Glimpses of Esoteric Christianity Part 4
Everything in this universe is in motion. Movement produces change, or transformation. This is an eternal constant, a Law of the Cosmos, and it is immutable. The process of transformation occurs in stages, phases, and cycles. Every unit of life unfolds its consciousness in accord with the Law of Activity and Rest. The cycle of activity begins with birth, youth, maturity; it declines with old age and ends with so-called death, which is the period of Rest. The cycle continues repeatedly until the goal for that life-unit is achieved. Reincarnation is an expression of the Law of Activity and Rest as applied to human evolution. It is what Jewish mystics call "Gilgul," and was a doctrine taught by the Greek Philosophers, Plato, Pythagoras and Plotinus. Most of the holy scriptures of the world contain references to the law, though some are veiled.
Once man found himself entombed within Matter, it became expedient for him to liberate himself. According to our observation, mankind as a whole, however, is not pursuing this goal, for he is unconscious of the purpose of his existence. The promptings of the Inner Self are misinterpreted for the selfish ambitions of the personal ego. Possessing a physical body, in a sense, is actually a great privilege, for it offers a rapid method for spiritual unfoldment. But to prolong our sojourn in the world of matter is foolhardy. This plane of consciousness is simply a phase, a stepping stone leading towards our spiritual destiny. Greater work, greater tasks awaits us elsewhere in the infinite reaches of the cosmos. We should realize that the physical world is not our true home. We are spiritual beings with a spiritual heritage. Ignorance and egoistic desire are the twin negative causes of our bondage to the wheel of birth and rebirth. Mastery of these causes offer spiritual freedom as the personal will and consciousness becomes united with the Divine Will and Mind of our True SELF.
We are bound to this wheel of reincarnation by causes. There are two sides to everything. We have already mentioned the negative causes. The positive causes are our aspiration for perfection and the balancing of karma. The former of this positive cause is the willful intent of the Soul, as human perfection may be accelerated while interacting and overcoming masterfully the resistance of matter. Karma binds us to the wheel until its misqualified energy has been spent, balanced, compensated, or the Law of Grace precipitated to over-ride the karmic condition as a result of spiritually understanding the required lesson that the Law expected one to learn.
Reincarnation is a common term for the concept of a human soul being born cyclically into the physical world. There are other terms, though, each referring to reincarnation, each with a slight variation as to meaning and implication. These terms are: rebirth, reimbodiment, transmigration, and metemapsychosis. The term transmigration often brings to mind the element of retrogression, of man re-embodying as an animal. This is a spiritual impossibility, for once individualized, the human spirit can never revert to an undividualized animal soul. The animal vehicle in itself would not be able to sustain the great radiations and magnetism of the human individualized Spirit. This concept of retrogression, of transmigration of the human soul into an animal form is a corruption of a doctrine that teaches the similitude of human characteristics to animal nature, which are retained embodiment after embodiment until the energies underlying the bestial nature are transmuted. The astral form is also highly impressionable and mouldable by thoughts and feelings. They tend to reflect the nature of the soul. Should the human soul be beastly in nature, the astral body would reflect the animal form. From a different perspective, the lower components of the soul, the astral and etheric bodies, when discarded by the human spirit, may gravitate to surroundings and objects of a similar nature.Thus we may have the possibility of these ethereal cadavers attaching themselves to animals--this probably started the concept that humans beings incarnate as animals.
If reincarnation is a Cosmic law, a doctrine of Truth, why is it not taught in the churches by the priesthood? This is a common query among the members of the exoteric churches. Unbeknown to them, this doctrine was a basic tenet of the early Church, and references to this law filled the scriptures and the gospels abundantly. St. Augustine, St. Clement, and Origen expressed a belief and an understanding in the doctrine of reincarnation. So did Bishop of Synesius (370--430 AD) of Ptolemais. St. Gregory of Nyssa (257--333 AD.) believed strongly in the law; he wrote:
"It is absolutely necessary that the soul be healed and purified, and if this does not take place during its life on earth it must be accomplished in future lives."
Origen expounded the law in his literary works. He wrote extensively on the Law of Reembodiment. In later centuries, however, the mystical teachings of Origen were anathemized in the Council convened in Constantinople in 553 AD, and many references concerning reincarnation in the gospels were expunged. This Council, in which the Emperor Justinian presided, and which the reigning Pope refused to attend, was but a travesty of the Council of Sages that assemble periodically under the auspices of the Great White Brotherhood. The attending bishops of this Council assented to the dogmas drawned-up by Justinian and his co-conspirators--most of them acquiesced out of fear of the Emperor.The Doctrine of Reincarnation was rejected because it clashed with the dogmas that the Emperor and his cohorts among the bishopric circle wished to promote--that of eternal damnation, the vicarious atonement, the resurrection, and the uniqueness of Jesus as a "sole" son of God. Reincarnation was denounced at this Council by the conspirators so that greater political power might be had to manipulate the minds of men.
No cross-bearers of the Master Jesus were the assenting bishops. Their fear was greater than their love for him. This lack of courage and action on their part commenced and perpetrated an untruth which is misleading the flock of Christ to this very day. This untruth produces an attitude of spiritual slothfulness and fear in which dependency upon another for salvation is hoped and relied upon and not on one's own mystical resources. Reincarnation was one of the issues that the Gnostics and the exoteric Church quarreled upon. The original, holy scriptures and gospels before being translated and edited by persons influenced by the newly invented creeds and dogmas, contained positive references to the Law of Reincarnation as taught by the Nazarene Master. The translated, corrupted works, however, still contain certain material relating to reincarnation. Some biblical students, though, are unable or unwilling to perceive the implied law in these passages, due to bigotry, prejudice, and the limitation that they impose upon their consciousness. This causes a lack of spiritual discernment and comprehension necessary to intuitively read between the lines and extract the essential meaning. We will quote these interesting passages a little later. It is important here to realize that not all of the teachings of Jesus were recorded in the canonical gospels. The bulk of his secret teachings were passed on to posterity by word of mouth, and some of these oral teachings found their way into modern mystical societies and fraternities. We should also not overlook the existence of hundreds of other scriptures, not considered "canonical," which were arbitrarily labeled "apocryphal" or even "works of the devil," that were not included in the Bible because it conflicted with the dogmas that the priesthood wished to promote. Some of these literary works contain sparkling gems of the Gupta Vidya, or the Ancient Wisdom.
How is the truth of reincarnation determined? By personal experience. This requires a mystical development with a certain degree of advancement along the path of evolution, along the Path of Initiation. Some individuals professing a belief in the reality of reincarnation are over-anxious to know their past identity. This is unreasonable, for their present identity remains yet to be discovered, realized, and known Why waste a considerable amount of time and force on something that will occur naturally in the course of time, when more important matters such as Self-Realization awaits one's attention? It is a dangerous matter to probe into the psyche prematurely with the intention of recalling past lives with tools such as hypnotic regression, drugs, and others of a similar nature. Certainly nature has designed the human psychosomatic system and circuitry in such a manner that man would forget his past lives for an important reason--that of maintaining mental poise and balance. Man drinks the Waters of Lethe at each embodiment to forget painful experiences that occurred in the past history of the soul. To awaken these memories prematurely would simply upset the psychological equilibrium and sanity of the individual--aside from boosting the egoistic expressions of vanity, pride and a false sense of superiority. Nature does not, and will not withhold the knowledge and information that man should possess when he reaches a certain stage of development and maturity. Man will, without force, without tampering unnaturally with his psyche, recall past lives without becoming a psychiatric case. Those giving psychic readings and hypnotic-regression sessions to individuals should realize the possible grave consequences of their actions, as these would flood the psyche of their subjects with buried data that their consciousness may not yet be ready and equipped to handle.
It is true, however, that without personal experiences, man will always have doubts concerning the Law of Reincarnation, especially when one has not come to terms with life after so-called death. Reincarnation from that standpoint would seem to be a mere fancy. Fortunately, there are ways of strengthening one's belief and faith in the law--as lame as beliefs may be. The truth is not only out there--it is to be found within as well. The truth seeker will investigate in a sane manner with less perilous methods than hypnosis to determine the accuracies of spiritual laws as revealed unto man by higher intelligences. The student's main research and method of inquiry would probably be along the lines of reason, objectivity, a study of scriptural revelation; the study under those having spiritual experiences and understanding--those with spiritual authority; and the study of the phenomenon of spontaneous recollections.
Along the lines of reason, we may begin our search by inquiring into the manifold inequalities, complexities and differences among the sons of man: why are some born rich, and others poor? why are some born sound in mind and body while others are handicapped with bodily disadvantages or mental retardation? how can we explain the phenomenon of child prodigies? how do we resolve the problem of the mental capacities that differ from person to person--also the multifarious moral, cultural standards and spiritual attainment that each individual expresses? Education, environment and genes are minor factors that do not explain fully life's situation as we see it. Why does God seem to have favorites? Jacob over Esau, for instance.
The law of reincarnation fills a gap, the missing link that unites the fragmentary parts of our understanding concerning the inequalities between individuals. The different types of man and their point of evolution is the manifestation of the laws of karma and reincarnation. One apparently comes into this world to live a short span of existence, and then to pass out of it without fulfilling one's goals. What is the purpose of this? If one's goals are unattainable in one life time then our existence here would be meaningless and futile. By carrying on our reasoning a little further we would perceive the mercy and grace of God in action within our lives; and that reincarnation is the manifestation of that mercy and grace.
As mentioned before, the gospels and Jewish scriptures are replete with references concerning the law of reincarnation. Below are just a few examples, a few verses often quoted by students and researches on the law:
"I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out." (Rev 3:12)
This verse implies and signifies that the person who liberates himself from the bondage of matter participates in active work in the spiritual realms, directing the forces and powers of Nature in accord with the Grand Design, with God's Plan and Will. The attainment of liberation or salvation, guarantees personal freedom from the wheel of birth and rebirth, from samsara. Such a liberated being is no longer compelled to reincarnate, he goes "no more out," unless it is to assist lesser evolved beings.
"Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." (Malachi 4:5)
The advent of Elijah occurred through reincarnation in his embodiment as John the Baptist. Jesus had this to say about the true identity of John:
". . . Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist . . . all the prophets and the law prophesied unto John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who was to come . . . " (Matt 11:7-15)
Some biblical students are of the opinion that the reincarnation of Elijah was an exception and not a law of Nature; however, the general concept, or law was not repudiated by the Nazarene Master. In some passages of the gospels he discusses it freely with his disciples:
"'whom do man say that the Son of Man is?' And they said, 'some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But whom do you say I am?' Simon Peter replied: 'You are the Christ, the son of the Living God.' And Jesus answered to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter. And on this rock I will build my church; and the powers of death shall not prevail against it . . . '" (Matt 16:13--20)
Though Jesus taught reincarnation, he did not put much emphasis on it; we believe he intended to stress the possibility of man attaining Christhood in a single life time, and thus attain salvation, freed from the necessity of reimbodiment. In the above verse he reveals to Simon his past identity as Peter. There is a double meaning involved in the expression "on this rock." "Peter" means "rock," but the rock that "death shall not prevail" is the law of reincarnation that Jesus was referring to, and this was supposed to become one of the tenets, the foundation in his Church.
Another verse, this time from Exodus, shows the relationship between reincarnation and karma:
" . . . Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:7)
If interpreted literally, this verse presents Jehovah as lacking real mercy; for why should an innocent offspring pay for the sins of its progenitor? The karmic retribution meted out to the children, and the children's children of the above verse refers to the karmic compensation that the reincarnating "Ego" has to pay in subsequent embodiments.
Karma is the Law of Cause and Effect; it is sometimes described as the "law of consequence," the "law of equilibrium." In the scriptures it is the law "As ye sow, so shall ye reap," inculcated by Jesus and Paul to the masses. Jesus declares:
"With what measure you mete it shall be measured to you again." (Matt 7:2)
Jesus is actually implying that we should be responsible for the burden of our sins.
We are also told in Galatians that,
" . . . every man shall bear his own burden." (Gal 6:5)
Every man has to face the consequences of his own deeds, in thought, words, and action. The dogma that one simply has to have faith or believe in Jesus to save oneself from sin is contradicted by the Master's own words. The true teachings of Jesus appeals to us to mature in a spiritual manner and not to be dependent upon another.
In the Book of Jubilees, a work considered apocryphal, it is mentioned how the higher law deals with man:
"With the instrument with which a man killeth his neighbour with the same shall he be killed; after the manner that he wounded him, in like manner shall they deal with him."
Karma is the expression of divine justice and mercy. It is one of the constants of the omniverse that applies and is readily seen working in the world of physics--aside from being a contributing factor of a person's evolution. The law is impersonal, impartial, and does not punish as some people believe--instead it teaches, educates. It makes an individual realize the errors of his deeds and the beneficence of his positive works. It shows an individual the relationship between actions and their consequences. Negative actions being the result of negative effects, positive actions in positive effects. Karma is the tool of God's balancing-out the disturbances in the harmony of the Tao. The Law declares in seemingly harsh terms:
"Vengeance is mine, I will repay . . ." (Romans 12:19)
Each individual in his daily thoughts, speech, and actions creates karma. No being lives without making karma, for no being lives without putting forces into motion in his daily life. To simply breathe is in one sense karmic--for every breath has its influence, its consequential result in the physical body. Karma is a person's self-created fate. A Christian of esotericism has a firm conviction in the existence of the law, for he perceives its workings manifesting daily in his life. To such an individual the dogma "remission of sins" as taught by orthodox Christianity is incompatible with the law of Karma and is seen as a principle invented by the Church to control the minds of the masses. The only prevention of reaping negative results is to avoid putting negative causes into motion. "Ahimsa," or harmlessness, should be a constant expression of the devout--"to turn the other cheek."
Karma binds one to the wheel of birth and rebirth--even the positive causes are no exception, unless one is unattached to one's actions; "vairagya" or detachment is a requisite virtue often advised by Gurus to their chelas to acquire. Being detached from one's actions is the whole theory and practice of Karma Yoga, as taught by the avatara Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. Karma may best be understood through Eastern teachings.
There are basically three types of Karma. Hindu philosophy classify them as follows:
Sattvika Karman, where the results of one's actions are not desired, where one is unattached to them.
Rajasa Karman, where acts are performed sensuously for the desire of their fruits and rewards.
Tamasa Karman, where forces are put into motion out of ignorance, confusion, and delusion, without any real care and concern for the consequences of one's deeds.