Jesus says "I and my Father are One", and again prays that his disciples may be one in him as he is one in the Father. In the proem to John's Gospel it is written, "And the Word was with God and the Word was God; and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth". And again it is said, "John was not that Light; but that was the true Light which lighteth every man who cometh into the world". In this remarkable chapter of the New Testament the "Light" is used as the equivalent of "Word", Light of God and Word of God meaning the same thing. All this proem to the Fourth Gospel seems at first very mystical, and we cannot understand it, but as we appreciate the real meaning of the words and connect them with other words used by Jesus, as reported in the same Gospel, we begin to comprehend their full meaning and find that the passage reveals more of truth than any other chapter in the whole Bible. Only, however, when you possess the key does it give any information; to most persons it is the blindest part of the Sacred Writings. But to Christianity in America as to Buddhism in Ceylon, Theosophy brings the key which will unlock the long-closed doors and reveal the inner meaning.
This Proem to the Fourth Gospel, which is so much of a puzzle to most persons, even to Theologians, accords entirely with the general teaching of Jesus, and, whether written by the Apostle John or not, was certainly composed by one who had comprehended the full significance of the oft-times mystical language used by Jesus, and who must have been in very close communion with him, receiving the full instruction imparted only to the inner circle of brothers who were deemed worthy to understand the meaning of the parables used for the multitude, since "it was not fitting," Jesus said, "to cast pearls before swine".
What Jesus wished to teach was the Deity of Man, an idea common to all the Mysteries and taught by all the Great Masters, but entirely forgotten by the Jews when Jesus came to lead the world from darkness to light. Except the students of the Kabala, who were usually men living apart from the world, the Jews in the time of Jesus had forgotten their origin and the fact, once known, that they possessed a divine nature. So immersed were they in materialism and the external that Jesus tells them that their father is the Devil, that is, the man of the earth, material and earthly. "Ye claim Abraham as your father, but ye are children of the Devil". The same would be said today to the Christian church, were Jesus to appear again; the same must be said by the successors of Jesus and the other Adepts who lived in the Spirit. The Jews had lost their life and had joined the children of darkness over whom, according to the Magians, Ahriman or the principle of darkness presided. When the light shined into the darkness men did not understand that it was the light and would have none of it. In precisely the same condition stands the Christian Church. Theosophy, the same light which Jesus placed before the Jews and for bringing which they caused him to die, is now offered to the Christian Church, which, immersed in materialism and the worship of the Mammon of Unrighteousness, rejects it with scorn. And the central thought of Theosophy is that humanity is divine; God and Man are one, or Man is God; which was also the central thought of the message which Jesus presented at the beginning of the Christian Era.
In the Pistis Sophia (1), said to have been written by one of the Apostles and accepted by all of the Gnostic and many of the Orthodox Christians as directly inspired by God, we find the following passage which shows how man was regarded during the second and third centuries. "And the Spirit of the Savior was moved within him, and he cried out and said, 'How long shall I bear with you, how long shall I suffer you? Know ye not and do ye not understand that ye are all Angels and all Archangels and Lords and Gods? Cease not to seek day and night, and stay not yourselves until ye have found the purifying mysteries which shall cleanse you and make you pure Light, that ye may inherit the Light of My Kingdom. Now therefore, thou Andrew and thy brethren, because of your Renunciations and all the sufferings and peril which ye have undergone, and your Reincarnations in different bodies, and your afflictions, and that after them all ye have received the Fructifying Mysteries and have become exceedingly pure Light, and shall be Kings in the Kingdom of Light forever.'"
In further proof that this was the position of the early Christian Church I will quote the words of Justin Martyr, A. D. 139.
"One article of our faith, then, is that Christ is the first begotten of God and we have already proved him to be the very Logos (universal reason) of which mankind are all partakers; and therefore those who live according to the Logos are Christians, notwithstanding they may pass with you for Atheists. Such among the Greeks were Socrates, Heraklitos, and the like; among the barbarians were Abraham, Elias, and many others. Those who have made the Logos or Reason the rule of their action are Christians and men without fear."
Theosophists have no difficulty in saying with the Catholic Church "Christ is God", or "Jesus is God", but we must also say, as did Jesus, "Ye too are Sons of God". When Jesus is called in the New Testament "God", allusion is always made to the Christ, or the Logos, or the Higher Self. Jesus was God: we have no quarrel with the Church over that doctrine; but we call attention to the long forgotten doctrine which lies at the base of Esoteric Christianity, "All men are God", unless they have altogether driven away the God part, have divorced the Higher and Lower Selves, and, like the Jews in the time of Jesus, have the Devil for father. The all-important doctrine of Theosophy, as it seems to me, which overtops all others, or, rather, on which all others are founded, is "Man is God". All men are Sons of God, for in all dwells the Light, in all is incarnate the Word; else are we not men at all, only bodies having the appearance of men, from which the Higher Self has departed. This is the forgotten doctrine which was made the most important part of that Esoteric Christianity which was imparted by Jesus to his disciples and by them to the brothers, until the time when the Church and the State were united under Constantine and every one was admitted among the brothers with no proper instruction. After the Union the secret meaning of the parables was forgotten, for the Church, married to the Mammon of Unrighteousness, could neither see the Light nor hear the Word. Consider the ever-famous parable of the Prodigal Son, in which the Prodigal after wasting his substance in riotous living "comes to himself and straightway hastens to return to his Father's House, just as all men will do when they also come to themselves. I need write no more in proof of the fact that the Deity of Man was a central doctrine with Jesus and the early Christian Church.
But it is one thing to affirm a doctrine and believe in it, quite another to know the truth which is expressed by the doctrine. What Jesus taught his disciples, what the Great Masters of all time taught their disciples, what "Those who know" are through Theosophy teaching all who will devote themselves to the study, is that Men are God. In olden time, such was the effect of teaching this great truth that, when imparted in the Eleusinian Mysteries, men came forth from the initiation entirely changed. It seemed, indeed, as though they had been baptized with the Holy Ghost and born from above. Knowing that we are God, all things are possible; as Jesus told his disciples, "Greater things than these shall ye do." Moses said to the Israelites that God had revealed himself in the burning bush as "I am that I am": a better translation for individual man is, "I am that I will to be". Then, if we are God, we can be what we will to be and do what we will to do, and can do greater things than the Nazarene. Until the year 300 A. D. the faithful did do greater things than the Master, but when they forgot that they were God, the power departed. Theosophy proposes to restore to men this power which belongs to them. Now have we indeed stepped from darkness to light. Before we were blind, now we see; before we were deaf, now we hear; God speaking to us, not in a Bible written long ago, but in a Bible being written today, and, better than in any Bible, speaking in the closet where, having entered, we close the door and hear the Voice of the Silence.
When we remember the effect of this divine knowledge among the so-called heathen and among the early Christians, among the disciples of all the Great Teachers, may we not expect that when men and women of today through the influence of Theosophy come to know that they are God, may we not expect a genuine conversion of the world and the coming upon the earth of a grander race of men than have yet dwelt upon it, even of a people who know that they are God and to whom all things are possible?
1. First completely translated into English, we believe, by G. R. S. Mead, F. T. S., in Lucifer. [Ed.] (return to text)