Reflection 6

Mysteries of Birth, Life and Death week 6

Reflection: using your talents


If you are going the spiritual path, the wedding at Cana – that is the unification with the Spirit – can at a certain moment take place within yourself. In the microcosmic system that you currently occupy, many personalities have lived there before you and have contributed to what is termed an experiential fullness that can form a solid foundation for the alchemical wedding and so make a complete healing process possible. At such a spiritual wedding you are united with the bridegroom, with the divine Spirit within you.

You can certainly prepare yourself for this spiritual encounter, for this return of Christ in the auric clouds of your microcosmic sky, but you will not know the day and time when it will take place. It is out of the question that at a certain moment the spiritual bridegroom will come automatically, as if by chance, in the middle of the night. It is a personal event following an intense preparation process that often begins when one is inwardly touched by a spiritual tradition or teaching.

That impulse and the accompanying new knowledge can gradually deepen and ultimately become an inner possession through thinking more and more with one’s heart. In this way a new inner structure is built, slowly but surely; a cornerstone on which to build. In the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus speaks in this connection of an oil lamp. Such a lamp can only be ignited by the holy fire of the Spirit when there is fuel in the form of oil, the symbol of soul power. And this oil is obtained only through working on oneself. Whoever buys oil from others cannot as yet enter the wedding hall.

All ten girls in the parable have an oil lamp. Five of them are wise and five are foolish. The number five refers to the soul, to a higher level of consciousness that rises above the number four which is associated with earthly matter as we observe in the four elements, the four directions, the four seasons and the four temperaments, among others. In both groups of five girls, therefore, there is soul consciousness that is symbolically represented as the upright five-pointed star, the pentagram. What then is the difference between the wise girls and the foolish girls?

Sermon on the Mount

We find an answer to that question at the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This speech has revolutionary practical instructions that are directed not at all people but to those pupils who go the Path and thereby inwardly have grown beyond the general level of consciousness of humanity. Because the soul has awakened in them, they have symbolically climbed the mountain. Jesus begins his Sermon on the Mount with the so-called beatitudes and concludes the speech with the following text:

‘Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and if fell not: for it was founded upon the rock. And every one that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall thereof ‘ (Matthew 7:24-27).

Being wise or sagacious is thus equated with acquired spiritual knowledge, while those who do not live in accordance with this inner knowledge are considered foolish. This form of ‘being fool ish’ is nevertheless a stage on the path that every pupil of the soul knows very well from his own experience. You cannot simply bridge the gap between knowing and going the Path. The Apostle Paul also sighs in this respect: ‘For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practise’ (Romans 7:19).

Christian Rosycross becomes aware of his unworthiness after receiving the invitation to the wedding, because he already knows in advance that he falls short of the mark. And the famous German poet Goethe has Faust say:

Two souls, alas, are housed within my breast,
And each will wrestle for the mastery there.
The one has passion’s craving crude for love,
And hugs a world where sweet the senses rage;
The other longs for pastures fair above.

How can one escape such an inner conflict? By persevering! By continuing to strive for the beautiful, the true and the only good, with the help of an authentic spiritual tradition but without forcing the soul and without clinging to visible short-term results. You will then go straight through the gap: first a descent and then a climb upward. Then eventually the inner light will break through as a result of a full surrender of the self, so that the next passage from the Sermon on the Mount becomes applicable.

‘Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house. Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven’ (Matthew 5:14-16).

This is clear and dynamic language, a powerful invocation. Further on in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also speaks of a lamp and a light, but the meaning of that part of the text may be less obvious.

‘The lamp of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness!’ (Matthew 6:22-23).

The human body is not luminous and has not one but two eyes. If we were to take this text literally, it does not really contribute to a better understanding. However, if we connect the formulation of this text with the knowledge about the energy centres in the human being, it is clear what is meant here. It is important to realise that in many spiritual traditions the concept ‘body’ means not only the physical body but also the subtler bodies which together form the personality and the aura of the human being, namely the ether body, the astral body and the mental body.

Light vesture

Some clairvoyants can see the human aura, also called the light garment, in the form of a dynamic radiation field with multiple shades of colour in and around the physical body. A person’s character and health are expressed not only in his physical body, but even more so in his aura. When his thoughts, feelings and behaviour change, then a change will also take place in the aura, the anatomy of the brain (because of new neural pathways) and the physiology of the body (including blood and hormone metabolism).

The consciousness of a person is not bound to time and space, but it does have an immaterial focus in the body, located in the fourth cerebral cavity, in the open space behind the frontal bone. It is controlled by the human will and is by nature self-centred. When Jesus says that the lamp of the body is the eye, he does not refer to the physical eyes, nor to the third eye in the forehead between the eyebrows that can be opened for the ego on the basis of occult training and then leads to, for example, clairvoyance.

When people develop and abuse occult abilities or otherwise do evil through such training, the third eye undergoes a change that is referred to in the Bible as ‘the mark on the forehead’ (Revelation 13:16) and leads to a dark and sombre aura. With the designation ‘the lamp of the body’ Jesus refers to the so-called pineal fire circle, which is related to the crown chakra, the thousand-petaled lotus that cannot be controlled by the human will.

This ‘crown-eye’ on the crest of the head can open only as a result of a noble inner and outer life, in which egocentricity is very much diminished. Some Eastern writings call the ‘crown eye’ the giver of divine knowledge, which emanates a light as if many suns shine together. This makes it clear why saints are often depicted in drawings and paintings with a halo around their head. It is this radiant crown that Paul calls the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17).

The apostle James also talks about a crown. He writes in James 1: ‘Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to them that love him.’ The lamp of the body can burn because there is oil in it, an indication of the light forces that are attracted as a result of walking the spiritual path. Thanks to these light forces, the aura becomes radiantly luminous over time and emits a golden hue.

It is the immortal, glorified body that is referred to in the Bible as ‘the wedding garment’, the spiritual body or resurrection body. At the end of the Hymn of the Pearl the prince who returns with the pearl receives a radiant robe and a golden cloak. On the third day of the alchemical wedding Christian Rosycross and other wedding guests receive a golden fleece. Image 6 shows symbolically how the aura and the microcosm are purified as a result of going the path, which we may see as an inner revolution.

Inner alchemy

Thus we can understand why the way of the Mysteries is also referred to as weaving the golden wedding garment and is characterised as inner alchemy. This is a concentrated activity that has nothing to do with the production of material gold, on which countless people have greedily focused in the past. Alchemy is often seen as a primitive precursor of modern chemistry. That is correct, but that is not the entire story. In addition to the materialistic or outer alchemy that focused solely on the conversion of matter, there has also existed – in various cultures since the beginning of alchemy in the first century of our era – an immaterial alchemy, one that focuses on the transformation of life energies. This applies to the Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, Hellenistic, Roman, Islamic, Medieval and early-modern alchemy.

The preparation of an elixir of life that heals the sick or even gives a person immortality belonged to this materialistic alchemy. Paracelsus (1493-1541), an important innovator of medicine in the first half of the sixteenth century writes: ‘It is the task of man to grow to completeness. This “working for completion” is called alchemy. In medicine, where it was most needed, it did alas not come about.’

Many natural scientists consider the physical and metaphysical alchemy of yore to be great nonsense. That is understandable because its tenets do not fit in with the materialistic and reductionist paradigms of the natural sciences. Particularly in terms of the physical aspects, alchemy is largely obsolete, because at those times there was relatively little exact knowledge, but there are sometimes deep inner truths in the writings of alchemists. There are famous and successful scientists who have been intensively involved with alchemy. Isaac Newton (1643-1727) laid the foundations for our present-day classical physics and for infinitesimal calculus. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest physicists ever. In the textbooks on physics we do not usually read that Newton was a deeply religious man and that he spent much more time and attention on theology and alchemy than on physics, because these subjects had his deepest interest.

The famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), just like Isaac Newton, was in possession of an extensive library of writings of alchemists, kabbalists and Rosicrucians. He studied more than two hundred alchemical writings and found his concept of the collective unconscious confirmed there. In his autobiography ‘Memories, dreams, thoughts’, Jung writes:

‘I stumbled upon the historical counterpart of the psychology of the unconscious. The probability of a link with alchemy and thus an uninterrupted intellectual chain going back to Gnosticism, gave reality to my psychology.’

Spiritual gold

The classical Rosicrucians of the seventeenth century also dealt with the inner alchemy and were fervent advocates of science and technology on the basis of research and development. In their manifestos, however, they explicitly distanced themselves from making gold, which was in great demand in their time. They were focused on the spiritual gold. At the end of their Fama Fraternitatis R.C. from 1614 we read the following:

‘Even men of discretion are of the opinion that the transmutation of metals is the pinnacle and the crown of philosophy, and that God esteems most highly those who can make large amounts of gold; while with their unpremeditate prayers and their smug faces they hope to persuade God, the Almighty, who searches all hearts.
We therefore do herewith testify publicly that this is a deceit and that, to the true philosophers, gold-making is a mere trifle and only incidental; in comparison therewith they have thousand better things to do! And we declare with our beloved father C.R.C.: “Away with all gold, if it is nothing else than gold”. For he to whom the whole of nature is revealed does not rejoice in the fact that he can make gold or that, as Christ said: “To him the devils are obedient”. But, rather, he rejoices that he sees the heavens opening and the angels of God ascending and descending, and that his name is written in the Book of Life.

We also declare that under the name of Alchemy books and pictures are being published that are an offence to the glory of God. We shall name them in due time and issue a list to the pure in heart. We ask all learned men to be on their guard against such books, for the enemy does not cease to sow tares, until one stronger than he prevents it.’

The modern Rosicrucian and hermetic gnostic, Jan van Rijckenborgh (1896-1968) gave a discourse in Wiesbaden in Germany in 1952, which he regarded as a new call from the Brotherhood of the Rosycross. In this address he says, among other things:

‘The alchemy of the Rosicrucians is based upon the transformation of the blood and with that we mean the blood in the full sense of the word, in a threefold sense by which we are thinking of the serpent-fire, the nerve fluid and the blood-liquid. So the serpent-fire, the nerve fluid and the blood-liquid, this threefold blood, is our life basis; it is our I, our consciousness, our soul. All our past, all our karma, all our character have their basis in the blood. The threefold blood is the kernel, the soul, of our microcosm. This is the reason why alchemy is based upon the transformation of the blood.
You must however, understand clearly that the dialectic alchemy is bent upon bringing about a thorough culture of the blood, the nerve fluid and the organs related, such as the ganglia and the hormonale glands. The transfiguristic alchemy, the alchemy which is proposed to you, commences with the I. That which the dialectic does not touch but on the contrary is used as a basis, is absolutely and unconditionally affected by the transfiguristic alchemy. It commences with the gradual subjugation of the I. Therefore the Brotherhood of the Christ-Hierophants will not make the I leader of the process of transmutation, and will never enter into direct contact with the I of the pupil.’

Does this mean that Jan van Rijckenborgh is an opponent of developing one’s talents? Certainly not. He observes in several writings that it is important for pupils in a spiritual school to develop and use their knowledge and skills, because they can thus become sound and effective so that they can be useful instruments for Gnostic service. The essence is to develop the right talents and to use these in the right way for the right purposes.

Inner wealth

This brings us to the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, which can also be found in a slightly different form in Luke 19, where pounds are mentioned instead of talents. Talents and pounds were units of money in those days. It is clear that this parable is not about making a financial profit based on smart entrepreneurship, because at the beginning it says that the story refers to entering the heavenly kingdom. Central to the parable is the acquisition of inner wealth. Inner wealth means to possess something that can be bestowed upon all, as from an inexhaustible source. For example, it may involve inner knowledge, unconditional love and creative decisiveness.

Three servants each receive a certain amount of wealth from their master: five talents, two talents and one talent. Every human being receives a certain ‘starting capital’ of which the quality and quantity are determined by karma, heredity and upbringing. As soon as a person decides to go the spiritual path, he will have to make do with it. That is possible, because it is not about whether someone is very talented or not, but whether he is prepared to commit himself completely to something from which he will not benefit himself, but which contributes to all of humanity, to the plan of the master in the parable. Without the sacrifice of one’s ego-orientation no resurrection is possible.

The three servants can be seen as the three dimensions of the human being which were indicated in the previous Reflection as the wine of the Spirit, the water of the soul and the stone of the personality. The first and second servant in the parable have worked for their inner master. For this they are paid not in  the form of wages, but they experience the joy of their lord. They undergo the alchemical wedding because they have become eligible for it through their work and devotion.

The third servant still fully identifies himself with his body and personality and therefore has not yet conformed his will to the will of his inner master. Therefore he does not receive an invitation to the feast of his lord but is reprimanded at the time of reckoning and cast into outer darkness ‘where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth’.

That sounds like a rather heavy punishment for someone in whom the soul and the mind cannot yet express themselves, but several researchers hold that the remark ‘where there is wailing and the gnashing of teeth’ did not appear in the lost original text but was added later. Of course, there can be no question of punishment, and even less of eternal suffering, but upon reaching the end of one rotation of the wheel of life and death, naturally a new course develops through the cycle.

And what could be meant by being thrown into the outer darkness? In the first and the second servant something of the resurrection body has come to life during a long period of dedicated service, something that does not perish at the death of the body, something of the golden wedding garment. The third servant has followed only his own will, so that no immortal qualities have developed. At his death, nothing will be left of him. It thus looks as if he is thrown into the outer darkness. He did not build his house on a rock but on sand. And that’s why it disintegrates when death strikes.


The parable mentions that the master stays away for a long time. The servants thus have ample time to fulfil their mission. In this we can recognise a clue that going the spiritual path requires time and therefore patience. In daily life we tend to think in the short term because we want to achieve results quickly. In our complex society that is often necessary. Outstanding success in ordinary life is often the result of a succession of many small steps, all of which must receive undivided attention. As a result of such commitment, unexpected events, occurrences of positive synchronicity, surprising coincidences can occur unexpectedly, either after a period of time or sometimes very quickly.

Talent in life does not just blow into you. The Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericson established on the basis of his research that the top men and women in any discipline have had at least 10,000 hours of training, which corresponds to six to seven hours a day for ten years. There are no reasons to believe that this socalled 10,000-hour rule does not also apply to one who goes the spiritual way. Professor Gilles Quispel (1916-2006), the renowned scholar of gnostic scientific research, often emphasised during his lectures: ‘There is no shortcut to enlightenment and no instant nirvana.

On the pathway of the mysteries it is not the intention that you become a top performer. If you had that ambition, it would work counter-productively because such an attitude comes from the ego. In every authentic spiritual path, it is more about ‘being’ than ‘doing’, but the paradox is that you have to take on a full assignment and have to leave behind even more before the intended state of being is realised. The ‘doing’ consists mainly of ‘making straight the paths’, as Isaiah and John the Baptist call it; a work of clearing barriers and service to a greater whole. John, symbol of the personality that goes the path, says about Jesus, symbol of the new soul:

‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (John 3:30). And Jesus says of John: ‘Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he’ (Matt 11:11). Jacob Boehme (1575-1624) formulated these principles as follows:

‘God did not create us to become someone, but to serve as a tool for his miracles, through which he wishes to reveal his miracles. The obedient will trusts in God and hopes for all that is the good from Him, but self-will governs itself, for it has broken free from God. Everything that this self-willed person does is a sin against God. For he has strayed from the order in which God created him, gone into disobedience and wants to be his own lord.
When such self-will dies as to self-centeredness, then he is free from sin. For this is precisely the right intention in man that he shall die in the aspect of being focused on himself in selfish desires and that he will give all his desires over, in all that he undertakes and begins, to God’s will and does not boast of his own deeds, but considers himself in all his actions only God’s servant, and realises that all he does and intends to do, he does for God.’