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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Six - The Fifth Initiation - The Resurrection and Ascension
The question then arises as to what occurs when the sense of values is distorted or temporarily non-existent. In an attempt to meet this question millions of people have [249] accepted the Oriental doctrine of rebirth, which states the world to be the "vale of soul-making," as Keats calls it, and which teaches that we return again and again to physical life, until the time comes when our values are properly adjusted, and we can pass through the five initiations into liberation. Much of the teaching given in the occult and esoteric books is distorted and fanciful, but that there is much to be said for the doctrine of rebirth is evident to the unprejudiced student. In the last analysis, if perfection is to be ultimately achieved, the question is merely one of time and location. The Christian may believe in a sudden perfecting through the process of death itself, or in a mental acceptance of the death of Jesus, which he calls "conversion"; he may regard death as the door into a place of discipline and development which he calls "purgatory," where a purificatory process goes on; or he may believe that in heaven itself adjustments are made and expansions of consciousness are undergone which render him a different man from what he was before. The Oriental may believe that the earth provides adequate facilities for the training and developing processes, and that again and again we return, until we have reached perfection. The goal remains one. The objective is identical. The school is in a different place, and the consciousness is unfolded in varying localities. But that is all. Plato held that:

"Confined in the body as in a prison... the soul seeks its pristine sphere of pure rationality by pursuing the philosophic life, by thinking the universal, by loving and living according to reason. The bodily life is but an episode in the eternal career of the soul, which precedes birth and proceeds after death. Life in the flesh is a trial and a probation; death, the release and the return to the soul's destiny; to another term of probation, or to the realm of pure reason."

In some place, consciously and willingly, we must learn to enter and work in the world of values, and so fit ourselves for citizenship in the kingdom of God. It was the demonstration of this that Christ gave. [250]

The second thought which should be considered is that man's effort, his struggle to achieve, his sense of God, innate and true, his constant effort to better conditions and to master himself as well as the natural world, must have an objective; else all that we see going on around is void, futile and senseless. It was this command of Himself and of the elements of nature, and the undeviating direction of His purpose, that led Christ from point to point and enabled Him to open the door into the kingdom and to rise from the dead, the "first fruits of them that slept." (I Cor., XV, 20.)

Purpose must underlie pain. An objective must be sensed under all human activity. The idealism of the leaders of the race cannot all be hallucination. The realization of God must have some basis in fact. Human beings are convinced that the apparent injustice of the world provides legitimate assurance of a hereafter wherein the integrity of the divine purpose will be vindicated. There is a basic belief that good and evil are in combat in man's nature, and that good must inevitably triumph. Down the ages, man has asserted this. Humanity has evolved many theories to account for man and his future, for his preparation for the after-life, and for his reason here on earth. With the detail of these theories there is no need, or time, to deal. They are in themselves proof of the fact of immortality and of man's divinity. He has intuited the ultimate possibility, and will not rest until he has achieved it. Whether it is plurality of lives upon our planet, leading to an ultimate perfection, or the Buddhistic theory leading to Nirvana, the goal is one. This latter theory is beautifully summarized in a book dealing with the secret doctrines of the Tibetan philosophy:

"...when the Lords of Compassion shall have spiritually civilized the Earth and made of it a Heaven, there will be revealed to the Pilgrims the Endless Path, which reaches to the Heart of the Universe. Man, then no longer man, will transcend Nature, and impersonally, yet consciously, in at-one-ment with all the Enlightened [251] Ones, help to fulfil the Law of the Higher Evolution, of which Nirvana is but the beginning."
- Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, ed. by W. Y. Evans-Wentz, p. 12.

Here we have the idea of the kingdom of God appearing on earth because humanity is spiritually civilized, and the attainment of the perfection which Christ inculcated.

There is also the doctrine of eternal recurrence, in which both Nietzsche and Heine believed, with its emphasis upon a ceaseless, recurrent, earthly existence by each unit of force, until a soul has been evolved. The dreary doctrine of our survival as influences perpetuated in the race to which we belong has also been developed, emphasizing a selflessness which is admirable, but is also the negation of the individual. The orthodox Christian doctrines are three in number, and consist of the doctrine of eternal retribution, of universal restoration, and of conditional immortality. To these we must add the speculations of the Spiritualists, with their various spheres, corresponding somewhat to the subtle worlds, seven in number, of the Theosophists and the Rosicrucians; and also the extreme theory of annihilation, which does not find much response from the healthy-minded. The value of all these doctrines consists in attracting attention to the eternal interest of man in the hereafter, and his many speculations as to his future and his immortality.

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