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The customary greeting at this time is: "May you have a happy and a prosperous New Year." With this the writer is in hearty accord and extends it to you, but his meaning may differ somewhat from that which is ordinarily given, for usually it is material prosperity that is the main thought; whereas the writer wishes you that gold which is wrought by the alchemy of the soul, so that the base metal of the coming year's experience may thus be transformed into the Philosopher's Stone, the greatest good this world can ever give. Worldly riches are always a source of care to their possessor, but this, the jewel of jewels, brings with it the peace that passeth all understanding.
Moreover, if we work solely for material things, our labor is always found to be hard drudgery no matter how we may seek to break the monotony by indulging in so-called pleasures. There comes ever and anon the thought: "What is the use?" But when we labor in the vineyard of Christ, when we do everything in our business and out of it as "unto the Lord," then the aspect is entirely different. Christ said: "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light," and that is an actual truth, though perhaps not in the ordinary sense. The writer and others who have been with him during many years can testify from personal experience that though there has been the most arduous labor, both mental and physical, and though the body has been sometimes so tired that it has been almost impossible to bring it together in the morning, nevertheless there has been a satisfaction, joy, and pleasure that the world knows not, neither can understand. The years that have gone by, spent in this work, have been so satisfactory that nothing in the world could compensate the writer and his companion for them should they be lost. Year by year he estimates it a greater privilege to thus labor, and others who are with him have exactly the same feeling.
How about you, dear friend? We are at the beginning of a new year, a new start. The group of students of the Rosicrucian Teachings depends on the units, and if we are to make spiritual progress, then the burden must be taken up by every one among us. We must become more faithful, more earnest, more devoted to the ideals that have been given by the Elder Brothers. We know that there are faithful workers in this "fellowship," but are you? It is not enough to simply study the teachings and meditate upon them; we must actually carry them into our lives and become shining lights in our community. We must live the life not only in the outside world but right in the home, so that other members of the family may see the light and be brought in. We know that many do this, but there are others who are lukewarm, who still stand on the threshold and do not want to take the yoke. Now the yoke must be borne, no matter if the neck becomes calloused in the effort; in fact, every callous is an additional factor in building, the soul body, the glorious wedding garment in which alone we can meet the Lord when he appears.
It is the earnest, the very earnest hope of the writer that every student of the Rosicrucian Teachings will take up his or her yoke with more ardor than ever before, so that both individually and collectively we may lay up treasure in heaven that is sure to be ours at the end of the year-day, when we have borne the burden and the heat.
This month we are starting a new series of lesson on "The Web of Destiny—How Made and Unmade," and we trust that this series will prove very profitable to you in your study and in your life. While the lesson are analytical and technical in some respects, the subject should be approached in a spirit of the deepest devotion by keeping the main purpose of life in view.
As you are probably aware, the word "philosophy" is composed of two words meaning love of wisdom. Most people have the idea that "love of wisdom" in this connection is synonymous with desire for knowledge, but as we have seen from a recent lesson, there is a vast difference between knowledge and wisdom. Wisdom implies love, first, last, and all the time, while knowledge may be used for the most evil purposes imaginable. In fact the true esotericist who is inspired by a fervent devotion in his study and his work in life is too modest to accept the title of philosopher, for to him it means even more as he turns it around and calls it "The Wisdom of Love" instead of love of wisdom. A little thought will very soon make the point clear. The subject we have chosen for the coming series of lessons is one of the most intimate and holy which one can take up, therefore you will readily realize that it must be approached in this "wisdom of love" spirit, in love that is embodied in the full realization of what true philosophy is and means.
Robert Burns once said:
"O wad some pow'r the giftie gie us
To see ourselves as ithers see us!"
But I am afraid that power would indeed be a sad possession though it may seem upon superficial thought to be desirable. Each of us is full of shortcomings. At times we make but a sorry figure on the stage of the world. Sometimes we seem to be thrown aimlessly hither and thither by the shuttle-cock of destiny, while others who are unable to see the beam in their own eye are criticizing us and making us appear ridiculous. If we saw ourselves with their eyes, we should lose that most essential attribute—our self-respect; we should shrink from facing our fellow men.
When we realize that this is so (and thought upon the matter surely can not fail to convince us), then we might also with profit put the shoe on the other foot and realize that we ourselves, by sharp criticism of the trivial shortcomings of others, are taking a very unbrotherly, unphilosophical, un-wisdom-of-love-like attitude. It is the purpose of the coming lessons to give us an idea of what has caused in the past some of the things that we most criticize in others, so that we may be able personally to avoid similar mistakes; also that we may have that real, true, Christian charity which vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, rejoiceth not in evil but in the truth, as Paul describes it in that beautiful thirteen chapter of 1st Corinthians.
I trust that you will approach the lessons in that spirit and that they may be of lasting benefit to us all.
While meditating upon the good of the Rosicrucian Teachings the question came up before the writer's mind: "What is the greatest general hindrance to our progress in the spiritual work?" And the answer was: "Lack of concentration."
We all have our families who crave and must have a certain share of our attention. Our work in the world must not be neglected on any account. We are here to accomplish certain things, and to learn by them. After these duties have been attended to there still remains for each of us a little time which we may justly and properly use for our own development, and it is as important that we properly use this extra time as it is that we attend to our worldly duties, our family, and our social obligations.
Consider now that in ordinary life we do not try to become a doctor and practice medicine today, work in a machine shop tomorrow, and every other day go at some other business. We know that such a course would not take us anywhere in life. Neither do we live in one family as husband or wife today and assume similar relations in another family tomorrow; nor do we change our social circle as often as we change our coats or shoes. Such industrial and social conditions would be absolutely impossible. On the contrary, we pursue one line of work in the world; we look after one family; we concentrate our efforts in these departments of our life to the exclusion of all others.
Why not apply the same common sense to our spiritual endeavors? We study our business; we plan ahead; we work with all our might in order to make it a success. We also study the needs of our family and we plan for them. We know that success, both social and industrial, depends upon the amount of concentration and the amount of planning we do. If, then, we are so wise concerning worldly things, which last only for the few years of our earth life, can we not bring ourselves to use the same common sense to apply ourselves equally with all our mind and with our heart to the spiritual things that are everlasting?
In the Atlantean Epoch when the Original Semites were called out from among their brothers, many of them accounted it a great hardship. They, "the Sons of God," married "the daughters of men," with the result which we know from our study of the Cosmo.
We are today at another great parting of the ways. An "Ecclesia," or company of men, is being "called out" as pioneers of the next great race. Many roads lead to Rome and to the Kingdom of Christ, but if we fritter our time away walking on one today and tomorrow choosing another path, we are certain to fail; and I therefore urge all the students who are in sympathy with the ideas of the Rosicrucian Teachings to give up all other religious societies and devote their whole heart, mind, and spirit to living and spreading our teachings.
Trained, skilled, and devoted workers are sought in our earthly enterprises. In the heavenly Kingdom loyalty and devotion also are prime factors.
Let us memorize and concentrate on the first three verses of the first Psalm, for surely we want to reap the greatest harvest that we possible can from our spiritual as well as from our material efforts.
As this lesson will reach you about Easter time, I thought it might be well to devote the letter to that recurring event.
You know the analogy between man, who enters his vehicles in the daytime, lives in them and works through them, and at night is a free spirit, free from the fetters of the dense body—and the Christ Spirit dwelling in our earth a part of the year. We all know what a fetter and what a prison this body is, how we are hampered by disease and suffering, for there is not one of us who is always in perfect health so that he or she never feels a pang of pain, at least no one on the higher path.
It is similar with the Cosmic Christ, who turns His attention toward our little earth, focusing His consciousness in this planet in order that we may have life. He has to enliven this dead mass (which we have crystallized out of the sun) annually; and it is a fetter, a clog, and a prison to Him. Therefore it is right and proper that we should rejoice when He comes at Christmas time each year and is born anew into our world to help us leaven this dead lump wherewith we have encumbered ourselves. Our hearts at that time should turn to Him in gratitude for the sacrifice He makes for our sakes during the winter months, permeating this planet with His life to awaken it from its wintry sleep, in which it must remain were He not thus born into it to enliven it.
During the winter months He suffers agonies of torture, "groaning, travailing, and waiting for the day of liberation," which comes at the time that we speak of in the orthodox churches as the passion week. But we realize according to the mystic teachings that this week is just the culmination or crest wave of His suffering and that He is then rising out of His prison; that when the sun crosses the equator, He hangs upon the cross, and cries, "Consummatum est!"—"It has been accomplished!" That is to say, His work for that year has been accomplished. It is not a cry of agony but it is a cry of triumph, a shout of joy that the our of liberation has come, and that once more He can soar away a little while, free from the fettering clod of our planet.
Now, dear friend, the point to which I would like to call your attention is that we should rejoice with Him in that great, glorious, triumphal hour, the hour of liberation when He exclaims, "It has been accomplished!" Let us attune our hearts to this great cosmic event; let us rejoice with the Christ, our Savior, that the term of His annual sacrifice has once more been completed; and let us feel thankful from the very bottom of our hearts that He is now about to be freed from the earth's fetters; that the life wherewith He has now endued our planet is sufficient to carry us through the time till next Christmas.
I hope that this may furnish you with a point of view for prayerful Easter meditation which will result in abundant soul growth.
In the March letter I suggested, as you will remember, the concentration of energy in one direction, advising, as I have done before, that students devote all their spare time to work in and for one religious society, rather than scattering and dissipating their energies by membership in a number of such societies, for it is an impossibility to do effective work in that manner.
Since that time a few resignations have come in, which were not unexpected. Among a large number of students of the Rosicrucian Teachings some of those who hold membership in other bodies would naturally have their greatest sympathy somewhere else, and they would follow that bent in accordance with my advice. Indeed the surprise is that there have been only a few resignations, but this is no doubt due to the fact that Headquarters periodically weeds out those who show little interest, and thus keeps only the most live members on the list.
As we have often said, many roads lead to Rome, but you can not walk two roads at once. You must walk one in order to get there. Zigzagging from one to another is a waste of effort. If we do our work in the world we have but very little time left in which we may legitimately work for our own advantage along spiritual lines. Therefore we should endeavor to concentrate our efforts where they will do the greatest good instead of scattering our energies and attaining very little soul growth in that manner.
While we are studying the "Web of Destiny—How Made and Unmade," it is expedient, in fact absolutely necessary, that we should keep before the eye of our mind the fact that life is not alone an unfoldment of causes set going in previous existences. The spirit, when it comes back to rebirth, has a varying amount of free will—according to the life previously led—to fill in details. Also, instead of only unfolding past causes into effects, there are also new causes generated at every turn by the spirit, which then act as seeds of experience in future lives. This is a very important point. It is a self-evident truth, for unless it were so, the causes that have already been set going must at some time come to an end, and that would mean cessation of existence.
Thus we are not absolutely forced to act in a certain way because we are in a certain environment and because our whole past experience has given us a trend toward a certain end. With the divine prerogative of free will, man has the power of Epigenesis or initiative, so that he may enter upon a new line at any time he wishes. He cannot at once steer himself out of the old life—this may require a long time, perhaps several lives—but gradually he works up to the ideal which he has once sown.
Therefore life advances not only by involution and evolution, but especially by Epigenesis. This sublime teaching of the Mystic Christian Religion of the Rosicrucians explains many mysteries not otherwise capable of a logical solution, among them one which has occasioned many letters to Headquarters. This subject is taken up with some reluctance as the writer dislikes speaking about the war. The question concerns the connection between a soldier, a woman of the enemy ravished by him, and the ego born of a mother who hates it because of the undesired motherhood.
Investigation of a number of cases has shown that this is a new venture on the part of the spirits coming to rebirth. All have been incorrigible in their previous environments and it seemed that no good could come by keeping them there to the sorrow of those with whom they were connected. The present war conditions, though not made for the purpose, afford an opportunity to transfer them to another field of action, where the new mother reaps, through this agency, the fruits of wrongs sown by herself in the past.
Nor is this condition at all peculiar to war. Very often similar means are used at other times so that we may reap what we have sown, through another soul who enters into our lives to suffer and to bring suffering to us. I have in mind a mother who told me a number of years ago how she rebelled against motherhood; how, after she had gone through the period of pregnancy with hate and anger in her heart, the little child was born and she refused even to look at it; but finally she was melted by pity for its condition of helplessness, and pity later turned to love. The child had all the advantages that money could give him, but these advantages could not save his mental balance, and today he sits in a murderer's cell in an asylum for the criminal insane, while the mother is left to sorrow and to ponder upon what she did or did not do during the time when that infant was coming to her.
Conversely, there are also occasions when a spirit, being through with an old environment, comes into a new sphere of action as a ray of sunshine and comfort to those who are fitted to receive that blessing by their previous actions. Let us, therefore, remember that no matter how degraded a being may be he has always the power to sow the seed of good, but must wait until that seed can flower in a right environment. Each of us, though bound by his yesterdays, is therefore thus far free respecting his tomorrows.
Upon re-reading the monthly lesson which accompanies this letter, embodying the result of investigations made some time ago, I was struck anew and with added force by the fact of the existence of such fearsome conditions about us. At the present time when the horrors of the great war are adding unprecedented numbers to those who pass from the present world to the invisible realms under harrowing conditions, it seems that an extra effort ought to be made to offset and to minimize the evil. Those who are students of the Rosicrucian Teachings are as yet but a drop in the ocean of humanity, but if we do our share we shall earn a greater opportunity for service.
There is no remedy for the present conditions equal to a knowledge of the continuity of life and of the fact that we are reborn from time to time under the immutable Law of Consequence. If these great facts with all that they imply could be brought home to a large number of people, this leaven must ultimately work in such a manner as to change conditions all over the world.
One man, Galileo, changed the viewpoint of the world concerning the solar system; and though we are only a few thousand, it is not possible for us to exert an influence upon the opinion of the world when we know that this is true?
It is often said that people are not interested in spiritual matters; that you cannot get their ear; but, really, it is not so. Granting that of the hundred of thousands who went to hear Billy Sunday, the noted evangelist, a great many were actuated by curiosity or went to jeer and sneer, there were also many thousand in whom was a strong desire for something which they themselves perhaps could not define, and which was the actuating motive. Recently there was a debate between a New York evangelist and a lawyer on the subject, "Where Are the Dead?" This debate was held in a large auditorium accommodating many thousands, and it lasted for three days. Every seat in the auditorium was taken and, if I remember right, there were many who could not even find standing room within. No, the world is seeking something; seeking it with a hungry heart, and it only depends upon us whether we are going to do our share by putting before the world the rational explanation of life which has come to us through the Elder Brothers. It is a great privilege and we should certainly take advantage of it.
But the question is, How? Let me ask you, would not your newspaper take an occasional article on this subject? There are certainly a number of people within the Fellowship capable of writing such articles. A committee could be formed to receive the articles and furnish them to the members who ask for them and who would agree to take them to the editors of the newspapers in their respective towns and endeavor to get a hearing for the Rosicrucian Teachings through that medium. If an article is well written it is seldom refused when there is space available, for editors are only too glad to get something that they think may interest the reading public, even though they may not be in sympathy with it themselves.
Will some of the students who can write please submit short articles on "The Continuity of Life," and will those who are willing to undertake to get such articles into their home papers write and register their names so that we may get action?
I hope that this appeal will meet with a hearty response.
Did you ever realize the reason why Christ commanded that we should heal the sick? One of the reasons certainly was that when you have demonstrated that you can heal the body, those who have been helped will have more faith in your ability also to help the soul. When we have advanced to the high stature of Christ so that we can at once see the past and the present; when we are able thus to determine at a glance the causes, crises, and present stage of a disease, we shall need no other aid in diagnosis and advice. But until that time we must use such crutches as we have, and foremost among them is astrology.
Many people who have been unwilling to work for results have come to Headquarters expecting to gain spiritual illumination, to sprout wings, and to return to the world as wonder workers after a few days' stay. And naturally, they have been disappointed. But whenever anyone has honestly and earnestly applied himself to real work, not classes, for a reasonable time, results have always been attained. We have here a letter from a friend who stayed at Mt. Ecclesia and applied himself earnestly and honestly to his studies. We give his experience as encouragement to others to do likewise:
"Dear Friends: The proposition which I expected to take up after my stay on Mt. Ecclesia turned out to be a graft on people and not consistent with our ideals at all, and I therefore sent in my resignation. No sooner, though, did I give up that scheme than I had an invitation from a prominent physician in Kansas City to do work with him. He appealed to me as being all right. We were literally stormed with patients. Mrs. Heindel, it is wonderful how people hunger for something of this nature; they look for someone to open their lives, and they try to get encouragement from sources that are more potent and reliable than the hard and dry life-destroying materialism.
"Astrology came as a wonderful help to me to gain their confidence; and by the aid of God, who sent me here, I was able to send them away, their ailments correctly diagnosed. And the strangest part of it is that none of them gave me any symptoms. I located both disease and symptom, and nearly everyone agree that I was right and resolved to live up to the high principles of manhood and womanhood which I enunciated to them.
"I expect to be very busy here and wish to thank you for the help I have received along this line during the last year at Mt. Ecclesia. I certainly enjoyed my stay with you immensely and am looking forward to a great deal of good from my work there; am only sorry I was unable to stay longer."
What man has done, man can do. Mrs. Heindel and myself did not get our knowledge along this line without effort. We had to work hard for it; and others who have worked as hard with the same spiritual ideals in view, namely, the helping and uplifting of humanity, also find an illumination that is not given to those who are looking for the material rewards of life and their own aggrandizement. It seems to me that it is time that students of The Rosicrucian Teachings should wake up and take this study earnestly in hand so that healing centers may be established in every city in the world.
We have started a department in the magazine where we delineate the horoscope of children to help parents to know their latent characteristics. There is also a correspondence course for beginners, besides the course in Astro-Diagnosis and Astro-Therapy for probationers, and we would advise all who have not yet started to take up the study.
When one investigates a certain subject in the invisible world, many fascinating byways open up. He is constantly lured away from the main line of research by this, that, or the other theme which attracts his attention, and there is great danger of losing sight of the goal and of wandering off in a maze of incoherency. Sometimes the temptation to follow a bypath is stronger than my power of resistance; and recently, while working on the "Web of Destiny," the figure of a hermit who had starved his body to the semblance of a skeleton—who had whipped himself till the blood flowed from sores that were never allowed to heal, and thought he was serving God by these austerities—led me to search for the origin of this hideous practice. I have written a lengthy article on the subject for our magazine; but as the matter is important, and many of the students are not subscribers to the magazine, I have deemed it best to give you the main facts.
In the ancient Mystery Temples the main truths now taught by The Rosicrucian Teachings concerning the vital body were given to the aspirant to Initiation. He learned that this vehicle was composed of the four ethers: the Chemical Ether, which is necessary to assimilation; the Life Ether, which furthers growth and propagation; the Light Ether, which is the vehicle of sense perception; and the Reflecting Ether, which is the receptacle of memory.
The aspirant was thoroughly instructed in the functions of the two lower ethers as compared with the two higher. He knew that all the purely animal functions of the body depended upon the density of the two lower ethers and that the two upper ethers composed the soul body—the vehicle of service in the invisible world. He aspired to cultivate this glorious garment by self-abnegation, curbing the propensities of the lower nature by will power, just as we do today.
But some, who were overzealous to attain, no matter how, forgot that it is only by service and unselfishness that the golden wedding garment, composed of the two higher ethers, is grown. They thought the esoteric maxim, "Gold in the crucible, dross in the fire; light as the winds, higher and higher," meant only that so long as the dross of the lower nature was expelled, it did not matter how it was done. And they reasoned that as the Chemical Ether is the agent of assimilation, it could be eliminated from the vital body by starving the physical body. They also thought that as the Life Ether is the avenue of propagation, they could by living celibate lives starve it out. They would then only have the two higher ethers, or at least these would be much larger in volume than the two lower.
To that end they practiced all the austerities they could think of, fasting among others. By this unnatural process the body lost its health and became emaciated. The passional nature, which sought gratification by exercise of the propagative function, was stilled by castigation. It is true that in this horrible manner the lower nature seemed to be subjected; and it is also true that when the bodily functions were thus brought to a very low ebb, visions, or rather hallucinations, were the reward of these people; but true spirituality has never been attained by defiling or destroying "the temple of God," the body, and fasting may be as immoral as gluttony.
Let us endeavor to use moderation in all things, that we may be worthy examples to others and earn admission to the Temple by virtue of right living.
As there are a great number of students who have not subscribed for the magazine, and as there is a very important article running now, dealing with the esoteric side of the war, I feel that it may be best to devote the monthly letter to a resume of the facts, and trust that this will also benefit those who take the magazine; for as I do not intend to copy, but will take up the subject offhand, new points are sure to be brought out.
You remember how every one of the countries concerned in this sad affair has endeavored to disclaim responsibility from the beginning. In a sense they are right, for though all have been guilty of pride of heart and, like David when he numbered Israel, have put their trust in the multitude of their men, ships, and armament, no war can ever take place that is not permitted by the Race Spirits. The Race Spirit guides its charges upon the path of evolution, and, like Jehovah, fights for them, or allows other nations to conquer them, as required to teach them the lesson needful for their advancement.
When seen by the spiritual vision the Race Spirit appears like a cloud brooding over a country, and it is breathed into the lungs of the people with every breath they take. In it they live, move, and have their being, as a matter of actual fact. Through this process they become imbued with that national fellow-feeling which we call "patriotism," which is so powerfully stirring in time of war that all feel wrought up about a certain matter and are ready to sacrifice all for their country.
America has no Race Spirit as yet. It is the melting pot wherein the various nations are being amalgamated to extract the seed for a new race; therefore it is impossible to arouse a universal sentiment which will make all move as one in any matter. This new race is beginning to appear, however. You may know them by their long arms and limbs, their lithe body, their long and somewhat narrow head, high crown, and almost rectangular forehead. In a few generations I expect they will be taken in charge by an Archangel, who will then begin to unite them. This itself will take generations, for though the pictures originally stamped in the old race bodies have faded from sight with the advent of the international marriages, they are still effective, and the family connections of America with the other nations of the world may be traced in the Memory of Nature found in the Reflecting Ether. Until this record has been wiped clean, the tie with the ancestral country is not entirely broken, and the colonies of Italians, Scots, Germans, Chinese, English, etc., remaining in various part of this country retard the evolution of the new race. Probably the Aquarian Age will be here before this condition has been entirely overcome and the American race fully established.
If you look back at the developments during the past 60 or 70 years, it must be evident that it has been an age of skepticism, doubt, and criticism of religious subjects. The churches have become increasingly empty, and people have turned to the pursuit of pleasure, from the worship of God. This tendency was on the increase in Europe until the advent of this war, and it is still a disgrace to certain cities and centers of scientific thought in America. As a result of this worldwide attitude of mind, fostered by the Brothers of the Shadow with the permission of the Race Spirits, as Job was tempted by Satan in the legend, a spiritual cataract has covered the eyes of the Western world and must be removed before evolution can proceed. How that is being done will be the subject of the next letter.
You are aware from the teachings of the Cosmo that there was one race at the end of the Lemurian Epoch, there were seven in the Atlantean Epoch, seven in the Fifth, and there will be one in the coming Galilean Epoch, making in all sixteen races. You also remember that these sixteen races are called by the Elder Brothers "the sixteen paths to destruction" because enmeshed in the bodies of any race to such an extent that it will be unable to follow the others along the path of evolution. During the Periods and Epochs there is always plenty of time so that the Leaders of humanity can marshal their flocks into line.
This was the tendency among the nations of Europe up to the present war. Patriotism, and the racial ideal fostered thereby, were leading them away from God. An age of doubt and skepticism had been ushered in by the many scientific discoveries, and the races in the Western world were steering very close to the brink of destruction. Therefore it became necessary for the Elder Brothers to devise measures whereby mankind might be brought from the path of pleasure to the path of devotion, and this could only be done by removing the spiritual cataract from a sufficiently large number of people so that they would then override the doubt and skepticism of the rest.
When we dwelt under the water in the early Atlantean Epoch, we were, as you know, unable to see the body or even to feel it, because our consciousness was focused in the spiritual realm. We saw one another, soul to soul. We were unaware of either birth or death, and we felt no separation from those we loved. But when we gradually became aware of our bodies, and our consciousness was focused in the physical world from birth to death, and in the spiritual world from death to birth, there was a separation, and consequent sorrow on account of the advent of death. In bygone ages however, there were still many who were able to see both worlds; they formed quite a considerable number of the populace. Their testimonies to the continuity of life were a great comfort to those who had been bereaved, for they believed thoroughly that those whom they had lost were still alive and happy, though unable to make themselves known. But gradually the world became more and more materialistic; faith in the reality of the hereafter faded, and sorrow at the loss of the loved ones grew more and more intense, until today many believe the separation is final. To them the word "rebirth" is an empty sound, and therefore grief is overwhelming.
But this very grief is nature's remedy for the spiritual cataract. As surely as the desire for growth built the complicated alimentary canal from the simplest beginning so that the craving for growth might be satisfied; as surely as the desire for motion evolved the wonderful joints, sinews, and ligaments wherewith this is accomplished; just as surely will the intense yearning to continue the relationships severed by death build the organ for its gratification—the spirit eye. Therefore this wholesale slaughter of millions of men has helped and is helping more to bridge the gulf between the invisible and the visible world than a thousand years of preaching could do. All through the history of the world it has been recorded that warriors have seen so-called supernatural manifestations, and there is plenty of testimony that those visions have also been seen in the present war. The shock of the wound, the suffering in the hospital, and tears of the widows and orphans, all are opening the spiritual eyes of Europe, and the age of doubt and skepticism will pass away. Instead of being ashamed of having faith in God, the world will honor a man for his piety rather than for his prowess in a not very distant future. And let us all pray for that day.
The news printed today in big type on the front pages of newspapers, news which seems of such vital and absorbing interest to everybody, is usually forgotten tomorrow, and the papers that contained the records are thrown into the fire. Likewise the song that is upon the lips of everybody is usually after awhile relegated to he archives of oblivion. Even the men who are launched like meteors into the limelight of publicity are usually soon forgotten, together with the deeds that caused their brief popularity—for to quote Solomon, "All is vanity."
But among the kaleidoscopic changes that are constantly altering the stage of the world, morally, mentally, and physically, there are certain cyclic events which, though they are recurrent in their nature, have a permanency and stability about them which differentiates the macrocosmic from the microcosmic method of conducting affairs.
In the spring time, at Easter, when the sun crosses the eastern or vernal equinox, the earth emerges from its wintry sleep and shakes off the snowy blanket which has covered it with a vesture of immaculate purity. The voice of nature is heard when the little babbling brooks begin to trickle down the hillside on their way to the great ocean. It is heard when the wind whispers in the newly sprouted forest leaves the song of love that calls forth the bud and the flower which finally bears the pollen that is carried upon invisible wings to the waiting mate. It is heard in the love song of the mating birds and the call of beast unto beast. It continues in every department of nature until the increase of new life has compensated for the destruction by death.
Through the summer, Love and Life toil exceedingly with joyful heart, for they are Masters in the struggle for existence while the sun is exalted in the northern heavens, at the maximum of his power at the summer solstice. Time goes by, and there comes another turning point at the fall equinox. The song of the woodland choir is now hushed; the love call of beast and bird ceases and nature becomes mute again. The light wanes, and the shadows of night grow longer, until at winter solstice, where we are now, the earth again prepares for the deepest sleep, for she need the night of rest after the strenuous activities of the preceding day.
But as the spiritual activities of man are greatest while his body is asleep, so also, by the law of analogy, we may understand that the spiritual fires in the earth are brightest at this time of the year; that now is the best opportunity for soul growth, for investigation and study of the deeper mysteries of life. And therefore it behooves us to catch opportunity on the wing so that we may use this present time to the very best advantage; yet without hurry, without worry, but patiently and prayerfully, knowing that among all other things in the world which change, this great wave of spiritual light will be with us in the winter season for ages to come. It will grow more and more brilliant as the earth and ourselves evolve to higher degrees of spirituality. We are now doing the pioneer work of spreading the Rosicrucian teachings which will help to illuminate the world during the centuries immediately following our present time. There is a law that "you can get only as you give." Now—this season of the year—is the most propitious time to give and receive, so let us be sure to let our light shine on the great cosmic Christmas tree, that it may be seen of men, and that they may be attracted to the truths which we know to be of such vital importance in the development of our fellow men.
In concluding this letter I desire to thank every one of the students for their cooperation in the work during the past year. Any may we do better work together in the coming year.
WE are now at the close of another year of our lives and at the beginning of a new, and certain thoughts have come to me in connection with these divisions of our earthly lives.
When Christ was at the end of His ministry, eating the last supper with His disciples, he washed their feet, despite protests from some who thought that this was a humiliation for the teacher. But as a matter of fact it was the symbol of an attitude of mind which is of great significance as a factor in soul growth. Were it not for the mineral soil, the higher plant kingdom would be an impossibility; and the animal kingdom could not exist if the plants did not give it the needed substance. Thus we see that in nature the higher feeds upon and is dependent on the lower for its growth and further evolution. Although it is a fact that the disciples were instructed and helped by Christ, it is also a fact that they were stepping-stones in His development; and it was in recognition of this fact that He humbled Himself, acknowledging His debt to them in the performance of the most menial service imaginable.
It has been the great privilege of the writer to transmit the esoteric instructions of the Elder Brothers to you and thousands of others during the past year, and in this he has been aided by all the workers on Mt. Ecclesia, directly or indirectly. Those who have helped in the print shop, office, or whatever necessary department have all had their share in this privilege, and we all thank you for these opportunities for soul growth which have come to us in satisfying your need. We trust that we have been of some service in that respect, and ask your prayers that we may become more efficient servants in the coming year.
And how about you, dear friend? During the past year you also have had opportunities to serve others in a similar manner. Have you used your talents of knowledge transmitted to you to enlighten those with whom you have come in contact? It is not necessary to stand in a pulpit, literally or metaphorically, at any time in order to speak to the heart of others. It is often most effectively accomplished in the little quiet ways, such that people do not know we are trying to show them something. We trust you have improved your opportunities to the best of your ability during the past year, and pray that you may enter the new year with a still more earnest spirit of service, and that is may prove to be much more fruitful of soul growth than the past has been.
One of the most difficult problems which confront the leader of a spiritual movement is the impatience of students who want to reap where they have not sown. They are not patient enough to wait for the harvest but want results immediately, and if they do not sprout wings within a specified time set by themselves they are ready to cry "fraud" and seek and "individual teacher," visible or invisible. So long as he will "guarantee" results, they are prepared to throw common sense to the winds and follow him blindly, though he may lead them to the insane asylum or to a consumptives's grave, or in the cases of those who get off the easiest, simply separate them from some of their cash.
This condition has been dealt with before in letters to students, but there are always some who forget and new students are constantly being added to the class; therefore it is necessary to reiterate important points from time to time. Hearing recently of one who left a certain center for an "individual teacher," and who seems on that account to be envied in a measure by others of the group who have not been so fortunate (?), it seems expedient to go into the matter again.
Have you ever seen any institution, from kindergarten to college, where they keep a teacher for every pupil? We have not. No board of education would sanction such a waste of energy, nor would they appoint an individual teacher for any one simply because that pupil was impatient and wanted to get through school "quick." And finally, even if a board could be found willing to appoint a teacher in a special case who would "cram" knowledge into the pupils brain, there would be a great danger of brain fever, insanity, and maybe death in that method.
If this is true in schools of physical science, how can anyone believe that it can be different with regard to spiritual science? Christ said to His disciples: "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?" No "individual teacher," if such there were, can initiate anyone into the mysteries of the soul until the pupil is prepared by his or her own work. Whoever professes to do so brands himself as an impostor of a low order. And whoever allows himself to be so duped shows very little common sense; otherwise he would realize that no truly highly evolved teacher could afford to give his time and energy to the instruction of a single pupil, when he might just as easily teach a large number.
Imagine, if you can, the twelve great Brothers of the Rose Cross, each tagging around after one puny pupil! The thought is a sacrilege. Such truly great and highly evolved men have other and more important things to attend to, and even the lay brothers who have been initiated by them are not allowed to bother them for small and unimportant matters.
It may therefore be stated emphatically that the Elder Brothers do not habitually visit any one among the ranks of students of the Rosicrucian Teachings, or out of it, as an "individual teacher," and whoever thinks so is being deceived. They have given certain teachings which form the basis of instruction in this school, and by learning how to live this silence of the soul we may in time fit ourselves to meet them face to face in the school of Invisible Helpers. There is no other way.
I trust that this may fix the idea more firmly in your own mind than it has been before, and give you a basis for setting others right who are in danger of being side-tracked.
From time to time we are grieved to receive letters from students in the warring countries chiding us for not taking up the cudgel in favor of their side. There has not been a day since this sad conflict began that we have not mourned the dreadful slaughter, though comforted by the knowledge that it is helping as nothing else could to break down the barrier between the living and the dead. Thus the war will go far towards abolishing the sorrow now experienced by the masses when parting from loved ones; also the present sorrow is turning the Western people from the pleasures of the world to the worship of God. There has not been a night that we have not worked diligently with the dead and wounded to allay their mental anguish or physical pain.
Patriotism was very good at one time, but Christ said, "Before Abraham was, I am." (Ego sum). Races and nations, comprehended in the term "Abraham," are evanescent, but "the Ego," which existed before Abraham, the race father, will also persist when nations are a thing of the past. Therefore the Fellowship disregards national and racial differences, endeavoring to join all together in a bond of love to fight a Great War—the only war in which a true Christian should fight, and one which a true Christian ought to wage unflinchingly and without quarter—the war against his lower nature. Paul says: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing. For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
Does not Paul describe here most accurately the state of every aspiring soul? Are we not all suffering spiritually because of the conflict within ourselves? I hope there is but one answer, namely, that this inner war is being waged fiercely and unremittingly by every Fellowship student; for where there is no struggle, there is a sure indication of spiritual coma. The "body of sin" has then the upper hand. But the fiercer the fight, the more hopeful our spiritual state.
In America we hear a great deal of talk of "neutrality" and "preparedness" for "defensive" purposes. In the nobler war which we must wage, there can be no "neutrality." Either there is peace, and "the flesh" rules us and holds us in abject subjection, or there is war aggressively waged by both flesh and spirit. And so long as we continue to live in this "body of death" this warfare will continue, for even Christ was tempted, and we cannot expect to fare better than He.
"Preparedness" is good. It is more necessary every day, for just as a physical enemy seeks to trap and ambush a strong adversary rather than risk open battle, so also the temptations which beset us on "the path" become more subtle with each succeeding year.
Writers like Thomas a Kempis were wont to speak of themselves as "vile worms," and to use kindred terms of "self-abasement," because they knew the great and subtle danger of "self-approbation." But even that may be carried too far, and we may feel that we are "very, very good" and "holier" than others because we abuse ourselves; and we may do it for the pleasure we get from hearing other people contradict us. Truly, the snares of the desire body are past finding out.
There is a way to be prepared, and it is sure: "Look to Christ," and keep your mind busy every waking moment when not engaged in your daily work, studying how you may serve Him. Endeavor by every available means to carry out in a practical manner the ideas thus conceived. The more closely we imitate Christ, the more loyally we follow the dictates of the Higher Self, the more certainly shall we vanquish the lower nature and win the only war worth while winning.
This is the Easter lesson, though it does not say one word connected with the cosmic event of the present season. But it emphasizes anew the great vital fact that birth and death are only incidents in the life of the spirit, which is without beginning or end.
Old age, sickness, war, or accident may destroy this earthly habitation, but we have "a house from heaven" that no power can move. And so, no matter how closely death may come to us or to our loved ones, we know that as Good Friday is followed by the glorious Easter, so also the door of death is but the gate to a longer life where the sickness and pain which lays our physical body low have no more dominion.
Just think what that means to our poor brothers who are torn and mangled by the awful inhumanity of man to man, and let us give thanks that they have escaped from the suffering which they must have endured if there had been no death to liberate them.
The great majority look upon death as "the king of terrors," but when we are instructed, we realize that under our present conditions death is a friend indeed. None of us has a perfect body, and as it deteriorates in an alarming degree during the few years that we use it, think how it would feel a million years hence—and a million years are less than a fleeting moment compared to infinite duration. None but spirit can endure infinity, and therefore Easter is the earnest of our hope of immortality, and Christ the first fruits of immortality and many brethren with Him.
Let us then, dear friend, approach the coming Easter in an attitude of spiritual aspiration to imitate our great Leader, the Christ, by crucifying our lower nature. May every day of the coming year be a Good Friday, may every night be spent in the purgatorial prison ministering to the spirits there confined, as Christ also did, and may every morn be a glorious Easter on which we rise in the newness of life to greater and better deeds.
"Take care of the pennies and the dollars will look after themselves" says a worldly wise proverb. We may paraphrase and adapt it to the spiritual life by saying, "Take heed that every day is well spent, and the years will yield much treasure."
When Christ visited Martha and Mary the former was much more concerned with preparation for his material comfort than in attending to the spiritual matters which he taught; hence the rebuke that she was concerned with many things of lesser moment than "the one thing needful." There is no doubt that it is positively wicked to neglect fulfilling one's duties and meeting every obligation honestly incurred in our ordinary everyday life. But unfortunately most of us make the great mistake of looking upon our work and duties in the material world as paramount, thinking that the spiritual side of our development can wait until a convenient time when we have nothing else to do. An increasing number of people admit that they ought to give more attention to spiritual matters, but they always have an excuse for not attending to them just now. "My business requires my entire attention," one will say. "Times are so strenuous, and in order to keep my head above water I must work from early morning till late at night. But as soon as times are a little better I am going to look into these matters and give more time to them." Another claims that certain relatives are dependent on him and that when he has fulfilled his obligations to these dependents he will be able to devote his time to soul growth.
There is no doubt that in many cases these excuses are legitimate, to a certain extent, and that the one who makes them is really and truly sacrificing himself or herself for some one else. I remember the case of a probationer who once wrote in distress that her two little children were always in need of attention at the times when she ought to perform her morning and evening exercises. She ardently desired to progress along the path of the higher life but the care of the children seemed a hindrance, and she asked what she should do. Attend to her children, of course, as I wrote to her. The sacrifice involved in giving up her own progress for the sake of her children's comfort naturally won a rebound to a thousand times more soul growth than if she had neglected her children for her own selfish interests.
But on the other hand there are many who simply lack the mental stamina to make the sustained effort. No matter how strenuous business conditions are, it is possible to devote a little time each day, morning and evening, to the attainment of spirituality. It is an exceedingly good practice to concentrate the mind upon an ideal during the time spent in street cars going from home to the place of business. The very fact that there is so much noise and confusion, which makes the effort more difficult, is in itself a help; for he who learns to direct his thought one-pointedly under such conditions will have no difficulty in obtaining the same results, or even better, under more favorable circumstances. The time thus spent will prove far more profitable than if used for reading a newspaper or a magazine which will call attention to conditions that are far from elevating.
The mind of most people is like a sieve. As water runs through the sieve so also thoughts flit through their brain. These thoughts are good, bad, and indifferent—mostly the latter. The mind does not hold on to any of them sufficiently long to learn its nature, and yet we are apt to entertain the idea that we cannot help our thoughts being what they are. On that account the great majority have formed the habit of listless thinking which makes them incapable of holding on to any subject until it is thoroughly mastered. It may be difficult to do, but certainly when the power of thought-control has been gained, the possessor holds within his hand the key to success in whatever line he may be engaged.
Therefore I would urge you in connection with this series of lessons, The Mystic Effect of the Emotions," which you are receiving that you take the above personally to heart and set aside a portion of each day for the purpose of gaining thought-control. There are a number of helpful hints given by various authors, but I will think the matter over and try to give some general hints. This is very difficult because so much depends upon the temperament of the student. The instruction should really be individual, rather than collective, to bring the best results.
Though my letter is dated the first of the month it was written earlier of course—in fact, the evening before "Decoration Day," the day when all patriotic Americans are supposed to honor the dead heroes who fought for the integrity of the Union.
As I thought over the matter it occurred to me that it seems always to require a calamity or a catastrophe to make men forget self and rise to the call of a cause or to the need of the occasion regardless of consequences. They always respond in war, earthquake, fire, or shipwreck.
But why should it require such cataclysmic events to bring out the virtue of self-sacrificing service when they are needed every day and hour in every home, hamlet, and city? The world would be so much better off if we did our noble deeds daily instead of only on occasion of exceptional stress. It may be noble to die for a great cause, but it is surely nobler to live a life of self-sacrifice, covering many years, cherishing others and helping them to be better and nobler, than to die in the attempt to kill a fellow being.
There is many a father who struggles years and years to give his children what he terms "a chance in life." There are thousands of mothers who toil a lifetime at "hard labor" to aid in this work for the young. There are millions of such heroes who are never heard of because they helped their fellows to live instead of causing them to die.
Is this not an anomaly—that we honor an army of men for more than half a century because they killed, killed, killed, while that greater army which fostered all that is best on earth lie forgotten in their graves?
As followers of Christ, let us pay tribute to the heroes and heroines who through years of suffering fought for others by rendering tender care in childhood's helpless days, by unflagging service in times of sickness, by patient participation in poverty and in any and every trouble that might befall.
Nor let us wait till they have passed to the beyond, but let us honor them here and now. Neither should we set one day in the year apart for the payment of such tribute, but we should honor them every day of our lives, and we should seek to lighten their burdens by emulating their noble deeds.
How shall we find them? they wear no uniform, neither do they wear their hearts upon their sleeves. They are everywhere, and if we seek we shall find them. The quicker we join their ranks, the sooner we shall honor ourselves by lightening their burdens as it becomes all true servants of the Master. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
In a few days we shall celebrate in America "The Glorious Fourth," our Independence Day, and we shall waste a lot of perfectly good and useful powder that might be put to better use, in order to show our "patriotism." A considerable number of fires and accidents will occur if we may judge from many precedents.
To what purpose all of this we may see by the heart-rending spectacle of the war which for almost two years has made tears a mockery, for no symbol of sorrow is adequate to the occasion. Let us realize that had there been no "patriotism," there could have been no war; and realizing its baneful influence, let us learn to say with Thomas Paine, "The world is my country, and to do good is my religion." This, it seems to me, is the gospel we ought to preach to our fellow men in whatever country we happen to be, for this attitude of mind will be one of the factors in accomplishing our emancipation from the Race Spirit, which fosters the feeling of "patriotism" in order to maintain its power over its particular people as long as possible. In a certain sense the Race Spirit feeds on war, for it causes the nation which it rules to sink its internal differences for the time being and its people to cluster close to one another for defense or aggression against the common foe. Thus they vibrate in harmony to an extent greater than usual, and this strengthens the Race Spirit and delays the advent of Christ to that extent. So long as patriotism holds the nations in bondage to the Race Spirits, the Universal Kingdom cannot be started.
I would therefore urge that the students of the Rosicrucian Teachings refrain from participation in any patriotic exercises of a martial nature. Practice Universal Brotherhood by never mentioning or recognizing differences of nationality, for we are all one in Christ.
From time to time letters of discouragement are received rom people who are smitten by conscience because they are unable to live up to their high ideals, and they feel that it would be more honest to abandon the faith and live as others live who make no professions. They say that while they read and study or listen in church to passages which exhort them to love their enemies, to bless them that curse them, and to pray for those who despitefully use them, they are heart and soul in accord with these sentiments and would gladly follow these precepts; but when they meet such conditions in the world, they cannot comply with the Biblical command, and therefore feel that they are hypocrites.
If man were a homogeneous whole, if spirit, soul, and body were one and undivided, that these people are hypocrites would be true. But spirit, soul, and body are not one, as we realize to our sorrow from the very first day that we feel the desire to tread the path of the higher life. And in this fact lies the solution of the problem. There are two distance natures in each of us. In the days of our unaspiring life the higher spiritual nature is asleep, and the worldly personal self is undisputed lord of all our actions. Then there is peace and serenity. But the moment the spiritual nature wakens, the war begins. As we grow in spirituality, the struggle is intensified until some time in the future the personality will succumb, and we shall gain the peace that passeth all understanding.
In the meantime we have the condition whereof our students complain (with Paul, Faust, and every other aspiring soul), that to will is easy, but that the good that they would, they do not, and the evil that they would not, that they do. The writer has felt, and feels most keenly every day of his life this discrepancy between this teachings and his actions. One part of his being aspires with an ardor that is painful in its intensity to all the higher and nobler things, while on the other hand, a strong personality, exceedingly difficult to curb, is a source of continual grief. But he feels that so long as he does not "pose" as a saint, so long as he honestly admits his shortcomings and professes his sorrow for them, and so long as he uses the inclusive "We" in all his exhortations, he deceives no one, and is not a hypocrite. Whatever he says he takes to himself first and foremost, and, however, unsuccessful, he strive to follow the Rosicrucian teachings. If everyone else among our students feels troubled on the same score as the correspondents who have inspired this letter, we hope that this may set them right.
Besides, what else can we do but go on? Having once awakened the higher nature, it cannot be permanently silenced, and there will be the misery of regret and remorse if we abandon effort. We have several times called attention to the way the mariner guides his vessel across the waste of waters by a star. He will never reach it, but nevertheless it brings him safely through the rock shoals to the desired haven. Similarly, if our ideals are so high that we realize we shall never reach them in this life, let us also keep in mind that we have endless time before us, and that what we cannot accomplish in this life-day will be achieved tomorrow or later. Let us follow the example of Paul and "by patient persistence in well-doing" continue to seek for spiritual glory, honor, and immortality.
You know of course that the Fellowship teaches rebirth to be a fact in nature, and you believe in this doctrine because it explains so many facts in life which we are otherwise unable to account for. But I wonder how many students have really taken the practical use of this truth to heart, and are fixing their attention upon it by consciously and systematically molding themselves and thus making their environment for future lives.
It is true that in the Second Heaven we devote all of our time to making the environment for our future life, forming the earth and the sea, providing the conditions for the flora and fauna, and generally shaping things to give us a suitable arena for our coming life work. But we do that according to the way we have been living here in this present life. If we have been lazy and shiftless here, living in a happy-go-lucky manner, it is not likely that when we come to the Second Heaven we will be careful to prepare a fertile soil, which we may later till. Therefore our next embodiment will probably find us with the barest means of existence at hand, so that under the whip of necessity we may learn to exert ourselves.
It is similar with our moral qualities. When we are ready to descend into the next embodiment,we can only build into our new vehicles what we have garnered in this. Therefore it is wise for us to commence now, when our next life is in the moldable clay stage, to make our ideals what we would like them to be and to make the environment in which we would like to be raised.
We are without a doubt all ready to agree in the first place that our present bodies are not as we wish them. Diseases of all sorts come to most people; some are subject to pain all their lives, and no one is ever able to go through life from the cradle to the grave without having at least some suffering. Thus each one of us may well picture himself in a future life with a healthy body in which he will be free from diseases that are now his worst plague.
With respect to the moral and mental faculties we are also far from perfect, and each one may therefore take up with profit the subject of improvement in that direction. Do we realize that we have a critical spirit, a sharp tongue, a hasty temper, or other kindred faults which bring us into trouble with others and make life unpleasant in our environment? Very well; by holding in mind and visualizing our ideal self for the future—having equipoise under all circumstances, being soft-spoken, kindly, and affectionate, etc.—we shall build these ideals into the thought form we have already shaped for ourselves in that distant day. And according to the intensity of the concentration which we apply to the matter will be the result. In so far as we endeavor now to cultivate and aspire virtues, we shall possess them then; and this applies to faculties as well. If we are slovenly now, by the aspiration to maintain order we shall later bring back that virtue. Are we lacking the sense of rhythm? Very well, it may be ours in the future by asking now. Mechanical ability, or any thing else that is necessary to give us the life experience we seek, may be had in the same way.
Therefore we ought systematically to set aside a certain time at intervals, as frequent as is consistent with our other duties, to think forward and plan for future life—what sort of a body, what faculties, virtues, and environment we wish. When we are able to make our choice intelligently, we are undoubtedly given a great deal more latitude than if we had not thought about the matter at all.
You understand of course that the highest form of aspiration to virtue is the constant endeavor to practice it in our daily lives. But while we are endeavoring to cultivate virtues, as we should, by practice, it is scientific to plan ahead the use we shall make of the future life just as we now plan ahead the use of the day that is before us. I trust that this idea may take root among the students and be consistently carried to its legitimate consummation, for in that way it will be bound to have a wonderful effect upon the future of ourselves and the future of the world about us.
We are now at the fall equinox where the physical sun is leaving the northern hemisphere after having provided us with the necessities of life for the coming year; and the spiritual tide which carries on its crest the life which will find physical expression in the coming year is now on its way towards our earth. The half-year directly before us is the holy part of the year. From the feast of the Immaculate Conception to the Mystic Birth at Christmas (while this wave is descending into the earth) and from that time to Easter (while it is traveling outward) a harmonious, rhythmic vibratory song, not inaptly described in the legend of the Mystic Birth as a "hosanna" sung by an angel choir, fills the planetary atmosphere and acts upon all as an impulse to spiritual aspiration. Not upon all in even measure, of course, but according to their general character.
Some do not feel this spiritual wave at all because of their depravity, but it works in, on, and with them just the same, and in time they will respond. Others are so engrossed in their buying and selling, their marrying and giving in marriage, their loves and their ambitions, that they are not conscious of it save at the time when it is at its maximum strength, namely, Christmas, and then it expresses itself only as a spirit of super-sociability and generosity; they like to feast and give presents. A more advanced class feels the wave of holiness from the very beginning of its descent, and realizes the important effect of its harmony and rhythm in furthering efforts in the direction of soul growth. They profit accordingly by making the most efforts during the months from the fall to the spring equinox. It is like swimming with the tide.
For that reason I am devoting this letter to call your attention to the annually recurring phenomenon. Whether you are conscious of it or not, the powerful spiritual vibrations of life-giving Christ wave are in the earth's atmosphere during the winter months, and may be used by you to a much greater advantage if you know it and double your efforts than if you are unaware of the fact.
Let us therefore each take stock of the particular sins which most easily beset us, for now is beginning the most favorable time of the year for their eradication. Let us also take stock of the virtues we lack and feel most need of cultivating, for this is the time to do the work most efficiently. By careful, systematic work in the holy winter months we may make great strides in our efforts to realize our spiritual aspirations.
Having made up our minds as to the personal work, let us look about us to see who in our circle of acquaintances seem to be seeking for spiritual enlightenment, and who would be likely to lend an ear to our teachings. This requires discrimination, for we have no right to force our ideas upon unwilling ears any more than we would be justified in beating a drum in their rooms for an hour or two each day. If we find that they do not take kindly to what we have to say, it is better to leave them; but there are many who may be awakened in winter under the spiritual Christ vibration who could not be reached in summer. I therefore trust that we may use all the coming months in a way which shall profit us greatly from the spiritual standpoint.
From time to time we receive letters from students complaining that since they have taken up the higher teachings, and are trying to live in conformity with them, everything seems to go wrong with their affairs. Some feel a determined opposition in their homes, others suffer in business, and some are even affected in health. Some, according to temperament, are ready to give up, and others grit their teeth in persistence in determination to follow Paul's method of "patient well-doing" despite the trials. But all are unanimous in asking why this marked change in their affairs. Each receives the best help we can given to solve his individual problems, but as we feel that there are many among the students who have been similarly tried, it seems appropriate to state the reason for this condition.
In the first place, the aspiring soul should realize that the adverse conditions happen for good according to a firmly established law of nature whereby God aims to aid him in the quest. Trials are a sign of progress and a cause for great rejoicing. This is how the law acts: During all our past lives we have made ties and have incurred debts under the Law of Causation. These debts continue to increase so long as we live the usual selfish, haphazard lives, and we may liken each debt to a drop of vinegar. When the turning point comes and we cease to make vinegar, the law of justice requires that we take our medicine. But we are allowed to determine whether we will take it in large doses and have it over quickly or whether we prefer to take it in very small sips and string it out over a number of lives. This choice is not made by words but by acts. If we take up the work of self-improvement with enthusiasm, if we cut our vices out by the roots and live the life we profess, the Great Beings whom we know as the Recording Angels give us a stronger dose of vinegar than they would if we merely talked about the beauties of the higher life. They do that to help us toward the day of liberation from our self-made bonds and not to harm or hinder us.
In view of these facts we can understand the Christ's exhortation to rejoice when men revile us and accuse us falsely for His sake. Boys pass a barren tree with indifference, but as soon as the tree bears fruit, they are ready to throw stones and rob it. So it is with men also: while we walk with the crowd and do as they do, we are unmolested, but the moment we do what they know in their hearts to be right, we become a living reproach to them even if we never utter a word of censure, and in order to justify themselves in their own eyes they begin to find fault with us. In this respect those who are most closely associated with us in the home or in business are more prominent than strangers who have no connection with us. But whatever the form or the source of such trouble it is a cause for congratulation, for it shows that we are doing something effectively progressive; so let us keep on undismayed and with unflagging zeal.
Christ likened the aspiring souls of His time to stewards who had received a certain number of talents from their lord and were supposed to go into trade with them that they might increase the capital entrusted to their care. We understand from this parable that all who aspire to serve Him are required likewise to use their God-given talents in such a manner that they show a gain in soul growth when in due season they are called upon to give an account of their stewardship.
This accounting, so far as the majority of mankind is concerned, is put off till the Reaper has closed the ledger of life and they find themselves in Purgatory to receive the result of the things done in the body, whether they be good or ill.
But what would we think of a business man who pursued such a reckless method of conducting his affairs? Would we not feel that he was steering straight for the rock of bankruptcy if he did not balance accounts and take stock of his assets and liabilities every year? Surely we would feel that he deserved to fail because of his neglect to follow ordinary business methods.
If we realize the value of system and the benefit of constantly knowing clearly how we stand with respect to our material affairs, we ought also to pursue the same safe methods regarding our spiritual affairs. Nay, we should be much more circumspect in the conduct of the heavenly matters than in worldly matters, for our material prosperity is but a watch in the night compared to the eternal welfare of the spirit.
We are nearing the winter solstice, which is the beginning of a new year from the spiritual point of view, and we are looking forward to the new outpouring of love from our Father in Heaven through the Christ Child. This, therefore, is a good time to take stock and ask ourselves how we have spent the love offerings of last year, how we have exerted ourselves to gather treasure in heaven. And we shall experience great profit if we approach this stock-taking in the proper spirit and at the most auspicious time, for there is a time to sow and a time to reap, and for everything under the sun there is a time when it may be done with greater chance of success than at any other season.
The stars are the heavenly time markers. From them come the forces which influence us through life. On Holy Night, between the 24th and 25th of December, at midnight, in the place where you live, you will find that retrospection and the resolutions engendered by it for the new year will be most effective.
At Mt. Ecclesia and the various Study Centers a Midnight Service is held on Holy Night, and students attending such services are thereby debarred from the midnight self-communion. Others may be unable to hold it at that time for other reasons. For these any of the late evening or early morning hours will serve nearly as well. But let us all unite on that night in a concerted spiritual effort of aspiration; and let each student not only pray for his individual soul growth in the coming year, but let all unite in a prayer for the collective growth of our movement. The workers at Headquarters also request your helpful thoughts.
If we all put our shoulders to the wheel at this time, we may be sure of an unusually individual and collective blessing and a spiritually prosperous year.
Recently a friend who has been taking the correspondence course a number of months wrote to get a matter cleared up which is bothering him; and as it may be that others are feeling somewhat similar to him but have not reached the point of expression, we thought best to use this letter as an answer. It has sufficient general interest to be of value even to those who have not looked at the matter in the light seen by our friend. He does not want to complain, but he asked for the correspondence course in the hope of getting something to further esoteric development. Instead he receives each month a nice little sermon, which he admits is good for both beginners and advanced students, but where is the schooling? Other authors give certain exercises which help their followers; will we please give him one that will develop the faculty of writing?
No, we cannot do that. The Rosicrucian teachings are designed to further spiritual progress rather than material prosperity, and we know of no esoteric exercise which will bring wealth, either directly or by abnormally fostering a latent talent. If we did, we would not teach it, for such use of esoteric power is black magic. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you," said Christ, and we shall make no mistake by following His advice. If our friend or any one else wants to develop a latent faculty for the good alone he may do with it, that spiritual aspiration will, if persistently adhered to and backed by physical effort (works), eventually bring the desired end without the need of a special esoteric exercise.
And about the lessons being "nice little sermons." Yes, so they are when read superficially. But if they are studied deeply, there is a great deal of esoteric knowledge found of much more benefit to the student than an exercise such as the one our friend wants. There is, however, "method in our madness" in giving it out just that way. Perhaps this may not have been apparent to students, and we will therefore try to make it clear. Kindly bear in mind, however, that the following is a comparison made for a legitimate purpose; it is not a criticism.
Apart from the fact that the Eastern School of Esotericism bases its teachings on Hinduism, while the Western Wisdom School espouses Christianity, the religion of the West, there is one great fundamental, irreconcilable discrepancy between the teachings of the modern representatives of the East and those of Rosicrucians. According to the version of Eastern Esotericism the vital body—which is called "linga sharira"—is comparatively unimportant, for it is incapable of development as a vehicle of consciousness. It serves only as an avenue for the solar force "prana," and as "a link" between the physical body and the desire body, which is called "kama rupa," also the "astral body." This, they say, is the vehicle of the Invisible Helper.
The Western Wisdom School teaches us as its fundamental maxim that "All esoteric development begins with the vital body," and the writer, as its public representative, has therefore been busy since the inception of our movement trying to gather and disseminate knowledge concerning the four ethers and the vital body. Much information was given in the "Cosmo" and succeeding books, but the monthly lessons and letters give the result of our researches up to date. We are constantly parading this vital body (vital in a double sense) before the minds of the students so that by knowing and thinking about it as well as by reading and heeding the "nice little sermons" which we use to wrap this information in, they may consciously, and unconsciously, weave the "Golden Wedding Garment." We would advise all to study these lessons carefully year after year; there may be much dross, but there is gold among them.
You have our sincere wishes for abundant spiritual growth during the New Year.
A question was asked recently as follows: "You speak so much about service; just what does that mean? There are in our Fellowship a number of people who say that they love to serve, but they do not do anything but what they like to do. Is that service?"
It seems that this question offers food for profitable thought and that an analysis of the subject may benefit us all, so we decided to devote the monthly letter to this purpose.
It is evident that the majority of people in the world will not serve unless there is "something in it" for them. They are looking for a material reward, and that is the wise way of the unseen powers to spur them to action, for thus they are unconsciously evolving toward the stage in soul growth where they will serve for the love of serving. But they cannot be expected to change over night; there are no sudden transformations in nature. When the eggshell bursts and a chicken walks out, or when the cocoon breaks and a butterfly wings its way among the flowers, we know that the magic was not wrought in a moment. There was an inner process of preparation prior to the outward change. A similar process of inner growth is required to change the servants of Mammon to servants of Love.
If we want to make a building larger, all we have to do is to bring our brick and other building material to the place, start a force of workmen, and presto! the building begins to grow apace to any dimensions we desire and at any speed we wish, depending only upon our ability to furnish labor and material. But if we want to increase the size of a tree or an animal, we cannot accomplish our object by nailing wood to the tree trunk or lading flesh and skin upon the back of the animal. The building grows by external accretions, but in all living things physical growth is from within and cannot be hurried to any appreciable extent without danger of complication. It is the same with spiritual growth; it proceeds from within and must have time. We cannot expect that people who have just begun to feel the inner urge impelling them into an altruistic association, to renounce in the twinkling of an eye all selfishness and other vices and blossom out into the stature of Christ. At best we are only just a little better than we were save for the fact that we are striving and endeavoring to follow "in His steps." But that makes all the difference, for we are trying to serve as He served.
If that is the motive, it in nowise detracts from the service of a musician who inspires us with devotion at our services that he loves his music. Nor does it render the service any less because the speaker who fires us with zeal in the Master's work loves to clothe his ideas in beautiful words. Nor does it make the hall less attractive because the member who swept, dusted, and decorated it loves to make his exterior surroundings beautiful. Each can, in fact, serve to much better advantage if the line of service lies along the path of his natural inclinations and abilities, and we ought to encourage one another to look for opportunities in the line where each is best fitted to serve.
There is no special merit in seeking out service in a capacity that is disagreeable to us. It would be a mistake if the musician said to the caretaker: "I dislike to scrub floors and decorate rooms, and I know you tremble at the thought of playing, also that you are out of practice, but let us change places for the sake of service." On the other hand, if no one were there to play, it would be the decorator's duty to put diffidence aside and serve as well as possible. If the floor needed scrubbing and the chairs dusting, the speaker and musician should be willing to do that work also regardless of personal dislike. Nothing is menial. The same principle will apply in the home, shop, or office. Service may be defined as the best use of our talents—the putting of our talents to the best use in each case of immediate need regardless of like or dislike.
If we strive to do this, our progress and soul growth will increase correspondingly.
We have been asked to give a lesson on "lost souls" and stragglers. Our correspondent wants to know the Rosicrucian teachings concerning them. As this very question was dealt with earlier in this book, in the letter for April, 1912 (No. 17), we cannot do better than refer our correspondent to it. We trust that it will explain the matter to him. We should be glad if other students who have questions of general interest would submit them for elucidation in these letters, for although there is a question of department in the "Rays," not all our students are subscribers. Also the problems presented can perhaps be given a little more intimate treatment here than is possible in a magazine that must go before a public which is not as well versed in the philosophy as our students.
It is really pathetic to see the gloom of people who have been bereaved by the death of some one near and dear, and to see how in extreme cases they devote themselves for the rest of their lives to mourning for the one who has passed on. They clothe themselves in sable garments, and deem it a sacrilege to the memory of the departed one to even smile, little realizing that by such an attitude of mind they are keeping in the densest regions of the invisible world the person whom they profess to love, where all that is evil lives and moves and has its being in close contact with the base and selfish side of humanity. This is not a mere fancy but an actual fact, demonstrable to any one who has the slightest extension of the physical sight.
It is one of the greatest blessings conferred upon those who study and believe the Rosicrucian teachings that they are gradually emancipated from the fear of death and from the feeling that a great calamity has happened when some one near and dear to them passes into the invisible beyond. A blessing flows both to the so-called "living" and the so-called "dead" when the departing spirit is given the proper care and help during the transition. It is then able to assimilate the panorama of life, which will make the post-mortem existence full and profitable because undisturbed by the sorrow, grief, and hysterical weeping of those who are still in the body. During the years which follow it may also be assisted by their prayers.
On the other hand, those of the so-called "living" who study these teachings are learning to practice this unselfish attitude toward death, so necessary to soul growth, because they realize that as a matter of actual fact death of the body at the proper time is the greatest blessing that can befall humanity. There is not one among us who has a body so perfect that it is fit to be lived in forever. In most cases the passing years bring out the weak points in our vehicles to an increasing degree, crystallizing and hardening them so that they become more and more of a burden which we are only too glad to lay down. Then we have the hope and the knowledge that we shall be given a new body and a new start in a future age, so that we may learn more of the lessons in life's school.
This is the time of the year when the Mystic Death which we are all celebrating naturally turns our thoughts and the thoughts of humanity in general to the subject of death and rebirth. There is no other teaching than that of rebirth which is of equally vital importance or of similar value. Humanity needs it at this time more than ever on account of the carnival of cruelty and slaughter that has been enacted in the past two and a half years in Europe. So closely is the human family interconnected that there are probably comparatively few persons in the world who have not lost some relatives in that titanic struggle.
It is at once the duty and the privilege of those who know the truth about death to disseminate it as much as possible among those who are still in darkness concerning the facts connected with this event. Therefore I would urge upon the students of the Rosicrucian Teachings to realize that we are all stewards of everything we have, mental as well as physical property, and that it is our duty in so far as it is possible in a tactful and diplomatic manner to bring these great facts of life and being to the knowledge of those who are still without them. We never can tell when we cast our bread upon the waters how it will return to us. It is certain that sooner or later these teachings, temporarily forgotten, must again become the knowledge of all humanity, and we ought to share the pearl of knowledge which we have found with others whenever it is possible to do so. If we neglect to do this, we are really committing a sin of omission for which we must sometime answer.
I trust that you will take this to heart and devote yourself to spreading this knowledge, not as time and opportunity offer, but taking time by the forelock and making the opportunity; but with all proper tactfulness so that the object we have in view may not be frustrated by using the wrong method. Furthermore, it is not necessary to label this knowledge. Bible instances can be brought forth to show that this doctrine was believed by the Elders of Israel who sent messengers to John the Baptist to ask if he were Elias. Also their speculations as to whether Christ was Moses, Jeremiah, or another of the prophets are evidence of their belief. Christ believed in rebirth, because He stated definitely that John the Baptist was Elias. This doctrine was enunciated by Paul in the 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians, also in other places.
You can render no greater service to humanity than by teaching them these truths.
While I was dictating this month's lesson it occurred to me to ask whether you are getting the full benefit from the lessons or not? It all depends upon the way you are studying, for you cannot get any more out of them than what you put into them yourself. Therefore I thought best to devote this letter to a little discussion of the proper method of using them with maximum benefit.
You know that it is the aim of the Rosicrucian teachings to develop the mind and the heart equally; to give all explanations in such a logical manner that the mind is ready to accept, and then the heart is allowed free scope for working over the material thus received. If you simply read the lesson and think over it and find it reasonable as an explanation of the subject taken up each month, and then you lay it away and forget all about it, it will do you very little good, for you have used only your intellect and not your heart. The proper way, after the lesson has been intellectually assimilated and assented to, is to take it up in a devotional manner during the rest of the month at different times when you feel in the mood for such an exercise. You should then go over the lesson, endeavoring not to think about it at all, leaving the intellect out as far as possible. Endeavor to feel it, for feeling is a function of the heart. Try to visualize the different things and subjects taken up in it.
For instance, the lesson which accompanies this present letter deals with humanity during the hermaphrodite stage. It calls to mind the entrance of the Lucifer spirits, also the path of regeneration under the guidance of Mercury. If you will visualize before your inner eyes the condition of man during the different stages which have passed, you will reap great benefit. You can do that better than you can visualize and feel the changes that are still in the future, for within your consciousness there lie latent all the feelings that you have had during all the past ages of your evolution, and it is only a matter of practice to be able to call them up at will.
You will remember from what it said in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception concerning the method of Initiation that sometime when you come to that point you will have to travel backward over the road that you have come, and feel and see consciously that which you were unconscious of when you went over it. So the above practice is preparation. The more you can see yourself in the state of mind indicated, the more deeply you can feel yourself in the corresponding condition and realize the protecting and guiding hand of the Divine Hierarchies which have aided us in the path of evolution, the better you will be prepared for the time to come when you are to go through this during the process of Initiation. It is safe to say that you will receive much more benefit from Initiation then than if you are unprepared.
This practice of feeling the lesson you will find a very, very great aid to spiritual progress; and properly used, it will illuminate the lessons and give you a spiritual insight that cannot be attained in any other way. Therefore, I sincerely hope that you will take this to heart and make up your mind to practice it regularly, even with lessons which may seem to you at first glance dull and uninteresting. This process will enable you to dig out pearls hidden beneath the surface, of which you have never dreamed.
From time to time letters are received at Headquarters asking in various terms the question: "How can I make more spiritual progress?" I have therefore thought well to devote this letter to a consideration of this subject.
It is a law in nature that "from nothing, nothing comes" Yet a great many people labor under the fallacy that spiritual truth and advancement may be had without money and without price. In a certain sense that is true, because it is absolutely wrong and vile to barter spiritual power for filthy lucre, as was so forcefully shown by Peter when he dealt with Simon the sorcerer, who wanted to buy spiritual powers from him and offered him money in exchange. At the same time there is a definite price upon spiritual growth which must be paid by every one who wants to attain it. In the first place, the old interests must be sacrificed. We all remember the parable about those who were bidden to the feast of the king but who refrained from coming for various reasons. One had taken a wife and wanted to enjoy his honeymoon; another had bought oxen and wanted to inspect his new property; and so on, with the result that they all neglected their opportunity and lost their chance of advancement.
The same proposition comes to us today in different guise. We may be willing to sit at home and read a book about spiritual things in our leisure hours when we have nothing to do that interest us more, but when the Great Work demands some of our time, we have various excuses. "I have a daughter I want to send through college," says one. "When that is done and my obligations are liquidated, I will take hold." Another says: "My business needs my presence every day, and at night I am tired. I cannot work for the Fellowship in the evening or attend their meetings, for I would not be fit to give all my energies to my work next day. But when I retire from business, I will take hold. A third says: "I have many children who demand my attention and attendance at various social functions. I cannot go to the Fellowship meetings and neglect them. But when they are married, I will work for the cause."
It is perfectly true that when we have assumed obligations we must discharge them to the best of our ability. At the same time there is also more than a possibility that if we think thoroughly over the matter we will find that we have some time left from our duties which may be devoted to the Great Work. In this connection it may be well to remember the incident of some coming to Christ and saying to Him: "Thy mother and they brethren stand without, desiring to speak with Thee." He answered, "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?....Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in Heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." Again He said: "If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My Name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."
There is and must be a sacrifice involved in the regenerate life. It has been my experience personally, and in watching thousands of others, that in the direct proportion that any one gives of his thoughts, his time and money to the cause he has espoused so will he reap spiritual benefit. When one consecrates all that he is to the regenerate life and follows the guidance of the spirit it will soon be seen that his very intensity of purpose in the new direction shuts out the old things. He has no longer time for them.
They pass out of his thoughts and drop away. In one way or another the daughter gets through college or finds some equally suitable employment. The business prospers even better than when the proprietor devoted all his time and all his energies to worrying and money grubbing. The children find another chaperon fully as capable as their mother when sometimes she is working for the spiritual cause. In every case that which we give up for the work's sake, the time that we spend in the cause of Christ, and the money we expend in discriminate charity are all provided for and compensated for under the law that works for good.
As the psalmist says: "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." The law enunciated by Christ, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you," holds good in this day as well as when it was spoken. This I have found by actual experience, and every one else who lives the life and does the work will find that the same holds good in his or her case. There is growth only in service.
Recently we received a letter from Seattle which gives good a suggestion that you may like to use. Our friend writes: "The other day while in Ballard I went into the library and called for the "Cosmo." When I was ready to go, I turned over to the table of food values and took the open book up to the librarian's desk. I showed her this table and said: 'This is a valuable table.' She, examining it said: 'Why, I have been asked a number of times for tables of just this kind.' Then the thought came to me that when other students go into a library and ask for the "Cosmo," they might do the same as I had done. The librarian might then catalog the book as containing hints on health and food, and in that way it might come into the hands of some who are seeking for just the light which it contains."
This is true to a much greater extent than we usually realize. Wonderful are the ways and the means and the places in which the Light strikes us, not only when we are not seeking consciously for it but even asserting that there is no such thing as light in the spiritual sense and decrying as frauds those who follow it. It has often been an inspiration and a source of great encouragement to me to think of Paul's journey to Damascus. He was a man who glorified in the zeal wherewith he persecuted the saints. None was as diligent as he in putting down that which he believed to be a damnable heresy. But strong souls are the darlings of the gods whether they work for good or for evil, because that indomitable, irresistible energy which drives them to action, even if temporarily used for bad purposes, will be just as strong when diverted into the channels of good. And so Paul was a special favorite of the gods, and therefore was given such a powerful light that it blinded him when he was least looking for such a thing, namely, while on the road to Damascus. Then and there he was given an understanding and a knowledge far superior to those of any of the other apostles. He was chosen for a special mission and given a particular gift in the shape of spiritual vision and the ability to be all things to all men.
Not infrequently our students complain that they cannot make their associates or relatives understand the teachings of the Rosicrucians. An illustration occurred to me the other day when I was looking through the tool chest on Mt. Ecclesia. There were a large number of wrenches in it, some large and some small, each one fitted to turn just one size bolt; there were also a few that were adjustable within certain limits. Now it occurred to me that sometimes a very small wrench may be far more valuable than one of large dimensions; it all depends upon the size of the bolt. For a small bolt you need the small wrench, and for a large one the large wrench. Similarly, when we meet people in the world, we must size them up and see what they require. Many of us have studied very deeply into the Mystery Teachings and have acquired a profound knowledge of these subjects. We are like large wrenches, but absolutely useless for turning the little bolts that have not been touched with this knowledge at all. In such cases we must not try to air our profound knowledge and talk over the heads of our audiences, but we must endeavor to come down to their level and explain things to them in exactly the same elementary manner that was required with us in the beginning.
In other words, we must be adjustable, like some of those wrenches in our tool chest. When we meet an audience of strangers, we must talk right down to their level and use the simplest language possible. Then, again, when we meet older students and are in a class where they are capable of grasping the profounder problems, we may expand to the very fullest of our ability with considerable profit and benefit to ourselves and all others concerned. But above all we must learn, with Paul, to be all things to all men, or we shall defeat the object we have in view of bringing light to seeking souls.
There is in the following letter a valuable suggestion from a student of the Rosicrucian teachings, which I feel it a duty to pass on:
"Last night when looking over a big budget of correspondence that it had been my good fortune to receive from the Fellowship during nearly five years, I wondered how other probationers and students deal with their monthly Fellowship letters. Next it occurred to me that this should be made point of in one of the monthly letters. It is not my desire to criticize the doings of other probationers, but it is very probable that few students and probationers ever realize fully what a mine of information is really contained in these letters, which can be turned into heavenly treasure by right action. How often on looking over back numbers of them have new ideas and realizations sprung into being that I was not conscious of before, and what a help they have been in many an inner struggle!
"Truly it may be said that in these back lessons we have a gold mine from which many treasures could be dug that would help us to live the life. Here indeed we have a second Cosmo. Truly it behooves students and probationers to correctly file and look after every detail of their correspondence with the Fellowship so that it can be made of as much use as possible in diffusing the light of the Elder Brothers. Perhaps just one of these lessons is all that is required to help a friend. Much benefit must come from an orderly arrangement of them.
"I think it scarcely possible that the majority of students and probationers can ever fully realize what a power for good there is behind these lessons. To those among us who have been used to strict data and scientific methods of research these back lessons will go a long way towards helping unite head and heart. They contain many a gem of thought which will make for right action and perseverance in well-doing. If the students and probationers will hold the thought of how best to use the letters they receive, it will be very helpful and make for more soul growth. Surely it is the little things that make the big things possible, and perhaps this would stir some members to service."
If students will bear in mind that repetition is the keynote of the vital body, and that "all esoteric development begins with the vital body," they will realize why it is so profitable to go over the back lessons and letters frequently.
As you probably know, we have here on Mt. Ecclesia a short service morning and evening, which includes a reading from the Bible. Mrs. Heindel and myself are very fond of reading from time to time the third chapter of James because we find there such an important lesson. I thought it might be well to call it to your attention, particularly because of an incident which happened here a short time ago that served to drive that lesson with great force into my consciousness. I believe that we shall all be able to profit by taking that lesson to heart. Let me quote a few verses from the chapter mentioned, and then I shall tell you the incident to which I refer.
"If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell, For every kind of beast, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. My brethren, these things ought not to be. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."
We have on Mt. Ecclesia several swarms of bees. Some time ago the gardeners were endeavoring to move a swarm from one place to another. The bees became enraged at this interference with their life and work; they stung their aggressors severely and painfully in a number of places. When this incident was reported to me and I thought it over, it struck me that there was in it a very important lesson. The bee loses its sting whenever it has stung, and then it dies. Just think of it! How strictly the law of justice deals with it! It automatically kills itself when harming anyone else. It is not an avenging God but its own act that brings the retribution. Just think of it!
If we died when we had stung others with sharp words, how many of us would be alive? And again, if we knew that we would die when we had stung, would we not curb our tongues to the benefit of ourselves and all others concerned? This is surely an example that we may well take to heart and ponder repeatedly until we learn to snap our teeth together and keep our mouth closed whenever we are tempted to speak unkind words. If we can only do this, the time will come by and by when we shall cease to feel unkindly towards people, no matter what they do to us.
I can assure you in the case of Mrs. Heindel and myself, particularly since we came to Headquarters, that this chapter has been of more spiritual benefit to us than any other. It has helped us more than all the rest put together, though of course we are far, far from perfect yet. But what we have done, and what others have done with us here, is ample warrant for recommending this chapter to your earnest attention—coupled, perhaps, with the little story of the bees—for it will do as much for you if you read it and take it to heart one or twice a week.
Last week a visitor to Mt. Ecclesia told me that she had been studying all the different philosophies she could get hold of for about twenty years; also that she had in the past few years taken up the study of the Rosicrucian teachings, and that they appealed to her as being the absolute truth. She naturally expected me to give acquiescence to that sentiment, and was both amazed and dumbfounded when told that I did not so consider the teachings given me by the Elder Brothers and written in our various books.
The evolution of man demands also an evolution of religion. We have climbed from the valleys of childlike ignorance to the point where we are today, and it would be absolutely contrary to the law of analogy to suppose that anything in the religious line which we have today is the ultimate; for if there is to be no more religious progress, there can be no more human progress either.
What, then, is the way to the heights of religious realization, and where may one find it? This seems to be the next logical question. The answer to it is that it is not found in books, either my own or anyone else's. Books are useful in so far as they give us food for thought on the subjects dealt with. We may or may not come to the same conclusions as the writer of the books, but so long as we take the ideas presented into our inner being and there work over them carefully and prayerfully, whatever comes out of the process is our own, nearer the truth than anything we can get from anyone else or in any other way.
The within then is the only worthy tribunal of truth. If we consistently and persistently take our problems before that tribunal, we shall in the course of time evolve such a superior sense of truth that, instinctively whenever we hear an idea advanced, we shall know whether it is sound and true or not. The Bible in a number of places exhorts us to beware of all kinds of doctrines floating about in the air because many are dangerous and unsettle the mind. Books are launched on the market which advance this, that, or the other system of philosophy. Unless we have established, or have started to establish, this inner tribunal of truth, we may be like the lady referred to above—wandering about from place to place, mentally speaking, all our lives and finding no rest, knowing little more at the end than in the beginning and perhaps even less.
Therefore my advice to the student would be never to accept or reject or follow blindly any authority, but to strive to establish the tribunal of truth within. Refer all matters to that tribunal, proving all things, and holding fast to that which is good.
Some errors are so frequently expressed by students that they call for correction from time to time. The most general of these is the mistaken idea that everything which happens to us is the outcome or effect of some cause or action of our own in times past, generally in a past existence. Theoretically, students know that this attitude is wrong. They are aware that besides the destiny brought over with us from previous existences for liquidation in this life, we are every day exerting a causative influence by our acts. A considerable part of the deeds done in this body will work out into effects before death terminates our stay in our present environment, while those deeds which are not thus liquidated will be held over and will form the foundation of the destiny of a future existence, where we may reap what we have sown. This destiny carried over from life to life is shown by our horoscope, and gives us certain characteristics and tendencies or lines of least resistance. It cannot be overlooked though that this destiny from the past gives us a certain bias or trend towards a particular line of action. But, nevertheless, there is comparative free will in a large percentage of our actions, leaving scope for the exercise of Epigenesis, the divine creative activity which is the basis of evolution.
As said, students all know this perfectly well, theoretically. But in dealing with problems of practical every-day life they seem to persistently take the attitude that all that is, is an unfoldment of something that has already been. This is particularly true of students who have been studying the Eastern religions before taking up the Mystic Christian Teachings. By this mental attitude of ignoring Epigenesis they are retarding their soul growth to a greater extent than they are aware of. In fact something is happening to them similar to that which befalls the materialist during his post-mortem existence at the time when he lives on the Borderland between Purgatory and the First Heaven in a monotony most dreadful to contemplate. The Borderland is, so to speak, an eddy outside the stream of life where progress is at a standstill. The materialist is there because of his denial of post-mortem existence, which has put him out of touch with the spiritual currents that generate motion and action during that existence.
Similarly, when we constantly emphasize the Law of Causation and consistently and persistently ignore the Law of Epigenesis, we are placing ourselves outside the latter's line of action, and our opportunities for exercising its initiative are missed more often than not, with the result that we become more and more barren as the years go by. Whereas if we endeavor intelligently when considering the problems of life, exemplified in the actions of those about us as well as our own actions, to seek out the principle of Epigenesis and watch its operation, we shall find opportunities for initiative action opening up before us to an extent we have never before believed possible. By watching the way in which Epigenesis applies in other lives we shall learn how to apply it in our own.
I hope that you will keep this thought close to you and that you may reap much benefit from a persistent practice of this principle.
From the dim distant past there comes to us the voice of Isaiah in one of the grandest and most soul-inspiring of prophesies:
"Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth, even for ever."
Nor is the song of the angel choir above the Galilean hills less potent to stir the soul with its sublime ideal:
"On earth peace, and Good will toward men."
But looking facts in the face as seen in the world today, such sayings seem little short of mockery; and from the customary viewpoint of the man in the street all the platitudes offered by the religionists cannot make the situation in the so-called, "Christian world" less odious. But when we apply the cosmic scale of perspective and measurement, it is different. Goethe says well:
"Who never ate his bread in sorrow, Who never spent the midnight hours Weeping, waiting for the morrow, He knows ye not ye heavenly powers."
As with individuals, so with nations. Sorrow and suffering seem unfortunately to be the only teachers they will hear. Hence the necessity for their lessons. Viewing life as unending we are not dismayed at the so-called "loss of life" incident to the present war. Those killed will all be born again, and by their experience they will be better than they are now. Peace and good will are bound to come in time when we have learned to abhor war, hence we may well rejoice at the prospect and earnestly pray for its consummation. I would particularly urge students of the Rosicrucian Teachings to unite in this prayer on Holy Night at midnight when the usual service is held in the Pro-Ecclesia by the workers on Mt. Ecclesia.
We enclose a little leaflet, "The Bible at a Glance," hoping that you may find the former both interesting and instructive.
We are again standing upon the threshold of a New Year, a time when it is a general custom to form one's aspirations into resolutions. As the students of the Rosicrucian teachings ought to be particularly interested in the matter of spiritual growth, I have thought that the following considerations may perhaps be of benefit at this time.
The word "holiness" has in the minds of many become associated with a long face and a hypocritical attitude of mind, so that people in the world are usually very shy of those who make professions of holiness. But that of course is not the true brand. The really holy man is not a kill-joy; he is not slothful in business; he does his duty fully, at home or in the shop, puts his heart into all his work; he is a worthy example of faithfulness, and is generally respected by all who know him, for his actions speak louder than words and command commendation. He is careful in his dealings with his fellow men, striving to owe no man anything but love, always ready and anxious to help others; he is in fact, a model man in all relations of life.
But this life of worldly rectitude is not itself a test of holiness. There are many splendid people in the world who live model lives for ethical reasons, and comport themselves in a manner that calls for the respect of all who know them. They are also charitable and are prominent, according to their station, in every good work. However, as said, this is not the test. The test showing the difference between the merely model man or woman and the holy one comes in the hours of leisure when the call of duty has been fulfilled for the time being. At that point it will be found that the ways of the worldly and the holy part, for at that time the worldly minded man turns to recreation, amusement, and pleasure for an outlet for his energy, or perhaps he pursues some favorite hobby according to the bent of his mind and as his means allow. It may be simple games or sports, or it may be song and music, theaters, parties, or any other means he can find to make time pass pleasantly.
But the holy man is as the steel touched with the lodestone and deflected by force from pointing to the pole. When once the heart has been touched by the lodestone of the love of God, duty may and does deflect it towards the affairs of the world which demand legitimate attention. The holy man not only does not shirk his worldly duty but he fulfills it better and more conscientiously than before giving himself to God. At he same time subconsciously he feels the yearning to return in mind to communion with the Father, which is analogous to the way the magnetized steel needle that has been deflected from the north exerts a pressure in the direction of the pole. The moment the call of duty has been fully answered and the pressure removed for the time being, the holy man's thoughts automatically turn towards the Divine. A ride in the street car to or from business is an opportunity for such meditation. The time spent in waiting for some one else is utilized in the same way. In short, never a moment of relaxation from worldly affairs comes to the holy man without his thoughts instantly turning to his source and goal—God.
We have heard of men who studied law while riding to and from business in street cars; others have learned languages by utilizing the spare moments which most people waste in idle, aimless, wandering thoughts. Let us learn a lesson from them, and during the coming year practice the habit of turning our thoughts to God during whatever scattered spare moments we have. If we practice this faithfully, we shall find ourselves greatly advanced upon the path of soul growth.
The Christ exhorted us to let our light shine, and in the parable of the talents He emphasized the points that to whom much is given, of him much will be required, and that every one, no matter how little he has received, is expected to put it out to usury, to cast his bread upon the waters, so that it may return to him after many days and yield an increase. We are now standing near the beginning of another year. We have received the priceless Rosicrucian teachings. Hence it is required of us that we put this knowledge to some use in order to help those of our fellow men who have not yet received a solution of the problem of life and are seeking for light.
We very properly dislike conceited people who have an exaggerated idea of their own abilities and who bore other people to death with their undesired discourse. But the students of the Rosicrucian Teachings seem to suffer from the opposite disease and temperament, which is just as bad. Self-depreciation, timidity, and mistrust of self squelch our ability and our talents, causing them to atrophy, just as do the eyes of animals which have left the sunlight and gone into caves to live, or as does the hand which is held inactive by the side for years and which loses its power to move. Our talents atrophy if not used. We shall be responsible for hoarding knowledge and withholding it from those who are seeking, just as much as the servant in the parable who buried his talent instead of working with it so that it might become greater.
We have always held that matters of belief should not be forced upon the attention of other people, but there are thousands of opportunities every year when we may say a word calculated to bring out an inquiry relative to our philosophy on the part of a friend addressed. It is perfectly legitimate to lead people on as long as they are interested. Paul exhorted his followers to be shod with a preparation of the Gospel, and if we follow that rule by preparing ourselves to answer questions intelligently, we shall find that people will be interested in what we have to say.
Just now people are intensely interested in life after death. But to answer their questions properly we must have enough of the Rosicrucian teachings by heart and we must have them at our fingers' ends. A little knowledge is dangerous in matters of religion and philosophy as well as in other things. You must have enough and of the right kind to make it worth while to enter the field of propaganda at all. But it is not difficult. While it may be very interesting and instructive to students of the Rosicrucian teachings who have become deeply interested in and have a good working knowledge of the philosophy to go into the mysteries of periods and evolutions, epochs and races, cosmic days and nights, etc., still all that is needed to help the man in the street is a thorough knowledge of the Laws of Consequence and Rebirth as they have been given in our literature. These are the vital principles which concern him most. They are the meat in the nut of the Rosicrucian teachings. If you can give them to a person who is in despair, either on account of having lost some one near and dear, or because the whole world seems upside down and he can find no place into which to fit, no way to get over the dead wall which confronts him, you may solve his problems for him in a logical and reasonable manner by showing how the law of Rebirth, coupled with the Law of Consequence, is constantly working for the good of humanity, and how he may gain whatever good he wants by working in harmony with these two great laws. You will thus have done him a signal service, and made considerable soul growth for yourself.
I would also suggest that classes be formed in the various study centers to study all that has been said in our literature concerning the workings of these two great laws, so that the students may fit themselves to render important service to the community by helping people to solve the problems of life which are so baffling to the great majority.
I trust that this suggestion may prove of benefit to you during the coming year.
A correspondent enthusiastic over the beauty, grandeur, and soul-satisfying nature of the Rosicrucian Teachings bemoans the fate which has fettered her to a cook stove, a dishpan, the care of children, and the drudgery of housework; were she only free to take this new-found gospel, she would go into the wide world with the glad tidings for which she knows untold thousands are praying and seeking.
That would be well for our friend and those thousands, but what about the little children deprived of their mother's care? Do not forget the very important point that all who were hired to work in the Master's vineyard were standing idle in the market place. They had no hampering ties to hinder them from working there the whole day, and no one who is not free from former obligations may take up a life work of teaching others. If we aspire to that work by being faithful in the performance of our present duties, the way will open sometime and give us the legitimate call.
But about "drudgery"; the use of that word is all too common. The teacher talks of the drudgery of drumming the same lesson into the heads of children year after year; the mother talks of the drudgery of housework; the father complains of the drudgery of office or shop work; and so on down the line. Each thinks that if he or she were in the shoes of some one else, life would at once change to a grand, sweet song.
This is a fallacy. "Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble." No matter where he is placed, there is only one method of relief, one way to overcome, and that is by adoption of the right attitude of mind.
A great gas engine going at full speed might defy an army of strong men to stop it, but a tiny speck of carbon deposited on the ignition point, or a small cam working loose, would quickly quell its energy. Thus a little soot, which we despise as dirt, can under certain circumstances accomplish more than many men. Therefore we should not extravagantly eulogize some as heroes and despise others as drudges. There are as noble souls mending stockings as ever graced presidential chairs. It all depends upon whether they put love into their work or not.
But what many really mean when they say "drudgery" is monotony. All work is routine more or less, and the constant performance of the same tasks often becomes monotonous. There is a very good reason why the present phase of our development includes this principle of routine. We are now getting ready for the fast approaching Aquarian Age with its great intellectual and spiritual development. This requires an awakening of the dormant vital body, whose keyword is Repetition. The routine of our daily work furnishes this. If we rebel, it breeds monotony and retards progress. But if we leaven our labor with love, we shall advance ourselves greatly in evolution and reap the reward of contentment.
After writing the students' lesson and thinking over the various phases of Easter and the events happening around that time according to the Bible story, it occurred to me what a sealed book the Bible is to those who have not the Mystic Christian Teaching and a knowledge of esoteric astrology. So I decided to use this letter to elucidate one of the points that presented itself before my mind.
You probably remember that according to Luke (22nd chapter) the Christ sent Peter and John with instructions to look for a man bearing a pitcher of water and to enter into the house where he went, for there the passover was to be held. Later at that place, we are informed, He gave the apostles the bread and the water which constituted the New Covenant, declaring that he would no more drink the fruit of the vine. This is entirely misunderstood. To the great majority the man with the pitcher of water has no meaning, neither the fact that the passover was to be held at his house and not at some other place. Also people believe that Christ gave His disciples wine to drink, whereas the Bible says entirely the opposite. There is a great significance in this story when we read it as it is written and examine it in the light of the esoteric teaching.
First, let us remember how the leaders of humanity have given each new race a certain appropriate food, as elucidated thoroughly in the Cosmo. Briefly, grain was given to Cain, the Second Race man, who was plant-like and had a vital body. To Abel, the Third Race man, who had a desire body, milk was supplied. To Nimrod, the Fourth Race man, who had a mind, meat was given. Wine was supplied by Noah to the Fifth Race man. It made him a Godless egotist, so that man's inhumanity to man has become a byword; but it also helped him to reach the nadir of his material evolution. Now, however, the spiritual evolution is about to begin, and altruistic ideas must be fostered, or at least started to germinating, so that they may be expressed by the Sixth Race. This again requires a change in diet.
While these steps in evolution have taken place, the sun by precision has circled the zodiac many times. But each step was inaugurated under a specific sign, and each was preceded and succeeded by minor cycles which were replicas of the great ages and evolutionary epochs. Thus the last six or seven thousand years while the sun went through Taurus, the sign of the Bull, Aries the sign of the Ram, and Pisces, the watery, fluidic sign have seen ages of material development, fostered by meat and wine. Even Christ at the beginning of His ministry turned water to wine, ratifying its continued use during the Piscean Age. But at the end of His earthly career He sent His disciples to prepare the passover in the house of the Water-bearer, and there abolished meat and wine by giving the bread and the water cup as the New Covenant for the Kingdom of God, where He is to reign as the Prince of Peace.
Could anything be plainer? Christ is the Sun Spirit, and when the sun passes over the equator at the vernal equinox in the sign of the Water-bearer, the Aquarian Age will be ushered in, in which the fleshless, non-alcoholic diet of the New Covenant will be in vogue and an era of altruism will dawn. We are beginning to feel this beneficent influence now, though it is still centuries away, and we are here to help prepare for that time. Therefore it behooves us to cleanse ourselves physically, morally, mentally, and spiritually that we may be a shining example to others and thereby lead them to the great Light which we have been fortunate enough to see. Let us also remember that the greater our knowledge, the greater also our responsibility for its right use, and unless we live up to these ideals, we shall merit the greater condemnation.
A student who confesses that he is still addicted to flesh eating in some degree has occasionally an urge to speak to others on the Rosicrucian teachings, but always feels as if he were a hypocrite when he advocates vegetarianism. He asks us how he may overcome this habit and whether he should give up teaching others until he has himself attained.
This query has general interest, for though the students of the Rosicrucian teachings are sincere and earnest, they have the same imperfections as all other human beings or they would not be here; hence a letter on this subject may prove helpful to many.
It needs no argument to prove that you cannot effectively discourse on spirituality over a cocktail, nor advocate the harmless life while eating a steak. Furthermore, those who know your habits in daily life are always quick to notice the difference between what you preach and what you live. Therefore it is of course best to be able to live up to the teachings before commencing to convert others. At the same time it is too strong language to call any one a hypocrite because he advocates an ideal to which he has not yet attained. So long as one sincerely believes that the fleshless diet is right and tries to live accordingly, he is justified in advocating it even though occasionally he breaks the rule. The north star guides the mariner safely to his desired haven even though he never reaches the star itself. Similarly, if we set our ideals as high as the stars, we may not attain them in this life, but we shall always be the better for having them.
At the same time it would seem that with a little will power brought to bear it should not be very difficult for any one to abstain from tobacco, liquor, and flesh food. Surely the thought of the suffering that is caused the poor animals in the trains on their way to the slaughterhouse, and the agony which precedes the time when the blow is struck that ends their life or the time when the knife goes into their throat, ought to move any one who aspires to live the higher life and fill him with compassion for these poor dumb creatures which cannot defend themselves. For similar reasons the wearing of furs and feathers as ornaments should be dispensed with by the gentler sex among our ranks. It is equally inconsistent, and would doubtless cause adverse comments if any one should preach the gospel of harmlessness while thus arrayed.
Unfortunately the complexity of our civilization forces us to use leather for many things because no other material is available on the market to take its place; for example, for shoes, straps, etc. But nevertheless we ought to do all we possibly can to avoid making use of any material which comes from the body of an animal that requires its death. One of the blessings of this present war is that man is find out that meat is not an indispensable article of diet, and that we are far better off without alcohol. Let us hope that this is but the beginning of the end, and that man will soon cease to breed or hunt animals for their flesh and fur. Meanwhile let us all set the example and apply our will power to this end.
We are here to live in the conditions as we find them and to learn the lesson provided by our environment. Those who are continually soaring in the clouds and seeking spiritual ideals to the neglect of their plain duties are just as mistaken in their efforts as those who wallow in the mire of material work, grubbing and grinding in their greed for the dollar. Both need help, but in opposite directions. One class needs to be pulled down till their feet are firmly planted upon earth; the other needs an uplift that they may see the light of heaven and begin to think of acquiring treasures there.
"One man's meat is another man's poison," and this applies to spiritual food at least equally as much as to physical. There is only one great truth—Deity—but it is many-sided. The angle of presentation which appeals to us may lack power to stir others; and, vice versa, their outlook upon truth may fail to meet our needs. Thus there is a reason for all the different religions in the world and the different views presented by the various cults and sects. Each has its mission to perform for the people among whom it is found, so we should be tolerant of all cults or religions even when those who profess them attack us and our views.
We should be satisfied to be known by our fruits, for that is the only true and valid test of individual religion. Does it make us better men and women, better fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, employers and employees? Does it make us better all-around citizens who may be looked up to in the community where we live? That is the test of true religion.
There is not so much danger of finding the materialist in our ranks, but unfortunately there is a tendency among people who espouse advanced teachings to soar in the clouds, forgetful of concrete conditions and earthly duties. This causes the average man and women to look askance at esotericism and to regard those who study it as cranks, though their actions are no more the fault of esotericism than it is the fault of good food when a weak stomach cannot digest it.
For this reason we should not only be tolerant of the beliefs of others and make it a rule never to belittle another faith, but we should watch ourselves to see that we live the Rosicrucian teachings so as to do credit to them in our immediate environment.
From time to time students in various parts of the world have been asking what should be their attitude toward the war and what purpose it serves from the spiritual standpoint. In answer we have pointed out in various articles the Rosicrucian teaching concerning the object of the war, namely, to turn the world towards God for consolation in its sorrow, and to rend the veil which exists between the visible and invisible worlds by helping a considerable number to acquire spiritual sight and the ability to communicate with those who have passed beyond. But though the explanations given have satisfied most esoteric students in a measure, there were others who did not feel satisfied therewith; they wanted something more directly bearing on the conditions. To them we pointed out the teaching in Lecture No. 13—"Angels as Factors in Evolution"—showing how human affairs are guided by the angels and archangels who act as family and Race Spirits, causing the rise and fall of nations as required for the evolution of the various groups of spirits under their guardianship.
As a final attempt to satisfy our students concerning this vital matter we send you herewith a lesson entitled, "The Philosophy of War," showing its application to the present conditions. We trust that this will give to all the needed explanation and help all to understand what is involved, so that they may render their hearty cooperation to end the struggle as soon as possible and secure the peace for which we all so ardently long.
But let us realize that there can be no peace worth having until militarism has received such a blow that it will not raise its head again for a long time. Many people hope that this will be the last war, and we ardently wish that we could believe it. People thought the same when Napoleon and his hordes overran Europe a hundred years ago, but time has proved that such hopes were vain. Peace is a matter of education, and impossible of achievement until we have learned to deal charitably, justly, and openly with one another, as nations as well as individuals. As long as we manufacture arms, peace will not become established. It should become our aim and object to do all we can toward the abolition of militarism in all countries and the establishment of the principle of arbitration of difficulties.
Many years ago I spent a few weeks on a farm in Maine at the time when they were harvesting potatoes. As the wagons passed me, I noted that the potatoes were all large and of almost uniform size. So one day I congratulated the farmer on having such a fine crop of large potatoes. He walked over to a wagon and showed me that the bottom of the wagon was full of small potatoes. He also said that they had not been sorted in the field but that the jostling of the wagon over the rough road from the field to the barn brought the big potatoes to the top while the small ones sank to the bottom. "If you put the big ones at the bottom," he said, "they will rise to the top and the small ones will sink."
And is this not just like life! People of representative appearance, of large qualities, rise to the top as we jostle one another over the rough places on the highway of life. "Yon cannot keep a good man down," is an old saying. He will rise to the top in spite of everything by virtue of the uplifting power within him. And similarly, no matter how often we put a small man on top, he will sink, because he lacks the inner power. We may build a house as large as we want and rear it above all other structures if we have material and labor in sufficient quantities, but the growth of man is from within, and no one can add a hairbreadth to the stature of another, physically, mentally, or morally. Each must work out his own salvation; he alone can determine whether he will remain in a lowly lot or rise to the top.
The farmer found that when his potatoes were carried over a smooth boulevard they remained mixed; but the rougher the road, the quicker the big potatoes rose to the top and the smaller ones sank to the bottom. In the great emergencies of life great opportunities await those who are ready to assume responsibilities and go to the front of the battle.
We are living in such a time, and if we aspire to rise, now is our greatest opportunity. The whole world is now asking for an answer to the riddle of life; inquiring whither the ship of humanity is sailing. And we have the answer. Upon us, therefore, rests the responsibility of living the teachings of the Elder Brothers and making them appeal to others by exemplary lives. Many of our brothers are carrying the teachings of the Elder Brothers into the very trenches and enlightening those who are ready to be taught. Those of us who are still in our usual environment will find the interrogation point in many hitherto closed quarters. Let us therefore diligently seek the opportunities and improve them, for "unto whom much is given, of him shall much be required."
I would suggest to the students that now is the time to see to it that the Cosmo and our other literature, as far as possible, is in the libraries in their own cities; also that it is in a place where it is accessible and that it is being used. If a number of people inquire about it from time to time, though the Librarian may know nothing about it and perhaps even be hostile, the constant call for a certain book will finally force him to take notice. There is no doubt that the Fellowship teachings have within them an inner power that is bound to make a place for them in the world, but we shall acquire merit in proportion to the way in which we help to bring these teachings of the Elder Brothers to the notice of humanity in general. It is now vacation time and hence an especially propitious season for the dissemination of our soul-satisfying philosophy. Let us therefore all put forth an extra effort at this time. It will benefit others and ourselves also.
In these days when our customs, habits, and business are being so radically interfered with by the great war no matter where on earth we live; when the flower of our manhood is being mowed down in millions by cannon; when even woman must leave her accustomed vocation as home maker to take part in the titanic struggle behind the fighting lines; when the weak, those who are either very old or very young, succumb to privation; how can one help being disturbed more or less according to one's individual suffering or one's proximity to the seething sea of hate and sorrow in what was once fair France or in the other battle-scarred sections?
To remain undisturbed perhaps seems impossible. One cannot remain calloused in the face of such suffering. One student after describing the devastation of a shelled city, asks: "Can one help feeling very strongly about it?" No, Christ felt very strongly when He wept over the sins of Jerusalem, and He showed His righteous wrath when He drove the money changers out of the temple. But equipoise is undoubtedly one of the great lessons which we may learn from this war.
It is easy to be peaceful if one goes into the mountains and lives the life of a hermit. But what credit is it to keep our equipoise with no one to thwart, oppose, or vex us? It is more difficult, however, to keep a peaceful attitude in the industrial life of a city where relentless war is waged with the sword of competition and where existence is circumscribed by laws and custom. But it can be done, and it is being done by many who make no pretense to spirituality, but who have found that loss of balance interferes with their ambition. So they set out to train themselves in the practice of equipoise. It has been the invariable experience of such people that they have benefited greatly. Their health has improved, their happiness also, and their business efficiency has increased.
If such self-control can be attained by people in the world, and if so much benefit can accrue to them on that account under ordinary condition of life, those among us who aim at higher and nobler things and who have been endeavoring to follow the path for years ought to be examples of faith and hopefulness at this time, ought they not? We ought to be towers of strength to those who have not had the great enlightenment which it has been our privilege to obtain. And above all things, we ought to exert a constructive and upbuilding influence in this world crisis.
Therefore I have outlined in this month's lesson the secret causes which in the past have generated and fertilized the seeds that have now flowered into our present cataclysmic condition, and have indicated in a slight measure how we are now sowing the seeds of our future well or ill being; this in the hope that you will concentrate your thoughts constructively along the line indicated, and advocate in your sphere of life the views presented. Much sorrow may thus be averted in the future for thoughts are things, and if they are in harmony with the cosmic purpose to make all things work together for good, they will surely prosper.
Suppose someone very close to you were undergoing a surgical operation. Naturally you would feel very much concerned, and your feelings would probably swing between fear and hope. Sometimes one emotion and sometimes the other would predominate. But consider what would be the effect upon the patient if you were to voice your doubt and misgivings on every occasion. Fear always has a devitalizing and detrimental effect which makes it very difficult for the patient to recover, particularly as during the time of an illness he is less self-assertive and more negative than at times when he is in good, robust health. Thus while you were really anxious to help him and would do anything in your power to serve him, by that attitude of mind and the expression of such thoughts you would be really hindering him very much.
Something similar is taking place in the world at large at the present time. The human race is undergoing a necessary operation for spiritual cataract. The sorrow and suffering occasioned by the present war are doing much to tear the scale of materialism away from our eyes and rend the veil which divides us from those in the land of the living dead. The operation is painful in the extreme. Surely there is not a human being capable of humane feeling in the world who is not feeling in some measure for and with those who are actually engaged in the struggle. But if we are firmly convinced that "thoughts are things," it is our sacred duty to hold the most optimistic attitude of mind which it is possible for us to have at the present time.
I have no doubt that every student of the Rosicrucian Teachings is doing all he or she can and giving all he or she can to alleviate the suffering and sorrow existing in the countries immediately affected, but it is the all-important mental attitude of optimism that is so difficult for many to cultivate and keep. Nevertheless it is our duty to do this, particularly in the light of our superior knowledge of the end in view, which will surely be attained. We cannot be glad that this thing is upon us, but we can be thankful that it is as certain to bring a great good to the world at large as it is that the sun rises every morning and sets at night.
We have an absolute faith in the wisdom and omnipotence of Deity. We know that it is a false accusation to say that "nature is red in tooth and claw," as some one has put it. Regardless of what it may seem to us with our limited vision, benevolence is the ruling factor in the world's evolution. Therefore each and every one of us should live up to the sacred obligation to always strive to hold an optimistic attitude and always emphasize our firm faith in the ultimate good which is to result from the present conditions. Let us remember that when we are working with the trend of evolution it is like rowing a boat with the stream; our efforts will then have greater effect than if we take an attitude that is contrary to the world's good.
Note: The letter for Nov. 1918 was devoted to business matters connected with our publications, and therefore is not included here.
This is the last student's letter of the present year, and the thought at the ending of each cycle naturally turns to the fleetness of time and the evanescence of existence in the phenomenal world. It also reminds us of the preciousness of time and of our responsibility to use it to the best advantage for soul growth, "for what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Now is the seed time, and we are told that "unto whom much is given, of him shall much be required." Therefore we are accountable for what we have done or left undone to a greater measure than others who have not had the intimate knowledge of God's purpose which has been vouchsafed us through the Elder Brothers.
In this connection we should realize that every act of every human being has a direct effect on the archetype of his body. If the act is in harmony with the law of life and evolution, it strengthens the archetype and makes for a longer life in which the individual will get the maximum of experience and make soul growth commensurate with his status in life and capacity for learning. Thus fewer embodiments will be necessary to bring him to perfection than one who shirks the strain of life and endeavors to escape its burdens, or one who applies his forces destructively. In the latter type of life the archetype is strained and breaks early. Thus, those whose acts are contrary to the law shorten their lives and have to seek new embodiments a greater number of times than those who live in harmony with the law. This is another instance in which the Bible is correct when it exhorts us to do good that we may live long in the land.
This law applies to all without exception, but it has greater significance in the lives of those who are consciously working with the law of evolution than in those of others. The knowledge of these facts should add tenfold or a hundredfold to our zest and zeal for good. Even if we have started, as we say, "late in life," we may easily lay up more "treasure" in the last few years than in several previous lives. And above all, we are getting in line for an early start in lives to come.
Let us hope therefore that we have used to the best advantage the year which is now passing, and prepare to increase our efforts during the coming year.
It seems appropriate to commence our correspondence for 1919 by wishing you a happy and successful New Year. But the proverb says: "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." Something more is required to secure success and happiness than mere wishes, and perhaps mine may bear better fruit if I explain to you the law of success.
The students of the Rosicrucian Teachings are conversant with the fact that there is no "luck," and are quite well agreed with Mephisto in Faust when he says:
"How closely luck is linked to merit, Does never to the fool occur. Had he the wise man's stone, I swear it, The stone had no philosopher.
But here a query will at once present itself to the minds of many: "Is it possible to reduce success to a law?"
Yes, there is a law of success, as sure and immutable as any of the other great cosmic laws. And while I shall apply it only to spiritual matters, I cannot hide from you that it will also bring certain success in material affairs. But before you apply it in that direction, consider very carefully that to do so means spiritual suicide, for 'ye cannot serve God and Mammon." Rather, "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." I can testify to the truth of this promise, having lived by it for many years.
The law of success may then be stated as follows:
First, determine definitely and clearly what you want—development of the healing power, extended vision, invisible helpership, the ability to lecture and carry the Rosicrucian message to others, etc.
Second, when you have set your goal, never harbor a thought of fear or failure for a moment, but cultivate an attitude of invincible determination to accomplish your object despite all obstacles. Constantly hold the thought, "I can and I will."
Do not begin to make plans as to how to attain until you have reached the attitude of absolute confidence in yourself and in your ability to do what you desire, for a mind swayed by the slightest fear of failure cannot make plans that will fully succeed. Therefore be patient, and be sure first to cultivate absolute faith in yourself and your ability to succeed despite all odds.
When you have reached the point where you are fully persuaded that you can succeed and positively determined that you will succeed in some pursuit, there is no power on earth or in heaven that can withstand you in that particular pursuit; and you may then plan how to go about attaining your heart's desire with certainty of success.
I hope that you will apply this law earnestly in the pursuit of soul growth, not only during the coming year but in all future years.
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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