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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Three - The Second Initiation - The Baptism in Jordan

The Second Initiation - The Baptism in Jordan


"It is a propitious moment to put the Christian life into serious practice... At a time of catastrophe, a process of ascetic purification takes place, in the absence of which there can be no spiritual life, whether for society or for the individual..."
- Freedom of the Spirit, by Nicholas Berdyaev, p. 46. [87]


"Wherever a thing is both perceived and felt, there is the experience of the soul; and whenever a thought and a feeling become indistinguishable, there is the soul. Soul means oneness, unity, union between the inner wish and outer reality. As man moves toward acceptance of the universe, toward compatibility between what he feels as a wish from within , and what he perceives as the arrangement without, and as both elements expand, the soul moves towards greatness." (Italics are mine. A.A.B.)
- Psychology and the Promethean Will, by W. H. Sheldon, p. 130.

The first initiation has taken place. Christ has been born in Bethlehem. The soul has come into outer expression, and now this soul - Christ (as the historical representative of all a soul can be), the individual initiate - moves on towards greatness. The mission of the Savior definitely starts at this time, but for the sake of those who will follow after, He must sound the note of purification and conform to the ritual requirements and the general trend of thought of His time. The initiate who has taken the first step must lay emphasis upon the purification of the lower nature which it is essential should preface the second initiation. The baptism of John was the symbol of this purification. Christ submitted Himself to the baptism, setting aside the protests of the Evangelist with His: "Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." (St. Matt., III, 15.)

Christ had reached maturity. Tradition tells us that He [88] was thirty years old when He was baptized and started on His brief and spectacular public career. How true this may be historically, who can say? It is of no real importance. Christ was, is, and ever shall be. Speaking symbolically, it was necessary that He should be thirty years old, for there is significance in that number, where humanity is concerned. Thirty signifies the perfecting of the three aspects of the personality - the physical body, the emotional nature, and the mind. These three compose the form side of man, and veil or hide the soul. They are in reality his mechanism of contact with the outer world, the equipment whereby his consciousness unfolds and awakens. In their totality they constitute his "response apparatus," as the psychologists call it. We know that man is a physical animal as well as an emotional, sentient being and a thinking entity. When these three parts of man's lower nature are functioning smoothly, and together form a unit for the use of the inner man, an integrated personality, or an efficient lower self, is the result. To this the number thirty testifies. Ten is the number of perfection, and thirty testifies to perfection in all three parts of the equipment of the soul.

It is interesting to bear in mind that through these three aspects (or reflections of the divine being) man is brought en rapport with the existing universe, and therefore with God, immanent in nature. The physical body enables us to touch the tangible, visible world. The emotional, feeling nature enables us to say, "I lift up my heart unto the Lord." Most people live in their heart nature and in the feeling body, and it is through the heart that we find our way to the Heart of God. Only through love can Love be revealed. When through right use and understanding the mind is definitely directed and properly oriented, it is brought en rapport with the Mind of God, the Universal Mind, the Purpose, the Plan and the Will of God. Through the illumined mind of man, the Mind of Deity stands revealed. Thus man is seen as "made in the image of God." (Gen., I, 26.) [89]

At the second initiation Christ stood before God, the Initiator, with all these aspects purified and matured; His mechanism was adjusted and ready for the task, and thus enabled to give proof of that purification and tension in attitude which would enable Him to carry through His mission to a satisfactory conclusion. This He had to prove to God and man through the purification which the baptism could give, and through the subsequent temptations in the wilderness. Ready for His work, He possessed what Dr. Sheldon calls "the three cardinal elements of a great mind, namely, enthusiasm, intuitive insight, and systematized factual equipment," and it is further pointed out that the first two "are the more vital two, for they cannot be acquired if a person has reached adult life without them."
- Psychology and the Promethean Will, by W. H. Sheldon, p. 135.

Christ stood thus equipped.

It may be of value if we study here for a few minutes the purpose for which He stood thus equipped. We saw in our last chapter that this planet we call the Earth, is regarded by many modern scientists of eminence as probably unique in its constitution and its purpose. It apparently provides a conditioning of life to be found on no other planet. This may or may not be so, and only the unfoldment of man's consciousness can verify or negate this theory of uniqueness. Today, as we look out upon our planetary life, in all kingdoms the vision is discouraging. In all kingdoms we find death and disease, and in the animal and human kingdoms not only these, but also violence of many kinds. In the human family particularly the vision is saddening, so little have we learnt to understand that for which Christ stood, and so little have we gained from the purificatory processes of modern living. The will to betterment can be seen working in many fields where individuals are concerned, but the impulse is still weak in humanity as a whole. However, it can be aroused and we shall thus awaken to our environing responsibilities when we study anew the message of love which Christ gave. [90]

It is probably true that Christ came to us with a wider and deeper message than any previous Messenger from the Center, but this in no way detracts from the status and work of Those Who preceded Him. He came at a crucial time, and in a period of world crisis, and embodied in Himself a cosmic principle - the principle of Love, which is the outstanding quality of God. Other aspects, qualities and purposes of the divine nature had been revealed by earlier incarnations of God, and appeared as the race reached the point in its development where a right reaction was possible. Zarathustra, to mention one such Messenger, had called the attention of mankind to the fact of the two basic principles to be found in the world - those of good and of evil - thus emphasizing the basic dualities of existence. Moses revealed the Law, calling men to recognize God as the principle of justice, even if it may seem an unloving justice to those of us who live after the revelation which Christ gave. Buddha embodied in Himself the principle of divine wisdom and, with clear insight into the world of causes, saw mortal existence as it was and pointed the way out. But the principle of Love - the fundamental principle of the universe - had not been revealed before Christ came. God is love, and in the fullness of time this outstanding characteristic of the divine nature had to be revealed and in such a manner that man could grasp it. It is thus that Christ embodied in Himself the greatest of the cosmic principles. This Law of Love can be seen functioning in the universe as the Law of Attraction, with all that is involved in that term - coherency, integration, position, direction and the rhythmic running of our solar system; it can be seen also in the disposition of God towards humanity, as revealed to us through Christ. This unique function of Christ as the custodian and the revealer of a cosmic principle or energy lies behind all He did; it was the basis and the result of His achieved perfection; it was the incentive and impulsion to His life of service, and it is the principle upon which the kingdom of God is founded. [91]

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