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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Two - The First Initiation - The Birth at Bethlehem
The second initiation, that of the Baptism, then took place. Christ had achieved manhood, and this attainment was followed immediately by a definite and conscious rejection of evil. Recognition of work to be done must be succeeded [48] by the purification of the one who must thus work, and a demonstration must be given of that purification and freedom from evil. This, Christ gave in the victory of the three temptations. Then, only after this evidenced preparation, do we read that He proceeded to teach. (St. Luke, IV, 14, 15.)

Recognition and preparation for participation in the divine Plan was next followed by dedication to that Plan. After the Transfiguration He entered into a full realization of what lay ahead for Him, and He defined it clearly to His disciples, saying:

"...the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day... If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (St. Luke, IX, 22, 23.)

Then we read later in the same chapter that "He steadfastly set His face to go" up to the place of suffering and of sacrifice.

Finally came the realization that He had accomplished what He had set out to do. He had fulfiled the Plan; the Father's business had been done and the "many things" undergone. We read that even on the Cross the Plan still engrossed His attention, and with His final "It is finished," (St. John, XIX, 30.) He passed through the gates of death to a joyful resurrection.

The gradual revelation of the Plan and its service always accompanies the initiation process; the individual learns to subordinate his life to the Will of the Father, and to become - as Christ became - the servant of that Will. The initiation process itself is only a part of the general Plan for the race, and the paths of discipleship and of initiation are but the final stages of the Path of Evolution. The earlier steps on the Path are concerned with human living and experiencing, but the final stages, after the new birth, are concerned with spiritual unfoldment.

What is true of the unfoldment of the individual is true [49] of the race; and all these stages must be worked out in the racial life. Those who see the vision clearly can trace the evidences of this unfolding Plan in the steady growth of several ideas that are now dominant in the world. Without going into detail or entering into lengthy expositions of the subject, the growth of the Plan and of the racial response can be traced quite clearly in the development of the God idea. First, God was a far-away, anthropomorphic Deity, unknown and unloved, but regarded with awe and fear, and worshipped as the Deity expressing Himself through the forces of nature. As time elapsed, this distant God drew a little nearer to His people, taking on a more human coloring until, in the Jewish dispensation, we find Him much like ourselves, but still the wrathful, ethical Ruler, and still obeyed and feared.

He approached still nearer as time went on; and before the advent of Christianity men recognized Him as the beloved Krishna of the Hindu faith, and as the Buddha. Then the Christ came to the West. God Himself was seen incarnate among men. The distant had become the near, and the One Who had been worshipped in awe and wonder could now be known and loved. Today God is coming closer still, and the new age will not only recognize the truth of the past revelations and testify to their validity and their progressive revelation of divinity, but to all this will be added the ultimate revelation of the Presence of God in the human heart, of Christ born in man, and of each human being manifesting, in truth, as a son of God.

In a consideration of the unfoldment of consciousness the same emerging divine Plan appears. Though the race in its infancy was governed by instinct, as time elapsed the intellect began to show itself and is continuing to control human affairs, government and thought. Out of the intellect, rightly used and understood, something fairer and still more revealing is being evolved, and steadily we can trace the growth of this new force, the intuition, in modern intelligent man. This, in its turn, brings illumination, and so [50] man passes from glory to glory until the omniscient cosmic Son of God can be seen, expressing Himself through every son of man.

Again, the same unfoldment can be traced racially in the transition we have made through the various stages from that of the isolated savage to the family and the tribe, then to the unification of the tribes into nations under one central government, until today we live in a world which is beginning to respond to that which is greater than the nation - humanity itself - and to conceive its expression through the development of an international consciousness. No matter by what line we trace the growth of the Plan, we come from a distant, dark and ignorant past to a present point wherein truer values are seen emerging. We begin to see what that Plan is and whither we are going. We are entering steadily into the world of spiritual realities, because "there is a road from every natural group of facts to every spiritual reality in the universe; and the essential nature of mind forces it always in some degree to traverse this road..." (The Value and Destiny of the Individual, by B. Bosanquet, p. 111.)

At this "end of the age" man stands before the door of opportunity, and, because he is in process of discovering his own divinity, he will enter into the realm of real values and arrive at a truer knowledge of God. The mystery of the new birth confronts him, and through that experience he must pass.

This divinity in man must be brought to the birth, both in the individual and in the race, and thus can the kingdom of God on earth be brought into being.

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