by E. L. GARDNER
|" A great and strong wind rent the mountains and after the wind an earthquake and after the earthquake a fire and after the fire a still small voice."|
printed in 1945 by the
The Theosophical Publishing House, London 68 Great Russell Street, W.C.I.
definition of,the word 'Mysteries' is two-fold.
On the one hand it applies to dramas of a religious
nature in which were represented characters and
events drawn from sacred history and the lives
of the saints. These were the so-called mystery
plays of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries wherein
religious teaching was given to the populace by
dramatic performances. On the other hand the term
is used to indicate certain
sacred rites of Egypt and Greece, ceremonies of an
day, into which only the initiated were admitted,
the term 'mystery' being justified by this restriction
to a few only. There is however a tradition, quite
apart from these, regarding Ancient Mysteries far
older than the plays of the middle centuries to which
the dictionary alludes, much older also than those
of Egypt and Greece. Away back in the mists of prehistoric
time, the occult tradition tells of certain Mysteries
which though old are yet ever new, new in the sense
of having a continuity in life and purpose the same
yesterday, today and tomorrow, ageless.
So many corroborations of such occult traditions have been found to be valid during these last few decades that a search to find some trace of those original Mysteries was prompted — and its partial success has led to this description of the approach and its result.
HISTORICAL TIME AND THE EARTH'S REAL AGE
A period of about ten thousand years is covered more or less by historical records. The estimates of many modern scientists agree in finding the age of the earth to be around two thousand millions of years.[The Age of the Earth by Prof. A. Holmes, D.Sc., F.G.S. (1930); The Universe Around Us by Sir J. H. Jeans, F.R.S. (1931); The Earth and its Cycles by E. W. Preston, M.Sc. ] The difference between this and historical time is so great that a comparison in other terms will assist understanding. The distance between London and Bristol is about 120 miles: if the age of the earth be reduced to this scale then historical time will measure about 34 inches, say one yard. Or, if the age of the earth be reduced to the scale of one year, then historical time will measure 2-1/2 minutes and the 2000 years of the Christian era will be represented by 25 seconds, less than half a minute. The view has been expressed that it is for a very much shorter period than these millions of years that living creatures have existed on our earth because conditions were not suitable, but the qualification must be made, living" creatures as we know them now. There is no reason at all for supposing that present day bodies are or were the only ones possible: far from it, for many examples prove that bodies can be and are adapted, or rather adapt themselves, to their environment.
In the year 1889 a book appeared that claimed to state publicly, and for the first time in the West, much of the secret traditions known to students of occultism throughout past ages. This book was entitled The Secret Doctrine and there it was stated that the full life of our planet, from its birth to dissolution, was about four thousand million years and that at present we were about halfway through.[The Secret Doctrine by H. P. Blavatsky, Vol. II, pages. 72-73, 3rd Edition ] Forty years later modern science strikingly corroborated the Occult tradition, and the time, which it is now agreed has passed since the beginnings of our world's life, will be granted as being ample enough for every conceivable variety of conditions, ranging probably from an original fire-mist to present day solidities.
MAN AND HIS OFFSPRING
At the very beginning of that vast time-span, the occultist asserts that Man, Archetypal Man, arrived and was the fount and origin, the progenitor, of all created beings, Man himself being the first to appear and function, [The Secret Doctrine: Vol. I, pages. 380 and 478. ] Emanating from the Solar Lord, the ' God ' of our system, Man began his tremendous task under the guidance and tuition of the Barhishad Hierarchy, expert builders of forms. [The Barhishads are members of the humanity immediately preceding our own. ] These are mentioned in Genesis as the Elohim, a plural noun but mistranslated as a singular, God. The first forms were built of the fire-mist and were probably spherical, resembling a present day single cell though far larger. Increase was by simple division. Proceeding through rhythmic and orderly cycles of enormous periods of time and using ever densifying material, Man enwrapped his bodies in veil after veil of this till, at long last, the dense physical body was acquired, the 'coat of skin', as the planet cooled. All this is. described as a downward, an involutionary arc of descent, into form — a process that has been somewhat misconstrued as a 'fall.'
On the way down, according to the occult tradition during successive cycles Man threw off seed-forms from his own fiery etherial bodies and these were seized by a following grade of conscious life and became eventually the vehicles of the plant and animal kingdoms of today, all being originally fragments split, budded off, exuded from mankind's own early and very much simpler bodies.
INVOLUTION BEFORE EVOLUTION
It is often the case that the converse of a particular statement is equally true, though it be a direct reversal. The occultist affirms that this is so in regard to a popular theory of the origin and development of forms, indeed that in this case the reversal is the greater truth. A ladder, appearing to an onlooker to be pitched from the ground to an upper window, may be reasonably thought of at first as giving access from the ground to the window. It would however be just as reasonable to suppose that the ladder was intended for descent from the window to the ground. The theory of evolution associated with Darwin's name, which for long has placed Man at the apex of a ladder of ascending forms, was not claimed by Darwin himself as proving more than the successive character of the rungs of the ladder — and this succession of course holds good either way. That which the occult tradition affirms is that the 'rising ladder' theory of evolution must in the first place be reversed and Man seen as descending from the above to the beneath, descending from subtler worlds and bodies to denser and more limited experience, to gain that which could be secured only amid the conditions of comparative concentration provided by the densest and most separative of .forms, the physical body. By its means the prize of self-consciousness is at last won and the return journey to the heights then becomes the task. It will be remembered that Galileo, in his day, submitted a complete reversal of the then prevalent theory of the relations of the sun and the earth, to the consternation of the Church and other authorities; and Galileo proved to be right. The occult tradition similarly reverses the popular view of evolution today by pointing to an involutionary descent of life from the heights into forms as precedent to any evolution or release from forms. The theory that life has risen from the depths has many gaps, missing rungs, inexplicable problems which 'natural selection' and ' the survival of the fittest " do not explain, promising as these views once were; while on the other hand in the occult presentation there is continuity without break or fault and a satisfying theory of the beginnings and endings of form — in their relation to immortal life.
The incarnation of the One Life within many forms is a long progression with many steps, and curious confusions of thought frequently arise when statements which apply to cosmic processes are interpreted as descriptive of the experience of historical personages. It was of Archetypal Man, the exhaled Breath, the Son of the Solar Lord, alone-begotten in virgin matter, that the mystic words were spoken in the Mysteries — ' In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God' — the Spoken Word, the Logos, ' without whom was not anything made that was made'. This is the Eternal Son, Cosmic Humanity, the Creative Agent of the Father of which our own humanity is an essential part, intimately essential yet but a part, for, according to occult tradition, six other human hierarchies are linked with our own. [The Creative Hierarchies preceding and succeeding our own are given in some detail in the author's Web of the Universe.] It was in the earliest cycles, during the long progression of many steps in his descent, that Archetypal Man, containing within his own body the seeds of all forms to be, shed abroad into the fire-mist what are described as virile sparkling flashes of flaming 'dust,' pulsing with life and energy, destined to germinate and develop as bodies for younger kingdoms of nature — all Archetypal Man's descendants, not his ancestors.
The first physical body that mankind used was built, according to The Secret Doctrine, of the most tenuous matter compatible with objectivity. [The Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, page 90. ] It is said to have been in such a body, probably spherical or ovoid, that Man began his conscious life on this planet, androgynous (non-sexed or double-sexed) and with a mind that only very slowly awakened to the demands of appetite and desire. In that far distant 'in the beginning,' pictured in mythological lore as a Golden Age, a Beauteous Land, a Garden of Eden and other epithets, when Man-androgynous arrived, he was innocent, without 'sin' but unextended and undeveloped, a cosmic babe, brilliantly radiant but unaware, with a tremendous potential but unknowing, because all-knowing; without understanding, because omniscient; a focus of that Light which lighteneth every man but with no shadow; life without differences hence without relations and, consequently, innocent. In that first simple body' of the most tenuous matter compatible with objectivity.' Man functioned — and the vast time periods elapsing since then have witnessed the development of bodies to the amazingly efficient compact organism of today. The quiescence of the earlier periods when man was still on the upper rungs of the ladder, termed 'deep sleep' in the mystery records, gave way to the dawning awareness of physical life and this was strongly stimulated by the division of the bodies into specialized sexes and by the claims of hunger and thirst on the part of the elemental life of the bodies themselves. Under these heaviest of veils the spirit of man became clouded to the brink of utter forgetfulness.
Similarly, in illustration, a Niagara of water may have prodigious power and a grandeur unexampled but, until channelled by tunnels and conduits, conveyed to a distributing system and controlled by valves and hydrants, it will not operate the turbine which will rotate the dynamo that will reduce and individualise the waterfall into a multitude of electric lamps. The reduction of the mighty cataract to controlled proportions by machinery illustrates the delimitation of an ocean of Life, by the use of bodily forms, into self-conscious units of that Life, Divine Life, as unaware themselves of their source and origin as is the lighted lamp unaware of Niagara.
Man's own body, though densifying through the cycles, remained comparatively simple in structure and in many respects is still unextended. The creative faculties of the human mind have designed tools that serve well and adequately, while plant and animal life have developed their own tools in terms of their own bodies, such as thorns and spines, tusks, talons and tails needed by them in the struggle for existence, each kind to the limits of its own capacity. Many such extensions, found in the plant and animal kingdoms, are still embryonic in man, rudimentary, not vestigial, simply not wanted. [The Problem of Man's Ancestry, Lectures (1918) by Prof. F. Wood-Jones.]
The human body has now completed the involutionary arc of its descent. The development of bodies from the subtlest and rarest of the fiery ethers to the dense physical material that is used now has been the work of numberless human incarnations, successive and repeated, during the cycles of millions of years since the world we now live on was born. The upward, returning, arc has begun.
THE PURPOSE OF THE DESCENT
The immeasurable value of the imprisonment of Divine Life is clear enough — at least in general terms. The forms adopted successively on the descent gradually reduce and limit life's tremendous powers and capacities till, in the compact and closely knit physical body, the sense-range is extremely narrow and restricted and permits, in physical experiences, a very short horizon. The counterpoint to this is the accompanying development of the mind, leading to the invention of tools, machinery, optical instruments and the like, which have immensely extended that range, indeed so much so that we are beginning to realize there is very surely vastly more beyond! Extra-sensory powers too are showing themselves as inherent in the human constitution, for now our humanity is slowly mounting the ladder of involution-evolution and certain faculties are re-awakened into conscious exercise which had been shut down by the bodily veils and 'forgotten' as we passed some of the rungs when descending. Herein is the explanation of the intuitive leaps to truth that the mind occasionally makes before that truth has been reached by experiment and calculation from below. The intuitive perception is due to reminiscence.
THE MYSTERY RECORD Picturing
Act I is a large fiery circle of light with a
brilliant pin-point of
light in the
centre. That is all — and at first
seems hardly to warrant the title of an Act — but
wait. As one gazes, Act I becomes alive; the
point within the circle disappears, then with
of music it reappears in rapid movement, and
centre strikes a flaming line horizontally across
the circle. From the centre again, the point
flashes up and down, a vertical line of fire
appears — and
an equal-armed cross shines forth on the screen.
It fades away and the original plain circle of
fire remains. Not very thrilling perhaps — till
I realised, with something of a shock that the
on the screen had been my doing. The onlooker
contributes to the play; in Act I he is spectator
and actor. Act
III also presents a large circle of fire, but
its circumference is made up
of numbers of points of light each similar
to the central point in Act I. Within the circle
one side is a small, a very small, circle
with an outline
of fire resembling a tiny edition of the
of Act I. In
fact, in a curious way, the circles of Act III
in their components seem to be a reversal
of those in Act I. Here again, movement began.
The large circle of points of light. expanded
and became the periphery of a sphere. The very
circle within also became a small sphere and
moved about hither and thither apparently attracted
repelled by the surrounding star-like points
of light bounding the large periphery. Then
became two, four, eight—multiplying indefinitely,
all dancing wildly. They slowed down, melted
into one sphere again and this one gradually
motionless poise in the centre. Then after
a short pause, a brilliant pin-point of light
forth, from its centre—and then all faded
again and the original circles of Act III
appeared with the small one on one side, as
had been I who contributed the movement. The
visions had a significance beyond that which I can
by verbal description. Objective certainly — but
more, for they were of subjective interest too;
the experience I think can best be called one
jointly objective-subjective to a peculiar degree.
It afforded a demonstration of the relation of
consciousness to the environment; it is we who
move, which is to
say that it is always our action that counts. In
more general terms it may be said that the movements
within the figures were symbolic of the Divine
Life in action in an environment of Forms, first
the unit of form to obtain the prize that form
alone can give, then to obtain release from the
and clamour of Form — and so discover Itself. THE ONE LIFE.
The records publicly available concerning the Mystery tradition, wherefrom much of the above is drawn, are few. Some published translations from the Chinese and some from Tibetan manuscripts, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the first and last books of the western Bible and also the narratives of Ruth and Job and fragments of the gospel stories, some transactions from Rosicrucian records, a few hints in Theosophical publications — these are about all the reading available. Much of the text even in these is in guarded language and parts are almost hopelessly obscure. Moreover in very few of them do we touch the original; nearly all are reflections, more or less distant, of the Mysteries — nor is this at all surprising for the original itself is in the language of allegory. The book referred to earlier, The Secret Doctrine, is the most generous with hints.
The widespread legends, myths and folk-lore found among all nations and peoples have an interesting bearing on our quest by reason of their many similarities. [Definitions. Legend: a chronicle of adventure historically unauthentic; Myth: a legend magnified by tradition and given out as historical; Allegory: a figurative manner of speaking or writing in which a subject of a higher spiritual order is described in terms of that of a lower which resembles it in its properties and circumstances the principal subject being so kept out of view that we are left to collect the intentions of the speaker or writer from the resemblance of the secondary to the primary subject.' Nuttalls Dictionary. ] The mythologies of India, Egypt, Greece, Scandinavia, the ancient cults of the Americas and others, have much in common and may well be derived from some very early pre-historic version. The explanation of such similarities as arising from a common background of nature worship, superstition and primitive ignorance breaks down when critically examined. It is more reasonable to accept the tradition of the existence of a Mystery version of very ancient date as being the real source. This too is supported by the resemblance mentioned which may be traced in the myths and allegories though each version has its own national characteristics. The hero, often a god, is born on earth, frequently of a mother stated to be a virgin; he has experiences of many kinds, some god-like and some human; he is dedicated to a certain work or the discovery of something hidden; is thwarted but overcomes temptations to be diverted; his life is sought by those jealous of his mission or intent on stopping his success; he is attacked and slain; his body is injured, torn apart and scattered or buried; the body is sought, found, reassembled as to its parts — and the hero lives again triumphant. These all seem to point back to some deeply rooted original presentation of some special teaching in an allegorical form.
WHY 'MYSTERIES' ?
With some analysis, as with mythologies, it is possible, indeed easy,, to discern that the instructions given by all the great spiritual Teachers of history have similar foundations. It is the superficial body of dogma built up by some of their followers which varies widely and causes confusion, division, bigotry and even war. The names and countries of the historical Teachers are well known. They are Thoth of Egypt, Zoroaster of Persia, Krishna and Gautama the Buddha of India, Lao-tse and Confucius of China, Jesus of Palestine and Europe, and Mohammed of Arabia. The disciples, followers and adherents of such Great Ones are very prone to claim for their Teacher the loftiest and most important role. Some, particularly the followers of the two last-named, maintain that their Teacher is the one and only representative of the Most High; it is to them we owe the curious epithets 'heretic' and 'infidel.' , Yet all these Great Teachers taught essentially the same doctrines though using different languages and the idiom best suited to the times and the culture of the people among whom they lived. For example, Moses, following the first named of those above, Thoth, admonished his people " Thou shalt love they neighbour as thyself," many centuries B.C. [The Bible: Leviticus XIX, 18.] It is becoming obvious that these common teachings were a particular exposition of the all-embracing truths embodied allegorically in some one source, now called the Mysteries.
The talks or sermons publicly given by the Great Teachers were almost exclusively moral exhortations and ethical though, in every case, references were made to other instruction which was reserved for the more immediate adherents, for chelas, disciples and pupils. These were taught in secret on occasions when Teacher and pupils were withdrawn from the public. When, for example, the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven were mentioned by Jesus, he spoke of them as for the disciples only, when he and they were on the Mount together (Matt. XIII, 11); the Mount, or the Heights, being symbolic of a reserved place. The esoteric teachings associated with Islam, known as Sufism, were given also for the deeper students of that faith.
What then, it may well be asked, were these Mysteries of such ancient origin? Obviously they were teachings and instructions that were not suitable for observance by everyone for, if construed and interpreted by the untutored mind, they were very liable to be misunderstood and misapplied. Actually some followers have, at times, broken the secrecy of the Mount — to the frequent confusion ever since of the Christian Church when confronted with such exhortations as " Take no thought for the morrow " and many more (Matthew VI).
Almost certainly some of these esoteric instructions related to the awakening of the latent powers of the spiritual man, powers referred to as gifts of the spirit in Christian terminology, and as siddhis, or spiritual powers, in yogic literature. Classic writings of all faiths agree that latent in every human being are the powers of divinity which, however, are not lightly to be released. "He that believeth on me," said Jesus, "greater works than these shall he do." A disciplined purity of body and mind is enjoined in the words "believeth on me " and this is a pre-requisite of success, not to mention personal safety. A lightning-bolt is a mild demonstration of force compared to the play of the spiritualised will, known figuratively as the Serpent Fire or, in Sanskrit, Kundalini. In the human nervous system lies the promise of the one mechanism in the physical world through which this force may safely be released under proper control, yet any premature awakening is more likely to be hurtful, possibly fatal, than illuminating. A good symbolic description of that which, in consciousness, seems to happen, when the Serpent-Fire functions, is given by a mystic in Chapter VI of the last book in the Bible, when the sixth seal is broken.[ Revelation of St. John: VI, 12-17. ]
The value of the obscurity of the Mysteries, of the screen of allegory and their reservation and secrecy, lies in the protection thus afforded to any irresponsible assault. Yet true mysticism, of all times, owes its fire to the judicious use of stepping stones to the spiritual understanding which releases the Serpent Power wisely — and these stepping stones are provided in the indelible records known as the Mysteries.
THE TECHNIQUE OF THE MYSTERY RECORD
The source of the many allegorical stories mentioned and the fount of mysticism is in the nature apparently of a play, a mentally inscribed play in tableaux and drama. It presents the story of Man, his origin, his experiences in incarnation and the destiny he may win. When the import of this wonderful play is grasped, it is said, the aspirant is enabled to understand the processes of nature, the laws of growth, and the central place of human consciousness in manifestation. The play was evidently prepared and recorded to serve as a beacon light of spiritual inspiration during the period when Man was engaged in his hardest task, at the time when Man was about to enter upon his deepest descent into material forms; it was composed and imprinted on the mental plane.
Recorded is an appropriate term and will be well understood today, for the mental technique is similar to the making of a gramophone disc or the sound-track on a film-reel. We need not however go beyond our own familiar human constitution for an example of the same process; it is quite common and natural to us all in our own memory records. For an instance; on holiday we may see a new and striking landscape and gaze at it for some time with interest and pleasure; it becomes vividly impressed in memory, recorded in the mind. Its record is literally graven there, minute in size but readily vivified again when it can be instantly enlarged — and can also be 'seen' at any subsequent time when we 'remember' it. The mind of a human being is material in texture though of a much subtler nature than the physical; it is a portion of the world-mind, or mental plane, just as the physical body is a portion of the physical world. An imprint on the human mind, a memory, may last a life-time easily and it is obvious therefore that an imprint on a specially prepared mental screen, composed and recorded by an Adept-Author, would continue intact indefinitely; it could be tended also by appointed devas and mind-elementals. [Devas: literally means 'Shining Ones.' An order of beings using subtler bodies than physical: the nearest western equivalent is angels. Their consciousness is an exact reflection of what we term 'natural law,' i.e. the One Will; as an expression of this, under a strict and distinctive hierarchical system of their own, they operate all nature's forces. Elemental Life: of similar nature to the devas but a lower, indeed a primitive, grade of' consciousness, purely instinctive and working under devic direction. They operate many functions popularly regarded as automatic, such as digestion, the heart's action, secretions, etc. The Work of the elemental life also-includes the ' ensouling' of habitual thought-forms. ] Theoretically it could be seen and heard by anyone to whom the mind-plane is objective though a considerable concentration is needed which amounts to a process of tuning in — and there's the rub. So far as I can judge, the tuning in business demands from the would-be listener a contribution from him to the wave-length that links one to the record. The listener must provide, so to speak, a mental needle to touch the 'disc'.
The record which constitutes the Mystery Play must not be confused with the akashic records of occultism. The akashic records are described as being an indelible imprint on the atomic plane, the highest sub-plane rather, of our planetary material. These constitute nature's memory of everything that has happened since the earth's birth, nor — if we grant a mental plane, a universal mind in nature — is this unacceptable as a theory, for in ordinary human memory alone we have ample proof of its possibility. To read the akashic records however one would need to be able to function consciously at a corresponding level, the atomic, of one's own bodily constitution — a feat at present very much beyond us. Just as one can see and hear through the mechanism of eye and ear, because we can function consciously at the level of the visual and auditory wavelengths, so could one read off the akashic records if we had in use a corresponding sense-organ. For many a cycle these are likely to be a sealed book; hence the reason why the records that constitute the Mystery Play were mercifully prepared. The Play is much nearer man's aspiring reach and seems to have been made purposely to assist mankind during that dark period of 'obscuration in matter' referred to in occultism as the Kali Yuga, the iron age, the current cycle. The Mystery Record is a generous concession to human need, for truth is brought much nearer to present-day human consciousness by its existence. The Mysteries thus within reach serve as a continuing source of strength and inspiration to all spiritual aspirants — many of whom may however often ascribe their spiritual illumination to intermediaries such as the Great Teachers of history, and the meaning of the play then may be received as instructions from the Teacher, even if the aspirant has looked upon the record for himself. Their mighty guidance on occasion may indeed be very real.
In connection with that which follows let me confess at once that I am no mystic worthy of the name. Occasionally glimpses come my way—if I do not try too hard. Truth has many facets and the reflection I have caught may not be quite accurately reported though I am convinced it has a sound foundation—else this facet would not be set forth here. Description too must of necessity be somewhat free, a free rendering rather than a clean-cut commentary.
For clarity's sake I divide the Mystery Play into three Acts, but all three in a sense are on the stage together as it is the onlooker who contributes the time sequences. Acts I and III are of the nature of tableaux or symbolic pictures and they form a somewhat static background to the dynamic Act II. Acts I and III are depicted on what looks like a vast back-stage screen, the figures, geometrical, lined in glowing fire on a dark surface.
EXTENSIONS OF ACTS I AND III
It was soon evident that what is seen at a first session is not all that the tableaux of Acts I and III have as their content. Extensions of the figures are numerous — but these very evidently depend on the onlooker. When re-viewing the cross within the circle of Act I, on an early occasion, the equal-armed cross developed a third arm and became a three-dimensional cross within a sphere, to which the plain circle had extended. Then the six terminal points of this 'solid' cross we're joined together by the flashing movement of the original focus of light and the twelve fiery lines converted the figure into a beautiful octahedron. The periphery of the sphere then faded and the octahedron stood. forth by itself full-grown. I realized that here was one of the early figures of Form, the octahedron itself 'being made of two tetrahedra each with four surfaces positive and negative, indicating presumably the beginnings of axes of mineral growth. Further sessions showed the possibility of endless permutations with combinations of tetrads introducing the five regular geometric solids in succession.
One feature of all these building processes was specially marked. This was the recapitulation, from the centre onwards, whenever a new figure of extension was projected. Always a beginning was made starting anew from the central point within the original plain circle of fire. As the figures became more and more elaborated the recapitulation up to the new extension became quicker and quicker until the figures seemed almost to flash out full grown, up to the terminus reached just before. This recapitulation from .the original centre, prior to every new advance, was a never varied rule. Similarly, with the figures of Act III, the permutations appear to promise an immense variety though with these I have not gone very far. There are probably plenty of sessions ahead, but I feel that the tendency is for 'the symbolic characters of both Acts I and III to become more and more specialized and to relate ever more closely to the spectator's path and interests. In other words, the onlooker contributes so much in viewing Acts I and III that the symbolism pursues, as it were, the branch or ray that he has followed in his succession of incarnations. So I will leave Acts I and III here with this brief, and I believe uncoloured, description of what may be called the foundational stage scenery of the play.
DRAMA AND AUDIENCE
The drama enacted on the mental stage is of a character very different from anything presented in a modern theatre. Nor are the scenes easy to analyse and describe, the difficulty being due to the strangely intimate relationship induced between stage and audience. The Mystery Record is an allegorical presentation throughout and should be accepted as such. It must be understood as allegory and therefore to be interpreted by the onlooker. Allegory is the one adequate medium — and it serves marvellously well. The meaning and instruction in general terms is usually clear enough and the personal application is for the spectator. Mistakes in interpretation may be made but these can be rectified by experience, that is by the effect in practice of any application of the teachings to life, due to a glimpse of the allegorical original. In the Mysteries the spectator is something more than an onlooker. To adopt any scene or succession of scenes as representing historical happenings or as a literal indication of future events is to open the door widely to superstition.
The intimate relationship between the drama and its audience is not at first appreciated, at least it was not in my case though I may have been unduly slow. Suitable conditions being obtained for observation I 'took my seat'. But in the early sessions with Act II the impressions received were startling; the stage was filled with storm and turmoil, disorder, riot and confusion, inducing in the onlooker — in my case I felt as if in the midst of it —a feeling of floundering bewilderment not without fear. Trying out various approaches I stumbled on the necessary technique for a moment and, cultivating this, had some, though not much, success with the earlier scenes. Quite simple, I suppose, if it can be done! The spectator must be undisturbed emotionally, unaffected, in short detached but not tense. I found this difficult to sustain, the tendency to identify oneself with the action is so strong. In viewing Acts I and III the spectator becomes the actor and provides the movement, the action, though unconsciously, without volition. When viewing Act II the spectator must use the will to prevent being carried off in the action and losing himself in the play and must do so consciously and wilfully. Otherwise all gets distorted.
A little further experience made fairly plain what was really happening. The recorded version that the spectator is observing, a mental record as stated, is seen in the sequence that the spectator decides. In this respect it resembles re-collecting a memory of one's own: a particular detail is remembered at will. With the Mystery Record, the observer makes contact with his own probing mental 'needle' and finds that part of the play which he wishes to observe. A near correspondence in physical terms would be to drop the gramophone needle on to the disc at some chosen spot on the record.
The recorded drama of the early life of our earth is not only a reflection of the real events of that cycle but it serves a most useful purpose in the education of the observer who, after some experiences of that order, learns perforce to stand clear and not join in with the stage play. If he does, then the emotional excitement is bound to distort both memory and understanding, as I found at first in full measure. It was into an early scene of Act II that I had plunged and, though seemingly chaotic, it was not so from another and interior point of view for it represented a very early stage of life on our planet. The interactions of the three grades of material, the 'elements' we know as fire, water and earth, were extremely turbulent. Yet it was an ordered turbulence and the descriptive term 'primeval chaos' is true only from an imaginary exterior view-point.
SYMBOLISM, ALLEGORY AND RELIGION
As already emphasised the principles and sequences of manifestation which are set forth in Act II of the Mystery Drama are symbolically shown. The speech is not language and the action is purely allegorical. An observer who attempts to report the drama is faced with a task that simply cannot be adequately handled for it is of a nature that does not lend itself easily to clean-cut verbal description — much indeed is beyond the physical sense-range. But the effect of the drama on the spectator in bringing understanding to many problems of the intellect, is convincingly persuasive. A few further words about reading the Mystery Record is therefore appropriate.
The moving drama of Act II is throughout a demonstration of the play of consciousness; unlike Acts I and III it is non-formal. To make the approach, an adequate quietude of mind must be cultivated since the mind is the receptive agent and it must be unruffled in order to reproduce accurately what is seen. There must be no pre-judgments, no partialities, no bias; the ideal is a mental tabula rasa. Obviously also the technique involves a certain awareness at the level where the drama is registered, an awareness that must be alert though not unduly intrusive. When the interior awareness has 'seen', a pause follows, since a transcript in verbal terms must be built up in the mechanism of the brain. The success of the verbal transcript depends on many factors, the chief of which are an attitude of detachment and a certain lucidity, which allow the perceived event to take a true shape at the verbal level. Obviously any language or idiom employed will be the observer's own, hence a re-view is necessary later because it is imperative to check and verify the interpretation. The verification is done by submitting the verbal record, as held by mind and brain, to the torch of the higher-mental focus of consciousness — for this illumines truth only.
MONOTHEISM AND OMNIPOTENCE
In the early scene of Act II there is a symbolical presentation of the total organism of which our humanity forms an integral part. Here the, problem of omnipotent power and the quality of the divine consciousness implied so frequently by the term Almighty God is clarified and explained, as also the allied problem of the divine nature of the Great Teachers who, from time to time, have assisted in the evolution of humanity. This scene may be expounded somewhat as follows. Within the boundaries of any one cycle of involution and evolution, there is one Ruler or Lord dominant. The developing sequences of manifestation on the vast scale of a Solar System are under the direction and control of specific grades of Rulers — for order and design are brilliantly in evidence throughout. Within any one boundary or ring-pass-not, the life contained has a particular goal to reach, and the Ruler is of course equipped with the necessary power, wisdom and skill, based on experience won from success in other and earlier roles. The Ruler of such a cycle or unit-period of manifestation, such as the occupation of a planet, is thus one of a hierarchy of responsible Officers ranging, from the mighty LORD OF THE SUN (the loftiest level touched I believe by the Mystery Record down to the minor Rulers of nature's forces operating on a planet of the Sun's System, such as our earth. With the exception of a few, all these rulers or Lords have a consciousness above and beyond anything attained by our humanity and most are vastly above and beyond. Human life nevertheless is of the same spiritual kind and is derived from the same source as the life of these Great Ones — and all else. Monotheism therefore, when held to have a purely relative application to the unitary areas each governed by its Lord in accord with this hierarchical system, is a simple truism, with an ever widening horizon as one's thought rises from planet to sun and on to constellations and galaxies or island-universes, as numerous as 'the sands of the sea-shore'.[The Universe Around Us by Sir J. H. Jeans, F.R.S. ] In each of these units there is only one Ruling Lord.
The current unit-period or cycle of manifestation with which our humanity is concerned is the world-occupation period of our earth — a time-cycle covering some millions of years. [A ' world-occupation period' is said to be about forty millions of years. Several cycles of activity and rest therefore have occurred during the two thousand million years of the earth's age. ] Governing that period there is a Ruler or LORD of our planet whose might and wisdom are of such a scale that, for every purpose within the vision of our humanity, He is indeed our LORD or GOD.
By way of comment it may be noted that the religionists of the early Christian Church adopted the untenable monotheistic theory of a supreme and absolute deity, ruler of heaven and earth and all that therein is — with our humble planet as the centre and core not only of a solar system but of the whole canopy of stars. In principle this theory is still current! Coupled with this conception was that of an only-begotten Son, personal and incarnate, who lived as Man on earth. These theories, particularly the second, including the grossly materialistic doctrine of an atoning blood-sacrifice, being unique to Christianity as the Church saw it, supported a claim to precedence in religions and this precedence was, and still is in many quarters, emphasised to the extreme. For centuries these theories bred a gross intolerance which, with the Church as a strong temporal power, led to a long reign of religious terrorism coupled with tenets of 'salvation or damnation', from which even today many a mind is not cleared. While a theory of relative monotheism would be a great advance on earlier conceptions of subsidiary and opposing gods, to leap from that simple truth to an unattainable, indeed an unthinkable, Absolute was due, apparently, to that 'anxious religious credulity' which is akin-to superstition.
To resume: the virtue of the allegorical form used to present the drama of manifestation in the Mystery Record is that it has a universal application. The content can be clothed in the spectator's, the hearer's, the student's tongue. The basic foundation of all religious teaching, as presented in the Mystery symbols, is so all-inclusive and pervasive that every faith is seen as attempting to interpret some aspect of it.
In a further scene of Act II the ruling system within the boundary of a ring-pass-not is demonstrated and appears to be on pure hierarchical lines.[he word hierarchy is used in its literal sense to indicate a graded order of government having many ranks of authority from the purely spiritual levels downwards. A national army is an example of similar graded ranks. In occultism the hierarchical principle that is emphasised is the high spiritual qualification which is imperative, together with the responsibility which must be carried, by everyone who holds an office of authority. ] In our world the hierarchical system applies at present, obviously, only to the inner, invisible government. Its numerous high Officers, whose work consists partly in assisting the evolutionary progress on our earth, though usually unseen are marvellously efficient, using little known creative faculties still dormant in ordinary man to influence processes and events in the visible world. Such a pattern of government, with an inner and unseen range of hierarchically ordered officials assisting and directing the flow of visible affairs, is easy to follow because the constitution of man is likewise fashioned and ideally should function on precisely the same lines, man having an inner spiritual principle and an outer active body or abode in the objective world. In Man at present the spiritual principle is very much subjective, it is unextended, is within himself, but there is a bridge which links it to each of its successive personalities living in the objective world of the physical, emotional and mental experience. The bridge is the mind as a whole, for the essence of the mind, its harvest, is carried on from one incarnation to the next. In humanity the mental functions are divided into a higher and a lower. The higher-mind mirrors spiritual facts and experiences while the lower-mind mirrors objective physical matters. The arch-span of consciousness bridging these two, which would complete man's hierarchical structure and enable him to direct his actions from his spiritual centre is as yet by no means well and truly built. The lower-mind, the concrete intellectual mind, together with its emotional life, usually is the active and directing force of the personality, while the physical body is the stabilising component taking part in clear-cut objective action.
Although in ordinary mankind the spiritual principle is still mostly subjective, this is not the case with the personnel of the inner government of the world some of whom are advanced members of our own humanity. In the scene shown in the Mystery Record the spiritual, divine life is demonstrated as in activity in full measure in the planet's hierarchical government, under its LORD.
The division that at present exists between the higher and lower selves of any single human being is indicative of a similar division between the spiritual and personal manifestation of Life on our earth. This division is at present bridged only through the unified consciousness of the inner hierarchical government. As further members of our humanity close the gap in themselves, so is the whole progressively unified. Man himself is a representative in miniature of the ideal government of a world and, as he is successful in achieving his own spiritual integrity and hence his own hierarchical union, all else is accomplished. All this, as presented in a scene of Act II, offers a promise of a future for humanity of such glory as to surpass our imagination.
As a summary of this scene one might describe the relation and interdependence of architect and craftsman in the construction of a building. The design is in the mind of the architect; the constructive work is in the hands of the craftsmen. As the craftsmen succeed in translating the design into a manifested work of art, they educate themselves. The craftsmen are as the hands of the artist and the loftiest genius could not express and manifest his vision without such assistance. Similarly the LORD OF THE WORLD claims and uses the intuitive consciousness of a whole range of officials, including our humanity, to achieve the manifestation of His vision and the accomplishment of the task assigned.
THE STORY OF MAN
Rapidly passing on, the stage became the field of a series of scenes representing in brilliant action, allegorically, the story of Archetypal Man. It would however be misleading if I attempted a description in any close detail of these scenes of Act II in familiar present day language — even were I competent to do so. The use of allegory opens the way, as already indicated, to interpretations that may vary with every onlooker, listener or reader. The realization of this in fact becomes so strongly marked, provided one can maintain the detachment necessary, that I believe every spectator would regard this original Mystery Play as particularly appropriate to himself. And this implies that this play is so personally impressive and soul-searching that it is utterly impersonal. It is for mankind everywhere and not for a man, a group or a nation. Certain leading features and generalizations may be indicated.
The story of the building of the personal bodies of Man is the theme of some scenes. Bodies are the 'masks' through which each individual functions and with which recurrently and for long he is intimately identified — his mental and physical bodies and emotional life. These constitute man's body and soul, «in ordinary language, as distinct from that focus of divine life which is the man's real self — the spirit. The human spirit uses a personality as its abode during successive incarnations and, at what is called death, withdraws from the physical body and somewhat later from emotional contacts and from the personal mind. The experiences of the last incarnation are assimilated and become converted into faculties before returning to another incarnation in a physical body. The point of the process that seems emphasised is that no experience in action is lost, all is worked up and makes for growth in spiritual stature — or its reverse if opportunities are misused or neglected. So much so is this to be inferred that one might affirm that a new physical life begins at the status reached at the end of the last — no more and no less for average man.
The scenes tell of the assembly of the personal bodies, of their growth to the maturity of their cycle, of their death and, later, of the eventual transcendence by the illumined spirit of the need for experience at the personal level. All this originally covers enormous periods as we reckon time and its purposive trend becomes clear only as these immense periods are shortened in the recurrent recapitulatory cycles. For an example which will illustrate much else, consider the few months of gestation now needed for the building of a new physical body. This begins as one cell, minute in size and more or less spherical in shape, and represents, indeed is, a human physical body.[ It must be remembered . . . the new life of the child commences at the time of the fertilization of the ovum." Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. 8, page 388, 14th Edition ] The months of gestation, seven to nine only, rapidly retrace an ancestral course, as the scientist puts it, for 'the development of the individual is a shortened recapitulation of the history of the species [Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 8, page 389. ] It is.the many repetitions which, becoming shorter and shorter and thus easier to analyse, resolve otherwise elaborate problems by making the long drawn out processes understandable.
The Mystery Record, in its allegorical setting, shows forth a history of the human species that runs coincidentally with the life of the earth, from the planet's very beginnings onwards. Vast cycles of time were needed for the countless experiments indicated and their many corrections and recapitulations — experiments which have resulted now in the successful emergence of a well-equipped and sensitized human form following a few months of preparation. The extent and skill of the creative effort involved is overwhelmingly evident. The contrast between this view and that of an Almighty Fiat presented by early, and even some present-day, religious thought, is so staggering that the acceptance of the larger concepts would mean another reversal in much of our philosophical and religious ideas. And, further, it points to a magnificent goal for humanity if that goal is to be at all commensurate with the prodigious tasks of preparation displayed in these recapitulatory cycles, a goal far transcending the promise of the younger religions of the west.
In the Mystery Play, spiritual man is represented occasionally by a Voice, and a Voice only. This is particularly so in the earlier scenes of Act II. The actors represent human principles and it is not difficult to discern the originals of those which appear in the Christian version, of Peter the physical body, the rock; of James the practical argumentative mind; of John the attractive emotional nature. It is significant too that, in this latter interpretation, Jesus and Judas in one of the derived mystery plays were represented as twin brothers — an arresting and revealing relationship.
The engagement, control and mastery of the personality by the spirit is the objective work of the many incarnations of man and failures and successes are allegorically portrayed in some of the scenes of Act II. The elemental life animating the bodies that compose the personality of man is quite distinct from that of the spirit of man. This elemental life is itself seeking deeper immersion in material forms, hence it is intent on pursuing an opposite course from that of the human spirit; it offers the necessary resistance which enables man to climb, though it is itself descending. The opposition and consequent friction between man and his personality is extreme at first and the elemental life is for long the dominant partner. Herein is an explanation of much of that which we call evil, for the normal law for the growth of the elemental Life of the bodies is on the lines of competition and strife, selfishness, arrogance and aggression. This is both a sound policy for the elemental life's progress and also an integral part of the design of manifestation. Some mystics of earlier days, sensing this foundation in design, voiced it in the language of their day. Krishna, in the great Indian epic, the Bhagavad Gita, is represented as saying "I am the gambling of the cheat and the splendour of splendid things" : and Isaiah expressed it "I am the light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do these things." [The Bhagavad Gita, Tenth Discourse. The Bible, Isaiah XLV, 7. ] This law of the evolving elemental forces emerges clearly in the Mystery scenes and its interpretation through the personification of Evil in the figure of Satan, is reasonable and appropriate in drama. Animal forms personate the bodily elementals which, when dominant with their appetites and desires, become 'devils' of temptation. In one dramatic incident (the original perhaps of the story told in Mark V) the devils are thrown out of an afflicted man by a blaze of dazzling light — to disintegrate in the ocean of elemental life (down a steep place into the sea) whence they had risen in response to the ill-considered welcome offered by the man — 'a man of the tombs'.
THE MYSTERY RECORD AND CHRISTIANITY
The narratives concerning the life of Jesus given in the current gospel scripts have been examined, explored and treated by sympathetic expositors and impartial critics of infinite number. The views and judgments advanced range from literal acceptance to a complete rejection of any historical authenticity. If a competent and level-headed judge, without prejudice and bias, was asked for a verdict based on all the testimony available, the almost certain result would be (a) a Teacher of power and eloquence lived and taught in Palestine about 2000 years ago; and (b) some of the Sayings attributed to the Teacher are probably correctly reported. That would be about all if the judge was guided by anything like our modern rules of evidence. But this alone is striking testimony —the more impressive because of the very lack of unimpeachable facts, for very few lives indeed survive in history without some adequate and informed contemporary biographer. Yet here we have a life which, for hundreds of years, has thrilled generations of men. This has occurred partly by virtue of the sublime courage and self-sacrifice described as displayed by the Teacher, but very much more because of the inner mystic assurance of companionship with the divine which every earnest seeker after truth experiences when he responds sincerely and whole-heartedly to Sayings such as "I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me" (John XIV.6). This and many other such Sayings are attributed in the scripts to Jesus. [SAYINGS. "Many expositors 'and critics of the gospel narratives affirm that the Sayings — Beatitudes et seq. — are all that can be accepted as having historical value. Others disagree with this exclusive view. An average verdict on the documents available would probably run — Mere legend so far as narrative is concerned but preserving genuine Sayings of Jesus." Encyclopedia Britannica. ] In the Mystery Play the originals are uttered by a Voice off-stage, a Voice of winning beauty, speaking as the divine principle hidden in Man.
Here we touch the very heart and core of the teaching conveyed in the Mysteries — the essential divinity of Man. This mighty truth of the divine nature of Man has been belittled and reduced to the narrow limits of a single life in time—and then compensation has been attempted by exalting that life to the loftiest heights. There was and is no need for this extravagance since Jesus shared with our whole human hierarchy the birthrights of divinity. The 'way of life', which can lead the individual to a realization of his own hidden divinity was taught by Jesus and constitutes the new testament that the western world needed as the facet of truth most appropriate for the western nations and the times. The distinction and eminence of Jesus were due to his divine unfoldment; to the degree to which he lived consciously as Spirit, not to a difference in his essential nature from that of his fellow human beings. A realization of this fact, in the light of certain texts, say John XVII, opens wonderful vistas of thought.
The use of parable and allegory, cast in the form of adventure and experience, stories such as the Prodigal Son, the Journeys of Ulysses, the Everyman Plays, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and others, are very much the obvious and most appealing method of instruction in regard to the nature and unfoldment of the human spirit. 'Everyman is in one man's skin'. Hence the Mystery Record has many interpretations in the terms of human adventures, with the emphasis on the crises common to all human life. In this record as has been said, the distinction between the spirit of man and the life functioning in the bodies (the latter still on the involutionary arc as described earlier) is illustrated in figures that personify the higher and lower selves in man. St. Paul spoke of this opposition as 'the law of my members warring against the law of my mind'.
The allegorical story of Everyman, narrated in the many mythologies already cited, is easily to be traced in the gospel narratives, for in these, as is so often the case in compiled and edited oral traditions, the Mystery Drama itself emerges head and shoulders, so to speak, above the journeyings and precepts of the Teacher, It is around the life of the hero that the drama is woven and the narrative is the cord that threads the pearls together.
The gospel stories have the same pattern as so many other sacred lives. A carpenter prepares the stage and provides the properties; a virgin birth is celebrated by angels and kings; the child-hero confounds much older associates; temptations are surmounted triumphantly and the tempter rebuked; the lower self, personified by three characters who scale the Mount, has the vision splendid of the higher-self, also three characters; an epitomised betrayal scene for payment which proves a curse; a trial, scourging, death, and a resurrection scene; all appear in the gospel stories as outstanding experiences in the life of Jesus. These probably had little or nothing to do with the actual life of the Great Teacher, whose education and upbringing among the learned Essenes provided the necessary preparatory training for the important reformatory role he undertook.
The Sayings have been consistently attributed by the Christian Churches to Jesus as having been pronounced by him in his personal and individual aspect, that is they are considered as delivered from a purely literal and external source. There is however inherently a dramatic ring and a quality in the tone of the Sayings which are much more in keeping with a pronouncement by one who, in filling a role in a Play, personified a hidden principle of being, the divine principle as yet unawakened in man. The Sayings have not the atmosphere of conversation with disciples either on special occasions or by the wayside in public. They appeal to a reader, and certainly to a hearer, as much more in keeping with an, allegorical setting dramatically presented.
In the Mysteries the Voice — as the latent spiritual principle in Man — is heard on critical occasions enacted in- the play. The following are a few examples as rendered by St. John.
To the physical nature:
I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger.
Whosoever drinketh of the water I shall give him shall never thirst.
To the emotional nature:
Ye are from beneath, I am from above: ye are of this world,
I am not of this world .....
As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world.
To the mind:
I am the vine, ye are the branches.
The words I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.
To the triple personality of man:
He that has seen me has seen the Father. I and my Father are one.
He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father and I will love
him and will manifest myself to him.
If any man will serve me, follow me.
The decisions of the Church in the middle centuries and earlier concerning belief, together with the Church's formulated dogmas, were enforced with such vigour, to put it mildly, that the Church's rulings concerning the gospel scripts made of them an infallible scripture — and an artificial tradition of truth has sheltered the rulings, very unfortunately for the Christian faith, ever since. Truth is not learnt by subservience to authority.
CEREMONIAL MAGIC IN ACT I
[The word Magic is used in its literal and pure sense — the wise use of natural forces. ]
Many formal ceremonies have been introduced into religious rites as, for example, the sacerdotal practices of the Hebrews, the Zoroastrians, the Hindus, and of many of the Christian Churches, and the nature of these has often raised questions concerning their authorship and validity. Some sects of the above named and other faiths have later repudiated such rites entirely, together with the elaborate ceremonial vestments and regalia associated with them. Especially perhaps do they seem strange and out of place in connection with the beautifully simple, unadorned and direct teachings of the founder of Christianity. An explanation is provided, I believe, in the formal demonstrations arising in certain subsidiary Tableaux of Acts I and III, for the practice of ceremonial magic is indicated and promoted, subject to certain strict conditions, in the extensions of this branch of the Mystery Play.
The creation of forms, natural and artificial as we should now distinguish them, is the special and very extensive theme of Act I. The principle on which all is based is progression by definite steps. The atom, the molecule, the compound unit, the cell, the organ, a body, are terms for definitely marked stages of growth, meaning that a certain completeness or wholeness is reached and established before proceeding to mount the next step. The contents of a bird's egg, for example, must attain a certain wholeness before the shell can be safely broken and the young bird released: similarly, a certain wholeness of attainment by aspirants towards a higher life, up to a certain level, is the doctrine taught by Act I as advisable before making the next advance. This, by the way, must not be taken to imply that 'forms' and 'steps' are the best means. There are no bests. It is merely to state, as I understand the Mystery Act, that for the development of consciousness on the lines depicted they are the medium in use, and many doubtless may find it the best for them. Human life in many cases seems to progress like music and architectural design. In these, progression is purely formal, both being based on numbers and on their demonstration in geometry, passing from simple units to the intricate and complex.
Human progression in moral, ethical and spiritual development appears to be shown in symbol and allegory in Act I, with most of the allegory founded on the practices of constructive building under the supervision of an architect. The building crafts lend themselves well to this mode of symbolical interpretation. A sound foundation, a sturdy well-balanced structure, appropriate furnishings; as also the significance of the tools and implements required, the measuring rule, the square, chisel, plumbline, compasses, and many more; ' all these are suggested as having application to human conduct.
As demonstrated in the Mystery Record there seem to be several definite steps, at least two series of three each, with an important uniting ceremonial bridge between them; that is, between the personal and the spiritual principle. Before proceeding to a further stage the candidate must give convincing evidence of the skill acquired in the earlier stage and thus establish his achievement of wholeness up to that point.
The occasion when the first and the later human steps are taken are marked in the allegory by impressive introductory ceremonies. The first three stages are related to the personal aspects of Man — the physical, emotional and intellectual — and each is in turn emphasised. In the ceremonies symbolising the steps to be taken by the candidate as a personality, the elements of earth, water and fire are introduced as typical of that which must be overcome by the aspirant. Physical resistances must be surmounted by muscular skill and the will to persevere; the fluid emotions must become the seat of real knowledge; the mind must be ruled by the fire of wisdom — 'from above'.
It is interesting to note that in the building crafts right up to modern times three steps or qualifications have been recognized: (1) apprenticeship; (2) improver; (3) journeyman, i.e. the skilled man who has learned his trade. It is indeed fairly certain that not only the building crafts derived something of guidance from the extensions of Act I but also that the origins of the speculative Orders of Masonry, known as Freemasonry, may be traced to the Mysteries. Ceremonial rituals and regalia coupled with the rich religious inspiration obtained from the use of symbol and allegory make of genuine Freemasonry a religion of itself, a guide to the heights of spirituality; a magical co-relation of the living powers of subtler planes of being with the visible and personal is part of the effect which may be produced. An appreciation of the potency of such ceremonies leads to some understanding of the sacraments, as celebrated by the Roman, Greek and Anglican Churches. Together with their sacerdotal equipment the rubric of the sacraments appear to have been lifted from the Mysteries at one remove, that is from the Mystery Temples founded on Act I which were operative during pre-Christian times; —and a very welcome addition and support this must have afforded the early Churches. An impressive and colourful dignity and a rhythmic beauty of diction were added to the somewhat cold simplicities of Christian worship and the Church throve on the embellishments, especially as the masonic connections in later centuries led to the building of" magnificent cathedrals and places of worship by the practical masonic guilds whose own original foundations are likewise traceable to the inspiration of the Mysteries. The union of two mystical interpretations, the allegorical story of Act II and the magical practices attending Act I, which have curious contrasts, has been the cause of many schisms and divisions in the Christian Church, though as is so often the case with similar differences, both are well-founded. The Christian religion thus seems for some centuries now, as a whole, to be a blend of Acts I and II and, as such, is in legitimate continuity with the Mystery Record, however much some of its interpretations may have erred.
The material of our world of which all forms are built is now regarded as being a manifestation of energy. The so-called atomic unit of physical matter has yielded something of its amazing secrets and is no longer seen as an inert and lifeless bullet but rather as having a content of mighty potency — though locked up, or in-turned as the occultist puts it. Crystallized light is a term used as a description of material in the Secret Doctrine [The Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, page 179. ] It is such light or energy, call it what we will, that, as an expression of the One Life, manifests as matter. This composes the worlds in which our personal selves function and is unitary in character, which is to say that all material is built up of combinations of an ultimate basic unit — a real indivisible, atom.
THE NEGATIVE ASPECT
In the Mystery Drama, particularly in an extension of Act III, the passive, or negative, character of this unitary material is very plainly demonstrated, and a few words here concerning the figure seen may be useful, though a clear description is difficult.
A sphere of large volume is built up, pulsing with an intense throbbing rhythmic motion, ablaze with light; it contracts in size till the sphere is minute, just visible: the spectator is aware however that the same throbbing intensity is still continuing within the minute sphere's periphery; it expands again and contracts again; its apparent solidity, and resilience, are superlative, for multitudes of impacts from without make no mark nor impression upon it; whatever their cause they return, rebound, along the same path as their incidence. The figure conveyed brilliantly an indication of the quality of the material which we. handle so familiarly.
It is impossible to put into words the understanding that accompanies a Mystery symbol of this kind though interpretations in this case are easy. It is obvious that any medium a creative artist uses can be put to purposes that are either good or base — which it is to be lies in the hands of the artist and is not a choice on the part of the medium; the material is itself innocent and irresponsible. The clay modelled by the sculptor, the canvas covered by the painter, the instrument played by the musician, are all practically unaffected by the use made of them as material. An illustration and example that appealed to me as expressing the symbolism the most clearly was that of the screen on which a moving picture is thrown. Whatever the picture may be, whether artistically beautiful or coarse and vulgar, the screen remains spotless, immaculate — yet it provides the necessary medium for the play of the light and, indeed, supplies the 'body' for a demonstration of form and colour.
It is along these lines and similar analogues that the spectator of the drama interprets the hidden truth of the nature of material amid which and in which we live. From our point of view, the One Life thus manifesting is in-turned, apparently aloof and indifferent, for material, in itself, seems to continue unchanged, unaffected, while yielding and responding to every action of ours upon it. It is responsive but not responsible, it is neither benevolent nor malevolent, neither conscious nor unconscious, it is as a mirror which reflects accurately and perfectly, for it returns exactly that which it receives.
This, marvellously responsive expression of the One Life, manifesting as the material which we use in our bodies and abodes and which we shape as we will, can be regarded in relation to ourselves as far above or far beneath, impersonal, transcendent, yet 'nearer than hands and feet, closer than breathing'. Veritably it constitutes in itself a God of perfect justice — for it returns to consciousness-in-action precisely that which consciousness-in-action ' impresses, imposes, upon It. The One Life, in its role as material, thus presents to human consciousness the negative aspect of manifestation.
THE POSITIVE ASPECT
The positive aspect of the One Life is represented by foci of spiritual fire which, like the ultimates of matter, are unitary — all are alike in essence. Emanating from 'the SOLAR LORD these are the occult Sparks of a Divine Flame, centres of life and of consciousness-to-be. They have been intuited by some philosophers and called Monads. My interpretation of the Mystery Drama so far as it concerns the positive aspect of the One Life is that this aspect is expressed in terms of these foci, or monads, throughout all the kingdoms of nature, as we classify the grades of forms. In the elemental kingdoms and in the mineral, plant, animal, human and beyond, all differences between them are due to differences in the degree of consciousness, not to a difference of kind. The ability of each focus of light, as a unit of consciousness, to respond increasingly and more adequately to contacts made through the help of forms entitles that unit to rise through the kingdoms. The expansion or degree of consciousness attained by each monad seems to be determined by speed and subtlety of movement in terms of time, instead of an increasing complexity and delicacy of structure in terms of space, as in forms.
Consciousness is defined as an awareness of living, or being, and this awareness is born of the contact of the spiritual foci with material — in other words, consciousness is due to the interaction between positive and negative aspects of the One Life in manifestation, themselves the First and Third Aspects of a Trinity giving birth to the Second Aspect, Consciousness. What may have preceded the negative and positive states of being, before the division of the ONE into a Self and a Not-Self, may occasion abstract and mathematical speculation; I brought nothing away beyond that which I could derive from the beginnings of Act I — almost a blank. To sum up; the spiritual foci of life, represented in the tableau of Act I in the singular as a brilliant point of light, becomes conscious, that is aware of being, by reason and virtue of contact, with material, their opposite number. Some of the inferences are rather startling.
The numerous positive foci of life which become what we have called units of consciousness, monads, when they engage with material never change their appearance; they continue throughout the cycles of manifestation as foci of brilliant fire and the term 'expansion of consciousness' means an increasing ability to respond to the exciting sensations induced by contact with material forms, not to any increase in size. They remain unchanged in appearance and essence but expand in awareness, in consciousness.
In each kingdom of nature a similar grade of consciousness functions throughout the whole of the kingdom, each grade is more or less the same order of expansion and, in connection with the kingdoms, this expansion has been defied as the ability to respond to the formal dimensions of space, a useful classification. In further detail: the unit of consciousness in the mineral kingdom achieves position in space, a more or less static condition of repose after the turmoil of the subtle elemental kingdoms which precede the mineral. Its symbol is the point, position without magnitude. In the plant kingdom response is made to one dimension of form; its symbol is the line, length without breadth. In the animal kingdom two dimensions are covered by consciousness, surfaces; its symbol is length and breadth. In man the three dimensions of form can be cognized, length, breadth and depth — and the limits of form are thus reached. [Consciousness and the Dimensions of Space is treated at length in the author's Web of the Universe, Chapter V. ] Also in the human kingdom an important and significant fact is that consciousness is associated with one type of form only, not with many and various types as in the earlier three kingdoms.
Man, being thus able through his physical body and triple personality to extend his awareness to the periphery of form, can engage and master the whole of the world of forms. In other words, man's consciousness by virtue of its spiritual awareness can ultimately compass, respond to and accept the whole of his sphere of experience. When this triple achievement is accomplished within the limits of the planet which is his immediate field of action, man becomes, within those limits — omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. Although this be a very far-distant horizon of the future, that and nothing less is the goal fore-shadowed in the Mysteries. Certain implications arising from the above may be elaborated.
When these divine attributes omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence are ascribed to God, man is merely projecting his own deeply hidden, innate and inalienable powers into the concept of a deity who is pictured as separate and external to himself. Man really is simply 'remembering' his own essential potentialities. This is not to deny, not even to decry, the existence of a mentally graven image of a deity who is supposed to possess absolute and arbitrary powers and who is capable of wrath and a forgiving benevolence at will — as asserted in countless exhortations in Christian Churches. [One example from the Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Church. "We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness . . . provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation." (General Confession, in Communion Service). ] That projection, that ex-position, possibly has been inevitable, perhaps even useful for a youthful humanity such as ours, just as the individual child, maybe to some advantage, tends at first to impute almighty powers to its parents.
But we are growing up and the value and usefulness (if they ever were) of such an external concept is fading fast. The adoption of the Mystery Drama as an historical happening was, moreover, pitifully shallow. The dogmas built upon it were devised presumably because a mediator, miraculously born as a god-man, was imperatively necessary to link humanity to such a humanly projected deity. They also reflect something of the Hebrew outlook of one branch of the early church. With the help of interested revisers and interpolators [" After the Council of Nicea, A.D. 325, the manuscripts. of the New Testament were considerably tampered with. Prof. Nestle . . . tells us that certain scholars, called correctores, were appointed by the ecclesiastical authorities, and were actually commissioned to correct the text of Scripture in the interest of what was considered orthodoxy." After Death What! by Archdeacon Wilberforce. Concerning variations in the gospels "No satisfactory explanation has ever been found for these variants; they are evidently made on purpose by persons who had new matter to insert into the text and felt themselves at liberty to do so: Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume 3, Page 519 ] the allegory became literalised and the authorities of the time firmly and successfully engraved it. The Christian Church has become a body with wide-based and 'established' vested interests and is very loath to change. That the life and teachings of Jesus survive the weight, of misrepresentation for which the Church is responsible speaks eloquently of the spiritual strength and beauty of that life and message.
There being no essential difference in the monadic life, as between one monad and another except, as already stated, in terms of expansion, an insistent inference is that all monads pass through the human kingdom when the expansion corresponding to human experience is reached. Obviously vast periods of time are spent earlier by each hierarchy of monads in progressing through the younger kingdoms. Eventually in successive cycles all graduate as Man, attain to self-consciousness and contact the whole of the personal planes or worlds, the physical-emotional-mental. Thus in each monad will be awakened eventually the divine powers latent in all life, for the differences in the life of the kingdoms are of degree and not of kind. This appears to be a valid and compelling interpretation of the Mystery Drama.
That the human state of consciousness is latent in all life is illustrated in dramatic scenes in the course of Act II. These may be summarized — (1) The difference in consciousness between an infant-in-arms and an adult human being is great, yet it is clear that this is a difference merely between one who shortly will be man and one who is man. (2) The fertilized ovum within the womb of a mother-to-be is the physical body of a human being though at that time it is but a single cell. That much is recognized in medical science and in law for 'the new life of the child commences at the time of the fertilization of the ovum'—as already quoted. Such a human being, using this simple spherical form when beginning a new incarnation, is 'recapitulating the history of its species' which means that at one time, in the very remote past, that simple form (probably a vortex in the fire-mist) was the earliest and only physical body of man in that cycle. Physical consciousness at that stage would be comparable to a plant's consciousness now. In the case of the fertilized ovum the human stage of consciousness is reached in a few years — for in that short time now is accomplished that which took ages of effort and countless experiments in past cycles. (3) Further, it follows that the difference between the consciousness of adult man of today and the mighty Lord of the World, vast beyond understanding as this may be, is a difference of degree and not of kind. The Lord has been Man.
The state of consciousness reached by mankind now, of our hierarchy appears to be a critical one. Further advance, it is clear, is self-determined. In this respect it differs entirely from the earlier kingdoms. Our humanity is becoming 'of age' and an inheritance of conscious divinity awaits acceptance. The inheritance must be claimed, however; heaven must be taken by storm. With the spiritual Self aroused, man assumes control of his own destiny. Freewill, within the wide limits of the immediate field of manifestation, can be exercised if the divine Self, the spiritual centre of man's being, is enthroned. In the religious terms of early Christian mysticism, the cross of matter (the elemental life of the bodies, on the 'opposite path') is transcended and the Christ is Risen. In the Mystery Drama everyman is 'in one man's skin'.
THE SACRIFICIAL DESCENT OF ARCHETYPAL MAN
Reference has been made earlier to the ruling system of our world, an inner government, appointed in the first place by the SOLAR LORD. This system is hierarchical and the LORD OF THE WORLD is assisted by a company of highly expert Officials, all of whom have/graduated in an earlier though not necessarily a similar manifestation. Theirs is the mighty task, at the beginning of our present planet's life, to prepare for the prospective birth of another following hierarchy-in-the-making, our own humanity and, later, those of the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms. Active in these early cycles of creative work was an instinctively obedient life of a certain Order of the devic hosts who were the building craftsmen of nature's forms — as indeed they are now in different circumstances. This Order of Builders was under the Government's direct superintendence, during the early cycles of their training.
A microcosmic correspondence to this preparatory work, today — indeed a brief recapitulation — is the preparation made for an expected birth in a human family. A new-born babe is helpless; the care of attendants is imperative if the child is to live and thrive. Parents, doctors, nurses, teachers, all have helping hands, guidance and advice to give if the newcomer is to be launched successfully on his or her own feet. Also, before the child is born, during the months of gestation, the same Order of willing builders mentioned above give generously of their skilled and rapid craftsmanship, learnt, during the long cycles of training, beginning with the earliest experimental work of our world's history. So amazingly expert are they now that a 'building' which occupied vast periods of time in the past is now completed in a few months. The successful birth of a child implies the descent into the limitations of a physical body of a consciousness already at the human level. The human monad thus reincarnating has descended from its heaven of rest and assimilation in the subtler worlds and enters on another physical life in the new body. This usually is quite an unconscious descent and. therein it differs from the original descent of Archetypal Man though it is certainly a recapitulation in principle. At. the very beginnings of the planet's history those who first descended into the forms, into the very limiting spherical forms then provided by the builders, were Men. For the same reason that a craftsman must train the young apprentice and the teacher must precede his pupil so Man preceded the flow of the younger monadic life which then followed. This means that those who were the first to use the simple forms provided, the spherical, were monads who had attained to human consciousness in a prior cycle. Theirs was the honour of making a vast sacrifice, to descend in full consciousness to inspire and ensoul the primitive new bodies — and pass them on to the following grades of monadic consciousness in a condition much easier for the novice to handle. This sacrifice of Archetypal Man is symbolised in St. John's vision as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Our humanity benefits from the sacrifice as a child benefits from that of its parents. We may hope to repay the obligation in our turn to successors, as the child does when it achieves parenthood.
While still adolescent we may continue to rely upon external help, for, although free, human consciousness is not isolated. Earnest, heartfelt and genuine prayer of emotional sincerity arouses a response on the part of the still ministering devas as certainly as a bird will respond to the cry of its young, though the devas are not equipped for all emergencies nor permitted to intervene unwisely. Purely mental prayer, of a petitionary character, addressed to an external agency, presumably spiritual, is curiously useless — probably because the mind is man's own province. Mentally to invoke such assistance is like a man with a full purse begging a crust; by denying the crust the purse stands a chance of being use,d. There may be exceptions to this, for nothing in life is utterly hard and fast; but it is very certainly now the rule. Man, as he becomes mature, is meant to use the powers of the mind creatively, from within outwards, not to frame petitions but to re-create circumstances from within.
If we accept the occultist's assertion that we are about half-way through the vast cycle of the Terrene Scheme —in which our world is an important contributor to the Solar Design — then mankind as a whole is passing from adolescence into an adult maturity. A figurative. estimate is that if the whole manifestation period be scaled down to, say, forty-nine years, then our hierarchy-in-the-making, mankind, is about twenty-five or twenty-six years old. This of course applies only as a rough average.
The future, every event together with its results, is in man's hands. As a spiritually centred being he is free of the world of forms and can with self-discipline and training command the potencies of the three planes — physical, emotional, mental — on which he lives. The task for adult humanity which lies ahead is difficult, for the goal is high. In the Mystery Drama this is emphasised. It would seem that our human hierarchy is, metaphorically, to be the key-stone of an arch that will bridge two major cycles of manifestation within the Solar Design. Each of these cycles has been the scene of experiment and achievement on a cosmic scale concerned with two aspects of the world of thought — (a) pure ideas and (b) concrete mentality, or, to change the simile, an architect's plan and the material for the building; the design and the objective canvas.
Our human hierarchy, under the direction of its mighty Hierophant, the LORD OF THE WORLD, has the task, in its role of Mediator, of building the span of consciousness between these two so that the One Will may be done 'on earth as it is in heaven'. For adult man, when filling his intended role as mediator, guidance and inspiration are readily available as he turns attention more and more to the centre of divine light, the real and abiding seat of every man's life — within. This centre or focus of light is the mystic's 'Father who art in heaven', and true worship is the act of adjusting and relating one's personal self to this interior light.
In turning to the Light within, the personality finds itself by no means comfortless, for a 'personal' God of mighty power and wisdom rules, the LORD OF THE WORLD, to whom the mind of every man is as an open page: reciprocally, the mind of every man is as a screen on which His Light may shine and hence His Will be known.
Picturing Act I is a large fiery circle of light with a brilliant pin-point of light in the centre. That is all — and at first seems hardly to warrant the title of an Act — but wait. As one gazes, Act I becomes alive; the point within the circle disappears, then with a chord of music it reappears in rapid movement, and from the centre strikes a flaming line horizontally across the circle. From the centre again, the point flashes up and down, a vertical line of fire appears — and an equal-armed cross shines forth on the screen. It fades away and the original plain circle of fire remains. Not very thrilling perhaps — till I realised, with something of a shock that the movements on the screen had been my doing. The onlooker contributes to the play; in Act I he is spectator and actor.
III also presents a large circle of fire, but
its circumference is made up
of numbers of points of light each similar
to the central point in Act I. Within the circle
one side is a small, a very small, circle
with an outline
of fire resembling a tiny edition of the
of Act I.
In fact, in a curious way, the circles of Act III in their components seem to be a reversal of those in Act I. Here again, movement began. The large circle of points of light. expanded and became the periphery of a sphere. The very small circle within also became a small sphere and moved about hither and thither apparently attracted or repelled by the surrounding star-like points of light bounding the large periphery. Then the small sphere became two, four, eight—multiplying indefinitely, all dancing wildly. They slowed down, melted into one sphere again and this one gradually assumed a motionless poise in the centre. Then after a short pause, a brilliant pin-point of light shone forth, from its centre—and then all faded again and the original circles of Act III appeared with the small one on one side, as at first. Again it had been I who contributed the movement.
visions had a significance beyond that which I can
by verbal description. Objective certainly — but
more, for they were of subjective interest too;
the experience I think can best be called one
jointly objective-subjective to a peculiar degree.
It afforded a demonstration of the relation of
consciousness to the environment; it is we who
move, which is to
say that it is always our action that counts. In
more general terms it may be said that the movements
within the figures were symbolic of the Divine
Life in action in an environment of Forms, first
the unit of form to obtain the prize that form
alone can give, then to obtain release from the
and clamour of Form — and so discover Itself.
THE ONE LIFE.
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