Question: What is meant by the sentence "Man, know thyself?" (Vol. I, #174)
Answer: This sentence was found above the entrance to a Greek mystery temple as an indication of the fact that it is obligatory upon man to thoroughly understand the mystery of his own nature, which is much deeper than is apparent on the surface. This, on the principal of the hermetic axiom, "as above, so below." When he understands himself and knows himself, he will be able by analogy to know about God. For it is truly said that "Man was made in the image of God."
But to know himself, it is not only necessary that he should understand that which he sees, the physical body, but also the invisible bodies which are the causes of his thoughts, feelings and emotions. This was the teaching given in the mystery temples.
There is still another and a far deeper meaning to that sentence. When we ask ourselves the causes of all the sorrow and misery in the world, we must revert to the earliest epochs of the Earth's existence to solve our problem. In the first two Epochs, the Polarian and the Hyperborean, man was a complete creative unit, capable of sending forth from himself the forces which generated a body for another being. But in the Lemurian Epoch, when it became necessary to build a brain and a larynx, the sex force was divided and one half retained in order to accomplish that object. Only the other half remained available for generation. Then man ceased to know himself, but "Adam knew his wife," and as a result she bore him children.
The spirit inherently feels its own divine creative nature and secretly rebels against the necessity of seeking the cooperation of another to generate. As a result, sorrow, trouble and pain have come into the world, and will exist so long as the present method of procreation makes it necessary for two to cooperate to perpetuate the species. And it was the glorious goal that is set before humanity in the future--the coalition of the two poles of the creative force which will again make man an individual creator complete in himself--that was adumbrated in the mystery words, "Man, know thyself."
The Apostle John, in his First Epistle, the 3rd chapter, 8th verse, tells us the way of attainment where he says that "He that commiteth sin is of the devil...For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil...Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him."
Where the animal propensities are catered to and an abnormal use is made of the sex force, a man is apt to become an idiot, but the thoughts of a spiritual man are pure, chaste and full of wisdom.
At the present time, cooperation of the sexes is necessary to procreation of vehicles for Egos who are coming to rebirth, but the time will come when man will cease to create in that manner. He will know himself. Concentrated thought as the seed will remain within himself, but he will manifest it by means of the larynx as a Creative Word, a word that will form things in the Physical World. Then it will no longer be necessary for mankind to seek the cooperation of one another in providing new vehicles. This he was taught in the mystery schools, which are way stations upon the path of attainment, and therefore the saying "Man, know thyself" was inscribed upon the Delphian oracle.
Question: What is the Holy Grail? (Vol. I, #175)
Answer: The story of the Holy Grail is one of the myths used by the great leaders of humanity to convey to us spiritual truths in symbols which would at that time have been incomprehensible to our infant intellect.
The Grail story is found, variously told, in all the earlier races as far back as we can trace religious teachings, and libraries have been written about this wonderful mystic panacea for all ills.
In medieval times many versions of this legend were recited by minstrels, minnesingers, troubadours or mastersingers. Most beautiful, perhaps, was the simple version of Wolfram von Eschenbach, which was taken in hand by the master artist of the nineteenth century, Richard Wagner, in his famous music drama "Parsifal."
The story relates that on the night when our Savior ate the last supper with His disciples, He drank from a certain cup or chalice, and later on, when the lifeblood flowed from His wounded side, Joseph of Arimathea caught the life blood of our dying Savior in yon chalice. He also took the spear wherewith that wound had been inflicted. These relics he carried with him for many years, and such was the wonderful life giving power of the Savior's blood that it sustained him throughout all his privations, in prison, and on his wanderings. At last, the relics were taken up into heaven for a time in the care of Angels, but one night there appeared a mystic messenger sent from God to the holy Titurel with command that he build a castle high in the air, upon a mountain top, and there gather around himself a band of knights, who must be chaste and pure. These Grail Knights were permitted to behold the sacred relics at stated times and thus they became inspired with desire and power to go into the world to do mighty spiritual deeds. In time Titurel gave the wardership of the Grail to his son Amfortas and in his reign as King of the Grail, a sad calamity befell the Grail Knights.
There lived in "a heathen vale" below the castle a black knight by the name of Klingsor who desired to become a Knight of the Grail. He was not chaste, so in order to meet the condition he mutilated himself in such a manner that it became impossible for him to gratify desire. But when he applied to the holy Titurel, the latter saw his heart and refused him admittance. Then Klingsor swore that if he might not serve the Grail, the Grail should serve him. He peopled the garden of his magic castle with illusory phantasmic flower maidens who waylaid the Knights of the Grail on their passage to and from the castle, seduced them and thus disqualified them for further service as Grail Knights.
Fearing that all the Knights of the Grail would become prisoners of Klingsor, Amfortas decided to fight the black magician. He took with him the holy spear to accomplish his object. But Klingsor evoked Kundry, who is a creature of two existences. At one time she is the faithful and willing servitor of the Grail, at another time the unwilling tool of Klingsor. When serving the Grail, she is humble, obedient and simply clad. Under the spell of Klingsor, she becomes beautiful in the extreme, a woman of seducing charms, and these she is forced to use as Klingsor bids her, for he has power over her by virtue of the fact that he is not susceptible to her charms on account of his act of mutilation.
Kundry meets Amfortas, who falls before her charms. While lying in her arms the spear falls from his hand and is snatched by the waiting Klingsor, who inflicts a wound that cannot heal, and for many years the King suffers tortures, particularly when he unveils the Holy Grail for the benefit of his knights. Then the spear wound commences to bleed anew, causing him the most excruciating pain.
Roughly speaking, and giving one of the several valid interpretations which appertain to the Grail mystery, as to other symbols, Kundry is the negative dense body which at one time is under the control of the higher nature symbolized by the Grail Knights, and another time ruled by the lower desire nature symbolized by Klingsor, which tempts the spirit to forsake its higher ideals, and causes suffering when temptation is yielded to. In Parsifal, the pure and guileless one, we see the man who overcomes and therefore succeeds to the wardership of the Grail.
On Good Friday morning, 1857, Richard Wagner sat at the Villa Wesendonck by the Zurich Sea, and as he looked about him the Sun was shining, all nature was smiling and from the millions of seeds buried in the ground around him, innumerable plants and flowers were sprouting. The thought struck Wagner, "What is the connection between the death of the Savior at this time of the year and this manifold sprouting life," and in that thought he came very near to the key to the mystery of the Grail, for the Grail was a Mystery School, one of many which existed in the Middle Ages. The stories of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table are not fables, they are facts. There was such a Mystery School in Wales as late as the time of Queen Elizabeth. And these Mystery Schools exist to the very present day, though not as publicly known as they were in the more spiritual medieval times. The Mystery of King Arthur dealt more with the material and temporal side of life than the Mystery of the Grail which was altogether pure and spiritual. And there the pupil was taught, not in words, but the feeling was given to him, a teaching from within, which we may express as follows:
You see all around you the various kingdoms in the world. There is man, animal, plant and mineral. The life which is in each of these kingdoms is the one universal life of God, which manifests through all these various forms. When the forms decay it becomes necessary to provide other forms in their places, hence the generative activity which serves this purpose. In the plant kingdom, which is beneath you, that activity is pure, chaste and immaculate. There is no passion connected with it in any respect.
In the kingdoms of the Gods, which are beyond you, it is also carried on as a process of regeneration which is pure and holy. But in the kingdoms which stand between the plant and the gods, conditions are the reverse of chaste. Man and animal are passionate. Man is, in fact, the inverted plant. The plant is unashamed and stretches its creative organ, the flower, towards the Sun, a thing of beauty and delight, pure, chaste, and passionless. Man turns his creative organ toward the Earth; he hides it with shame because it is filled with passion. In time man is to become a god, he is to use his creative ability for the benefit of others and not for sense gratification. And so in time man must become plant-like on a higher scale. Therefore, you see this symbol: The pod of the plant which holds the seed is the grail cup, and the spear which brings that seed forth from the flower is the ray of the Sun. You, also, must learn to take the solar force, which is the builder of all forms, and use it in your creative organ without passion, so that that which you create shall be immaculately conceived and not as now begotten in sin.
The juice of the plant flows through its green stem and leaves uncolored, pure and chaste. Your blood is red and filled with passion, but in the regeneration that blood must be cleansed by the spiritual force which will come to you from the spiritual Sun, as the forces from the physical Sun bring forth the juice of the plant. And having become thus regenerated, you will die as a man to be resurrected a God.
This article was adapted from "The Rosicrucian Philosophy in Questions and Answers, Vol. I," by Max Heindel.