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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Four - The Third Initiation - The Transfiguration
We shall see later that upon the revelation of the risen Christ must the new world religion take its stand. Christ upon the Cross, as will appear when we study the next great crisis, showed us love and sacrifice carried to their extreme expression; but Christ alive from all time, and vitally alive today, is the keynote of the new age, and upon this truth must the new presentation of religion be built and, later, the new theology be constructed. The true meaning of the Resurrection and the Ascension has not yet been grasped; as a divine subjective reality those truths still await revelation. The glory of the new age will be the unveiling of those two mysteries, and our entrance into a fuller understanding of God as life. The true Church of Christ is the assembly of all who live through the life of Christ, and whose life is one with His. This will be increasingly realized and will bring forth into clearer and more radiant light the wonder and glory which lies, unrevealed as yet, in God the Father.

It is only the man who has understood something of the value of the Transfiguration initiation and the nature of the perfection then revealed who can follow along with Christ, to the vision which was accorded Him as He came down from that high point of achievement, and can later share with Him an understanding of the nature of world service. This world service is rendered perfectly by those whose inner perfection is approximate to Christ's and whose lives are controlled by the same divine impulses and subordinated to the same vision. This stage connotes that complete spiritual freedom which we must eventually reach. [164] Now the time has come for human beings to leave off believing, and pass on to true knowledge, through the method of thought, reflection, experiment, experience and revelation. The immediate problem for all who are seeking this new knowledge, and who desire to become conscious knowers instead of faithful believers, is that they should achieve it in the world of everyday. After each expansion of consciousness and each unfoldment of a deepened awareness we return, as Christ did, to the plains of everyday life, and there subject our knowledge to the test, discover its reality and truth, and find out also wherein lies for us our next point of expansion, and what new knowledge must be acquired. The task of the disciple is the understanding and the use of his divinity. The knowledge of God immanent, yet based on a belief in God transcendent, is our endeavor.

This was the experience of the Apostles upon the mountain top. We are told that "when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only." (St. Matt., XVII, 8). The familiar appeared to them again. It is of real interest to compare a somewhat similar story related in The Bhagavad Gita, wherein Arjuna has had revealed to him the glorious form of the Lord. At the close of the revelation God, in the person of Krishna, says to him, with tenderness and understanding, "Let not fear nor confusion overcome thee, beholding My form so terrible! Behold my former shape once more, thy fear gone, thy heart at rest!" and then he goes on to tell him:

"This form of Mine which thou hast seen is hard indeed to see! Even the Gods ever desire a sight of this form! Nor can I be seen thus through Vedas, penances, gifts, sacrifices, in the form which thou hast seen. But I can be known thus through single-hearted love, Arjuna, and seen as I truly am, and entered, O Consumer of the foe!"
- The Bhagavad Gita, Book XI, 49, 52, 53, 54.

The Word of Recognition had gone forth, and the command to hear the Christ had been given. Jesus having returned [165] "to His proper form," the descent from the mountain had to follow. Then occurred what might be regarded as a great, sad, spiritual reaction, inevitable and terrible, expressed by Christ in the following words:

"The Son of Man shall be betrayed into the hands of men, and they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again." (St. Matt., XVII, 22, 23.)

Then comes the simple comment that the disciples "were exceedingly sorry." This vision of Christ's, if we trace it in the records, fell into two parts. First, He had a vision of achievement. The mountain-top achievement, a great spiritual experience, lay behind Him. Now He has a vision of a physical consummation in the form of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. But this is accompanied by a presentiment or a prevision of the culmination of His life of service upon the Cross. He saw clearly, perhaps for the first time, what lay ahead of Him, and the direction in which His service to the world was leading Him. The via dolorosa of a World Savior stretched out before Him; the destiny of all pioneering souls climaxed in His experience, and He saw Himself rejected, pilloried and killed, as have many lesser sons of God. World rejection always precedes world acceptance. Disillusionment is a stage on the way to reality. The hatred of those who are not yet ready to recognize the world of spiritual values is ever the lot of those who are. This, Christ faced, and yet "He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem." (St. Luke, IX, 51.)

As we consider these happenings, the particular test which Christ now encountered becomes clear in our minds. It was again a threefold test, as was that after the Baptism initiation; but this time it was of a far subtler nature. He was faced with the test as to whether He could endure and handle worldly success, and pass along the triumphant way of His entry into the Holy City, without deviating from [166] His purpose, without being attracted by material achievement and by being acclaimed King of the Jews. Success constitutes a far more drastic disciplining, and produces many more opportunities to forget God and reality than do failure and neglect. Self-pity, a sense of martyrdom, and resignation are potent and effective ways of handling one's failure. But to rise upon the crest of the wave, to be accorded public recognition, and to seem to have achieved the earthly goal are far more difficult factors to face. These Christ did face, and He faced them with spiritual poise and with that farsighted wisdom which produces a correct sense of values and a proper sense of proportion.

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