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The Western Wisdom Teachings
Supplementary Philosophy Course
Lesson No. 37

Tannhauser:
The Unpardonable Sin

During the contest the sublime and heavenly ideals of the companionship of soul with soul, is sung by the majority of the minstrels, and at each presentation there comes from Tannhauser a passionate retort defending the sensual phase of love. At last, enraged at their seeming insipidity, which he regards as sentimental nonsense, he cries, "Go to Venus. She will show you love."

   With this remark his guilty secret is out. It is taken by everyone to mean that he has committed that which is the worst phase of the unpardonable sin, namely, intercourse with an etheric entity; and feeling that he is depraved beyond redemption, they rush at him sword in hand and would surely have killed him had not Elizabeth interceded, pleading that he be not cut off from life in his sins, but be given a chance to repent. Then a band of pilgrims is heard in the distance and the minstrels agree that if he will go and seek the pardon of the Holy See at Rome, they will spare his life.

   When Elizabeth reveals the grief of her heart in her plea for Tannhauser, he at last sees the enormity of his sins and is seized with an overwhelming sense of his depravity. He, therefore, anxiously grasps the suggestion given him, joins the band of pilgrims, and journeys toward Rome. Being a strong soul, he does nothing by halves. His contrition is as sincere as his sin was brazen. His whole being yearns to cleanse itself from impurity that he may aspire to the higher and nobler love awakened in his breast by Elizabeth.

   The other pilgrims sang psalms of praise, but he scarcely dared to look to Rome in the distance, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner." While they refreshed themselves and slept in hospices on the way, he made his bed upon the snow. When they walked over the smooth road, he walked among thorns, and when he came to Italy so that not even the fair scenes of that land should give him joy, he blindfolded his eyes and thus journeyed toward the Eternal City.

   At last the morn came upon which he was to see the Holy Father, and hope rose in this heart. During the entire day he stood patiently while thousands of others passed by, the ecstasies of heaven on their countenances, and received there the pardon they craved, going away with lighter hearts, gladdened and ready to make a new start.

   At last came his turn. He stood in that august presence and waited patiently for the Holy Father's message, waiting and hoping for a kind word to send him on his way rejoicing. Instead there came the thundered words, "If you have associated with demons, then there is no forgiveness for you, neither in heaven nor on Earth. Sooner will this dry staff which I hold in my hand blossom, than that thy sins will be forgiven."

   At this heartless announcement the last spark of hope died within Tannhauser, and lust, a thing of blood, lifted its head. His love was turned to hate, and blazing with anger he cursed everything in heaven and on Earth, swearing that if he could not have true love, then he would return to the cave and seek Venus anew, and telling his fellow pilgrims to keep back, he leaves then and journeys back to his native home alone.

   Meanwhile the prayers of Elizabeth, the pure and chaste virgin to whom Tannhauser's love had gone out, unceasingly called for forgiveness for the sinner. Hopefully she awaited the return of the pilgrims, but when at last they arrived and Tannhauser was not among them, despair seized her, and feeling that there was no other way she passed out of this phase of life, to present personally her petition at the Throne of Grace before our Heavenly Father. The funeral procession is met by the returning Tannhauser, who is bowed with unspeakable grief at this sight.

   Then another band of returning pilgrims arrive, telling of a great miracle which has taken place at Rome. The staff of the Pope had budded to signify that a sinner refused remission on Earth, had found pardon in heaven.

   Though the legend is clothed in medieval and Catholic phraseology, and though we may discount the idea that any one man has power to forgive sin or deny remission, it contains spiritual truths which are becoming more pertinent with each passing year. It deals with the unpardonable sin: the only sin that cannot be forgiven, but must be expiated. As you know, Jehovah is the highest Initiate of the Moon Period, the ruler of the Angels, who during this present Day of Manifestation work with our humanity through the Moon. He is the author of generation and the prime factor in gestation, the giver of offspring to man and to beast, using the lunar ray as his vehicle of work during the times which are propitious to generation. Jehovah is a jealous God, jealous of his prerogative, and, therefore, when man ate of the tree of knowledge and took the matter of generation into his own hands, he expelled him from paradise to wander in the wilderness of the world. There was no forgiveness. He must expiate it in travail and in pain, reaping the fruit of his transgression.

   Before the Fall, humanity had not known either good or evil. They had done what they were told, and nothing else. By taking matters into their own hands, and by the pain and the sorrow which followed their transgression, they learned the difference between good and evil: they became capable of choice. They acquired prerogative. This is the great privilege which more than compensates for the suffering and the sorrow man has endured in expiation of that offense against the Law of Life, which lies in performing the creative act when the stellar rays are unpropitious, thus causing painful parturition, and a multitude of other diseases to which humanity is heir today.

   In this connection I may mention that the Moon is the ruler of the sign Cancer, and that cancer, in its malignant form, admits of no cure, no matter how many remedies science may bring forward from time to time. Investigation of the lives of persons who suffer from this disease has proved in every case that the one involved has been sensual in the extreme during previous lives, though I am not prepared to say that this is a law, since a sufficient number of investigations have not been made to establish it. It is, nevertheless, significant that Jehovah, the Holy Spirit, rules generative functions through the Moon, that the Moon governs Cancer, and that those who abuse the sex function in a very marked and bestial degree are later afflicted with the disease called cancer: that that is incurable and thus bears out the saying in the Bible that all things may be forgiven save the sin against the Holy Spirit.

   There is a mystic connection between the Cherubim with the flaming sword at the Garden of Eden and the Cherubim with the open flower on the door of Solomon's Temple: between the spear and the Grail cup: between Aaron's rod that budded and the staff of the Pope which flowered and the death of the chaste and pure Elizabeth, by whose intercession the stain was removed from the soul of the erring Tannhauser. Neither can one who has never known the awful torment of temptation realize the position of one who has fallen. Christ, Himself, felt in the body of Jesus all the passion and all the temptations to which we ourselves are subject, and it is stated that that was for the purpose of making Him merciful unto us as a High Priest. That He was tempted, proves that temptation is in itself not sin. It is the yielding that is sin; therefore, He was without sin. Whoever can thus be tempted and withstand, is of course highly evolved; but let us remember that none of the present humanity has yet arrived at that stage of perfection and that we are better men and women for having sinned, and suffered in consequence, until we have become awake to the important fact that the way of the transgressor is hard, and have turned into the pathway of virtue, whereon alone is found inward peace. Such men and women are on a much higher stage of spiritual development than those who have lived lives of purity because of a sheltered environment. This Christ emphasized when He said that there shall be more rejoicing over one sinner who repents than over the ninety-and-nine who need no repentance.

   There is a very important distinction between innocence and virtue, and what is more important still, is that we should realize the fallacy of the double standard of conduct which gives liberties to or rather condones them in a man, while insisting that one misstep will ruin a woman for life. Were I to choose a wife today, and later learn that her life had been clouded by a mistake for which she had suffered, I should know that such a one had learned to know sorrow, and had engendered compassion and forbearance thereby, and had thus acquired qualities which would make her a better and more sympathetic companion than one who stood "innocent" upon the threshold of life, liable to fall a prey to the first temptation that befell her.

[To Be Continued]


Questions:

  You are welcome to e-mail your answers and/or comments to us. Please be sure to include your e-mail address, full name, course name and lesson number in your e-mail to us.

1] What chance was Tannhauser given to redeem himself after being saved from the wrath of the Minstrels by Elizabeth?

2] What was Tannhauser's attitude on his journey toward Rome?

3] What was the Pope's answer to Tannhauser's plea for forgiveness?

4] Since the Pope failed Tannhauser, where was the next petition presented in his behalf?

5] What great privilege compensates for the suffering man has endured because of his offense against the law of life?

6] What was Christ's statement regarding the repentant sinner?

Course Study Resources E-mail your answers to us.


Note: Please do not fail to read and reread the pages in which you find the answers to these questions. After carefully studying the subject matter, strive to condense your answer as much as possible, taking into consideration the principal points.
Lesson 1: The Creative Power of Thought
Lesson 2: The Work of the Aspirant to the Higher Life
Lesson 3: The Mission of Christ and the Forgivenes of Sins
Lesson 4: Correct Diet for the Aspirant
Lesson 5: Why We Should Avoid Mediumship, Hypnotism....
Lesson 6: The Evolution of Religion
Lesson 7: The Science of Dying
Lesson 8: The Beneficent Experiences of Purgatory
Lesson 9: The Realms of Bliss
Lesson 10: Rebirth and Consequence
Lesson 11: The Soul, Soul Body, and Soul Growth
Lesson 12: The Soul, Soul Body, and Soul Growth
Lesson 13: The Path of Attainment, First-Hand Knowledge, and Spiritual Sight
Lesson 14: The Path of Attainment, First-Hand Knowledge, and Spiritual Sight [continued]
Lesson 15: Prayer -- A Magic Invocation
Lesson 16: Initiation
Lesson 17: The Philosopher's Stone
Lesson 18: Parsifal
Lesson 19: Parsifal [continued]
Lesson 20: Parsifal [continued]
Lesson 21: Spiritual Light; The New Element and the New Substance
Lesson 22: Faust
Lesson 23: Faust [continued]
Lesson 24: Faust [continued]
Lesson 25: Faust [continued]
Lesson 26: Faust [continued]
Lesson 27: Faust [continued]
Lesson 28: The Ring of the Niebelung - "The Rhine Maidens"
Lesson 29: The Ring of the Niebelung - "The Ring of the Gods"
Lesson 30: The Ring of the Neibelung - "The Valkuerie"
Lesson 31: The Ring of the Niebelung - "Siegfried, the Truth Seeker"
Lesson 32: The Ring of the Niebelung - "The Battle of Truth and Error"
Lesson 33: The Ring of the Niebelung - "Rebirth and the Lethal Drink"
Lesson 34: The Ring of the Niebelung - "The Twilight of the Gods"
Lesson 35: Tannhauser - The Pendulum of Joy and Sorrow
Lesson 36: Tannhauser - Minstrels, Initiates of Middle Ages
Lesson 37: Tannhauser - The Unpardonable Sin
Lesson 38: Tannhauser - The Rod That Budded
Lesson 39: Lohengrin - The Knight of the Swan - Part I
Lesson 40: Lohengrin - The Knight of the Swan - Part II

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