THEOSOPHY, Vol. 18, No. 10, August, 1930
(Pages 449-452; Size: 13K)
(Number 10 of a 12-part series)
[Compiler's Note: This series is entirely
"Collated from the writings of H.P.B."]
JESUS: INITIATE AND TEACHER
WE ought, perhaps, to explain the ancient use of allegory and symbology. The truth in the former was left to be deduced; the symbol expressed some abstract quality of the Deity, which the laity could easily apprehend. Its higher sense terminated there; and it was employed by the multitude thenceforth as an image to be employed 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 multitudes in parables. "To you," he said, "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."
Thus, in common with Pythagoras and other hierophant reformers, Jesus divided his teachings into exoteric and esoteric. Following faithfully the Pythagoreo-Essenean ways, he never sat at a meal without saying "grace." "The priest prays before his meal," says Josephus, describing the Essenes. Jesus also divided his followers into "neophytes," "brethren," and the "perfect," if we may judge by the difference he made between them. But his career at least as a public Rabbi, was of too short duration to allow him to establish a regular school of his own; and with the exception, perhaps, of John, it does not seem that he had initiated any other apostle. The Gnostic amulets and talismans are mostly the emblems of the apocalyptic allegories. The "seven vowels" are closely related to the "seven seals;" and the mystic title Abraxas partakes as much of the composition of Shem Hamphirosh, "the holy word" or ineffable name, as the name called: The word of God, that "no man knew but he himself," as John expresses it.
How eagerly and closely the ideal of Jesus was united, by the early Christians, with every imaginable kabalistic and Pagan tenet, may be inferred from the language of Clemens, of Alexandria, addressed to his brother co-religionists.
When they were debating upon the choice of the most appropriate symbol to remind them of Jesus, Clemens advised them in the following words: "Let the engraving upon the gem of your ring be either a dove, or a ship running before the wind (the Argha), or a fish." Was the good father, when writing this sentence, laboring under the recollection of Joshua, son of Nun (called Jesus in the Greek and Slavonian versions); or had he forgotten the real interpretation of these Pagan symbols? Joshua, son of Nun, or Nave (Navis), could have with perfect propriety adopted the image of a ship, or even of a fish, for Joshua means Jesus, son of the fish-god; but it was really too hazardous to connect the emblems of Venus, Astarte, and all the Hindu goddesses -- the argha, dove, and fish --with the "immaculate" birth of their god! This looks very much as if in the early days of Christianity but little difference was made between Christ, Bacchus, Apollo, and the Hindu Christna, the incarnation of Vishnu, with whose first avatar this symbol of the fish originated.
We may, perhaps, throw additional light upon the puzzling question of the fish-symbol by reminding the reader that according to Genesis the first created of living beings, the first type of animal life, was the fish. "And the Elohim said: 'Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life' ... and God created great whales ... and the morning and the evening were three days later. This the Christians regard as a premonition of the fifth day." Jonah is swallowed by a big fish, and is cast out again three days later. This the Christians regard as a premonition of the three days' sepulture of Jesus which preceded his resurrection -- though the statement of the three days is as fanciful as much of the rest, and adopted to fit the well-known threat to destroy the temple and rebuild it again in three days. Between his burial and alleged resurrection there intervened but one day --the Jewish Sabbath -- as he was buried on Friday evening and rose to life at dawn on Sunday. However, whatever other circumstance may be regarded as a prophecy, the story of Jonah cannot be made to answer the purpose.
Nor does the Mystery of the Eucharist pertain to Christians alone. Godfrey Higgins proves that it was instituted many hundreds of years before the "Paschal Supper," and says that "the sacrifice of bread and wine was common to many ancient nations." Cicero mentions it in his works, and wonders at the strangeness of the rite. There had been an esoteric meaning attached to it from the first establishment of the Mysteries, and the Eucharistia is one of the oldest rites of antiquity. With the hierophants it had nearly the same significance as with the Christians. Ceres was bread, and Bacchus was wine; the former meaning regeneration of life from the seed, and the latter -- the grape -- the emblem of wisdom and knowledge; the accumulation of the spirit of things, and the fermentation and subsequent strength of that esoteric knowledge being justly symbolized by wine. The mystery related to the drama of Eden; it is said to have been first taught by Janus, who was also the first to introduce in the temples the sacrifices of "bread" and "wine" in commemoration of the "fall into generation" as the symbol of the "seed." "I am the vine, and my Father is the husbandman," says Jesus, alluding to the secret knowledge that could be imparted by him. "I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
The temptation, or probation, of Jesus is, however, the most dramatic occasion in which Satan appears. As if to prove the designation of Apollo, Æsculapius, 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 about the Jordan and the Dead Sea were the abodes of the "sons of the prophets," and the Essenes. These ascetics used to subject their neophytes to probations, analogous to the tortures of the Mithraic rites; and the temptation of Jesus was evidently a scene of this character. Hence, in the Gospel according to Luke, it is stated that "the Diabolos, having completed the probation, left him for a specific time, ... and Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee." But the ... Devil, in this instance is evidently no malignant principle, but one exercising discipline. In this sense the terms Devil and Satan are repeatedly employed. Thus, when Paul was liable to undue elation by reason of the abundance of revelations or epoptic disclosures, there was given him "a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satanas," to check him.
"All the magical operations," says Eliphas Levi, "consist in freeing one's self from the coils of the Ancient Serpent; then to place the foot on its head, and lead it according to the operator's will. 'I will give unto thee,' says the Serpent, in the Gospel myth, 'all the kingdoms of the earth, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.' The initiate should reply to him, 'I will not fall down, but thou shalt crouch at my feet; thou wilt give me nothing, but I will make use of thee and take whatever I wish. For I am thy Lord and Master!' This is the real meaning of the ambiguous response made by Jesus to the tempter ... Thus, the Devil is not an Entity. It is an errant force, as the name signifies. An odic or magnetic current formed by a chain (a circle) of pernicious wills must create this evil spirit which the Gospel calls legion, and which forces into the sea a herd of swine -- another evangelical allegory showing how base natures can be driven headlong by the blind forces set in motion by error and sin."
We would have neither scientists, theologians, nor spiritualists turn practical magicians, but all to realize that there was true science, profound religion, and genuine phenomena before this modern era. We would that all who have a voice in the education of the masses should first know and then teach that the safest guides to human happiness and enlightenment are those writings which have descended to us from the remotest antiquity; and that nobler spiritual aspirations and a higher average morality prevail in the countries where the people take their precepts as the rule of their lives. We would have all to realize that magical, i.e., spiritual powers exist in every man, and those few to practice them who feel called to teach, and are ready to pay the price of discipline and self-conquest which their development exacts.
Many men have arisen who had glimpses of the truth, and fancied they had it all. Such have failed to achieve the good they might have done and sought to do, because vanity has made them thrust their personality into such undue prominence as to interpose it between their believers and the whole truth that lay behind. The world needs no sectarian church, whether of Buddha, Jesus, Mahomet, Swedenborg, Calvin, or any other. There being but ONE Truth, man requires but one church -- the Temple of God within us, walled in by matter but penetrable by any one who can find the way; the pure in heart see God.
The trinity of nature is the lock of magic, the trinity of man the key that fits it. Within the solemn precincts of the sanctuary the SUPREME had and has no name. It is unthinkable and unpronounceable; and yet every man finds in himself his god.
(Collated from the writings of H.P.B.)
(To be continued)
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
THE INNER VOICE
Self abnegation is possible only to those who have learnt to know themselves; to such as will never mistake the echo of their own inner voice -- that of selfish desire or passion -- for the voice of divine inspiration, or an appeal from their MASTER. Nor is chelaship consonant with mediumistic sensitiveness and its hallucinations; and therefore all the sensitives who have hitherto forced themselves into discipleship have generally made fools of themselves, and, sooner or later, thrown ridicule upon the T.S. --H.P.B.
JESUS: INITIATE AND TEACHER
(Part 11 of a 12-part series)
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