Question: The Lord had respect unto Abel and his bloody offering but unto Cain and his sweet and clean offering, He had not respect. Why? (Vol. I, #87)
Answer: The inquirer is under a misapprehension. The offering of Abel was not a bloody offering. It is nowhere stated that Abel killed an animal. The legend of the occult freemasons, which we will give in part, tells the story:
Once upon a time, the Elohim created Eve; he united with her and she bore Cain; he left her before the birth of Cain and Cain was thus "the son of the widow." Then the Elohim Jehovah created Adam who united with Eve and she bore Abel. In time Cain and Abel brought their offerings to Jehovah. Abel brought of his flocks created by God while Cain brought the work of his own hands, the grain. And Jehovah received the gift which Abel had found ready to his hand, made by nature, but he despised the sacrifice which was the outcome of the creative ability of Cain. Then Cain slew Abel and was cursed. Adam again united with Eve, and she bore Seth.
From Cain and Seth came two classes of people. The descendants of Cain were Tubal-Cain and Hiram Abiff, cunning master workmen, who knew how to fashion things with their hands, having within themselves the divine ability of creation, of making two blades of grass grow where there was only one before, and from them come all those who work with their hands and strive to conquer the Earth and its resources.
From Seth descended the kings and priests, who received their wisdom ready made from the Gods, and took things as they found them. Among them was Solomon, the wisest of men, but he had not worked for his wosdom himself, he received it as a gift of God. These two classes are still found upon Earth today and are battling for supremacy. One is the progressive temporal Powers, the other the conservative Priest-craft.
The reason, then, why Jehovah accepted the offering of Abel was because he had taken things as they were found created; he was a son of man, and did not aspire to divine creatorship. But Cain was of a divine nature; he had within him the creative instinct; and that was not to the liking of the God.
Question: What is the esoteric significance of the Ark of the Covenant? (Vol. I, #88)
Answer: We read in the earliest chapters of the Bible about the Fall in Eden, when man took the creative force into his own hands, used it ignorantly and thus sinned against the laws of nature. Propagation is a faculty of the vital body which is the shadow of the life spirit, the second aspect of the threefold spirit in man.
Cherubim are described as having been put on guard with a flaming sword when man was driven out from Eden, lest he eat of the Tree of Life and become immortal, for they are the great creative hierarchy which had charge over the Earth in the Sun Period, when the vital body germinated and the life spirit was awakened.
Then commenced the long pilgrimage through the wilderness of matter, and the ark of the covenant was the symbol of man in this migratory phase of his existence. During the pilgrimage in the wilderness, the staves which were used to carry the ark were always left in their places to show that it had no abiding place, but when it came to the temple made without sound of hammer, the Temple of Solomon, its pilgrimage was ended, and the staves were removed.
In its character as a symbol of man the ark contained the Book of the Law, given to teach man right action. There was the rod of Aaron which budded, a wand of power, symbolizing the spiritual force latent in every man. This rod was a replica of the spear of Parsifal, which was an instrument of harm in the hands of Klingsor, the Black Magician, and likewise in the hands of the Roman soldier, but the pure and spiritual Parsifal used it to heal the wounds of Amfortas. The rod of Aaron had been used among the Egyptians to cause distress and sorrow, and was then hidden within the ark, symbolical of the fact that man had at one time possessed and misused the spiritual power now hidden within.
There was the pot of manna. This was not a food for the body as materialistically explained. The word manna is almost universal. In the Sanskrit we have "manas," the thinker. In German, the English, the Scandinavian languages, and in many others, we have the same word "man" to designate the thinker. The placing of the pot of manna within the ark commemorates the time when the Ego drew into the form it had built and became an indwelling spirit.
That was the "fall" into material conditions, necessitating the generation of dense bodies. When man arrogated to himself the power to generate at any time, he was exiled from the Etheric Region lest he possess himself of the secret of vitalizing the imperfect bodies he generates and render evolution impossible.
It is stated in the first part of our answer, the Cherubim were the authors of our vital powers, so they must guard them until man is qualified to have control himself. Therefore they are said to have been placed at the garden of Eden with a Flaming Sword, and it is of the greatest significance that upon the floors to the Temple of Solomon there stood the Cherubim, holding in their hands no longer the Flaming Sword, but an open flower. The flower is the generative organ of the plant, which accomplishes the act of generation in a pure, passionless manner, and when man has learned how to become pure and passionless so that each and every form is immaculately conceived, he can enter into the temple of God as the ark entered the Temple of Solomon, and he may remain there, as signified by the removal of the staves, and as prophetically told in Revelation where the spirit said: "Him that overcometh, I will make a pillar in the House of my God; thence he shall no more go out."
Question: What is meant by everlasting salvation and damnation? (Vol. I, #92)
Answer: The orthodox religions say that those who have done well in this life are saved, that is to say, they will go to a heaven not very clearly defined, and those who fail to reach this salvation are plunged into a hell of which not very much is known save that it is a place of misery. The good and the bad stay in their respective places, once they have been judged; there is no redemption for the lost souls, and no danger of a fall for those once saved.
Such an interpretation is radically wrong, if the Greek dictionary is taken as authority, for obviously the meaning hinges upon the word translated "everlasting." That word is "aionian," and in the dictionary it is translated to mean "an age, an indefinite period, a lifetime," etc. What, then, is the true meaning of the passage quoted we may ask ourselves, and in order to find that meaning it will be necessary to take a comprehensive view of life.
In the beginning of manifestation, God, a great flame, differentiates a vast number of incipient flames or sparks within Himself, not from Himself, for it is an actual fact that "in Him we live and move and have our being." Nothing can exist outside God. So within Himself, God differentiates these countless souls. Each of them is potentially divine, each enfolds all His powers as the seed enfolds the plant, but as the seed must be buried in the ground to bring forth the plant, so it is necessary that these divine sparks should be immersed in material vehicles in order that they may learn lessons that can be mastered only in such a separative existence as there is in the world.
The world may be regarded as a training school for the evolving spirits. Some of them started early and applied themselves diligently to the task before them; consequently they progressed rapidly. Others started later and are laggards. They are therefore left behind in the race; but all will ultimately attain the goal of perfection. In consequence of the foregoing fact there are a number of classes of these pilgrim spirits, and before one set, or class, of spirits can be moved up another step in evolution it is necessary that they should have attained a certain standard of proficiency. They are saved from a lower condition which they have outgrown. Once this measure of efficiency has been acquired, they are promoted into another race, another epoch. But among a large number there are always laggards, and these are "condemned" to stay in theclass where they are until they have arrived at the stage of growth required for advancement. The plan is similar to the method in which children in a school are promoted into the next higher class at the yearly examinations if they have attained a certain standard of knowledge; if not, they are "condemned" to stay behind--not forever, but only until another year's examination proves that they have qualified.
The foregoing is not a distorted or a wrong representation of the meaning of the word aionian. It has been used other places in the Bible in a manner which bears out our contention. For instance, in Paul's letter to Philemon, where he returns to him the slave Onesimus with the words, "Perhaps it was well that you should lose him for a time that he might be given back to you "forever." The word "forever" is the same word aionian which is translated "everlasting" in connection with damnation and salvation, and it will be readily seen that in this case it can only mean a part of a lifetime, for neither Paul or Philemon, as such, would live forever.
Question: What is the teaching of Esoteric Christianity concerning the Immaculate Conception? (Vol. I, #93)
Answer: The Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is, perhaps, one of the most sublime mysteries of the Christian religion, and perhaps for that reason it has suffered more from being dragged down into materiality than any of the other mysteries. It has suffered alike from the interpretation of its clumsy supporters and the sneers of the skeptics.
The popular, but erroneous, idea is that about 2,000 years ago an individual named Jesus Christ was born of a mother without the cooperation of an earthly father, and this incident is regarded as unique in the history of the world. In reality, it is not unparalleled; the immaculate conception has taken place many times in the history of the world and will become universal in the future.
The anticipated history of man is written in the stars--man being the little world as the stars are great worlds. There the ideal, the prototype of the Immaculate Conception is dramatically presented from year to year. The Sun is the life giver of the world; it is the light of the world also. And as the more advanced beings who are the saviors of mankind appear when the greatest spiritual darkness is upon Earth, so the Sun is born anew at the winter solstice and starts its journey toward the equator on the darkest night of the year, the night between the 24th and the 25th of December. At that time, the zodiacal sign Virgo rises upon the eastern horizon in all northern latitudes, which are the most populous parts of the Earth.
Thus, the light of the world is each year immaculately conceived by the celestial virgin mother and starts upon his journey northward to give his life for humanity as he ripens the corn and the grape. By analogy the spiritual teachers are born at times when spiritual darkness is greatest, and they give to man the bread of life which feeds the soul.
Men do not gather grapes of thorns, but like always begets like; an entity that is vile must be born of a mother who is vile, and before a savior can be born a pure virgin mother must be found. But when we say "virgin," we do not mean virgin in a physical sense. We all possess physical virginity in the early years of our lives, but virginity of the spirit is a quality of soul acquired by lives of pure thought and lofty aspirations. It is not dependent upon the state of the body. A true virgin may bear several children and remain "virgin."
Whether a child is conceived in sin or immaculately conceived is thus dependent upon its own inherent soul quality, for if the Ego to be born is pure and chaste it will naturally be born to a mother who is also of the same pure and beautiful nature. And the physical, which in the case of most people is dictated by passion and desire for sensual gratification, is performed by the pure and the chaste of soul in a spirit of prayer as a sacrifice. Thus the child is begotten without the sin of passion; it is immaculately conceived.
Such a one is never an accidental child. His coming has been heralded and looked forward to with anticipation of pleasure and joy, and there are many cases at the present day where people come very close to an imitation of the Immaculate Conception; cases where both the parents are pure and chaste; where they perform the generative act in the spirit of pure love; where the mother is unmolested during the gestatory period and the child is born in almost as pure a manner as foreshadowed in the symbolical immaculate conceptions. In time, when humanity grows more and more altruistic, passion will be superseded by pure love, and all men will be immaculately begotten.
This article was adapted from "The Rosicrucian Philosophy in Questions and Answers, Vol. I," by Max Heindel.