ether and the Reflecting ether. When the latter two have been sufficiently spiritualized by observation and discrimination, a simple formula given by the Teacher enables the disciple to take them out with his higher bodies at will. He is thus equipped with a vehicle of sense perception and memory. Whatever knowledge he possesses in the material world is then available in the spiritual realms, and he brings back to the physical brain, memories of his experience while without the dense body. This is necessary in order to function outside the dense body with full consciousness of both the Physical World and the Desire World, for the desire body is unorganized as yet, and did not the vital body leave its imprint on the desire body at death, we could have no consciousness in the Desire World during post-mortem existence.
Indiscriminate breathing exercises do not effect this cleavage, but tend to lift the whole vital body out of the dense body. Thus, in some cases, connections between etheric sense centers and brain cells are ruptured or strained, and insanity results. In other instances the line of cleavage occurs between the life ether and the chemical ether, and as life ether is the cementing material in assimilation and the particular avenue for specialization of solar energy, this rupture results in consumption. Only proper exercises bring about the right cleavage. When purity of life has turned the unused sex force generated in the life ether upwards through the heart, that force takes care of the limited amount of circulation necessary during sleep. Thus physical functions and spiritual development are carried on side by side along proper and harmonious lines.
Above we have the reason for the vow of celibacy taken by those who devote themselves entirely to the higher life. it is not necessary for a beginner to go into asceticism; absolute celibacy is only for the few as yet. At present, union of the sexes is the method of procreation. There is no other way to provide bodies for incoming egos, and it is the duty of everyone who is of sound mind, morals, and body to provide a vehicle and an environment for as many incoming spirits as his means and opportunities allow. We should approach the act of procreation as a sacrament; not for gratification of the senses, but in a spirit of prayer. The sex force is required but a few times in the life of any person for generation; the remainder is legitimately available for self-improvement.
Discrimination is the faculty whereby we distinguish that which is unimportant and unessential, separating the real from illusion, and the lasting from the evanescent. In ordinary life we are accustomed to think of the body as ourselves. Discrimination teaches that we are spirits and our bodies are but temporary dwelling places, instruments for use. The carpenter uses hammer and saw; they are important instruments but he does not think of himself as being either. Neither should we identify ourselves with our bodies, but learn to discriminate, to regard the body as a servant, valuable only in so far as obedient to our commands. When thus regarded, we shall find that we can readily make it do many things hitherto thought impossible. Discrimination generates the Intellectual Soul, and gives man his first start toward the higher life.
Observation is the use of the senses as means of obtaining information regarding the phenomena around us. Observation and action generate the Conscious Soul. It is of the highest importance to our development that we observe the sights and scenes around us accurately, otherwise the pictures in our conscious memory do not coincide with the automatic subconscious records. The rhythm and harmony of the dense body is disturbed in proportion to the inaccuracy of our observation during the day. Our activities during sleep partially restore harmony, but the warring vibrations from day to day and year to year are one of the causes which gradually harden and destroy our organism until it becomes unfit for the use of the spirit and must be abandoned to give the Spirit another opportunity for growth in a new and better body. In proportion as we learn to observe accurately we shall gain in health and longevity, and we shall need less rest and sleep. The latter is an important point in the present discussion, as will presently appear.
Devotion to high ideals is a curb on the animal instincts, and generates and evolves the Emotional Soul. Cultivation of the faculty of devotion is very essential. In some people this is the line of least resistance, and they are apt to become mystic dreamers. The energies of the desire body are then expressed as enthusiasm and religious ecstasy. There are also some people who develop abnormally the faculty of discrimination, which leads along cold intellectual lines of metaphysical speculation. In either case there is a lack of balance, a danger. The mystic dreamer, because dominated by emotion, may become subject to all sorts of illusion. That, the intellectual esotericist will never do, but he may end in black magic if he pursues the path of knowledge for the sake of knowledge and not for service. The only safe way is to develop both head and heart.
The esotericist unfolds along intellectual lines; he searches for truth by observation, and discrimination. He observes and reasons upon what he sees. Thus he attains to knowledge, but as Paul says, "knowledge puffeth up but love edifieth," and before his knowledge can be of the highest use in spiritual unfoldment, he must learn to feel it else he cannot live it. When he has done that he is both mystic and esotericist.
The Mystic develops particularly the faculty of devotion. He feels truth without necessity of reasoning. He knows, but cannot give a reason for his faith or explain to others so as to help them. He must develop the intellectual side of his nature, to be of the highest use in the upliftment of humanity. Then intellect acts as a curb on the emotions and devotion safely guides the intellect. If we go along one line or the other exclusively, we shall have to take up the other at some future time in order to become fully rounded. It is better, therefore, to try to develop now the faculty we lack. Thus we shall make the most rapid progress toward the final goal with perfect safety.
The clarity and sharpness of a photograph depend upon the way the lens is focused by the photographer. Once set, it remains in focus. If it had life and a will of its own, if it could change its direction and focus, the pictures would become blurred. The mind is in about that position; it flits about aimlessly, literally in a mental St. Vitus' dance, and resents a curb most strenuously. But it can and must be tamed, and persistence is the chief means of bridling it. In proportion as the mind is stilled, the spirit can reflect itself in the threefold body, on the principle that the sun mirrors itself in a calm sea, but turbulent billows deflect the sun rays.
The vital body is like a mirror or, rather, like the film of a moving picture; it pictures alike the world without according to our faculty of Observation, and the ideas of the indwelling spirit from within according to the clarity and training of the mind. Devotion and Discrimination, otherwise emotion and intellect, decide our attitude toward these pictures, and their balanced action leads to a well rounded development. When evolved to a certain point they inevitably bring about a process of purification. The man will realize that in order to attain the goal he must lay aside whatever clogs the wheels of progress. A good mechanic aims to have the best tools and keep them in perfect order, for he knows their value in producing good work. Our bodies are tools of the Spirit, and in proportion as they are clogged they hinder its manifestation. Discrimination teaches us what hinders, and Devotion to the higher life helps to eliminate undesirable habits or traits of character by superseding mere desire.
Flesh food, obtained at the cost of a fellow creature's life and suffering, and imbued with its desires and passions, besides being in a state of decay, is not a pure food, and no earnest aspirant to higher powers would choose to feed his body upon such offal. He will study how to satisfy the needs of his body with pure food. He realizes the importance of keeping his brain clear that his waking consciousness may be thoroughly open to spiritual influence, hence he will cease to use tobacco and alcohol which stimulate the brain and then leave it deadened. Moderation is a misnomer in regard to drink; all use of alcohol is excess and disastrous to the quest for spiritual attainment.
Loss of temper is subversive of inner growth; it is dissipation on a large scale of energy which may be profitably used; it poisons the body, wrecks it, and enormously hinders attainment.
Likewise do thoughts of criticism hurt us, and the aspirant will abstain from them as much as possible. Discrimination teaches us in an impersonal way what is good and evil, but gives us no feeling about it, and that is the important point. Examination of a fact, idea, or object, and a decision respecting its worth is necessary and not to be shunned, but harsh thoughts should be avoided for they form arrowlike thought forms, and as they pass outward from us they pierce and obstruct the inflow of good thoughts constantly radiated by the Elder Brothers and attracted by all good men.
Two specific exercises are given the aspirant on the path of preparation. Both lead to a development of spiritual sight and insight. One leads the direct way and will appeal most to the intellectual esotericist, but is of great value to the Mystic, because it develops the faculty he lacks most, namely, reason. The exercise is called Concentration, which produces "thought power." The other brings a similar result in a roundabout manner. It appeals most to the Mystic, but is of prime necessity to the intellectual esotericist, because it supplies a feeling for truth, which is beyond reason. That exercise is Retrospection, which develops "power of devotion." Both are necessary to secure a thoroughly rounded development.
The philosophy of the attainment of spiritual sight and insight is to compel the desire body to perform the same work inside the dense body while we are fully awake, positive, and conscious as it does outside in sleep and in the post-mortem state.
There are certain currents in the desire body of every one. They are strong, well defined, and form seven great vortices in clairvoyants, but are weak, broken, and devoid of vortices in the ordinary man who cannot "see." Development of those currents and vortices leads to spiritual sight. In the daytime, when we are engrossed in material pursuits, these currents are sluggish; but as soon as man draws out of the dense body during sleep and commences the work of restoration as outlined in Lecture No. 4, the currents revive, the vortices spin and glow, for the desire body is in its native element, free from the clogging weight of the material body.
It depends upon the manner in which we have used our dense bodies in the daytime as to how long the desire body requires to perform the work of restoration of rhythm to the vital body and the dense body. If we have used our bodies strenuously during the previous day, inharmonies will, of course, be correspondingly prominent, and it will take the desire body most of the night to restore harmony and rhythm. Thus the man will be tied to his body day and night. But when he learns skill in action, controls his energy in the daytime, and ceases to waste his strength on unnecessary words and actions, when he commences to govern his temper and to stop inharmony due to incorrect observation, the desire body will not be occupied during the entire time of sleep in restoring the dense body. A part of the night may be used for work outside. If the sense centers of the desire body are sufficiently evolved, as they are with most of the intelligent class, the man may and does then slip the cable and soar into the Desire World. He takes in the sights and scenes there, though he does not usually remember them until he has effected a cleavage between the higher and lower parts of the vital body, as previously explained.
Thus we see the great importance of correct observation, of devotion to high ideals, of pure food, etc. All tend to harmonize the inner and outer vibrations. In proportion to our attainment in these directions, the time occupied in restoration is shortened and we are left free to work in the Desire World.
The evening exercise, Retrospection, is of greater efficiency than any other method in advancing the aspirant upon the path of attainment. It has such a far-reaching effect that it enables one to learn now, not only the lessons of this life, but lessons ordinarily reserved for future lives.
After going to bed at night the body is relaxed and the aspirant begins to review the scenes of the day in reverse order, starting with the events of the evening, then the occurrences of the afternoon, of the forenoon, and morning. He endeavors to picture to himself each scene as faithfully as possible, seeks to reproduce before his mind's eye all that took place in each pictured scene, with the object of judging his actions, of ascertaining if his words conveyed the meaning he intended or gave a false impression, or if he overstated or understated in relating experiences to others. He reviews his moral attitude in relation to each scene. At meals, did he eat to live, or did he live to eat, to please the palate? Let him judge himself and blame where blame is due, praise where merited.
Probationers sometimes find it difficult to remain awake till the exercise has been performed. In such cases it is permissible to sit up in bed till it is possible to follow the ordinary method.
The value of retrospection is enormous, far-reaching beyond imagination. In the first place, we perform the work of restoration of harmony consciously and in a shorter time than the desire body can do during sleep, leaving a larger portion of the night available for outside work than otherwise possible. In the second place, one lives his Purgatory and First Heaven each night, and builds into the spirit as right feeling the essence of the day's experience. Thus he escapes Purgatory and First heaven each night, and builds into the spirit as right feeling the essence of the day's experience. Thus he escapes Purgatory after death and also saves time spent in the First Heaven; and last, but not least, having extracted, day by day, the essence of experiences which make for soul growth, and having built them into the Spirit, he is actually living in an attitude of mind, and developing along lines that would ordinarily have been reserved for future lives. By the faithful performance of this exercise we expunge day by day undesirable occurrences from our subconscious memory so that our sins are blotted out, our auras commence to shine with spiritual gold extracted by retrospection from the experiences of each day, and thus we attract the attention of the Teacher.
The pure shall see God, said Christ, and the Teacher will quickly open our eyes when we are fit to enter into the "Hall of Learning," the Desire World, where we obtain our first experiences of conscious life without the dense body.
Concentration, the second exercise, is performed in the morning at the very earliest moment after the aspirant awakes. He must not arise to open blinds or perform any other unnecessary act. If the body is comfortable he should at once relax and commence to concentrate. This is very important, as the Spirit has just returned from the Desire World at the moment of waking, and at that time the conscious touch with that world is more easily regained than at any other time of the day.
If the body is uncomfortable the aspirant may rise to relieve it before he concentrates, but much of the efficacy of the concentration is lost by the delay.
We remember from Lecture No. 4, that during sleep the currents of the desire body flow, and its vortices move and spin with enormous rapidity. But as soon as it enters the dense body its currents and vortices are almost stopped by the dense matter and the nerve currents of the vital body which carry messages to and from the brain. It is the object of this exercise to still the dense body to the same degree of inertia and insensibility as in sleep, although the Spirit within is perfectly awake, alert, and conscious. Thus we make a condition where the sense centers of the desire body can begin to revolve while inside the dense body.
Concentration is a word that puzzles many and carries meaning to but few, so we will endeavor to make its significance clear. The dictionary gives several definitions, all applicable to our idea. One is "to draw to a center," another from chemistry, "to reduce to extreme purity and strength by removing valueless constituents." Applied to our problem, one of the above definitions tells us that if we draw our thoughts to a center, a point, we increase their strength on the principle that the power of the sun's rays is increased when focused to a point by means of magnifying glass. By eliminating from our mind for the time being all other subjects, our whole thought power is available for use in attaining the object or solving the problem on which we are concentrating; we may become so absorbed in our subject that if a cannon were fired above our heads we would not hear it. People may become so lost in a book that they are oblivious to all else, and the aspirant to spiritual sight must acquire the faculty of becoming equally absorbed in the idea he is concentrating upon, so that he may shut out the world of sense from his consciousness and give his whole attention to the spiritual world. When he learns to do that, he will see the spiritual side of an object or idea illuminated by spiritual light, and thus he will obtain a knowledge of the inner nature of things undreamt of by a worldly man.
When he has reached that point of abstraction the sense centers of the desire body commence to revolve slowly within the dense body, and will thus make a place for themselves. This in time will become more and more defined, and it will require less and less effort to set them going.
The subject of concentration may be any high and lofty ideal, but should preferably be of such a nature that it takes the aspirant out of the ordinary things of sense, beyond time and space; and there is no better formula than the first five verses of St. John's Gospel. Taking them as subject, sentence by sentence, morning after morning, will in time give the aspirant a wonderful insight into the beginning of our universe and the method of creation—an insight far beyond any book learning.
After a time, when the aspirant has learned to unwaveringly hold before him for about five minutes the idea upon which he is concentrating, he may try to suddenly drop the idea and leave a blank. Think of nothing else, simply wait to see if anything enters the vacuum. In time the sights and scenes of the Desire World will fill the vacant space. After the aspirant has become used to that, he may demand this, that, or the other thing to come before him. It will come and then he may investigate it.
The main point, however, is that by following the above instructions the aspirant is purifying himself; his aura commences to shine and will without fail draw the attention of a Teacher who will depute someone to give help when required for the next step in advancement. Even if months or years should go by and bring no visible result, rest assured that no effort has been in vain; the Great Teachers see and appreciate our efforts. They are just as anxious to have our assistance as we are to work. They may see reasons which make it inexpedient for us to take up work for humanity in this life or at this time. Sometime the hindering conditions will pass, and we shall be admitted to the light where we can see for ourselves.
An ancient legend says that digging for treasure must be done in the stillness of night and in perfect silence; to speak one word until the treasure is safely excavated will inevitably cause it to disappear. That is a mystic parable which has reference to the search for spiritual illumination. If we gossip or recount to others the experiences of our concentration hour we lose them; they can not bear vocal transmission and will fade into nothingness, until by meditation we have extracted from them a full knowledge of the underlying cosmic laws. Then the experience itself will not be recounted, for we shall see that it is but the husk which hid the kernel of worth. The law is of universal value, as will be at once apparent, for it will explain facts in life, teach us how to take advantage of certain conditions and to avoid others. The law may be freely stated at the discoverer's discretion for the benefit of humanity. The experience which revealed the law will then appear in its true light, as of only passing interest and unworthy of further notice. Therefore the aspirant should regard everything that happens during concentration as sacred and should keep it strictly to himself.
Finally, beware of regarding the exercises as a burdensome task. estimate them at their true worth; they are our highest privileges. Only when thus regarded can we do them justice and reap full benefit from them.
In the Rosicrucian movement the Elder Brothers distinguish between three classes:
First, Students, those who are merely studying the Philosophy.
People of various denominations enter educational institutions such as Harvard or Yale, and study mythology, psychology, and comparative religion there without prejudice to their religious affiliations. Students may enroll with us on the very same basis. Anyone is eligible who is not a hypnotist, or professionally engaged as a medium, palmist, or astrologer.
Second, Probationers, who are students but who aspire to firsthand knowledge to fit themselves for service. To these, the General Secretary will furnish a pledge wherein the aspirant promises himself faithfully to perform the two exercises, to keep a daily record of his performance, and send that record monthly to Headquarters. The term of probation is at least five years, and has for its purpose to test the earnestness and persistence of the aspirant, and to give him the opportunity to purify himself before taking up the more direct methods of training incident to discipleship. The report is also designed to be a help to the aspirant in the performance of the exercises. It is human nature to want to make as good a showing as possible, and the aspirant will thus try to do better, knowing that his work is being inspected.
When a person has been a student of the Rosicrucian teachings for at least two years and has become so convinced of the verity thereof that he is prepared to sever his connection with all other esoteric or religious orders—the Christian churches and Fraternal orders excepted—he may assume the Obligation which admits him to the degree of Probationer.
We do not mean to insinuate by the foregoing that all other schools of esotericism are of no account—far from it. Many roads lead to Rome, but we shall attain with much less effort if we follow one of them than if we zigzag from path to path. Our time and energy are limited in the first place and are still further curtailed by family and social duties not to be neglected for self-development. It is to husband the minimum of energy which we may legitimately expend upon ourselves, and to avoid waste of the scanty moments at our disposal, that resignation from all other orders is insisted upon by the leaders.
The world is an aggregate of opportunities, but to take advantage of any of them we must possess efficiency in a certain line of endeavor. Development of our spiritual powers will enable us to help or harm our weaker brothers. It is only justifiable when efficiency in service to humanity is the object.
The Rosicrucian method of attainment differs from other systems in one especial particular: It aims, even at the start, to emancipate the pupil from dependence upon others, to make him self-reliant in the very highest degree, so that he may be able to stand alone under all circumstances and cope with all conditions. Only one who is thus strongly poised can help the weak.
When a number of people meet in a class or circle for self-development along negative lines, results are usually achieved in a short time on the principle that it is easier to drift with the tide than to breast the current. The medium is not master of his actions, however, but a slave of a spirit control. Hence such gatherings must be shunned by Probationers.
Even classes which meet in positive attitude of mind are not advised by the Elder Brothers, because the latent powers of all members are massed and visions of the inner worlds obtained by anyone there are partly due to the faculties of others. The heat of coal in the center of a fire is enhanced by that of surrounding coals, and the clairvoyant produced in a circle, be it ever so positive, is a hothouse plant, too dependent himself to be entrusted with the care of others.
Therefore each Probationer in the Rosicrucian school performs his exercises in the seclusion and privacy of his room. Results may be obtained more slowly by this system, but when they appear, they will be manifest as powers cultivated by himself, usable independently of all others. Besides, the Rosicrucian methods build character at the same time that they develop spiritual faculties, and thus safeguard the pupil against yielding to temptation to prostitute divine powers for material gain.
The foregoing does not include giving up the whole time of the candidate to spiritual endeavor. If no more time can be given, five minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes at night will suffice. In fact, to give up any time to development of spiritual faculties which should be used in legitimate material endeavor would be decidedly wrong. We must do our full duty in the material world before we may serve in the spiritual realms. Whoever is faithless to his earthly duty cannot be expected to be faithful in spiritual work.
When sixty consecutive reports have been sent in the candidate may apply for individual instruction, which will be given if possible.
Third, Disciples, who have completed the term of probation and been accepted by the Elder Brothers, are given individual instruction. Tuition is free.
During the past few years since we first began to disseminate the Rosicrucian teachings, they have spread over the whole civilized world. They are studied with avidity from the Cape of Good Hope to the Arctic Circle and beyond; they have found response in the hearts of all classes of people. They are known in the snow-clad huts of Alaska and in government houses where a tropical wind unfurls the British Lion. In the capitals of Turkish autocracy and American democracy alike, our adherents may be found, all in lively correspondence and close touch with our movement and working for promulgation of the deeper truths concerning Life and Being which are helping them.
As we look about us in the material universe we see a myriad of forms and all these forms have a certain color; and many of them emit a definite tone; in fact, all do, for there is sound even in so-called inanimate Nature. The wind in the tree-tops, the babbling brook, the swell of the ocean, are all definite contributions to the harmony of Nature.
Of those three attributes of nature: Form, Color, and Tone, form is the most stable, tending to remain in status quo for a considerable time, and changing very slowly. Color, on the other hand, changes more readily; it fades, and there are some colors that change their hue when held at different angles to the light; but tone is the most elusive of all three; it comes and goes like a will-o'-the-wisp, which none may catch or hold.
We also have three Arts which seek to express the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in these three attributes of the World-Soul, namely, Sculpture, Painting, and Music.
The sculptor who deals with form seeks to imprison beauty in a marble statue that will withstand the ravages of time during millenniums; but a marble statue is cold and speaks to but a few of the most evolved who are able to infuse the statue with their own life.
The painter's art deals preeminently with color; it gives no tangible form to its creations; the form on a painting is an illusion from the material point of view, yet it is so much more real to most people than the real tangible statue, for the forms of the painter are alive; there is living beauty in the painting of a great artist, a beauty that many can appreciate and enjoy.
But in the case of a painting we are again affected by the changeableness of color; time soon blots out its freshness, and at the best, of course, no painting can outlast a statue.
Yet in those arts which deal with form and color there is a creation once and for all time; they have that in common, and in that they differ radically from the tone-art, for music is so elusive that it must be recreated each time we wish to enjoy it, but in return it has a power to speak to all human beings in a manner that is entirely beyond the other two arts. It will add to our greatest joy and soothe our deepest sorrows; it can calm the passion of the savage breast and stir to bravery the greatest coward; it is the most potent influence in swaying humanity that is known to man, and yet, viewed solely from the material standpoint, it is superfluous, as shown by Darwin and Spencer.
It is only when we go behind the scenes of the visible and realize that man is a composite being: Spirit, soul and body, that we are enabled to understand why we are thus differently affected by the products of the three arts.
While man lives an outward life in the Form-world, where he lives a form life among other forms, he lives also an inner life, which is of far greater importance to him; a life where his feelings, thoughts, and emotions create before his "inner vision" pictures and scenes that are everchanging, and the fuller this inner life is, the less will the man need to seek company outside himself, for he is his own best company, independent of outside amusement, so eagerly sought by those whose inner life is barren, who know hosts of other people, but are strangers to themselves, afraid of their own company.
If we analyze this inner life we shall find that it is twofold:
(1) The Soul-life, which deals with the feelings and emotions; and
(2) the activity of the Ego, which directs all actions by thought.
Just as the material world is the base of supply whence the materials for our dense body have been drawn, and is preeminently the world of form, so there is a world of the soul, called the Desire World among the Rosicrucians, which is the base from whence the subtle garment of the Ego, which we call the soul, has been drawn, and this world is particularly the world of color. But the still more subtle World of Thought is the home of the human Spirit, the Ego, and also the realm of tone. Therefore, of the three arts music has the greatest power over man; for while we are in this terrestrial life we are exiled from our heavenly home and have often forgotten it in our material pursuits, but then comes music like a fragrant odor laden with unspeakable memories. As an echo from home it reminds us of that forgotten land where all is joy and peace, and even though we may scout such ideas in our material mind, the Ego knows each blessed note as a message from homeland and rejoices in it.
This realization of the nature of music is necessary to the proper appreciation of such a great masterpiece as Richard Wagner's Parsifal, where the music and the characters are bound together as in no other modern musical production.
Wagner's drama is founded upon the legend of Parsifal, a legend that has its origin enshrouded in the mystery which overshadows the infancy of the human race. It is an erroneous idea when we think that a myth is a figment of human fancy, having no foundation in fact. On the contrary, a myth is a casket containing at times the deepest and most precious jewels of spiritual truth, pearls of beauty so rare and ethereal that they cannot stand exposure to the material intellect. In order to shield them and at the same time allow them to work upon humanity for its spiritual upliftment, the Great Teachers who guide our evolution, unseen but potent, gave these spiritual truths to nascent man encased in the picturesque symbolism of myths, so that they might work upon his feelings until such time as his dawning intellect shall have become sufficiently evolved and spiritualized so that he may both feel and know.
This on the same principle that we give our children moral teachings by means of picture books and fairy tales, reserving the more direct teaching for later years.
Wagner did more than merely copy the legend. Legends, like all else, become encrusted by transmission and lost their beauty and it is a further evidence of Wagner's greatness that he was never bound in his expression by fashion or creed. He always asserted the prerogative of art in dealing with allegories, untrammeled and free.
As he says in Religion and Art: "One might say that where Religion becomes artificial, it is reserved for art to save the spirit of Religion by recognizing the figurative value of the mythic symbols, which Religion would have us believe in a literal sense, and revealing their deep and hidden truth through an ideal presentation. . . .Whilst the priest stakes everything on religious allegories being accepted as matters of fact, the artist has no concern at all with such a thing, since he freely and openly gives out his work as his own invention. But Religion has sunk into an artificial life when she finds herself compelled to keep on adding to the edifice of her dogmatic symbols, and thus conceals the one divinely true. . . beneath an ever growing heap of incredibilities recommended to belief. Feeling this, she has always sought the aid of art, who on her side has remained incapable of a higher evolution so long as she must present that alleged reality to the worshiper in the form of fetishes and idols, whereas she could only fulfill her true vocation when, by an ideal presentment of the allegoric figure, she led to an apprehension of its inner kernel—the truth ineffably divine."
Turning to a consideration of the drama Parsifal we find that the opening scene is laid in the grounds of the castle of "Montsalvat." This is a place of peace, where all life is sacred; the animals and birds are tame, for like all really holy men, the knights are harmless, killing neither to eat nor for sport. They apply the maxim, "Live and let live," to all living creatures.
It is dawn, and we see Gurnemanz, the oldest of the Grail-knights, with two young squires under a tree. They have just wakened from their night's rest, and in the distance they spy Kundry coming galloping on a wild steed. In Kundry we see a creature of two existences, one as a servitor of the Grail, willing and anxious to further the interests of the Grail-knights by all means within her power; this seems to be her real nature. In the other existence she is the unwilling slave of the magician Klingsor and is forced by him to tempt and harass the Grail-knights, whom she longs to serve. The gate from one existence to the other is "sleep," and she is bound to serve who finds and wakes her. When Gurnemanz finds her she is the willing servitor of the Grail, but when Klingsor evokes her by his evil spells he is entitled to her services whether she will or not.
In the first act she is clothed in a robe of snake skins, symbolical of the doctrine of rebirth, for as the snake sheds its skin, coat after coat, which it exudes from itself, so the Ego in its evolutionary pilgrimage emanates from itself one body after another, shedding each vehicle as the snake sheds its skin, when it has become hard, set, and crystallized so that it has lost its efficiency. This idea is also coupled with the teachings of the Law of Consequence, which brings us as reapings whatever we sow, as in Gurnemanz' answer to the young squire's avowal of distrust in Kundry:
Under a curse she well may be
From some past life we do not see,
Seeking from sin to loose the fetter,
By deeds for which we fare the better.
Surely 'tis good she follows thus,
Helping herself while serving us.
When Kundry comes on the scene she pulls from her bosom a vial which she says she has brought from Araby and which she hopes will be a balm for the wound in the side of Amfortas, the king of the Grail, which causes him unspeakable suffering and which cannot heal. The suffering king is then carried on the stage reclining on a couch. He is on his way to his daily bath in the nearby lake, where two swans swim and make the waters into a healing lotion which assuages his dreadful sufferings. Amfortas thanks Kundry, but expresses the opinion that there is no relief for him till the deliverer has come, of whom the Grail has prophesied, "a virgin fool, by pity enlightened." But Amfortas thinks death will come before deliverance.
Amfortas is carried out, and four of the young squires crowd around Gurnemanz and ask him to tell them the story of the Grail and of Amfortas' wound. They all recline beneath the tree, and Gurnemanz begins:
"On the night when our Lord and Savior Christ-Jesus ate the last supper with His disciples He drank the wine from a certain chalice and that was later used by Joseph of Arimathea to catch the life-blood which flowed from the wound in the Redeemer's side. He also kept the bloody lance wherewith the wound was inflicted, and carried these relics with him through many perils and persecutions. At last they were taken in charge by Angels, who guarded them until one night a mystic messenger sent from God appeared and bade Titurel, Amfortas' father, build a Castle for the reception and safe-keeping of these relics. Thus the Castle of Montsalvat was built on a high mountain, and the relics lodged there under the guardianship of Titurel with a band of holy and chaste knights whom he had drawn around him, and it became a center whence might spiritual influences went forth to the outside world.
"But there lived in yonder heathen vale a black knight who was not chaste, yet he desired to become a knight of the Grail, and to that end he mutilated himself. He deprived himself of the ability to gratify his passion, but the passion remained. King Titurel saw his heart filled with black desire, and refused him admittance. Klingsor then swore that if he could not serve the Grail, the Grail should serve him. He built a castle with a magic garden and populated it with maidens of ravishing beauty, who emitted an odor like flowers, and these waylaid the knights of the Grail (who must pass the castle when leaving or returning to Montsalvat), ensnared them to betray their trust and violate their vow of chastity, thus they became the prisoners of Klingsor and but few remained as defenders of the Grail.
"In the meantime Titurel had turned the wardenship of the Grail over to his son Amfortas and the latter, seeing the serious havoc wrought by Klingsor, determined to go out to meet him and do battle with him. To that end he took with him the holy spear.
"The wily Klingsor did not meet Amfortas in person, but evoked Kundry and transformed her from the hideous creature who appears as the servitor of the Grail to a woman of transcendent beauty, and under Klingsor's spell she meets and tempts Amfortas, who yields and sinks into her arms, letting go his hold upon the sacred spear. Klingsor then appears, grasps the spear, inflicts a wound on the defenseless Amfortas, and [but for the heroic efforts of Gurnemanz] he would have carried Amfortas a prisoner to his magic castle. He has the holy spear, however, and the king is crippled and suffering, for the wound will not heal."
The young squires spring up, fired with ardor, vowing that they will conquer Klingsor and restore the spear. Gurnemanz sadly shakes his head, saying that the task is beyond them, but reiterates the prophesy that the redemption shall be accomplished by a "pure fool, by pity enlightened."
Now cries are heard: "The swan! Oh, the swan!" and a swan flutters across the stage and falls dead at the feet of Gurnemanz and the squires, who are much agitated at the sight. Other squires bring in a stalwart youth with bow and arrows, and to Gurnemanz' sad enquiry, "Why did you shoot the harmless creature?" he answers innocently, "Was it wrong?" Gurnemanz then tells him of the suffering king, of the swan's part in making the healing bath. Parsifal is deeply moved at the recital and breaks his bow.
In all religions the quickening spirit has been symbolically represented as a bird. At the baptism, when Jesus' body was in the water the Spirit of Christ descended into it as a dove. "The Spirit moves upon the water," a fluidic medium, as the swans move upon the lake beneath the Yggdrasil, the tree of life of Norse mythology, or upon the waters of the lake in the legend of the Grail. The bird is therefore a direct representation of highest spiritual influence and well may the knights sorrow at the loss. Truth is many sided. There are at least seven valid interpretations to each myth, one for each World, and looked at from the material literal side, the compassion engendered in Parsifal and the breaking of his bow mark a definite step in the higher life. No one can be truly compassionate and a helper in evolution while he kills to eat, either in person or by proxy. The harmless life is an absolute essential prerequisite to the helpful life.
Gurnemanz then commences to question him about himself; who he is, and how he came to Montsalvat. Parsifal displays the most surprising ignorance. To all questions he answers, "I do not know." At last Kundry speaks up and says: "I can tell you who he is. His father was the noble Gamuret, a prince among men, who died fighting in Arabia while this child was yet in the womb of his mother, Lady Herzleide. With his last dying breath his father named him Parsifal, the pure fool. Fearing that he would grow up to learn the art of war and be taken from her, his mother brought him up in a dense forest in ignorance of weapons and warfare."
Here Parsifal chimes in: "Yes, and one day I saw some men on shapely beasts; I wanted to be like them, so I followed them for many days till at last I came here and I had to fight many man-like monsters."
In this story we have an excellent picture of the Spirit's search for the realities of life. Gamuret and Parsifal are different phases of the life of the Spirit. Gamuret is the man of the world, but in time he became wedded to Herzleide, heart—affliction, in other words. He meets sorrow and dies to the world, as all of us do who have come into the higher life. While the bark of life floats on summer seas and our existence seems one grand, sweet song there is no incentive to turn to the higher; every fiber in our bodies cries, "This is good enough for me," but when the billows of adversity roar around us and each succeeding wave threatens to engulf us, then we have wedded heart-affliction and become men of sorrows, and are ready to be born as Parsifal, the pure fool, or the soul who has forgotten the wisdom of the world and is seeking for the higher life. So long as a man is seeking to accumulate money or to have a good time, so miscalled, he is wise with the wisdom of the world; but when he sets his face toward the things of the spirit, he becomes a fool in the eyes of the world. He forgets all about his past life and leaves his sorrows behind him, as Parsifal left Herzleide, and we are told that she died when Parsifal did not return to her. So sorrow dies when it has given birth to the aspiring soul that flees from the world, who may be in the world to perform his duty but is not of the world.
Gurnemanz has now become imbued with the idea that Parsifal is to be the deliverer of Amfortas and takes him along to the Grail-castle. And to Parsifal's question, "Who is the Grail?" he answers:
That tell we not; but if thou hast of Him been bidden,
From thee the truth will not stay hidden,
Methinks thy face I rightly knew,
The land to Him no path leads through,
And search but severs from Him wider,
When He Himself is not its guider.
Here we find Wagner bringing us back into pre-Christian times, for before the advent of Christ, Initiation was not free to "whosoever will" seek in the proper manner, but was reserved for certain chosen ones who were given special privileges in return for being dedicated to the temple-service, such as the Brahmins and the Levites. The coming of Christ, however, wrought certain definite changes in the constitution of man so that now all are capable of entering the pathway of initiation. Indeed, it had to be so when international marriages took away caste.
At the castle of the Grail Amfortas is being importuned on all sides to perform the sacred rite of the Grail service, to uncover the holy chalice that the sight of it may renew the ardor of the knights and spur them on to deeds of spiritual service; but he shrinks from fear of the pain the sight will cause him to feel. The wound in his side always starts to bleed afresh at the sight of the Grail, as the wound of remorse pains us all when we have sinned against our ideal. At last, however, he yields to the combined entreaties of his father and the knights. He performs the holy rite, though the while he suffers the most excruciating agony, and Parsifal, who stands in a corner, feels sympathetically the same pain, without realizing why, and when Gurnemanz eagerly asks him after the ceremony what he saw, remains dumb and is thrust out of the castle by the angry, because disappointed, old knight.
The feelings and emotions unchecked by knowledge are fruitful sources of temptation. The very harmlessness and guilelessness of the aspiring soul renders it often an easy prey to sin. It is necessary to soul growth that these temptations come in order to bring out our weak points. If we fall, we suffer as did Amfortas, but the pain evolves conscience and gives abhorrence for sin. It makes us strong against temptation. Every child is innocent because it has not been tempted, but only when we have been tempted and have remained pure, or when we have fallen, repented, and reformed are we virtuous. Therefore Parsifal must be tempted.
In the second act we see Klingsor in the act of evoking Kundry, for he has spied Parsifal coming towards his castle, and he fears him more than all who have come before, because he is a fool. A worldly-wise man is easily entrapped by the snares of the flower-girls, but Parsifal's guilelessness protects him, and when the flower-girls cluster around him he innocently asks, "Are you flowers? You smell so sweetly." Against him the superior wiles of Kundry are necessary, and though she pleads, protests, and rebels, she is forced to tempt Parsifal and to that end she appears as a woman of superb beauty, calling Parsifal by name. That name stirs in his breast memories of his childhood, his mother's love, and Kundry beckons him to her side and commences to subtly work upon his feelings by recalling to his memory visions of his mother's love and the sorrow she felt at his departure, which ended her life. Then she tells him of the other love, which may compensate him; of the love of man for woman, and at last imprints upon his lips a long, fervent, and passionate kiss.
Then there was silence deep and terrible, as if the destiny of the whole world hung in the balance at that fervent kiss, and as she still holds him in her arms his face undergoes a gradual change and becomes drawn with pain. Suddenly he springs up as if that kiss had stung his being into a new pain, the lines on his pallid face become more intense, and both hands are clasped tightly against his throbbing heart as if to stifle some awful agony—the Grail-cup appears before his vision, and then Amfortas in the same dreadful agony, and at last he cries out: "Amfortas, O Amfortas! I know it now—the spear-wound in thy side—it burns my heart, it sears my very soul....O grief! O misery! Anguish beyond words! the wound is bleeding here in my own side!"
Then again, in the same awful strain: "Nay, this is not the spear-wound in my side, for this is fire and flame within my heart that sways my senses in delirium, the awful madness of tormenting love....Now do I know how all the world is stirred, tossed, convulsed and often lost in shame by the terrific passions of the heart."
Kundry again tempts him: "If this one kiss has brought you so much knowledge, how much more will be yours if you yield to my love, if only for an hour?"
But there is no hesitation now; Parsifal has awakened; he knows right and wrong, and he replies: "Eternity were lost to both of us if I yielded to you even for one short hour; but I will also save you and deliver you from the curse of passion, for the love that burns within you is only sensual, and between that and the true love of pure hearts there yawns an abyss like that between heaven and hell."
When Kundry at last must confess herself foiled she bursts out in great anger. She calls upon Klingsor to help, and he appears with the holy spear, which he hurls against Parsifal. But he is pure and harmless, so nothing can hurt him. The spear floats harmlessly above his head. He grasps the spear, makes the sign of the cross with it and Klingsor's castle and magic garden sink into ruins.
The third act opens on Good Friday many years after. A travel-stained warrior, clad in black mail, enters the grounds of Montsalvat, where Gurnemanz lives in a hut. He takes off his helmet and places a spear against a nearby rock and kneels down in prayer. Gurnemanz coming in with Kundry, whom he has just found asleep in a thicket, recognizes Parsifal with the holy spear and, overjoyed, welcomes him, asking him whence he comes?
He asked the same question on Parsifal's first visit and the answer was: "I do not know." But this time it is very different, for Parsifal answers: "Through search and suffering I came." The first occasion depicts one of the glimpses the soul gets of the realities of the higher life, but the second, the conscious attainment to a higher level of spiritual activity by the man who has developed by sorrow and suffering, and Parsifal goes on to tell how he was often sorely beset by enemies, and might have saved himself by using the spear, but refrained because it was an instrument of healing and not for hurt. The spear is the spiritual power which comes to the pure of heart and life, but is only to be used for unselfish purposes; impurity and passion cause its loss, as was the case with Amfortas. Though the man who possesses it may upon occasion use it to feed 5,000 hungry people he may not turn a single stone to bread to appease his own hunger, and though he may use it to stay the blood that flows from the severed ear of a captor, he may not use it to stay the life-blood that flows from his own side. It was ever said of such: "Others he saved; himself he could not (or would not) save."
Parsifal and Gurnemanz go into the Grail-castle, where Amfortas is being importuned to perform the sacred rite, but refuses in order to save himself the pain entailed in viewing the Holy Grail, and baring his breast, implores his followers to kill him. At this moment Parsifal steps up to him and touches the wound with the lance, causing it to heal. He dethrones Amfortas, however, and takes to himself the wardenship of the Holy Grail and Sacred Lance. Only those who have the most perfect unselfishness, coupled with the nicest discrimination, are fit to have the spiritual power symbolized by the spear. Amfortas would have used it to attack and hurt an enemy. Parsifal would not even use it in self-defense. Therefore he is able to heal, while Amfortas fell into the pit he dug for Klingsor.
In the last act Kundry, who represents the lower nature, says but one word: Service. She helps Parsifal, the Spirit, to attain by her perfect service. In the first act she went to sleep when Parsifal visited the Grail. At that stage the Spirit cannot soar heavenward except when the body has been left asleep or dies. But in the last act Kundry, the body, goes to the Grail-castle also, for it is dedicated to the Higher Self, and when the Spirit as Parsifal has attained he has reached the stage of liberation spoken of in Revelation: "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out." Such an one will work for humanity from the inner Worlds; he needs no physical body anymore; he is beyond the Law of Rebirth, and therefore Kundry dies.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, in his beautiful poem, "The Chambered Nautilus," has embodied in verse this idea of constant progression in gradually improving vehicles, and final liberation. The nautilus builds its spiral shell in chambered sections, constantly leaving the smaller ones, which it has outgrown, for the last build.
Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year's dwelling for the new.
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.
Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathed horn!
While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free.
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!
When we speak of evolution, the idea conveyed to the Western mind is mainly a materialistic one. We have accustomed ourselves to look at the matter from the purely scientific standpoint: that our solar system has proceeded from what was once a nebulous fire-mist, in which currents were generated in a spontaneous manner and started it into motion. It assumed a spherical shape and threw off rings as it contracted. These rings broke up and formed planets which cooled and solidified. At least one planet, our Earth, spontaneously generated simple organisms, which later by the process of evolution became more and more complex, ascending through the Radiates (starfish, sea-urchins) to Mollusks (oysters, clam), thence to Articulates (crab, lobster), into the Vertebrate species. After passing through the four classes of vertebrates—Fishes, Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals—this spontaneous evolutionary impulse reaches its highest present stage in man, who is regarded as the flower of evolution: the highest intelligence in the Cosmos.
The materialistic scientist will pooh-pooh all suggestions of a God, or any other external agency, as entirely unnecessary to account for the universe. In support of his position he may take a basin of water and pour some oil upon its surface. The water is to represent space and the oil the fire-mist. He will then commence to stir the oil, which will gather in a ball, and bulging at the equator it will throw off a ring. That will form a smaller sphere and revolve about the central mass as a planet about its sun. Then the scientist may triumphantly turn and ask with a pitying smile: Now, do you see how natural it is, and how superfluous your God?
Truly, it is wonderful how dull the brightest minds may be when influenced by preconceived notions, and it is a marvel that one capable of devising this splendid demonstration should at the same time fail to see that he himself represents the author of our system, whom we call God, in this experiment. For the experiment would never have been devised, the oil would never have been poured out or formed into the semblance of sun and planet but for his thought and action in the matter. So that instead of proving God a superfluity his demonstration of the nebular theory proves to the fullest extent the absolute necessity for a First Cause—call it God or by any other name—and Herbert Spencer, the master thinker of the nineteenth century, saw this and rejected the nebular theory in consequence. He failed, however, to produce an adequate explanation of the Genesis of a solar system, free from that to him objectionable flaw, and so science, though unwilling to acknowledge it, still retains a theory of the origin of the world that requires the intelligent action of a being or beings extraneous to the universe: a Creator or Creators.
When the scientific theory is properly understood, it is thus in full harmony with the Bible, which tells us of a number of different Beings who have been active in the evolution of the Earth and the creatures upon it. We hear of Angels, Archangels, Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones, Powers, Principalities, Powers of Darkness, Powers of the Air, etc., and to the inquiring mind the question naturally occurs: Who are they all? what part have they played in the past? and what is their present work? For the inquiring mind cannot believe that Angels are human beings transformed by death to spiritual entities whose sole pleasure and only care is to toot in a trumpet or play upon a harp when they did not know one note from another in Earth-life. Such a supposition does violence to the reason and is out of keeping with all the methods of nature, which require us to work for our faculties.
The esoteric teaching, in harmony with the Bible and modern scientific theories as explained in the section on the "Mystic Christian Analysis of Genesis" in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, is, that that which is now the Earth has not always been as dense and solid as it is now, but that it has gone through three periods of development previous to the one we are now in, and after the present "Earth period is over, there will be three more periods before our evolution has been completed."
During the three periods preceding our present state, that which is now the Earth, and man upon it, have both gradually consolidated from a filmy ethereal state to a condition that was much denser than is now the case.
While "Involution," the process of consolidation, was going on, the Spirit, which is now the Ego in man, was building a body or vehicle for each degree of density. It was unconscious, but helped by different spiritual hierarchies: the Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim.
When the acme of density was reached the Spirit came to consciousness as a separate Ego in the material world. That was the turning-point: when conscious he cannot be dragged farther down and as his spiritual consciousness gradually dawns upon him he will spiritualize his bodies, extracting from each the soul, which is the power of the body from which it is extracted.
In that way he will gradually lift himself out of the dense material regions, and lift the Earth with him during the remainder of the Earth Period and the three succeeding periods.
At the beginning of evolution the threefold "Virgin Spirit" was naked and inexperienced. Its Involution involved the building of bodies, which it accomplishes unconsciously with the help of higher powers.
When its bodies have been built and it becomes conscious, Evolution begins. That involves soul-growth and must be accomplished by the individual efforts of the spirit in man, the Ego. At the end of evolution it will possess soul-power as the fruitage of its pilgrimage through matter. It will be a creative intelligence.
Among the Rosicrucians these seven periods of development have been given the names of the planets which rule the days of the week, because they are the seven days of Creation, when that term is used in its widest sense. But they are metamorphoses of the Earth and have absolutely nothing to do with the planets in the sky except that the conditions they represent are about such as we find upon the planets of the same names. These names are as follows:
(1) Saturn Period,
(2) the Sun Period,
(3) the Moon Period,
(4) the Earth Period (of which, for reasons explained in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, the first half is called "Mars" and the second half "Mercury"),
(5) the Jupiter Period,
(6) the Venus Period, and
(7) the Vulcan Period.
Our evolution started upon the Earth, as it was in the Saturn Period, dark, hot, and of a gaseous substance, taken from the materials of the Region of Concrete Thought. There "the Divine Spirit" (which is the highest aspect of the triune "Virgin Spirit," made in the likeness of God) was awakened by the "Lords of the Flame" (called "Thrones" in Christian esotericism), who also radiated from themselves a germinal "thought-form" as a material counterpart of the Divine Spirit. This thought-form has later developed and consolidated into man's dense body, and thus the highest spirit and lowest body of man are the fruitage of the Saturn Period.
In the Sun Period the Earth reached the density of the Desire World, and became a brilliantly luminous fire-mist. There the "Cherubim" awakened the second aspect of the threefold Virgin Spirit: "The Life Spirit," and its counterpart, the vital body, was started as a thought-form and made to interpenetrate the germinal dense vehicle which had consolidated and reached the same density as the Earth; it was then built of "desire stuff."
Thus man had a twofold Spirit and a twofold body when the condition we call the Sun Period was over.
In the Moon Period the density of the Earth increased so that it reached the etheric condition of matter known as the Etheric Region. It had a fiery core, then an envelope of moisture, and outside an atmosphere of fire-fog or hot, steamy gas. When the water was heated by the fiery core it ascended outwards, and when cooled by outside space the steam descended again towards the heated center.
From this moist substance the densest body of these "Water-men" was built. The thought-form for the dense body had consolidated to a moist gas, the thought-form for our present vital body had descended into the Desire World. It was formed of desire matter. To this twofold body the thought-form for our present desire body was added in the Moon Period and the "Seraphim" awakened the third aspect of the Virgin Spirit: "the Human Spirit," and the Virgin Spirit became an "Ego," so that at the close of the Moon Period man-in-the-making possessed a threefold spirit and a threefold body.
(1) The Divine Spirit—its counterpart is the dense body.
(2) The Life Spirit—its counterpart is the vital body.
(3) The Human Spirit—its counterpart is the desire body.
The threefold body is the "shadow" of the threefold Spirit, thrown into the Region of Concrete Thought in the three periods preceding our present Earth Period. Since then these thought-forms have all condensed; the desire body, one degree; the vital body, two degrees, and the dense body, three degrees before their present density was reached.
The Lords of the Flame (Thrones), the Cherubim and the Seraphim had worked with man of their own free wills out of pure Love. They could learn nothing from an evolution such as ours. They have withdrawn now, and in the Earth Period the "Powers" (exusiai) of esoteric Christianity, called "Lords of Form" by the Rosicrucians, have particular charge. For this is preeminently the period of "Form" and this spiritual hierarchy has given to all things the present definite, sharply defined concrete form, whereas these forms were inchoate and cloudy in the former periods.
Besides the spiritual hierarchies mentioned there were others who helped, but we will mention only the beings who attained to the human stage of development in the three preceding periods. These beings have advanced, of course, so the men of the Saturn Period are now three steps in advance of the human, and are called "Lords of Mind." The humanity of the Sun Period are two steps ahead of us and are now "Archangels," and the humanity of the Moon Period are one step in advance of us. They are the Angels.
The periods are days of Creation, and between each two periods there is always an interim of rest or subjective activity, a Cosmic Night analogous to the night of restorative sleep we enjoy between day and day of our Earth-life, and when the evolving life emerges from "Chaos" at the dawn of a new period there is first a recapitulation on an advanced scale of the work done in former periods before the work of the new period is begun; thus the acme of possible perfection is achieved.
Therefore man's evolution upon the Earth as now constituted is divided into "Epochs," in which he first recapitulates his past, and then goes onward to conditions that foreshadow development which will only reach their full expression in future periods.
In the first or Polarian Epoch, "Adam," or humanity, was formed of "earth." He was in that purely mineral stage corresponding to the Saturn Period, where he possessed only a dense body fashioned by himself under the guidance of the Lords of Form. He was embedded in the dark gaseous planet that was just emerging from chaos, inchoate and void, as the Bible says; in the same way that the raspberry is made up of numerous little berries, so was our "Mother-earth" made up of the dense mineral-like bodies of all the kingdoms, and the life-streams expressing themselves as plant, animal, and man were working to liberate them.
In the second or Hyperborean Epoch, God said: "Let there be light," the hot gas became a luminous fire-mist as it was in the Sun Period, and man's dense body was clothed with a vital body and it floated hither and thither above the fiery Earth as a large, baggy thing. Man was then plant-like because of having the same vehicles as the plant has now, and the Angels were his helpers in organizing his vital body, and remain so to the present day.
This may seem an anomaly, as the Angels are the humanity of the Moon Period, where man got his desire body. But it is not, for only in the Moon Period did the evolving Earth condense into Ether, such as now forms the substance of our vital body, and there the humanity (the present Angels), learned to build their densest bodies from etheric materials, as we are learning to build ours from the solids, liquids, and gases of the Chemical Region. They became experts at it, as we will be at building a dense body by the time the Earth Period is ended.
Thus they are specially fitted to be the helpers of other later life-waves in the functions which are the important expressions of that vehicle. They help in the building and maintenance of plant, animal, and man, and are thus concerned in assimilation, growth, and propagation. Angels announced the birth of Isaac to faithful Abraham, but destroyed Sodom for abusing the creative function. The angel Gabriel (not Archangel, according to the Bible) foretold the birth of Jesus and John. Other Angels announced the birth of Samuel and Samson.
The Angels are particularly active in the vital bodies of the plants, for the stream of life ensouling that kingdom started its evolution in the Moon Period, when the Angels were human, and they worked with the plants as we are now working with our minerals. There is therefore a particular affinity between Angel and plant Group Spirit. Thus we can account for the enormous assimilation, growth, and fecundity of the plants. Man also grew to an enormous size in the second or Hyperborean Epoch, where the Angels had principal charge. So does the child in its second septenary epoch of life, because then the Angels have full sway, and at the end of that epoch, at fourteen, the child has reached puberty and is able to reproduce its kind; also due to the work of the Angels.
The third, or Lemurian Epoch, presents conditions analogous to the Moon Period, but denser, the fiery core of the Earth is in the center, the boiling, seething water next, and the steamy atmosphere or "fire-fog" outside, for thus "god had divided the land from the waters," as Genesis says; the dense moisture from the steam, and there man lived on islands of the forming solid crust scattered in the sea of fire or boiling water. His form was then quite firm and solid, it had a trunk, limbs, and the head was beginning to form. The desire body was added, and man brought under the dominion of the Archangels.
Again we have a seeming anomaly, for the Archangels were the humanity of the Sun Period when the vital body was started, at a time when man had as yet no desire body, but the difficulty vanishes when we remember that each of our bodies is the shadow of one of the aspects of the Spirit, as previously outlined, and that the vehicles are not given by these hierarchies. They are merely helpers of man in training a particular vehicle, because of a special fitness. Thus the Archangels are trainers of our desire bodies, because they became experts at building and using such a vehicle when they were human in the Sun Period, for then they built their densest bodies of "desire stuff," as we are now building ours from chemical mineral matter.
The Archangels are also the main support of the animal Group Spirit, because the present animals started as minerals in the Sun Period. In the Lemurian Epoch man was situated as they are now: the Spirit was outside the body it had to guide, but all man's bodies had been impregnated with the germ of separate personality presently to be explained, so they were not so easily guided as the animal of today, where the separate spirit in each animal is yet unconscious. Desire was rampant and needed a strong curb. That was supplied to a few of the most tractable among the nascent humanity in the Lemurian Epoch, and they in time became teachers of the others, but the majority did not become ensouled.
In the fourth, or Atlantean Epoch, the real work of the Earth Period began. The threefold Spirit was destined to enter the threefold body and become an indwelling Spirit, so as to obtain full control of its vehicles, but the link of mind was lacking, and that we owe to the Lords of Mind, who had previously impregnated the bodies with the feeling of separate personality which has overborne the earlier feeling of solidarity with all and made it possible for each to draw individual experience from like conditions.
The Lords of Mind reached the human stage in the Saturn Period. They were not "gods" come here from an earlier evolution like the Cherubim and Seraphim, hence the eastern tradition calls them "Asuras," ("Not-gods," and the Bible calls them "Powers of Darkness"; partially because they came from the dark Saturn Period, and partly because it regards them as evil. Paul speaks of our duty of wrestling with them.
Paul is right, but it is well to understand that there is nothing absolutely evil, and that in times past they have been man's benefactors. Evil is but good misplaced or undeveloped. For instance, suppose an expert organ-builder making a splendid organ, his masterpiece. Then he is the embodiment of good. But if he follows the organ into church and insists upon taking the place of the organist when he is no musician, he is evil.
When the Lords of Mind were human in the Saturn Period and the Earth was of the substance of the Region of Concrete Thought, we started our evolution as minerals, and the Lords of Mind learned to build their densest body of these minerals, as we are now building our bodies from the present minerals. Thus they became experts in the use of this "mind stuff," and also set up an exceedingly intimate connection with us.
Then, when the time came that the threefold body was ready for the Spirit to enter, man needed a mind to link spirit and body. But that the Gods could not give. It would have been too great. The Archangels and Angels could not yet create, but the Lords of Mind just reached the third period beyond the one where they were human, here on Earth, and became Creative Intelligences, so naturally they stepped into the breach and radiated from their bodies the substance from which our mind is formed.
Coming from that source, our mind is naturally separative and prone to resent authority. It should be the tool of the infant Spirit in governing the threefold body; a curb upon rampant desire. But it is masterful adding cunning to desire, then passion and wickedness and in itself harder to tame than wild horses; it loves more to rule the lower than to obey the higher. It ran high in Atlantis. The race degenerated and it became necessary to start a new race under new conditions.
In the meantime the hot, steamy atmosphere of Lemuria had cooled and condensed to a thick fog during Atlantean times. There the "Niebelungen" or "children of the mist" of the old folk-story lived. They were Atlanteans. Then "God" commanded that "the waters gather in one place and the dry land appear." The mist gradually condensed to a flood, which filled the valley of Atlantis and caused the wicked race to perish, except a few who were a "chosen people," chosen to be the nucleus of our present Fifth Epoch race, to inherit a promised land: the Earth as now constituted. These few were saved as variously related in the story of Noah and of Moses leading God's people out of Egypt (Atlantis) through the Red Sea (the Atlantean floods), where Pharaoh (the wicked Atlantean king) perished with all his followers.
The spiritual hierarchies had been seriously hampered in their efforts to help man from the time he received the light of mind, and his understanding was opened. Then he took matters of which he had no real knowledge into his own hands. Propagation, for instance, and as a result of his ignorance of the Cosmic laws in connection, parturition became painful and death a more frequent and disagreeable experience. Therefore it became necessary to take stern measures to check the lower nature. This was done by Jehovah, the highest Initiate of the Moon Period and ruler of the Angels, supported in his efforts by the Archangels, who are Race Spirits. (Daniel 12:1).
Jehovah helped man to get control over the mind and desire body by giving Law and decreeing punishment for its transgression. The fear of God was pitted against the desires of the flesh. Thus sin became manifest in the world.
The Archangels, as Race Spirits, fight for or against a nation, as required to punish one group which has sinned, by means of another. (Daniel 10:20.)
The Angels cause man's corn and grapes to grow or wither, his cattle to increase or not, his family to multiply or die out, as required to bless him for obedience to the law of the chief Race Spirit Jehovah, or to punish him for transgression against the law. Under his sway all the Race-Religions: Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Judaism, etc., have flourished and worked in the desire body as religions of the Holy Spirit. Jehovah helps man to curb the desire body because that was started in the Moon Period.
But Law makes for sin; it is separative, and besides, man must learn to do right apart from fear. Therefore Christ, the Highest Initiate of the Sun Period, came to teach the religion of the Son, which works upon the vital body, which was started in the Sun Period. He taught that love is superior to law. Perfect love casteth out fear and emancipates humanity from race, caste, or nation to Universal Brotherhood, which will become a fact when Christianity is lived.
When Christianity shall have fully spiritualized the vital body, a still higher step will be the religion of the Father, who as the Highest Initiate of the Saturn Period will help man to spiritualize the dense body which was started in the Saturn Period. Then even brotherhood will be transcended; there will be neither me nor thee, for all will be consciously one in God, and Man will have been emancipated by the help of Angels, Archangels, and higher Powers.
As we look about us in the world there is no fact more potent than that, as the Hebrew poet expressed it, "Man is of few days and full of trouble," and naturally we ask why this is so.
The theologian tells us that it is God's decree that we must suffer because our first parents sinned, being tempted by the devil, and then he attempts to justify God by such doggerel as "In Adam's fall we sinned all." But why the eating of an apple as a cause should merit the punishment of painful parturition as an effect has always been a sore puzzle to Bible commentators, and how a wise, loving, and just God could decree so much misery to the whole human race for the apparently slight fault of one pair is sufficiently hard to understand to excuse Robert Ingersoll in a measure for exclaiming: "An honest God is the noblest work of man."
The seeming anomaly arises of course from lack of esoteric knowledge and consequent materialistic interpretations of that mine of esoteric information, the Bible.
To get at the true explanation concerning pain and sorrow we will first take the purely esoteric information, and then see what light the Bible gives. We remember that four great Epochs or ages have preceded our present Fifth Epoch Epoch: the Polarian, Hyperborean, Lemurian, and Atlantean Epochs.
In the Polarian Epoch man had only a poorly organized dense body, hence he was as unconscious and immobile as the minerals, who are now so constituted. In the Hyperborean Epoch his dense body was clothed upon with a vital body, and the Spirit hovered outside. What the effect of such a nature is we may see by examining the plant, which is similarly constituted now.
There we see constant repetition, a building upwards of stem and leaf in alternating succession, that would go on ad infinitum if there were no other influence. But as the plant has no separate desire body, the desire body of the Earth, the Desire World, hardens the plant and checks this intense upwards growth in a measure. The creative force that cannot finds its expression by making one particular plant grow taller, seeks another channel: it builds the flower and embeds itself in the seed, so that it may grow upwards anew in another plant.
In the Hyperborean Epoch, where man was similarly situated, his vital body caused him to grow to an enormous size. Acted upon by the Desire World, he threw off spore-like seeds which were either appropriated by another human Ego or used by the Nature Spirits to build bodies for the animals who were then beginning to emerge from Chaos. (The highest life-wave starts first at the opening of a period and returns last to Chaos; the succeeding life-waves, animal, plant, and mineral—emerge later and leave earlier.)
Thus, in the Hyperborean Epoch, when man was similar to the plants in constitution, his vital body built vertebrae upon vertebrae, and would have gone on if the individual desire body had not been given him in the Lemurian Epoch. That commenced to harden the structure and checked the tendency to grow taller, and as a result the cranium, the flower upon the stem of the spinal column, was incipiently formed.
Thwarted in its effort to build the one form taller, it became necessary for the creative force in the vital body to seek a new channel whereby it might continue its upward growth in another human being. Then man became a hermaphrodite capable of generating a new body from himself.
In the plant there is no separate desire body, hence it feels no passion. It stretches its creative organ, the flower, chastely and unashamed toward the Sun, a thing of beauty and a delight.
In man the individual desire body must necessarily cause passion and desire unless subjugated by some ulterior means. Therefore man is the inversion of the chaste plant, both figuratively and literally, for he is passionate and turns his creative organ towards the Earth and is ashamed of it. The plant takes its food by way of the root; man's nourishment enters his body by way of the head. Man inhales life-giving oxygen and exhales death-dealing carbon dioxide. This is taken by the plant, which extracts the poison and returns the vitalizing principle to man.
In order to check passion and prevent abuse of the creative function, several measures were adopted by the leaders in charge of evolution.
This animal-like creature of mid-Lemurian times, though dreadful to look upon, was nevertheless a diamond in the rough, destined to become in time the perfect tool and beautiful temple of an indwelling Spirit. To that end it needed a controlling mechanism, a brain, and a second nervous system capable of being controlled by "Will" which is the force of the prospective tenant, the Ego.
The whole creative force might have been used to that purpose, but as the use of any tool causes it to wear out, a way must also be devised to replace a worn-out instrument when discarded by a Spirit at death, and so the creative force in each being was divided. One-half was allowed to flow upwards as before, to build a brain and a larynx whereby the Spirit may control its instrument and express itself in thought and word. The other half was turned downwards through the creative organs, for reproduction.
This arrangement has the further merit as a means of preventing abuse, that it made it harder to accomplish generation. Before the sexes were separated each one could create without help; under the present arrangement each must first seek the cooperation of another person who has the opposite half of the sex-force available for reproduction.
That the boy changes his voice at puberty shows a connection between the creative organ and the larynx. Because half the sex-force builds the brain, one who overdraws for sexual excesses becomes an idiot, while the deep thinker, particularly along spiritual lines, feels little or no inclination for coition, as he uses most of his creative force in the brain.
The Angels worked along with man in the Hyperborean Epoch, when he had only a dense and vital body, but in the Lemurian Epoch, when the desire body was added, the Archangels also took a hand, to help the infant human Spirit to control its future vehicles. They neutralized the desire body so that it was only sexually active at certain times of the year. In the latter part of the Lemurian Epoch and the beginning of the Atlantean, the brain and cerebrospinal system were sufficiently evolved so that the link of Mind could be given, and the Ego began slowly to draw into its bodies, and became an indwelling spirit in the middle of the Atlantean Epoch, fully conscious of its outside environment. Before the indrawing was fully completed, particularly in the latter part of the Lemurian Epoch, man's consciousness was turned inwards, and he was mostly conscious in the spiritual world. Thus birth and death were nonexistent to him, as the sprouting out and drying away of a leaf is to the plant. His consciousness went on unbrokenly in the inner World whether he had a body or not, for he was unconscious of it, though he used it equally well for all that, as we use our stomach and lungs unconsciously.
At stated times of the year the Archangels, withdrew their restraining influence on the desire body and the Angels marshaled humanity to great temples where the generative act was performed at the times when the constellations were propitious. Our present-day honeymoon trips are atavistic reminders of those migrations for propagative purposes, and show a connection with the heavenly bodies in the name honey-moon.
When propagation had been accomplished, the desire body was again neutralized, and in consequence there was no more pain connected with parturition than is the case with the animals at present, where similar conditions obtain now.
This was a carefree state, but man was extremely limited in consciousness, led and controlled by outside agencies willy-nilly. If that condition had continued, man would have remained a God-guided automaton. He can never become a self-conscious Creative Intelligence, as he is destined to become, until he throws off all yokes and works out his own salvation.
Therefore great Leaders from a more advanced evolution were sent to train man and awaken him to knowledge of the material world without, and of course strong measures continued for ages were necessary. The boys were trained to develop "will," which is the spiritual counterpart of their positive creative force. They were taught to carry immense burdens and steel the arm by will. They engaged in brutal fights and their bodies were burned and maimed, impaled upon spits, etc., in efforts to awaken the Ego to consciousness of the dense body and outside world.
The girls were driven out into the immense fern-forests which grew luxuriantly in the moist, hot soil. They were exposed to the fury of the tempests of storm-swept Lemuria and set to watch volcanic outbursts which produced pictures before their inner vision. They likewise watched the fights of the boys, in order to develop their "imagination."
Imagination is the spiritual pole of the negative force, and it mirrored the scenes of the outside world in dream-like pictures before their inner consciousness, and in that way the women were the first to become aware of the existence of the Physical World and the dense body, and they started to preach the gospel of the body to men, whom they told of this dimly perceived physical existence. Some among us are now sensing the soul and trying to preach the gospel of the spiritual world where the Spirit lives, and meet unbelief and ridicule such as the Lemurian women encountered when trying to convince their compatriots that they had a dense body.
Among the observations made by these seeresses was the fact that at times a man lost his body, and it disintegrated. She saw him just as before in the spiritual world, but he was gone from material existence, and it troubled her.
From the Angels she could get no information; they work with the dense body, but not directly; they use the vital body as transmitter, and cannot make themselves understood to a reasoning brain-being. They get their knowledge without reasoning, for they send out their whole love in their world and cosmic wisdom flows in in return. Man also creates by love, but his love is selfish; he loves because he desires:—cooperation in generation, for he only sends out half of his creative force in generation, the other half he selfishly keeps to build his own organ of thought, the brain, and he also uses that half selfishly to think, because he desires:—knowledge. Hence he must work and reason to gain wisdom, but in time he will arrive at a much higher stage than either Angel or Archangel. He will then have passed beyond the need of the lower creative organs, he will create by means of the larynx, and be able to "make the Word flesh."
At that stage the woman could not reason either, for the mind was given by the Powers of Darkness, and it was dark, and before it could be of any use in correlating facts it must be illuminated. Only after that has been done can man throw "the Light of Reason" upon his problems.
It is here that we first hear of "Lucifer," "the Light-bringer," who speaks to the woman and helps her to solve the riddle by showing her how, with the help of the man, she may exercise the creative function independently of the Angels, and in that way provide bodies when they have been lost, and in that way evade death.
He inquires if God has forbidden them to eat of the tree, and is told that they have been forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, under penalty of death.
That the tree of knowledge is a symbolical expression for the generative function is readily apparent when we remember how limited the consciousness of man was at that time. He knew or was aware of nothing outside himself, his eyes had not yet been opened, his consciousness was internal, like the picture-consciousness of our dreams, except that it was not confused, but he was as unaware of the exterior world and beings as we are now of the spiritual world, save at the times when he was conducted to the temples and brought into intimate sexual contact with another; then, for the moment, the Spirit pierced the veil of flesh. Then man and wife knew each other in body, and to the initiated the Bible records these facts in a wonderfully illuminating way and continues to use the same expression in many places, such as: "Adam knew his wife," and in Mary's question: "How shall I conceive, seeing that I know not a man." The pain of childbirth is also more logically meted out as a penalty for violation of an injunction against sexual intercourse than as a punishment for eating an apple.
The serpent said: "Ye shall not surely die, for the God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as the gods, knowing good and evil." The latter was then unknown to man.
Acting upon this advice, the woman secured the cooperation of man and by the power of will they freed their desire bodies. That faculty was then much greater than now, for it is a law that each new faculty is always bought at the cost of weakening some previous power, as when the faculty of thought was bought at the price of half the creative force. Then the man's will-power was such that the anxiety of the God "lest man eat also of 'the tree of life' and become immortal" was well founded, for had he secured possession of the secret of renewing the vital body as well as the dense body, he would have been able to create a body and vitalize it forever. Then there would truly have been no death, but neither would there have been any evolution; as man did not then, and does not yet, know how to build a perfect body, that would have been the greatest possible calamity. Death is not a curse, but a friend when it comes naturally, for it releases us from an environment we have outgrown, and from a body that ties us, in order that we may get a new chance in a new and better body to learn new lessons.
The untrammeled use of the sex-function had the result of making man more and more conscious of his body; "their eyes were opened," and their attention focused more and more on the Physical World, until by degrees they have forgotten the higher worlds altogether, and many have ceased to even believe that there is an immortal spirit in man. To them the death of the body is of course a terrible thing, a dire calamity despite all assertions, because they think it is annihilation. So, although the word of Lucifer was true, and a new body is provided, the word of the Angel was truer still, for there was no sting in death until man lost consciousness of the higher worlds.
As to the curse: "In sorrow shalt thou bring forth thy children," it was no curse at all, but a simple statement of the effects that must inevitably result from the abuse or ignorant use of the creative function.
While that was exercised under the wise guidance of the Angels, at certain times of the year, when the cosmic lines of force running from planet to planet were propitious, parturition could be accomplished without pain, but man was and is ignorant of these factors, hence he transgressed and pain resulted.
Thus the brain and vocal organ have been bought at the cost of half the creative force; freedom from the rule of the Angels and the power to initiate action, to choose good or evil, and consciousness of the material world are ours at the cost of sorrow, pain, and death.
But all things work for good in God's kingdom, the world. Even that which is evil is transmuted by the subtlest spiritual alchemy into stepping-stones to a higher good than could have been achieved without it.
Having been exiled from the garden of Eden, the Etheric Region, by learning to know the material world, in consequence of repeated sexual abuse which has focused his attention here, this increased use of the desire body hardened the dense body and it began to require food and shelter. Thus man's ingenuity was taxed to provide for the body. Hunger and cold were whips of evil that called forth man's ingenuity; they forced him to think and act to provide for his necessities. Thus he is gradually learning wisdom; he provides for these contingencies before they come, because the pangs of hunger and cold have taught him to guard himself, and thus wisdom is crystallized pain. Our sorrows, when they are past, and we can calmly view them and extract the lessons they contained, are mines of wisdom, and are the wombs of future joys, for by them we learn to order our lives aright, we learn to cease from sin, for ignorance is sin and the only sin, and applied knowledge is salvation, and the only salvation. That seems a broad statement, but if we try it out in thought it will be found to be as absolutely true and capable of demonstration as that twice two are four.
As to the question: Who are these Lucifers? (for, although the Bible seems to speak of only one person, that is as wrong as where it uses the singular for God in the first chapter of Genesis)—They are a class of Beings who attained to a stage of evolution far beyond that of our humanity in the Moon Period, but fell short of the development of the Angels. They are demigods, and could not take a dense body like man. But neither could they gather experience as the Angels are doing. They needed a brain and spinal cord, and so, when man had built such an instrument, it was to their advantage to prompt him in the use of it.
At that time the opening consciousness of man was turned inwards, and he saw his inner organs and built them with the same force that he now turns outwards to build houses and ships, etc., as the outside muscles of his body; so the woman, who was most advanced in that direction because of having her Imagination trained, saw the intelligence embodied in her serpentine spinal cord, and at a later stage, when man came to record this experience, the serpent appealed to him as the nearest likeness to that which he wanted to tell about.
This idea is carried out right through the Bible. In Isaiah 14 he is called Lucifer (day-star), king of Babel-On (gate of the sun), a city located upon seven hills, and having dominion over the World. There mankind ceased to act in unison and became separated into warring nations. It is the seed-ground of all the ills imaginable, and is called a "harlot" in Revelation, where her fall is described.
In supreme antithesis we hear of another "Light of the World," a "bright morning-star," a true light (Christ), who shall rise after the fall of Babylon and reign forever in a city of peace: Jer-u-salem, that is called the "bride." It comes down from heaven, and has twelve gates, but they are never closed, although the precious tree of life is within. There is no outside illumination. The light is within and there is no night.
Truly a wonderful city, and the greatest imaginable antithesis to the other. What does it mean? for literal interpretation is out of the question in both cases. Allowing that a city of Babylon has existed, it was not literally as described, and the future "New Jerusalem" is contrary to all laws of nature as we know them. These two cities must therefore be symbols.
In order to unravel the meaning, let us consider that these cities are located upon seven hills or mountains, a position offering special advantages for observation. Moses went "into the mountain" and "saw" and "heard," so did those on "the mount" of Transfiguration. Daniel likens Babylon to the head of the image Nebuchadnezzar saw in a dream, and on the human head there are seven places of observation: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and a mouth. Upon these sits the brain, where the "Light-giver," reason, rules the little world, the microcosm, as the Great Light-giver, God, rules the macrocosm.
Reason is the product of selfishness. It is generated by the mind given by the "Powers of Darkness," in a brain built by selfishly keeping half the sex-force, and prompted by the selfish Lucifers, hence it is "the seed of the serpent," and although transmuted to Wisdom through pain and sorrow, it must give way to something higher—to Intuition, which means: teaching from within. That is a spiritual faculty, equally present in all Spirits, whether functioning for the time being as man or woman, but it expresses itself most prominently in those incarnated in a female organism, for there the counterpart of the Life Spirit—the vital body—is male, positive; and intuition, the faculty of the Life Spirit, may therefore properly be called "the woman's seed," whence all altruistic tendencies spring, and whereby all nations are being slowly but surely drawn together in a Universal Brotherhood of Love, regardless of Race, sex, or color.
This brain of ours is not a homogeneous whole, however; it is divided into two halves, and it is a fact well known to physiologists that we use principally but one of these cerebral hemispheres—the left. The right half of our brain is only partially active. The heart also is on the left side of our body, but is beginning to move towards "the right" place. The "right" brain will also become more and more active, and in consequence of these two physiological changes man's whole character will appear different. The left side is under the sway of the Lucifers and is given over to selfishness, but the Ego will gain more and more control as the right side of the brain is invested with power to act upon the body as right judgment.
That there is a change going on in the heart which makes it an anomaly, a puzzle, is not news to physiologists. We have two sets of muscles, one set is under the control of the will, as, for instance, the muscles of arm and hand. They are striped both lengthwise and crosswise. The involuntary muscles, which take care of functions not under control of the will, which cannot be moved by desire, are striped lengthwise only. The heart is the only exception. It is not under the control of desire, and yet it is beginning to show cross-stripes like a voluntary muscle.
In time those cross-stripes will develop fully and the heart will be under our control. When that time comes we will be able to direct the blood where we will to send it. Then we may refuse to send it to the left brain, and Babylon, the city of Lucifer, will fall.
When the blood is sent into the right brain we shall be building the New Jerusalem, and we are now preparing for that time by building the cross-stripes on the heart by altruistic ideals or, in the case of the pupil, by sending the sex current through the right-hand path of the heart.
We remember that the Cherubim awakened the Life Spirit, the seat of divine love, whose shadow is the vital body, the medium of propagation, and when man was exiled from the Etheric Region, the garden of Eden, with its four streams of Ether, for the misuse of the sex force, the Cherubim were placed before it with a flaming sword. The right use of the sex force builds an organ which will give man the key to the inner Worlds and help him to create by thought. Then sorrow and pain will cease and he will have entered the path to the city of peace—Jer-u-salem.
Lemuria perished by fire and terrible volcanic cataclysms. In its stead rose Atlantis. In time that was buried beneath the waves and gave way to the Fifth Epoch, the Earth as we see it at present in the Fifth Epoch Epoch, but that is soon past. The salamanders are beginning to stir the fires in the forge to make "a new heaven and a new Earth," which the Western School of Esotericism calls the "New Galilee."
In the first two Epochs man evolved a body and vitalized it; in the Lemurian Epoch he developed desire; the Atlantean Epoch produced cunning; and the fruitage of the Fifth Epoch is reason.
In the New Galilee humanity will have a much finer and more ethereal body than now, the Earth will be transparent also, and as a result those bodies will be more easily responsive to the spiritual impacts of intuition. Such a body will not get tired either, hence there is no night, and the twelve cranial nerves, which are the gates to the seat of consciousness, then as now are consequently never closed. Besides, New Galilee will be formed of luminous ether and transmit sunlight. That land will be a land of peace (Jer-u-salem), for Universal Brotherhood will bind all beings of all the Earth together in Love. There can be no death, for the tree of life, the faculty for generating vital force, is made possible by means of the ethereal organ in the head already mentioned, which will be evolved in those who are even now being taken out as forbears for the humanity of that coming Epoch.
That Race is spoken of as "Christ's Race"; but, be it understood that that is not because of an exterior Christ, but because they will evolve the Christ-principle within, they will act as dictated by the spirit through Intuition, and all they do will be done in Love. Only by such individual upliftment can the salvation of the Race be accomplished, for as Angelus Silesius put it,
Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born,
And not within thyself, thy soul will be forlorn,
The cross on Golgotha thou lookest to in vain
Unless within thyself it be set up again.
All through the past two thousand years in which we have had the Christian religion among us, and since the doctrine of the vicarious atonement and the cleansing blood has come into our Western World, there has been a contention among many people, in the later centuries especially, about whether there is really any efficacy in that cleansing blood, or whether it is only a foolish story. We shall hope tonight to show that there is something vastly grander than ever anyone has imagined, when we come to turn the light of esotericism and reason upon this doctrine. Afterwards we may let our hearts have full sway in belief of this grand and glorious idea of the cleansing blood and of the atonement that was effected two millenniums ago at the Place of the Skull, which is called Golgotha in the Hebrew.
When we read our Christian creed, we find the sentence, "Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God," and it is assumed by most people that the sentence refers to a single individual called Jesus Christ, who was the only begotten son of God. However, we shall very quickly see that that is not so—that there are three great and glorious individualities concerned in the sentence. They are all worthy of our very greatest veneration, but differ vastly in glory, and have a very, very different career back of them.
When we examine Jesus in the light of the esoteric records, in the light of that which we have seen in the previous lectures is called "the memory of nature," then we find that "that Spirit which was in Jesus" from the time of birth, is an Ego which belongs to our human race, and which has incarnated again and again. We can find him under different names and varying circumstances, just as you and I have been and are going to be. So we find that at the time that is stated in our records, at about the beginning of our era, there was born in Palestine a child, and that child was Jesus.
His mother was of an exceedingly pure type—a most beautiful character—and his father was an initiate of high degree, one who, for that one time in his life, forsook the path of celibacy. He had in previous incarnations gone past the time when he should be a householder. In this life he had devoted himself wholly to the esoteric path; and when the time came that a great teacher was to incarnate among us, he was selected to give the fertilizing seed for that teacher's body. In that way, there was provided such a wonderful body as has never been before nor since. It was of the purest and most passionless type, and the Ego Jesus who came into it, came into it as a great Spirit, knowing that was his mission in that life to bring up a body in as pure as possible a manner, because it was not to be his for longer than the term of thirty years. At that time he was to give it up to another, much higher than he.
Concerning the early days of Jesus, it might be well to say that he was born there in Palestine; that he went through his early boyhood days in full knowledge of that mission which was his. He was put into the schools of the Essenes, on the shores of the Dead Sea. The Essenes were a community there, who were of the most devout character. They were as opposite as possible to the materialistic Sadducees, and far, far beyond the cynical Pharisees. They were not people who went about in the synagogues and prided themselves on their learning, piety, etc., but were people who stayed in their own community and lived the holy life as they saw it. Among them the growing Jesus found his early training, and he was so marvelously adapted to the life that was led there that in a very short time he distanced them all. Then, at a later period, he went to Persia. This school of the Essenes where he was, was a great center of learning. It had a great library, and he absorbed an immense amount of esoteric knowledge, regaining what he had learned in previous lives.
At the end of thirty years he had cleansed and purified his body so far that it could be taken by the Great Being whom we call the Christ. We shall next see who that Great Being is.
We said of Jesus that he could be traced back in the Memory of Nature from incarnation to incarnation under different names, and in different environments. But of Christ we find only one incarnation, and that is when he incarnated in the body of Jesus, at the end of the thirty years. To trace Him, let us briefly recapitulate some earlier statements.
We went through the Saturn Period, the Sun Period, and the Moon Period, and we finally came here. We saw also, in previous lectures, that the humanity of the Saturn Period were the lords of Mind; the humanity of the Sun Period were the Archangels; the humanity of the Moon Period were the Angels.
Those were the ordinary humanity of these different periods, beings who are working with us invisibly, working upon our vital bodies and desire bodies and minds, helping us to evolve. When we see that there are initiates in this period, that someone like Jesus can progress far ahead of ordinary humanity, we may understand that the same can have been done in previous periods also, and it is these who have gone beyond ordinary evolution that we speak of today as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
God, as God, is not the creator of our Universe. In the highest world of this Cosmic Plane which we inhabit, He is found as God, but below that He is not God. He expresses himself in the different worlds as various kingdoms of man, Angels, Archangels, etc., and therefore we do not see Him in humanity until we get to that great world, the world we call in esotericism the World of God. In that World of God, the Triune God IS. The highest Initiate of the Saturn Period has attained to that point where He has become one with the highest aspect of the Triune God, and so He is called The Father—the Father of all those who evolved in our evolution.
The one who came next to Him in glory, the Highest Initiate of the Sun Period, evolved up to the point where he became united with the second aspect of the Triune God, and therefore, He is the Son. That is the Cosmic Christ, and a Ray from Him entered Jesus' body.
The third Great Being, the Only Begotten, mentioned in that sentence from the Christian Creed, is still greater than Jesus and Christ, but we have not so much to do with that Being at this present time. It may be well to know, however, that the Holy Spirit, the Power of God working with all the nations, is Jehovah, the Highest Initiate of the Moon Period.
By looking at Diagram 14 we shall see that this tallies with what we have learned in previous lectures. Each Being has seven vehicles, and the lowest of Jehovah's vehicles comes down to the Region of Abstract Thought, where we have our Ego. There we are below the line that divides spirit from matter, there is differentiation. We have seen in Lecture No. 3 that every planet in our system has its three separate worlds, the Physical World, the Desire World, and the World of Thought—that is, separate vehicles for each planet—but the unifying principle in our solar system is the Life Spirit, and therefore the Son, who is to be the unifying principle in the world, or in the planet, must have that Life Spirit evolved. Christ, the Highest Initiate of the Sun Period, at the present time ordinarily uses as His lowest vehicle the Life Spirit.
In the Sun Period, the lowest of the Globes was in the Desire World, and therefore the Archangels have the desire body as their lowest vehicles yet; but Christ has gone beyond. He has raised himself higher, and so He has the Life Spirit as His lowest vehicle today, and ordinarily uses no denser vehicle. Only by the power of the Life Spirit can the national tendency be overcome and a universal brotherhood of man become a fact. The vehicles pertaining to the World of Thought, the Ego, and the mind, make for separateness. They have that for their characteristic. But the Life Spirit is the unifying principle in the universe, and therefore Christ is the only one fitted to bring about brotherhood.
There is the reason why Christ had to come to help us. And now about Christ-Jesus. It is a law in the universe that no being, however great, can ever build a vehicle and function in a world that is higher or lower than the world that he has learned to function in. So that when it became necessary to work here in our Physical World, it was an absolute impossibility for any being except our humanity to work here. They alone have been able to build dense human vehicles. They have been helped by others, but they have done the work, and therefore it was necessary that one of them, in order to obtain this help from Christ for the human race, must give up his body, so that the higher being could enter it, and then help humanity.
We know that at death, or at any time when we have to leave this Physical World, we give up our dense body and our vital body, because they belong to the Physical World. And so Jesus, when he had come to the age of thirty, when he had made his instrument fit for the use of the Great Being, gladly, willingly gave it away. He left it at the baptism as he would have stepped out at death, that the Christ might step in, and that was seen to descend upon him as a dove.
Christ, as an Archangel, had learned to build down to the desire body, but the vital body and the dense body he had never learned to build. The Archangels had worked on humanity from without before, as Group Spirits do: but that was not enough. The help had to come from within. That was made possible by the combination of Christ and Jesus, and therefore, it is true, in the very highest sense, in the most literal sense, when Paul says:
"There is but one mediator between God and man—Christ Jesus, the righteous." No other entity in our system possesses the whole chain of twelve vehicles that stretches from the dense body, and right up through all the seven worlds, to the second aspect of the Triune God, the Son. Therefore, he can come to the very throne of the Father; therefore, He can go to the highest possible pitch, and can take the sorrows and sufferings of humanity there, and can cleanse us in a way no other can, and help as no other can.
Now then, we have seen who Jesus is, who Christ is, and who the composite personality is that we speak of as Christ-Jesus. The Only Begotten is yet a much higher being. We hear people speak of the Absolute, and they think of the Absolute then as God, perhaps. Their ideas are very, very hazy. They could not be otherwise, of course. There has been no definite teaching upon this subject. But God, the Grand Architect of our Universe, as called by the Masons, is described as the Creator of our solar system, and has nothing to do with anything outside our solar system. Beyond the seven worlds where our solar system and all other solar systems are located there are still six other great Cosmic Planes of life and being, and in them there are higher hierarchies of different grades and glories beyond that Great Being we speak of as God. Highest among them, there is what we may call the Supreme Being, the one who includes all the solar systems and all the hierarchies in the whole Universe; and the Word that came out from that great Being—the first Sound or Creative Fiat—the first manifestation from the Supreme Being—that is the Alone Begotten. Other Beings have been "Alone Begotten" in a similar way, but not in the same way that first Sound was. There was nothing but the Supreme Being before that started, and we can speak of nothing beyond that One except the Absolute.
Although this may mean nothing to us at the present time, it is well to know that there is a distinction, so that our ideas are clear at last, as to who God is, who the Son is, and who is the holy Spirit; also in regard to Christ-Jesus.
The Father is the Highest Initiate of the Saturn Period.
The Son is the Highest Initiate of the Sun Period, having reached by initiation the second aspect of God.
Jehovah, the Holy Spirit, is the Highest Initiate of the Moon Period. And the ordinary humanity of the different periods are, respectively, the Angels, the Archangels, and the Lords of Mind. Many of these great hierarchies there are, many that are beyond the evolution of man, and below the evolution of man, but there is none, none, "there is none other name given among men" whereby men must be saved, than the name of Christ-Jesus.
Now we have at last come to an understanding of our factors, the factors that go to make this great sacrifice on Golgotha—we know who is who. These lectures are at first analytical in the highest degree, but when we combine their results, and consider the sacrifice in their light, then we shall see something great, something spiritual in it. It is necessary to be analytical for the sake of those who have been put off in the churches. They have questioned, "What good in the world can it do me to believe?"
They are seeking for an answer to that question raised in their minds, "What is the efficacy of the blood?" and therefore it is necessary to be analytical before we come to the spiritual teaching. We have one more factor we must analyze, and that is the Blood.
You have heard me say a number of times that the blood is the particular vehicle of the Ego in the physical world. We find in the Bible that that was well known among those who wrote Leviticus. They said, the life is in the blood. We see blood as a number of little microscopic globules or discs, but blood is not of that nature as seen by the trained clairvoyant in the living human body. Blood is a gas, then, a hot spiritual essence. The heat is caused by the Ego that is within that blood. If the skin is punctured, and the blood exuded, it coagulates, as steam, which is an invisible hot gas, condenses as soon as it comes out into the atmosphere. The blood in our veins is the vehicle through which, by means of the sympathetic nervous system, the subconscious mind carries on all the activities of the body that we are not aware of in the conscious mind. Blood is a most peculiar essence, as shown in the myth of Faust, where he is signing a compact with the Evil One. He is going to sign it in ink. But Mephistopheles says, "Sign it in blood." Faust questions, "Why? Is that more efficacious?" "Yes," says Mephistopheles, "blood is a most peculiar essence"—for he knows that the blood contains the Ego, therefore he wants the blood of the man he is trying to get in his power.
The human Ego is more powerful than the Group Spirit of the animal, as we see when we apply the test of science, known as hemolysis. Strange blood of a higher animal will kill if inoculated into a lower species. If we take human blood and inoculate it into a lower animal, the animal cannot stand the high vibration that is in the blood of the human being; it dies. On the other hand, inoculate the human being with the blood of the animal and he will not suffer. We may go as far down in the scale of being as the anthropoids. They can stand inoculations of human blood; all other animals die.
In the days previous to Christ, we remember from Parsifal that there was no initiation for "whosoever will." It was said as a prophecy, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters," but that was only as a prophecy. After Christ came, we have "whosoever will." Before that time initiation was reserved for certain castes. They alone could be initiates, or priests. To show that that was abrogated, the body of Jesus was taken—not from a Levite. It came from the strongest mixture in the Jewish nation, the Galileans. In earlier times no one might marry except in his own tribe. We read that Adam and Methuselah lived over 900 years. At that time it was the practice to marry in the family, to marry as closely in the family as possible; then the blood that coursed through the veins of the people in that family contained the pictures of all that had happened to the different ancestors stored in the mind which is now subconscious. Then it was consciously and constantly before the inner vision of man, and each family was united by the common blood wherein their ancestors lived. The sons saw the life of their fathers. Thus Adam and the other patriarchs lived on for centuries.
In those olden times no one would go outside the family to marry, any more that we would go inside the family. It was a horror to marry into a strange family. Even in the Norse mythology, we learn how those who wanted to become part of a family would be obliged to mix blood. It had to be first seen whether that blood would mix or not, so we see hemolysis was known then in some of its phases at least. If the blood did not mix, it would bring about "confusion of caste" as the Hindu says. A strict line must be kept, for otherwise those pictures of the inner vision would not be the same, they would become confused.
When Christ came he abrogated that practice when he said, "Before Abraham was, I am." I do not care for Abraham, but I glory in the I am, the Ego that was long before he was. And he said, "Who does not leave father and mother, cannot follow me." As long as you are keeping up the family, the nation, the tribe, you are siding with the old blood, the old ways, and you cannot amalgamate into a universal brotherhood. That can only come when you marry internationally. Because when you have so many nations, it is like so many houses of brick. As long as you have those houses standing about you, you cannot make one grand building, but when you break them up, you can mold them into one grand structure. Marriage in the family must be done away with; let Abraham die that the "I am" may live; perish Paternalism, Individualism to the fore.
What effect has that change had? The mixture of blood always kills something. If it does not kill the animal, it kills something else. If we mate a horse and a donkey, we have as the outcome a hybrid, the mule. Is that mule the same as each of those who begot it? Is there not something killed? Yes. The faculty of propagation is killed, and so it is in all other hybrids. They cannot propagate their species. In the same way, when we marry internationally, something else is killed. And that is—the pictures in the inner vision. The different pictures of different families clash, and so the clairvoyance, the touch with the spiritual world, with the memory of nature, has waned since that time. The Highland Scots who married in the clan, and the gypsies alone retain this second sight in a measure.
If someone had stood for thousands of years upon a distant planet and looked clairvoyantly at our little Earth, he would have seen a gradual change from bad to worse in its Desire World and World of Thought. It was getting more and more filled up with murky and bad vibrations, because man, in the days of his earliest childhood, was not able to control his impulses. He was controlled mostly by the mind and the desire body, and therefore after death he had to stay in Purgatory almost all of the times between incarnations; there was almost no progress. The Second Heaven life, where he learns to do creative work, was almost barren.
The Desire World of the Earth must be cleansed to give man a new start. That was Christ's mission.
As to the reason for the violent death, we have already heard that when a person is taken violently out of his instrument there is something that clings to it, and that something is the impurities of the lower nature. We have the arterial blood, and the venous blood, and in that venous blood are the impurities that belong to the lower nature; but in the arterial blood we have the purity. The venous blood clings closely to the flesh, and therefore at the time that any person is killed, if the blood flows, there is a distinct cleansing. Whenever the spirit is taken out of the body by accident, and the blood flows, man is cleaner, he is better as a spirit.
The body of Jesus was to be killed, and blood was to flow, in order that by that violent death, the last impurity that might be still clinging to the flesh should be left to decay; that the Christ Spirit, pure and untainted, with none of the impurities of the body it had used, might be diffused over the world.
When that Great Being flowed out through the wounds of Jesus' body, that luminous Sun Spirit diffused itself all over the Earth. And that is why we hear of that great darkness, because that spiritual light was what men perceived as darkness. But gradually it was absorbed into the Earth, and took its place, permitting everything within its influence to return to its normal condition, so far as man could see; but the vibrations that had been set up there cleansed, purified, and set in rhythmic order the vibrations in the higher world, and gave a spiritual impulse that could not otherwise have been given, and that was the way that it cleansed, and "took away the sin of the world" by restoring the rhythmic vibrations in a measure and thus enabling man to progress. That influence is still working and cleansing the world; it is the source of altruism and benevolence which are gradually taking the place of patriotism and selfishness, bringing Universal Brotherhood and Fellowship to the World.
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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