The Christian festivals, and the teachings which have gone with them from early Christian days, are not at all Christian in origin, but were all based upon current Pagan ideas of the sanctuary. And this, far from being an unusual event, was a common thing, for the Christians took over from the very philosophies and religions of the day, which later they scorned and rejected, the great bulk of the ideas that in later times became known as Christian theology.
The early Christians were brought up in the Pagan world where it was an acknowledged fact that there was an exoteric religion, or series of such religions, and a secret teaching kept only for those who had proved themselves worthy to receive the teachings of the Mystery-schools. All the exoteric faiths hid something wonderful, majestic, taught within the sanctuary. This is history, although early Christian historians always blurred over or passed by that idea, without even a mere hint; and yet that is the atmosphere in which Christianity was born. If you get this key and hold it in your mind, you will have something by which you may unlock what has been so difficult even to Christian theologians themselves not merely to understand but to explain.
The Virgin Birth, for example, is not anything original with Christianity. The conception has been common over the face of the earth from immemorial time. Many peoples in the archaic days taught of virgins giving birth to great sages, and you may read the same story of Jesus in other tongues and after other ways, but having essentially the same fundamental truth of a great man achieving divinity by a new birth.
The Hindus spoke of a dwija, a "twice-born," the idea being that the
first was the physical birth, born of the mother, as all men are; but the second
birth of the man, after training, was the inner birth, the new birth into the
light of the spirit. You see how grand this thing is once it becomes no longer
merely Christian but universal, and how it appeals to the heart and to the mind.
What did this teaching mean in the early days of Christianity? Just precisely what it meant in all the great Pagan countries. It represented scenes passed in the sanctuary where the disciple after long training had so developed his inner being, his inner perceptions, that he was on the verge of becoming Christos, a Christ; or as Mahayana Buddhism has it, a Bodhisattva, whose next step would be that of Buddhahood. Even in exoteric writings this was spoken of as virgin birth, a second birth; and all the saviors of man in whatever country, of whatever clime, and of whatever day, were all born of the Mother, the holy spirit within.
When a man's life is improved and raised by his own efforts and strivings to become greater, this is the first faint beginning of the holy birth pangs whereby a man becomes super-man. In time he becomes an incarnate god, the god within, and he thereafter manifests through the Christ-child, for the man of flesh then becomes responsive to the inner light, the inner fire.
Here is a significant thing. In early Christian writings the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost, amongst primitive Christians was always feminine, never masculine as it became afterwards. In one of their early Scriptures there occurs a remarkable passage which reads:
My Mother, the Holy Spirit, took me by the hair of my head and brought me to the holy Mount Athor.
Here is the spirit in me, the Holy Spirit, my Mother from whom I was born, born anew, no longer born of the flesh but born of the spirit: born first of water according to the flesh, then born of fire according to the spirit: the first birth and the second birth. This is indeed the virgin birth; for the spirit of man, a ray from the divine, from the ineffable, is eternally virgin, and yet eternally fecund, eternally productive. The cosmic Christ is born of the cosmic Spirit, feminine also in ancient time, and in the same way is the spiritual man feminine, and in the holiness of achievement gives birth to the Bodhisattva, the Christ-child, and from then on the man is infilled with the holiness of the spirit pouring through him from the source divine.
What connection has all this with the Sun? From immemorial time, Father Sun was looked upon with reverence: not necessarily the physical globe clothed with beauty and light and splendor and vital energy, the giver of light unto his own kingdom, but the divinity within and behind that sun as of all other stars. Our sun was an emblem of the cosmic spirit, for through that sun poured these floods of vital splendor and life and light: light for the mind and love for the heart, without which no man is man.
Even the Christians used to sing hymns to the Sun, record of which is still extant in a communication by Pliny, governor of Bithynia and Pontus, to the Emperor Trajan in Rome. He said that in his jurisdiction the Christians seemed to be innocent and harmless folk, for they assembled every morning at rise of the sun and sang hymns to that divinity. And in a collection of old Christian hymns we have one to the Sun which can be translated thus:
O thou true Sun, shine on forever, glittering with perpetual light. Image of the holy spirit infill us full.
No Parsi or so-called Sun worshiper ever created a more typical hymn to the Sun than these early Christians did. They did not worship the physical sun, but gave reverence to the divine light, to what the sun stood for. The sun was the emblem, the image, of the Cosmic Christ, not a creation of god, but the image of the Divine.
In man's constitution there is a solar element. Could it be otherwise? There is a lunar element, and an element derived from every one of the planets. Even modern science tells us today that we not merely share in the cosmic light that reaches us from Father Sun, but that the very heat we get from the coal or wood which we burn originally came from the sun, that the atoms which compose it are the same which passed through us, and that the solar body reaches not merely the earth but all the other planets. There would have to be both a solar and a lunar element in us as well as an element from each one of the planets. Otherwise we should be incomplete. Man has everything within himself that the Universe has!
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