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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Six - The Fifth Initiation - The Resurrection and Ascension
These words might have been appropriately addressed to Christ, and they serve to indicate the antiquity of the Mystery Teaching which, with unbroken continuity, has revealed the divinity in Man and shown him the Way of a Savior. But in ancient times these mysteries were enacted in [237] secret, and the rites of initiation were administered only to those who were fitted to pass through the five great experiences from the Birth to the Resurrection. The uniqueness of Christ's work lay in the fact that He was the first to enact the whole of the initiation ceremonial rites and ritual publicly, before the world at large, thus giving to humanity a demonstration of divinity centered in one person, so that all could see, could know, believe and follow in His steps.

The same stories are told of Hercules, of Baldur, of Mithra, of Bacchus, and of Osiris, to mention only a few of a large number. One of the early Church Fathers, Firmicus Maternus, tells us that the mysteries of Osiris bear a close resemblance to the Christian teaching, and that after the resurrection of Osiris his friends rejoice together, saying, "We have found him." Annie Besant points out in an illuminating passage that:

"In the Christian Mysteries - as in the ancient Egyptian, Chaldean, and others - there was an outer symbolism which expressed the stages through which the man was passing. He was brought into the chamber of Initiation, and was stretched on the ground with his arms extended, sometimes on a cross of wood, sometimes merely on the stone floor, in the posture of a crucified man. He was then touched with the thyrsus on the heart - the 'spear' of the crucifixion - and, leaving the body, he passed into the worlds beyond, the body falling into a deep trance, the death of the crucified. The body was placed in a sarcophagus of stone, and there left, carefully guarded. Meanwhile the man himself was treading first the strange obscure regions called 'the heart of the earth,' and thereafter the heavenly mount, where he put on the perfected bliss body, now fully organized as a vehicle of consciousness. In that he returned to the body of flesh, to reanimate it. The cross bearing that body, or the entranced and rigid body, if no cross had been used, was lifted out of the sarcophagus and placed on a sloping surface, facing the east, ready for the rising of the sun on the third day. At the moment that the rays of the sun touched the face, the Christ, the perfected Initiate or Master, re-entered the body, glorifying it by the bliss body He was wearing, changing the body of flesh by contact with the body of bliss, [238] giving it new properties, new powers, new capacities, transmuting it into His own likeness. That was the Resurrection of the Christ, and thereafter the body of flesh itself was changed, and took on a new nature."
- Esoteric Christianity, by Annie Besant, pp. 247, 248, 249.

Thus we find that the resurrection story is of very ancient date, and that God has always held before humanity, through the Mysteries and through His illumined Sons, the fact of immortality, as before our Christian world, through the death and resurrection of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

This whole problem of death and immortality is engrossing a great deal of public attention at this time. The World War brought the fact of death before the public consciousness in a new and arresting manner. There was scarcely a family in over twenty nations which had not been bereft by death, in some form or other. The world has passed through a process of dying, and at the present time the mystery of the Resurrection is becoming a theme of major importance in men's minds. The thought of the Resurrection is coming closer, and its significance has been the central idea of the Masonic Fraternity down the ages, forming the focal point of the work of the sublime Third Degree. In close relation to this Masonic "raising" can be placed a little-known sermon of the Buddha, in which He teaches His disciples the significance of the "five points of Friendship," and thus links up these five points, the five crises in the life of Christ and the five points in the Masonic legend. All these references serve to show the continuity of revelation of which the Resurrection (with its subsequent Ascension) was the climaxing event for the Occident.

The outstanding need of Christianity today is to emphasize the living, risen Christ. We have argued too long over the death of Christ, seeking to impose a narrow sectarian Christ upon the world. We have fed the fires of separation by our Christian divisions, churches, sects and "isms." "Their name [239] is legion," and most of them are founded upon some sectarian presentation of the dead Christ, and of the earlier aspects of His story. Let us now unite on the basis of the risen Christ - Christ alive today, Christ the source of inspiration and the founder of the kingdom of God; Christ, the cosmic Christ, eternally on the Cross, yet eternally alive; Christ, the historical Savior, the founder of Christianity, watching over His Church; Christ, the mystic, mythic Christ, portraying upon the canvas of the Gospels the episodes of unfoldment so that all who live may know and follow; and Christ, alive today in every human heart, the guarantee of, and the urge towards divinity, which humanity so constantly exhibits. Because of the presence of Christ in man, the conviction of divinity and of man's consequent immortality seem to be inherent in the human consciousness. It will inevitably occupy more and more of man's attention until it is demonstrated and proven; meanwhile that something apparently persists beyond physical death has been demonstrated. The fact of immortality has not been proven as yet, though it constitutes a basic belief in the minds of millions, and where such a belief is universally found, there must indubitably be a basis for it.

The entire question of immortality is closely linked with the problem of divinity and of the unseen, subjective world, which seems to underlie the tangible and visible, frequently making its presence felt. Working therefore on the premise of the unseen and invisible, it is probable that we shall eventually penetrate to it and discover that it has always been with us, but that we have been blinded and unable to recognize its presence. Always some have done so, and their note sounds forth, strengthening our belief, endorsing our hope, and guaranteeing to us the eventual experience.

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