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A NEW MODEL OF THE UNIVERSE
CHAPTER IV
CHRISTIANITY AND THE NEW TESTAMENT

by P.D. Ouspensky

[Note: this is being made available online on thin the understanding that A New Model of the Universe is in the public domain in the USA. Recent editions have been published by Dover Publishing and Kessinger Books on this basis. If A New Model is still in copyright in the USA, I will remove this page.]

The idea of esotericism occupies a very important place in Christian teaching and in the New Testament if these are properly understood.
But in order to understand both the one and the other it is first of all necessary to separate strictly what relates to esotericism (or, more exactly, that in which the esoteric idea occupies the chief place) and what does not relate to esotericism, that is, does not follow from the esoteric idea.
In the New Testament the esoteric idea occupies the chief place in the four Gospels. The same can be said of the Revelation of St. John. But, with the exception of several passages, the esoteric ideas in the Apocalypse are "enciphered "still more than in the Gospels and in their ciphered parts they do not enter into the following examination.
The Acts and the Epistles are works of a quite different specific gravity from the four Gospels. In them esoteric ideas are met, but these ideas do not occupy in them a predominant place, and they could exist without these ideas.
The four Gospels are written for the few, for the very few, for the pupils of esoteric schools. However intelligent and educated in the ordinary sense a man may be, he will not understand the Gospels without special indications and without special esoteric knowledge.
At the same time it is necessary to note that the four Gospels are the sole source from which we know of Christ and of his teaching. The Acts and the "Epistles "of the Apostles add several essential features, but they also introduce a great deal that does not exist in the Gospels and that contradicts the Gospels. In any case from the Epistles it would not be possible to reconstruct either the person of Christ, or the Gospel drama, or the essence of the Gospel teaching.
The Epistles of the Apostles, and especially the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, are the building of the Church. They are the adaptation of the ideas of the Gospels, the materialisation of them, the application of them to life, very often an application which goes against the esoteric idea.
The addition of the Acts and the Epistles to the four Gospels in the New Testament has a dual meaning. First (from the point of view of the Church), it gives the possibility to the Church, which in fact originates from the Epistles, to establish connection with the Gospels and with the "drama of Christ". And, second, (from the point of view of esotericism) it gives the possibility to a few men, who begin with Church Christianity, but are capable of understanding the esoteric idea, to come into touch with the first source and perhaps to succeed in finding the hidden truth.
Historically the chief role in the formation of Christianity was played not by the teaching of Christ but by the teaching of Paul. Church Christianity from the very beginning contradicted in many respects the ideas of Christ himself. Later, the divergence became still wider. It is by no means a new idea that Christ, if born on earth later, not only could not be the head of the Christian Church, but probably would not be able even to belong to it, and in the most brilliant periods of the might and power of the Church would most certainly have been declared a heretic and burned at the stake. Even in our more enlightened times, when the Christian Churches, if they have not lost their anti-Christian features, have at any rate begun to conceal them, Christ could have lived without suffering the persecutions of the "scribes and Pharisees "perhaps only somewhere in a Russian hermitage.
Thus the New Testament, and also Christian teaching, cannot be taken as one whole. It must be remembered that later cults deviate very sharply from the fundamental teaching of Christ himself, which in the first place was never a cult.
Further, it is certainly not possible to speak of "Christian countries", "Christian nations", "Christian culture". In reality all these concepts have only a historico geographical meaning.
On the basis of the above propositions, in speaking of the New Testament I shall from now on have in view only the four Gospels and on two or three occasions the Apocalypse.
And in speaking of Christianity or of Christian (or Gospel) teaching, I shall have in view only the teaching which is contained in the four Gospels. All later additions, based on the Epistles of the Apostles, on decisions of the councils, on works of Fathers of the Church, on visions of mystics and on ideas of reformers, are not included within the limits of my subject.
The New Testament is a very strange book. It is written for those who already have a certain degree of understanding, for those who possess a key. It is the greatest mistake to think that the New Testament is a simple book, and that it is intelligible to the simple and humble. It is impossible to read it simply just as it is impossible to read simply a book of mathematics, full of formulae, special expressions, open and hidden references to mathematical literature, allusions to different theories known only to the "initiated", and so on. At the same time there are in the New Testament a number of passages which can be understood emotionally, that is, which can produce a certain emotional impression, different for different people, or even for the same man at different moments of his life. But it is certainly wrong to think that these emotional impressions exhaust the whole content of the Gospels. Every phrase, every word, contains hidden ideas, and it is only when one begins to bring these hidden ideas to light, that the power of this book and its influence on people, which has lasted for two thousand years, becomes clear.
It is remarkable that by his attitude to the New Testament, by the way in which he reads it, by what he understands in it, by what he deduces from it, every man shows himself. The New Testament is a general examination for the whole of humanity. In cultured countries of the present day everyone has heard of the New Testament; for this it is not necessary to be officially a Christian. A certain knowledge of the New Testament and Christianity enters into general education. And every man by the way in which he reads the New Testament, by what he derives from it, by what he fails to derive, by the fact that he does not read it at all, shows the level of his development and his inner state.
In each of the four Gospels there are many things consciously thought out and based on great knowledge and deep understanding of the human soul. Certain passages are written with the definite calculation that one man should understand them in one way, another in another way and a third in a third way, and that these men should never be able to agree as to the interpretation and understanding of what they had read; and that at the same time all of them should be equally wrong, and the true meaning consist of something which would never even occur to them of themselves.
A mere literary analysis of the style and content of the four Gospels shows the immense power of these narratives. They were written consciously for a definite purpose by men who knew more than they wrote. The Gospels tell us in a direct and exact way of the existence of esoteric thought, and they are in themselves one of the chief literary evidences of the existence of this thought. What meaning and what aim may such a book have if we assume that it is written consciously? Probably, not one but many aims; but first of all, indisputably, the aim of showing men that there is only one way to hidden knowledge, if they wish and are able to go by that way. To speak more exactly, this aim could be to show the way to those who can go by this way, and in showing the way to make a selection of those who are fit for it, to divide people into suitable and unsuitable, from this point of view.
The Christian teaching is a very stern religion, infinitely far removed from the sentimental Christianity that is created by modern preachers. Through all the teaching, in its true meaning, there runs the idea that the "Kingdom of Heaven", whatever these words may mean, belongs to the few, that strait is the gate and narrow is the way, and only few can pass through and thus attain "salvation", and that those who do not go in are but chaff which will be burned.
And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Whose fan is in his hand and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matt. 3. 10, 12).
The idea of the exclusiveness and difficulty of "salvation "is so definite and so often emphasised in the Gospels, that all the lies and hypocrisy of modern Christianity are indeed necessary in order to forget it and to attribute to Christ the sentimental idea of general salvation. These ideas are as far from true Christianity as the role of social reformer, which also is sometimes attributed to Christ, is from Christ.
Still farther from Christianity is of course the religion of "Hell and Sin "adopted by narrow sectarians of a particular kind who have at one time or another appeared in all branches of Christianity, but most of all in Protestantism.
In speaking of the New Testament, it is first of all necessary to establish one's views, even if only approximately, as to the existing versions of the text and the history of the Gospels.
There are no grounds whatever for supposing that the Gospels were written by the persons to whom they are ascribed, that is, by immediate disciples of Jesus. It is a much more likely supposition that all four Gospels had a very different history and were written much later than is assumed in the official church explanations. It is very probable that the Gospels appeared as the result of the joint work of many persons, who perhaps collected manuscripts, which circulated among followers of the apostles and contained records of the miraculous events which had occurred in Judea. But at the same time there is ample ground for thinking that these collections of manuscripts were edited by men who pursued a perfectly definite aim and who foresaw the enormous diffusion and significance which the New Testament was to attain.
The Gospels differ very much from one another. The first, that is, the Gospel of St. Matthew, can be considered as the principal. There is a supposition that it was originally written in Aramaic, that is, in the language in which Christ is supposed to have spoken, and that it was translated into Greek about the end of the first century, though there are also other suppositions, for instance, that Christ taught the people in Greek, as the Greek language was spoken in the Judea of that time equally with Aramaic. The Gospels of St. Mark and St. Luke were compiled from the same material as that which served for the Gospel according to St. Matthew. There is great probability in Renan's assertions that both these Gospels were written in Greek.
St. John's Gospel, which was written later, is of an entirely different kind. It also was written in Greek and probably by a Greek, certainly not by a Jew. One small feature points to this. In all cases in which in the other Gospels it is said "the people", in St. John's Gospel it is said "Jews".
Or for instance, the following explanation, which could in no circumstances have been made by a Jew:
Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury (John 19. 40).
St. John's Gospel is a quite exceptional literary work. It is written with tremendous emotional upheaval. And it can produce an utterly inexpressible impression on a man who is himself in a highly emotional state. It is not possible to read St. John's Gospel intellectually. There is a great deal of the emotional element also in the other Gospels, but it is possible to understand them with the mind. St. John's Gospel cannot be understood by the mind at all. One feels in it an emotional excitement on the level of ecstasy. In this excited state a man rapidly speaks or writes certain words or phrases full of deep meaning for him and full of meaning for people who are in the same state as he, but entirely devoid of any sense for people who listen with ordinary hearing and think with ordinary mind. It is difficult to make such an experiment, but if anyone happens to read St. John's Gospel while in a highly emotional state, he will understand what is said there and will realise that this is a quite exceptional work, which cannot be measured by ordinary standards or judged on the level of books which are written intellectually and can be read and understood intellectually.
The text of all four Gospels in modern language is rather corrupt, but less so than might be expected. The text was undoubtedly corrupted in transcription in the early centuries and later, during our times, in translation. The original authentic text has not been preserved, but if we compare the present translations with the existing older texts, Greek, Latin and Church-Slavonic, we notice a difference of a quite definite character. The alterations and distortions are all similar to one another. Their psychological nature is always identical, that is, in every case in which an alteration is noticed it can be seen that the translator or scribe did not understand the text; something was too difficult, too abstract, for him. So he corrected it very slightly, adding one little word, and in this way giving to the text in question a clear and logical meaning on the level of his own understanding. This fact does not allow of the slightest doubt and can be verified in the later translations.
The oldest known texts, that is, the Greek and the first Latin translations, are much more abstract than the later translations. There is much in the earlier texts that is found in the form of an abstract idea, which in the later translations has become a concrete image, a concrete figure.
The most interesting transformation of this kind has occurred with the devil. In many passages in the Gospels where we are accustomed to meet him, he is entirely absent from the early texts. In the Lord's Prayer, for instance, which has entered profoundly into the habitual thought of the ordinary man, the words "deliver us from evil "in the English and German translations correspond to the Greek and Latin texts; but in Church-Slavonic and Russian it is "deliver us from the sly one "; in French (in some translations) it is: "mais délivre nous du Malin "; and in Italian: "ma liberaci dal maligno".
The difference between the first early Latin translation and the later translation edited by Theodore Beza (16th century) is very characteristic in this respect. In the first translation the phrase reads "sed libera nos a malo", but in the second, "sed libera nos ab illo improbo "( "from the wicked one ").
Speaking generally, the whole Gospel mythology has been very greatly altered. "The Devil", that is, the slanderer or tempter, was in the original text simply a name or description which could be applied to any "slanderer "or "tempter". And it is possible to suppose that these names were often used to designate the visible, deceptive, illusory, phenomenal world, "Maya". But we are too much under the influence of mediaeval demonology. And it is difficult for us to understand that in the New Testament there is no general idea of the devil. There is the idea of evil, the idea of temptation, the idea of demons, the idea of the unclean spirit, the idea of the prince of the demons; there is Satan who tempted Jesus; but all these ideas are separate and distinct from one another, always allegorical and very far from the mediaeval conception of the Devil. In the fourth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, in the scene of the temptation in the wilderness, Christ says to the devil according to the Greek text, ***, "go after me", and according to the Church-Slavonic text, "follow me". But in the Russian, English, French and Italian texts this is translated: "Get thee hence, Satan". In the ninth verse after this (Matt. 4. 19) Christ says to the fishermen whom he found by the lake casting their nets, almost the same words: "Go after me", or "follow me "; in Greek, ***. This similarity in addressing the "devil "who tempted Jesus, and the fishermen whom Jesus took as his disciples and promised to make "fishers of men", must have a definite meaning. But to the translator it of course looked an absurdity. Why should Christ wish the devil to follow him? The result was the famous phrase
. . . that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height (Ephesians 3. 17, 18).
These strange words, of unquestionably esoteric origin, which speak of the cognition of the dimensions of space, were certainly not understood by the translator, and in the French translation he inserted the little word en which gave the meaning: . . . et qu'étant enracinés et fondes dans la charité vous puissiez com-prendre, avec tous les saints, quelle en est la largeur, la longueur, la profondeur, et la hauteur. that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is its breadth, and length, and depth, and height.
The above examples show the character of the distortions of the Gospel texts in translations. But in general they are not very important.
The idea which is sometimes met in modern occult teachings, that the existing text of the Gospels is not complete and that there is (or was) another, complete, text, has no basis in fact and will not be taken into consideration in what follows.
Further, in studying the New Testament it is necessary to separate the legendary element, which is often borrowed from the life stories of other Messiahs and Prophets, from the narration of the actual life of Jesus, and then to separate the legends and events described in it from the teaching.
The "drama of Christ "and its relation to the Mysteries have already been referred to. At the very beginning of this drama appears the enigmatic figure of John the Baptist. The most obscure passages in the New Testament refer to John the Baptist. There are teachings which regard him as the chief figure in the whole drama and relegate Christ to a secondary place. But too little is definitely known about these teachings to make it possible to base anything on them, and, further, the drama which was played in Judea will be spoken of as the "drama of Christ".
The events in Judea which ended with the death of Jesus occupied a very small place in the life of the peoples of that time. It is a well-known fact that nobody except the immediate participants knew of these events. No historical evidence that Jesus actually existed is extant besides the Gospels.
The Gospel tragedy acquired its meaning, significance and magnitude only gradually, as the teaching of Christ grew and expanded. In this a great part was played by oppressions and persecutions. But evidently there was something in the tragedy itself and in the teaching associated with it and arising from it, which distinguished both the one and the other from ordinary sectarian movements. This something was the connection with the Mysteries.
The legendary side introduces into the life of Christ many entirely conventional figures and, as it were, stylises him as a prophet, a teacher or a Messiah. These legends adapted to Christ are drawn from the most varied sources. There are Indian, Buddhist and Old Testament legends, and there are features taken from Greek myths.
The "massacre of the innocents "and the "flight into Egypt "are features taken from the life of Moses. The "Annunciation", that is, the appearance of the angel who announced the coming birth of Christ, is a feature from the life of Buddha. In the history of Buddha it was a white elephant which descended from the heavens and announced to Queen Maya the coming birth of Prince Gautama.
There follows the feature of the old man Simeon waiting for the infant Jesus in the temple and saying that now he might die since he had seen the newly born Saviour of the world-- "Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace". This is an episode taken entirely from the story of the life of Buddha.
When Buddha was born, Asita, an aged hermit, came down from the Himalayas to Kapilavastu. Coming to the court he made sacrifices at the feet of the child. Then Asita walked three times round the child and taking him in his hands, recognised in him the 32 signs of Buddha-hood, which he saw with his opened inner sight. [Footnote: Jatâkamâla, by M. M. Higgins, Colombo, 1914, p. 205.]
The strangest legend connected with Christ, which for a long time was a point of disagreement between different schools and sects in the growing Christianity and finally became the basis of the dogmatic teachings of almost all Christian creeds, is the legend of the birth of Jesus by the virgin Mary direct of God himself. This legend arose later than the text of the Gospels. Christ called himself the son of God or the son of man; he continually spoke of God as his father; he said that he and the father are one; that whoever obeys him, obeys his father also, and so forth. Yet Christ's own words do not create the legend, do not create the myth; they can be understood allegorically and mystically in the sense that Christ felt oneness with God, or felt God in himself. And above all they can be understood in the sense that every man can become the son of God if he obeys the will and laws of God.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ says:
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God (R.V. Matt. 5.9). And in another place:
Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you;
That ye may be sons of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust (R.V. Matt. 5. 43-45).
This translation agrees with the Greek, Latin, French and Russian translations. In the English Authorised Version, and also in the German, there stands "the children of God "and "the children of your father". But this is a result of the adaptation of the Gospel text by theologians for their own purposes.
These texts show that originally the expression "Son of God "had an entirely different meaning from that given to it later.
The myth of Christ being the son of God in the literal sense was created gradually during several centuries. And although the dogmatic Christian would certainly deny the pagan origin of this idea, it is undoubtedly taken from Greek mythology.
In no other religion are there such definite relations between gods and men as in the Greek myths. All the demi-gods, Titans and heroes of Greece were always direct sons of gods. In India gods themselves were incarnated in mortals, or descended on earth and assumed for a time the form of men or animals. But regarding great men as sons of gods is a purely Greek form of thinking (which later passed to Rome) of the relation between gods and their messengers on earth.
And strange though it is, this idea of the Greek myths passed into Christianity and became its chief dogma.
In dogmatic Christianity Christ is the son of God in exactly the same sense as Hercules was the son of Zeus or as Aesclepius was the son of Apollo. [Footnote: Plato also was called a son of Apollo. Alexander the Great in the temple of Jupiter Ammon in Egypt was declared to be a son of Jupiter and he accordingly disavowed his father Philip of Macedonia and was recognised by the Egyptians as a son of God. Justin Martyr, in his "First Apology addressed to the emperor Hadrian, writes:
The son of God called Jesus, even if only a man by ordinary generation, yet on account of his wisdom is worthy to be called son of God . . . and if we affirm that he was born of a virgin, accept this in common with what you accept of Perseus (Mysticism and the Creed, by W. F. Coob (Macmillan, 1914), p. 144).]
The erotic element, which in Greek myths very strongly permeated the idea of the birth of men or demi-gods from gods, is absent in the Christian myth, just as it is absent in the myth of the birth of Prince Gautama. This fact is connected with the very characteristic "denial of sex "in Buddhism and in Christianity, the causes of which are as yet far from being clear.
But it is beyond doubt that Christ has become the son of God according to the "pagan "idea.
Apart from the influence of Greek myths, Christ had to become a god in accordance with the general idea of the Mysteries.
The death of the god and his resurrection were the fundamental ideas of the Mysteries.
At the present time there are attempts to explain the idea of the death of the god in the Mysteries as a survival of the still more ancient custom of the "murder of kings "(The Golden Bough, by Sir J. G. Frazer. Part III). These explanations are connected with the general tendency of "evolutionary "thought to look for the origin of complex and incomprehensible manifestations in manifestations that are more simple, primitive or even pathological. From all that has been said earlier about esotericism, however, it should be clear that this tendency leads nowhere and that on the contrary more simple and primitive, or even criminal, customs are usually a degenerated form of forgotten sacraments and rites of a very high nature.
The second place in importance in "theological "Christianity, after the idea of the sonship and divinity of Christ, is occupied by the idea of redemption and of the sacrifice of Christ.
The idea of redemption and sacrifice, which became the basis of dogmatic Christianity, appears in the New Testament in the following words: The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (John I. 29).
Thus Jesus was associated with the paschal lamb, which was a sin-offering.
In the Gospels the sacrifice of Christ is most spoken of in St. John. The other evangelists also make reference to sacrifice and redemption, for example, the words of Christ:
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many (Matt. 20. 28).
But all these and similar passages beginning with the words of John the Baptist and ending with the words of Christ himself, have a very wide allegorical and abstract meaning.
The idea was made concrete only in the Epistles, mainly in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul. It was necessary to explain the death of Jesus and it was necessary to explain his death at the same time indicating that he was the son of God and himself God. The idea of the Mysteries and of the "drama of Christ "could never be made common property, because for the explanation of it there were neither words nor understanding, not even in those who would have to explain it. It was necessary to find a nearer, a more comprehensible, idea, which would have given the possibility of explaining to the crowd why God had allowed worthless and criminal people to torture and kill himself. The explanation was found in the idea of concrete redemption. It was said that Jesus did this for men, that having sacrificed himself, he freed men from their sins; later it was added-- from the original sin, from the sin of Adam.
The idea of redemptive sacrifice was understandable to the Jews, for it played a great part in the Old Testament in ritualistic offerings and ceremonies. There was a rite performed on the "Day of Atonement", when one he-goat was killed as a sin offering for the sins of the people, and another he-goat was smeared with the blood of the goat that had been killed, and driven into the wilderness or cast down a precipice.
The idea of God sacrificing himself for the salvation of men exists also in Indian mythology. The god Shiva drank the poison which was to poison the whole of mankind; therefore many of his statues have the throat painted blue.
Religious ideas travelled from one country to another, and this feature, that is, concrete sacrifice for men, might have been attributed to Jesus in the same way as the features from the life of Buddha which were mentioned before.
The connecting of the idea of redemption with the idea of the transference of evil, as is done by the author of the above-mentioned book. The Golden Bough, has no foundation whatever.
The magical ceremony of the transference of evil has psychologically nothing in common with the idea of voluntary sacrifice. But of course this distinction can have no meaning for evolutionary thought, which does not enter into such fine distinctions.
The Old Testament idea of atonement contradicts esoteric thought. In esoteric teachings it is made perfectly clear that no one can be liberated from sin by compulsion and without his own participation. Men were and are now in such a position that in order to show them the way to liberation very great sacrifice is necessary. Christ showed the way to liberation. And he says it direct:
I am the way (John 14. 6).
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture (John 10. 9).
And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14. 4, 5, 6).
Then said they unto him. Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them. Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning (John 8. 25).

In order to begin to understand the Gospels and the Gospel teaching it is necessary first of all to understand what the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God means. These expressions are the key to the most important part of the Gospel teaching. Unless they are rightly understood, nothing can be understood. At the same time we are so accustomed to the usual, church, interpretation that the Kingdom of Heaven means either the place or the state in which the souls of the just will find themselves after death, that we do not even imagine the possibility of another understanding of these words. The words of the Gospel "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you "sound for us hollow and unintelligible, and they not only do not explain the principal idea, but are more likely to obscure it. Men do not understand that within them lies the way to the Kingdom of Heaven and that the Kingdom of Heaven does not necessarily lie beyond the threshold of death. The Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God, means esotericism, that is, the inner circle of humanity, and also the knowledge and the ideas of this circle. The French occultist-writer. Abbe Constant, the strange and sometimes very clever Eliphas Lévi, writes in his book, Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie (1861):
After passing our life in the search for the Absolute in religion, science and justice; after revolving in the circle of Faust, we have reached the primal doctrine and the first book of Humanity. At this point we pause having discovered the secret of human omnipotence and indefinite progress, the key of all symbolisms, the first and final doctrine: have come to understand what was meant by the expression so often made use of in the Gospel--The Kingdom of God. [Footnote: Transcendental Magic, translated by A. E. Waite, 1923 edition, p. 27.]
And in another place in the same book Eliphas Levi says:
Magic which the men of old denominated the Sanctum Regnum, the Holy Kingdom or Kingdom of God, Regnum Dei--exists only for kings and for priests. Are you priests? Are you kings?
The priesthood of Magic is not a vulgar priesthood and its royalty enters not into competition with the princes of this world. The monarchs of science are the princes of truth and their sovereignty is hidden from the multitude, like their prayers and sacrifices. The kings of science are the men who know the truth and whom the truth has made free, according to the specific promise given by the most mighty of all initiators (John 8. 32).[Footnote: Transcendental Magie, translated by A. E.Waite, 1923; edition, p. 34.] Further he says:
To attain the Sanctum Regnum, in other words, the knowledge and power of the Magi, there are four indispensable conditions--an intelligence illuminated by study, an intrepidity which nothing can check, a will which cannot be broken, and a prudence which nothing can corrupt and nothing intoxicate. To KNOW, TO DARE, TO WILL, TO KEEP SILENCE,--such are the four words of the Magus . . . which can be combined after four manners and explained four times by one another. [Footnote: Transcendental Magie, translated by A. E.Waite, 1923; edition, p. 37.]
Eliphas Lévi noted a fact which has struck many who have studied the New Testament both before and after him, namely that the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God means esotericism, the inner circle of humanity.
It does not mean a Kingdom in Heaven, but a Kingdom under the power of Heaven, under the laws of Heaven. The expression the "Kingdom of Heaven "in relation to the esoteric circle has exactly the same meaning as had the old official title of China, "The Celestial Empire". It did not mean an Empire in Heaven, but an Empire under the direct power of Heaven, under the laws of Heaven. Theologians have distorted the meaning of the Kingdom of Heaven, have connected it with the idea of Paradise, "Heaven", that is, of the place or condition in which, according to them, the souls of the just find themselves after death. In fact it can be seen quite clearly in the Gospels that Christ in his preaching spoke of the Kingdom of God on earth, and in the Gospels there are very definite passages showing that, as he taught, the Kingdom of Heaven can be attained during life.
Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom (Matt. 16. 28).
It is very interesting to note here that Christ speaks of his "kingdom "and at the same time calls himself the "Son of man", that is to say, simply a man.
Further, in St. Mark he says:
Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power (Mark 9. 1).
And in St. Luke:
But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God (Luke 9. 27).
These passages were understood in the sense of the nearness of the second advent. But in this sense all their meaning was naturally lost when all Christ's personal disciples had died. But from the point of view of esoteric understanding these passages have preserved in our times the same meaning that they had in the time of Christ.
The New Testament is an introduction to the hidden knowledge or the secret wisdom. There are several definite lines of thought which can be seen quite clearly in it. All that follows refers to the two chief lines.
One line sets forth the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven or the esoteric circle and its knowledge; this line emphasises the difficulty and exclusiveness of apprehending truth. And the other line shows what men must do in order to approach truth, and what they must not do, that is, what can help them and what can hinder them; the methods and rules of study and work on oneself; occult and school rules.
To the first line belongs the saying that the approach to truth requires exceptional efforts and exceptional conditions. Only a few can approach truth. No phrase is more often repeated in the New Testament than the saying that only those who have ears can hear. These words are repeated nine times in the Gospels, and eight times in the Revelation of St. John, seventeen times in all.
The idea that it is necessary to know how to hear and see, and to be able to hear and see, and that not everyone can hear and see, is also brought out in the following passages:
Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand, And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have dosed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them (Matt. 13. 13-17).

That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them (Mark 4. 12).
Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?(Mark 8. 18).

And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand (Luke 8. 10).
Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my
word. He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God (John 8. 43, 47).
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now (John 16. 12).
All these passages refer to the first line, which explains the meaning of the Kingdom of Heaven as belonging to the few, i.e. the idea of the inner circle of humanity or the idea of esotericism.
The second line refers to the disciples.
The mistake of the usual, church, interpretations is that what refers to "esotericism "is regarded as referring to the future life, and what refers to the "disciples "is regarded as referring to all men.
It must be further noted that the different lines of thought are intermixed in the Gospels. Often one and the same passage refers to different lines. Often different passages, or passages formulated differently, express one idea, refer to one and the same line. Sometimes passages that succeed one another and apparently follow from one another, refer in fact to entirely different ideas.
There are passages, for example "be ye as little children", which have dozens of different meanings at the same time. Our mind refuses to conceive, refuses to comprehend, these meanings. Even if we write down these different meanings when they are explained to us, or when we ourselves arrive at an understanding of them, and afterwards read the notes made at different times, they seem to us cold and empty, having no meaning, because our mind cannot simultaneously grasp more than two or three meanings of one idea.
In addition to this there are many strange words in the New Testament, the meanings of which we do not really know, such as "faith", "mercy", "redemption", "sacrifice", "prayer", "alms". "blindness", "poverty", "riches", "life", "death", "birth", and many others.
If we succeed in understanding the hidden meaning of these words and expressions, the general content at once becomes clear and intelligible and often completely opposite to what is usually supposed.
In what follows, I shall deal only with the two above-mentioned lines of thought. Thus the interpretation which I give here will in no way exhaust the contents of the Gospel teaching and will aim only at showing the possibility of explaining some of the Gospel ideas in connection with the ideas of esotericism and "hidden wisdom".
If we read the Gospels bearing in mind that the Kingdom of Heaven means the inner circle of humanity, everything at once acquires for us new sense and meaning.
John the Baptist says:
Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt. 3. 2).
And he says immediately afterwards that men must not hope to receive the Kingdom of Heaven remaining as they are, that this is in no way their right, that in reality they deserve something quite different.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, 0 generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham (Matt. 3. 7-9).
John the Baptist emphasised with extraordinary power the idea that the Kingdom of Heaven is attained only by a few who deserve it. For the rest, for those who do not deserve it, he leaves no hope.

And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire (Matt. 3. 10).
And further on, speaking of Christ, he pronounces words which are forgotten more than any others:
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will bum up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matt. 3. 12).
Jesus, in speaking of the Kingdom of Heaven, several times points out the exceptional significance of the preaching of John the Baptist:
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force (Matt. 11. 12).
The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the Kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it (Luke 16. 16).
Jesus himself, when beginning to preach the Kingdom of Heaven, uses the same words as were spoken by John:
Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt. 4. 17). In the Sermon on the Mount he says:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5. 3).
Poor in spirit is a very enigmatic expression, which has always been wrongly interpreted and has given ground for the most incredible distortions of the ideas of Christ. "Poor in spirit "of course does not mean weak in spirit, and certainly does not mean poor, that is, destitute in the material sense. In their true meaning these words contain the Buddhist idea of non-attachment to things. A man who by the strength of his spirit makes himself non-attached to things, as though destitute, that is, when things have for him as little meaning as if he had not had them and had not known about them, will be poor in spirit.
This non-attachment is a necessary condition for approaching esotericism or the Kingdom of Heaven.
Further on Jesus says:
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5. 10). This is the second condition. The disciple of Christ might expect to be "persecuted for righteousness' sake". People of the "outer circle "hate and persecute people of the "inner circle", particularly those who come to help them. And Jesus says:
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake,
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven:
for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you (Matt. 5. 11, 12). He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep
it unto life eternal (John 12. 25). If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you (John 15. 18-20).
They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service (John 16. 2).
These passages very definitely emphasise the inaccessibility of esoteric ideas for the majority, for the crowd.
All these passages contain a very definite foreseeing of the results of the preaching of Christianity. But generally this is understood as the foreseeing of the persecutions for the preaching of Christianity among the heathen, while in reality Jesus certainly meant the persecutions for the preaching of esoteric Christianity among pseudo-Christians, or for endeavours to preserve esoteric truths in the midst of a church Christianity that was becoming more and more distorted.
In the next chapter Jesus speaks of the meaning of esotericism and the way to it, and clearly emphasises the difference between esoteric values and earthly values.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth
corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust
doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things
shall be added unto you (Matt. 6. 19, 20, 21, 24, 33).
These passages again are understood too simply, in the sense of opposing the ordinary earthly desires for possessions and power to the desire for eternal salvation. Jesus was of course much more subtle than that, and in warning against amassing treasures on earth he certainly warned against outward religious forms and outward piety and outward saintliness, which later became the aim of church Christianity.
In the next chapter Jesus speaks of the necessity for guarding the ideas of esotericism and not giving them forth indiscriminately, for there are people to whom these ideas in their essence are inaccessible, who, in so far as they can grasp them, will inevitably distort them, make wrong use of them and turn them against those who are trying to give them these ideas.
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you (Matt. 7. 6).
But immediately after this Jesus shows that esotericism is not hidden from those who really seek it.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matt. 7. 7-11).
There follows further a very significant warning. The idea of it is that it is better not to enter upon the path of esotericism, better not to begin the work of inner purification, than to begin and abandon it, to set out and turn back, or to begin in a right way and then to distort everything.
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through
dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.
And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and
taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked
than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state
of that man is worse than the first (Luke 11. 24-26). This again may have reference to church Christianity, which may represent a house swept and garnished. And further Jesus speaks of the difficulty of the path and of possible mistakes.
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven (Matt. 7. 13, 14 and 21).
Esotericism here is called "life". This is particularly interesting in comparison with other passages, which speak of ordinary life as "death "and of people as the "dead".
In these passages one can see the relationship between the inner circle and the outer circle, that is, how large is the one, the outer, and how small the other, the inner. In another place Jesus says that the "small "can be greater than the "large".
And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?
It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:
But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it (Mark 4. 30-32).
The next chapter speaks of the difficulty of approaching esotericism and of the fact that esotericism does not give earthly blessings and sometimes even contradicts worldly forms and obligations.
And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead (Matt. 8. 19-22).
At the end of the following chapter mention is made of the great need in which people stand of help from the inner circle, and of the difficulty of helping them.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few:
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest (Matt. 9. 36 ,8).
In the next chapter instructions are set out to the disciples as to what their work must consist in.
And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt. 10. 7).
What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops (Matt. 10. 27).
But immediately after this Jesus adds that the preaching of esotericism gives results quite different from those which, from the point of view of ordinary life, the disciples may expect. Jesus explains that by his preaching of the esoteric doctrine he has brought men anything but peace and tranquillity, and that truth divides men more than anything else, again because only few can receive truth.
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace,
but a sword.
For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter
against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me (Matt. 10.
34-37).
The last verse is again the Buddhist idea that a man must not be "attached "to anyone or anything. ( "Attachment "in this case certainly does not mean "sympathy "or "affection "in the sense in which these words are used in modern languages). "Attachment "in the Buddhist (and in the Gospel) sense of the word means a small, selfish and slavish feeling. This is not "love "at all, since a man may hate that to which he is attached, may try to free himself and not be able to do so. "Attachment "to things, to people, even to one's father and mother, is the chief obstacle on the way to esotericism.
Further on this idea is emphasised still more.
Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for
the press.
And it was told him by certain which said. Thy mother and thy brethren stand
without, desiring to see thee.
And he answered and said unto them. My mother and my brethren are these
which hear the word of God, and do it (Luke 8. 19-21).
After this Jesus begins to speak of the Kingdom of Heaven in parables. The first is that of the sower.
And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying. Behold, a sower
went forth to sow;
And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and
devoured them up:
Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith
they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root,
they withered away.
And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them.
But others fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an
hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
Who hath ears to hear, let him hear (Matt. 13. 3-9).
This parable, which contains a complete and exact description of the preaching of esotericism and of all its possible results, and bears a direct relation to the preaching of Christ himself, is almost the central of all the parables.
The meaning of this parable is perfectly clear. It refers, of course, to esoteric ideas, to the ideas of the "Kingdom of Heaven", which are received and understood only by very few people and for the immense majority disappear without leaving any trace.
And this parable again ends with the words, "who hath ears to hear, let him hear".
In the subsequent conversation with the disciples Jesus points out the difference between the disciples and other people.
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in
parables?
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given (Matt. 13. 10, 11).
This is the beginning of the explanations referring to a "school "and "school methods". As will be seen later, much of what is said in the Gospel was intended only for the disciples and has meaning only in a school, and only in connection with other school methods and requirements.
In this connection Jesus speaks of a psychological and perhaps even cosmic law, which seems incomprehensible without explanations, but the explanations are not set out in the Gospel, though of course they were given to the disciples.
For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath (Matt. 13. 12).
Then Jesus returns to parables; i.e. to the idea of parables.
Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand (Matt. 13. 13).
And the same in St. Luke:
Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand (Luke 8. 10).
He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them (Isaiah 6. 10; John 12. 40).
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their
eyes they have dosed . . .
But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I
say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men
have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them (Matt. 13. 15 17).
Teaching by parables was most characteristic of Christ. Renan finds that in the literature of Judaism there was nothing that could serve as a model for this form.
Renan writes:
It is particularly in the parable that the master excelled. Nothing in Judaism had given him a model for this delightful form. It is he who created it.
C'est surtout dans la parabole que le maître excellait. Rien dans le Judaisme ne lui avait donné le modèle de ce genre délicieux. C'est lui qui l'a créé.[Footnote: Vie de Jésus, par E. Renan (Nelson Editeurs), p. 116. 2 Ibid., p. 116.]
Later, with the astounding inconsequence which characterises all the "positivist "thought of the 19th century, and particularly Renan himself, he adds:
It is true that one finds in Buddhist books parables of exactly the same tone and the same composition as the Gospel parables. But it is difficult to admit that a Buddhist influence was exerted in this.
Il est vrai qu'on trouve dans les livres bouddhiques des paraboles exactement du même ton et de la même facture que les paraboles évangel-iques. Mais il est difficile d'admettre qu'une influence bouddhique se soit exercée en ceci.2
In fact, the Buddhist influence in parables is beyond any doubt. And parables, more than anything else, show that Christ was acquainted with Eastern teachings and particularly with Buddhism. Renan generally tries to represent Christ as a very naive man, who felt much, but thought little and knew little. Renan was but the expression of his own times and of the views of his epoch. The characteristic quality of European thought is that we can only think in extremes. Either Christ is God, or Christ is a naive man. For the same reason we fail to notice the subtleties of psychological distinctions which Christ introduces into his parables and explanations of them.
The explanations of the parables which Christ gives to his disciples are not less interesting than the parables themselves.
Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or
persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and
the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he
becometh unfruitful (Matt. 13. 18-22). Next comes the parable of the tares:
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is
likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and
went his way.
But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the
tares also.
So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not
thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him,
Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye
gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say
to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn
them: but gather the wheat into my barn (Matt. 13. 24-30).
The parable of the sower and that of the tares have many different meanings. First of all, it is, of course, the contrasting of pure esoteric ideas with ideas mixed with "tares "sown by the devil. In this case the grains or seeds denote ideas.
In one place Christ says:
The sower soweth the word (Mark 4. 14).
In other cases a seed or grain symbolises man.
The "grain "played a very important part in the ancient Mysteries. The idea of the "burial "of the grain in the earth, its "death "and "resurrection "in the form of a green sprout, symbolised the whole idea of the Mysteries. There are many naive pseudo-scientific attempts to explain the Mysteries as an "agricultural myth", i.e. as a survival of the ancient "pagan "rites of a primitive agricultural people. In reality the idea was of course infinitely wider and deeper and was certainly conceived not by a primitive people, but by one of the long-vanished prehistoric civilisations. The grain allegorically represented "man". In the Eleusinian Mysteries every candidate for initiation carried in a particular procession a grain of wheat in a tiny earthenware bowl. The secret that was revealed to a man at the initiation was contained in the idea that man could die simply as a grain, or could rise again into some other life. This was the principal idea of the Mysteries which was expressed by many different symbols. Christ often makes use of the same idea, and there is enormous power in it. The idea contains a biological explanation of the whole series of the intricate and complex problems of life. Nature is extraordinarily generous, almost lavish, in her methods. She creates an enormous quantity of seeds in order that a few of them only may germinate and carry life further. If man is looked upon as a grain, the "cruel "law which is continually emphasised in the Gospel teaching becomes comprehensible, that the great majority of mankind are but "chaff "which shall be burned.
Christ very often returns to this idea, and in his explanations the idea loses its cruelty, because it becomes clear that in the "salvation "or "perdition "of every individual man there is nothing preordained or inevitable, that both the one and the other depend on man himself, on his own attitude towards himself, towards other men and towards the idea of the Kingdom of Heaven.
In succeeding parables Christ again emphasises the idea and meaning of esotericism in relation to life, the small external magnitude of esotericism in comparison with life, and yet the immense possibilities and the immense significance of esotericism and the particular quality of esoteric ideas: that they approach him who understands and appreciates their meaning.
These short parables about the Kingdom of Heaven, each of which includes the whole content of the Gospel teaching, are remarkable even simply as works of art.
Another parable put he forth unto them saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
Another parable spake he unto them: The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away (Matt. 13. 31-34, 44-48).
In the last parable there is again the idea of separation, the idea of selection. Further on Christ says:
So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just,
And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord (Matt. 13. 49-51).
But apparently the disciples did not quite understand, or understood something wrongly, confused the new interpretation with the old, because Christ said to them next:
Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old (Matt. 13. 52). This refers to an intellectual study of the Gospel teaching, to attempts at rationalistic interpretations, in which elements of esoteric ideas are mixed up with barren scholastic dialectic, the new with the old. The succeeding parables and teachings contain a development of this same idea of selection and test; only a man who creates within himself the Kingdom of Heaven with all its rules and laws can enter Christ's Kingdom of Heaven.
Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
And his fellow-servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
And he would not; but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, 0 thou wicked
servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
Shouldst not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I
had pity on thee?
And the lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should
pay all that was due unto him (Matt. 18. 23-34).
Next comes the story of the rich young man, of the difficulties and trials, of the obstacles, made by life, of the attractions of life, of the power of life over people, especially over those who have great possessions.
The young man saith unto him. All these things have I kept from my youth
up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the
poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man
shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a
needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (Matt. 19. 20-24).
"Rich "again has of course many different meanings. First of all, it contains the idea of "attachment", sometimes the idea of great knowledge, a great mind, a great talent, position, fame--all these are "riches", which close the entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven. Attachment to church religion is also "riches". Only if the "rich man "becomes "poor in spirit "does the Kingdom of Heaven open to him.
The passages that follow in St. Matthew's Gospel deal with different attitudes to esoteric ideas.
Some people grasp at them, but quickly abandon them; others resist at first but afterwards take to them seriously. These are two types of people. One type is the man who said that he would go and did not go, and the other is the man who said that he would not go and went. Then sometimes people either unsuccessful in life, or occupying a very low position in life, people even criminal from the point of view of ordinary morals, "the publicans and harlots", prove to be better from the point of view of the Kingdom of Heaven than the righteous men confident of themselves.
But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the
first, and said, Son, go work to-day in my vineyard.
He answered and said, I will not; but afterwards he repented, and
went.
And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him (Matt. 21. 28-32).
Then follow the parable of the husbandmen and the explanation, in which one feels great ideas of a cosmic order, which possibly refer to the succession of cycles, that is, to the replacement of an unsuccessful experiment by a new experiment. [Footnote: A New Model, 1 Ch. 1, p. 68.] This parable may refer to the whole of humanity and to the relation between the inner circle and the outer circle of humanity.
Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:
And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.
And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.
But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.
But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.
And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons (Matt. 21. 33-41).
Next comes the same idea of selection and that of the different attitudes of people to the idea of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fadings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.

But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise;
And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully and slew them.
But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city (Matt. 22. 2-7).
Then follows the parable of the people who are ready and not ready for esotericism.
Then saith he to his servants. The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.
Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.
So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
And he saith unto him. Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
For many are called, but few are chosen (Matt. 22. 8-14).
Next there is one of the best-known parables, that of the talents.
For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
And so he that had received five talents' came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold I have gained beside them five talents more.
His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents; behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knowest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 25. 14-30). This parable contains all the ideas connected with the parable of the sower, and besides this the idea of the change of cycles and of the destruction of bad material. In St. Mark's Gospel there is an interesting parable which explains the laws under which the influence of the inner circle is exerted on outer humanity.
And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;
And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.
For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come (Mark 4. 26-29).
And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able
to hear it.
But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he
expounded all things to his disciples (Mark 4. 33-34).
The continuation of this idea of the "harvest "is found in St. Luke's Gospel.
The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest (Luke 10. 2).
In St. John's Gospel the same idea is developed in a still more interesting way.
And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soveth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that
whereon ye bestowed no labour; other men laboured, and ye are entered into their
labours (John 4. 36-38).
In the above passages, in connection with the idea of harvest several cosmic laws are touched upon. The "harvest "can only take place at a definite time, when the corn is ripened, and Jesus emphasises this special characteristic of the time of harvest, and also the general idea that not everything can take place at any time. Esoteric processes require time. Different moments require different action in relation to them.
Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees
fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as
long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the
bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast (Matt. 9. 14, 15).
The same idea of the different meaning of different moments and of certain esoteric work being possible only at a definite time is found in St. John's Gospel.
I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when
no man can work (John 9. 4).
Further comes the opposition between ordinary life and the way to esotericism. Life holds man. But those who enter the way to esotericism must forget all the rest.
And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them
farewell, which are at home at my house.
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and
looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9. 61-62).
Further on the same idea is developed in one particular sense. In most cases life conquers. Means become aim. People give up their great possibilities for the sake of the little present.
A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for
all things are now ready.
And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I
have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me
excused.
And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I
pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come (Luke
14. 16-20).
In St. John's Gospel the idea of "new birth "is introduced in explanation of the principles of esotericism.
Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3. 3).
Then follows the idea of resurrection, resuscitation. Life without the idea of esotericism is regarded as death.
For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will (John 5. 21).
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the
dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live . . .
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the
graves shall hear his voice (John 5. 25, 28).
Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death
(John 8. 51).
These last passages are certainly interpreted quite wrongly in existing pseudo- Christian teachings.
"Those that are in the graves "does not mean dead people who are buried in the earth, but, on the contrary, those who are living in the ordinary sense, but dead from the point of view of esotericism.
This idea is met with several times in the Gospels where men are compared to sepulchres or graves. The same idea is expressed in the wonderful Easter hymn of the Orthodox Church, which was mentioned earlier.1
Christ is risen from the dead.
He has conquered death with death,
And given life to those who were in tombs.
"Those in tombs "are precisely those who are regarded as living. This idea is expressed quite clearly in Revelations:
Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead (Rev. 3. 1).
The comparison of people with sepulchres or graves is met with several times in St. Matthew and St. Luke:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness (Matt. 23. 27).
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them (Luke 11. 44).
The same idea is developed further in Revelations. Esotericism gives life. In the esoteric circle there is no death.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God . . .
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches, He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death (Rev. 2. 7 and 11).
To this refer also the words in St. John's Gospel which connect the teachings of the Gospels with the teaching of the Mysteries.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit (John 12. 24).
In Revelations there are some remarkable words in the third chapter which acquire particular significance in connection with the meaning which Jesus himself always attached to the words "rich "and "poor", "blind "and "he who sees".
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of
nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and
blind, and naked:
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich;
and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy
nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest
see (Rev. 3. 17, 18).
Of the "blind "and "those who can see "Christ speaks in St. John's Gospel.
For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see;
and that they which see might be made blind.
And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said
unto him, Are we blind also?
Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin:
but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth (John 9. 39, 41).
The expressions "blind "and "blindness "generally have several meanings in the New Testament. And it is necessary to understand that blindness can be outward and physical, or inner blindness, just as there can be inner leprosy, inner death-- which are much worse than outward.
This brings us to the question of "miracles". All "miracles "-- the healing of the blind, the cleansing of the lepers, the casting out of devils, the raising of the dead--can be explained in two ways if the Gospel terminology is understood rightly, either as outward physical miracles or as inner miracles, the healing of inner blindness, inner cleansing and inner resurrection.
The man born blind, whom Jesus heals, uses remarkable words when the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to convince him that from their point of view Jesus had no right to heal him.
Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God
the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.
He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I
know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see (John 9. 24, 25).
The idea of inner miracle and inner conviction of miracle are very closely connected with Christ's definite words as to the meaning of the Kingdom of Heaven in the following passage.
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God
should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with
observation:
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God
is within you (Luke 17. 20, 21).
All that has been said until now and all the passages that have been quoted belong to one line of thought, which goes through all the Gospel teaching, namely the line which develops the idea of the meaning of esotericism or the Kingdom of Heaven.
The other line which also goes through all the Gospels deals with the methods of occult or school work. First of all, it shows the meaning of occult work in relation to life.
Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matt. 4. 19).
These words show that the man who enters upon the way of esotericism must have in view that he has to work for esotericism, and work in a very definite sense, that is, find people suitable for esoteric work and prepare them for it. People are not born in the "inner circle". The inner circle feeds on the outer circle. But only very few of the people of the outer circle are suitable for esotericism. Therefore the work of preparing people for the inner circle, the work of "fishers of men", is a very important part of esoteric work.
These words, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men", like many others, certainly cannot refer to all men.
And they straightway left their nets, and followed him (Matt. 4. 20).
Further on Jesus says, again addressing himself only to the disciples and explaining the meaning of esotericism and the role and place of people belonging to esotericism:
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men,
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick;
and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and
glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matt. 5. 13-16).
After this he explains the requirements which are set before people approaching esotericism.
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5. 20).
In the ordinary interpretation of the Gospels this second line, referring only to the disciples, is taken as wrongly as the first, referring to the Kingdom of Heaven or esotericism. Everything contained in the first line of thought is taken, in the ordinary interpretation, as referring to the future life. Everything contained in the second line of thought is taken as moral teaching, referring to all people in general. In reality these are rules for the disciples.
To the disciples also, refers all that is said about watchfulness, that is, about the constant attention and observation which are required of them.
This idea is first met with in the parable of the ten virgins.
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them
were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and
took no oil with them:
But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom
tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made,
Behold, the bridegroom
cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said
unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough
for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And
while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they
that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch
therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein
the Son of man cometh (Matt, 25. 1-13).
The idea that the disciples cannot know when active work will be required of them and that they must be ready at any moment is emphasised in the following words.
Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh (Matt. 24. 42-44).
Further on the work of the master himself is mentioned and the fact that he can receive very little help even from his disciples.
Then saith he unto them. My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry
ye here, and watch with me.
And he cometh unto his disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them. Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners (Matt. 26. 38, 40, 41, 45).
Great importance is evidently attached to the idea of "watching". It is repeated many times in all the Gospels. In St. Mark:
Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch (Mark 13. 33-37).
In St. Luke there are again emphasised the necessity for being ready at any moment and the impossibility of knowing beforehand.
Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning.
Blessed are those servants whom the lord when he cometh shall find
watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit
down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and
find them so, blessed are those servants.
And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the
thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be
broken through.
Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye
think not (Luke 12. 35, 37-40).
And further on:
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to
escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man
(Luke 21. 36).
All the preceding passages refer to "watchfulness". But this word has many different meanings. It is quite insufficient to understand it in the simple or everyday sense--to be ready. The word "watchfulness "contains a whole doctrine of esoteric psychology which is explained only in occult schools.
Christ's precepts on watchfulness are very similar to precepts of Buddha on the same subject. But in Buddha's teaching the purpose and the meaning of watchfulness are still clearer. All the inner work of a "monk "Buddha resolves into watchfulness, and he points to the necessity of incessant exercising in watchfulness for the attainment of clear consciousness, for the overcoming of suffering and for the achieving of liberation.[Footnote: 1 Die Reden Gotamo Buddhas aus der mittleren Sammlung Majjhimanikayo des Pali-Kanons, übeisetzt von Karl Eugen Neumann (R. Piper & Co., München, 1922), vol. 1, pp. 122-123 and 634-635. ]
Following upon this, the second important requirement of "occult rules "is that of the knowledge and capacity to keep secrets, that is, the knowledge and capacity to be silent.
Christ attaches special importance to this, and the requirement of silence is repeated in the Gospels in a literal form also seventeen times (like the words, only those who have ears can hear).
And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See
thou tell no man (Matt. 8. 3, 4).
And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it (Matt. 9. 30).
And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell
the vision to no man (Matt. 17. 9; Mark 9. 9).
And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,
Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth?
art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.
And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him (Mark 1. 23-25; Luke 4. 33-35).
And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him (Mark 1. 34; Luke 4. 41). And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he
was cleansed.
And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away;
And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way (Mark 1. 42-44; Luke 5. 13, 14).
And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.
And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known (Mark 3. 11, 12).
And straightway the damsel arose, and walked . . .
And he charged them straitly that no man should know it (Mark 5. 42, 43).
And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.
And he charged them that they should tell no man (Mark 7. 35, 36).
After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and
he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell
it to any in the town (Mark 8. 25, 26).
And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth
and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ.
And he charged them that they should tell no man of him (Mark 8. 29, 30;
Luke 9. 20, 21 ; Matt. 16, 20).
The idea of keeping secrets is connected in esotericism with the idea of conserving energy. Silence, secrecy, create a closed circle, that is, an "accumulator". This idea runs through all occult systems. The ability to keep silence or to say only what is necessary and when it is necessary, is the first degree of control of oneself. In school work the ability to keep silence is a definite degree of attainment. The ability to keep silent includes the art of concealing oneself, not showing oneself. The "initiated "is always hidden from the "uninitiated "even though the uninitiated may deceive himself by thinking that he sees, or can see, the motives and actions of the "initiated". The "initiated", according to esoteric rules, has not the right to and must not disclose the positive side of his activity or of himself to anyone except those whose level is near his own, who have already passed the test and have shown that their attitude and their understanding are right.
Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them:
otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have
glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand
doeth:
That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret
himself shall reward thee openly.
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou hast shut
thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in
secret shall reward thee openly.
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think
that they shall be heard for their much speaking (Matt. 6.1-7).
One of the chief occult rules, one of the first principles of esoteric work, which the disciples must learn, is embodied in Christ's words:
Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.
The study of the theoretical and practical meaning of this principle constitutes one of the most important parts of school work in all esoteric schools without exception. This element of secrecy was very strong in the Christian communities of the first centuries. And the requirement of secrecy was not based on the fear of persecution, as is now generally thought, but on the still existing traditions of esoteric schools, with which Christian communities were undoubtedly connected in the beginning.1
After this come conversations with the disciples, in which what Christ says refers only to the disciples and cannot refer to other people.
Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first (Matt. 19. 27 30).
It is also to the disciples that the beginning of the next chapter, that is, the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, refers. The parable loses all its meaning if applied to all people. 1 "Nothing can be stronger than the language of the Fathers of the Church down to the fifth century on the care with which the creed was to be kept a secret. It was to be preserved in the memory only. The name Symbolum is used for it, of which the most probable explanation is that it meant a password whereby Christians recognised each other. St. Augustine says : ' You must not write down anything about the creed because God said, "I will put my law in their hearts and in their minds I will write it. "Therefore the Creed is learned by hearing and is not written on tablets or on any material substance but in the heart.' "It is therefore not surprising that there is no specimen of a creed until the end of the second century, and really the most ancient public written creed is about the end of the third century. "(Extracted from The History of the Creeds, by J. R. Lumby, D.D. (Deighton Bell & Co.), 1887, pp. 2 and. 3.)
For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which
went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them
into his vineyard.
And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the
market place,
And said unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I
will give you. And they went their way.
Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and
saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
They say unto him,, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them,, Go
ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call
the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received
every man a penny.
But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more;
and they likewise received every man a penny.
And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the
house.
Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal
unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil,
because I am good?
So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen
(Matt. 20. 1-16).
Further, there is an interesting passage in St. Luke's Gospel explaining that the disciples should not expect special reward for what they are doing. It is their duty to do it.
But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto
him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded
him? I trow not.
So likewise ye, when ye have done all those things which are commanded
you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to
do (Luke 17. 7-10).
All these passages refer only to the "disciples". Having explained whom he is addressing, Jesus in the following passages establishes his own position in relation to the "Law", that is, to those principles of esotericism which were already known before from the teachings of the prophets:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil (Matt. 5. 17).
These words have another meaning. Christ very definitely emphasised that he was not a social reformer and that it was not his aim to change old laws or to point out weak features in them. On the contrary he often stressed and intensified them, that is, found the Old Testament requirements insufficient, as relating to the outward side alone.
In some cases rules for disciples were created in this way. Such, for instance, are the passages:
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit
adultery:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath
committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matt. 5. 27, 28).
This means of course that the disciples could never justify themselves by being formally innocent in something when they were inwardly guilty.
In other cases Jesus, in commenting on old laws, simply repeated or again stressed life-precepts, such for instance as the precepts as to divorce, which really had no relation to his teaching, except as indications of the necessity for inner truth and the insufficiency of outward truth.
It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving
for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and
whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery (Matt.
5. 31-32).
The aim in this case was to make out of these precepts, together with the rules for the disciples, a "context "which would allow Jesus to say what he intended and what could not be said without a certain introduction. Thus the passages quoted above, both those which constitute rules for the disciples and those which constitute precepts as to divorce, are necessary in the Gospels only in order to introduce the following two verses, and at the same time partly to distract attention from these verses.
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell (Matt. 5. 29, 30).
These two verses, together with one verse from the 19th chapter of St. Matthew, have probably created more misunderstanding than all the Gospels taken together. And they actually contain dozens of possibilities of wrong interpretation. For the right psychological understanding of them they must first of all be entirely separated from the body and from sex. They refer to different "I "s, to different personalities, of man. At the same time they have another, occult or esoteric, meaning, of which I will speak later, in the chapter "Sex and Evolution". The disciples could have understood the meaning of these words. But in the Gospels they certainly remained totally incomprehensible. The presence in the Gospels of the precepts as to divorce was also never understood. These precepts entered into the text of the New Testament and aroused very numerous comments as the genuine words of Christ. The Apostle Paul and succeeding preachers of the new religion based whole codes of law on these passages, entirely refusing to see that these passages were only screens and could not have an independent meaning in Christ's teaching.
At the same time Christ says that to fulfil the law is not sufficient for the disciples. They are subject to a far more rigid discipline, based on far subtler principles.
That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes
and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and
whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause
shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca,
shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in
danger of hell fire.
Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy
brother hath aught against thee;
Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to
thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift (Matt. 5. 20-24).
After this follow the most perplexing and difficult passages in the Gospels, because these passages can be understood rightly only in connection with the esoteric idea. But ordinarily they are understood as general moral rules, constituting what is considered to be Christian morality and Christian virtue. At the same time all men's conduct contradicts these rules. Men cannot fulfil these rules and even cannot understand them. The result is an enormous amount of deceit and self-deceit. Christian teachings are based on the Gospels, but the whole order and structure of the life of Christian peoples goes against the Gospels.
And it is characteristic in this case that all this hypocrisy and all this lying are quite useless. Christ never taught all men not to resist evil, to turn the left cheek when they are smitten on the right, and to give their cloaks to those who want to take away their coats. These passages in no way constitute general moral rules, and they are not a code of Christian virtues. They are rules for the disciples, and not general rules of conduct. The true meaning of these rules can be explained only in an occult school. And the key to this meaning is in the words:
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matt.
5. 48). Further on follow the explanations:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a
tooth:
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on
thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have
thy cloak also.
Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn
not thou away.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shah love thy neighbour, and hate
thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good
to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and
persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the
publicans the same?
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect
(Matt. 5. 38-40, 42-46, 48).
Each of these passages forms the content of a special, complex and practical teaching. These practical teachings, taken together, constitute an occult or esoteric system of self-training and self-education based on principles unknown outside occult schools.
Nothing can be more useless and more naive than an endeavour to understand their content without adequate instruction.
After this comes the prayer given by Christ, which sums up the whole content of the Gospel teaching and can be regarded as a synopsis of it, the Lord's Prayer. The distortions in the text of this prayer have already been mentioned. The origin of the prayer is unknown, but in Plato's Second Alcibiades Socrates quotes a prayer, which very much resembles the Lord's Prayer and is most probably the original form of the Lord's Prayer. This prayer is thought to be of Pythagorean origin. Zeus the King, give us all that is good whether we ask for it or not, but command all
that is evil to leave us even when we ask it of thee. The likeness is so obvious that it requires no comment. This prayer quoted by Socrates explains an incomprehensible point in the Lord's Prayer, namely, the word "but "after the words "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil". This but points to a continuation of the phrase which had existed before but which is missing from the Gospel prayer. This omitted continuation, "even when we ask them (evil things) of thee", explains "but "in the preceding sentence.
Afterwards follow the inner rules, again for the disciples, the rules which cannot refer to all people.
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or
what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life
more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather
into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than
they?
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how
they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed
like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to
morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, 0 ye of little
faith?
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we
drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father
knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these
things shall be added unto you.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought
for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof (Matt. 6. 25-34).
Further on come the rules governing the relations of the "disciples "to one another, again having no relation to all men.
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure
ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest
not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine
eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye (Matt. 7. 1-5).
The general tendency of the usual interpretations, again, is to regard these passages as rules of Christian morality and at the same time to take them as an unattainable ideal.
But Christ was much more practical; he did not teach impracticable things. The rules that he gave were meant to be carried out, but not by all, only by those to whom the carrying out of them could bring benefit and who were able to carry them out.
There is an interesting similarity between certain very well-known passages in the Gospels and certain passages in Buddhist books.
For instance, in The Buddhist Catechism there are the following words:
The fault of others is easily perceived but that of oneself is difficult to perceive; a man winnows his neighbour's faults like chaff, but his own fault he hides, as a cheat hides the bad die from the gambler.[Footnote: 1 The Buddhist Catechism (1915), p. 49, by Henry S. Olcott. ]
In the 9th chapter of St. Matthew the general direction of occult work and its basic principles are spoken of. The first of them is that people must themselves become aware of what they need. Until people have felt a need for esotericism, it cannot be useful for them and cannot exist for them.
They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick (Matt. 9. 12). Then follow very significant words:
But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Matt. 9. 13). And in another place Jesus says:
But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye
would not have condemned the guiltless (Matt. 12. 7). The ordinary interpretations are very far from the true meaning of these passages. The cause of this lies in the fact that we do not understand what "mercy "means, that is, we do not understand tell them the whole truth and never conceal anything from them. He must understand that he must not judge them. And he must use all his powers and all his endeavours for becoming able to help them. Unless a man passes through this stage, unless he temporarily becomes as a child, unless he sacrifices the results of his life-experience, he will never enter the inner circle, that is, the "Kingdom of Heaven". For Christ the "child "was a symbol of the disciple.
The relation of disciple to teacher is the relation of a son to a father and of a child to a grown-up man. In this connection the fact that Christ always called himself son and called God father acquires new significance.
The disciples of Jesus often argued among themselves. One of the constant subjects of their conversations was: which of them was the greatest; and Jesus always condemned these disputes from the point of view of occult principles and rules.
Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and
they that are great exercise authority upon them.
But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let
him be your minister (Matt. 20. 25, 26).
Sometimes these disputes as to who was the greatest took on a truly tragic character. Once Jesus spoke to his disciples of his forthcoming death and resurrection.
And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that
any man should know it.
For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered
into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall
rise the third day.
But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.
And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What
was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?
But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among
themselves, who should be the greatest (Mark 9. 30-34).
In these last words is felt the most tragic feature of the Gospel drama, whether it was enacted or real--the failure of the disciples to understand Jesus, their naive behaviour in relation to him and their much "too human "attitude towards each other. "Who is greatest? "
In the Gospel of St. Luke there is an interesting explanation of the word "neighbour "which is full of occult meaning. This word is usually taken in a wrong meaning, as any man, or as he with whom one has to do. This sentimental interpretation of the word "neighbour "is very far from the Gospel meaning.
And behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
He said unto him, What is written in the law? How readest thou?
And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise (Luke 10. 25-37). The parable of the "good Samaritan "shows that "neighbour "is not "any man "as it is ordinarily interpreted in sentimental Christianity. The thieves who robbed and wounded him, the priest who having seen him passed by on the other side, the Levite who came and looked on him and also passed by, are most certainly not "neighbours "to the man who was helped by the Samaritan. The Samaritan became his neighbour by helping him. If he also had passed by, he, just like the others, would not have been his neighbour. From the esoteric point of view a man's neighbours are those who help him or may help him in his striving either to know esoteric truths or to approach esoteric work.
Side by side with the line of occult rules in the New Testament can be seen the line of unmerciful condemnation of pseudo-religion.
Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me (Matt. 15.7, 8).
Then there follow a number of biting and sarcastic remarks which unfortunately are as alive in our times as they were in the time of Christ:
Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind,
both shall fall into the ditch (Matt. 15. 14).
After a very caustic conversation with the Pharisees and Sadducees Jesus says:
Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees (Matt.
16. 6).
But this warning was forgotten almost before Christ died. In St. Luke the same warning is given, only still more clearly:
Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12. 1). This is followed by a whole chapter on pseudo-religion which shows all its features, manifestations, effects and results.
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do ye not after their works: for they say, and do not.
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
But be ye not called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise
and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters
of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to
leave the other undone.
Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites I for ye make clean the
outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and
excess.
Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that
the outside of them may be clean also.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like whited
sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead
men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full
of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs
of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been
partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them
which killed the prophets.
Pill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of
hell?
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and
some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them ye shall scourge in your
synagogues, and persecute them from city to city (Matt. 23. 1-15, 23-34).
In another place are found other remarkable words connected with the above:
Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered (Luke 11. 52).
What is most striking in the story of Jesus is that his teaching, after all that he said, should have become, like all other teachings in the world, the source of pseudo religions.
The "scribes "and "Pharisees "have appropriated his teaching and in his name continue to do exactly what they did before.
The crucifixion of Christ is a symbol. It occurs without cessation always and everywhere. This would have to be considered the most tragic part of the story of Christ, if it were not possible to suppose that it also entered into the general plan, and that the capacity of men to distort and adapt everything to their own level was calculated and weighed.
This distortion of the teaching is spoken of in the Gospels. According to the Gospel terminology this is "offence".
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences
come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! (Matt. 18. 6, 7). [Footnote: The word "offence "is a translation of the Greek word in Church-Slavonic and in Russian this word is translated as "seduction", which is neater to the meaning of the Greek word. Other possible translations are: "corruption", "leading astray", "ensnaring". So in order to understand the English text it is necessary to replace the word "offence "by the word "seduction "or "corruption", and "offend "by "seduce "or "corrupt". The meaning then becomes clear.]
The "offence", that is, "seduction "or "corruption", is certainly first of all the distortion of esoteric truths, the distortion of the teachings given to people, against which above all Christ revolted and against which he especially struggled.
Many questions and many misunderstandings usually arise from the parable of the unjust steward, in the 16th chapter of St. Luke.
And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a
steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give
an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh
away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may
receive me into their houses.
So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first,
How much owest thou unto my lord?
And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill,
and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred
measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.
And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for
the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of
unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting
habitations.
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much:
and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will
commit to your trust the true riches?
And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give
you that which is your own? (Luke 16. 1-12).
How is this parable to be understood? This question raises a whole series of other questions in regard to the interpretation of Gospel passages in general. Without going into details, it can be said that the understanding of difficult passages may be based sometimes on passages adjoining them, or on passages near to them in meaning, though far removed from them in the text; sometimes on the understanding of the "line of thought "to which they belong; and sometimes on passages which express the obverse side of the idea and often seem to have no logical connection with the first.
In the present instance with regard to the parable of the unjust steward it can be said at once that it relates to occult principles, that is, to rules of esoteric work. But this is not sufficient for the understanding of it. There is something strange in this demand for falsehood, demand for deceit.
This demand only begins to be comprehensible when we consider the nature of the falsehoods that are demanded. The steward cuts down the debts of his lord's debtors, "forgives "them a part of their debts, and for this his lord afterwards praises him.
Is not this forgiveness of sins? In the passage immediately following the Lord's Prayer, Jesus says:
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matt. 6. 14, 15).
Usually these passages are understood as advice to people to forgive those who sin against them. But actually this is not said at all. What is said is simply "forgive people their sins". And if we take the passage literally as it is written, the parable of the unjust steward begins to be more comprehensible. It is recommended in this parable to forgive people their sins, not against us, but all their sins generally, whatever they may be.
The question may arise as to how we can forgive the sins of other people, sins which have no relation to ourselves. The parable of the unjust steward gives the answer to this.
We can do it by means of a certain illegal practice, by means of a falsification of "bills", that is, by means of a certain intentional alteration of that which we see. In other words, we can, as it were, forgive other people their sins by representing them to ourselves as better than they really are.
This is a form of falsehood which not only is not condemned but is actually approved in the Gospel teaching. By means of such a falsehood a man insures himself against certain dangers, "acquires friends", and on the strength of this falsehood proves deserving of confidence.
A very interesting development of the same idea, though without
These are the passages speaking of the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. These passages include the obverse side of the idea expressed in the parable of the unjust steward, because they speak not of what people may acquire, but of what people may lose and in what way.
Wherefore I say unto you. All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven
unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto
men.
And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven
him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven
him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come (Matt. 12. 31, 32).
Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and
blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in
danger of eternal damnation (Mark 3. 28, 29).
And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven (Luke 12. 10).
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment (Matt. 12. 35, 36).
What is the connection between these passages and the parable of the unjust steward? What is meant by the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost? Why is this blasphemy not to be forgiven, and what is the Holy Ghost?
The Holy Ghost is that which is good in everything. In every object, in every man, in every event, there is something good, not in a philosophical and not in a mystical sense, but in the simplest, psychological and every-day sense. If a man does not see this good, if he condemns everything irrevocably, if he seeks and sees only the bad, if he is incapable of seeing the good in things and people--then this is the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. There are different types of men. Some are capable of seeing the good even where there is very little of it. They are sometimes even inclined to exaggerate it to themselves. Others, on the contrary, are inclined to see everything worse than it is in reality, are incapable of seeing anything good. First of all, always and in everything, they find something bad, always begin with suspicion, with accusation, with calumny. This is the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. This blasphemy is not forgiven; that means that it leaves a very deep trace on the inner nature of the man himself.
Usually in life people take slander too lightly, excuse it too easily in themselves and in others. Slander constitutes half their lives, fills half their interests. People slander without themselves noticing what they are doing and automatically they expect nothing but slander from others. They answer the slander of others with slander and strive only to forestall them. A particularly noticeable tendency to slander is called either a critical mind or wit. Men do not understand that even the usual every-day slander is the beginning of the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. It is not for nothing that the Devil means slanderer. The passage in the Gospel, that they shall give account even of every idle word in the day of judgement, sounds so strange and ncomprehensible to men because they do not understand that even a small slander is the beginning of the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. They do not understand that even every idle word remains and that by slandering everything around them they may unintentionally touch something belonging to a different order of things and find themselves chained to the wheel of eternity in the role of a small and impotent slanderer.
Thus the idea of the slander which will not be forgiven to man relates even to ordinary life. Slander leaves a deeper trace on them than men think.
But slander has a special meaning in esoteric work, and Christ pointed to this meaning.
And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
These remarkable words mean that calumny and slander directed against Christ personally can be forgiven. But as the head of a school, as master of a school, he could not forgive slander directed against the school, against the idea of school work, against the idea of esotericism.
This form of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost remains with man forever.
The parable of the unjust steward refers to the creation of the other, of the contrary, tendency, that is to say, the tendency to see the Holy Ghost or the "good "even where there is very little of it, and in this way to increase the good in oneself and liberate oneself from sins, that is from "evil".
Man finds what he looks for. Who looks for the evil finds the evil; who looks for the good, finds the good.
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
At the same time nothing is more dangerous than to understand this idea of Christ's in a literal or sentimental sense, and to begin to see the "good "where it does not exist at all.
The idea that in every object, in every man and in every event there is something good is right only In relation to normal and natural manifestations. This idea cannot be equally right in relation to abnormal and unnatural manifestations. There can be no Holy Ghost in the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost; and there are things, people and events that are by their very nature the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Justification of them is the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.
A great amount of evil in life occurs just because people, afraid of committing a sin or afraid of appearing not sufficiently charitable or not sufficiently broad-minded, justify what does not deserve justification. Christ was not sentimental, he was never afraid to tell an unpleasant truth, and he was not afraid to act. The expulsion of the money-changers from the temple is a most remarkable allegory, showing Christ's attitude towards life", which tries to turn even the temple to its own ends.
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves (Matt. 21. 12, 13).
There remain to be mentioned two ideas, which are often associated with the Gospel teaching and which throw an equally wrong light both on principles and on Christ himself.
The first idea is that the Gospel teaching does not refer to earthly life, that Christ did not build anything upon earth, that the whole idea of Christianity is to prepare man for eternal life, for the life beyond the threshold of death.
And the second idea is that Christian teaching is too ideal for men and is therefore impracticable, that Christ was a poet and philosopher in his dreams, but that sober reality cannot dwell on these dreams and cannot seriously take them into consideration.
But both these ideas are wrong. Christ taught not for death, but for life, but his teaching never included and never could include the whole of life. In his words, especially in his parables, there continually appear many people who stand entirely outside his ideas: all kings, rich men, thieves, priests, Levites, servants of the rich, merchants, scribes and Pharisees, and so on. And this huge, absurd life, to which his teaching had no relation, was in his eyes the Mammon which one could not serve at the same time as God.
And Christ was never an unpractical "poet "or "philosopher". His teaching is not for all, but it is strictly practical in all its details. It is practical first of all because it is not for all. Many people are unable to take anything from his teaching but entirely false ideas, and to them Christ had nothing to say.

1911-1929.
Complete chapter taken from A New Model of the Universe by P.D. Ouspensky.


Gospel of Thomas Material:
Sayings and Interpretation
From the Introduction
Intriguing Parallels to Gospel of Thomas Sayings
Short Essays On Difficult and Obscure Sayings
Reviews of the Other Translations of the Gospel of Thomas
Gospel of Thomas Online Resources
Gospel of Thomas Home

Esoteric Christianity Material:
Beryl Pogson on the Gospel of Thomas in 1959
P.D. Ouspensky on Christianity and The New Testament

Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Nicoll, and Many Others:
an Online Anthology of Fourth Way Writings On Esoteric Christianity

Esoteric Christianity Online Resources

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