Strange as the statement may seem, it is nevertheless true that the great majority of mankind are partially asleep most of the time, notwithstanding the fact that their physical bodies may seem to be intensely occupied in active work. Under ordinary conditions the desire body in the case of the great majority is the most awake part of composite man, who lives almost entirely in his feelings and emotions, but scarcely ever thinks of the problem of existence beyond what is necessary to keep body and soul together. Most of this class have probably never given the great questions of life, Whence have we come, why are we here, and whither are we going? any serious consideration. Their vital bodies are kept active repairing the ravages of the desire body upon the physical vehicle, and purveying the vitality which is later dissipated in gratifying the desires and emotions.
It is this hard-fought battle between the vital and desire bodies which generates consciousness in the physical world and makes men and women so intensely alert that, viewed from the standpoint of the physical world, it seems to give the lie to our assertion that they are partially asleep. Nevertheless, upon examination of all the facts it will be found that this is the case, and we may also say that this state of affairs has come about by the design of the great Hierarchs who have our evolution in charge.
We know that there was a time when man was much more awake in the spiritual worlds than in the physical. In fact there was a time when, although he had a physical body, he could not sense it at all. In order that he might learn how to use this physical instrument properly, conquer the physical world, and learn to think accurately, it was necessary that he should for a time forget all about the spiritual worlds, and devote all his energies to physical affairs. How this was brought about by the introduction of alcohol as a food and by other means has been explained in the "Cosmo" and need not be reiterated. But we are now face to face with the fact that mankind has become so completely immersed in materiality that, so far as the great majority are concerned, the invisible vehicles are thoroughly focused upon physical activities and asleep to the spiritual verities, which are even derided as the imagination of diseased brains; also those who are beginning to awake from the sleep of materialism are scorned as fanatics, fit only for the madhouse.
If this attitude of mind were consistently followed, the spirit would eventually become crystallized in the body. The heaven life in which we build our future vehicles and environments would become increasingly barren; for when we persistently hold the thought that there is nothing but what we contact through our senses (see, hear, feel, smell, touch, and analyze), this mental attitude cultivated in the earth life persists in the Second Heaven with the result that we may there neglect the preparation that would give us a field of endeavor and instruments wherewith to work in it, and as a result evolution would soon cease.
According to the Rosicrucian teachings, the soul is the extract of the various bodies; it is garnered by experience that involves the destruction of the particular bodies from which this living bread is derived and which is to be used as a pabulum for the spirit. In the ordinary course of evolution the perfection of the various vehicles is gradual, and the soul substance is then garnered and assimilated by the spirit between earth lives. But at a certain period in the larger life when we are entering upon a new spiral, a different phase of evolution, it is usually necessary to employ drastic measures to turn the spirit out of the beaten pathway into a new and unknown direction. Formerly when we possessed less individuality and were incapable of taking the initiative ourselves these changes were accomplished by what may be called great cataclysms of nature, but which were in fact planned by the divine Hierarchies who guide evolution, with a view to destroying multitudes of bodies that had served the purpose of human development in a given direction, changing the environment of those who had learned the possibilities of a new road, and starting these pioneer people upon a fresh career. Such wholesale destruction was naturally much more frequent in the earlier epochs than in later times. Lemuria had all the requisite conditions for numerous attempts at making a fresh start with one group when another had failed and had been destroyed. As a matter of fact, there was not merely one flood in Atlantis but three, and a period of about three-quarters of a million years elapsed between the first and the last.
We may not expect that the method of wholesale destruction and a new start can be abrogated until we as a whole awaken to the necessity of taking a new road when we have come to the end of the old, but a new method is being used by the Invisible Directors of evolution. They are not now making use of cataclysms of nature to change the old order for something new and better, but they are making use of the misdirected energies of humanity itself to further the ends they have in view. This was the genesis of the great war which recently raged among us. Its purpose was to turn our energies from seeking the bread whereof men die and to create in us the soul hunger that would cause us to turn from material things to spiritual. We are, as a matter of act, commencing to work out our own salvation. We are beginning to do things for ourselves instead of having them done for us, and though unaware of the fact, we are learning how to turn evil to good.
Some may think this war affected only those few million men actually engaged in it, but a little thought upon the matter will soon convince anyone that the welfare of the whole world was involved to a greater or lesser degree so far as economic conditions were concerned. There is no race nor country that escaped entirely, nor can any go on in the same tranquil manner as before the war broke out. Kinship and friendship were ties which reached from the trenches of Europe to every part of the globe. Many of us were related to individuals in one and perhaps both groups engaged in the strife, and we followed their fortunes with an interest commensurate with the strength of our feeling for them. But in the nighttime when our physical bodies were asleep and we entered the desire world, we could not escape living and feeling th whole tragedy with all the intensity whereof we were capable, for the desire currents swept the whole world. In the desire world there is neither time nor distance. The trenches of Europe were brought to our door no matter where we lived, and we could not escape the subconscious effect of the spectacle which we there saw. Furthermore this titanic struggle produced effects which could never be equaled by a natural cataclysm, which is so much quicker in its action and so much shorter in its duration, besides being localized and incapable of generating the same feelings of love and hate which were such important factors in the World War.
During the previous career of man it has been the object of the divine Hierarchs to teach him how to accomplish physical results by physical means. He has forgotten how to utilize the finer forces in nature such as, for instance, the energy liberated when grain is sprouting, which was used for purposes of propulsion and levitation in the Atlantean airships. He is unaware of the sanctity of fire and how to use it spiritually, therefore only about fifteen per cent of its power is utilized in the best steam engines. It is well of course that man is thus limited, for were he able to use the power at the command of one whose spiritual faculties are awakened, he could annihilate our world and all upon it. But while he is doing his best or his worst with the faculties at his command today, he is learning the lesson of how to hold his feelings in leash to fit himself for the use of the finer forces necessary for development in the Aquarian Age, and pulling the scales from his eyes so that he may commence to see the new world which he is destined to conquer.
Two separate and distinct processes are made use of to accomplish this result. One is the visit of death to millions of homes, tearing away from the family group the husband, father, or brother, and leaving the survivors to face a grey existence of economic privation. The sun existed previous to the eye and built that organ for its perception. The desire to see was naturally unconscious on the part of the individual who did not know and had no concept of the meaning or use of sight; but in the world soul, which created the sun, rested the knowledge and requisite desire that worked the miracle. Similarly in the case of death: when our consciousness had first become focused in the physical vehicles and the fact of death stared us in the face, there was no hope within; but in time religion supplied the knowledge of an invisible world whence the spirit had come to take birth and whither it returns after death. The hope of immortality gradually evolved in humanity the feeling that death is only a transition, but modern science has done its best to rob men of this consolation.
Nevertheless, at every death the tears that are shed serve to dissolve the veil that hides the invisible world from our longing gaze. The deep-felt yearning and the sorrow at the parting of loved and loving ones on both sides of the veil are tearing this apart, and at some not far distant day the accumulated effect of all this will reveal the fact that there is no death, but that those who have passed beyond are as much alive as we. The potency of these tears, this sorrow, this yearning is not equal in all cases, however, and the effects differ wisely according to whether the vital body has been awakened in any given person by acts of unselfishness and service, according to the occult maxim that all development along spiritual lines begins with the vital body. his is the basis, and no superstructure can be built until this foundation has been laid.
With regard to the second process of soul unfoldment which is carried on among those actually engaged in warfare, there are probably but few who have had as unique an opportunity to study actual conditions on the whole of the extended line of battle as th writer. Notwithstanding all the brutality and hellishness of the whole thing he feels confident that this was the greatest school of soul unfoldment that has ever existed, for nowhere have there been so numerous opportunities for selfless service as on the battle fields of France, and nowhere have men been so ready to grasp the change of doing for some one else. Thus the vital bodies of a host of people have received a quickening such as they would probably not have otherwise attained for a number of lives, and these people have therefore become correspondingly sensitive to spiritual vibrations, and susceptible in a higher degree to the benefit which may be derived from the first process previously mentioned. As a result we shall in due time see an army of sensitives among us who will be in such close touch with the invisible world that their concerted testimony cannot be crushed by the materialistic school. They will prove a great factor in helping us to prepare for the higher conditions of the Aquarian Age.
"But," some may ask, "will they not forget when the stress and strain of war are over? Will not a large percentage of these people go back into the same rut where they were before?" To this we may answer that we feel confident it can never come to pass, for while the invisible vehicles, especially the vital body, are asleep, man may pursue a materialistic career; but once this vehicle has been awakened and has tasted the bread of life, it is like the physical body, subject to hunger--soul hunger,--and its cravings will not be denied save after an exceedingly hard struggle. In the latter case, of course, the words of Peter are applicable: "The last state of that man is worse than the first." However, it is good to feel that out of all the indescribable sorrow and trouble of the war good is being wrought in the crucible of the gods, and it will be a lasting good. May we all align our forces and help extract the good, so that we may be shining examples to help lead humanity to the New Age.
A war-weary world, red with the blood of millions, the hope of its future, the flower of its young manhood, is groaning in agony, praying for peace, not an armistice, a temporary cessation of hostilities, but everlasting peace, and it is striving to solve the problem of how to accomplish this much desired end. But it is striking at effects because ignorant of or blind to the one great underlying cause of the ferocity of the people, which was but barely hidden under a thin veneer of civilization before it burst into the volcano of destruction which we have recently witnessed and are now lamenting.
Until the connection between the food of man and his nature is understood and the knowledge applied to tame the passions and eradicate ferocity, there can be no lasting peace. In the dim dawn of being when man-in-the-making wrought under the direct guidance of the divine Hierarchs who led him along the path of evolution, food was given him of a nature that would develop various vehicles in an orderly, systematic manner, so that in time these different bodies would grow into a composite instrument usable as the temple of an indwelling spirit which might then enter and learn life's lessons by a series of embodiments in earthly bodies of an increasingly fine texture. Five great stages or epochs are observable in the evolutionary journey of man upon earth.
In the first, or Polarian Epoch, what is now man had only a dense body as the minerals have now, hence he was mineral-like, and it is said in the Bible that "Adam was formed of the earth."
In the second, or Hyperborean Epoch, a vital body made of ether was added, and man-in-the-making had then a body constituted as are those of the present plants; he was not a plant but was plantlike. Cain, the man of that time, is described as an agriculturist; his food was derived solely from vegetation, for plants contain more ether than any other structure.
In the third, or Lemurian Epoch, man cultivated a desire body, a vehicle of passions and emotions, and was then constituted as the animal. Then milk, a product of living animals, was added to his diet, for this substance is most easily worked upon by the emotions. Abel, man of that time, is described as a shepherd. It is nowhere stated that he killed an animal for food.
In the fourth, or Atlantean Epoch, mind was unfolded, and the composite body became the temple of an indwelling spirit, a thinking being. But thought breaks down nerve cells; it kills, destroys, and causes decay, therefore the new food of the Atlantean was dead carcasses. He killed to eat, and so the Bible describes the man of that time as Nimrod, a mighty hunter.
By partaking of these various foods man descended deeper and deeper into matter; his erstwhile ethereal body formed a skeleton within and became solid. At the same time he gradually lost his spiritual perception, but the memory of heaven was always with him, and he knew himself to be an exile from his true home, the heaven world. In order to enable him to forget this fact and apply himself with undivided attention to conquering the material world, a new article of diet, namely, wine, was added in the fifth or Aryan Epoch. Because of indulgence in this counterfeit spirit of alcohol during the millenniums which have passed since man came up out of Atlantis, the most advanced races of humanity are also the most atheistic and materialistic. They are all drunk for even though a person may say, and say quite truthfully, that he has never touched liquor in his life, it is nevertheless a fact that body in which he is functioning has descended from ancestors who for millenniums have indulged in alcoholic beverages in unstinted measure. Therefore the atoms composing all present day Western bodies are unable to vibrate to the measure necessary for the cognition of the invisible worlds as they were before wine was added to the diet of humanity. Similarly, though a child may be brought up today on a fleshless diet, it still partakes of the ferocious nature of its flesh-eating ancestors of a million years, though in a less degree than those who still continue to feast on flesh. Thus the effect of the flesh food provided for man-in-the-making is deep-seated and deep-rooted even in those who do not now indulge in it.
What wonder then that those who still partake of flesh and wine return at times to godless savagery and exhibit a ferocity unrestrained by any of the finer feelings supposed to have been fostered by centuries of so-called civilization! So long as men continue to quench the immortal spirit within themselves by partaking of flesh and the counterfeit alcoholic spirit, there can never be lasting peace on earth, for the innate ferocity fostered by these articles will break through at intervals and sweep even the most altruistic conceptions and ideals into a maelstrom of savagery, a carnival of ruthless slaughter, which will grow correspondingly greater as the intellect of man evolves and enables him to conceive with his master mind methods of destruction more diabolical than any we have yet witnessed.
It needs no argument to prove that the recent war was much more destructive than any of the previous conflicts recorded in history, because it was fought by men of brain rather than by men of brawn. The ingenuity which in times of peace has been turned to such good account in constructive enterprises was enlisted in the service of destruction, and it is safe to say that if another war is fought fifty or a hundred years hence, it may perhaps all but depopulate the earth. Therefore a lasting peace is an absolute necessity from the standpoint of self-preservation and no thinking man or woman can afford to brush aside without investigation any theory which is advanced as tending to make war impossible, even if they have been accustomed to regard it as a foolish fad.
There is plenty of proof that a carnivorous diet fosters ferocity, but lack of space prevents a thorough discussion of this phase of the subject. We may, however, mention the well known fierceness of beasts of prey and the cruelty of the meat-eating American Indian as fair examples. On the other hand, the prodigious strength and the docile nature of the ox, the elephant, and the horse show the effects of the herb diet on animals, while the vegetarian and peaceable nations of the Orient are a proof of the correctness of the argument against a flesh diet which cannot be successfully gainsaid. Flesh food has fostered human ingenuity of a low order in the past; it has served a purpose in our evolution; but we are now standing on the threshold of a new age when self-sacrifice and service will bring spiritual growth to humanity. The evolution of the mind will bring a wisdom profound beyond our greatest conception, but before it will be safe to entrust us with that wisdom, we must become harmless as doves, for otherwise we should be apt to turn it to such selfish and destructive purposes that it would be an inconceivable menace to our fellow men. To avoid this the vegetarian diet must be adopted.
But there are vegetarians and vegetarians: In Europe conditions cause people now to abstain from flesh eating to a very large extent. They are not true vegetarians for they are lusting for flesh every moment of their lives, and they feel the want of it as a great hardship and sacrifice. In time they would of course grow used to is, and in many generations it would make them gentle and docile, but obviously that is not the kind of vegetarianism we need now. There are others who abstain from flesh foods for the sake of health; their motive is selfish, and many among them probably also lust after the "flesh pots of Egypt." Their attitude of mind is not such either that it would abolish ferocity very quickly.
But there is a third class which realizes that all life is God's life and that to cause suffering to any sentient being is wrong, so out of pure compassion they abstain from the use of flesh foods. They are the true vegetarians, and it is obvious that a world war could never be fought by people of this turn of mind. All true Christians will also be abstainers from flesh foods for similar motives. Then peace on earth and good will among men will be an assured fact; the nations will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks that they may cease to deal death, sorrow, and suffering, and become instruments to foster life, love, and happiness.
Our own safety, the safety of our children, the safety of the human race even, demands that we listen to the inspired voice of the poetess, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, who wrote the following soul stirring appeal in behalf of our dumb fellow creatures:
The recent titanic struggle among the nations in Europe upset the equilibrium of the whole world to such an extent that the emotions of the people who liven in even the most remote regions of the earth were stirred as they had never been stirred before, the people expressing anger, hate, hysteria, or gloom according to their nature and temperament. It is evident to those who have studied the deeper mysteries of life and who understand the operation of natural law in the spiritual worlds that the inhabitants of the invisible realms were affected in perhaps a greater degree than those who lived in physical bodies, which by their very density make it impossible for us to feel the full force of the emotions.
After the outbreak of the war the tide of emotions ran high and fast, because there were no adequate means of checking it; but by dint of hard work and organization the Elder Brothers of humanity succeeded after the first year in creating an army of Invisible Helpers who, having passed through the gate of death and having felt the sorrow and suffering incident to an untimely transition, were filled with compassion for the others who were constantly pouring in, and became qualified to soothe and help them until they also had found their balance. Later, however, the emotions of hate and malice engendered by the people in the physical world became so strong that there was danger they might gain the ascendancy; therefore new measures had to be taken to counteract these feelings, and everywhere all the good forces were marshaled into line to help restore the balance and keep the baser emotions down.
One of the ways in which most people contributed to the trouble and helped to prolong the war which they were praying might end, was by dwelling on the awful side of it and forgetting to look at the bright side.
"The bright side of that cruel war?" is probably the question which arises in the mind of the reader. "Why, what can you mean?" To some it may perhaps even seem sacrilegious to speak of a bright side in connection with such a calamity, as they would put it. But let us see if there is not a silver lining to even this blackest of clouds, and if there is not a method by which the silver lining could be made wider and wider so that the cloud would become altogether luminous.
Some time ago our attention was called to a book entitled "Pollyanna." Pollyanna was the little daughter of a missionary, whose salary was so meager that he could scarcely obtain the bare necessities of life. From time to time barrels filled with old clothes and odds and ends arrived at the mission for distribution. Pollyanna hoped that some day a barrel might come containing a little doll. Her father had even written to ask if the next barrel might not contain a discarded doll for his child. The barrel came, but instead of the doll it contained a pair of small crutches. Noticing the child's disappointment her father said: "There is one thing we can be glad of and grateful for, that we have no need of the crutches." It was then they began "playing the game," as they called it, of looking for and finding something for which to be glad and thankful, no matter what happened, and they always found it. For example, when they were forced to eat a very scant meal at a restaurant, not being able to afford the dainties on the menu, they would say: "Well, we are glad we like beans," even though their eyes would rest on the roast turkey and its prohibitive price. Then they started to teach the game to others, making many a life the happier for learning it, among them some in whom the belief had become fixed that they could never again be happy.
At last they were really starving, and Pollyanna's mother had to go to heaven to save the expense of living. Soon her father followed, leaving Pollyanna dependent upon the bounty of a rich but crabbed and inhospitable old maiden aunt in Vermont. Despite the unwelcome reception and undesirable quarters assigned her at first, the little girl saw nothing but reasons for gladness; she literally radiated joy, drawing under its spell maid and gardener and in time even the loveless aunt. The child's roseate mind soon filled the bare walls and floor of her dingy attic room with all manner of beauty. If there were no pictures, she was glad that he little window opened upon a landscape scene more beautiful than any artist could paint, a carpet of green and gold the like of which not even the cleverest of human weavers had ever woven. If her crude washstand were without a mirror, she was glad that the lack of it spared her seeing her freckles; and what if they were freckles, had she not reason to be glad they were not warts? If her trunk were small and her clothes few, was there not reason for gladness that the unpacking was soon done and over? If her parents could not be with her, could she not be glad that they were with God in heaven? Since they could not talk to her, ought she not to rejoice that she could talk to them?
Flitting birdlike over field and moor she forgot the supper hour, and being ordered upon her return to the kitchen to make her meal there of bread and milk, she said to her aunt who expected tears and pouting, "Oh, I am so glad you did it, because I am so fond of bread and milk." Not a harsh treatment, and there were many of them at first, but that she imagined some kindly motive back of it and gave it a grateful thought.
Her first convert was the housemaid, who used to look forward with dread to the weekly wash day and face Monday in a surly mood. It was not long before our little glad girl and Nancy feeling gladder on Monday morning than on any other morning, because there was not another wash day for a whole week; and soon she had her glad that her name was not Hepsibah, but Nancy, at which name the latter had been disgruntled. One day when Nancy remonstratingly said to her, "Sure, there is nothing in a funeral to be glad about," Pollyanna promptly answered, "Well, we can be glad it isn't ours." To the gardener, who complained to her that he was bent half over with rheumatism, she also taught the glad game by telling him that being bent half over he ought to be glad that he saved one-half the stooping when he did his weeding.
Near her home in a palatial mansion lived an elderly bachelor, a sullen recluse. The more he rebuffed her, the cheerier she was and the oftener she went to see him because no one else did. In her innocence and pity she attributed his lack of courtesy to some secret sorrow, and therefore she longed all the more to teach him the glad game. She did teach it to him, and he learned it, thought it was hard work at first. When he broke his leg, it was not easy to get him to be glad that but one leg was broken, and admit it would have been far worse if this legs had been as numerous as those of a centipede and he had fractured all of them. Her sunshiny disposition succeeded at last in getting him to love the sunshine, open the blinds, pull up the curtains, and open his heart to the world. He wanted to adopt her, but failing in this, he adopted a little orphan boy whom she hand chanced to meet by the wayside.
She made one lady wear bright colors, who had before worn only black. Another lady, rich and miserable because her mind was centered upon past troubles, had her attention directed by Pollyanna to the miseries of others, and being taught through the glad game how to bring gladness into their lives, this lady brought an abundance of it also into her own. All unknown to the little girl she reunited in happy home life a couple about to separate, by kindling within their hearts that had grown cold a strong love for their little ones. By and by the whole town began to play the glad game and teach it to others. Under its influence men and women became different beings: the unhappy became happy, the sick became well, those about to go wrong found again the right path, and the discouraged took heart again.
Soon the leading physician in town found it necessary to prescribe her as he would some medicine. "That little girl," he said, "is better than a six-quart bottle of tonic. If anyone can take a grouch out of a person it is she; a dose of Pollyanna is more curative than a store full of drugs." But the greatest miracle which the glad game worked was the transformation effected in the character of her prim, puritanic aunt. She who had accepted Pollyanna in her home as a matter of stern family duty, developed under her little niece's treatment a heart that fairly overran with affection. Soon Pollyanna was taken out of her bare attic room to a beautifully papered, pictured, carpeted, and furnished room on her aunt's floor. And so the good she did reacted upon herself.
The story is fiction, but it is based upon facts rooted in cosmic law. What that little girl did with respect to the people in her environment, we as students of the Rosicrucian teachings can and ought to do in our own individual spheres, both in regard to the matters which pertain to intercourse with our relatives and immediate associates and with respect to the world at large.
As regards its application to war in general, instead of being gloomy at defeat or appalled at catastrophes recorded in sensational newspaper headlines, instead of adding our gloom, hate, and malice to the similar feelings engendered by others, can we not find a bright side even in such a seemingly overwhelming calamity? Surely there is reason to rejoice exceedingly in the thoughts of self-sacrifice which prompted so many noble men to give up their work in the world, their large incomes, and their comfortable homes for the sake of what to them was an ideal to make the world better for those who came after them, for they could not help realizing that they might never come back to enjoy the fruits themselves. Can we not rejoice likewise that many noble women, nurtured in ease and comfort, left their homes and friends for the arduous work of nursing and caring for the wounded? Throughout all there was a spirit of altruism, shared by those who though forced by circumstances to say at home still put in their time knitting and working for those who had to bear the brunt of battle.
Great are the birth pangs by which altruism is being born in millions of human hearts, but through the superlative suffering of the later war humanity will become gentler, nobler, and better than ever before. If we can only take this view of the recent suffering and sorrow, if we can only teach others to look to the future blessings which must accrue through this pain and suffering, we shall ourselves be better able to recover from the strain, and be better qualified to help others do the same.
In this manner we can imitate Pollyanna, and if we are only sufficiently sincere, our views will spread and take root in other hearts; then because thoughts are things and good thoughts are more powerful than evil since they are in harmony with the trend of evolution, the day will soon come when we shall be able to gain the ascendancy and help establish permanent peace.
It is hoped that this suggestion may be taken very seriously and put into practice by everyone of our students, for the need is great at the present time, greater than it has been before.
Again the earth has reach the vernal equinox in its annual circle dance about the sun, and we have Easter. The spiritual ray sent out by the Cosmic Christ each fall to replenish the smoldering vitality of the earth is about to ASCEND to the Father's Throne. The spiritual activities of fecundation and germination which have been carried on during the winter and spring will be followed by material growth and a ripening process during the coming summer and autumn under the influence of the indwelling Earth Spirit. The cycle ends at "Harvest Home." Thus the great World Drama is acted and re- enacted from year to year, an eternal contest between life and death; each in turn becoming victor and being vanquished as the cycles roll on.
This great cyclic influx and efflux are not confined in their effects to the earth and its flora and fauna. They exercise an equally compelling influence upon mankind, though the great majority are unaware of what impels them to action in one direction or another. The fact remains, nevertheless, independent of their cognition that the same earthy vibration which gaudily adorns bird and beast in the spring is responsible for the human desire to don gay colors and brighter raiment at that season. This is also "the call of the wild," which in summer drives mankind to relaxation amid rural scenes where nature spirits have wrought their magic art in field and forest, in order to recuperate from the strain of artificial conditions in congested cities.
On the other hand, it is the "fall" of the spiritual ray from the sun in autumn which causes resumption of the mental and spiritual activities in winter. The same germinative force which leavens the seed in the earth and prepares it to reproduce its kind in multiple, stirs also the human mind and fosters altruistic activities which make the world better. Did no this great wave of selfless Cosmic Love culminate at Christmas, did it not vibrate peace and good will, there would be no holiday feeling in our breasts to engender a desire to make others equally happy; the universal giving of Christmas gifts would be impossible, and we should all suffer loss.
As the Christ walked day by day, hither and yon, over the hills and the valleys of Judea and Galilee, teaching the multitudes, all were benefited. But He communed most with His disciples, and they, of course, grew apace each day. The bond of love became closer as time went on, until one day ruthless hands took away the beloved Teacher and put Him to a shameful death. But though He had died after the flesh, he continued to commune with them in spirit for some time. At last, however, He ascended to higher spheres, direct touch with Him was lost, and sadly these men looked into each other's faces as they asked, "Is this the end?" They had hoped so much, had entertained such high aspirations, and though the verdant glory was as fresh upon the sun-kissed landscape as before He went, the earth seemed cold and dreary, for black desolation gnawed at their hearts.
Thus it is also with us who aim to walk after the spirit and to strive with the flesh, though the analogy may not have been previously apparent. When the "fall" of the Christ ray commences in autumn and ushers in the season of spiritual supremacy, we sense it at once and commence to lave our should in the blessed tide with avidity. We experience a feeling akin to that of the apostles when they walked with Christ, and as the season wears on it becomes easier and easier to commune with Him, face to face as it were. But in the annual course of events Easter and the Ascension of the "risen" Christ ray to the Father leave us in the identical position of the apostles when their beloved Teacher went away. We are desolate and sad; we look upon the world as a dreary waste and cannot comprehend the reason for our loss, which is as natural as the changes of ebb and flood and day and night--phases of the present age of alternating cycles.
There is a danger in this attitude of mind. If it is allowed to grow upon us, we are apt to cease our work in the world and become dreamers, lose our balance, and excite just criticism from our fellow men. Such a course of conduct is entirely wrong, for as the earth exerts itself in material endeavor to bring forth abundantly in summer after receiving the spiritual impetus in winter, so ought we also to exert ourselves to greater purpose in the world's work when it has been our privilege to commune with the spirit. If we do Thus we shall be more apt to excite emulation than reproach.
We are wont to think of a miser as one who hoards gold, and such people are generally objects of contempt. But there are people who strive as assiduously to acquire knowledge as the miser struggles to accumulate gold, who will stoop to any subterfuge to obtain their desire, and will as jealously guard their knowledge as the miser guards his hoard. They do not understand that by such a method they are effectually closing the door to greater wisdom. The old Norse theology contained a parable which symbolically elucidates the matter. It held that all who died fighting on the battle field (the strong souls who fought the good fight unto the end) were carried to Valhalla to be with the gods; while those who died in bed or from disease (the souls who drifted weakly through life) went to the dismal Niflheim. The doughty warriors in Valhalla feasted daily upon the flesh of the boar called Scrimner, which was so constituted that whenever a piece was cut from it the flesh at once grew again, so that it was never consumed no matter how much was carved. Thus it aptly symbolized "knowledge," for no matter how much of this we give to others, we always retain the original.
There is thus a certain obligation to pass on what we have of knowledge, and "to whom much is given of him much will be required." Perhaps it may not be out of place to recount an experience which will illustrate the point, for it was the final "test" applied to myself before I was entrusted with the teaching embodied in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, although I was, of course, at the time unaware that I was being weighed. It occurred at a time when i had gone to Europe in search of a teacher who, I believed, was able to aid me to advance on the path of attainment. But when I had probed his teaching to the bottom and forced him to admit certain inconsistencies in it which he could not explain, I was in a veritable "slough of despond," ready to return to America. As I sat in my chair ruminating over my disappointment, the feeling that some one else was present came over me, and I looked up and beheld the One who has since become my Teacher. With shame I remember how gruffly I asked who had sent him and what he wanted, for I was thoroughly disgruntled, and I hesitated considerably before accepting his help on the points that had caused me to come to Europe.
During the next few days my new acquaintance appeared in my room a number of times, answering my questions and helping me to solve problems that had previously baffled me, but as my spiritual sight was then poorly developed and not always under control, I felt rather skeptical in the matter. Might it not be hallucination? I discussed the question with a friend. The answers to my queries as given by the apparition were clear, concise, and logical to a high degree. They were strictly to the point and altogether beyond anything I was capable of conceiving, so we concluded that the experience must be real.
A few days later my new friend told me that the Order to which he belonged had a complete solution to the riddle of the universe, much more far-reaching than any publicly known teaching, and that they would impart that teaching to me provided I agreed to keep it as an inviolable secret.
The I turned on him in anger: "Ah! do I see the cloven hoof at last! No, if you have what you say and if it is good for the world to know. The Bible expressly forbids us to hide the Light, and I care not to feast at the source of knowledge while thousands of souls hunger for a solution to their problems as I do now." My visitor then left me and stayed away, and I concluded that he was an emissary from the Black Brothers.
About a month later I decided that I could obtain no greater illumination in Europe and therefore made reservation on a steamer for New York. As travel was heavy, I had to wait a month for a berth.
When I returned to my rooms after having purchased my ticket, there stood my slighted Teacher and he again offered me instruction on condition that I keep it secret. This time my refusal was perhaps more emphatic and indignant than before, but he did not leave. Instead he said, "I am glad to hear you refuse, my brother, and I hope you will always be as zealous in disseminating our teachings without fear or favor as you have been in this refusal. That is the real condition of receiving the teachings."
How directions were then given me to take a certain train at a certain depot and go to a place I had not heard of before, how i there met the Brother in the flesh, was taken to the Temple, and received the main instructions embodied in our literature, are matters of small interest. The point is that had I agreed to keep the instructions secret, I should naturally have been unfit to be a messenger of the Brothers, and they would have had to seek another. Likewise with any of us: if we hoard the spiritual blessings we have received, evil is at our door, so let us imitate the earth at this Easter time. Let us bring forth in the physical world of action the fruits of the spirit sown in our souls during the past wintry season. So shall we be more abundantly blessed from year to year.
And again it is Easter. The dark, dreary days of winter are past. mother nature is taking the cold, snowy coverlids off the earth, and the millions and millions of seed sheltered in the soft soil are bursting its crust and clothing the earth in summer robes, a riot of gay and glorious colors, preparing the bridal bower for the mating of beasts and birds. Even in this war-torn year the song of life sounds loudly above the dirge of death. "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" Christ has risen--the first fruits. He is the resurrection and the life; whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
Thus at the present season the mind of the civilized world is turned towards the feast we call Easter, commemorating the death and resurrection of the individual whose life story is written in the Gospels, the noble individual known to the world by the name of Jesus. But a Christian mystic takes a deeper and more far-reaching view of this annually recurring cosmic event. For him there is an annual impregnation of the earth with the cosmic Christ life; an inbreathing which takes place during the fall months and culminates at the winter solstice when we celebrate Christmas, and an outbreathing which finds its completion at the time of Easter. The inbreathing or impregnation is manifested to us in the seeming inactivity of winter, but the outbreathing of the Christ life manifests as the resurrection force which gives new life to all that lives and moves upon the earth, life abundant, not only to sustain but to propagate the perpetuate.
Thus the cosmic drama of life and death is played annually among all evolving creatures and things from the highest to the lowest, for even the great and sublime cosmic Christ in His compassion becomes subject to death by entering the cramping conditions of our earth for a part of the year. It may therefore be appropriate to call to mind a few ideas concerning death and rebirth which we are sometimes prone to forget.
Among the cosmic symbols which have been handed down to us from antiquity none is more common that the symbol of the egg. It is found in every religion. We find it in the Elder Eddas of the Scandinavians, hoary with age, which tell of the mundane egg cooled by the icy blast of Niebelheim but heated by the fiery breath of Muspelheim until the various worlds and man had come into being. If we turn to the sunny south we find the Vedas of India the same story in the Kalahansa, the Swan in time and space, which laid the egg that finally became the world. Among the Egyptians we find the winged globe and the oviparous serpent, symbolizing the wisdom manifest in this world of ours. Then the Greeks took this symbol and venerated it in their Mysteries. It was preserved by the Druids; it was known to the builders of the great serpent mound in Ohio; and it has kept its place in sacred symbology even to this day, though the great majority are blind to the mysterium magnum which it hides and reveals--the mystery of life.
When we break open the shell of an egg, we find inside only some varicolored viscous fluids of various consistencies. But placed in the requisite temperature a series of changes soon take place, and within a short time a living creature breaks open the shell and emerges therefrom, ready to take its place among its kin. it is possible for the wizards of the laboratory to duplicate the substances in the egg; they may be enclosed in a shell, and a perfect replica so far as most tests go may be made of the natural egg. But in one point it differs from the natural egg, namely, that no living thing can be hatched from the artificial product. Therefore it is evident that a certain intangible something must be present in one and absent in the other.
This mystery of the ages which produces the living creature is what we call life. Seeing that it cannot be cognized among the elements of the egg by even the most powerful microscope (though it must be there to bring about the changes which we note), it must be able to exist independently of matter. Thus we are taught by the sacred symbol of the egg that though life is able to mold matter, it does not depend upon it for its existence. It is self-existent, and having no beginning it can have no end. This is symbolized by the ovoid shape of the egg.
We are appalled at the carnage on the European battle fields, and rightly so because of the manner in which the victims are being taken out of physical life. But when we consider that the average human life is only fifty years or less, so that death reaps a harvest of fifteen hundred millions in half a century, or thirty millions per annum, or two and one- half millions every month, we see that the total has not been so greatly increased after all. And when we have the true knowledge conveyed by the egg symbol that life is uncreate, without beginning and without end, it enables us to take heart and realize that those who are now being taken out of physical existence are only passing through a cyclic journey similar to that of the cosmic Christ life which enters the earth in the fall and leaves it at Easter. Those who are killed are only going into the invisible realms, whence they will later take a new dip into physical matter, entering as all living things do the egg of the mother. After a period of gestation they will re-emerge into physical life to learn new lessons in the great school. Thus we see how the great law of analogy works in all phases and under all circumstances of life. What happens in the great world to a cosmic Christ will show itself also in the lives of those who are Christs in the making; and this will enable us to look more cheerfully upon the present struggle than would otherwise be the case.
Furthermore, we must realize that death is a cosmic necessity under the present circumstances for if we were imprisoned in a body of the kind we now use and placed in an environment such as we find today, there to live forever, the infirmities of the body and the unsatisfactory nature of the environment would very soon make us so tired of life that we would cry for release. It would block all progress and make it impossible for us to evolve to greater heights such as we may evolve to by re-embodiment in new vehicles and placement in new environments which give us new possibilities of growth. Thus we may thank God that so long as birth into a concrete body is necessary for our further development, release by death has been provided to free us from the outgrown instrument, while resurrection and a new birth under the smiling skies of a new environment furnish another chance to begin life with a clean slate and learn the lessons which we failed to master before. By this method we shall some time become perfect as is the risen Christ. He commanded it, and he will aid us to achieve it.
While we were coming down by involution into concrete existence our line of progress lay entirely in material development; but since we have rounded the nadir of materiality and are beginning to rise above the concrete, spiritual unfoldment is becoming increasingly important as a necessary factor in our development, although we still have many great and important lessons to learn from the material phase of our existence. This applies to humanity in general but particularly, of course, to those who are already consciously beginning to aspire to live the higher life. It may therefore be expedient to review from another angle the Rosicrucian teachings as to the scientific method of acquiring this spiritual unfoldment.
People of the older generation, particularly in Europe and the eastern states of America, will undoubtedly remember with pleasure their travels along quiet country lanes, and how time and again they have passed by a rippling stream with an old rustic mill, its creaking water wheel laboriously turning the crude machinery within, using but a small fraction of the power stored in the running water, which was going uselessly to waste save for such partial use. But later on a new generation came and perceived the possibilities to be realized by a scientific use of this enormous energy. Engineers began to construct dams to keep the water from flowing in the former wasteful manner. They diverted the water from the storage reservoirs through pipes or flumes to the water wheels constructed upon scientific principles, and they husbanded the great energy which they had stored by letting in only enough water to turn the water wheels at a given speed and with a given load.
But while the scientifically constructed water wheel was a giant compared with its crude predecessor, it was subject to some of the same limitations; its enormous energy could only be used at the place where the power was located, and such places are usually many miles from the centers of civilization where power is most needed. By working with the laws of nature, man had secured a servant of inexhaustible energy; but how to make it available where most needed, that was the question. To solve that problem, again the laws of nature were invoked; electric generators were coupled to the water wheels, the water power was transformed into electrical energy and an endeavor made to send it from the sources of its development to the cities where it might be used. But this again required scientific methods of working with the laws of nature, for it was found that different metals transmit electricity with varying facility, the best of them being copper and silver. Copper was therefore chosen as the less expensive of the two.
Let the student observe that we cannot compel these forces to do anything; whenever we use them it is by working with the laws that govern their manifestation, by choosing the line of least resistance to obtain the maximum of energy. If wires of iron or German silver, which have a comparatively high resistance, had been chosen as transmitters, a great deal of energy would have been thus lost, besides, other complications would have resulted which we need not enter into for our purpose. But by working with the laws of nature and choosing the line of least resistance, we obtain the best result in the easiest manner.
There were other problems which confronted these experimenters in their transformation of the water power used in the old water wheels, to electricity usable many miles from the source of power. it was found that an electric current would always seek the ground by the nearest path if there were any possibility of so doing. Hence it became necessary that the wire carrying the electric current be separated from the earth by some material that would prevent it from thus escaping, exactly as a high wall keeps a prisoner behind it. Something had to be found for which electricity had a natural aversion, and his was discovered in glass, porcelain, and certain fibrous substances, thus solving by scientific means and ingenuity, working always with the laws of nature, the problem of how to use the best advantage in distant places the great energy which the old crude mill wheel had wasted at its source.
The same application of scientific methods to other problems of life, such as gardening, has also secured wonderful results for the benefit and comfort of humanity, making two hundred blades of grass grow where formerly by the crude old methods not one even could find sustenance. Wizards like Luther Burbank have improved upon the wild varieties of fruit and vegetables, making them larger, more luscious and palatable, as well as more prolific; and wherever, haphazard practices of former days, the same beneficial results have been achieved. But as said before, and this is very important for our consideration, everything that has been done has been accomplished by working with the Laws of Nature.
The Hermetic axiom, "As above so below," enunciates the law an analogy, the master-key to all mysteries, spiritual or material, and we may safely infer that what holds good in the application of scientific methods to material problems will have equal force when applied to the solution of spiritual mysteries. The most cursory review of religious development in the past will be sufficient to show that it has been anything but scientific and systematic, and that the most haphazard methods have prevailed. On account of their capacity for devotion, a few have risen to sublime heights of spirituality and are known through the ages as Saints, shining lights upon the pathway, showing what may be done. But how to achieve that sublime spirituality has been and is a mystery to all, even to those who most ardently desire such development, and these are, alas, comparatively few at the present time.
The Elder Brothers of the Rosicrucians have, however, originated a scientific method, which, if persistently and consistently followed, will develop the sleeping soul powers in any individual, just as surely as constant practice will make a person proficient in any material line of endeavor. To understand this matter it is necessary to realize that facts in the case; it was the old crude mill wheel that gave water power in an efficient manner and to much greater advantage. If we first study the natural development of soul power by evolution, we shall then be in a position to understand the great and beneficial results to be derived from an application of scientific methods to this important matter. Students of the Rosicrucian teachings are of course familiar with the main points in this process of humanity's development by evolution, but there may be a number who are not so informed, and so for their sake we will give a little fuller outline than might otherwise be necessary.
Science says, and correctly so, that an invisible, intangible substance called ether permeates everything from the densest solids to the air which we breathe. This ether has never been seen, measured, or analyzed by science, but it is necessary to postulate its existence in order to account for various phenomena such as, for instance, the transmission of light through a vacuum. There, science says, ether is the medium of transmission of the light ray. Thus the ether carries to us a picture of our vision, and impresses it upon the retina of our eyes. Similarly, when a motion-picture operator photographs a number of scenes in a play, the ether carries pictures of all objects, the motions they make, et cetera, to the minutest details, through the lens of his camera to the sensitized plate, leaving a complete record of all the scenery and every act of the actors in that play. And if there were in our eyes a similar sensitized film of sufficient length to hold the pictures, we should at the end of our life have a complete record of every event that had taken place in it, that is, provided we could see.
But there are a number of people who are deficient in various senses; one thing however, they must all do to live: they must breathe. And nature, which is only another name for God, has thus rightly decreed that the record be kept by this universally used means. Every moment of our action in the drama of life from the first breath to the last dying gasp, the ether which is drawn into our lungs carries with it a complete picture of our outside environment, of our actions and the actions of other people who are with us, the record being impressed upon one single little atom placed in the left ventricle at the apex of the heart where the newly oxygenated blood, thus carrying with it a different picture for every moment of our life, passes by in a continual stream. Therefore all that we say or do from the least to the greatest, from the best to the worst, is written in our heart in indelible characters. This record is the basis of the natural slow method of soul growth by evolution, corresponding to the crude and ancient water wheel.
In the next chapter we shall see how it is thus used and how by scientific means soul growth may be accomplished and soul power unfolded by an improvement on this process.
We saw in the last chapter that a record resembling a picture film, of our life from the cradle to the grave is inscribed upon a little atom in the heart by the action of the ether which we inhale with every breath, and which carries with it a picture of the outside world in which we are living and moving at the time. This forms the basis of our post-mortem existence, the record of deeds of wrongdoing being eradicated in a painful purgatorial experience caused by the fire of remorse, which sears the soul as the pictures of its misdeeds unroll before its gaze, thus making it less prone to repeat the same wrongdoing and mistakes in future lives. The reaction from the pictures where good was done is a heavenly joy, the subconscious remembrance of which will in later lives prompt the soul to do more good. But this process is necessarily sow and may be likened to the action and operation of the old mill wheel. However, it is the way designed by nature to teach humanity how to walk circumspectly and obey her laws. By this slow process the greater part of humanity is gradually evolving from egoism to altruism, and though exceedingly slow it seems to be the only method by which they will learn.
There is another class which has caught a glimpse of a vision and sees in the distant future a glorified humanity, expressly all the divine attributes and living a life of love and peace. That class is aiming its bow of aspiration at the stars, and is endeavoring to attain in one or a few short lives what its fellow men will require hundreds of embodiments to accomplish. To that end they, like the pioneers in the harnessing of the waters and the scientific transmission of electricity, are seeking for a scientific method which will eliminate the waste of time and energy involved in the slow process of evolution and enable them to do the great work of self-unfoldment scientifically and without waste of energy. That was the problem which the early Rosicrucians set themselves to solve, and having discovered this method they are now teaching the same to their faithful followers, to the eternal welfare of all who aspire and persevere. Just as the engineers who undertook to improve the primitive mill wheel and accomplish the transmission of electricity to distant points achieved their object by first studying the effects and defects of the primitive device, so also the Elder Brothers of the Rosicrucians first studied by the aid of their spiritual sight all the phases of ordinary human evolution in the post-mortem state as well as in the physical world, so that they might determine how through many lives progress is gradually attained. They also studied such glyphs and symbols as had been given to humanity throughout the ages, to aid them in soul growth, notably the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, which, as Paul says, was a shadow of better things to come, and they found the secret of soul growth hidden in the various appliances and appurtenances used in that ancient place of worship. As the scenes in the life panorama which unrolls before the eyes of the soul after death, cause a suffering in purgatory which cleanses the soul from a desire to repeat the offenses which generated those pictures, so the salt wherewith the sacrifices upon the altar of burnt offerings in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness were rubbed before being placed before the altar and the fire wherewith they were consumed symbolized a double fiery pain similar to that felt by the soul in purgatory. Confident in the Hermetic axiom, "As above, so below," they evolved the method of Retrospection as being in harmony with the cosmic laws of soul growth, and capable of accomplishing day by day that which the purgatorial experience does only one in a life time, namely, cleansing the soul from sin by the fire of remorse.
But when we say "Retrospection," it happens not infrequently that people say, "Oh, that is taught by other religious bodies and i have practiced it all my life; I examine the day's doings every evening before going to sleep."
So far, so good. But that is not sufficient. In order to perform this exercise scientifically it is necessary to follow the process of nature as the electrician did when he desired to insulate the electric current from the ground and found that glass, porcelain and fibre would act as barriers to its passage. We must conform in every particular to the processes of nature in her methods of attaining soul growth. When we study the purgatorial expiation, we find that the life panorama is unfolded in reverse order, from the grave to the cradle, scenes that were enacted late in life being taken up for expiation first, and those which occurred in early youth being the last to be dealt with. This, in order to show the soul how certain effects in life were brought about by causes generated at an earlier stage. Similarly, the scientific method of soul unfoldment requires that the aspirant must examine his life every evening before going to sleep, starting with the scenes which were enacted late in the evening just prior to retiring for the night, then gradually proceeding in reverse order towards the things which were done in the afternoon, then those which took place in the morning, and back to the very moment of awakening. But also, and this is very important, it is not sufficient to merely examine these scenes in a perfunctory way and admit being sorry when one comes to a scene where one was unkind or unjust to another person. There the glyph contained in the altar of burnt offerings gives specific instruction; just as the sacrifices were rubbed with salt which, as everyone knows burns and smarts exceedingly when rubbed into a would, and just as fire, such as is applied on the altar of burnt offerings to the sacrifice, consumes the same offerings, so also the aspirant to soul growth must realize that he is both priest and sacrifice, the altar and the fire burning thereon; he must allow the salt and the fire of remorse to burn and sear into his very heart a deep-felt contrition at the thought of whatever wrong he has done, for only such a deep and serious treatment of the matter will wash the record away from the seed atom in the heart and leave it clean. And unless that is done, nothing has been accomplished. But if the aspirant to scientific soul unfoldment succeed in making this fire of remorse and contrition sufficiently intense, then the seed atom will be cleansed of the sin committed day by day throughout the life, and even the things that have taken place before such exercises were taken up will gradually disappear before that cleansing fire, so that the end of life when the silver cord has been loosened the aspirant find himself without any panorama of life to take up his attention, such as all ordinary people are occupied with who have not been fortunate enough to be taught and to practice this scientific method. The result then is that instead of having to spend in purgatorial expiation a period of time about one-third as long as the life lived in the dense body, he who steadily and unwaveringly practices this method finds himself as a free lance in the invisible world, not bound by limitations which hold and fetter all others, and therefore free to use his entire time while in the lower regions in the service of suffering humanity. But there is a great difference between the opportunities there and here; here one-third of our life is taken up with rest and recuperation, another third is taken up in work so that we may obtain the wherewithal to keep this physical body fed, clothed, and housed; and only the other third is at all available for the purposes of rest, recreation, or soul growth. It is different in the Desire World where the spirit finds itself after death. The bodies in which we function there do not require food or raiment, neither do they need shelter; they are not subject to fatigue either, so that instead of spending two-thirds of the time as here in providing the necessaries of the body, the spirit is there free to use its instruments the whole twenty- four hours, day after day. Therefore the time saved in the invisible world by having lived our purgatory day by day is the equivalent of that portion of an entire earth life which one spends in work. Also during all that time thus saved no thought or care need be given to anything else but how we may help to further the scheme of evolution and aid our younger and less fortunate brothers. Thus we reap a rich harvest and make more soul growth in that post-mortem existence than would be possible in several ordinary lives. When we are reborn we then find ourselves with all the soul powers thus acquired and must further along upon the path of evolution than we could possibly have been under ordinary circumstances.
It is also noteworthy that while other methods of soul unfoldment evolved and taught by other schools carry with them danger which sometimes may bring those who practice them into the insane asylum, the scientific method of soul unfoldment advocated by the Elder Brothers of the Rosicrucian order is always bound to benefit everyone who practices it and can never under any circumstances cause any harm to anyone. We may also say that there are other helps that have not been mentioned here which are communicated to those who have proved their worth by their persistence, and while they do not directly aim at the evolution of spiritual sight, this will be evolved by all who practice them with the necessary faithful perseverance.
"The Heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race."
Everywhere for miles around us we see the glorious sunrise, bringing light and life to all; then the day star mounts high in the heavens, later to decline towards the western horizon in a glorious burst of flame as its sinks into the sea, leaving an afterglow of indescribable, variegated tints coloring the heavens as with liquid fire of the softest and most beautiful hues, which the brush of the painter can never paint to perfection. Then the moon, the orb of night, rises over the eastern hills, carrying the stars and constellations upward in her train toward the zenith, and following the sun in its everlasting circle dance; the stellar script thus describes upon the map of heaven man's past, present and future evolution among the ever changing environments of the concrete world, without rest or peace while time lasts.
In this ever changing kaleidoscope of the heavens there is one star and only one that remains so comparatively stationary that to all intents and purposes and from the standpoint of our ephemeral life of fifty, sixty, or one hundred years it is a fixed point--the North Star. When the mariner sails his ship upon the waste of waters, he has full faith that so long as he steers by that mark he will safely reach his desired haven. Nor is he dismayed when clouds obscure its guiding light, for he has a compass magnetized by a mysterious power so that through sunshine or rain, in fog or mist, it points unerringly to that steadfast star and enables him to steer his ship as safely as if he could actually see the star itself. Truly, the heavens declare the wonders of the Lord.
As it is in the macrocosm, the great world without us, so it is in our own lives. At our birth the sun of life rises, and we begin the ascent through the years of childhood and youth toward the zenith of manhood or womanhood. The ever changing world which forms our environment, including fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers, surrounds us. With friends, acquaintances, and foes we face the battle of life with whatever strength we may have gained in our past lives, to pay the debts contracted, to bear the burdens of this life, perhaps to make them heavier according to our wisdom or unwisdom. But among all the changing circumstances of life and the vicissitudes of existence there is one great and grand guide which like the North Star never fails us; a guide ever ready like the steadfast star in heaven to help us steer our bark of life into clear sailing--God. It is significant to read in the Bible that the wise men in their search for the Christ (our Great Spiritual Teacher) also followed a star that led them to this great spiritual Light. What would we think of the captain of a ship who lashed the wheel and let his ship drift with the tide, leaving it to the change of wind or fate? Would it surprise us if he were eventually shipwrecked and lost his life upon the rocks? Surely not. The marvel would be if he should reach the shore.
A great and wonderful allegory is written in cosmic characters in the sky. It is also written in our own lives, and warns us to forsake the fleeting life of the material and to seek the eternal life of God.
We are not left without a guide, even though the veil of flesh, the pride of life, and the lusts blind us for a time. For as the mariner's magnetic compass points to the guiding star, so the spirit draws us to its source with a longing and a yearning that cannot be entirely quenched no matter how deep we may sink into materialism. Many are at present groping, seeking, trying to solve that inner unrest; something seems to urge them on though they do not understand it; something ever draws them forward to seek the spiritual and to reach up for something higher--our Father in Heaven.
David said, "if I ascend up into heaven thou art there; if I make my bed in the grave thou art there; thy right hand shall guide and hold me." in the 28th Psalm, he says, "when i consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands, thou hast put all things under his feet."
This is nothing new to those who are seeking the Light, who have been doing their very best to live the life; but the danger lies in that they may become indifferent, may become spiritually common-place. Therefore, as the steersman at the helm of the ship is constantly wakeful and watching the guiding compass, so it is of the greatest importance that we continually shake ourselves lest we go to sleep and the ship of our life go off its course. let us all set our faces firmly towards this star of hope, this great spiritual light, the real and only thing worth while--the life of God.
At various times and in different ways humanity has been given religions suited to spur them onward upon the path of evolution. In each the ideal was made just high enough to rouse the aspirations of the class of people to whom it was given, but not so high as to be beyond their appreciation, for then it would not have appealed to them at all. The savage, for instance, must have a strong God, one who wields the flaming sword of lightning with mighty hand. He can look up to such a God in fear, but would despise a God who would show love and mercy.
Therefore religions have also changed as man has evolved; the ideal has been slowly raised until it has reach the highest stage in our Christian teaching. The flower of religions is always given to the flower of humanity. in a future age a higher religion will of course be given to a more advanced race. There can be no end to evolution, but we maintain that the invisible leaders of humanity give to each nation the teaching best suited to their condition. Hinduism helps our younger brothers in the East, but Christianity is the Western teaching, particularly suited to Western people.
Thus we see that the mass of humanity is taken care of by the religion publicly taught in the country of their birth; but there are always pioneers whose precocity demands a higher teaching, and to them a deeper doctrine is given through the agency of the Mystery School belonging to their country. When only a few are ready for such preparatory schooling they are taught privately, but as they increase in number the teaching is given more publicly.
The latter is the case in the Western world at present. Therefore the Brothers of the Rose Cross gave to the writer a philosophy such as published in our various works, and sanctioned the launching of The Rosicrucian Fellowship to promulgate this teaching. The purpose is to bring aspiring souls into contact with the Teacher when by service here, in the physical world, they have shown their sincerity and given reasonable assurance that they will use their spiritual powers for service in the other world when they shall have been initiated therein.
The higher teachings are never given for a monetary consideration. Peter in olden days rebuked Simon the sorcerer, who wanted to buy spiritual power that he might prostitute it for material gain. The Elder Brothers also refuse to open the door to those who prostitute the spiritual sciences by casting horoscopes, reading palms, or giving clairvoyant readings professionally for money. The Rosicrucian Fellowship advocates the study of astrology and palmistry by all its members, and furnishes simple teachings on the former in textbooks at merely nominal cost so that all may acquire ability in this science instead of remaining the dupes of professionals, who are often mere pretenders.
During the past few years since we first commenced to disseminate the Rosicrucian teachings they have spread like wildfire over the civilized world. They are studied with avidity from the Cape of Good Hope to the Arctic Circle and beyond. They have found response in the hearts of all classes of people--in the snow-clad huts of Alaskan miners, in government houses where a tropical wind unfurls the British Lion, and in the capitals of Turkish autocracy and American democracy alike. Our adherents may be found in government institutions as well as in the humblest walks of life, all in lively correspondence and close touch with our movement and working for the promulgation of the deeper truths concerning life and being which are helping them.
It is a trite saying that "man is of few days and full of trouble." Among all the vicissitudes of life none affect us more powerfully than loss of health. We may lose fortune or friends with comparative equanimity, but when health fails and death threatens, the strongest falter; realizing human impotence we are more ready to turn to divine power for succor then than at other times. Therefore the office of spiritual adviser has always been closely associated with healing.
Among savages the priest was also "medicine man." In ancient Greece Aesculapius was particularly sought by those in need of healing. The Church followed in his steps. Certain Catholic orders have continued the endeavor to assuage pain during the centuries which have intervened between that day and the present. In times of sickness the "good father" came as a representative of our Father in Heaven, and what he lacked in skill was made up by love and sympathy--if he was indeed a true and holy priest--and by the faith engendered in the patient by the priestly office. His care of the patient did not commence at the sickbed, nor was it terminated at recovery. The gratitude of the patient toward the physician was added to the veneration felt for the spiritual adviser, and as a consequence the power of the priest to help and uplift his erstwhile patient was enormously increased, and the tie between them was closer than possible where the offices of spiritual and medical adviser are divorced.
It is not denied that the double office gave the incumbents a most dangerous power over the people and that that power was at times abused. It is also patent that the art of medicine has reached a stage of efficiency which could not have been attained save by devotion to that one particular end and aim. The safeguards of sanitary laws, the extinction of insect carriers of disease, and the consequent immunity from disease are monumental testimonies to the value of modern scientific methods. Thus it may seem as if all were well and there were no need of further effort. But in reality, until humanity as a whole enjoys perfect health, there is no issue more important than the question, How may we attain and maintain health?
In addition to the regular school of surgery and medicine, which depends exclusively upon physical means for the care of disease, other systems have sprung up which depend entirely on mental healings. It is the custom of organizations which advocate "mind cure," "nature cure," and other like methods to hold experience meetings and publish journals with testimonials from grateful supporters who have benefited by their treatments, and if physicians of the regular school did likewise there would be no lack of similar testimonies to their efficiency.
The opinion of thousands is of great value, but is does not prove anything, for thousands may hold an opposite view. Occasionally a single man may be right and the rest of the world wrong, as when Galileo maintained that the earth moves. Today the whole world has been converted to the opinion for which he was persecuted as a heretic. We assert that as man is a composite being, cures are successful in proportion as they remedy defects on the physical, moral, and mental planes of being. We also maintain that results may be obtained more easily at certain times when the stellar rays are propitious for the healing of a particular disease or for treatment with remedies previously prepared under auspicious conditions.
It is well known to the modern physician that the condition of the blood, and therefore the condition of the whole body, changes in sympathy with the state of mind of the patient, and the more the physician uses suggestion as an adjunct to medicine the more successful he is. Few perhaps would credit the further fact that both our mental and physical condition is influenced by planetary rays which change as the planets move. In these days since the principle of radioactivity has been established we know that everybody projects into space numberless little particles. Wireless telegraphy has taught us that etheric waves travel swiftly and surely through trackless space and operate a key according to our will. We also know that the rays of the sun affect us differently in the morning when they strike us horizontally than at noon when they are perpendicular. If the light rays from the swift-moving sun produce physical and mental changes, may not the persistent ray of slower planets also have an effect? If they have, they are factors in health not to be overlooked by a thoroughly scientific healer.
Disease is a manifestation of ignorance, the only sin, and healing is a demonstration of applied knowledge, which is the only salvation. Christ is an embodiment of the Wisdom Principle, and in proportion as the Christ is formed in us we attain to health. Therefore the healer should be spiritual and endeavor to imbue his patient with high ideals so that he may eventually learn to conform to God's laws which govern the universe, and thus attain permanent health in future lives as well as now.
However, faith without works is dead. if we persist in living under unsanitary conditions, faith will not save us from typhoid. When we apply preventives of proper kind, or remedies in sickness, we are really showing our faith by works.
Like other Mystery orders the Rosicrucian Order has also aimed to help humanity in the attainment of bodily health. It has been written in various works that the members of the Order took a vow to heal others free of charge. This statement is somewhat garbled. The lay brothers take a vow to minister to all according to the best of their ability free of charge. That vow included healing, of course, in the case of such men as Paracelsus, who had ability in that direction; by the combination method of physical remedies applied under favorable stars and spiritual counsel he was highly successful. Others were not suited to be healers but labored in other directions, but all were alike in one particular--they never charged for their services, and they labored in secret without flourish of trumpet or sound of drum.