It has often been said in our literature that the sacrifice of Christ was not an event which, taking place on Golgotha, was accomplished in a few hours once and for all time, but that the mystic births and deaths of the Redeemer are continual cosmic occurrences. We may therefore conclude that this sacrifice is necessary for our physical and spiritual evolution during the present phase of our development. As the annual birth of the Christ Child approaches, it presents a never old, ever new theme for meditation, from which we may profit by pondering it with a prayer that it may create in our hearts a new light to guide us upon the path of regeneration.
The inspired apostle gave us a wonderful definition of Deity when he said that "God is Light," and therefore "light" has been used to illustrate the nature of the Divine in the Rosicrucian teachings, especially the mystery of the Trinity in Unity. It is clearly taught in the Holy Scriptures of all times that God is one and indivisible. At the same time we find that as the one white light is refracted into three primary colors, red, yellow, and blue, so God appears in threefold role during manifestation by the exercise of the three divine functions of creation, preservation, and dissolution.
When He exercises the attribute of creation, God appears as Jehovah, the Holy Spirit; He is the Lord of law and generation and projects the solar fertilizing principle indirectly through the lunar satellites of all planets where it is necessary to furnish bodies for their evolving beings.
When He exercises the attribute of preservation for the purpose of sustaining the bodies generated by Jehovah under the laws of nature, God appears as the Redeemer, Christ, and radiates the principles of love and regeneration directly into any planet where the creatures of Jehovah require this help to extricate themselves from the meshes of mortality and egotism in order to attain to altruism and endless life.
When God exercises the divine attribute of dissolution, He appears as The Father who calls us back to our heavenly home to assimilate the fruits of experience and soul growth garnered by us during the day of manifestation. This Universal Solvent, the ray of the Father, emanates from the Invisible Spiritual Sun.
These divine processes of creation and birth, preservation and life, and dissolution, death and return to the Author of our being we see everywhere about us, and we recognize the fact that they are activities of the Triune God in manifestation. But have we ever realized that in the spiritual world there are no definite events, no static conditions; that the beginning and the end of all adventures of all ages are present in the eternal "here" and "now"? From the bosom of the Father there is an everlasting outdwelling of the essence of things and events, which enters the realms of "time" and "space." There it gradually crystallizes and becomes inert, necessitating dissolution that there may be room for other things and other events.
There is no escape from this cosmic law; it applies to everything in the realm of time and space, the Christ ray included. As the lake which empties itself into the ocean is replenished when the water that left it has been evaporated and returns to it as rain, to flow again ceaselessly toward the sea, so the Spirit of Love is eternally born of the Father, day by day, hour by hour, endlessly flowing into the solar universe to redeem us in its death grip. Wave upon wave is thus impelled outward from the sun to all the planets, giving a rhythmic urge to the evolving creatures there.
And so it is in the very truest and most literal sense a newborn Christ that we hail at each approaching Yule-feast, and Christmas is the most vital annual event for all humanity whether we realize it or not. It is not merely a commemoration of the birth of our beloved Elder Brother, Jesus, but the advent of the rejuvenating love of life of our Heavenly Father, sent by Him to redeem the world from the wintry death grip. Without this new infusion of divine life and energy we should soon perish physically, and our orderly progress would be frustrated so far as our present lines of development are concerned. This is a point we should endeavor to realize thoroughly in order that we may learn to appreciate Christmas as keenly as we should.
We may learn a lesson in this respect as in many others from our children or from reminiscences of our own childhood. How keen were our anticipations of the approaching feast! How eagerly we waited for the hour when we should receive the gifts which we knew would be forthcoming from Santa Claus, the mysterious universal benefactor who brought the toys for the coming year! How would we have felt had our parents given us the dismembered dolls and broken drums of yesteryear? It would surely have been felt as an overwhelming misfortune and would have left a deep sense of broken trust which even time would have found it difficult to heal; yet it would have been as nothing compared with the cosmic calamity that would befall mankind if our Heavenly Father should fail to provide the newborn Christ for our cosmic Christmas gift.
The Christ of last year cannot save us from physical famine any more than last year's rain can drench the soil again and swell the millions of seeds that slumber in the earth awaiting the germinal activities of the Father's life to begin their growth; the Christ of last year cannot kindle anew in our hearts the spiritual aspirations which urge us onward in the Quest any more than last summer's heat can warm us now. The Christ of last year gave us His love and His life to the last breath without stint or measure; when He was born into the earth last Christmas, He endued with life the sleeping seeds which have grown and gratefully filled our granaries with the bread of physical life; He lavished the love given Him by the Father upon us, and when He had wholly spent His life, He died at Eastertide to rise again to the Father, as the river by evaporation rises to the sky.
But endlessly wells the divine love; as a father pities his children, so does our Heavenly Father pity us, for He knows our physical and spiritual frailty and dependence. Therefore we are now confidently awaiting the mystic birth of the Christ of another year, laden with new life and love sent by the Father to preserve us from the physical and spiritual famine which would ensue were it not for this annual love offering.
Younger souls usually find it difficult to disabuse their minds of the personality of God, of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, and some can only love Jesus, the man. They forget Christ, the Great Spirit, who ushered in a new era in which the nations established under the regime of Jehovah will be broken to pieces that the sublime structure of Universal Brotherhood may be built upon their ruins. In time all the world will realize that "God is spirit, to be worshiped in spirit and truth." It is well to love Jesus and to imitate him; we know of no nobler ideal and none more worthy. Could a nobler one have been found, Jesus would not have been chosen as a vehicle of that Great One, the Christ, in whom dwelt the Godhead. We shall therefore do well to follow "in His steps."
At the same time we shall exalt God in our own consciousness by taking the word of the Bible that He is spirit, and that we cannot make any likenesses which will portray Him for He is like nothing in heaven or on earth. We can see the physical vehicles of Jehovah circling as satellites around the various planets; we can also see the sun, which is the visible vehicle of the Christ; but the Invisible Sun, which is the vehicle of the Father and the source of all, appears to the greatest of human seers only as a higher octave of the photosphere of the sun, a ring of violet-blue luminosity behind the sun. But we do not need to see; we can feel His love, and that feeling is never so great as at Christmas time when He is giving us the greatest of all gifts, the Christ of the new year.
Not infrequently we find that some one takes the platform to explain why he is a Baptist, Methodist, or Christian Scientist, and what his particular faith may be. We have often been asked by our students for something which would help make plain to their associates why they had embraced the teachings of the Elder Brothers given through the Rosicrucian Fellowship, in preference to the faith which they had left. We will, therefore, endeavor to give a succinct resume of reasons which appeal to us as sufficient, but students will doubtless find many other reasons equally good or better, which they may add verbally to what is here said.
It should be made clear in the very beginning that students in the Rosicrucian Fellowship do not call themselves Rosicrucians. That title applies alone to the Elder Brothers, who are the hierophants of the Western Wisdom Teaching. They are as far beyond the greatest living saint in spiritual development as that saint is above the lowest fetish worshiper.
When the bark of our life sails lightly upon smooth summer seas, wafted along by the fair winds of health and prosperity, when friends are present on every hand, eager to help us plan pleasures which will increase our enjoyment of this world's goods, when social favors or political powers come to us to gratify our every wish in whatever sphere our inclinations seek expression, then, indeed, we may say and seem justified in saying with our whole heart and soul: "This world is good enough for me." But when we come to the end of the smiling sea of success; when the whirlwind of adversity has blown us upon the rocky shores of disaster, and a wave of suffering threatens to engulf us; when friends have failed and every human help is as far off as it is unavailing, then we must look for guidance to the skies as does the mariner when he steers his ship over the waste of waters.
But when the skipper scans the sky in search of a star whereby to steer the ship safely, he finds that the whole heavens are in motion. Therefore to follow almost any one of the myriad of wandering stars visible to the eye would be disastrous. To meet the requirements the guiding star must be perfectly steadfast and immovable, and there is only one such, namely, the North Star. By its guiding light the mariner may steer in full confidence and bring his ship to a haven of rest and safety. Likewise one who is looking for a guide which he may trust in days of sorrow and trouble should embrace a religion founded on eternal laws and immutable principles, able to explain the mystery of life in a logical manner so that his intellect may be satisfied, and at the same time containing a system of devotion that may satisfy the heart, so that these twin factors in life may receive equal satisfaction. Only when man has a clear intellectual conception of the scheme of human development is he in a position to range himself in line therewith. When it is made clear to him that this scheme is beneficient and benevolent in the very highest degree, that all is truly ruled by divine love, then this understanding will sooner or later call out in him a true devotion and heartfelt acquiescence which will awaken in him a desire to become a co-worker with God is the world's work.
When seeking souls come to the door of the church to seek surcease from sorrow, they cannot be satisfied with the platitudes that it is the will of God that sorrow and suffering have come to them, that in His divine providence He has seen fit to scourge them, and that they must take it as an indication that He regards them as His beloved children and be satisfied no matter what happens. They cannot see that Deity does justice when He makes some rich and many poor, a few healthy and many sickly; and it is only too often in evidence that iniquity is prosperous while rectitude is in rags.
The Rosicrucian Teaching gives clear and logical information concerning the world and man; it invites questions instead of discouraging them, so that the seeker after spiritual truth may receive full satisfaction intellectually; and its explanations are as strictly scientific as they are reverently religions. It refers us for information regarding life's problems to laws that are unchangeable and immutable in their realm of action as the North Star is in the heavens.
Though the world whirls upon its axis at the rate of one thousand miles an hour, we stand safely anywhere upon its surface because the principle of gravity prevents us from being hurled into space by the terrific speed. We know that the law of gravity is eternal; it will not act today and suspend action tomorrow. When we enter a hydraulic elevator we rest safely upon a column of water because that fluid is more incompressible than most solids, and this property is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Were its action suspended for even a few moments, thousands of people would fall to their death; but it is steadfast and sure, therefore we trust in implicitly.
The law of cause and effect is also immutable; if we throw a stone into the air, the act is not complete until by gravitation it has returned to earth. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," is the way this law is expressed in the realm of morals. "The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small," and once an act has been done, the reaction will come some time, some where, as surely as the stone that was thrown into the air will return to the earth.
But it is manifest that all of the causes that we set going in life do not ripen in the present existence, and it therefore follows that they must find their fruition somewhere else at some other time, or the law would be invalidated, a proposition that would be as absolutely impossible as that the law of gravitation could be suspended, for either would make chaos out of cosmos. The Rosicrucian Teachings explain this by a statement that man is a spirit attending the School of Life for the purpose of unfolding latent spiritual power, and that for this purpose he lives many lives in earthly bodies of increasingly finer texture, which enable him to express himself better and better. In the lower grades of this school of evolution man has few faculties. Each life-day he comes to school in the morning of childhood, and is given lessons to learn, and at night when old and gray the nurse maid of nature, "Death," puts him to sleep that he may rest from his labors until the dawn of another life-day, when he is given a new child body and new lessons. Each day "Experience," the teacher of the school helps him to learn some of the lessons of life, and gradually he becomes more and more proficient. Some day he will have learned the entire curriculum of the school, which includes building of bodies as well as using them.
Thus when we see one who has few faculties, we know that he is a young soul who has gone to life's school only a few days; and when we find a beautiful character, we recognize an old soul who has spent much time in mastering its lessons. Therefore we do not despair of God's love when we see the inequalities of life, for we know that in time all will be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect.
The Rosicrucian teachings also take the sting of sorrow out of the greatest of all trials, the loss of loved ones, even if they have been what is called wayward or black sheep; for we know that it is an actual fact that in God we life and move and have our being; hence, if one single soul were lost, a part of God would be lost, and such a proposition is absolutely impossible. Under the immutable law of cause and effect we are bound to meet these loved ones some time in the future under other circumstances, and there the love that binds us together must continue until it has found its fullest expression. The laws of nature would be violated if a stone thrown from the earth were to remain suspended in the atmosphere, and under the same immutable laws those who pass into the higher spheres must return. Christ said, "Ye must be born again," and "If I go to my Father, I will return."
But although our reason may reach into the mysteries of life, there is still a higher stage, actual first-hand knowledge. As a matter of fact the foregoing propositions are capable of verification by each one, for we all have a sixth sense latent in our being, which will sometime enable us to view the spiritual world with the same distinctness as that with which we see the temporal. This sixth sense will be developed by all in the course of evolution, and there are certain means whereby it may be developed now by all who care to take the necessary time and trouble to do so. Some have done this, and they have told us of their travels in the land of the soul. We believe their testimony concerning that place just as we believe what people who have traveled in Africa or Australia tell us of those countries. And just as we say that we know the earth rotates upon its axis and revolves in its orbit around the sun because we have been thus informed by scientists who have made the investigations and calculations that establish these facts, so also we say that we know the dead live, and that whether dead or alive, in the body or out of it, we are all enfolded in the love of our Father in Heaven, without whose Will not the smallest sparrow falls to the ground, and that He cares for all and orders our steps in harmony with His plans to develop our spiritual powers to the highest possible degree.
So because of the logical, soul-satisfying philosophy of life given by the Rosicrucians, we follow their teachings in preference to other systems, and invite others who wish to share the blessings thereof to investigate.
The object of the Rosicrucian Fellowship has been clearly stated in our literature, as have the means whereby it is hoped to attain the end in view, but in response to requests for a succinct summary we devote this chapter to that subject.
The world is God's training school. During the past we have learned to build different vehicles, among other the physical body. By this work we are promoted from class to class, each with its particular scope of consciousness. We evolved eyes that we might see, ears that we might hear, and other organs that we might taste, smell, and feel. But not all egos were promoted at every step. When the mist in the air at the time of Atlantis condensed and filled the basins of the earth with oceans of water, driving men to the highlands, many perished by asphyxiation because they had not evolved lungs. They could not pass through the portal of the rainbow, which was, so to speak, the entrance gate to the new age with its dry atmospheric conditions.
Another great world transformation is coming, we know not when; even the Christ confessed His ignorance of the day and the hour; but He warned us that the day would come as a thief in the night, and He prophesied that the conditions in the world would then be similar to those prevailing in the days of Noah; they were living then in carefree enjoyment of life when suddenly the floodgates of heaven were opened, and death and destruction spread before them.
Christ told us that it is possible to take the kingdom of God by storm and attain to the consciousness and conditions there prevailing. But Paul informs us that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; he states that we have a soul body (some psuchicon-1 Cor. 15: 44), and that we shall meet the Lord in the air when He comes. This soul body is therefore as necessary to entrance into the new age of the kingdom of God, as a body equipped with lungs was to the Atlanteans who desired to enter into the age in which we are now living. Therefore it is necessary that we make our calling and election sure by preparing the Golden Wedding Garment, the soul body, which alone can secure our admission to the mystic marriage.
The multitude is slowly moving in the right direction as led by the different churches, but there is an ever growing class that, so to speak, feels the wings of the soul body sproating, people who feel an inner urge to take the kingdom of God by storm. Though unaware of any definite ideal, they sense a greater truth and more certain light than those which the Church radiates; they are tired of parables and long to learn the underlying facts at the very feet of Christ.
The Rosicrucian Fellowship was started for the purpose of reaching this class, to show them the way to illumination, to help them build their soul body and evolve the soul powers which will enable them to enter consciously into the kingdom of God and obtain first-hand knowledge.
This is a large undertaking, none greater and even under the most favorable existing conditions progress must be slow, but if the aspirant will continue with patient perseverance in well doing, it can be done.
The methods are definite, scientific, and religious; they have been originated by the Western School of the Rosicrucian Order, and are therefore specially suited to western people. Sometimes, but very rarely, they bring results in a short time; generally it requires years and even lives before the aspirant attains, but the following system will in the end bring all to their heart's desire.
The Tabernacle in the Wilderness was a symbolic representation of the way to God, and, as Paul says, held a shadow of better things to come. Everything in it had its spiritual meaning. The table of shew-bread gives us an important lesson germane to our present consideration. Students will remember that the ancient Israelites were commanded to bring the shewbread to the tabernacle at stated intervals. The grain from which this was made was given them by God but they must prepare the soil in which it was to grow, they must plant and cultivate, they must weed and water, so as to secure the greatest possible increase; they must harvest and thresh, grind and bake, ere they had the loaves which they brought to the tabernacle as bread to shew for their toil. Similarly, God gives to all the grain of opportunity to serve, but it is our duty to cultivate these opportunities and nurse and nourish them in the soil of loving kindness so that they may bring a great increase. We must always bear in mind the words of Christ that He came to minister and to serve. Therefore anyone aspiring to follow in His steps and to be great in the kingdom of God must ever be on the lookout for opportunities to serve his fellows. Each day must be filled as full as possible with kind and considerate deeds, for they are the warp and woof of which the golden wedding garment is woven. Without these "works" no amount of prayer, fasting, or other religious exercise will avail. It is useless to repair to the temple without this bread to shew that we have really worked in the Master's service.
The foregoing is also the teaching of the exoteric churches; but the following is the exclusively Rosicrucian scientific teaching and method, based upon the deepest knowledge of spiritual facts whereby the aspirant is enabled to gain the maximum soul growth in each life, so that his spiritual advancement is accelerated beyond his very wildest dreams. Therefore this is the most important spiritual teaching that has been given to man in modern times, and no one who tries honestly to follow this simple method can fail to be enormously benefited:
Ether is the medium of transmission of light, that which etches a picture on the photographic film. It permeates the air, and with every breath we draw from birth to death ether enters our system and etches a picture of our surroundings and actions on a little atom in the heart. Thus each carries with him a complete record of his life, which is assimilated after death. Expiation of the evil deeds causes paid and anguish in purgatory. These are thus transmuted to conscience to prevent repetition of the same mistakes in succeeding lives: the good deeds are transmuted to love and benevolence. Instead of waiting for this post-mortem transmutation of the shrewbread of life, the aspirant who desires to take heaven by storm may assimilate the fruits of each day after retiring and before going to sleep by running over the deeds done. The events of the day are considered in reverse order so that that which happened in the evening is taken first, then the happenings of the afternoon, forenoon, and morning. This is important for it conforms to the way the life panorama acts after death, taking first the events just prior to death, last the events of infancy. The object is to show the effects and then refer them to their antecedent causes.
In this retrospection it will do the aspirant no good to run over the events of the day and mildly blame himself where he did wrong--he is usually sure enough to praise himself sufficiently for his good deeds. But he must remember the altar of burnt offerings where the sacrifices for sin were offered. They were first rubbed with salt and then placed on the altar to be consumed by a divinely enkindled fire. Anyone knows what an intense pain is caused when salt is rubbed into a wound, and this rubbing with salt is symbolic of the pain the aspirant must feel for his wrongdoing. Now mark that it was not permissible to place the sacrifice on the altar until it had thus rubbed with salt. God would not accept it before, but when it had been salted it was consumed by a fire kindled by God Himself.
This tells us that unless we have washed our evil deeds of the day in the salt of our tears and heartfelt contrition, God will not accept our sacrifice of repentance; but when we have really repented, our sins will be washed away and our recording atom will be clean as the driven snow. With respect to our good deeds we may remember that there were two little piles of frankincense of the top of the shew bread. These were offered upon the altar of incense, where the smoke ascended as a sweet savor to the Lord, so different from the nauseating stench that went up from the altar where the sin offerings were burned. Is it any wonder that God took no delight in the sacrifice of bulls and calves, but delighted in a contrite heart and repentant spirit?
It is this spiritual aromatic extract of our good deeds that builds our soul body. By the ordinary natural process it takes about one-third as many years in our post-mortem existence as we lived in the body, to reap what we have sowed. But when an aspirant has assimilated the fruits of life by faithful retrospection at the end of each day, he is free as soon as he leaves the body and may use the years spent by others in purgatory and the first heaven as he pleases. Furthermore, as he needs neither food, shelter, nor sleep, he may spend twenty-four hours a day doing good. Thus he has practically as many years of service and soul growth after death as the number of his earth life; and being trained and schooled in this work his attainments are probably greater than could be made in a number of lives in the ordinary way.
To aid deserving aspirants, still deeper and more definite teachings are given by the Elder Brothers through the Rosicrucian Fellowship. Students who feel the inner urge may ask for information concerning these teachings.