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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Seven - Our Immediate Goal - The Founding of the Kingdom
CHAPTER SEVEN

Our Immediate Goal - The Founding of the Kingdom

KEY THOUGHT

"Any given moment of life must choose between two gods, psychologically incompatible. On the one hand, the peace of the hermit, the silence of the forest, the exaltation of sacrifice, the mightiness of simplification and unity, the joy of self-abandonment, the calm of absolute contemplation, the vision of God. On the other hand, the variety and stress of life, the zest of common ends, the mastery of means, the glory of infinite enterprise, the pride of creativity and self-possession. The modern world as a whole has made its choice. But there is a better choice; namely, the choice of both. For the life of each is that it may lose itself, from time to time, in the life of the other. And this, which is obvious in things partial, is true - and even chiefly true - in things total."
- The Meaning of God in Human Experience, by W. E. Hocking, p. 427. [257]

I.

We have followed Christ from Bethlehem to Calvary, and through the Resurrection to the episode wherein He disappeared from tangible worldly view and entered the world of subjective values, therein to function as the "Master of all the Masters and the Teacher alike of angels and of men." We approached the subject of the five crises in His life from the angle of their world importance far more than from that of their significance to us as individuals. We have seen that there has been a revolt (and rightly so) from the emphasis laid by past theologians upon the blood sacrifice of Christ; and have arrived at the conclusion that the need of the world today is for the recognition of a risen Savior. We have noted the fact that the uniqueness of His mission consisted in the fact that in "the fullness of time" He came to found the kingdom of God, to bring into being upon earth another kingdom of nature, and so set up the boundary line between that which is objective and illusory and that which is subjective and real. His coming marked the line of demarcation between the world of forms or symbols and that of values or of meaning. Into the latter world we are entering with great rapidity. Science, religion and philosophy are today occupied with significance, and their investigations are carrying them out of the world of appearances; governments and the allied sciences - politics and economics and sociology - are, in their turn, dealing with ideas and ideals. Even in [258] the realm of social disorders and wars - general, sporadic or civil - we see the conflict of differing ideals, and no longer wars of aggression or for the defense of property. These distinctions between the objective and the subjective, between the tangible and the intangible, the visible and the invisible, Christianity has fostered, because it was these differences which the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man presented. Christ came to give to life a meaning and a value, just as the Buddha came to make clear to us the false values upon which our modern world is based.

A study of the teachings earlier given will show that every teaching, and every suffering Son of God who antedated Christ, did two things:

First of all, He prepared the way for Christ, giving out the teaching that His particular age, period and civilization required; and secondly, He enacted in His life the teaching of the Mysteries, which however, before Christ's time, was confined to the very few who were being prepared for initiation, or who could penetrate by right of initiation into the temples of those Mysteries.

Then the Buddha came and spoke to the multitude, telling them what was the source of their misery and discontent, and giving them, in the Four Noble Truths, a concise statement of the human situation. He outlined to them the Noble Eightfold Path governing right conduct, and gave in reality the rules which should control one upon the Path of Discipleship. Then, having Himself achieved Illumination, He entered into the "Secret Place of the Most High," to come forth once a year, so legend tells us, in order to bless the world. That day of blessing (the day of the full moon of May) is preserved in the East as a general holiday, and in the West many hundreds also keep it as a day of spiritual remembrance.

Then Christ came, and presented to the world, and made public in His life and through its critical points, the great processes of initiation (five in number) which lie ahead of [259] all who keep the rules which His great Brother laid down. He carried the teaching forward the next step, and made it available to the masses. Thus the continuity of revelation was perpetuated. The Buddha taught us the rules for disciples in preparation for the Mysteries of initiation, whilst Christ gave us the next stage, and showed us the process of initiation from the moment of the new birth into the kingdom to that of the final resurrection into life. His work was unique in its time and place, for it marked a consummation of the past, and an entrance into something utterly new, as far as humanity as a whole was concerned.

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