essay 1 respecting life

Challenges of Birth, Life and Death – Respecting life
Chapter 10 of Mysteries and Challenges of Birth, Life and Death





The Godhead is both transcendent and immanent, i.e. He irradiates all the cosmic planes, He manifests Himself in all things, while at the same time He is outside the All-manifestation in that which cannot be known. He is therefore both the Knowable and the Unknowable, both time and eternity. If we place ourselves on this reality, it will be clear to us that they who penetrate into the gnostic mysteries, turn to the Godhead in worship, praise and thankfulness in quite a different way. […] God is everything we are or ever can be.
Thus we sink into the depths of the ocean of Divine manifestation which far exceeds any praise, thanks or worship. For is the Divine manifestation, this ocean of eternal fullness, not immeasurable itself? […]
For You are whatever I may be.
You are whatever I may do.
You are whatever I may say.
You are everything; there is nothing but You. […]
There is only deep, deep bewilderment; there is only the submergence into the ocean of the Divine manifestation in speechless veneration and inexpressible joy that it is granted to us to know this manifestation with the eyes of the inner being, just as God knows Himself.

Catharose de Petri, The Living Word, chapter 22

The universe in which we live is estimated to be some 13.8 billion years old. That is what astronomers conclude on the basis of measurements of the cosmic background radiation, carried out with satellites. The visible universe came into being with a gigantic explosion or big bang out of an extremely hot point with an almost infinite density, and thus time and space came into being. This big bang theory is generally accepted by scientists and is based on the observation of a constantly expanding universe.

The galaxy in which our solar system is located – the Milky Way – took shape about 13.4 billion years ago according to so-called beryllium dating. Approximately 4.6 billion years ago, our solar system with its planets came into being, including our earth, when an interstellar gas cloud began to shrink because of its weight and began to rotate ever faster, after which our sun was formed in the middle of this gas cloud. The chemical elements of the periodic table also developed then.

In the beginning the earth was hot, fierce and empty. The earth’s crust was formed and land masses and seas came into being. Probably some 500 million years ago, some form of extremely primitive biological life appeared. No one knows yet how that happened.

Some scientists maintain that life came to earth through meteorites. Others assume that life originated in the oceans in which it rained amino acids, resulting from chemical reactions in the primordial atmosphere due to lightning, ultraviolet radiation and the formation of volcanoes. Life could develop in this primeval soup because amino acids would combine into the macromolecule DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the most important carrier of hereditary information in all known organisms. Despite numerous efforts by researchers, no one has ever succeeded in synthesising biological life forms in a laboratory.

The history of our earth and the life forms that live on it are often represented on a geological timeline, in which several geological periods are distinguished. That is possible thanks to the work of palaeontologists who study the fossilised remains and traces of early organisms in order to reconstruct the evolution of biological life on earth. Numerous plant and animal life forms from a distant past are now completely extinct. It is difficult to establish exactly when humans came into existence on earth. The oldest known human-like beings seem to have appeared more than four million years ago, but the first representatives of our species, Homo sapiens, are dated at about 125,000 years ago.

Creation myths and awe

All of the above information is rather different from the creation story as we can read it in Genesis, the first book in the Bible, and it can fill us with wonder and awe. Albert Einstein, the most famous physicist of the twentieth century, once said: ‘If this universe with its millionfold order and precisio, were the result of blind chance, that would be just as credible as when a printing press exploded and all the letters would fall on the ground in the completed and error-free form of a dictionary’.

It would be wrong to conclude on the basis of scientific observations and theories that Genesis 1 and creation myths from other cultures are incorrect because they are really about realms other than our universe that we experience with our senses and to which the natural sciences limit themselves. Scientific theories about the origin of life forms and creation myths do not exclude each other but can complement each other, precisely because they approach the concepts of creation and evolution from different experiential worlds.

Natural science takes the world of physical matter and the physical body as its starting point, while creation myths originate in the world of the soul; that is the world of the archetypes or the world of active imagination, also referred to as the mundus imaginalis. So in addition to the science of nature, of physics, there is also a science that transcends nature: metaphysics. The concept of metaphysics comes from classical Greek philosophy and means literally: beyond physics.

Metaphysics does not examine reality as it is experienced via sensory perception but investigates the underlying essence of reality and how it is constituted. The scientist-philosopher Ervin Laszlo postulates in his book ‘The Reenchanted Universe’ that our universe is illuminated by an ensouled radiation that he calls a ‘metaversum’. That is a universe that transcends this visible universe. Plato spoke in this respect about the world soul. The gnostic Jan van Rijckenborgh expressed his respect for all that exists as follows:

’We, seekers of the hidden secret, know that system and order govern throughout the universe, which unfolds from eternity to eternity, with the aid of imperishable laws. We who, step by step, push aside the veils that separate us from the ineffable, discover the plan behind all realisa- tion. We, who investigate the relationships between the macrocosm and the microcosm, see the gransiose equilibrium between all things. […]
We, who thus increase our knowledge, widen our horizons and broaden our consciousness, filling our faculties with dynamic energy, proceed from astonishment to admiration, from deep wonder to stam- mering adoration, to service of God. […]
We bow before God’s majesty, because deep examination always re- veals God’s intervention in all realms.’

What drives a person?

Now let’s look at what drives people as we know them. In every person there is an elemental urge for the fullness of life, although it is not always fully expressed. Children and teenagers are naturally curious, they go out and investigate and have an urge to discover, to experience and to learn. Sometimes they experience at a young age a wide gap between their soul desires and the world in which they live. People in their twenties and thirties are focused mainly on shaping their life with a living space, work, with friends, study, travel, finding a life partner and starting a family. Many pursue happiness by making ‘bucket lists’ with special things they want to do, to experience and to achieve in order to make their lives worthwhile.

There may come a moment in a lifetime in which the desire to achieve outward goals declines and attention is paid to inner development. Sometimes this can be attributed to a fullness of experiences whereby the achievement of the goals pursued proved to be less attractive than was hoped. It also happens that someone deliberately starts to search inwardly in reaction to a personal crisis due to, for example, a burn-out, an accident, a disease, a divorce or a death in the immediate vicinity.

Life is a gift, but we still have to unwrap it carefully. It is meant to enable us to grow. It holds up a mirror to make an inner awakening possible. When we are not willing to see and take in what life wants to teach us, we will experience greater challenges until we take in what we have to learn. Life is like a rainbow, because to show all the colours of that glorious arc, we need both rain and sunshine.

Those who seriously focus on the mysteries of birth, life and death gradually come to a deeper understanding. From that inner knowing the desire grows to live life in such a way that the inner being, the soul, can develop. Such a person may decide to go a path of spiritual awareness and renewal in daily life. He or she is then almost im- mediately confronted with all kinds of challenges related to birth, life and death. Then, through inner perception, he will find that decisions and actions are required that will often go against the interests of the ego but are necessary to follow this chosen path.

Going a spiritual path is not without obligation. It is a way of life in which you take full responsibility for yourself and your life because you understand that your personal choices have consequences for ourselves, our environment and even for the whole world. Because on a deeper level, everything is connected with everything. That is an ancient wisdom that seems to be confirmed by multiple scientific findings, for example, in quantum physics and parapsychology. In ‘Thee Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ’ this idea is referred to as: ‘No man lives unto himself; for every living thing is bound by cords to every other living thing’ (The Aquarian Gospel 8:2).

More and more people will begin to live from this consciousness of unity, because the human system and the associated consciousness are now capable of that as a result of an unimaginably long development. If we understand that we all carry the large whole within us, and realise that our thoughts, feelings and behaviour affect the totality, we come to live our lives differently. Then we cannot but respect life and all that it entails, and we will understand the background of the so-called golden rule that Jesus formulated in the Sermon on the Mount as: ‘All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets’ (Matthew 7:12).

The golden rule

The golden rule is a universal teaching that we can recognise in many philosophies, spiritual teachings and religions, including Christianity, Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Islam and Bahai. The simplest formulation of this maxim for practical ethics, in line with the text from the Gospel of Matthew, is: Treat others as you want to be treated by them.

We find a negative formulation of the golden rule for example in the apocryphal
Hebrew Bible book of Tobit: ‘Do that to no man which thou hatest’ (Tobit 4:15).
Our circumstances as well as our consciousness constantly change. That is why it is important that we respect life and keep observing life to determine our relationship to it. The word respect is composed of ‘re’ and ‘spectare’, and means literally ‘to look again’. If we have the courage to see life from the standpoint of the soul, we free ourselves from prejudice and also from what is called is in the booklet ‘The Voice of the Silence’: the great heresy of separation.

The great heresy of separation is the cause and the root of all evil. It is the delusion that we are separated from others and entirely different from them, whereby the divine in us and in others cannot yet be liberated. When we practice compassion, we gain access to an inexhaustible force and a wisdom that knows no limits.

Then we may drink from the sources of inspiration that rise from the heart of the universe. Contemporary spiritual thinkers almost all emphasize the importance of compassion. Below are seven statements about compassion from internationally renowned spiritual authors and leaders.

  • If we want to create a viable, peaceful world, we need to integrate compassion into the gritty realities of the 21st century.
(Karen Amstrong)
  • If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want yourself to be happy, then practice compassion. (Dalai Lama)
  • Enlightened leadership is spiritual when we do not regard spirituality as a religious dogma or ideology, but as a level of awareness where we experience values such as truth, goodness, beauty, love and compassion, as well as intuition, creativity, insight and focused attention. (Deepak Chopra)
  • Compassion is the key to life beyond the border of your lower self. 
(Debbie Ford)
  • Our human compassion connects us to eachother, not in the form of pitying and patronising, but as human beings who have learned to turn our common suffering into hope for the future. (Nelson Mandela)
  • We are all made for goodness, love and compassion. Our lives and the world are transformed when we live with these truths. (Desmond Tutu)
  • The most powerful thought is ’I am just like everyone else, I am just as wounded as everyone else’ because this realisation makes you empathetic. It makes you compassionate. (Marianne Williamson) 

In September 2012 the International School of the Golden Rosycross organised a major international conference in southern France in the village of Ornolac-Ussat-les-Bain, which in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was an important centre of initiation of the Gnostic movement referred to as the Cathars since 1877, based on the Greek word ‘katharoi’ meaning ‘the pure ones’. In the large temple tent were some 2500 participants from forty countries who were asked to practice compassion from a deep inner knowing.

‘The new reality is joyful, glorious, exalted, humane. Such a new reality is brotherhood, in the deepest sense of the word. Such a reality encloses all living beings, permeates all hearts and constitutes unity. And what was formerly quoted in sacred texts as: ‘glory, glory, glory’, the new reality testifies of: ‘unity, unity, unity’.
We would like to inwardly realise together that all is one, emanating from the Creator, the One-in All, the creator mundi. That all people are one in essence, are one living creation. That everything and everyone you see around you, as well as you yourself, constitute your consciousness as you do theirs. We would like to impress upon you that all previous brotherhoods are a living reality here, are present here, fully connected with us, and that they are trying to raise our consciousness so that their radiations, their living high energies, can touch our subtle bodies.
We would dearly like everyone to experience that the life that you live now is one great miracle, one great opportunity, and that the fatigue, the worries, the fears may be perfectly real, but can also be completely overridden with that living energy, if one ray of compassion for others can penetrate into your mind and your consciousness. For compassion opens gates; it connects us with others, and thereby also with the One, the Creator, who is within you as well as in us, and of whom we are each a ray. Compassion offers you Love’s greatest gift: namely Life, the ever-innovating life, and through this the new soul no longer knows death, but only change, ascension.’

Compassion need not be limited to people in our immediate surroundings or even to humanity as a whole. It can be extended to the other kingdoms of nature as well: the mineral kingdom, the plant kingdom and the animal kingdom, and even to those who are not visible to our eyes, such as nature spirits and angels.

The German physician, theologian, philosopher and musician Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) developed a philosophy based on a mystical-religious vision, which he terms Respect for all life, and for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952. He formulated its essence as: ‘It is good to preserve life, to promote life and to bring any life that is capable of development to its highest significance. It is bad to destroy life, to detract from life or to obstruct any life that has the potential to develop’.

Elemental beings

Elemental beings, nature spirits, are etheric, astral or mental life forms with a certain awareness that have the capacity to help development on earth. They mostly belong and live in one of the four elements: earth, water, air or fire and are therefore also called elementals or nature spirits. For example, there are devas that enable and promote the growth of plants, tree spirits associated with trees, water sprites that live in water and group spirits that guide the life cycles of specific animal species. For most people, these elemental beings are not visible, but some people can feel them or even communicate with them.

It is good to know of the existence of elemental beings and to respect them, but mostly we do not have much to do with them. They belong to what we may call the earthly or horizontal dimension and as such they go their own way. If a garden is cared for with attention and love, the elementals present there will greatly appreciate this and will do their best to help things along in that garden. When trees are cut down rigorously for profit or when raw materials are extracted from the earth on a large scale, it is damaging to the these natural creatures and chances are that the balance between the different natural kingdoms is thereby greatly disturbed.

Spiritual hierarchies

In this world, plants live on minerals, animals lives on plants and other animals, and the human being uses minerals, plants and often animals for his food. In the original world, on the other hand, the higher beings offer themselves out of love for the lower. The best example of this is the life of Christ.

We may now ask ourselves to whom we should sacrifice ourselves, as members of the human kingdom. It is of course not the intention that we as self-conscious beings sacrifice our physical body. It is all about offering up our attention, love and devotion to our fellow human beings and to the realms that are above us in a hierarchical sense, to beings of the vertical dimension that have a larger field of vision and a larger action radius than we do, without neglecting our normal earthly tasks and responsibilities.

These supernatural realms are formed by the spirit-souls of the universal Brotherhood and the angels of the spiritual hierarchies that together form a living connection between the earth and the heavenly abodes. They know much more about the divine plan than we do and work diligently on its implementation. It is written about the patriarch Jacob that he observed the activity of angels in a dream: ‘And he dreamed. And behold, a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God ascending and descending on it’ (Genesis 28:12).

The theologian and mystic who became known under the name pseudo-Dionysius wrote in the fifth century the treatise ‘On the Heavenly Hierarchy’, in which he describes nine gradations of angels: seraphim, cherubim, thrones, rulers, dominions, forces, principalities, archangels and angels.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, both Rudolf Steiner and Max Heindel wrote more about this spiritual hierarchy, based on their own psychical research and declared that humanity is destined to become the tenth hierarchy in this line (see image 13). We may regard all participants in the spiritual hierarchy as concrete manifestations of God, although they are not visible to our eyes. If we build a personal relationship with God, it is actually a relationship with His representatives of the spiritual hierarchy.

The universal Brotherhood and the angelic hosts need people on earth to help with the tasks that they have taken on to realise God’s plan. Earthly man who has advanced spiritually through many experiences and through the activity of the eternity-principle within him, the spirit-spark in the heart, will receive the as- signment to prepare himself to be part of the divine hierarchy so that creation can be completed. The apostle Paul writes in this connection: ‘For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God’ (Romans 8:19).

How can we become children of God and thus join in the tenth hierarchy? By going an authentic spiritual path in self-authority. It is a path of spiritual awareness and renewal. Since every person is unique and has to give shape to his own life, it makes little sense to formulate strict rules for such a path of development. We have to make conscious choices ourselves based on an ever-expanding inner understanding.

The nine essays in this second section of this book are in line with the nine reflections in the first half, in which the Gnostic Christian way is explained with excerpts from the Bible. These essays are intended primarily to promote inner awareness and, in this way, provide a spiritual context for the many practical issues that arise in life, like birth, aging, dying, consciousness, relationships, happiness and deception.

Purification and cleansing

After inwardly being touched, the spiritual path begins with clearing the barriers that hinder it. These consist of some necessary purifications and cleansing of which we may become aware by asking ourselves the following questions:

  1. Is what I take in the form of food and drink good for me in this respect?
  2. With which people do I surround myself, in what spheres do I move and in what way?
  3. Are my ambitions and desires in accordance with the spiritual way?
  4. What are my thoughts, feelings and behaviour with regard to all living beings?
  5. How do I spend my energy, time and attention?
  6. Am I willing to give up my truths of today for the higher truths 
of tomorrow?
  7. Does that what I think, feel and want, contribute to my inner 

In the gospels, this striving for purity is symbolised by the figure of John the Baptist, a kinsman and contemporary of Jesus. Whoever wants to go the path of spiritual development must therefore become as John the Baptist. According to The Aquarian Gospel, the young John was trained from his seventh year for his future as a prophet by the hermit Matheno, an Egyptian priest and master of the temple in Sahara. We conclude this essay with a text in which Matheno prepares his student John for the fulfilment of his assignment.

‘When John was twelve years old his mother died, and neighbors laid her body in a tomb among her kindred in the Hebron burying ground, and near to Zacharias’ tomb. And John was deeply grieved; he wept. Matheno said: ‘It is not well to weep because of death. Death is no enemy of man; it is a friend who, when the work of life is done, just cuts the cord that binds the human boat to earth, that it may sail on smoother seas.
No language can describe a mother’s worth, and yours was tried and true. But she was not called hence until her tasks were done. The call of death is always for the best, for we are solving problems there as well as here; and one is sure to find himself where he can solve his problems best. It is but selfishness that makes one wish to call again to earth departed souls. Then let your mother rest in peace and let her noble life be strength and inspiration unto you. […]
Your mission here is that of harbinger; for you will go before Messiah’s face to pave his way, and make the people ready to receive their king. This readiness is purity of heart; none but the pure in heart can recognise the king. To teach men to be pure in heart, you must yourself be pure in heart, and word, and deed. In infancy the vow for you was made and you became a Nazarite. The razor shall not touch your face nor head, and you shall taste not wine nor fiery drinks.
Men need a pattern for their lives; they love to follow, not to lead. The man who stands upon the corners of the paths and points the way, but does not go, is just a pointer; and a block of wood can do the same. The teacher treads the way; on every span of ground he leaves his footprints clearly cut, which all can see and be assured that he, their master went that way’ (The Aquarian Gospel 15:1-16).