The Path – August 1893

SOME LOST CHORDS: OR ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY — H. W. Cragin

The Prince of Peace was said to have come to bring peace on earth and good-will to men; but since he toiled in agony centuries ago up the steeps of Calvary hill (or rose to the Higher Self) it has been, in the main, one long tragedy. Something the future will greatly mourn and wonder at. In the name of Christ thousands upon thousands have been slaughtered or terrorized, countless treasure has been expended in wars or proselyting, the human family has been full of enmities, and the mind of man dragged in the dust behind the chariot of ignorance and superstition.

Hence today a civilization exists in which the precepts of Christ cannot be fully carried out, as even the church admits; and all this has resulted because the letter and not the spirit of his teachings has been followed: or, in other words, because esoteric Christianity has not been comprehended or practiced. The early Christians had been fully warned, for Paul says, II Corinthians, ch. iii, v. 5-6:

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to account anything as from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God; who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

And beginning at the twelfth verse of the same chapter, he contrasts the teaching of Moses thus:

Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech, and are not as Moses, who put a veil upon his face, that the children of Israel should not look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away; but their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remaineth unlifted; which veil is done away in Christ. But unto this day whensoever Moses is read, a veil lieth upon their heart. But whensoever it [man, or manas] shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

In ch. iv, v. 3. he says:

But and if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in them that are perishing: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light [illumination] of the gospel of the Glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them.

Again in II Timothy, ch. vi, v. 3-4, he says:

For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.

No Christos, whether Buddha or Jesus, ever committed his teachings to writing. This may have been done by certain of his followers, but their works are valuable only in proportion to their spiritual advancement. The disciples of Jesus, with the exception of Paul, were admittedly ignorant men, having a mixture of the carnal and the spiritual, and Paul himself confessed that he did not have the full knowledge. It therefore follows that the books of the New Testament, even if written by the persons to whom they are ascribed, must contain imperfections and call forth the attack of scientific, historical, and literary criticism. A few of the books are fragmentary and unworthy of serious notice, but the others contain a mixture of exoteric and esoteric teaching. The former is of no value to us as Theosophists, and, if we have no comprehension of the latter, or esoteric teaching, the whole is a stumbling-block, and we can understand why so many cast aside the New Testament as of no value. A man may have a great intellect, yet be as a child so far as intuition is concerned. To him certain books are sealed up.

I do not purpose here to discuss an historical Christ, or the authenticity of the New Testament, but will briefly consider a few of teachings therein as laid down in the books as they now are.

Jesus was born of a holy virgin, Mary, or matter; went into Egypt (the allurements of the physical body); and, having put them under his feet, returned as Christ — "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord through the prophet, saying 'out of Egypt (the body) did I call my Son.'" Being now free from the passions and disturbances of the carnal body and the lower mind, he taught from Jerusalem and round about. His teachings, stripped of the forgeries and conceits of men, were few and simple. He declared, mystically, that he was the Son of God, and that all men were or could become so. He taught in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere the doctrine of meekness, purity, and altruism to its fullest extent. The Sermon on the Mount was not delivered until he had fasted and been tempted by the Devil (or lower mind). During this temptation he refused at the promptings of the Devil to show phenomena for unworthy purposes, or lest he should seemingly gratify his own vanity, nor did he later ever show phenomena for the mere love of them. He openly said the people could not understand esoteric truths, so he veiled many of them in parable. To his disciples he said (Mark, iv, v. 11):

Unto you is given the mystery of the kingdom of God; but unto them that are without all things are done in parables.

It did not, however, follow that the disciples always grasped the esoteric meaning, for we find them asking him to explain the parable of the tares of the field (Matthew xiii, v. 36). I conclude from the text that the Sermon on the Mount was given both to the disciples and the multitude. The latter could understand the simple teachings set forth, but they were astonished and could not carry them out, any more than modern society can. The admonition, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine", etc., was obviously for the ears of the disciples, and referred to arcane truths. Paul affirms this in I Corinthians, ii:

But we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden. . . . But unto us God revealed them through the spirit. . . . For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the things of God none knoweth save the Spirit of God. . . . Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged.

And in the next chapter he continues:

I fed you with milk, not with meat, for ye were not yet able to bear it: nay, not even now are ye able.

And in chapter vii, v. 7, he asserts that all men are not on the same plane, thus:

Yet I would that all men were even as I myself. Howbeit each man hath his own gift from God, one after this manner and another after that.

When Christ stood before the Pharisees and was questioned by an intelligent man, a crafty lawyer, as to the great commandment, he condensed his teaching into a few words.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang the whole law and the prophets.

Paul says, Romans, xiii, 9:

And if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

And in Galatians, v, 14:

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

If the two commandments of Christ are exoterically and esoterically followed, they will be found to comprehend and lead to all things.

Of God Christ says there is one God, a Spiritual God, whom no man (the physical senses) hath seen. Paul in I Timothy, vi, 16, speaks of a God "who only hath immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see". Neither Christ nor His disciples anywhere speak in favor of the anthropomorphic God of the Old Testament.

Where is God? In His kingdom. Where is His kingdom? "The kingdom of God is within you", says Christ (Luke, xvii, 21). In Romans, x, 8, Paul says:

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that is, the word of faith, which we preach.

And in I Corinthians, iii, 16-17, he says:

For we are God's fellow-workers; ye are God's husbandry, God's building. . . . Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Reading again Christ's answer to the lawyer, we shall see that he meant that we should love the Lord within us, or aspire to our seventh principle, Atma, and practice altruism, or regard all men as brothers, in our relations with our fellows. The worship of an anthropomorphic God is limiting and illogical, and the worship of an impersonal power, on the other hand, is something the mind cannot grasp.

As to prayer, Christ did not condemn it, but he enjoined, Matthew, vi:

When thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut the door [to the external senses] pray to thy Father which is in secret, and the Father which is in secret shall recompense thee.

In the Key to Theosophy it is fully shown that He meant by prayer an aspiration or desire unto the highest principle in man, the spiritual spark, the Atma. The passage quoted has been misconstrued by the orthodox for centuries, for they have built costly palaces to pray in, and even pray on the street corners, just as the hypocrites and Gentiles did in the time of Christ.

Christ taught reincarnation in the case of the man born blind and in his reference to John. Paul taught Karma in I Corinthians, iii, 8:

Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one; but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.

And in Colossians, iii, 25, where he says:

For he that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done, and there is no respect of persons.

See also Galatians, v, 7:

For whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.

Nothing has been so much adduced to the world at large to show the divinity of Christ as the alleged fact that he performed miracles, or contravened the laws of nature. That he did so Theosophists will respectfully deny, and assert that anyone who has become a Christos has such powers, entirely within the laws of nature, as to perform acts which seem to the ordinary eye wonderful or miraculous. Things which years ago would have been called a miracle, or sorcery, are today commonplace: for instance, our great power over the forces of nature, which is as nothing to what will be. The border-line of the mysterious is being daily passed and its field becoming more and more limited, and today the scientific or metaphysical mind pays no attention to the word "miracle" in a literal sense. For one, I believe that the so-called miracles of Christ have a spiritual explanation, if the events took place. He never boasted of them, and said of those alleged to be dead that they were not dead. In all ages miracles have been declared, and are said today to be performed at the shrines of Roman Catholic saints, etc. The miracles of Apollonius of Tyana, in a gross sense, are as well, if not better proven than those of Christ; and wonderful things are done by Indian Yogis and by Adepts, but they are all within the law of nature. If Christ performed miracles, others did in his day. (See Mark, ix, 38.)

John said unto him, "Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and we forbade him, because he followed not us." But Jesus said, "Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a mighty work [or better, who has a mighty power] in my name, and be able to quickly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us."

The same circumstance is repeated in Luke, ix, 49-50, and the answer is the same. Now just before this Jesus was said to have cast out an evil spirit from a child; and his reply above was not only an admission that those on his plane could do like things, but also a plea for toleration. In Acts, viii, we find Simon Magus performing wonders in Samaria, but as to him read the able articles of Mr. Mead in Lucifer, our London magazine.

If you ask why the church has so largely departed from the esoteric doctrine, I answer, Because the Church was founded on Peter. Christ foretold that he would betray him. He did betray him before the crucifixion, and afterwards, for he understood not the inner teaching and taught largely the exoteric doctrine. He sowed dissension among the congregations, and Paul preached against him and Barnabas boldly, but the words of Paul were not understood by the many, and were gradually forgotten. The only reason why Paul stands preeminent among the Apostles is because he knew and taught esoteric Christianity.


The Path

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