NOTES ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN
[Lucifer, Vol. XI, No. 66, February, 1893, pp. 449-456]
[The following notes formed the basis of discussion at the meetings of the Blavatsky Lodge, in October, 1889. They were prepared by myself before the meetings, mostly from notes taken down from H.P.B. As it is impossible to throw the matter into any precise form, the notes must stand simply as hints for students, and especially as a useful example of H.P.B.’s method of interpretation.—G. R. S. Mead.]
The preliminary paper deals mainly with the translation of the opening verses of the original text, as we have it, pointing out difficulties and the liberty of translation that can be used without violating the Greek. It will be of interest even to those who do not understand the original language as showing the danger of relying on the received translation, or in fact any translation, without a copious commentary. Moreover, when it is understood that such great difficulties present themselves even when the original scripture is in Greek, it will be easily seen that a translation of the Hebrew
texts, from a language essentially occult and open to infinite permutation of meaning, is fraught with far greater difficulty.
The original texts of the Jewish Scriptures were written without vowel points, and each school had its own tradition as to which points should be used. Why, therefore, the pointing of one particular school, the Masoretic, should be insisted on to the exclusion of all others, passes the comprehension of any but the orthodox bibliolater.
From this point of view, then, the preliminary paper may not be without interest.*
1. In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was and the Logos was .
In the very first verse a grave difficulty presents itself: viz., the right interpretation of the curious complement In the Vulgate it is translated apud Deum, “with God”—not “together with God,” which would be cum Deo, but in the sense of “at,” “by.” But does apud render the Greek ? Apud is a preposition denoting rest; l, with the accusative, denotes fundamentally motion— versus, adversus, presenting in fact an idea of hostility, and metaphorically of comparison. To translate therefore, by “with God” is decidedly unwarranted by the ordinary meaning of the word.
All that can be said, then, from the text, as it stands, is that something is predicated on the Logos with respect to God, and that this predication differs considerably from the following: viz., that "The Logos was God." It leaves us, therefore, free to assign a philosophical interpretation to the phrase. Notice that the article is used in one phrase with and omitted in the other. The Logos was God or Divinity; that is to say, that the First or Unmanifested Logos is essentially the same as Parabrahman. But once the first
* [Though unsigned, these opening paragraphs are very probably from the pen of G. R. S. Mead.—Compiler.]
potential Point appears, there is then this Point and the rest, viz.,and l—and their relation one to the other, stated in the sentence, “The Logos was
The phrase occurs again in Romans (v, 1) “We have peace with God” (). .
2. The latter (the Logos) was, in the beginning
Why is this repeated? Does it mean that at the first “flutter of manvantaric dawn” there was the Logos and Mûlaprakriti?
But here a doubt arises: does mean “beginning”? We know that great controversy has arisen concerning the interpretation of the first verse of Genesis, and though the Orthodox translate by “in the beginning,” the Targum of Jerusalem renders berêshîth as “in wisdom.”
Now has been shown by Godfrey Higgins in his Anacalypsis, by Inman and a host of other writers of the same school, to be the same as argha, ark, argo, the ship of Jason in which he sailed to find the “golden fleece” (Apollonius Rhodius), and, therefore, is the same as the Jagad-yoni, the “womb of the universe,” or rather the material cause or kârana thereof, according to the Paurânik commentators,* but according to the Esoteric Philosophy the ideal spirit of that cause. It is the Svabhavat of the Buddhists and the Mûlaprakriti of the Vedântin philosophers.
If this is so, we shall have to seek a new interpretation.
The First Logos was in Mûlaprakriti. The Point within the Circle of Space, “whose centre is everywhere and circumference nowhere.”
So far, so good. But what is the distinction between and ? Which is the superior term; can either be said to be identical with Parabrahman?
Does it mean that in Pralaya the Logos is concerned with or united with Parabrahman alone, in fact, is one with It?
If so, verse 2 would mean that the Logos, when differentiation has not yet taken place, is pure spirit, and concerned only with the things of spirit.
* The Secret Doctrine, I, 46.
If, however, this is the meaning, it is difficult to understand why the article is omitted before
3. All things are wont to be (or exist) through it (viz., the Logos), and without it not one single thing which is (or is wont to come) comes into being.
“all things,” is to be distinguished from (cosmos) in the 10th verse.
Now is used by the philosophers to mean the organized universe in contradistinction to the indigesta moles or Chaos. It will be, moreover, clearly seen that verse 10 refers to a later stage of emanation or evolution than verse 3. Therefore, it does not seem too bold to translate as “all manifestation,” that is to say, all universes and systems.
There is nothing to warrant the translation, “all things were made by him.” The verb does not mean “to make” but “to become.” It is rare to find —used in the sense of an agent or instrument—in the sense of “by.” The fundamental idea is “through,” whether of place or time. Metaphorically, it is used in a causal sense, and in later prose, of the material out of which a thing is made. So that even if the creative idea were adopted, it would show that all things were made “through” or “out of” the Logos.
Comparing these first three verses with the first chapter of Genesis, we notice an entire omission of the Void or Chaos, this is an additional reason why the word should be carefully considered.
4. In it (the Logos) was Life, and the Life was the Light of men.
(life) differs from (objective manifestation) in that it is in (or inherent in) the Logos, and is not emanated through it. It may, therefore, be taken as a power of the Logos. Now the Logos of the 3rd verse is not the same as the Logos of the 1st. Essentially or in eternity, of course, they are the same, but in time in a different stage of emanation. In The Secret Doctrine this Logos is called the Second or Third Logos, the “luminous sons of manvantaric dawn,” or the “builders”—a septenary hierarchy.
Is, then, this potency of the Third Logos Fohat? And if so, is (Light) Buddhi or Manas?
That which I say to you in Darkness (), speak in Light (), and what ye hear “mouth to ear,” preach on the housetops. Matt. x, 27.
Wherefore, whatsoever ye said in Darkness () shall be heard in Light (), and that which ye have sounded into the ear in the crypts (closets, secret chambers) shall be preached on the housetops.—Luke xii, 3.
In these passages (darkness) is evidently used in a metaphorical sense, and indeed it is a rare and late word, and very seldom applied to physical darkness; (darkness), therefore, refers to esoteric, and (light) to exoteric teachings: the relation between the two ideas is the same by analogy as between the and in John.
(closet), a strange word, used in Pistis-Sophia for the different divisions of Kama Loka, in the Great Serpent or Astral Light.
“That which ye have sounded () into the ear.” Now (to babble) does not mean to speak in the ordinary way, as translated in the orthodox version: is always distinguished from , and is very often used of music, nature sounds, and singing. Those who have read about Gnostic invocations and mystery names, mantrams, etc., will understand this meaning.
The word (used in Ephes. v, 8; Luke xxii, 53; Matt. viii, 12; 2 Peter ii, 17) in every case has a mystic meaning, the enquiry into which, though of great interest, would take us too far from the present subject. We should, however, be on our guard against seeking to support the meaning of any word in the New Testament by a citation of the same from other passages and books. The New Testament is not unity; it is as useless to try to reconcile the meanings of particular words out of their contexts or stereotype a special meaning, as to take the word buddhi and claim for it the same meaning in the Esoteric, Sankhya, Yoga, Buddhist, or other schools of Hindu philosophy.
5. And the Light shineth in the Darkness, and the Darkness did not comprehend it.
In The Secret Doctrine this Darkness is taken as synonymous with pure spirit, and Light as typifying matter.
Darkness in its radical, metaphysical basis, is subjective and absolute Light: while the latter, in all its seeming effulgence and glory, is merely a mass of shadows, as it can never be eternal, and is simply an illusion, or Maya.*
Are “Light” and “Darkness” in this verse, used in the same sense? Or does it mean that this “Life” which is a potency of the Logos, is regarded by men as “Light,” whereas that which is higher than the “light,” viz., the Logos (or to them “Darkness”), is the real “Light”? “Darkness comprehended it not,” then, means that absolute spirit did not comprehend or understand this illusive “Light.”
6. There was a man sent divinely (, no article) whose name was John.
7. He came for bearing witness in order that he might testify concerning the Light, in order that all might have confidence through it.
If this “Light” is to be taken as identical with the Christ-spirit, it will be Buddhi; but if is Manas, the difficulty may be avoided by taking to mean Buddhi-Manas.
8. He was not the Light, but was for a witness concerning the Light.
9. The Light was the true (real) Light which illuminates every man (human being) coming into the world.
1. In the beginning ( Mûlaprakriti) was the Word (Third Logos), and the Word was with God (; Second Logos), and the Word was God (First Logos).
Yet all the three Logoi are one.
* The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 70.
2. This Logos (the essence of the Logoi) was in the beginning (in Mûlaprakriti) identical with Parabrahman.
There is evidently a great difference between the phrase when predicated of the Logos as a unity and the same when predicated of its second aspect, as in verse 1.
3. The 3rd verse refers to the Third or Creative Logos.
All things came into existence through it, viz., the third aspect of the Logos, and the source of their existence, or the things themselves, were the two superior aspects of the Essence.
4. In it, the Logos as a unity, was Life, and the Life was the Light of “men” (viz., the initiates; for the profane are called “shades [chhâyâs] and images”).
This Light () is Atma-Buddhi, of which Kundalini, or the sacred fire, is a Siddhi or power; it is the serpentine or spiral force, which if misused can kill.
5. And the Light of Life, as one Essence, shineth in Darkness and the Darkness comprehended it not.
Neither does this Essence of the Logos comprehend Parabrahman, nor does Parabrahman comprehend the Essence. They are not on the same plane, so to speak.
6. There was a man, an initiate, sent of the spirit, whose name was John.
John, Oannes, Dagon, Vishnu, the personified microcosm. The name may be taken in its mystic significance; that is to say, this man personifies the power of the mystery name, “Ioannes.”
7. He came to bear witness concerning the Light that all might be strengthened through it.
In the same way Krishna, the Avatâra of Vishnu in the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, says that he has come to be a witness.
8. He was not the Light, but came to bear witness concerning the Light.
9. This Light is the One Reality which illuminates every man that cometh into the world.
That is to say, we all have a spark of the Divine Essence within us.
10. The next two verses represent the descent of Spirit into Matter, the 10th repeating the 3rd on a lower plane.
Moreover, the light directly it descends into the Cosmos, is anthropomorphized.
He (viz., the Light) was in the Cosmos, and the Cosmos came into being through him, and the Cosmos knew him not.
11. He came unto his own (that is to say, into the lower principles or lower man, or generally mankind— , a neuter term) and his own (masculine) received him not.
The first part of the verse is from the abstract or impersonal standpoint, the latter from the personal standpoint. The principles and their powers become individualized.
12. But as many as received him (Atma-Buddhi) to them he gave power to become Children of God (initiates), viz., to those who have confidence in his name.
This is the septenary name, or sound, the Oeaohoo of The Secret Doctrine and the of the Pistis Sophia. It is strange that the Latin words nomen (name) and numen (deity or divinity) so resemble one another.
13. Who are born (iterative aorist) not from “bloods,” nor of the will of the flesh, nor from the will of the male, but of God.
The term “bloods,” a strange use of the plural, is the same as “lives” in The Secret Doctrine; they are elemental centres of force, the microcosmic aspect of the macrocosmic Tattvas; the “Sweat-born” who were not “Will-born,” but rather, born unconsciously.
Those “born of the will of the flesh” are the androgynous “Egg-born” of The Secret Doctrine, born through Kriyâśakti, by “Will-power.”
Those “born of the will of the male”—not man, are men born in the usual manner after the separation of the sexes.
Whereas the term “those born of God,” the Sons of God, refers to the “Second Birth.”
14. So the Logos became flesh (was incarnated) and dwelt (lit., tabernacled itself) in us (that is to say was clothed in a body, or bodies). And we saw his appearance (not glory except in the sense of shekhinah or veil), the
appearance as of the only-begotten son of the Father full of grace and truth.
The word which is translated by glory, is nowhere found with this meaning in Greek.
Plato uses in the sense of opinion, as distinguished from , knowledge, and Aeschylus (Choëphorae, 1053) employs it to denote a vision.
The “Father” in this verse means the Svabhavat, Father-Mother. The Svabhavat of the Buddhists, the Father-Mother (a compound word) of The Secret Doctrine and the Mûlaprakriti of the Vedântins, Mûlaprakriti is not Parabrahman, although, so to speak, contemporaneous with it. It may perhaps be defined as the cognizable aspect of it.*
This first-born is the Sanskrit aja, the Greek or lamb. Lambs, sheep and goats were sacrificed to Kâlî, the lower aspect of Âkâsa or the Astral Light. The “only begotten Son” was sacrificed to the Father; that is to say, that the spiritual part of man is sacrificed to the astral.
Grace () is a difficult word to translate. It corresponds to the higher aspect of Âkâsa. The two aspects are as follows:
Spiritual Plane: Âlaya (Soul of Universe); Âkâsa.
Psychic Plane: Prakriti (Matter or Nature); Astral Light or Serpent.
15. John bears witness concerning him and cries saying: He it was of whom I spake: who coming after me was before me: for he was before me (, curious).
That is to say, that from the point of view of a disciple the divine principle Âtma-Buddhi is later in respect of time, for union therewith is not attained till the end of the Path is reached. Yet this spark of the divine Fire was before the personality of the neophyte, for it is eternal and in all men, though not manifested.
We, therefore, have Oannes as the representative of Vishnu; the man who becomes an adept through his own exertions, a Jîvanmukta. This typical personage, an individual representing a class, speaks in space and time; whereas the One Wisdom is in Eternity and therefore “first.”
* Cf. The Secret Doctrine, I, 10, note.
16. And of the Fullness () thereof we all received, and favour for favour.
The (Plêrôma or Plenum) must be distinguished from Mûlaprakriti.
The Plerôma is infinite manifestation in manifestation, the Jagad Yoni or Golden Egg: Mûlaprakriti is an abstraction, the Root of the Jagad Yoni, the Womb of the Universe, or the Egg of Brahmâ.
The Plerôma is, therefore, Chaos. “Favour for favour” means that what we receive we give back, atom for atom, service for service.
17. The meaning of verse 16 depends on verse 17.
For the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth was through Jesus Christ.
The external illusion or “Eye Doctrine” through Moses; the reality or “Heart Doctrine” through the divine Spirit Atma-Buddhi.
18. No man has seen God (Parabrahman) at any time.
No, not even the First Logos who, as stated in the Lectures on the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, by T. Subba Row, can only behold its veil, Mûlaprakriti.
The only-begotten Son, the Logos, who is in the bosom of the Father, in Parabrahman, he has declared him (shown him in manifestation, but not seen him).
[Lucifer, Vol. XII, No. 67, March, 1893, pp. 20-30]
19. And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
This verse relates to the great dissension between the Kabbalists or Initiates of pre-Christian Judaea, and the Synagogue, and was a continuation of the struggle between the Prophets and Priests.
John in this context, therefore, signifies Joannes or Wisdom, the Secret Word or voice, Bath Kol, which the Jews called the Voice of God or Daughter of God. It is in truth the Voice of Wisdom. In the present context, however, we have only an echo of the tradition.
20. And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
That is to say, I am not the glorified Christos.
21. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
The root of the name Elias in Hebrew and Coptic has the meaning of Buddhi. It is a pun on Buddhi. The meaning conveyed is that of the principles Manas and Buddhi without Atma. It is not the same as the Christos, the anointed by Alaya.
“That prophet,” or rather “the prophet,” is the higher Manas.
John speaking as a man, the Lower Manas, did not speak as one of the three higher “principles,” Âtma (the Absolute), Buddhi (the Spiritual), and the Higher Manas or Mind.
With regard to the idea that John was the reincarnation of Elias it is interesting to quote a remarkable passage from Pistis-Sophia. The “Living Jesus,” the “First Mystery,” or King Initiate speaks as follows:
It came to pass, when I had come into the midst of the Rulers of the Aeons, having looked from above into the World of men, I found Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, before she had conceived him. I planted the Power in her, which I had received from the Little IAÔ, the Good, who is in the Midst,* that he should preach before me, and prepare my way, and baptize with water the remission of sins. This Power then is† in the body of John. Moreover, in the Place of the Soul of the Rulers, appointed to receive it, I found the Soul of the prophet Elias in the Aeons of the Sphere, and I took him, and receiving his Soul also, brought it to the Virgin of light, and she gave it to her Receivers, who led it to the Sphere of the rulers and carried it into the womb of Elizabeth. So the Power of the Little IAÔ, the Good, which
* This is to say, that the Power planted is the reflection of the Higher Ego, or the Lower Kama-Manas.
† Notice the tense, the orthodox John being dead years before.
is in the Midst, and the Soul of the prophet Elias, are bound together in the body of John the Baptist.
For which cause, therefore, did ye doubt at that time, when I said unto you: John said, “I am the Christ”; and ye said unto me: “It is written in the Scriptures, if the Christ come, Elias comes before him, and will prepare his way.” And I replied: “Elias, indeed, is come, and has prepared all things according as it was written; and they have done unto him whatsoever they would.” And when I perceived that you did not understand those things which I spake to you concerning the Soul of Elias, as bound in John the Baptist; I then answered openly and face to face: “If ye will receive it, John the Baptist is that Elias, who,” I said, “was coming.” *
Elizabeth, in the above, is the personified female Power, or Sakti.
23. He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
I am the Voice of Wisdom (cf. 19) crying in the wilderness of Matter: Purify the Antaskarana (“Internal Organ” or Astral Man), the Path that leads from the Lower to the Higher Man.
Antaskarana is the Lower Manas, the Path of Communication or communion between the personality and the Higher Manas or Human Soul. At death it is destroyed as a Path or Medium of communication, and its remains survive in a form as the Kâma Rûpa—the “shell.” †
25. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
“What baptizest thou?” rather than, “Why baptizest thou?”
In the Pistis-Sophia many baptisms, seals and symbols, or passwords, are mentioned. They all typify grades of Initiation, but there are two main divisions—the Little and Great Mysteries.
(1) The Little Mysteries (e.g., the Eleusinian).
(a) Those relating to the Jîva or Prâna, the Life-principle;
* [Cf. Lucifer. Vol. VI, April, 1890, p. 113, G.R.S. Mead’s translation of the Pistis-Sophia.—Compiler.]
† The Voice of the Silence, p. 88.
teachings relating to the animal side of man, because Prâna is concerned with all the functions of nature.
(b) Those relating to the Astral.
(c) Those relating to the Kâma and Lower Manas.
(2) The Great Mysteries.
Relating to the Higher Manas, Buddhi and Âtma.
26. John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not.
The baptism with water typifies the Terrestrial Mary, or the Astral.
“Whom ye know not”—because it is the inner and higher “principle,” Christos.
27. He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
A repetition of verse 15, referring to the mystery of the Higher and Lower man, Âtma-Buddhi and the Lower Manas.
“Whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose”—that is to say, even the lowest of the Great Mysteries, those of the Spiritual Man, I, John, the Lower Man, am not worthy to reveal; such is the penalty of the “fall into generation.”
28. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing
Most probably a blind, unless we enquire into the mystic meaning of the words Bethabara and Jordan: to do this, it is necessary to have the original texts, for the change of even one letter is important.
29. The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
“Behold Jesus”; Jesus or Issi means Life, and therefore typifies a living man. The Lamb of God is the Aja, previously spoken of—the Logos.
“Which taketh away the sin of the world“—by the lower Initiation, Prâna, or the Life-principle, is so purified that the Candidate becomes worthy of receiving the higher Initiation of the Lamb or Aja, which removes the sin of the Lower Man.
The name Jes-us is from the Hebrew word Aish, “man.” Jes (in Greek Ies, Jes, the Hebrew ) means several things, such as Fire, the Sun, a God or Deity, and also Man. It is so in the writings of the pre-Masoretic schools, and the latter on coming into use corroborated the true original pronunciation. Man became written , Ish, and Jes, whose feminine form was , is-a, or “woman,” also the hermaphrodite Eve before the birth of Cain, as shown in the Chaldean Book of Numbers, the Egyptian Isis. So poor was the Hebrew language, especially before the settled pronunciation of the words by the Masoretic vowels—that almost every word and name in the Bible is liable to be made into a pun. Isi, or Issi, is also Jesse, David’s father, from whom the concoctors of the New Testament tried to make Jesus descend. Now the Gnostics had also a nickname for their ideal Jesus—or the man in the Chrêst condition, the Neophyte on trial, and this nickname was Ichthus, the “fish.”
With this fish, with the waters in general, and, for the Christians, with the Jordan waters in particular, the whole program of the ancient Mystery-Initiation is connected. The whole of the New Testament is an allegorical representation of the Cycle of Initiation, i.e., the natural birth of man in sin or flesh, and of his second or spiritual birth as an Initiate followed by his resurrection after three days of trance—a mode of purification—during which time his human body or Astral was in Hades or Hell, which is the earth, and his divine Ego in Heaven or the realm of truth. The New Testament describes unselfish white or divine magic; the Old Testament gives the description of black, or selfish magic. The latter is psychism, the former all spirituality.
Now the name of Jordan, according to Hebrew scholars, is derived from the Hebrew Jar-ed, to flow down or descend; add to the word Jared the letter n (in Hebrew nun) and you have fish-river. And Jar-Dan-Jar, “flowing river,” and Dan the name of the tribe of Dan—means the “river of Dan,” or judgement. Jesus, the man and the neophyte, is born of Mary, Mar, the waters, or the sea, as every other man is born; this is his first birth. At his second birth he enters and stands in the river Dan, or fish; and at the death of his body of flesh
(the body of sin) he enters the river Styx, which river is in Hades, or Hell, the place of judgement, whither Jesus is said to have descended after death. For the zodiacal sign of the tribe of Dan was Scorpio, as all know; and Scorpio is the sign of the female procreative principle, the matrix, and even geographically the heirloom of the tribe of Dan was the place of Dan, which included that of the springs or sources of Jordan, whose waters flowed out of the bowels of the earth. As the Styx with the Greeks, which, during the mystery trial by water, played a like part in the crypts of the temples, so the whale or fish that swallowed Jonah in the Old Testament, and Jordan that immersed Jesus in the New—all of these great “deeps” and small “deeps,” the interior of fish, waters, etc., all typified the same thing. They signified entering into conditions of existence by death, which became a new birth. As Jonah, the Initiate of the Old Testament, enters the womb of the whale (Phallic Initiation), so Jesus, the man, entering the water (the type of the spiritual womb of his second birth) enters Jar-Dan, the river of Dan, the tribe which astronomically was in Scorpio (the “gates of woman,” or the matrix). Emerging from it, he became Christos, the glorified Initiate, or the divine and sexless androgyne. So also, Jonah, upon emerging, became the “Lord,” with the Jews Jah-hovah; thus preceding Jes-us, the new life. The Jesus of the New Testament becomes the anointed by the Spirit, symbolized by the Dove. For John, Oannes, or Jonah, or the Whale-Fish, the emblem of the terrestrial world of the Old Dispensation, is transformed into the Dove, over the waters, the emblem of the Spiritual World. As said by Nigidius:
The Syrians and Phoenicians assert that a dove sat several days in Euphrates [one of the four rivers in Eden] on the egg of a fish, whence their Venus was born.*
Venus is but the female form of Lucifer, the planet; and the bright Morning Star is Christos, the Glorified Ego—Buddhi-Manas. As said in Revelation xxii, 16: “I Jesus . . .
* C. F. Volney, Ruins, or a Survey of the Revolution of Empires, 2nd English ed., 1795, p. 391, Notes.
am . . . the bright and morning star”—Phosphoros or Lucifer.
There is one thing worth remembering. If you read the Bible you will find all the names of the Patriarchs and Prophets and other prominent characters that begin with the letter J (or I), such as, Jubal Cain, Jared, Jacob, Joseph, Joshua, Jesse, Jonah, John, Jesus, all were meant to depict (a) a series of reincarnations on the terrestrial or physical plane, as their legends show in the biblical narratives; and (b) all typified the Mysteries of Initiation, its trials, triumphs, and birth to Light, first terrestrial, then psychic, and finally Spiritual Light, every particular being made to fit in with the various details of the ceremony and its results.
30. Repetition of verses 15 and 27 (three times).
31. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
“I” as a personality; or those initiated into the Lower Mysteries only.
“Israel” is a “blind,” but here must be taken to mean those who wish to enter the Path.
32. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
The Dove in symbology has many meanings; it here typifies the Erôs (Love) or Charity.
33. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
And I, the terrestrial man, knew him not, but my Buddhic principle, which sent me to initiate into the lower Mysteries, recognized the sign. I, the terrestrial man, knew not, but Elias and the Prophet and Christos knew.
This Dove descending and remaining upon man, that is to say, this Purified Love, Charity, or Compassion descending on the Initiate, helps him to unite himself with the Holy Ghost or Âtma.
On the terrestrial plane, it means, that by the “Dove,” the Cloud or Aura, an Initiate is recognized by his fellows.
34-38. Narrative, and therefore a “blind.”
39. He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.
The two disciples symbolize two Neophytes near the end of their trials, and the abiding with the Master, or Higher Self, is being in the Christos-Spirit.
The tenth hour signifies the period before the last of the great trials. Compare the labours of Hercules.
42. Cf. Isis Unveiled, II, 29 and 91.
46. Out of Nazareth, i.e., from the Sect of the Nazars.
51. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
Thou shalt see the Higher descend on the Lower, and gain illumination and know greater wonders than the simple power of clairvoyance.
The first eleven verses in the second chapter contain the allegorical representation of the last and final Initiation; herein we find mention of all the divine and human “principles” veiled in allegorical language, and personified, and of the purification wrought in them by Initiation; the incident ends abruptly and mysteriously, so much so, that we have reason to suspect that more was originally added. A very superficial knowledge of the laws of esoteric allegory shows it to be so.
The main point of the allegory is the turning of “Water” (the Astral) into “Wine,” or Matter into Spirit.
1. And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there.
In all the Mysteries, after the four days of trial or temptation, came the three days of descent into Hades, or the tomb, from which the Glorified Candidate, or Initiate, arose.
“On the third day,” therefore, means that the time for the final Initiation had come, when Jesus, or the Neophyte, would become Christ, or the Initiate; that is, at one with Buddhi or the Christ-principle.*
(With reference to the 4 days mentioned above, it is interesting to note that Jesus is said to have been tempted for 40 days. Here the nought is a “blind,” for in mystery-numbers ciphers can be disregarded and changed according to the rules of the method employed.)
“There was a marriage in Cana”—that is to say, that the Disciple was joined to his Higher Self, the marriage of the Adept with Sophia, Divine Wisdom, or the Marriage of the Lamb, in Cana.
Now Cana or Khana is from a root which conveys the idea of a place consecrated or set apart for a certain purpose. Khanak is the “royal abode,” or “the place of the ruler,” with the Arabs. Cf. Devakhan, the place consecrated to the Devas, i.e., a state of such bliss as Devas or Angels are supposed to enjoy.†
“And the Mother of Jesus was there,” this means that the Candidate was there in Body, or at least the lower “principles” were present; for from this aspect the “Mother of Jesus” is especially the Kâma-rûpic “principle,” that is to say, the vehicle of material human desires, the giver of life, etc. This must not be confounded with the higher aspect, Buddhi the “Mother of Christ,” the so-called Spiritual Soul. The distinction is the same as that between Sophia-the-Divine, and Sophia-Akhamoth, the Terrestro-Astral.
* N.B.—In diagrams where the principles are symbolically represented by a triangle superimposed on a square, it should be remarked that after the “second birth” the “principles” have to be re-arranged.
† [This error occurs in more than one place and should be corrected. Devachan is a Tibetan word; when transliterated from Tibetan characters, it would be bde-ba-chan, meaning a sphere or realm or state of unalloyed happiness. It is a term analogous to the Sanskrit word Sukhâvati. The Sanskrit word deva does not enter into the composition of this Tibetan term.––Compiler.]
2. And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage
That is to say, the Higher Manas or Ego (not Self) which was now dominant in the Candidate, and his disciples* or lower principles were present as necessary to the purification of the whole Man.
3. And when they wanted wine the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
The mother of Jesus here signifies his now purified desire aspiring upwards. The verse means that the human material passions of the lower self, the guests at the festival, must be made drunk or paralyzed, before the “bridegroom” can be married. It is the lower Manas (Sophia-Akhamoth), that says to Jesus, “They have no wine,” that is to say, the lower “principles” are not yet spiritualized, and therefore not ready to participate in the feast.
4. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
Woman (Matter or Water, the lower quaternary), what hath the Spirit-Ego to do with thee at this hour? There is no unity as yet between me and thee, my hour of Initiation is not yet come, I have not yet made myself one with Buddhi, my Supernal Mother, when I shall be able to associate with thee without any danger.
5. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
The servants are the lower “principles,” their thoughts, instincts and passions, the Lhamayin, or elementals and evil spirits, adverse to men and their enemies.†
6. And there were set there six waterpots of stone after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
The six waterpots typify the six principles, the seven without Âtma, the seventh or universal principle—six from the earthly standpoint including the body. These are the con
* The 12 “disciples” are the 3 aspects of the 4 lower principles, the ) reflected in the .
† Cf. The Voice of the Silence, note 17 to Part III.
containing principles from Akâsa to the Astral; also the four lower principles (the others being latent) filled with Astral Water. The Lower Manas sports in the Astral waves.
7. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
In the Lesser Mysteries all the powers of the four lower planes were brought to bear on the Candidate to test him.
The six waterpots were filled with Water—the symbol of Matter—that is to say, that during the Neophyte’s trials and temptations before Initiation, his human passions being made full to the brim, he had to conquer them or fail. Jesus, the Higher Manas, in changing that Water into Wine, or Divine Spirit, conquers and is thus filled with the Wisdom of the Gods. (See ch. xv, “I am the true vine,” etc.) Lustral water was given to the Neophyte to drink and turned into Wine at the last moment; in India it was turned into the Soma juice, the Water of Life Eternal.
8. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
The “governor of the feast” was the chief official who had the direction of the feast and servants and the duty of tasting the food and drink. Here it typifies the conclave of Initiates who do not know whether the Candidate will succeed or fail, and who have to test him. This explains the sentence in the next verse, “he knew not whence it came,” that is, did not know until the Candidate had been fully tested.
9. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom.
The servants, or lower “principles,” and the lower powers that had been subjected to the purified will of the Christ-man, knew that the great change was accomplished and that the lower “principles” were purified and spiritualized.
The “bridegroom” is, of course, the Candidate, who is to be married to his Higher or Divine Self, and so become a Son of God.
It is curious and interesting to remark in the ancient cosmogonies, especially in the Egyptian and the Indian, how
perplexing and intricate are the relationships of the Gods and Goddesses. The same Goddess is mother, sister, daughter and wife to a God. This most puzzling allegory is no freak of the imagination, but an effort to explain in allegorical language the relation of the “principles,” or, rather, the various aspects of the one “principle.” Thus we may say that Buddhi (the vehicle of Âtma) is its wife, and the mother, daughter, and sister of the Higher Manas, or rather Manas in its connection with Buddhi, which is for convenience called the Higher Manas. Without Buddhi, Manas would be no better than animal instinct, therefore she is its mother; and she is its daughter, child or progeny, because without the conception which is only possible through Manas, Buddhi, the Spiritual Power, or Sakti, would be inconceivable and unknowable.
10. And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
“At the beginning”means when the Mânasa-putra first incarnated.
Every candidate as he progresses needs less and less good Wine, or Spirit, for he becomes that Spirit himself as his powers and knowledge increase the new-won strength. At the entrance of the Path “good wine,” or the spiritual impetus, is given, but as the disciple mounts the ladder such help is no longer needed, for he tends ever more and more to become All-Spirit.
14. And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting.
This represents the attitude of the Initiate to exoteric religion and his work after he has attained the victory. The "temple" here signifies all externals, exoteric creeds, or bodies of flesh.
“Oxen” typify material things, the physical man. In all symbology, the bull has the significance of bodily strength and generative power. “Sheep” typify the passions and desires which are subdued and tamed, and “Doves” spiritual
aspirations. The “money changers” are those who traffic in spiritual things, the money-seeking priesthood.
15. And when he had made a scourge of small cords [symbolizing that which binds the passions], he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables.
“The “scourge,” which appears so often on the Egyptian monuments and cartouches, signifies the means whereby the passions and lower nature are tamed. The noose of Siva has the same signification, symbolizing that whereby the passions, desires and fears are bound together, tamed and subdued.
16. And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandize.
Those “that sold doves” are the traffickers in spiritual knowledge. “My Father’s house” is the human body which is the temple of God, that which should be naturally the temple of the Holy Ghost.
17. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
The domination of the lower man had devoured the higher.
18. Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?
By what authority do you endeavour to reform the popular religion, what right have you?
19. Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
That is to say, that he had passed through Initiation, and had died to his old life, and risen again from the “dead” in a “new birth.”
20. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
Wilt thou with the three Fires do more, then, than with the forty-six?—There are in all forty-nine Fires, 7 x 7.