[Page 1] [The following notes formed the basis of discussion at the meetings of the Blavatsky Lodge, in October 1889 They were prepared by myself before the meetings' mostly from notes taken down from H.P.B.. As it is impossible to throw the matter into any precise form, the notes must stand simply as hints for students 'and especially as a useful example of H.P.B.'s method of interpretation. — G. R. S. Mead]
THE preliminary paper deals mainly with the translation of the opening verses of the original text, as we have it, pointing out difficulties and the liberty of translation that can be used without violating the Greek. It will be of interest even to those who do not understand the original language as showing the danger of relying on the received translation, or in fact any translation, without a copious commentary. Moreover, when it is understood that such great difficulties present themselves even when the original scripture is in Greek, it will be easily seen that a translation of the Hebrew texts, from a language essentially occult and open to infinite permutation of meaning, is fraught with far greater difficulty. [Page 2]
The original texts of the Jewish Scriptures were written without vowel points, and each school had its own tradition as to which points should be used. Why, therefore, the pointing of one particular school, the Masoretic, should be insisted on to the exclusion of all others, passes the comprehension of any but the orthodox bibliolater.
From this point of view, then, the preliminary paper may not be without interest.
1. In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was πρòς τòν θεόν, and the Logos was θεòς.In the very first verse a grave difficulty presents itself; viz., the right interpretation of the curious complement πρòς τòν θεόν . In the Vulgate it is translated apud Deum, "with God" — not "together with God", which would be cum Deo, but in the sense of "at", "by". But does apud render the Greek πρòς ? Apud is a preposition denoting rest; πρòς, with the accusative, denotes fundamentally motion — versus, adversus, presenting in fact an idea of hostility, and metaphorically of comparison. To translate πρδς τον θεόν, therefore, by "with God " is decidedly unwarranted by the ordinary meaning of the word.
2. The latter (the Logos) was, in the beginning, πρòς τòν θεòν.Why is this repeated ? Does it mean that at the first "flutter of manvantaric dawn" there was the Logos and Mûlaprakriti ?
3. All things are wont to be (or exist) through it (viz., the Logos), and without it not one single [Page 5] thing which is (or is wont to come) comes into being.πάντα , "all things", is to be distinguished from κóσμος (cosmos) in the 10th verse.
4. In it (the Logos) was Life, and the Life was the Light of men.ξοŉ (life) differs from πάντα (objective manifestation) in that it is in (or inherent in) the Logos, and is not emanated through it. It may, therefore, be taken as a power of the Logos. Now the Logos of the 3rd verse is not the same as the Logos of the 1st. Essentially or in eternity, of course, they are the same, but in time, in a different stage of emanation. In the Secret Doctrine this Logos is called the Second or Third Logos, the "luminous sons of manvantaric dawn", or the "builders" — a septenary hierarchy.
That which I say to you in Darkness (èν τη σκοτíα), speak in Light (èν τŵ φωτí), and what ye hear "mouth to ear", preach on the house tops.— Matth., x, 27.
Wherefore, whatsoever ye said in Darkness (èν τñ σκοτíα) shall be heard in Light (èν τŵ φωτí), and that which ye have sounded into the ear in the crypts (closets, secret chambers) shall be preached on the house tops.— Luke, xii, 3.
5. And the Light shineth in the Darkness, and the Darkness did not comprehend it.[Page 8] In the Secret Doctrine this Darkness is taken as synonymous with pure spirit, and Light as typifying matter.
Darkness in its radical, metaphysical basis, is subjective and absolute Light: while the latter, in all its seeming effulgence and glory, is merely a mass of shadows, as it can never be eternal, and is simply an illusion, or Maya. [1, 70]Are "Light" and "Darkness", in this verse, used in the same sense ? Or does it mean that this "Life" which is a potency of the Logos, is regarded by men as "Light", whereas that which is higher than the "Light", viz., the Logos (or to them "Darkness"), is the real "Light" ? " Darkness comprehended it not", then, means that absolute spirit did not comprehend or understand this illusive "Light".
6. There was a man sent divinely (παρà φεοû, no article) whose name was John.If this "Light" is to be taken as identical with the Christ-spirit, it will be Buddbi; but if φŵς is Manas, the difficulty may be avoided by taking φŵς to mean Buddhi-Manas.
7. He came for bearing witness in order that he might testify concerning the Light, in order that all might have confidence through it.
8. He was not the Light, but was for a witness concerning the Light. [Page 9]
9. The Light was the true (real) Light which illuminates every man (human being) coming into the world.
10. The next two verses represent the descent of Spirit into Matter, the 10th repeating the 3rd on a lower plane.Moreover, the light directly it descends into the Cosmos, is anthropomorphized.
11. He came unto his own (that is to say, into the lower principles or lower man, or generally mankind — τà ìδια, a neuter term) and his own (masculine) received him not.The first part of the verse is from the abstract or impersonal standpoint, the latter from the personal standpoint. The principles and their powers become individualized.
12. But as many as received him (Âtma-Buddhi) to them he gave power to become Children of God (initiates), viz., to those who have confidence in his name.This is the septenary name, or sound, the Oeaohoo of the Secret Doctrine and the αεηιονω of the Pistis Sophia. It is strange that the Latin words nomen (name) and numen (deity or divinity) so resemble one another. [Page 12]
13. "Who are born (iterative aorist) not from "bloods" nor of the will of the flesh nor from the will of the male, but of God.The term "bloods", a strange use of the plural, is the same as "lives" in the Secret Doctrine; they are elemental centres of force, the micro-cosmic aspect of the macrocosmic Tattvas; the "Sweat-born" who were not " Will-born", but rather, born unconsciously.
14. So the Logos became flesh (was incarnated) and dwelt (lit., tabernacled itself) in us (that is to say was clothed in a body, or bodies). And we saw his appearance (not glory except in the sense of shekinah or veil), the appearance as of the only-begotten son of the Father full of grace and truth.The word δóξα which is translated by glory, is nowhere found with this meaning in Greek.
15. John bears witness concerning him and cries saying: He it was of whom I spake: who coming after me was before me: for he was before me (πρŵτος, curious).That is to say, that from the point of view of a disciple the divine principle Atma-Buddhi is later in respect of time, for union therewith is not attained till the end of the Path is reached. Yet [Page 14] this spark of the divine Fire was before the personality of the neophyte, for it is eternal and in all men, though not manifested.
16. And of the Fulness (πληρωμα) thereof we all received, and favour for favour.The πληρωμα (Plerôrna or Plenum) must be distinguished from Mûlaprakriti.
17. The meaning of verse 16, depends on verse 17.For the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth was through Jesus Christ.
18. No man has seen God (Parabrahman) at any time.No, not even the First Logos who, as stated in the Lectures on the Bhagavad-Glta, by T. Subba Rao, can only behold its veil, Mûlaprakriti.
19. And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou ?This verse relates to the great dissension between the Innocents, the Kabbalists or Initiates of pre-Christian Judaea, and the Synagogue, and was a continuation of the struggle between the Prophets and Priests.
20. And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. [Page 16]That is to say, I am not the glorified Christos.
21. And they asked him, What then ? Art thou Elias ? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet ? And he answered, No.The root of the name Elias in Hebrew and Coptic has the meaning of Buddhi. It is a pun on Buddhi. The meaning conveyed is that of the principles Manas and Buddhi without Âtma. It is not the same as the Christos, the anointed by Âlaya.
It came to pass, when I had come into the midst of the Rulers of the Aeons, having looked from above into the World of men, I found Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, before she had conceived him. I planted the Power in her, which I bad received from the Little laö, the Good, who is in the Midst, [This is to say, that the Power planted is the reflection of the Higher Ego, or the Lower Kâma-Manas] that he should preach before me, and prepare my way, and baptize with water the Remission of Sins. This Power then is [Notice the tense, the orthodox John being dead years before ] [Page 17] in the body of John. Moreover, in the Region of the Soul of the Rulers, appointed to receive it, I found the Soul of the prophet Elias in the Aeons of the Sphere, and I took him, and receiving his Soul also, brought it to the Virgin of Light, and she gave it to her Receivers, who led it to the Sphere of the Rulers and carried it into the womb of Elizabeth. So the Power of the Little Iaö, the Good, which is in the Midst, and the Soul of the prophet Elias, are bound together in the body of John the Baptist.Elizabeth, in the above, is the personified female Power, or Shakti.
For which cause, therefore, did ye doubt at that time, when I said unto you: John said, "I am the Christ"; and ye said unto me: "It is written in the Scriptures, if the Christ come, Elias comes before him, and will prepare his way". And I replied: "Elias, indeed, is come, and has prepared all things, according as it was written; and they have done unto him whatsoever they would". And when I perceived that ye did not understand those things which I spake to you concerning the Soul of Elias, as bound in John the Baptist, I then answered openly and face to face: " If ye will receive it, John the Baptist is that Elias, who, I said, "was coming". [See Lucifer. Vol. VI, No. 32, page 113 ]
23. He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.I am the Voice of Wisdom (cf. 19) crying in the wilderness of Matter: Purify the Antahkarana (" Internal Organ" or Astral Man), the Path that leads from the Lower to the Higher Man.
25. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet ?"What baptizest thou" rather than, "Why baptizest thou " ?
26. John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom you know not;The baptism with water typifies the Terrestrial Mary, or the Astral. [Page 19]
27. He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.A repetition of verse 15, referring to the mystery of the Higher and Lower Man, Âtma-Buddhi and the Lower Manas.
28. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.Most probably a blind, unless we enquire into the mystic meaning of the words Bethabara and Jordan: to do this, it is necessary to have the original texts, for the change of even one letter is important.
29. The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."Behold Jesus"; Jesus or Issi means Life, and therefore typifies a living man. The Lamb of God is the Aja, previously spoken of — the Logos.
The Syrians and Phoenicians assert that a dove sat several days in Euphrates [one of the four rivers in Eden] on the egg of a fish, whence their Venus was born. [Volney's Ruins, page 168 ]
Venus is but the
female form of Lucifer, the planet; and the bright Morning Star is Christos,
the Glorified Ego — Buddhi-Manas. As said in Revelation: " I,
Jesus, am the bright morning star" — Phosphoros or Lucifer.
There is one thing worth remembering. If you read the Bible you will find all the names of the Patriarchs and Prophets and other prominent characters that begin with the letter J (or I), such as, Jubal Cain, Jared, Jacob, Joseph, Joshua, Jesse, Jonah, John, Jesus, all were meant to depict (a) a series of reincarnations on the terrestrial or physical plane, as their legends show in the biblical narratives; and (b) all typified the Mysteries of Initiation, its trials, triumphs, and birth to Light, first terrestrial, then psychic, and finally Spiritual Light, every particular being made to fit in with the various details of the ceremony and its results.
30. Repetition of verses 15 and 27 (three times)." I" as a personality; or those initiated into the lower Mysteries only.
31. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
32. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.The Dove in symbology has many meanings; it here typifies the Erõs (Love) or Charity.
33. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.And I, the terrestrial man, knew him not, but my Buddhic principle, which sent me to initiate into the lower Mysteries, recognized the sign. I, the terrestrial man, knew not, but Elias and the Prophet and Christos knew.
34-38. Narrative, and therefore a "blind".The two disciples symbolize two Neophytes near the end of their trials, and the abiding with the Master, or Higher Self, is being in the Christos-Spirit.
39. He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. [Page 25]
42. Cf. Isis Unveiled, Volume 2, pages 29 and 91.
46. Out of Nazareth, i.e.. from the Sect of the Nazars.
51. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
Thou shalt see the Higher descend on the Lower, and gain illumination and know greater wonders than the simple power of clairvoyance.
The first eleven verses
in the second chapter contain the allegorical representation of the
last and final Initiation; herein we find mention of all the divine
and human "principles" veiled
in allegorical language, and personified, and of the purification wrought
in them by Initiation; the [Page
26] incident ends abruptly and mysteriously, so much so, that we have
reason to suspect that more was originally added. A very superficial knowledge
of the laws of esoteric allegory shows it to be so.
The main point of the allegory is the turning of "Water" (the Astral) into "Wine", or Matter into Spirit.
1. And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:
In all the Mysteries, after the four days of trial or temptation, came the three days of descent into Hades, or the tomb, from which the Glorified Candidate, or Initiate, arose.
"On the third day", therefore, means that the time for the final Initiation had come, when Jesus, or the Neophyte, would become Christ, or the Initiate; that is, at one with Buddhi or the Christ-principle. [ N.B.— In diagrams where the principles are symbolically represented by a triangle superimposed on a square, it should be remarked that after the "second birth" the "principles" have to be rearranged]
(With reference to the 4 days mentioned above, it is interesting to note that Jesus is said to have been tempted for 40 days. Here the nought is a "blind", for in mystery numbers cyphers can be disregarded and changed according to the rules of the method employed) [Page 27]
"There was a marriage in Cana" — that is to say, that the Disciple was joined to his Higher Self, the marriage of the Adept with Sophia, Divine Wisdom, or the Marriage of the Lamb, in Cana.
Now Cana or Khana is from a root which conveys the idea of a place consecrated or set apart for a certain purpose. Khanak is the "royal abode" or "the place of the ruler", with the Arabs. Cf. Devakhan, the place consecrated to the Devas, i.e., a state of such bliss as Devas or Angels are supposed to enjoy.
"And the Mother of Jesus was there," this means that the Candidate was there in Body, or at least the lower "principles" were present; for from this aspect the "Mother of Jesus" is especially the Kama-rûpic "principle", that is to say, the vehicle of material human desires, the giver of life, etc.. This must not be confounded with the higher aspect, Buddhi the "Mother of Christ," the so-called Spiritual Soul. The distinction is the same as that between Sophia the Divine, and Sophia Achamoth, the Terrestro-Astral.
2. And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
That is to say, the Higher Manas or Ego (not Self) which was now dominant in the Candidate and his disciples [The 12 "disciples" are the 3 aspects of the 4 lower principles, the Δ reflected in the □] or lower principles were present [Page28] as necessary to the purification of the whole Man.
3. And when they wanted wine the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
The mother of Jesus here signifies his now purified desire aspiring upwards. The verse means that the human material passions of the lower self, the guests at the festival, must be made drunk or paralyzed, before the " bridegroom " can be married. It is the lower Manas (Sophia Achamoth), that says to Jesus, "They have no wine", that is to say, the lower "principles" are not yet spiritualized, and therefore not ready to participate in the feast.
4. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee ? mine hour is not yet come.
Woman (Matter or Water, the lower quaternary), what hath the Spirit Ego to do with thee at this hour ? There is no unity as yet between me and thee, my hour of Initiation is not yet come, I have not yet made myself one with Buddhi, my Supernal Mother, when I shall be able to associate with thee without any danger.
5. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
The servants are the lower "principles", their thoughts, instincts and passions, the Lhamayin, or [Page 29] elementals and evil spirits, adverse to men and their enemies.[ Cf. Voice of the Silence, page 58]
6. And there were set there six waterpots of stone after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
The six waterpots typify the six principles, the seven without Âtma the seventh or universal principle — six from the earthly standpoint including the body. These are the containing principles from Âkasha to the Astral; also the four lower principles (the others being latent) filled with Astral Water. The Lower Manas sports in the Astral waves.
7. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
In the Lesser Mysteries all the powers of the four lower planes were brought to bear on the Candidate to test him.
The six waterpots were filled with Water — the symbol of Matter — that is to say, that during the Neophyte's trials and temptations before Initiation, his human passions being made full to the brim, he had to conquer them or fail. Jesus, the Higher Manas, in changing that Water into Wine, or Divine Spirit, conquers and is thus filled with the Wisdom of the Gods. (See ch. xv, " I am the [Page 30] vine," etc.). Lustral water was given to the Neophyte to drink and turned into Wine at the last moment; in India it was turned into the Soma juice, the Water of Life Eternal.
8. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
The "governor of the feast" was the chief official who had the direction of the feast and servants and the duty of tasting the food and drink. Here it typifies the conclave of Initiates who do not know whether the Candidate will succeed or fail, and who have to test him. This explains the sentence in the next verse, " he knew not whence it came", that is, did not know until the Candidate had been fully tested.
9. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom.
The servants, or lower "principles", and the lower powers that had been subjected to the purified will of the Christ-man, knew that the great change was accomplished and that the lower "principles" were purified and spiritualized.
The "bridegroom" is, of course, the Candidate, who is to be married to his Higher or Divine Self, and so become a Son of God. [Page 31]
It is curious and interesting to remark in the ancient cosmogonies, especially in the Egyptian and the Indian, how perplexing and intricate are the relationships of the Gods and Goddesses. The same Goddess is mother, sister, daughter and wife to a God. This most puzzling allegory is no freak of the imagination, but an effort to explain in allegorical language the relation of the "principles", or, rather, the various aspects of the one "principle". Thus we may say that Buddhi (the vehicle of Âtma) is its wife, and the mother, daughter, and sister of the Higher Manas, or rather Manas in its connection with Buddhi, which is for convenience called the Higher Manas. Without Buddhi Manas would be no better than animal instinct, therefore she is its mother; and she is its daughter, child or progeny, because without the conception which is only possible through Manas, Buddhi, the Spiritual Power, or Shakti, would be inconceivable and unknowable.
10. And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
"At the beginning" means when the Mânasa-putra first incarnated.
Every candidate as he progresses needs less and less good Wine, or Spirit, for he becomes that Spirit himself as his powers and knowledge [Page 32] increase the new-won strength. At the entrance of the Path "good wine", or the spiritual impetus, is given, but as the disciple mounts the ladder such help is no longer needed, for he tends ever more and more to become All-Spirit.
14. And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting.
This represents the attitude of the Initiate to exoteric religion and his work after he has attained the victory. The "temple" here signifies all externals, exoteric creeds, or bodies of flesh.
"Oxen" typify material things, the physical man. In all symbology, the bull has the significance of bodily strength and generative power. " Sheep" typify the passions and desires which are subdued and tamed, and "Doves" spiritual aspirations. The "money changers" are those who traffic in spiritual things, the money-seeking priesthood.
15. And when he had made a scourge of small cords [symbolizing that which binds the passions], he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;
The "scourge", which appears so often on the Egyptian monuments and cartouches, signifies [Page 33]
the means whereby the passions and lower nature are tamed. The noose of Shiva has the same signification, symbolizing that whereby the passions, desires and fears are bound together, tamed and subdued.
16. And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandize.
Those "that sold doves" are the traffickers in spiritual knowledge. "My Father's house" is the human body which is the temple of God, that which should be naturally the temple of the Holy Ghost.
17. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
The domination of the lower man had devoured the higher.
18. Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things ?
By what authority do you endeavour to reform the popular religion, what right have you ?
19. Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. [Page 34]
That is to say, that he had passed through Initiation, and had died to his old life, and risen again from the "dead " in a "new birth".
20. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days ?
Wilt thou with the three Fires do more, then, than with the forty-six ? — there are in all forty-nine Fires, 7x7.
to Top of this page
Back to our On Line Documents
Back to our Main Page
A free sample copy of our bilingual magazine can be sent to you. This offer is only good for a mailing to a Canadian address. You have to supply a mailing address.
The Canadian membership of $25.00 includes the receipt of four seasonal issues of our magazine "The Light Bearer" . If you are a resident of Canada send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org requesting a packet of information and your free copy of our magazine
For membership outside of Canada send a message to the International Secretary in Adyar, India email@example.com
For a problem viewing one of our documents - or to report
an error in a document - send a note to the webmaster at firstname.lastname@example.org
We will try to answer any other query -if you would send a note to email@example.com
This document is a publication of the
Canadian Theosophical Association (a regional association of the Theosophical Society in Adyar)