Question: Why is it that every sect interprets the Bible differently and that each one gets an apparent vindication for its ideas from that book?
Answer: That question, if asked by a skeptic, affords him a great deal of satisfaction, for he sees in it a vindication for his idea that all sects are wrong in their beliefs and that the Bible is a conglomerate mass of nonsense, while in fact the case is very much the other way. We do not contend for the Divinity of this Book or hold that it is the Word of God from cover to cover; we recognize the fact that it is a poor translation of the originals and that there are many interpolations which have been inserted at different times to support various ideas, but, nevertheless, the very fact that so much truth has been massed into such a small compass is a source of constant wonder to the esotericist, who knows what that Book really is and has the key to its meaning.
There is one fact that the skeptic fails to see. His idea is that if a certain interpretation is true, all other interpretations must necessarily be false. That idea is most emphatically wrong. Truth is many sided and eternal; the quest for truth must also be all embracing and never ending. We may liken truth to a mountain, and the various interpretations of that truth to different paths leading up to the summit. Many people are traveling along all of these paths and every one thinks his path is the only one while he is at the bottom; he sees only a small part of the mountain and may therefore be justified in crying to his brothers, "You are wrong; come over in my path; this is the only one that leads to the top." But as all these people progress upward, they shall see that the paths converge at the top and that they are all one in the ultimate.
It may be said most emphatically that no system of thought which has ever been able to attract and hold the attention of a large number of people for a considerable time has been without its truth; and whether we perceive it or not, there is in every sect the kernel of divine teaching which is gradually bringing them upward toward the top of the mountain, and therefore we should practice the utmost toleration for every belief.
Question: What is meant by the Second Aspect of the Triune God?
Answer: God is one, just as the light is one, but, as the light passing through the atmosphere is refracted into three primary colors—red, yellow and blue—so also God, when he manifests or reflects himself in nature, is threefold in his manifestation. There is first the Creative principle, next there is the Preservative principle, and in the third place there is the principle of Destruction of the forms which have been created, preserved for a time while useful, then to be destroyed in order that the material from which they were constructed may be used in the building of new forms.
These three principles of God have been called by different names in different religions, and much ink and many goose quills have been used in latter years to defend or decry the idea of a Trinity, though that ought to be manifest to anyone who will look about him in nature with a thoughtful mind. In the Western World, we have been used to calling the Second Aspect of the Triune God, the unified preserving principle, Christ; and it is very appropriate in a certain sense, because the Christ came as the teacher of Love and Universal Brotherhood which was to supersede nations that war against one another, and He Himself said that there was a still higher stage when the kingdom He was to establish should be delivered to the Father and all should be one in Him.
Question: Are the Recording Angels individual beings?
Answer: Yes, they are mighty Individualities, the ambassadors of the Great Planetary Angels, and as such they are concerned in the birth of man, helping him in the selection of his environment and allotting to each life the right destiny which is ready to be worked out into effects. They guide the stellar influences so that they affect each one in such a way as to facilitate the liquidation of his past indebtedness to others, helping him, also, to reap the benefit of whatever good he has done in past lives.
In this the Recording Angels are helped by a mighty host of agents and the nature spirits, which are not individualized yet, but work under the direction of these Great Beings unconsciously, much as the animals are guided by group spirits.
Question: Do the angels and archangels watch over us individually as well as collectively and know just what our lives are?
Answer: The Lords of Mind, which Paul calls the "Powers of Darkness" because they were the humanity of the dark Saturn period when the universe was just coming out of chaos, work only with man.
The Archangels, who were human in the fiery Sun Period where the universe was of the consistency of "desire stuff," work now as the helpers of the group spirits of the animals and as race spirits for humanity, because these classes of beings have a desire body.
The Angels, who were the humanity of the Moon Period, work with man, animal and plant, for in the Moon Period the universe was of the consistency of "ether" and the vital bodies of the three kingdoms named is formed of that material. The Angels are, therefore, properly helpers in the vital functions such as assimilation, growth and propagation, and in their work with humanity they are family spirits. They cause the increase in the family, in man's cattle and in the yield of his fields.
Man, himself, who is a little lower than the Angels, works with the minerals, which are found in the chemical region of the Physical World, composed of the gases, liquids and solids. He is to the minerals what the Higher Beings are to us. He is gradually waking them to life by molding them into houses, bridges, railways, etc.
In a future incarnation of the earth, when these minerals have become plant-like, man will have learned to work with life and will then be in a similar position with regard to them as the Angels occupy now with regard to us. Thus there is endless progression, the higher always helping the less evolved, until all shall have reached perfection.
Answering the question more specifically, we may say that the Archangels work with the nations and the races of the earth, while the Angels are concerned particularly with the families and the individuals in the family. The "Guardian Angel," however, is not exactly an entity from a higher evolution, but is rather the personified embodiment of our good deeds in all our past lives, which, though unseen by us, is still with us always, impelling us toward right action and the doing of more good.
Question: Have angels wings as shown in pictures?
Answer: No; none of them have such bird wings as they are shown to have in pictures, but there are some classes of Beings in the Spirit World which have wing-like appendages. These, however, are not for the purpose of flying or moving through space, but are currents of outwelling force that may be hurled in one direction or another, as we use our arms and limbs. Thus an Archangel who is impelling the armies of two nations to battle may send out a current of spiritual force in one direction, numbing the soldiers of one army with fear, and may send another force to imbue the opposing army with added courage, thus influencing the battle in a manner little dreamed of by the contestants.
Question: Do the Rosicrucians accept the Bible as the "Word of God" from cover to cover?
Answer: Certainly not, and more particularly not in the extremely narrow interpretation of some people who think that the book we now have with us is the only genuine one ever given to humanity. At most, it could be only one of the books of God, for there are many other sacred writings which have a claim to recognition and cannot be ruled out of court by a few wiseacres such as those who have delegated the so-called apocryphal books to the literary scrap heap.
In the first place it should be remembered that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew at various times and by numerous writers, and that no collection of these writings was made prior to Ezra. Of these Hebrew writings, there is not now a single scrap in existence. Even as long ago as 280 B.C. the Hebrew language had been abandoned, so far as scriptural writing was concerned, and the Septuagint, or Greek Translation, was in general use. That was the only Bible in existence at the time of the birth of Christ. Later some of the Hebrew writings were collected and collated by the Masoretes, a sect which existed about 700 A.D. This is the best and most accurate text.
The English translation, most in use today, is the King James Version, but His Majesty was not so much after accuracy in translation as after peace, and the act which authorized the translation of the Bible prohibited the translators from translating any passages in such a way that it would interfere with existing beliefs. This was done to avoid any uprising or dissension in his kingdom, and of the forty-seven translators, only three were Hebrew scholars and two of them died before the Psalms had been translated. A number of the books were thrown aside as apocryphal, and altogether words were wrenched out of their original meaning to conform to the superstition of the age. Martin Luther, in Germany, translated from the Latin text which had itself been translated from the Greek and thus the chances of conveying wrong meanings have been enhanced in many and various ways. Add to this that in the old style Hebrew vowel points are omitted and there is no division into words, so that by inserting vowel points in different ways, words and sentences of entirely different meanings may be obtained from almost any sentence. In view of these facts it is evident that the chances of our getting an accurate version of what was originally written are small indeed.
Moreover, it was not intended by the original writers to make the Bible an open "Book of God," as can well be seen by the following quotation from the Zohar: "Woe to the man who sees in the Torah (the law—the Bible) only simple recitals and ordinary words, because if in truth it contained only these, we would even today be able to compose a Torah more worthy of admiration. But it is not so; each word in the Torah contains an elevated meaning and a sublime mystery...The recitals of the Torah are the vestments of the Torah...Woe to him who takes this vestment of the Torah for the Torah itself...The simple take notice of the garments and recitals of the Torah alone; they know no other thing, they see not that which is concealed under the vestment; the more instructed men do not pay attention to the vestment, but to that which it envelops"...
In other words, they pay no attention to the letter, but take only the spirit. And, as in a field sown with potatoes there are not only these vegetables, but also the soil in which they are hidden, so in the Bible the pearls of esoteric truth are hidden in what are often hideous garments. The esotericist who has fitted himself to possess these pearls has received the key, and sees them plainly. To others they remain obscure until they also have worked for that key. Thus, while the story of the wanderings of the children of Israel and the dealings of a certain God with them are partially true, there is also a spiritual significance that is far more important than that material history. Even though the Gospels contain the great outlines of the life of an individual called Jesus, they are formulae of initiation showing the experiences which everyone must eventually pass through on the way to the truth and the life.
This path was foreseen by the various persons who wrote the Bible and who were thus prophets and seers, but only in so far as that was possible at their time and age. A new era will require a new Bible, a new word.
Question: What is the viewpoint of the Rosicrucians concerning the creation of the world in seven days?
Answer: There are two creation stories in the Bible. One commences with the first verse of the opening chapter and ends with the third verse of the second chapter of Genesis. Another account commences with the fourth verse.
These two creation stories seem to be greatly at variance in several particulars. The first account states that in the beginning the earth was covered with water; the second avers that it was dry. The first informs us that man was created last; the second version says he was the first creature, etc. These discrepancies seem to be irreconcilable, and afford the skeptic great satisfaction when he recounts them with a smile of supercilious pity for the poor ignorant fools who believe such silly nonsense. Yet the two accounts are not really incongruous, they are complementary and in harmony with scientific facts. The first account deals with the genesis of form, the second chapter with the evolution of consciousness. The human form as at present constituted is the chef-d'oeuvre of evolution, built upon the basis of all lower forms which have gone before. The life which is man, the thinker, is without beginning or end, eternal as God Himself, and that life was here before all forms, as told by the second creation story.
Regarding the time in which this creation of form is said to have taken place, the Rosicrucians do not teach or believe that it was accomplished in seven days of twenty-four hours each, but in our scheme of manifestation seven great transformations of the earth are necessary to facilitate the full evolution of self-consciousness and soul power by the evolving spirits. Three and one-half of these periods have been spent in obtaining vehicles; the remainder will be required for the evolution of consciousness.
The opening verse of the Bible states that in the beginning the earth was dark and without definite form. That was in the Saturn Period, when the incipient firemist was forming from the root substance of space.
The third verse informs us that God said "Let there by Light," a passage which has been jeered at as showing the ignorance of the authors and the inconsistency of the account with scientific facts; for, says the scoffer, "When the sun and moon were not created till the fourth day, how could there be light previous to that time? We are not dealing with the world as it is today, a solid mass. That, of course, would be dark without an outside source of light, but at that time the earth was a world in the making, and according to the nebular theory there must first be the stage of dark heat to which we have given the name Saturn Period. Later the mist is ignited and luminous; the light is within and is not dependent upon an exterior sun and moon. This second stage in the development of our planet is called the Sun Period.
Next we are told that God said, "Let there be 'an expansion' in the waters to divide the water from the water." The word here rendered "expansion" is translated "firmament" in the authorized version, but we use the Masoretic text, which was translated by translators of knowledge, who were unrestricted by a royal edict such as that which hampered King James's translators. The use of the term "expansion" harmonizes the Bible with the nebular theory, for, when a firemist appears in space moisture is generated by the contact of this heated mass with the surrounding space, which is cold. This moisture becomes heated and expands into steam which rushes outward from the fiery core, is there cooled, and condensed, and gravitates back to the source of heat. Thus the expansion in the waters divided the water from the water, the dense moisture remaining nearest the fiery core and the steam outside. This stage in the consolidation of the earth is called the Moon Period.
The continual boiling of the water surrounding the fiery core finally caused an incrustation and dry land appeared. We are told that "God called the dry land Earth."
During the first part of the present Period the earth was as dark as in the Saturn Period. Only mineral substances existed them. This stage is called the Polarian Epoch.
The fiery Sun Period finds its replica in the Hyperborean Epoch, which is described in verses 11-19 as the time when plants were generated, and the earth became a planet lighted from without by sun and moon. This ends the work described as having been performed on the fourth great day in the development of our earth.
In the Lemurian Epoch we have a recapitulation of conditions during the Moon Period, a fiery core and an atmosphere of fire fog, also the genesis of the lower grades of animals, described in the Bible story as the work of the fifth day.
In the Atlantean Epoch the vertebrate mammals and man were formed, as described under the heading of the sixth day, and when man became a reasoning being in the present post-Atlantean Epoch, the Gods rested to let him work out his own salvation under the twin laws of Rebirth and Causation.
Question: The Bible teaches the immortality of the soul in an authoritative manner. The Rosicrucian Philosophy teaches the same professedly by appealing to reason. Are there no positive proofs of immortality?
Answer: The inquirer is mistaken when he says that the Bible teaches the immortality of the soul. There is not a single mention of the word immortality or heaven in the sense of a possession of man in the Old Testament. There it is explicitly stated that "Heaven, even the heavens are the Lord's, but the Earth has he given to the children of men"; Psalms 115, 16th verse. It is explicitly taught that "the soul that sinneth, it shall die." If the soul were immortal that would be an impossibility. In the New Testament the word "immortal" or "immortality" is only used six times. It is designated as something to be striven for, or something which is an attribute of God.
So far as the Spirit is concerned, however, the case is different, and even where that is the theme, the word immortal is not used. Immortality is implied in the same way that the doctrine of rebirth is implied in so many passages, but even the doctrine of rebirth has the advantage of the doctrine of immortality of the human spirit, for the doctrine of rebirth was taught definitely at least once in Matthew 11:14, where the Christ said of John the Baptist, "This is Elijah." In this teaching the doctrine of immortality was again implied, for if the spirit Elijah was reborn as John the Baptist he must have survived bodily death. The teaching of immortality was at that time one of the mystery teachings, and even to this day it can hardly be received until a man has entered the path of initiation and there sees for himself the continuity of life.
It may be stated, however, in answer to the question, that everything hinges upon what is meant by "positive proof," and what the qualifications of the person are who asks for the proof to judge of these proofs? We cannot prove a problem in trigonometry to an infant, but if the infant is given time to grow and is properly taught the preliminaries, it will be easy to prove the problem. Neither can we prove the existence of color and light to a man who was born blind; they are facts which he cannot appreciate, because lacking in the requisite faculty. But if he acquires the faculty to sight by an operation, it will be unnecessary to prove these facts to him, he will then see their verity. For similar reason no one can appreciate proofs of the immortality of the spirit until he has fitted himself to see the spirit; then it will be easy for him to obtain positive proof of the immortality of spirit, its existence prior to birth and persistence after death. Until he has thus qualified himself, he must be satisfied with reasonable inferences such as may be obtained in many ways.
Question:Is there any authority in the Bible for the theory of rebirth?
Answer: Yes, there is plenty of authority, alt hough it is only taught directly in one place. The Jewish priests believed in the theory of rebirth, or they would not have sent to ask John the Baptist "Art thou Elijah?" as it is recorded in the first Chapter of John in the twenty-first verse; and in the Gospel of Matthew, we have the words of Christ concerning John the Baptist which are unambiguous and unequivocal. He said, "This is Elijah." Also on the later occasion, at the time when they had been upon the Mount of Transfiguration, the Christ said, "Elijah has come and they have done to him as they listed," and we are told that the disciples "knew He was speaking of John" who had then been beheaded by Herod.
In Matthew, the 16th chapter, 14th verse, He is asking His disciples "Who do the people say I am?" and the answer which they give Him is "Some say that you are John the Baptist, others say that you are Elijah, and again other say that you are Jeremiah or one of the Prophets." It is noteworthy that the Christ did not contradict them at all, for He was a teacher, and if they had entertained a wrong idea concerning the doctrine of rebirth, it would have been His undoubted duty to set them right. But He did not do that. He moreover taught it directly, as per the above passage.
There are also cases mentioned in the Bible, where a person has been chosen for a certain work before his birth. An Angel foretold the coming of Samson and his mission — to slay the Philistines. The Lord said to the prophet Jeremiah, "Before thou camest out of the womb, I sanctified thee and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." John and Jesus had their mission allotted to them before they were born. A person is chosen for a mission because of a special fitness. Proficiency presupposes practice and practice prior to birth must have been in a previous life. Thus the doctrine of rebirth is also taught by implication in the cases cited.
Question: According to the Bible only man was given a soul. Why do you then say that the animals have a Group Spirit?
Answer: In the first chapter of Genesis, verse 20, we are told that God said: "Let the water bring forth abundantly the moving creature that has life." The world used in Hebrew is nephesh, which means "breath." That word is also used in the second chapter, verse 7, where it is said that "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (nephesh), and man became a 'nephesh chayim,' a breathing creature." Not a living soul, as there translated. The translation of King James has been modified by people who had a little more regard for the truth than for preconceived ideas; they have consented to put the word "soul" in the margin as an alternative reading of the word in chapter 1, verse 20, where the creation of the animals is recorded, so that even in the Bibles of today, it is admitted that animals have a soul.
This translation is not correct, however; nephesh means breath and not soul; the Hebrew word for soul is neshamah. Soul is not synonymous with spirit, which is called ruach, so that Genesis does not mention the spirit of either man or animal, for spirit has no genesis, It Is. The forms of animal and man which are sustained by breath had a beginning and that is what Genesis records. That idea is perfectly in line with the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:19, where we are told that (so far as the body formed of the dust is concerned) man has no pre-eminence above the beast, for as one dieth so dieth the other, they have all one breath (nephesh) and as one dieth so dieth the other. All go unto one place (namely, the Desire World).
If the inquirer accepts only the English word and version of the Bible, as if that book had been written directly in our language, it would seem fair to ask: If man obtained his soul as described in the Bible, where did woman receive her soul; or is she without a soul?
Question: Is it true that Eve was taken out of Adam's side?
Answer: Among the forty-seven translators of King James's Bible only three understood Hebrew and two of them died before the Psalms had been translated. Besides, in the Hebrew language, particularly the old style writing, the vowel points are never put in, and thus a word may be given different meanings, according to the way these points are entered. In the case of the story of Adam's rib, the word translated "rib" when pointed in one way reads tsad, which really means rib, but pointed another way it reads tsela, which means side. The esoteric teaching concerning the development of the earth and man states that there was a time when man was like the God or Elohim who created him, in one particular — sex. He was both male and female, a hermaphrodite, capable of generating another being from himself. Later it became necessary to his further evolution that a brain should be evolved, and whereas he had previously sent out from himself the double creative force, positive and negative, half of that was then retained for the purpose of building a brain, a larynx, and a nervous system, as organs of thought and a keyboard whereby the spirit might manipulate its organism and express itself vocally. Some of the spirit retain the positive creative force and send out only the negative, or female force, while others retain the female or negative force and send out the positive. Thus it may be said that God took away from the one side of their being, but not the rib. This reading of the word has as good a claim to recognition as the translation rib, and also has the further merit that it helps to explain an otherwise unexplainable fact.
Question: If God made man in his image and likeness, supposedly perfect, why were the different epochs prior to the fall of Adam and Eve necessary?
Answer: The inquirer is laboring under a misapprehension. The Bible says that God saw his work, and that is was "good," but not perfect. Had it been perfect, there would have been nothing further to do, and evolution would have been superfluous. The human race did not become definitely human until the latter part of the Lemurian Epoch when the spirit commenced to draw into the bodies. The humanity of that time, Adam and Eve, were very different from our present day humanity. They were also products of evolution, for there is no instantaneous creation. These beings had progressed through stage of plant-like and animal-like development from the mineral kingdom wherein they started, and it was not a single pair, as is usually understood by orthodox religionists, but a humanity that was both male and female at the time mentioned in the Bible. It is said that male and female created He them, moreover, it was not the first time that man had been upon the earth, or that the earth had been peopled, as can be seen from Genesis 1:28, where they were commanded to go out and re-plenish the earth, showing that the earth had been the abode of certain other beings previous to the advent of those which are called Adam and Eve. Josephus says that Adam means "red earth" and the Hebrew "Admah," from which Adam is derived, means "firm ground"; that described the state very well. ADM (as it is given in the Hebrew text), did not come upon the earth until it had solidified and become firm, yet he came before the earth had become properly cooled as it is now, and so the earth was really in a red and fiery state at that time. He had been here before. During the earlier Epochs before the Lemurian, the spirits hovered over the fiery earth and helped to form and mold it as it is now. The human spirits were at that time learning lesson with which we have no present concern. We were unconscious at that time, but did the work just as well as, for instance, our digestive organs perform the chemical operations necessary to digestion and assimilation although we are unaware of these processes in our conscious mind. It must be plain, however, that as the work of children in the kindergarten and grammar school is the all important foundation for the later teachings of high school and college, so were the earlier epochs the foundation stones for our present conditions. They were as necessary as it is to learn the alphabet before we attempt to read.
Question: What was the sin or fall in Eden?
Answer: When the earth came out of chaos, it was at first in the dark red stage known as the Polarian Epoch. There humanity first evolved a dense body, not at all like our present vehicle, of course. When the condition of the earth became fiery, as in the Hyperborean Epoch, the vital body was added and man became plant-like, that is to say, he had the same vehicles as our plants have today, and also a similar consciousness, or, rather, unconsciousness, to that which we have in dreamless sleep when the dense and vital bodies are left upon the bed.
At that time, in the Hyperborean Epoch, the body of man was like an enormous gas bag, floating outside the fiery earth, and it threw off plant-like spores, which then grew and were used by other incoming entities. At that time man was double sexed, a hermaphrodite.
In the Lemurian Epoch, when the earth had somewhat cooled and islands of crust had begun to form amid boiling seas, then also man's body had somewhat solidified and had become more like the body we see today. It was ape-like, a short trunk with enormous arms and limbs, the heels projecting backward and almost no head — at least the upper part of the head was nearly entirely wanting. Man lived in the atmosphere of steam which esotericists call fire-fog, and had no lungs, but breathed by means of tubes. He had a bladder-like organ inside, which he inflated with heated air to help him leap enormous chasms when volcanic eruptions destroyed the land upon which he was living. From the back of his head there projected an organ which has now been drawn into the head and is called by anatomists the pineal gland, or the third eye, although it was never an eye, but a localized organ of feeling. The body was then devoid of feeling, but when man came too close to a volcanic crater, the heat was registered by this organ to warn him away before his body was destroyed.
At that time the body had already so far solidified that it was impossible for man to continue to propagate by spores, and it was necessary that he should evolve an organ of thought, a brain. The creative force which we now use to build railways, steamships, etc., in the outer world, was then used inwardly for the building of organs. Like all forces it was positive and negative. One pole was turned upward to build the brain, leaving the other pole available for the creation of another body. Thus man was no longer a complete creative unit. Each possessed only half the creative force, and it was therefore necessary for him to seek his complement outside himself.
But at that time, "their eyes had not been opened," and the human beings of that age were unconscious of each other in the Physical World, though well aware and awake in the Spiritual World. Therefore, under the guidance of the Angels, who were particularly fitted to help them in respect to propagation, they were herded together in great temples at certain times of the year when the lines of force running between the planets were propitious, and there the creative act was performed as a religious sacrifice. And when this primal man Adam came into the intimate sexual contact with the woman, the spirit for the moment pierced the flesh and "Adam knew (or became aware of) his wife;" he sensed her physically. It is this which the Bible has recorded, using that chaste expression all through its leaves, for we are told that "Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and she bore Samuel." Even in the New Testament where the angel comes to Mary telling her that she is to be the mother of the Savior, she answers, "How shall that be possible seeing I know not a man?"
Sin is action contrary to law, and while humanity propagated under the guidance of the Angels, who understood the cosmic lines of force, parturition was painless, as it is now among wild animals, which propagate only at the proper time of the year under the guidance of the group spirit. But when man, acting on the advice of certain spirits half-way between humanity and the Angels, undertook to create at any and all times of the year, regardless of cosmic lines of force, that sin, or "eating of the tree of knowledge," caused the painful parturition which the Angel proclaimed to Eve. He did not curse her, but simply stated what would be the result of the ignorant and indiscriminate use of the creative function.
Question: Is the Tree of Life spoken of in the Bible the same as the Philosopher's Stone of the alchemists?
Answer: Yes and no. To understand the matter it is necessary to go back in the history of mankind. There was a time when humanity was double sexed and capable of generating a body without the help of another. But when it became necessary to build the brain in order that the spirit might be able to create by thought as well as in the Physical World, one-half the sex force was retained to build an organ of thought. Then it became necessary for each to seek the cooperation of another who expressed the opposite pole of the creative force which he had available himself for sex purposes. Having no brain, and as "their eyes had not been opened," they were of course unconscious in the Physical World and unable to guide themselves. Therefore, the Angels herded them together at certain times of the year when the planetary forces were propitious to perform the generative act as a religious sacrifice, whereby they gave up part of their bodies for the generation of a vehicle for another spirit. In that close embrace, the spirit first pierced the veil of the flesh and Adam "knew" his wife. Later on, when the consciousness of humanity had become focused a little more upon the Physical World and a few among them had begun dimly to perceive the bodies of which we now are so thoroughly conscious, these pioneers began to preach the gospel of the body, telling the others that they possessed a physical body, for the majority were then unconscious of that instrument as we are now of having a stomach when in good health.
Then it was noticed that those bodies died, and the question arose among the pioneers as to how such a body could be replaced. The solution was given to man by a certain class of spirits who were stragglers from the evolution of the Angels, demi-gods, as we might say. These Lucifer Spirits, or light givers, enlightened nascent humanity regarding their powers of generating a body at any time. But these bodies were not perfect then — they are not perfect today — and of course generation without reference to the planetary conditions has produced even inferior bodies to what would have been otherwise generated, in addition to the painful parturition prophesied by the Angel.
Since then the generative function has been exercised unrestrictedly by the ignorant human race. But by the fact of death it has been possible for the Angels to teach humanity between death and a new birth how to build a gradually improving body. Had man learned in that far past how to renew his vital body, as he was taught to generate a dense vehicle at his own pleasure, then death would indeed have been an impossibility and man would have become immortal as the Gods. But he would then have immortalized his imperfections and made progress an impossibility. It is the renewal of this vital body which is expressed in the Bible as "eating of the Tree of Life." At the time of his enlightenment concerning generation man was a spiritual being whose eyes were not yet blinded by the material world, and he might have learned the secret of vitalizing his body at will, thus frustrating evolution. Thus we see that death, when it comes naturally, is not a curse but our greatest and best friend, for it frees us from an instrument from which we can learn no more; it takes us out of an environment which we have outgrown, that we may learn to build a better body in an environment of wider scope in which we can make more progress toward the goal of perfection.
In this pilgrimage there comes at last a time when man is fitted to have the powers of life. The body which he has made for himself becomes pure and is of service for a much longer time than heretofore. Then he begins to seek after the philosopher's stone, the elixir vitae, or whatever name he may choose to employ. The alchemists aimed to manufacture this pure and holy vehicle, but not by a chemical process in a laboratory, as supposed by the ignorant multitude. Nomenclature which gave color to that idea was made necessary because they lived in an age when a dominant and apostate church could have brought them to death had the truth been known. When they spoke of transmuting base metals to gold, they spoke the truth not only from the material standpoint but also from the spiritual, for gold has ever been the symbol of spirit and these alchemists aimed to spiritualize their bodies, which are of baser mixture.
Everywhere the pure and beautiful symbol of transparency has been given to designate the power of purity. In the Old Testament we hear of the Temple of Solomon that was "built without sound of hammer." The most beautiful ornament there was the molten sea. Hiram Abiff, the master-workman, as his final achievement, succeeded in smelting all the metals of the earth into an alloy as transparent as glass. In the New Testament we are told the last about a beautiful city having in its midst a sea of glass. In the East, the initiate aims to become the diamond-soul, pure and transparent. In the West the Philosopher's Stone is the symbol of the purified soul extracted from the bodies which have been transmuted and spiritualized. The soul that sinneth, it shall die, but the pure soul is immortalized by the elixir vitae, the "tree of life," into a vital body that will last millenniums as a vehicle for the spirit.
Question: The Lord had respect unto Abel and his bloody offering, but unto Cain and his sweet and clean offering, he had not respect. Why?
Answer: The inquirer is under a misapprehension. The offering of Abel was not a bloody offering. It is nowhere stated that Abel killed an animal. The legend of the esoteric free masons, which we will give in part, tells the story:
Once upon a time, the Elohim created Eve; he united with her and she bore Cain; he left her before the birth of Cain and Cain was thus "the son of a widow." Then the Elohim Jehovah created Adam who united with Eve and she bore Abel. In time Cain and Abel brought their offerings to Jehovah. Abel brought of his flocks created by God while Cain brought the work of his own hands, the grain. And Jehovah received the gift which Abel had found ready to his hand, made by nature, but he despised the sacrifice which was the outcome of the creative ability of Cain. Then Cain slew Abel and was cursed. Adam again united with Eve, and she bore Seth.
From Cain and Seth came two classes of people. The descendants of Cain were Tubal-Cain and Hiram Abiff, cunning master workmen, who knew how to fashion things with their hands, having within themselves the divine ability of creation, of making two blades of grass grow where there was only one before, and from them come all those who work with their hands and strive to conquer the earth and its resources.
From Seth descended the kings and the priests, who received their wisdom ready made from the gods, and took things as they found them. Among them was Solomon, the wisest of men, but he had not worked for his wisdom himself, he received it as a gift of God. These two classes are still found upon earth today and are battling for supremacy. One is the progressive temporal Powers, the other the conservative Priest-craft.
The reason, then, why Jehovah accepted the offering of Abel was because he had taken things as they were found created; he was a son of a man, and did not aspire to divine creatorship. But Cain was of a divine nature; he had within him the creative instinct; and that was not to the liking of the God.
Question: What is the esoteric significance of the Ark of the Covenant?
Answer: We read in the earliest chapters of the Bible about the Fall in Eden, when man took the creative force into his own hands, used it ignorantly and thus sinned against the laws of nature. Propagation is a faculty of the vital body which is the shadow of the Life Spirit, the second aspect of the threefold spirit in man.
Cherubim are described as having been put on guard with a flaming sword when man was driven out from Eden, lest he eat of the Tree of Life and become immortal, for they are the great creative hierarchy which had charge over the earth in the Sun Period, when the vital body germinated and the life spirit was awakened.
Then commenced the long pilgrimage through the wilderness of matter, and the ark of the covenant was the symbol of man in this migratory phase of his existence. During the pilgrimage in the wilderness, the staves which were used to carry the ark were always left in their places to show that it had no abiding place, but when it came to the temple made without sound of hammer, the Temple of Solomon, its pilgrimage was ended, and the staves were removed.
In its character as a symbol of man the ark contained the Book of the Law, given to teach man right action. There was the Rod of Aaron which budded, a wand of power, symbolizing the spiritual force latent in every man. This rod was a replica of the spear of Parsifal, which was an instrument of harm in the hands of Klingsor, the Black Magician, and likewise in the hands of the Roman soldier, but the pure and spiritual Parsifal used it to heal the wounds of Amfortas. The rod of Aaron had been used among the Egyptians to cause distress and sorrow, an was the hidden within the ark, symbolical of the fact that man had at one time possessed and misused the spiritual power now hidden within.
There was the Pot of Manna. This was not a food for the body as materialistically explained. The word manna is almost universal. In the Sanskrit we have "manas," the thinker. In German, the English, the Scandinavian languages, and in many others, we have the same word "man" to designate the thinker. The placing of the pot of manna within the ark commemorates the time when the Ego drew into the form it had built and became an indwelling individual spirit.
That was the "fall" into material conditions, necessitating the generation of dense bodies. When man arrogated to himself the power to generate at any time, he was exiled from the Etheric Region lest he possess himself of the secret of vitalizing the imperfect bodies he generates and render evolution impossible.
It is stated in the first part of our answer, the Cherubim were the authors of our vital powers, so they must guard them until man is qualified to have control himself. Therefore they are said to have been placed at the garden of Eden with a Flaming Sword, and it is of the greatest significance that upon the doors to the Temple of Solomon there stood the Cherubim, holding in their hands no longer the Flaming Sword, but an open flower. The flower is the generative organ of the plant, which accomplishes the act of generation in a pure, passionless manner, and when man has learned how to become pure and passionless so that each and every form is immaculately conceived, he can enter into the temple of God as the ark entered the Temple of Solomon, and he may remain there, as signified by the removal of the staves, and as prophetically told in Revelation where the spirit said: "Him that overcometh, I will make a pillar in the House of God: Thence he shall no more go out."
Question: Is there an esoteric significance in the various Christian feasts of the year?
Answer: Yes, the feasts of the year have the very deepest esoteric significance. From the material point of view, the planets are but so many masses of matter going about in their orbits in obedience to so-called blind laws, but to the esotericists they appear as Great Spirits, moving about in space as we move in the world.
When a man is seen gesticulating, we attach a certain significance to his gestures. If he shakes his head, we know that he is negativing a certain proposition, but if he nods, we infer he agrees. If he beckons, having the palms of his hands turned toward him, we know that he is motioning for someone to come to him, but if he turns the palms outward, we understand that he is warning someone to stay away. In the case of the universe, we usually do not think that there is any significance to the altered position of the planets, but to the esotericist there is the very deepest meaning in all the varied phenomena of the heavens. They correspond to the gestures of man.
Krishna means anointed, and anyone who had a special mission to perform was so anointed in olden times. When, in the winter time, the sun is below the equator at the nadir point of its travel, the spiritual impulses are the greatest in the world. For our material welfare, however, it is necessary that the sun should come again into the northern hemisphere, and so we speak of the time when the sun starts upon its journey northward as Christmas, the birthday of the Savior, anointed to save us from the famine and cold which would ensue if he were to stay at the nadir point always.
As the sun passes toward the equator, it goes through the sign Aquarius, the water-man, at that time the earth is deluged with rain, symbolizing the baptism of the Savior. Then comes the passage of the sun through the sign Pisces, the fishes, in the month of March. The stores of the past year have been all consumed, and the food of man is scant, hence we have the long fast of Lent, where the eating of fish symbolizes this feature of the solar journey. Then comes the Passover, when the sun passed over the equator. This is the time of Easter, when the sun is at his eastern node, and this crossing of the equator is symbolized by the crossification or Crucifixion, so called, of the Savior; the sun then goes into the sign of Aries, the Ram, and becomes the Lamb of God, which is given for the salvation of the world at the time when the plants begin to sprout. In order that the sacrifice may be of benefit to man, however, he (the sun) must ascend into the heavens where his rays will have power to ripen the grape and the corn, and so we have the feast of the Ascension of the Savior to the Throne of the Father, which is at the summer solstice in June. There the sun remains for three days, when the saying "Thence he shall return" takes effect as the sun commences his passage toward the western node. At the time when he enters the sign Virgo, the Virgin, we have the feast of the Assumption and later on, when he leaves the sign Virgo, the Nativity of the virgin, who seems, as it were, to be born from the sun.
The Jewish Feast of Tabernacles occurred at the time when the sun was crossing the equator on its passage into the winter months, and this feast was accompanied by the weighing in of the corn and the harvest of the wine, which were the gifts of the solar God to his human worshipers. Thus all the feasts of the year are connected with the motions of the stars through space.
Question: I understand you to say that the Christ has been incarnated only once in Jesus; was he not previously incarnated in Gautama Buddha and still earlier in Krishna?
Answer: No. Jesus Himself was a spirit belonging to our human evolution, and so was Gautama Buddha. The writer has no information concerning Krishna, but is inclined to believe that he was also a spirit belonging to the human race, because the Indian stories concerning him tell of how he entered heaven and what took place there. The Christ spirit which entered the body of Jesus when Jesus himself vacated it, was a ray from the cosmic Christ. We may follow Jesus back in his previous incarnations, and we can trace his growth to the present day. The Christ spirit, on the contrary, is not to be found among our human spirits at all.
We may say that before the coming of Christ, He worked upon the earth from the outside, much as the group spirit works with the animals from without, guiding and helping them, until they become sufficiently individualized to be the abode of an individual spirit. There was no indwelling spirit in the earth prior to the coming of Christ, but at the time when the sacrifice upon Golgotha had been consummated and the Christ spirit was liberated from the body of Jesus, it drew into the earth and is now the indwelling Earth Spirit, which Paul says "is groaning and travailing, waiting for the day of liberation," for, contrary to the accepted opinion, the sacrifice upon Golgotha was not completed with the death of the body of Jesus; in fact, that event may be said to be only the beginning; the sacrifice will continue until such time as we shall have evolved the altruism and love that will liberate the Earth Spirit from the cramping conditions of material existence, when the necessity for guiding us shall have passed away.
Question: We are told that "God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not die but have everlasting life." How can we reconcile that idea with the words of Christ, "I came not to bring peace but a sword"?
Answer: It is said that the "law and the prophets were until Christ," and there are four steps whereby man lifts himself to God. At first, when he awakens to a consciousness in the Physical World and is in the savage state, he finds himself surrounded by other men, who by the very stress of circumstances are forced to fight for life, men among whom "might is right"; here he learns to rely upon his own strength to save him from the onslaughts of wild animals and other men. But he perceives around him the nature powers, and of them he is afraid, for he knows their ability to kill and his own impotence to cope with them. He therefore begins to worship, seeking to propitiate the God he fears by bloody sacrifices.
Then comes the time when he begins to look to God as the giver of things, who will reward him here and now for obedience to his law and punish him instantly for disobedience. A mighty ally against his enemies but a powerful enemy, and therefore, much to be feared also. And so, he worships and sacrifices animals through fear and avarice.
Then comes the stage when he is taught to worship a God of love and to sacrifice himself from day to day, through his whole life, for a reward in a future state which he is to believe in by faith and which is not even clearly outlined.
Finally man will reach a stage when he will recognize his divinity and do right because it is right without thought of fear or bribe.
The Christian religion is gradually working through the third stage, though not yet freed from the second. All of us are yet under laws made by God and by man in order to curb our desire bodies by fear, but to advance us spiritually from now on we must sensitize our vital body which is amenable to love while not at all cognizant of law which governs the desire nature.
In order to prepare this coming state the priests, who were more advanced than the ordinary people, kept separate and apart from them. We hear in the East that only a certain caste, the Brahmins, were allowed to enter the temples and perform the temple services. Among the Jews, only the Levites were allowed to approach the holy place, and among other nations it was the same. The priests were always a distinct class, who were not allowed to marry among the ordinary people. They were separate and apart in every respect.
That was because the leaders of humanity could only use the strain where there existed a certain laxity between the vital body and the dense body. And so they bred these priests and herded them around the temples, regulating their life, sexually and otherwise, in every respect. But at the time when Christ was liberated from the body of Jesus and diffused His Being throughout the whole earth, the veil was rent, as a symbol of the fact, that the need for any special condition had passed away. From that time on the ether has been changing in the earth. An increasingly higher rate of vibration allows for the expression of altruistic qualities. It was the starting of that enormous vibration which caused the darkness said to have attended crucifixion. That was not darkness at all, but an intense light which blinded people for the time being until the vibrations slowed down by immersion in the dense, physical earth. A few hours later the radiant Christ Spirit had drawn into the earth sufficiently to restore normal conditions. But gradually that power from within is gaining the ascendency, and the etheric vibrations are being accelerated, increasing altruism and spiritual growth. Thus the conditions are now such that no special or privileged class need exist, but each and every one may aspire to enter the path of initiation.
Old conditions die hard, however; under the regime of Jehovah, the Spirit of the Moon, humanity had been broken up into nations, and in order that He might guide them it was necessary that He should at times use one nation to punish another, for humanity was not then amenable to love — it would only obey under the lash of fear. Before the great Universal Brotherhood of Love can be inaugurated it is necessary to break up these nations on the same principle that if we have a number of buildings, composed of bricks and we wish to build them into one grand structure, it is necessary first to break them to pieces so that the individual bricks will be available for use in the larger building. Therefore the Christ said, "I come not to bring peace, but a sword."
We must outgrow patriotism and learn to say as that great soul, Thomas Paine, "The world is my country, and to do good is my religion." Until that time, the wars must go on and the more the better, for thereby the sooner will the horror become sufficiently appalling to compel peace.
On the holy night when the Christ child was born, the angels sang a song, "Peace on Earth and Good Will among Men." Later the child grew up and said, "I came not to bring peace, but a sword," and the Christian religion has been the bloodiest of all religions of humanity. It has carried desolation and sorrow with it wherever it has gone, but out of all that travail there will yet come the day when the song of the Angels will become a fact and the words of the Christ uttered at other times concerning love to one's neighbor will be lived. When the sword has done its work it will be beaten into plow shares, and there will be no more war, for there will be no more nations.
Question: What is meant by everlasting salvation and damnation?
Answer: The orthodox religions say that those who have done well in this life are saved, that is to say, they will go to a heaven not very clearly defined, and those who fail to reach this salvation are plunged into a hell of which not very much is known save that it is a place of misery. The good and the bad stay in their respective places, once they have been judged; there is no redemption for the lost souls, and no danger of a fall for those once saved.
Such an interpretation is radically wrong, if the Greek dictionary is taken as authority, for obviously the meaning hinges upon the word translated "everlasting." That word is aionian, and in the dictionary it is translated to mean "an age, an indefinite period, a lifetime," etc. What, then, is the true meaning of the passage quoted we may ask ourselves, and in order to find that meaning it will be necessary to take a comprehensive view of life.
In the beginning of manifestation, God, a great flame, differentiates a vast number of incipient flames or sparks within Himself, not from Himself, for it is an actual fact that "In Him we live and move and have our being." Nothing can exist outside God. So within Himself, God differentiates these countless souls. Each of them is potentially divine, each enfolds all His powers as the seed enfolds the plant, but as the seed must be buried in the ground to bring forth the plant, so it is necessary that these divine sparks should be immersed in material vehicles in order that they may learn lessons that can be mastered only in such a separative existence as there is in the world.
The world may be regarded as a training school for the evolving spirits. Some of them started early and applied themselves diligently to the task before them; consequently they progressed rapidly. Others started later and are laggards. They are therefore left behind in the race; but all will ultimately attain the goal of perfection. In consequence of the foregoing fact there are a number of classes of these pilgrim spirits, and before one set, or class, of spirits can be moved up another step in evolution it is necessary that they should have attained a certain standard of proficiency. They are saved from a lower condition which they have outgrown. Once this measure of efficiency has been acquired, they are promoted into another race, another epoch. But among a large number there are always laggards, and these are condemned to stay in the class where they are until they have arrived at the stage of growth required for advancement. The plan is similar to the method in which children in a school are promoted into the next higher class at the yearly examinations if they have attained a certain standard of knowledge; if not, they are condemned to stay behind — not forever, but only until another year's examination proves that they have qualified.
The foregoing is not a distorted or a wrong representation of the meaning of the word aionian. It has been used other places in the Bible in a manner which bears out our contention. For instance, in Paul's letter to Philemon, where he returns to him the slave Onesimus with the words, "Perhaps it was well that you should lose him for a time that he might be given back to you forever." The word "forever" is the same word aionian which is translated everlasting in connection with damnation and salvation, and it will be readily seen that in this case it can only mean a part of a lifetime, for neither Paul or Philemon, as such, would live forever.
Question: What is the teaching of the Rosicrucians concerning the Immaculate Conception?
Answer: The Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is, perhaps, one of the most sublime mysteries of the Christian religion, and perhaps for that reason it has suffered more from being dragged down into materiality than any of the other mysteries. It has suffered alike from the interpretation of its clumsy supporters and the sneers of the skeptics. When, for instance, we see in churches a picture of God as an old man sitting up in the skies with a blow-pipe in his mouth in the act of blowing the infant Jesus into the side of Mary, it is more than ridiculous, it is pathetic!
The popular, but erroneous, idea is that about 2000 years ago an individual named Jesus Christ was born of a mother without the cooperation of an earthly father, and this incident is regarded as unique in the history of the world. In reality, it is not unparalleled; the immaculate conception has taken place many times in the history of the world and will become universal in the future.
The anticipated history of man is written in the stars — man being the little world as the stars are great worlds. There the ideal, the prototype of the Immaculate Conception is dramatically presented from year to year. The sun is the life giver of the world; it is the light of the world also. And as the more advanced beings who are saviors of mankind appear when the greatest spiritual darkness is upon earth, so the sun is born anew at the winter solstice and starts its journey toward the equator on the darkest night of the year, the night between the 24th and the 25th of December. At that time, the zodiacal sign Virgo rises upon the eastern horizon in all northern latitudes, which are the most populous parts of the earth.
Thus, the light of the world is each year immaculately conceived by the celestial virgin mother and starts upon his journey northward to give his life for humanity as he ripens the corn and the grape. By analogy the spiritual teachers are born at time when spiritual darkness is greatest, and they give to man the bread of life which feeds the soul.
Men do not gather grapes of thorns, but like always begets like; an entity that is vile must be born of a mother who is vile, and before a savior can be born a pure virgin mother must be found. But when we say "virgin," we do not mean virgin in a physical sense. We all possess physical virginity in the early years of our lives, but virginity of the spirit is a quality of soul acquired by lives of pure thought and lofty aspirations. It is not dependent upon the state of the body. A true virgin may bear several children and remain "virgin."
Whether a child is conceived in sin or immaculately conceived is thus dependent upon its own inherent soul quality, for if the Ego to be born is pure and chaste it will naturally be born to a mother who is also of the same pure and beautiful nature. And the physical act, which in the case of most people is dictated by passion and desire for sensual gratification, is performed by the pure and the chaste of soul in a spirit of prayer as a sacrifice. Thus the child is begotten without the sin of passion; it is immaculately conceived.
Such a one is never an accidental child. His coming has been heralded and looked forward to with anticipation of pleasure and joy, and there are many cases at the present day where people come very close to an imitation of the Immaculate Conception; cases where both the parents are pure and chaste; where they perform the generative act in the spirit of pure love; where the mother is unmolested during the gestatory period and the child is born in almost as pure a manner as foreshadowed in the symbolical immaculate conceptions. In time, when humanity grows more and more altruistic, passion will be superseded by pure love and all men will be immaculately begotten.
Question: Was not the Star of Bethlehem a comet?
Answer: No; the Star of Bethlehem shines at midnight of every night as it shone upon the night which is recorded in the Bible, and may be seen by anyone among the wise men of today, though hidden from all others.
The key to the mystery is this: The Gospels are not simply stories of the life of an individual; they depict dramatically and in symbol the incidents in the path of attainment; they are formulas of initiation.
In the summertime, when the whole earth is exerting itself to bring forth the bread of life for all who live upon it, the sun is high in the heavens, sending forth its life giving rays toward our planet. Then all the physical activities are to the fore and man is engrossed in material occupations necessary to his existence. But when in winter the sun is below the equator and nature slumbers, spiritual influences sent forth from the sun are most potent. When the physical darkness increases the spiritual light burns more brightly and culminates in the birth of saviors on the darkest night in the year, between the twenty-fourth and the twenty-fifth of December, at the time the sun starts on its journey northward to save humanity from the cold and famine which would result if it remained in the southern latitudes.
On that particular night of the year the spiritual vibrations are strongest. It is the Holy Night of the year par excellence. On that night it is easiest for the neophyte to come into conscious touch with spiritual vibrations. Therefore it was customary to take neophytes into the temples on yon Holy Night. There they were entranced under the guidance of wise men and taught to leave their bodies consciously by an act of will. The earth then became transparent to their gaze and they saw behind it the Sun at midnight — the blazing star. Not, of course, the physical sun, but the spiritual sun which is the true Christ-star, for the cosmic Christ is the highest Initiate among the luminous sun spirits, the Archangels.
Question: What were the gifts of the Wise Men?
Answer: The Bible tells us that they were gold, myrrh and frankincense. Gold has always been regarded as the emblem of spirit in the old legends and symbology. In the story of the Ring of the Niebelung, dramatized by Wagner, we hear how the Rhine maidens played in their watery element on the bottom of the river Rhine. The water was lighted by the flame of the gold. This legend takes us back to the time when these Children of the Mist were living in the beautiful conditions of early Atlantis, where they were one vast brotherhood, innocent and childlike, and the Universal Spirit had not yet drawn into the separate bodies.
The gold resting upon the rock at the bottom of the water was the symbol of the Universal Spirit illuminating all mankind. Later it is stolen and welded into a ring by Alberich, the Niebelung, who forswears love to possess this gold. Then it becomes the symbol of the separate Ego in the present loveless age of selfishness. The man who has become wise and sees the evils of selfishness offers gold to the Christ as a symbol of his desire for the return to the Universal spirit of Love.
The second gift, myrrh, is an aromatic plant growing in Arabia which is very rare and scarce. It is the symbol of the soul. We are told in legends of saints who have been so holy that they emitted an aroma. This is thought to be a pious fable, but it is an actual fact that a man may become so holy that he emits a most beautiful perfume.
The third gift, frankincense, is a symbol of the dense body, which has been etherealized by a holy life, for frankincense is a physical vapor. The minister of the interior of Serbia, one of the conspirators who planned the regicide in that country less than a decade ago, has since written his memoirs. It appears, according to him, that when they burned incense at the time they invited people to join them in their conspiracy, they invariably succeeded in winning over the one whom they sought. He did not know why, he simply mentioned it as a curious coincidence. But to the esotericist the matter is plain.
No spirit can work in any world without a vehicle made of the material of that world. To function in the Physical World, to fetch and carry, we must have a dense body and a vital body; both are made of various grades of physical matter, solids, liquids, gas and ether. We may obtain such vehicles in the ordinary way, by going through the womb to birth, or we may extract ether from the body of a medium and temporarily use that to materialize, or we may use the fumes of incense. In the Catholic Church, where certain spirits are invoked, incense furnishes the vehicle whereby they may operate upon the assembled congregation as the discarnate spirits did to favor the Serbian regicides.
Thus we see that the gifts of the wise men are spirit, soul and body, devoted to the service of humanity. To give oneself is to imitate Christ, to follow in His steps.
Question: Jesus was baptized at thirty, receiving the "Christ Spirit." please explain this baptism.
Answer: The earth has not always been as it is now. Science tells us that there was a time when it was blended firemist. The Bible goes back even further and speaks of a time before that mist, when the earth became glowing and luminous as fire; a time when darkness reigned.
There have been in all four epochs or stages in this development of the earth. First there was this dark stage, which is called in the Rosicrucian terminology the "Polarian" Epoch. Then the substance which now forms the earth was a dark mass, hot and gaseous. In the second stage, called the Hyperborean Epoch, this dark mass was ignited. We are told "God said: 'Let there be light,' and there was light." Then came the stage when the heat of this firemist in contact with cold space generated moisture, and this moisture was densest near the fiery core, where it was heated to steam that rushed outward from the center — "God divided the waters from the waters," that is, the dense water nearest the core from the light steam outside. Finally there came an incrustation, such as always takes place where water is boiled over and over again, and thus the crust over the earth, the dry land, was formed.
When that crust had been completed, there was no water upon the surface of the earth, but as the Bible says, "A mist went up from the surface," and no herb had yet grown upon the face of the earth. At that time, however, vegetation began to appear and nascent humanity lived there. But they were not a humanity constituted as we are today. Their form was very much different and they were not nearly as evolved as we are at the present time. In fact, body and spirit were not perfectly together; the spirits hovered partly outside and therefore "man's eyes had not yet been opened."
Old folk stories such as we hear of in Germany and different places in the Old World, speak of them as the Niebelungen. "Niebel" means mist and "ungen" is children. They were the "Children of the Mist," for the clear atmosphere of today did not then exist; the sun appeared like an arc lamp in the street on a very foggy day, on account of the density of the mist which rose from the earth.
While humanity lived in that state, they were not as far advanced mentally as we are now. They could not see things outside themselves, but they had an inner perception. They saw the soul qualities of all who lived around them and they perceived themselves as spiritual rather than material. At that time there were no nations at all, but humanity was one vast brotherhood. All were partially outside their bodies and therefore in touch with the Universal Spirit, which has now been obscured in the separateness of egotism which causes each man to feel himself distinct and apart from all the rest of humanity; where brotherhood is forgotten and selfishness rules.
When any one has progressed so far that he appreciates the blessings of brotherhood, where he endeavors to abolish egotism and cultivate altruism, he may go through the rite of baptism. He enters the water as a symbol of his return to the ideal conditions of brotherhood which existed when all humanity lived, so to speak, in water. Therefore, we see Jesus, the herald of universal Brotherhood, at the beginning of his ministry entering the waters of the Jordan and being baptized there. When he rose from the waters, the Universal Spirit rested upon Him as a dove, and from that time on he was not simply Jesus, but Christ Jesus, the potential Savior of the world imbued with the Universal Spirit, which shall eventually take away all the evils of selfishness and restore mankind to the blessings of brotherhood which will be realized when the Universal Spirit has become immanent in all mankind.
Question: In your teaching you state that we stay for a time, averaging about one-third of the length of the earth life, in Purgatory in order that our sins may be expiated prior to going to heaven. How then do you reconcile this teaching with the words of the Christ to the dying thief: "Today thou shalt be with me in paradise"?
Answer: The New Testament was written in Greek, a language in which no punctuation marks are used. The punctuation marks in our Bible have been inserted by our later Bible translators, and punctuation often very radically changes the meaning of a sentence, as the following story will illustrate:
In a prayer meeting some one handed in a request which the pastor read thus: "A sailor going to sea, his mother-in-law desires the prayers of the congregation for his safe return to wife and child." The request was not punctuated at all, but would imply that the young man's mother-in-law was very solicitous to have him return safely to his wife and child and therefore desired the prayers of the congregation. Had the pastor read it without the comma, it would have implied that the sailor, going to see his mother-in-law, desired the prayers of the congregation for his safe return to wife and child, and one would naturally think that the lady in question must be a Tartar when it was necessary for the young man to ask the prayers of the congregation before facing her. In this case, if the words of Christ are read thus: "Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise," they would imply that the thief would be with the Christ at some future time not defined. But where the comma is placed before the world today, as in the Bible, it gives the idea ordinarily held by people.
That this idea is absolutely wrong can be seen by the remark of the Christ just after His resurrection, when He said to the woman, "Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to my Father." If He promised the Thief that he should be with Him in Paradise on the day of the crucifixion and three days later declared that He had not yet been there, the Christ would have been guilty of a contradiction which, of course, is an impossibility. Placing of the comma as suggested fully reconciles the meaning of the two passages, and besides Peter tells us that in the interval He worked with the Spirits in Purgatory.
Question: What is the esoteric meaning of the two thieves on the cross?
Answer: Contrary to the ordinarily accepted opinion, the four Gospels are not at all the biography of Jesus, the Christ; they are Formulas of initiation of four different Mystery Schools, and in order to veil their esoteric meaning, the life and ministry of the Christ is also intermingled. That could be easily done as all initiates, being cosmic characters, have similar experiences. It is truly said that unto the multitude the Christ spoke in parables, but the hidden meaning was given to His disciples in private. Paul also gave the milk to the weak and the meat to the strong ones. It was never intended at any time to give the hidden symbols to ordinary people, or to make the Bible "an open book of God," as people nowadays believe.
When reading in the memory of nature, we find that at the time of the crucifixion, there were not only two, but a number, who were crucified. The people of that time meted out capital punishment for the slightest offenses and there were always plenty to suffer these barbarous deaths. Thus, those who wanted to veil the hidden meaning of the gospels were at no loss to find something wherewith to fill out the tale and obscure the points which are really vital in the crucifixion. The part of the story relating to the thieves is, therefore, a true incident, without having anything to do with the esoteric meaning at all.
Question: What is the meaning of the cross? Is it simply an instrument of torture as usually taught in the orthodox religion?
Answer: Like all other symbols, the meanings of the cross are many. Plato gave one of these meanings when he said, "The World Soul is crucified," that is to say: We have four kingdoms in the world — the mineral, the plant, the animal and the man.
The mineral kingdom ensouls all chemical substance of whatever kind, so that the cross, of whatever material it is made, is first a symbol of that kingdom.
The upright lower limb of the cross is a symbol of the plant kingdom because the currents of the group spirits which give life to the plants come from the center of the earth where these group spirits are located and reach out toward the periphery of our planet and into space.
The upper limb of the cross is the symbol of man, because the life currents of the human kingdom pass downward from the sun through the vertical spine. Thus man is the inverted plant, for as the plant takes its food through the root, passing it upward, so does the man take his nourishment by way of the head, passing it downward. The plant is chaste, pure and passionless, and stretches its creative organ, the flower, chastely and unashamed toward the sun, a thing of beauty and delight. Man turns his passion filled generative organ toward the earth. Man inhales the life giving oxygen and exhales the poisonous carbon dioxide. The plant takes the poison exhaled by man, building its body therefrom, and returning to us the elixir of life, the cleansed oxygen.
Between the plant and the human kingdom stands the animal with the horizontal spine, and in the horizontal spine the life currents of the animal group spirit play as they circle around our globe. Therefore the horizontal limb of the cross is the symbol of the animal kingdom.
In esotericism the cross was never looked upon as an instrument of torture, and it was not until the sixth century that the crucified Christ was shown in pictures. Previous to that time the symbol of the Christ was a cross and a lamb resting at its foot, to convey the idea that at the time when the Christ was born the sun at the vernal equinox crossed the equator in the sign Aries, the Lamb. The symbols of the different religions have always been made in that way. At the time when the sun by precession crossed the vernal equinox in the sign Taurus, the Bull, a religion was founded in Egypt where they worshiped the Bull Apis in the same sense that we worship the Lamb of God. At a much earlier date, we hear of the Norse God Thor driving his twin goats across the sky. That was at the time when the vernal equinox was in the sign Gemini, the Twins. At the time of the birth of Christ, the vernal equinox was in about 7 degrees of Aries, the Lamb, therefore our Savior was called the Lamb of God. There was a dispute in the earlier centuries regarding the propriety of having the lamb as a symbol of our Savior. Some claimed that the vernal equinox at His birth was really in the sign Pisces, the Fishes, and that the symbol of our Savior should have been a fish. It is in memory of that dispute that the bishop's mitre still takes the form of the head of a fish.
Question: Could not the mission of Christ have been accomplished without such a drastic method as the crucifixion?
Answer: It could, of course, have been accomplished without the specific method of crucifixion, but it was an absolute necessity that the blood should flow. There are various grades of teachers and they require different conditions for the accomplishment of their task. Some teachers, like Moses and the Buddha, come to a nation and help it to a certain a point, they themselves growing thereby; and both of the teachers mentioned attained to the point in their own development where their bodies became luminous. We hear how the face of Moses shone so that it become necessary for him to use a veil,. The Buddha become luminous at the time of his death. The Christ attained the stage of luminosity at the time of His transfiguration, and it is very significant that the most important part of His work, His suffering and death, took place after the event of the Transfiguration. And while it become necessary for Moses, Elijah, Buddha and the other previous teachers to be born in a physical body again and again, in order to bear the sins of their people, the Christ has only appeared once in a physical body and will not need again to take upon Himself such an instrument. For when the spirit leaves the body in the natural way it takes along certain impurities as it slowly withdraws from the congealing blood. Even in such a pure body as the body of Jesus, there were impurities, and the violent death which caused the blood to run liberated the Ego of Christ from the blood with a quick wrench, leaving behind whatever impurity there may have been, so that the Christ emerged from the body of Jesus unsullied and without the tie of destiny usually attendant on life in the dense body.
On the same principle it is a fact that although at the present time we have wars that are to be regretted from the mere human standpoint, it is nevertheless a fact which is patent to the esotericist that these wars have cleansed the blood of the race considerably, so that gradually humanity is becoming less and less passionate and more and more spiritual. Also we may say that in this fact lies the redeeming feature of the slaughter of animals. When humanity went through the animal stage it had no red passion filled blood as our animals have; we were not as highly evolved. The animals of today, though behind us in evolution, are on a higher spiral and while we now are suffering under the law of consequence because of having to overcome our passions in our own strength, the animals are being helped and held in check by their group spirits. And when they reach the human stage in the Jupiter Period, they will be a higher humanity, free from the passions which have made this world such a sorrowful place. Thus nature always transmutes whatever evil we may commit into a higher good.
Answering the question, we may therefore say that in the case of Christ the violent death was necessary because it enabled the Christ Spirit to withdraw from the body of Jesus without retaining any of the impurities attached to that merely human vehicle.
Question: According to the Rosicrucian teaching, when will Christ come again?
Answer: The Bible says truly that the "day and the hour knoweth no man," and the people who have been trying to fix a certain date or a certain year for the Second Coming have entirely misunderstood the object of the Christ's mission on earth. His teaching was given to humanity in order that the law, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" might be abolished — that the law of fear (of God) might be swallowed up by the law of love. "The law and the prophets were until Christ," it is said, but we know that even today law is, and is necessary. Therefore, it is evident that law was not abolished at the physical coming of Christ. It is the coming of Christ into "the within," the inner nature of man, that is to abolish law. Paul speaks of this advent as the "Christ being formed in ye," and until the Christ has been formed in us we are not ready for the Second Coming. Angelus Silesius says:
"Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born,
And not within thyself, thy soul will be forlorn.
The cross on Golgotha thou lookest to in vain,
Unless within thyself it be set up again."
The Second Coming of Christ depends upon how soon a sufficient number of people have become Christ-like and attuned to the Christ principle, so that, as tuning forks of the same pitch sing together when one is struck, they will be able to respond to the Christ vibrations that will be set up at the return of the Savior. Therefore, this event is not to be calculated. Every time we endeavor to imitate Christ and fulfill His teachings, we are hastening His Coming; so let us thus strive.
Question: What is meant by the saying that Christ was made a high priest forever after the Order of Melchisedec?
Answer: We are told that this Melchisedec was king of Salem and also a high priest. We are told that his priesthood was far above that of Aaron, for it was unchangeable, while that of Aaron and the Levites was subject to frequent change.
During the times of which we have records in history, there has always been a division of the temporal and the ecclesiastical powers. Moses was the temporal ruler and leader of the Jewish people, while Aaron was the priest who looked after their spiritual welfare, and down the ages this division of the church and the state has ever been apparent, at times causing great strife and bloodshed, for their interests seem ever to be diametrically opposite. But at the time of this Melchisedec, king of Salem, which interpreted means "peace," there was no such division, the two offices were combined in one individual. The story of Melchisedec, a Being without earthly pedigree, refers, of course, to the time in early Atlantis when humanity had not yet been divided into warring nations, but were one vast, peaceful brotherhood, and the leaders of the people were Divine Beings, who were both kings and priests.
The later division of church and state has been one of the most fruitful sources of enmity and war among humanity, for each of these powers has striven for supremacy over the other, while in reality there should be no prejudice, for no one who is not as spiritual as a priest should be fit to rule as a king, and no one who is not as wise and just as a king should be fit to have the spiritual guidance of humanity as the priests have. When these qualities are combined in one leader again, the reign of universal peace and brotherhood will become a fact. The Christ has been heralded as such a leader, capable of uniting church and state as king and priest after the order of Melchisedec. His Second Coming inaugurates the millennium, the age of peace and joy, where the symbolical New Jerusalem, the city of peace (for Jer-u-salem, means "There shall be peace"), reigns over the nations of the earth, united into one universal brotherhood. There shall be Peace on Earth and Goodwill among Men.
Question: What did Christ mean when He said, "All who came before me were thieves and robbers"?
Answer: We read in the Bible about two great cities, strangely similar yet directly opposite. One is the city of Babylon, the birthplace of confusion, where men ceased to be brothers and separated from one another. It lies upon seven hills by a river and is ruled over by a king, Lucifer — the "day star" — the light giver. His fall from heaven is lamented exceedingly in the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah, and later on we hear of the fall of that great city, which has become an abomination, is called a harlot, having caused war, trouble and desolation among all the people of the earth.
Then, in supreme antithesis, we are told of another city called the New Jerusalem, which occupies the honored position as bride. In that city there is not a flowing river but a sea of glass. It also lies upon seven hills, is ruled over by another light giver who is called "the light of the world," and it is a city of peace where the gates are never closed although the precious Tree of Life is within. This city is not a city of this world, but a city which has come down from heaven.
To understand this symbology, it is necessary to go back into the far distant past when man-in-the-making had not yet attained the development he has today. When he first came upon this earth the dense body was built in the Polarian Epoch, and was vitalized by the interpenetration of a vital body in the Hyperborean Epoch. At that time man was like the Angels, male-female, a complete creative unit, able to create from himself by projecting his whole creative forces — which is love.
Later it becomes necessary for man to evolve a brain, and in order to accomplish that object one-half of his creative force was turned inward in order to build the necessary organs. From that time on, man must seek the cooperation of some one having the other half of the sex force available for propagation. Now he loves selfishly to obtain the cooperation of another in propagation; the other half of the creative force wherewith he built his brain and larynx he also uses selfishly to think, because he desires to obtain knowledge.
Previously man had projected his whole creative force without reserve, unselfishly. Since the division of the sex force man has eventually become selfish and therefore by attraction a prey to others of like nature.
The Angels were the humanity of the Moon Period and have since attained to their present high development, but as in every great company there are stragglers, so also in the case of the Angels there were some who did not attain — a class of beings which were behind the Angels but above humanity. They were in a sad state, for they could not follow the present development of the Angels and neither could they sink as low into matter as man. They could not, as the Angels, dispense with a brain, yet they were incapable of building one for themselves, so when humanity evolved the brain and spinal cord they saw an opportunity in woman, who expresses the negative pole of the creative force, imagination, the faculty which enables her to build a body in the womb. In order to gain access to her consciousness this intelligence took advantages of a perplexity then disturbing the woman on account of her exercise of the imaginative faculty.
At that time the eyes of humanity had not yet been opened; they were spiritual beings, not quite conscious of the possession of a physical body. The woman was the first to dimly observe that she and others possessed such an instrument, and she had observed that at certain times some of her friends whom she had previously perceived as having this physical appendage, had lost it, so she was troubled. From the Angels she could obtain no information, but this intelligence which appeared within herself in the serpentine spinal cord, enlightened her, and "the serpent said unto the woman, 'Hath God said, ye shall not eat of every Tree in the Garden?'" to which she answered that they had been forbidden "to eat of the Tree of Knowledge" under penalty of death. But the serpent said: "Ye shall not surely die, for God knows that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." The woman secured the cooperation of the man according to the instructions of Lucifer, the Light Giver, and since then their eyes have been opened, they have known good and evil. But prior to that time man had been unconscious of the possession of his body; it had fallen away from him at times, as the leaf falls from the tree, without inconveniencing or disturbing him, for his consciousness had been focused in the Spiritual World at all times. But the Lucifer spirits desired a power over him, a foothold in his brain and spinal cord. They incited him to break away from the yoke of the Angels and take the creative function in his own hands. By the oft repeated and ignorant abuse of that faculty the consciousness of man was withdrawn from the Spiritual Worlds and focused in the Physical World. Then came death in all its present terrible aspects, for man now regards this earth life as the only real life. When that ends, he enters an existence of which he knows nothing and which he consequently fears.
Thus, on account of listening to Lucifer, the false light giver, man has become subject to sorrow, pain and death. He has been robbed of his innocence and peace. The Christ came into the world to save humanity from sin, sorrow and death. Therefore He called Himself the True Light, and the others, who had come before, He characterized as thieves and robbers, for they had robbed man of the spiritual sight though they had enlightened him in the physical sense.
Question: What did the Christ mean when He said, "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall not enter therein"?
Answer: In the world around us we see the kingdom of men, where every one is endeavoring to maintain his own position and depends upon his own ideas and his own self-assertion to hold that position against all comers. When anything new is presented to him, his mental attitude is usually tinged with skepticism. He fears to be deceived.
The attitude of a little child with regard to what it sees or hears is exactly the reverse of the position of its elders. The little child has no overwhelming sense of its own superior knowledge, but is frankly ignorant and therefore eminently teachable, and it was to this trait that the Savior referred in the passage quoted.
When we enter the higher life, we must first forget everything that we knew in the world. We must commence to look at things in an entirely different way, and when a new teaching is brought before us we must endeavor to receive it regardless of other facts previously observed. This in order that we may be perfectly unbiased. Of course, we are not supposed to believe offhand that "black is white," but if some one seriously asserts that an object which we have hitherto regarded as black is really white, our mind should be sufficiently open to prevent us from passing judgment at once and saying, "Why, I know that that object is black." We should be willing to re-examine the object to see if there may not be a point of view whence that thing which we have thought black appears to be white. Only when we have made thorough examination and have found that the thing is really black from whatever point of view may we return to our previous opinion.
There is nothing so remarkable about a child as the flexible attitude of its mind which renders it so teachable, and the pupil who endeavors to live the higher life should always aim to keep his mind in that fluidic state, for as soon as our ideas have become set and incapable of being changed, our progress ceases. That was the great truth which the Christ was endeavoring to present to his hearers when he made the remark which has occasioned the question.
Question: Did not Jesus eat fish? Why then are the Rosicrucians vegetarians?
Answer: After the Resurrection the Christ at one time appeared among His disciples while they were in a locked room. They did not recognize Him at once and did not believe that His was a material body. But the vehicle in which He appeared was the vital body of Jesus, and it was possible for Him, as for anyone else capable of functioning in that vehicle, to draw matter of the chemical region around Himself and build a perfectly tangible, dense body in a moment. In order to convince them that He was as usual, He asked for something to eat and was given a piece of a honeycomb and some fish. It is stated that he ate, but not that he ate the fish, and one who had been brought up among strict vegetarians like the Essenes would not have eaten the fish any more than he would have eaten flesh if it had been set before him.
It is also related of the Buddha that he died after gorging himself upon boar's flesh, which is highly amusing to anyone aware of the fact that he taught his disciples the simple and harmless life — to sustain the body upon the purest and best foods as they come directly from the ground — and was moved to the greatest pity at the sight of suffering on the part of man or beast. The esoteric student understands that in olden times the boar was a symbol of the esoteric knowledge. One may give of his knowledge; the more we give the more we have — at least the same amount of knowledge always remains. This truth was taught in a symbol of the Norse mythology: In Valhalla the warriors who had fought the good fight were seated around tables feasting upon the flesh of a boar, which was so constituted that as often as they cut a part of its flesh away the flesh grew out at once, so that there was always plenty, no matter how much was taken or how many ate. The Buddha in his earth life had gorged himself upon this sacred knowledge, and when he died he was full thereof.
Nevertheless, the inquirer has a wrong idea. The Rosicrucians do not teach that everyone should be a vegetarian at once. In fact they teach that the vegetarian diet generates an abundance of energy, much more than flesh foods. This energy is not only physical but spiritual, so that if a man leads a sedentary life and is of a material disposition, engaged, perhaps, in sordid business transactions or in other lines of strictly material endeavor, this spiritual energy can find no vent and is apt to cause systemic disturbances. Only those who live an active, outdoor life, where the abundance of energy generated by the vegetarian food can be thrown off, or who transmute that energy into spiritual endeavor, can thrive on the vegetarian diet. Besides, we recognize that the heredity of many generations has made man partly carnivorous, so that in the case of most people the change from a mixed diet to vegetables should be gradual. The diet which suits one man is not fitted for another, vide the old proverb that "one man's meat is another man's poison," and no hard and fast rules can be laid down which will apply equally to all people. Therefore, everything that we eat as well as everything else connected with our personality should be determined by ourselves individually.
The Bible says truly that it is not that which goeth into the mouth that defileth us. If we crave and support ourselves upon loathsome food, it is the craving that is the sin, and not the food itself. If a man is in a place where he cannot obtain the pure foods which he desires and craves, he ought to take the food which is obtainable, even flesh food, without loathing, just as thankfully as he takes the pure food. It will not defile him because of his attitude of mind.
Question: If Christ fed the multitude with fish, why is it wrong for us to use them, or even flesh, as food?
Answer: It is the nature of a beast of prey to eat any animal that comes in its path, and its organs are such that it must have that kind of a diet to exist, but everything is in a stage of becoming; it is always changing to something higher. Man, in his earlier stages of unfoldment, was also like the beasts of prey in certain respects; however, he is to become God-like and thus he must cease to destroy at some time in order that he may commence to create. We have gone a little further along the path of evolution, and altruism is coming to the fore more and more.
We have been taught that there is no life in the universe but the life of God. That "in Him we live and move and have our being." That His life animates everything that is and therefore we naturally understand that as soon as we take life we are destroying the form built by God for His manifestation. The lower animals are evolving spirits and have sensibilities. It is their desire for experience that causes them to build their various forms, and when we take their forms away from them we deprive them of their opportunity for gaining experience. We hinder their evolution instead of helping them. It is excusable in the cannibal, who knows no better, when he eats his fellow men. We now regard cannibalism with horror, and the day will also come when we shall feel a like disgust at the thought of making our stomachs the burying ground of the carcasses of murdered animals.
It is natural that we should desire the very best of food, but every animal body has in it the poisons of decay. The venous blood is filled with carbon dioxide and other noxious products on their way to the kidneys or the pores of the skin to be expelled as urine or perspiration. These loathsome substances are in every part of the flesh and when we eat such food we are filling our own bodies with toxic poisons. Much sickness is due to our use of flesh foods.
When we cry to the Bible as authority for flesh eating we should also be willing to follow its injunctions and stop eating pork, which is the most horrible food of all. It is a notable fact that the orthodox Jews who abstain from the foods interdicted in the Bible are immune from consumption and cancer.
In a great many places where the Bible speaks of "meat," it is very plain that flesh food is not meant. The chapter in Genesis where man's food is first allotted to him says that he should eat of every tree and herb bearing seed, "and to you it shall be for meat." The most evolved people at all times have abstained from flesh foods. We see, for instance, Daniel, who was a holy man and a wise man, beg that he might not be forced to eat meat, but that he and his companions be given pulse. The children of Israel in the wilderness are spoken of as "lusting after flesh," and their God is angry with them in consequence.
There is an esoteric meaning to the feeding of the multitude where fish was used as food, but looking to the purely material aspect we may sum up the points made in our answer by reiterating that we shall some time outgrow flesh and fish eating as we have risen above cannibalism. Whatever license may have been given in the barbaric past will disappear in the altruistic future, when more refined sensibilities shall have awakened us to a fuller sense of the horrors involved in the gratification of a carnivorous taste.
For a very full presentation of the question, "Does the Bible justify Flesh Eating," we would refer the inquirer to a little pamphlet by that name issued by the Unity Society of Kansas City, Missouri, which gives the pro and the con with great impartiality, and shows that it was only as a concession to the before mentioned lust for flesh that the practice was tolerated at all.
Question: Please explain why the fatted calf was not killed for the righteous son instead of the prodigal. Was that not giving a reward for wrong doing?
Answer: The story of the prodigal son was a parable whereby the Christ intended to teach a lesson and not an actual fact. It is a story which tells of the spirit's pilgrimage through matter. There are different classes of spirits. Some, but not all, have gone into the school of experience, the world. They have descended from their high estate in the World of God gradually deeper and deeper into the sea of matter which blinds them. At last they find themselves enmeshed in the dense matter of the Physical World. That is the turning point where they wake up; where the unconscious path of involution ends; where self-consciousness is attained plus a consciousness of the world without. But the spirit within is not content to remain in this world. Re-awakened to a sense of its inherent divinity it feels drawn anew to the highest spheres, and says "I will arise and go to my father."
Then comes the toil of stripping off the various vehicles in which it has become enmeshed and of raising itself once more to the conscious communion with God. While engaged in this arduous task "the Father meets it a long way off"; the still small voice from within begins to speak and tell of the heavenly glories and, at last, when either the evolution of humanity has been completed or the single spirit has taken the short cut of initiation, there is a reunion with God and the other brothers who have not yet gone out into the school of experience. Naturally there is more rejoicing over the return of one who has fought the good fight and has come back to his heavenly home, than over the one who has not yet sought to improve his opportunity.
Question: Why did the Lord commend the unjust steward as related in the sixteenth chapter of St. Luke?
Answer: The inquirer should read the chapter carefully. We are told of an unfaithful steward who was brought before his master, the latter being suspicious that his accounts were not quite right. This unfaithful steward made a bargain with the debtors of his master to secure himself against the day of discharge from his position. It is said in verse 8 that "the lord commended the unjust steward." When he rendered his accounts he must have fixed them so skillfully that his master was deceived, for the "lord" of the man — his master — was the one who commended him, as will be seen from the fact that the word "lord" is spelled with a small letter, whereas the capital letter is always used where the Christ is signified.
Question: Please explain what is meant by sinning against the Holy Ghost.
Answer: Speaking generally, the Holy Spirit is the creative power of God. For confirmation, remember the passage in the creed "Conceived by the Holy Spirit," which Gabriel said to Mary should come upon her. By that all that is has been brought into being, and it is a ray from that attribute of God which is used by men for perpetuation of the race. When that is abused, that is to say, when it is used for sense gratification, whether in solitary or associated vice, with or without the legal marriage, that is the sin against the Holy Spirit. That sin, we are told, is not forgiven; it must be expiated. Humanity as a whole is now suffering for that sin. The debilitated bodies, the sickness that we see around us, has been caused by centuries of abuse, and until we learn to subdue our passions there can be no true health among the human race. We have been born of parents who thought that it was right to gratify their passions at any and all times. In consequence we suffer now, and by our attitude toward the sex question most of us are at the present time conferring the same maladies upon our children. Thus the sins of the fathers are being visited upon the children from generation to generation, and will continue to bring sorrow and suffering until we shall understand that every child has a right to be well born and to receive the proper physical conditions during the period of antenatal life.
Question: Is the Christian creed based upon divine authority?
Answer: There are three forms of the Christian creed. One of them is known as the Apostle's Creed, although not composed by the apostles, but supposed to embody their beliefs. Another creed was formulated and adopted at the Council of Nice and is called the Nicene Creed. The Athanasian Creed was of still later date. They have no more divine authority than any other contention of men concerning the Bible.
The Bible itself gives a creed, however, in the passage which states that there is no other name given except the name of Christ Jesus whereby men may be saved, and this is in harmony with the esoteric teaching, for Jehovah was the author of all the old Race Religions where the fear of God was pitted against the desires of the flesh and a law was imposed upon man to curb desire. Race Religions act educationally upon the desire nature by the means stated, but will in time be superseded by the Religion of Christ. This religion of brotherhood and love will cast out the fear engendered by the law of Jehovah. It will endeavor to do away with nations, with their laws, with struggle and strife, by working upon the vital body so that humanity shall be actuated entirely by love instead of by law. This is not the ultimate, however. When the kingdom shall have been fully established, He is to give it over to the Father. The Religion of the Father will be something higher even than the Religion of the Son.
Question: How do you reconcile the Law of Cause and Effect with the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins?
Answer: The inability to believe in the forgiveness of sins has caused many to believe exclusively in the law of cause and effect, as taught in eastern countries under the name karma. There are also many who think that, because eastern religions teach that law and the law of rebirth more clearly than the western religion, Christianity, these eastern religions are better and more scientific than the western religion, which teaches, as popularly interpreted, that the Christ died for our sins and that in consequence belief in Him will bring us forgiveness.
As a matter of fact, however, the Christian teaching also enunciates the doctrine that "as we sow so shall we also reap," and thus it teaches both the law of cause and effect and the forgiveness of sins. Both of these laws are vitally operative in the unfoldment of humanity, and there are good reasons why the eastern religions have only one part of the complete teaching which is found in the Christian Religion.
In those early days when the religions of the East were given to humanity, mankind were still more spiritual in nature than the material beings of the present day Western World. They knew that we live many lives in different shapes and forms here upon this earth. In the East today they are yet thoroughly imbued with that idea. They have been in the past more concerned with thought of Nirvana — the invisible world — where they may rest in peace and joy, than with taking advantage of their present material resources for advancement. As a consequence, their country was arid and waste, their crops were small and often destroyed by a scorching sun and devastating flood. They suffered famine, they died by millions, but although they taught the law of cause and effect, they seemed to be unaware that their miserable conditions were brought about by indifference to material things. For naturally, when they did not focus their efforts in the material world they had nothing to assimilate in the heaven life between death and a new birth. It was necessary to the evolution of humanity to enter this material world and develop all its resources.
Therefore, the Great Leaders have taken various means to cause us to temporarily forget the spiritual side of our nature. In the West, they commanded marriage outside the family. They gave to the West a religion that did not definitely teach the doctrine of rebirth and the law of cause and effect as means of advancement. They also originated the use of alcohol, with its paralyzing effect upon the spiritual sensibilities of man. By these means we have in the West temporarily forgotten that there is more than this one life on earth, and in consequence we apply ourselves with the utmost diligence to making the fullest possible use of what we believe to be our only opportunity here. Therefore, we have developed the West into a veritable garden; we have made for ourselves, between incarnations, a land that is exceedingly fertile and rich in the minerals which we need in our various industries, and thus we are conquering the visible material world.
It is evident, however, that the religious side of man's nature must not be entirely neglected, and as Christ, the great ideal of the Christian religion, had been set before us for imitation, and we could not possible hope to become Christ-like in one life, which is all that we now have any knowledge of, there must be given us a compensatory doctrine, or we should cease to strive in despair, knowing that it would be futile. Therefore the Western World was taught the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins through the righteousness of Christ Jesus.
It is equally certain, however, that no doctrine which is not a truth in nature can have any uplifting power, and, therefore, there must also be a sound basis behind the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins, which seems to vitiate the law of causation; it is this:
When we look about us in the material world, we observe the different phenomena of nature, we meet other people and have various transactions with them, and all these sights, sounds and scenes are observed by means of our sense organs. Yet not all, for we are usually exceedingly unobservant of details. It is exasperatingly true when it is said that "we have eyes that see not and ears that hear not." We lose a great deal of experience on that account. Besides, our memory is woefully lacking; while we are able to recall a little, most of our experiences are lost to us because we forget them. our conscious memory is weak. There is another memory, however. As the ether and the air carry to the photographic plate in a camera the impression of the landscape without, omitting, not the slightest detail, so also does the air and the ether which carries impressions from the outside to our sense organs carry into the lungs, and thence to the blood, an actual picture and a record of everything with which we come in contact. Those pictures are stored in the minute seed atom resting in the left ventricle of the heart, and that little atom may be considered the Book of the Recording Angels, where all our deeds are inscribed. Thence it is mirrored in the Reflecting Ether of our vital body.
In the ordinary course of life, man passes into Purgatory at death and expiates the sin inscribed upon that atom. Later he assimilates all the good stored there in the First Heaven, working upon his future environment in the Second heaven. But a devout person realizes each day his shortcomings and failings. He examines the events of this life daily and prays from a devout heart to be forgiven for sins he has committed. Then the pictures which have recorded the sins of omission and commission fade, and are wiped out of his life's record from day to day. For it is not the aim of God or nature to "get even" as it would seem under the law of causation, which decrees an exact retribution for every transgression, as well as a reward or compensation for every good act. It is the aim of God that we should learn by experience here to do justly and well. When we have realized that we have done wrong and determine to do better, we have learned the lesson, and there is no necessity for punishing us.
Thus the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins is an actual fact in nature. If we repent, pray and reform, the sins we have repented of, prayed for and reformed from are forgiven and wiped out of our life's record. Otherwise, they are eradicated by corresponding pains in Purgatory after death. Thus the doctrine of Karma, or the law of cause and effect as taught in the East, does not fully meet human needs, but the Christian teaching, which embodies both the law of causation and the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins, gives a more complete teaching concerning the method employed by the Great Leaders to instruct us.
Question: By what power did Peter raise Dorcas from the dead?
Answer: Peter did not raise Dorcas from the dead, neither did the Christ raise Lazarus or anyone else, nor did he so claim. He said "He is not dead, he sleepeth."
In order that this matter may be understood, we will explain what takes place at death and wherein death is different from the state of trance, for the persons mentioned were entranced at the time the supposed miracles took place.
During the waking state, when the Ego is functioning consciously in the Physical World, its various vehicles are concentric — they occupy the same space — but at night, when the body is laid down to sleep, a separation takes place. The Ego, clothed in the mind and desire body, extricates itself from the dense body and the vital body, which are left upon the bed. The higher vehicles hover above or near. They are connected to the denser vehicles by the silver cord, a thin glistening thread which takes the shape of two figure sixes, one end being attached to the seed atom in the heart and the other to the center vortex of the desire body.
At the moment of death, this thread is ruptured at the seed atom in the heart and the forces of this atom pass along the pneumogastric nerve, through the third ventricle of the brain, and thence outward through the suture between the occipital and parietal bones of the skull, along the silver cord and into the higher vehicles. Simultaneously with this rupture, the vital body is also disengaged and joins the higher vehicles which are hovering above the dead body. There it remains for about three and one-half days. Then the higher vehicles disengage themselves from the vital body, which disintegrates synchronously with the dense body, in ordinary cases.
At the time of this last separation, the silver cord also breaks in the middle, and the Ego is freed from contact with the material world.
During sleep the Ego also withdraws from the dense body, but the vital body remains with the dense body and the silver cord is left intact.
It sometimes happens that the Ego does not enter the body in the morning to waken it as usual, but remains outside for a time varying from one to an indefinite number of days. Then we say that the body is in a natural trance. But the silver cord is not ruptured in either of the two places mentioned. Where these ruptures have once taken place no restoration is possible. The Christ and the apostle were clairvoyants; they saw that no rupture had taken place in the cases mentioned, hence the saying, "He is not dead, he sleepeth." They also possessed the power to force the Ego into its body and restore the normal condition. Thus so-called miracles were performed by them.
Question: Do you believe in conversion?
Answer: Certainly, but there are conversions and conversions. There is the conversion which takes place in a revival meeting to the beating of drums, the clapping of hands, the singing of gospel hymns and the insistent calling of the revivalist to "come before it is too late." All these aids to conversion produce an intense hypnotic influence, which works upon the emotional nature of many people in such a way that these "sinners," so called, can no longer remain in their seats, but are forced in the most literal sense to obey the command and come forward to "the mourner's bench." That kind of a conversion is usually of very little worth. Revivalists find that it is extremely easy to convert people in that manner. The exasperatingly difficult problem is, as one of them expressed it, "to make it stick," for when the victim of the hypnotic revivalist leaves the meeting, the influence gradually wears off, and sooner or later he relapses into his original attitude. And though these "backsliders" may feel no pang at all when backsliding, the next revival meeting draws them to the mourners' bench again as surely as a magnet draws a needle. They are converted repeatedly and backslide regularly every time there is a revival meeting, to the disgust of the revivalist and the amusement of the community, who are unaware that it is a simple case of mild hypnotism.
There is another conversion, however, always accompanied by planetary influences, and according to the strength of these influences the conversion, or change in the life, will be more or less radical. It then shows that the soul has reached a certain point in its pilgrimage where it feels attraction to the higher life. The immediate cause of conversion may be a sermon, a lecture or a book, a verse in the Bible, or something in nature, but that is only the physical cause of something which was already a fact spiritually. From that moment the man or the woman will commence to take a new view of life, will lay aside the old vices, will follow new lines of thought and endeavor. It may change his whole attitude toward life and also his environment. In fact, very often a journey has brought him out of the usual environment for the time being, to give the proper condition for sowing of the new seed.
Question: Is there any value in confession and absolution?
Answer: If the inquirer means confession and absolution in the sense in which it is practiced in the Catholic Church, it may be stated that the priest, certainly, has no power to forgive the sins of the penitent, and the practice of confession by the order of a Church at the best is usually but an outward show of penitence, putting one in mind of the prayer of the Pharisee who went into the temple that he might be seen of men.
If, on the other hand, confession is made in the spirit of the scribe, which is the spirit of true penitence, then there is a certain value, for as a little child who has committed a wrong feels conscience smitten and sorry, so may we feel extremely penitent for our sins of omission and commission.
It is a fact often noticed by kind parents that penitence in silence is sometimes insufficient to the child which feels the need of going to the parent and confessing its sin. When the forgiveness of the parent has been obtained its conscience is at rest. So also with the child of God. We sin and we are sorry for our sins; we determine not to commit this or that wrong again; but if we can confess to someone in whom we have faith, and get their sympathy and assurance that this wrong will not be held against us, we shall feel easier in conscience. That was the principle underlying the command of the Bible "Confess your sins to one another." The one to whom we confess will, of course, be a person for whom we have a profound respect and love, and he or she will stand toward us at that moment as the representative of God or our own higher nature, and we shall thus feel very much relieved at having received his sympathy. But we shall feel also that the pact we have made with ourselves not to commit the sin in question again has been strengthened by having him as a witness. If confession is made thus, and absolution so obtained, then it has undoubtedly a very beneficial effect.
Question: Is there any value in the Latin ritual used by the Catholic Church? Would it not be better if it were translated so that people could understand? And are not the extemporaneous sermons and prayers used in the Protestant Churches much to be preferred to the ritual and stereotypes masses of the Catholics?
Answer: At the present time all humanity has evolved so far that they are above law in some respects. Most people obey the law "Thou shalt not steal," for instance.
Law is a curb on the desire nature, but where esoteric or rather spiritual advancement is contemplated, the spiritualization of the vital body must also be accomplished. And that is attained by means of art and religion, in oft-repeated impacts, for the keynote of the vital body is repetition, as we can see by looking at the plants which have only a dense body and a vital body. There stem and leaf follow each other in upward succession; the plant keeps on growing them alternately. It was the vital body that built the vertebrae of the human spine one after another by constant repetition. And memory, for instance, which is one of the faculties of the vital body, is strengthened and developed by constant iteration and reiteration.
When the Protestants left the Catholic Church they truly left many of the abuses behind, but they also left almost everything of value. They abandoned the ritual which everyone may know and understand regardless of poor enunciation upon the part of the preacher. Knowing the ritual, the laity could send their thoughts in the same direction as the thought of the priest who was reading, and thus an enormous volume of identical spiritual thought was massed together and projected upon the community for good or evil. Nowadays the congregation in a Protestant church listens to the extemporaneous prayer or sermon of their minister, who usually does not think so much of the spiritual work before him as he does of how he may turn out the most euphonious phrases to tickle the ears of his congregation. They forget what he has said before they leave the church. Those who go to a Catholic church understanding the ritual are still today able to unite their thoughts in spiritual conclave and keep within memory that which has been gone through. Thus they are every time adding a little to the spiritualization of their vital bodies, while the Protestant church members have been affected only in their emotional natures, and that effect is soon thrown out. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing, and many have scoffed saying that if God is omniscient He knows whereof we have need without our prayer, and if He is not, He can most likely not be omnipotent, and therefore our prayers are not granted, so that it is useless to pray. But that command was incited from a knowledge of the nature of the vital body, which needs that repetition in order that it may be spiritualized.
So much for the ritual. As to the use of the Latin language, it is stated in the first chapter of John that in the beginning was the word. . . and without it was nothing made that was made. Word is sound. If we take sand or plant spores and place them upon a brass or a glass plate, then take a violin bow and draw it across the edges, we shall produce a sound, and that sound will cause the spores or sand to arrange itself in geometrical figures, similar to the crystals of which all things are composed. Every sound produces a different formation. Thus, if a certain sound produces a certain effect which we wish to produce, we cannot change the sound without also changing the effect. If we emit a certain sound and say "Deum," then translate Deum and say God, the sound is very different, and as sound produces certain effects upon our invisible bodies, the effects that were produced by the original Latin ritual have been lost to the Protestant churches which changed it into English or dropped it altogether.
It is often a wonder to people how the Catholic Church retains its power over its people, and it may be said that were they to abandon the Latin ritual there would not be one of their followers left in ten years. Moreover, their truly esoteric rituals have not been transposed into English, and even among the Rosicrucians, Latin rituals, though not those used in the Catholic Church, are in vogue at the services.
Question: What is the actual merit in martyrdom? Did the martyrs really become saints?
Answer: Man lifts himself to a union with God through four great steps or stages. First he prays to or sacrifices to a God whom he fears and, therefore, seeks to propitiate, so that his God will not harm him. Next he learns to look upon this God as a mighty ally against his enemies and as a giver of all good things to him, that is, provided he obeys the God and sacrifices to him of the material things which he possesses. In the third step he is taught to sacrifice himself by living a life of righteousness, and expects to be rewarded in a future state called heaven, where he is to live in eternal happiness as a compensation for whatever he may have endured during earth life. The martyrs were at the stage where they held this belief, and were thoroughly imbued with the verity and glory of heaven. Therefore it was to them an easy matter to sacrifice their lives and then attain to the future glory at once.
In reality, if martyrdom can unlock a heaven with eternal bliss, that is a most easy method of obtaining the reward. It may take courage to die, but after all it takes infinitely more courage to live. We are very apt to think that when a man has given his life he has given to the very utmost, and we often hear people say of a man who has committed suicide that "He has paid it all." As a matter of fact, suicide is usually an expression of the greatest possible cowardice, and martyrdom is far less to be admired than the lives of people who day by day endeavor to follow the spiritual teachings of the Bible and live a noble life. Of course it is readily admitted that the martyrs are to be admired for staunchly adhering to their faith in the face of death and torture. Undoubtedly they will have greater opportunities for spiritual growth in later lives than they were deprived of when burned at the stake or otherwise exterminated. And we may also surely say that they were saints and holy people in the sense that their faith was even more to them than life, but we strenuously hold that the edict of a church is incapable of making a sinner a saint.
Question: In one of your lectures you said in effect that it was a mistake to send missionaries to foreign countries; that the religions practiced by the so-called heathens are right for them at the present time, but that these missionaries have done little harm as yet. How then do you explain the command of Christ to his apostles, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature?"
Answer: The meaning of the Christ's words obviously rest upon the interpretation of the word "world." If by that word we understand the whole earth, it may be right to send missionaries to foreign countries; but the Bible tells us that the Disciples to whom the command was given returned after having accomplished their mission, showing that the word of command could not have been meant to include the whole earth. In this connection the word "world" should rather have been given the interpretation "polity," which will also be found in some of our dictionaries as another meaning for the word. At the time of Christ people did not know the whole world. We find even to this day the westernmost cape of Spain called Cape Finisterre — the end of the earth. Therefore this term at the time when Christ spoke his command could not have included the whole earth as we know it today. The statement is, therefore, not contrary to Bible teachings. It is wrong to send missionaries out to the people we call "heathen," for their development is as yet such that they cannot understand a religion which preaches love to one's neighbor, a religion which even we have not yet learned to practice. Besides, if the great Recording Angels who have charge of men's evolution are capable of judging our needs, and placing each one in the environment where he will find the influences most conducive to progression, we must also believe that they have given to each nation the religion most salutary to its unfoldment. Therefore, when a man has been placed in a country where the Christian religion is taught, that religion holds the ideal which he should strive for, but to try to force it upon other people who have been placed in a different sphere is to set our judgment up as greater than the judgment of God and His ministers, the Recording Angels. However, as said, the Christian missionaries have done little harm to the people they have visited, but they might have done more good at home. We do not need to go away from home to find heathen who need instruction in the Bible. Professor Wilbur L. Cross of Yale mentions, for instance, that in a class of forty students not one could place Judas Iscariot; that he had a Jewish student who had never heard of Moses and that in answer to a question concerning the nature of the Pilgrim's Progress, the best answer was that it is the basis of New England history. If the missionaries were brought into contact with these heathen, perhaps they might do some good.
More harm, however, is done when the East sends its missionaries over here to the western world to convert people to Hinduism and kindred religions, for often these Hindus teach breathing exercises which cause insanity or consumption, because western bodies are not at all fitted for such practices. It is safest to rest in the religion of our country, to study and practice that, leaving to other nations the privilege of doing the same in respect to their own religions.