The Devil is the patron genius of theological Christianity. This dogma of the Devil and redemption seems to be based upon two passages on the New Testament: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the Devil” [1 John 3.5]. “And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the Dragon; and the Dragon fought, and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great Dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world” [Revelation 12.7-9]. Let us, then, explore the ancient theogonies, in order to ascertain what was meant by these remarkable expressions.
The first inquiry is whether the term Devil, as here used, actually represents the malignant [evil] deity of the Christians, or an antagonistic, blind force—the dark side of nature. By the latter we are not to understand the manifestation of any evil principle that is malum in se, but only the shadow of the Light, so to say. The theories of the kabbalists treat of it as a force which is antagonistic, but at the same time essential to the vitality, evolution, and vigor of the good principle. Plants would perish in their first state of existence if they were kept exposed to a constant sunlight; the night alternating with the day is essential to their healthy growth and development. Goodness, likewise, would speedily cease to be such, were it not alternated by its opposite. In human nature, evil denotes the antagonism of matter to the spiritual, and each is accordingly purified thereby. In the cosmos, the equilibrium must be preserved; the operation of the two contraries produces harmony, like the centripetal and centrifugal forces, which are necessary to each other, if one is arrested, the action of the other will immediately become destructive.
[Everything that helps your evolution or helps you on in life is good or spiritual to you and everything that obstructs you evolution, or prevents you from going forward in life, is evil to you….Also, “everything is relative” and something that is evil to you might be spiritual to your younger brother because he has to experience something to be able to learn the lesson which you do not want to repeat. When you have learned everything a certain religion can teach you and the time has come for you to learn more of the truth than it will be evil for you to stay trapped in that religion and highly spiritual to move on, but not so for your younger brother.....Edgeba]
This personification, denominated Satan, is to be contemplated from three different planes: the Old Testament, the Christian Fathers, and the ancient gentile attitude. He is supposed to have beenrepresented by the Serpent in the Garden of Eden; nevertheless, in the Hebrew sacred writings the epithet [description or nickname] of Satan in nowhere applied to that or any other variety of snake.
The temptation, or probation, of Jesus is the most dramatic occasion in which Satan appears. As if to prove the designation of Apollo, Aesculapius, and Bacchus, Diobolos, or son of Zeus, he is also styled Diabolos, or accuser. The scene of the probation was the wilderness. In the desert around the Jordan and Dead Sea were the abodes of the “sons of the prophets” and the Essenes [Pliny, Nat. Hist. 5.16]. These ascetics used to subject their neophytes to probation, [an initiation], analogous to the tortures of the Mithraic rites, and the temptation of Jesus was evidently a scene of this character. But the Diabolos, accuser Devil, is in this instance evidently no malignant principle, but one exercising discipline. In this sense the terms Devil and Satan are repeatedly employed [see 1 corinthians 5.5; 2 corithians 11.14; 1 Timothy 1. 20].
The story of Satan in the Book of Job is of a Similar character. He is introduced among the “Sons of God,” presenting themselves before the Lord as in a mystic initiation. The Lord counsels with Satan and gives him carte blanche to test the fidelity of Job. The latter is stripped of his wealth and family and smitten with a loathsome disease. In his extremity, his wife doubts his integrity, and exhorts him to worship God, as he is about to die. His friends all beset him with accusations, and finally the Lord, the chief hierophant Himself, taxes him with the uttering of words in which there is no wisdom and with contending with the Almighty. In all these scenes there is no such malignant diabolism as is supposed to characterize ‘the adversary of souls.”
The allegory of Job, if correctly understood, will give the key to this whole matter of the Devil, his nature and his office and will substantiate our declarations. Let no pious individual take exception to this designation of allegory. Myth was the favourite and universal method of teaching in archaic times. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, [Corinthians 10.11.] declared that the entire story of Moses and the Israelites was Typical, and in his Epistle to the Galatians asserted that the whole story of Abraham, his two wives, and their sons was an allegory. [Galatians 4.22, 24] Indeed, it is a theory amounting to certitude that the historical books of the Old Testament were of the same character. We take no extraordinary liberty with the Book of Job when we give it the same designation which Paul gave the stories of Abraham and Moses.
But perhaps we ought to explain the ancient use of allegory and symbolism. The symbol expressed some abstract quality of Deity which the Laity could easily apprehend. Its higher sense terminated there, and it was employed by the multitude thenceforth as an image in idolatrous rites. But the allegory was reserved for the inner sanctuary, when only the elect were admitted. Hence the rejoinder of Jesus when his disciples interrogated him because he spoke to the multitude in parables. “To you,” said he, “it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath” [Matthew 13.11-12].
The whole allegory of Job is an open book to him who understands the picture language of Egipt as it is recorded in the Book of the Dead…. Initiation into the Mysteries, as every intelligent person knows, was a dramatic representation of scenes in the underworld. [spiritual world] such was the allegory of Job….which is a complete representation of ancient initiation and the trails which generally precede this grandest of all ceremonies…..
It will be perceived from these extended illustrations that the Satan of the Old Testament, the Diabolos or Devil of the Gospels and Apostolic Epistles, were but the antagonistic principle matter, necessarily incident to it, [materialism] and not wicked in the moral sense of the term. The Jews, coming from the Persian country, brought with them the doctrine of two principles. They could not bring the Avesta, for it was not written. But they—we mean the Asidians [Chasidium] and Pharsi—invented Ormazd with the secret name of Jehovah, and Ahriman with the name of the gods of the land, Satan of the Hittites and Diabolos, or rather Diobolos, of the Greeks. The early Church—at least the Pauline part of it—the Gnostics, and their successors further refined their ideas; and the Catholic Church adopted and adapted them, meanwhile putting their promulgators to the sword.
We ought, to make a brief notice of the European Devil. He is the genius who deals in sorcery, witchcraft, and other mischief. The Fathers, taking the idea from the Jewish Pharisees, made devils of the pagan gods, Mithras, Serapis, and the others. The Roman Catholic Church followed by denouncing the former worship as commerce with the powers of darkness. The malefeci and witches of the Middle Ages were thus but the votaries of the proscribed worship. Magic in all ancient times had been considered as divine science, wisdom, and the knowledge of God. The healing temples of Aesculapius, and at the shrines of Egipt and the East, had always been magical.
All was now changed. Ignorance was enthroned as the mother of devotion. Learning was denounced, and savants pursued the sciences in peril of their lives. They were compelled to employ a jargon to conceal their ideas from all but their own adepts and to accept scorn, slander, and poverty.
The votaries of the ancient worship were persecuted and put to death on charges of witchcraft. The Albigensians, descendants of the Gnostics, and the Waldensians, precursors of the Protestants, were hunted and massacred under like accusations. Martin Luther himself was accused of companionship with Satan in proper person. The whole Protestant world still lies under the same accusation. There is no distinction in the judgement of the Church between dissent, heresy, and witchcraft. And except where civil authority protects, they are all capital offenses.
It hardly seems credible that, of all the various nations of antiquity, there was never one which believed in a personal devil more than liberal Christians in the nineteenth century, and yet such is the sorrowful fact. Neither, the Egyptians, whom Porphyry terms “the most learned nation of the world” nor Greece, its faithful copyist, was ever guilty of such a crowning absurdity. We may add at once that none of them, not even the ancient Jews, believed in hell or an eternal damnation any more than a Devil, although out Christian churches are so liberal in dealing it out to the heathen. Wherever the word “hell” occurs in the translations of the Hebrew sacred texts, it is unfortunate. The Hebrews were ignorant of such an idea.
In the Old Testament the expressions “gates of death” and the “chambers of death” simply allude to the “gates of the grave,” which are specifically mentioned in the Psalms and Proverbs. Hell and its sovereign are both inventions of Christianity, coeval with its accession to power and resort to tyranny. They were hallucinations born of the nightmares of the St. Anthonys in the desert. Before our era the ancient sages knew the “Father of Evil” and treated him no better than an ass, the chosen symbol of Typhon, “the Devil.” Sad degeneration of human brains.
Ophios and Ophiomorphos, Apollo and Python, Osiris and Typhon, Christos and the Serpent are all convertible terms. They are all Logoi, and one is unintelligible without the other, as day could not be known if we had no night. All are regenerators and saviors, one in a spiritual, and the other in a physical sense. One insures immortality for the Divine Spirit; the other gives it through regeneration of the seed. The Savior of mankind has to die, because he unveils to humanity the greater secret of the immortal ego; the serpent of Genesis is cursed because he said to matter, “Ye shall not die.” In the world of paganism the counterpart of the “serpent” is the second Hermes, the reincarnation of Hermes Trismegistus.
The great dissimilarity which exists between the various conceptions of the Devil is really often ludicrous. While bigots will invariably endow him with horns, tail, and every conceivable repulsive feature, even including an offensive human smell, Milton, Byron, Goethe, Lemontov, and a host of French novelists have sung his praise inflowing verse and thrilling prose. Milton’s Satan and even Goethe’s Mephistopheles are certainly far more commanding figures than some of the angels, as represented in the prose of ecstatic bigots. [dogmatists]
ISIS UNVEILED by Helena p. Blavatsky, pp221-230.
Christ was tempted of the devil. Is it necessary in a book such as this to give an interpretation of the devil? Is it not apparent that there are in the world today two dominant concepts, both of them passing out as factors in the consciousness of the young, and therefore determining their later beliefs—the devil and Saint Nicholas, or Father Christmas? These names embody opposing ideas. Each of them symbolises one of the two major problems with which man has, in his daily life, to deal. These are called by Oriental philosophers the "pairs of opposites," and surely it is the manner in which man handles these two aspects of life, and his subjective attitude to them, which determine whether his life reacts to evil or to good. The devil is the symbol of that which is not humanly divine, for there are evil things done by man which, when done by an animal, are not so regarded. A man or a fox, for instance, may raid a chicken coop, but in the one case a moral law is broken, and in the other a natural instinct is followed. An animal may kill another animal in rage or in defence of its female, but when a man does the same thing it is called murder, and he is duly punished.
Father Christmas is the embodiment of that which is selfless; he is the symbol of giving and of the Christ spirit; he therefore stands to man as a reminder of God, just as this other figment of the imagination, the devil with horns and tail, is a reminder of that which is not God, that which is not divine.
"The key is supplied by mythology. The myths demand a serious interpretation in correspondence with objective reality; they must not be treated as pure poetry without any solid truth behind them, a mere play of the imagination! The garment which clothes the substance may be as fabulous, as fantastic, as inconsistent and as patchy as you please. But this does not alter the fact that popular mythology tells of an invisible reality, and of mysterious `figures,' `figures' remember, not `forces' at work everywhere. Everything is alive and possesses a soul. The world is full of spirits, of souls. The myths speak of them. Who invented these myths? Nobody. For inventions are arbitrary, are fiction. But these tales are accepted by those who tell them and by their audience as unquestioned truth. The psychology of the primitive compels him to regard things in this way 'magically.' What in our more developed and more individual psychology has become a 'sub-conscious' in which the collective life of our ancestors is still operative is the normal psychology of the primitive, a state of 'natural somnambulism' with its distinctive forms of sensitiveness, telepathy, and second-sight, a direct apprehension akin to the artist's of the whole in its parts, of the essential in a multiplicity of detail."
To this the symbols of the devil and of Father Christmas bear testimony—embodiments of the primal dualities in the realm of quality. Man's entire existence, as man, is spent swinging between these pairs of opposites, until eventually the balance is achieved and, from then on, he moves towards that which is divine. It might profit all of us if we pondered long and deeply at times upon these two extremities of human existence—good and evil, light and dark, life and form, spirit and matter, the self and the not-self, the real and the unreal, truth and falsehood, right and wrong, pleasure and pain, the urge and the drag, the soul and the personality, Christ and the devil. In these last two the problem of the three temptations is summed up. These dualities have also been defined as finiteness and infinity which are the characteristics, one of man and the other of God. That which emphasises our finite nature is of humanity, that which is comprehensive is of God. We shall see, in our study of these three temptations, how clearly the distinctions between the dualities emerge. Christ, in the temptations, could not contradict Himself; and thus identifying Himself with perfection, He gives us a presentation of a human being "in the world, and yet not of the world," tempted of the devil yet free from wrong reaction to the devil's suggestions. Thus He was a free soul, which is a divine soul, untrammelled by desire and its tests, undefiled by the flesh and its temptations, and liberated from the sins of the mental processes. Such is the will of God for each and all of us, and the writer quoted above says: "There cannot be freedom ... unless the divine will is genuinely one with that of finite beings in a single personality."36 Such a Personality was Christ. Good is the contradiction of evil, and Christ's attitude to the devil was one of uncompromising contradiction. In this He clarified the issue and did what all souls can do. Herein, as I have earlier pointed out, lays His uniqueness and His distinction—it consists in the basic fact of His utilising those methods of service, triumph and sacrifice which are available to any of us. Many in the past have died for others; many have faced evil with uncompromising opposition; many have dedicated their lives to service, but none have succeeded with the completeness and the perfection of Christ.
His greatness, it cannot be too often reiterated, lies in His universality. Dr. Bosanquet deals with this question of personality as follows:
"What I am urging is rather that our true personality lies in our concrete best, and that in desiring its development and satisfaction we are desiring an increase of our real individuality, though a diminution of our formal exclusiveness.... It will be rejoined that true individuality—greatness of range and organization—augments personal distinction as well as comprehensiveness. Undoubtedly, but it decreases exclusiveness. The great world-men are not born simply of their earthly parents. Whole ages and countries are focussed in them.... In desiring a highly developed perfection we are desiring to be something which can no longer be identified either with or by the incidents of the terrestrial life."
If these words are studied in connection with Christ's temptations, the wonder of what He did emerges, and is encouraging for all of us, His younger brothers, equally sons of God.
Therefore as a whole man and yet utterly divine, Christ entered into final combat with the devil. As a human being, in whom the divine spirit was fully expressing itself, He faced the evil in His own humanity (when viewed apart from God) and emerged victorious. Let us not attempt to divorce these two—God and man—when we think of Christ. Some thinkers emphasise His humanity and ignore His divinity. Therein they are surely in error. Others emphasise His divinity and regard as blasphemous and wrong all those who have placed Him on an equality with other human beings. But if we regard Christ as the flower of the human race, because the divine spirit had full control and showed forth through the medium of the human form, we in no way belittle Him or His achievements. The further men progress upon the Path of Evolution, the more they become conscious of their divinity and of the Fatherhood of God. At the same time, the more deeply they appreciate the Christ, the more convinced are they of His perfected divinity and His mission, and the more humbly do they seek to follow in His steps, knowing Him to be the Master of all the Masters, very God of very God, and the Teacher alike of Angels and of men.
This perfected divinity is now to be tested and approved. He has now to demonstrate to God, to the devil and to humanity the nature of His achievement and how the powers of the lower nature can be overcome by the powers of the soul. These temptations can be understood very simply by all aspirants and disciples, because they embody universal tests which are applied to the human nature in which we all share and with which We all wrestle in some form and in some measure. It matters not whether we do so from the promptings of conscience, from the control of the higher nature, or through the clear light of divinity. This, all disciples have ever recognised.
We shall consider these three temptations in the order given by St. Matthew, which is different from that given by St. Luke. St. Mark simply mentions that Christ was tempted of the devil, whilst St. John does not refer to them at all. These three temptations tested out all the three aspects of the lower human nature—the physical, the emotional-desire nature, and the mind or mental nature We read that:
"When he had fasted forty days and forty nights he was afterwards anhungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
There are two interesting facts connected with all these temptations. Each of them begins with "If" on the lips of the devil, and each is met by Christ with the words "It is written." These two phrases link all three episodes and give the clue to the whole process. The ultimate temptation is doubt. The test we have all to face eventually, and which climaxed in Christ's life until He vanquished it upon the Cross, is the test of our divinity. Are we divine? How must our divine powers express themselves? What can we do, or not do, because we are sons of God? That the details of each difficulty, test and trial may differ is relatively immaterial. That the tests may first be focussed in one aspect of our lower nature or another is equally unimportant. It is the general lifelong urge to divinity which is on trial. To the man who is but a little evolved the problem of divinity as a whole does not present itself. He can be preoccupied only with the detail, with the problem in the immediate foreground of his life. This he handles or not, as the case may be by the light of conscience. For the disciple, the detail assumes less importance, and the general truth of his sonship begins slowly to concern him. He then handles his life conditions from the angle of that theory. For a perfected son of God, such as the Christ, or for the man nearing perfection, the problem must be handled as a whole, and the life problem must be considered from the angle of divinity itself. Such was the issue with Christ, and such the implications hidden in the devil's threefold "If."
Rightly or wrongly, it seems to me that we have erred in interpreting all truth from the angle of the mediocre. That is what has been done. Truth is capable of interpretation in many ways. Those who are simply physical-emotional beings, with therefore little vision, require the protection of theology, despite its imperfections and dogmatic or untenable assertions. This they need, and the responsibility of those who administer dogmas to the "little ones" of the race is great. Truth must also be given in a wider form, and with a more general connotation to those who are beginning to live consciously as souls, and who can therefore be trusted to see the meaning behind the symbol and the significance behind the outer appearance of theology. Truth, for the perfected sons of God, must be something beyond our dreams, of so deep a significance and of such comprehensiveness that it is futile for us to speculate upon it, for it is something to be experienced and not to be dreamed; something to enter into and not to vision.
Christ's reply each time should be viewed in this triple manner. "It is written," He says, and the unthinking and small-minded regard this as endorsing the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. But surely, He was not referring back only to the ancient sayings of the Jewish Scriptures, beautiful as they are. The possibilities of error are too great to warrant our unquestioning acceptance of every word in any scripture in the world. When the processes of translation are studied this becomes glaringly apparent. Christ meant something much deeper than "The Bible says." He meant that the signature of God was upon Him; that He was the Word, and that that Word was the expression of truth. It is the Word of the soul (which is the influx of divinity) that determines our attitude in temptation and our response to the problem presented by the devil. If that Word is remote, deep-hidden by the veiling form, only distorted sounds will issue forth, and the Word will not be potent enough to withstand the devil. The Word is written in the flesh, defaced and almost invisible though it may be through the activity of the lower nature; it is upon the mind that the Word sounds forth, carrying illumination and insight, distorted as yet though the vision may be, and the light scarcely seen. But the Word is there. Some day each of us can say with power: "It is written," and see that Word expressed in every part of our human nature as individuals and—at some distant date—in humanity itself. This is the "lost Word" of the Masonic tradition.
Oriental philosophy refers frequently to four spheres of life or four problems which all disciples and aspirants have to face, and which constitute in their entirety the world in which we live. There are the world of Maya, the world of glamour and the world of illusion. There is also that mysterious "Dweller on the Threshold" to which Bulwer Lytton refers in Zanoni. All of these four Christ met and vanquished in the desert-experience.
Maya refers to the world of physical forces in which we dwell, and with this the first temptation concerned itself. Modern science has told us that there is nothing visible or invisible which is not energy, and that every form is simply an aggregate of energy units in constant ceaseless motion, to which we have to adjust ourselves and in which we "live and move and have our being. Such is the outer form of Deity, and we are part of it. Maya is vital in character, and we know little of its effect upon the physical plane (with all that that term connotes), and upon the human being.
"Glamour" refers to the world of emotional being and of desire, in which all forms dwell. It is this glamour which colours all our lives and produces false values, wrong desires, needless so-called necessities, our worries, anxieties and cares; but glamour is age-old, and has us in so close a grip that there seems little we can do. The desires of men, down the centuries, have brought about a situation before which we turn back appalled; the rampant nature of our longings and wishes, and their glamorous effect upon the individual, provide psychological laboratories with all their material; the wish life of the race has been wrongly oriented and human desire has been turned outward to the material plane, thus producing the world of glamour in which we all habitually struggle. It is by far the most potent of our delusions or mistaken orientations. But once the clear light of the soul is thrown into it, this miasma of forces is gradually dissipated. This work constitutes the major task of all aspirants to the mysteries.
"Illusion" is more mental in its impact. It concerns the ideas whereby we live, and the thought life which more or less (although mostly less) governs our daily undertakings. We shall see, as we take up the consideration of these three temptations, how in the first temptation Christ was confronted by maya, with physical forces of such strength that the devil could take advantage of them in an effort to confound Him. We shall see how in the second temptation He was tempted by glamour, and with the submergence of His vital spiritual life by a misconception and an emotional use of His divine powers. The sin of the mind, which is pride, was called into activity by the devil in the third temptation, and the illusion of temporal power to be used for right ends we may be sure was presented to Him. Thus the possible interior weakness of the three aspects of Christ's nature was tested, and through them the vast sum total of the world maya, glamour and illusion was poured in on Him. Thus He was confronted with the Dweller on the Threshold, which is only another name for the personal lower self, regarding it as a unified whole, as is only the case in advanced people, disciples and initiates. In these three words—maya, glamour and illusion—we have synonyms for the flesh, the world and the devil, which constitute the threefold test that confronts every son of God on the verge of liberation. "If thou be the Son of God command that these stones be made bread." Let us use our divine powers for personal physical ends. Let us put the material physical nature first. Let us assuage our hunger, whatever it may be, and do it because we are divine. Let us use our divine powers so as to gain for ourselves perfect health, long desired financial prosperity, popularity for our personality, for which we crave, and those physical surroundings and conditions which we want. We are sons of God and are entitled to all these things. Command that these stones be made bread for the satisfaction of our supposed need. Such were the specious arguments used then, and being used today by many teachers and schools of thought. These are peculiarly the temptations of the aspirants of the world today. Upon this theory many teachers and groups thrive, and curiously enough, they do so quite sincerely and entirely convinced of the rightness of their position. The temptations which come to the advanced souls in the world are most subtle. The use of divine powers for the meeting and satisfaction of purely personal, physical needs can be presented in such a manner that they may seem entirely right. Yet we do not live by bread alone, but by means of the spiritual life which (coming forth from God) pours into, and is the life of, the lower man. This is the first essential for understanding. Upon that soul life and upon that inner contact the emphasis should be laid. The healing of the physical body, when diseased, would be satisfactory to the individual, but living as a soul is of more importance. The emphasis upon a divinity which must express itself entirely through the meeting of a physical need, in a monetary manner, most definitely limits divinity to an attribute of itself. When we live as souls, when our inner life is oriented to God, not because of what we can receive but because we have the developed sense of divinity, then the forces of divine life will pour through us and produce what is needed. This may not necessarily bring about complete immunity from disease or produce financial affluence; but it will mean a sweetening of the lower nature, a tendency to self-forgetfulness, and unselfishness which puts others first, a wisdom which concerns itself with the teaching and helping of others, a freedom from hatred and suspicion which will make life pleasanter for those with whom we associate, and a kindness and inclusiveness which leave no time for the separated self. That this type of inner nature will make for a sound body and freedom from physical ills is quite possible, but not inevitably so. In time and space, in a particular life and at a special time, illness has its uses and may be a profoundly desirable blessing. Poverty and financial stringency may re-establish a lost sense of values and enrich the heart with compassion. Money and perfect health may be disasters to many. But the use of divine power for selfish ends, and the affirming of the divine nature for purposes of individual healing, seem a prostitution of reality, and constitute the temptation which Christ so triumphantly met. We live by the life of God. Let that life flow in "more abundantly" upon us and we shall become, as Christ became, living centres of radiant energy for the service of the world. Probably what may happen will be better physical health, because we shall not be so preoccupied with ourselves. Freedom from self-centredness is one of the first laws of good health.
The question of healing, engrossing the attention of so many thousands at this time, is too broad to be considered here, and far more complicated than the average healer or healing group realises. Two things only would I point out:
One is that the affirmation that all disease is the result of wrong thought does not warrant too hasty acceptance. There is much disease in the other kingdoms of nature; animals, plants and minerals suffer from disease as do human beings, and these kingdoms antedate the appearance of the human family upon Earth. Secondly, the affirmation that one is divine and therefore entitled to good health may be ultimately true when divinity is really expressed, but it is not expressed by affirmation, but by conscious intelligent organised soul contact. This results in living as Christ lived, with no thought of self but only concern and interest in others.
Christ met this temptation to use His divine powers for selfish ends by the quiet reiteration of His divinity—a divinity which was based on the universality of the Word. It is perhaps apposite here to remind ourselves that upon the Cross He was taunted by the words, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save." The maya or delusion of the physical nature could not hold Him; from that He stood free.
Today the World Aspirant, humanity, stands confronted with this temptation. Its problem is economic. It is concerned basically and definitely with bread, just as, symbolically speaking, Christ's problem was the problem of food. The world is faced with a material issue. That there is no evading this issue is true, and that men must be fed is equally true. Upon what basis shall the problem be met? Will one be regarded as too idealistic and as an impractical mystic and visionary if one falls back, as Christ did, upon the fundamentals of life, and takes the position that when man is readjusted and reoriented as a spiritual being his problem will automatically take care of itself? One surely will be so regarded. If one feels, as do many today, that the solution of the problem lies in a revaluation of life and a re-education in the underlying principles of living, is one entirely astray and to be regarded as a fool? Many will so regard one. But the solving of man's problem solely in terms of his physical needs may only succeed in plunging him more deeply in a material marsh. Meeting his demands entirely from the angle of bread and butter may be much needed. It is. But it should be accompanied with something which will meet the need of the whole man, and not simply that of his body and its desires. There are things which matter essentially to man, which are of greater moment and value than the things which concern the form, even if he himself does not realise it. Christ gave a little time to the feeding of the multitude. He gave much time to teaching them the rules of the kingdom of God. Men can be trusted to take what they want. They are doing so at this time on every hand. But the things which truly matter must at the same time be emphasised and taught, or the end will be disastrous. When we have cleaned the human house of abuses, as the revolutionaries in every country and land claim to be doing, unless that house is beautiful as a result, and unless its inhabitants have ideas based on divine essentials, the last state will be worse than the first. Seven devils may enter into the house, according to Christ's parable.41 Unless God indwells the house, when cleaned, and unless our revaluations and national adjustments lead to that leisure and peace of mind wherein the soul of man can come to flower, we are headed towards still worse disasters. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
"Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him upon a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down; for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
It is essential for the right understanding of this temptation that we remember our earlier distinction that such passages in the Bible are interpreted from the angle of the souls involved. Christ meets the devil on the ground of His divine nature. If thou art the Son of God, take advantage of the Fatherhood of God, and cast thyself down. This temptation is different from the first, though it appears to embody the same type of test. The clue to this is found in Christ's answer, where He takes His stand upon His divinity. This He did not do in the earlier temptation. The devil in this test quotes scripture to his own ends. He also takes Christ into the Holy Place, the battle-ground, and it is upon this that the devil casts doubt. The glamour of doubt descends upon the Christ. Hungry, lonely, and weary of conflict, He is tempted to question the very roots of His being. I do not question the fact that Christ was assailed by doubt. The first traces of that glamour which descended upon Him like a great darkness in the Crucifixion assailed Him now. Was He the Son of God? Had He a mission, after all? Was His attitude one of self-delusion? Was it all worth while? He was attacked where He was the strongest, and in this lies the potency of this temptation.
In an ancient scripture of India, The Bhagavad Gita, the disciple Arjuna stands faced with the same issue. He is involved in a great battle between two branches of the same family—really between the higher and the lower self—and he, too, questions what he shall do. Shall he go ahead with the battle and the test, and so triumph as the soul? Shall he assert his divinity and defeat the lower and the non-divine? In a commentary on The Bhagavad Gita these words occur:
"There is a spiritual significance to all this and the situation of Arjuna is well chosen to bring out great spiritual truths. He stands for the personal self, beginning to grow conscious of the Higher Self; touched and enkindled with the spiritual light of that higher self, yet full of dismay and terror from the realisation of what obedience to the Higher Self must mean. The contests of the brothers is now concentrated within a single nature, the life of a single man. A war must be waged within himself, a war long and arduous for the life of the Soul. Nothing but high courage, joined with faith and aspiration, makes the contest possible, and even then there will be shrinking and dismay."
A greater than Arjuna (who stands as the symbol of the disciple on his way towards perfection) faced a similar issue with courage, faith and aspiration, but the question was the same: Is the life of the soul a reality? Am I divine? Christ faced this issue without dismay, and triumphed by the use of an affirmation of such power (because it stated a truth) that the devil temporarily could not reach Him. He practically said: "I am the Son of God. Thou mayest not tempt me." He took His stand upon His divinity and vanquished the doubt.
It is interesting to realise that humanity today stands in the glamour of doubt. Doubt is on every hand. It is an emotional matter. The clear, cool, analysing and synthesising intellect does not doubt in this sense; it questions and waits. But it is in the Holy Place, with a full knowledge of what is written, and frequently after victory, that doubt descends upon the disciple. Perhaps, after all, that sense of divinity which has hitherto upheld the disciple is itself but glamour and not reality. That there have been experiences of a divine and supernatural nature the disciple cannot doubt. There have been moments when there has been "a sense of Divine access as different from other experiences, as original and inexplicable, as Sex or as the sense of Beauty—as hunger or thirst," for there is no question that "at the heart of all religion and all religions there is an experience unique, and not to be accounted for by evolution from other experience." But perhaps that too is simply phenomenal, and not real; something that passes, with no immortal basis; something that is experienced as part of the world glamour, but does not and cannot endure. Perhaps God is just a name for everything that is, and, for the individual conscious soul, there is no definite persistence, no essential divinity, and nothing real—only a momentary flash of an awareness. Let us put this sense of divinity to the test and see if, with the change of physical destruction, something lasts which is spirit and is immortal.
As one studies the way in which Christ met this temptation one is inclined to believe that (having affirmed His belief in His Own Divinity) He simply ignored the temptation. His method was so brief and concise, and remains undeveloped as to detail. The way out, in this particular temptation, is dual: to recognise it for what it is, unreal, simply a glamour which has no true and lasting existence, just a delusion which assails us; and then to rest back upon the experience of God. If for one brief minute we have been in the Presence of God and known it, that is real. If the Presence of God in the human heart has at any moment, for an instant, been a reality, then let us take our stand upon that known and felt experience, refusing to deal with the detail of the glamour of doubt, of emotion, of depression or of blindness in which we may temporarily find ourselves.
But the doubt in the world today will be solved only when men bring to bear upon the problems of humanity, of God and of the soul, not only the clear cool light of the intellect, illumined by the intuition, but also the potency of past experience. If the sense of God has persisted in the world for untold ages, and if the testimony of the mystics and saints, the seers and the Saviours of all time is historical and verifiable—as it is—then that testimony, in its wealth and universality, constitutes a fact as scientific as any other. These are days when a scientific fact seems to have some glamorous appeal. Cycles of mysticism, cycles of philosophy, cycles of scientific expression, cycles of rank materialism—such is the cyclic way we walk, and such is our history. But persistent through them all runs the thread of God's Plan. Steadily through them all, the soul of man marches from one unfoldment of consciousness to another, and our concept of divinity constantly gains in richness and reality. That is the fact upon which humanity can stand, the divine soul in man. That is the fact upon which Christ took His stand when the devil tempted Him a second time.
"Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan, for it is written Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."46
Christ has been tested in His physical nature and has triumphed. He has been tried in His emotional-desire nature, and we have found that neither the forces of the physical nature nor the glamours which the emotional-feeling nature inevitably brings could cause him to swerve the slightest from the path of spiritual living and expression. All His desires were directed towards God; every activity of His nature was rightly adjusted and divinely expressed. This triumph must have been known to Him, and this realisation carried in itself the seeds of the final temptation. He had triumphed over materialism and over doubt. He knew that the form side of life could not attract Him, and He had fought through to a full recognition of His divinity. Therefore He had conquered the extremes of His nature, its highest and lowest aspects. He expressed now the quality of divinity. The divine reality which He sensed and upon which He relied was potent to penetrate the maya and dispel the glamour. Pure desire was left—desire for God. He had been tried in two aspects of His nature—the material and the divine—and as God-Man He overcame the evil one. Primarily, both temptations lay in the region of desire. The call is to personal desirelessness.
So with Christ, desire was transmuted into power, though victory achieved led to developments which had in them the possibility of danger. It was in the realm of power that Christ was next tried. A character that has been carried to a high degree of perfection and which has established a unity between the source of power, the soul, and the instrument of power, the personal lower self, produces what we call a personality. That personality can be a definite source of danger to its owner. The sense of power, the knowledge of achievement, the realisation of capacity and the sensed ability to rule others because one rules oneself, have in them the germs of temptation, and it was here that the devil next attempted to ensnare the Christ. People are apt to be astonished when it is pointed out to them that a fine character can itself be a source of difficulty. It is difficulty of a peculiar kind, in that the things done and the words spoken by a highly developed person whose character is outstandingly fine and whose personality is well rounded out can do much harm—even when the motive is right or apparently so. Such persons wield much more power than the average.
Just what is a fine character, and how is it produced? First, of course, it is produced by the wheel of life and the Galilee experience; then by conscious effort and self-initiated discipline; and finally by the processes of integrating the various aspects of the lower nature into a synthetic whole, into a unity for purposive use.
In the case of Christ in the third temptation, His "conscious values or purposes" were being tried. His integrity must be undermined, if possible, and the unity for which He stood must be forced to disintegrate. If this could be done, and if the standard which He set could be upset, His mission was, from the start, destined to fail. If He could be deceived by the illusion of power, if ambition of a personal nature could be developed in His consciousness, the founding of the kingdom of God might be indefinitely delayed. This temptation was an attack at the very root of the personality. The mind, the integrating factor, with its ability to think clearly, to formulate definite purpose and to choose, was under test. Such temptations do not come to the little-developed, and because of the strength of the character involved they are of the fiercest kind and the most difficult to handle. The call of the devil was to Christ's ambition. Ambition is, par excellence, the problem of the developed aspirant and disciple—personal ambition, love of popularity, worldly ambition, intellectual ambition, and the dictatorship of power over others. The subtlety of this temptation consists in the fact that appeal is made to right motive. It would—such is the implication—be good for the world of human affairs if it all belonged to Christ. By simply recognising the power of the devil, the material force in the world, as being supreme, that control over the kingdoms of the world could be given to Christ. He was offered it as the reward of a single recognition—given alone and unseen on the top of a high mountain—to the power which represented, or symbolised, the triple world of external living. If Christ would briefly fall down and worship that great power, the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them would be His; and we know enough about Him to realise that there would have been no selfish motive in this gesture, could He have been induced to make it. What stood between Him and the acceptance of this opportunity? His reply indicates it clearly, but needs understanding. What intervened was His knowledge that God was One and God was All. The devil showed Him a picture of diversity, of many kingdoms, much division, of multiplicity, plurality, separated units. Christ came to unify, to bring together and to unite in one all kingdoms, all races and all men, so that the words of St. Paul could be true in deed and in fact:
"There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
Had Christ succumbed to the enticements of the devil and, from apparent right motive and love of humanity, accepted the proffered gift, these words would never have been fulfilled, as they surely will be at some date, perhaps not so distant as the chaotic present might lead us to think. Christ held His values true and His purpose unchanged. The illusion of power could not touch Him. That which was real had such a grip of His mind that the unreal and the immediate could not delude His consciousness. He saw the picture whole. He saw the vision of a world wherein there could be no duality but only unity, and from His efforts to bring that future world into being He could not be swerved.
Where this vision exists, lesser values and smaller issues cannot hold the ardent heart. Where the whole as a possibility is grasped, the part falls into its rightful place. Where the purpose of God stands clearly revealed to the mind of the seer, the lesser ends or motives, and the tiny wishes and desires, for and of the personal self, fade out of the picture. At the end of the road of evolution lies the consummation, the kingdom of God, not the kingdoms of the world. They are parts of a future whole, and will be later welded into a spiritual synthesis. But that kingdom, as we shall see in our final chapter, when we sum up the results of initiation, is not brought into being through personal ambition, personal effort and personal desire. It comes through the submergence of the part in the whole and of the individual in the group. But this is brought about willingly and intelligently, with no loss of personal prestige, usefulness or sense of identity. It is not enforced or demanded by the group or state or kingdom, as is so frequently the case today. Dr. van der Leeuw tells us:
"If we would enter the kingdom this attitude must change to that of Christ whose love has become radiating, ever giving out to the surrounding world, whether deserving or not, whose life is centred in the Divine, common to all. In Him there is no remnant even of a separated personality, battling for its own existence or aggrandizement; the cup of His existence is emptied of all that is personal and become filled with the wine of the divine life, shared by all. We, by continuous though possibly unconscious effort, may maintain the centre of separate life which we call our personality; if we would follow Christ, we have to give up the laborious struggle for individual assertion in the desire to be the life of the Whole rather than that of a part. Thus alone can we enter the Kingdom where no separateness can be."
Christ's temptation consisted of a demanded recognition of duality. But to Him, there was only one kingdom and one way into the kingdom, and one God Who was bringing, slowly indeed but surely, that kingdom into being. His mission was to reveal the method whereby unity could be brought about; to proclaim that inclusive love and that technique of at-one-ment which all who would study His life and react to His spirit could follow. He could not therefore fall into the error of diversity. He could not identify Himself with multiplicity when He embraced in His consciousness, as God, the larger synthesis. Pope, in his famous Essay on Man, sensed this, and expressed it in words familiar to all of us:
"God loves from whole to parts, but human soul
Must rise from individual to the whole.
Self-love but serves the virtuous mind to wake,
As the small pebble stirs the peaceful lake;
The centre moved, a circle straight succeeds,
Another still, and still another spreads;
Friend, parent, neighbour, first it will embrace;
His country next; and next all human race;
Wide and more wide, th' o'erflowings of the mind
Take every creature in, of every kind;
Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty blest,
And Heaven beholds its image in his breast."
Then the devil leaves Him. He could do no more, and Christ "departed into Galilee,"49 going back again to the round of daily living. The Galilee experience can never be evaded by any Son of God whilst incarnate in the flesh. He then did three things: first, hearing that John the Baptist had been cast into prison, Christ took up the task laid down by him, and went on with the preaching of repentance. Next, He chose with care those who were to work with Him, and whom He had to train to carry forward the mission of the kingdom, and then He began that increased service which is ever the signal to the world that a man has become more inclusive and has passed through another initiation. Even though the world may not at the time recognise that signal, it is never again just the same world as it was before the initiation is taken and the service rendered. The emergence of an initiate into the field of the world makes that field different.
Christ went about doing good, "teaching in the synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of disease among the people." He had registered before God and man, and to Himself, His perfection. He emerged from the wilderness experience tried, tested, and with His divinity completely vindicated. He knew Himself to be God; He had demonstrated to Himself His divine humanity. And yet as is the way with all the liberated sons of God, He could not rest until He had shown us the way. He had to transmit the great energy of the Love of God.
Perfected, serving and with a full knowledge of His mission, Christ now enters into the period of active work which must precede the next initiation, that of the Transfiguration.
[FROM BETHLEHEM TO CALVARY, pp.112-132]
The Mysteries of the world, the flesh and the devil (to use the symbolic formal terminology of Christianity) are to be transmuted with rapidity into those of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of God, the energy of the soul, and the revelation of divinity. The secret hid by the inverted lotus (the world) is to be revealed by the opened lotus of the kingdom of souls. The secret of the flesh, which is the prison of the soul, is revealed by the perfume of the unfolding lotus of the soul. The mystery of the devil will eventually be seen to be that of the light of God's countenance, which reveals that which is undesirable and must be changed and renounced, and which thus transforms life by the light that God's nature pours forth. [ESOTERIC PSYCHOLOGY p271]
In the last analysis, and from the standpoint of the Hierarchy, the present conflict between the personality of humanity (expressing the material values as the dominating factor in life experience) and the soul of humanity (expressing the spiritual values as the dominating factor in human affairs) is identical with the conflict which takes place within a human being's consciousness when he has reached the stage of discipleship and is faced with the problem of the pairs of opposites. This conflict is expressed in many ways according to the point of view and the background of thought. It can be called the conflict between Christ and anti-Christ but not as those who usually employ those phrases understand them. No one nation is expressive of the spirit of anti-Christ, just as no one nation expresses the spirit of Christ. Christ and anti-Christ are the dualities of spirituality and materialism, both in the individual and in humanity as a whole. Or you can speak of God and the Devil with the same basic implications. For what is man himself but an expression of divinity (God) in a material form (the Devil), and what is matter but the medium through which divinity must eventually manifest in all its glory? But when that takes place, matter will no longer be a controlling factor but simply a medium of expression. [THE EXTERNALISATION OF THE HIERARCHY, P137]
Unless the disciple learns that aspiration and self-discipline must proceed side by side, he will find that the spiritual energy he may appreciate and contact will only serve to stimulate the latent seeds of evil in his nature and thereby demonstrate the exactitude of the truth that the great Lord taught when He pictured the man who swept his house, cast out seven devils and eventually was in a worse condition than ever. It is essential that aspirants should understand the nature of the lower man and should grasp the fact that every coherent system has its varying types of energy, and that perfection is achieved when the highest type of energy inherently possible dominates.
If the lower energy of the aggregate of the form-atoms is the controlling factor three things will take place:
1. The form itself will grow by accretion and will become ever more potent, until the dominant voice of its 'lunar lords' will stifle all other voices and the man be swept back into Inertia, Blindness and Bondage.
2. Many people are not only under the control of some, one or other of their forms but are the captives of all the three. In studying the lower threefold man and the energies or lives that seek to control him it should be remembered that they fall into three categories:
a. The individual tiny lives which we call the atoms or cells of the body. These exist in three groups and compose respectively the four types of bodies: dense physical, etheric, astral and mental.
b. The aggregate of these lives which constitute in themselves four types of elementals or separate coherent, though not self-conscious, existences. These four lunar lords constitute what the Ageless Wisdom teaching calls "the four sides of the square." They are the "lower quaternary," "the imprisoning cubes," or the cross upon which the inner spiritual Man is to be crucified. These four elementals have an intelligence all their own, are upon the involutionary arc, are following the law of their own being when they tend to become powerful, and thereby fully express that which is in them.
c. A dominant controlling lunar lord who is that which we understand by the term the 'lower personality'; he (if the personal pronoun can be used) is the sumtotal of the physical, astral and mental elementals, and it is this power which at present forces the 'fiery energies' of the body to feed the lower three centres. The etheric body has a unique and curious position, being simply the vehicle for prana or life and the centre which it uses exists in a category by itself.
3. All subhuman forms in their aggregate prove a powerful deterrent factor in the progress towards emancipation of the Real Man. They form the opposite to what we understand by the world of the Master and the two are in direct opposition to each other from the standpoint of the aspirant.
The adept can enter the world of form, can contact it, work in it and remain unaffected by it because there is nothing in him to respond to it. He sees through the illusion to the reality behind and, knowing where he stands himself, there is naught in the appeal and the demand of these lunar lords to attract him. He stands midway between the pairs of opposites. In the realisation of the nature of this world of form, in a comprehension of the lives which compose it, and in an ability to hear the voice of the "formless One" above the strife of all the lower voices, comes the opportunity for the aspirant to escape from the dominance of matter.
This is the true magical work, my brothers, the understanding of the sounds of all beings, and the ability to speak the language of the soul is the clue to the work. These faculties rightly used impose upon these lesser lives that control which will lead to the final liberation, and which will in due time, lead these lives themselves into the realm of self-consciousness. This aspect of the matter is as yet but little comprehended by the sons of men. If they but realised that by a disposition to fall under lunar control they drive the tiny lives in their little system deeper into the darkness of ignorance, they might more rapidly assume their just responsibilities; if they realised that by the constant attempt to impose the rhythm of the solar Lord upon the aggregate of the lunar lords, they were driving these lives onward to self-conscious unfoldment, they might proceed more earnestly and more intelligently. This is the message that must go forth, for all the varying aspects of the life of God are interdependent and not one proceeds onward into fuller realisation without benefitting the entire group.
A few simple suggestions I will give you. These can be useful to all sincere aspirants.
· In the ordered regulation of the life comes eventual synthesis and the right control of time with all that eventuates therefrom.
· In the right elimination of that which is secondary, and in a sense of rightly adjusted proportion comes that accuracy and one-pointedness which is the hallmark of the occultist.
· In the right aspiration at the appointed time comes the necessary contact and the inspiration for the work that has to be done.
· In the steady adherence to self-appointed rules comes the gradual refining of the instrument and the perfecting of the vehicles that will be—to the Master—the medium of help among many little ones.
I commend the above thought to you knowing that you will apprehend the implications and will seriously consider the purport of my remarks. [THE RAYS AND THE INITIATIONS pp.9-11]
How then is it that today we have such an emphasis upon the blood sacrifice of Christ and upon the idea of sin? It would appear that two causes are responsible for this:
1. The inherited idea of blood sacrifice. As Dr. Rashdall tells us:
"The various authors of the canonical books in fact were so accustomed to the pre-Christian ideas of an expiatory sacrifice and atonement that they accepted it without going to the roots of the matter. But this vagueness was not to the liking of the early Christian Fathers. In the Second Century A.D., Irenaeus, and after him other writers, explained the doctrine by what is called the `Ransom Theory,' which states that the Devil was lawful lord of mankind owing to Adam's fall, and that God, being unable with justice to take Satan's subjects from him without paying a ransom for them, handed over His own incarnate Son in exchange."27
In this thought we have a definite demonstration of the way in which all ideas (intuitively perceived and infallibly right) are distorted. Men's minds and preconceived notions colour them. The idea becomes the ideal, and serves a useful purpose and leads men on (as the idea of sacrifice has always led men nearer to God) until it becomes an idol, and consequently limiting and untrue.
2. The growth of the consciousness of sin in the race, due to its increasing sensitivity to divinity and its consequent recognition of the shortcomings and the relative evil of the lower human nature.
We have seen that one of the factors responsible for the sin-complex of the West has been the development of the mind faculty, with its consequent aftermath of a developed conscience, a capacity to have a sense of values, and (as the result of that) the ability to see the higher and the lower natures in opposition to each other. When the higher self with its values and its range of contacts is instinctively contacted, and the lower self, with its lesser values and its more material range of activities is also realised, it necessarily follows that a sense of division and of failure is developed; men realise their lack of achievement; they become aware of God and humanity, of the world, of the flesh and the devil, but at the same time of the kingdom of God. As man develops, his definitions alter, and the crude so-called sins of the unevolved man, and the faults and failings of the average "nice" citizen of modern times involve different attitudes of mind and judgment, and surely different punitive approaches. As our sense of God changes and develops, and as we approach nearer to reality, our entire outlook upon life, ourselves and our fellowmen is apt to alter and widen, and become more divine as well as more human. It is a human characteristic to be conscious of sin, and to realise that when a man has offended he must, in some form or other, pay a price. The germ of mind, even in infant humanity, gives rise to this realisation, but it took nearly two thousand years of Christianity to raise sin to a position of such importance that it occupied (as it still does) a primary place in the thought of the entire race. We have a situation wherein the law and the Church and the educators of the race are almost entirely occupied with sin and how to prevent it. One wonders sometimes what the world would have been like today if the exponents of the Christian faith had occupied themselves with the theme of love and loving service instead of with this constantly reiterated emphasis upon the blood sacrifice and upon the wickedness of man.
The theme of sin runs naturally and normally throughout human history; and the effort to expiate it, in the form of animal sacrifice, has always been present. The belief in an angry deity, who exacted penalties for all that was done by man against a brother, and who demanded a price for all that was given to man as a product of the natural processes of the earth, is as old as man himself. It has passed through many phases. The idea of a God Whose nature is love has battled for centuries with the idea of a God Whose nature is wrath. The outstanding contribution of Christ to world progress was His affirmation, through word and example, of the thought that God is love and not a wrathful deity, inflicting jealous retribution. The battle still rages between this ancient belief and the truth of God's love which Christ expressed, and which Shri Krishna also embodied. But the belief in an angry, jealous God is still strongly entrenched. It is rooted in the consciousness of the race, and only today are we slowly beginning to realise a different expression of divinity. Our interpretation of sin and its penalty has been at fault, but the reality of God's love can now be grasped and can thus offset the disastrous doctrine of an angry God Who sent His Son to be the propitiation for the world evil. Of this [Page 198] belief Calvinism is perhaps the best and purest interpretation, and a brief statement as to that theological doctrine will present the concept in understandable terms.
"Calvinism is built upon the dogma of the absolute sovereignty of God, including omnipotence, omniscience and eternal justice—a common Christian doctrine, but developed by Calvinists with relentless logic to extreme conclusions. Calvinism is often summarised in five points. (1) Every human being as a descendant of Adam (whom all Christians in those times supposed to be an historical character) is guilty from his birth of original sin, in addition to later sins committed in his own lifetime. A man can do nothing to remove his own sin and guilt; that can only be done by the grace of God, mercifully vouchsafed to him through the atonement of Christ, and without any merit whatever on his own part; (2) So only those certain persons can be saved (particular redemption); (3) To whom God gives an effectual calling, strengthening their wills, and enabling them to accept salvation; (4) Who shall, and who shall not be saved is thus a matter of divine election, or predestination; (5) God will never fail those who are his elect: they shall never fall from ultimate salvation (perseverance of the saints). Calvinists insisted with great heat, and endeavoured with much subtility to demonstrate, that their doctrine fully provides for human freedom, and that God is in no way responsible for human sin."28
In view, therefore, of this emphasis upon human sinfulness, and as a result of the age-old habit of offering sacrifice to God, the true mission of Christ was long ignored. Instead of His being recognised as embodying in Himself an eternal hope for the race, He was incorporated into the ancient system of sacrifices, and the ancient habits of thought were too strong for the new idea which He came to give. Sin and sacrifice ousted and supplanted the love and service which He sought to bring to our attention through His life and His words. That is also why, from the psychological angle, Christianity has produced such sad, weary, and sin-conscious men. Christ, the sacrifice for sin, and the Cross of Christ as the instrument of His death, have absorbed men's attention, whilst Christ the perfect man and Christ the Son of God have been less emphasised. The cosmic significance of the cross has been entirely forgotten (or never known) in the West.
Salvation is not primarily connected with sin. Sin is a symptom of a condition, and when a man is "truly saved" that condition is offset, and with it the incidental sinful nature. It was this that Christ came to do—to show us the nature of the "saved" life; to demonstrate to us the quality of the eternal Self which is in every man; this is the lesson of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection: the lower nature must die in order that the higher may be manifested, and the eternal immortal soul in every man must rise from the tomb of matter. It is interesting to trace the idea that men must suffer in this world as the result of sin. In the East, where the doctrines of reincarnation and of karma hold sway, a man suffers for his own deeds and sins and "works out his own salvation, with fear and trembling."29 In the Jewish teaching a man suffers for the sins of his forebears and of his nation, and thus gives substance to a truth which is only today beginning to be a known fact—the truth of physical inheritance. Under the Christian teaching, Christ, the perfect man, suffers with God, because God so loved the world that, immanent in it as He is, He could not divorce Himself from the consequences of human frailty and ignorance. Thus humanity gives a purpose to pain, and thus evil is eventually defeated.
The thought and idea of sacrifice for the sins of the people was not the original and basic idea. Originally, infant humanity offered sacrifices to God to appease His wrath, displayed in the elements through storms and earthquakes and physical disasters. When, instinctively, men turned on each other, when they offended and hurt one another, and so transgressed a dimly sensed realisation of human relationships and intercourse, sacrifice was offered again to God so that He too would not hurt mankind. Thus little by little the idea grew until, at last, the salvation concept might be briefly summarised in the following terms:
1. Men are saved from the wrath of God in natural phenomena through animal sacrifices, preceded in still more ancient times by the sacrifice of the fruits of the earth.
2. Men are saved from God's wrath and from each other by the sacrifice of that which is valued, leading eventually to human sacrifices.
3. Men are saved by the sacrifice of a recognised Son of God, hence the vicarious atonement, for which the many crucified world Saviours prepared the way for Christ.
4. Men are definitely saved from eternal punishment for their sins by the death of Christ upon the Cross, the sinner guilty of an unkind word being as much responsible for the death of Christ as the vilest murderer.
5. Finally, the gradually emerging recognition that we are saved by the living risen Christ—historically presenting to us a goal, and present in each of us as the eternal omniscient soul of man.
Today it is the risen Christ who is emerging into the forefront of men's consciousness, and because of this we are on our way towards a period of greater spirituality and a truer expression of religion than at any other time in the history of man. The religious consciousness is the persistent expression of the indwelling spiritual man, the Christ within; and no outer earthly happenings, and no national situations, no matter how temporarily material they may appear to be in their objectives, can dull or obliterate the Presence of God in us. We are learning that that Presence can be released in us only by the death of the lower nature, and this is what Christ has always proclaimed to us from His Cross. We are realising increasingly that the "fellowship of His sufferings" means that we mount the Cross with Him and share constantly in the Crucifixion experience. We are coming to the knowledge that the determining factor in human life is love, and that "God is love."30 Christ came to show us that love was the motivating power of the universe. He suffered and died because He loved and cared enough for human beings to demonstrate to them the Way that they must go—from the cave of Birth to the mount of Transfiguration, and on to the agony of the Crucifixion—if they too are to share in the life of humanity and become, in their turn, saviours of their fellowmen. [FROM BETHLEHEM TO CALVERY, pp.196-201]
What do we mean by the phrase "forces of evil?" Not the armies of unrighteousness and sinfulness, organised under that figment of the imagination, the devil or some supreme Antichrist, for such an army does not exist, and there is no great enemy of God, arraigned in battle against the Most High. There is only suffering, erring humanity, still half-awakened, dimly sensing the vision, and struggling to free itself from the thralldom of the past, with its tarnished allegiances and its unchecked loyalties. The forces of evil are, in the last analysis, only the entrenched ancient ideals and habits of thought which have served their purpose in bringing the race to its present point of development, but which must now disappear if the New Age is to be ushered in as desired. The old Antichrist rhythms, inherent in the old forms of religion, of politics and of the social order, must give place to newer ideals, to the synthetic understanding, and to the new order. The laws and modes of procedure which are characteristic of the New Age must supersede the old, and these will, in time, institute the new social order and the more inclusive regime. [ESOTERIC PSYCHOLOGY VOLUME 2, pp.631]
How is this great change brought about? How does man, the victim of his desires and lower nature become man, the victor, triumph over the world, the flesh and the devil? It is brought about when the physical brain of the incarnated man becomes aware of the self, the soul, and this conscious awareness only becomes possible when the true self can "reflect itself in the mindstuff." The soul is inherently freed from objects and stands ever in the state of isolated unity. Man, however, in incarnation has to arrive, in his physical brain consciousness, at a realization of these two states of being; he has consciously to free himself from all objects of desire and stand as a unified whole, detached and liberated from all veils, from all forms in the three worlds. When the state of conscious being, as known by the spiritual man, becomes also the condition of awareness of the man in physical incarnation then the goal has been reached. The man is no longer what his physical body makes him, when identified with it, the victim of the world. He walks free, with shining face (I. Cor. 3) and the light of his countenance is shed abroad upon all he meets. No longer do his desires swing the flesh into activity, and no longer does his astral body subjugate him and overcome him.
Through dispassion and the balancing of the pairs of opposites he has freed himself from the moods, feelings, longings, desires, and emotional reactions which characterise the life of the average man and has arrived at the point of peace. The devil of pride, the personification of the misused mental nature and the distorted perceptions of the mind, are overcome and he stands liberated from the three worlds. The nature of the soul, the qualities and activities inherent in the love nature of the Son of God, and the wisdom which demonstrates when love and activity (the second and third aspects) are brought together, characterise his life on earth, and he can say as did the Christ, "It is finished."
[THE LIGHT OF THE SOUL, p14]