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"Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them; for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments."
The first commandment presents humanity with illumination and inspiration. The second commandment presents humanity with love. The first commandment illumines the aspirant and the path of the aspirant with the uncircumscribed glory and fatherhood of God. A heart thus illumined and inspired bows down in adoration before Him and serves Him. The second commandment is the response to the first. It is the drawing of the aspirant to the God-heart by love. It is the awakening of Venus in Taurus, the desire to express in beauty through love.
Love is adoration; the virtue of adoration and love vitalizes. Love must express itself in beauty. All true art is adoration of God. Because God knew this, He gave us the second commandment, to give warning of the danger line. Art is the expression of gratitude of an illumined and inspired heart and mind. The second commandment presupposes this desire for expression through Taurian love. It even presupposes clairvoyance, for it says: Thou shalt not make any likeness in heaven above, or in the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
Not all artists have clairvoyance, but all have illumination, vision, and inspiration. No artist is without sensitized feelings. If, in occult training, we have automatically sensitized our feelings, it becomes inevitable for us to become artists, too, to express our feelings and visions in beauty. But — these creations must not be graven images before which we bow down.
Art is a link between heaven and earth; it is apt to become possessive on its lower side and visionary and prophetic on its higher side. All great art is prophetic. Choreography, architecture, painting, sculpture, and music all cry out: "It shall come to pass!"
The layman's response to art is and should be a resolution to a finer life. We may not be touched consciously, but our archetypes are touched by the indefinitely spreading tone and vibration of art. Art is a mirror of man's possibilities. Art works on the archetype of humanity through the finer sensibilities of man.
Fine art leads to God, as a stairway to heaven. Art that leads down a stairway, as it were, becomes as idols, images bereft of power. This leads us into the dead end of possessions. The so-called "luxuries" which the second house of Taurus gives in abundance are in truth not luxuries, for they do not serve the needs of the Spirit. The pictures on our walls and other objects d'art should have the quality of upliftment — each one a prophecy of what we wish to attain. If, on the other hand, we greedily possess them physically, then we have graven images. The possessions possess us and we "bow down before them."
If we were to re-write this commandment in a positive rather than a negative manner it might read: Thou shalt express thy love in service to me, thy God What thou seest in heaven above or in the earth below or in the water under the earth, let each vision and its expression through the work of thy hands and heart inspire thee toward me. If thou turnest thy love away from me unto the things of earth thou turnest away from the thousandfold benefits of my love.
The New Testament parallel to this commandment is Christ's admonition to the rich young man: Give up all thou hast and follow me. He well knew that a person laden with possessions apart from God — physical, emotional, and mental possessions, possessions of affection to persons and animals, mental possessions such as pride of intellect — are as a barnacle-laden ship. Barnacles are hard to remove.
We will indeed be rich if we have the love of God in our hearts, and not the love of things.
— Rays from the Rose Cross Magazine, June, 1976, page 314
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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