A new age
At the beginning of a new age a kind of psychic watershed is attained, and the potential consciousness of humanity becomes changed to a quite distinct degree. But please note the word potential. The first thing needed in any age is awakening to the possibilities now open to us and the willingness to realize those possibilities. Otherwise nothing will happen and we will truly be what Yogananda called “psychological antiques” however much we may talk of our “new age” citizenship. Therefore:
“The Indian sage [Vidyapati] and Jesus often met and talked about the needs of nations and of men; about the sacred doctrines, forms and rites best suited to the coming age” (Aquarian Gospel 35:1).
It is essential that the inner qualities of a person be reflected in the externals of that person’s life. Otherwise their personal growth is retarded and often stopped. And without a religious life (yes, religious, not just “spiritual”) any significant growth is simply impossible. As indicated by this verse, “sacred doctrines, forms and rites” are necessary in every age.
The Piscean Age
Since Jesus was born at the beginning of the Piscean Age, that is first discussed.
“One day they sat together in a mountain pass, and Jesus said, The coming age will surely not require priests, and shrines, and sacrifice of life. There is no power in sacrifice of beast, or bird, to help a man to holy life” (Aquarian Gospel 35:2, 3).
In reality there has never been a time in the history of the human race when the taking of life was ever a necessity in authentic religious life. Unhappily, those engaging in the worship of evil astral beings find that the shedding of blood gets the attention and patronage of such monstrous beings. What they choose to ignore is that fact that after death they will enter the realms where those entities dwell and be enslaved by them for incalculable time. And when they are reborn they will either be made sacrifices to such demons or they will become the target of sacrifice and harmed by them. Either way it is not ever worth the price that must be paid for such evil.
As an Essene Jesus had never engaged in animal sacrifice. Here is the relevant section from The Christ of India:
“[The Essenes] rejected animal sacrifice, insisting that the Torah had not originally ordered animal sacrifice, but that its text had been corrupted–in regard to that and many other practices as well. Their assertion was certainly corroborated by passages in the scriptures such as: ‘Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?’ (Psalms 50:13). ‘To what purpose [is] the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord:…I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats’ (Isaiah 1:11). ‘For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices’ (Jeremiah 7:22). The quotations from Isaiah are particularly relevant since he was himself the Master of the Essenes.
“It was the Essenes’ contention that the ‘animals’ originally offered in sacrifice were symbolic effigies of animals that represented the particular failing or fault from which the offerer wished to be freed. (Appollonius of Tyana taught this same thing in relation to the ancient Greek sacrifices, and urged a return to that form. Long before that, in India dough effigies were offered in ‘sacrifice.’ See page 42 of Ganesha, by Chitralekha Singh and Prem Nath, published by Crest Publishing House of New Delhi.) In the Essene practice, each person molded the effigies with his own hands, while praying and concentrating deeply on the traits he wished to have corrected, feeling that it was being transferred into the image. The effigies were made of five substances: powdered frankincense, flour, water, olive oil, and salt. When these had dried, they were taken to the tabernacle whose altar was a metal structure with a grating over the top and hot coals within. The effigies were laid upon this grating and burnt by the intense heat. As they burned, through the force of the heat the olive oil and frankincense liquefied and boiled or seeped upward. This fragrant liquid was called ‘the blood’ of the sacrifice. It was this with which Moses consecrated the tabernacle, its equipment, and the priests (Exodus 24:6, 8), not animal blood. And it was just such a ‘lamb’ whose ‘blood’ was sprinkled on the doorposts in Egypt (Exodus 12:7).
“For the Passover observance, the Essenes would bake a lamb effigy using the same ingredients–except for the frankincense they would substitute honey and cinnamon. (Or, lacking honey, they would use a kind of raisin syrup.) This was the only paschal lamb acceptable to them–and therefore to Jesus and His Apostles.
“Consequently, the Essenes refused to worship in Jerusalem, but maintained their own tabernacle on Mount Carmel. They did not have an actual building on Mount Carmel, but a tent-tabernacle made according to the original directions given to Moses on Mount Sinai. They considered the Jerusalem temple unacceptable because it was a stone structure built according to Greco-Roman style rather than the simple and humble tabernacle form given to Moses–a form that symbolized both the physical and psychic makeup of the human being. Further, the Jerusalem temple was built by Herod who, completely subservient to Rome, disdained Judaism and practiced a kind of Roman agnostic piety. Because of this the temple was ritually unclean in their estimation. They placated the Jerusalem Temple priests by sending them large donations of money. On occasion they gave useful animals to the Temple in Jerusalem, but only with the condition that they would be allowed to live out their natural span of life.”
“And Vidyapati said, All forms and rites are symbols of the things that men must do within the temple of the soul” (Aquarian Gospel 35:4).
This is a supremely important principle in relation to all ritual. Ritual is only “meaningless” or “empty” when its inner purpose is not grasped, when it is not seen or experienced as a tool for the furthering of consciousness. Many rituals have an invisible side to them–the psychic effect they have on the participants and their environment. Perhaps the greatest contribution to understanding this side of things is C. W. Leadbeater’s monumental work The Science of the Sacraments. It has been my personal experience over the years that the rituals of Eastern Christianity especially have a marked effect on the interior awareness. Certain fire rituals I have attended in India had a surprisingly powerful effect. Some of them I am convinced actually can “burn up” karma and erase samskaras.
Valid religious rituals are not meant to be mere expressions of devotion or homage–though that may be a part of their effect–but transforming acts which further the development of consciousness.
“The Holy One requires man to give his life in willing sacrifice for men, and all the so-called offerings on altars and on shrines that have been made since time began, were made to teach man how to give himself to save his brother man; for man can never save himself except he lose his life in saving other men” (Aquarian Gospel 35:5).
Jesus is the living embodiment of this principle.
“The perfect age will not require forms and rites and carnal sacrifice.” (Aquarian Gospel 35:6).
Momentarily Vidyapati speaks of the Aquarian Age in which the consciousness can be so freed as to encompass within itself the effect that prior rites were intended to produce. In that age, truly, the opened human consciousness will become the real temple of divine communication. Then it will be possible to realize the statement of Jesus: “The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23, 24).
“The coming age is not the perfect age, and men will call for object lessons and symbolic rites. And in the great religion you shall introduce to men, some simple rites of washings and remembrances will be required; but cruel sacrifice of animals, and birds the gods require not.” (Aquarian Gospel 35:6, 7).
Wishing to engage in external acts of piety, the Pisceans did indeed demand some rites, but they were quite simple. The early Christian writer Tertullian says that the other Mediterranean religions scorned Christians because of the simplicity of their rites. But when Christianity became a state religion it became elaborated to suit the mentality of the Roman emperor and his subjects–neither of which were sincere or qualified converts to Christianity. (Constantine was not even baptized until he was dying.) The transformation from Christianity to Churchianity was effected very soon. Nevertheless, the core of the rituals which was embodied in the Apostolic Succession was preserved and thereby the inner Life continued to be conveyed, though in ignorance and incomprehension. That is why even in the worst eras of the Church’s history saints appeared and lightened the “official” darkness.
“And Jesus said, Our God must loathe the tinseled show of priests and priestly things. When men array themselves in showy garbs to indicate that they are servants of the gods, and strut about like gaudy birds to be admired by men, because of piety or any other thing, the Holy One must surely turn away in sheer disgust. All people are alike the servants of our Father-God, are kings and priests. Will not the coming age demand complete destruction of the priestly caste, as well as every other caste, and inequality among the sons of men?”
“And Vidyapati said, The coming age is not the age of spirit life and men will pride themselves in wearing priestly robes, and chanting pious chants to advertise themselves as saints. The simple rites that you will introduce will be extolled by those who follow you, until the sacred service of the age will far outshine in gorgeousness the priestly service of the Brahmic age. This is a problem men must solve” (Aquarian Gospel 35:8-14).
The Piscean age would still have much of the qualities of the earlier time, so the ego would have its day even within Christianity–an egotism what would especially display itself in externals of symbolic holiness until its gaudiness would far exceed the priesthood of the pre-Piscean age. As Yogananda often said: “People are skillful in their ignorance” and well know how to bury or cancel out the wisdom of the religions they are claiming to follow. As an American comedian once said: “When they invented pay telephones my grandfather invented slugs.”
So “priestcraft” would certainly become “a problem men must solve”–and not by the barbarism of Protestantism which only destroyed while claiming to restore. It is in the Aquarian Age that the ideals of Jesus will be realized: “The perfect age will come when every man will be a priest and men will not array themselves in special garb to advertise their piety” (Aquarian Gospel 35:15).
This day has come for those who both can and are willing to realize the new potentials.
Read the next section in the Aquarian Gospel for Yogis: In Tibet and Ladakh