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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Four - The Third Initiation - The Transfiguration

The Third Initiation - The Transfiguration on a High Mountain


Arjuna said: "The word which Thou hast spoken through love of me, the supreme mystery named the Oversoul - through it my delusion is gone.

"For the birth and the passing of beings have been heard by me at lenth from Thee, whose eyes are lotus petals; I have heard also of the Great Spirit, which passes not away.

"So I would see that Self as it has been spoken by Thee, Mighty Lord; that divine form of Thine, O best of men!

"If Thou thinkest it can be seen by me, Lord, Master of union, then reveal to me the Self everlasting!"

- Bhagavad Gita, XI, 1-4. [135]


Another period of service is ended. Christ faced another interior crisis, and this time, according to the story, one which He shared with His three favorite disciples, with the three people closest to Him. His demonstrated self control, and henceforth His immunity from temptation, as we can understand it, had been succeeded by a period of intense activity. He had also laid the foundation of the kingdom of God which it was His mission to found, and whose inner structure and skeleton outline were built upon the twelve apostles, the seventy disciples whom He chose and trained, and the groups of men and women everywhere which responded to His message. So far He was successful. Now He faced another initiation and a further expansion of consciousness. These initiations, to which He subjected Himself on our behalf, and to which we may all in due time aspire, constitute in themselves a living synthesis of revelation which it may profit us to study before we consider the detail of the stupendous revelation which was accorded to the three apostles on the mountain-top. Three of these crises are perhaps of greater significance than has hitherto been grasped by humanity, which is prone to lay the emphasis mainly upon one of them only, the Crucifixion.

One wonders sometimes whether the other tremendous experiences through which Christ passed would have been relatively overlooked in favor of the Crucifixion had the [136] Epistles never been written and had we only the Gospel story upon which to base our Christian belief. This is a point to consider, and worthy of serious speculation. The bias thrown on Christian theology by St. Paul has perhaps over-balanced the structure of the presentation of Christ as we were meant to get it. The three initiations which, in the last analysis, may mean the most to the seeker after truth, are the birth into the kingdom, that august moment when the entire lower nature is transfigured and one realizes the fitness of God's sons to be citizens of that kingdom, and the final crisis wherein the immortality of the soul is demonstrated and recognized. The Baptism and the Crucifixion have other values, emphasizing as they do purification and self-sacrifice. This may surprise the reader, in that it seems to belittle the Christ, but it is profoundly necessary for us to see the picture as the Gospels present it, uncolored by the interpretations of a later son of God, no matter if brilliant and sincere, as was St. Paul. In dealing with the subject of Deity, we have always been told that we know God through His nature, and that nature is Spirit or Life, Soul or conscious love, and Form intelligently motivated. Life, quality, and appearance - these are the three major aspects of divinity, and we know no others; but that does not mean that we shall not contact other aspects when eventually we provide the mechanism of knowledge and the intuition to penetrate deeper into the divine Nature. We do not yet know the Father. Christ revealed Him, but the Father Himself remains as yet behind the scenes, inscrutable, unseen and unknown, except as He is revealed through the life of His sons, and by the revelation given peculiarly to the Occident by Jesus Christ.

As we consider these initiations, the three mentioned above stand out clearly. At the Birth in Bethlehem we have the appearance of God, God is made manifest in the flesh. At the Transfiguration we have the quality of God revealed in its transcendent beauty, whilst at the Resurrection initiation the life aspect of divinity makes its presence felt. [137]

In His earthly life, therefore, Christ did two things:

  1. He revealed the triple nature of Deity in the first, third, and fifth initiations.
  2. He demonstrated the expansions of consciousness which come when the requirements are duly met - purification and self-sacrifice.

In these five episodes the whole story of initiation is told; birth, subsequent purification in order that right manifestation of Deity may follow, revelation of the nature of God through the medium of a transfigured personality, and finally the goal - life eternal and unending because decentralized and freed from the self-imposed limitations of form.

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