When we speak of the "Coming Age," of the "New Heaven and the New Earth" mentioned in the Bible, and also of the "Aquarian Age," the differences may not be quite clear in the minds of our students. Confusion of terms is one of the most fertile seed grounds of fallacy, and the Rosicrucian teachings aim to avoid it by a particularly definite nomenclature. Sometimes an extra effort seems necessary to disperse the haze engendered by current cloudy conceptions of others as sincere as the present writer, but not so fortunate in having access to the incomparable Western Wisdom Teachings.
It has been taught in our literature that four great epochs of unfoldment preceded the present order of things; that the destiny of the earth, its atmospheric conditions, and the laws of nature prevailing in one epoch were as different from those of the other epochs as was the corresponding physiological constitution of mankind in one epoch different from those in he others.
The bodies of Adm (the name means red earth), the humanity of fiery Lemuria, were formed of the "dust of the ground," the red, hot, volcanic mud, and were just suited to their environment. Flesh and blood would have shriveled up in the terrible heat of that day, and though suited to present conditions, Paul tells us that they cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. It is therefore manifest that before a new order of things can be inaugurated, the physiological constitution of mankind must be radically changed to say nothing of the spiritual attitude. Aeons will be required to regenerate the whole human race and fit them to live in ethereal bodies.
On the other hand, neither does a new environment come into existence in a moment, but land and people are evolved together from the smallest and most primitive beginnings. When the mists of Atlantis commenced to settle, some of our forbears had grown embryonic lungs and were forced to highlands ages before their compeers. They wandered in "the wilderness" while "the promised land" was emerging from the lighter fogs, and at the same time their growing lungs were fitting them to live under present atmospheric conditions.
Two more races were born in the basins of the earth before a succession of floods drove them to the highlands; the last flood took place at the time when the sun entered the watery sign Cancer, about ten thousand years ago as told Plato by the Egyptian priests. Thus we see there is no sudden change of constitution or environment for the whole human race when a new epoch is ushered in, but an overlapping of conditions which makes it possible for most of the race by gradual adjustment to enter the new condition, though the change may seem sudden to the individual when the preparatory change has been accomplished unconsciously. The metamorphosis of a tadpole from a denizen of the watery element to one of the airy gives an analogy of the past, and the transformation of the caterpillar to a butterfly soaring in the air is an apt simile of the coming age. When the heavenly time marker came into Aries by precession, a new cycle commenced, and the "glad tidings" were preached by Christ. He said by implication that the new heaven and earth were not ready then when He told His disciples: Whither I go you cannot now follow, but you shall follow afterwards. I go to prepare a place for you and will come again and receive you.
Later John saw in a vision the new Jerusalem descending from heaven, and Paul taught the Thessalonians "by the word of the Lord" that those who are Christ's at His coming shall be caught up in the air to meet Him and be with Him for the age.
But during this change there are pioneers who enter the kingdom of God before their brethren. Christ, in Matt. 11:12, said that "the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." This is not a correct translation. It ought to be: The kingdom of the heavens has been invaded (biaxetai), and invaders seize on her. Men and women have already learned through holy, helpful lives to lay aside the body of flesh and blood, either intermittently or permanently, and to walk the skies with winged feet, intent upon the business of their Lord, clad in the ethereal "wedding garment" of the new dispensation. This change may be accomplished through a life of simple helpfulness and prayer as practiced by devoted Christians, no matter with what church they affiliate, as well as by the specific exercises given in the Rosicrucian Fellowship. The latter will prove barren of results, unless accompanied by constant acts of love for love will be the keynote of the coming age as Law is of the present order. The intense expression of the former quality increases the phosphorescent luminosity and density of the ethers in our vital bodies, the fiery streams sever the tie to the mortal coil, and the man, once born of water upon his emergence from Atlantis, is now born of the spirit into the kingdom of God. The dynamic force of his love has opened a way to the land of love, and indescribable is the rejoicing among those already there when new invaders arrive, for each new arrival hastens the coming of the Lord and the definite establishment of the Kingdom.
Among the religiously inclined there is a definite unceasing cry: How long, O Lord; how long? And despite the emphatic statement of Christ that the day and hour are unknown, even to Himself, prophets continue to gain credence when they predict His coming on a certain day, though each is discomfited when the day passes without development. The question has also been mooted among our students, and the present chapter is an attempt to show the fallacy of looking for the Second Advent in a year or fifty or five hundred. The Elder Brothers decline to commit themselves further than to point out what must first be accomplished.
At the time of Christ the sun was in about seven degrees of Aries. Five hundred years were required to bring the precession to the thirtieth degree of Pisces. During that time the new church lived through a stage of offensive and defensive violence well justifying the words of Christ: "I came not to bring peace but a sword." Fourteen hundred years more have elapsed under the negative influence of Pisces, which has fostered the power of the church and bound the people by creed and dogma.
In the middle of the last century the sun came within orb of influence of the scientific sign Aquarius, and although it will take about seven hundred years before the Aquarian Age commences, it is highly instructive to note what changes the mere touch has wrought in the world. Our limited space precludes enumeration of the wonderful advances made since then; but it is not too much to say that science, invention, and resultant industry have completely changed the world, its social life, and economic conditions. The great strides made in means of communication have done much to break down barriers of race prejudice and prepare us for conditions of Universal Brotherhood. Engines of destruction have been made so fearfully efficient that the militant nations will be forced ere long to "beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks." The sword has had its reign during the Piscean Age, but science will rule in the Aquarian Age.
In the land of the setting sun we may expect to first see the ideal conditions of the Aquarian Age: A blending of religion and science, forming a religious science and a scientific religion, which will promote the health, happiness and the enjoyment of life in abundant measure.
We are aware that alcohol is a "foreign spirit" and a "spirit of decay" because it is generated by fermentation outside the consumer's system. Being "spirit," it vibrates with such intense rapidity that the human spirit is incapable of tuning it down and controlling it as food must be, hence metabolism is out of the question. Nay, more, as we cannot reduce its vibratory rate to that of our bodies, this foreign spirit may accelerate their vibratory pitch and control us as happens in the state of intoxication. Thus alcohol is a great danger to mankind and one from which we must be emancipated ere we can realize our divine nature.
A stimulant spirit is necessary while we live on a diet of flesh or progress would stop, and a food has been provided for the pioneers of the West that answers all requirements; its name is "sugar." From sugar the ego itself generates alcohol inside the system by the very processes of metabolism. This product is therefore both food and stimulant, perfectly keyed to the vibratory pitch of the body. It has all the good qualities of alcohol in enhanced measure and none of its drawbacks. To perceive properly the effect of this food, consider the peoples of eastern Europe where little sugar is consumed. They are slavish; they speak of themselves in terms of depreciation; the pronoun "I" is always spelled with small letters but "you" with a capital. England consumes five times as much sugar per capita as Russia. In the former we meet a different spirit, the big "I" and the little "you." In America the candy store becomes a most dangerous rival of the saloon, for the man who eats sweets will not drink, and there is no surer cure for alcoholism than to induce the sufferer to eat freely of sweets. The drunkard abhors sugar, however, while his system is under the sway of the "foreign spirit."
The temperance movement was begun in the land where most sugar is consumed, and has generated "the spirit of self-respect."
In previous chapters we saw how infant humanity was cared for by superhuman guardians, provided with appropriate food, led out of danger's way, and sheltered in all respects until grown to human stature and fit to enter the school of experience to learn the lessons of life in the phenomenal world. We saw also how the rainbow points to natural laws peculiar to the present age, how man was given free will under these laws, and how the spirit of wine was given to cheer and to stimulate his own timid, fearful spirit, to nerve it for the war of the world.
In an analogous manner the irresponsible little child who has been brought under the waters of baptism by its natural guardians is cared for through the years of childhood while its various vehicles are being organized. When the parental blood stored in the thymus gland has been exhausted and the child thus emancipated from the parents, it awakens to individuality, to the feeling of "I am." It has then been prepared with a knowledge of good and evil with which to fight the battle of life; and at that time the youth is taken to the church and given the bread and wine to nerve and nourish him spiritually, also as a symbol that henceforth he is a free agent, only responsible to the laws of God. A blessing or a curse, this freedom, according to the way it is used.
In early Atlantis mankind was a universal brotherhood of submissive children with no incentive to war or strife. Later they were segregated into nations, and wars inculcated loyalty to kin and country. Each sovereign was an absolute autocrat with power over life and limb of his subjects, who were numbered in hundreds of millions, and who yielded ungrudging and slavish submission, an attitude maintained to the present day among millions of Asiatics, who are vegetarians and consequently need no alcohol.
As flesh eating came into vogue, wine became a more and more common beverage. In consequence of flesh eating much material progress was made immediately preceding the advent of Christ, and because of the practice of drinking wine an increasing number of men asserted themselves as leaders, with the result that instead of a few large nations such as people Asia, many small nations were formed in the southwestern portion of Europe and Asia Minor.
But though the great mass of people who formed these various nations were ahead of their Asiatic brethren as craftsmen, they continued submissive to their rulers and lived as much in their traditions as did the latter. Christ upbraided them because they gloried in being Abraham's seed. He told them that "before Abraham was, I am," that is, the ego has always existed.
It is His mission to emancipate humanity from Law and lead it to love, to destroy "the kingdoms of men" with all their antagonism to one another, and to build upon their ruins " the kingdom of God." An illustration will make the method clear:
If we have a number of brick buildings and desire to amalgamate them into one large structure, it is necessary to break them down first and free each brick from the mortar which binds it. Likewise each human being must be freed from the fetters of family, hence Christ taught, "Unless a man leaves his father and mother he cannot be my disciple." He must outgrow religious partisanship and patriotism and learn to say with the much misunderstood and maligned Thomas Paine: "The world is my country, and to do good is my religion."
Christ did not mean that we are to foresake those who have a claim upon our help and support, but that we are not to permit the suppression of our individuality out of deference to family traditions and beliefs.
Consequently He came "not to bring peace, but a sword;" and whereas the eastern religions discourage the use of wine, Christ's first miracle was to change water to wine. The sword and the wine cup are signatures of the Christian religion, for by them nations have been broken to pieces and the individual emancipated. Government by the people, for the people, is a fact in northwestern Europe, the rulers being that principally in name only.
But the fostering of the martial spirit as prevails in Europe was only a means to an end. The segregation which it has caused must give place to a regime of brotherhood such as professed by Paine. A new step was necessary to bring this about; a new food must be found which would act upon the spirit in such a way as to foster individuality through assertion of self without oppression of others and without loss of self-respect. We have enunciated it as a law that only spirit can act upon spirit, and therefore that food must be a spirit but differing in other respects from intoxicants.
Before describing this let us see what flesh has done for the evolution of the world.
We have noted previously that during the Polarian Epoch man had only a dense body; he was like the present minerals in this respect, and by nature he was inert and passive.
By absorbing the crystalloids prepared by plants he evolved a vital body during the Hyperborean Epoch and became plant-like both in constitution and by nature, for he lived without exertion and as unconsciously as the plants.
Later he extracted milk from the then stationary animals. Desire for this more readily digestible food spurred him on to exertion, and gradually his desire nature was evolved during the Lemurian Epoch. Thus he became constituted like the present day Herbivora. Though possessed of a passional nature, he was docile and could not be induced to fight save to defend himself, his mate, and family. Hunger alone had the power to make him aggressive.
Therefore, when animals began to move and sought to elude this ruthless parasite, increasing difficulty of obtaining the coveted food aroused his craving to such an extent that when he had hunted and caught an animal, he was no longer content to suck its udders dry but commenced to feed upon its blood and flesh. Thus he became as ferocious as our present day Carnivora.
Digestion of flesh food requires much more powerful chemical action and speedy elimination of the waste than that of a vegetable diet as proved by chemical analysis of the gastric juices from animals, and by the fact that the intestines of Herbivora are many times longer than those of a carnivorous animal of even size. Carnivora easily become drowsy and averse to exertion.
When prodded by the pangs of hunger the ferocious wolf does indeed pursue its prey with unwavering perseverance, and the spring of the crouching king of beasts overmatches the speed of the wing-footed deer. By ambush the feline family foil the fleetest in their attempts to escape. The cunning of the fox is proverbial, and the slinking nocturnal habits of the hyena and kindred scavengers illustrate the depth of depravity resulting from a diet of decayed flesh.
The vices generated by flesh eating may be said to be lassitude, ferocity, low cunning, and depravity. We may tame the herbivorous ox and elephant. Their diet makes them docile and stores enormous power which they obediently use in our service to perform prolonged and arduous labor. The flesh food required by the constitutional peculiarities of Carnivora makes them dangerous and incapable of thorough domestication. A cat may scratch at any moment, and the muzzling ordinances of large cities are ample proof of the danger of dogs. Besides, energy contained in the diet of Carnivora is so largely expended in digestion that they are drowsy and unfitted for sustained labor like the horse or elephant.
The drowsiness following a heavy meal of meat is too well known to require arguement, and the custom of taking stimulants with food is an outgrowth of the desire to counteract the deadening effect of dead flesh. The intensified effect of feasting upon flesh in an advanced state of decay is well illustrated in "society," where banquets of game that is "high" are accompanied by orgies of the wildest nature and followed by indulgence of the vilest instincts.
The Westerner who can live upon a clean, sweet, wholesome diet of vegetables, cereals and fruit, does not become drowsy from his food; he needs no stimulant. There are no vegetarian drunkards. The soothing effects of vegetable food manifest as finer feelings, which replace the ferocity fostered by flesh food. Many need the mixed diet yet, for the practice of flesh eating has furthered the progress of the world as nothing else except perhaps its companion vice--drunkenness; and though we cannot say that they have been a blessing in disguise, they have at least not been unmitigated curses, for in the Father's kingdom all seeming evil nevertheless works for good in some respect, though it may not be apparent upon the surface. We shall see how presently.
A private corporation, the East India Company, commenced and practically achieved the subjugation of India with her three hundred million people, for the English are voracious flesh eaters, while the Hindu's diet fosters docility. But when England fought the flesh eating Boers, Greek met Greek, and the valor displayed by both sides is a matter of brilliant record. Courage, physical as well as moral, is a virtue and cowardice a vice. Flesh has fostered self-assertion and helped us to develop backbone, though unfortunately often at the expense of others who still retain the wishbone. It has done more as will be illustrated:
As said previously, the crouching cat is forced to employ strategy to save strength when procuring its prey, so that it may retain sufficient energy to digest the victim. Thus brain becomes the ally of brawn. In ancient Atlantis desire for flesh developed the ingenuity of primitive man and led him to trap the elusive denizens of field and forest. The hunter's snare was among the first labor-saving devices--which mark the beginning of the evolution of mind, and of the uncompromising, unflagging struggle of the meat fed mind for supremacy over matter.
We say "the meat fed mind," and we reiterate it, because we wish to emphasize that it is by the nations which have adopted flesh food that the most noteworthy progress has been made. The vegetarian Asiatics remain upon the lower rungs of civilization. The further west we travel, the more the consumption of meat increases as does the disinclination for bodily exercise, and consequently the activity of the mind is increased to a higher and higher pitch in the invention of labor-saving devices. The American agriculturists' acres are counted by thousands, and they harvest large crops with less labor than the peasant of the East who has only a small patch of ground. The reason is that the poor, plodding grain fed Easterner has only his hands and his hoe, which he keeps in motion all day and day after day, while the meat fed, progressive Westerner turns power-driven implements into his fertile fields and sits down in a comfortable seat to watch them work. One uses muscle, the other mind.
Thus the indomitable courage and energy which have transformed the face of the Western World are virtues directly traceable to flesh food, which also fosters love of ease and invention of labor-saving devices; while alcohol stimulates enterprise in execution of schemes thus hatched to procure the maximum of comfort with a minimum of labor.
But the spirit of alcohol is obtained by a process of fermentation. It is a spirit of decay, altogether different from the spirit of life in man. This counterfeit spirit lures man on and on, always holding before his vision the dreams of future grandeur, and goading him to strenuous efforts of body and mind in order to attain and obtain. Then when he has achieved and attained, he awakens to the utter worthlessness of his prize. Possession soon shatters illusion as to the worth of whatever he may have acquired; nothing the world has to give can finally satisfy. Then again the lethal draught drowns disappointment, and the mind conjures up a new illusion. This he pursues with fresh zeal and high hopes, to meet disappointment again and again, for lives and lives, until at last he learns that "wine is a mocker," and that "all is vanity but to serve God and to do His will."
Volumes, or rather libraries, have been written to explain the nature of God, but it is probably a universal experience that the more we read of other people's explanations, the less we understand. There is one description, given by the inspired apostle John when he wrote "God is Light," which is as illuminating as the others are befogging to the mind. Anyone who takes this passage for meditation occasionally will find a rich reward waiting, for no matter how many times we take up this subject, our own development in the passing years assures us each time a fuller and better understanding. Each time we sink ourselves in these three words we lave in a spiritual fountain of inexhaustible depth, and each succeeding time we sound more thoroughly the divine depths and draw more closely to our Father in heaven.
To get in touch with our subject, let us go back in time to get our bearing and the direction of our future line of progress.
The first time our consciousness was directed towards the Light was shortly after we had become endowed with mind and had entered definitely upon our evolution as human beings in Atlantis, the land of the mist, deep down in the basins of the earth, where the warm mist emitted from the cooling earth hung like a dense fog over the land. Then the starry heights of the universe were never seen, nor could the silvery light of the moon penetrate the dense, foggy atmosphere which hung over that ancient land. Even the fiery splendor of the sun was almost totally extinguished, for when we look in the Memory of Nature pertaining to that time, it appears very much as an arc lamp on a high pole looks to us when it is foggy. It was exceedingly dim, and had an aura of various colors, very similar to those which we observe around an arc light.
But this light had a fascination. The ancient Atlanteans were taught by the divine Hierarchs who walked among them, to aspire to the light, and as the spiritual sight was then already on the wane (even the messengers, or Elohim, being perceived with difficulty by the majority), they aspired all the more ardently to the new light, for they feared the darkness of which they had become conscious through the gift of mind.
Then came the inevitable flood when the mist cooled and condensed. The atmosphere cleared, and the "chosen people" were saved. Those who had worked within themselves and learned to build the necessary organs required to breathe in an atmosphere such as we have today, survived and came to the light. It was not an arbitrary choice; the work of the past consisted of body building. Those who had only gill clefts, such as the foetus still uses in its prenatal development, were unfit physiologically to enter the new era as the foetus would be to be born were it to neglect to build lungs. It would die as those ancient people died when the rare atmosphere made gill clefts useless.
Since the day when we came out of ancient Atlantis our bodies have been practically complete, that is to say, no new vehicles are to be added; but from that time and from now on those who wish to follow the light must strive for soul growth. The bodies which we have crystallized about us must be dissolved, and the quintessence of experience extracted, which as "soul" may be amalgamated with the spirit to nourish it from impotence to omnipotence. Therefore, the Tabernacle in the Wilderness was given to the ancients, and the light of God descended upon the Altar of Sacrifice. This is of great significance: The ego had just descended into its tabernacle, the body. We all know the tendency of the primitive instinct towards selfishness, and if we have studied the higher ethics we also know how subversive of good the indulgence of the egotistic tendency is; therefore, God immediately placed before mankind the Divine Light upon the Altar of Sacrifice.
Upon this altar they were forced by dire necessity to offer their cherished possessions for every transgression, God appearing to them as a hard taskmaster whose displeasure it was dangerous to incur. But still the Light drew them. They knew then that it was futile to attempt to escape from the hand of God. They had never heard the words of John, "God is Light," but they had already learned from the heavens in a measure the meaning of infinitude, as measured by the realm of light, for we hear David exclaim: "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me, even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee, but the night shineth as the day, for the darkness and the light are both alike to thee."
With every year that passes, with the aid of the greatest telescopes which the ingenuity and mechanical skill of man have been able to construct to pierce the depths of space, it becomes more evident that the infinitude of light teaches us the infinitude of God. When we hear that "men loved darkness rather than Light because their deed were evil," that also rings true to what we unfortunately know as present day facts, and illumines the nature of God for us; for is it not true that we always feel endangered in the dark, but that the light gives us a sense of safety which is akin to the feeling of a child who feels the protecting hand of its father?
To render permanent this condition of being in the Light was the next step in God's work with us, which culminated in the birth of Christ, who as the bodily presence of the Father, bore about in Himself that Light, for the Light came into the world that whosoever should believe in Christ should not perish, but have everlasting life. He said, "I am the Light of the World." The altar in the Tabernacle had illustrated the principle of sacrifice as the medium of regeneration, so Christ said to His disciples: Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends. And forthwith He commenced a sacrifice, which, contrary to the accepted orthodox opinion was not consummated in a few hours of physical suffering upon a material cross, but is as perpetual as were the sacrifices made upon the altar of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, for it entails an annual descent into the earth and an endurance of all that the cramping earth conditions must mean to such a great spirit.
This must continue till a sufficient number have evolved who can bear the burden of this dense lump of darkness which we call the earth, and which hangs as a millstone about the neck of humanity, an impediment to further spiritual growth. Until we learn to follow "in His steps," we can rise no higher towards the Light.
It is related that when Leonardo da Vinci had completed his famous painting "The Last Supper," he asked a friend to look at it and tell him what he thought of it.
The friend looked at it critically for a few minutes and then said:
"I think you have made a mistake in painting the goblets from which the apostles drink so ornamental and to resemble gold. People in their positions would not drink from such expensive vessels."
Da Vinci then drew his brush through the entire set of vessels which had drawn the criticism of his friend, but he was heartbroken, for he had painted that picture with his soul rather than with his hands, and he had prayed over it that it might speak a message to the world. He had put all the greatness of his art and the whole-hearted devotion of his soul into that effort to paint a Christ who should speak the word that would lead men to emulate His deeds.
Can you see Him as He sits there at that festive board, the Embodiment of Light, and speaks those wonderful, mystic words: This is my body, this is my blood, given for you-- a living sacrifice.
In the past period of our spiritual career we have been looking for a Light exterior to ourselves, but now we have arrived at the point where we must look for the Christ light within and emulate Him by making of ourselves "living sacrifices" as He is doing. Let us remember that when the sacrifice which lies before our door seems pleasant and to our liking, when we seem able to pick and choose our work in His vineyard and do what pleases us, we are not making a real sacrifice as He did, nor are we when we are seen of men and applauded for our benevolence. But when we are ready to follow Him from that festive board where He was the honored one among friends, into the garden of Gethsemane where He was alone and wrestled with the great problem before Him while His friends slept, then are we making a living sacrifice.
When we are content to follow "in His steps" to that point of self-sacrifice where we can say from the bottom of our hearts, "Thy will, not mine," then we have surely the light within, and there will never henceforth be for us that which we feel as darkness. We shall walk in the light.
This is our glorious privilege, and the meditation upon the words of the apostle, "God is Light," will help us to realize this ideal provided we add to our faith, works, and say by our deeds as did the Christ of da Vinci, "This is my body and this is my blood," a living sacrifice upon the altar of humanity.