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As exercise is necessary to the development of physical muscle, so development of the moral nature is accomplished through temptation. The soul being given choice, may exercise it in whatever direction it chooses, for it learns just as well by its mistakes as by right action in the first place, perhaps even better. Therefore, in the Job myth, the devil is permitted to tempt; and in the Faust myth he makes the request:
To this the Lord replies:
Thus the plot is ready and Faust is about to become enmeshed in the snares which beset the path of every seeking soul. The following lines show the beneficent purpose and the necessity of temptation. The Spirit is an integral part of God; primarily innocent, but not virtuous. Virtue is a positive quality developed by taking a firm stand for the right in temptation, or by the suffering endured in consequence of wrongdoing. Thus the prologue in heaven gives to the Faust myth its highest value as a guide, and its encouragement to the seeking soul. It shows the eternal purpose behind the earthly conditions which cause pain and sorrow.
Goethe next introduces us to Faust himself, who is standing in his darkened study. He is engaged in introspection and retrospection:
A lifetime of study has brought Faust no real knowledge. The conventional sources of learning prove barren in the end. The scientist may think God a superfluity; he may believe that life consists in chemical action and reaction—that is, when he starts. But the deeper he delves into matter, the greater the mysteries that beset his path, and at last he will be forced to abandon further research or believe in God as a Spirit whose life invests every atom of matter. Faust has come to that point. He says that he has not worked for gold "nor treasure, nor worldly honor, rank, nor pleasure." He has striven from love of research and has come to the point where he sees that a spirit world is about us all; and through this world, through magic, he now aspires to a higher, more real knowledge than that contained in books.
A tome, written by the famous Nostradamus is in his hand, and on opening it he beholds the sign of the macrocosm. The power contained therein opens to his consciousness a part of the world he is seeking, and in an ecstasy of joy he exclaims:
But again the pendulum swings back. As an attempt to gaze directly into the brilliant light of the Sun would result in shattering the retina of the eye, so the audacious attempt to fathom the Infinite results in failure and the seeking soul is thrown from the ecstasy of joy into the darkness of despair:
We must first understand the lower before we can successfully aspire to a higher knowledge. To rant and rave of worlds beyond, of finer bodies, when we have little conception of the vehicles with which we work every day and the environment in which we move, is the height of folly. "Man, know thyself" is a sound teaching. The only safety lies in climbing the ladder rung by rung, never attempting a new step until we have made ourselves secure, until we are poised and balanced upon the one where we stand. Many a soul can echo from its own experience the despair embodied in the words of Faust.
Foolishly he has started at the highest point. He has suffered disappointment, but does not yet understand that he must begin at the bottom; so he commences an evocation of the Earth Spirit:
As we have said in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, and as we have further elucidated in the Rosicrucian philosophy relative to a question concerning the Latin ritual in the Catholic Church, a name is a sound. Properly uttered, no matter by whom, it has a compelling influence over the intelligence it represents, and the word given in each degree of Initiation gives man access to a particular sphere of vibration, peopled by certain classes of spirits. Therefore, as a tuning fork responds to a note of even pitch, so when Faust sounds the name of the Earth Spirit, it opens his consciousness to that all-pervading presence.
And be it remembered that Faust's experience is not an isolated instance of what may happen under abnormal conditions. He is a symbol of the seeking soul. You and I are Fausts in a certain sense, for at some stage in our evolution we shall meet the Earth Spirit and realize the power of His name, properly uttered.
[You are welcome to e-mail your answers and/or comments to us. Please be sure to include the course name and Independent Study Module number in your e-mail to us. Or, you are also welcome to use the answer form below. (Java required)]
1. Is temptation, as portrayed in Faust, necessary to the growth of humanity and why?
2. What two attributes assist in overcoming the temptation of Lucifer?
3. Explain the difference between innocence and virtue.
4. What does Faust, as a scientist, represent?
5. Why did Faust fail in his first attempt to know the mystery of the Universe?
6. After Faust's first failure, whom did he then turn to for assistance?
7. Is the story of Faust the story of each Ego, and if so, why?
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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