Theosophical University Press Online Edition
(Lecture delivered September 14, 1930)
CONTENTS: Jesus in various aspects: the sage, the central figure in a "mythos," the avatara. — The terms buddha and avatara explained. Is the accepted birth-date of Jesus correct? — The Gospels not historical truth but symbolic truth. — The story of initiation. — The teaching of Jesus: the immanent Christ. — The testimony of the disciple John according to Irenaeus of Lyons. — Baptism a mystical word. — The two kinds of avataras. — The appearance of avataras at cyclic times. — Did Jesus meet death by violence? What about the spear-thrust? What about the cry from the cross? — Initiations take place even today. — What is the significance of the cross? — Parallel symbology in the Scandinavian Eddas. — The intuitive vision of the poets. — At what age did Jesus receive initiation? — In regard to mental healing. — There is always a vision beyond. Follow the pathway and pass through the portals of the sun!
It is commonly supposed that Theosophists claim that Jesus was a myth, which supposition is not true; or again that Jesus was a great Sage, which supposition is partly true; and thirdly the supposition that Jesus was a god-man Theosophists accept only in part. The Christian idea of the Great Man, the illuminated Individual, who is supposed to have lived some 1900 or 2000 years agone, is that Jesus was a god-man — just that: the incarnation in a human vehicle or body of the second Person of the inseparable Trinity that orthodox Christians believe in.
Theosophists do not accept that belief; but we do teach, nevertheless, that Jesus was a man-god and an avatara — a Sanskrit term which I shall explain soon. We also say, voicing the doctrines of the ancient wisdom of mankind, that in his human aspect, Jesus later called the Christos, the Christ or the "Anointed," was a great sage and seer; and we also claim that this great man was in no sense a myth, but that he was the central figure in a mythos — a series of mystical teachings — which is a very different thing indeed from the ordinary English word myth as commonly used.
Jesus was not the only avatara who has ever lived on earth — the only manifestation in a man of a divine being. Other avataras lived before him. It is the teaching of the wisdom-religion of antiquity, today called theosophy, that these great beings or avataras appear on earth at cyclical intervals, when, as Krishna says in the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita — and I paraphrase slightly the passage: "When righteousness is running low in the hearts of men and unrighteousness and evildoing sway their souls, then come I, as a portion of my divine self, and appear in the world in a human vehicle; and then do I teach and show again to men the way to peace and love and happiness and the heighths of spiritual glory."
An avatara, then, is a partial manifestation of a divinity in a human being, and is not the manifestation of a man's own inner god; for when this latter happens, then we have among us what theosophists call a buddha: this is our technical term, meaning an "awakened one," one who manifests the divinity which is the very core of the core of his own being. But an avatara is one who is not the reincarnation of a reincarnating ego, and therefore not a unitary being as ordinary humans are, but is one who appears after a certain fashion which I will try briefly to explain to you — who appears as a great glory among men, and who does an especial work on earth. An avatara never has a prior birth, nor a succeeding reincarnation.
The avatara Jesus, for instance, will never have a birth on earth again, in other words will never reincarnate; for such is an avatara: a divinity manifesting through the psychological apparatus of what theosophists call one of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace who gives himself for that purpose, in order that the sublime powers of the divinity thus manifesting may show themselves among men and teach men.
Obviously, then, such a particular composite entity, such a spiritual-psychological-physical composition, is not the reincarnation of a preceding unitary entity coming over from other lives as a reincarnating ego and having future reincarnations when the present earth-life is ended, as is the case with all other human beings.
Thus then, as Jesus was the manifestation, or rather the channel for the manifestation, of a portion of the powers of a divinity, he was a man-god or a god-man; he was of course also a great sage and seer at the same time, for sage he certainly was and seer he most emphatically was, for he had wisdom and he "saw."
There did indeed exist in Palestine at some time before the supposed birth-date of Jesus — say a hundred years more or less — this being, this man-god, about whom clustered within less than a hundred years after his passing, all the legends, all the stories, that were gathered together and edited and later set forth in the books that compose the Christian New Testament. Those stories are not historical: they are mystical, symbolic, and therefore are as true as truth itself, because conveying the actual facts, not so much of the life and work of Jesus the Christos considered as an individual, but setting forth what theosophists call the story of initiation. Do you get the idea?
Every country had its schools of initiation, its schools of the great Mysteries; and these mysteries were closely guarded and kept very secret indeed. It was the habit in those days to choose some great human being who had taught men, and around that individual to weave a web of symbolic teaching, setting forth — so that ordinary men in reading could not understand but yet would be attracted to spiritual things — what actually took place in the initiation chamber.
That is what happened in the case of Jesus called the Christos. Consequently, the sayings of the four books called the Gospels are not historical truth but symbolic truth.
Jesus the Syrian avatara did not teach anything new. What he did was to point once again to the old, old pathway to the spiritual life: the pathway to wisdom and spiritual power; and he told his followers how and what they might achieve by following this pathway, so that ultimately they could become such as he was — such as he was so far as wisdom and power went; for in the heart of the heart of every human being there is a divinity, his own inner god, which the Christians of a mystical turn of mind today call the immanent Christ.
Therefore each one of you has it within the power of his will and of his choice to follow this pathway that the great seers and sages of the past ages have trodden, and to become like unto them. This inspiring teaching lay at the basis of the reason for choosing such a great individual and weaving around the legends of his personality as he appeared on earth a mystical tale describing in symbolic form what took place in the chamber of initiation.
It is implied in the Christian Gospels, for instance, that the entire lifework of Jesus lasted about a year or two and that then he was crucified; and yet we have one of the earliest and most prominent of the Church Fathers of the West, Irenaeus of Lyons in Gaul, saying that, according to those who knew best, among them being Jesus' own disciple John, the Master Jesus lived to be nearly fifty years old. As the accepted teachings state that he was "baptized" in his thirtieth year by John the Baptist, then if Irenaeus' statement has any basis of truth, Jesus must have lived twenty years after the baptism and nearly twenty years after the alleged crucifixion.
Baptism among the ancients is a mystical word, and therefore when so used it is a technical word signifying one of the phases of initiation. Consequently, if Irenaeus' statements are true, Jesus died, threw off the body, abandoned the body — put the matter as you will — some twenty years after he was baptized and "crucified," and therefore when he was in his fiftieth year. Let me read to you the words of this Church Father, Irenaeus who was as I have just told you Bishop of Lyons in Gaul about the middle of the second century. Irenaeus states the following in his famous work, Against Heresies, Book II, chapter 22, paragraphs 4, 5, and 6:
Exactly as the Gospel and all the Elders testify, because those who had known John, the disciple of the Lord, intimately in Asia Minor, affirm that John had given them that information —
about Jesus having lived until his fiftieth year, which means twenty years after the supposed date of his crucifixion.
You may now begin to see how the entire matter of the story of Jesus is all tangled up — partly by those who so arranged the situation and partly by reason of the lack of modern understanding of ancient ways and of ancient institutions. We see, therefore, that the Christian story of Jesus is a series of symbolic scriptures written in symbolic form and style, not pretending to be an accurate personal history but trying to convey a truth to men, a spiritual bait; trying to convey to men a mystic hope and call under the guise of allegory, symbolology, so that men in taking this bait would discover that their minds were fascinated and their hearts turned to the light, and thus, in all probability, they would come and seek for initiation — as the old expression had it, they would come to the door of the temple and "knock" and "ask." Such was the old way of making a public appeal or call to come up higher and to develop the spiritual part of the human constitution.
Let me also add in passing that the four canonical Christian Gospels are not by any means the only Gospels that were ever written. We know from the ecclesiastical history of Christianity that there were dozens of old Gospels, which with the exception of the four now accepted as canonical, were after the third or fourth century of the Christian era set aside and for many centuries have been called apocryphal.
If you will study the lives, as they are set forth in the more or less imperfect literature in which these written lives are imbodied, of the great seers and sages of past times, you will find more or less exactly the same entanglements of thought and circumstances that are so easily discernible in the Christian story of Jesus. The very names of most if not all of these great seers and sages have been covered around with allegory and symbol — myths have been told about them — in a few cases they are alleged to have been born of a virgin or born in some other mysterious way, and to have lived and taught, moving the hearts of men by their works of marvel, and, after finishing their teaching, finally passing away in some mysterious manner.
The story of Jesus is not new as a type; in essentials it is in large part a repetition in the case of that particular avatara called Jesus of what other great seers and sages or avataras or buddhas did and taught; and most of these great figures of history after they died or had vanished, left behind them an entangled system of symbolology, of symbol, of allegory, usually supposed in much later years to be accurate historical records, but such they were not at all. This does not mean that these entangled records whether in the case of Jesus or in the cases of others were wholly devoid of some actual historical facts or recorded instances, but it does mean that the historical record or actual events have been so garmented with symbol or so disguised in allegory that they are difficultly discernible in these enshrouding veils.
Jesus was an avatara, a direct manifestation of a portion of the powers of a divinity working through the psychological apparatus of one of the Masters of Compassion and Wisdom and Peace, who gave himself for that purpose, in order that at that cyclical time, which then had arrived on the whirling wheel of destiny, the particular divinity involved in the case could show at least somewhat of its sublime powers among men and teach them, and once more point out the way of truth and of light and of compassion.
I would like to add in passing that the doctrine of the avataras shows us that there are two kinds of these unusual beings: one, human avataras, of which Jesus and Sankaracharya of India were types, and non-human avataras, technically called "Anupapadaka" avataras. This latter kind of avataras or the anupapadaka type refers only to what I may call a cosmic mystery. Anupapadaka is a Sanskrit compound word which literally means "parentless" or "without a parent," or more accurately "one who does not follow," as a son follows his father in direct serial succession.
This latter class of avataras would take too long to explain further in a Temple lecture such as I am delivering this afternoon, and any further elucidation of this, should anyone be interested, will have to wait until the inquirer joins The T.S., and, indeed, takes a further step into our Esoteric Section, where the deeper teachings of theosophy are explained and elucidated.
The human type of avatara, or the first type just spoken of, occurs when some sublime human being, such as one of the theosophical mahatmas or Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace, offers the psychological part of his own being as a vehicle in order to transmit or to step down to the human plane a portion of the divine energies and faculties of a divinity, and this psychological portion so loaned to be such a vehicle seeks incarnation by overshadowing and enlivening some human life-germ of clean and appropriate heredity.
Strange and mysterious as this doctrine is, and rare as is the event of an avatara's coming, nevertheless it is a fact; and should anyone be interested, I refer him to other lectures of mine where he will find further elucidation.
There was no reincarnation at all in the case of Jesus the avatara, because he was not at all the reincarnation of a reincarnating ego. An avatara is what may truly be termed an act of supreme white magic. O Brothers, do you get at least an adumbration of the idea? The Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace knew that the time had arrived for the manifestation of a divinity among men, an actual manifestation of one of the gods with which the universe and in this case more particularly the solar system is filled full; and one of this noble company, of this Brotherhood of Masters of Wisdom, gave himself for the purpose of enabling this divinity to manifest through him, and overshadowed the human seed which was to be born — in perfectly normal human fashion — in Palestine as a little child: enlivened and inspired that boy, and then, when the time came — when growth, when adulthood, had been reached, in one of the sanctuaries of the Mysteries which existed in those days, Jesus, then or later called by that name, was baptized — a technical word — this meaning that he was "raised" from manhood into divinity by the "descent" or avatara of the divinity upon him which thereafter worked through him.
This is so simple to understand and yet so true; and I do think that those men have the minds of little children — undeveloped, immature — who cannot immediately see the beauty of this mysterious truth at which I have briefly hinted in the remarks that I have just made.
My Brothers, you yourselves: what have you within you? You have understanding, you have intellect, you have spiritual and intellectual faculties of a high order, and yet you manifest them poorly. Nevertheless you have them, and you could manifest them in superlative degree if you wished to do so, and if your heart were wholly set upon doing it. Has not your heart ever been stirred? Are you passing your existence on earth like the dumb beasts, or are you living like men? Have you never felt stirring within your heart that mysterious spiritual energy which can with difficulty be named, but which every sane man senses? Have you never had a glimpse of the vision sublime? Have you never felt what majesty and power are lying latent within you? If you have, then you have the proof of the divine power in your own being, and all mere words of argument after that are useless, for you know. Pity therefore those who cannot understand, whose natures, whose inner faculties, have not been awakened, have not been aroused, who have never seen even a glimpse of the vision sublime, who have never felt the stirring of the god within.
I venture to say that those among you who have never had even an adumbration of this inner splendor, are very, very few. Has your heart never expanded with love, with compassion, with pity, with self-forgetfulness, with those strange and wonderful intimations of truth and of glory, which come like a light which breaks through darkness, so that the man then exclaims: "My God, I see!" Of course you have! And such an experience is an initiation for the one who undergoes it. O my Brothers, if you knew what you have within you! Glory unspeakable, power to move the very stones of earth, if ye would only take that power! Each one of you is an embodied god, and you recognize it not. As John the disciple of Jesus begins his Gospel: "The light shineth in darkness and the darkness knoweth it not" — so does the spiritual light shine in the hearts and minds of men, in and through the darkness of prejudice, of misconception, of ignorance, and of egoism above everything else.
Who is the great man on earth? Who is the man who makes the mark? Who is the man who succeeds in doing great and noble things? Who is the man who has real inner power? Who is the man who moves the hearts and minds of his fellows? Is it the little, restricted, blinded, darkness-minded, man? Or is it the man with bright and flaming ideas? Is it not the man whose own conviction, as expressed in his speech and in his life, plucks at your heartstrings so that they quiver and return an answering music? The latter, assuredly! Therefore I say to you: See the truth! Examine yourselves, and thus know!
Every one of these great sages and seers, whether he was the Buddha-Gautama of India, or Lao-tse of China, or Sankaracharya of India again, or Jesus, or Empedocles, or Pythagoras, or Apollonius of Tyana — any one of a numerous host of them — all taught the same fundamental doctrines which therefore were identic. What were some of these teachings? "Man, know thyself!" For self-knowledge — the knowledge of the higher spiritual self — is the pathway of wisdom, of understanding, of light, of peace, of power, and it comes to man through self-forgetfulness, and self-forgetfulness is the knocking, the mystic knocking, at the door of the initiation chamber of the temple. You cannot express universal powers, you cannot manifest the divinity within you, because that divinity is entirely impersonal, if your mind and heart are restricted and imprisoned by your personal desires. You must expand your nature and open it, in order to let the sunlight of the spirit stream in to you. Therefore, as you easily see, self-forgetfulness and impersonality mean the gaining of wisdom and great and holy power.
Another one of their teachings was that every human being, every entity anywhere, is a child of the universe. The universe is his or its home. A man is de facto as much at home in the starry spaces as he is here on this planet earth; and thus the great seers and sages also taught that it is possible for a man to pass from sphere to sphere, from plane to plane, from solar system to solar system, as the cycles of evolution roll by; and that his sojourn on earth is like the putting up at a tavern or at an inn for a day-night.
Do you not begin to feel what this noble teaching evokes in your hearts? It evokes first of all a realization or sense of our essential oneness with all that is; for I am — just as you all are — of the substance of the universe, its child, an inseparable part of it, and therefore am I at home everywhere and remain so throughout endless duration.
You see how this one teaching cuts the very root of selfishness and therefore of evildoing; you see in this teaching also the strong and unanswerable proof of the natural reality of ethics — how ethics are founded on the universe: ethics are founded on its very structure and operations, for what the All is, that you are; and what every man is, that is also the Boundless. Bone of its bone is man, heart of its heart, blood of its blood, substance of its substance; and he is eternally at home in the boundless All, and spiritually united with all things, because all things come forth from the same fountain of being and all things return after any individual cycle is ended to that same fountain, only to issue forth again on a pilgrimage or course of evolution still more sublime than the preceding one.
Was Jesus man-god, great sage, or a myth? He was each in part, not one of the three wholly. He was man-god because manifesting a part of the very power and flame — the bright and starry flame — of a divinity. He was great seer and sage because he manifested the highest kind of intellect and vision: he was a seer because he saw; he was a sage because he knew. He was, finally, the central figure of a mythos, as the Greeks said; but his existence was not at all fabulous.
In this connection I will read to you a question or rather a series of questions that have been sent in to me for answer:
I am puzzled with my reading of the back numbers of "Questions We All Ask," when I come across the statement that Jesus the Christ, or any other avatara, did not meet death by violence.
Question: If the description of his death as given in the Bible is incorrect, only a symbol or a mere mystical saying, how did he meet his death?
The body was cast aside when the avatara no longer needed it — cast aside or laid aside and then was dissipated as all physical bodies ultimately are into its component atoms. No avatara has ever met a violent death, at least as far as is known to me.
You speak in another part of his not being "humble" before Pilate; so what happened after that?
May I ask you what your own intuition tells you about the alleged humility of Jesus? Is the neophyte in the presence of his initiator humble in the sense in which the word is usually employed? Is there then an ignoble sense of abasement? Or, on the contrary, is not the heart raised with glory, with sublime hope, with ineffable aspiration? The whole story of Jesus, as I have already told you, as it is given in the New Testament, is only a symbolological allegory, detailing briefly and in figures of speech what happened in the initiation chamber.
What about the spear thrust?
Yes, what about it? What spiritual or moral good does the literal reading of the story of the alleged physical crucifixion of Jesus do to anybody? As a story it is little short of being puerile. But the spear thrust was one of the parts of the initiatory rite or ceremony, having its own particular signification, which of course I cannot speak of in a public audience, but it was not a physical act causing a physical wound. In some of the initiatory ceremonials, instead of a spear being used, some other instrument such as a dagger was employed in the symbolic rite; but the fundamental meaning in either case was the same, to wit, that the man gave up his lower personal being as a sacrifice, so that the power and influence of the god within might have free flow through the entirety of the constitution of the man when he left the chamber of light after the initiation was completed. Do you understand? The spear thrust signified the dying of the personal, so that the inner spiritual man could be freed, untrammeled, unhindered. Do you understand, my Brothers?
What prevents men today from taking from the spirit what truly belongs to them? From taking spiritual glory, power, wisdom, all the things that are grand and sublime? Selfishness prevents it. The personal egoisms, the personal desires, all of them circumscribing, limiting, folding in, making small the cognising part of our constitution. The exercise of the opposite qualities of all these place our feet upon the pathway, the road, to follow. Therefore I tell you: expand your character, don't contract it! Give; don't covet in getting! Be continuously; don't die! Such then was the mystic signification of the spear thrust — the death of the small, limited, personal man, so that the spiritual man within might free itself from the prison of the lower man. In a moment or two I shall explain this phase of our thought a little more clearly.
The last words, as given from the cross, how about them?
These last words are given in the two first Gospels, in Matthew, Chapter 27, Verse 46, and in Mark, Chapter 15, Verse 34, thusly: Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani. These words, called "the cry of the cross," have been translated into Greek in your Christian New Testament as follows, and this is the English rendering of the Greek translation: "My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?" This is a false translation into Greek, although correct in English from the Greek, because these words in the original mean: "My God! My God! How thou hast glorified me!" For these words are good Hebrew, ancient Hebrew, and the verb Shavahh means 'to glorify' certainly not "to forsake." But in the Twenty-second Psalm of the Old Testament in the first verse, there are the following words in the original: Eli, Eli, lama a'zavtani, which do mean "My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?"
Now, why in the name of holy truth — and this is a proof of what I have told you before that the Christian scriptures are written in symbolic form and with mystical allusions — why in the name of holy truth should the writers of these two Gospels use words which are good Hebrew and yet give a perfectly wrong translation of them? Because the intent was to hide the truth and yet to tell a truth — typically in line with the mystical atmosphere and manner of the ancient when dealing with the Mysteries. Both the original Hebrew meaning and the wrong Greek translation are right when properly understood. The personal man, when it dies, always cries "My God! Why hast thou forsaken me to become dust?" But the higher, the nobler, part of the man, the spiritual man within, exclaims with a shout of joy: "My God! My God! How thou dost glorify me!" This last was an exact rendering of the natural reaction of the neophyte when reaching glorification during initiation.
It is also a proof, to one who knows how to read it, of the symbolic character of the writings of the Christian Gospels, although the meanings were all tangled up, deliberately so tangled, so that the real inner teaching could not be received by every curious eye which ran along and tried to read, but nevertheless containing just enough of mystical thought-suggestion to be a bait to men whose inner character, whose inner being, had begun to awaken; so that reading these things, seeing these strange discrepancies and contradictions, their interest would be aroused — and they would come to the Temple door and "knock," give the right knock, and enter in. Such was the symbolic cry of every neophyte initiated by the great teacher into the grander life.
For I tell you, my Friends and my Brothers, that these initiations take place even today, and they take place at a certain time of the year; and when these initiations occur, the neophyte who has passed through the rite successfully, and who has gained his godhood in his manhood, is in so elevated and ecstatic a condition that for a short time this inner divinity streams through his being like the flaming splendor of a sun, so that in very truth, as the ancients put it, he is clothed with the sun. When this sublime event takes place during initiation the whole spiritual being of the man answers as it were with a cry of joy: "Oh! My God within, my Divinity at the core of my being, how thou dost glorify me!" — the very words that are alleged to have been used by Jesus on the cross.
The crucifixion itself was one of the phases of the ancient ceremonial rite. The neophyte in trance was laid upon a cruciform couch, a couch in the form of a cross, with arms outstretched; and for three long days and nights — and sometimes for a longer period, such as six or even nine days and nights — the spirit of the neophyte passed through the spheres of cosmic being, thus learning at first hand the mysteries of the universe. For I tell you truly, there is a way of unloosing the spirit of man from the trappings and chains of the lower part of him, so that, free, it may pass as a pilgrim from planet to planet and from planet to sun before it returns to the earth-body that it had temporarily left.
I desire to call your attention in this connection to an exceedingly interesting, very profoundly mystical, and suggestive passage from one of the Scandinavian Eddas, taken from what I believe is called Odin's Rune Song. It is as follows:
I know that I hung on a wind-rocked tree, nine whole nights,
With a spear wounded and to Odin offered — myself to myself —
On that tree of which no one knows from what root it springs.
In these few lines this passage from the Edda gives another version, and a most interesting one, of the "crucifixion"-mystery. The reference also to "hanging on a tree" is most suggestive because this very phrase was frequently used in the early Christian writings as meaning "hanging on the cross." In this Scandinavian mystical story, the tree is here evidently the cosmic tree, which is a mystical way of saying the imbodied universe, for the universe among the ancients of many nations was portrayed or figurated under the symbol of a tree of which the roots sprang from the divine heart of things, and the trunk and the branches and the branchlets and the leaves were the various planes and worlds and spheres of the cosmos, the fruit of this cosmic tree containing the seeds of future trees, being the entities which had attained through evolution the end of their evolutionary journey, such as men and the gods — themselves universes in the small, and destined in the future to become cosmic entities when the cycling wheel of time shall have turned through long aeons on its majestic round.
As I have said in many other places, all initiation, so far as pictorial rite or figurative symbolism went, portrayed the mystic structure and operations and secrets of the hid universe as expressed in the acts and words of the master initiator and of the neophyte.
Here again we have a subject fascinatingly interesting but too deep to develop in the short time at my disposal in a public lecture. I merely point, by the hints that I have just given, to its deep esoteric meaning, and must now pass on to other phases of my subject, concluding with the observation that this Scandinavian version of the cosmic crucifixion, also mentioned by Plato, refers to the cosmic Logos "crucified" in and upon the cosmic world-tree of which that same Logos is the enlivening and intellectual spirit.
A friend sent in to me a day or two ago a beautiful little poem once printed in Scribner's, and I will read it to you. It is a most intuitive series of lines, so intuitive indeed that it is a proof that some human beings receive light, go through a certain kind of initiation, and during this temporary moment the inner light, the inner glory, streams through the consciousness. O ye living dead, who do not and cannot understand — living in the body but dead in all other parts of your being — why will ye not understand what is within you? Here is the poem: it is written, of course, after the Christian style, but that style is without importance:
MANY MANSIONS by ARTHUR GUITERMAN
Vast is my Father's house and glorious are
Its many mansions, citadels of light,
Enchanted moon and redly flaming star.
Whether beheld or still beyond our sight
They gem infinitude. Well named were they
By dreaming bards of some wild desert clan,
Nihal, Giansar, Betelgeuse, Er Rai,
Gomesia, Fomalhaut, Aldebaran
And Talitha the Maiden. Isles of rest,
Inns of Eternity, they house the soul
Upon its pilgrimage, that splendid quest
Wherein from world to world and goal to goal
We, too, shall tread, as myriads have trod,
These stepping-stones on the long road to God.
The Christian term God almost spoils the beauty of the thought, but the thought is there nevertheless.
I would that you were all students of the esoteric part of our philosophy, so that I could explain more in detail and at greater length what I have here but briefly pointed to. Yet experience has shown us that with many, many human beings it suffices but to point with a wordless gesture to a truth. Then they catch the thought; their minds are brightened; they awaken; and they come to us.
I can show you the way; I can open for you the path. Each one of you is himself — or herself — that path; and therefore I can show you how to find yourself — your real self, the god within you. Every theosophical teacher can do the same if he is a true teacher; and that is precisely what Jesus the avatara had in mind when in substance he said: "Come unto me, ye who are heavy-laden and weary, and I will give you rest, and light, and peace, and joy, and hope" — for all these are one in essence.
The foundation of all the teaching is to realize with both heart and soul that each one of you is an inseparable child of the universe: that you are It and that It is you. You cannot leave the universe; you are born of it and in it. Isn't that fact obvious? Therefore the universe is your home; essentially it is you yourself; for the divine part of you is cosmic in the reaches of its consciousness, just as the ordinary small part of you has a consciousness which reaches but little beyond the brain of flesh, and in that little brain of flesh most of you live. O sons of men, know yourselves and awaken to what is within you! Realize that you are one with the universe, for it is you and you are It!
This is the key of all the teaching; and you cannot even begin to follow this Path by following the will-o'-the-wisps of emotion and thought. You cannot begin the Path by following your little ambitions and the psychical attractions that small men live in and for. The reach of these, their extension, is too circumscribed, too deceitful. But the things of the spirit, the things of divinity, when you become one with your own inner god, give you power unbounded, and vision which takes the Universe within its scope; for you are, essentially speaking, a god in human flesh. This applies to all of you. What a blessed thought: that the Universe is I and that I am the Universe; that I am at home in it now and will be at home in it in a billion eternities from now; that I am what I make myself to be; that I am now what I have made myself to be; and that I can better my condition infinitely and grow and expand, become what is the Universe, because it is I in my highest parts. What a hope! What a vision!
I have here a little poem that was sent in to me, and it is so pleasing that I will read it to you. It shows the instinct in one human heart — I don't know who wrote it, but it shows the instinct in one human heart — of the sense of inseparable unity with all that is. This realization brings such peace, such vision:
CONFESSION OF FAITH
I shall be one with my mother Earth,
One with her rains, with her snows;
One with the green of the path we trod,
And I shall be one with God.
With all things living I shall be,
With man, with toad, and tall birch-tree;
I shall be one with the worm you prod,
With weed, with seed — One with God!
Now, these lines are beautiful. It matters but little that the phraseology is of the Christian type. The essential idea of unity is there; there is a glimmer of the vision sublime, the recognition of one's essential unity with all that is.
Here is another question:
Did Jesus get initiation before he gave the Sermon on the Mount? If he were not initiated until the time of his death, how then did he have time to give any teaching?
This is a very clever question. It is precisely the question that the Gaulish Bishop, Irenaeus, wrote about, of whom I spoke in the beginning of our study together this afternoon. He said in substance: "If Jesus was crucified within a year or two or three after he was baptized, how did he have time to teach all men?" The idea here is as I have told you before that baptism was a technical word of the initiation chamber, and means the receiving of light, which is initiation. Do you understand me? And therefore this old Christian Church Father argued quite cleverly, basing his argument on what he said was "the Gospel and the testimony of all the Elders," that Jesus must have lived for some twenty years after his baptism, and therefore had attained some fifty years of age, in order to give him time to teach.
Here is a question addressed to myself:
My second question is concerning disease. You say that if you get sick you get a doctor and do not use mental healing. Now, how can a person of your and Katherine Tingley's attainments ever get "dis-ease" if constantly filled with love and working in harmony with the divine? There must be some disharmony in the body to create disease.
I also note that you use spectacles to read the questions. It has occurred to me and I am still questioning in my mind: Do the theosophical Leaders not have sufficient wisdom of physical laws to correct the defect, or do they think it so unimportant that they neglect it or feel that it is some karma [some law of cause and effect, some consequence] that they are working out?
The thought "Be ye perfect even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect": does it apply only to the spiritual or is the physical included? Are all physical ailments therefore to be ignored except as far as medicines or doctors or food will restore the body? I understand that mental healing only postpones and is therefore harmful.
Well, it is so, simply because the latter kind of healing dams back the poison in the system instead of allowing it to come out naturally through the body. A man can make himself believe that he has almost any kind of trouble and it will affect the body correspondingly. A man also can indeed apparently cure certain diseases of the body, if he can use certain psychological faculties that he has, which these lovely people whom I don't care to speak of by name have found out how to use with a certain degree of skill. But the results, my Brothers, are not good. All disease is a purging, a purgation, a cleansing. Nature's law is that the poison should come out. If it remains within, it poisons the body, the constitution, still worse than before; and the physicians of the future will know perfectly well how to lead disease out of the body so that the body shall not be injured at all. But be very careful about damming it back, throwing it back into the stream of consciousness, for one of these days the trouble will come out despite your best efforts and it will have gained strength and power and be like ten devils worse than the first. Therefore, be careful. I have deep sympathy and respect for these perfectly lovely people who believe otherwise; but I have been asked the question, and I am answering it as my heart and my teaching tell me to answer you, truthfully.
Now, as regards myself. Why do I wear spectacles? Because I can see better! That is a good answer, I think: a perfectly good answer. However, I wish I could do without them. I have worn them now, I think, about two years. It was a friend who induced me to wear them, because he said that I was beginning to squint at print when I read it. I began to wear glasses, and now I have to keep using them. If (let me use the words of this questioner) "a person of my attainments, is constantly filled with impersonal love and working in harmony with the divine, how is it that I get sick sometimes, and also have to wear glasses?" My dear Friends, it is not I who put myself on so high a pedestal as this kindly friend places me upon; it is this kind questioner who places me there, and I wish that he would not so place me. I am not a Jesus; I am a man, trying to lead a good and useful life. I am a theosophical teacher. I have been taught, and I know that the testimony that I give is a true witness. But nevertheless I am human. Such sickness as I may at any time have, or the wearing of glasses, are all due to my karma as we theosophists say. Even now I have to bear the consequences of evil deeds that I may have done ten lives agone, which have not yet worked themselves out. Perhaps in those ten lives agone I tried to do what these perfectly lovely people I have been speaking of themselves do: perhaps I tried to dam sickness back into my constitution, so that I would not suffer very much then, and thus only now, when I don't want it, it comes out now and bothers me occasionally, such as a cold or a headache or a susceptibility to indigestion.
Yes, my heart is filled with impersonal love, and I try — I try all the time — to go higher along the pathway of spiritual development. Nevertheless I am a man. I still have old karma to work out, and at present I know enough not to dam back any disease that may come upon me. I now want it to come out, I desire to be rid of it; and also I am now trying so to think, to feel, to live, and to act, that in future lives I may be a nobler vehicle of the god within me than I am now.
But having been taught, I myself can teach; having had experience, I know that the pathway of growth is endless; there is never a time throughout boundless infinitude when the pilgrim-soul reaches an impassable wall. There is always a vision beyond. Therefore I say unto you: Follow that pathway. It is within you, because it is you your self. Search outside for it and you lose it. Look within — not into the small, personal, restricted man, but within to the spirit within you, and sense the glory which even now fills both your heart and mind, but which you do not yet recognize. Follow your intimations of love and self-forgetfulness; sense them first, then follow them. Heed not at all the jeers of those who understand you not. Pity them, for they are blind. Follow that pathway and pass through the portals of the sun into a splendor still more sublime. And if you need help, then from my heart I tell you, Come! Give the right knock and it shall be opened unto you. Ask, and ask from the god within you, and ye shall receive!
Vol 2, No 12