Studies in Occultism by H. P. Blavatsky
Theosophical University Press Online Edition

The Esoteric Character of the Gospels

Part I

". . . . Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy presence, and of the consummation of the age?" (1) asked the Disciples of the MASTER, on the Mount of Olives.

The reply given by the "Man of Sorrow," the Chrestos, on his trial, but also on his way to triumph, as Christos, or Christ (2), is prophetic, and very suggestive. It is a warning indeed. The answer must be quoted in full. Jesus . . . . said unto them: —

Take heed that no man lead you astray. For many shall come in my name saying, I am the Christ; and shall lead many astray. And ye shall hear of wars . . . . but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and earthquakes in divers places. But all these things are the beginning of travail. . . . Many false prophets shall arise, and shall lead many astray . . . . then shall the end come. . . . when ye see the abomination of desolation which was spoken through Daniel. . . . Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ, or there; believe him not. . . . If they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the wilderness, go not forth; behold, he is in the inner chambers, believe them not. For as the lightning cometh forth from the East, and is seen even in the West, so shall be the presence of the Son of Man, etc., etc.

Two things become evident to all in the above passages, now that their false rendering is corrected in the revision text: (a) "the coming of Christ," means the presence of CHRISTOS in a regenerated world, and not at all the actual coming in body of "Christ" Jesus; (b) this Christ is to be sought neither in the wilderness nor "in the inner chambers," nor in the sanctuary of any temple or church built by man; for Christ — the true esoteric SAVIOR — is no man, but the DIVINE PRINCIPLE in every human being. He who strives to resurrect the Spirit crucified in him by his own terrestrial passions, and buried deep in the "sepulcher" of his sinful flesh; he who has the strength to roll back the stone of matter from the door of his own inner sanctuary, he has the risen Christ in him.(3) The "Son of Man" is no child of the bond-woman — flesh, but verily of the free-woman — Spirit (4), the child of man's own deeds, and the fruit of his own spiritual labor.

On the other hand, at no time since the Christian era, have the precursor signs described in Matthew applied so graphically and forcibly to any epoch as they do to our own times. When has nation arisen against nation more than at this time? When have "famines" — another name for destitute pauperism, and the famished multitudes of the proletariat — been more cruel, earthquakes more frequent, or covered such an area simultaneously, as for the last few years? Millenarians and Adventists of robust faith, may go on saying that "the coming of (the canalized) Christ" is near at hand, and prepare themselves for "the end of the world." Theosophists — at any rate, some of them — who understand the hidden meaning of the universally-expected Avatars, Messiahs, Sosioshes and Christs — know that it is no "end of the world," but "the consummation of the age," i.e., the close of a cycle, which is now fast approaching. (5) If our readers have forgotten the concluding passages of the article, "The Signs of the Times," (6) in LUCIFER for October last, let them read them over, and they will plainly see the meaning of this particular cycle.

Many and many a time the warning about the "false Christs" and prophets who shall lead people astray has been interpreted by charitable Christians, the worshippers of the dead-letter of their scripture, as applying to mystics generally, and Theosophists most especially. The recent work by Mr. Pember, Earth's Earliest Ages, is a proof of it. Nevertheless, it seems very evident that the words in Matthew's Gospel and others can hardly apply to Theosophists. For these were never found saying that Christ is "Here" or "There," in wilderness or city, and least of all in the "inner chamber" behind the altar of any modern church. Whether Heathen or Christian by birth, they refuse to materialize and thus degrade that which is the purest and grandest ideal — the symbol of symbols — namely, the immortal Divine Spirit in man, whether it be called Horus, Krishna, Buddha, or Christ. None of them has ever yet said: "I am the Christ"; for those born in the West feel themselves, so far, only Chrestians (7), however much they may strive to become Christians in Spirit. It is to those, who in their great conceit and pride refuse to win the right of such appellation by first leading the life of Chrestos (8); to those who haughtily proclaim themselves Christians (the glorified, the anointed) by sole virtue of baptism when but a few days old — that the above-quoted words of Jesus apply most forcibly. Can the prophetic insight of him who uttered this remarkable warning be doubted by any one who sees the numerous "false prophets" and pseudo-apostles (of Christ), now roaming over the world? These have split the one divine Truth into fragments, and broken, in the camp of the Protestants alone, the rock of the Eternal Verity into three hundred and fifty odd pieces, which now represent the bulk of their Dissenting sects. Accepting the number in round figures as 350, and admitting, for argument's sake, that, at least, one of these may have the approximate truth, still 349 must be necessarily false. (9) Each of these claims to have Christ exclusively in its "inner chamber," and denies him to all others, while, in truth, the great majority of their respective followers daily put Christ to death on the cruciform tree of matter — the "tree of infamy" of the old Romans — indeed!

The worship of the dead-letter in the Bible is but one more form of idolatry, nothing better. A fundamental dogma of faith cannot exist under a double-faced Janus form. "Justification" by Christ cannot be achieved at one's choice and fancy, either by "faith" or by "works" and James, therefore (ii., 25), contradicting Paul (Heb. xi., 31), and vice versa (10), one of them must be wrong. Hence, the Bible is not the "Word of God," but contains at best the words of fallible men and imperfect teachers. Yet read esoterically, it does contain, if not the whole truth, still, "nothing but the truth," under whatever allegorical garb. Only: Quot homines tot sententiae.

The "Christ principle," the awakened and glorified Spirit of Truth, being universal and eternal, the true Christos cannot be monopolized by any one person, even though that person has chosen to arrogate to himself the title of the "Vicar of Christ," or of the "Head" of that or another State-religion. The spirits of "Chrest" and "Christ" cannot be confined to any creed or sect, only because that sect chooses to exalt itself above the heads of all other religions or sects. The name has been used in a manner so intolerant and dogmatic, especially in our day, that Christianity is now the religion of arrogance par excellence, a stepping-stone for ambition, a sinecure for wealth, sham and power; a convenient screen for hypocrisy. The noble epithet of old, the one that made Justin Martyr say that "from the mere name, which is imputed to us as a crime, we are the most excellent," (11) is now degraded. The missionary prides himself with the so-called conversion of a heathen, who makes of Christianity ever a profession, but rarely a religion, a source of income from the missionary fund, and a pretext, since the blood of Jesus has washed them all by anticipation, for every petty crime, from drunkenness and lying up to theft. That same missionary, however, would not hesitate to publicly condemn the greatest saint to eternal perdition and hell fires if that holy man has only neglected to pass through the fruitless and meaningless form of baptism by water with accompaniment of lip prayers and vain ritualism.

We say "lip prayer" and "vain ritualism" knowingly. Few Christians among the laymen are aware even of the true meaning of the word Christ; and those of the clergy who happen to know it (for they are brought up in the idea that to study such subjects is sinful) keep the information secret from their parishioners. They demand blind, implicit faith, and forbid inquiry as the one unpardonable sin, though nothing of that which leads to the knowledge of the truth can be aught else than holy. For what is "Divine Wisdom," or Gnosis, but the essential reality behind the evanescent appearances of objects in nature — the very soul of the manifested LOGOS? Why should men who strive to accomplish union with the one eternal and absolute Deity shudder at the idea of prying into its mysteries — however awful? Why, above all, should they use names and words the very meaning of which is a sealed mystery to them a mere sound? Is it because an unscrupulous, power-seeking Establishment called a Church has cried "wolf" at every such attempt, and, denouncing-it as "blasphemous," has ever tried to kill the spirit of inquiry? But Theosophy, the "divine Wisdom," has never heeded that cry, and has the courage of its opinions. The world of sceptics and fanatics may call it, one — an empty "ism" — the other "Satanism": they can never crush it. Theosophists have been called Atheists, haters of Christianity, the enemies of God and the gods. They are none of these. Therefore, they have agreed this day to publish a clear statement of their ideas, and a profession of their faith — with regard to monotheism and Christianity, at any rate — and to place it before the impartial reader to judge them and their detractors on the merits of their respective faiths. No truth-loving mind would object to such honest and sincere dealing, nor will it be dazzled by any amount of new light thrown upon the subject, howsoever much startled otherwise. On the contrary, such minds will thank LUCIFER, perhaps, while those of whom it was said "qui vult decipi decipiatur"let them be deceived by all means!

The editors of this magazine propose to give a series of essays upon the hidden meaning or esotericism of the "New Testament." No more than any other scripture of the great world-religions can the Bible be excluded from that class of allegorical and symbolical writings which have been, from the pre-historic ages, the receptacle of the secret teachings of the Mysteries of Initiation, under a more or less veiled form. The primitive writers of the Logia (now the Gospels) knew certainly the truth, and the whole truth; but their successors had, as certainly, only dogma and form, which lead to hierarchical power at heart, rather than the spirit of the so-called Christ's teachings. Hence the gradual perversion. As Higgins truly said, in the Christologia of St. Paul and Justin Martyr, we have the esoteric religion of the Vatican, a refined Gnosticism for the cardinals, a more gross one for the people. It is the latter, only still more materialized and disfigured, which has reached us in our age.

The idea of writing this series was suggested to us by a certain letter published in our October issue, under the heading of "Are the Teachings ascribed to Jesus contradictory?" Nevertheless, this is no attempt to contradict or weaken, in any one instance, that which is said by Mr. Gerald Massey in his criticism. The contradictions pointed out by the learned lecturer and author are too patent to be explained by any "Preacher" or Bible champion; for what he has said — only in more terse and vigorous language — is what was said of the descendant of Joseph Pandira (or Panthera) in Isis Unveiled (vol. II., p. 201), from the Talmudic Sepher Toldos Jeshu. His belief with regard to the spurious character of the Bible and New Testament, as now edited, is therefore, also the belief of the present writer. In view of the recent revision of the Bible, and its many thousands of mistakes, mistranslations, and interpolations (some confessed to, and others withheld), it would ill become an opponent to take any one to task for refusing to believe in the authorized texts.

But the editors would object to one short sentence in the criticism under notice. Mr. Gerald Massey writes: —

"What is the use of taking your 'Bible oath' that the thing is true, if the book you are sworn upon is a magazine of falsehoods already exploded, or just going off?"

Surely it is not a symbologist of Mr. Massey's powers and learning who would call the Book of the Dead, or the Vedas, or any other ancient Scripture, "a magazine of falsehoods.'' (12) Why not regard in the same light as all the others, the Old, and, in a still greater measure, the New Testament?

All of these are "magazines of falsehoods," if accepted in the exoteric dead-letter interpretations of their ancient, and especially their modern, theological glossarists. Each of these records has served in its turn as a means for securing power and of supporting the ambitious policy of an unscrupulous priesthood. All have promoted superstition, all made of their gods bloodthirsty and ever-damning Molochs and fiends, as all have made nations to serve the latter more than the God of Truth. But while cunningly-devised dogmas and intentional misinterpretations by scholiasts are beyond any doubt, "falsehoods already exploded," the texts themselves are mines of universal truths. But for the world of the profane and sinners, at any rate — they were and still are like the mysterious characters traced by "the fingers of a man's hand" on the wall of the Palace of Belshazzar: they need a Daniel to read and understand them.

Nevertheless, TRUTH has not allowed herself to remain without witnesses. There are, besides great Initiates into scriptural symbology, a number of quiet students of the mysteries or archaic esotericism, of scholars proficient in Hebrew and other dead tongues, who have devoted their lives to unriddle the speeches of the Sphinx of the world-religions. And these students, though none of them has yet mastered all the "seven keys" that open the great problem, have discovered enough to be able to say: There was a universal mystery-language, in which all the World Scriptures were written, from Vedas to Revelation, from the Book of the Dead to the Acts. One of the keys, at any rate — the numerical and geometrical key (13) to the Mystery Speech is now rescued; an ancient language, truly, which up to this time remained hidden, but the evidences of which abundantly exist, as may be proven by undeniable mathematical demonstrations. If, indeed, the Bible is forced on the acceptance of the world in its dead-letter meaning, in the face of the modern discoveries by Orientalists and the efforts of independent students and kabalists, it is easy to prophesy that even the present new generations of Europe and America will repudiate it, as all the materialists and logicians have done. For, the more one studies ancient religious texts, the more one finds that the ground-work of the New Testament is the same as the ground-work of the Vedas, of the Egyptian theogony, and the Mazdean allegories. The atonements by blood — blood-covenants and blood-transferences from gods to men, and by men, as sacrifices to the gods — are the first keynote struck in every cosmogony and theogony; soul, life and blood were synonymous words in every language, pre-eminently with the Jews; and that blood-giving was life-giving. "Many a legend among (geographically) alien nations ascribes soul and consciousness in newly-created mankind to the blood of the god-creators." Berosus records a Chaldean legend ascribing the creation of a new race of mankind to the admixture of dust with the blood that flowed from the severed head of the god Belus. "On this account it is that men are rational and partake of divine knowledge," explains Berosus. (14) And Lenormant has shown (Beginnings of History, p. 52, note) that "the Orphics . . . . said that the immaterial part of man, his soul (his life) sprang from the blood of Dionysius Zagreus, whom . . . . Titans tore to pieces." Blood "revivifies the dead" — i.e., interpreted metaphysically, it gives conscious life and a soul to the man of matter or clay — such as the modern materialist is now. The mystic meaning of the injunction, "Verily I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves," etc., can never be understood or appreciated at its true occult value, except by those who hold some of the seven keys, and yet care little for St. Peter. (15) These words, whether said by Jesus of Nazareth, or Jeshua Ben-Panthera, are the words of an INITIATE. They have to be interpreted with the help of three keys — one opening the psychic door, the second that of physiology, and the third that which unlocks the mystery of terrestrial being, by unveiling the inseparable blending of theogony with anthropology. It is for revealing a few of these truths, with the sole view of saving intellectual mankind from the insanities of materialism and pessimism, that mystics have often been denounced as the servants of Antichrist, even by those Christians who are most worthy, sincerely pious and respectable men.

The first key that one has to use to unravel the dark secrets involved in the mystic name of Christ, is the key which unlocked the door to the ancient mysteries of the primitive Aryans, Sabeans and Egyptians. The Gnosis supplanted by the Christian scheme was universal. It was the echo of the primordial wisdom-religion which had once been the heirloom of the whole of mankind; and, therefore, one may truly say that, in its purely metaphysical aspect, the Spirit of Christ (the divine logos) was present in humanity from the beginning of it. The author of the Clementine Homilies is right; the mystery of Christos — now supposed to have been taught by Jesus of Nazareth — "was identical" with that which from the first had been communicated "to those who were worthy," as quoted in another lecture. (16) We may learn from the Gospel according to Luke, that the "worthy" were those who had been initiated into the mysteries of the Gnosis, and who were "accounted worthy" to attain that "resurrection from the dead" in this life . . . . "those who knew that they could die no more, being equal to the angels as sons of God and sons of the Resurrection." In other words, they were the great adepts of whatever religion; and the words apply to all those who, without being Initiates, strive and succeed, through personal efforts to live the life and to attain the naturally ensuing spiritual illumination in blending their personality — (the "Son") with (the "Father,") their individual divine Spirit, the God within them. This "resurrection" can never be monopolized by the Christians, but is the spiritual birth-right of every human being endowed with soul and spirit, whatever his religion may be. Such individual is a Christ-man. On the other hand, those who choose to ignore the Christ (principle) within themselves, must die unregenerate heathens — baptism, sacraments, lip-prayers, and belief in dogmas notwithstanding.

In order to follow this explanation, the reader must bear in mind the real archaic meaning of the paronomasia involved in the two terms Chrestos and Christos. The former means certainly more than merely "a good," and "excellent man," while the latter was never applied to any one living man, but to every Initiate at the moment of his second birth and resurrection. (17) He who finds Christos within himself and recognizes the latter as his only "way," becomes a follower and an Apostle of Christ, though he may have never been baptized, nor even have met a "Christian," still less call himself one.


Part 2

Contents


FOOTNOTES:

1. Matthew xxiv, 3, et seq. The sentences italicized are those which stand corrected in the New Testament after the recent revision in 1881 of the version of 1611; which version is full of errors, voluntary and involuntary. The word "presence," for "coming," and "the consummation of the age," now standing for "the end of the world," have altered, of late, the whole meaning, even for the most sincere Christians, if we exempt the Adventists. (return to text)
2. He who will not ponder over and master the great difference between the meaning of the two Greek words — [chrestos] and [christos] must remain blind for ever to the true esoteric meaning of the Gospels; that is to say, to the living Spirit entombed in the sterile dead-letter of the texts, the very Dead Sea fruit of lip-Christianity. (return to text)

3. For ye are the temple ("sanctuary" in the revised N. T.) of the living God. (2 Cor. vi., 16.) (return to text)
4. Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, was feminine with the Jews, as with most ancient peoples, and it was so with the early Christians. Sophia of the Gnostics and the third Sephiroth Binah (the female Jehovah of the Kabalists), are feminine principles — "Divine Spirit," or Ruach. "Achath Ruach Elohim Chiim." "One is She, the Spirit of the Elohim of Life," is said in Sepher Yezirah. (return to text)
5. There are several remarkable cycles that come to a close at the end of this century. First, the 5,000 years of the Kaliyug cycle; again the Messianic cycle of the Samaritan (also Kabalistic) Jews of the man connected with Pisces (Ichthys or "Fish-man" Dag). It is a cycle, historic and not very long, but very occult, lasting about 2,155 solar years, but having a true significance only when computed by lunar months. It occurred 2410 and 255 B.C., or when the equinox entered into the sign of the Ram, and again into that of Pisces. When it enters, in a few years, the sign of Aquarius, psychologists will have some extra work to do, and the psychic idiosyncrasies of humanity will enter on a great change. (return to text)
6. See Volume II. p. 381. (return to text)
7. The earliest Christian author, Justin Martyr, calls, in his first Apology, his co-religionists Chrestians, [Chrestianoi] — not Christians. (return to text)
8. "Clemens Alexandrinus, in the second century, founds a serious argument on this paranomasia (lib. iii., cap. xvii., 53 et circa), that all who believed in Chrest (i.e., "a good man") both are, and are called Chrestians, that is, good men," (Strommata, lib. ii. "Higgins' Anacalypsis"). And Lactantius (lib. iv., cap. vii.) says that it is only through ignorance that people call themselves Christians, instead of Chrestians: "qui proper ignorantium errorem cum immutata litera Chrestum solent dicere." (return to text)
9. In England alone, there are over 239 various sects. (See Whitaker's Almanac.) In 1883, there were 186 denominations only, and now they steadily increase with every year, an additional 53 sects having sprung up in only four years! (return to text)
10. It is but fair to St. Paul to remark that this contradiction is surely due to later tampering with his Epistles. Paul was a Gnostic himself, i.e., a "Son of Wisdom," and an Initiate into the true mysteries of Christos, though he may have thundered (or was made to appear to do so) against some Gnostic sects, of which, in his day, there were many. But his Christos was not Jesus of Nazareth, nor any living man, as shown so ably in Mr. Gerald Massey's lecture, "Paul, the Gnostic Opponent of Peter." He was an Initiate, a true "Master-Builder" or adept, as described in Isis Unveiled, Vol. II., pp. 90-91. (return to text)
11. [hoson te ek tou kategoreumenou hemon onomatos chrestotatoi huparchomen] (First Apology). (return to text)
12. The extraordinary amount of information collated by that able Egyptologist shows that he has thoroughly mastered the secret of the production of the New Testament. Mr. Massey knows the difference between the spiritual, divine and purely metaphysical Christos, and the made-up "lay figure" of the canalized Jesus. He knows also that the Christian canon, especially the Gospels, Acts and Epistles, are made up of fragments of gnostic wisdom, the ground-work of which is pre-Christian and built on the MYSTERIES of Initiation. It is the mode of theological presentation and the interpolated passages — such as in Mark xvi. from verse 9 to the end — which make of the Gospels a "magazine of (wicked) falsehoods," and throw a slur on CHRISTOS. But the Occultist who discerns between the two currents (the true gnostic and the pseudo Christian) knows that the passages free from theological tampering belong to archaic wisdom, and so does Mr. Gerald Massey, though his views differ from ours. (return to text)
13. "The key to the recovery of the language, so far as the writer's efforts have been concerned, was found in the use, strange to say, of the discovered integral ratio in numbers of diameter to circumference of a circle," by a geometrician. "This ratio is 6,561 for diameter and 20,612 for circumference." (Cabalistic MSS.) In one of the future numbers of "LUCIFER" more details will be given, with the permission of the discoverer. — ED. (See The Secret Doctrine, I, 313 et seq.) (return to text)
14. Cory's Anc. Frag., p. 59, f. So do Sanchoniaton and Hesiod, who both ascribe the vivifying of mankind to the spilt blood of the gods. But blood and soul are one (nephesh), and the blood of the gods means here the informing soul. (return to text)
15. The existence of these seven keys is virtually admitted, owing to deep research in the Egyptological lore, by Mr. G. Massey again. While opposing the teachings of "Esoteric Buddhism" — unfortunately misunderstood by him in almost every respect — in his Lecture on "The Seven Souls of Man," he writes (p. 21): —

"This system of thought, this mode of representation, this septenary of powers, in various aspects, had been established in Egypt, at least, seven thousand years ago, as we learn from certain allusions to Atum (the god 'in whom the fatherhood was individualized as the begetter of an eternal soul,' the seventh principle of the Theosophists), found in the inscriptions lately discovered at Saqqarah. I say in various aspects, because the gnosis of the Mysteries was, at least, sevenfold in its nature — it was Elemental, Biological, Elementary (human), Stellar, Lunar, Solar and Spiritual — and nothing short of a grasp of the whole system can possibly enable us to discriminate the various parts, distinguish one from the other, and determinate the which and the what, as we try to follow the symbolical Seven through their several phases of character." (return to text)

16. "Gnostic and Historic Christianity." (return to text)
17. "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God." (John iii. 4.) Here the birth from above, the spiritual birth, is meant, achieved at the supreme and last initiation. (return to text)