Reflection 1

Mysteries of Birth, Life and Death week 1

Reflection: accepting the word


You are a miracle.
You breathe and you move.
You observe, you experience and you learn.
You think, you feel, you wish and you act.
You desire, you work, you acquire, you enjoy and you develop. You dream, you communicate, you create, you harvest,
you evaluate and you laugh.
You sleep, you wake up, you become troubled,
you struggle, you lose and you cry.
You suffer, you seek, you find, you strive and you persevere. You are amazed, you pray, you receive and you give thanks. You believe, you hope, and you love.
You die and you revive.
Truly, you are a miracle.

Living your life on Mother Earth in the here and now is truly important. Here, you have received your life in order to prepare for inner breakthroughs, so that the spiritual light may penetrate more and more deeply into you and make you aware that you are an essential part of a powerful divine plan that stretches from eternity to eternity; aware that your deepest being is part of a heavenly symphony, a cosmic dance and a radiant joy.

Why don’t you realise that yet? Or only barely realise it? Because you are still closed to the light of the spiritual sun. You may actually be grateful for that, because if the full light would reveal itself within you, it would completely disrupt your current life.

If cracks appear in your auric armour and rays of divine light are then able to enter your system, you may experience them as inconvenient, even painful. But you may also view them as a gift because you will then see both yourself and the world in a different light. An entirely new and gradual development becomes possible, one that is the unfolding of the divine potential now hidden deep within you, like the proverbial mustard seed. This mustard seed may have already germinated within you, ready to grow into a tree of life.

These words are, of course, only images that have been strung together to render something of the great plan that is the hidden purpose in your life, the great plan that actually lies hidden in everything that has been created. This divine plan is a great mystery. We cannot possibly know it, but we may penetrate it so that we may attune our lives accordingly. As soon as a person has reached a certain inner spiritual maturity, then moving along in the mysteries of life is not only possible but even becomes necessary, because it is contained and ordained in the divine plan.

Divine reality

For several millennia and in various cultures there have been persons who testified of a divine reality, encouraging their fellow human beings who were receptive to this message to contact this other Reality and begin living from It. These men and women were named prophets, apostles, gnostics or torch-bearers. The truly spiritual giants among them were called bodhisattva, avatar or messiah. We may think of people like Krishna, Buddha and Jesus, made known to us through ancient sacred writings.

Perhaps you look up to these world teachers with admiration. That is not really necessary because their established biographies possess a large mythical component. We must not forget that such reports – in fact all authentic holy scriptures – have the sole purpose to encourage the divine spark within us to grow ever more powerful. The great world teachers call us to follow them so that the spirit that worked in them can also work in us. Jesus, as bearer of such a spirit, says to his disciples: ‘He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do’ (John 14:12).

On your journey through life you can listen to the whispers of Krishna, of your inner master. If you consistently pay attention to your Buddha-nature in the silent centre, it will become more and more powerful in you. You have been called to an awakening, so that the Christ Spirit can shine through you. The apostle Paul urges people who have come to the limits of their outer life – indicated as Ephesians, dwellers on the border – to wake up to divine reality. He writes to the church of Ephesus:  ‘Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee’ (Ephesians 5:14).

The terms ‘sleep’ and ‘death’ are not related here to the rest of our sleeping body or to a dead physical body, but to a state of a constriction of the consciousness in which a person no longer experiences anything of the divine reality. The words ‘sleep’ and ’death’ are meant symbolically here. Thus we can also say that we are deaf even when we hear, because we do not yet hear the divine word and the harmony of the spheres, which sound forth day and night; that we are crippled because we cannot yet move in the rhythm of the divine world; that we are blind even when we see, because we cannot yet be open to the divine light which continuously shines forth.

All of this may sound rather dramatic. And that it is! As humanity, we have made a wilderness of life on earth, even though much of it may look neat on the outside. We are empathetic, intelligent, of good will and civilised. Yet in many ways we do not differ much from mammals, as the Jewish prophet Isaiah suggests in several places in his book of the Bible.

It is confronting when we determine that, but it is quite beneficial, because only by recognising and living through our inadequacy can a desire for healing arise that makes possible a regenerative development based on divine power. Isaiah sketches our plight, and at the same time is convinced that recovery is possible when the Spirit comes down from the heights.

Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city. For the palace shall be forsaken; the populous city shall be deserted; the hill and the watchtower shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be esteemed as a forest. Then justice shall dwell in the wilderness; and righteousness shall abide in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and confidence for ever.’ (Isaiah 32: 13-17)

Great initiates

Isaiah lived around the sixth century before Christ. That was a dark period and precisely for that reason many people in several countries were open to spiritual inspiration. In that time we find many great initiates who gathered followers around themselves to go the spiritual path under their guidance. Buddha worked in India and the Greek Pythagoras, who is best known for his theorem on right-angled triangles, led a mystery school in southern Italy. Several researchers believe that at about the same time the great prophet Zarathustra in Persia and the sage Lao Tzu in China laid the foundations for powerful spiritual impulses that continue to work to this day and which we still gratefully use.

In chapter 40, Isaiah admonishes the readers of his writings to start to make their preparations so that a mighty spiritual development can take place within them. Some seven hundred years later these words inspired the writers of the biblical gospels. They even put the words of Isaiah in the mouth of John the Baptist, the Prophet who announced and prepared the coming of Jesus. Isaiah writes:

‘The voice of one that crieth, Prepare ye in the wilderness the way of Jehovah; make level in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the uneven shall be made level, and the rough places a plain: and the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it.

The voice of one saying, Cry. And one said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, because the breath of Jehovah bloweth upon it; surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever’ (Isaiah 40: 3-8).

This text is not just a statement but rather an invocation, a call. These words, like most parts of the Bible and other holy scriptures, are a formula of power that can awaken something in the human being, which causes the Spirit to descend ‘from the heights’ into a person. God can thus become active in us. We can recognise this in the inscription on the rim of the Dutch two-euro coins: ‘God be with us.’ It is a poor translation of the name Immanuel, of which Isaiah writes: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel’ (Isaiah 7:14).

A better translation of Immanuel would be: ‘God within us.’ God is high above us, rising far above us and our world of space and time. As such, he is transcendent. But at the same time, he is also within us – immanent – as a latent divine spark that can flare up within us.

For many theologians who were blinded by the cultural-philosophical and intellectual movement of the eighteenth century known as the Enlightenment, this was by far the biggest heresy. They took the biblical texts literally and constructed via their rational reasoning – symbolically on sand – their houses of dogmatism. Unemancipated listeners slavishly followed the instructions of the preachers and, for this reason, caused great suffering for many generations.

It was taught that we are all conceived and born in sin, unable to do any good, inclined to evil, and that only the grace of Jesus Christ can save us. In a certain sense, they were right, but inner understanding was lacking and truth became more important than virtue. Because their designation of ‘sin’ was under- stood wrongly as ‘moral evil’ and the one necessity – the love that is above all – had a limited presence. A lot of people were saddled with obstructing conditioning and unfortunately also with religious traumas.

To miss the goal

The Greek word for sin (hamartia) is derived from archery and means something like missing the goal and not being well-focused. So, sin is actually not badness in a moral sense, but rather ignorance and lack of practise. The Prophet Hosea therefore writes: ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge’ (Hosea 4: 6). Prophets like Elijah, Hosea, Isaiah and John the Baptist make people aware of their sinful state-of-being so that they will desire to remedy this situation, to make their paths straight and to acquire and maintain proper orientation.

Many people long for world peace and struggle to achieve it. Their efforts will not be fruitful as long as their activity is not inspired by the Spirit. Jesus was expected to solve all problems on earth. However, that is not his job. He is not focused on bringing about external changes in the world, but rather on promoting an inner transformation in people as a result of the awakening of the sleeping divine spark within them. That is why he expressly says: ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ (John 18:36).

The churches in many Western European countries have been steadily losing their grip on believers since the sixties of the last century. The currents of Aquarius and the breath of the Spirit wash away the houses built on the sand of obsolete dogmas. The hills in the desert are levelled into the plains and young greenery will sprout in the fertile fields and will grow into a beneficent orchard. Various studies repeatedly show that the churches in the west are emptying, but that a large percentage of the population is certainly not atheistic and even seeks meaning, spirituality and inspiration based on holy scriptures.

Seekers in the 21st century are certainly open to meetings in which faith is a central subject, but generally have little need to do so within existing institutions. Institutions can be very valuable but have a natural tendency to rigidity and often focus primarily on the maintenance of systems that functioned well in the past. But everything constantly changes, everything flows, ‘panta rhei’. As soon as the members of a sparkling spiritual or religious community no longer live and work in the living present, there is no more liberating activity possible in that group. Then stagnation sets in, petrification, due to which the Spirit withdraws.

Jesus did not set up an institution. He gathered small groups of people around him to follow a spiritual path together on the basis of aspiration fed by sacred writings of authentic spiritual traditions, separated from the crystallised orthodoxy of the Pharisees and scribes of his time. Those who do not pay attention to this sacred tradition can easily get lost, because they do not know the map, do not notice – or ignore – the signposts and have not yet learned to work with their inner compass.

The first Christians were referred to as ’companions on the path’. This designation occurs several times in the Bible book, the Acts of the Apostles. Young Christianity is thus associated with going a spiritual path, a way of living with a dynamic element: moving, following a direction, renewing. Jesus even considers himself the way to the Father because he says: ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life’(John 14: 6). And also: ‘I and the Father are one’ (John 10:30).

Giving direction to your life

This book is intended to enable you to give direction to your life based on an inner desire for fulfilment. We urge you not just to accept everything that we state here, but to consider it and to find out to what extent it finds resonance within you. Reading or listening without feeling and thinking is like eating without digesting. And just to stay with this symbolic comparison: taking time and rest to partake of these deliberations again and again is necessary to come to spiritual awareness and renewal.

Central to this book is the imperishable Life, with which you can make contact and on the basis of which you can overcome death. Not the death of your physical body, for that is inevitable, but your momentary inability to live from the divine world, the domain of which Jesus says: ‘The kingdom of God is within you’ (Luke 17:21) and that Isaiah expresses in the name Immanuel, ‘God in you’.

In ‘Mysteries of birth, life and death’, we used certain parts of the Bible as a framework to elucidate the spiritual way that you can follow. We could have also chosen sections from other holy scriptures, however, such as the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, Lao Tzu’s Tao De Ching, the Dhammapada, the Gâthâs of Zarathustra or the gnostic Christian and hermetic writings found in 1945 in Nag Hammadi in Egypt.

Yet we have deliberately chosen the Bible because it is firmly anchored in our culture and no other holy book makes the spiritual path so clear. A significant proportion of the people currently living on earth have lived in previous incarnations within Jewish-Christian traditions. Their experiences are recorded in the microcosms that they now inhabit, so that they now have affinity with Judaism and/or Christianity, consciously or unconsciously. A powerful influence that can be experienced intensely emanates from the Bible. Jan van Rijckenborgh, one of the founders of the School of the Golden Rosycross, writes about this in his book ‘The Confession of the Brotherhood of the Rosycross’:

‘Whether you read the Bible exoterically or esoterically, you will experience the deep fascination of this tremendous magic. Garment and essence have grown into a wonderful unity and you will need to know these things if you are to be able to approach the Christ-mysteries. Even as a mere book, as a phenomenom, the Bible exerts a most mysterious influence, a more exceptional power.

What, then, is a book, a closed book in your bookcase? A lump of dead matter! But your Bible is not! You see that book in the foci of our temples. Is it there purely for decoration, just a pious, mystical symbol, nothing more? No, even as a book, this awesome piece of magic, this focus of Christ’s wisdom in the darkness of this world, is capable of purifying the atmosphere of our temples of al evil forces: they do not dare to approach the open book.

Like us, patients who are plagued by astral forces know how the open book can draw a protective magic circle. That is why biblical terminology is one of the preconditions for our teaching, and there is no other holy book in the world that demonstrates such an influence.

Another example we would like to give, a purely exoteric Christian one, is of a simple soul hungry for wisdom, for salvation from some fearful moment, who understands a word, comes under the spell, under the influence of its magical powers, which them bring about one aspect of what we call faith. If you had faith as small as a grain of mustard seed, you would be able to move mountains.

What faith does this mean? Faith in some terminology or other? Of course not. It means faith in Christ, who is not a mere idea, but a force, which governs, dominates the entire essence of our existence. This force has manifested itself to us in a certain garment, a garment made not by us but by the Lords of Destiny, who give what is necessary for everyone’s spiritual development. The garment becomes soiled, spat upon, torn to shreds, denied even in its most elementary aspects by many churches, but nevertheless the form continues to go with us, as a divine offer of assistance.’

The quoted Bible texts in this book come, as indicated earlier, from several English versions of the Bible. We observe the following nine standpoints with respect to the Bible:

  1. The books of the Bible, like other sacred writings, have been written by people who were inspired by the Spirit to promote a spiritual awakening and renewal.
  2. Not all passages from the Bible are of equal importance and value to current humanity.
  3. Only a fraction of the mysteries of life has been revealed in the Bible. Since then there have been many more revelations, and many more will still follow because man progresses constantly. Jesus therefore said: ‘I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth’ (John 16: 12- 13).
  4. The Divine manifests itself not only in the holy scriptures of humanity, but also especially in nature and in man himself. Religion can therefore not be viewed separately from science and art.
  5. Quite a few biblical texts have been deliberately or unconsciously modified or maimed in the past by copyists and translators in order to achieve certain goals.
  6. The truth can never be fully expressed in form and matter. That is why many biblical texts make use of symbolic language that can be understood in several ways. Symbols make it possible to say something about divine reality that is more accessible to our senses and our intellectual thinking.
  7. Many biblical texts are not intended as information, but as an invocation or a call. When there is the right focus in speaking and listening, divine powers are called up that can become active in humans. The apostle Paul writes in this connection: ‘The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life’ (2 Corinthians 3: 6).
  8. Bible texts can contribute to the growth of our inner understanding on the basis of which one can give direction to one’s own life and possibly also to that of others. The psalmist poet formulates this as: ‘Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and light unto my path’ (Psalm 119: 105).
  9. Those who attune themselves to a specific part of the Bible may experience something of the high level of consciousness from which it originates.

A portion of the Bible that emanates tremendous power is unmistakably the prologue of the Gospel according to John, specifically the first eighteen verses. It is a compendium: the entire spiritual path is embedded in these words. Read or listen to this summary of the universe every day for a week or even longer and experience what that does to you. You can also limit yourself to the first five verses because those are already of an exceptional depth. Learn them literally ‘by heart’ so that you always have them with you. If you thus store them in your heart, a transforming effect will take place. Then you will also understand why ‘memorising’ is called ‘learning by heart’.

The divine plan of creation

In the prologue of the Gospel according to John, which is the most gnostic gospel in the Bible, the ‘Word’ or ‘Logos’ is mentioned several times; we may understand this as the divine plan of creation. If you accept this Word, it means that you must begin to make an effort to make the human system that you inhabit suitable for the implementation of the divine plan, thus becoming part of the God-human Hierarchy or the universal Brotherhood. This Hierarchy consists of the angelic hosts as well as the human entities that either have never fallen or have successfully followed the path back to the father’s house.

In the first thirteen verses of the prologue of the Gospel of John, we can recognise the same sevenfold structure as in the creation myth in Genesis 1, and it is explained in Chapter 6 of the book ‘Mysteries and symbols of the soul’. Both these sections of the Bible deal with the creation and regeneration of your innermost be- ing, of the microcosm that you now inhabit. Something of this is shown schematically in image 1. It also shows the seven ‘I-am’ statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John. It would be overdoing it to explain this further here.

We conclude this first reflection of the book ‘Mysteries and challenges of birth, life and death’ with the majestic first five verses of the prologue of the Gospel of John. They summarize the development of the entire human system that you currently inhabit and that is now ready to be regenerated.

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not’ (John 1:1-5).