THEOSOPHY, Vol. 18, No. 7, May, 1930
(Pages 313-317; Size: 16K)
(Number 7 of a 12-part series)
[Compiler's Note: This series is entirely
"Collated from the writings of H.P.B."]
JESUS: INITIATE AND TEACHER
MORE than ever do we begin to find out, by the bright light of comparative theology, that the great object of Jesus, the initiate of the inner sanctuary, was to open the eyes of the fanatical multitude to the difference between the highest Divinity -- the mysterious and never-mentioned IAO of the ancient Chaldean and later Neo-platonic initiates -- and the Hebrew Yahuh, or Yaho (Jehovah). The modern Rosicrucians, so violently denounced by the Catholics, now find brought against them, as the most important charge, the fact that they accuse Christ of having destroyed the worship of Jehovah. Would to Heaven he could have been allowed the time to do so, for the world would not have found itself still bewildered, after nineteen centuries of mutual massacres, among 300 quarreling sects, and with a personal Devil reigning over a terrorized Christendom!
Hitherto the world has received nothing but sophistry -- believed on blind faith; we ask palpable, tangible evidence of their God's justice and mercy. But all are silent; no answer, no reply, and still the inexorable unerring Law of Compensation proceeds on its unswerving path. If we but watch its progress, we will find that it ignores all creeds, shows no preferences, but its sunlight and its thunderbolts fall alike on heathen and Christian. No absolution can shield the latter when guilty, no anathema hurt the former when innocent.
Away from us such an insulting conception of divine justice as that preached by priests on their own authority. It is fit only for cowards and criminals! If they are backed by a whole array of Fathers and Churchmen, we are supported by the greatest of all authorities, an instinctive and reverential sense of the everlasting and everpresent law of harmony and justice.
But, besides that of reason, we have other evidence to show that such a construction is wholly unwarranted. The Gospels being "Divine revelation," doubtless Christians will regard their testimony as conclusive. Do they affirm that Jesus gave himself as a voluntary sacrifice? On the contrary, there is not a word to sustain the idea. They make it clear that he would rather have lived to continue what he considered his mission, and that he died because he could not help it, and only when betrayed. Before, when threatened with violence, he had made himself invisible by employing the mesmeric power over the bystanders, claimed by every Eastern adept, and escaped. When, finally, he saw that his time had come, he succumbed to the inevitable. But see him in the garden, on the Mount of Olives, writhing in agony until "his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood," praying with fervid supplication that the cup might be removed from him; exhausted by his struggle to such a degree that an angel from heaven had to come and strengthen him; and say if the picture is that of a self-immolating hostage and martyr. To crown all, and leave no lingering doubt in our minds, we have his own despairing words, "NOT MY WILL, but thine, be done!" (Luke xxii. 42, 43.)
One is completely overwhelmed with astonishment upon reading Dr. Lundy's Monumental Christianity. It would be difficult to say whether an admiration for the author's erudition, or amazement at his serene and unparalleled sophistry is stronger. He has gathered a world of facts which prove that the religions, far more ancient than Christianity, of Christna, Buddha, and Osiris had anticipated even its minutest symbols. His materials come from no forged papyri, no interpolated Gospels, but from sculptures on the walls of ancient temples, from monuments, inscriptions, and other archaic relics, only mutilated by the hammers of iconoclasts, the cannon of fanatics, and the effects of time. He shows us Christna and Apollo as good shepherds; Christna holding the cruciform chank and the chakra, and Christna "crucified in space," as he calls it (Monumental Christianity, fig. 72). Of this figure -- borrowed by Dr. Lundy from Moor's Hindu Pantheon --it may be truly said that it is calculated to petrify a Christian with astonishment, for it is the crucified Christ of Romish art to the last degree of resemblance. Not a feature is lacking; and, the author says of it himself: "This representation I believe to be anterior to Christianity ... It looks like a Christian crucifix in many respects ... The drawing, the attitude, the nail-marks in hands and feet, indicate a Christian origin, while the Parthian coronet of seven points, the absence of the wood, and of the usual inscription, and the rays of glory above, would seem to point to some other than a Christian origin. Can it be the victim-man, or the priest and victim both in one, of the Hindu Mythology, who offered himself a sacrifice before the worlds were? Can it be Plato's Second God who impressed himself on the universe in the form of a cross? Or is it his divine man who would be scourged, tormented, fettered; have his eyes burnt out; and lastly ... would be crucified?" (Republic, c. ii., p. 52, Spens. Trans.). It is all that and much more; Archaic Religious Philosophy was universal.
As it is, Dr. Lundy contradicts Moor, and maintains that this figure is that of Wittoba, one of the avatars of Vishnu, hence Christna, and anterior to Christianity, which is a fact not very easily to be put down. And yet although he finds it prophetic of Christianity, he thinks it has no relation whatever to Christ! His only reason is that "in a Christian crucifix the glory always comes from the sacred head; here it is from above and beyond ... The Pundit's Wittoba then, given to Moor, would seem to be the crucified Krishna, the shepherd-god of Mathura ... a Saviour -- the Lord of the Covenant, as well as Lord of Heaven and earth -- pure and impure, light and dark, good and bad, peaceful and warlike, amiable and wrathful, mild and turbulent, forgiving and vindictive, God and a strange mixture of man, but not the Christ of the Gospels."
Now all these qualities must pertain to Jesus as well as to Christna. The very fact that Jesus was a man upon the mother's side -- even though he were a God, implies as much. His behaviour toward the fig-tree, and his self-contradictions, in Matthew, where at one time he promises peace on earth, and at another the sword, etc., are proofs in this direction. Undoubtedly this cut was never intended to represent Jesus of Nazareth. It was Wittoba, as Moor was told, and as moreover the Hindu Sacred Scriptures state, Brahma, the sacrificer who is "at once both sacrificer and victim;" it is "Brahma, victim in His Son Christna, who came to die on earth for our salvation, who Himself accomplishes the solemn sacrifice (of the Sarvameda)." And yet, it is the man Jesus as well as the man Christna, for both were united to their Chrestos.
But we must resume the thread of our narrative with Buddha. Neither he nor Jesus "ever wrote one word of their doctrines."
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John iii. 3). Jesus tells Nicodemus, "That which is born of flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit."
This allusion, so unintelligible in itself, is explained in the Satapa-Brâhmana. It teaches that a man striving after spiritual perfection must have three births: 1st. Physical from his mortal parents; 2d. Spiritual, through religious sacrifice (initiation); 3d. His final birth into the world of spirit -- at death. Though it may seem strange that we should have to go to the old land of the Punjâb and the banks of the sacred Ganges, for an interpreter of words spoken in Jerusalem and expounded on the banks of the Jordan, the fact is evident. This second birth, or regeneration of spirit, after the natural birth of that which is born of the flesh, might have astonished a Jewish ruler. Nevertheless, it had been taught 3,000 years before the appearance of the great Galilean prophet, not only in India, but to all the epoptaoe of the Pagan initiation, who were instructed in the great mysteries of LIFE and DEATH.
Buddha teaches the doctrine of a new birth as plainly as Jesus does. Desiring to break with the ancient Mysteries, to which it was impossible to admit the ignorant masses, the Hindu reformer, though generally silent upon more than one secret dogma, clearly states his thought in several passages. Thus, he says: "Some people are born again; evil-doers go to Hell; righteous people go to Heaven; those who are free from all worldly desires enter Nirvana" (Precepts of the Dhammapada, v., 126). Elsewhere Buddha states that "it is better to believe in a future life, in which happiness or misery can be felt; for if the heart believes therein, it will abandon sin and act virtuously; and even if there is no resurrection, such a life will bring a good name and the regard of men. But those who believe in extinction at death will not fail to commit any sin that they may choose, because of their disbelief in a future." ("Wheel of the Law," p. 54).
The Epistle to the Hebrews treats of the sacrifice of blood. "Where a testament is," says the writer, "there must be of necessity the death of the testator ... Without the shedding of blood is no remission." Then again: "Christ glorified not himself to be made High Priest; but He that said unto him: Thou art my son; TODAY HAVE I BEGOTTEN THEE" (Heb. v. 5). This is a very clear inference, that, 1, Jesus was considered only in the light of a high priest, like Melchisedek -- another avatar, or incarnation of Christ, according to the Fathers; and, 2, that the writer thought that Jesus had become a "Son of God" only at the moment of his initiation by water; hence, that he was not born a god, neither was he begotten physically by Him. Every initiate of the "last hour" became, by the very fact of his initiation, a son of God. When Maxime, the Ephesian, initiated the Emperor Julian into the Mithraïc Mysteries, he pronounced as the usual formula of the rite, the following: "By this blood, I wash thee from thy sins. The Word of the Highest has entered unto thee, and His Spirit henceforth will rest upon the NEWLY-BORN, the now-begotten of the Highest God ... Thou art the son of Mithra." "Thou art the 'Son of God'" repeated the disciples after Christ's baptism.
"Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life," Christ is made to say. "This is a hard saying," repeated his dismayed listeners. The answer was that of an initiate. "Doth this offend you? It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing. The words (remata, or arcane utterances) that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are Life."
Payne Knight believes that Ceres was not a personification of the brute matter which composed the earth, but of the female productive principle supposed to pervade it, which, joined to the active, was held to be the cause of the organization and animation of its substance ... She is mentioned as the wife of the Omnipotent Father, Æther, or Jupiter ("The Symbolical Language of Ancient Art and Mythology," xxxvi.). Hence the words of Christ, "it is the Spirit that quickeneth, flesh profiteth nothing," applied in their dual meaning to both spiritual and terrestrial things, to spirit and matter.
During the Mysteries wine represented Bacchus, and bread Ceres. The hierophant-initiator presented symbolically before the final revelation wine and bread to the candidate who had to eat and drink of both in token that the spirit was to quicken matter, i.e., the divine wisdom was to enter into his body through what was to be revealed to him. Jesus, in his Oriental phraseology, constantly assimilated himself to the true vine (John xv. i). Furthermore, the hierophant, the discloser of Petroma, was called "Father." When Jesus says, "Drink ... this is my blood," what else was meant, it was simply a metaphorical assimilation of himself to the vine, which bears the grape, whose juice is its blood -- wine. It was a hint that as he had himself been initiated by the "Father," so he desired to initiate others. His "Father" was the husbandman, himself the vine, his disciples the branches. His followers being ignorant of the terminology of the Mysteries, wondered; they even took it as an offense, which is not surprising, considering the Mosaic injunction against blood.
(Collated from the writings of H.P.B.)
(To be continued)
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
THE MYSTIC'S SACRIFICE
Be temperate in all things, most of all in the condemnation of other men. It is unwise to be intemperate or drunken with wine. It is equally unwise to be drunken with temperance. Men would gain the powers; or the way of working wonders. Do you know, O man, what the powers of the Mystic are? Do you know that for each gift of this kind he gives a part of himself. That it is only with mental anguish, earthly sorrow, and almost his heart's blood, these gifts are gained?
--William Q. Judge
JESUS: INITIATE AND TEACHER
(Part 8 of a 12-part series)
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