It is really pathetic to see the gloom of people who have been bereaved by the death of some one near and dear, and to see how in extreme cases they devote themselves for the rest of their lives to mourning for the one who has passed on. They clothe themselves in sable garments, and deem it a sacrilege to the memory of the departed one to even smile, little realizing that by such an attitude of mind they are keeping in the densest regions of the invisible world the person whom they profess to love, where all that is evil lives and moves and has its being in close contact with the base and selfish side of humanity. This is not a mere fancy but an actual fact, demonstrable to any one who has the slightest extension of the physical sight.
It is one of the greatest blessings conferred upon those who study and believe the Rosicrucian teachings that they are gradually emancipated from the fear of death and from the feeling that a great calamity has happened when some one near and dear to them passes into the invisible beyond. A blessing flows both to the so-called "living" and the so-called "dead" when the departing spirit is given the proper care and help during the transition. It is then able to assimilate the panorama of live, which will make the post-mortem existence full and profitable because undisturbed by the sorrow, grief, and hysterical weeping of those who are still in the body. During the years which follow it may also be assisted by their prayers.
On the other hand, those of the so-called "living" who study these teachings are learning to practice this unselfish attitude toward death, so necessary to soul growth, because they realize that as a matter of actual fact death of the body at the proper time is the greatest blessing that can befall humanity. There is not one among us who has a body so perfect that it is fit to be lived in forever. In most cases the passing years bring out the weak points in our vehicles to an increasing degree, crystallizing and hardening them so that they become more and more of a burden which we are only too glad to lay down. Then we have the hope and the knowledge that we shall be given a new body and a new start in a future age, so that we may learn more of the lessons in life's school.
This is the time of the year when the Mystic Death which we are all celebrating naturally turns our thoughts and the thoughts of humanity in general to the subject of death and rebirth. There is no other teaching than that of rebirth which is of equally vital importance or of similar value. Humanity needs it at this time more than ever on account of the carnival of cruelty and slaughter that has been enacted in the past two and a half years in Europe. So closely is the human family interconnected that there are probably comparatively few persons in the world who have not lost some relatives in that titanic struggle.
It is at once the duty and the privilege of those who know the truth about death to disseminate it as much as possible among those who are still in darkness concerning the facts connected with this event. Therefore I would urge upon the students of the Rosicrucian Fellowship to realize that we are all stewards of everything we have, mental as well as physical property, and that it is our duty in so far as it is possible in a tactful and diplomatic manner to bring these great facts of life and being to the knowledge of those who are still without them. We never can tell when we cast our bread upon the waters how it will return to us. It is certain that sooner or later these teachings, temporarily forgotten, must again become the knowledge of all humanity, and we ought to share the pearl of knowledge which we have found with others whenever it is possible to do so. If we neglect to do this, we are really committing a sin of omission for which we must sometime answer.
I trust that you will take this to heart and devote yourself to spreading this knowledge, not as time and opportunity offer, but taking time by the forelock and making the opportunity; but with all proper tactfulness so that the object we have in view may not be frustrated by using the wrong method. Furthermore, it is not necessary to label this knowledge. Bible instances can be brought forth to show that this doctrine was believed by the Elders of Israel who sent messengers to John the Baptist to ask if he were Elias. Also their speculations as to whether Christ was Moses, Jeremiah, or another of the prophets are evidence of their belief. Christ believed in rebirth, because He stated definitely that John the Baptist was Elias. This doctrine was enunciated by Paul in the 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians, also in other places.
You can render no greater service to humanity than by teaching them these truths.
While I was dictating this month's lesson it occurred to me to ask whether you are getting the full benefit from the lessons or not? It all depends upon the way you are studying, for you cannot get any more out of them than what you put into them yourself. Therefore I thought best to devote this letter to a little discussion of the proper method of using them with maximum benefit.
You know that it is the aim of the Rosicrucian teachings to develop the mind and the heart equally; to give all explanations in such a logical manner than the mind is ready to accept, and then the heart is allowed free scope for working over the material thus received. If you simply read the lesson and think over it and find it reasonable as an explanation of the subject taken up each month, and then you lay it away and forget all about it, it will do you very little good, for you have used only your intellect and not your heart. The proper way, after the lesson has been intellectually assimilated and assented to, is to take it up in a devotional manner during the rest of the month at different times when you feel in the mood for such an exercise. You should then go over the lesson, endeavoring not to think about it at all, leaving the intellect out as far as possible. Endeavor to feel it, for feeling is a function of the heart. Try to visualize the different things and subjects taken up in it.
For instance, the lesson which accompanies this present letter deals with humanity during the heraphrodite stage. It calls to mind the entrance of the Lucifer spirits, also the path of regeneration under the guidance of Mercury. If you will visualize before your inner eyes the condition of man during the different stages which have passed, you will reap great benefit. You can do that better than you can visualize and feel the changes that are still in the future, for within your consciousness there lie latent all the feelings that you have had during all the past ages of your evolution, and it is only a matter of practice to be able to call them up at will.
You will remember from what it said in the Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception concerning the method of Initiation that sometime when you come to that point you will have to travel backward over the road that you have come, and feel and see consciously that which you were unconscious of when you went over it. So the above practice is preparation. The more you can see yourself in the state of mind indicated, the more deeply you can feel yourself in the corresponding condition and realize the protecting and guiding hand of the divine hierarchies which have aided us in the path of evolution, the better you will be prepared for the time to come when you are to go through this during the process of Initiation. It is safe to say that you will receive much more benefit from Initiation then than if you are unprepared.
This practice of feeling the lesson you will find a very, very great aid to spiritual progress; and properly used, it will illuminate the lessons and give you a spiritual insight that cannot be attained in any other way. Therefore, I sincerely hope that you will take this to heart and make up your mind to practice it regularly, even with lessons which may seem to you at first glance dull and uninteresting. This process will enable you to dig out pearls hidden beneath the surface, of which you have never dreamed.
From time to time letters are received at Headquarters asking in various terms the question: "How can I make more spiritual progress?" I have therefore thought well to devote this letter to a consideration of this subject.
It is a law in nature that "from nothing, nothing comes" Yet a great many people labor under the fallacy that spiritual truth and advancement may be had without money and without price. In a certain sense that is true, because it is absolutely wrong and vile to barter spiritual power for fitlhly lucre, as was so forcefully shown by Peter when he dealt with Simon the sorcerer, who wanted to buy spiritual powers from him and offered him money in exchange. At the same time there is a definite price upon spiritual growth which must be paid by every one who wants to attain it. In the first place, the old interests must be sacrificed. We all remember the parable about those who were bidden to the feast of the king but who refrained from coming for various reasons. One had taken a wife and wanted to enjoy his honeymoon; another had bought oxen and wanted to inspect his new property; and so on, with the result that they all neglected their opportunity and lost their chance of advancement.
The same proposition comes to us today in different guise. We may be willing to sit at home and read a book about spiritual things in our leisure hours when we have nothing to do that interest us more, but when the Great Work demands some of our time, we have various excuses. "I have a daughter I want to send through college," says one. "When that is done and my obligations are liquidated, I will take hold." Another says: "My business needs my presence every day, and at night I am tired. I cannot work for the Fellowship in the evening or attend their meetings, for I would not be fit to give all my energies to my work next day. But when I retire from business, I will take hold. A third says: "I have many children who demand my attention and attendance at various social functions. I cannot go to the Fellowship meetings and neglect them. But when they are married, I will work for the cause."
It is perfectly true that when we have assumed obligations we must discharge them to the best of our ability. At the same time there is also more than a possibility that if we think thoroughly over the matter we will find that we have some time left from our duties which may be devoted to the Great Work. In this connection it may be well to remember the incident of some coming to Christ and saying to Him: "Thy mother and they brethren stand without, desiring to speak with Thee." He answered, "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?....Whososever shall do the will of my Father which is in Heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." Again He said: "If any man come to Me, and hate not his Father, mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And every one that hath foresaken 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."
There is and must be a sacrifice involved in the regenerate life. It has been my experience personally, and in watching thousands of others, that in the direct proportion that any one gives of his thoughts, his time and money to the cause he has espoused so will he reap spiritual benefit. When one consecrates all that he is to the regenerate life and follows the guidance of the spirit it will soon be seen that his very intensity of purpose in the new direction shuts out the old things. He has no longer time for them. They pass out of his thoughts and drop away. In one way or another the daughter gets through college or finds some equally suitable employment. The business prospers even better than when the proprietor devoted all his time and all his energies to worrying and money grubbing. The children find another chaperon fully as capable as their mother when sometimes she is working for the spiritual cause. In every case that which we give up for the work's sake, the time that we spend in the cause of Christ, and the money we expend in discriminate charity are all provided for and compensated for under the law that works for good.
As the psalmist says: "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous foresaken, nor his seed begging bread." The law enunciated by Christ, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you," holds good in this day as well as when it was spoken. This I have found by actual experience, and every one else who lives the life and does the work will find that the same holds good in his or her case. There is growth only in service.
Recently we received a letter from Seattle which gives good a suggestion that you may like to use. Our friend writes: "The other day while in Ballard I went into the library and called for the "Cosmo." When I was ready to go, I turned over to the table of food values and took the open book up to the librarian's desk. I showed her this table and said: 'This is a valuable table.' She, examining it said: 'Why, I have been asked a number of times for tables of just this kind.' Then the thought came to me that when other students go into a library and ask for the "Cosmo,: they might do the same as I had done. The librarian might then catalogue the book as containing hints on health and food, and in that way it might come into the hands of some who are seeking for just the light which it contains."
This is true to a much greater extent than we usually realize. Wonderful are the ways and the means and the places in which the Light strikes us, not only when we are not seeking consciously for it but even asserting that there is no such thing as light in the spiritual sense and decrying as frauds those who follow it. It has often been an inspiration and a source of great encouragement to me to think of Paul's journey to Damascus. He was a man who glorified in the zeal wherewith he persecuted the saints. None was as diligent as he in putting down that which he believed to be a damnable heresy. But strong souls are the darlings of the gods whether they work for good or for evil, because that indomitable, irresistible energy which drives them to action, even if temporarily used for bad purposes, will be just as strong when diverted into the channels of good. And so Paul was a special favorite of the gods, and therefore was given such a powerful light that it blinded him when he was least looking for such a thing, namely, while on the road to Damascus. Then and there he was given an understanding and a knowledge far superior to those of any of the other apostles. He was chosen for a special mission and given a particular gift in the shape of spiritual vision and the ability to be all things to all men.
Not infrequently our students complain that they cannot make their associates or relatives understand the teachings of the Rosicrucians. An illustration occurred to me the other day when I was looking through the tool chest on Mt. Ecclesia. There were a large number of wrenches in it, some large and some small, each one fitted to turn just one size bolt; there were also a few that were adjustable within certain limits. Now it occurred to me that sometimes a very small wrench may be far more valuable than one of large dimensions; it all depends upon the size of the bolt. For a small bolt you need the small wrench, and for a large one the large wrench. Similarly, when we meet people in the world, we must size them up and see what they require. Many of us have studied very deeply into the Mystery Teachings and have acquired a profound knowledge of these subjects. We are like large wrenches, but absolutely useless for turning the little bolts that have not been touched with this knowledge at all. In such cases we must not try to air our profound knowledge and talk over the heads of our audiences, but we must endeavor to come down to their level and explain things to them in exactly the same elementary manner that was required with us in the beginning.
In other words, we must be adjustable, like some of those wrenches in our tool chest. When we meet an audience of strangers, we must talk right down to their level and use the simplest language possible. Then, again, when we meet older students and are in a class where they are capable of grasping the profounder problems, we may expand to the very fullest of our ability with considerable profit and benefit to ourselves and all others concerned. But above all we must learn, with Paul, to be all things to all men, or we shall defeat the object we have in view of bringing light to seeking souls.
There is in the following letter a valuable suggestion from a student of the Rosicrucian teachings, which I feel it a duty to pass on:
"Last night when looking over a big budget of correspondence that it had been my good fortune to receive from the Fellowship during nearly five years, I wondered how other probationers and students deal with their monthly Fellowship letters. Next it occurred to me that this should be made point of in one of the monthly letters. It is not my desire to criticize the doings of other probationers, but it is very probable that few students and probationers ever realize fully what a mine of information is really contained in these letters, which can be turned into heavenly treasure by right action. How often on looking over back numbers of them have new ideas and realizations sprung into being that I was not conscious of before, and what a help they have been in many an inner struggle!
"Truly it may be said that in these back lessons we have a gold mine from which many treasures could be dug that would help us to live the life. Here indeed we have a second Cosmo. Truly it behooves students and probationers to correctly file and look after every detail of their correspondence with the Fellowship so that it can be made of as much use as possible in diffusing the light of the Elder Brothers. Perhaps just one of these lessons is all that is required to help a friend. Much benefit must come from an orderly arrangement of them.
"I think it scarcely possible that the majority of students and probationers can ever fully realize what a power for good there is behind these lessons. To those among us who have been used to strict data and scientific methods of research these back lessons will go a long way towards helping unite head and heart. They contain many a gem of thought which will make for right action and perseverance in well-doing. If the students and probationers will hold the thought of how best to use the letters they receive, it will be very helpful and make for more soul growth. Surely it is the little things that make the big things possible, and perhaps this would stir some members to service."
If students will bear in mind that repetition is the keynote of the vital body, and that "all occult development begins with the vital body," they will realize why it is so profitable to go over the back lessons and letters frequently.
As you probably know, we have here on Mt. Ecclesia a short service morning and evening, which includes a reading from the Bible. Mrs. Heindel and myself are very fond of reading from time to time the third chapter of James because we find there such an important lesson. I thought it might be well to call it to your attention, particularly because of an incident which happened here a short time ago that served to drive that lesson with great force into my consciousness. I believe that we shall all be able to profit by taking that lesson to heart. Let me quote a few verses from the chapter mentioned, and then I shall tell you the incident to which I refer.
"If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindeth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell, For every kind of beast, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similtude of God. My brethren, these things ought not to be. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."
We have on Mt. Ecclesia several swarms of bees. Some time ago the gardeners were endeavoring to move a swarm from one place to another. The bees became enraged at this interference with their life and work; they stung their aggressors severely and painfully in a number of places. When this incident was reported to me and I thought it over, it struck me that there was in it a very important lesson. The bee loses its sting whenever it has stung, and then it dies. Just think of it! How strictly the law of justice deals with it! It automatically kills itself when harming anyone else. It is not an avenging God but its own act that brings the retribution. Just think of it!
If we died when we had stung others with sharp words, how many of us would be alive? And again, if we knew that we would die when we had stung, would we not curb our tongues to the benefit of ourselves and all others concerned.? This is surely an example that we may well take to heart and ponder repeatedly until we learn to snap our teeth together and keep our mouth closed whenever we are tempted to speak unkind words. If we can only do this, the time will come by and by when we shall cease to feel unkindly towards people, no matter what they do to us.
I can assure you in the case of Mrs. Heindel and myself, particularly since we came to Headquarters, that this chapter has been of more spiritual benefit to us than any other. It has helped us more than all the rest put together, though of course we are far, far from perfect yet. But what we have done, and what others have done with us here, is ample warrant for recommending this chapter to your earnest attention--coupled, perhaps, with the little story of the bees--for it will do as much for you if you read it and take it to heart one or twice a week.
Last week a visitor to Mt. Ecclesia told me that she had been studying all the different philosophies she could get hold of for about twenty years; also that she had in the past few years taken up the study of the Rosicrucian teachings, and that they appealed to her as being the absolute truth. She naturally expected me to give acquiescence to that sentiment, and was both amazed and dumbfounded when told that I did not so consider the teachings given me by the Elder Brothers and written in our various books.
To the Bushmen, the Kafirs, and other African savages who may develop a religious temperament, so far as they are capable of such a thing, it probably seems a great truth that there is a divine being of a higher nature than the human. From such men and from such a conception of religion there is gradual advance towards the transcendental philosophies which call out reverence in the most highly developed specimens of our human race. This gives us reason to believe that the evolution of man demands also an evolution of religion. We have climbed from the valleys of childlike ignorance to the point where we are today, and it would be absolutely contrary to the law of analogy to suppose that anything in the religious line which we have today is the ultimate; for if there is to be no more religious progress, there can be no more human progress either.
What, then, is the way to the heights of religious realization, and where may one find it? This seems to be the next logical question. The answer to it is that it is not found in books, either my own or anyone else's. Books are useful in so far as they give us food for thought on the subjects dealt with. We may or may not come to the same conclusions as the writer of the books, but so long as we take the ideas presented into our inner being and there work over them carefully and prayerfully, whatever comes out of the process is our own, nearer the truth than anything we can get from anyone else or in any other way.
The within then is the only worthy tribunal of truth. If we consistently and persistently take our problems before that tribunal, we shall in the course of time evolve such a superior sense of truth that, instinctively whenever we hear an idea advanced, we shall know whether it is sound and true or not. The Bible in a number of places exhorts us to beware of all kinds of doctrines floating about in the air because many are dangerous and unsettle the mind. Books are launched on the market which advance this, that, or the other system of philosophy. Unless we have established, or have started to establish, this inner tribunal of truth, we may be like the lady referred to above--wandering about from place to place, mentally speaking, all our lives and finding no rest, knowing little more at the end than in the beginning and perhaps even less.
Therefore my advice to the student would be never to accept or reject or follow blindly any authority, but to strive to establish the tribunal of truth within. Refer all matters to that tribunal, proving all things, and holding fast to that which is good.
Some errors are so frequently expressed by students that they call for correction from time to time. The most general of these is the mistaken idea that everything which happens to us is the outcome or effect of some cause or action of our own in times past, generally in a past existence. Theoretically, students know that this attitude is wrong. They are aware that besides the destiny brought over with us from previous existences for liquidation in this life, we are every day exerting a causative influence by our acts. A considerable part of the deeds done in this body will work uot into effects before death terminates our stay in our present environment, while those deeds which are not thus liquidated will be held over and will form the foundation of the destiny of a future existence, where we may reap what we have sown. This destiny carried over from life to life is shown by our horoscope, and gives us certain characteristics and tendencies or lines of least resistence. It cannot be overlooked though that this destiny from the past gives us a certain bias or trend towards a particular line of action. But, nevertheless, there is comparative free will in a large percentage of our actions, leaving scope for the exercise of Epigenesis, the divine creative activity which is the basis of evolution.
As said, students all know this perfectly well, theoretically. But in dealing with problems of practical every-day life they seem to persistently take the attitude that all that that is, is an unfoldment of something that has already been. This is particularly true of students who have been studying the Eastern religions before taking up the Western Wisdom Teachings. By this mental attitude of ignoring Epigenesis they are retarding their soul growth to a greater extent than they are aware of. In fact something is happening to them similar to that which befalls the materialist during his post-mortem existence at the time when he lives on the Borderland between Purgatory and the First Heaven in a monotony most dreadful to contemplate. The Borderland is, so to speak, an eddy outside the stream of life where progress is at a standstill. The materialist is there because of his denial of post-mortem existence, which has put him out of touch with the spiritual currents that generate motion and action during that existence.
Similarly, when we constantly emphasize the Law of Causation and consistently and persistently ignore the Law of Epigenesis, we are placing ourselves outside the latter's line of action, and our opportunities for exercising its initiative are missed more often than not, with the result that we become more and more barren as the years go by. Whereas if we endeavor intelligently when considering the problems of life, exemplified in the actions of those about us as well as our own actions, to seek out the principle of Epigenesis and watch its operation, we shall find opportunities for initiative action opening up before us to an extent we have never before believed possible. By watching the way in which Epigenesis applies in other lives we shall learn how to apply it in our own.
I hope that you will keep this thought close to you and tha you may reap much benefit from a persistent practice of this principle.
From the dim distant past there comes to us the voice of Isaiah in one of the grandest and most soul-inspiring of prophesies:
Nor is the song of the angel choir above the Galilean hills less potent to stir the soul with its sublime ideal:
But looking facts in the face as seen in the world today, such sayings seem little short of mockery; and from the customary viewpoint of the man in the street all the platitudes offered by the religionists cannot make the situation in the so-called, "Christian world" less odious.
But when we apply the cosmic scale of perspective and measurement, it is different. Goethe says well:
As with individuals, so with nations. Sorrow and suffering seem unfortunately to be the only teachers they will hear. Hence the necessity for their lessons. Viewing life as unending we are not dismayed at the so-called "loss of life" incident to the present war. Those killed will all be born again, and by their experience they will be better than they are now. Peace and good will are bound to come in time when we have learned to abhor war, hence we may well rejoice at the prospect and earnestly pray for its consummation. I would particularly urge students of the Rosicrucian Fellowship to unite in this prayer on Holy Night at midnight when the usual service is held in the Pro-Ecclesia by the workers on Mt. Ecclesia.
We enclose a little leaflet, "The Bible at a Glance," with seasonal greetings from the workers on Mt. Ecclesia, hoping that you may find the former both interesting and instructive.
We are again standing upon the threshold of a New Year, a time when it is a general custom to form one's aspirations into resolutions. As the students of the Rosicrucian teachings ought to be particularly interested in the matter of spiritual growth, I have thought that the following considerations may perhaps be of benefit at this time.
The word "holiness" has in the minds of many become associated with a long face and a hypocritical attitude of mind, so that people in the world are usually very shy of those who make professions of holiness. But that of course is not the true brand. The really holy man is not a kill-joy; he is not slothful in business; he does his duty fully, at home or in the shop, puts his heart into all his work; he is a worthy example of faithfulness, and is generally respected by all who know him, for his actions speak louder than words and command commendation. He is careful in his dealings with his fellow men, striving to owe no man anything but love, always ready and anxious to help others; he is in fact, a model man in all relations of life.
But this life of worldly rectitude is not itself a test of holiness. There are many splendid people in the world who live model lives for ethical reasons, and comport themselves in a manner that calls for the respect of all who know them. They are also charitable and are prominent, according to their station, in every good work. However, as said, this is not the test. The test showing the difference between the merely model man or woman and the holy one comes in the hours of leisure when the call of duty has been fulfilled for the time being. At that point it will be found that they ways of the worldly and the holy part, for at that time the worldly minded man turns to recreation, amusement, and pleasure for an outlet for his energy, or perhaps he pursues some favorite hobby according to the bent of his mind and as his means allow. It may be simple games or sports, or it may be song and music, theaters, parties, or any other means he can find to make time pass pleasantly.
But the holy man is as the steel touched with the lodestone and deflected by force from pointing to the pole. When once the heart has been touched by the lodestone of the love of God, duty may and does deflect it towards the affairs of the world which demand legitimate attention. The holy man not only does not shirk his worldly duty but he fulfills it better and more conscientiously than before giving himself to God. At he same time subconsciously he feels the yearning to return in mind to communion with the Father, which is analogous to the way the magnetized steel needle that has been deflected from the north exerts a pressure in the direction of the pole. The moment the call of duty has been fully answered and the pressure removed for the time being, the holy man's thoughts automatically turn towards the Divine. A ride in the street car to or from business is an opportunity for such meditation. The time spent in waiting for some one else is utilized in the same way. In short, never a moment of relaxation from worldly affairs comes to the holy man without his thoughts instantly turning to his source and goal--God.
We have heard of men who studied law while riding to and from business in street cars; others have learned languages by utilizing the spare moments which most people waste in idle, aimless, wandering thoughts. Let us learn a lesson from them, and during the coming year practice the habit of turning our thoughts to God during whatever scattered spare moments we have. If we practice this faithfully, we shall find ourselves greatly advanced upon the path of soul growth.
The Christ exhorted us to let our light shine, and in the parable of the talents He emphasized the points that to whom much is given, of him much will be required, and that every one, no matter how little he has received, is expected to put it out to usury, to cast his bread upon the waters, so that it may return to him after many days and yield an increase. We are now standing near the beginning of another year. We have received the priceless Rosicrucian teachings. Hence it is required of us that we put his knowledge to some use in order to help those of our fellow men who have not yet received a solution of the problem of life and are seeking for light.
We are properly dislike conceited people who have an exaggerated idea of their own abilities and who bore other people to death with their undesired discourse. But the students of the Rosicrucian Fellowship seem to suffer from the opposite disease and temperament, which is just as bad. Self-depreciation, timidity, and mistrust of self squelch our ability and our talents, causing them to atrophy, just as do the eyes of animals which have left the sunlight and gone into caves to live, or as does the hand which is held inactive by the side for years and which loses its power to move. Our talents atrophy if not used. We shall be responsible for hoarding knowledge and withholding it from those who are seeking, just as much as the servant in the parable who buried his talent instead of working with it so that it might become greater.
We have always held that matters of belief should not be forced upon the attention of other people, but there are thousands of opportunities every year when we may say a word calculated to bring out an inquiry relative to our philosophy on the part of a friend addressed. It is perfectly legitimate to lead people on as long as they are interested. Paul exhorted his followers to be shod with a preparation of the Gospel, and if we follow that rule by preparing ourselves to answer questions intelligently, we shall find that people will be interested in what we have to say.
Just now people are intensely interested in life after death. But to answer their questions properly we must have enough of the Rosicrucian teachings by heart and we must have them at our fingers' ends. A little knowledge is dangerous in matters of religion and philosophy as well as in other things. You must have enough and of the right kind to make it worth while to enter the field of propaganda at all. But it is not difficult. While it may be very interesting and instructive to students of the Rosicrucian teachings who have become deeply interested in and have a good working knowledge of the philosophy to go into the mysteries of periods and evolutions, epochs and races, cosmic days and nights, et cetera, still all that is needed to help the man in the street is a thorough knowledge of the Laws of Consequence and Rebirth as they have been given in our literature. These are the vital principles which concern him most. They are the meat in the nut of the Rosicrucian teachings. If you can give them to a person who is in despair, either on account of having lost some one near and dear, or because the whole world seems upside down and he can find no place into which to fit, no way to get over the dead wall which confronts him, you may solve his problems for him in a logical and reasonable manner by showing how the law of Rebirth, coupled with the Law of Consequence, is constantly working for the good of humanity, and how he may gain whatever good he wants by working in harmony with these two great laws. You will thus have done him a signal service, and made considerable soul growth for yourself.
I would also suggest that classes be formed in the various study centers to study all that has been said in our literature concerning the workings of these two great laws, so that the students may fit themselves to render important service to the community by helping people to solve the problems of life which are so baffling to the great majority.
I trust that this suggestion may prove of benefit to you during the coming year.
A correspondent enthusiastic over the beauty, grandeur, and soul-satisfying nature of the Rosicrucian teachings bemoans the fate which has fettered her to a cook stove, a dishpan, the care of children, and the drudgery of housework; were she only free to take this new-found gospel, she would go into the wide world with the glad tidings for which she knows untold thousands are praying and seeking.
That would be well for our friend and those thousands, but what about the little children deprived of their mother's care? Do not forget the very important point that all who were hired to work in the Master's vineyard were standing idle in the market place. They had no hampering ties to hinder them from working there the whole day, and no one who is not free from former obligations may take up a life work of teaching others. If we aspire to that work by being faithful in the performance of our present duties, they way will open sometime and give us the legitimate call.
But about "drudgery"; the use of that word is all too common. The teacher talks of the drudgery of drumming the same lesson into the heads of children year after year; the mother talks of the drudgery of housework; the father complains of the drudgery of office or shop work; and so on down the line. Each thinks that if he or she were in the shoes of some one else, life would at once change to a grand, sweet song.
This is a fallacy. "Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble." No matter where he is placed, there is only one method of relief, one way to overcome, and that is by adoption of the right attitude of mind.
A great gas engine going at full speed might defy an army of strong men to stop it, but a tiny speck of carbon deposited on the ignition point, or a small cam working loose, would quickly quell its energy. Thus a little soot, which we despise as dirt, can under certain circumstances accomplish more than many men. Therefore we should not extravagantly eulogize some as heroes and despise others as drudges. There are as noble souls mending stockings as ever graced presidential chairs. It all depends upon whether they put love into their work or not.
But what many really mean when they say "drudgery" is monotony. All work is routine more or less, and the constant performance of the same tasks often becomes monotonous. There is a very good reason why the present phase of our development includes this principle of routine. We are now getting ready for the fast approaching Aquarian Age with its great intellectual and spiritual development. This requires an awakening of the dormant vital body, whose keyword is repetition. The routine of our daily work furnishes this. If we rebel, it breeds monotony and retards progress. But if we leaven our labor with love, we shall advance ourselves greatly in evolution and reap the reward of contentment.
After writing the students' lesson and thinking over the various phases of Easter and the events happening around that time according to the Bible story, it occurred to me what a sealed book the Bible is to those who have not the Western Wisdom Teaching and a knowledge of esoteric astrology. So I decided to use this letter to elucidate one of the points that presented itself before my mind.
You probably remember that according to Luke (22nd chapter) the Christ sent Peter and John with instructions to look for a man bearing a pitcher of water and to enter into the house where he went, for there the passover was to be held. Later at that place, we are informed, He gave the apostles the bread and the water which constituted the New Covenant, declaring that he would no more drink the fruit of the vine. This is entirely misunderstood. To the great majority the man with the pitcher of water has no meaning, neither the fact that the passover was to be held at his house and not at some other place. Also people believe that Christ gave His disciples wine to drink, whereas the Bible says entirely the opposite. There is a great significance in this story when we read it as it is written and examine it in the light of the esoteric teaching.
First, let us remember how the leaders of humanity have given each new race a certain appropriate food, as elucidated thoroughly in the Cosmo. Briefly, grain was given to Cain, the Second Race man, who was plant-like and had a vital body. To Abel, the Third Race man, who had a desire body, milk was supplied. To Nimrod, the Fourth Race man, who had a mind, meat was given. Wine was supplied by Noah to the Fifth Race man. It made him a Godless egotist, so that man's inhumanity to man has become a byword; but it also helped him to reach the nadir of his material evolution. Now, however, the spiritual evolution is about to begin, and altruistic ideas must be fostered, or at least started to germinating, so that they may be expressed by the Sixth Race. This again requires a change in diet.
While these steps in evolution have taken place, the sun by precision has circled the zodiac many times. But each step was inaugurated under a specific sign, and each was preceded and succeeded by minor cycles which were replicas of the great ages and evolutionary epochs. Thus the last six or seven thousand years while the sun went through Taurus, the sign of the Bull, Aries the sign of the Ram, and Pisces, the watery, fluidic sign have seen ages of material development, fostered by meat and wine. Even Christ at the beginning of His ministry turned water to wine, ratifying its continued use during the Piscean Age. But at the end of His earthly career He sent His disciples to prepare the passover in the house of the Water-bearer, and there abolished meat and wine by giving the bread and the water cup as the New Covenant for the Kingdom of God, where He is to reign as the Prince of Peace.
Could anything be plainer? Christ is the Sun Spirit, and when the sun passes over the equator at the vernal equinox in the sign of the Water-bearer, the Aquarian Age will be ushered in, in which the fleshless, non-alcoholic diet of the New Covenant will be in vogue and an era of altruism will dawn. We are beginning to feel this beneficient influence now, though it is still centuries away, and we are here to help prepare for that time. Therefore it behooves us to cleanse ourselves physically, morally, mentally, and spiritually that we may be a shining example to others and thereby lead them to the great Light which we have been fortunate enough to see. Let us also remember that the greater our knowledge, the greater also our responsibility for its right use, and unless we live up to these ideals, we shall merit the greater condemnation.
A student who confesses that he is still addicted to flesh eating in some degree has occasionally an urge to speak to others on the Rosicrucian teachings, but always feels as if he were a hypocrite when he advocates vegetarianism. He asks us how he may overcome this habit and whether he should give up teaching others until he has himself attained.
This query has general interest, for though th students of the Rosicrucian teachings are sincere and earnest, they have the same imperfections as all other human beings or they would not be here; hence a letter on this subject may prove helpful to many.
It needs no argument to prove that you cannot effectively discourse on spirituality over a cocktail, nor advocate the harmless life while eating a steak. Furthermore, those who know your habits in daily life are always quick to notice the difference between what you preach and what you live. Therefore it is of course best to be able to live up to the teachings before commencing to convert others. At the same time it is too strong language to call any one a hypocrite because he advocates an ideal to which he has not yet attained. So long as one sincerely believes that the fleshless diet is right and tries to live accordingly, he is justified in advocating it even though occasionally he breaks the rule. The north star guides the mariner safely to his desired haven even though he never reaches the star itself. Similarly, if we set our ideals as high as the stars, we may not attain them in this life, but we shall always be the better for having them.
At the same time it would seem that with a little will power brought to bear it should not be very difficult for any one to abstain from tobacco, liquor, and flesh food. Surely the thought of the suffering that is caused the poor animals in the trains on their way to the slaughterhouse, and the agony which precedes the time when the blow is struck that ends their life or the time when the knife goes into their throat, ought to move any one who aspires to live the higher life and fill him with compassion for these poor dumb creatures which cannot defend themselves. For similar reasons the wearing of furs and feathers as ornaments should be dispensed with by the gentler sex among our ranks. It is equally inconsistent, and would doubtless cause adverse comments if any one should preach the gospel of harmlessness while thus arrayed.
Unfortunately the complexity of our civilization forces us to use leather for many things because no other material is available on the market to take its place; for example, for shoes, straps, etc. But nevertheless we ought to do all we possibly can to avoid making use of any material which comes from the body of an animal that requires its death. One of the blessings of this present war is that man is find out that meat is not an indispensable article of diet, and that we are far better off without alcohol. Let us hope that this is but the beginning of the end, and that man will soon cease to breed or hunt animals for their flesh and fur. Meanwhile let us all set the example and apply our will power to this end.
We are here to live in the conditions as we find them and to learn the lesson provided by our environment. Those who are continually soaring in the clouds and seeking spiritual ideals to the neglect of their plain duties are just as mistaken in their efforts as those who wallow in the mire of material work, grubbing and grinding in their greed for the dollar. Both need help, but in opposite directions. One class needs to be pulled down till their feet are firmly planted upon earth; the other needs an uplift that they may see the light of heaven and begin to think of acquiring treasures there.
"One man's meat is another man's poison," and this applies to spiritual food at least equally as much as to physical. There is only one great truth--Diety--but it is many-sided. The angle of presentation which appeals to us may lack power to stir others; and, vice versa, their outlook upon truth may fail to meet our needs. Thus there is a reason for all the different religions in the world and the different views presented by the various cults and sects. Each has its mission to perform for the people among whom it is found, so we should be tolerant of all cults or religions even when those who profess them attack us and our views.
We should be satisfied to be known by our fruits, for that is the only true and valid test of individual religion. Does it make us better men and women, better fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, employers and employees? Does it make us better all-around citizens who may be looked up to in the community where we live? That is the test of true religion.
There is not so much danger of finding the materialist in our ranks, but unfortunately there is a tendency among people who espouse advanced teachings to soar in the clouds, forgetful of concrete conditions and earthly duties. This causes the average man and women to look askance at occultism and to regard those who study it as cranks, though their actions are no more the fault of occultism than it is the fault of good food when a weak stomach cannot digest it.
For this reason we should not only be tolerant of the beliefs of others and make it a rule never to belittle another faith, but we should watch ourselves to see that we LIVE the Rosicrucian teachings so as to do credit to them in our immediate environment.
From time to time students in various parts of the world have been asking what should be their attitude toward the war and what purpose it serves from the spiritual standpoint. In answer we have pointed out in various articles the Rosicrucian teaching concerning the object of the war, namely, to turn the world towards God for consolation in its sorrow, and to rend the veil which exists between the visible and invisible worlds by helping a considerable number to acquire spiritual sight and the ability to communicate with those who have passed beyond. But though the explanations given have satisfied most occult students in a measure, there were others who did not feel satisfied therewith; they wanted something more directly bearing on the conditions. To them we pointed out the teaching in Lecture No. 13--"Angels as Factors in Evolution"--showing how human affairs are guided by the angels and archangels who act as family and Race Spirits, causing the rise and fall of nations as required for the evolution of the various groups of spirits under their guardianship.
As a final attempt to satisfy our students concerning this vital matter we send you herewith a lesson entitled, "The Philosophy of War," showing its application to the present conditions. We trust that this will give to all the needed explanation and help all to understand what is involved, so that they may render their hearty co-operation to end the struggle as soon as possible and secure the peace for which we all so ardently long.
But let us realize that there can be no peace worth having until militarism has received such a blow that it will not raise its head again for a long time. Many people hope that this will be the last war, and we ardently wish that we could believe it. People thought the same when Napoleon and his hordes overran Europe a hundred years ago, but time has proved that such hopes were vain. Peace is a matter of education, and impossible of achievement until we have learned to deal charitably, justly, and openly with one another, as nations as well as individuals. As long as we manufacture arms, peace will not become established. It should become our aim and object to do all we can toward the abolition of militarism in all countries and the establishment of the principle of arbitration of difficulties.
Many years ago I spent a few weeks on a farm in Maine at the time when they were harvesting potatoes. As the wagons passed me, I noted that the potatoes were all large and of almost uniform size. So one day I congratulated the farmer on having such a fine crop of large potatoes. He walked over to a wagon and showed me that the bottom of the wagon was full of small potatoes. He also said that they had not been sorted in the field but that the jostling of the wagon over the rough road from the field to the barn brought the big potatoes to the top while the small ones sank to the bottom. "If you put the big ones at the bottom," he said, "they will rise to the top and the small ones will sink."
And is this not just like life! People of representative appearance, of large qualities, rise to the top as we jostle one another over the rough places on the highway of life. "Yon cannot keep a good man down," is an old saying. He will rise to the top in spite of everything by virtue of the uplifting power within him. And similarly, no matter how often we put a small man on top, he will sink, because he lacks the inner power. We may build a house as large as we want and rear it above all other structures if we have material and labor in sufficient quantities, but the growth of man is from within, and no one can add a hairbreadth to the stature of another, physically, mentally, or morally. Each must work out his own salvation; he alone can determine whether he will remain in a lowly lot or rise to the top.
The farmer found that when his potatoes were carried over a smooth boulevard they remained mixed; but the rougher the road, the quicker the big potatoes rose to the top and the smaller ones sank to the bottom. In the great emergencies of life great opportunities await those who are ready to assume responsibilities and go to the front of the battle.
We are living in such a time, and if we aspire to rise, now is our greatest opportunity. The whole world is now asking for an answer to the riddle of life; inquiring whither the ship of humanity is sailing. And we have the answer. Upon us, therefore, rests the responsibility of living the teachings of the Elder Brothers and making them appeal to others by exemplary lives. Many of our brothers are carrying the teachings of the Elder Brothers into the very trenches and enlightening those who are ready to be taught. Those of us who are still in our usual environment will find the interrogation point in many hitherto closed quarters. Let us therefore diligently seek the opportunities and improve them, for "unto whom much is given, of him shall much be required."
I would suggest to the students that now is the time to see to it that the Cosmo and our other literature, as far as possible, is in the libraries in their own cities; also that it is in a place where it is accessible and that it is being used. If a number of people inquire about it from time to time, though the Librarian may know nothing about it and perhaps even be hostile, the constant call for a certain book will finally force him to take notice. There is no doubt that the Fellowship teachings have within them an inner power that is bound to make a place for them in the world, but we shall acquire merit in proportion to the way in which we help to bring these teachings of the Elder Brothers to the notice of humanity in general. It is now vacation time and hence an especially propitious season for the dissemination of our soul-satisfying philosophy. Let us therefore all put forth an extra effort at this time. It will benefit others and ourselves also.
In these days when our customs, habits, and business are being so radically interfered with by the great war no matter where on earth we live; when the flower of our manhood is being mowed down in millions by cannon; when even woman must leave her accustomed vocation as home maker to take part in the titanic struggle behind the fighting lines; when the weak, those who are either very old or very young, succumb to privation; how can one help being disturbed more or less according to one's individual suffering or one's proximity to the seething sea of hate and sorrow in what was once fair France or in the other battle-scarred sections?
To remain undisturbed perhaps seems impossible. One cannot remain calloused in the face of such suffering. One student after describing the devastation of a shelled city, asks: "Can one help feeling very strongly about it?" No, Christ felt very strongly when He wept over the sins of Jerusalem, and He showed His righteous wrath when He drove the money changers out of the temple. But equipoise is undoubtedly one of the great lessons which we may learn from this war.
It is easy to be peaceful if one goes into the mountains and lives the life of a hermit. But what credit is it to keep our equipoise with no one to thwart, oppose, or vex us? It is more difficult, however, to keep a peaceful attitude in the industrial life of a city where relentless war is waged with the sword of competition and where existence is circumscribed by laws and custom. But it can be done, and it is being done by many who make no pretense to spirituality, but who have found that loss of balance interferes with their ambition. So they setout to train themselves in the practice of equipoise. It has been the invariable experience of such people that they have benefited greatly. Their health has improved, their happiness also, and their business efficiency has increased.
If such self-control can be attained by people in the world, and if so much benefit can accrue to them on that account under ordinary condition of life, those among us who aim at higher and nobler things and who have been endeavoring to follow the path for years ought to be examples of faith and hopefulness at this time, ought they not? We ought to be towers of strength to those who have not had the great enlightenment which it has been our privilege to obtain. And above all things, we ought to exert a constructive and upbuilding influence in this world crisis.
Therefore I have outlined in this month's lesson the secret causes which in the past have generated and fertilized the seeds that have now flowered into our present cataclysmic condition, and have indicated in a slight measure how we are now sowing the seeds of our future well or ill being; this in the hope that you will concentrate your thoughts constructively along the line indicated, and advocate in your sphere of life the views presented. Much sorrow may thus be averted in the future for thoughts are things, and if they are in harmony with the cosmic purpose to make all things work together for good, they will surely prosper.
Suppose some one very close to you were undergoing a surgical operation. Naturally you would feel very much concerned, and your feelings would probably swing between fear and hope. Sometimes one emotion and sometimes the other would predominate. But consider what would be the effect upon the effect upon the patient if you were to voice your doubt and misgivings on every occasion. Fear always has a devitalizing and detrimental effect which makes it very difficult for the patient to recover, particularly as during the time of an illness he is less self-assertive and more negative than at times when he is in good, robust health. Thus while you were really anxious to help him and would do anything in your power to serve him, by that attitude of mind and the expression of such thoughts you would be really hindering him very much.
Something similar is taking place in the world at large at the present time. The human race is undergoing a necessary operation for spiritual cataract. The sorrow and suffering occasioned by the present war are doing much to tear the scale of materialism away from our eyes and rend the veil which divides us from those in the land of the living dead. The operation is painful in the extreme. Surely there is not a human being capable of humane feeling in the world who is not feeling in some measure for and with those who are actually engaged in the struggle. But if we are firmly convinced that "thoughts are things," it is our sacred duty to hold the most optimistic attitude of mind which it is possible for us to have at the present time.
I have no doubt that every student of the Rosicrucian Fellowship is doing all he can and giving all he can to alleviate the suffering and sorrow existing in the countries immediately affected, but it is the all-important mental attitude of optimism that is so difficult for many to cultivate and keep. Nevertheless it is our duty to do this, particularly in the light of our superior knowledge of the end in view, which will surely be attained. We cannot be glad that this thing is upon us, but we can be thankful that it is as certain to bring a great good to the world at large as it is that the sun rises every morning and sets at night.
We have an absolute faith in the wisdom and omnipotence of Deity. We know that it is a false accusation to say that "nature is red in tooth and claw," as some one has put it. Regardless of what it may seem to us with our limited vision, benevolence is the ruling factor in the world's evolution. Therefore each and every one of us should live up to the sacred obligation to always strive to hold an optimistic attitude and always emphasize our firm faith in the ultimate good which is to result from the present conditions. let us remember that when we are working with the trend of evolution it is like rowing a boat with the stream; our efforts will then have greater effect than if we take an attitude that is contrary to the world's good.
Note: The Letter for Nov. 1918 was devoted to business matters connected with our publications, and therefore is not included here.
This is the last student's letter of the present year, and the thought at the ending of each cycle naturally turns to the fleetness of time and the evanescence of existence in the phenomenal world. It also reminds us of the preciousness of time and of our responsibility to use it to the best advantage for soul growth, "for what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Now is the seed time, and we are told that "unto whom much is given, of him shall much be required." Therefore we are accountable for what we have done or left undone to a greater measure than others who have not had the intimate knowledge of God's purpose which has been vouchsafed us through the Elder Brothers.
In this connection we should realize that every act of every human being has a direct effect on the archetype of his body. If the act is in harmony with the law of life and evolution, it strengthens the archetype and makes for a longer life in which the individual will get the maximum of experience and make soul growth commensurate with his status in life and capacity for learning. Thus fewer embodiments will be necessary to bring him to perfection than one who shirks the strain of life and endeavors to escape its burdens, or one who applies his forces destructively. In the latter type of life the archetype is strained and breaks early. Thus, those whose acts are contrary to the law shorten their lives and have to seek new embodiments a greater number of times than those who live in harmony with the law. This is another instance in which the Bible is correct when it exhorts us to do good that we may live long in the land.
This law applies to all without exception, but it has greater significance in the lives of those who are consciously working with the law of evolution than in those of others. The knowledge of these facts should add tenfold or a hundredfold to our zest and zeal for good. Even if we have started, as we say, "late in life," we may easily lay up more "treasure" in the last few years than in several previous lives. And above all, we are getting in line for an early start in lives to come.
Let us hope therefore that we have used to the best advantage the year which is now passing, and prepare to increase our efforts during the coming year.
It seems appropriate to commence our correspondence for 1919 by wishing you a happy and successful New Year. But the proverb says: "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." Something more is required to secure success and happiness than mere wishes, and perhaps mine may bear better fruit if I explain to you the law of success.
The students of the Rosicrucian Fellowship are coversant with the fact that there is no "luck," and are quite well agreed with Mephisto in Faust when he says:
But here a query will at once present itself to the minds of many: "Is it possible to reduce success to a law?"
Yes, there is a law of success, as sure and immutable as any of the other great cosmic laws. And while I shall apply it only to spiritual matters, I cannot hide from you that it will also bring certain success in material affairs. But before you apply it in that direction, consider very carefully that to do so means spiritual suicide, for 'ye cannot serve God and Mammon." Rather, "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." I can testify to the truth of this promise, having lived by it for many years.
The law of success may then be stated as follows:
First, determine definitely and clearly what you want--development of the healing power, extended vision, invisible helpership, the ability to lecture and carry the Rosicrucian message to others, etc.
Second, when you have set your goal, never harbor a thought of fear or failure for a moment, but cultivate an attitude of invincible determination to accomplish your object despite all obstacles. Constantly hold the thought, "I can and I will."
Do not begin to make plans as to how to attain until you have reached the attitude of absolute confidence in yourself and in your ability to do what you desire, for a mind swayed by the slightest fear of failure cannot make plans that will fully succeed. Therefore be patient, and be sure first to cultivate absolute faith in yourself and your ability to succeed despite all odds.
When you have reached the point where you are fully persuaded that you can succeed and positively determined that you will succeed in some pursuit, there is no power on earth or in heaven that can withstand you in that particular pursuit; and you may then plan how to go about attaining your heart's desire with certainty of success.
I hope that you will apply this law earnestly in the pursuit of soul growth, not only during the coming year but in all future years.