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The Evolution of Religion
Man and his religions have evolved side by side and in equal degree. The earliest religion of any race is found to be as savage as the people governed by it and as they become more civilized, their religions become more and more humane and in harmony with higher ideals. The law for the body may be the survival of the fittest, but the law for the evolution of the spirit demands sacrifice. It is evident that whatever urges man to a higher standard of conduct toward his fellow men must come from within. That such a force exists, even though often not understood, no one will deny. Selfishness is being slowly but surely replaced by altruism. In the breast of every human being the Christ force of altruism works as a leaven. It will gradually transform the savage into the civilized man, and in time change the latter into a god.
The steps by which man climbs up to God are four in number. First, without his consciousness he was worked upon by the high Beings who guided his early evolution. Then he was placed under the rulership of divine messengers of kings whom he could see and whose commands he was required to obey. Next he was taught to revere the commands of a God whom he could not see. Finally he must learn to rise above commands, become a law unto himself, and by conquering himself live in harmony with the laws of nature, which are the laws of God.
The race religion was the first religion to be developed. This was given to man by the Race God or Race Spirit. It inculcated a certain degree of unselfishness by requiring sacrifices, in return for which, however, the Race Spirit became the protector and preserver of its people. Judaism, Taoism, Confucianism, and the like are race religions. The Race Spirits are archangels who are working out one phase of their evolution in this manner. The race religions are religions of separativeness, and all inculcate self-seeking at the expense of other races, because at this stage humanity can best learn its lessons through separateness. Patriotism is the cardinal principle of the Race Spirit. But if the "fundamental unity of each with all" and an era of love are ever to be realized, race religions have to be replaced by one more universal, such as the Christian religion.
There were several religions previous to Christianity which taught Rebirth and the Law of Consequences, but with the advent of Christ it was no longer conducive to man's advancement that he should know the doctrine of rebirth. Therefore we find that the Christian religion as publicly taught does not embody it, although Christ taught it to His disciples. Man was destined to master the material world, therefore it was necessary that he should forget for a time the knowledge of rebirth which prevails in the East, and think of the life he is now living as the only earth life, so that he might concentrate all his efforts upon material advancement.
From an esoteric point of view, missionary effort, whether from the East to West or vice versa, is in the main not desirable, because it is contrary to the trend of evolution. Missionary work promotes the interests of civilization and culture to a certain degree through the exchange of ideas and methods between different races, but from the standpoint of religion alone it accomplishes very little. In general, when an Ego is ready for an advanced religion, he will be reborn in a country where this religion prevails. The great Leaders of humanity who are in charge of our development give us every aid necessary. There are excellent reasons why the Bible, containing both the Jewish and Christian doctrines, should have been given to the West. It was Supreme Wisdom which gave us this double religion, and no other system of the present day is suitable to our peculiar needs.
Evolution progresses from East to West. During this process Western humanity has sensitized its vehicles to a very high degree. Therefore the breathing exercises which the Hindu uses to raise his vibrations are disastrous to the Western aspirant. They cause a premature separation of the ethers, which is often followed by consumption or insanity.
Modern science has been a great aid in mastering the material world, and has its legitimate place as an educator of the human race. But when it divorces itself from religion and becomes entirely materialistic, it is temporarily a menace to humanity. There was a time when religion, art, and science were united and taught in the Mystery temples, even as late as the time of ancient Greece. But as this is the plane of separateness and specialization, they have been purposely separated for a time. In due time all three will be united again, and then we shall get perfect satisfaction through the heart, the intellect, and the senses. The heart will enjoy the devotional, ceremonial aspect of religion, the intellect will be satisfied by its scientific aspect, and the aesthetic side of the nature will be provided for by the various arts employed in the temple service of the future.
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When man has spiritualized his being under the influence of the future scientific and artistic religion, he will have learned self-control and become unselfishly helpful to his fellow beings. He will then be a safe guardian of thought power. He will be able to form accurate ideas, which will be immediately fit to crystallize into useful things. This will be accomplished by means of the larynx, which will speak the Creative Word. All things in nature were originally spoken into existence by this Word (John 1:1-3). Sound, or spoken thought, will be our next force in manifestation, a force that will make us God-men when through our present schooling we have fitted ourselves to use such an enormous power for the good of all, regardless of self-interest.
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1. What are the steps by which man may rise to Godhood, and what are the various stages in the development of religion?
2. Who are the Race Spirits, and what is the nature of race religions?
3. How does Christianity differ from the race religions?
4. Why was the doctrine of rebirth not publicly given out by Christ?
5. Why is missionary work, in the main, not well advised?
6. What are the dangers of Eastern breathing exercises?
7. What will be the nature of the future religion?
8. What power will man eventually possess, and what may he do with it?
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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