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Another month has gone by and still the European war is raging in all its intensity. Thousands and thousands have passed over the border into the invisible realm, and the distress there as well as here is unprecedented in the history of the world. As you have learned from our literature, the desire world is the world of illusion and delusion; and those poor people who have so suddenly been transferred to that realm with frightful wounds upon their physical bodies also imagine (as very frequently in the case with persons who have met accidents) that the lesions of the physical body are still with them, and they suffer acutely there from these fancied injuries as they would here. That is of course entirely needless. many of them are going about there with dreadful wounds upon their bodies, particularly those who have wounds caused by bursting shells and by bayonets. It is of course an easy matter for the Invisible Helpers to show any one of these people that his or her injuries are only fancied, yet when there are so many thousands the task is gigantic, and our Invisible Helpers are having a time of unprecedented activity against overwhelming odds.
It is not so much however the anguish that results from such fancied bodily lesions which makes the work. The mental anguish—the concern for those who have been left behind, the fear of fathers concerning their little ones, and the sorrow of the mothers who have been left behind to bring up a family of young children—is the most fearful handicap to a settlement of this dreadful state of affairs that the Invisible Helpers have to meet, and this is the point on which I would like to ask your earnest co-operation.
President Wilson of the United States has appointed October 4th as a day of prayer for peace. It is well always to unite with such movements because our trained thoughts will have a considerable effect and strengthen wonderfully the general appeal. This day should be spent by every earnest student in prayer for the deliverance of the world from this awful slaughter. Their thoughts should be particularly directed towards soothing those who are in this world, and in the invisible world also who are distressed at the severance of family ties. Each one should hold the thought that although the present war seems grievous, nevertheless this is only an incident in a long stretch of time which has neither beginning nor end. As spirits we are immortal, and these things which now seem to us of so great importance, when viewed from the spiritual standpoint and when considering the fact that we are really immortal, are of less moment than now seems the case to us. Whatever befalls, it will be incorporated into the spiritual nature as a lesson to give us a sense of the horror of this carnage which is now devastating the world.
This war, let us fervently hope, will be the last war that will ever mar the peace of the earth; that having learned this costly lesson, mankind will once and for all destroy the implements of war, and beat their swords into plowshares. Let this idea be in the mind of every student on the 4th of October, but as this date is so near at hand that probably this letter will not reach all in time, let every one in the Rosicrucian Fellowship devote Sunday, the 18th, to a prayer for peace. By that time all our students will have received this message, and we shall again be united from morning until evening in this effort to help restore peace to the world. May the kingdom of Christ soon superseded the kingdom of men, for they have certainly shown themselves inefficient rulers.
In almost every mail we receive letters commenting upon the war, but with very few exceptions there has been no expression of partisanship, showing that the writers take a loftier viewpoint than inculcated by the various Race Spirits and commonly given the name of patriotism. This attitude is the only one consistent with the principles of the Rosicrucian Fellowship. We are all joined in an international association, we are all looking for the Kingdom which is to supersede all nations, and the fact that we were born on different parts of the globe and express ourselves in different tongues does not abrogate the command of Christ: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," nor excuse us for playing the part of the "robber" rather than that of the "Samaritan." It behooves us in the Rosicrucian Fellowship to rise above the barriers of nationality and learn to say as did that much maligned man, Thomas Paine: "The world is my country, and to do good is my religion." We must cease to be merely national and strive to become universal in our sympathies.
But there is a war that is well worth fighting, a war upon which we may legitimately expend all our energy, a war that we shall do well to pursue with unrelenting zeal, and one of the students puts it so well that we cannot do better than give his letter.
"In reflecting upon the war this thought comes: When men grow weary of the appalling internecine struggle and lay down their arms, and peace holds sway, from this continent, burdened with the dust of friend and foe alike, its rivers running crimson with the best blood of empires, a new Europe will arise, and a higher civilization succeed the one destroyed.
"And the vast host of nameless dead, dying, will prove a mightier power for world peace than had they lived. Thus it is that from the unrestrained passions of men, Deity, just and loving, brings ultimate good.
"If men, and women too, were only one-tenth part as eager to wage war against their real enemy within the human breast as they are to take up arms against a supposed enemy just across a non-existing imaginary boundary line on the face of God's good world, then the Prince of Peace could come into His own. All deadly weapons would be consigned to limbo, and the glorious promise would be fulfilled: 'On earth peace and good will towards men.'
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"And so for myself, I resolve that i will not cease my efforts till the last vestige of evil, error, and hate be eliminated, and the lofty trinity of 'Goodness, Truth, and Love reign unchallenged within.'
"In this real struggle I find myself a poor soldier, and the tide of battle often sets in the wrong direction, yet no matter if I fail ten thousand times, the lesson must be learned and shall be learned. Some day, with a stout heart, an indomitable will, and unflagging persistence, the victory will be won and peace will reign—the peace that passeth all understanding."
let us all join our brother in that noble fight, remembering the words of Goethe:
This is the time when good wishes are in order. "A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year" are greetings soon to be heard everywhere, and in conformity with this ancient usage the workers on Mt. Ecclesia also extend to members all over the world the usual seasonal greetings.
But while we thus cordially wish one another Godspeed and good cheer in the coming year, after all, though the wishes of others may be encouraging and gratifying, they are really of minor consequence. But what we wish ourselves individually is of prime importance. If the whole world conspired against and antagonized us in this wish, we should nevertheless succeed, provided always we were able to put sufficient intensity and insistence into the wish. Do we desire riches? They may be ours by the exercise of will. If we want power and popularity, they also are at our beck and call, provided we clothe our wish with an all-compelling ardor. Are we sick, feeble, or in other ways disabled? We may rid ourselves of these bodily ailments also by an intense desire for health. Social restrictions or hampering family conditions will disappear before the earnest desire of the one who
But there is another side. Desire is a two-edged sword, and what appeared the greatest good while in contemplation may prove to be a curse when we have achieved actual possession. The greatest fortune may crumble in a few hours by earthquake or a turn of the market, and the rich man always fears he may lose his possessions. To be popular we must be at everybody's beck and call; we have neither rest nor time to follow our own bent. Bodily ailments which seem thorns in the flesh, which seem to rob life of all its joys, and of which we would fain be rid, may be the greater blessing in disguise. Paul had such an ailment and he besought the Lord, who said to him: "My grace is sufficient for thee." So also with inharmonious family conditions, etc. There are in all human relationships certain lessons to be learned for our good, and therefore we should be very careful not to wish them away without always adding the words which were used by Christ during the passion of the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane. Though in the body He shrank from the torture that awaited Him, He said: "Not my will but Thine.' We should always remember that there is only one thing we may pray for with unrestricted fervor and full intensity, and that is that we may be pleasing to God.
An now, dear friends, the Rosicrucian Fellowship is an association composed of many individual members. You are one, and will you join as a member in wishing ourselves, the Fellowship, a grater baptism of God's grace during the year 1915, so that we may more efficiently do our part of the work of God upon the earth and hasten the day of Christ? And will you wish it with such intensity that you will work for that end all through the year with zeal and fervor?
May God bless the Rosicrucian Fellowship and make it a more efficient factor in His work in the world.
The customary greeting at this time is: "May you have a happy and a prosperous New Year." With this the writer is in hearty accord and extends it to you, but his meaning may differ somewhat from that which is ordinarily given, for usually it is material prosperity that is the main thought; whereas the writer wishes you that gold which is wrought by the alchemy of the soul, so that the base metal of the coming year's experience may thus be transformed into the Philosopher's Stone, the greatest good this world can ever give. Worldly riches are always a source of care to their possessor, but this, the jewel of jewels, rings with it? the peace that passeth all understanding.
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Moreover, if we work solely for material things, our labor is always found to be hard drudgery no matter how we may seek to break the monotony by indulging in so-called pleasures. There comes ever and anon the thought: "What is the use?" But when we labor in the vineyard of Christ, when we do everything in our business and out of it as "unto the Lord," then the aspect is entirely different. Christ said: "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light," and that is an actual truth, though perhaps not in the ordinary sense. The writer and others who have been with him during many years can testify from personal experience that though there has been the most arduous labor, both mental and physical, and though the body has been sometimes so tired that it has been almost impossible to bring it together in the morning, nevertheless there has been a satisfaction, joy, and pleasure that the world knows not, neither can understand. The years that have gone by, spent in this work, have been so satisfactory that nothing in the world could compensate the writer and his companion for them should they be lost. Year by year he estimates it a greater privilege to thus labor, and others who are with him have exactly the same feeling.
How about you, dear friend? We are at the beginning of a new year, a new start. The Rosicrucian Fellowship as an organization depends on the units, and if we are to make spiritual progress, then the burden must be taken up by every one among us. We must become more faithful, more earnest, more devoted to the ideals that have been given by the Elder Brothers. We know that there are faithful workers in the Fellowship, but are you? It is not enough to simply study the teachings and meditate upon them; we must actually carry them into our lives and because shining lights in our community. We must live the life not only in the outside world but right in the home, so that other members of the family may see the light and be brought in. We know that many do this, but there are others who are lukewarm, who still stand on the threshold and do not want to take the yoke. Now the yoke must be borne, no matter if the neck becomes calloused in the effort; in fact, every callous is an additional factor in building, the soul body, the glorious wedding garment in which alone we can meet the Lord when he appears.
It is the earnest, the very earnest hope of the writer that every student of the Rosicrucian Fellowship will take up his yoke with more ardor than ever before, so that both individually and collectively we may lay up treasure in heaven that is sure to be ours at the end of the year-day, when we have borne the burden and the heat.
This month we are starting a new series of lesson on "The Web of Destiny—How Made and Unmade," and we trust that this series will prove very profitable to you in your study and in your life. While the lesson are analytical and technical in some respects, the subject should be approached in a spirit of the deepest devotion by keeping the main purpose of life in view.
As you are probably aware, the word "philosophy" is composed of two words meaning love of wisdom. Most people have the idea that "love of wisdom" in this connection is synonymous with desire for knowledge, but as we have seen from a recent lesson, there is a vast difference between knowledge and wisdom. Wisdom implies love, first, last, and all the time, while knowledge may be used for the most evil purposes imaginable. In fact the true esotericist who is inspired by a fervent devotion in his study and his work in life is too modest to accept the title of philosopher, for to him it means even more as he turns it around and calls it "The Wisdom of Love" instead of love of wisdom. A little thought will very soon make the point clear. The subject we have chosen for the coming series of lessons is one of the most intimate and holy which one can take up, therefore you will readily realize that it must be approached in this "wisdom of love" spirit, in love that is embodied in the full realization of what true philosophy is and means. Robert Burns once said:
But I am afraid that power would indeed be a sad possession though it may seem upon superficial thought to be desirable. Each of us is full of shortcomings. At times we make but a sorry figure on the stage of the world. Sometimes we seem to be thrown aimlessly hither and thither by the shuttle-cock of destiny, while others who are unable to see the beam in their own eye are criticizing us and making us appear ridiculous. If we saw ourselves with their eyes, we should lose that most essential attribute—our self-respect; we should shrink from facing our fellow men.
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When we realize that this is so (and thought upon the matter surely can not fail to convince us), then we might also with profit put the shoe on the other foot and realize that we ourselves, by sharp criticism of the trivial shortcomings of others, are taking a very unbrotherly, unphilosophical, un-wisdom-of-love-like attitude. It is the purpose of the coming lessons to give us an idea of what has caused in the past some of the things that we most criticize in others, so that we may be able personally to avoid similar mistakes; also that we may have that real, true, Christian charity which vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, rejoiceth not in evil but in the truth, as paul describes it in that beautiful thirteenth chapter of 1st Corinthians.
I trust that you will approach the lessons in that spirit and that they may be of lasting benefit to us all.
While meditating upon the good of the Rosicrucian Fellowship the question came up before the writer's mind: "What is the greatest general hindrance to our progress in the spiritual work?" And the answer was: "Lack of concentration."
We all have our families who crave and must have a certain share of our attention. Our work in the world must not be neglected on any account. We are here to accomplish certain things, and to learn by them. After these duties have been attended to there still remains for each of us a little time which we may justly and properly use for our own development, and it is as important that we properly use this extra time as it is that we attend to our worldly duties, our family, and our social obligations.
Consider now that in ordinary life we do not try to become a doctor and practice medicine today, work in a machine shop tomorrow, and every other day go at some other business. We know that such a course would not take us anywhere in life. neither do we live in one family as husband or wife today and assume similar relations in another family tomorrow; nor do we change our social circle as often as we change our coats or shoes. Such industrial and social conditions would be absolutely impossible. On the contrary, we pursue one line of work in the world; we look after one family; we concentrate our efforts in these departments of our life to the exclusion of all others.
Why not apply the same common sense to our spiritual endeavors? We study our business; we plan ahead; we work with all our might in order to make it a success. We also study the needs of our family and we plan for them. We know that success, both social and industrial, depends upon the amount of concentration and the amount of planning we do. If, then, we are so wise concerning worldly things, which last only for the few years of our earth life, can we not bring ourselves to use the same common sense to apply ourselves equally with all our mind and with our heart to the spiritual things that are everlasting?
In the Atlantean Epoch when the Original Semites were called out from among their brothers, many of them accounted it a great hardship. They, "the Sons of God," married "the daughters of men."
We are today at another great parting of the ways. An "Ecclesia," or company of men, is being "called out" as pioneers of the next great race. Many roads lead to Rome and to the Kingdom of Christ, but if we fritter our time away walking on one today and tomorrow choosing another path, we are certain to fail; and I therefore urge all the students who are in sympathy with the ideas of the Rosicrucian Fellowship to give up all other religious societies and devote their whole heart, mind, and spirit to living and spreading our teachings.
Trained, skilled, and devoted workers are sought in our earthly enterprises. In the heavenly Kingdom loyalty and devotion also are prime factors.
Let us memorize and concentrate on the first three verses of the first Psalm, for surely we want to reap the greatest harvest that we possible can from our spiritual as well as from our material efforts.
As this lesson will reach you about Easter time, I thought it might be well to devote the letter to that recurring event.
You know the analogy between man, who enters his vehicles in the daytime, lives in them and works through them, and at night is a free spirit, free from the fetters of the dense body—and the Christ Spirit dwelling in our earth a part of the year. We all know what a fetter and what a prison this body is, how we are hampered by disease and suffering, for there is not one of us who is always in perfect health so that he or she never feels a pang of pain, at least no one on the higher path.
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It is similar with the Cosmic Christ, who turns His attention toward our little earth, focusing His consciousness in this planet in order that we may have life. He has to enliven this dead mass (which we have crystallized out of the sun) annually; and it is a fetter, a clog, and a prison to Him. Therefore it is right and proper that we should rejoice when He comes at Christmas time each year and is born anew into our world to help us leaven this dead lump wherewith we have encumbered ourselves. Our hearts at that time should turn to Him in gratitude for the sacrifice He makes for our sakes during the winter months, permeating this planet with His life to awaken it from its wintry sleep, in which it must remain were He not thus born into it to enliven it.
During the winter months He suffers agonies of torture, "groaning, travailing, and waiting for the day of liberation," which comes at the time that we speak of in the orthodox churches as the passion week. But we realize according to the mystic teachings that this week is just the culmination or crest wave of His suffering and that He is then rising out of His prison; that when the sun crosses the equator, He hangs upon the cross, and cries, "Consummatum Est!"—"It has been accomplished!" That is to say, His work for that year has been accomplished. It is not a cry of agony but it is a cry of triumph, a shout of joy that the our of liberation has come, and that once more He can soar away a little while, free from the fettering clod of our planet.
Now, dear friend, the point to which I would like to call your attention is that we should rejoice with Him in that great, glorious, triumphal hour, the hour of liberation when He exclaims, "It has been accomplished!" Let us attune our hearts to this great cosmic event; let us rejoice with the Christ, our Savior, that the term of His annual sacrifice has once more been completed; and let us feel thankful from the very bottom of our hearts that He is now about to be freed from the earth's fetters; that the life wherewith He has now endued our planet is sufficient to carry us through the time till next Christmas.
I hope that this may furnish you with a point of view for prayerful Easter meditation which will result in abundant soul growth.
In the March letter I suggested, as you will remember, the concentration of energy in one direction, advising, as I have done before, that students devote all their spare time to work in and for one religious society, rather than scattering and dissipating their energies by membership in a number of such societies, for it is an impossibility to do effective work in that manner.
Since that time a few resignations have come in, which were not unexpected. Among a large membership like that of the Rosicrucian Fellowship some of those who hold membership in other bodies would naturally have their greatest sympathy somewhere else, and they would follow that bent in accordance with my advice. Indeed the surprise is that there have been only a few resignations, but this is no doubt due to the fact that Headquarters periodically weeds out those who show little interest, and thus keeps only the most live members on the list.
But the tone of these resignations does hurt. One writes: "I am a member of the Episcopalian Church; my pew rent is paid there, etc., etc." It seems strange that some will not understand that the Rosicrucian Fellowship is antagonistic to no church or society, particularly not to the Christian churches. It has been stated repeatedly that we favor membership in any Christian church. What the letter said was not churches, but "religious societies"; and, as said, it was not because we had anything against societies which work along Christian lines. There is, for instance the Unity Society of Kansas City, a clean, moral organization under a noble leadership, so far as we can learn from all reports. But to do one's best work in that or any other religious society one's entire energy in spare time should be given to that society alone; and if any member of the Rosicrucian Fellowship who is also a member of such an organization decides to cast his lot with them alone he is doing far better by them, far better by the Rosicrucian Fellowship also, than if he retains his membership in both. On the other hand, if the weight of his sympathies lies with the Rosicrucian Fellowship, then it is better for him, better for the Unity Society, better for the Rosicrucian Fellowship, that he cast his lot entirely with our association.
As we have often said, many roads lead to Rome, but you can not walk two roads at once. You must walk one in order to get there. Zigzagging from one to another is a waste of effort. If we do our work in the world we have but very little time left in which we may legitimately work for our own advantage along spiritual lines. Therefore we should endeavor to concentrate our efforts where they will do the greatest good instead of scattering our energies and attaining very little soul growth in that manner.
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Moreover it should be understood that if at any time the policies of the Rosicrucian Fellowship do not meet with the approval of any one, he is not serving the cause by simply deserting the flag and railing against us from the outside. If he remains within we listen to him as one brother listens to another, and we see his arguments from a very different point of view than if he shows hostility, leaves, and becomes in that way an opponent. Then the same arguments would lose a good deal of their weight. We are all agreed about the great and cardinal points of our teachings. Every one of us surely appreciates the benefit that we have reaped from this philosophy which we are engaged in promulgating. Is it not meet then that we should be tolerant in matters of policy, that we may devote all our attention to the ideals?
While we are studying the "Web of Destiny—How Made and Unmade," it is expedient, in fact absolutely necessary, that we should keep before the eye of our mind the fact that life is not alone an unfoldment of causes set going in previous existences. The spirit, when it comes back to rebirth, has a varying amount of free will—according to the life previously led—to fill in details. Also, instead of only unfolding past causes into effects, there are also new causes generated at every turn by the spirit, which then act as seeds of experience in future lives. This is a very important point. It is a self- evident truth, for unless it were so, the causes that have already been set going must at some time come to an end, and that would mean cessation of existence.
Thus we are not absolutely forced to act in a certain way because we are in a certain environment and because our whole past experience has given us a trend toward a certain end. With the divine prerogative of free will, man has the power of Epigenesis or initiative, so that he may enter upon a new line at any time he wishes. He cannot at once steer himself out of the old life— this may require a long time, perhaps several lives—but gradually he works up to the ideal which he has once sown.
Therefore life advances not only by involution and evolution, but especially by Epigenesis. This sublime teaching of the Western Wisdom Religion of the Rosicrucians explains many mysteries not otherwise capable of a logical solution, among them one which has occasioned many letters to Headquarters. This subject is taken up with some reluctance as the writer dislikes speaking about the war. The question concerns the connection between a soldier, a woman of the enemy ravished by him, and the ego born of a mother who hates it because of the undesired motherhood.
Investigation of a number of cases has shown that this is a new venture on the part of the spirits coming to rebirth. All have been incorrigible in their previous environments and it seemed that no good could come by keeping them there to he sorrow of those with whom they were connected. The present war conditions, though not made for the purpose, afford an opportunity to transfer them to another field of action, where the new mother reaps, through this agency, the fruits of wrongs sown by herself in the past.
Nor is this condition at all peculiar to war. Very often similar means are used at other times so that we may reap what we have sown, through another soul who enters into our lives to suffer and to bring suffering to us. I have in mind a mother who told me a number of years ago how she rebelled against motherhood; how, after she had gone through the period of pregnancy with hate and anger in her heart, the little child was born and she refused even to look at it; but finally she was melted by pity for its condition of helplessness, and pity later turned to love. The child had all the advantages that money could give him, but these advantages could not save his mental balance, and today he sits in a murderer's cell in an asylum for the criminal insane, while the mother is left to sorrow and to ponder upon what she did or did not do during the time when that infant was coming to her.
Conversely, there are also occasions when a spirit, being through with an old environment, comes into a new sphere of action as a ray of sunshine and comfort to those who are fitted to receive that blessing by their previous actions. Let us, therefore, remember that no matter how degraded a being may be he has always the power to sow the seed of good, but must wait until that seed can flower in a right environment. Each of us, though bound by his yesterdays, is therefore thus far free respecting his tomorrows.
Upon re-reading the monthly lesson which accompanies this letter, embodying the result of investigations made some time ago, I was struck anew and with added force by the fact of the existence of such fearsome conditions about us. At the present time when the horrors of the great war are adding unprecedented numbers to those who pass from the present world to the invisible realms under harrowing conditions, it seems that an extra effort ought to be made to offset and to minimize the evil. The Rosicrucian Fellowship is as yet but a drop in the ocean of humanity, but if we do our share we shall earn a greater opportunity for service.
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There is no remedy for the present conditions equal to a knowledge of the continuity of life and of the fact that we are reborn from time to time under the immutable Law of Consequence. If these great facts with all that they imply could be brought home to a large number of people, this leaven must ultimately work in such a manner as to change conditions all over the world. One man, Galileo, changed the viewpoint of the world concerning the solar system; and though we are only a few thousand, it is not possible for us to exert an influence upon the opinion of the world when we know that this is true?
It is often said that people are not interested in spiritual matters; that you cannot get their ear; but, really, it is not so. Granting that of the hundred of thousands who went to hear Billy Sunday, the noted evangelist, a great many were actuated by curiosity or went to? jeer and sneer, there were also many thousand in whom was a strong desire for something which they themselves perhaps could not define, and which was the actuating motive. Recently there was a debate between a New York evangelist and a lawyer on the subject, "Where Are the Dead?" This debate was held in a large auditorium accommodating many thousands, and it lasted for three days. Every seat in the auditorium was taken and, if I remember right, there were many who could not even find standing room within. No, the world is seeking something; seeking it with a hungry heart, and it only depends upon us whether we are going to do our share by putting before the world the rational explanation of life which has come to us through the Elder Brothers. It is a great privilege and we should certainly take advantage of it.
But the question is, How? Let me ask you, would not your newspaper take an occasional article on this subject? There are certainly a number of people within the Fellowship capable of writing such articles. A committee could be formed to receive the articles and furnish them to the members who ask for them and who would agree to take them to the editors of the newspapers in their respective towns and endeavor to get a hearing for the Rosicrucian Fellowship teachings through that medium. If an article is well written it is seldom refused when there is space available, for editors are only too glad to get something that they think may interest the reading public, even though they may not be in sympathy with it themselves.
Will some of the students who can write please submit short articles on "The Continuity of Life," and will those who are willing to undertake to get such articles into their home papers write and register their names to that we may get action?
I hope that this appeal will meet with a hearty response.
Did you ever realize the reason why Christ commanded that we should heal the sick? One of the reasons certainly was that when you have demonstrated that you can heal the body, those who have been helped will have more faith in your ability also to help the soul. When we have advanced to the high stature of Christ so that we can at once see the past and the present; when we are able thus to determine at a glance the causes, crises, and present stage of a disease, we shall need no other aid in diagnosis and advice. But until that time we must use such crutches as we have, and foremost among them is astrology.
Many people who have been unwilling to work for results have come to Headquarters expecting to gain spiritual illumination, to sprout wings, and to return to the world as wonder workers after a few days' stay. And naturally, they have been disappointed. But whenever anyone has honestly and earnestly applied himself to real work, not classes, for a reasonable time, results have always been attained. We have here a letter from a friend who stayed at Mt. Ecclesia and applied himself earnestly and honestly to his studies. We give his experience as encouragement to others to do likewise:
"Dear Friends: The proposition which I expected to take up after my stay on Mt. Ecclesia turned out to be a graft on people and not consistent with our ideals at all, and I therefore sent in my resignation. No sooner, though, did I give up that scheme than I had an invitation from a prominent physician in Kansas City to do work with him. He appealed to me as being all right. We were literally stormed with patients. Mrs. Heindel, it is wonderful how people hunger for something of this nature; they look for someone to open their lives, and they try to get encouragement from sources that are more potent and reliable than the hard and dry life-destroying materialism.
"Astrology came as a wonderful help to me to gain their confidence; and by the aid of God, who sent me here, I was able to send them away, their ailments correctly diagnosed. And the strangest part of it is that none of them gave me any symptoms. I located both disease and symptom, and nearly everyone agree that I was right and resolved to live up to the high principles of manhood and womanhood which I enunciated to them.
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"I expect to be very busy here and wish to thank you for the help I have received along this line during the last year at Mt. Ecclesia. I certainly enjoyed my stay with you immensely and am looking forward to a great deal of good from my work there; am only sorry I was unable to stay longer."
What man has done, man can do. Mrs. Heindel and myself did not get our knowledge along this line without effort. We had to work hard for it; and others who have worked as hard with the same spiritual ideals in view, namely, the helping and uplifting of humanity, also find an illumination that is not given to those who are looking for the material rewards of life and their own aggrandizement. It seems to me that it is time the Rosicrucian Fellowship should wake up and take this study earnestly in hand so that healing centers may be established in every city in the world.
We have started a department in the magazine where we delineate the horoscope of children to help parents to know their latent characteristics. There is also a correspondence course for beginners, besides the course in Astro-Diagnosis and Astro-Therapy for probationers, and we would advise all who have not yet started to take up the study.
When one investigates a certain subject in the invisible world, many fascinating byways open up. he is constantly lured away from the main line of research by this, that, or the other theme which attracts his attention, and there is great danger of losing sight of the goal and of wandering off in a maze of incoherency. Sometimes the temptation to follow a bypath is stronger than my power of resistance; and recently, while working on the "Web of Destiny," the figure of a hermit who had starved his body to the semblance of a skeleton—who had whipped himself till the blood flowed from sores that were never allowed to heal, and thought he was serving God by these austerities—led me to search for the origin of this hideous practice. I have written a lengthy article on the subject for our magazine; but as the matter is important, and many of the students are not subscribers to the magazine, I have deemed it best to give you the main facts.
In the ancient Mystery Temples the main truths now taught by the Rosicrucian Fellowship concerning the vital body were given to the aspirant to Initiation. He learned that this vehicle was composed of the four ethers: the Chemical Ether, which is necessary to assimilation; the Life Ether, which furthers growth and propagation; the Light Ether, which is the vehicle of sense perception; and the Reflecting Ether, which is the receptacle of memory.
The aspirant was thoroughly instructed in the functions of the two lower ethers as compared with the two higher. He knew that all the purely animal functions of the body depended upon the density of the two lower ethers and that the two upper ethers composed the soul body—the vehicle of service in the invisible world. He aspired to cultivate this glorious garment by self-abnegation, curbing the propensities of the lower nature by will power, just as we do today.
But some, who were overzealous to attain, no matter how, forgot that it is only by service and unselfishness that the golden wedding garment, composed of the two higher ethers, is grown. They thought the esoteric maxim, "Gold in the crucible, dross in the fire; light as the winds, higher and higher," meant only that so long as the dross of the lower nature was expelled, it did not matter how it was done. And they reasoned that as the Chemical Ether is the agent of assimilation, it could be eliminated from the vital body by starving the physical body. They also thought that as the Life Ether is the avenue of propagation, they could by living celibate lives starve it out. They would then only have the two higher ethers, or at least these would be much larger in volume than the two lower.
To that end they practiced all the austerities they could think of, fasting among others. By this unnatural process the body lost its health and became emaciated. The passional nature, which sought gratification by exercise of the propagative function, was stilled by castigation. It is true that in this horrible manner the lower nature seemed to be subjected; and it is also true that when the bodily functions were thus brought to a very low ebb, visions, or rather hallucinations, were the reward of these people; but true spirituality has never been attained by defiling or destroying "the temple of God," the body, and fasting may be as immoral as gluttony.
Let us endeavor to use moderation in all things, that we may be worthy examples to others and earn admission to the Temple by virtue of right living.
As there are a great number of students who have not subscribed for the magazine, and as there is a very important article running now, dealing with the esoteric side of the war, i feel that it may be best to devote the monthly letter to a resume of the facts, and trust that this will also benefit those who take the magazine; for as I do not intend to copy, but will take up the subject offhand, new points are sure to be brought out.
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You remember how every one of the countries concerned in this sad affair has endeavored to disclaim responsibility from the beginning. In a sense they are right, for though all have been guilty of pride of heart and, like David when he numbered Israel, have put their trust in the multitude of their men, ships, and armament, no war can ever take place that is not permitted by the Race Spirits. The Race Spirit guides its charges upon the path of evolution, and, like Jehovah, fights for them, or allows other nations to conquer them, as required to teach them the lesson needful for their advancement.
When seen by the spiritual vision the Race Spirit appears like a cloud brooding over a country, and it is breathed into the lungs of the people with every breath they take. In it they live, move, and have their being, as a matter of actual fact. Through this process they become imbued with that national fellow-feeling which we call "patriotism," which is so powerfully stirring in time of war that all feel wrought up about a certain matter and are ready to sacrifice all for their country.
America has no Race Spirit as yet. It is the melting pot wherein the various nations are being amalgamated to extract the seed for a new race; therefore it is impossible to arouse a universal sentiment which will make all move as one in any matter. This new race is beginning to appear, however. You may know them by their long arms and limbs, their lithe body, their long and somewhat narrow head, high crown, and almost rectangular forehead. In a few generations I expect they will be taken in charge by an Archangel, who will then begin to unite them. This itself will take generations, for though the pictures originally stamped in the old race bodies have faded from sight with the advent of the international marriages, they are still effective, and the family connections of America with other lands may be traced in the Memory of Nature found in the Reflecting Ether. Until this record has been wiped clean, the tie with the ancestral country is not entirely broken, and the colonies of foreign immigrants remaining in various part of this country retard the evolution of the new race. Probably the Aquarian Age will be here before this condition has been entirely overcome and the American race fully established.
If you look back at the developments during the past 60 or 70 years, it must be evident that it has been an age of skepticism, doubt, and criticism of religious subjects. The churches have become increasingly empty, and people have turned to the pursuit of pleasure, from the worship of God. This tendency was on the increase in Europe until the advent of this war, and it is still a disgrace to certain cities and centers of scientific thought in America. As a result of this worldwide attitude of mind, fostered by the Brothers of the Shadow with the permission of the Race Spirits, as Job was tempted by Satan in the legend, a spiritual cataract has covered the eyes of the Western world and must be removed before evolution can proceed. How that is being done will be the subject of the next letter.
You are aware from the teachings of the Cosmo that there was one race at the end of the Lemurian Epoch, there were seven in the Atlantean Epoch, seven in the current Fifth Epoch, and there will be one in the coming Galilean Epoch, making in all sixteen races. You also remember that these sixteen races are called by the Elder Brothers "the sixteen paths to destruction" because enmeshed in the bodies of any race to such an extent that it will be unable to follow the others along the path of evolution.
This was the tendency among the nations of Europe up to the present war. Patriotism, and the racial ideal fostered thereby, were leading them away from God. An age of doubt and skepticism had been ushered in by the many scientific discoveries, and the population in the Western world were steering very close to the brink of destruction. Therefore it became necessary for the Elder Brothers to devise measures whereby mankind might be brought from the path of pleasure to the path of devotion, and this could only be done by removing the spiritual cataract from a sufficiently large number of people so that they would then override the doubt and skepticism of the rest.
When we dwelt under the water in the early Atlantean Epoch, we were, as you know, unable to see the body or even to feel it, because our consciousness was focused in the spiritual realm. We saw one another, soul to soul. We were unaware of either birth or death, and we felt no separation from those we loved. But when we gradually became aware of our bodies, and our consciousness was focused in the physical world from birth to death, and in the spiritual world from death to birth, there was a separation, and consequent sorrow on account of the advent of death. In bygone ages however, there were still many who were able to see both worlds; they formed quite a considerable number of the populace. Their testimonies to the continuity of life were a great comfort to those who had been bereaved, for they believed thoroughly that those whom they had lost were still alive and happy, though unable to make themselves known. But gradually the world became more and more materialistic; faith in the reality of the hereafter faded, and sorrow at the loss of the loved ones grew more and more intense, until today many believe the separation is final. To them the word "rebirth" is an empty sound, and therefore grief is overwhelming.
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But this very grief is nature's remedy for the spiritual cataract. As surely as the desire for growth built the complicated alimentary canal from the simplest beginning so that the craving for growth might be satisfied; as surely as the desire for motion evolved the wonderful joints, sinews, and ligaments wherewith this is accomplished; just as surely will the intense yearning to continue the relationships severed by death build the organ for its gratification—the spirit eye. Therefore this wholesale slaughter of millions of men ha helped and is helping more to bridge the gulf between the invisible and the visible world than a thousand years of preaching could do. All through the history of the world it has been recorded that warriors have seen so-called supernatural manifestations, and there is plenty of testimony that those visions have also been seen in the present war. The shock of the wound, the suffering in the hospital, and tears of the widows and orphans, all are opening the spiritual eyes of Europe, and the age of doubt and skepticism will pass away. Instead of being ashamed of having faith in God, the world will honor a man for his piety rather than for his prowess in a not very distant future. And let us all pray for that day.
The news printed today in big type on the front pages of newspapers, news which seems of such vital and absorbing interest to everybody, is usually forgotten tomorrow, and the papers that contained the records are thrown into the fire. Likewise the song that is upon the lips of everybody is usually after awhile relegated to he archives of oblivion. Even the men who are launched like meteors into the limelight of publicity are usually soon forgotten, together with the deeds that caused their brief popularity— for, it? quote Solomon, "All is vanity."
But among the kaleidoscopic changes that are constantly altering the stage of the world, morally, mentally, and physically, there are certain cyclic events which, though they are recurrent in their nature, have a permanency and stability about them which differentiates the macrocosmic from the microcosmic method of conducting affairs.
In the spring time, at Easter, when the sun crosses the eastern or vernal equinox, the earth emerges from its wintry sleep and shakes off the snowy blanket which has covered it with a vesture of immaculate purity. The voice of nature is heard when the little babbling brooks begin to trickle down the hillside on their way to the great ocean. It is heard when the wind whispers in the newly sprouted forest leaves the song of love that calls forth the bud and the flower which finally bears the pollen that is carried upon invisible wings to the waiting mate. It is heard in the love song of the mating birds and the call of beast unto beast. It continues in every department of nature until the increase of new life has compensated for the destruction by death.
Through the summer, Love and Life toil exceedingly with joyful heart, for they are Masters in the struggle for existence while the sun is exalted in the northern heavens, at the maximum of his power at the summer solstice. Time goes by, and there comes another turning point at the fall equinox. The song of the woodland choir is now hushed; the love call of beast and bird ceases and nature becomes mute again. The light wanes, and the shadows of night grow longer, until at winter solstice, where we are now, the earth again prepares for the deepest sleep, for she need the night of rest after the strenuous activities of the preceding day.
But as the spiritual activities of man are greatest while his body is asleep, so also, by the law of analogy, we may understand that the spiritual fires in the earth are brightest at this time of the year; that now is the best opportunity for soul growth, for investigation and study of the deeper mysteries of life. And therefore it behooves us to catch opportunity on the wing so that we may use this present time to the very best advantage; yet without hurry, without worry, but patiently and prayerfully, knowing that among all other things in the world which change, this great wave of spiritual light will be with us in the winter season for ages to come. It will grow more and more brilliant as the earth and ourselves evolve to higher degrees of spirituality. We are now doing the pioneer work of spreading the Rosicrucian teachings which will help to illuminate the world during the centuries immediately following our present time. There is a law that "you can get only as you give." Now—this season of the year—is the most propitious time to give and receive, so let us be sure to let our light shine on the great cosmic Christmas tree, that it may be seen of men, and that they may be attracted to the truths which we know to be of such vital importance in the development of our fellow men.
In concluding this letter I desire to thank every one of the students for their co-operation in the work during the past year. Any may we do better work together in the coming year.
We are now at the close of another year of our lives and at the beginning of a new, and certain thoughts have come to me in connection with these divisions of our earthly lives.
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When Christ was at the end of His ministry, eating the last supper with His disciples, he washed their feet, despite protests from some who thought that this was a humiliation for the teacher. But as a matter of fact it was the symbol of an attitude of mind which is of great significance as a factor in soul growth. Were it not for the mineral soil, the higher plant kingdom would be an impossibility; and the animal kingdom could not exist if the plants did not give it the needed substance. Thus we see that in nature the higher feeds upon and is dependent on the lower for its growth and further evolution. Although it is a fact that the disciples were instructed and helped by Christ, it is also a fact that they were stepping-stones in His development; and it was in recognition of this fact that He humbled Himself, acknowledging His debt to them in the performance of the most menial service imaginable.
It has been the great privilege of the writer to transmit the esoteric instructions of the Elder Brothers to you and thousands of others during the past year, and in this he has been aided by all the workers on Mt. Ecclesia, directly or indirectly. Those who have helped in the print shop, office, or whatever necessary department have all had their share in this privilege, and we all thank you for these opportunities for soul growth which have come to us in satisfying your need.
We trust that we have been of some service in that respect, and ask your prayers that we may become more efficient servants in the coming year.
And how about you, dear friend? During the past year you also have had opportunities to serve others in a similar manner. Have you used your talents of knowledge transmitted to you to enlighten those with whom you have come in contact? It is not necessary to stand in a pulpit, literally or metaphorically, at any time in order to speak to the heart of others. It is often most effectively accomplished in the little quiet ways, such that people do not know we are trying to show them something. We trust you have improved your opportunities to the best of your ability during the past year, and pray that you may enter the new year with a still more earnest spirit of service, and that is may prove to be much more fruitful of soul growth than the past has been.
One of the most difficult problems which confront the leader of a spiritual movement is the impatience of students who want to reap where they have not sown. They are not patient enough to wait for the harvest but want results immediately, and if they do not sprout wings within a specified time set by themselves they are ready to cry "fraud" and seek and "individual teacher," visible or invisible. So long as he will "guarantee" results, they are prepared to throw common sense to the winds and follow him blindly, though he may lead them to the insane asylum or to a consumptives's grave, or in the cases of those who get off the easiest, simply separate them from some of their cash.
This condition has been dealt with before in letters to students, but there are always some who forget and new students are constantly being added to the class; therefore it is necessary to reiterate important points from time to time. Hearing recently of one who left a certain center for an "individual teacher," and who seems on that account to be envied in a measure by others of the group who have not been so fortunate (?), it seems expedient to go into the matter again.
Have you ever seen any institution, from kindergarten to college, where they keep a teacher for every pupil? We have not. No board of education would sanction such a waste of energy, nor would they appoint an individual teacher for any one simply because that pupil was impatient and wanted to get through school "quick." And finally, even if a board could be found willing to appoint a teacher in a special case who would "cram" knowledge into the pupils brain, there would be a great danger of brain fever, insanity, and maybe death in that method.
If this is true in schools of physical science, how can anyone believe that it can be different with regard to spiritual science? Christ said to His disciples: "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?" No "individual teacher," if such there were, can initiate anyone into the mysteries of the soul until the pupil is prepared by his or her own work. Whoever professes to do so brands himself as an impostor of a low order. And whoever allows himself to be so duped shows very little common sense; otherwise he would realize that no truly highly evolved teacher could afford to give his time and energy to the instruction of a single pupil, when he might just as easily teach a large number.
Imagine, if you can, the twelve great Brothers of the Rose Cross, each tagging around after on puny pupil! The thought is a sacrilege. Such truly great and highly evolved men have other and more important things to attend to, and even the lay brothers who have been initiated by them are not allowed to bother them for small and unimportant matters.
It may therefore be stated emphatically that the Elder Brothers do not habitually visit any one in the Rosicrucian Fellowship, or out of it, as an "individual teacher," and whoever thinks so is being deceived. They have given certain teachings which form the basis of instruction in this school, and by learning how to live this silence of the soul we may in time fit ourselves to meet them face to face in the school of Invisible Helpers. There is no other way.
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I trust that this may fix the idea more firmly in your own mind than it has been before, and give you a basis for setting others right who are in danger of being side-tracked.
From time to time we are grieved to receive letters from students in the warring countries chiding us for not taking up the cudgel in favor of their side. There has not been a day since this sad conflict began that we have not mourned the dreadful slaughter, though comforted by the knowledge that it is helping as nothing else could to break down the barrier between the living and the dead. Thus the war will go far towards abolishing the sorrow now experienced by the masses when parting from loved ones; also the present sorrow is turning the Western people from the pleasures of the world to the worship of God. There has not been a night that we have not worked diligently with the dead and wounded to allay their mental anguish or physical pain.
Patriotism was very good at one time, but Christ said, "Before Abraham was, I am." (Ego Sum). Races and nations, comprehended in the term "Abraham," are evanescent, but "the Ego," which existed before Abraham, the race father, will also persist when nations are a thing of the past. Therefore the Fellowship disregards national and racial differences, endeavoring to join all together in a bond of love to fight a Great War—the only war in which a true Christian should fight, and one which a true Christian ought to wage unflinchingly and without quarter—the war against his lower nature. Paul says: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing. For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
Does not Paul describe here most accurately the state of every aspiring soul? Are we not all suffering spiritually because of the conflict within ourselves? I hope there is but one answer, namely, that this inner war is being waged fiercely and unremittingly by every Fellowship student; for where there is no struggle, there is a sure indication of spiritual coma. The "body of sin" has then the upper hand. But the fiercer the fight, the more hopeful our spiritual state.
In America we hear a great deal of talk of "neutrality" and "preparedness" for "defensive" purposes. In the nobler war which we must wage, there can be no "neutrality." Either there is peace, and "the flesh" rules us and holds us in abject subjections, or there is war aggressively waged by both flesh and spirit. And so long as we continue to live in this "body of death" this warfare will continue, for even Christ was tempted, and we cannot expect to fare better than He.
"Preparedness" is good. It is more necessary every day, for just as a physical enemy seeks to trap and ambush a strong adversary rather than risk open battle, so also the temptations which beset us on "the path" become more subtle with each succeeding year.
Writer like Thomas a Kempis were wont to speak of themselves as "vile worms," and to use kindred terms of "self-abasement," because they knew the great and subtle danger of "self-approbation." But even that may be carried too far, and we may feel that we are "very, very good" and "holier" than others because we abuse ourselves; and we may do it for the pleasure we get from hearing other people contradict us. Truly, the snares of the desire body are past finding out.
There is a way to be prepared, and it is sure: "Look to Christ," and keep your mind busy every waking moment when not engaged in your daily work, studying how you may serve Him. Endeavor by every available means to carry out in a practical manner the ideas thus conceived. The more closely we imitate Christ, the more loyally we follow the dictates of the Higher Self, the more certainly shall we vanquish the lower nature and win the only war worth while winning.
This is the Easter lesson, though it does not say one word connected with the cosmic event of the present season. But it emphasizes anew the great vital fact that birth and death are only incidents in the life of the spirit, which is without beginning or end.
Old age, sickness, war, or accident may destroy this earthly habitation, but we have "a house from heaven" that no power can move. And so, no matter how closely death may come to us or to our loved ones, we know that as Good Friday is followed by the glorious Easter, so also the door of death is but the gate to a longer life where the sickness and paid which lays our physical body low have no more dominion.
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Just think what that means to our poor brothers who are torn and mangled by the awful inhumanity of man to man, and let us give thanks that they have escaped from the suffering which they must have endured if there had been no death to liberate them.
The great majority look upon death as "the king of terrors," but when we are instructed, we realize that under our present conditions death is a friend indeed. None of us has a perfect body, and as it deteriorates in an alarming degree during the few years that we use it, think how it would feel a million years hence—and a million years are less than a fleeting moment compared to infinite duration. None but spirit can endure infinity, and therefore Easter is the earnest of our hope of immortality, and Christ the first fruits of immortality and many brethren with Him.
Let us then, dear friend, approach the coming Easter in an attitude of spiritual aspiration to imitate our great Leader, the Christ, by crucifying our lower nature. May every day of the coming year be a Good Friday, may every night be spent in the purgatorial prison ministering to the spirits there confined, as Christ also did, and may every morn be a glorious Easter on which we rise in the newness of life to greater and better deeds.
"Take care of the pennies and the dollars will look after themselves" says a worldly wise proverb. We may paraphrase and adapt it to the spiritual life by saying, "Take heed that every day is well spent, and the years will yield much treasure."
When Christ visited Martha and Mary the former was much more concerned with preparation for his material comfort than in attending to the spiritual matters which he taught; hence the rebuke that she was concerned with many things of lesser moment than "the one thing needful." There is no doubt that it is positively wicked to neglect fulfilling one's duties and meeting every obligation honestly incurred in our ordinary everyday life. But unfortunately most of us make the great mistake of looking upon our work and duties in the material world as paramount, thinking that the spiritual side of our development can wait until a convenient time when we have nothing else to do. An increasing number of people admit that they ought to give more attention to spiritual matters, but they always have an excuse for not attending to them just now. "My business requires my entire attention," one will say. "Times are so strenuous, and in order to keep my head above water I must work from early morning till late at night. But as soon as times are a little better I am going to look into these matters and give more time to them." Another claims that certain relatives are dependent on him and that when he has fulfilled his obligations to these dependents he will be able to devote his time to soul growth.
There is no doubt that in many cases these excuses are legitimate, to a certain extent, and that the one who makes them is really and truly sacrificing himself or herself for some one else. I remember the case of a probationer who once wrote in distress that her two little children were always in need of attention at the times when she ought to perform her morning and evening exercises. She ardently desired to progress along the path of the higher life but the care of the children seemed a hindrance, and she asked what she should do. Attend to her children, of course, as I wrote to her. The sacrifice involved in giving up her own progress for the sake of her children's comfort naturally won a rebound to a thousand times more soul growth than if she had neglected her children for her own selfish interests.
But on the other hand there are many who simply lack the mental stamina to make th sustained effort. No matter how strenuous business conditions are, it is possible to devote a little time each day, morning and evening, to the attainment of spirituality. It is an exceedingly good practice to concentrate the mind upon an ideal during the time spent in street cars going from home to the place of business. The very fact that there is so much noise and confusion, which makes the effort more difficult, is in itself a help; for he who learns to direct his thought one-pointedly under such conditions will have no difficulty in obtaining the same results, or even better, under more favorable circumstances. The time thus spent will prove far more profitable than if used for reading a newspaper or a magazine which will call attention to conditions that are far from elevating.
The mind of most people is like a sieve. As water runs through the sieve so also thoughts flit through their brain. These thoughts are good, bad, and indifferent—mostly the latter. The mind does not hold on to any of them sufficiently long to learn its nature, and yet we are apt to entertain the idea that we cannot help our thoughts being what they are. On that account the great majority have formed the habit of listless thinking which makes them incapable of holding on to any subject until it is thoroughly mastered. It may be difficult to do, but certainly when the power of thought-control has been gained, the possessor holds within his hand the key to success in whatever line he may be engaged.
Therefore I would urge you in connection with this series of lessons, The Esoteric Effect of the Emotions," which you are receiving that you take the above personally to heart and set aside a portion of each day for the purpose of gaining thought-control. There are a number of helpful hints given by various authors, but i will think the matter over and try to give some general hints. This is very difficult because so much depends upon the temperament of the student. The instruction should really be individual, rather than collective, to bring the best results.
Though my letter is dated the first of the month it was written earlier of course—in fact, the evening before "Decoration Day," the day when all patriotic Americans are supposed to honor the dead heroes who fought for the integrity of the Union.
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As I thought over the matter it occurred to me that it seems always to require a calamity or a catastrophe to make me forget self and rise to the call of a cause or to the need of the occasion regardless of consequences. They always respond in war, earthquake, fire, or shipwreck.
But why should it require such cataclysmic events to bring out the virtue of self-sacrificing service when they are needed every day and hour in every home, hamlet, and city? The world would be so much better off if we did our noble deeds daily instead of only on occasion of exceptional stress. It may be noble to die for a great cause, but it is surely nobler to live a life of self-sacrifice, covering many years, cherishing others and helping them to be better and nobler, than to die in the attempt to kill a fellow being.
There is many a father who struggles years and years to give his children what he terms "a chance in life." There are thousands of mothers who toil a lifetime at "hard labor" to aid in this work for the young. There are millions of such heroes who are never heard of because they helped their fellows to live instead of causing them to die.
Is this not an anomaly—that we honor an army of men for more than half a century because they killed, killed, killed, while that greater army which fostered all that is best on earth lie forgotten in their graves?
As followers of Christ, let us pay tribute to the heroes and heroines who through years of suffering fought for others by rendering tender care in childhood's helpless days, by unflagging service in times of sickness, by patient participation in poverty and in any and every trouble that might befall.
Nor let us wait till they have passed to the beyond, but let us honor them here and now. Neither should we set one day in the year apart for the payment of such tribute, but we should honor them every day of our lives, and we should seek to lighten their burdens by emulating their noble deeds.
How shall we find them? they wear no uniform, neither do they wear their hearts upon their sleeves. They are everywhere, and if we seek we shall find them. The quicker we join their ranks, the sooner we shall honor ourselves by lightening their burdens as it becomes all true servants of the Master. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
In a few days we shall celebrate in America "The Glorious Fourth," our Independence Day, and we shall waste a lot of perfectly good and useful powder that might be put to better use, in order to show our "patriotism." A considerable number of fires and accidents will occur if we may judge from many precedents.
To what purpose all of this we may see by the heartrending spectacle of the war which for almost two years has made tears a mockery, for no symbol of sorrow is adequate to the occasion. let us realize that had there been no "patriotism," there could have been no war; and realizing its baneful influence, let us learn to say with Thomas Paine, "The world is my country, and to do good is my religion." This, it seems to me, is the gospel we ought to preach to our fellow men in whatever country we happen to be, for this attitude of mind will be one of the factors in accomplishing our emancipation from the Race Spirit feeds on war, for it causes the nation which it rules to sink its internal differences for the time being and its people to cluster close to one another for defense or aggression against the common foe. Thus they vibrate in harmony to an extent greater than usual, and this strengthens the Race Spirit and delays the advent of Christ to that extent. So long as patriotism holds the nations in bondage to the Race Spirits, the Universal Kingdom cannot be started.
I would therefore urge that the students of the Rosicrucian Fellowship refrain from participation in any patriotic exercises of a martial nature. Practice Universal Brotherhood by never mentioning or recognizing differences of nationality, for we are all one in Christ.
From time to time letters of discouragement are received at Headquarters from people who are smitten by conscience because they are unable to live up to their high ideals, and they feel that it would be more honest to abandon the faith and live as others live who make no professions. They say that while they read and study or listen in church to passages which exhort them to love their enemies, to bless them that curse them, and to pray for those who despitefully use them, they are heart and soul in accord with these sentiments and would gladly follow these precepts; but when they meet such conditions in the world, they cannot comply with the Biblical command, and therefore feel that they are hypocrites.
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If man were a homogeneous whole, if spirit, soul, and body were one and undivided, that these people are hypocrites would be true. But spirit, soul, and body are not one, as we realize to our sorrow from the very first day that we feel the desire to tread the path of the higher life. And in this fact lies the solution of the problem. There are two distance natures in each of us. In the days of our unaspiring life the higher spiritual nature is asleep, and the worldly personal self is undisputed lord of all our actions. Then there is peace and serenity. But the moment the spiritual nature wakens, the war begins. As we grow in spirituality, the struggle is intensified until some time in the future the personality will succumb, and we shall gain the peace that passeth all understanding.
In the meantime we have the condition whereof our students complain (with Paul, Faust, and every other aspiring soul), that to will is easy, but that the good that they would, they do not, and the evil that they would not, that they do. The writer has felt, and feels most keenly every day of his life this discrepancy between this teachings and his actions. One part of his being aspires with an ardor that is painful in its intensity to all the higher and nobler things, while on the other hand, a strong personality, exceedingly difficult to curb, is a source of continual grief. But he feels that so long as he does not "pose" as a saint, so long as he honestly admits his shortcomings and professes his sorrow for them, and so long as he uses the inclusive "we" in all his exhortations, he deceives no one, and is not a hypocrite. Whatever he says he takes to himself first and foremost, and, however, unsuccessful, he strive to follow the Rosicrucian teachings. If everyone else among our students feels troubled on the same score as the correspondents who have inspired this letter, we hope that this may set them right.
Besides, what else can we do but go on? Having once awakened the higher nature, it cannot be permanently silenced, and there will be the misery of regret and remorse if we abandon effort. We have several times called attention to the way the mariner guides his vessel across the waste of waters by a star. He will never reach it, but nevertheless it brings him safely through the rock shoals to the desired haven. Similarly, if our ideals are so high that we realize we shall never reach them in this life, let us also keep in mind that we have endless time before us, and that what we cannot accomplish in this life-day will be achieved tomorrow or later. Let us follow the example of Paul and "by patient persistence in well-doing" continue to seek for spiritual glory, honor, and immortality.
You know of course that the Fellowship teaches rebirth to be a fact in nature, and you believe in this doctrine because it explains so many facts in life which we are otherwise unable to account for. But I wonder how many students have really taken the practical use of this truth to heart, and are fixing their attention upon it by consciously and systematically molding themselves and thus making their environment for future lives.
It is true that in the Second Heaven we devote all of our time to making the environment for our future life, forming the earth and the sea, providing the conditions for the flora and fauna, and generally shaping things to give us a suitable arena for our coming life work. But we do that according to the way we have been living here in this present life. If we have been lazy and shiftless here, living in a happy-go-lucky manner, it is not likely that when we come to the Second Heaven we will be careful to prepare a fertile soil, which we may later till. Therefore our next embodiment will probably find us with the barest means of existence at hand, so that under the whip of necessity we may learn to exert ourselves.
It is similar with our moral qualities. When we are ready to descend into the next embodiment,we can only build into our new vehicles what we have garnered in this. Therefore it is wise for us to commence now, when our next life is in the moldable clay stage, to make our ideals what we would like them to be and to make the environment in which we would like to be raised.
We are without a doubt all ready to agree in the first place than our present bodies are not as we wish them. Diseases of all sorts come to most people; some are subject to pain all their lives, and no one is ever able to go through life from the cradle to the grave without having at least some suffering. Thus each one of us may well picture himself in a future life with a healthy body in which he will be free from diseases that are now his worst plague.
With respect to the moral and mental faculties we are also far from perfect, and each one may therefore take up with profit the subject of improvement in that direction. Do we realize that we have a critical spirit, a sharp tongue, a hasty temper, or other kindred faults which bring us into trouble with others and make life unpleasant in our environment? Very well; by holding in mind and visualizing our ideal self for the future—having equipoise under all circumstances, being soft-spoken, kindly, and affectionate, etc.—we shall build these ideals into the thought form we have already shaped for ourselves in that distant day. And according to the intensity of the concentration which we apply tot he matter will be the result. In so far as we endeavor now to cultivate and aspire virtues, we shall possess them then; and this applies to faculties as well. If we are solely now, by the aspiration to maintain order we shall later bring back that virtue. Are we lacking the sense of rhythm? Very well, it may be ours in the future by asking now. Mechanical ability, or any thing else that is necessary to give us the life experience we seek, may be had in the same way.
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Therefore we ought systematically to set aside a certain time at intervals, as frequent as is consistent with our other duties, to think forward and plan for future life—what sort of a body, what faculties, virtues, and environment we wish. When we are able to make our choice intelligently, we are undoubtedly given a great deal more latitude than if we had not thought about the matter at all.
You understand of course that the highest form of aspiration to virtue is the constant endeavor to practice in it our daily lives. But while we are endeavoring to cultivate virtues, as we should, by practice, it is scientific to plan ahead the use we shall make of the future life just as we now plan ahead the use of the day that is before us. I trust that this idea may take root among the students and be consistently carried to its legitimate consummation, for in that way it will be bound to have a wonderful effect upon the future of ourselves and the future of the world about us.
We are now at the fall equinox where the physical sun is leaving the northern hemisphere after having provided us with the necessities of life for the coming year; and the spiritual tide which carries on its crest the life which will find physical expression in the coming year is now on its way towards our earth. The half-year directly before us is the holy part of the year. From the feast of the Immaculate Conception to the Mystic Birth at Christmas (while this wave is descending into the earth) and from that time to Easter (while it is traveling outward) a harmonious, rhythmic vibratory song, not inaptly described in the legend of the Mystic Birth as a "hosanna" sung by an angel choir, fills the planetary atmosphere and acts upon all as an impulse to spiritual aspiration. Not upon all in even measure, of course, but according to their general character.
Some do not feel this spiritual save at all because of their depravity, but it works in, on, and with them just the same, and in time they will respond. Others are so engrossed in their buying and selling, their marrying and giving in marriage, their loves and their ambitions, that they are not conscious of it save at the time when it is at its maximum strength, namely, namely, Christmas, and then it expresses itself only as a spirit of super-sociability and generosity; they like to feast and give presents. A more advanced class feels the wave of holiness from the very beginning of its descent, and realizes the important effect of its harmony and rhythm in furthering efforts in the direction of soul growth. They profit accordingly by making the most efforts during the months from the fall to the spring equinox. It is like swimming with the tide.
For that reason I am devoting this letter to call your attention tot he annually recurring phenomenon. Whether you are conscious of it or not, the powerful spiritual vibrations of life-giving Christ wave are in the earth's atmosphere during the winter months, and may be used by you to a much greater advantage if you know it and double your efforts than if you are unaware of the fact.
Let us therefore each take stock of the particular sins which most easily beset us, for now is beginning the most favorable time of the year for their eradication. Let us also take stock of the virtues we lack and feel most need of cultivating, for this is the time to do the work most efficiently. By careful, systematic work in the holy winter months we may make great strides in our efforts to realize our spiritual aspirations.
Having made up our minds as to the personal work, let us look about us to see who in our circle of acquaintances seem to be seeking for spiritual enlightenment, and who would be likely to lend an ear to our teachings. This requires discrimination, for we have no right to force our ideas upon unwilling ears any more than we would be justified in beating a drum in their rooms for an hour or two each day. If we find that they do not take kindly to what we have to say, it is better to leave them; but there are many who may be awakened in winter under the spiritual Christ vibration who could not be reached in summer. I therefore trust that we may use all the coming months in a way which shall profit us greatly from the spiritual standpoint.
From time to time we receive letters from students complaining that since they have taken up the higher teachings, and are trying to live in conformity with them, everything seems to go wrong with their affairs. Some feel a determined opposition in their homes, others suffer in business, and some are even affected in health. Some, according to temperament, are ready to give up, and others grit their teeth in persistence in well-doing" despite the trials. But all are unanimous in asking why this marked change in their affairs. Each receives the best help we can given to solve his individual problems, but as we feel that there are many among the students who have been similarly tried, it seems appropriate to state the reason for this condition.
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In the first place, the aspiring soul should realize that the adverse conditions happen for good according to a firmly established law of nature whereby God aims to aid him in the quest. Trials are a sign of progress and a cause for great rejoicing. This is how the law acts: During all our past lives we have made ties and have incurred debts under the Law of Causation. These debts continue to increase so long as we live the usual selfish, haphazard lives, and we may liken each debt to a drop of vinegar. When the turning point comes and we cease to make vinegar, the law of justice requires that we take our medicine. But we are allowed to determine whether we will take it in large doses and have it over quickly or whether we prefer to take it in very small sips and string it out over a number of lives. This choice is not made by words but by acts. If we take up the work of self-improvement with enthusiasm, if we cut our vices out by the roots and live the life we profess, the Great Beings whom we know as the Recording Angels give us a stronger dose of vinegar than they would if we merely talked about the beauties of the higher life. They do that to help us toward the day of liberation from our self-made bonds and not to harm or hinder us.
In view of these facts we can understand the Christ's exhortation to rejoice when men revile us and accuse us falsely for His sake. Boys pass a barren tree with indifference, but as soon as the tree bears fruit, they are ready to throw stones and rob it. So it is with men also: while we walk with the crowd and do as they do, we are unmolested, but the moment we do what they know in their hearts to be right, we become a living reproach to them even if we never utter a word of censure, and in order to justify themselves in their own eyes they begin to find fault with us. In this respect those who are most closely associated with us in the home or in business are more prominent than strangers who have no connection with us. But whatever the form or the source of such trouble it is a cause for congratulation, for it shows that we are doing something effectively progressive,; so let us keep on undismayed and with unflagging zeal.
Christ likened the aspiring souls of His time to stewards who had received a certain number of talents from their lord and were supposed to go into trade with them that they might increase the capital entrusted to their care. We understand from this parable that all who aspire to serve Him are required likewise to use their God-given talents in such a manner that they show a gain in soul growth when in due season they are called upon to give an account of their stewardship.
This accounting, so far as the majority of mankind is concerned, is put off till the Reaper has closed the ledger of life and they find themselves in Purgatory to receive the result of the things done in the body, whether they be good or ill.
But what would we think of a business man who pursued such a reckless method of conducting his affairs? Would we not feel that he was steering straight for the rock of bankruptcy if he did not balance accounts and take stock of his assets and liabilities every year? Surely we would feel that he deserved to fail because of his neglect to follow ordinary business methods.
If we realize the value of system and the benefit of constantly knowing clearly how we stand with respect to our material affairs, we ought also to pursue the same safe methods regarding our spiritual affairs. Nay, we should be much more circumspect in the conduct of the heavenly matters than in worldly matters, for our material prosperity is but a watch in the night compared to the eternal welfare of the spirit.
We are nearing the winter solstice, which is the beginning of a new year from the spiritual point of view, and we are looking forward to the new outpouring of love from our Father in Heaven through the Christ Child. This, therefore, is a good time to take stock and ask ourselves how we have spent the love offerings of last year, how we have exerted ourselves to gather treasure in heaven. And we shall experience great profit if we approach this stock-taking in the proper spirit and at the most auspicious time, for there is a time to sow and a time to reap, and for everything under the sun there is a time when it may be done with greater chance of success than at any other season.
The stars are the heavenly time markers. From them come the forces which influence us through life. On Holy Night, between the 24th and 25th of December, at midnight, in the place where you live, you will find that retrospection and the resolutions engendered by it for the new year will be most effective.
At Mt. Ecclesia and the various Study Centers a Midnight Service is held on Holy Night, and students attending such services are thereby debarred from the midnight self-communion. Others may be unable to hold it at that time for other reasons. For these any of the late evening or early morning hours will serve nearly as well. But let us all unite on that night in a concerted spiritual effort of aspiration; and let each student not only pray for his individual soul growth in the coming year, but let all unite in a prayer for the collective growth of our movement. The workers at Headquarters also request your helpful thoughts.
If we all put our shoulders to the wheel at this time, we may be sure of an unusually individual and collective blessing and a spiritually prosperous year.
Recently a friend who has been taking the correspondence course a number of months wrote to get a matter cleared up which is bothering him; and as it may be that others are feeling somewhat similar to him but have not reached the point of expression, we thought best to use this letter as an answer. It has sufficient general interest to be of value even to those who have not looked at the matter in the light seen by our friend. He does not want to complain, but he asked for the correspondence course in the hope of getting something to further esoteric development. Instead he receives each month a nice little sermon, which he admits is good for both beginners and advanced students, but where is the schooling? Other authors give certain exercises which help their followers; will we please give him one that will develop the faculty of writing?
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No, we cannot do that. The Rosicrucian teachings are designed to further spiritual progress rather than material prosperity, and we know of no esoteric exercise which will bring wealth, either directly or by abnormally fostering a latent talent. If we did, we would not teach it, for such use of esoteric power is black magic. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you," said Christ, and we shall make no mistake by following His advice. If our friend or any one else wants to develop a latent faculty for the good alone he may do with it, that spiritual aspiration will, if persistently adhered to and backed by physical effort (works), eventually bring the desired end without the need of a special esoteric exercise.
And about the lessons being "nice little sermons." Yes, so they are when read superficially. But if they are studied deeply, there is a great deal of esoteric knowledge found of much more benefit to the student than an exercise such as the one our friend wants. There is, however, "method in our madness" in giving it out just that way. Perhaps this may not have been apparent to students, and we will therefore try to make it clear. Kindly bear in mind, however, that the following is a comparison made for a legitimate purpose; it is not a criticism.
Apart from the fact that the Eastern School of Esotericism bases its teachings on Hinduism, while the Western Wisdom School espouses Christianity, the religion of the West, there is one great fundamental, irreconcilable discrepancy between the teachings of the modern representatives of the East and those of Rosicrucians. According to this version of Eastern Esotericism the vital body—which is called "linya sharira"—is comparatively unimportant, for it is incapable of development as a vehicle of consciousness. It serves only as an avenue for the solar force "prana," and as "a link" between the physical body and the desire body, which is called "kama rupa," also the "astral body." this, they say, is the vehicle of the Invisible Helper.
The Western Wisdom School teaches us as its fundamental maxim that "all esoteric development begins with the Vital Body," and the writer, as its public representative, has therefore been busy since the inception of our movement trying to gather and disseminate knowledge concerning the four ethers and the vital body. Much information was given in the "Cosmo" and succeeding book, but the monthly lessons and letters give the result of our researches up to date. We are constantly parading this vital body (vital in a double sense) before the minds of the students so that by knowing and thinking about it as well as by reading and heeding the "nice little sermons" which we use to wrap this information in, they may consciously, and unconsciously, weave the "Golden Wedding Garment." We would advise all to study these lessons carefully year after year; there may be much dross, but there is gold among them.
You have our sincere wishes for abundant spiritual growth during the New Year.
A question was asked recently as follows: "You speak so much about service; just what does that mean? There are in our Fellowship a number of people who say that they love to serve, but they do not do anything but what they like to do. Is that service?"
It seems that this question offers food for profitable thought and that an analysis of the subject may benefit us all, so we decided to devote the monthly letter to this purpose.
It is evident that they majority of people in the world will not serve unless there is "something in it" for them. They are looking for a material reward, and that is the wise way of the unseen powers to spur them to action, for thus they are unconsciously evolving toward the stage in soul growth where they will serve for the love of serving. But they cannot be expected to change over night; there are no sudden transformations in nature. When the eggshell bursts and a chicken walks out, of when the cocoon breaks and a butterfly wings it was among the flowers, we know that the magic was not wrought in a moment. There was an inner process of preparation prior to the outward change. A similar process of inner growth is required to change the servants of Mammon to servants of Love.
If we want to make a building larger, all we have to do is to bring our brick and other building material to the place, start a force of workmen, and presto! the building begins to grow apace to any dimensions we desire and at any speed we wish, depending only upon our ability to furnish labor and material. But if we want to increase the size of a tree or an animal, we cannot accomplish our object by nailing wood to the tree trunk or lading flesh and skin upon the back of the animal. The building grows by external accretions, but in all living things physical growth is from within and cannot be hurried to any appreciable extent without danger of complication. It is the same with spiritual growth; it proceeds from within and must have time. We cannot expect that people who have just begun to feel the inner urge impelling them into an altruistic association, to renounce in the twinkling of an eye all selfishness and other vices and blossom out into the stature of Christ. At best we are only just a little better than we were save for the fact that we are striving and endeavoring to follow "in His steps." But that makes all the difference, for we are trying to serve as He served.
If that is the motive, it in nowise detracts from the service of a musician who inspires us with devotion at our services that he loves his music. Nor does it render the service any less because the speaker who fires us with zeal in the Master's work loves to clothe his ideas in beautiful words. Nor does it make the hall less attractive because the member who swept, dusted, and decorated it loves to make his exterior surroundings beautiful. Each can, in fact, serve to much better advantage if the line of service lies along the path of his natural inclinations and abilities, and we ought to encourage one another to look for opportunities in the line where each is best fitted to serve.
There is no special merit in seeking out service in a capacity that is disagreeable to us. It would be a mistake if the musician said to the caretaker: "I dislike to scrub floors and decorate rooms, and I know you tremble at the thought of playing, also that you are out of practice, but let us change places for the sake of service." On the other hand, if no one were there to play, it would be the decorator's duty to put diffidence aside and serve as well as possible. If the floor needed scrubbing and the chairs dusting, the speaker and musician should be willing to do that work also regardless of personal dislike. Nothing is menial. The same principle will apply in the home, shop, or office. Service may be defined as the best use of our talents—the putting of our talents to the best use in each case of immediate need regardless of like or dislike.
If we strive to do this, our progress and soul growth will increase correspondingly.
We have been asked to give a lesson on "lost souls" and stragglers. Our correspondent wants to know the Rosicrucian teachings concerning them. As this very question was dealt with earlier in this book, in the letter for April, 1912 (No. 17), we cannot do better than refer our correspondent to it. We trust that it will explain the matter to him. We should be glad if other students who have questions of general interest would submit them for elucidation in these letters, for although there is a question of department in the "Rays," not all our students are subscribers. Also the problems presented can perhaps be given a little more intimate treatment here than is possible in a magazine that must go before a public which is not as well versed in the philosophy as our students.
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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