We will now consider the position of Christ Our Lord in our human life, and especially in our religious life. The religious life may be defined once more as the conscious and intelligent effort which human beings make, in whatever way, to realize their oneness with God, the Source of all life, and with each other. This effort may be made by deep thinking, by sheer devotion, or by intense love for our visible fellow-creatures, human and sub-human. The most effective–indeed essential–practice, though, is meditation. Faith in all cases precedes such effort, for faith is the belief, conscious or subconscious, intelligent or instinctive, that there is a source of all life who may as well be called God as anything else, and that union with Him, or It, as with our fellows, is possible. And that such union, when attained, will be the complete satisfaction of the deepest longings of the human soul. There is an instinctive longing for such union within every human heart, and to some extent it seems to be present as an instinct in sub-human life also. “The heart is restless till it finds its rest in God,” said Saint Augustine in the fourth century, and the same instinct was likened by Giordano Bruno in the sixteenth century to water seeking to regain its own level. The human spirit is the water, and its own level is God, with Whom the human spirit intelligently or instinctively seeks to unite itself. That restless desire is faith, and the conscious effort to satisfy that desire is religion.
It will be obvious at once to anyone who thinks of such matters for a moment that such a universal longing, however obscured or subverted it may seem to be in certain persons and at certain stages of human evolution, is a very important factor indeed in human evolution. The purpose of the religious systems, which from time to time have been founded in the world by great World Teachers by the will of God, is to train and rightly to direct this fundamental instinct, and by so doing to lead multitudes of human beings to their Source. That is the work of Our Lord Jesus Christ, as it is the work of all great Faiths, as well. Jesus the Lord is the loving and merciful Shepherd of all His sheep. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).
A Wider View
God has arranged the guidance of the religious longing in all mankind for union with Him. And He has provided that guidance Himself through establishing the various religions of the world, either through incarnations of God (avatars) or through illumined Masters. (For an explanation of the nature of divine incarnation, see Robe of Light.) Through that divine incarnation known as Jesus of Nazareth God Himself founded the great Christian religion, through which after two thousand years He still evokes the devotions of millions in East and West–drawing all that is noble and godlike in them to the surface and so hastening their spiritual growth. In Jesus perfect divinity and perfect humanity were joined. Therefore Saint Paul, exhorting the early Christians to manifest the same status as Jesus, could say: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).
The Power Of The Ever-living Christ
Jesus brought forth into the world that divine force which is known as the Apostolic Succession, the continuing operation of the Holy Spirit in and upon the disciples of the Lord Jesus. If we would have some idea how stupendous that force is we need only look at the utter immediacy of Christ in the world today, however exoteric and fragmentary most Christianity has become. Its survival in the face of such erosion and domination by often utterly unworthy people–which its enemies delight in pointing out–demonstrates the divine character of Christianity and the continuing efficacy of the Apostolic Succession. Our Lord Jesus was renowned even as a child throughout the entire land of Israel. After demonstrating at the age of twelve that the spiritual teachers in Israel had nothing they could teach him further (Luke 2:41-47), he journeyed to India to meet with the three great Masters whom we know as “the wise men” who visited him after his birth. (See The Christ of India.) There he studied and travelled widely, visiting many spiritual centers both Hindu and Buddhist. He then returned to Israel by the age of thirty and began his three-year ministry there. Think of it: just three years of public work and teaching, and what an effect! For two thousand years, from every nation upon the earth people in their millions have been drawn to Him and are still drawn; and by being drawn to Him are lifted in their evolution nearer to God. Compare the effect of His short public ministry with that of any great figure in secular history that we know. There is no comparison. No great figure of an ordinary human being can hold human beings in such multitudes for so many centuries as He has done. It is marvelous–the magnetism, the spiritual power of such a Person. Remember, too, the conditions of the world in which His religion arose, especially that of the West and the Middle East.
During these two thousand years human beings in western bodies have been developing especially the lower mind–the scientific, concrete “left-brain” mind. Now that mind, which is of course an essential element in the human soul and must necessarily be developed at some stage in human evolution, is notoriously “the slayer of the real.” When it is strongly and disproportionately developed, what chance has religion, which plays upon the intuition, the higher mind and the subtler emotions as a breath of wind plays on the strings of a harp? It would seem to have no chance at all and, as we look over the history of Europe during these past twenty centuries, very often it has seemed to have been “clean forgotten like a dead man out of mind.” Yet it has always revived again; and what fruits it has borne! what saintly characters! what music! what art! what literature! what loving-kindness and graciousness in the midst of barbarism, darkness, ignorance, cruelty, and selfishness! What a force to have produced such an effect! No ordinary man–no, nor any extraordinary man–however great as a man, could possibly have done that. The Christian Church is right to proclaim that He is a Divine Man. He certainly is, but He was once human just as we are (again, see Robe of Light and The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ). Long, long ago He lived as we are living now. Life after life He lived until He had learnt all the lessons that embodied life has to teach. Then, long ago, He became superhuman, and still passed on and on till He reached such a level as He has now reached–a level which is far beyond our ken. Thus, though He is now divine at every level, though He is completely one with the Second Person of the Trinity, yet He knows all our experiences, our sins, our sorrows, and our joys, for He was Himself human before He took “the manhood into God.”
The divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ is a perfectly true teaching, but the teaching of exoteric Christians that He alone of human beings is divine is a teaching which can be supported only by those who maintain that the Theistic idea of God, as earlier discussed in Chapter One, is the only true idea. But, as we saw in that chapter, that is not the only possible idea of God, nor, in the opinion of esoteric Christianity, is it the idea which comes nearest to the truth. Since we do not wish to involve ourselves in theological controversies, we will leave it at that without going into the labyrinthine theologizings of the exoteric Christian Church at any greater length. Yet it is necessary to say just so much, because the esoteric Christian teaching on this point is so unacceptable to many good and sincere exoteric Christians.
Chapters in Religion for Awakening:
- Chapter One of Religion for Awakening: God
- Chapter Two of Religion for Awakening: Creation (a) The Work of the Holy Spirit
- Chapter Three of Religion for Awakening: Creation (b) The Work of God the Son
- Chapter Four of Religion for Awakening: The Purpose of Creation
- Chapter Five of Religion for Awakening: The Making of Man
- Chapter Six of Religion for Awakening: The Human Soul
- Chapter Seven of Religion for Awakening: The Evolution of Man
- Chapter Eight of Religion for Awakening: The Origin of Evil
- Chapter Nine of Religion for Awakening: Right and Wrong
- Chapter Ten of Religion for Awakening: The Kingdom
- Chapter Eleven of Religion for Awakening: Christ Our Lord
- Chapter Twelve of Religion for Awakening: The Christian Religion
- Chapter Thirteen of Religion for Awakening: The Sacraments
- Chapter Fourteen of Religion for Awakening: The Holy Eucharist
- Chapter Fifteen of Religion for Awakening: Meditation