An Esoteric Cosmology
XVII. Redemption and Liberation
13 June 1906, Paris
There are seven mysteries of life which up till now have never been spoken of outside the ranks of Occult Brotherhoods. Only in our age is it possible to speak of them openly. They have been called the seven ‘inexpressible’ or ‘unutterable’ mysteries. We shall attempt to deal with the fourth mystery, that of Death. These mysteries are as follows:
- The mystery of the Abyss.
- The mystery of Number (which can be studied in Pythagorean philosophy).
- The mystery of Alchemy. (We can learn something of this mystery in the works of Paracelsus and Jacob Boehme).
- The mystery of Death.
- The mystery of Evil (to which reference is made in the Apocalypse).
- The mystery of the Word, of the Logos.
- The mystery of Divine Bliss. (This mystery is the most occult).
In speaking of the planetary body which preceded our Earth — the Old Moon phase of evolution — we distinguished three kingdoms of Nature, very different from those we know. Our mineral kingdom did not then exist. It came into being as the result of condensation and crystallisation of what on the Old Moon was half-mineral, half-plant. Our plant-world has sprung from the lunar plant-animal. Similarly, the animal world has arisen from the lunar animal-man. So we see that on the Earth, each of these lunar kingdoms makes a descent into materiality. The same thing happens to the Beings who on the Old Moon were higher than animal-man: the Spirits of Fire. In that period man breathed fire, just as today we breathe air. This is why the legends and myths speak of fire as the primary manifestation of the Gods. Goethe alludes to this in Faust, in the words: “Let us kindle fire in order that the Spirits may clothe themselves as in a garment.” These Fire-Spirits of the ancient Moon descended to the air in the Earth period proper. They too have descended into denser materiality, into the air we inbreathe and outbreathe.
Now it is just because these Spirits have descended into the air that man can, by their help, rise to the Divine. A twofold movement occurred in the innermost nature of the beings dwelling in the Old Moon. Animal-man divided into two groups. In the one group, a brain developed under the influence of the inspiration and action of the Spirits of Fire who became Spirits of Air. The other group descended towards the animal kingdom. This division is now apparent in the very constitution of man, for the lower part of his being is more akin to the animal, while the higher rises towards the Spirit. According to whether the one or the other characteristic was more or less pronounced, two groups of human beings came into existence: the one bound by a lower nature to the Earth — the other more developed and free of the Earth. The first group grew more like the animals. The beings of the other group received the Divine Spark, the consciousness of ‘I.’ Such is the relation between man of today and the animals, more particularly the ape.
The physical correlate of this spiritual evolution was the growth and development of the human brain into a veritable temple of God. But if this had been the only evolution, something would have been lacking. There would have been minerals, plants, animals and human beings possessing a brain and a human form and figure, but something would have remained at the lunar stage of evolution. On the Old Moon there was neither birth nor death.
Try to conceive of man without a physical body. He would not pass through death; the renewal of his being would not be brought about by birth as we know it, but by some other means. Certain parts of the astral body and the etheric body would be subject to change, that is all. Around an imperishable centre, the surrounding sheaths alone would be the media of communication with the environment, — such was the condition of man during the Old Moon period of evolution; his being was subject to metamorphoses, not to birth or death. But in this state he had no consciousness in our sense of the word. The Gods who had given him form were around him, behind him, not within him. They were to him what the tree is to the branch or what the brain is to the hand. The hand moves, but the consciousness of the movement is in the brain. Man was a branch of the divine tree and if earthly evolution had not changed this condition of things, his brain would have been but a flower of the same divine tree, his thoughts would have been reflected in his countenance as in a mirror but he would have had no consciousness of his own thoughts. Our Earth would have been a world of beings endowed with thoughts, but not with consciousness, a world of statues ensouled by the Gods, above all by Jahve or Jehovah. What was it that changed this order of things and how has man arrived at independence?
The Gods of the nature of Jahve were able to descend into the human brain. But other Spirits who, on the Moon, had been of the order of the Spirits of Fire, had not completed their evolution, and instead of penetrating into the brain of man on the Earth they mingled with his astral body. The astral body is composed of instincts, desires, passions, and it was there that those Spirits of Fire who had not attained the goal of evolution on the Moon, took refuge. They found a home in the animal nature of man where the passions unfold, and at the same time they imbued these passions with higher qualities. They poured the capacity for higher enthusiasm into the blood and the astral body of man. The gift of the Jehovistic Gods was the pure, cold form of the idea; but under the influence of these Spirits — we may speak of them as Luciferian Spirits — man became capable of enthusiasm for ideas, of being passionately for them or against them. The Jehovistic Gods gave form and shape to the human brain; the Luciferian Spirits set up the connection between the brain and the physical senses; they live in the nerve branches which end in the sense-organs. Lucifer has lived in us for as long as Jehovah.
The fact that his senses give man an objective consciousness of the world around him is due to the Luciferian Spirits. Human thought is the gift of the Gods; human consciousness is the gift of Lucifer. Lucifer lives in the astral body of man, and Lucifer's activity comes to expression at the point where the nerves give rise to feeling and perception. That is why the Serpent in Genesis says: ‘Your eyes shall be opened.’ These words must be taken literally, for it was by the Luciferian Spirits that the senses of man were opened.
The individualisation of consciousness is due to the senses. If man's thoughts were not related to the sense-world they would simply be reflections of the Divine — not knowledge but belief. The contradiction between faith and science is due to this dual origin of human thought. Faith turns to the eternal Ideas, the ‘Mother-Ideas’ lying in the bosom of the Gods. All science, all knowledge of the outer world by means of the senses owes its existence to the Luciferian Spirits. In man, the Luciferian principle and Divine Intelligence are combined. It is this fusion of opposing principles which makes evil possible for man but it also gives him the power of self-consciousness, choice and freedom. Only a being capable of individualisation could be thus helped by opposing elements within his being. If when he descended into matter, man had only received the form given by Jehovah, he would have remained an impersonal being. And so it was due to Lucifer that man was able to become truly man, a being independent of the Gods. Christ, or the Logos made manifest in man, is the Principle which enables him to ascend once again to God.
Before the Coming of Christ, man embodied the principle of Jehovah (form) and that of Lucifer (individualisation). He was divided between obedience to the Law and the revolt of the principle of individuality. But the principle of Christ came to establish equilibrium between the two. Christ taught man how to find the Law which was originally laid down from outside, within the centre of individual being. This is what St. Paul meant when he said that freedom and love are the highest principles of Christianity. The ancient world was ruled by Law; Love is the governing principle of the new order of things. Thus three principles are inseparable from and essential to man's evolution — Jehovah, Lucifer, Christ. Christ Jesus is not only a Universal Principle; Christ is a Being who appeared once, and once only, at a definite moment in history. In human form, He revealed by His words and His life, a state of perfection which it is possible for all men ultimately to acquire by their own free-will. Christ came to the Earth at a critical moment, when the descending arc of human evolution was about to reach its lowest point of materialisation. In order that the Christ-Principle might awaken in man, the life of Christ Himself on Earth was necessary in a human body.
Karma is the law of cause and effect in the spiritual world; it represents the spiral process of evolution. The Christ Impulse intervenes in this karmic process and becomes its central pivot. Since He came to Earth the Christ has lived in the depths of every human soul.
When karma is conceived as a necessity imposed on man in order that his wrong doings may be redressed and his errors redeemed by an implacable justice working over from one incarnation to another, the objection is sometimes raised that karma must do away with the rôle of Christ as the Redeemer. In reality, karma is a redemption of man by himself, by dint of his own efforts as he gradually ascends to freedom through the series of incarnations. It is through karma that man is able to draw near to Christ.
The Christ-Impulse transforms implacable Law into Freedom, and the source of this Impulse is the person and example of Christ Jesus. Karma is not to be conceived as fatalism but as an instrument essential to the attainment of that supreme freedom which is life in Christ — a freedom attained not by defying the world-order but by fulfilling it.
Another objection is one that may be made from the point of view of oriental philosophy. It is said that the idea of a Redeemer of men does away with the logical concatenations of karma and substitutes for it an act of a miraculous Providence which intervenes in the universal laws of evolution. It is surely right and just that those who have committed sins should bear the weight of them. This is an error of thought. Karma is the law of cause and effect in the spiritual world, just as mechanical action is the law of cause and effect in the material world. At every moment of life karma represents something like a balance sheet, an exact statement of debit and credit. By every action, bad or good, man augments his debit or credit. Those who will not admit the possibility of an act of freedom are like a business man who will not venture to embark upon a new transaction because he does not wish to run any risk; he prefers always to keep the same balance sheet.
A purely logical conception of karma would prohibit one from helping a man in adversity. But there, too, such fatalism would be false. The help we give freely to another opens up a new era in his destiny. Our destinies are woven of these impulses, of these acts of grace. If we accept the idea of individual help, may we not conceive that a far mightier Being could help, not one man alone, but all men, could give a new impulse to all humanity? Such, indeed, was the act of a God Who was made man, not in order to defy the laws of karma but to fulfil them. Karma and Christ — the means of salvation and the Saviour. Through karma, the Act of Christ becomes cosmic law, and through the Christ-Principle karma achieves its aim — the liberation of conscious souls and their identification with God. Karma is gradual redemption, Christ is the Redeemer.
If men would steep themselves in these ideas, they would realise that they belong to one another; they would understand the law recognised in all true occult brotherhoods — namely that each individual suffers and lives for others. There will come a time in the future when outer redemption will coincide in each man with the interior act of the Redeemer. It is not revelation but truth which makes men free: “You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free.”
The path of evolution leads to freedom. When man has awakened in himself all those qualities which were prophetically manifest in the Christ, he will be a free being. For if necessity is the law of the material world, freedom is the law of the spiritual world. Freedom is only acquired step by step and it will not be fully manifest in man until the end of his evolution, when his nature will be truly spiritualised.