THEOSOPHY, Vol. 18, No. 5, March, 1930
(Pages 213-218; Size: 18K)
(Number 5 of a 12-part series)
[Compiler's Note: This series is entirely
"Collated from the writings of H.P.B."]
JESUS: INITIATE AND TEACHER
IN the Clementine Recognitions the charge is brought against Jesus that he did not perform his miracles as a Jewish prophet, but as a magician, i.e., an initiate of the "heathen" temples. It was usual then, as it is now, among the intolerant clergy of opposing religions, as well as among the lower classes of society, and even among the patricians who, for various reasons had been excluded from any participation of the Mysteries, to accuse, sometimes, the highest hierophants and adepts of sorcery and black magic ... One of the best and most unquestionable proofs of our assertion may be found in the so-called Museo Gregoriano. On the Sarcophagus, which is panelled with bas-reliefs representing the miracles of Christ, may be seen the full figure of Jesus, who, in the resurrection of Lazarus, appears beardless "and equipped with wand in the received guise of a necromancer (?) whilst the corpse of Lazarus is swathed in bandages exactly as an Egyptian mummy."
Had posterity been enabled to have several such representations executed during the first century when the figure, dress, and every-day habits of the Reformer were still fresh in the memory of his contemporaries, perhaps the Christian world would be more Christ-like; the dozens of contradictory, groundless, and utterly meaningless speculations about the "Son of Man" would have been impossible; and humanity would now have but one religion and one God. It is this absence of all proof, the lack of the least positive clew about him whom Christianity has deified, that has caused the present state of perplexity. No pictures of Christ were possible until after the days of Constantine, when the Jewish element was nearly eliminated among the followers of the new religion.
The division of the history of mankind into Golden, Silver, Copper and Iron Ages, is not a fiction. We see the same thing in the literature of peoples. An age of great inspiration and unconscious productiveness is invariably followed by an age of criticism and consciousness. The one affords material for the analyzing and critical intellect of the other.
Thus, all those great characters who tower like giants in the history of mankind, like Buddha-Siddârtha, and Jesus, in the realm of spiritual, and Alexander the Macedonian and Napoleon the Great, in the realm of physical conquests, were but reflexed images of human types which had existed ten thousand years before, in the preceding decimillennium, reproduced by the mysterious powers controlling the destinies of our world. There is no prominent character in all the annals of sacred or profane history whose prototype we cannot find in the half-fictitious and half-real traditions of bygone religions and mythologies. As the star, glimmering at an immeasurable distance above our heads, in the boundless immensity of the sky, reflects itself in the smooth waters of a lake, so does the imagery of men of the antediluvian ages reflect itself in the periods we can embrace in an historical retrospect.
"As above, so it is below. That which has been, will return again. As in heaven, so on earth."
It was given to a contemporary of Jesus to become the means of pointing out to posterity, by his interpretation of the oldest literature of Israel, how deeply the kabalistic philosophy agreed in its esotericism with that of the profoundest Greek thinkers. This contemporary, an ardent disciple of Plato and Aristotle, was Philo Judaeus. While explaining the Mosaic books according to a purely kabalistic method, he is the famous Hebrew writer whom Kingsley calls the Father of New Platonism.
It is evident that Philo's Therapeutes are a branch of the Essenes. Their name indicates it ..., Asaya, physician. Hence, the contradictions, forgeries, and other desperate expedients to reconcile the prophecies of the Jewish canon with the Galilean nativity and god-ship.
Luke, who was a physician, is designated in the Syriac texts as Asaia, the Essaian or Essene. Josephus and Philo Judaeus have sufficiently described this sect to leave no doubt in our mind that the Nazarene Reformer, after having received his education in their dwellings in the desert, and been duly initiated in the Mysteries, preferred the free and independent life of a wandering Nazaria, and so separated or inazarenized himself from them, thus becoming a travelling Therapeute, a Nazaria, a healer. Every Therapeute, before quitting his community, had to do the same. Both Jesus and St. John the Baptist preached the end of the Age; which proves their knowledge of the secret computation of the priests and kabalists, who with the chiefs of the Essene communities alone had the secret of the duration of the cycles. The latter were kabalists and theurgists; "they had their mystic books, and predicted future events," says Munk.
The real meaning of the division into ages is esoteric and Buddhistic. So little did the uninitiated Christians understand it that they accepted the words of Jesus literally and firmly believed that he meant the end of the world. There had been many prophecies about the forthcoming age. Virgil, in the fourth Eclogue, mentions the Metatron -- a new offspring, with whom the iron age shall end and a golden one arise.
Dunlap, whose personal researches seem to have been quite successful in that direction, traces the Essenes, Nazarenes, Dositheans, and some other sects as having all existed before Christ: "They rejected pleasures, despised riches, loved one another, and more than other sects, neglected wedlock, deeming the conquest of passions to be virtuous," he says.
These are all virtues preached by Jesus; and if we are to take the gospels as a standard of truth, Christ was a metempsychosist or re-incarnationist --again like these same Essenes, whom we see were Pythagoreans in all their doctrines and habits. Iamblichus asserts that the Samian philosopher spent a certain time at Carmel with them. In his discourses and sermons, Jesus always spoke in parables and used metaphors with his audience. This habit was again that of the Essenians and the Nazarenes; and Galileans who dwelt in cities and villages were never known to use such allegorical language. Indeed, some of his disciples being Galileans as well as himself, felt even surprised to find him using with the people such a form of expression. "Why speakest thou unto them in parables?" they often inquired. "Because, it is given unto you to know the Mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given," was the reply, which was that of an initiate. "Therefore, I speak unto them in parables; because, they seeing, see not, and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand." Moreover, we find Jesus expressing his thoughts still clearer -- and in sentences which are purely Pythagorean -- when, during the Sermon on the Mount, he says:"Give ye not that which is sacred to the dogs,The religion of the ancients is the religion of the future. A few centuries more, and there will linger no sectarian beliefs in either of the great religions of humanity. Brahmanism and Buddhism, Christianity and Mahometanism will all disappear before the mighty rush of facts. "I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh," writes the prophet Joel. "Verily I say unto you ... greater works than these shall you do," promises Jesus. But this can only come to pass when the world returns to the grand religion of the past; the knowledge of those majestic systems which preceded, by far, Brahmanism, and even the primitive monotheism of the ancient Chaldeans. That which is now termed the superstitious verbiage and gibberish of mere heathens and savages, composed many thousands of years ago, may be found to contain the master-key to all religious systems.
Neither cast ye your pearls before swine;
For the swine will tread them under their feet
And the dogs will turn and rend you."
It was after the rebellion of Bar Cochba, that the Roman Emperor established the Mysteries of Adonis at the Sacred Cave in Bethlehem; and who knows but that this was the petra or rock-temple on which the church was built? The Boar of Adonis was placed above the gate of Jerusalem which looked toward Bethlehem.
Munk says that the "Nazireate was an institution established before the laws of Musah." This is evident; as we find this sect not only mentioned but minutely described in Numbers (chap. vi.). In the commandment given in this chapter to Moses by the "Lord," it is easy to recognize the rites and laws of the Priests of Adonis. The abstinence and purity strictly prescribed in both sects are identical. Both allowed their hair to grow long as the Hindu coenobites and fakirs do to this day, while other castes shave their hair and abstain on certain days from wine. The prophet Elijah, a Nazarene, is described in 2 Kings, and by Josephus as "a hairy man girt with a girdle of leather." And John the Baptist and Jesus are both represented as wearing very long hair. John is "clothed with camel's hair" and wearing a girdle of hide, and Jesus in a long garment "without any seams" ... "and very white, like snow," says Mark; the very dress worn by the Nazarene Priests and the Pythagorean and Buddhist Essenes, as described by Josephus.
In relation to the well-known fact of Jesus wearing his hair long, and being always so represented, it becomes quite startling to find how little the unknown Editor of the "Acts" knew about the Apostle Paul, since he makes him say in I Corinthians xi, 14, "Doth not Nature itself teach you, that if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?" Certainly Paul could never have said such a thing! Therefore, if the passage is genuine, Paul knew nothing of the prophet whose doctrines he had embraced and for which he died; and if false -- how much more reliable is what remains?
In a pretended letter of Lentulus, a senator and a distinguished historian, to the Roman senate, there is a description of the personal appearance of Jesus. The letter itself, written in horrid Latin, is pronounced a bare-faced forgery; but we find therein an expression which suggests many thoughts. Albeit a forgery it is evident that whosoever invented it has nevertheless tried to follow tradition as closely as possible. The hair of Jesus is represented in it as "wavy and curling ... flowing down upon his shoulders," and as "having a parting in the middle of the head after the fashion of the Nazarenes." This last sentence shows: 1. That there was such a tradition, based on the biblical description of John the Baptist, the Nazaria, and the custom of this sect. 2. Had Lentulus been the author of this letter, it is difficult to believe that Paul should never have heard of it; and had he known its contents, he would never have pronounced it a shame for men to wear their hair long, thus shaming his Lord and Christ-God. 3. If Jesus did wear his hair long and "parted in the middle of the forehead, after the fashion of the Nazarenes" (as well as John, the only one of his apostles who followed it), then we have one good reason more to say that Jesus must have belonged to the sect of the Nazarenes, and been called NASARIA for this reason and not because he was an inhabitant of Nazareth; for they never wore their hair long. The Nazarite, who separated himself unto the Lord, allowed "no razor to come upon his head." "He shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow," says Numbers (vi. 5). Samson was a Nazarite, i.e., vowed to the service of God, and in his hair was his strength ... But the final and most reasonable conclusion to be inferred from this is that Jesus, who was so opposed to all the orthodox Jewish practices, would not have allowed his hair to grow had he not belonged to this sect, which in the days of John the Baptist had already become a heresy in the eyes of the Sanhedrim.
Jesus, Apollonius, and some of the apostles had the power to cast out devils, by purifying the atmosphere within and without the patient, so as to force the unwelcome tenant to flight. The accusations against Jesus of practicing the magic of Egypt were numerous, and at one time universal, in the towns where he was known. The Pharisees, as claimed in the Bible, had been the first to fling it in his face, although Rabbi Wise considers Jesus himself a Pharisee. (We believe that it was the Sadducees and not the Pharisees who crucified Jesus. They were Zadokites -- partisans of the house of Zadok, or the sacerdotal family. In the "Acts" the apostles were said to be persecuted by the Sadducees, but never by the Pharisees. In fact, the latter never persecuted any one. They had the scribes, rabbis, and learned men in their numbers, and were not, like the Sadducees, jealous of their order.) The Talmud certainly points to James the Just as one of that sect. But these partisans are known to have always stoned every prophet who denounced their evil ways, and it is not on this fact that we base our assertion. These accused him of sorcery, and of driving out devils by Beelzebub, their prince, with as much justice as later the Catholic clergy had to accuse of the same more than one innocent martyr. But Justin Martyr states on better authority that the men of his time who were not Jews asserted that the miracles of Jesus were performed by magical art ... the very expression used by the skeptics of those days to designate the feats of thaumaturgy accomplished in the Pagan temples. "They even ventured to call him a magician and a deceiver of the people," complains the martyr. In the Gospel of Nicodemus (the Acta Pilate), the Jews bring the same accusation before Pilate. "Did we not tell thee he was a magician?" Celsus speaks of the same charge, and as a Neo-platonist believes in it. The Talmudic literature is full of the most minute particulars, and their greatest accusation is that "Jesus could fly as easily in the air as others could walk." St. Austin asserted that it was generally believed that he had been initiated in Egypt, and that he wrote books concerning magic, which he delivered to John. There was a work called Magia Jesu Christi, which was attributed to Jesus himself. In the Clementine Recognitions the charge is brought against Jesus that he did not perform his miracles as a Jewish prophet, but as a magician, i.e., an initiate of the "heathen" temples.
Jesus is accused by his enemies of having wrought miracles, and shown by his own apostles to have expelled demons by the power of the INEFFABLE NAME. The former firmly believed that he had stolen it in the Sanctuary. "And he cast the spirits with his word ... and healed all that were sick" (Matthew xviii. 16). When the Jewish rulers ask Peter (Acts iv. 7): "By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?" Peter replies, "By the NAME of Jesus Christ of Nazareth." But does this mean the name of Christ, as the interpreters would make us believe; or does it signify, "by the NAME which was in the possession of Jesus of Nazareth," the initiate, who was accused by the Jews to have learned it but who had it really through initiation? Besides, he states repeatedly that all he does he does in "His Father's Name," not in his own.
(Collated from the writings of H.P.B.)
(To be continued)
JESUS: INITIATE AND TEACHER
(Part 6 of a 12-part series)
Back to the
"JESUS: INITIATE AND TEACHER"
series complete list of articles.
Back to the full listing containing all of the
"Additional Categories of Articles".