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

"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?

"And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now, for it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered Him.

"And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him.

"And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased."

- St. Matt., III, 13-17.

In these simple words we are told the story of this initiation. The keynote is purification, and it closed a period of preparation, of quiet service, and inaugurated a cycle of strenuous [97] activity. The purification of the lower nature is a requirement which the Christian Church has ever emphasized, as has also the Hindu faith. Christ held this ideal before His disciples and all men when He said, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." (St. Matt., V, 8.)

In an ancient treatise upon meditation, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, we find the teacher proclaiming, "Through purification comes also a quiet spirit... and ability to see the Self." (The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, II, 41.) Purification is of many kinds and degrees. There is physical purity and moral purity, and there is also that magnetic purity which makes a man a channel for spiritual force. There is psychic purity, which is a rare thing to find, and mental purity. The word "purity" comes from the Sanskrit word pur, which means freedom from alloy, from limitation and from the imprisoning of the spirit in the chains of matter. There can be no achievement without purification; there is no possibility of our seeing and manifesting divinity without passing through the waters that cleanse. In the world today a great cleansing is going on. An "ascetic purification" and an enforced abstinence from much that has hitherto been deemed desirable, is going on in the world, and none of us can escape it. This is due to the breakdown of the economic system and the many other systems which are proving ineffectual in the modern world. Purification is being forced upon us, and as a consequence a truer sense of values must eventuate. A cleansing from wrong ideals, a racial purification from dishonest standards and undesirable objectives, is being powerfully applied at this time. Perhaps this means that many in the race today are going down to Jordan, to enter its purifying waters. A self-applied ascetic purification, and the recognition of its value by the pioneers of the human family, may succeed in leading them to the portal of initiation.

There is also to be found in this episode an interesting analogy to what is happening to the race today, from the [98] astrological standpoint. We are entering into the sign Aquarius, the Water Carrier. This sign stands symbolically for group purity and relationship, for the universality of experience and for the waters poured over all. When we began to enter this sign, about two hundred years ago, water became for the first time of general interest and of general use for sanitation and irrigation. The control of water and its utilization as a means of transportation on a worldwide scale became possible. The use of water in our homes is now so universal that we hardly realize what the world must have been like prior to this use.

Christ, in this great initiation, entered into the stream, and the waters passed over Him. In India this initiation is called that of "entering the stream," and he who undergoes it is regarded as having demonstrated both physical and psychic purity. In considering this initiation we must remember that two kinds of baptism are referred to in the story.

"John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water: but one mightier than I cometh, the latched of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." (St. Luke, III, 16.)

There are therefore two kinds of baptism:

  1. That of John the Baptist, which is the baptism by water.
  2. The baptism of Jesus Christ, which is that of the Holy Ghost and of fire.

In these two symbols much of the story of human development is summed up, and the joint work of John the Baptist and of Jesus produced a synthesis which is indicative of the immediate objective of our racial endeavor. The symbolism is exact, according to the ancient mystery teaching. A close study of this symbolic rendering of a basic truth would greatly profit the seeker in all countries, and an understanding of the significance of the symbols employed would throw much light upon reality.

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