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|From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Three - The Second Initiation - The Baptism in Jordan|
|Christ's reply each time should be viewed in this triple
manner. "It is written," He says, and the unthinking and small-minded regard
this as endorsing the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. But surely, He was not
referring back only to the ancient sayings of the Jewish Scriptures, beautiful as they
are. The possibilities of error are too great to warrant our unquestioning acceptance of
every word in any scripture in the world. When the processes of translation are studied
this becomes glaringly apparent. Christ meant something much deeper than "The Bible
says." He meant that the signature of God was upon Him; that He was the Word, and
that that Word was the expression of truth. It is the Word of the soul (which is the
influx of divinity) that determines our attitude in temptation and our response to the
problem presented by the devil. If that Word is remote, deep-hidden by the veiling form,
only distorted sounds will issue forth, and the Word will not be potent enough to
withstand the devil. The Word is written in the flesh, defaced and almost invisible though
it may be through the activity  of the lower nature; it is upon the mind that the
Word sounds forth, carrying illumination and insight, distorted as yet though the vision
may be, and the light scarcely seen. But the Word is there. Some day each of us can
say with power: "It is written," and see that Word expressed in every part of
our human nature as individuals and - at some distant date - in humanity itself. This is
the "lost Word" of the Masonic tradition.
Oriental philosophy refers frequently to four spheres of life or four problems which all disciples and aspirants have to face, and which constitute in their entirety the world in which we live. There are the world of Maya, the world of glamor and the world of illusion. There is also that mysterious "Dweller on the Threshold" to which Bulwer Lytton refers in Zanoni. All of these four Christ met and vanquished in the desert-experience.
Maya refers to the world of physical forces in which we dwell, and with this the first temptation concerned itself. Modern science has told us that there is nothing visible or invisible which is not energy, and that every form is simply an aggregate of energy units in constant ceaseless motion, to which we have to adjust ourselves and in which we "live and move and have our being." (Acts, XVII, 28.) Such is the outer form of Deity, and we are part of it. Maya is vital in character, and we know little of its effect upon the physical plane (with all that that term connotes), and upon the human being.
"Glamor" refers to the world of emotional being and of desire, in which all forms dwell. It is this glamor which colors all our lives and produces false values, wrong desires, needless so-called necessities, our worries, anxieties and cares; but glamor is age-old, and has us in so close a grip that there seems little we can do. The desires of men, down the centuries, have brought about a situation before which we turn back appalled; the rampant nature of our longings and wishes, and their glamorous effect upon the individual, provide psychological laboratories with all their material; the  wish life of the race has been wrongly oriented and human desire has been turned outward to the material plane, thus producing the world of glamor in which we all habitually struggle. It is by far the most potent of our delusions or mistaken orientations. But once the clear light of the soul is thrown into it, this miasma of forces is gradually dissipated. This work constitutes the major task of all aspirants to the mysteries.
"Illusion" is more mental in its impact. It concerns the ideas whereby we live, and the thought life which more or less (although mostly less) governs our daily undertakings. We shall see, as we take up the consideration of these three temptations, how in the first temptation Christ was confronted by maya, with physical forces of such strength that the devil could take advantage of them in an effort to confound Him. We shall see how in the second temptation He was tempted by glamor, and with the submergence of His vital spiritual life by a misconception and an emotional use of His divine powers. The sin of the mind, which is pride, was called into activity by the devil in the third temptation, and the illusion of temporal power to be used for right ends we may be sure was presented to Him. Thus the possible interior weakness of the three aspects of Christ's nature was tested, and through them the vast sum total of the world maya, glamor and illusion was poured in on Him. Thus He was confronted with the Dweller on the Threshold, which is only another name for the personal lower self, regarding it as a unified whole, as is only the case in advanced people, disciples and initiates. In these three words - maya, glamor and illusion - we have synonyms for the flesh, the world and the devil, which constitute the threefold test that confronts every son of God on the verge of liberation.
"If thou be the Son of God command that these stones be made bread." Let us use our divine powers for personal physical ends. Let us put the material physical nature first. Let us assuage our hunger, whatever it may be, and do it because we are divine. Let us use our divine powers so as  to gain for ourselves perfect health, long desired financial prosperity, popularity for our personality, for which we crave, and those physical surroundings and conditions which we want. We are sons of God and are entitled to all these things. Command that these stones be made bread for the satisfaction of our supposed need. Such were the specious arguments used then, and being used today by many teachers and schools of thought. These are peculiarly the temptations of the aspirants of the world today. Upon this theory many teachers and groups thrive, and curiously enough, they do so quite sincerely and entirely convinced of the rightness of their position. The temptations which come to the advanced souls in the world are most subtle. The use of divine powers for the meeting and satisfaction of purely personal, physical needs can be presented in such a manner that they may seem entirely right. Yet we do not live by bread alone, but by means of the spiritual life which (coming forth from God) pours into, and is the life of, the lower man. This is the first essential for understanding. Upon that soul life and upon that inner contact the emphasis should be laid. The healing of the physical body, when diseased, would be satisfactory to the individual, but living as a soul is of more importance. The emphasis upon a divinity which must express itself entirely through the meeting of a physical need, in a monetary manner, most definitely limits divinity to an attribute of itself. When we live as souls, when our inner life is oriented to God, not because of what we can receive but because we have the developed sense of divinity, then the forces of divine life will pour through us and produce what is needed. This may not necessarily bring about complete immunity from disease or produce financial affluence; but it will mean a sweetening of the lower nature, a tendency to self-forgetfulness, and unselfishness which puts others first, a wisdom which concerns itself with the teaching and helping of others, a freedom from hatred and suspicion which will make life pleasanter for those with whom we associate, and a kindness and inclusiveness which leave no time for the separated  self. That this type of inner nature will make for a sound body and freedom from physical ills is quite possible, but not inevitably so. In time and space, in a particular life and at a special time, illness has its uses and may be a profoundly desirable blessing. Poverty and financial stringency may re-establish a lost sense of values and enrich the heart with compassion. Money and perfect health may be disasters to many. But the use of divine power for selfish ends, and the affirming of the divine nature for purposes of individual healing, seem a prostitution of reality, and constitute the temptation which Christ so triumphantly met. We live by the life of God. Let that life flow in "more abundantly" upon us and we shall become, as Christ became, living centers of radiant energy for the service of the world. Probably what may happen will be better physical health, because we shall not be so preoccupied with ourselves. Freedom from self-centeredness is one of the first laws of good health.
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