The title of this chapter is not called the problem of religion but simply the problem of those people and organizations who attempt to teach religion, who claim to represent the spiritual life, to direct the spiritual approach of the human soul to God and to lay down the rules for the spiritual life. In writing on this theme we are treading on dangerous ground.
There is no justifiable quarrel with the religious spirit; it exists and is essential to a full and true life on earth. We can recognize the timelessness of faith and the witness of the Spirit, down countless ages, to the fact of God. Christ lives and guides the people of the world and He does this not from any vague or distant centre called the "right hand of God" (a symbolic phrase), but from close at hand and near to humanity whom He eternally loves. When He said, "Lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the end of the world", He meant exactly what He said. The approach of the human Spirit to its Source, to that spiritual Centre where divinity rules and to those Who guide and direct that approach, will inevitably go on; the way stands eternally open to pilgrims and all such pilgrims, all souls, find their way eventually into the Father's Home.
The fact of God, the fact of Christ, the fact of men's spiritual approach to divinity, the fact of the deathlessness of the Spirit, the fact of spiritual opportunity and the fact of man's relation to God and to his fellowmen—upon these we can take our stand. We should emphasize also the evolutionary presentation of truth and its constant adaptation to the need of humanity at any given period in history.
Christianity is an expression—in essence, if not yet factually—of the love of God, immanent in His created universe. Churchianity has, however, laid itself open to attack and the mass of thinking people know this; unfortunately, these thinking people are a small minority.
For the sake of clarity and in order that the outline of the facts and of the potentialities may emerge clearly, we will divide this subject into the following sections, beginning with the most unpleasant and controversial and ending on a note of hope, of purpose and of vision.
I. The Failure of the Churches. Would you, in all truthfulness and in the light of world events, say that the churches had succeeded?
II. The Opportunity of the Churches. Do they recognize it?
III. The Essential Truths which Humanity needs and intuitively accepts. What are they?
IV. The Regeneration of the Churches. Is it possible?
V. The New World Religion.
Today the immediate need of mankind is emerging with clarity, and the steps which the churches propose taking to meet that need are also becoming clear. It seems essential, therefore, that we face the situation exactly as it is and that we isolate those truths which are essential to man's progress and enlightenment and eliminate factors which are controversial and unimportant; it is necessary also that we define the way of salvation which the churches should follow; if the churches are working and the churchmen are thinking in a Christlike way, then the salvation of humanity is assured. It is above all else essential that a vision is presented which will be a vision for all men everywhere and not simply a beautiful hope of a sectarian group or a fanatical self-satisfied organization. It is essential that we return to Christ and to His message and to the way of life exemplified by Him.
Churchmen need to remember that the human spirit is greater than the churches and greater than their teaching. In the long run, that human spirit will defeat them and proceed triumphantly into the kingdom of God, leaving them far behind unless they enter as an humble part of the mass of men. Pompous prelates and executive ecclesiastics have no part in that kingdom. Christ does not need prelates and executives. He needs humble teachers of the truth able to exemplify the spiritual life. Nothing under heaven can arrest the progress of the human soul on its long pilgrimage from darkness to light, from the unreal to the real, from death to immortality and from ignorance to wisdom. If the great organized religious groups of churches in every land and composing all faiths do not offer spiritual guidance and help, humanity will find another way. Nothing can keep the spirit of man from God.
Let us remember: Christ has not failed. It is the human element which has failed and which has thwarted His intentions, and prostituted the truth which He presented. Theology, dogma, doctrine, materialism, politics and money have created a vast dark cloud between the churches and God; they have shut out the true vision of God's love, and it is to this vision of a loving reality and to a vital recognition of its implications that we must return.
Is there any chance that a renewal of the faith as it was in Christ will return? Are there enough men of vision in the churches to save the day—a vision of meeting the need of man and not a vision of the growth and aggrandizement of the churches? Such men do exist in every religious organization, but they are deplorably few. Even if united (which seems as yet sadly impossible because of doctrinal differences), they present a somewhat futile group versus the organized power, the materialistic splendour, the vested interests and the fanatical determination of the reactionary ecclesiastics of all faiths. It is usually the struggling minority (in this case the spiritually-minded few) who guard the true vision and finally bring it into being; they are the ones who walk the torrid, unhappy streets with agonizing humanity and who, therefore, recognize in an acute sense the need for the regeneration of the churches.
Our religious platforms, our pulpits, and our religious periodicals and magazines are full of appeals for men to turn again to God and to find in religion a way out of the present chaotic conditions. Yet, humanity has never before been so spiritually inclined or so consciously and definitely oriented to the spiritual values and to the need for spiritual revaluations and realizations. The appeals going out should be made to the church leaders and to the ecclesiastics of all faiths and to church workers everywhere; it is they who should return to the simplicity of the faith as it is in Christ. It is they who need regeneration. Men are everywhere demanding light. Who is to give it to them?
There are two major factors which are responsible for the failure of the churches:
1. Narrow theological interpretations of the Scriptures.
2. Material and political ambitions.
In every land down the ages men have sought to foist their personal, religious interpretations of truth, of the Scriptures and of God upon the mass of men. They have taken the Bibles of the world and have attempted to explain them, passing the ideas they find through the filter of their own minds and brains and in the process inevitably stepping down the meaning. Not content with this, their followers have forced these man-evolved interpretations upon the unthinking and the ignorant. Every religion—Buddhism, Hinduism in its many aspects, Mohammedanism and Christianity—has produced a flock of outstanding minds who have sought (usually quite sincerely) to understand what God is supposed to have said, who have formulated doctrines and dogmas on this basis of what they thought God meant and their words and ideas have, therefore, become religious law and the irrefutable truths of countless millions. In the last analysis, what have you? The ideas of some human mind—interpreted in terms of his period, tradition and background—about what God said in some Scripture which has been subjected during the centuries to the difficulties and the mistakes incident to constant translation—a translation often based on oral teaching.
The doctrine of the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures of the world (deemed particularly applicable to the Christian Bible) is today completely exploded and with it the infallibility of interpretation; all the world Scriptures are now seen to be based on poor translations and no part of them—after thousands of years of translation—is as it originally was, if it ever existed as an original manuscript and was not in reality some man's recollection of what was said. At the same time, it must be remembered that the general trend and the basic teaching, as well as the significance of the symbols, is usually correct, though again, symbolism itself must be subjected to modern translation and not to the misinterpretation of ignorance. The point is that dogmas and doctrines, theology and dogmatic affirmations, do not necessarily indicate the truth as it exists in the mind of God, with Whose mind the majority of dogmatic interpreters claim familiarity. Theology is simply what men think is in the mind of God.
The more ancient the Scripture, the greater, necessarily, the distortion. The doctrine of a vengeful God, the doctrine of retribution in some mythical hell, the teaching that God only loves those who interpret Him in terms of some particular school of theological thought, the symbolism of the blood sacrifice, the appropriation of the Cross as a Christian symbol, the teaching about the Virgin Birth and the picture of an angry Deity only appeased by death are the unhappy results of man's own thinking, of his own lower nature, of his sectarian isolationism (fostered by the Jewish Old Testament, but not generally found in the Oriental faiths) and of his sense of fear, inherited from the animal side of his nature—all these are fostered and inculcated by theology but not by Christ, or the Buddha or Shri Krishna.
The little minds of men at their past and present stages of evolution cannot today and never have comprehended the mind and the purposes of the One in Whom we live and move and have our being; they have interpreted God in terms of themselves; therefore when men unthinkingly accept a dogma, they are only accepting the point of view of some other fallible human being, and are not accepting a divine truth at all. It is this truth that theological seminaries must begin to teach, training their men to think for themselves and to remember that the key to truth lies in the unifying power of Comparative Religion. Only those principles and truths which are universally recognized and which find their place in every religion are truly necessary to salvation. The secondary and controversial line of presented truths is usually unnecessary or significant only in so far as it buttresses the primary and essential truth.
It is this distorted presentation of truth which has led humanity to the formulation of a body of doctrines about which Christ apparently knew nothing. Christ cared only that men should recognize that God is love, that all men are the children of the one Father and, therefore, brothers; that man's spirit is eternal and that there is no death; He longed that the Christ within every man (the innate Christ consciousness which makes us one with each other and with Christ) should flower forth in all its glory; He taught that service was the keynote of the spiritual life and that the will of God would be revealed. These are not the points about which the mass of commentators have written. They have discussed ad nauseam how far Christ was divine and how far He was human, the nature of the Virgin Birth, the function of St. Paul as a teacher of Christian truth, the nature of hell, salvation through blood, and the authenticity and historicity of the Bible.
Today men's minds are recognizing the dawn of freedom; they are realizing that every man should be free to worship God in his own way. This will not mean (in the coming new age) that every man will pick a theological school to which he will choose to adhere. His own God-illumined mind will search for truth and he will interpret it for himself. The day of theology is over and that of a living truth is with us. This the orthodox churches refuse to recognize. Truth is essentially non-controversial; where controversy emerges, the concept is usually secondary in importance and consists largely of men's ideas about truth.
Men have gone far today in the rejection of dogmas and doctrine and this is good and right and encouraging. It signifies progress, but, as yet, the churches fail to see in this the workings of divinity. Freedom of thought, the questioning of presented truths, a refusal to accept the teachings of the churches in terms of the past theology, and a rejection of imposed ecclesiastical authority are characteristic of creative spiritual thinking at this time; this is regarded by orthodox churchmen as indicative of dangerous tendencies and as a turning away from God and, consequently, of a loss of the sense of divinity. It indicates exactly the reverse.
Perhaps as serious, because of its effect upon untold thousands of the more ignorant public, are the materialistic and political ambitions of the churches. In the Eastern faiths this is not so prominently the case; in the Western world this tendency is fast bringing on the degeneration of the churches. In the Oriental religions a disastrous negativity has prevailed; the truths given out have not sufficed to better the daily life of the believer or to anchor the truths creatively upon the physical plane. The effect of the Eastern doctrines is largely subjective and negative as to daily affairs. The negativity of the theological interpretations of the Buddhist and Hindu Scriptures have kept the people in a quiescent condition from which they are slowly beginning to emerge. The Mohammedan faith is, like the Christian, a positive presentation of truth though very materialistic; both these faiths have been militant and political in their activities.
The great Western faith, Christianity, has been definitely objective in its presentation of truth; this was needed. It has been militant, fanatical, grossly materialistic and ambitious. It has combined political objectives with pomp and ceremony, with great stone structures, with power and an imposed authority of a most cramping nature.
The early Christian Church (which was relatively pure in its presentation of truth and in its living processes) eventually split into three main divisions— the Roman Catholic Church which today seeks to make capital out of the claim that it was the Mother Church, the Byzantine or Greek Orthodox Church and the Protestant Churches. All of them split away on the question of doctrine and all of them were originally sincere and clean and relatively pure and good. All have steadily deteriorated since the day of their inception and today the following sad and serious situation can be found:
1. The Roman Catholic Church is distinguished by three things which are all contrary to the spirit of Christ:
a. An intensely materialistic attitude. The Church of Rome stands for great stone structures—cathedrals, churches, institutions, convents, monasteries. In order to build them, the policy down the centuries has been to drain the money out of the pockets of rich and poor alike. The Roman Catholic Church is a strictly capitalistic church. The money gathered into its coffers supports a powerful ecclesiastical hierarchy and provides for its many institutions and schools.
b. A far-reaching and far-sighted political program in which temporal power is the goal and not the welfare of the little people. The present program of the Catholic Church has definite political implications; their attitude to Communism has in it the seeds of another world war. The political activities of the Catholic Church have not built for peace, no matter under what guise they are presented.
c. . A planned policy whereby the mass of the people are kept in intellectual ignorance and, through this ignorance, are naturally to be found among the reactionary and conservative forces which are so powerfully at work resisting the new age with its [Page 131] new civilization and more enlightened culture. Blind faith and complete confidence in the priest and in the Vatican are regarded as spiritual duties.
The Roman Catholic Church stands entrenched and unified against any new and evolutionary presentation of truth to the people; its roots are in the past but it is not growing into the light; its vast financial resources enable it to menace the future enlightenment of mankind under the cloak of paternalism and a colourful outer appearance which hides a crystallization and an intellectual stupidity which must inevitably spell its eventual doom, unless the faint stirrings of new life following the advent of Pope John XXIII can be nourished and developed.
2. The Greek Orthodox Church reached such a high stage of corruption, graft, greed and sexual evil that, temporarily and under the Russian revolution, it was abolished. This was a wise, needed and right action. The emphasis of this church was entirely material but it never wielded (nor will it wield) such power as the Roman Catholic Church did in the past. The refusal of the revolutionary party in Russia to recognize this corrupt church was wise and salutary; it did no harm, for the sense of God can never be driven from the human heart. If all church organizations disappeared from off the earth, the sense of God and the recognition and the knowledge of Christ would emerge in strength and with a fresh and new conviction. The church in Russia has again received official recognition and faces a new opportunity. It does not yet constitute a factor in world affairs but there is hope that eventually it may emerge as a regenerating and spiritual force. The challenge of its environment is great and it cannot be reactionary as can—and are—the churches in other parts of the world.
3. The Protestant Churches. The church, covered by the generic name of "protestant", is distinguished by its multiplicity of divisions; it is broad, narrow, liberal, radical and ever protesting. It comprises within its borders many churches, large and small. These churches are also distinguished by material objectives. They are relatively free from any such political bias as conditions the Roman Catholic Church, but it is a quarrelling, fanatical and intolerant body of believers. The spirit of differentiation is rampant; there is no unity or cohesion among them, but usually a constant spirit of rejection, a virulent partisanship and the growth of hundreds of protestant cults, a constant presentation of a narrow theology which teaches nothing new but produces fresh quarrelling around some doctrines or some question of church organization or procedure. The Protestant Churches have set a precedent of acrimonious controversy from which the older churches are relatively free, owing to their hierarchical method of government and their centralized authoritarian control. Again, how ever, the first efforts to achieve some form of unity and cooperation have recently emerged and may continue to grow.
The question arises whether Christ would be at home in the churches if He walked again among men. The rituals and the ceremonies, the pomp and the vestments, the candles and the gold and silver, the graded order of popes, cardinals, archbishops, canons and ordinary rectors, pastors and clergy would seemingly have small interest to the simple Son of God Who—when on earth—had nowhere to lay His head.
There are deeply spiritual men whose lot is cast within the cramping walls of ecclesiasticism; they are many in the aggregate, and within all churches and faiths. Their lot is a difficult one; they are aware of conditions and they struggle and strive to present sound Christian and religious ideas to a searching, suffering world. They are true sons of God; their feet are set in most unpleasant places; they are aware of the "dry rot" which has undermined the clerical structure and of the bigotry, selfishness, greed and narrow-mindedness with which they are surrounded.
They know well that no man has ever been saved by theology but only by the living Christ and through the awakened consciousness of the Christ within each human heart; they interiorly repudiate the materialism in their environment and see little hope for humanity in the churches; they know well that the spiritual realities have been forgotten in the material development of the churches; they love their fellowmen and would like to divert the money spent in the upkeep of church structures and overhead to the creation of that Temple of God "not made with hands, eternal in the heavens". They serve that spiritual Hierarchy which stands—unseen and serene—behind all human affairs and feel no inner allegiance to any outer ecclesiastical hierarchy. The guidance of the human being into conscious relation to Christ and that spiritual Hierarchy is to them the factor of major importance and not the increase of church attendance and the authority of little men. They believe in the Kingdom of God of which Christ is the outstanding Executive but have no confidence in the temporal power claimed and wielded by Popes and Archbishops.
Such men are found in every great religious organization, both in the East and in the West and in all spiritual groups, dedicated ostensibly to spiritual purpose. They are simple, saintly men, asking nothing for the separated self, representing God in truth and in life, and having no real part in the church wherein they work; the church suffers sadly through the contrast which they represent and seldom permits them to rise to place [Page 134] and power; their temporal power is nil but their spiritual example brings illumination and strength to their people. They are the hope of humanity for they are in touch with Christ and are an integral part of the Kingdom of God; they represent Deity in a manner which the great ecclesiastics and the so-called Princes of the Church seldom do.
Something of great moment has happened in the world. The spirit of destruction has stampeded through the earth, leaving the world of the past and the civilization which controlled our modern life in ruins. Cities and homes have been destroyed; kingdoms and rulers have disappeared in the aftermath of war; ideologies and cherished beliefs have failed to meet the need of people and have broken down under the test of the times; starvation and insecurity are rampant everywhere; families and social groups have been disrupted; death has taken its toll of every nation and millions have died as a result of the inhuman processes of war. Broadly speaking, everyone has known terror, fear and hopelessness as they face the future; everyone is questioning what that future has in store and there is no surety anywhere. The voice of humanity is demanding light, peace and security.
Some seek it in the formation of new ideologies; some look for it along political lines and hope for relief and release through some form of government action or some political creed or party. Others demand the emergence of a leader, and there are few leaders anywhere to be seen at this time. The leadership provided is coming from groups of well-meaning people and a few statesmen who seem as bewildered as those they seek to help; they are rendered well-nigh impotent by the very magnitude of the task with which they are faced, for the issue at stake is the rebuilding, the reconditioning and the re-educating of the entire world. Still others, more patient, are planning new educational processes and systems which will attempt to prepare the present generation of children for full living in the world of tomorrow, a world whose faint outlines are only dimly to be seen. Some are sinking back into a state of despair, escaping into isolationism and waiting, as philosophically as possible, for the release which death will bring, asking only a little food, some warmth, a few books and sufficient clothing. Many are refusing altogether to think and are instead filling their lives with relief work. All are experiencing the reaction which follows in the aftermath of war and are not familiar with the processes of peace, because peace has never truly been known and is obviously still far away.
Above everything else, men throughout the world in their countless millions are registering a deep spiritual need, are conscious of the stirrings of the spirit and are recognizing it for what it is. They may express this need in many forms and use many differing terminologies; they may look in diverse directions for the satisfaction of their longings, but everywhere there is a demand for things of truer value than those which conditioned the past and for the appearance of those virtues, spiritual impulses and incentives which men appear to have lost and which are the sum total of the forces which drive humanity on towards spiritual living.
Everywhere people are ready for the light; they are expectant of a new revelation and of a new dispensation. Humanity has advanced so far on the way of evolution that these demands and expectations are not couched in terms of material betterment only, but in terms of a spiritual vision, true values and right human relations. They are demanding teaching and spiritual help along with the necessary requests for food, clothes and the opportunity to work and live in freedom; they face famine in large areas of the world and yet are registering with equal dismay the famine of the soul.
The great tragedy is, however, that they know not where to turn or to whose voice they should listen. The hope within them is spiritual and undying. This hope and this demand have reached the attentive ear of the Christ and His disciples in the place where They live, and work and watch over humanity. Through what agency will these forces of the spirit work for the restoration of the world? By what means will the spiritual Guides of the race lead men forward into greater light and the opportunity of the new age? Mankind faces towards the Way of Resurrection. Who shall lead him on that Way?
Will the organized religions and the churches throughout the world recognize the opportunity and respond to the appeal of Christ and to the spiritual demand of countless millions? Or will they work for organizations and the churches? Will the institutional aspect of the world religions loom more largely in the consciousness of churchmen than the need of the people for a simple presentation of life-giving truth? Will the interest and the power of the churches be turned to the rebuilding of the material structures, the re-establishing of financial security, the recovery of the status of outgrown theologies and the attainment anew of temporal power and prestige? Or will the churches have the vision and the courage to let the bad old ways go and turn to the people with the message that God is Love, proving the existence of that love by their own lives of simple loving service? Will they tell the people that Christ forever lives and bid them turn their eyes away from the old doctrines of death and blood and divine appeasement and centre them upon the Source of all life and upon the living Christ Who waits to pour out upon them that "life more abundantly" for which they have so long waited and which He promised should be theirs? Will they teach that the destruction of the old forms was needed and that their disappearance is the guarantee that a new and fuller unlimited spiritual life is now possible? Will they remind the people that Christ Himself said that it is not possible to put new wine into old bottles? Will the potentates of the churches and the proud ecclesiastics relinquish publicly their wrong and material aims, their money and their palaces and "sell all that they have" and follow Christ on the path of service? Or will they—like the rich young man in the Gospel story—turn sadly away? Will they spend the available money in alleviating pain as Christ did, teaching the children the things of the kingdom of God as Christ did, and setting an example of simple faith, confident joy and assured knowledge of God as Christ did? Can churchmen of all faiths in both hemispheres attain that inner spiritual light which will make them light bearers and which will evoke that greater light which the new and anticipated revelation will surely bring? Can the materialism for which the churches have stood and the failures of their representatives to teach the people aright be swept away? These were the things which were responsible for the world war (1914-1945). There could have been no war if greed, hate and separativeness had not been rampant upon the earth and in the hearts of men; these disastrous faults were there because the spiritual values had no place in the life of the people and this was due to the fact that for centuries they have had small place in the life of the churches. The responsibility rests squarely upon the churches.
These are the questions with which the organized churches are confronted. Within the churches today there are men responding to the new spiritual idealism, to the urgency of the opportunity and to the need for change. But the opportunity is controlled by reactionary minds. The movements towards the reorganization of the churches which are now proceeding all over the world still remain in the hands of the church dignitaries and synods and conclaves. The plans internationally being formed at this time would indicate that the authority is still vested in the wrong people.
There is no indication on any large scale within the churches of a basic change of attitude towards theological teaching or church government. There is no indication that the great Oriental religions are taking an active lead in producing a new and better world. And still humanity waits. Humanity wants above all else assurance that God Is and that there is a divine Plan—a Plan which fits into the scheme of things and which holds within it both hope and strength. Men want the conviction that Christ lives; that the Coming One—for Whom all men wait—will come and that He will not be Christian, Hindu or Buddhist but will belong to all men everywhere. Men want to be assured that a great spiritual revelation is due and cannot be arrested and that there lies ahead of them a spiritual future as well as a material one. It is with this demand and this opportunity that the churches are faced.
What is the solution of this intricate and difficult relationship throughout the world? A new presentation of truth, because God is not a fundamentalist; a new approach to divinity, because God is ever accessible and requires no outer intermediaries today; a new mode of interpreting the ancient spiritual teaching, because man has evolved and what was suitable for infant humanity is today unsuitable for adult mankind. These are imperative changes.
Nothing can prevent the new world religion from eventually emerging. It always has down the ages and it always will. There is no finality in the presentation of truth; it develops and grows to meet man's growing demand for light. It will be implemented and developed by the spiritually minded in all churches, whose minds are open to the new inspirations of God's Mind, who are liberal and kind and whose individual lives are pure and aspiring. It will be hindered by the fundamentalists, the narrow-minded and the theologians in all the world religions, by those who refuse to let go the old interpretations and methods, who love the old doctrines and men's thoughts about them, and by those who lay the emphasis upon forms, upon rites and ceremonies, upon ritual and pomp, on authority and the building of stone edifices in these days of man's extremity, his starvation and his need.
The Roman Catholic Church here faces her greatest opportunity and also her greatest crisis. Catholicism is founded in ancient tradition, is assertive of ecclesiastical authority, is responsive to outer forms and rituals and—in spite of a wide and beneficent philanthropy—is quite unable to leave her children free. If the Catholic Church can change her techniques, can relinquish authority over the souls of men (which she has never truly had) and can really follow the way of the Saviour, of the humble Carpenter of Nazareth, she can render a world service and set an example which will serve to enlighten the followers of every faith and of every branch of Christianity.
The problem of the freedom of the human soul and its individual relation to God Immanent and God Transcendent is the spiritual problem, facing all the world religions at this time. No longer must the churches interpose their authority and their interpretations between God and man. The time for that is past. This problem has been slowly shaping up for centuries, developing with the growth of the human intellect and [Page 140] the self-consciousness of the human being and it is one which now cries aloud for solution.
There are certain keynotes—embodying the future of religion—which should govern the thinking of enlightened churchmen of all faiths at this time. They are appropriate to both the East and the West. These are: World Religion—Revelation—Recognition. They will not be accepted by the narrow-minded Christian or believer of any faith.
The day is dawning when all religions will be regarded as emanating from one great spiritual source; all will be seen as unitedly providing the one root out of which the universal world religion will inevitably emerge. Then there will be neither Christian nor heathen, neither Jew nor Gentile, but simply one great body of believers, gathered out of all the current religions. They will accept the same truths, not as theological concepts but as essential to spiritual living; they will stand together on the same platform of brotherhood and of human relations; they will recognize divine sonship and will seek unitedly to cooperate with the divine Plan, as it is revealed to them by the spiritual leaders of the race, and as it indicates to them the next step to be taken on the Path of Approach to God. Such a world religion is no idle dream but something which is definitely forming today.
A second emerging guide to the spiritual life is the hope of revelation. Never before has man's need been greater and never has the surety of revelation been more certain; never has the spirit of man been more invocative of divine aid than it is today and, therefore, never before has a greater revelation been on its way. What that revelation will be, we cannot know. The revelation of the nature of God has been a slow unfolding process, paralleled by the evolutionary growth of the human consciousness. It is not for us to define or limit it with our concrete thinking but to prepare for it, to unfold our intuitive perception and to live in expectation of the revealing light.
A world religion, an expected revelation and then the development of the habit of spiritual recognition! It is the task of the churches to teach men to unfold this latent power of recognition—recognition of the beauty of divinity in all forms, recognition of that which is coming and of what an old Hindu seer has spoken of as the "raincloud of knowable things" which hovers over humanity, ready to precipitate the wonders which God holds in store for those who know the meaning of love. It is along these three lines that the work of the churches should, in the future, be directed; the carrying forward of this task would truly restore the churches and obliterate all the failures of the past.
In these three attitudes there are certain basic truths which the churches can present to men everywhere—truths which are uniform in all the world religions:
The Eastern faiths have ever emphasized God immanent, deep within the human heart, "nearer than hands or feet", the Self, the One, the Atma, smaller than the small, yet all-comprehensive. The Western faiths have presented God transcendent, outside His universe, an Onlooker. God transcendent first of all conditioned men's concept of Deity, for the action of this transcendent God appeared in the processes of nature; later, in the Jewish dispensation, God appeared as the tribal Jehovah, as the soul (the rather unpleasant soul) of a nation. Next God was seen as a perfected man, and the divine God-man walked the earth in the Person of Christ. Today we have a rapidly growing emphasis upon God immanent in every human being and in every created form. Today we should have the churches presenting a synthesis of these two ideas which have been summed up for us in the statement of Shri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita: "Having pervaded this whole universe with a fragment of Myself, I remain". God, greater than the created whole, yet God present also in the part; God transcendent guarantees the plan for our world and is the Purpose, conditioning all lives from the minutest atom, up through all the kingdoms of nature to man.
The spirit in man is undying; it forever endures, progressing from point to point and stage to stage upon the Path of Evolution, unfolding steadily and sequentially the divine attributes and aspects. This truth involves necessarily the recognition of two great natural laws: the Law of Rebirth and the Law of Cause and Effect. The churches in the West have refused officially to recognize the Law of Rebirth and have thereby wandered into a theological impasse and into a cul-de-sac from which there is no possible exit. The churches in the East have overemphasized these laws so that a negative, acquiescent attitude to life and its processes, based on continuously renewed opportunity, controls the people. Christianity has emphasized immortality but has made eternal happiness dependent upon the acceptance of a theological dogma: Be a true professing Christian and live eternally in a somewhat fatuous heaven or refuse to be an accepting Christian and go to an impossible hell—a hell growing out of the theology of The Old Testament and its presentation of a God full of hate and jealousy. Both concepts are today repudiated by all sane, sincere, thinking people. No one of any true reasoning power or with any true belief in a God of love accepts the heaven of the churchmen or has any desire to go there. Still less do they accept the "lake that burneth with fire and brimstone" or the everlasting torture to which a God of love is supposed to condemn all who do not believe in the theological interpretations of the Middle Ages, of the modern fundamentalists or of the churchmen who seek—through doctrine, fear and threat—to keep people in line with the obsolete old teaching.
The essential truth lies elsewhere. "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap" is the truth which needs re-emphasizing. In these words, St. Paul phrases for us the ancient and true teaching of the Law of Cause and Effect called in the Orient, the Law of Karma. To that, he adds in another place the injunction to "work out your own salvation" and—as that contradicts the theological teaching and above all else is not possible to do in any one life—he implicitly endorses the Law of Rebirth, and makes the school of life a constantly recurring experience until man has fulfilled the command of the Christ (and this refers to every man) "Be ye, therefore, perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect". Through recognition of the results of action—good or bad—and through constant reliving upon the earth, man eventually attains "unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ".
The fact of this innate divinity explains the urge at the heart of every man for betterment, for experience, for progress, for increasing realization and for his steady moving on towards the distant height which he has visioned. There is no other explanation of the capacity of the human spirit to emerge out of darkness, out of evil and death into life and goodness. This emergence has been the unfailing history of man. Something is always happening to the human soul which projects him nearer to the Source of all good and nothing on earth can arrest this progress nearer to God.
The third great spiritual and essential truth is the fact of Christ, the living Christ, present among His people, fulfilling His promise, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world", and increasingly making His presence felt as men approach closer to Him and His group of disciples and world workers. The church emphasis has been (and is today) upon the dead Christ. Men have forgotten that He lives, though they give a tentative recognition to this hope and belief at Easter time, largely because His resurrection guarantees our own "rising again", and "because He lives, we shall live also". The fact of His livingness and of His presence today, here and now, on earth is not emphasized, except through vague and hopeful generalities. Men have forgotten the Christ who lives with us on earth, surrounded by His disciples, the Masters of the Wisdom, accessible to those who make the right approach and saving men by the force of His example and by the expression of the life which is in Him and is—unexpressed and largely undiscovered as yet by the majority—to be found also in every man.
In the coming world religion, the emphasis will be on these truths. Life and not death will be proclaimed; attainment of spiritual status through spiritual living will be taught, and the fact of the existence of those who have thus attained and who work with Christ for the helping and salvaging of humanity will be the goal. The fact of the spiritual Hierarchy of our planet, the ability of mankind to contact its Members and to work in co operation with Them, and the existence of Those Who know what the will of God is and can work intelligently with that will—these are the truths upon which the future spiritual teaching will be based.
The fact of the existence of this Hierarchy and its supreme Head, the Christ, is consciously recognized by hundreds of thousands today, though still denied by the orthodox. So many know this truth and so many people of integrity and worth are cooperating consciously with the Members of the Hierarchy that ecclesiastical antagonisms and the belittling comments of the concrete minded are of no avail. Men are moving out from under doctrinal authority into direct, personal and spiritual experience; they are coming under the direct authority which contact with Christ and His disciples, the Masters, ever confers.
Christ in every man, the guarantee of our eventual spiritual attainment; Christ as the living example of that attainment, Who has entered for us within the veil, leaving us an example that we should follow His steps; Christ Who ever lives and Who has stayed with us for two thousand years, watching over His people, inspiring His working disciples, the Masters of the Wisdom, those "just men, made perfect" (as the Bible calls them); Christ demonstrating for us the possibility of this unfolding, living, spiritual consciousness (which has been given the somewhat vague name of the "Christ consciousness") bringing every man, eventually—under the Laws of Rebirth and of Cause and Effect—to an ultimate perfection; these are the truths which the church will eventually endorse, teach and express through the lives and words of its exponents. This change in the doctrinal presentation will lead to a very different humanity to that which exists today; it will produce a humanity which will recognize the divine in all men, at varying stages of expression, a humanity which is not only expectant of the return of Christ but is assured of His coming and reappearance—not from some distant Heaven but from that place on earth where He has always been, known and reached by thousands but held at a distance by the theologies and the fear-tactics of the church.
His coming will not be so much a triumphant return to a conquering church (conquering because the churches have done so fine a piece of work) but a recognition of His factual existence by those who have hitherto been blind to His presence with them and to the fact of His office and activities, ceaselessly carried forward on earth. He does not return to rule, for He has never left off ruling, working and loving; but men will come to recognize the signs of His activities and of His presence and will know that it is He Who is over throwing the churches by the strength of His influence over the hearts and lives of men. Men will then realize that the word "spiritual" has little reference to religion, as was hitherto its major significance, but that it connotes divine activity in every phase of human living and human thinking; they will grasp the stupendous truth that sound economics, clear humanitarianism, effective education (as it fits men for world citizenship) and a science, dedicated to human betterment, are all deeply spiritual and in their aggregated usefulness constitute a body of religious truth; they will discover that organized religion is only one phase of this worldwide experience of divinity.
Christ will, therefore, surely come in three ways. He will come as men recognize that He is truly here as He has been ever since He apparently left the earth; He will come in the sense also that He will overshadow, inspire and directly guide and personally confer with His advanced disciples as they labour in the field of the world, in the effort to establish right human relations and as they become known as the directing Agents of God's will; He will come also in the hearts of men everywhere, manifesting as the indwelling Christ, struggling towards the light and influencing the lives of men towards conscious recognition of divinity. Men on a large scale will then pass through the Bethlehem experience, the Christ in them will come to the birth and they will become "new men".
It will be for the dissemination of these existing truths that the church of the future will work, bringing a great regeneration to the body of humanity, a resurrection into life, and the restoration of the life of God on earth through a Christ-conscious humanity.
When this has assumed large proportions and the recognition of these truths is worldwide, then we shall have the restoration of the Mysteries, the consequent realization that the Kingdom of God is on earth, and that man is in deed and in truth made in the image of God and must inevitably—through the passing of time and the discipline of life—manifest his essential divinity, as Christ did.
Much has been written, preached and talked about brotherhood. So much has been said and so little brotherhood practised that the word has fallen somewhat into disrepute. Yet the word is a statement of the underlying origin and goal of humanity and is the keynote of the fourth kingdom in nature, the human.
Brotherhood is a great natural fact; all men are brothers; under the divergences of colour, creed, cultures and civilizations, there is only one humanity without distinction or differences in its essential nature, in its origin, its spiritual and mental objectives, its capacities, its qualities and its mode of development and of evolutionary unfoldment. In these divine attributes (for that is what they are) all men are equal; it is only in relation to time and in the extent to which progress has been made in the revelation of innate divinity in all its fullness that temporary differences become apparent. It is the temporary differences and the sins which ignorance and inexperience betray which have engrossed the attention of the churches to the exclusion of the penetrating, piercing vision of the divine in every man. It is the fact of brotherhood which the churches must begin to teach—not from the angle of a transcendent God, an external unknowable Father—but from the angle of the divine life, eternally present in every human heart, and eternally struggling to express itself through individuals, nations and races.
The true expression of this realized brotherhood must inevitably come through the establishing of right human relations and the cultivation of goodwill. Churchmen have forgotten the sequence in the angel's song: "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, goodwill towards men". They have failed to realize and, therefore, to teach that only as goodwill is manifested in the daily lives of men are right human relations thereby established and peace on earth can come; they have failed also to realize that there is no glory to God until there is peace on earth through goodwill among men. The churches have forgotten that all men are sons of the Father and, therefore, brothers; that all men are divine, that some men are already God-conscious and expressing divinity and that some are not; they have overlooked the fact that because of their point in evolution some men know Christ, because the Christ in them is active while others are only struggling to bring the Christ life into activity; still others are entirely unaware of the divine Being hidden deep within their hearts. There is only difference in degree of consciousness; there is no difference in nature.
To all these above truths, essential to human unfoldment, must be added another. This truth is only as yet dimly sensed because it is a larger truth than any hitherto presented to the consciousness of mankind. It is larger because it is related to the Whole and not to individual man alone and his personal salvation. It is an extension of the individual approach to truth. Let us call it the truth concerning the great Cyclic Approaches of the divine to the human; of these all world Saviours and Teachers are the symbol and the guarantee. At certain great moments down the ages, God drew nearer to His people and humanity at the same time made great, though oft unconscious efforts to draw near to God. From one angle, it might be regarded as God transcendent recognizing God immanent, and God in man reaching out to God in the Whole and greater than the Whole. On the part of God, working through the Head of the spiritual Hierarchy and its Membership, this effort was intentional, conscious and deliberate; on the part of man, it has been in the past largely unconscious, forced upon humanity by the tragedy of circumstances, by desperate need and by the driving urge of the immanent Christ consciousness.
These great Approaches can be traced down the centuries; each time one took place, it meant a clearer understanding of divine purpose, a new and fresh revelation of divine quality, the institution of some aspect of a new world faith and the sounding of a note which produced a new civilization and culture or a fresh recognition of relationship between God and man or man and his brother.
Back in the dim past of history (hinted at through symbolism and in the Bibles of the world) there was a first major Approach when God took notice of man and something happened—under the action and will of God the Creator, God transcendent—which affected primeval man, and he "became a living soul". As the yearning urge towards an undefined and unrealized good made itself felt in the inchoate longings of unthinking man (literally unthinking at that stage), it evoked a response from Deity; God drew near to man and man became imbued with that life and energy which, as time went by, would enable him to recognize himself as a son of God and eventually to express that sonship perfectly. This Approach was signalized by the appearance of the faculty of mind in man. In man was planted the embryonic power to think, to reason and to know. The universal Mind of God was reflected in the tiny mind of man.
Later, we are told, when the mental powers of the early humanity warranted it, another Approach between God and man, between the spiritual Hierarchy and humanity, became possible and the door into the Kingdom of God was opened. Man learned that the way into the Holy Place could be entered through love. To the mental principle was added—again by the force of invocation and responsive evocation—another divine attribute or principle, the principle of love.
These two great Approaches made it possible for the human soul to express or manifest two aspects of divinity: Intelligence and Love. Intelligence today is flowering through knowledge and science; it has, however, not yet unfolded on any large scale its latent beauty of wisdom; love today is only just beginning to engross human attention; its lowest aspect, Goodwill, is only now being recognized as a divine energy and is still a theory and a hope.
The Buddha came embodying in Himself the divine quality of wisdom; He was the manifestation of Light, and the Teacher of the way of enlightenment. He demonstrated in Himself the processes of illumination and became "the Illumined One". Light, wisdom, reason, as divine yet human attributes, were focussed in the Buddha. He challenged the people to tread the Path of Illumination of which wisdom, mental perception and the intuition are aspects.
Then came the next great Teacher, the Christ. He embodied in Himself a still greater divine principle—greater than the Mind, that of Love; yet at the same time, He embraced within Himself all that the Buddha had of light. Christ was the expression of both light and love. Christ also brought to human attention three deeply necessary concepts:
1. The extreme value of the individual son of God and the necessity for intense spiritual effort.
2. The opportunity, presented to humanity, to take a great step forward and undergo the new birth.
3. The method whereby a man could enter into the kingdom of God, voiced for us in His words, "Love your neighbour as yourself'. Individual effort, group opportunity and identification with each other—such is the message of the Christ.
Thus we have had four great Approaches of the divine to the human—two major Approaches and two lesser Approaches. These lesser Approaches made clear to us the true nature of the great Approaches and showed us how that which was conferred in the far distant history of the race constitutes a divine heritage and the seed of ultimate perfection.
A fifth great Approach is now possible and will take place when humanity has put its house in order. A new revelation is hovering over mankind and for it the previous four Approaches have prepared humanity. A new heaven and a new earth are on their way. The words "a new Heaven" signify an entirely new conception as to the world of spiritual realities and perhaps of the very nature of God Himself. May it not be possible that our present ideas of God as the Universal Mind, as Love and as Will may be enriched by some new idea and quality for which we have as yet no name or word and of which we have not the faintest understanding? Each of the three concepts as to the nature of divinity—mind, love and will— were entirely new when first presented to humanity.
What this fifth Approach will bring to humanity we do not and cannot know. It will surely bring as definite results in the human consciousness as did the earlier Approaches. For some years now, the spiritual Hierarchy of our planet has been drawing nearer to humanity and its approach is responsible for the great concepts of freedom which are so close to the hearts of men everywhere. The dream of brotherhood, of fellowship, of world cooperation and of a peace, based on right human relations, is becoming clearer in our minds. We are also visioning a new and vital world religion, a universal faith which will have its roots in the past, but which will make clear the new dawning beauty and the coming vital revelation.
Of one thing we can be sure, this fifth Approach will in some way—deeply spiritual, yet wholly factual—prove the truth of the immanence of God and will prove also the close relationship between God transcendent and God immanent, for both expressions of God are true.
Can the churches, both in the East and in the West, be regenerated, purified and brought into line with divine truth? Can they in reality take over the task which they loudly proclaim is theirs and become the genuine dispensers of truth and the representatives of the kingdom of God on earth? The answer is yes. These changes can be made and their possibility can be demonstrated by the recognition of certain factors which are oft overlooked.
A profound and sound optimism is entirely possible even in the midst of discouraging conditions. The heart of humanity is sound; God in His very nature and with all His power is present in the person of every man, unrevealed as yet in the majority but eternally present and moving towards full expression. Nothing can or ever has prevented mankind from a steady progress which has been from ignorance to knowledge and from darkness to light. The first great clause of the most ancient prayer in the world, "Lead us from darkness to Light", has seen fulfilment to a large degree. Today we are on the verge of seeing the answer to the second clause: "Lead us from the unreal to the Real". This may well be the outstanding effect of the coming fifth Approach.
God is not as He has been presented; salvation is not achieved as the churches teach; man is not the miserable sinner which the clergy force him to believe. All this is unreal but the Real exists; it exists for the churches and for the professional representatives of organized religion as much as for any other man or group. Churchmen are as basically divine, as sound and as surely on their way to enlightenment as any other group of men on earth. The salvation of the churches rests on the humanity of its representatives and on their innate divinity as surely as does the salvation of the mass of men. This is for the church a hard saying.
Great and good, holy and humble men are to be found serving as priests in every church, silently and quietly endeavouring to live as Christ would have them live, setting an example of a Christlike consciousness and demonstrating their close and recognized relation to God.
Let these men rise up, and in their spiritual might let them eliminate out of the churches those materially minded and narrow doctrinaires who keep the church as it is today; let them intensify the fire in their hearts and draw closer—with deliberation and understanding—to the Christ they serve; let them gather closer to the Hierarchy those they are seeking to help; let them discard—without fighting, comment or fury—the doctrines which hold the people in a mental prison and present those few and true teachings to which the hearts of all men everywhere respond. Let them have courage and cheer, optimism and joy, for the forces of evil have been greatly weakened and the masses of men are rapidly awakening to the true spiritual values; let them know that Christ and the true inner church are on their side; therefore, victory is already theirs.
The processes of evolution may be long but they are proven and sure and nothing can arrest the moving forward into the Kingdom of God. Humanity must progress; stage by stage and cycle after cycle, humanity approaches closer to divinity, discovers a more brilliant light and arrives at a growing knowledge of God. God, in the person of Christ and of His disciples, also draws nearer to men. What has been in the past shall indeed be in the future; revelation will succeed revelation until the great Informing Life of our planet (called in the Bible the Ancient of Days) will stand finally revealed in all His glory; He will then Himself approach His regenerated and purified people.
Another point which should be remembered is that in the new generation lies hope—hope through repudiation of the ancient and undesirable, hope because of their ceaseless demand for spiritual light, hope because of the promptness with which they recognize truth wherever it is to be found (in the church or out of it) and hope because, having been born in the midst of a [Page 155] ruined world and a general chaos, they are ready for the rebuilding.
The church will then proclaim that men can draw near to God, not through the mediation, absolution and the intercessory work of any priest or churchman but by right of man's inherent divinity. This it will be the duty of every churchman to evoke by example, by the energy of applied and practical love (not expressed through a soporific paternalism), and by the unified effort of the clergy of all faiths everywhere in the world.
The churches in the West need to realize that basically there is only one church but it is not necessarily only the orthodox Christian institution; God works in many ways, through many faiths and religious agencies; in their union will the fullness of truth be revealed. This is one reason for the elimination of nonessential doctrines.
In what way will this new presentation of religion and its new rituals and ceremonies take form? A new presentation is deeply desired and hopefully anticipated by those to whom the religious attitude is of fundamental importance. What are the signs of its coming? What must be the preliminary first steps? Are there any indications of developing trends which would incline one to believe in its eventual appearance?
Many such questions arise. Much of what might be said in reply can be regarded by the sceptical and the orthodox as purely speculative. The present attitude of the churches would seem to negate any possibility of a universal religion at this time—if ever; the divergences in doctrine and in the presented approach to God would appear to preclude any uniformity of approach. Necessarily, the outer structure of the New World Religion will be long in manifesting; there is little chance of its full emergence during the present generation. The signs, however, of its rising are already to be seen on the horizon, and the dawn of true thinking is revealing them; the blueprints are already drawn. The inner attitude of humanity and a few outer happenings indicate a true inner recognition of the necessity for a revisal of orthodox religion and a revival of its spiritual influence. These are ever the preliminary steps to creation. Subjective realization always precedes the objective manifestation and so it is today in this case.
Humanity is recognizing the need for a more vital approach to God and one more intelligently presented; men are tired of doctrinal and dogmatic differences and quarrels; the study of Comparative Religion has demonstrated that the foundational truths in every faith are identical. Because of this universality, they evoke recognition and response from all men everywhere. The only factor in reality which militates against the spiritual unity of all men everywhere is the existent clerical organizations and their militant attitude to religions and to faiths other than their own.
In spite of all this, the structure of the New World Religion is being raised by the dissenting groups within the institutional churches, by the many world groups who present the concept of God immanent, even when they do so with selfish motive and with an unwholesome emphasis upon the powers of the indwelling divinity to provide perfect health, plenty of money, serene business success and unbroken popularity!
The New World Religion is also being brought into expression through the work of the esoteric groups throughout the world because of their particular emphasis upon the fact of the spiritual Hierarchy, upon the office and the work of the Christ and upon the techniques of meditation whereby soul-awareness (or the Christ-consciousness) can be achieved. Prayer has been [Page 157] expanded into meditation; desire has been lifted into mental aspiration. This is supplanted by a sense of unity and by the recognition of God immanent. This leads eventually to at-one-ment with God transcendent.
It is at this point that the Science of Invocation and Evocation can at times supersede the earlier techniques. The whole of humanity is moving forward into the area of mental understanding. The grasping nature of the prayers of the average men (based as they are upon desire for something) has long disturbed the intelligent; the vagueness of the meditation, taught and practised in the East and in the West (with its emphatically selfish note, personal liberation and personal satisfaction) is likewise causing a revolt. Something bigger and larger than individual desire and liberation is registered. Many groups are wrestling with these changes and this is, in itself, most hopeful.
In the aggregate of these groups—within the churches or outside them—is to be found the nucleus of the New World Religion. To this should be added the activities of the spiritualistic movement, not from the angle of its emphasis upon phenomena (much of it is spurious or imaginative, but some of it realistic and true) but from the angle of its surety about human immortality and the evidence which it has collected. The spiritualists have not yet succeeded in proving immortality; they have succeeded in proving survival and have thus made a valuable contribution to the structure of the New World Religion.
The slowly developing powers of telepathic communication and the recognition of extra-sensory perception by science are also playing their part in demonstration of the world of non-tangible life and values; all these factors necessitate and "sub-stand" the demand for a new presentation of religion which will be inclusive in its scope and not exclusive—as it is today. The religion of the future will account for the progress of humanity by its recognition of a divine Plan, historically proved. Scientifically applied discipline and training will enable mankind to function under the control of the inner divinity, or interior spiritual man; this training will also reveal to them the fact of God immanent in all forms and will enable them to participate in that great planetary movement—now slowly taking place—whereby God immanent is entering into a closer relation with God transcendent, via the spiritual Hierarchy of the earth.
The keynote of the New World Religion is Divine Approach. "Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you" is the injunction, emanating in new and clear tones from the Hierarchy today. The great theme of the New World Religion will be the unifying of the great divine Approaches; the task ahead of the churches is to prepare humanity, through organized and spiritual movements, for the fifth imminent Approach; the method employed will be the scientific and intelligent use of Invocation and Evocation and the recognition of its stupendous potency; the objective of the coming Approach, of the preparatory work and of the invocation, is revelation—a revelation which has ever been cyclically given and which today is ready for man's acceptance.
Invocation is of three kinds. There is, first of all, the massed demand, unconsciously voiced, and the crying appeal, wrung from the hearts of men in all times of crisis, such as the present. This invocative cry rises ceaselessly from all men living in the midst of disaster and is addressed to that power outside themselves which they feel can and should come to their help in their moment of extremity. That great and wordless invocation is rising everywhere today. Then there is the invocational spirit, evidenced by sincere men as they participate in the rites of their religion and take advantage of the opportunity of united worship and prayer to lay their demands for help before God. This group, added to the mass of men, creates a huge body of invocative applicants and, at this time, their massed intent is in great evidence and their invocation is rising to the Most High. Then, lastly, there are the trained disciples and aspirants of the world who use certain forms of words, certain carefully defined invocations and who—as they do—focus the invocative cry and the invocative appeal of the other two groups, giving it right direction and power. All these three groups are, consciously or unconsciously, swinging into activity at this time and their united effort guarantees a resultant evocation.
This new invocative work will be the keynote of the coming world religion and will fall into two parts. There will be the invocative work of the masses of the people, everywhere trained by the spiritually minded people of the world (working in the churches whenever possible under an enlightened clergy) to accept the fact of the approaching spiritual energies, focussed through Christ and His spiritual Hierarchy, and trained also to voice their demand for light, liberation and understanding. There will also be the skilled work of invocation as practised by those who have trained their minds through right meditation, who know the potency of formulas, mantrams and invocations and who work consciously. They will increasingly use certain great formulas of words which will later be given to the race, just as the Lord's Prayer was given by the Christ, and the New Invocation has been given out for use at this time by the Hierarchy.
This new religious science for which prayer, meditation and ritual have prepared humanity will train its people to present—at stated periods throughout the year—the voiced demand of the people of the world for relationship with God and for a closer spiritual relation to each other. This work, when rightly carried forward, will evoke response from the waiting Hierarchy and from its Head, the Christ. Through this response, the belief of the masses will gradually be charged into the conviction of the knowers. In this way the mass of men will be transformed and spiritualized, and the two great divine centres of energy or groups—the Hierarchy and Humanity itself—will begin to work in complete at-one-ment and unity. Then the Kingdom of God will in deed and in truth be functioning on earth.
It will be obvious to you that this technique of invocation and evocation has its roots in past methods of human approach to Deity. Men have long used the method of prayer with important and deeply spiritual results, in spite of its frequent misuse for selfish purposes; people, more intelligent and more mentally focussed, have employed more generally the method of meditation in order to arrive at knowledge of God, to awaken the intuition and to understand the nature of truth. These two methods of prayer and of meditation have brought humanity to the various spiritual recognitions which distinguish human thinking; through their means also the Scriptures of the world have been produced and the great spiritual concepts which have conditioned human living and which have led man on from one revelation to another have found their way into the minds of men. Worship also has played its part and has attempted to organize groups of believers into an oriented and united approach to God; however, the emphasis has again been on God transcendent and not on God immanent. When the God immanent in every human heart is awakened and functioning (even if only in a small degree) the potency of worship as an act of invocative approach to God will prove amazing and miraculous in its results. A response beyond man's deepest hopes will be evoked from Christ and His group of workers.
To these two great concepts underlying the New World Religion—Approach to God, and Invocation and Evocation—must be added the exceedingly modern one of energy as the basis of all life, all forms and all action and the medium of all relationships. The force of the mind in producing telepathic rapport has already been recognized by science; mental power is today registered as an energy, capable of contact, of recognition and of producing a reciprocal activity. Prayer has always recognized this, without attempting to formulate the mode whereby phenomena are produced through the medium of prayer. But in prayer, meditation and worship there is undoubtedly an energy factor, proceeding from this to that and producing in many cases the desired response in some form or another. Meditation is also an energy, setting in motion potencies which can eliminate certain aspects of thought or attract other aspects, such as visions, ideas, and spiritual recognitions. Worship has ever been known to produce a group stimulation when successfully oriented and focussed even to the point of ecstasy or hysteria, Pentecost or revelation. To these three—Prayer, Meditation and Worship—must now be added conscious Invocation, plus a trained expectancy of a reciprocal Evocation.
There are also many forms of energy and many spiritual potencies which are not as yet generally recognized but to which the church Festivals of all religions bear witness; these are released at the period of the Festivals. It is not possible in this book to deal with this subject in any detail. But we can indicate the general line of thought which will produce and condition the New World Religion, which will link it with all of the good which the past has given, which will make it spiritually effective in the future and which today will slowly condition man's approach to God—an approach which for the first time in history can be organized on a worldwide scale and consciously undertaken. This indicates that because of man's desperate need, because of the crisis through which humanity has just passed and is now passing, men and women of vision and of inclusive thinking in all the churches of every world faith will end their doctrinal differences, agree on the essential religious truths and then proceed unitedly and with some uniformity of ritual and ceremonial to approach together the centre of spiritual power.
Is this too much to expect and to ask of humanity in the hour of man's need? Cannot the enlightened members of the present great world religions in the East and in the West get together and plan for such an invocative undertaking and thus together inaugurate the mode of spiritual Approach which will serve to unify their efforts and establish the seed at least of the New World Religion?
The establishing of a measure of uniformity of procedure will not prove so difficult once a measure of unity on the spiritual essentials has been achieved. This carefully determined uniformity will aid men everywhere to strengthen each other's work and enhance powerfully the stream of thought energy which can be directed towards those spiritual Lives, working under the Christ, Who stand expectantly waiting to come to the aid of humanity. At present the Christian religion has its great Festivals; the Buddhist keeps his particular set of spiritual events, and the Hindu has still another list of holy days, as has also the Mohammedan. Is it not possible that in the world of the future, men everywhere and of all faiths will keep the same holy days and unite in honour of the same Festivals? This will bring about a pooling of spiritual resources and a united spiritual effort, plus a simultaneous spiritual invocation. The potency of this is surely apparent.
Let us indicate the possibilities of such a spiritual happening, and prophesy the nature of certain of the future worldwide Festivals. There are three such Festivals each year which all men could and would normally and easily keep together, in unison and with a uniformity of approach which would link them all closely together. These three Festivals are concentrated in three consecutive months and lead, therefore, to a prolonged annual spiritual effort which should affect the entire year. They would serve to unite in closer spiritual ties the Eastern and the Western believer; they express divinity in manifestation through the place where the will of God is known, through the spiritual Hierarchy where the love of God is fully expressed and through humanity whose task it is intelligently to work out God's plan in love and goodwill to all men.
I. The Festival of Easter. This is the festival of the risen, living Christ, the Head of the spiritual Hierarchy, the Inaugurator of the Kingdom of God and the Expression of the love of God. On this day, the spiritual Hierarchy which He guides and directs will be universally recognized, man's relation to it emphasized and the nature of God's love registered. Men everywhere will invoke that love, with its power to produce resurrection and spiritual livingness. This Festival is determined always by the date of the first Full Moon of spring. The eyes and thoughts of men will be fixed on life, not death; Good Friday will no longer be a factor in the life of the churches. Easter will be the great Western festival.
II. The Festival of Wesak or Vaisakha. This is the festival of the Buddha, that great spiritual Intermediary between the centre where the will of God is known and the spiritual Hierarchy. The Buddha is the expression of the will of God, the embodiment of Light and the indicator of the divine purpose. Men everywhere will evoke wisdom and understanding and the inflow of light into the minds of men everywhere. This Festival is determined in relation to the Full Moon of Taurus. It is the great Eastern festival and is already meeting with Western recognition; thousands of Christians today keep the festival of the Buddha.
III. The Festival of Humanity. This will be the festival of the spirit of humanity—aspiring to approach nearer to God, seeking conformity to the divine will to which the Buddha called attention, dedicated to the expression of goodwill which is the lowest aspect of love to which Christ called attention and of which He was the perfect expression. It will be the day pre-eminently on which the divine nature of man will be recognized and his power to express goodwill and to establish right human relations (because of his divinity) will be stressed. On this festival we are told Christ has for nearly two thousand years represented humanity and has stood before the Hierarchy as the God-man, the leader of His people and "the Eldest in a great family of brothers". This will, therefore, be a festival of deep invocation and appeal; it will express a basic aspiration towards fellowship and for human and spiritual unity; it will represent the effect in the human consciousness of the work of the Buddha and of the Christ. It will be held at the time of the Full Moon of Gemini.
If in these early days of restoration and of the inauguration of the new civilization and of the new world, men of all faiths and all religions, of every cult and all esoteric groups were to keep these three great Festivals of Invocation, simultaneously and with understanding of the far-reaching implications, a great spiritual unity would be achieved; if they unitedly invoked the spiritual Hierarchy and sought consciously to contact its Head a great and general inflow of spiritual light and love would occur; if they together determined, with steadfastness and understanding, to approach nearer to God, who could doubt the stupendous results which eventually would be seen? Not only would an underlying unity [Page 165] between men of all faiths be attained, not only would brotherhood be recognized as a fact and not only would our oneness of origin, of goal and of life be recognized but that which would be evoked would change all aspects of human living, would condition our civilisation, change our mode of life and make the spiritual world a dominant reality in the human consciousness.
God, in the person of Christ and His Hierarchy would draw nearer to His people; God, through the instrumentality of the Buddha, would reveal His eternal light and evoke our intelligent cooperation; God, through the spiritual Hierarchy and through that centre where the will of God is known, would bring humanity to the point of resurrection and to a spiritual awareness which would bring about goodwill towards men and peace on earth. The will of God transcendent would be carried out through the medium of God immanent in man; it would be expressed in love in response to the work of Christ; it would be intelligently presented on earth because the minds of men would have been illumined as the result of their united invocation, the unity of their effort and the oneness of their understanding.
It is for this that humanity waits; it is for this that the churches must work; it is these qualities and characteristics which will condition the New World Religion.
The great Invocation or Prayer does not belong to any person or group but to all Humanity. The beauty and the strength of this Invocation lies in its simplicity, and in its expression of certain central truths which all men, innately and normally, accept—the truth of the existence of a basic Intelligence to Whom we vaguely give the name of God; the truth that behind all outer seeming, the motivating power of the universe is Love; the truth that a great Individuality came to earth, called by Christians, the Christ, and embodied that love so that we could understand; the truth that both love and intelligence are effects of what is called the Will of God; and finally the self-evident truth that only through humanity itself can the Divine Plan work out.
THE GREAT INVOCATION
From the point of Light within the Mind of God
Let light stream forth into the minds of men.
Let Light descend on Earth.
From the point of Love within the Heart of God
Let love stream forth into the hearts of men.
May Christ return to Earth.
From the centre where the Will of God is known
Let purpose guide the little wills of men—
The purpose which the Masters know and serve.
From the centre which we call the race of men
Let the Plan of Love and Light work out
And may it seal the door where evil dwells.
Let Light and Love and Power restore the Plan on Earth.