Just as in the gospel account, the first initiation is symbolized by the birth at Bethlehem, so is the second initiation indicated by Jesus’ baptism at the river Jordan. This, is said to have happened a long time (30 years) after the birth, and points to the fact that a long span of time, usually several incarnations, intervenes between the first and second initiation.
Such a significant event, of course, involves much more than mere baptism by water. The real ceremony takes place high on the inner planes.
In the esoteric literature it is well established that the second initiation can be undergone only after a long and difficult struggle with personal desires and emotions, culminating in a large measure of Soul mastery over this ‘watery’ sphere. In Jesus’ case this mastery was symbolically achieved during the first thirty years of His life while he assumed greater responsibility upon the death of Joseph, becoming male head of the household.
The three ‘fetters’ which the first degree initiate must ‘cast off’ before he is prepared for the Baptism initiation. The first of these fetters is the delusion of the separate self. This has to be replaced by the realization of oneness in the true Self. The second fetter is the doubt or uncertainty, especially in relation to the truth of reincarnation and karma, or the law of cause and effect. The third fetter is described as superstition, or the belief that the rites and dogma of any one religion are necessary for salvation, or that you have to deal with the so-called ‘wrath of an angry God’.
Now let us look more closely at the symbols given to you in the gospel story concerning this event. Since between the first and second initiation you are engaged in a struggle with a tumult of emotions such as resentment, fear, worry and depression, it is indeed appropriate to picture yourself being submerged in the water (the emotions) in preparation for being raised up out of the watery sphere as the victorious climax of that long struggle.
The teacher is your higher nature which lifts you up out of your astral turmoil where you could so easily drown —in fear and depression, for example— for the little personal self has no power of itself to rise to a new element and a higher level of consciousness and become aware. Looking at it differently you can see that it is the Christ within you, who has come to birth in your heart center, who lifts you up out of the chaos of your troubled emotions.
The dove and the voice are two more important symbols given to you in the gospel account of the event. “When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting him. And lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.“ (Matt. 3:16-17)
From ancient times to modern the dove has been the pre-eminent symbol of peace.
And with the triumph of the second initiation, the heaven-sent dove of peace comes down upon us, bringing serenity to the previously troubled waters of the astral body. The heavenly word, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased,“ is even more significant. This means that assurance comes from the inmost Spirit that you really are divine, beloved sons and daughters of God. Attune your hearing to that true inner voice. If you will listen you will find its divine counsel, given not just at a high moment of initiation, but many other times as well. Remember that the whole time between initiations has been described as an initiatory process.
Some have been puzzled about Jesus’ three temptations coming in that wilderness experience immediately after His baptism. There are different ways of looking at this 40-day period( this 40 is symbolical and is often mentioned in the scriptures). See the period as the time it took for the inner plane initiatory experience to be stabilized on the physical brain level of active consciousness. That had to happen before Jesus was properly equipped to enter into His active ministry. And it has to happen with you following your second initiation —taking perhaps 40 months or even many years— before the high vibrations and high consciousness of the Baptism experience come to be fully registered in your outer consciousness(become aware), so you can properly utilize your transformed and serene astral body in the service you are called upon to give.
After His 40 days of fasting, the first temptation Jesus faced was the suggestion to use the magical divine power attained to turn stones into bread to satisfy His own hunger. And think how often you are likewise tempted to use your increasing insights and powers ‘to feather your own nests’, so to speak. Now consider: can you, like Jesus, overcome this temptation by remembering that you really are not this body, and therefore you are not to live by bread alone but by the word which comes from God, or from the Monad within?
In the second temptation Jesus saw himself on a pinnacle of the temple being tempted to employ astral phenomena —in this case the power of levitation— to come floating down from that pinnacle before the astonished pilgrims making their way to a temple ceremony. This would be an immediate way to gather a large following. But the followers would be a crowd of people fascinated by the magic of astral phenomena instead of a band of men committed to the long hard way of self-sacrifice leading to the cross. This temptation held little appeal for Jesus, quite in contrast to the large numbers of people today who are captivated and side-tracked by some glamorous forms of psychic phenomena, such as clairvoyance and other so called spiritual gifts so highly promoted nowadays as being the way to enrich your material life.
But the third temptation was undoubtedly the most severe for Jesus. It is said this took place on a high mountain, which symbolically means a high level of consciousness. There He was shown all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and was told all this would be His if He would just fall down and worship ‘satan’. What a drastic fall that would have been. For it would have meant resorting to political intrigue and military strategy in the attempt to win the world to himself. But at this high level Jesus saw clearly that ‘satan’ would not be able to deliver on his deceptive promise. For through the clear lens of truth it is clearly seen that there is but one kingdom, not many, toward which humanity is to move, and that is the Kingdom of God. That kingdom is established only through love, which is also the way of the cross.
These three temptations come in many forms and differing garb. But essentially they are the ones you all have to face, perhaps at many times, and especially after the second initiation has been experienced on the high mental planes and you are in the process of seeking to stabilize the newly-attained powers on the outer-plane level of understanding and usage. Remember also that it is not a higher consciousness that is the goal but pure awareness.
The tempting voice repeatedly said to Jesus: “If you are the Son of God…“ And a basic temptation for all of you is that of doubting your son-hood, your divinity. Do you dare to deal with the reality that you truly are divine (in your Soul nature)? because once you say “yes“ to that challenge, realizing your divinity, then you have to act —to serve— from that high level. I know it is far from easy! But once you are fully committed to that purpose, you have all the help you need.
With Christ, desire was transmuted into power.“ So will it be with us when, in His spirit, we walk His way.”
Long ago the Christ said: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.“ (John 8:31-2)
Do you realize what a great promise this is? Too often you have equated knowing with more belief. But in reality there is a vast difference between the two. Belief is of the lower mind, and often is swept away by a torrent of opposing ‘logic’. But real knowing is a bringing through of truth from the high level of the intuition(remember here what I said about intuition). Thus what you know in this true sense “no man takes from you“, as was promised long ago. Truly, the realization you bring through from the higher self is unshakable knowing. What a contrast to mere believing, which is like the proverbial house built on the shifting sands.
The Bible can be interpreted on three different levels. The first level is of course a quite literal one. The second is a bit more sophisticated but still subject to interpretation by the concrete mind of the orthodox religionist. The third carries an esoteric meaning which goes beyond the literal.
Let us take as an example one of the best known and most loved of Jesus’ parables, that of the prodigal son, found in Luke 15:11-32. Looking at this from a very literal perspective one might explain it as a warning about what happens to a reckless youth, one who demands everything he can get from his father, and squanders it all on drugs and ‘women’. Then he ends up broke and feeding pigs (the ultimate humiliation for a Jew of that time), and finally comes crawling back to dad in a state of near starvation.
A second but still fairly obvious interpretation which might be made by a traditional churchman could be: Here is the rebellion of youth, striking out against parental authority. The youth sinks into a life of flagrant ‘sin’. But sometime before death he accepts Christ, becomes converted, so he is saved from hell, and the father (God) welcomes him to heaven following death.
The third level of interpretation, though there may be many variations, sees it this way: The son, leaving home and traveling to the far country, indicates the Soul or higher self on the evolutionary spiral of experience, finally sinking into the deepest possible involvement in matter. In that mess he finally discovers that the pleasures and rewards of materialism leave him deeply hungry for a more satisfying life. Thus he comes to some measure of realization of himself. Then he begins the long journey of many lifetimes back to ‘the father’s house’(the Monad), the home of the Soul.
Someone has asked: “Why on earth did Christian teaching not bear any relevant information in relation to esoteric knowledge, to reincarnation, etc.?“ Another form in which this question is asked is this: “Which are the hidden biblical clues? Where flows the esoteric stream beneath the surface of the Bible?”
Let me reword the first question: “Why did Christian teaching not bear any obvious information relating to esoteric knowledge, including reincarnation? The Bible is full of esoteric wisdom. But it may take some insight to discover it. It seems to be the case, especially in the past, that esoteric information, when embodied in literature made available to the public, was veiled beneath exoteric or more obvious interpretations. For if the deep symbolic meanings in biblical literature had been made obvious, on the surface, it is questionable whether the Bible could have survived, especially through the dark ages. It probably would have been discarded as irrelevant.
Then the closing word of the Father: “This, your brother, was dead, and is alive. He was lost and is found.“ Can you not see that the wayward son represents all of you in the human race, at one point or another either on the trek to the far country to feed the animal nature, or on the long, long journey back home!
If you read the 13th chapter of Matthew with open eyes you find that Jesus’ disciples were deeply puzzled as to why he spoke to the curious crowds in these word pictures, with such deeply hidden meanings. So they put the question to Jesus. He replied: “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.“ But He was planting the good seed deep in their lives to ponder upon, so that at some point it would sprout, grow, and as He suggested “bring forth grain, some a hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty” (all significant numbers, symbolically).
But to His disciples Jesus said: “Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear”. As you read the Bible ask yourselves: How acute is your esoteric vision and hearing?
Have you heard the inspiring anthem sometimes sung in Christian churches: Open the Gates of the Temple, and the King of Glory shall come in? Based on a stirring passage in the 24th Psalm: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in”.
Some might have presumed that this referred only to a temple made with human hands, such as Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem. Now, however, here is a glimpse of a metaphysical or esoteric meaning. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, in the third chapter, he asks a poignant question: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwells in you?”
Now if one’s body is a temple of God, what are its gates or doors? In the dense physical body these would be the eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, plus the anal and urinary orifices. But you know now that the dense body is not the sum total of your physical nature; for that includes also the important etheric counterpart, designated variously as the etheric body, etheric double, vital body, or energy body. It has many minor doors or etheric centers. And, of vast importance, seven major centers or chakras.
Back to the 3 steps.
The aspirant “you”, has three things to do:
1. Purify, discipline and transmute your threefold lower nature.
2. Develop knowledge of yourself, and equip your mental body; build the causal body by good deeds and thoughts.
3. Serve the race in utter self-abnegation.
“In doing this you fulfill the law, you put yourself in the right condition for training, and thus minimizes the danger that attends awakening of the fire.“ This fire also known as kundalini , the snake.
Burning away barriers.
Barriers often reside within your emotions and lower mental equipment, obstacles which tend to separate you from:
a. your own higher or divine self
b. your fellow human beings
c. The spiritual hierarchy, the Christ within
Apart from reading in the way I have explained in previous articles here are several other keys you need to remember.
The first key: interpret such passages as dramas within you.
The second key: see that each character in the drama represents some level of your consciousness.
The third key: look for progress from one level of consciousness to another (e.g., the ancient Hebrews leaving slavery in Egypt, wandering in the wilderness, and later crossing the Jordan river and entering the promised land, progress indeed).
The fourth key: many words in sacred literature have specific symbolic meanings; for instance the dove, the ark, raven and like mountains signify high levels of consciousness.
Those whose intuitive powers are awakened discover a wealth of symbolic meanings in Jesus’ parables and other teachings. These secrets constitute spiritual riches not even surmised by those who see only the literal words. In one of these intriguing word pictures you find Jesus explaining why these deep treasures are available to His accepted disciples, while they remain hidden from the curious crowds of people who come seeking phenomena or miracles.
He explains to these chosen disciples that He is not showing favoritism, as a surface reading might suggest. He tells them it is because they have seeing eyes and hearing ears, while others, with their infatuation with phenomena, with things, really have closed their eyes and ears. That is, their deeper understanding is blocked out. A key statement on this is found in Matthew 13:16: “Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear”.
It might be well to ask yourselves: can the Christ truly say that of you today? Doesn’t the answer depend on how deeply committed you are to Him? And how fully you give yourselves to His way of love and sharing? The disciples of old, to whom He revealed these secret truths, were people who had left everything else to follow Him and serve His cause. Is that the only way you can really have the seeing eye and hearing ear for understanding the mysteries?
The teaching is found in the parable of the sower and the seeds (found in Matthew 13). In it Christ shows how realistic He is, for He reveals that some of the good seed He sows falls on the hard path, by the wayside, where the birds come and gobble it up and other seed falls on rocky soil, where it has not much root and soon withers away. Still other seed falls among thorns, which choke off its growth.
Now consider this: do you get discouraged when you see this happening in the work you do? If so, then listen to His further words: “Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear”.
When you consider these widely differing results when the good seed is sown, it would be easy to put the burden on all those other folks, those who do not follow the route that you take, sometimes with such pride! It is so easy to see others as hardened, shallow, or choked with material attachments. But it is more fruitful to ask yourselves: is there still some hardened or crystallized place in your consciousness, where you may not be letting His truth penetrate? Second, is there still some shallowness in you, where the divine growth gets withered away for lack of rootage? Or third, do the thorns, which He described as “the worries of this world and the lure of riches”, threaten to choke His word of love and sharing in you, so it produces nothing?
If you find any such problems blocking your way, then inquire: how ready are you to yield fully the direction of your thoughts, words and actions to this great teachings? Surely you know that when He really has full sway in you, He removes the barriers so that your lives come to represent the good soil, bringing forth a harvest of a hundredfold, or at least sixty or thirty. This represents a pretty good return on your investment with Him don’t you think?
But when you invest life fully with Him you are not so much concerned with the level of the harvest. Nonetheless, you can indeed rejoice when your eyes and ears become truly open. For then, amazingly, the inner mysteries become revealed. And you rejoice as Souls to serve His cause of love, sharing, justice and brotherhood. Thus do you become junior partners with Him in meeting your brother’s needs(along with your own). And thus do you help in the realization of the great plan He has for mankind. Where this plan takes root no weeds shall grow.
In order to get the full picture of this promise, look at it in contrast with His parable of weeds and wheat which He gave you long ago. In that dramatic word picture He tells you of the man who sowed good seed in his field. But while the man slept, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat (note the beautiful symbolism here; for it is while you are asleep spiritually that the ‘weeds’ get their start).
His servants, fearing that the weeds would crowd out the wheat, asked their master’s permission to pull out the weeds. But he replied: “No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn”. (Matt. 13:24-30)
One more footnote here, Man is not punished for his sins but is punished by his sins. Sin is a self-insulting act which arises out of misunderstanding in the sinner to his own identity.
If you move away from your true nature, and identify with the happenings of the world, the emotional throbbing, the ideas built through limited sight, then you are dishonoring your godly dignity and divine status. Such acts and thoughts chain you down to a pursuit of lower pleasures, and never reach the peak of the mountain of real perfection.
Moshiya van den Broek