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become sufficiently intense, it finally drives us into the lock of
upliftment, and it imbues us with a determination not to go back to
the river of worldly life. But even at that stage there are some who
falter and fear to shut the gate behind them; they aspire ardently at
times to the life on the higher level, but it makes them feel less
alone to look back upon the river of worldly life, and sometimes they
stay in this condition for lives, wondering why they do not progress,
why they experience no spiritual downpouring, why there is no uplift in
their lives. Our illustration makes the reason very plain; no matter
how hard the captain might beg, the lock keeper would never think of
releasing the stream of water from above until the gate had been
closed behind the ship, for it could never lift the ship an inch under
such conditions but would flow through the open gates to waste in the
lower river. Neither will the guardians of the gates of the higher
worlds open the stream of upliftment for us, no matter how hard we
pray, until we have shut the door to the world behind us, and shut it
very tight with respect to the lust of the eyes and the pride of life,
the sins that so easily beset us and are fostered by us in the careless
worldly days. We must shut the door on them all before we are really in
a condition to receive the stream of upliftment, but once we have thus
shut the door and irrevocably set our faces forward, the downpouring
begins, slowly but surely as the stream of the lock keeper which lifts
the vessel.

But having left the temporal world with all its deeds behind and having
set his face towards the spiritual worlds, the yearning of the aspirant
becomes more intense. As time passes he feels in increasing measure
the void on both sides of himself. The temporal world and its deeds
have dropped from him as a garment; he may be bodily in that world,
performing his duties, but he has lost interest; he is in the world
but not of it, and the spiritual world where he aspires to citizenship
seems equally distant. He is all alone and his whole being cries and
writhes in pain, longing for light.

Then comes the turn of the tempter: “I have a school of initiation,
and am able to advance my pupils quickly for a fee,” or words to that
effect, but usually more subtle; and who shall blame the poor aspirants
who fall before the wiles of these pretenders? Lucky are they if, as
is generally the case, they are merely put through a ceremonial and
given an empty degree, but occasionally they meet one who has really
dabbled in magic and is able to open the flood gates from the higher
level. Then the inrush of spiritual power shatters the system of the
unfortunate dupe as the waters of the river above would wreck a vessel
at the bottom of the lock if an ignorant or malicious person were to
open the gates. The vessel must be lifted slowly for safety’s sake, and
so must the aspirant to spiritual upliftment; patience and unwavering
persistence in well-doing are absolutely indispensable, and the door
to the pleasures of the world must be kept closed. If that is done we
shall surely and certainly accomplish the ascent to the heights of the
unseen world with all the opportunities for further soul growth there
found, for it is a natural process governed by natural laws, just as is
the elevation of a ship to the higher levels of a river by a system of
locks.

But how can I stay in the lock of upliftment and serve my fellow man?
If soul growth comes only by service, how can I gain by isolation?
These are questions that may not unnaturally present themselves to
students. To answer them we must again emphasize that no one can lift
another who is not himself upon a higher level, not so far above
as to be unreachable, but sufficiently close to be within grasp of
the reaching hand. There are, alas, too many who profess the higher
teachings but live lives on the level with ordinary men and women of
the world or even below that level. Their professions make the higher
teachings a byword and call down the scorn of scoffers. But those who
live the higher teachings have no need to profess them orally; they
are isolated and marked in spite of themselves, and though handicapped
by the misdeeds of the “professors,” they do in time win the respect
and confidence of those about them; eventually they call out in their
associates the desire of emulation, they convert them in spite of
themselves, reaping in return for this service a commensurate soul
growth.

Now is the time of the year (Christmas) when the crest wave of
spiritual power envelops the world. It culminates at the winter
solstice, when the Christ is reborn into our planet, and though
hampered by the present (from the limited viewpoint) deplorable war
conditions, His life given for us may be most easily drawn upon by the
aspirant at this season to further spiritual growth; therefore all who
are desirous of attaining the higher levels would do well to put forth
special efforts in that direction during the winter season.




Chapter XX

THE COSMIC MEANING OF EASTER

PART I


On the morning of Good Friday, 1857, Richard Wagner, the master artist
of the nineteenth century, sat on the verandah of a Swiss villa by
the Zurich Sea. The landscape about him was bathed in most glorious
sunshine; peace and good will seemed to vibrate through nature. All
creation was throbbing with life; the air was laden with the fragrant
perfume of budding pine forests—a grateful balm to a troubled heart or
a restless mind.

Then suddenly, as a bolt from an azure sky, there came into Wagner’s
deeply mystic soul a remembrance of the ominous significance of that
day—the darkest and most sorrowful in the Christian year. It almost
overwhelmed him with sadness, as he contemplated the contrast. There
was such a marked incongruity between the smiling scene before him,
the plainly observable activity of nature, struggling to renewed life
after winter’s long sleep, and the death struggle of a tortured Savior
upon a cross; between the full-throated chant of life and love issuing
from the thousands of little feathered choristers in forest, moor, and
meadow, and the ominous shouts of hate issuing from an infuriated mob
as they jeered and mocked the noblest ideal the world has ever known;
between the wonderful creative energy exerted by nature in spring, and
the destructive element in man, which slew the noblest character that
ever graced our earth.

While Wagner meditated thus upon the incongruities of existence, the
question presented itself: Is there any connection between the death
of the Savior upon the cross at Easter, and the vital energy which
expresses itself so prodigally in spring when nature begins the life of
a new year?

Though Wagner did not consciously perceive and realize the full
significance of the connection between the death of the Savior and the
rejuvenation of nature, he had, nevertheless, unwittingly stumbled upon
the key to one of the most sublime mysteries encountered by the human
spirit in its pilgrimage from clod to God.

In the darkest night of the year, when earth sleeps most soundly in
Boreas’ cold embrace, when material activities are at the very lowest
ebb, a wave of spiritual energy carries upon its crest the divine
creative “Word from Heaven” to a _mystic birth_ at Christmas; and as a
luminous cloud the spiritual impulse broods over the world that “knew
it not,” for it “shines in the darkness” of winter when nature is
paralyzed and speechless.

This divine creative “Word” has a message and a mission. It was born
to “save the world,” and “to give its life for the world.” It must of
necessity sacrifice its life in order to accomplish the rejuvenation
of nature. Gradually it _buries itself in the earth_ and commences
to infuse its own vital energy into the millions of seeds which lie
dormant in the ground. It whispers “the word of life” into the ears
of beast and bird, until the gospel or good news has been preached to
every creature. The sacrifice is fully consummated by the time the
sun crosses its Easter(n) node at the spring equinox. Then the divine
creative Word expires. _It dies upon the cross at Easter_ in a mystical
sense, while uttering a last triumphant cry, “It has been accomplished”
(consummatum est).

But as an echo returns to us many times repeated, so also the celestial
song of life is re-echoed from the earth. The whole creation takes
up the anthem. A legion-tongued chorus repeats it over and over. The
little seeds in the bosom of Mother Earth commence to germinate; they
burst and sprout in all directions, and soon a wonderful mosaic of
life, a velvety green carpet embroidered with multicolored flowers,
replaces the shroud of immaculate wintry white. From the furred
and feathered tribes “the word of life” re-echoes as a song of
love, impelling them to mate. Generation and multiplication are the
watchwords everywhere—_the Spirit has risen_ to more abundant life.

Thus, mystically, we may note the annual birth, death, and resurrection
of the Savior as the ebb and flow of a spiritual impulse which
culminates at the winter solstice, Christmas, and has egress from the
earth shortly after Easter when the “word” “_ascends to Heaven_” on
Whitsunday. But it will not remain there forever. We are taught that
“thence it shall return,” “at the judgment.” Thus when the sun descends
below the equator through the sign of the scales in October, when the
fruits of the year are harvested, weighed, and assorted according
to their kind, the descent of the spirit of the new year has its
inception. This descent culminates in birth at Christmas.

Man is a miniature of nature. What happens on a large scale in the
life of a planet like our earth, takes place on a smaller scale in the
course of human events. A planet is the body of a wonderfully great
and exalted Being, one of the Seven Spirits before the Throne (of
the parent sun). Man is also a spirit and “made in their likeness.”
As a planet revolves in its cyclic path around the sun whence it
emanated, so also the human spirit moves in an orbit around its
central source—God. Planetary orbits, being ellipses, have points of
closest approach to and extreme deviation from their solar centers.
Likewise the orbit of the human spirit is elliptical. We are closest
to God when our cyclic journey carries us into the celestial sphere
of activity—heaven, and we are farthest removed from Him during
earth life. These changes are necessary to our soul growth. As the
festivals of the year mark the recurring events of importance in
the life of a Great Spirit, so our births and deaths are events of
periodical recurrence. It is as impossible for the human spirit to
remain perpetually in heaven or upon earth as it is for a planet to
stand still in its orbit. The same immutable law of periodicity which
determines the unbroken sequence of the seasons, the alternation of day
and night, the tidal ebb and flow, governs also the progression of the
human spirit, both in heaven and upon earth.

From realms of celestial light where we live in freedom, untrammeled by
limitations of time and space, where we vibrate in tune with infinite
harmony of the spheres, we descend to birth in the physical world where
our spiritual sight is obscured by the mortal coil which binds us to
this limited phase of our existence. We live here awhile; we die and
ascend to heaven, to be reborn and to die again. Each earth life is a
chapter in a serial life story, extremely humble in its beginnings,
but increasing in interest and importance as we ascend to higher and
higher stations of human responsibility. No limit is conceivable,
for in essence we are divine and must therefore have the infinite
possibilities of God dormant within. When we have learned all that this
world has to teach us, a wider orbit, a larger sphere of superhuman
usefulness, will give scope to our greater capabilities.

“Build thee more stately mansions, O my Soul.
As the swift seasons roll,
Leave thy low vaulted past;
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea.”

Thus says Oliver Wendell Holmes, comparing the spiral progression
in the widening coil of a chambered nautilus to the expansion of
consciousness which is the result of soul growth in an evolving human
being.

“But what of Christ?” someone will ask. “Don’t you believe in Him? You
are discoursing upon Easter, the feast which commemorates the cruel
death and glorious, triumphant resurrection of the Savior, but you seem
to be alluding to Him more from an allegorical point of view than as an
actual fact.”

Certainly we believe in the Christ; we love Him with our whole heart
and soul, but we wish to emphasize the teaching that Christ is the
first fruits of the race. He said that we shall do the things He did,
“and greater.” Thus we are Christs-in-the-making.

“Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born,
And not within thyself, thy soul will be forlorn.
The cross on Golgotha thou lookest to in vain,
Unless within thyself it be set up again.”

Thus proclaims Angelus Silesius, with true mystic understanding of the
essentials of attainment.

We are too much in the habit of looking to an outside Savior while
harboring a devil within; but till Christ be formed IN US, as Paul
says, we shall seek in vain, for as it is impossible for us to perceive
light and color, though they be all about us, unless our optic nerve
registers their vibrations, and as we remain unconscious of sound when
the tympanum of our ear is insensitive, so also must we remain blind
to the presence of Christ and deaf to His voice until we arouse our
dormant spiritual natures within. But once these natures have become
awakened, they will reveal the Lord of Love as a prime reality; this on
the principle that when a tuning fork is struck, another of identical
pitch will also commence to sing, while tuning forks of different
pitches will remain mute. Therefore the Christ said that His sheep knew
the _sound_ of His voice and responded, but the voice of the stranger
they heard not. (John 10:5). No matter what our creed, we are all
brethren of Christ, so let us rejoice, the Lord has risen! Let us seek
Him and forget our creeds and other lesser differences.




Chapter XXI

THE COSMIC MEANING OF EASTER

PART II


Once more we have reached the final act in the cosmic drama involving
the descent of the solar Christ Ray into the matter of our earth,
which is completed at the Mystic Birth celebrated at Christmas, and
the Mystic Death and Liberation, which are celebrated shortly after
the vernal equinox when the sun of the new year commences its ascent
into the higher spheres of the northern heavens, having poured out
its life to save humanity and give new life to everything upon earth.
At this time of the year a new life, an augmented energy, sweeps with
an irresistible force through the veins and arteries of all living
beings, inspiring them, instilling new hope, new ambition, and new
life, impelling them to new activities whereby they learn new lessons
in the school of experience. Consciously or unconsciously to the
beneficiaries, this outwelling energy invigorates everything that has
life. Even the plant responds by an increased circulation of sap,
which results in additional growth of the leaves, flowers, and fruits
whereby this class of life is at present expressing itself and evolving
to a higher state of consciousness.

But wonderful though these outward physical manifestations are, and
glorious though the transformation may be called which changes the
earth from a waste of snow and ice into a beautiful, blooming garden,
it sinks into insignificance before the spiritual activities which run
side by side therewith. The salient features of the cosmic drama are
identical in point of time with the material effects of the sun in the
four cardinal signs, Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn, for the most
significant events occur at the equinoctial and solstitial points.

It is really and actually true that “_in_ God we live and move and have
our being.” Outside Him we could have no existence; we live by and
through His life; we move and act by and through His strength; it is
His power which sustains our dwelling place, the earth, and without His
unflagging, unwavering efforts the universe itself would disintegrate.
Now we are taught that man was made in the likeness of God, and we
are given to understand that according to the law of analogy we are
possessed of certain powers latent within us which are similar to those
we see so potently expressed in the labor of Deity in the universe.
This gives us a particular interest in the annual cosmic drama
involving the death and resurrection of the sun. The life of the _God
Man, Christ Jesus_, was moulded in conformity with the solar story,
and it foreshadows in a similar manner all that may happen to the _Man
God_ of whom this Christ Jesus prophesied when He said: The works that
I do shall ye do also; and greater works shall ye do; whither I go thou
canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me afterwards.

Nature is the symbolic expression of God. She does nothing in vain
or gratuitously, but there is a purpose behind every thing and every
act. Therefore we should be alert and regard carefully the signs in
the heavens for they have a deep and important meaning concerning our
own lives. The intelligent understanding of their purpose enables us
to work so much more efficiently with God in His wonderful efforts
for the emancipation of our race from bondage to the laws of nature,
and for its liberation into a full measure of the stature of the sons
of God—crowned with glory, honor, and immortality, and free from the
power of sin, sickness, and suffering which now curtail our lives by
reason of our ignorance and nonconformity to the laws of God. The
divine purpose demands this emancipation, but whether it is to be
accomplished by the long and tedious process of evolution or by the
immensely quicker pathway of Initiation depends upon whether or not
we are willing to lend our cooperation. The majority of mankind go
through life with unseeing eyes and with ears that do not hear. They
are engrossed in their material affairs, buying and selling, working
and playing, without an adequate understanding or appreciation of the
purpose of existence, and were it unfolded to them it is scarcely to
be expected that they would conform and co-operate because of the
sacrifice it involves.

It is no wonder that the Christ appeals particularly to the poor and
that He emphasizes the difficulty of the rich entering the kingdom of
heaven, for even to this day when humanity has advanced in the school
of evolution for two millenia since His day, we find that the great
majority still value their houses and lands, their pretty hats and
gowns, the pleasures of society, dances, and dinners more than the
treasures of heaven which are garnered by service and self-sacrifice.
Although they may intellectually perceive the beauty of the spiritual
life, its desirability fades into insignificance in their eyes when
compared with the sacrifice involved in attaining. Like the rich young
man they would willingly follow Christ were there no such sacrifice
involved. They prefer rather to go away when they realize that
sacrifice is the one condition upon which they may enter discipleship.
So for them Easter is simply a season of joy because it is the end of
winter and the beginning of the summer season with its call of outdoor
sports and pleasures.

But for those who have definitely chosen the path of self-sacrifice
that leads to Liberation, Easter is the annual sign given them as
evidence of the cosmic basis of their hopes and aspirations. As Paul
properly states in that glorious fifteenth chapter of 1st Corinthians,
“If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is
also vain.

“Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have
testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He raised not up if so
be that the dead rise not.

“For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised.

“And if Christ be not raised your faith is vain; ye are yet in your
sins.

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most
miserable.

“If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what
advantageth it me if the dead rise not?

“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of
them that slept.”

But in the Easter sun which at the vernal equinox commences to soar
into the northern heavens after having laid down its life for the
earth, we have the cosmic symbol of the verity of resurrection. When
taken as a cosmic fact in connection with the law of analogy that
connects the macrocosm with the microcosm, it is an earnest that some
day we shall all attain the cosmic consciousness and know positively
for ourselves by our own experience that there is no death, but that
what seems so is only a transition into a finer sphere.

It is an annual symbol to strengthen our souls in the work of
well-doing that we may grow the golden wedding garment required to make
us sons of God in the highest and holiest sense. It is literally true
that unless we walk in the light as God is in the light, we are not in
fellowship; but by making the sacrifices and rendering the services
required of us to aid in the emancipation of our race we are building
the soul body of radiant golden light which is the special substance
emanated from and by the Spirit of the Sun, the Cosmic Christ. When
this golden substance has clothed us with sufficient density, then
we shall be able to imitate the Easter sun and soar into the higher
spheres.

With these ideals firmly fixed in our minds, Easter time becomes a
season when it is in order to review our life during the preceding year
and make new resolutions for the coming season to serve in furthering
our soul growth. It is a season when the symbol of the ascending sun
should lead us up to a keen realization of the fact that we are but
pilgrims and strangers upon earth, that our real home as spirits is
in heaven, and that we ought to endeavor to learn the lessons in this
life school as quickly as is consistent with proper service, so that
as Easter Day marks the resurrection and liberation of the Christ
Spirit from the lower realms, so we also may continually look for the
dawn of that day which shall permanently free us from the meshes of
matter, from the body of sin and death, together with our brethren in
bondage, for no true aspirant would conceive of a liberation that did
not include all who were similarly placed.

This is a gigantic task; the contemplation of it may well daunt the
bravest heart, and were we alone it could not be accomplished; but the
divine hierarchies who have guided humanity upon the path of evolution
from the beginning of our career are still active and working with us
from their sidereal worlds, and with their help we shall eventually be
able to accomplish this elevation of humanity as a whole and attain to
an individual realization of glory, honor, and immortality. Having this
great hope within ourselves, this great mission in the world, let us
work as never before to make ourselves better men and women, so that by
our example we may waken in others a desire to lead a life that brings
liberation.




Chapter XXII

THE NEWBORN CHRIST


It has often been said in our literature that the sacrifice of Christ
was not an event which, taking place on Golgotha, was accomplished in a
few hours once and for all time, but that the mystic births and deaths
of the Redeemer are continual cosmic occurrences. We may therefore
conclude that this sacrifice is necessary for our physical and
spiritual evolution during the present phase of our development. As the
annual birth of the Christ Child approaches, it presents a never old,
ever new theme for meditation, from which we may profit by pondering it
with a prayer that it may create in our hearts a new light to guide us
upon the path of regeneration.

The inspired apostle gave us a wonderful definition of Deity when
he said that “God is Light,” and therefore “light” has been used to
illustrate the nature of the Divine in the Rosicrucian teachings,
especially the mystery of the Trinity in Unity. It is clearly taught


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