“And John went down to Jericho; there he abode with Alpheus. And when the people heard that he was there they came in throngs to hear him speak. He spoke to none; but when the time was due he went down to the Jordan ford, and to the multitudes he said.…” (Aquarian Gospel 63:1-3).
Solomon said that there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7), and the wise know the difference between them. They know who to speak to and who to not speak to. They also know, as did Solomon, when and when not to speak. True saints exercise this wisdom and often displease the ignorant and foolish.
The path to the Path
“Reform and in the fount of purity wash all your sins away; the kingdom is at hand” (Aquarian Gospel 63:4).
Trivial and egocentric people like to hear trivial speeches oriented to ego. Consequently they often are more unhappy at a holy person’s speech than they are at his silence. But the three points in this verse give us what we need to know to begin and maintain a spiritual life.
Reform. The word mistranslated “repent” in English versions of the Bible is metaneo, which means to turn around completely–180 degrees–to change totally. Dowling’s choice of “reform” is appropriate. Since we live in two modes, inner and outer, our reformation must include both our external and internal life. Our actions and situations in which we live must be thoroughly overhauled, and so must our thoughts, attitudes, and perspectives. From this we can easily see why virtually nothing of any significance takes place in the lives and minds of those that consider themselves religious or spiritual seekers. And this situation has prevailed throughout the history of the world.
At the very beginning we must sit down and meticulously analyze every aspect of our life, inner and outer, discarding what hinders higher consciousness, and taking up that which fosters it. The best framework to use for this analysis is that of the “ten commandments of yoga” given in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras:
- Ahimsa: non-violence, non-injury, harmlessness.
- Satya: truthfulness, honesty.
- Asteya: non-stealing, honesty, non-misappropriativeness.
- Brahmacharya: sexual continence in thought, word and deed as well as control of all the senses.
- Aparigraha: non-possessiveness, non-greed, non-selfishness, non-acquisitiveness.
- Shaucha: purity, cleanliness.
- Santosha: contentment, peacefulness.
- Tapas: austerity, practical (i.e., result-producing) spiritual discipline.
- Swadhyaya: introspective self-study, spiritual study.
- Ishwarapranidhana: offering of one’s life to God.
The Five Precepts of Buddha are also a good guide.
- no killing or injury.
- no lying.
- no stealing.
- no sexual indulgence.
- no use of intoxicants.
No cheating or fudging in our adoption of these principles should be allowed. Further, we must apply them in the broadest sense possible at all times. For example, truthfulness includes honesty and straightforwardness, abstinence from intoxicants includes avoiding activities that cloud or confuse our minds, and non-killing includes absence of hatred or ill-will. We must also clean house in relation to the way we make our livelihood, the people we associate with, the place we live, organizations we belong to–everything.
Those who do not do this complete reformation will not succeed in spiritual life, but only waste their time and even harm themselves by creating conflicts within themselves.
In the fount of purity wash all your sins away. There is no way to rid ourselves of the scars and scabs we call “sins” except through purification. Only through conscious purification on all levels of our being can we hope to live in the state of purity. Religion thinks up all kinds of remedies for sin, but self-purification is the only way–we must realize this and act upon it every moment of our lives. That is why Patanjali lists shaucha–purity–as a requisite for the mere practice of yoga. To attempt yoga practice without purity and all the other yamas and niyamas is to mock the sacred science and to waste our time.
Saint John urges us to purify all our sins, not just clean up a bit and wipe off the surface dirt, leaving plenty intact. It is easy to only work on elimination of the glaring faults, but every single defect must be expunged from every bit of us.
The kingdom is at hand. This third point is a gem of highest wisdom, for when we try to reform and purify it is easy to become discouraged, to identify ourselves with our faults and failings, and accuse ourselves of being “sinners,” and so on. Such a negative and hopeless attitude will defeat us at the very start. So Saint John reminds us that the kingdom of spirit, of holiness and purity, is really right here with us–is within us. It is our nature, and therefore certainly accessible to us. We can never lose it, we only need to reclaim it.
“Come unto me and in the waters of this stream be washed, symbolic of the inner cleansing of the soul” (Aquarian Gospel 63:5).
In India they place a great deal of importance on sankalpa, the conscious making of a serious resolve or vow. It is the setting of the sails of the will to accomplish what we intend. Rituals can be very effective sankalpas when our hearts and wills are involved. In fact, they can often accomplish much of what we desire by the mere performance.
All things are living energy, and when we touch a sacred object its holy vibrations are imparted to us according to the degree of our receptivity (again the need for purity). Water is a potent vehicle for vibration, and since our bodies are mostly water, contact with holy water can profoundly cleanse us inwardly. It is all a matter of vibration. Therefore Jesus, following the age-old custom of the Essenes (of whom Saint John was the Master), recommended baptism as the beginning of Life in Christ. In chapter seventy-eight he will refer to baptism as the pledge of discipleship. Although baptism does purify and uplift us, the process of purification and upliftment must be taken over by us and maintained throughout each moment of our subsequent life.
“And, lo, the multitudes came down, and in the Jordan they were washed, and every man confessed his sins” (Aquarian Gospel 63:6).
According to Anna Catherine Emmerich, when Saint John baptized people they stood for a while telling him the faults and past actions from whose effect they needed to free themselves–proof that no one thought the rite took care of everything for them. She said this was why Saint Matthew made a point of recounting that “Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water” (Matthew 3:16), for he had no sins to relate to Saint John.
“For many months, in all the regions round about, John pled for purity and righteousness, and after many days he went again to Bethany; and there he taught” (Aquarian Gospel 63:7).
It is interesting to see that Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, were very important in the mission of both John and Jesus.
“At first few but the honest seekers came; but, by and by, the selfish and the vicious came with no contrition; came because the many came” (Aquarian Gospel 63:8).
The church I was raised in had some interesting ideas about prophecy. They believed that in the twelfth chapter of Revelation the “flood” the “serpent cast out of his mouth” to overwhelm “the woman” (whom they considered to be the Christian Church) was the flood of unfit converts that came flooding into the Church when Constantine made Christianity the state religion. They considered that this was a much worse and more effective assault on Christianity than any persecution had ever been. They thought that large numbers in an institution usually meant it was hopelessly diluted from its original status. They had a story of an evangelist who was phoned by a friend to find out how his “revival meeting” was coming on. “It is the best I have ever held,” he enthused. “How many have gotten ‘saved’?” asked the friend. “None,” replied the evangelist, but thirty people have quit ‘professing’!” Eventually I came to disagree with their theology, but they had some attitudes I still value.
Moths cannot eat fire, but they flock to a flame and often extinguish it by flying into it. Many spiritual groups and movements have been spiritually extinguished by the moths that joined them. It is really satanic. A metaphysical teacher once told me that the most valuable piece of advice ever given him was this: “You can always struggle and hold out against the enemy that is outside your gates, but when the enemy gets inside you are completely vulnerable and helpless against them–often because you no longer recognize them as the enemy.” Following through on this, in later years he closed down a very successful metaphysical church he had founded, and began to quietly teach only a few people from his home. It has been my observation that whenever anything with real spiritual potential is begun, immediately false “friends” and “seekers” gather to destroy it in some way. I knew the pastor of another metaphysical church that did not need to close it down–he just got rid of the wolves in sheep’s clothing that came snuffling around in the beginning.
There are also those that want to submerge themselves in a group and feel secure in “belonging.” And of course, where there are numbers there is power and money, and many very bad eggs join in hopes of ultimately controlling the power and the money.
“And when John saw the unrepentant Pharisees and Sadducees come unto him, he said, You children of the vipers, stay; are you disturbed by news of coming wrath? Go to, and do the things that prove repentance genuine” (Aquarian Gospel 63:9-11). This should be the rule in all spiritual groups, formal and informal.
“Is it enough for you to say that you are heirs of Abraham? I tell you, no. The heirs of Abraham are just as wicked in the sight of God when they do wrong as any heathen man” (Aquarian Gospel 63:12,13).
Many aspects of human life are spoiled by the attitude that just being “the right sort” exempts anyone from the rules of right conduct, what to say of spiritual pursuits. “I am one of the ‘chosen’” is a horrendous delusion. “I belong to the true followers…the true believers,” “I am a disciple of a great master,” and so forth. I know of a church that presents a very benevolent and honest image to the world, but in reality the members are taught that there is no wrong in cheating “gentiles”–those outside the church. I myself have been cheated and lied to by the “born again” who proved their loyalty to Jesus by not being honest with a “heathen” like me. They seemed to think that to treat me honestly as they would a Christian they would be recognizing me as the same or legitimate. It was literally a point of honor for them to be dishonorable in relation to a “devil worshipper.” I have heard Protestants brag about cheating Catholics and even keeping them from getting jobs. Things were so bad in my Bible Belt hometown that the Catholics had to form a credit union to keep from being either denied loans or cheated by the local banks and finance companies. It occurs in the East, too. I know “bhaktas” in India who shamelessly say: “Devotees of Krishna do not have to tell the truth.”
So this evil of thinking that the rules do not apply to those that belong to the right group, or that they are somehow better or more favored by God than others who do not belong, prevails everywhere. Empires are built on this idea that “we are the only worthy ones.” Saint John is warning his hearers that the same rules apply equally to all, that being a card-carrying member of the “right” group excuses no one. Rather: “Behold the axe! and every tree that bears not wholesome fruit is cut down at the roots and cast into the fire” (Aquarian Gospel 63:14).
“Thy neighbor as thyself”
“And then the people asked, What must we do? And John replied, Accept the ministry of helpfulness for all mankind; spend not upon your selfish selves all that you have. Let him who has two coats give one to him who has no coat; give part of all the food you have to those in need” (Aquarian Gospel 63:15-17).
Every journey starts from the exact spot where we are standing. We see in authentic spiritual teaching that all aspects are considered, and that includes our daily life and our relation to those around us. Saint John gave these four rules that all can follow:
Accept the ministry of helpfulness for all mankind. This does not mean only giving money to others to help people, though that is good, but it means actively helping those around us in a personal manner. It can take a simple form such as mowing someone’s yard who is ill or disabled, or encouraging and comforting someone in distress, or it can be more involvement, but the important thing is to help those that are at hand, and even inquire about what help is needed.
Through the years I have seen people travel long distances to supposedly help others when they were ignoring people with the same problems right in their own home town. For example, I knew people who went to Montgomery, Alabama and stirred up trouble under the guise of campaigning for civil rights. When things started to heat up, they got out fast and came back home to give talks bragging about their great “work,” when right in their town black people were shamefully and cruelly being oppressed. A university professor once stopped me on the street and bragged that he and a bus full of other teachers had gone to our state capitol and marched with placards demanding full rights for blacks. When I asked him why they did not just go downtown and picket the chamber of commerce for the refusal of local businesses to hire black people–that the highest ranking student of our high school in its more than one hundred years’ history was operating an elevator in a local department store, and a brilliant musician and artist was a male prostitute to support his mother and handicapped sister–he was disgusted at my “negativity.” The same holds true for people who give money to organizations to aid people in other countries, while never considering giving help to those in their own land that are suffering just as much.
Spend not upon your selfish selves all that you have. Let him who has two coats give one to him who has no coat. Give part of all the food you have to those in need. It is a sad situation when people have to be told this, but such is the human condition that is gripped by ego. In Georgia (the country, not the state) they have a saying: What you keep, you lose, but what you give is yours forever. Happy are the people that know this.
“And when the publicans came up and asked, What must we do? John answered them, Be honest in your work; do not increase for selfish gain the tribute you collect; take nothing more than what your king demands” (Aquarian Gospel 63:18,19).
At that time tax collectors were legally permitted to keep any money they could gather beyond the requirements of the Roman taxation system. Therefore they were hated by all. Just how they could follow Saint John’s counsel I have no idea, though I do know that in India the British usually commissioned rich people to collect taxes, assuming that they would have no mercy on the poor and would not cheat the government, but some were very fair and lenient, never profiting from their collection. Anyway, these rules can be applied by all in principle.
Even more wisdom
“And when the soldiers came and asked, What must we do? The harbinger replied, Do violence to none; exact no wrongful thing, and be contented with the wages you receive” (Aquarian Gospel 63:20,21). This, too, can be followed by all, though the third counsel would not be appreciated in modern times. However, I have known people who followed that very rule. One man I knew worked in the automobile industry in Ohio. He considered that the union forced the company to pay more than was just, so every payday he gave back what he felt was not justly his. I certainly admire his integrity and honesty. Sometimes it pays to be out of step with the majority.
The work of Christ
“Among the Jews were many who had been waiting for the Christ to come, and they regarded John as Christ. But to their questions John replied, In water I do cleanse, symbolic of the cleansing of the soul; but when he comes who is to come, lo, he will cleanse in Holy Breath and purify in fire. His fan is in his hand, and he will separate the wheat and chaff; will throw the chaff away, but garner every grain of wheat. This is the Christ. Behold he comes! and he will walk with you, and you will know him not. He is the king; the latchet of his shoes I am not worthy to unloose. And John left Bethany and went again unto the Jordan ford” (Aquarian Gospel 63:22-27).
External forces can do but only token good–it is the interior process that truly “saves” us. Only “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27), can do the needful. When we awaken our inner Christ-nature, then will we be purified, cleansed from evil. Only in the wisdom of the inner Christ will be be able to order our life, turning from the worthless and drawing hear to the Worthy–God. But if we know not the Christ of spirit, we will not be able to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
Read the next section in the Aquarian Gospel for Yogis: Baptism – Jesus and John