The Gnosis or Ancient Wisdom in the Christian Scriptures

by William Kingsland


RELIGION and RELIGIONS

This work is written mainly for a class of readers and students who find themselves altogether out of touch with Christianity in any of its current doctrinal or sacerdotal forms, but who, notwithstanding this, have some more or less clear apprehension that behind those forms, and in the Christian Scriptures themselves, there lies a deep spiritual truth, a real Gnosis (Gr.Knowledge) of human origin, nature, and destiny which has simply been materialized by the Church in the traditional interpretation of those Scriptures based upon their acceptation.

Not that one does not recognize that even in its most irrational and unacceptable dogmas, so-called "Christianity" makes an appeal to a certain class of minds; and, indeed is perhaps the only form of "religion" which could make any appeal to that particular class.

However irrational Christian dogmas may be in the light of our modern knowledge -- and still more so in the light of the deeper knowledge of the Gnosis  --  they do, if genuinely believed in, serve to keep the average individual more or less on a straight path of moral rectitude, and they afford them a certain amount of comforting assurance that they are not "a lost sinner"; whilst in some cases they are undoubtedly the inspiring beliefs giving rise to noble and self-sacrificing lives.  Precisely the same may be said, however, of other religions which differ radically from Christianity in their formulated beliefs.  In short, the evidence of the life of an individual is no proof of the truth of his creed.  It is sufficient that he believes in it; the rest is mere psychology.  The One Spirit overshadows and works in all, but the form in which that working is presented through the mind or intellect is a matter of the psychological make-up of the individual, the lower personal self with its heredity, conventions, and environment.  Thus Krishna, speaking on the Supreme Spirit in the Bhagavad Gita, says:

              "In Whatever form a devotee desires with faith to worship, it is I alone who inspire him with constancy therein,

                  and depending on that faith he seeks the propitiation of that God, obtaining the object of his wishes as is ordained by me alone"1

A general recognition of this principle would put an end to all religious intolerance.

It is no part of my task in this work to set forth the numerous reasons which can be given for the rejection of the traditional beliefs which have hitherto constituted what is generally known as "Christianity."  That rejection is becoming more and more in evidence as knowledge increases, whilst in the Church itself --  using the term Church to cover all and every Christian community -- we have the greatest possible differences of opinion regarding the truth of both "facts" and foundations of the "Faith": e.g. miracles, the virgin birth, original sin, the atonement, the resurrection, the ascension, the second coming, the nature of the eucharist, and the clauses of the Athanasian and other Creeds.  Concerning each and all of these, leading authorities in the Church itself are all of these, leading authorities in the church itself are to-day hopelessly at variance,2 whilst very few professing lay Christians are aware to what an extent the commonly received conceptions as to the origin of Christianity, based on the supposed historical veracity of the Gospel narratives, are in question today by those scholars who have made the closest study of the actual historical evidences.

But although I am not dealing directly with these controversies, one cannot ignore them altogether, and some references must necessarily be made to them.  Moreover, the correspondence of the Bible allegories with those of the earlier Mystery Cults, such for example as those of Orpheus and of Mithra, as also those of more ancient Egyptian and Aryan sources, implies some historical connection in origins; and although this is exceedingly obscure owing to the destruction by the early Church creed-makers of every particle of evidence of this connection which they could lay their hands on, many clues still remain to which some allusion must be made.

This present work, therefore, is not written for controversial purposes, or for the purpose of upsetting the "faith" of anyone, whatsoever that "faith" may be.  I am not concerned to convince or convert anyone to the views herein expressed.  In matters of fact I stand open to correction where I may possibly be in error.  But those  who have come to some apprehension of the fact that Christianity in its traditional form is not merely open to many objections on rational grounds, but also that it is only one of a number of formulated religions which are just as efficacious as itself for the "salvation" of the individual, cannot adopt the proselytizing spirit which is such a marked feature of "Christianity."  In so far as "Christianity" is exclusive, dogmatic, proselytizing, I am its' perhaps somewhat bitter, opponent.  When it dares to say that the individual can be "saved" only by believing in what it teaches about a certain historical character, I say that the good Jew, or Buddhist, or Moslem, or Parsi has just as good a chance -- nay, in many cases a better chance -- of being "saved" than thousands of professing Christians.

What I do offer here is something much more universal than that of any exclusive religion, i.e. certain principles which have been given out by various great teachers from time to time in a form appropriate to the age and people to whom they were addressed.  These, however, have subsequently been largely overlaid and obscured by the feeble understanding and individual interests of partisans.  As I shall presently show , there is no greater example of this than in so-called "Christianity."

While, therefore, I have no desire to turn anyone aside from their present "faith": recognizing as I do that that "faith" must necessarily suffice to meet the present needs of the individual: it is possible that those who have encased themselves in a hardened shell of what they call "truth," based on supposed historical facts as given in the literal word of Scripture, may hereby get some glimpse of the inadequacy of their hitherto cherished beliefs, and of a deeper knowledge which has always been available; aye, even to that supreme knowledge which confers god-like powers on its possessor.  It is useless to offer this deeper knowledge to those who have not perceived the limitations of what they already possess.  That may and does suffice for their present needs; but sooner or later they must come up against facts and experiences which will shake them out of their present contentment, and make them realize that for all their assurance of "salvation" they are still very far indeed from the ultimate goal of spiritual knowledge and freedom.  It is only the man who knows how little he knows, and the necessity of knowing more if he would escape from the present deplorable condition of mankind, and recover his divine birthright as a "Child of God," who can, or will, reach out for that supreme knowledge that "pearl of great price" which can be obtained only when he has "sold all that he had."(Matt.xiii.46)  Of this more hereafter; but I may remark here that this and other similar parables clearly show Jesus to have been an Initiate in the Ancient Wisdom or Gnosis.

It is my endeavor now to show how that supreme knowledge which I am here referring to as the Ancient Wisdom or Gnosis is embodied in the Christian Scriptures, albeit sadly overlaid with "the precepts and doctrines of mankind."

I am not using the term Gnosis as applying merely to the tenets of certain Gnostic sects which were more or less in evidence in the early centuries of the Christian era, but I am using it in connection with a definite super-knowledge which can be traced back to the remotest ages and the oldest  Scriptures of which we have any literary records, and which was taught by Initiates, Adepts, and Masters of the Ancient Wisdom in the inner circles of those Mysteries and Mystery Cults which are known to have existed in Egypt and elsewhere, even in remotest times.  That is the sense in which the term was originally understood.  It is the mystic knowledge which effects regeneration, rebirth into the full consciousness of one's divine nature and powers as a "Child of God."

The Gnostic Sects of the early Christian centuries who were so virulently attacked by some of the dogma-making Church "Fathers," derived their teachings from these Mystery Cults, but at the same time many of them claimed the Christian Scriptures -- though not the afterwards recognized canonical books only -- as an authority for their teachings.

         "However much the Gnostics may have been indebted to heathen thought, they still wished and meant to be Christians, and indeed set up a claim to possess a deeper knowledge of Christian truth than the  Psychici of  the church.  Like their opponents they also appealed to Scripture in proof of their peculiar doctrines.  Nay,  it would even seem that the Gnostics were the first to make for that purpose a profitable appeal to the Scriptures of the New Testament.  And besides this, they also boasted to be in possession of genuine apostolical traditions, driving their doctrines, some from Paul, others from St. Peter, and others again from Judas, Thomas, Philip, and  Matthew.  In addition, moreover, to the secret doctrine which they professed to have received by oral tradition, they appealed also to alleged writings of the apostles themselves or their disciples."[Smith and Wacc."Dictionary of Christian Biography, art. "Irenaeus," vol.iii.p.269.]

"We have no reason to think that the earliest Gnostics intended to found sects separated from the Church and called after their own names.  Their disciples were to be Christians, only elevated above the rest as acquainted with deeper mysteries, and called "gnostikoi" because possessed of a Gnosis superior to the simple faith of the multitude."[Ibid.,art."Gnosticism," vol.ii.p.679]

"Gnosticism desired only to add to the confession of Faith for the "physikoi", a secret doctrine for the "pneumatikoi."[Ibid.,art."Manicheans," vol.iii, p.797]

Gradually, however, as "Christian" doctrine became hardened and more and more dogmatic, and the government of the Church fell into the hands of prelates ambitious for worldly power, and quarrelling among themselves for precedence, this higher knowledge became a heresy, and what records are left of it are mainly the misrepresentations of its bitter opponents among the Church "Fathers."

The Essenes, to which community Jesus probably belonged,[see p.150 infra.] were certainly Gnostics in the sense in which I am here using the term.  Also the wirings of Philo show clearly that he was acquainted with this Gnosis, although it does not appear that any of the communities of his time had yet begun to be called Gnostics.  He was contemporary with Jesus, yet never mentions him, although he teaches the doctrine of the Logos as the "Son of God."

"Wherever we meet with the word Logos, we know that we have to deal with a word of Greek extraction.  When Philo adopted that word, it could have meant for him substantially neither more nor less than what it had meant before in the schools of Greek philosophy.  Thus, when the ideal creation or the Logos had been called by Philo the only begotten or unique son (uios monogenis), the Son of God (uios Theon), and when that name was afterwards transferred by the author of the Fourth Gospel to Christ, what was predicated of him can only have been in substance what was contained before in these technical terms, as used at first at Athens and afterwards at Alexandria. [Max Muller, "Theosophy or Psychological Religion, p.403] (see p.177 infra.) 

It would appear that among some of the sections of the early Christian Church -- and it must not be supposed that even the earliest "Church" was one and undivided as a community or in doctrine -- the practice common to all the genuine Gnostic cults was followed in having at least three degrees of membership or initiation.  It was only in the highest degree that the deepest "mysteries" were orally communicated; and even so it was never the case that the Initiate, the Adept, the Master could be made by any communicated instruction.  He is not made, he becomes.  He must know of the truth of the communicated teaching from his own actual experience.  What was committed to wiriting was never more than exoteric.  It is just as great a mistake to harden the symbolism of the Gnostic Scriptures into a definite  theogony or cosmogony as narratives of the Old or New Testaments.  The real Gnosis, therefore, is a mystical knowledge and experience transcending that appearance of things which the ordinary individual accepts as the only "reality."

It is my contention in this work not merely that this ancient Gnosis did and does exist, and was represented to some extent in the teachings of these Christian Gnostic sects, but also that their claim "To possess a deeper knowledge of Christian truth than the Psychici of the Church " is one which must be sustained.  In fact, that the traditional dogmas of the Church which have come down to us through the centuries are gross materializations of the real teaching as to the spiritual nature and origin of Man as contained in the Gnosis.  These dogmas are the result of the literal historicizing of narratives -- in some cases, however, having a semi-historical basis -- which were originally intended as allegories covering deep spiritual truths.

The real fact, therefore, is not that Gnosticism was a "heresy," a departure from the true "Christianity," but precisely the opposite, i.e. that Christianity in its dogmatic and ecclesiastical development was a travesty of the original Gnostic teachings.[see p.23 infra]

Dean Inge comes fairly near to this view in his work on Christian Mysticism, Appendix B, "The Greek Mysteries and Christian Mysticism." Thus he says (p.350):

"A doctrine is not necessarily un-Christian because it is "Greek" or "Pagan."  I know of no stranger perversity than for men who rest the whole weight of their religion upon "history" to suppose that our Lord meant to raise an universal religion on a purely Jewish basis."

How much Christianity really owes to "Pagan" sources he says is difficult to ascertain by reason of "the loss of documents, and by the extreme difficulty of tracing the pedigree of religious ideas and customs."  Nevertheless this indebtedness is gradually being brought to light, and is gradually destroying the idea of the uniqueness of Christianity.

"Dionysius uses the mystery words frequently, and gives to the orders of the Christian ministry the names which distinguish the officiating priests at the Mysteries.  The aim of these writers (Clement and others) was to prove that the Church offers a mysteriosophy which includes all the good elements of the old Mysteries without their corruptions.  The alliance between a Mystery-religion and speculative Mysticism within the Church was at this time as close as that between Neoplatonic philosophy and the revived pagan Mystery-cults." [Ibid., p.355]

"Christianity conquered Hellenism by borrowing from it all its best elements; and I do nto see that a Christian need feel any reluctance to make this admission."[W.R.Inge,Christian Mysticiem,p.350]

"For over half a millennium the approach to religion for thoughtful minds was by the Gnostic path.  Such facts -- since no religion persists by its falsehood, but by its truth -- entitle the ancient Mysteries to due consideration.  As an important background to early Christianity, and as the chief medium of sacramentarianism to the West they cannot be neglected; for to fail to recognize the moral and spiritual values of  Hellenistic-Oriental paganism is to misunderstand the early Christian centuries and to do injustice to the victory of Christianity."[S.Angus, "The Mystery-Religions and Christianity", p.vii] 

The early Christian centuries certainly, until the Gnosis became finally extinguished as a heresy.  But the "victory" of so-called "Christianity" as recorded in the history of the dark ages of the Western world cannot possibly be attributed to its moral and spiritual values.  And where is that "victory" today in the general state of the world?  The moral and spiritual values are undoubtedly there, but the Church must get back to the Gnosis, and thus bring its fundamental teachings into line with our modern knowledge before it can re-conquer the modern world.

This ancient Gnosis, as I shall presently show, is indeed being re-stated today in many directions outside of the Church; and sooner or later the Church must come into line with it -- or gradually become an extinct community.

This ancient Gnosis we may define as that knowledge of the nature of Mankind and of their place in the Universe which transcends the mere appearance of things as presented to the senses and the intellect, and which contacts Reality in a reguio of pure Truth.  The beginning of this knowledge, therefore, is the realization that things are not what they seem; and no one who is a crude realist -- as are all orthodox Christians, both in respect of the physical world and of their own Scriptures -- can make any approach to this super-knowledge.

Of course all philosophy is an effort to apprehend Reality; but it is an effort of the intellect merely, and as such it is, and must always be, a fruitless effort.  It is one of the fundamental teachings of the Ancient Wisdom that the intellect must be transcended before Reality can be contacted, for intellect can only deal with Appearances.  

Some of our modern philosophiers are beginning to apprehend this fact; notably Henri Bergson, who speaks of a higher faculty which he calls intuition, and which he says must replace intellect if we would contact Reality.  F.H. Bradley's great work Appearance and Reality also throws a strong light on this fundamental principle.

William James also tells us that:

"For my own part I have finally found myself compelled to give up the logic, fairly, squarely, and irrevocably.  It has an imperishable use in human life, but that use is not to make us theoretically acquainted with the essential nature of reality."[A Pluralistic Universe, p.212]

This inability of the intellect to transcend its own categories of time, space, and causation -- which is also the main thesis of Kant's philosophy -- rules out the validity of all theological speculation and assertion, whether "progressive" or otherwise.  "God" as the Absolute must ever be beyond all assertion of this or that.  But this was clearly perceived ages before Kant or Christianity.

"Who asks doth err, Who answers errs. Say nought!" ["The Light of Asia"]

"Not by speech, not by mind,

Not by sight can He be apprehended.

How can He be comprehended

Otherwise than by one saying "He is"? [Katha Upanishad, 6,12]

This is precisely the equivalent of the "I am that I am" of Exodus iii.14.

"The fountain-head of Christian mysticism is Dionysius the Areopagite.  He describes the absolute truth by negatives exclusively."[Wm.James "The Varieties of Religious Experience, p.416]

     It is a simple proposition that that which is ALL cannot "create" anything outside of itself.  In 1 Corinthians xv.28, Paul tells us that when all things have been subjected to the "Son" (or Logos), "then shall the Son himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all."

What!  Is not then God all in all now?

To this we should reply: Yes, as including both REALITY and APPEARANCE; but NO when we speak, as Paul is here doing, from the point of view of APPEARANCE merely.

But what is this distinction between Reality and Appearance save a mere concession to the "duality" of the intellect?  The ancient Aryan philosphers, perceiving this well, considered the world of Appearances to be MAYA, an illusion.  And in truth Paul here only repeats a fundamental principle of the Ancient Wisdom, i.e. that there is a gradual withdrawal of the manifested or appearance universe into the ONE from whichit originally proceeded.  In Eastern philosophy this outgoing and return is postulated as an eternal periodical process:  the outgoing being called a "Day" of Brahma (the Logos or Demiurge), and the complete withdrawal - which lasts as long as the outgoing, an incalculable period -- a "Night" of Brahma.  Humankind, being the mirror or reflection of the cosmic process, has the same outgoing and return --  as I shall show more explicitly, as taught in the Christian Scriptures, in subsequent chapters of this work.

We may note here that in this saying of Paul we have one more instance and evience of his knowledge and teaching of the ancient Gnosis.

To satisfy the intellect of man in its present development, a creative God has to be postulated: whether called the Logos, or the Demiurgos, or by some specific name such as Jehovah or Brahma.  From this necessity of the intellect arise theogonies and theologies, varieties of Trinities, anthropomorphic gods, etc.  The simplest concept in terms of human nature is the Trinity of Father-Mother-Child.  But this will not always be so.  Intellect, as humans evolve, will assume other aspects, and will certainly transcend its present limitation.  Do not therefore accpt the limitations of its present formulations as "Gospel Truth."  They have their use it is true; but let the seeker after truth thoroughly understand their nature and limitations, and put them in their proper place.

Robert Browning in his poem "Paracelsus"  puts the following words into the mouth of that great Adept.

          "There is an inmost centre in us all,
           Where truth abides in fulness; and around,
           Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in;
          This perfect, clear perception -- which is truth.
          A baffling and perverting carnal mesh
          Binds it, and makes all error; and to KNOW
          Rather consists in opening out a way
        Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,
          Than in effecting entry for a light
           Supposed to be without."

Now that "inmost centre" is, in the teaching of the ancient Gnosis, the real self: the eternal, immortal, divine self which is one with the universal self, commonly called God.  Thus the root teaching of this Ancient Wisdom at all times has been the divine nature of Humans: and what was taught in the inner schools of the Mysteries -- a teaching which can still be obtgained --- was the method of achieving this supreme knowledge in a practical manner; that is to say the attainment of god-like character and powers.  Every human is potentially a god, however feeble may be their powers at the present time. At root we are God.

Knowledge is power.  The supreme knowledge confers on its possessor powers the possibility of which is not even dreamed of by the ordinary individual -- or the ordinary Christian for that matter, notwithstanding the repeated assertions of that possibility in the Christian Scriptures.  Yet there have been some mystics in the Christian Church even in modern times who have recognized this fundamental fact of human nature.  Thus Archdeacon Wilberforce writes in Mystic Immanence (pg.89):

"Meanwhile remember ' the Kingdom of Heaven is within you,' all the power you can possibly need is at your disposal, you need no helper to give it you, it is yours now."

Perhaps I may be allowed to quote here from a work of my own, Scientific Idealism, published in 1909 (p.xiv):

"All the Cosmic Powers of the Universe of Humankind, did they but know how to utilze them.  They are more than God's posessions, they are God's Self."

But this supreme knowledge can never be attained by those who are content to rest in a "faith" which leaves them powerless to conquer even the commonest disabilities of this physical world, let alone those higher planes of consciousness which lie immediately above --- or rather within --- and which are infinitely more real than this so apparently real physical world.

This potential divinity of every human in the power of the indwelling Christ or Christos principle runs all through the teaching of the Master -- as I shall presently show.  It is the teaching which the Church ought always to have presented, and which was presented in the early Christian Gnostic sects until these were supressed by the ignorant materializers and carnalizers of teachings they could not understand.  It is the teaching which, if the Church were to present it today, would be the salvation both if itself and of the world.  Fortunately thousands have come to an understanding of it from other sources.  

The individual must have knowledge (Gnosis) as well as wisdom (Sophia).  They must have the knowledge that conquers each and all of the disabilities under which they, and Humanity as a whole, at present suffer, apparntly in helpless ignorance.  For it is simply ignorance that is the cause of "humanity's great pain."  But that ignorance is not a necessity to which humans must submit without a remedy -- a remedy here and now.  Six hundred years B.C. -- not to go any further back -- the Buddha taught that:

"Ho! ye who suffer! knowYe suffer from yourselves. None else compels.Higher than Indra's ye may lift your lot,And sink it lower than the worm or gnat.Within yourslves deliverance must be sought;Each person their prison makes." (The Light of Asia)

These words apply to the individual; yet what is the whole vast struggle of Humanity but simply the effort to rise from ignorance to knowledge -- and who shall say what is the limit of that knowledge?  

It is here that the Ancient Wisdom or Gnosis proclaims its message.  There is no limit. Moreover there have always been, and there are today, Initiates, Adepts, Mahatmas (lit.Great Souls) who have achieved that knowledge; aye, even to its most glorious heights.

Thus the individual may step out in front of the Race.  They may achieve this knowledge because there are Masters of the Wisdom waiting to instruct them so soon as they have shown themselves ready and fit to receive the instruction.  But these Masters will not, any more than the Master whose words are partially recorded in the New Testament documents, "cast their pearls before swing."  They will not, any more than he did, disclose the treasures of their knowledge to the world otherwise than in allegory and symbol.

When my the individual be said to be ready?  When at last, through the strife and stress and sorrow and failures of repeated incarnations, they have learned that there is no rest, no satisfaction in "the things of this world" after which they have hitherto been striving, and after which the great majority of the Race still strive.  When they have not merely purified themselves of all worldly lusts and desires, but also from any pride of intellect which may claim to be a knower of the truth in this, that, or the other form.  When with an open mind they are prepared to go deeper than mind (intellect) and the man-made doctrines of humans, into a region where truth is formless and immediate.  When one has acomplished this -- with which I shall deal more fully later on -- then , and not till then, they are ready to knock at the Portal of the Temple of Initiation into that higher knowledge to which I have referred, and which I shall endeavor to elucidate to some extent in its Christian form -- or rather I should say in the form in which it is presented in the Christian Scriptures:  for what is known traditionally and historically as "Christianity" consists of human created dogmas based on a literal interpretation of those Scriptures, and not on their allegorical, mystical, and gnostic nature.

It cannot be emphasized too strongly that religion is not a matter of escape, of getting safely into "heaven."  It is a matter of conquest.  "Christianity," so-called, lulls its devotees into a false sense of security, or "salvation"; whereas the whole history of humanity, and of religion itself, shows us that:

"The path by which to Deity we climb

Is arduous, rough ineffable, sublime." (See p.44 infra.)

Yet the great attraction which the Christain "faith" has offered has been that it is so easy: a mere matter of belief in certain dogmas of the Church; at most one short lifetime, with possibly in some cases the sharp death of a martyr, and then  an eternity of bliss.  Wherein is that any different or bettern than the belief of the fanatical Moslem who rushes to death against the bayonets and bullets of the "infidel," believing that thereby they are assured of all the sensual joys of the Paradise described in the Koran?

It is hitherto been the contention of Christian doctrinaires that the historical Jesus Christ by his coming and work "abolished death, and brought life and incorruption to light" (2Tim.i.10) in a hitherto dark and ignorant world.  Nothing could be further from the truth as concerns the world at large.  It was not even true of that little Jewish world to which the supposed Gospel was first preached.  The Essenes, the ultra strict Jewish sect, believed firmly in immortality, and in a future state of rewards and punishments.  Death was regarded as a great gain for the righteous, but they did not believe in the resurrection of the body.

As for the world at large, and taking one example only:  nothing was deeper ingraind in the religion of the Egyptians that the belief in immortality.

"Indefinite time, without beginning and without end, hath been given to me; I inherit eternity, and everlastingness hath been bestowed upon me." (Book of the Dead, chapter lxii.) 

Yet when we have apprehended what is really meant by the Christ (Christos) as distinguished from any personal historical "man called Jesus," the verse from Timothy which I have just quoted is seen to be profoundly true, as I shall hereafter show.

Now the Christian has unfortunately always been taught that he will leave all the disabilities and sin and sorrow of this present world behing them when they die, and that their "faith" will ensure them an eternity of bliss "for ever and ever"; that they will have finished wth this world for good and all, and will have naught more to do with its strife and conflict.  This is a soul-killing doctrine: as indeed we see in such a multitude of professing Christians.  They "have a name that they live, but are (spiritually) dead."

But that Gnosis with which I am now dealing has always taught that the individual cannot thus sever themself from the great stream of human evolution.  They belong to the Race from beginning to end of the great Cycle.  Th progress of the Race is accomplished only by the progress of the individuals composing it, and this is accomplished by repeated incarnations.  It is true that after physical death the individual who has any spiritual nature left in them may enjoy a supreme bliss for a season, in freedom from physical conditions and limitations.  The "sleep" of death is simply the equivalent between incarnations of the sleep of the body between one day and another.  But again and again the individual must come back, be reincarnated; not merely to play their part in the progress of the Race; not merely to gain further knowledge themself, but also to reap what they have sown in their past incarnation, to work out their Karma.

They cometh reaper of the things they sowed,

Sesamun, corn, so much cast in past birth;

And so much weed and poison stuff, which mar

Them and the aching earth."(The light of Asia, Book the Eighth)

This is an age-long teaching.  It was also taught, as I shall presently show, in the early Christian Church.  

What a vast difference it would make to this world of ours if each individual realized that they must play their part therein from beginning to end of the Cycle; that they cannot take any short cut to eternal bliss; that they must work out, nor merely their own salvation, but also that of the Race.  The Christian Scriptures when esoterically interpreted tell us how this must be done; and thereby they come into line with that which had always been taught in the inner Shrines of the Temples of Initiation.

Why in the inner Shrines?  Why not openly and publicly?  Do we need to ask that question when the great teacher whose words we are supposed to have in the Canonical Gospels "taught only in parables," and is reposted to have said to his Disciples:  "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given?"(Matt.xiii.11)  Nevertheless these "Mysteries" are not recorded as having been given to the disciples in any of the Canonical Gospels.  We have to go to the "apocryphal" (Apocryphal -- hidden.See p.73 infra.) writings, such as the Pistis Sophis, to obtain them.  Indeed Jesus is reported to have said to his Disciples:

"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now... These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs (or parables):  the hour cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proberbs, but shall tell you plainly of the Father." (John xvi.12 and 25).

Note that this appears in John, the Gnostic Gospel, while its fulfilment appears more particularly in the Pistis Sophia, which purports to be those further teachings of the Mysteries given by Jesus to his Disciples eleven years after his resurrection.

	

(TO BE CONTINUED)

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