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The Disciple Simon Zelotes, the fiery zealot, beheld the work of transmutation performed by the Christ and His circle of Initiates, and it was this which changed the resentful patriot into the loving, tender Disciple who was willing to receive and bear the ridicule, contempt and persecution of his former friends and associates in order that he might give his life only in love for his fellowmen.
Judas is a symbol of the limitation and incompleteness which act as a negative spur to progress. "Nature abhors a vacuum," and every human soul, when it becomes sensitive to its spiritual emptiness, seeks for self- fulfillment. All things work together for good, St. Paul said; the greatest sinner may become the greatest saint, as Paul also demonstrated.
Judas represents the lower nature in man, which ever betrays the higher of Christ within. This betrayal causes the great pain or Passion and must always take place in the Garden of Agony. In the path of spiritual progression it is a necessary prelude to the Crucifixion which brings liberation, freedom, and attainment. This can be accomplishment only by evil or limitation (Judas) destroying itself so that the divine nature may show forth. Matthias, a holy man, is then chosen to replace him.
Legends state that the mother of Judas was warned in a dream that he was to become the son of perdition. She therefore placed him in a chest or ark and set it out to sea. There he was discovered by a king, who adopted the beautiful boy and reared him with his own son; but Judas murdered his foster brother and was compelled to flee. He became a page for Pontius Pilate and later tried to follow the Christ.
Judas represents acquisitiveness, the love of the power which accrues from the possession of material things. He was the Disciple who carried the money- bags. Intense, passionate, his eyes filled with weird lights and his hair like crimson flame, he was accused from childhood of having a devil. He is also linked, in some accounts, with Mary Magdalene in bonds of sensual love, the two representing the path of transmutation whereby the lower or mortal nature is cast aside in favor of the new and Christed life.
A poet sings of the youth of the beloved Disciple John, "coming to manhood, he was like a beautiful swift storm." "Sons of Thunder," the Master called John and his brother James. That terrific inner intensity which led James to be the first to lay down his life won for John the place of best-beloved of the Master in the sense that his spiritual advancement brought him closest to the Christ Spirit. From early childhood John's eagle eyes had visioned the radiance of angels and his heart had listened to their glorious singing. In the shadow of their wings the white flame of love was born within him, and that love became power, and was later poured into hi Book, making it the most treasured of the memorabilia of Christ's ministry on earth. Through this love he was able to view the glory of those mansions which the Master has prepared for those who love Him and make themselves worthy to inhabit them. It was in the spirit of this love, which is such as the angels know, that he was able to strike that keynote of ecstasy sounded in the injunction, "Love one another as I have loved you," and in His promise, "If I be lifted up I draw all men unto me."
It was in Ephesus that John prepared himself for the great work of healing and teaching which he accomplished after the dispersion of the Disciples. There he lived and there he taught the wondering multitudes of the inner meaning of love as a power.
Angel bands were chanting hosannas when first he met his Lord, and these hosannas were prolonged when his radiant spirit left the earth to rejoin his beloved Master in the heaven worlds. The fragrance of his parting words to his disciples still lingers like the breath of rare, exotic flowers: "Little children, love ye one another."
James, the brother of John, was accounted the first of the Disciples until the time of his martyrdom. He was among the first to be called and he was the first to follow his Master to martyrdom.
The fisherman's net, in esoteric symbology, refers to the wisdom extracted from the experiences of daily living, the fisherman being one who has awakened spiritually to the meaning and purpose of physical existence. The New Testament contains many references to the Disciples' work with nets. Sometimes these are broken, and again they are being mended. They represent the substance out of which the soul body, the etheric body of the New Age man is fashioned.
James represents the supreme quality of hope which "springs eternal in the human breast." It was by the power of hope that James was able to leave his father despite his remonstrances, saying: "I must go, for Jesus has come." Bathed in this white light of hope from the soul's high altar, James was able to pass calmly through the bitter experience of persecution and martyrdom.
Before the power of Herod reached out to "kill James by the sword," the Disciples had planted the seed of the new Christian faith in the land. Mystic legends aver that after the martyrdom of James the other Disciples had placed his body in a boat which was propelled by angels until it reached the coast of Spain, and there a great rock opened of its own accord to receive it—a reference to the truths of Initiation and the new white stone of which he taught. In this legend we have another facet of the Mystery of the Grail, whose castle, built by men and angels, stood somewhere in the mountains of Spain before it graced the altars of Glastonbury in the time of King Arthur and his knights; but some say that it was in Britain first.
Jude means praise. This disciple represents, therefore, one of the most important qualities to be developed by one who is seeking the inner light. All true spiritual instruction emphasizes the need to cultivate the spirit of praise. The law of praise is the law of increase; hence what we praise we multiply. The more spiritually illumined one becomes, the more one is given to the daily practice of praise. This is exemplified in the Book of Psalms. As the Psalmist became increasingly attuned to the music of the spheres, the more ardent became his songs of praise, until his very life resounded with the starin: "Praise the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me praise His Holy Name!"
Praise it is, then, that we associate with Jude, the cousin of Jesus and son of that Mary, who was a sister of the Virgin and a co-worker in the Mystery cult of the Essenes, the Community of the Elect.
Thomas represents doubt and skepticism which arise inseparably from intellectual training. Doubt and skepticism are two of the greatest deterrents to the acquisition of first-hand knowledge by modern aspirants. The Master's words to Thomas, "Be ye not faithless but believing," are still echoing through the ethers. We need not expect to progress far on the Path until the Thomas stage of development has been passed.
Thomas was on the very threshold of understanding, as for instance when he witnessed the raising of Lazarus; but on the occasion of the Master's arrest in Gethsemane he was overwhelmed by the old doubt and conflict, and at the Crucifixion he fled. In his tortured mind he carried the memory of the broken body and pierced side, but in his heart, like hidden music, he retained the cadences of the divine prayer: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
At the end of the long dreary week of the Master's Passion he returned to Jerusalem, where already the ethers were vibrant with the joyous rhythms of the Resurrection initiatory hymn: "I am the resurrection and the Life." Here his dedication was complete. With the words, "My Lord and my God," a new Thomas went forth into the world, his heart aflame and his lips touched with that Light which is born from attunement with the love which is eternal.
In India there is a sect numbering several thousand members who call themselves "St. Thomas Christians," testifying to this day to the great works and miracles of the holy and illumined Disciple who founded their Order.
The life story of Matthew is that of the publican and sinner who, through finding Christ, became one of the most glorious of the saints and Apostles and the writer of the Gospel which bears his name.
Matthew, the tax-gatherer, symbolizes acquisitiveness, possessiveness. This quality he manifested first on the physical plane, but its transmuted equivalent he later manifested to a corresponding virtue in the alchemy of spiritual illumination. Through sorrow and suffering the quality of acquisitiveness and possessiveness was lifted from one level to another, until it became the power by which he was a collector, through experience, of wisdom, its essence.
In his luxurious villa beside the blue waters of the Galilean lake, Matthew celebrated his renunciation of the old life and his dedication to the new by holding a great feast. This feast was attended by many publicans and sinners, friends and companions of the old life, and was also graced and blessed by the presence of the gracious Lord Himself. For this was in truth a spiritual feast at which the attributes of the former unregenerated self were lifted up and transformed by the presence and the power of the Christ.
The transformation of Matthew was effected through the glorious experience accompanying the Master's Sermon on the Mount. Ever afterward his eyes were lit with a strange mystery, and from his lips sounded the warmth and power of the new words of Spirit and Life.
In contrast to his former luxurious mode of life, Matthew became a most abstemious and ascetic person, until gradually there emanated from his face and form that transcendent light and glory which was like unto the divine radiance of the Master.
His great work centered largely in Ethiopia where he labored for approximately twenty-three years. Matthew signifies the great purpose and power of transmutation in human life.
Andrew is the Disciple who represents humility and self-effacement; the first to be chosen, yet never becoming one of the innermost circle. He was content always to shine in the reflected glory of his younger brother, Peter.
Dreams and longing for the things of the spirit led him, in the early days, to become one of the followers of John the Baptist; and so he was prepared for a further and higher service under the Supreme Master. The Bible mystically describes his preparation by saying that he was casting nets when Jesus came.
Andrew was one of those chosen by the Great Initiator to serve in the miracle of the loaves and fishes. The purpose of this miracle was to teach the Disciples how to manifest physical substance from a given nucleus, as well as to demonstrate the fellowship of sharing.
After the great powers conferred on the Disciples at Pentecost, they dispersed over the world in furtherance of the Great Work. Andrew journeyed over all of the seven seas, and the mystic legends relate that he was the first to give Scotland the new and blessed Word of Life. St. Andrew's Cross is an X, symbol of sacrificial blood, drawn in fiery red:
Throughout Masonic and esoteric Christian symbology we find it repeatedly represented that where sacrificial blood has flowed a living memorial has arisen in the form of a flowering tree. The bloody path drawn by the staggering footsteps of Hiram Abiff, according to Masonic writers, describes this X of St. Andrew's Cross, and the flowering tree sacred to his memory is the Acacia. The symbol aptly illustrates the process of Initiation.
Peter, the uncertain, the vacillating, "the wave man who was later to become the rock man, "is an example of one who achieved mastery over great personal weakness and indecision; and his record shows him to have had more failings and shortcomings than any of the other disciples. Yet he finally succeeded to develop the transcendent spiritual attributes to which every true disciple aspires.
Peter received his first discipline in the esoteric school of John the Baptist. When the Christ found him, he was busily engaged in mending his nets. He typifies action and service, and at last achieved to that high place wherein he symbolizes faith—faith as a power, not merely an abstraction. It is upon that new-found power of faith, that the Church of the New Age, or body of the Initiate, is built.
When love, faith and hope become manifest as workable powers within the consciousness of modern aspirants then they, too, will be able to accompany the Christ in His greatest wonder-workings as did Peter, James and John, the Disciples symbolizing these qualities.
Our greatest failures may become our stepping-stones to the greatest unfoldment, as in the case of Peter. He could never forget his denial of the Christ, and at his own execution he asked that he be crucified head downward, as unworthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
Peter's most treasured memory was his meeting with Master in that luminous dawn sson after the Resurrection when once more he was permitted to renew and rededicate his life, as a further reply to the Master who had asked Him: "Lovest thou Me?"
Magnificently he fulfilled the Master's command to feed His sheep. Holy legend has it that even his shadow, falling upon the sick, had power to heal; yet we know that it was not his shadow which healed but the wonderful soul- emanations of Christ-like love which did this, falling upon all who came near him.
Peter's life was illumined in light and shadow, the darkness of conflict and failing, of trials and weakness, yielding to intermittent shafts of glory until at last he surrendered himself to death in the white radiance of a faith which was truly divine. All that was weak and human was obliterated at the last in one great burst of spirit fire which consumed the flesh. His life illustrates, as perhaps no other does, the truth of the saying of a modern seer: "There is no failure save in ceasing to try." More than any of the Disciples, Peter is the apostle of the unceasing effort.
It is because of his many and varied experiences, and the wisdom and understanding these brought him, that Peter is said to hold the keys of heaven and hell. The student of inner things realizes that the real purpose of life is not happiness but experience.
Nathanael was the dreamer and mytic among the Twelve; "an Israelite in whom there is no guile" were the words the Master used in describing him. He was Nathanael, the son of Thalmai, and so he was called Bar-Thalmai, or Bartholomew, his name being Nathanael Bar-Thalmai. His father was a tender of vineyards, and it was amid the cool shadows and rich fragrance of his hillside home that Nathanael dreamed his dreams, until for him the songs of birds were intermingled with the chorusing of angel voices and the gleams of stars were torch lights beckoning him from the stairways of heaven. Thus musing and living in dreams that were scarcely less real to him than the lovely world around him, this young Galahad of the spirit was prepared for the eternal quest.
Philip, his friend, knowing Nathanael's deep longing for the coming of an illumined one to guide him on his quest, burst in upon him one day in burning eagerness and enthusiasm to announce that he had "found the Messiah."
Nathanael stands for purity. He had accomplished the great overcoming of the lower man in preparation for the coming of the Great Teacher.
Throughout the Bible the fig symbolizes generation. "Whilst thou wast under the fig tree I saw thee," said the Master in the first moment of greeting; and he predicted: "Thou shalt see the gates of heaven and the angels of the Lord ascending and descending," referring to the powers of Initiation which he would later develop. Purity is the supreme requisite of Initiation and no true spiritual power can be attained without it. Nathanael became one of the most wonderful healers among the disciples, and it was for this reason that he was stoned to death by the priests of the old religion, for they feared his power.
The healing forces are life forces, and purity such as Nathanael's, which is the fruit of living the regenerated life, increases the healing forces a thousandfold; for the personal powers are augmented by cosmic forces which align themselves with the disciple's own universalized, because purified, potencies.
Phillip was the Disciple from Beth-Saida, which in Hebrew means a house of nets. Esoterically it means to awaken or to infuse with spirituality. The life story of Phillip contains the process or formula for spiritualizing the mind. This is a long and arduous process, and Phillip was long in accepting the divinity of the Lord. Many times during this process of spiritual awakening the mind cries out in protest: "Show us the Father and it sufficeth us." Difficult is the attainment whereby we learn to comprehend the Master's reply: "Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in Me?"
Phillip was the son of a Hebrew father and a Grecian mother. He became the first evangelist to the Grecian world. His was the hand that opened the door to Christianizing Europe; and so he has been well named the Hermes of Christ.
The greatest influence in his life, with the exception of the Master, was his friendship for Nathanael. They constitute the inseparable two, the David and Jonathan of the New Testament. They were inseparable in life and together they faced martyrdom. Phillip brought Nathanael to Christ, and Nathanael saw the passing of the luminous spirit of Phillip from the martyr's cross to his reuniting on the inner planes with the Master.
Phillip had journeyed over the land, sharing the light of the great new truths of the Messiah which he had so ardently espoused, and because of the multitudes of his followers and the many wonderful healings he performed, he was bound to the cross in front of the Temple and crucified. Strengthened by a vision of the glorious Christ and by the earthly presence of his beloved Nathanael, the radiant spirit of Phillip left its earthly tenement, winging its way upward in the joy of those who remained faithful unto death.
James and Jude were the sons of Mary, a sister of the virgin, and Cleophas. Their childhood was spent in the same household with Jesus in an Essene community, but it was not until that mystic interval between the Resurrection and the Ascension that they accepted without reservation the evidence of His divinity and mission.
James received from his mother the tidings of the Resurrection and declared that he would neither eat nor drink until he had seen the risen Master. Soon the Savior appeared before him saying, "Bring table and food and drink as evidence of the new life."
James became one of the most devoutly believing of the Disciples, and until his death was head of the new church in Jerusalem. So noble and fine was his character that he was highly esteemed even by those who had no reverence for the new Messianism, and it is believed that he may have been head of the Essenes in Jerusalem before he became head of the new church.
Enemies of the new Christian sect inveighed the holy James to appear upon the parapet of the Temple before the assembled multitude during Passover week, on the plea that he should tell them something of the Master whom he so much loved; and always eager to discourse upon this them he willingly complied. As he spoke fervently of Jesus as the Messiah of God, the mob took up stones and began to stone him; he fell to the terrace far below, where he died, bearing no malice toward his persecutors, like his Master before him.
Thus his great spirit passed into the higher realms with the words of that sublime prayer upon his lips: "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
So greatly had this Master Essene been loved by the populace that panic and horror swept over the city with the news of his death, and devout men everywhere said that Jerusalem would suffer great sorrow because of this crime. During this time, or soon after that the Roman armies came and destroyed the city, and Jews as well as Christians said that it was the murder of the saintly James which had brought this catastrophe as a punishment from God.
Schools of Initiation, both ancient and modern, have graded the instruction and disciplines required of aspirants into three major steps, and among the early Christians these were known as Dedication, Purification and Illumination; or Preparation, Purification and Perfection. These outline the work of Probation, Discipleship and Initiation as known in modern schools.
Saint Paul, one of the most illustrious of the early Christians, has given much information on the experiences that mark the progress of the aspirant on the Path of Holiness. For Saint Paul it was the Road to Damascus that led to the glorious summit of Illumination. It is rightly said that the Bible has an allegorical significance; and so the Road to Damascus has come to mean the Path of Light, because of Paul's initiatory unfoldment on that Road. Yet this does not mean that the story of Paul is a myth or that it never happened as described. It was a true story, and its truth is emblazoned upon it at every point, but it may also be taken as a picture showing the experiences of illumination as they come to every aspirant.
This is true of every human being. The life of the humblest may be taken in its entirety and sublime mysteries deduced from its numerous events, from birth to death. We understand how this can be when we realize that the life- pattern exists in the heavens, and the life on earth is the shadow which is cast in time and space by that divine pattern. Imperfect as the life may be, the divine pattern may yet be inferred from the shape of the shadows.
The Road of Damascus was the beginning of the Path for Saul, who became Paul. If anyone is skeptical of the fact that the Bible teaches the Truths of Initiation and of the mysteries leading thereto, let him study carefully the Three Journeys of Saint Paul as recorded in the Book of Acts and in his Epistles in the New Testament. Then he will find new depth of meaning in Paul's words: "There is milk for the babes and meat for the strong."
Truly it has been said that "Paul was one of the greatest voices that the world has ever heard. For forty years after the Transfiguration, his life was a sublime and terrible adventure."
His life was a mighty kaleidoscopic picture of stirring events. We see him as Saul, guarding the cloaks of those who were stoning Stephen; his first encounter with the disciple Peter; we observe his great illumination on the road to Damascus; later, as Paul the Apostle, we see him stoned and scourged at one time, worshiped as a god at another. We hear him pleading with the Athenians on Mars Hill, and then rise with him on the wings of inspiration as he sings his immortal song in which love takes precedence over faith and hope; an ecstatic hymn that translates for us the songs of the angels, and is charged with a beauty and power which assures it a place in the hearts of all men for all time to come.
Later we follow Paul to the Sanhedrin. We see him casting the viper into the fire, and finally, in the dim purple shadows of the great pine trees of Rome, see his noble head laid beneath the headman's ax. Thus we view Paul, the intrepid, the courageous, the victorious, whose life maxim, adopted hundreds of years later by a great esoteric fraternity as the sesame into its Temple, was contained in his words: "I desire nothing but Christ Jesus and Him crucified."
Each of the pictures in the life of Paul strikes a distinctive keynote and marks a specific phase of development. A similar progression from soul-step to soul-step characterizes the aspirant who attains to Paul's exalted status. Saul, the persecutor of Stephen, bears little resemblance to Paul, the author of the divinely inspired song of love, excepting only in the fervor of his temperament. it was the change in character and consciousness that changed the name of this eager, arduous spirit from Saul to Paul, for esoterically names are the vibratory expression of the spiritual idea that they represent.
The Saul of Tarsus is far removed in consciousness from the Paul who penned the final Epistle to Timothy—that Epistle which describes the high goal for every modern disciple, his sons in spirit: "I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished the course."
Paul placed mystic keys in each of his Epistles as an aid to all disciples who enter upon the Way in search for a deeper understanding of the mystery of life. Fourteen of the twenty-seven Books comprising the New Testament testify to the work of the great evangelizer, and "every letter of Paul is a picture of Paul." (Adolf Deissman). When arranged in their chronological order, the thriteen Epistles of Paul may be classified in four groups:
Saul was born in the city of Tarsus, province of Cilicia, during the most stirring days of the Roman Empire. He was of the tribe of Benjamin (Cancer) which always remained faithful to Judah (Leo). At approximately the same time that Saul was born, angels proclaimed the birth of the Holy Child in Bethlehem. The world was passing through a state of transition in preparation for a New Dispensation, the coming of Christ Jesus. Saul, the youth, was trained in accordance with the strictest Pharisaical tenets. His first visit to Jerusalem was made at the age of thirteen, when he was sent there to study with Gamaliel, the greatest of the doctors of the Law. Note his age, and compare it with that of Jesus, who at the age of twelve taught in the Temple. The years are those of adolescence, which on a higher plane of development mark the awakening of the emotional soul. Loyal to the sect of the Pharisees, disdainful and contemptuous of the teachings of the new cult of the Nazarenes, he was outraged at their presumptuous claims on behalf of their Master and determined to exterminate them as whatever cost. Such was the attitude instilled into Saul of Tarsus by inheritance and precept, such was the background of him who became Paul, the Christian, whose life, after conversion, was dedicated to one purpose: "That they might all be filled with the fullness of God."
Appointed by the Sanhedrin to prosecute those Jews who had become followers of the Nadarines, Saul was traveling to Damascus to drive the heresy out of the communities of Jews who were living there. He had almost completed his journey, and was nearing the ancient city, when the event occurred which changed him into another man and set his life upon a new and perilous course.
It is of the utmost significance that this event took place in the auric environment of the city of Damascus. Even at that time Damascus was one of the world's oldest continuously living cities, a city which had never known death. Many great and powerful and beautiful cities flourished in antiquity. Damascus outlived them all.
Eastward of Damascus, in the wilderness, there were mystic communities where the Initiates communed with God within the heart and with the hosts of heaven without, the rulers of the elements and the glorious and mighty Angels and Archangels. Their hymns echoed the music of the spheres, and it is said that one of their chants of the dawning light has come down to us in the opening verses of John's Gospel. They were communities similar to that of the Essenes of the Dead Sea in Palestine, and there was constant communication, a journeying to and fro of member-saints, between them.
In the city of Damascus there was a community of householders, as the Book of Acts intimates, such as had also been the background of the Holy Family at Nazareth; and in their homes the sacred Mysteries were venerated, from before the coming of Christ Jesus and in preparation for Him. To them Saul was led and they watched over him during his three-day period of outer blindness during which his inner or soul-Self was awakened.
Damascus is a lovely, mystic city which every aspirant approaches when making the illumined contact with the Christ. Abram, like Saul, was moving towards this particular city when preparing for the inner realization which so altered him that his name was changed to Abraham even as Saul, after the great downpouring of spiritual power, became Paul.
Saulos, a famous Jewish name, and Paulos, a Latin name of Greek origin and form, represent the two natures of man, namely, the lower (carnal) and the higher (spiritual). Saul of Tarsus, the intolerant, the revengeful, the persecutor, came forth from his experience as Paul, the new man. The old Adam in him died and the Christ within him was born. His ambition became humility; his bigoted sectarianism was transformed into an all-embracing fellowship and compassion. His intense zeal for the family of Israel was engulfed in love for all mankind. His brilliant future was exchanged for a career uniting suffering and renunciation, while honors and adulation were gladly exchanged for scourging and imprisonment. He willingly renounced all that this world offered in order that he might become even the least among the Apostles of the Christ, and "if by all means he might save some."
In what manner was this complete transformation effected? In his work on the life of Paul, Adolf Deissman is near to esoteric truth when he says that Paul's religion is "Christ Mysticism" and that the journey to Damascus marked for him the beginning of the indwelling Christ. Fro three days and three nights Paul neither saw light with his eyes nor partook of food or drink. During this mystic interval, his sight was lifted and his consciousness was focussed upon the inner or spiritual plane. During this time his light was not that of the physical world but of the higher or heavenly realms.
It was the illumination which his great and glorious vision brought to Paul that led to his dedication of body and soul, without reservation or hesitation, to the furtherance of his chosen work. It was to this stupendous event that he referred when he said, "I was never disobedient to the heavenly vision."
Many attempt to walk the way that leads to the mystic city of Damascus, but few succeed in entering its portals. The light from heaven is, first, the flame of the awakened spirit within; this is that light that never fails to attract the Teacher who comes to open the way for further instruction and illumination.
The acquisition of first-hand knowledge concerning the life and conditions of the superphysical worlds, and a contact with the Great Ones who guide the destiny of mankind from these inner realms, and obedience to their instructors are the necessary requirements for true spiritual Initiation. Such illuminations are possible today, but a higher spiritual status than that of the majority is essential, and few there are who can meet the requirements of a clean diet, constructive and harmonious thinking, and the chaste, pure life. These are fundamental and cannot be ignored or overpassed.
During the sublime interval of blindness to outer-world conditions, Paul was enlightened concerning the real esoteric mission of Christ Jesus and the ushering in of the new Christian Dispensation. After the years of misunderstanding and persecution of the followers of the gentle Nazarene, the lightning-flash of illumination stripped his soul clean, and he was privileged to glimpse vistas reaching down the centuries. He saw the new heaven and the new earth in which fellowship and brotherhood were a reality; a time which Isaiah, another Initiate, had declared would come to pass, when men would beat their swords into pruning hooks and their sabers into plowshares; when—in words echoed by a later prophet—the knowledge of spiritual law (the Lord) would cover the earth as waters cover the sea.
After his initiatory experience in the community at Damascus, Paul went into the desert of "Arabia," as it is said, where he stayed for three years. We understand by this that he went out into the wilderness known as the Peraea, to some of which he has referred obscurely in his Epistles. He undoubtedly made pilgrimage to the community of the Dead Sea also, and to others elsewhere.
During his Arabian retirement Paul communed unceasingly with the Risen Christ and with the Great Ones who direct and govern the evolution of mankind in its advance toward emancipation. This was truly Paul's novitiate in God's School, the School of the Universe and its divine Mysteries. He learned to read in the great Book of God's Remembrance described by Enoch, which is located in the etheric stratum of earth's aura, and in the still more marvelous Book which is found in the higher heavens. These he saw and understood the wondrous formula of Initiation which was enacted for the world in the life of Christ Jesus, in his Death, Burial, Resurrection and Ascension. In the same wondrous Book of God he read the future events pertaining to his own life-term on earth.
"But the Lord said unto him, 'Go the ways for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel; for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my names' sake.'"
Paul's experience in the superphysical realms for the three days and night at Damascus left their impress in various ways on each of his Epistles, whose letter spells immortality, and whose every page glows with the splendor of life eternal. Each one of his Epistles contains both an inner and an outer message. Within each of them he has placed milk for the babes and meat for the strong man.
The principal work of Paul is divided into three phases or journeys. There are always three steps leading to the final culmination of the Great Work, as they are outlined in any school of Initiation. We have shown that these three steps were anciently termed Preparation, Purification and Perfection; which correspond to the modern steps of Probation, Discipleship, and Initiation. Paul has veiled these steps in his description of the events of his three journeys and the works he accomplished therein.
The first journey occupied two years, the second three years, and the third, four years, which totals the number nine, again a mystic key referring to the nine steps or degrees of Apprenticeship, Fellowcraft and Master, in Masonry. In the life of the Supreme Initiator these steps are represented by the Birth, the Baptism and the Transfiguration. After these experiences there always follows the great works, or ministry, for others. The "trials," which confront every neophyte upon the Path find historical correspondence in the life of Paul as the trial before Felix, the trial before Festus and the trial before Agrippa. It was the manner in which Paul passed these tests that gave him the authority to declare: "There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, and not for me only, but unto to all them that love His appearing."
It was during the work of the second journey that Paul began writing the matchless Epistles, the first of which was sent to the church of Thessaly. The love indicative of the close bond which exists between the spiritual teacher and his pupils is expressed in the lines: "Ye are become very dear to us; ye are our glory and our joy."
The Epistle to the Thessalonians contains the message of the Resurrection to the New Life in all its inner meanings, namely: the ability to function consciously apart from the physical body, which none other has described more accurately than this great Christian Initiate.
The Way of Initiation he makes very plain.
One who has acquired the ability to function in the finer or etheric realms, knows the truth of the immortality of the spirit, the continuity of life. Death he finds to be but a transition from one plane of activity to another. It was this joyous realization which caused Paul to declare: "O death, where is thy sting? O, grave, where is thy victory?" (I Cor: XV:55) No longer does one who has reached this place have to say, "I believe," or "I think,"—he may triumphantly proclaim with Paul, "I know, for I have seen." Then comes the realization that "Death hath not touched it at all; dead though the house of it seems."
This realization will bring to mankind one of the chief blessings that await it in the new Etheric Age that lies before us.
Corinth, the city of frivolous and idle pleasures, signifies the subtle temptations of the senses. The gay and dissolute life of this city revolved around its beautiful Temple of Venus. Every sort of pleasure, both innocent and evil, flourished there. In no other city was a center bearing the influence of the new Christ Dispensation more needed.
The Epistles to the Corinthians are filled with inner, mystic meanings, understandable in their full significance only by those who are following this same way and striving for a similar attainment. The First Epistle to the Corinthians teaches the neophyte to die daily in the subjugation of the body, or the lower nature; for this is always the first and fundamental teaching given by any school of true mysticism. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians contains a deeper message, given only for those who have found transformation through living the life.
In the teachings given by the Thrice Great Hermes there is a similar instruction to that of Paul in Corinthians XV, wherein he speaks of bodies incorruptible, of natural bodies, and of celestial bodies. Hermes says, in reference to this transformation: "For that we have a stream of earth and water, of fire and of air flowing into us, which renovates our bodies and keeps our tents together."
"Five times received I forty stripes save one." Here Paul is recounting, for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, the process and the number of His Initiations. Forty save one equals 39, which numerically yields 3, and 3 times 3, or 9—the steps of attainment pertaining to the third journey, or degrees of the Master. Again he is describing this same attainment of Mastership when he says:
In the Epistles to the Galatians, perhaps the most deeply esoteric of all the Epistles, Paul proclaims that he "confers not with flesh and blood."
These verses refer again to the inner plane Mystery Temple teaching and to the work of the Illumined Ones who minister there. Paul tells us that these teachings which were revealed to him could be given only privately to those who were "of reputation," meaning thereby to those who were qualified to receive them. This is but a restatement of the Master's injunction not to cast pearls before swine. The Epistles to the Galatians closes with that most mystic of Paul's utterances:
These words do not refer to physical marks from beatings, stonings and scourgings, but to certain marks of light, discernible only by spiritual vision. Those bearing these marks are among the Christed Ones, the elect of the Lord, who take their seats at the holy table in communion with the Savior.
The Epistle to the Romans was written near the close of the third journey. The glorious confirmation of Paul's testing through the three great labors, or journeys, was then nearing its close. Standing in the white light of Mastership, he sounds the keynote of this high work in the words: "Present your bodies in a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God." (Rom. XII:1)
Allen R. Brown, in his volume entitled "Paul the Sower" which is a study of the purpose and meaning of the Epistle to the Romans, comes very near the New Age Bible Interpretation when he says: "The words, 'in Christ,' Paul uses over 150 times; these words do not refer to the historical Jesus, but denote a continuing relationship with the Christ present in the heart; Paul is not completing Christ's suffering (Colossians I:24), but is carrying out in his body his own Christ-sufferings."
All New Age Interpretation deals with the awakening of the Christed powers within man himself. "Let the Christ be formed in you." This declaration of the great Christian Initiate contains the solution to all the problems of the universe and will, when fully understood and developed, usher in the New Heaven and the New Earth. When Paul came to take his last journey, to meet his final trial and to liberate his bright and glorious spirit in death, he was completely absorbed in interesting the centurion (who, together with a band of soldiers accompanied him to the Ostain Gate of Rome) in the work of the New Christ Dispensation. To the last the thought uppermost in his mind was to bring others into the service of the Christ.
Arriving at his destination, under the great shadowy pine trees, he asked for a time of meditation and prayer. They who watched saw him assume the form of a cross and, with arms outstretched, address in Hebrew some invisible presence. That glorious Being, who had given His benediction to Paul's first illumination, was present to bless him and speed him on his way as he laid down his body in His name, in a dedication total and unswerving to the end. He was ever faithful to his own words: "If we are to live in Christ, we must forsake ourselves and die with Him."
The thyrsus-bearers are many, but the mystics are few.
Straight is the way and narrow is the gate, and few there be that find it.
This is the Way to that mystic City of Damascus, with its spiritual treasures. It is only for those who, with the great Paul, have learned "to die in Christ."
The Baptism heralded the beginning of the Lord Christ's earthly ministry and the Crucifixion, the high point of His sacrificial mission. At the Crucifixion, he who came as a mediator between God and man, and heaven and earth, entered into the heart of the planet and became its indwelling Spirit. Since then His ministry has continued both from within and without our planetary body.
The heart of the earth is His planetary center. Each year His Spirit enters therein with ever-increasing intensity and volume, thus making it easier for this spiritual impulse to enter into and find a dwelling place in the heart of man. This was the wonderful revelation that came to Saint Paul on the road to Damascus, and that he later incorporated into instruction given to his disciples.
Those who hold that the Christ as a personality never lived and that the story of His life is but a symbolic rendering of the initiatory Path miss the very crux of esoteric or mystic Christianity.
A thousand years with the Lord are but as a day. In the Second Creative Day, as recorded in Genesis, and known in esotericism as the Sun Period, Archangels were passing through a stage of development corresponding to our present human evolution. However, their vehicles or bodies were not like ours but were formed of no denser substance than that of the desire or astral plane. (The next denser vehicle, the etheric body, did not come into being until the next Creative Day, or Moon Period, nor the physical body until the succeeding Day, our present Earth Period.) The Christ was and is at the very head of the archangelic life wave, and it was in that aeonic past above referred to as the Sun Period that He dedicated Himself to serve and to guide the earth and all its progeny in their evolutionary development. Then aeons more passed before our earth was ready to receive Him in its innermost center.
When the Sun was passing by precession through Aries, the sign of the Lamb, the Christ came as the Good Shepherd to the sheep that had lost their way. Preparations for His coming were begun when the Sun passed by precession through Libra, the sign opposite Aries, approximately ten thousand years earlier. Initiate Teachers were sent to different parts of the world, each with a similar message, to make ready an inner circle of disciples for that glorious event: the coming of the embodied Light of the Sun who was to be the Light of the World.
When the Sun enters Libra at the time of the autumn equinox the Christ glory touches the outer aura of the planet earth, and a cosmic quickening occurs. Little by little during November and December the Christ Spirit penetrates the planet's interior, layer by layer, until it reaches its very heart at Christmas time. To higher vision the Christ Ray is golden like the spiritual Sun whence it emanates, and it is truly this light that illumines the Path of Holiness for the disciple who has sincerely and earnestly entered upon the Quest at the period of the autumn equinox. At some future winter solstice he will greet the Divine Light, new-born in the heart of the earth, for the winter solstice is the time for the soul's dedication to the Christ Way. Before he can achieve this goal the aspirant must learn the cosmic lesson of Libra: "Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path." (Proverbs 2:9) Knowing the real from the unreal, the true from the false, is the lesson taught by Libra at the autumn equinox.
The disciple on the Christ Path is given the one most important lesson of all, a lesson which is basic to all subsequent endeavors: He learns that he himself is a god in the making, made in his Father's image and likeness in his true, essential selfhood; and he seeks to see himself, to know himself, as God sees him and knows him. This is called establishing contact with the God within. In this work the Hierarchy of Libra, the Lords of Individuality, are divinely qualified to assist. They are more than teachers. They test and try the soul, and the testings of the disciple at this point are for the purpose of developing his powers of discrimination, a most important attribute to one on the Path of Discipleship, when temptations take on the nature of the most deceptive subtlety.
Treading the Path of Holiness as he follows the golden Christ Ray to the heart of the earth the disciple uses the Scorpio period as a time of transmutation. He then endeavors to sublimate evil into good, darkness into light, negatives into positives, in every phase of his daily living. He consecrates himself to the task of transmuting the base metal of his lower nature into the pure gold of spirit. The physical laboratory wherein he performs this "Great Work" is the central nervous system, especially the spinal cord and the brain, which, automatically, are therefore sometimes referred to as the Path of Discipleship.
When the fire of the spirit is first awakened in the disciple, it is felf first at the base of the spine. As the spirit fire ascends it unites with a corresponding downpouring fire from above, the two gradually increasing in volume and strength until the entire body is filled with light. he thus attains to an illumination that is visible to those possessing inner vision. It is then, for the first time, that his lower nature is literally consumed in celestial fire and he himself becomes a torch, so that he is able to walk in his own light upon the Path of Light laid down by the Christ to the interior of the the earth, where the Christ Splendor abides in fullness. The greater his sincerity, the more ardent his devotion, the more intense his application, the farther along the Path he will be with each return of the Holy Season, until at last he will be declared worthy to partake of the Feast of Light consummated on Holy Night.
Biblically, as well as astrologically, Scorpio, the sign which the Sun enters about the 20th of October, is said to have for the neophyte two keynotes, the first being for the neophyte as follows: "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." and second, for the illumined disciple, "I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world."
As the Sun passes through Sagittarius in the month of December the Christ illumines the inner realms and forms a veritable spiritual garment for our planet. Viewed with spiritual vision from outer space the earth then appears like a ball of molten gold. The disciple who views this radiance from the planet's surface walks in an ocean of golden light. All of the brightness and color of Christmas observances are but a dim reflection of the light and glory of the inner planetary realms when the Christ Glory is functioning therein. if a disciple on the Path of Holiness has worked faithfully and effectively with the forces of transmutation under the influence of Scorpio, he will now find himself drawn into that great and glorious radiance.
Each event of the sacred Christmas celebrations symbolizes the development of a specific spiritual power within the disciple himself. As he awakens these powers, he experiences an increasing measure of at-one-ment with the cosmic activities of the winter solstice time.
Sagittarius has been symbolized by a series of lighted lamps, and the disciple who has been persistent in his spiritual labors now finds that these lamps have been lighted within his own aura, and even within his very body- temple. These are the lamps which light his pathway to the center of the earth. There he stands in the presence of the Lord Christ, the Light of the World. There he receives His blessing and hears Him intone the mantram which has been used in every Temple of Initiation, ancient or modern: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant...enter thou in to the joy of thy Lord."
The golden Christ Force, descending out of the fount of the Sun, touching the outer atmosphere of the planet at the autumn equinox, as previously observed, passes through the desire realm during November (Scorpio), the etheric realm during December (Sagittarius), and into the earth's center at the winter solstice (Capricorn).
In the hour that the Christ force penetrates the core of the earth, a deep calm and stillness pervades nature. This is the Holy Night of all the year. There follows a mighty upsurge of the life forces of the planet. This new infusion of life into Nature has been beautifully described in the legends of Holy Night in which it is said that even the animals and the plants make obeisance to the Christ Child at the holy mystic midnight hour.
Year by year the Christ Glory penetrates the earth with its harmonizing, healing powers. Year by year the earth is quickened with cosmic life. Little by little hatred, enmity and conflict are being overcome, and little by little the spirit of brotherhood makes headway. Eventually the ideal pictured by Isaiah so long ago will become a reality: "man shall turn his sabers into plowshares, and his swords into pruning hooks, and there shall be war no more, and peace shall cover the earth as waters cover the sea."
The constellation Aquarius is the home of the Hierarchy of ministering Angels, beloved of all holy legends of every faith. Their field of action is the etheric realm, and since the angelic body is fashioned of ether, they become visible even to persons who have only a little extended vision. Many children had first-hand knowledge of angelic beings and nature spirits who, like the Angels, inhabit the surrounding realms.
Angels are experts in working with etheric substance and life forces. Many and varied are the beautiful flower patterns which they fashion in the blue and gold of the higher ethers; and it is these patterns which the fairies transmit to earth as blossoms to adorn the earth.
When the Sun is in Aquarius, the Christ Force centers His activities in the etheric realm. He pours His love and blessings upon both Angels and the disembodied souls of earth's humanity who are living and serving in these realms. Here also is a portion of the heavenly homeland of children who have died in childhood; and here they are taught and accompanied by Angels. Such child-spirits do not live in the etheric realms at all times, for their real place is in the higher regions of the Soul World, or astral realm, but at special times they are brought by their angelic instructors down into the higher ethers where they can learn the joys of nature and the fairy folk.
Also in the etheric realm are found the initiatory Temples which, in ancient times, also existed in physical form. As humanity lost the inner light they were removed from our plane of manifestation and continued to exist solely at the etheric level. Hence they have become today generally the subject of legend and poetry. Now, however, the time is approaching for their re-externalization. In the meantime, to the illumined disciple the etheric Temples are accessible, and appear as substantial in their realm as physical structures are on this plane.
One such Temple, the most beautiful of all to Christians, is located above the city of Jerusalem. Closely associated with the work there conducted, and in all similar inner-plane Temples, are the Angels. They are free to enter such sanctuaries at will, and it is their joy to serve in the holy places belonging to the children of earth.
It is said that a Guardian Angel hovers above the chair of each Knight who sits at the Round Table in King Arthur's Temple. This is a legend, but profound spiritual truths are concealed in legends, and especially in the Grail legends of the Middle Ages. The Grail Temple is really a part of the Christian Mystery School. The deeper meaning of spiritual legends is veiled by poets and artists, who relate them to the manners and customs of the period in which they first appear. There is no mystery in Christianity more profound than that of the Holy Grail, for it belongs to the story of the Last Supper and has reference to deep cosmic truths that Christ imparted to His disciples at that time, and especially to John, the Beloved Disciple, who "rested upon His bosom."
Through the ministry of the Hierarchies of Capricorn, the disciple learns to minister as an Invisible Helper to persons still living in the physical world. As the Path of Holiness passes through Aquarius the work is enlarged. Here the disciple learns, under the guidance of Angels, to work with beings who inhabit the inner realms.
The qualified disciple who has followed the Christ thus far is able now to enter consciously into the etheric realms. There he observes the varied and beautiful ministries performed by Angels for the benefit not only of humanity but of all the kingdoms of earth. Many of Nature's secrets are revealed to him then through the activities of the nature spirits or fairy folk. Thus he finds himself in an enchanted world, a tenuous world, wherein fairy lore has its origin; for the realm of the higher ethers is veritably fairyland. Many an inspired writer or mystic has woven fantasies about the wonders of this region. A delightful example is Maeterlinck's Blue Bird, which, though a child's fantasy depicts truly the nature and characteristics of the etheric realm.
When the Sun passes through Aquarius, the Christ Glory is already rising up out of the earth, preparatory to His Easter Liberation. During March, with the Sun passing through Pisces, which is the sign of sorrow and suffering, the Christian Church enters upon the Lenten sacrifices, and participation in the Christ suffering on Golgotha. Pisces is the sign of Crucifixion, the sign of the Messiah. The Crucifixion of the Cosmic Christ begins when the Sun is in Libra at the autumn equinox, when the Glory descends into the "hades" of the planet earth. The commemorative observances of the Christian world at Easter, when the Sun turns upward toward the summer solstice, is not His Crucifixion but His cosmic Resurrection. The earth planet is then aware of a certain void, a spiritual emptiness, as the Cosmic Glory departs. This is the source of the mingling of sadness and joy in the Eastertide of the spring equinox.
As a disciple travels the path iof holiness that leads into the spiritual realms, the experiences encountered become ever more wonderful and transformed. At these supernal levels of existence there is no veil separating those living on earth from those inhabiting the inner planes of light. From the superphysical world here too may be witnessed and understood the actions of human souls during the period between death on the physical plane and rebirth into incarnation, together with those of Angels and the yet higher kingdoms of light. Here too, it is that one cane observe the workings of nature spirits and note how their activities underlie what science refers to as the laws of nature. Here on every Easter morning, amid triumphant hosannas of Angels and Archangels, the Christ, following His release from the annual incarnation in the earth, appears in radiant glory. In the Temple of the Christian Mysteries the glorious Easter processional is formed around His luminous presence, not as a mere spectacle but as a medium by which to transmit a transcendent power upon all of those who have been found worthy to be numbered among His sanctified company.
The mystic Christian commemorates Easter not only as an historical event but as an annual spiritual occurrence. In the course of the solar year after His descent into the heart of the earth at Christmas time He arises again with ever recurring Eastertide to reascend to the throne of the Father into the high heavens for restoration of His powers before again returning to the physical sphere at the time of the Autumn Equinox.
It was at the time of His crucifixion that the Christ left the body of Jesus, in which He had functioned for a three-year ministry among men, and transferred His Spirit into the planetary body itself to henceforth be its Regent. There is a profound significance in the words He spoke to His Disciples after the Resurrection: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."
When the human race succumbed to the seduction of Lucifer spirits the atomic rhythm of man's physical body was changed so the spinal spirit fire was attuned to the Luciferic forces and received the impress of these fiery Beings. It is the mission of the Christ to counteract this condition by substituting His rhythm and impress for that of the Lucifers—for the Christ also, as an Archangel is a Fire Being. When this has been accomplished, the atomic vibration of man's body will make it immune to disease and death. Individuals of the New Age bear within themselves the glorious image of the Christ.
The Hierarchy of Aries contains an archetypal pattern of man as he was created "in the image and likeness of God." This pattern will be increasingly manifested in the New Age. The six constellations above the equator contain these patterns in miniature, so to speak, and the Hierarchies of these southern constellations work with mankind to bring these patterns to fulfillment here on earth. For example, the Hierarchy of Aries holds this perfect pattern of the new Christed man. Libra, the sign opposite Aries and the home of the Lords of Individuality, steps down this cosmic pattern of Aries and is aiding man in bringing about its manifestations.
Such is the knowledge which has motivated the great teachers of the world to help mankind bring the divine pattern into manifestation on this plane. The work is arduous. But down through the ages those brave souls who have been strong enough to follow the Path of Holiness into spiritual realms have returned aflame with what they beheld of a "new heaven and a new earth" inhabited by a Christed humanity. They know, as the Christ knew, that "the Word was God" indeed.
As the Sun passes through Taurus during the month of May, the Christ force ascends higher and higher into earth's spiritual aura. The disciple who is walking the Path of Holiness follows in the wake of the ascending Christ Light and enters a sphere where he finds himself inwardly harmonized and strengthened by the creative power of music. Celestial Beings who inhabit this realm speak a musical language. Their every motion emanates music. They mold and fashion all manner of forms through the medium of musical tones. In this realm all growing things are nurtured by the power of music, while the various flower colors are produced by variations in tone. Music is assuredly the supreme creative power of this lofty realm.
The constellation of Taurus is the home of cosmic patterns for all that exists on earth. These patterns are shadowed forth by its opposite sign, Scorpio, home of the Lords of From. This Hierarchy teaches form building throughout the physical plane; and from the constellation Taurus sounds forth the mystery tone God used in creation, that creative Word by which "all things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made." This is the biblical keynote of Taurus.
The Lords of Taurus hold the cosmic pattern of a most wonderful organ destined to become a part of the future human body. This new organ, resembling a golden rose, will be located in the throat, and will be the center through which the creative word will be projected by the New Age man. By its power generation will become regeneration, and man will be able to mold a substance into whatever he desires. In the realm where Taurean powers are most active an illumined one can behold a vision of this perfection and meditate upon it. He perceives the glorious development awaiting him in the future and realizes literally the meaning of the Psalmist's words: "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor."
When the Sun ascends toward its northernmost point in the sky in June it transits the sign Gemini, the constellation that sets a dual impress upon the human body-temple. It governs the dualities of the body: lungs, shoulders, arms and hands in particular. It also holds the cosmic pattern of the perfected androgyne in whom the masculine and feminine potencies are in equilibrium. Such is the attainment of Initiates of the Greater Christ Mysteries. This attainment brings immunity from disease and old age. And since consciousness remains unbroken whether such be in or out of the flesh, death as we know it is never experienced by them because their consciousness is centered in immortality without interruption.
The archangelic life has reached the status where it functions in perfectly polarized bodies. This is not true of the less evolved angelic and human kingdoms. It is, therefore, possible for members of these kingdoms to descend from their high estate into lower forms of expression. The fall of Angels is recorded biblically in the account of the war in heaven, when Lucifer and his followers were expelled therefrom, and the Fall of man occurred, according to the Genesis account, when Adam and Eve (infant humanity) lost the Garden of Eden. Redemption from these falls required a higher power than was available to either of these life waves. It had to come from the Archangelic level. And so it did. The Lord Christ, the most highly evolved of the Archangels, became the teacher and redeemer of both the fallen Angels and humanity. This is one of the most profound truths associated with the mystery of the Christos.
The pattern of the perfect androgyne was projected by the Hierarchy of Gemini into its opposite sign, Sagittarius. The Hierarchy of Sagittarius (Lords of Mind) gives this enlightening teaching to earth's most advanced pioneers. After the coming of the Christ, further development of the human mind passed from the guidance of Scorpio to that of Sagittarius. Considering the wonders of the mind, its creative powers and its ability to encircle the globe in an instant of time and to contemplate the vastness of cosmic space— even though at present only a fraction of it is active, we get a faint glimpse of the transcendent glory of the Sagittarian Hierarchy whose lowest vehicle, corresponding to man's physical body, is composed of mental substance. It also indicates the sublime powers awaiting man when he attains like development.
For an awakened soul, the supreme purpose of cultivating the mind is that it shall become Christed. As yet this is the attainment of but few only. The majority are steeped in the materialism of the concrete mind, which is focused mainly on worldly pursuits and interests of the separate self. So long as such concerns claim man's attention there will be a lack of spiritual perception and scant realization of the realities pertaining to the inner world and universal mind. Nor will there be any continuity of consciousness and but little, if any, intimation of the experiences encountered in the spiritual world during intervals between earthly lives. The result of consciousness so veiled from spiritual realities is the materialism that conditions the world today. This, however, is but a temporary phase of mankind's evolution. As added light falls on the path of those who strive for holiness, realization of spiritual realities will become clearer and stronger. The insistent impulse of such aspirants to make themselves worthy to walk in the Way of Holiness will bring more and more light.
The Sun in its annual transit through Cancer reaches the highest point of its northern ascension at the time of the Summer Solstice. Its physical radiation then attains to maximum in the northern hemisphere, so the days are longest and nights shortest. It is the high noon of the year, and its keynote is light.
Cancer is the foremost feminine sign of the heavens. In harmony with this fact, the sign contains a small cluster of stars arranged to as to resemble a manger. From the heart of Cancer well up the waters of eternal life, in which are germinated seed-forms that animate all the kingdoms of earth. The Summer solstice occurs when the Sun enters Cancer (June 21st) and is also attuned to the principle of fecundity. It is in obedience to this active principle in nature that seeds burst forth into a cycle of manifestation. Light, freedom, joyousness are dominant qualities of the midsummer season. Accordingly many people particularly in Europe, observe this time of year with music, dancing and exuberant festivities.
The Hierarchy of Cancer is known biblically as the Cherubim. It is the ministry of this Hierarchy to guard sacred places. They hover above the Holy of Holies. Through initiatory processes an aspirant is taught to build this Holy of Holies within Himself. The pot of golden manna within the Ark of the Covenant is a symbol of man's own individual Grail Cup and his own sacred life force. Humanity lost the Garden of Eden through misuse of this life force, since which the Cherubim have guarded the gates of Eden lest unregenerate humanity should find its way back prematurely. The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Disciples are alleged to have communed with the Cherubim after Pentecost, meaning that they had learned these sacred truths from this divine Hierarchy.
As the Sun reaches its highest ascension the Christ Spirit ascends to the very throne of the Father. His activity is then focused at the very highest level of earth's planetary aura, where He brings added illumination and renewed blessings to the celestial Beings who inhabit this realm; also to souls who, in their spiritual progression between physical embodiments, have risen to this high plane. In harmony with this, it is also at the summer season that an illumined one who is following the Christ on the Path of Holiness rises in consciousness to this realm to commune with its celestial denizens and learn further about the nature forces. Here it is perceived how the elementals of air and earth, the sylphs and gnomes, work in autumn and winter with disintegrating and dying plant life. On this exalted plane one who pursues the Path of Holiness stands before the actual mystery of life itself. Only the pure in heart attain to this plane. Those whose hands are stained with blood can never lift the veil of this holy place. He who seeks to discover the secret of life will never find it until his hands and heart are chaste and clean. Only to such will come the realization of the oneness of all life.
These are truths that belong particularly to the Heirarchy of Cancer, and they are not possible of direct transmission to the earthly plane. Therefore they are passed by the Cherubim to the Hierarchy of Capricorn, the sign opposite Cancer and home of the Archangels who, being of a lower hierarchical rank than the Cherubim and thus closer in consciousness to humanity, disseminate them to those of earth who are ready and willing to receive them. Hence, it was at a time when the forces of Capricorn permeated the earth that there descended into embodiment the Master Jesus, of the seed of David, who became the bearer of the Christ.
It has been said that as the Sun transits the sign Cancer and Leo during July and August the Christ ascends to the throne of the Father where He bathes in the Father's transcendent glory. It is here that He renews and revitalizes Himself, attracting higher and more spiritual forces for continuing His earthly ministry when He returns to the realm of humanity at the Autumn Equinox. During His sojourn in the high heavens the earth planet, clairvoyantly observed, appears luminous with His radiations; and the observer comes into a profound realization of the meaning of His statement that "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."
When the Sun is thus transiting Cancer and Leo, an illumined one who treads the Path of Holiness ascends to the highest spiritual realms of this planet and enters into a deeper consciousness of transcendent power. He begins to understand that love in its highest aspect is not passion or sentiment, but a phase of divinity itself. It was with such power of love that Peter was imbued. He himself referred to this power of love when he said to the lame man beside the gate of the Temple Beautiful: "Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee...arise and walk." Again, it was this same power which so animated Paul that, despite all persecutions and imprisonment, he was able to utter those sublime words: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."
When an aspirant reaches this degree of spiritual attainment the Christ is all in all to him. To serve as He served, and to love as He loved, becomes his highest aspiration. The biblical keynote of Leo is sounded in the words "Love is the fulfilling of the law."
While the Sun is in Leo the Christ spirit is refreshed and renewed by the glories of the Father's kingdom. As the Lord Christ's highest attribute is sacrificial in nature, when the Sun passes into Virgo, sign of service, a cosmic urge moves Him to leave the realm of the Father and descend again to Earth, which He contacts as the Sun passes into Libra.
The Path of Holiness, following the Christ Ray, also leaves the spiritual region of Earth while the Sun passes through Virgo. Love being the keynote of Leo and service through purity that of Virgo, one who walks that part of the Path which traverses the higher vibratory planes of this sphere must have evolved purity as a power within himself. The quality of such power is not generally recognized, yet the Christ declared that only the pure in heart shall see God. In this connection the lines of Tennyson in Sir Galahad are descriptive. "My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure."
This is the attribute that rendered Parsifal immune to the attack upon him by the evil Klingsor. The spear of hate which the black knight hurled at Parsifal was deflected from its course. In that same moment, and by the virtue of this power, Parsifal made the sign of the cross and brought complete collapse to Klingsor's castle of evil.
While Virgo holds the secret of the Immaculate Conception, it is through its opposite sign, Pisces, that this gift was brought to earth and demonstrated by the supreme feminine Master, Mary of Bethlehem. It was under the Hierarchy of Sagittarius (Archangels) that Mary herself was immaculately conceived; and it was under the spiritual guardianship of the Hierarchy of Virgo that she was born into the physical world.
A candidate who is worthy to touch the supernal realm of Virgo finds himself before the mystery of the Immaculate Conception and learns that this divine gift was not bestowed upon one individual only, but that Mary and Jesus were type patterns which humanity as a whole is destined to emulate. In this celestial abode those who are spiritually enlightened hear Angels chanting of the day when, in a new heaven and a new earth, the Immaculate Conception will be the heritage of the entire race.
As previously stated, the Hierarchy of Taurus holds the cosmic pattern of form; the Hierarchy of Cancer, that of life; the Hierarchy of Virgo, the power by which life ensouls form. These three constellations, the Feminine Triangle of the heavens, minister to all kingdoms of life on earth.
It should be noted that one who follows the path of holiness through the six zodiacal signs above the equator has reached that high place of illumination where he is found worthy to stand before the sublime mysteries of the four Greater Initiations. The disciple who tread this Path as it is outlined in the six signs below the equator is being prepared to receive the work of the nine Lesser Mysteries.
The Bible is one of the great mystery books of all times. Few there are who realize its infinite depths. Christ said of the imperceptive multitudes: "Seeing, they may see and not perceive; hearing, they may hear, and not understand." (Mark 4:12)
Of the many thousands of books that have been written about the life of Christ there are not more than two or three which mention the profoundest mystery concerning Him, namely, the Christ Mystery in the cosmos. Until our own time it was not, perhaps, essential that this Mystery be taught openly.
Today we enter a Space Age, and it is the Cosmic Christ who will be the central figure of the religion of the incoming Aquarian Age. We who are privileged to begin here and now the study of those profound cosmic truths, preparing ourselves to be the pioneers of the Age so soon to dawn, must accept special responsibilities. These are the responsibilities of the New Age Disciple who is taught by the Risen Christ, or His emissaries.
Therefore in tracing the Christ Path through the stars we shall endeavor at the same time to trace the pattern of New Age discipleship, the "Awakened One" who learns to walk in the same Path of Light in which the Christ walked, showing the Way to those who shall come after Him.
The Christ Mystery is so sublime and so far-reaching in its import that it transcends any human definition. So profound are its meanings that they can never be plumbed nor expressed by mere words; they can be sensed only in the silence of spiritual contemplation.
In The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, Max Heindel states that: "In the first chapter of John this Great Being is called God. From the Supreme Being emanates the Word, the Creative Fiat 'without whom was not anything made,' and this Word is the alone-begotten Son, born of His Father (the Supreme Being) before all worlds—but positively not Christ." Here Max Heindel is making a distinction between the Cosmic Christ Jesus in His planetary and historical aspects. "Grand and glorious as is Christ," he continues, "towering high above mere human nature, He is not this Exalted Being. Truly, 'the Word was made flesh,' but not in the limited sense of the flesh of one body, but the flesh of all that is, in this and millions of other solar systems."
The Father channels the will principle; the Christ, the love-wisdom principle; the Holy Spirit, the activity principle. The last literally infuses forms with life. The Holy Spirit works with the life principle which is present in all creation; and is the guardian of the sacred force, the creative principle of God. Therefore, every living thing is under his guardianship. God creates and Christ formulates, while Holy Spirit activates form. The difference between the Christ of the Earth and the Cosmic Christ is best seen by an illustration. Imagine a lamp in the center of a large hollow sphere of polished metal. The lamp will send rays from itself to all points of the sphere, and will refelct lamps in all different places. So the Cosmic Christ— the highest initiate of the Sun period—sends out rays.
The sun of our planetary solar system is threefold. We can see the outside, the physical sun. Behind that, or hiding in that, is the spiritual sun whence comes the impulse of the Cosmic Christ Spirit. Outside the other two is something we call Vulcan, not a planet, that can be seen only as a half globe. In esotericism we say that is the body of the Father. When we had developed so far that the Christ came here and incarnated on earth, then a ray of the cosmic Christ came here and incarnated in the body of our Elder Brother Jesus. After the sacrifice on Golgotha He drew Himself into the earth, and became its Indwelling Planetary Spirit.
The planetary Christ is a glorious Archangel, supreme among the Archangelic Host. The Hierarchy of Capricorn is the home of the Archangels; but during the period of His mission to this planet, Christ and His ministering Hosts make their home in the spiritual sheath of the Sun—for each heavenly body has a spiritual sheath extending far into space beyond its visible form. In the same way every human being has a spiritual extension beyond his physical vehicle.
From the very beginning of civilization the most primitive religions paid homage to this Great Being Who dwells in the Sun. High priests of Mystery Temples taught their most advanced disciples the truth relative to this glorious Sun Being, and they looked forward to a time when He would descend to earth and become the world's Redeemer. Those who were clairvoyant could see the Solar Lord to whom they paid homage to this great Being Who dwells in the Sun, and then they knew that His human embodiment was imminent. From country to country, from prophet to master, from master to teacher, from teacher to disciple passed the glad tidings that the Blessed Lord, He who was to be the Saviour of the world, was close to earth.
When we speak of a spiritual rising in inner space it is to be understood that "upward" and "inward" are virtually synonymous; yet at the same time, to the clairvoyant vision the Christ Glory does really have the appearance of "rising" upward to the Sun from the surface of the earth; for as the Divine Hermes of ancient Egypt said, "As it is above, so it is below."
The Path of Discipleship also follows from the outward to the inward, which is also upward. Max Heindel likened this Path to a church steeple which becomes narrower and steeper until there is nothing left to cling to but the cross; a very apt analogy. The Christ said: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me."
The cross of renunciation, symbolized in the Lenten and Eastertide, must be accepted by every true disciple who endeavors to walk the Path of Holiness. His soul body can never be built until he acquires mastery over himself, and is willing to forgo the so-called pleasures of the sense world. The soul- powers attained by self-conquest enable the illumined one to exchange the cross for a crown.
It is said that the constellation Pisces will be the home of the human race when all of its units have been perfected. Pisces is called the constellation of the human race, as Aquarius is that of the Angels. Those who follow the Christ to the ultimate high goal finish their cycles of mortal incarnation; they are free from the wheel of birth and death. They "go no more out," and it is then that they as spiritual beings, cluster among the stars of the constellation Pisces, in a manner of speaking.
Their karmic debts are paid and all their earthly bonds are severed. Such are known as the Compassionate Ones, the Elder Brothers of the race who no longer need earth's lessons. They are free to pass into a glorious existence within the constellation Pisces. However, these great ones may return at will, and in obedience to the precept that he who loves most serves best, often they give up the blissful opportunities of that divine plane in order to serve the less advanced members of the human race who are still struggling in the toils of their self-made karma. Humility, obedience and service are the keynotes of their lives.
Such renunciation is illustrated in the life of Mary of Bethlehem who, having learned all of earth's lessons and having been caught up to reign with the Angels, returned to this planet to teach humanity one of heaven's supreme mysteries, that of the Immaculate Conception. Knowing that she would be misunderstood, persecuted and reviled, yet she persisted, so that she might be to mankind an Exemplar so nearly divine that today, almost two thousand years later, it is still barely comprehended by a few and remains entirely unknown to the masses. Working under the law of service, she descended into mortality, saying, "Let it be according to thy word." Such a high state of spiritual attainment, built upon sacrifice, humility of spirit, and perfect at-one-ment with the law of obedience, awaits perfected man.
The aspirant who reflects seriously upon the meaning of the twelve zodiacal signs which comprise our immediate cosmos do well to correlate the Piscean meditation with the experiences of the immortal Twelve during the season just preceding Christ's annual "crucifixion." As Golgotha's pain and sorrow are swallowed up in the golden glory of Easter morn, the disciple who has overcome the personal self and who walks the Path of Holiness through Pisces to its very end, will find that he has exchanged his cross for the golden glory of a "wedding garment" in which to function, free and triumphant, with the Risen Christ.
The history of mankind since Christ's Sacrifice on Golgotha may seem to have improved little; but this age is the age of Pisces, which as we have said is the sign of the balancing of the ledgers of karma. The debts which man owes to man and nation owes to nation are now being liquidated, and as this Old Age of Pisces disappears in time and the New Age of Aquarius takes its place, world-wide harmony will be achieved, with a world government of nations, dwelling in brotherhood and peace, for Aquarius is the sign of the Son of Man.
The physical drops of blood which fell upon the Mount at the Crucifixion were not the true agents of earth's salvation. The fiery wings of light and power, which are the Christ's Glory, striking in and through the planet are the earth's forever Redeemer. The Archangelic Light is truly His blood, and it is this which saves.
Now each year as the radiant Christ Ray ascends once more from the earth's core, its passage upward is felt as a drawing force in Nature; and when it has reached a certain height its forces are focused anew in the desire world of the planet. The raging emotions of mankind are now the special field of His ministration and at Eastertide mankind senses that a great tranquility is pouring into his soul from some unknown source. By means of this power intensifying year by year, mankind is slowly but surely becoming a Christ in the mankind.
The cosmic resurrection occurs in March, when the Christ Spirit is liberated from the Earthly sphere and reenters the heavenly spheres. The Hierarchies of both Aries and Pisces then join with the Angels and Archangels in triumphant jubilation over this event. The rhythm of their comic hymn found earthly transcription in Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. Pre-Christian ceremonials celebrating the return of spring and the victory of light over darkness were attuned to these same rhythms.
The Spring Equinox is one of the high points of the year for a disciple. Its keynotes are the freedom and emancipation that leads to a larger life. Iyt is also the time when the cosmic Christ is freed from the terrestrial fetters that held Him in bondage during the winter months. Hence, it is the most propitious time for an advanced disciple to break the bonds that bind him and to enter the joyous freedom of the spirit.
The Church observes the ecclesiastical Feast of the Annunciation in March when nature commemorates the cosmic Feast of the Annunciation, for there is an intimate relationship between man and nature. Nature is God in manifestation. Man is a god in the making. Therefore one reflects the other. The most sacred rituals observed by man are in attunement with the seasonal transitions. Poets sing in praise of the joyous spirit of spring, while nature's green-and-gold splendor gives evidence that returning life forces are responding in triumph to nature's resurrection impulse.
An advanced follower of the Path understands that the time has come to merge the sorrow and tears of the personal life (Pisces) with the transforming fires of Aries. As he accomplishes this he joins the mighty chorusing which is echoed and re-echoed by Angels and Archangels: "The Christ is risen, for Christ has now risen within me."
The ancient Persians termed the month of April as the month of Paradise, and the early Christian fathers declared that it was during this season of enchantment when the Sun entered Aries that God fashioned the planet Earth, and all that dwells therein. April is generally considered a resurrection month.
When the Lord Christ makes His ascension the inner realms take on the appearance of a molten mass of shining gold. In the holy Grail legend, the Knights are told that on Good Friday a dove descends from heaven to replenish the water of life in the sacred Cup, and that they will be able to draw spiritual nourishment therefrom throughout the following year. So it is that the Risen Lord pours out His love and very Spirit to nourish every living thing upon this earth plane. Were it not for this annual replenishment, fields would be barren and the trees and vines would bear no fruit. In the light of this fact it can be seen that the Lord Christ uttered a profound and literal truth when He said to His Disciples at the Last Supper, "This (bread) is my body which is given for you: ...This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."
One of the most beautiful feasts of the year is that of the Ascension, occurring about the time the Sun passes from Taurus (May) into Gemini (June). It is then that phalanx after phalanx of Celestial Beings kneel in adoration in the Christ's exalted presence, and the very stars unite in a symphony proclaiming His majesty and glory. During this holy feast His radiation permeates the earth with an effulgence past all describing, making bright both the physical and spiritual realms. As nature is in perfect accord with the up- winging Christ currents during the forty days between the resurrection and the ascension, the period is of such spiritual significance that it is an auspicious time for a disciple to awaken within himself the powers of clairvoyance, clairaudience and other gifts of the spirit belonging to true discipleship.
During the month of June the Christ becomes a channel for radiations sent forth by the Seraphim, the Hierarchy of Gemini. There the Christ contacts by means of the Holy Spirit, the third aspect of the Trinity. One of the keynotes of Gemini is activity; it is also a keynote of the Holy Spirit. By means of this activity the Seraphim step down the mysteries of Holy Spirit to Gemini's opposite sign, Sagittarius, the Lords of Mind. Here they await man's development and illumination to the point where he is able to understand and apply the powers iof Holy Spirit in his daily life. As yet humanity in general is able to grasp but faintly the mysteries connected with the principle and powers of this third aspect of the Trinity.
As the Sun enters Cancer in the month of July, the Lord Christ ascends to His own home world, the World of Life Spirit, also designated as the Buddhic Plane. This is the realm where unity and harmony reign supreme; also, the sphere of consciousness that the early Christian disciples contacted on the Day of Pentecost. This is to be the attainment of advanced humanity at the end of the present Earth Period. Through the operation of the Cosmic Christ, it is here that the Son or Word principle and the second aspect of the Trinity, our Blessed Lord, contacts the Hierarchy of Cancer, the Cherubim. These celestial Beings are guardians of all Holy places of heaven and earth; they hold the great mystery of life itself. Under the guidance of the Lord Christ tjhis sacred mystery is stepped down from Cancer to its opposite sign, Capricorn, and given in charge to the Archangels. For this reason World Saviours who come to earth proclaiming the mystery of the Holy Spirit are born under the sign of Capricorn. The observance known ecclesiastically as the Feast of St. John, the forerunner of the Christ, occurs during the Summer Solstice season.
In July the soul of earth is steeped in sheer ecstasy. Heaven bends low while earth is lifted up. In the divine interchange of spiritual forces the Mystic Marriage between heaven and earth is consummated. For a four-day interval desire currents are stilled so the spiritual forces can become increasingly operative. The earth is then being literally flooded with the pure white light of spirit. The disciple that learns how to tune in with this mighty inflow will receive an undreamed of accession of spiritual awareness.
As the Sun reaches the highest point in its northernmost ascension the Christ likewise ascends into the spiritual realm described biblically as the throne of the Father. This is known in Rosicrucian terminology as the World of Divine Spirit, the abode of the God of this solar system. God is Love and God is Light. Love and light are keynotes of the Hierarchy of Leo, the Lords of flame (Love). Under the supervision of the Lords of Flame, and united with the powers of the Father, the first aspect of the Trinity, the Lord Christ, works with the supreme power of love, the stabilizing force of the earth. Here He becomes the channel for that power whereby He rotates the earth on its axis and revolves it in its orbit around the Sun. This love power is stepped down by the Hierarchy of Leo to its opposite sign, Aquarius; hence, it will be the power animating the new Aquarian Age.
In this season cosmic influences give greatest aid to the aspiring disciple to make love the dominant motivating force of his life. It is the time for embellishing his every word, thought and deed with this magic of the heart. The thirteenth chapter of II Corinthians, one of the soul's greatest love songs, is the perfect mantram for both meditation and emulation during the period that the Sun is transiting the royal sign of Leo.
In September the Lord Christ turns from the glory of the highest heavens and begins His descent toward physical realms. Throughout this month the tender, yearning beauty of nature is like that of no other season, for the Christ is brooding over the earth with the gentle sorrow He felt as He wept over Jerusalem long ago. His tears were shed because He knew the long ages of pain and suffering through which humanity must pass, in having chosen darkness rather than light. His great heart grieved over the dark clouds that would encompass Jerusalem, the very heart of the planet to which He had dedicated Himself in service and upon which He was pouring out his great love.
September is another month of preparation for a disciple. One of the keywords of Virgo is sacrifice. An earnest disciple, preparing himself by means of sacrifice and self-renunciation to take part in the coming winter feasts, meditates often upon the spiritual keynote of Virgo: "If any man desires to be first, the same shall be last of all, and the servant of all."
When the Sun enters Libra, which heralds the coming of October, the golden Christ force passes into earthly realms as this sublime Being begins anew His annual sacrifice, an event termed the cosmic crucifixion. To it St. Paul referred in Romans 8:22 "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together until now." As this season of the Autumn Equinox is a time for the disciple to renew his dedication to walk in the way of the Lord despite any vicissitudes and hindrances that may beset his path.
During November the Christ spirit permeates the desire realm of earth. This is a propitious time for the disciple to work on the purification of his lower nature and thereby be more able to aid the Great Ones in their work of cleansing earth's astral envelope. A special effort is then to be made to become a more efficient conscious server on both the outer and the inner planes of life.
In the early stages of human development the Hierarchy of Scorpio, which presides over the zodiacal month of November, assisted in awakening man's indwelling ego, and in so doing launching him on the road of individualization. During the present stage of human evolution a disciple working under the jurisdiction of the Lords of Individuality (Libra) and the Lords of From (Scorpio), is learning to translate assertiveness into humility and to sacrifice the personal "I" for the impersonal "we"; in other words, to actually lives the ideal of the greatest good for the greatest number.
Advent Season extends through the month of December and is heralded as a Feast of Light. The spiritual impulses of the season prepare mankind for the downpouring of the heavenly forces accompanying the rebirth of the Cosmic Christ into our earthly sphere. This period is followed by the Winter Solstice season which extends from December 21st to the 24th and culminating on the day following, the 25th, in Christmas, the day most deeply revered in all Christendom. The festive observance of this holy season will never cease for aspirants until the Christ shall have been born within our own souls. To the degree that a disciple attains to this state will be the spiritual ecstasy experienced at this time, and the joy of ever increasing participation in the seasonal mingling of the earthly and the heavenly is felt at no other time of the year.
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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