The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
April 1999 Vol. 2 Issue 2
Immortality is a word which stands for the stability or permanence of that unique and precious quality we discern in the soul, which, if lost, leaves nothing worth preservation in the world. -- W. Macneil Dixon
"What a piece of work is man!" We are all souls on the way to recognizing and becoming the divine Self within: the magnitude of our whole nature is beyond our present comprehension, for we are to a large degree a mystery to ourselves and to one another. Human life is surrounded by mystery from the moment of conception to the wonder of death. Although seasoned travelers, having experienced countless births and deaths and rebirths on this planet, we have merely begun to scratch the surface of our complex being. We belong to the sun, moon, and stars, to the vast universe, and can embrace the immensity of it and universes beyond in our consciousness. Earth is our center of learning and opportunity for the soul's expansion and awakenment, yet we should not forget that we are at home in many mansions. When we fall asleep we enter into a different awareness than our ordinary waking state, yet retain our identity, as we do after death, when the soul travels through many dimensions of experience.
With each incarnation we bear the fruits of past causes, while sowing new seeds which will find karmic harvest in this or some future life. Because as self-conscious beings we fashion our own destiny we must assume full responsibility for the quality of our thoughts and actions. We are a blend of physical, emotional, mental, psychological, and spiritual-intuitional energies, to name but a few, and the combination of negative and positive aspects of these varies with each individual. This duality is a spur to inner growth, and through conflicts and suffering we learn discernment, gain equilibrium, patience, and fortitude, awaken compassion for others and all the necessary qualities for our further evolution. As the seed holds the promise of the plant to be, so we have latent potentials within that hold the promise of the illumined human being we will one day become.
The words of Jesus provide a key to our spiritual destiny: "I (the Christ spirit or divinity) am the way, the truth, and the life." Each one of us is the pathway to our divine source. There is a paradox here, because divinity permeates all but must be pursued individually; only through each one's effort and readiness will the "way" become evident.
Central to us is our divine Self, that is with us in death as in life. It is a guiding light, a source of strength and wisdom, the Warrior that is continually prodding us to make the bigger, less personal choices. How do we become aware of it? For each one the answer may be different. Sometimes it is a feeling of peace and reassurance that steals in on one in the silence, and with it comes faith in the presence of a protective force beyond our ordinary understanding.
Knowledge of the enduring spirit and the continuity of existence brings a broader vision and sense of purpose into our lives. It reduces fear of death by letting us see the experience as following the universal pattern, a rest time of assimilation and inner fulfillment rather than a finality; it strengthens confidence in our true Self and in the realness of others rather than focusing on the personality; and replaces despair and futility with optimism and hope. Sincere commitment to spiritual principles makes the difference between merely existing or automatically reacting to circumstances, and living with selfless motivation and inner awareness. Such is the justice of karma that we receive from every experience the quality of what we bring to it.
The path of self-discovery is at best a rough road, different for each of us. Yet as we become more aware of our multi-leveled nature and its conflicting elements, we begin to discriminate between negative desires and thoughts on a purely emotional level and the more unselfish ones, between the personality and the individuality, between the physical senses and the more penetrating perceptions of the higher mind and intuition, and the wisdom of the heart.
In liberating our mind and emotions, the soul, like a bird released from its cage, is free to wing its way into the regions of the real Self, and beyond. -- Ingrid Van Mater
This month "Are There Guardians of Mankind? is our subject. We will discuss such questions as: Is humanity assisted by more spiritually advanced beings? How can we each act as helpers of humanity, and improve conditions around us and in the world at large? Come share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
May 13: Why DO Bad Things Happen to Good People?
The truth regarding the risen Christ is a spiritual and not a physical one, and to look upon this beautiful legend as a story of a physical resurrection is a degradation of a sublime spiritual reality. The full theosophical interpretation of the actual original meaning of Easter and the Easter festival is truly fascinating. There is a great truth in the Easter doctrine and Easter idea regarding the mysteries of initiation. The ancients had their initiation ceremonies, and the fruits of the initiation chamber were those great men who came forth and founded this or that great religion or philosophy -- men who swayed the destinies of empires because they swayed human hearts and minds. They were men of power because highly evolved men.
The initiation period of Easter, of the spring equinox, was that one in which a man, after training, after discipline, left his personality behind, dropped it as a garment faded and soiled, rose from the tomb of the personal selfhood into spiritual impersonality, became one with his own inner god -- or 'ascended to heaven' -- became more than man, because he then became a god-man or a man-god.
Three days were required on the average for this initiation. The aspirant, already far advanced along the initiatory path, was taken into the initiation chamber, laid on a couch shaped like a cross, not nailed, not bound. He lay in a trance while the inner part of him went down into the Underworld, and then took on the wings of his own spirit a journey to the Portals of the Sun, and therefrom came back glorified. He rose from the cruciform couch a savior of his fellowmen, utterly impersonal, manifesting the powers of the god within him -- a Buddha, a Christ!
What a pity that the religion of that great-hearted and noble-minded Syrian sage Jesus lost the explanation of the meaning of these things, so that in aftertimes men sincerely and honestly took the mere words of the story instead of realizing that they were mystical sayings, descriptive by metaphor of what took place in the initiation chamber.
Jesus was only one of the great sages and seers who have taught the human race. He taught nothing new. Had he done so, then he would have been open to the charge of founding a religion of his own in the sense of gaining a mere following. He taught truth which is old as the universe, and yet ever new to the hearts of each new generation.
The following is what I have taught about the Christ story. A man -- call him a Jew if you like -- who was later known by the name of Jesus, lived in Palestine and taught there. He was one of the great sages and seers, an avatara, that is to say, a manifestation, as a man, of a divine being -- the divinity within, if you like -- more or less fully expressing itself, and therefore called a god-man. He was one who followed all the esoteric teaching of his time in his youth; he was initiated in the Mystery schools of Syria, of the Hither East, in his early manhood. He was one who was laid on the cruciform couch and who successfully passed the dread test; and after three days he rose from the ones 'who were dead,' which is the real meaning of the phrase 'from the dead' -- not from death -- as a Christ.
No, this Syrian seer was not crucified, literally and physically. A crucified god is an anomaly in human thought. But a crucified neophyte or aspirant: yes, in the sense in which I have tried to set the matter forth. And there is a mystical use of the term 'crucifixion': a man may be crucified on the cross of his own lower selfhood, crucified by his own passions, torn and rent instead of standing like a free man. That is a very real and yet mystical crucifixion. When you know somewhat of the inner Christ, you shall attain freedom; and all the boundless universe shall be your playground, not merely in thought, in imagination, but by actual experience. A man can loosen his spirit and go forth with it even to and passing beyond the Portals of the Sun. -- From Questions We All Ask, vol. 4