There are many advantages to abandoning exoteric Christianity, especially fundamentalism. Yet there are certain aspects of fundamentalist Christianity that can be very valuable in any religion. One such aspect is the sense of spiritual urgency because of the fact that today’s opportunity may be gone tomorrow never to return, that “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2). As a fundamentalist I heard several sermons on the words of Jeremiah 8:20: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved,” and they were all to my good. There is nothing positive about thinking that we can dawdle and fiddle around without endangering our spiritual future. That is why Saint Paul wrote: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as foolish, but as wise, redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5:15, 16; Colossians 4:5). The word translated “redeem” is exagorazo which means to turn something to our advantage, especially to our gain.
Jesus underlined the need to seize the present opportunity in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-12). It has nothing to do with the whim and the pleasure or displeasure of a peevish God, but with the fact that the universe is always in motion and there are tides in the subtle energy levels that absolutely affect the lives of human beings. Astrology is based on this fact, and so is divination. Karma manifests according to the inner tides as well
I think most of us have thought of obtaining something but delayed, only to find out that it was no longer available. We had lost it. “The chance of a lifetime” is a very real possibility, not just a commercial slogan. In this chapter of the Aquarian Gospel there are two instances relating to redeeming the present time, so I have put in these words of introduction.
Now, many women who possessed much wealth, and abode in other towns of Galilee, implored that Jesus and the twelve, together with the masters from the foreign lands, would thither go and preach and heal. Among these anxious ones were Mary Magdalene, who was obsessed by seven homeless spirits of the air, which had been driven out by the Omnific Word which Jesus spoke; Susanna, who owned vast estates at Caesarea-Philippi; Johanna, wife of Chuza, one of Herod’s court; and Rachel from the coast of Tyre; and others from beyond the Jordan and the sea of Galilee. (Aquarian Gospel 105:1-6)
Because of social snobbery and the supposedly picturesque character of rustic folk, through the centuries Jesus’ followers have been portrayed as poor, uneducated and unimportant people: a ragtag lot. The Gospels have been interpreted as extolling poverty and personal insignificance, even oppression by the moneyed and the powerful. Having nothing, being nothing and being kicked around by society was presented as a sure sign of readiness for the teachings of Jesus. This is silly. We have already seen that Jesus was very wealthy since his grandparents had been the richest people in all Israel and his mother had inherited everything. We have already seen that he could buy great houses in which to establish spiritual schools. And where did the money come from that enabled him to travel widely before beginning his ministry?
Jesus was no hillbilly preacher, no Jewish Will Rogers. The rich and powerful were as attracted to him as were the poor and the weak: he had come for them all. Consequently many affluent women sponsored his missionary endeavors that did not consist of a few barefoot, beggarly young men wandering about in a hit-or-miss fashion, but rather the incursion of teams of trained missionaries, many of them from other countries. Think how impressive this would be when foreign men of sophistication and prominence also traveled the roads of Galilee, spreading the universal teachings of Christ. Over and over we see that Jesus was the most renowned person in Israel and of great effect and influence. His teaching was not done off in a corner somewhere to only a few nobodies. Everyone in Israel was at least once touched by his presence.
Consider the list given here. Among them was Mary Magdalene who had been obsessed by seven wandering spirits, the type known in the Far East as “hungry ghosts,” but who had been freed by Jesus speaking the Word of Life, the Pranava: Om. She was extremely rich, as was Susanna who possessed immense estates. Political influence was here as well, for Johanna was the wife of one of Herod’s stewards (Luke 8:3). This is one of the reasons Herod knew so much about Jesus and very much wanted to meet him (Luke 23:8). Many other women of prominence subsidized the preaching of Jesus and his disciples.
And they provided ample means and three times seven men went forth. They preached the gospel of the Christ and they baptized the multitudes who made confession of their faith; they healed the sick and raised the dead. (Aquarian Gospel 105:7, 8)
This must have been impressive, for they did not just speak, they demonstrated the reality of their teachings by healing bodies and souls. For a religion without healing is no religion at all.
And Jesus wrought and taught from early morn until the day had gone, and then into the night, he did not stop to eat. His friends became alarmed lest he should fail from loss of strength, and they laid hold of him and would, by force, have taken him away to a place of rest. But he rebuked them not; he said, Have you not read that God will give his angels charge concerning me? That they would hold me fast and suffer not that I should come to want?. (Aquarian Gospel 105:9-12)
Those who look after the spiritual work they are involved in will find that God and his saints and angels will look after them. I have been witnessing this all my life. Those who put God first are put first by God. They will live in the miraculous. I have experienced this myself and have met many people who did so as well. One man I knew lived continually in angelic contact and interaction. I wish he had written a book on his life with angelic helpers. As Jesus said: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
I tell you, men, while I am giving out my strength unto these anxious, waiting throngs I find myself at rest within the arms of God, whose blessed messengers bring down to me the bread of life. (Aquarian Gospel 105:13, 14)
Jesus was speaking from his own experience when he promised: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28, 29). The angels were constantly ascending and descending upon Jesus (John 1:51) because he was doing the work of the Father. Living in the strength of the Holy Spirit, “he said unto them, I have food to eat that ye know not of” (John 4:32). The lives of saints demonstrate that those who dedicate their lives to God will always have strength and sustenance. And so will we.
There is a tide just once in human life. These people now are willing to receive the truth; their opportunity is now; our opportunity is now, and if we do not teach them while we may, the tide will ebb; they may not care again to hear the truth; then tell me, who will bear the guilt? And so he taught and healed. (Aquarian Gospel 105:15-19)
I have seen the truth of this over and over: the tragedy of neglected spiritual opportunity. Both young and old have let the offered life slip away. Some of them realized it but did nothing about it, and others did not even know they had lost the call of God. Spiritually speaking, willful death was their choice. Certainly, they will make the right response in future lives, but what suffering may lie in between?
Two classical examples are given in the book of Acts. One man to whom Saint Paul spoke “trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee” (Acts 24:25), but never did. Another said: “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 24:25), and that was the end of that. This latter example inspired the song “Almost Persuaded.”
It is significant that Jesus says “These people now are willing to receive the truth.” He was not advising that people who were not willing should be bullied or cajoled. Those people should be left alone. Without the exercise of free will nothing can be accomplished spiritually. So only those who show themselves ready and willing should be dealt with. And the moment they lose interest we should pass on. But we do have a responsibility for those who wish to know the things of the spirit.
Among the multitudes were men of every shade of thought. They were divided in their views concerning everything that Jesus said. Some saw in him a God, and would have worshipped him; and others saw in him a devil of the nether world and would have cast him in a pit. (Aquarian Gospel 105:20, 21)
This is the way of the world. No matter what it might be, every thing is loved and hated at the same time. With spiritual matters this is very obvious, and the bitterness and violence often aroused is antithetical to every aspect of authentic spiritual life. In regard to spiritual teachers and teaching the divide is very simple: negative people like who and what are negative and dislike who and what are positive; positive people like who and what is positive and dislike who and what are negative.
I learned this in relation to religion and spiritual life even before I got into my teens. I could easily tell if a person or thing was good or bad by who accepted and who rejected them. So I would know if I was on the right track if negative people opposed me and positive people supported me, and vice versa. It is true: you can tell about someone as much by the character of their enemies as of their friends.
Saint Paul wrote: “We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life” (II Corinthians 2:15, 16). That which is alive and leads to greater and higher life has the fragrance of death to the living and the stench of death to the dead. The same principle applies to what is death-bearing and dead: to the living it stinks and to the dead it smells wonderful.
Jesus assured his true disciples: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” John 15:18, 19). It could not be clearer. And things were the same at the time of Jesus. When he was only forty days old and taken to be dedicated in the temple, the prophet Simeon said to his mother: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34, 35).
It was not Jesus who was on trial, but those that saw and heard him.
And some were trying hard to lead a double life; like little lions of the ground that take upon themselves the color of the thing they rest upon. These people without anchorage of any sort, are friends or foes as seemed to serve them best. (Aquarian Gospel 105:22, 23)
“Little lions of the ground” means chameleons. The Greek words khamailéōn and léōn together mean “ground lions.” Some people waver back and forth because their minds are unstable, others because they are anxious to look out for what will benefit them. Both are called double-minded by Saint James the Apostle, who wrote of them: “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.…purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 1:8; 4:8).
Double minded people also try to be two things at the same time, no matter how contradictory and impossible this might be. In the Soviet Union there were people who swore they could be both dedicated Communists and dedicated Christians. Some of them would even say: “Communism is Christianity without Christ.” (I knew some.) Of course these were the Christmas-and-Easter Christians, not real Orthodox Christians–they were being persecuted, imprisoned and even executed by those Communist “Christians without Christ.”
And Jesus said, No man can serve two masters at a time. No man can be a friend and foe at once. (Aquarian Gospel 105:24)
Often countries will not declare war on another country, but will still provoke and engage in war with them. I remember Harry Truman on the radio telling us Americans that we were not at war in Korea; we were only engaging in “a police action.” Heaven knows what the police must have been like in his hometown!
Some people are the same with God: they are absolutely opposed to God, but would never say so. “I leave God alone and he leaves me alone,” said one fool, the father of a friend of mine, who did not realize that God was the very basis of his existence, much less his life and function in this world. Of course we have the “I am an agnostic” people who really mean: “I don’t care.” At least until they get in trouble.
But it cannot be done, however much people may lie to themselves.
All men are rising up, or sinking down; are building up, or tearing down. If you are gathering not the precious grain, then you are throwing it away. (Aquarian Gospel 105:25, 26)
This is a really severe truth, but no less the truth for that. As I wrote at the beginning, the universe is in constant flux. Nothing, absolutely nothing, stands still. A friend of mine used to say: “I am not impressed when someone says, ‘I’ve been changing a lot lately.’ What would impress me if they said ‘I haven’t gone through any changes,’ since only God does not change.”
No one stands still; we are either rising in consciousness or sinking in consciousness. One or the other is inevitable, so we must examine ourselves and see which it is, and hopefully determine to rise, not sink, and keep on rising. In the same way we are either building ourselves up in the spirit or we are tearing ourselves down. We may try to blame everything but ourselves, but the truth is we alone are the masters of our fate. We sow the karma that will be reaped later. Therefore Jesus says: “If you are gathering not the precious grain, then you are throwing it away.” Just doing nothing is not being neutral; it, too, is negative: negative inaction. Spiritual laziness and neglect is active self-destruction.
He is a coward who would feign to be a friend, or foe, to please another man. You men, do not deceive yourselves in thought; your hearts are known; hypocrisy will blight a soul as surely as the breath of Beelzebub. An honest evil man is more esteemed by guardians of the soul than a dishonest pious man. (Aquarian Gospel 105:27-29)
Now Jesus addresses the chameleons and those who pretended to be interested in his teachings so they could report his words and deeds to his enemies and get on their good side. In this way they thought to be safe in an oppressive era created by both Herod and Rome. But “hypocrisy will blight a soul,” and there is no safety in that.
An honest evil man is more esteemed by guardians of the soul than a dishonest pious man. We respect a criminal who confesses his crime and despise one who denies it. Sri Ramakrishna said that a person who always spoke the truth would realize God.
If you would curse the son of man, just curse him out aloud. A curse is poison to the inner man, and if you hold and swallow down a curse it never will digest; lo, it will poison every atom of your soul. (Aquarian Gospel 105:30, 31)
Truthfulness is so absolutely necessary that Jesus then makes this intense statement, saying that it is better for an enemy of Christ and God to curse them outright, because hypocrisy is more destructive than blasphemy and enmity to God and righteousness. To liars by either speech or silence, Jesus said: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). So hypocrites, liars and all that traffic in falsehood are demons in human bodies, “delivered into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment…to whom the mist of darkness is reserved” (II Peter 2:4, 17).
And if you sin against a son of man, you may be pardoned and your guilt be cleansed by acts of kindness and of love. (Aquarian Gospel 105:32)
Here is a message of hope in the midst of censure. The negative karma of our transgressions against others can be wiped out by acts of kindness and love to the same degree that we have sinned against others.
But if you sin against the Holy Breath by disregarding her when she would open up the doors of life for you; by closing up the windows of the soul when she would pour the light of love into your hearts, and cleanse them with the fires of God; your guilt shall not be blotted out in this, nor in the life to come. An opportunity has gone to come no more, and you must wait until the ages roll again.
Then will the Holy Breath again breathe on your fires of life, and fan them to a living flame. Then she will open up the doors again, and you may let her in to sup with you for evermore, or you may slight her once again, and then again. You men of Israel, your opportunity is now. (Aquarian Gospel 105:33-39)
The sin against the Holy Breath, the Holy Spirit, is not done by speaking disrespectfully of her or even denying her existence, but by ignoring and wasting the opportunities she gives for emerging from darkness into the light, from bondage into freedom, clinging to defilement and resisting purification. The effect of this karma is not blotted out. “An opportunity has gone to come no more, and you must wait until the ages roll again.” That is how the karma of non-doing is reaped.
But that is only half of the story. The opportunity will come again and the choice can again be made: hopefully the right one. Eventually it will be, but whenever it may be, the truth still is: “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
Your tree of life is an illusive tree; it has a generous crop of leaves; its boughs hang low with fruit. Behold, your words are leaves; your deeds the fruit. Behold, for men have plucked the apples of your tree of life, and found them full of bitterness; and worms have eaten to the core. (Aquarian Gospel 105:40-42)
In fiction we encounter the undead, but in real life every day we meet with the unalive. It is a horrible sight. People moving through life without living unless they have some crisis and a faint spark of life arises in them. In spiritual classics we read of many noble and insightful reasons for turning from this world of human society and seeking refuge in God. But I will tell you the truth: I turned away because worldly life is so dreary, a burden beyond bearing. Those who distract themselves in such effective ways that they don’t consider their lives dreary are committing mental, moral and spiritual suicide, on a veritable collision course when at last they will have to face the emptiness and squalor of not just their lives, but their minds and hearts.
When a friend of mine learned I wanted to be a monk he asked in all sincerity: “You mean you can give up all this?” How paltry his “all this” really was. In Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda relays this from the wisdom of Sri Nagendranath Bhaduri:
“Master, you are wonderful!” A student, taking his leave, gazed ardently at the patriarchal sage. “You have renounced riches and comforts to seek God and teach us wisdom!” It was well-known that Bhaduri Mahasaya had forsaken great family wealth in his early childhood, when single-mindedly he entered the yogic path.
“You are reversing the case!” The saint’s face held a mild rebuke. “I have left a few paltry rupees, a few petty pleasures, for a cosmic empire of endless bliss. How then have I denied myself anything? I know the joy of sharing the treasure. Is that a sacrifice? The shortsighted worldly folk are verily the real renunciates! They relinquish an unparalleled divine possession for a poor handful of earthly toys!”
Infinity is ours for the grasping, and look at what we prefer to the Infinite. As Jesus says, it is an illusion, and a very poor one, too. People run through their lives heedlessly, as the song says: “Busy but idle if only they knew.” Emptiness all around, within and without.
Behold that fig tree by the way so full of leaves and worthless fruit! Then Jesus spoke a word that nature spirits know, and lo, the fig tree stood a mass of withered leaves.
And then he spoke again, Behold, for God will speak the Word, and you will stand a withered fig tree in the setting sun. You men of Galilee, send forth and call the pruner in before it is too late, and let him prune away your worthless branches and illusive leaves, and let the sunshine in. The sun is life, and it can change your worthlessness to worth. (Aquarian Gospel 105:43-47)
The tree was revealed as dead with shriveled leaves. The outer condition revealed the inner state. So it is with all that invest in the external life, leaving the inner life to wither away. Eventually all will face this awful truth. The wise indeed call on God and seek to cast from themselves all that is worthless and illusive. To them “shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings” and they “shall go forth, and grow” in the grace and glory of God (Malachi 4:2) “unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13), possessing “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).
“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).
Your tree of life is good; but you have nurtured it so long with dews of self, and mists of carnal things that you have shut the sunshine out. I tell you, men, that you must give account to God for every idle word you speak and every evil deed you do. (Aquarian Gospel 105:48, 49)
The essential goodness and rightness of every life cannot be marred, only hidden and subverted by selfishness and materiality. The consciousness is plunged in darkness, and every word and every deed spoken or done in that state creates karma that must be reaped or neutralized (this second option is not any easier than the first). The longer this reaping is put off the longer the reaping will take. Lifetimes can be required. So now is the time to begin clearing the way for our liberation.