THEOSOPHY, Vol. 18, No. 6, April, 1930
(Pages 262-266; Size: 15K)
(Number 6 of a 12-part series)
[Compiler's Note: This series is entirely
"Collated from the writings of H.P.B."]
JESUS: INITIATE AND TEACHER
FOR nearly four centuries, the great historians nearly contemporary with Jesus had not taken the slightest notice either of his life or death. Christians wondered at such an unaccountable omission of what the Church considered the greatest events in the world's history.
The Jewish version of the birth of Jesus is recorded in the Sepher-Toldos Jeshu in the following words:
"Mary having become the mother of a Son, named Jehosuah, and the boy growing up, she entrusted him to the care of the Rabbi Elhanan, and the child progressed in knowledge, for he was well gifted with spirit and understanding.
"Rabbi Jehosuah, son of Perachiah, continued the education of Jehosuah (Jesus) after Elhanan, and initiated him in the secret knowledge;" but the King, Janneus, having given orders to slay all the initiates, Jehosuah Ben Perachiah, fled to Alexandria, in Egypt, taking the boy with him.
While in Alexandria, continues the story, they were received in the house of a rich and learned lady (personified Egypt). Young Jesus found her beautiful, notwithstanding "a defect in her eyes," and declared so to his master. Upon hearing this, the latter became so angry that his pupil should find in the land of bondage anything good, that "he cursed him and drove the young man from his presence." Then follow a series of adventures told in allegorical language, which show that Jesus supplemented his initiation in the Jewish Kabala with an additional acquisition of the secret wisdom of Egypt. When the persecution ceased they both returned to Judea.
The real grievances against Jesus are stated by the learned author of Tela Ignea Satanae (the fiery darts of Satan) to be two in number: 1st, that he had discovered the great Mysteries of their Temple, by having been initiated in Egypt; and 2d, that he had profaned them by exposing them to the vulgar, who misunderstood and disfigured them.
However cautious one ought to be in accepting anything about Jesus from Jewish sources, it must be confessed that in some things they seem to be more correct in their statements (whenever their direct interest in stating facts is not concerned) than our good but too jealous Fathers. One thing is certain, James, the "Brother of the Lord," is silent about the resurrection. He terms Jesus nowhere "Son of God," nor even Christ-God. Once only, speaking of Jesus, he calls him the "Lord of Glory," but so do the Nazarenes when writing about their prophet Iohanan bar Zacharia, or John, son of Zacharias (St. John the Baptist). Their favorite expressions about their prophet are the same as those used by James when speaking of Jesus. A man "of the seed of a man," "Messenger of Life," of light, "my Lord Apostle," "King sprung of Light," and so on. "Have not the faith of our Lord JESUS Christ, the Lord of Glory," etc., says James in his epistle (ii. 1), presumably addressing Christ as GOD. "Peace to thee, my Lord, JOHN Abo Sabo, Lord of Glory!" says the Codex Nazaraeus (ii. 19), known to address but a prophet. "Ye have condemned and killed the Just," says James (v. 6). "Iohanan (John) is the Just one, he comes in the way of justice," says Matthew (xxi. 32, Syriac text).
James does not even call Jesus Messiah, in the sense given to the title by the Christians, but alludes to the kabalistic "King Messiah," who is Lord of Sabaoth (v. 4), and repeats several times that the "Lord" will come, but identifies the latter nowhere with Jesus.
From the very first appearance of Jesus and his twelve disciples, we see them congregating apart, having secure refuges in the wilderness, and among friends in Bethany, and elsewhere. Were Christianity not composed of "secret communities," from the start, history would have more facts to record of its founder and disciples than it has.
How little Jesus had impressed his personality upon his own century, is calculated to astound the inquirer. Renan shows that Philo, who died toward the year 50, and who was born many years earlier than Jesus, living all the while in Palestine while the "glad tidings" were being preached all over the country, according to the Gospels, had never heard of him! Josephus, the historian, who was born three or four years after the death of Jesus, mentions his execution in a short sentence, and even those few words were altered "by a Christian hand," says the author of the Life of Jesus.
The true version of the history of Jesus, and the early Christianity was imparted to Hugh de Payens, by the Grand-Pontiff of the Order of the Temple (of the Nazarene or Johanite sect), one named Theocletes, after which it was learned by some Knights in Palestine, from the higher and more intellectual members of the St. John sect, who were initiated into its mysteries. Freedom of intellectual thought and the restoration of one and universal religion was their secret object. Sworn to the vow of obedience, poverty, and chastity, they were at first the true Knights of John the Baptist, crying in the wilderness and living on wild honey and locusts. Such is the tradition and the true kabalistic version.
The present-day Templars, adhering strictly as they do to the Bible, can hardly claim descent from those who did not believe in Christ, as God-man, or as the Saviour of the world; who rejected the miracle of his birth, and those performed by himself; who did not believe in transubstantiation, the saints, holy relics, purgatory, etc. The Christ Jesus was, in their opinion, a false prophet, but the man Jesus a Brother. They regarded John the Baptist as their patron, but never viewed him in the light in which he is presented in the Bible.
Those who "rejected" Jesus as the "Son of God," were neither the people ignorant of religious symbols, nor the handful of atheistical Sadducees who put him to death; but the very men who were instructed in the secret wisdom, who knew the origin as well as the meaning of the cruciform symbol, and who put aside both the Christian emblem and the Saviour suspended from it, because they could not be parties to such a blasphemous imposition upon the common people.
Mahomet and his disciples, who held Jesus in great respect as a prophet, remarks Eliphas Levi, used to utter, when speaking of Christians, the following remarkable words: "Jesus of Nazareth was verily a true prophet of Allah and a grand man; but lo! his disciples all went insane one day, and made a god of him."
How can anyone imagine that Paul identified the Son with the Father, when he tells us that God made Jesus "a little lower than the angels" (Hebrews ii. 9), and a little higher than Moses! (Hebrews iii. 3). Of whatever, or how many forgeries, interlined later in the Acts, the Fathers are guilty we know not; but that Paul never considered Christ more than a man "full of the Spirit of God" is but too evident: "In the arche was the Logos, and the Logos was adnate to the Theos."
It is a most suggestive fact that there is not a word in the so-called sacred Scriptures to show that Jesus was actually regarded as a God by his disciples. Neither before nor after his death did they pay him divine honors. Their relation to him was only that of disciples and "master;" by which name they addressed him, as the followers of Pythagoras and Plato addressed their respective masters before them. Whatever words may have been put into the mouths of Jesus, Peter, John, Paul, and others, there is not a single act of adoration recorded on their part, nor did Jesus himself ever declare his identity with his Father. He accused the Pharisees of stoning their prophets, not of deicide. He termed himself the son of God, but took care to assert repeatedly that they were all the children of God, who was the Heavenly Father of all. In preaching this, he but repeated a doctrine taught ages earlier by Hermes, Plato, and other philosophers.
Neither in the Homilies nor any other early work of the apostles, is there anything to show that any of his friends and followers regarded Jesus as anything more than a prophet. The idea is as clearly established in the Clementines. Except that too much room is afforded to Peter to establish the identity of the Mosaic God with the Father of Jesus, the whole work is devoted to Monotheism.
Jesus enforced and illustrated his doctrines with signs and wonders; and if we lay aside the claims advanced on his behalf by his deifiers, he did but what the other kabalists did; and only they at that epoch, when, for two centuries the sources of prophecy had been completely dried up, and from this stagnation of public "miracles" had originated the skepticism of the unbelieving sect of the Sadducees.
Thus, the wonders of healing and the thaums of Jesus, which he imparted to his followers, show that they were learning, in their daily communication with him, the theory and practice of the new ethics, day by day, and in the familiar intercourse of intimate friendship. Their faith was progressively developed, like that of all neophytes, simultaneously with the increase of knowledge.
All this points undeniably to the fact, that except a handful of self-styled Christians who subsequently won the day, all the civilized portion of the Pagans who knew of Jesus honored him as a philosopher, an adept whom they placed on the same level with Pythagoras and Apollonius. Whence such a veneration on their part for a man, were he simply, as represented by the Synoptics, a poor, unknown Jewish carpenter from Nazareth? As an incarnated God there is no single record of him on this earth capable of withstanding the critical examination of science; as one of the greatest reformers, an inveterate enemy of every theological dogmatism, a persecutor of bigotry, a teacher of one of the most sublime codes of ethics, Jesus is one of the grandest and most clearly-defined figures on the panorama of human history. His age may, with every day, be receding farther and farther back into the gloomy and hazy mists of the past; and his theology -- based on human fancy and supported by untenable dogmas may, nay, must with every day lose more of its unmerited prestige; alone the grand figure of the philosopher and moral reformer instead of growing paler will become with every century more pronounced and more clearly defined. It will reign supreme and universal only on that day when the whole of humanity recognizes but one father -- the UNKNOWN ONE above -- and one brother -- the whole of mankind below.
(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 IN-DWELLING GOD
An Occultist or a Theosophist addresses his prayer to his Father which is in secret (read, and try to understand, ch. VI. v. 6, Matthew), not to an extra-cosmic and therefore finite God; and that "Father" is in man himself ... Grant us our postulate that God is a universally diffused, infinite principle, and how can man alone escape from being soaked through by, and in, the Deity? We call our "Father in heaven" that deific essence of which we are cognizant within us, in our heart and spiritual consciousness, and which has nothing to do with the anthropomorphic conception we may form of it in our physical brain or its fancy: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of (the absolute) God dwelleth in you?" Yet, let no man anthropomorphise that essence in us. Let no Theosophist, if he would hold to divine, not human truth, say that this "God in secret" listens to, or is distinct from, either finite man or the infinite essence -- for all are one. Nor, as just remarked, that a prayer is a petition. It is a mystery rather; an occult process by which finite and conditioned thoughts and desires, unable to be assimilated by the absolute spirit which is unconditioned, are translated into spiritual wills and the will; such process being called "spiritual transmutation." --H.P.B.
JESUS: INITIATE AND TEACHER
(Part 7 of a 12-part series)
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