The universal view of Jesus
We have already seen in the early chapters of the Aquarian Gospel that the Essenes studied the spiritual traditions of all religions known to them, including those of India and China. Jesus maintained this universal outlook in India, for we are now told:
“Among the Buddhist priests was one who saw a lofty wisdom in the words that Jesus spoke. It was Barata Arabo. Together Jesus and Barata read the Jewish Psalms and Prophets; read the Vedas, the Avesta and the wisdom of Gautama” (Aquarian Gospel 32:1, 2).
It is obvious, then, that a true follower of Jesus will do the same and garner wisdom from all spiritual traditions, like the wise bee imbibing the essential wisdom of all traditions and assimilating it into the honey of their own spiritual realization. With their awakened spiritual eye they will see unity in the many.
The value of the human being
Although we tend to think that religion should be focused on God and revelation, since God and man are one in essence, religion must also focus intensely on humanity in order to reveal its nature, origins, and destiny. Jesus and Barata had this perspective:
“And as they read and talked about the possibilities of man, Barata said, Man is the marvel of the universe. He is part of everything for he has been a living thing on every plane of life. Time was when man was not; and he was a bit of formless substance in the molds of time; and then a protoplast. By universal law all things tend upward to a state of perfectness. The protoplast evolved, becoming worm, then reptile, bird and beast, and then at last it reached the form of man. Now, man himself is mind, and mind is here to gain perfection by experience; and mind is often manifest in fleshy form, and in the form best suited to its growth. So mind may manifest as worm, or bird, or beast, or man. The time will come when everything of life will be evolved unto the state of perfect man. And after man is man in perfectness, he will evolve to higher forms of life” (Aquarian Gospel 32:3-9).
They read and talked about the possibilities of man
One thing we know: they were studying dharma and not ordinary religion. For the message of religion is disempowerment, focusing on what a mess man is in and what prophet, doctrine, or action is going to save them–unworthy as they are. The only potential of the human being which they acknowledge is the potential for ignorance, evil, suffering, and (perhaps) salvation by an external force. “With us you are nothing–worse than nothing” is their message. They claim great potential for their religion and its potentates, including the supreme potentate: their deity. But for the ordinary human being: nothing. We are all worms and sinners, deserving annihilation or hell.
Dharma, on the other hand, is the science of the unfoldment of the infinite potential of each one of us. Dharma is a call to higher life–a life which is inherent in us, only waiting for the right conditions for it to manifest. The rules of dharma have nothing to do with pleasing or displeasing a cosmic dictator, but rather they deal with what facilitates our development and what hinders it. Even then, dharma is not some kind of authority or means to keep us in line. Rather, it is the information on how, as a matter of our free will exclusively, we can take our evolution in hand and begin to consciously direct and empower it. Dharma shows us how to release the almighty power of the spirit that is our eternal nature. For dharma and yoga are the same thing. One is the “how to” and the other is “the doing.” One is a map and the other is the actual journey.
Breaking through limitations on all levels and emerging into the vastness of our essential capacity is the purpose and the result of dharma.
Man is the marvel of the universe. Jesus and Barata revelled in dharma. For them it was not a bitter medicine or a burdensome obligation, or a threat of impending doom. It was a joyous and confident picture of the reality of each sentient being. And we will do the same once we, too, find the treasure of dharma and begin acting upon it.
He is part of everything for he has been a living thing on every plane of life. Each one of us is a distillation of billions of manifestations in physical form. We embody the experience of every single life form upon the earth–a great many that by now have disappeared. We are one with all life around us, having been a part of every form, organic and inorganic. There is no gas, mineral, plant, or animal we have not been. And those of us who have now entered into the final phase through yoga have been every type of human being that can be conceived. In us, the parts, truly the whole range of earthly life can be found.
Time was when man was not; and he was a bit of formless substance in the molds of time; and then a protoplast. In the beginning we did not exist in relativity. Rather, we were simple potentiality-consciousness. Then by choice we entered into the field of relative existence and became enwrapped in primary potentiality-energy. First we were a “protoplast” on the subtle levels of manifestation, and then we emerged into the physical level of things as the very first form of objective life, as a material protoplast.
If we step on a moving surface it will move us along with its movement. If we embark on a flowing river it will carry us onward at it moves along. It is the same with our entry into the manifested cosmos.
By universal law all things tend upward to a state of perfectness. This is the law, the fundamental fact of life. Any dogma or doctrine to the opposite is destructive ignorance.
Later in the Gospel Jesus will say: “According to your faith so shall it be” (Aquarian Gospel 102:15). It is clear: if we think it is our nature to be ignorant and sinners, so shall we be–at least for a very long while. Jesus often told people that they were made well through their faith. The other side of this is that we limit and stagnate ourselves if we are convinced that is our real condition. It is no easy thing to open ourselves to the limitless vistas available to us, since for countless lives we have been conditioned to see ourselves as insignificant little dots in the Big Picture of the cosmos. Nevertheless, the law is operative, and no matter how negatively we view ourselves, we shall move upward. But if we do not cooperate with that upward movement it will be incredibly slow and even painful. We must allow ourselves to rise into the light of Truth that is our real nature.
The protoplast evolved, becoming worm, then reptile, bird and beast, and then at last it reached the form of man. We are inexorably moving upward, but we have determining power as to how fast and how high we ascend in this life. Yoga is the means for greatly accelerating our ascent and progress.
Man is mind
Now, man himself is mind. This is one of the most important statements in the entire Gospel. We are mind–immortal consciousness–alone, though manifesting in many forms and modes within those forms. Amidst the ever-changing experiences we are unchanging awareness. We are supposed to experience, but not to identify with the experiences or the vehicles which enable the experiences. It is identification with externals that gets us into trouble. Solution for such difficulty is to shift our identity inward to our true being. Again: meditation is the way.
And mind is here to gain perfection by experience; and mind is often manifest in fleshy form, and in the form best suited to its growth. So mind may manifest as worm, or bird, or beast, or man. Experience is necessary for our evolution. To call halt to the process is not the answer to anything. We must move forward–onward and upward. But we must keep centered in our consciousness, not forgetting who and what we really are. Even when we lose this central awareness on the conscious level we keep moving up the scale of evolution, fully cognizant at least in our higher mind of the purpose and the goal. Beginning with a single atom of hydrogen, we move slowly–oh, so slowly–up the evolutionary ladder, progressing from form to form as the scope of our functioning consciousness increases–each form that exists corresponding to a precise level of consciousness. From gas to mineral, to plant, to animal, to human (with a lot in between that I omit to keep the list short!) we advance until:
The time will come when everything of life will be evolved unto the state of perfect man. And after man is man in perfectness, he will evolve to higher forms of life. From perfect humanity we are destined to move on into higher forms of life that are found in the astral and causal planes, each reflecting the countless increments of expansion in consciousness–the expansion that is evolution. At the top of the ladder we shall move into the Infinity from which we came, but with a glorious difference. For we shall have developed the capacity to participate in the limitless Consciousness and Being that is God. (See Robe of Light.)
All beings are conscious, but when Barata says “mind” he means the state of consciousness manifested in the human form. For him “mind” and “man” are synonyms. So his words imply that human beings can move back and forth between human and animal forms. This view is held somewhat–though not to any great degree–in Indian philosophy, but it is very prevalent in Buddhist thought, especially in Mahayana Buddhism. Chances are at the time Jesus was in India both Hindus and Buddhists believed it to a great extent.
Correcting the perspective
“And Jesus said, Barata Arabo, who taught you this, that mind, which is the man, may manifest in flesh of beast, or bird, or creeping thing?” (Aquarian Gospel 32:10).
Many yogis have pointed out that human beings create human karma, and therefore birth in an animal form would accomplish nothing–unless there was some strongly compelling karma in relationship to animals as is seen in the ancient example of King Jada Bharata who was so obsessively attached to a deer that he died thinking of it and so was born as a deer from a brief time. But it can be safely said that once we reach the human level we can no longer be born in animal form except for very rare circumstances.
However, Jesus may be saying that the ordinary view of transmigration held in India is incorrect, and that human beings have always been human beings. This will appear to be affirmed later on in his conversation with Barata Arabo, and we will consider it there. But it is most important to remember that the entire Aquarian Gospel is a record of Levi Dowling’s psychic perceptions as he sought to look into the past and see the life of Jesus, and there is no guarantee that his perceptions, or his relaying of them, is without error. He certainly never claimed that they were. Whatever the incident or teaching found in the Aquarian Gospel we should always keep this in mind. There are no infallible books or scriptures. Our own intelligence and experience must be the final court of appeals on these matters. This is not everyone’s viewpoint, for:
Knowing the truth
“Barata said, From times which man remembers not our priests have told us so, and so we know” (Aquarian Gospel 32:11).
Throughout the world religious people feel absolute security in trusting their leaders and their scriptures. Unquestioning acceptance is considered a virtue. This attitude is found at its most intense in India in relation to gurus, whose every word is declared to be a mantra(!). For the guru is declared to be Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva–the Supreme Brahman. Jesus held no such view. Rather:
“And Jesus said, Enlightened Arabo, are you a master mind and do not know that man knows naught by being told? Man may believe what others say; but thus he never knows. If man would know, he must himself be what he knows” (Aquarian Gospel 32:12, 13). There are three great principles in these two verses, each of which deserves serious attention.
Man knows naught by being told. Words are symbols, not realities. Though they are processed by/through the intellect, nevertheless they are grounded in material orientation and consciousness, even though it is subtle materiality. Words can never be the truth, though they can approximate or indicate the truth. Therefore we must use words only as a means to lead us to the truth which is really beyond words. Rather than a “leap of faith” we need a leap of intuition! We need words, but we also need to use them as a bridge to something more meaningful.
Words can be misunderstood and even purposely distorted, so they can be vehicles for error and even outright untruth. This is why knowledge never results from anyone “being told.” The positive side of words is their ability to trigger or evoke from deep within the knowledge we have always possessed or gained in the past. For this reason a worthy spiritual teacher does not intend to inform or indoctrinate us but to remind us of what our eternal spirit has always known. Just as Jesus often said: “Your faith has healed you,” in the same way it is our own spirit (atman) that teaches and illumines us. However, teachers can stimulate this uncovering of already-known wisdom, so their value should not be discounted.
Man may believe what others say; but thus he never knows. Believing is not knowing. But Jesus is pointing out something much more grave: believing what others say, and being satisfied with that, is a block to knowing. So we can prevent ourselves from ever coming to knowledge of the truth by “accepting truth” from external sources, whether books or living teachers. Rather, we should investigate rather than passively accept.
If man would know, he must himself be what he knows. I have mentioned the exercise of intuition, but valuable as than can be, it still is only leading toward the truth–at best. Jesus is giving us the highest understanding by the amazing statement that we can only know something by becoming it. Now this sounds quite strange to Western minds, but Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras makes quite a point of this. We tend to think of samadhi as some kind of superconscious trance state in which the functions of senses, etc., may be suspended. But those things are only symptoms of samadhi, not samadhi itself. And they are not necessarily indicators of samadhi at all.
In the highest sense samadhi is the state of superconsciousness where unity with the Absolute is experienced. But it also means a state of “oneness” in which the mind merges with the object of concentration and experiences the very being of that object–even if it is a material object. Patanjali indicates that this is the only way to really know anything. Of course the highest thing to know in this way is God, but lesser things can also be known by “becoming” them in samadhi, even though such a state would be temporary. How necessary it is to be a yogi!
The testimony of experience
Finally Jesus says: “Do you remember, Arabo, when you were ape, or bird, or worm? Now, if you have no better proving of your plea than that the priests have told you so, you do not know; you simply guess” (Aquarian Gospel 32:14, 15).
Again, we cannot be sure whether Jesus is asking if Barata remembers ever being in a non-human form at any time, or whether he is asking if Barata remembers being born in a non-human form after having reached the level of human birth. Whichever it is, there is no doubt as to his meaning when he says that if we can only cite teachers and scriptures we do not know–we simply guess. And that is virtually worthless.
Entering higher consciousness
True knowing is gained only in the realm of higher consciousness. So Jesus says:
“Regard not, then, what any man has said; let us forget the flesh, and go with mind into the land of fleshless things; mind never does forget. And backward through the ages master minds can trace themselves; and thus they know” (Aquarian Gospel 32:16, 17).
This is exactly the teaching of Buddha: that eventually we will remember all our previous embodiments and see the entire “route” our evolution has taken. The most valuable lesson here is that we must seek for all our answers in attunement with higher levels of existence, and that we accomplish through centering ourselves in our own higher consciousness which corresponds to those levels.
“Time never was when man was not. That which begins will have an end. If man was not, the time will come when he will not exist” (Aquarian Gospel 32:18, 19).
This is a paraphrase of the Gita verse: “There was never a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor any of these kings. Nor is there any future in which we shall cease to be” (Bhagavad Gita 2:12). But again we are not sure: Is Jesus saying that we have always been human beings–and by implication will forever be human beings–or is he saying that from eternity there have been individual spirits in the state of humanity? Is he saying that the entire range of evolution has existed forever?
A lesson in creation
Jesus now gives us a detailed lesson on creation and its results. We will take it bit by bit so we miss nothing he intends for us to know.
“From God’s own Record Book we read: The Triune God breathed forth, and seven Spirits stood before his face. (The Hebrews call these seven Spirits, Elohim.) And these are they who, in their boundless power, created everything that is, or was” (Aquarian Gospel 32:20, 21).
The Seven Archons–sometimes called the Seven Archangels–are the actual creators of all the worlds and all that appears within them. They not only create the worlds, they continue to supervise and foster their development and that of all beings living within them.
“These Spirits of the Triune God moved on the face of boundless space and seven ethers were, and every ether had its form of life. These forms of life were but the thoughts of God, clothed in the substance of their ether planes. (Men call these ether planes the planes of protoplast, of earth, of plant, of beast, of man, of angel and of cherubim.)” (Aquarian Gospel 32:22-24).
This is not as simple as it might seem. In reality the bands of subtle energies–ethers–are both horizontal and vertical. That is, there are seven worlds, one above the other, like the layers of a cake. At the same time there are seven vertical divisions or “shafts” that reach up through all the worlds. Let me give an example: We know from the accounts of mystics through the centuries that in all worlds plant life exists. We know from the Bible that there are trees in Paradise. So there is a level in which plant life is the dominant life form, but plant life can be found in all the worlds, ranging from the simplest form to the most complex and evolved form in the seventh world. We might even speak of “earthly plants” and “angelic plants.” Just are there are many levels of awakening among human beings, so it is with protoplast (gaseous?), earth (mineral?), plant, beast, man, angel and cherubim. Within these seven major “layers” of the cosmic cake, there are innumerable, lesser layers, nuances of the state of being “native” to those layers. As Jesus said: “In my Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2)–dwellingplaces for the many levels of consciousness. It would be reasonable to assume that there are forty-nine levels–seven in each of the seven greater levels.
So each of the Seven Spirits has a world proper to itself and a form of life proper to itself. “Men call these ether planes the planes of protoplast, of earth, of plant, of beast, of man, of angel and of cherubim.” But, as already pointed out, each kind can exist on all levels according to their degree of evolution.
“These planes with all their teeming thoughts of God, are never seen by eyes of man in flesh; they are composed of substance far too fine for fleshy eyes to see, and still they constitute the soul of things; and with the eyes of soul all creatures see these ether planes, and all forms of life” (Aquarian Gospel 32:25, 26).
Those who have refined their minds can see these various levels with their inner sight.
“Because all forms of life on every plane are thoughts of God, all creatures think, and every creature is possessed of will, and, in its measure, has the power to choose, and in their native planes all creatures are supplied with nourishment from the ethers of their planes” (Aquarian Gospel 32:27, 28).
Every form of life has a mind which is under the direction of that form. They draw their life from the subtle energies of their proper plane–even those on the earth plane are nourished by both physical and subtle “food.”
“And so it was with every living thing until the will became a sluggish will, and then the ethers of the protoplast, the earth, the plant, the beast, the man, began to vibrate very slow. The ethers all became more dense, and all the creatures of these planes were clothed with coarser garbs, the garbs of flesh, which men can see; and thus this coarser manifest, which men call physical, appeared. And this is what is called the fall of man; but man fell not alone, for protoplast, and earth, and plant and beast were all included in the fall” (Aquarian Gospel 32:29-31).
Here we see that “the fall” is not totally the doing of humans, but all the forms that sank into physical manifestation from the higher planes were cooperating in the coarsening of their vibrations.
“The angels and the cherubim fell not; their wills were ever strong, and so they held the ethers of their planes in harmony with God.” (Aquarian Gospel 32:32).
Being “in harmony with God,” these holy beings are ever descending to the lower worlds to help all forms of life to uplift themselves and return to their original status in subtle form. These are the bodhisattwas of the whole creation.
The “curse” of the fall
But on earth there were profound troubles: “Now, when the ethers reached the rate of atmosphere, and all the creatures of these planes must get their food from atmosphere, the conflict came; and that which the finite man has called survival of the best, became the law. The stronger ate the bodies of the weaker manifests; and here is where the carnal law of evolution had its rise. And now man, in his utter shamelessness, strikes down and eats the beasts, the beast consumes the plant, the plant thrives on the earth, the earth absorbs the protoplast” (Aquarian Gospel 32:33-35).
As a result the very consciousness of all beings is horridly distorted. As Rudolf Steiner observed: “If you feed herbivorous animals with carnivorous matter, they will go mad.” Since in their normal worlds no types of being eat one another, those in the material plane who do so are driven insane to some degree. Just look at present-day humanity: Is this the picture of sanity on any level? Even the world’s religions are a form of insanity except for those that enjoin vegetarianism. (Foolish they may sometimes be, but not mad.) There is no hope for carnivorous beings except through abstention from eating the dead. It hardly needs good sense to see this, but carnivores do not have good sense–and I am including myself in my prevegetarian days in this statement. Looking back I can see the utter hopelessness of my condition until I became a vegetarian.
Saint Peter the Apostle speaks of the same situation as Jesus. In one of his discourses recorded by Saint Clement of Rome, he says: “The things which are pleasing to God are these:…not to taste dead flesh, not to touch blood…” (The Clementine Homilies. Homily VII, section iv). Then he describes the effect of meat-eating upon the ancient world: “By the shedding of much blood, the pure air being defiled with impure vapor, and sickening those who breathed it, rendered them liable to diseases, so that thenceforth men died prematurely. But the earth being by these means greatly defiled, these first teemed with poison-darting and deadly creatures. All things, therefore, going from bad to worse, on account of these brutal demons” (The Clementine Homilies. Homily VIII, section xvii).
The lifting of the curse
Jesus then tells us of the way to escape this terrible situation:
“In yonder kingdom of the soul this carnal evolution is not known, and the great work of master minds is to restore the heritage of man, to bring him back to his estate that he has lost, when he again will live upon the ethers of his native plane” (Aquarian Gospel 32:36).
So vegetarianism is the first step back to Paradise! When we have thus purified the ethers of our bodies then there will be the possibility of ascension to the higher world from which we have fallen. This is why Jesus said: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2, 3). But as Saint John observes: “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:3). A person who will not do something as easy as being a vegetarian obviously has no interest in ascending to higher life, however much he may desire the benefits of such an ascension.
When we have purified ourselves on all levels–not just diet–then, and then alone, will we know immortality. For Jesus further says:
“The thoughts of God change not; the manifests of life on every plane unfold into perfection of their kind; and as the thoughts of God can never die, there is no death to any being of the seven ethers of the seven Spirits of the Triune God” (Aquarian Gospel 32:37).
Perfection, not change
In this just-cited verse we are told that: “The thoughts of God change not; the manifests of life on every plane unfold into perfection of their kind….” Jesus dispels any doubt as to what he means by continuing:
“And so an earth is never plant; a beast, or bird, or creeping thing is never man, and man is not, and cannot be, a beast, or bird, or creeping thing” (Aquarian Gospel 32:38).
According to this, we never change species, but become perfected in our “native” form through many incarnations in that form. Since there are degrees of consciousness in each of the seven great divisions, it may be, for example, that “plant souls” progress through many types of plant life until they reach the level of the highest plant forms, just as humans start out in very primitive states and then advance to nearly angelic condition.
Does this mean, then, that the spirit in a plant will be a plant forever, an animal an animal forever, and a human being a human being forever? No, for:
“The time will come when all these seven manifests will be absorbed, and man, and beast, and plant, and earth and protoplast will be redeemed” (Aquarian Gospel 32:39).
All things must return to their original condition beyond relative existence which is only temporary, however long it may last or how often it may occur. So in time all the forms of manifestation will be absorbed into Pure Spirit, freed from any limiting forms whatsoever. Then it will all be seen as an exercise in the evolution of consciousness.
Yet, there are people who, investigating their past lives, recall living in animal forms, and Indian philosophy postulates that we exist in all forms until being freed back into Spirit. Can Jesus’ words and this idea be reconciled? Yes, if we consider the possibility that in one creation cycle we evolve to perfection in gaseous form, then in the next we evolve in mineral form, and so on until we have traversed the range of evolution in all seven levels. This would mean that we take seven creation cycles to fully evolve back to Spirit. The esoteric Jewish tradition that each spirit takes seven lives to attain perfection may be a reflection of this, “life” referring to an entire cycle of creation rather than a single incarnation in a relative life-form. So one species does not turn into another in one cycle, but does becomes all seven in turn through seven different creations. So it is amiss for a human being to fear being capriciously thrown back and forth between animal and human births, as is the view of many Mahayana Buddhists and some Hindus. And this is really what Jesus was wanting to get across in his discourse to Barata Arabo.
“Barata was amazed; the wisdom of the Jewish sage was a revelation unto him.
“Now, Vidyapati, wisest of the Indian sages, chief of temple Kapivastu, heard Barata speak to Jesus of the origin of man, and heard the answer of the Hebrew prophet, and he said, You priests of Kapivastu, hear me speak: We stand today upon a crest of time. Six times ago a master soul was born who gave a glory light to man, and now a master sage stands here in temple Kapivastu. This Hebrew prophet is the rising star of wisdom, deified. He brings to us a knowledge of the secrets things of God; and all the world will hear his words, will heed his words, and glorify his name. You prie sts of temple Kapivastu, stay! be still and listen when he speaks; he is the Living Oracle of God.
“And all the priests gave thanks, and praised the Buddha of enlightenment.” (Aquarian Gospel 32:40-45).
Unlike the Hindu priests, the Buddhists recognized Jesus as a Buddha, equal to Sakyamuni Buddha. (Later, as we shall see, they acclaimed Jesus as the Maitreya Buddha). Truly, it does “take one to know one,” so a person who (truly) recognizes a master is himself drawing near to Buddhahood.
Read the next section in the Aquarian Gospel for Yogis: The Real Heaven