A NEW MODEL
OF THE UNIVERSE
CHRISTIANITY AND THE NEW TESTAMENT
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.]
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute
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
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
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
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).
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.
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).
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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.
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.
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.
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
And it was told him by certain which said. Thy mother and thy brethren
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
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
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
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
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,
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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;
the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word,
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
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
So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst
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
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
to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles
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
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
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
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
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
needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (Matt. 19.
"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
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.
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
But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with
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
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
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
And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into
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
to hear it.
But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone,
expounded all things to his disciples (Mark 4. 33-34).
The continuation of this idea of the "harvest "is found in St.
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
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
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,
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.
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
I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night
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
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;
all things are now ready.
And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto
have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray
thee have me
And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them:
pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come (Luke
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.
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
graves shall hear his voice (John 5. 25, 28).
Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never
(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
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
nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor,
blind, and naked:
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be
and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of
nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou
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
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
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
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
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for behold, the kingdom
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
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,
glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matt. 5. 13-16).
After this he explains the requirements which are set before people approaching
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
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,
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
Behold, the bridegroom
cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish
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.
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
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:
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,
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
Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when
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
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
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
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:
he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor
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
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
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
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
thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which
secret shall reward thee openly.
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they
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
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
And said unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right
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,
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,,
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,
the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto
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
and they likewise received every man a penny.
And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the
Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them
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
Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye
because I am good?
So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but
(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
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
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
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
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her
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.
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;
whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a
shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother,
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
brother hath aught against thee;
Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled
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
5. 48). Further on follow the explanations:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite
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
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
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
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
what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not
more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor
into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better
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,
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
morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, 0 ye
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.
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
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,
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,
they that are great exercise authority upon them.
But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you,
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 they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not
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,
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
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
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
both shall fall into the ditch (Matt. 15. 14).
After a very caustic conversation with the Pharisees and Sadducees Jesus
Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees
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
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
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
Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter,
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
men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are
of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the
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
partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of
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
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes:
some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them ye shall scourge
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
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?
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,
receive me into their houses.
So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the
How much owest thou unto my lord?
And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy
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:
the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children
And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of
unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting
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
commit to your trust the true riches?
And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall
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
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
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
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
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
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,
Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men,
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
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
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
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.
Complete chapter taken from A New Model of the Universe by P.D. Ouspensky.
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Reviews of the Other
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Ouspensky on Christianity and The New Testament
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