THE REIGN OF THE SPIRIT
A Study of the Individual Approach
The Blavatsky Lecture
delivered at the Annual Convention of The Theosophical Society
in England, at Besant Hall, London,
June 8, 1957
The Theosophical Publishing House, Ltd.
‘The Theosophical Society was chosen as the cornerstone, the foundation of the future religions of humanity.’ [Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series, C. Jinarajadasa ed., No.1] These words, written in 1881 by the Master Kuthumi to Mr. Sinnett, and reflecting the will of the Mahâchohan himself, constitute a specific instance of the teaching of the Ancient Wisdom that such world movements as religions are planned far in advance of their actual appearance on the physical plane.
At the same time, the conclusions of historical research indicate that great religions tend to grow out of that which preceded them: that, no matter how pure the original teaching may have been, as expounded by its founder, nothing will prevent the natural process of osmosis, by which the current emotional and mental environment gradually permeates it and even transforms it. Ceremonies, scriptures, ancient superstitions, theologies are found choking it like weeds, even if the great teacher expressly disowned them. It is as true of religions as of Bibles, which, in the opinion of Manly Palmer Hall, ‘are accumulated over immense periods of time, and can usually be traced to the lore of preceding civilisations. Built up from earlier fragments, they should never be regarded as revelations in the sense of being delivered in toto to any individual by some divine being. The revelation factor is generally limited to interpretation—some illumined individual, contemplating sacred matters, perceives some deeply concealed value, and by placing special emphasis upon this new aspect, comes to be regarded as a religious founder.’ [How to Understand your Bible, p.7.]
‘There is no doubt in the unprejudiced mind that Christianity has been extremely susceptible in this respect. Modern scholarship has shown the influence of Jewish, Greek, and Roman thought on the new religion then in the making, and drawn attention to various small religious bodies in existence at that time which were, to some extent, already subscribing to beliefs that eventually became common to themselves and Christianity. It is possible to apply to these obscure groups the words of Rohit Mehta; ‘We find that ... mutations always occur in inconspicuous units, in what would appear to be temporary failures of Nature.’ [The Significance of Life, Theosophical News and Notes, July-August 1956.] But new religions do not constitute themselves out of inconspicuous units alone. The germ of change may arise in such bodies, but, as noted, surrounding influences soon commence to flow in, so that bigger and less inconspicuous groups begin to make their presence felt.
If one is convinced of the existence of the Great Plan of the Logos of our System, however, one expects some guiding principle to be in evidence which, if perceived, would provide a clue leading to the discovery of the type of change that should be sought in present trends. But how is one to spot the germ of change amidst the variety of movements in the world today? The remark of the Mahâchohan about the Theosophical Society is a useful starting point, as it indicates that this group possesses the potentiality of a successful mutation. Its keynote is implied, first of all, in its three Objects, which guarantee the individual approach, since the comprehensiveness of the First Object is contradicted unless the studies and investigations of the Second and Third Objects are freely and openly carried out, without bias and, as Professor Victor Murray puts it, without ‘a cosy feeling of being an initiate.’ [Natural Religion and Christian Theology, p.15.] The second implication is in the fact that, although our Society encourages the study of all religions, it is not a religion in itself, having no priesthood, no ceremonies, and no dogma. If Theosophy is considered apart from every movement that has grown around it, it surely stands for the reliance of man on the Divinity within himself as soon as he can safely realise it. It will be profitable, then, to concentrate more on movements that, in one way or another, aim at an individual approach.
In this respect, there is significance in the opening words of C. Jinarajadasa in his introduction to The Fire of Creation: ‘The reign of the Father is past; the reign of the Son is passing; the reign of the Spirit is at hand.’ [By J.J. van der Leeuw.] This is a summary of the prophecy of Joachim of Floris, a Christian mystic who lived in the twelfth century. Joachim supported these divinations by
using the Old Testament allegorically, stating that ‘The Church of the Father was a stage of law. The Church of the Son is still an imperfect stage, with priests and sacraments, a stage typified by Hagar, who neglects her children. The third stage is typified by Sarah, the true mother, an era without priests or sacraments, without altar or sacrifice, an era of direct contemplation or perfect liberty.’ [Studies in Mystical Religion, Rufus M. Jones, p.172.]
That certain groups of thinking people are intuitively feeling their way towards a fresh interpretation of religion may be seen in the remarkable question put to Professor Jung when he visited the Guild of Pastoral Psychology in 1939. The Chairman asked; ‘Had [Professor Jung] any views on what was likely to be the next step in religious development? Did he, for example, think that there would be a new revelation—as some would phrase it, a new incarnation of the World Teacher, a new collective phantasy? Or was there likely to be a reinterpretation and new appreciation of the esoteric meaning of Christianity—perhaps with the aid of psychology? Or would there be no collective expression, but a period in which each man had to make his own individual contact, and live out his own personal expression?” [The Symbolic Life, Guild of Pastoral Psychology, Lecture No. 80, p.5.]`
Here is a clear indication of the permeating power of thought spread through Theosophy; for analysis of the question shows references to the idea of a World Teacher; to the existence of an underlying meaning to sacred scriptures, and to the possibility of there being a key to it; to the ability of modern psychology to be of assistance to religion; and to the way of the mystic, whose approach is intensely individual, depending for its culmination on no ceremony, scripture, or system, but leading to the experience of a unity which is unable to be expressed in words or mental conceptions—a mystical paradox summed up in Dr. Besant’s prayer: ‘May each who feels himself as one with Thee, know he is therefore one with every other.’
With all the above hypotheses Theosophy has the closest links, since its leaders have devoted their lives to spreading and clarifying teachings relative to these matters for the last three-quarters of a century. Yet it must be borne in mind that no religion known in history has ever constructed itself entirely out of one group of people. There have always been contributions from other groups which were, in turn, the repositories of other traditions handed down from a remote past. The Theosophical Society, indeed, by its amazing powers of syncretism, may be the ‘cornerstone’ and the ‘foundation’ of the new religion now in process of growth, but it cannot, in the nature of things, be the sole contributor to it. The question submitted to Professor Jung shows general psychological needs that cannot be ignored, and thus, connecting up with Theosophical thought, forms suitable grounds upon which an enquiry such as this can be based. An attempt will therefore be made to assemble the teachings, with reference to religion and kindred subjects, of movements coinciding with the different aspects of this question, namely: the Theosophical Society and other Societies and Groups developing parallel to it; modern psychology, represented by Jung and his School, inasmuch as he has studied deeply the great religious systems of the East and of the West, and has brought to light the value of mythology; and the individual mystics represented by an outstanding modern example, J. Krishnamurti.
It seems reasonable to assume that these aspects will each have something of value to give to a new expression of religion which, according to the rhythm of evolution, will be stressing the attributes and qualities of the Holy Spirit. Yet there must be no sense of comparison or competition present, no sense of the advisability of substituting one group for another; for sympathetic study of, and intimate acquaintance with, their tenets will show that each way is complete in itself, amply sufficient to lead the aspirant along his own path to that state of Truth which is pathless.
The idea of an increasingly individual approach is in no way strange to Theosophy, since as long ago as 1887, Madame Blavatsky wrote: ‘It is said that after the Kalki-Avatâra ... the Golden Age will begin and every man will become his own guru .... because the divine Logos, whatever name it may be given, will reign in each regenerated mortal.’ [Esotericism of Christian Dogma, The Theosophist, March 1956, p. 395.] In our own day Dr. Arundale has discussed the individual approach in a book on Symbolic Yoga that has not yet received the general attention it deserves. He states: ‘If any reader sets out just to copy the details of my yoga theme, trying to repeat them in himself, regardless of his essential difference from myself, he is not yet ready for Yoga. If, on the other hand, he uses my experiences to stimulate his own Yoga .... setting about the construction of a Yoga of his own, then will he derive profit from what I have written.’ [The Lotus Fire, p. 60.]
Manley Palmer Hall gives the opinion that: ‘He is badly served who depends upon the doctor, the lawyer, and the priest for his internal security. Because we are ignorant, we hire experts, we are content to remain ignorant. It makes little difference whether we lean for support upon a learned man or upon a prevailing and popular concept about living. To depend for strength upon that which is not ourselves is folly.’ [The Mystical Christ, p.92.] Alice Bayley, though concentrating much upon group work, is careful to add: ‘ A disciple ..... has to learn, first of all, to stand completely alone.’ [Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. I, P.593.]
In an assessment of Jung’s methods, a Catholic student writes: ‘ In our age the man of high moral and intellectual standards no longer wants to follow a faith or rigid dogma. He wants to plunge down into the soul for himself and to get to know its powers, including its religious powers, and then express them symbolically, in accordance with his own individuality. This means that “private religion”, not collective religion, is the way out of the lack of religion in our age. The future belongs to the formation of religions of an individual nature. Jung deliberately leads his patients to individual religion as the way of salvation .... with the Self as goal.’ [Individuation, J. Goldbrunner, p. 169.]
Krishnamurti, when addressing a group of T.S. Members at Adyar in 1933, mentioned his purpose was to make teachers unnecessary, ‘so’, he continued, ‘that you will not feel the necessity for lectures, for sermons, so that you will realise for yourself what is true and love completely. The world will be a happier place when there are no more teachers, when a man no longer feels that he must preach to his neighbour. But that state can only come about when you as individuals, are really awakened.’ [Talks at Adyar, India, 1933-1934, p.6.]
Madame Blavatsky, as a messenger of the Hierarchy, had her part to play in the difficult adaptation of the old to the new, but that part will be seen in better perspective if set in its context in world events. Through a study of the past, it appears that the main object with regard to Western religion has been to detach the historical Jesus from the Gospel Jesus, thereby awakening people to the power of the Mystic Jesus within themselves. This involves an important psychological process, but it may also be followed outwardly in history. As is usual in these great transformations, time was necessary to carry the movement forward step by step, in order to avoid shocks too severe for the ordinary man to survive. Dr. Toynbee has traced these steps in detail in his two recent series of Gifford Lectures. Here may be seen the first efforts of a large section of the Western people to free themselves from collective religion in order, unconsciously, to take the path of suffering that leads eventually to individual religion.
The first step commences not so long after the prophecy of Joachim of Floris, being the shock that was administered in the thirteenth century by the conflict between the Papacy and the Emperor Frederick II, ‘for this conflict revealed the Papacy to Western eyes in the new and distressing light of a self-centred institution, fighting nakedly for supremacy in a struggle for power.’ [All quotations in this paragraph are from An Historian’s Approach to Religion, pp. 166-168.] The second shock was the captivity of the Popes in Avignon in the fourteenth century, resulting in the building up of ‘an unedifying mercenary-minded financial organisation on an oecumenical scale.’ This was followed closely by the third shock of the Great Schism, when the Papacy, became divided against itself. In the fifteenth century came the fourth shock: the conflict between Papacy and the Conciliar Movement, when the remedy of a reunification of the West by a Papal Monarchy with a ‘new constitutional foundation on a parliamentary representative basis’ was rejected, and the Papal Church became ‘an ecclesiastical autocracy on the model of the parochial secular North Italian autocracies of the day’. The fifth shock was a direct result of the defeat of the Chancellor Movement, since it meant a permanent break between Catholic and Protestant, and was the Reformation itself. The sixth shock was the fratricidal Wars of Religion. It was the ensuing disgust of religious fanaticism that gradually permeated Western society from the top, and created a ‘spiritual vacuum’ which men have been striving to fill with various substitutes ever since.
This historical summary, however, tells only a part of the story; the other part, which is of greater significance for understanding the work of Madame Blavatsky, is connected with the immense psychological changes involved. The setting here is best explained by the discoveries of modern complex-psychology.
The starting point is the average Westerner’s fear of the unconscious, since he has for so long concentrated on the conscious that he does not feel strong enough to come to terms with it—and come to terms with it, at some time or other, he must. To him, as Hans Schaer puts it, ‘the road to the unconscious is the road to darkness, to the unbounded, the nameless, where unknown experiences and terrors lurk. [Religion and the Cure of Soul’s in Jung’s Psychology, p. 190.] The problem of how he may come to terms with the unconscious has been most adequately solved by the Roman Catholic Church. Using the factor that the unconscious projects itself on to the outside world, age-old symbols and ceremonies are provided upon which the unconscious can safely project itself, thus objectifying ‘the whole symbolism of the unconscious’, and placing it ‘outside the individual’, where it can do no harm. Therefore ‘ the individual is insulated against the perils of the soul—but also, be it noted, against its beneficent influences. He gets the experience of Catholic dogma, but not of his own psyche.’ [Ibid.] It is from this aspect that the Reformation indicates a change of extraordinary significance. As explained by Schaer: ‘The Reformation did not ... simply modify this or that detail in the Catholic system, nor did it merely induce certain changes in dogma, symbolism, worship, and the structure of the Church: it brought about a completely new psychic attitude ... The Catholic Church is, in Jung’s words, ‘the greatest objectivation of religious symbols that the West has known. What the Reformation did was to undertake nothing less than a colossal demolition of this objectification. All the psychic contents which the religious symbolism of the Catholic Church had projected into the surrounding world were taken back into the psyche. The old symbols accordingly lost their strength and effectiveness and had to be replaced by new ones. But projection having ceased, man’s relation to God became totally different.’ [Ibid., pp. 168-169.] Some of our English cathedrals and churches yet bear the signs of the outward smashing of what had once been valid symbols. ‘The barriers that the Catholic Church erected against the unconscious, and in the shelter of which the true Catholic was immune to the perils of the soul, are down; hence the Protestant is delivered up to these psychic powers in a way that does not make life at all easy for him. He has to reckon with the fact that the psychic elements which the Catholic, like the primitive man, reads into his surroundings are really there in his own soul.’ [Ibid., p. 177.] As a consequence of this, ‘Protestantism was, and still is, a great risk and at the same time a great opportunity. If it keeps on disintegrating as a church, it succeeds in depriving man of all his spiritual safeguards and means of defence against the immediate experience of the forces waiting for liberation in the unconscious mind.’ [Psychological Reflections, Jung and Jacobi, p. 313.]
Jung himself is ‘a Protestant of Protestants’, and from this angle he can consider the case of one who leaves his church altogether: ‘If a Protestant survives the complete loss of his Church and still remains a Protestant—that is, a person who is defenceless against God and no longer protected by walls or communities—then he has a unique spiritual opportunity for immediate religious experience.’ [Religion and the Cure of Souls in Jung’s Psychology, p. 190.] For this reason, such a man ‘is forced to come to terms with the religious problem in some personal way’ [Ibid., p.181.]—which has led us again to the individual approach.
It will not have escaped observation that the above considers only the orthodox Catholic and Protestant views of ceremonial work. Later, other and totally different views of Jung and Bishop Leadbeater will be put forward.
Against this background may be seen the significance of the detaching of the historical Jesus from the Gospel Jesus. Another projection is in the process of being taken back into the psyche, that of the Christ without to the Christ within. Since, in order to support this contention, there must be proof that the historical and the Gospel Jesus are not the same, it becomes plain that we are now in the process of sustaining the latest—the seventh—shock, namely, the bringing to light of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It only remains to discover the name of the ‘Teacher’ referred to in order to solve this problem finally.
Psychologically, these powerful inner changes, according to Jung, started even earlier than the Reformation, and, again, conforming to the biological law of mutation, in obscure places. They commenced with thirteenth century German mysticism, chiefly with Meister Eckhart, a Dominican monk. ‘It was he who took the decisive step, since, with his doctrine of “the little spark of the soul”, he withdrew God from the surrounding world and established him in the soul of man. By doing so he switched the projection of the God-symbol away from the Catholic Church. If God dwells in the soul, the Church, together with its hierarchy, ritual, and dogma, automatically loses all divine authority and its supernatural aura. ‘ [Ibid., pp. 170-171.] The prophecy of Joachim of Floris is already making itself felt!
The development of the realisation of the complete interdependence of God and man, which has been called the doctrine of the relativity of God by theologians, and the divinity of man by Theosophy, is again demonstrated in seventeenth century German mysticism in the poems of Angelus Silesius. The following extract is an illuminating example:
I know that without me
God can no moment live;
Were I to die, then He
No longer could survive.
I am as great as God,
And He is small like me;
He cannot be above
Nor I below Him be.
In me God is a fire
And I in Him its glow;
In common is our life,
Apart we cannot grow.
I am the vine, which He
Doth plant and cherish most;
The fruit which grows from me
Is God the Holy Ghost. [Psychological Types, p.359.]
At the period immediately preceding the arrival of Madame Blavatsky, Protestantism, having already discarded the authority of Rome for the authority of the Bible, was in the process of questioning the authority of the Bible itself. Alongside these researches, a rapidly developing science was building up a strong materialistic and sceptical philosophy. She had therefore to fight a battle on two fronts, hence the division of Isis Unveiled into corresponding sections. In this connection, the title selected is of great interest, since it was Isis who collected the scattered parts of Osiris, thus symbolising the integration of consciousness. Without a knowledge of the unconscious, this is impossible, hence she must be unveiled. The book was published in the United States in 1877, and was thus a forerunner of the modern psychological outlook that a frustrated unconscious, whether in religion or science, is a menace both to the individual and his society. The author’s profound knowledge of human psychology is seen when she writes: ‘A religion is a natural incident in the life of man in his present state of development .... No religion can be absolutely true, and none can be absolutely false. A religion is true in proportion as it supplies the spiritual, moral and intellectual needs of the time ... It is false on proportion as it hinders ..... development , and offends the spiritual, moral and intellectual portion of man’s nature.’ [Lucifer, Vol. I, PP. 241-242.]
During this time, another group of workers, under Mrs. Kingsford and Mr. Maitland, were proceeding quite independently in England. Their teachings, published as The Perfect Way, in 1881, clearly implied, as did those of Madame Blavatsky, that the Jesus of the Gospels was not the Jesus of history. [e.g Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, . 544; The Perfect Way, p. 219.]
The next moves were made by the Master Kuthumi in 1883. The first appears in letter No.59 to Sinnett: ‘Let those unfortunate, deluded Christians know that the real Christ of every Christian is the “Vach”, the “mystical Voice”, while the man Yeshu was but a mortal like any of us, an adept more by his inherent purity and ignorance of real Evil, than by what he had learned with his initiated Rabbis and the already [at that period] fast degenerating Egyptian Hierophants and priests.’ [The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, A. T. Barker ed., No. 59.] From this issue three vital points: that the man Jesus actually lived and was a human being; that he obtained knowledge of a special nature from the best Jewish instructors; and that he went to Egypt, where he contacted the esoteric teaching such as it existed at that date. The second move was the comment on an article of Eliphas Levî, in which he had written: ‘Jesus, like all great Hierophants, had a public and a secret doctrine.’ The Master’s remark was: ‘But he preached it a century before his birth.’[The Paradoxes of the Highest Science, C. Jinarajadasa ed., p.53.]
These two items of information bring into view the traditional history of Jesus from Jewish sources, long regarded by orthodox authorities as worthless. Later, in 1888, Madame Blavatsky reinforced this conception when she is reported as having said: ‘I say the scholars are either lying or talking nonsense. Our Masters affirm the statement. If the story of Jehoshuah or Jesus Ben-Pandira is false, then the whole Talmud, the whole Jewish Canon is false. He was the disciple of Jehoshuah Ben-Perahiah, the fifth President of the Sanhedrin after Ezra . . . . Compromised in the revolt of the Pharisees against Jannaeus in 105 B.C., he fled into Egypt carrying the young Jesus with him.’ [The Theosophist, April 1956, p.17.] As editor of Lucifer, she pursued this subject further in a series of articles entitled The Esoteric Character of the Gospels, [Lucifer, 1887, 1888.] emphasising that the Gospels are not to be regarded as a biography of the historic Jesus. It is significant that, though she wrote much to choose from and these articles were never finished, yet she was awarded the Subba Row Medal for them.
Great interest continued to be aroused in these matters, and some leading Theosophical students of the day gave much time and thought to them. William Kingsland, one of Colonel Olcott’s President’s Commissioners for England, wrote the first book in 1891, [The Esoteric Basis for Christianity, 1891.] and this was followed by the publications of G.R.S Mead resulting from the clairvoyant investigations of Bishop Leadbeater into Christian origins, [Fragments of a Faith Forgotten, 1900, The Gospels and the Gospel, 1902, Did Jesus Live 100 B.C.?, 1903.] and a series of public lectures by Dr. Besant printed under the common title of Esoteric Christianity, and probably the nucleus of her later book. Independent work was meanwhile being done by Gerald Massey, who disclosed the close connections between the Christian Bible and the Scriptures of Ancient Egypt, [The Book of the Beginnings, 1881; The Natural Genesis, 1883; Ancient Egypt the Light of the World, 1907.] also by James Morgan Pryse, one of Madame Blavatsky’s staff in Avenue Road, who drew attention to the strong influence of the Greek Mysteries on the writers of the Gospels. [The Restored New Testament, compiled from books written from 1909 onwards.]
From time to time, Dr. Besant and Bishop Leadbeater made public further details of the life of the historical Jesus, though hints are to be found in Madame Blavatsky’s writings as far back as Isis Unveiled. As noted by Mr. T. Redfern, ‘This work was intended as a “softner-up” of mental rigidities of the times, and was much mooted and suggested rather than positively asserted.’ [Eirenicon, No. 121, p. 7.]
If these scraps of information be added together, and combined with the Master’s remark that concentrates attention on the Jewish records, there arises a different, but far more reasonable conception of the historical Jesus. Jehoshua Ben Panthira was born round about 100 B.C. in the reign of King Alexander Jannaeus. He was given special training, and eventually became the favourite pupil of one of the greatest and most influential of the Rabbis, Jehoshua Ben Perechiah. When Jesus was still young, there was a persecution of Rabbis by the King, and he and his instructor left the country for Egypt. There he studied with the Egyptian priests. These contacts with two of the world’s most powerful priesthoods seem to have awakened in him a longing for reform, and he started preaching on his own, making public what the orthodox Jews considered should be kept secret, and performing the most amazing healings. Jewish tradition quotes his offence as having learned the magic art in Egypt, and of having stolen from the Holy of Holies the Incommunicable Name. He is also said to have corrupted and misled Israel. For these things the Sanhedrin ordered him to be put to death, and he was stoned according to Jewish law, and afterwards hung on a tree on the eve of the Passover at a village called Lydda, north-west of Jerusalem.
Here is as fine a story of heroism and renunciation as any religion can offer. It is no longer the story of a poor and uneducated peasant who had nothing to lose except an inconspicuous life, nor that of the one unique and final incarnation of Deity, the attendant miraculous occurrences of which can be found duplicated in myth and scriptures throughout known history; it becomes the story of a man who voluntarily cast aside a magnificent future of power, security and comfort. He had royal connections on the one hand, and the full support of the national religion on the other, but, as in the symbolic temptation to the wilderness, he would allow nothing to stand between him and the Truth as he saw it. After his visit to Egypt, he began to speak that Truth, renouncing all former allegiances, even that to Rabbi Ben Perachiah, as a consequence of which he was excommunicated by the very one who had been his master and friend. No pressure or persecution could stop him, and when he gave his life for Truth, it was as heroically given as if he had been physically crucified. At the time, to his family, to the religious body that had trained him in its discipline, to his priests and instructors, and to all who knew him, his self-chosen task must have appeared the choice of one who was thoroughly ungrateful, who had deliberately thrown away all the splendid opportunities life had ordered, and, in fact, was behaving like a madman. Truly, on such occasions one needs more courage to face one’s friends that one’s enemies. [Sources consulted: Esoteric Christianity, A. Besant, p. 130; The Hidden Side of Christian Festivals, C.W. Leadbeater, pp.155, 235; Did Jesus Live 100 B.C.? G.R.S Mead, pp. 137, 138, 141-142.]
Two thousand years after these events, whether the above is a correct reconstruction or not, it had become obvious that one so great as Jesus was too big to be enclosed in any religious body then existing, that he could not express himself adequately in the formulae of the period, that he had to stand alone to give his message. ‘As a result of that act,’ observed Bishop Leadbeater, ‘He received the incarnation of Apollonius of Tyana.’ [The Inner Life, Vol. I, p.13.] If this is so, then it is one more example of the teaching that ‘the truth shall make you free,’ [John, viii, 32.] since, according to Mead, Apollonius ‘ not only traversed all the countries where the new faith was taking root, but lived for many years in most of them, and was intimately acquainted with numbers of mystic communities in Egypt, Arabia, and Syria.’ In addition, ‘he devoted the major part of his long life to the purification of the many cults of the Empire, and to the instruction of the ministers and priests of its religions.’ [Apollonius of Tyana, pp. 16, 28.] In that life, therefore, Jesus gained experience of the many religious movements that were eventually to compete for supremacy in the territories of Rome. Whatever emerged victorious, he would have been competent to take into his care. It is significant that Christianity, of which he eventually became the head, though woven round himself, proved to be actually a composite of ‘the many cults of the Empire’ with which he had been in touch as Apollonius.
The question that naturally arises from this is that, if the Gospels do not tell the story of the historical Jesus, what story do they tell? They tell the story of the great stages of Initiation through which every soul must pass in its cycle of incarnations, and they took shape in the famous city where Egyptian, Greek and Jewish cultures met on equal terms—Alexandria. Bishop Leadbeater tells of the history of their making by young monks in a large monastery there, to which had been sent a Hebrew document written by a Palestinian monk names Matthaeus. The abbot gave this document, which was the narrative of the facts of Initiation, built round the lives of the real Jesus of 100 B.C. and another Jesus who was executed in Jerusalem about A.D. 30, as an exercise to his students. The students recast it in Greek form, each in his own way, and the four best results have survived as our four Gospels. [The Inner Life, Vol. I, pp. 119-120.]
This concludes the first stage of the contribution of Theosophy to the gradual introduction of the individual approach. Clairvoyant investigation, though not evidence in the orthodox sense, confirmed, for those prepared to accept it, the assertions of Madame Blavatsky, and clarified that which could only be hinted at in her day. By pointing out that the Jesus of the Gospels could not be the Jesus of history, the Gospels were removed from the realm of biography to the realm of allegory and myth, and the chief figure was shown to be, primarily, not an entity who, whether considered as human, or divine, or both lived 2,000 years ago, but the prototype of all who tread the path of liberation. In plain language, the Jesus of the Gospels is you and me. The implications of this lead us to the next stage: the Gospels as allegory and myth.
It is Theosophy together with modern psychology which have succeeded in, firstly, distinguishing between allegory and myth, and, secondly, in removing the derogatory content associated with the latter word. Thus, Dr. Besant says: ‘ A myth is far truer than history, for a history only gives a story of the shadows, whereas a myth gives a story of the substances that cast the shadows.’ [ Esoteric Christianity, p.152.] Rudolf Steiner writes: “The images forming the contents of a myth are not invented symbols of abstract truths, but actual soul-experiences of the initiate. He experiences the images with his spiritual organs of perception, just as the normal man experiences the images of physical things with his eyes and ears. But as an image is nothing in itself if it is not aroused in the perception by an outer object, so the mythical image is nothing unless it is excited by the real facts of the spiritual world.’ [Christianity as Mystical Fact, pp. 107-108.] Psychology describes it as follows: ‘Myth is the projection of man’s unconscious, and the collective unconscious at that. What we find pictured in the myths of the various peoples and religions is not the imperfect image of certain portions of the external world, but the projections of the unconscious inner world . . . . Myth is the projection of that part of psychic reality which is accessible to us in the collective unconscious. Myth rests on inner experience, though not on the ego’s experience; it rests rather on the experience of powers, processes and happenings that lie beyond one’s own ego. Myth is the graphic representation of man’s experience of psychic forces.’ ‘Further, myths contain pictures of the archetypes.’ [Religion and Cure of Souls in Jung’s Psychology, H. Schaer, pp 69, 71.]
It becomes apparent, then, that allegory is a purely mental pastime, and therefore superficial. Myth is the experience itself; allegory is when the ‘playful intellect’, as Jung calls it, begins to rationalise it, and ‘explain’ it in terms of the mind. Allegory, however, has its uses, in that it serves to ‘cushion’ the shock of discovering that the Gospels are not biographical. It takes a considerable time to work out all the possible meanings and interconnections, and only after, perhaps, years of patient labour is it realised that one has explained away one’s own soul, and a crisis is precipitated.
The distinction between allegory and myth shows itself clearly in the books from various sources that have appeared since 1916. [The Gospel Drama and The Dictionary of the Sacred Language of all Scriptures and Myths, G.A Gaskell; The Mystery Teaching of the Bible and The Apocalypse and Initiation, Daisy Groves (Theosophical Society); The Pattern Life, F. Homer Curtiss (Universal Religious Fellowship); The Drama of the Soul, S. Britten Best ( Inayat Khan movement); The Four Great Initiations, Ellen Conroy (Rosicrucian Fellowship); From Bethlehem to Calgary, A. A Bailey (Arcane School); The Logia or Sayings of the Master, J. Todd Ferrier (Order of the Cross); Rudolf Steiner has considered the four Gospels individually under their respective names (Anthroposophical Society); The New Man and The Mark, Maurice Nicoll (Gurdjieff School); The Metaphysical Bible Dictionary (Unity School of Christianity). These are in order of publication.] Only in a few does myth begin to make itself apparent, and none squarely faces the issue that the true life of the Gospel symbols consists in the withdrawal of the Jesus-image into the individual psyche from which it sprang. Perhaps this is just as well, as the process of withdrawal has very real dangers, as was fully realised by Origen, when he represented Jesus as saying: ‘Whoever is near me is near to the fire.’ [Jerem, hom., xx, 3.] No wonder, therefore, that these interpreters, like the Churches, prefer to keep Jesus at a respectful distance.
Now, it cannot have escaped the attention of Members of this Society how certain well-known and expert interpreters of allegory and symbolism in the past have left Theosophy for Roman Catholicism. A major reason for this lies in these last remarks, for in the life of a student of symbology a potential crisis always lurks. Deeply absorbed in his study of symbols, he does not see where his steps are taking him. Suddenly he awakes to find himself poised on the edge of a precipice, with every mental support knocked away. For the first time he beholds real insecurity, a genuine Unknown. Instead of trusting in the inner drive that has carried him thus far, he panics, and seeks desperately the extreme opposite to the terrifying experience of standing entirely on his own. Unable to face the grand impersonality of the cosmos as it is, he rushes to take refuge in the security of the most authoritative régime he can find.
This situation is portrayed for us in the Passion and the Crucifixion of Jesus, which are the apotheosis of the individual approach. The Gospel stories depict the scenes with the penetrating vividness due to their archetypal nature, the climax being the words: ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ The withdrawal of the projection of the Jesus-image is not enough; the God-image itself must be withdrawn as well. As Alan Watts has described it: ‘The basic theme of the Christ story is that this express image of God becomes the source of life in the very act of being destroyed. To the disciples who tried to cling to His divinity in the form of His human individuality he explained . . .’It is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away the Paraclete [the Holy Spirit] cannot come unto you.” [The Wisdom of Insecurity, p.25.] In this tremendous ordeal man discovers that it is impossible to know God in terms of the past, for it is of that day that all his experiences and memories consist. It is therefore all the former mental conceptions of ‘his’ God that have forsaken him. Confronting forces over which he has no control, that seem utterly alien and indifferent to him, he must accept the challenge, and descend into the abyss regardless of both outer and inner security. Again using the words of Alan Watts: ‘He stands face to face with the unveiled, basic insecurity of the world. Herein lies the crux of the matter. To stand face to face with insecurity is still not to understand it. To understand it, you must not face it, but be it.’ [Ibid., p.73.] Krishnamurti has clarified the situation by saying: ‘If you want to understand something, you must not come to it having already made up your mind. If you want to know what God is, you must not have a belief about God, you must push all that away and look .... When the mind is free of the known, then is not the mind itself the unknown? [Talks in India, 1954-1955, pp.33, 34.]
Such words should not appear strange or shocking to us, for we have been made aware of these matters in our earliest literature. Those who have avoided the issue should therefore read the notes on God written to Mr. Hume by the Master Kuthumi, forming letter No. X of Mr. Sinnett’s collection. [ Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett.] Not until the contents of this communication have been studied without evasion will that cry from the Cross be better understood.
Further confirmation of its import is available from other sources. Christianity has produced St. John of the Cross, who says: ‘The divine extreme so breaks and bruises the soul, swallowing it up in profound darkness, that the soul, at the sight of its own wretchedness, seems to perish and waste away, by a cruel spiritual death, as if it were swallowed up by a wild beast.... But the greatest affliction of the sorrowful soul in this state is the thought that God has abandoned it, of which he has no doubt.’ [The Dark Night of the Soul. D. Lewis tr., pp. 83-84.]
Psychology calls this stage Individuation, and describes it as a psychic process of great suffering and endurance. ‘The way is long and perilous,’ explains Schaer. ‘ It is an encounter with the unconscious and somehow or other the individual must get into touch with it and accept it ... Whoever undertakes this journey exposes himself to the perils of the soul .... The man who wishes to follow the way of individuation must, above all, be loyal to his own fate.’ [ Religion and the Cure of Soul’s in Jung’s Psychology, pp. 122, 123.]
Mr. E. L. Gardner writes of it: ‘Immortality must be won by “crossing the neutral barrier” between the field of the personality... and the original realm. This neutral barrier . . . is the critical laya centre so often mentioned in The Secret Doctrine, and it must be crossed and its difficulties conquered while in incarnation and in full physical consciousness.’ [ The Imperishable Body, p.19.]
It appears again in Freemasonry in the work of Wilmshurst as follows: ‘ I knew what others have recorded of passing into the Divine Gloom, the agnosia of the human spirit, where vision fails and thought is paralysed, where nothing is known to be, neither one’s self, nor even God.... At length feeling died in me; I knew neither pain or joy. Then desire died; what further happened to me, good or ill, I cared not. Lastly thought died also; its flickerings and veil-wisps gradually falling away, till stark blankness only remained ... It was ... the moment of the apparently everlasting NO; where nothing is, and God is not. Eloi, Eloi! Lama sabachtani! [The Masonic Inititiation, pp.172, 178.]
Krishnamurti expresses it by stating: ‘If one wishes to find that which is truth, one must be totally free from all religions, from all conditioning, from all dogmas, from all beliefs, from all authority which makes one conform; which means, essentially, standing completely alone.’ [Talks in America, 1955, p.11.]
Thus one sees that all paths, orthodox or unorthodox, if followed to the end, lead to the abyss. There is no final escape from the Crucifixion, though it may be continually postponed, and nobody can be Crucified for anyone else. The Christian’s Salvation, Jung’s Individuation, Krishnamurti’s Liberation, Theosophy’s Initiation—call it what you will—all lead inevitably, at some point, to the abyss, which must be crossed, alone and unassisted, before the individual approach is truly fulfilled.
In our own days it is apparent that what was hitherto reserved for the very few is now becoming open to the more and even to the many, and we see that the greatest deviation from the spirit of the teachings of Jesus have come from organising them into a system of permanent security designed to preserve eternally that which must eventually be destroyed. Yet it must be remembered that there exists another interpretation of that poignant cry, namely: ‘My God, my God, how thou dost glorify me! [The Secret Doctrine, Vol. V, p. 158.], which reveals the aftermath, typified by the Resurrection and the Ascension. No annihilation has resulted, but a regeneration that has altered the individual beyond recognition. This is shown in the Gospels by the failure of Mary to recognise her own son in the garden, and of the disciples to know their risen Master. Every author quoted above has survived his own account of crossing the abyss, and all of them are serene, helpful, and sane, though fundamentally different from what they were previously, Jesus, in fact, has fulfilled the prophesy of John the Baptist; he has baptised them in the fire of the Holy Spirit.
This psychic process is one of the oldest stories in the world, being represented in countless myths throughout the ages. It is present in the symbol of the Theosophical Society, which is bounded by the serpent devouring its own tail, technically called the uroboros. Since archetypal symbols are true for all levels, it is possible to study them with regard to ourselves. From the microcosmic point of view, the uroboros is the womb of the unconscious within which lies the germ of the individual-to-be.
During this state the tension of opposites is absent, so that the embryo has no problems, and no choices or decision to make; everything is performed for it by the protective matrix. This is the state of the dawn mind, in which there is no clear distinction between the conscious and the unconscious. Out of this total dependency on the Great Mother, individual consciousness must grow. Since consciousness is always considered to be masculine, we see that we are dealing with the myth of the hero, who must first learn to be independent of the collectivity of the matrix, and then be transformed into the ascended god. As Jung has expressed it: ‘Natural man is no self, but a particle of a mass ... to such a degree that he is not even sure of his ‘I’. For this reason the mysteries of transformation have been needed since primeval times to make him into “something” and to tear him away from the animal collective psyche, which is mere multiplicity.’ [The Integration of the Personality, C. G. Jung, p.120.]
In one of his earliest talks, Krishnamurti stressed the same point: ‘I say that there is a living reality, an immortality, an eternity that cannot be described; it can be understood only in the fullness of your own individual action, not as part of a structure, not as part of a social, political, or religious machine. Therefore you must experience true individuality before you understand what is true.’ [Italian Talks, 1936, p. 10.] When this has taken place, there must come the transformation, for, he continues, ‘you can know that which is immortal, everlasting, only when your mind is free from all sense of individuality which is created by the limited consciousness, which is the “I”.’ [Ibid., p.43.] He repeats it in one of his most recent talks: ‘It is only for the man who is an individual in the sense in which I am using that word, who is not contaminated by the collective, who is entirely alone, not lonely, but completely alone inwardly—it is only for such an individual that reality comes into being.’ [Talks in America, 1955, p. 53.]
But first the hero must struggle with the serpent or dragon that completely encircles him. All symbols having two aspects, the uroboros may change from the Beneficent Mother to the Terrible Mother, who uses all her powers of fascination and fear to hold back the growing consciousness from independent manifestation. Krishnamurti refers to this state when he says: ‘If you copy, if you follow, you revert to the collective.’ [Ibid., p. 59.] At length the dragon-serpent is overcome, and the hero is born again. This is the answer to the question of Nicodemus: ‘Except a man be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ [John, iii, 3.]
Thus the uroboros can either prevent what Jung calls ‘individuation’, or bring it about; it all depends on the courage of the hero, and whether he performs this feat fully conscious of what he is doing. If he is unconscious of what he is doing, then he brings upon himself the full force of that deadly peril always lying in wait—that which the ancient Greeks called hubris, and modern psychology terms inflation, as a result of which the unfortunate person ‘elects the ego in its ridiculous poverty to be Lord of the Universe.’ [Psychological Reflections, Jung and Jacobi, p. 301.] This disaster can be avoided only by the displacement of the centre of the ego to the Self, then, as Neumann says: ‘the personality is no longer identified with the ephemeral ego, but experiences its partial identity with the self.... In his victorious struggle the hero proves his godlike descent and experiences the fulfilment of the primary condition on which he entered the battle, and which is expressed in the mythological formula “I and the Father are one”, [The Origins and History of Consciousness, pp. 359-360.] The process is therefore firstly to discover God without, then to recognise God within, and lastly to experience God in all.
It is this ego that may cause the hero to act unconsciously, as its tricks and subterfuges to preserve itself are endless, and its most powerful weapon is the instilling of the fear of insecurity. As in man himself, so in his groups. A longing for security in this world and the next may create a negative uroboric situation which defeats the purpose to which the group was originally dedicated—the bringing to birth of true individuals.
It is hoped that these references to the teachings of psychology and Krishnamurti have not repelled the Theosophical student, but have drawn his attention to their value for him. They are both additional ways of helping him to carry out the full implications of the instruction. ‘Know thyself,’ so that he understands why, after, perhaps many years of meditation, ceremonial work, attending classes, giving lectures, and the like, the old conflicts and temptations still remain, ready to burst out anew whenever a particular situation activates them; and why his colleagues remain blissfully ignorant of archaic actions and reactions which are clearly perceived by others around them. The reasonable solution is that many of us still have large areas of our unconscious unexplored. How can we, then, attempt to rectify our shortcomings when we do not know that they exist? As Krishnamurti remarks, is not the unconscious ‘conditioned... by all the racial thought, the hidden motives, desires, the instinctual responses of a particular culture? I am supposed to be a Hindu,’ he continues, ‘born in India, educated abroad ... Until I go into the unconscious and understand it, I am still a Hindu with all the Brahmanic, symbolic, cultural, religious, superstitious responses—it is all there, dormant, to be awakened at any moment, and it gives warning, intimation through dreams, through moments when the conscious mind is not fully occupied. So the unconscious is also conditioned.’ [Talks in America, 1955, p. 27.] And again: ‘No culture helps man to find out what is true. Cultures only create organisations which bind man. Therefore it is important to investigate all this, not only the conscious conditioning of the mind, but much more the unconscious conditioning of the mind.’ [Ibid., p. 35.] Such valuable assistance is not offered as a substitute for Theosophy, as these things may be found in it already, by those who know how to look, but it serves as an aid to the conditioned Western mind to know itself, as it explains matters in a manner that is becoming increasingly popular in the West.
When the personal ego is so powerful, no one can deny that it becomes difficult to carry out an examination that will penetrate our unconscious conditioning. Such denseness as we find incredible in Sinnett and Hume may easily resurrect itself in us in a new guise.’ You must see yourself as you are,’ advises the Master Kuthumi in Letter No. VIII to Sinnett, ‘not as the ideal human image which our emotional fancy always projects for us upon the glass; [The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett.] whilst Letter No. XXVIII to Hume illustrates to perfection the amazing effect an unexplored unconscious can have on a very talented man. To solve this problem psychology offers analysis with professional assistance; and Krishnamurti a penetrating self-awareness which admits of no outside assistance whatever. In the former method, the psychotherapist has to supply the necessary patience; in the latter, oneself. Jung shows how dreams are the attempts of the unconscious to explain the psychic situation to a person who does not realise what is wrong with him; Krishnamurti uses the careful watching of the relationships a person has with people and things, which serve as a mirror in which he may see his own conditioning. The former, as it were, works by night, and the latter by day.
Our late President had great foresight when, speaking on ‘The Future of the Theosophical Society’ nearly thirty years ago, he said: ‘We should always adapt the Society to the needs of men.’ [Convention Lectures, 1930, p. 180.] This shows how he realised the importance of assessing at any given time the general psychological situation of those to whom a message is to be delivered. The vital question is not, ‘How shall we convince these people that we are right?’, but, ‘In what way shall we deliver our message so that it fulfills what these people need?’ The truth of this is apparent in Jung’s answer to the English clergy, when he said: ‘We cannot turn the wheel backwards; we cannot go back to the symbolism that is gone ... I cannot go back to the Catholic Church... I know it is the truth, but it is the truth in a form in which I cannot accept it any more ... it does not express my psychological condition. My psychological condition wants something else. I must have a situation in which that thing becomes true once more. I need a new form.’ [The Symbolic Life, pp. 11-12.]
How are religious and philosophical teachers facing this position? Goldbrunner, a Catholic priest, is convinced that ‘a psychological wave is vibrating through the human race’, [Individuation, p. vii.] and that this change ‘puts the whole knowledge and equipment of psychotherapy ... at the service of self-education and self-perfection.’ Another Catholic priest, Victor White, has written more for the theologian than the layman, and although Jung has stated in his Foreword: ‘No art, science or institution which is concerned with the human being will be able to avoid the effect of the development which the psychologists and physicists have let loose, even if they oppose it with the most stubborn prejudices,’ [God and the Unconscious, p. xxv.] yet the book has the Archiepiscopal imprimatur. Hans Schaer and A. Victor Murray have spoken for the Protestants on the relationship between Christianity and psychology.
The increasing use of psychological conceptions and terminology is to be observed in the four most recent series of Talks by Krishnamurti. The writings of Maurice Nicoll and J.G. Bennett bring out the psychological aspect of the Gurdjieff School. The Presiding Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church has for some years past included articles on Jung written by himself in the St. Michael’s magazine.
Dr. Besant foresaw early the coming interest in this subject, for a lecture was given on it in 1893, [Essays and Addresses, Vol. I.] and much of her book, A Study in Consciousness contains valuable psychological information even though not expressed in modern psychological terms. Our International President, when opening the 1956 European Congress at Baden, spoke of the new way of life as being ‘ on the borderland of the unconscious which is the point that influences possibilities of development,’ [Our Immediate Duty, Theosophy in Action, December 1956.] whilst at our own 1956 Convention Rohit Mehta, President of the Indian Section, said in his Inaugural Address: ‘We are ... entering a psychological phase in the understanding of Theosophy. In this age a psychological approach and presentation of Theosophy have become imperative. Man’s problems have become greatly intensified at the psychological level. He wants to know whether Theosophy can help him to deal with these problems.’ [Theosophical News and Notes, September-October 1956.] Reference is again made to The Lotus Fire, by Dr. Arundale, a yoga of symbols by which he reveals the archetypal character and influence of the symbols given by Madame Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine, and shows how the same symbols are used to bring to birth a universe and an individual human consciousness. In other words, Dr. Arundale had attained the power to read that archaic palm-leaf manuscript ‘ made impermeable to water, fire and air’; as its symbols are archetypal, they become entrances into the archetypal world, the mind of the Logos. The whole relationship between the above and the individual approach is summed up in Jung’s own phrase: ‘My aim is to bring about a psychic state in which my patient begins to experiment with his own nature—a state of fluidity, change and growth, in which there is no longer anything eternally fixed and hopelessly petrified.’ [Modern Man in Search of a Soul, p.76.]
We now come to the value of symbols. A symbol is born of itself from, as Dr. Arundale puts it, ‘the formless regions of the Unspoken Word.’ [The Lotus Fire, p. 164.] This is what Sri Ram has called the borderland of the unconscious.’ where lie the ‘possibilities of development.’ The symbol is a mediator between the conscious and the unconscious, partaking of the compensatory functions of both, and therefore ‘neither abstract nor concrete, neither rational nor irrational, neither real or unreal.’ [The Integration of the Personality, p. 76.] This discloses its archetypal nature, for the archetype must contain the seed of all that later may differentiate into opposites. An archetype is above the opposites, and therefore beyond the grasp of the mind. Its elusive quality can be expressed, however, in a symbol, that, so far as the mind is concerned, is and must remain indescribable. This gives the symbol its immense power of release and ‘possibilities of development,’ for in it the opposites exist conformably side by side, the lion and the lamb lie down together. The symbol can express itself by acting as a point through which one may penetrate the archetypal world, or through which the force from those inner planes may flow to the outer. Such a symbol comes of its own accord, and not by man’s will, since it is a ‘reaching out of the spirit.’ To those who cannot as yet produce such an intensely individual symbol, other symbols are available which have been produced by the conflict and struggles of great souls in the past. Tried and tested by the ages, they exist in all types of ceremonial, and consequently greatly treasured and carefully guarded. With their aid the conscious can be brought into touch with the unconscious and their power of transformation made manifest. These are the genuine ‘ancient landmarks’ which men tamper with only at their peril. This must be why the Lord Maitreya, in his instructions to Bishop Leadbeater, insisted that he must ‘preserve the old thought form and the working of the old magic.’ [On the Liberal Catholic Church, C. Jinarajadasa ed.,p.6.]
We are now in a position to consider the place of ceremonial in the coming age, for it has been stated that the prominence of the Seventh Ray is ‘just now coming into operation.’ [ The Science of the Sacraments, p. 573.] It is here that Bishop Leadbeater gives us a new conception of ceremonial work. The key to it lies in a most remarkable answer given by a Pueblo Indian chief of ceremonies when he was being questioned on his religion. ‘We are the sons of the Father, the Sun,’ he said ...’We must help him daily to rise over the horizon and to walk over Heaven; and we don’t do it for ourselves only; we do it for America, we do it for the whole world.’ [The Symbolic Life. p.13.] Here we have no mention of atonement, salvation, forgiveness of sins, or any other kind of pleading for divine intervention, but an avowal of responsibility for a certain task that must at all costs be performed for the good of mankind, for without it an important contribution to the world order would be lacking. If this can be accepted, there remains no reason for doubting the suitability of the title Bishop Leadbeater selected for his magnum opus: The Science of the Sacraments. By removing much of the purely personal longing for spiritual security, he laid bare the original content of ceremony, namely, the intimate co-operation of man with the divine forces of nature and the devas that are their embodiment. He thus left the way open for what the Lord Maitreya desired in the first place, but which his workers did not at that time feel themselves able to construct: the ‘Mass of Affirmation.’ [On the Liberal Catholic Church, C. Jinarajadasa ed., pp. 7-8.]
That it is dangerous to repress a natural desire for ceremonial was well known by Madame Blavatsky, as may be seen in her statement: ‘Theosophy is not a religion, nor can for the multitude supply the place of a religion.’ [Lucifer, Vol. I, p. 242.] If our unconscious demands an outward form of worship, and through a mistaken sense of the appropriate, we allow the conscious mind to deprive us of it, then the unconscious will retaliate by thrusting upon us the intolerable boredom of a meaningless life. Here, once again, is to be discerned the surpassing wisdom of those who directed Dr. Besant and Bishop Leadbeater to admit the Christian Church and Freemasonry into the orbit of the Theosophical Society in forms that would not conflict with Theosophy. Note well that the recognition that ceremony is in itself unnecessary to salvation does not become obligatory until the First Initiation. This is one of the fetters that has to be cast off in due season, but none of these ten fetters that has to be cast off lightly, for the collective unconscious is the receptacle of all the traditions and beliefs of mankind since the beginning, and to attempt to tear oneself free from them is to bring the whole force of that unconscious to bear on the ego that has dared to stand alone.
In addition to ritual used in its purest form, there is another aspect of the Reign of the Spirit which must not be omitted. This is elaborated in the most comprehensive book on the vast possibilities of the new dispensation that our Society has yet produced: The Fire of Creation by D r. J. J. van der Leeuw. When one combines the views of its author with the statements on the World Mother by Bishop Leadbeater, the greater prominence of Our Lady in Roman Catholic, Anglo-Catholic and Liberal Catholic activities, and the discussions of Krishnamurti on the realisation for oneself of Truth under conditions of consciousness that imply freedom from the tension of opposites, one is forced to contemplate the possibility that the Reign of the Spirit, having first assured itself of the hero’s ability to be an individual, will then precipitate him into another uroboric situation which must be for him the prelude to a new birth. As A. Victor Murray so beautifully expresses it, this whole great process ‘ provides opportunity for submission as well as of self-assertion.’ [Natural Religion and Christian Theology, p. 70.]
Yet another aspect of the Reign of the Spirit is the more detailed study of the Seven Rays up to now revealed to us. ‘The touch with the power of God the Holy Ghost is inspiration,’ writes van der Leeuw. ‘When this Divine Breath of creative Fire touches man, he is instantly galvanised into creative activity; he is inspired in some way according to his particular genius or Ray.’ [Natural Religion and Christian Theology, p. 70.]
At this point it becomes necessary to gather in the threads to ascertain if any sort of answer can be given to the question put to Professor Jung by the Guild of Pastoral Psychology. Firstly, Jung himself, throughout his works, is emphatic that he has no intention of trying to found a new religion. The reply he gave on this occasion was: ‘If anyone lives his hypothesis to the bitter end (and pays with his death perhaps), he knows that Christ is his brother. That is modern psychology, and that is the future. ‘ [The Symbolic Life, p. 21.] Here indeed is the consummation of the individual approach. Beyond that generalisation one cannot do anything but continue to follow up the scattered hints to which our attention has been drawn by the more advanced and unconditioned pioneers of our time, for out of them all will be woven the pattern of whatever expression of religion lies ahead. The only certainty is the anachronism of any feeling of personal or collective superiority. The intimation, however subtly, that, for instance, individuation is not as good as liberation, or the initiation spoken of by another earnest group cannot be as genuine as that which bears the label of our Society, creates barriers which separate man from Life, and therefore from his chances of ever penetrating to Reality. Theosophy, surely, was meant to be a way of life, not an escape from life.
Throughout history older religions and philosophies have continued to exist side by side with newer statements as long as the need for them was felt. Because notice has been taken, in the interests of this lecture, of other lines of thought, it does not mean that all pre-existing words of the wise have immediately become foolishness, or that the Theosophical Society should be handed over to Jung and Krishnamurti. As Jinarajadasa has said: ‘The Theosophical Society ought always to change, whether Mr. Krishnamurti is teaching or not.’ [The Future of the Theosophical Society, p. 182.] This necessity of keeping in touch with current thought is touched upon by Mrs. Ransom when she sums up Dr. van der Leeuw’s opinion on the situation of the Society in 1930: ‘Theosophy was no longer the experience of the Eternal by each person ...He saw only one way out: That Theosophists must find their certainty in the Theosophy of realisation and concentrate on that.’ [A Short History of the Theosophical Society, p. 498.]
Once Madame Blavatsky wondered why Members continued to ‘knock on strange doors; [The Theosophical Mahatmas, The Path, December 1886.] when all they required was already at hand, and in essence this implication is profoundly true. Some think that, to be of any value, the solution of their spiritual problems must of necessity be always in some other place than that in which they now happen to be, whereas, like the kingdom of God, it exists within themselves.
Much has been quoted on the uroboric situation, the collectivity, and the possibilities of individuation or liberation latent with it, but in our Christian Bible we find John the Baptist exclaiming: ‘He that cometh after me is become before me; for he was before me; and of his fullness [pleroma] have we all received.’ [John, i, 6.] We have likewise discussed at length the introjection of the images of the Master, Jesus, and even God into the individual psyche, but when we turn to The Voice of the Silence, we find: ‘Behold! Thou hast become the Light, thou has become the Sound, thou art thy Master and thy God’. [Fragment I. verse 99.]
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