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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Four - The Third Initiation - The Transfiguration
III.

The Transfiguration scene was the meeting-ground of significant factors, and since that moment the life of humanity has been radically changed. It was as potent a moment in racial history as the Crucifixion, of more potency perhaps than even that great and tragic happening. Seldom do such moments come. Usually we see only faint glimpses of possibility, rare flashes of illumination, and fleeting seconds wherein a synthesis appears and leaves us with a sense of fitness, of integration, of purpose and of underlying reality. But such moments are rare indeed. We know God is. We know reality exists. But life, with its emphasis directed on phenomena, its stresses and its strains, so preoccupies us that we have no time, after the six days' labor, to climb the mountain of vision. A certain familiarity with God's nature must surely precede the revelation of Himself which He can and does at times accord. Christ's three friends had been admitted to a degree of intimacy with Him which warranted their being chosen as His companions at the scene of His experience, wherein He staged, for the benefit of humanity, a symbolic event as well as a definite experience for which arrangement had duly to be made, with the participants correctly chosen and trained, so that the symbolism which they embodied might appear, and their intuitive reactions be rightly directed. It was necessary that Christ should have with Him those who could be depended upon to recognize divinity when it appeared, and whose intuitive spiritual perception would be such that - for all time - the inner meaning might be made apparent to those of us who have followed later in His steps. This is a point at times forgotten. Inevitably "we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." (I St. John, III, 2.)

But to bring about this likeness two things are necessary to the consecrated and dedicated disciple. He must be able [157] to see clearly, meanwhile standing in the illumination which radiates from Christ, and his intuition must be active, so that he can rightly interpret what he sees. He loves his Master, and he serves with what faithfulness he can; but more than devotion and service are needed. He must be able to face the illumination, and at the same time he must have that spiritual perception which, reaching out beyond the point to which the intellect can carry him, sees and touches reality. It is love and intellect combined, plus the power to know, which is inherent in the soul, which recognizes intuitively that which is holy, universal and real, and yet which is specific and true for all time to all people.

Christ revealed the quality of the divine nature through the medium of matter, of form, and "was transfigured before them."

"The Greek word here used is 'metamorphosed,' the very word used by St. Paul to describe the transmutation of the mortal body into the resurrection body; for on the day of fulfilment, when the perfected disciple has attained masterhood, the 'Robe of Glory' shines forth with such splendor through the garment of the flesh that all the beholders perceive it, and, their eyes and ears attuned to finer subtle vibration, they behold their Master in all His divine humanity."
- The Mystery Teaching in the West, by Jean Delaire, p. 121.

It is interesting to note that, in spite of their recognition of the significance of the event in which they were participating, the three Apostles, speaking through the mouth of St. Peter, were able to do no more than express their awe and their bewilderment, their recognition and belief. They could not explain or understand what they had seen, nor do we find any record of their ever having done so. The meaning of the Transfiguration is something which has to be wrought out in the life before it can be defined or explained. When humanity as a whole learns to transform the flesh through divine experience, to transmute the feeling nature through divine expression, and to transfer the [158] consciousness away from the world of mundane living into the world of transcendental realities, the true subjective values of this initiation will reveal themselves to the minds of men. Then will come a deeper expression of that which has been intuited. Dr. Sheldon tells us with truth that "all of the finest human thought and feeling is carried for generations, probably for ages, in intuitional minds, long before it becomes articulate." (Psychology and the Promethean Will, by W. H. Sheldon, p. 116.) Not yet are we articulate where this experience is concerned. We sense dimly and distantly its wonder and its finality. We have not yet, as a race, passed through the new birth; the Jordan experience is only attained as yet by the few. It is the rare and developed soul which has climbed the Mountain of Transfiguration, and there seen and met with God in the glorified Person of Jesus Christ. We have looked on at this episode through the eyes of others. Peter and James and John, through another apostle, Matthew, have told us about it. We remain as onlookers, but it is an experience in which we shall some day share. This we have forgotten. We have taken to ourselves the language of the fourth great event in Christ's life, and many of us have attempted to share and enter into the meaning of the Crucifixion. We have looked on at the Transfiguration, but have not attempted to become actively transfigured. But that must some day happen to us, and only after the Transfiguration can we dare to climb Mount Golgotha. Only when we have achieved expression of divinity in and through the lower personal nature shall we have attained to that of worth and value which can be permitted, under the divine Plan, to be crucified. This is a forgotten truth. Yet it is all part of the evolutionary process whereby God is revealed through humanity.

The great and natural phenomenon which humanity will some day - through self-expression and also under the law - reveal in itself includes the beauty which shone forth from Christ as He stood transfigured before His three [159] friends, was recognized by God His Father, and received the testimony of Moses and Elias, the Law and the Prophets, the past and that which bears witness to the future.

One point might here be brought out. In the Oriental correspondence to these five crises in the life of Jesus Christ, this third episode is called the "hut" initiation, and the words of St. Peter as he suggests that they should make three "huts," one for Christ and one for Moses and one for Elias, link up this Christian happening with its ancient prototype. Always, in these rarely occurring events, God has been glorified by the light, ineffable and effulgent, shining forth through the raiment of flesh, and this mountain experience is not uniquely Christian. But Christ was the first to gather together into one sequential presentation all the possible experiences of divinity made manifest, and portrayed them for our edification and inspiration in His life history, and in the five Gospel episodes. More and more men will pass through the birth chamber, enter the stream and climb the mountain, furthering God's work for humanity; and Christ's example is rapidly bearing fruit and bringing results. Divinity cannot be gainsaid, and man is divine. If he is not, then the Fatherhood of God is but an empty form of words, and Christ and His Apostles were in error when They recognized, as They constantly did, the fact of our sonship. The divinity of man cannot be explained away. It is either a fact or it is not. God can be known in the flesh through the medium of His children or He cannot. All rests back on God, the Father, the Creator, the One in Whom we live and move and have our being. God is immanent in all His creatures, or He is not. God is transcendent and beyond manifestation, or else there is no basic reality, purpose or origin. Probably the growing recognition in men's minds that He is both immanent and transcendent is true, and we can take our stand upon His Fatherhood, knowing ourselves to be divine because Christ and the Church of all ages have borne testimony to it. [160]

This time the Word spoken differs from the previous one. The first part of the pronouncement made by the Initiator Who stands silently behind the scenes as Jesus takes initiation after initiation is practically the same as that at the Baptism initiation, except for one expressed command. He said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," but added this time, "Hear ye him." At the first great episode, God the Father, of Whom the Initiator is the symbol, did not make His Presence known. The angels spoke the word, embodying Christ's mission on His behalf. At the Baptism He accorded recognition, but that was all. At this Initiation, God commanded humanity to pay attention to this particular crisis in the life of Christ and to listen to His words. The power and the right to speak is now conferred upon the Christ, and it is interesting to note that the major part of the teaching (as given in St. John's Gospel and in many of the parables) was given by Christ only after He had been through this experience. Again God gave evidence that He recognized Christ's Messiahship, which word is man's interpretation of the recognition. At the Baptism, He recognized Him as His Son, sent into the world, from the bosom of the Father, to carry out the will of God. That which Christ had recognized in the Temple as a child was later endorsed by God. This recognition is repeated, and the endorsement is strengthened, by the command to the world to hear the words of the Savior, or perhaps from the esoteric and spiritual standpoint, to hear that Word which was God made Flesh.

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