By Yogi Ramacharaka
The first and main phase of the Inner Teachings of Mystic Christianity is that connected with the Mystery of the Life of Jesus. The outer teachings give but an imperfect view of the real life and nature of the Master, and theologians have built up an edifice of dogmatic theory around the same. The Mystery of the Life of Jesus forms the subject of some important Inner Teachings of the Mystic Fraternities and Occult Brotherhoods, and is considered by them to be the foundation of the other teachings. And so we shall consider this phase of the subject at this point.
In the first place we must remember that the soul of Jesus was different from the souls of other men. His was a “virgin birth”—not in the commonly accepted sense of the term, but in the occult sense as explained in the second lesson of this series. His soul was fresh from the hand of the Creator—His spirit had not been compelled to work through repeated incarnations, pressing forward for expression through humble and ignoble forms. It was free from taint, and as pure as the Fountain from which is flowed. It was a virgin soul in every sense of the term.
This being so, it follows that it was not bound by the Karma of previous incarnations—as is the case with the ordinary soul. It had no entangling ties—it had no seeds of desire and action planted in previous lives, which were pressing forward toward expression in His life. He was a Free Spirit—an Unbound Soul. And therefore He was not only unbound by any Karma of His own, but was also free (by nature) from the Karma of the race or of the world.
The absence of personal Karma left Him free from the selfish personal Desire which binds men to the wheel of action and personal ambition. He had no desire or thought for personal aggrandizement or glory, and was perfectly free (by nature) to work for the good of the race as an outside observer and helper, without suffering the pains and sorrows of race-life, had He so wished. But He chose otherwise, as we shall see in a moment.
The absence of Race-Karma, or World-Karma, freed Him from the necessity of the pains of humanity, which are a part of its collective Karma. He would have been perfectly able to live a life absolutely free from the pains, trials and troubles that are the common lot of Man, owing to the Race-Karma. He would have escaped persecution, physical and mental pains, and even death, had He so elected. But He chose these things of His own free will, in order to accomplish the great work that He saw before Him as a World-Savior.
In order for Jesus to enact His part as the Redeemer and Savior of the race, it was necessary for Him to take upon Himself His share of the Karma of the race—virtually taking upon Himself the “sins of the world.” Before He could lift the burden from the race of men, He must become a man among men.
To understand this more clearly we must remember that to a being such as Jesus—a soul free from Karma—there would be no such thing as temptation, longings, desires, or any of the mental states of the ordinary man with the Karma of successive past incarnations resting within him as seeds of action pressing forward ever for unfoldment and expression.
Jesus, the free soul, would have been practically an outside observer of the world’s affairs, and not influenced by any of its ordinary incentives to action. In this state He could have aided the world as a teacher and instructor, but He would not have been able to accomplish His great task of Redeeming the world, in its highest spiritual significance, as we shall see as we proceed. It was necessary for Him to take upon Himself the burden of the earth-life in order to become the Savior of the people of the earth.
The occult teachings inform us that during His sojourn abroad, Jesus was simply a teacher, with but a dim perception of His real mission. But gradually He began to experience periods of Illumination in which He recognized His real nature and the difference between Himself and other men. Then came to Him the conviction of the mighty work that lay before Him in the redemption of the race, and He began to see the necessity of entering into the Karmic circle of the race in order to carry out the plan. This came gradually, by slow degrees, and the final sacrifice was made only in the Wilderness after His Baptism by John.
In the Wilderness, after His long fast and His days of meditation, the way opened up for Him to take upon Himself the burden of the Karma of the earth people. In that scene of the most tremendous spiritual struggle that the earth has ever witnessed, Jesus deliberately bent His shoulders that the weight be placed upon His back. From that moment the earth-souls received a blessing far beyond the comprehension of the mind of the ordinary man. Into the Karma-bound circle came this mighty soul, animated by Pure Spirit, for the purpose of lifting a great portion of the burden, and of joining in the work of the actual unfoldment and redemption of the race.
For be it remembered that, being a free soul animated by Pure Spirit, Jesus was A GOD—not a man, although inhabiting the fleshly garments of humanity. His power was superior to that of many of the high intelligences scattered throughout the universe, and playing important parts in the cosmic processes. Jesus was Pure Spirit incarnate in human form, with all the powers of a God. Although of course subordinate in expression to the Absolute—the Great Spirit of Spirit—He was in His essential nature the same in substance. Verily, as He Himself said, “I and the Father are One.”
His youthful mind was not able to grasp the truth of His real nature, but as that human instrument became perfected by age and training, He realized the Truth and perceived His own Divinity.
But even a God, such as he, could not raise up the world from its burden of Karma, by acting from the outside. Under the Cosmic Laws, established by the Absolute, such work could be performed only from within the circle of earth-life. And so Jesus saw that to raise up Man, He must become a Man. That is, to help lift the earth’s Karma, He must enter into it, and place Himself within its Circle of Influence. And this He did.
We wonder if our readers can realize, even faintly, just what this sacrifice meant? Think of a Pure Spirit—a Free Soul—so filled with the love for the race of men as to renounce deliberately, for eons of time, total immunity from all mortal existence, and willingly to place itself under the burden of pain, woe, misery and sin which formed the earth-people’s Karma. It was a thousand-fold greater sacrifice than would be that of a Man of the Highest spiritual and mental development—an Emerson, for example—who, in order to raise up the race of earth-worms, would deliberately place himself within the being and nature of the Group-Soul animating the race of earthworms, and then stay within its influence, striving ever upward and onward until finally, after eons and eons of time, he was able to bring up the earthworm Group Soul to the level of Man. Think of this, and then realize what a sacrifice Jesus made of Himself.
In the Wilderness, when Jesus took the final steps of renunciation and sacrifice, He at once passed within the circle of the Race Karma and laid Himself open to all the pain, misery, temptations and limitations of a Man. His power, of course, remained with Him, but He was no longer a God outside of the world-life, but an imprisoned God working from within the race, using His mighty power, but bound by the Karmic Law. He became open to influences from which previously He had been immune. For instance when He was “tempted” by the Devil of Personal Attainment, and urged to seek worldly glory and renown, He was tempted only because He had taken on the world’s Karma and was subject to its laws. As a God, He would not have felt the temptation any more than a man would feel the temptation of the earthworm. But as a man He was subject to the desires and ambitions that perplex and “devil” the race. And according to the rule that the greater the mental development the greater the power of such temptation toward self-aggrandizement (because of the mind being able to see more clearly the opportunities), Jesus was subjected to a test that would have been impossible to an ordinary man.
Jesus, knowing full well that He had in His possession the power to manifest the things with which He was tempted, was compelled to fight off the temptation to place Himself at the head of the race as its ruler—as the King of the World. He was shown this picture to compare with the other whose last scene was Calvary—and He was called upon to feel the desire of the race for such things, even unto its highest degree. Imagine the desire for personal aggrandizement of all the world thought beating upon His mind demanding the expression which could be had through Him alone. And then imagine the struggle required to defeat this opposing power. Think of what the ordinary man has to meet and overcome to conquer the desire for Personal Aggrandizement—and then think of what the Master had to fight, with the focused desire of the entire Race-Thought striving to express itself through Him! Truly the Sins of the World bore down upon Him with their mighty weight. And yet He knew that He had taken upon Himself this affliction by entering upon the Life of Man. And He met it like a Man of Men.
It was only by fixing His mind fully and firmly upon what He knew to be His Real Self—the Spirit Within His soul, and holding His mind “one-pointed” upon the fact—that He was able to fight the fight and conquer. Seeing the Truth, He could see the folly and illusion of all that the world had to offer, and He could put forth His mighty Will bidding the Tempter retire from the scene and from His mind. It was in this full knowledge of His Spirit—His Real Self—that He was able to rebuke the Tempter, saying, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord, thy God!” He held fast to His realization of the God Within—the Spirit that was within Him and all men—and thus denied out of existence the power of the earth-things—the illusions of mortality—the maya of the race.
But not alone this and other weaknesses of man’s mortal nature were constantly besieging the mind of the Master after He had taken upon Himself the Karma of the Earth. He had also taken upon Himself the mortal life consequent of the human frame which He inhabited. He must live, suffer and die—even as all men—and according to the law of mortality. And so He moved forward toward the end, knowing fully what lay before Him. He, a God, had taken upon Himself all these attributes of mortality, in order to be able to perform His work as the Redeemer and Savior of the race.
And so, He lived, and suffered and died—even as you and I. He drank the cup to the dregs, suffering as only such a finely organized mental nature could suffer. And, men, poor creatures, speak of His sufferings as terminating with the last breath upon the cross. Why, they only began there!
For know ye, that Jesus the Christ is still within the race of men, suffering their woes, paying with them their penalty, every day, every hour—yea, and must remain so throughout the ages, until finally the soul of every man, yea, even that of the last man; the most degraded man in the world, is fully cleansed of the Karmic taint, and thus fully “redeemed” and “saved.” And within the soul of every man is found the Christ Principle, striving ever to elevate and lift up the individual toward that realization of the Real Self—and this is what “redemption” and “salvation” really means. Not a saving from hell-fire, but a saving from the fire of carnality, and mortality. Not a redemption from imaginary sins, but a redemption from the muck and mire of earth-life. The God within you is like the fabled Hindu god who descended into the body of a pig and then forgot Himself. It is to bring you to a realization that you are a god and not a pig, that Jesus, the Master, is working within your soul as the Christ Principle. Have you never heard His voice, crying from within your soul, “Come out—come out of your pig-nature and realize the god that you verily are!” It is this “recognition, realization and manifestation of the god within you” that constitutes “salvation” and “redemption.”
The Occult Teachings tell us that Jesus, after His final disappearance from before the eyes of His apostles, passed on to the higher planes of the Astral World where He rapidly discarded all of His astral and mental vehicles which the soul had used in its manifestation. The Astral Body and its corresponding higher sheaths were cast off and discarded. That is, all except the very highest of all. Had He discarded every vestige of individual soul-existence His spirit would have immediately merged itself with the One Spirit—the Absolute—from which it had originally proceeded and Jesus, as an entity, would have disappeared entirely within the Ocean of the One Spirit. This highest state of all He had deliberately resigned until the passage of ages, in order that He might accomplish His work as the World-Savior.
He retained the highest vehicle—the Spiritual Mind in its highest shade of expression—in order that as an entity He might labor for the race. And so, He exists at this time—one in substance with the Father, but yet maintaining an apparently separate entity-existence. But this must be remembered, that Jesus, as Jesus the son of Mary and Joseph, no longer exists. When He cast off the lower vehicles of His personality, His personality disappeared. But His individuality persisted—that is, He is still HE, although His personality has disappeared, leaving Him—the real Him—existing as the CHRIST PRINCIPLE.
By the above statement, we mean that when a soul reaches the highest spiritual stage short of absolute absorption into the One Spirit, it is no longer a person, but exists as a principle. But that principle is not an inanimate mechanical force—it is a living, knowing, acting principle of life. This occult fact cannot be explained in the words of men, for no terms have been coined by which men can speak of it. It is only indirectly that we can hope to have even the advanced student grasp the fact.
Jesus exists today, as the Christ Principle which actually lives and acts, but which is not confined in a body of any kind, using the word “body” in its accustomed sense. As the Christ Principle or “The Christ” He is mingled with the life of the human race, and may be found immanent in the mind of every man, woman and child that has ever existed, does now exist, or will exist so long as Man is Man. Not only is this true of those who have lived since His passage from the physical body, but it is equally true of those who lived before His birth. This apparently paradoxical statement may be understood when we remember that these souls did not “die,” but only “passed on” to the Astral Plane, from whence they re-incarnated in due time. The Christ (for so we shall speak of the present-state of Jesus) even entered into, and still abides in, the Astral Plane, as well as upon the Material Plane, for wherever the souls of men abide—or whatever place their residence may be—there is found The Christ, ever working for the salvation and redemption of the race.
On the Astral Plane He is working in the minds of the souls abiding there, urging them to cast off the dross of earth-desires and to fix the aim upon higher things, to the end that their re-incarnations may be under improved conditions. On the Physical Plane He is working in the hearts and minds of the earth-people, striving ever to uplift to higher things. His aim is ever toward the liberation of the Spirit from its material bonds—the Realization of the Real Self. And so, in the hearts of all men, Christ is living, suffering, and being crucified every day, and this must continue until Man is redeemed and saved, even the last man.
This wonderful sacrifice of Christ far surpasses the physical sacrifice of Jesus, the man. Try to imagine, if you can, even the faintest pangs of a being so exalted compelled to dwell in the world of the hearts and minds of a humanity so steeped in materiality as our race, knowing always the possibilities of the souls if they would but reach upward to higher things, and yet constantly suffering the knowledge of the base, carnal, material thoughts and acts flowing from these souls. Is not this the extreme refinement of torture? Does not the agony of the cross sink into insignificance beside such spiritual agony? You rail at the cruelty of the Jews who crucified their Savior, and yet you crucify your Savior, with a thousandfold degree of torture, every day of your life, by your persistence in the carnalities and foolishness of mortal thought and action.
The mighty uplift of the world since the death of Jesus, of which the present is but a faint prophecy of the future, has been due largely to the energizing influence of The Christ in the hearts and minds of the race. The sense of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, which is now manifesting so powerfully in the world of Men, is but an instance of the work of the Christ—the Savior and Redeemer. And the highest dreams of the exalted souls of this generation are but inadequate visions of what the future will hold for the race. The work is just beginning to bud—the blossom and the fruit will render this earth a far more glorious place than even the highest ideals of heaven entertained by the faithful in the past. But even these things of the future will be poor things, when compared with the life of the higher planes which await the race when it has demonstrated its fitness to pass on and on and on to these greater glories. And ever and ever The Christ is working, and toiling and striving and suffering, in His efforts to raise humanity even one petty degree in the spiritual scale of being.
The Christ is always with us, and if we but recognize His presence we shall be able to feel that warm, loving response to our soul-hunger and spiritual thirst which will result in our being given that we are so longingly craving. Here within us dwells The Christ, ever responding to the cry of Faith, “Believe in Me and ye shall be saved.” What a promise this is seen to be when properly understood! What a source of power and comfort is opened up to every human soul when the Inner Truth underlying the teachings is understood! Mystic Christianity brings this Message of Truth to each and all of you who read these lines. Will you accept it?
We would ask our students to pause at this point and contrast the teachings of Mystic Christianity regarding the doctrine of Christ, the Savior, with the corresponding teachings of the current Orthodox Theology.
On the one hand we have Jesus the God-Man deliberately choosing the work of the World Redemption and Salvation, and descending into the circle of the World-Karma, relinquishing the privilege of His Godhood and taking upon Himself the penalties of Manhood; not only undergoing the sufferings of the physical man, but also binding Himself upon the Cross of Humanity for ages, that by His spiritual presence in and of the race He might lift up humanity to godhood.
On the other hand, we have a picture of an angry Deity, manifesting purely human emotion and temper, bent on revenging himself upon the race which he had created, and demanding its eternal punishment in hell-fire; then the same Deity creating a Son whom he sent into the world, that this Son might be the victim of a blood-atonement and death upon the cross, that the Deity’s wrath might be appeased and the blood of this Divine Lamb be accepted to wash out the sins of the world.
Can you not see which is The Truth and which is the perversion? The one is from the pure fountain of Spiritual knowledge—the other originated in the minds of ignorant theologians who were unable to grasp and understand the Mystic teachings, but who built up a system of theology in accordance with their own undeveloped minds; making a God who was but a reflection of their own cruel animal natures, demanding, as did they themselves, blood and pain—physical torture and death—in order to appease a most un-Divine wrath and vengeance. Which of the two conceptions seems most in accord with the intuitive promptings of the Something Within? Which brings the greater approval from The Christ within your heart?
There are three creeds recognized by the Christian Church—the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Of these, the first two are commonly used, the third being not so well known and being seldom used.
The Apostles’ Creed, which is the most commonly used, is believed (in its present form) to be of later origin than the Nicene Creed, and many authorities believe it to be a corrupted rendering of the original declaration of faith of the Early Christians. It is as follows:
“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”
The Nicene Creed was drawn up and adopted by the Council of Nice in the year A.D. 325. As originally adopted it ended with the words “I believe in the Holy Ghost,” the present concluding clauses being added by the Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381, excepting the words “and the Son,” which were inserted by the Council of Toledo, A.D. 589. It is as follows:
“I believe in one God, the Father, Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth, and all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried and the third day he rose again according to the scriptures and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets; and I believe in one catholic and apostolic church; I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins, and I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”
Let us now briefly examine the principal statements of these creeds, which were compiled centuries after Jesus’ death, viewing them by the light of Mystic Christianity.
“I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and all things visible and invisible.”--(Nicene Creed.)
The form of the above fundamental principle of Christian belief is taken from the Nicene Creed, which is somewhat fuller than the similar declaration in the Apostles’ Creed. It requires no comment. It is a statement of belief in a One Creative Power, from which all things have proceeded. There is no attempt made to “explain” the nature of the Absolute, or to endow it with any of the human attributes which theologians have delighted in bestowing upon the One. It merely asserts a belief in the existence of One Supreme Being—which is all that is possible to man—all else is ignorant impertinence.
“And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost.”--(Apostles’ Creed.)
“And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.”--(Nicene Creed.)
In this declaration, the belief in the Divinity of Jesus is made. The Apostles’ Creed shows the cruder conception, rather inclining toward the perverted idea of the conception of the Virgin by the aid of the Holy Ghost, similar to the origin of the hero-gods of the different religions in which the father was one of the gods and the mother a woman. But the Nicene creed gives at least a strong hint of the mystic teachings. It speaks of Him as “begotten of his Father”—“begotten, not made.” The expressions, “God of God; Light of Light; very God of very God,” show the idea of identical spiritual substance in the Spirit. And then the remarkable expression, “being of one substance with the Father,” shows a wonderful understanding of the Mystery of The Christ. For, as the mystic teachings show, Jesus was a pure Spirit, free from the entangling desires and clogging Karma of the world. Identical in substance with the Father. “The Father and I are one,” as He said. Is there anything in the Orthodox Theology that throws such light on this subject as is shed by Mystic Christianity’s teaching regarding the nature of the soul of Jesus?
“Born of the Virgin Mary.”--(Apostles’ Creed.)
“Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.”--(Nicene Creed.)
The Nicene Creed here gives a surprisingly clear statement of the Mystic teachings. “Who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven” shows the purpose of the incarnation. “Came down from heaven” shows pre-existence in the bosom of the Absolute. “And was incarnate” shows the descent of the Spirit into the flesh in the womb of Mary. “And was made man” shows the taking on of the physical body of the infant in the womb. Does not the Mystic teaching give a clearer light on this statement of the Creed?
“Was crucified, dead and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead.”--(Apostles’ Creed.)
“He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the scriptures, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father.”--(Nicene Creed.)
The “descent into hell” of the Apostles’ Creed of course meant the passing to the place of disembodied souls—the lower Astral Plane. Even the orthodox teachers do not now pretend that the term “hell” meant the place of torture presided over by the Devil, which theology has invented to frighten people into the churches. “The third day he arose from the dead” (and the corresponding passage in the Nicene Creed) refers to the appearance in the Astral Body—the return from the Astral Plane in which He had sojourned for the three days following the crucifixion. “And ascended into heaven”—this passage shows the belief that He returned to the place from which He came, for the Nicene Creed has stated that he “came down from heaven and was incarnate ... and was made man.”
The passage in both creeds stating that He then took his place “on the right hand of the Father” is intended to show that He took the place of the highest honor in the gift of the Father. The mystic teachings explain this by showing that The Christ is separated from The Father by but the most ethereal intervening of spiritual substance, and that He is a Cosmic Principle second in importance only to the Father. Truly this is the place of honor on “the right hand of the Father.”
“He shall come to fudge the quick and the dead.”
In this passage we see the intimation that not only with the “quick” or living people is The Christ concerned, but also with the “dead,” that is, with those who “passed out” before and after His time and who have passed on to the Astral World, as we have explained in this lesson. Whether or not the framers of the Creed so understood it—whether or not they were deluded by the tradition of the “Day of Judgment”—certainly the Early Christians, or rather, the mystics among them, understood the teachings as we have given them and spoke of Him as “living in the dead as well as in the living,” as one of the occult records expresses it.
“The communion of saints” is the spiritual understanding of the Mysteries by the Illumined Ones. “The forgiveness of sins” is the overcoming of the carnal mind and desires. “The resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come” is the promise of life beyond the grave, and not the crude idea of the physical resurrection of the body, which has crept into the Apostles’ Creed, evidently having been inserted at a later date in order to bolster up the pet theories of a school of theologians. Note that the Nicene Creed says merely “the dead” and not “the body.” The version of the teachings preserved by the Mystics has a corresponding passage, “And we know the truth of the deathlessness of the soul.” (The italics are ours.)
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