In a lecture about the esoteric path Samael Aun Weor said:
“Gnosis is the flame from which all religions sprouted, because in its depth Gnosis is religion. The word religion comes from the Latin word religare, which implies “to link the Soul to God”; so Gnosis is the very pure flame from where all religions sprout, because Gnosis is Knowledge, Gnosis is Wisdom.”
With this quote we can see that analyzing the word religion reveals exactly how one should operate, what its point should really be: to link the soul to God so that the soul can experience the nature of God. Some may say that this goes against Christianity, but if you look in the right place you can find support for this notion. For example in the works of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria (who lived around 300AD) wrote:
“He [Christ] was made man that we might be made God.” – Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, De incarnatione verbi, sec. 54.3 (circa 318 AD)
In other words, he is stating that there is the possibility that the Soul can unite with God. In esoteric Christianity this is the whole point: there is a path in order to achieve theosis (theo means God). So theosis is divine incarnation, and through the experience, or the unveiling of this knowledge within ourselves is the achievement of theosis little by little.
Regarding the other part of that quote, stating that Gnosis is the flame from which all religions sprouted, this is also something that some people have difficulty with. Indeed, we are affirming that all world religions have a true component to them. Certainly, in every tradition, in every religion, we can find false interpretations, and a degeneration of traditions and ideas, so that every religion can become fanatical or can just simply lose its way.
But also we find the truth within every great religion.
Saint Augustine writes:
“The very thing which is now called the Christian religion existed among the ancients also, nor was it wanting from the inception of the human race until the coming of Christ in the flesh, at which point the true religion which was already in existence began to be called Christian.” – St. Augustine, Retractiones (427 AD)
Let us also see what Justin Martyr says in his First Apology:
And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter.
Justin Martyr, First Apology, ch. 21 (circa 155 AD)
Justin Martyr here is making an analogy between the so-called pagan mysteries and Christian theology. Normally many of us are taught to believe that those old stories of pagans were very simple, superficial types of things, that had nothing at all to do with true religion. But in reality the very early Christian Fathers knew how similar the stories of the Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses were to the stories that were eventually written in the New Testament.
Those traditions that were eventually replaced by Christianity, all of those old religions, those pagan religions, were in decline at the time. This is why they needed to be replaced. Yet, the true source of those old religions is the same gnosis underlying Esoteric Christianity. Whether we call it gnosis in Greek, or some other word, it does not matter.
All traditions are susceptible to falling away. When a traditions usefulness begins to decline, new traditions are made in order to renew the teachings that lead to gnosis, the universal knowledge which all of us, all of our souls yearn for.
Esoteric Christianity is really the true universal doctrine, the true Gnostic Catholic doctrine. As we have said, catholic really means universal, and by gnostic we are talking about knowledge.
Gnosis is the knowledge we must possess in order to achieve theosis, the incarnation of the divine. Just like the old traditions of Greece and Rome, and all the other traditions of the world fall into degeneration, just as there are good and bad aspects of any tradition, when we talk about gnostic groups, many groups served the true teachings of Christ and there were other groups which were quite the opposite. Unfortunately, all these groups get mixed together today and this is partly why a lot of Christians have a very negative connotation of gnosis.
We have to keep reminding ourselves that gnosis just means knowledge and the idea that there is a spark of divinity within us that can provide us with knowledge of the divine. This is something that many ancient church Fathers also agreed with. This is the fundamental basis of gnosis or gnostic doctrine, and it is no different than all of the true ancient traditions as well.
We stated in our prior lecture that Christ is not a person, but Christ is a type of force or substance, an animating principle, so we must always make a differentiation between that force of fire, that spiritual fire, that spiritual light called Christ, and the one that incarnates that fire, that force.
Obviously, the founder of Christianity is Jesus Christ.
Jesus was the name of that individual, and Christ was the title of that individual, because that one, that person that we call Jesus, he did the work of purifying his soul, achieving theosis to the maximum degree, in order to receive the Christ.
When Jesus received Christ, he was receiving the universal principal, the universal intelligence, and was speaking from that perspective saying, “I am the light of the world.” Unfortunately, people interpret that to believe that there was one manifestation of Christ and that singular physical manifestation as Jesus was the one and only Christ.
Actually it is different. Anyone who achieves that level unites completely with Christ, so becomes one with Christ. Christ is universal and beyond any individual, but an individual like Jesus purifies his soul to such a degree that Christ – the Universal Force – can individualize itself into that soul, and speak and bring teachings, found religions. All the world religions are founded by Christ, different individuals who reached the level of Christ. This is what is always happening, from time to time.
According to inner or Esoteric Christianity, our role in all of this is to purify our soul, to work on our psychology, to do the inner psychological, and spiritual work.
To truly follow this teaching we have to become practical. Many people who study religion, who are interested in these things, have a lot of theories and ideas about the differences, conceptually, of different theologies, different mythologies, different ways of understanding how God and man interact, how creation ‘really is’ according to one doctrine or another. All of this may have some relative importance, but what is the most important for us here and now is to make Esoteric Christianity a practical effort in our life. In order to do this we are going to study the Book of John, we are going to look at the very beginning, the first chapter, the first verse. It is a very famous verse often repeated:
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2The same was in the beginning with God.
3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
John 1: 1 -5
Ordinarily these verses are taken in terms of a history, in terms of a historical event, something that happened many years ago, a long time ago. But, as we have stated from the esoteric viewpoint, we need to interpret all these events as a living reality within our self.
The real importance of the word esoteric, is not just that it is something hidden, but that it is hidden within our own experience. So everything about Christianity, when you understand it from the esoteric level, is pointing to something occurring within us.
When we look at this first chapter, the first verse of John 1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The best way to begin to understand this is to look at some of the original Greek.
The word beginning is actually arché (pronounced arhee). This word arche is translated as the beginning, and normally we look at that ‘beginning’ as a historical event. Actually the way to understand this esoterically, is to see the beginning as another way of saying “origin”.
The esoteric understanding of this is to look at it as a constant event happening within our self. So, what is normally understood as “in the beginning” we can say is “at the origin,” or “in the origin.”
Where does anything begin? It begins at the origin, so another way to understand arché is to say the origin. So, instead of arché being interpreted as a historical past, it is seen as the point, the origin, the place, and that origin again esoterically, we are looking for something inside of ourselves, because we, as a soul is connected to our spirit, and our spirit is connected to Christ.
Therefore, in the beginning, or at the origin, was the Word. Word is Λόγος, Logos in Greek, sometimes it is also translated as Verb. A verb is an activity. Many times, logos in Greek is used to talk about logic and reasoning, but in this sense this is not what we are pointing towards. This Logos mentioned here is very much beyond anything we normally see as intellect or reasoning. The intellect or reasoning is an activity of our mind. We must search deeper than the mind, beyond the mind.
What we are really pointing to here with this Logos is the very primordial activity, the primary cause, that emerges from the radical origin.
Therefore, from an esoteric understanding, in the beginning was the Word, is better stated within the origin is the primordial activity.
Continuing with this understanding, we can say, “within the Origin is the Primordial Activity, and the Primordial Activity is with God, and the Primordial Activity is God.”
If we do not understand this correctly one might think that this interpretation is implying that we are Gods, because we are saying within our primordial activity is God. We must understand this in a very subtle and refined sense. Obviously our current condition is very far away from God, we should never forget that. But we must also remember that theosis is possible, that our soul can unite with God, that our soul arrived from God. What our soul is today, what we are today, arrived from that primordial activity, which is Christ, and through a profound work, through an inner work we can reunite with Christ in gnosis.
Arche is an interesting word. We find a lot of other words that come from it such as Archangel, which is a principle or chief angel, an original angel, an angel that is emanating that Arch. In other words, an Archangel is superior to that of a regular Angel because it has fully or more developed that Arche, that original activity, it is closer to that origin.
There is also a word used a lot called Archetype. Archetype means a primordial mold. An archetype is like a blueprint for something that must be developed within our self. We have these potential connections, like I said prior, our soul is connected to our spirit and our spirit is connected to Christ, and Christ is manifested in many different archetypes, many different ways in which the light is formed.
When these Archetypes manifest themselves, when these Archetypes are developed correctly, then all of the beautiful qualities of the soul are manifest and all those qualities of any religious saint or prophet appear. All of those amazing, wonderful qualities are manifestations of the Archetypes.
Unfortunately, what we have within ourselves is a wrong development of those archetypes. What we have within ourselves can be understood in terms of the passions. Many monks and contemplatives of the Christian religion will talk about the passions. From a modern prospective we talk about the same thing as ego, the egotistical desires. Any egotistical desire is a type of energy that influences our behavior. But this energy comes about because of our prior actions. It is like a pattern of energy, and every time similar circumstances come in front of us in the world, there are times in which these passions, these patterns of energy, come forth and we end up acting in ways which are very far away from our religious ideals.
Today a lot of times people do not know how to deal with these things. In order to make this doctrine practical we must look at the origin of all of our activity. Because within that radical origin we will find Christ, we will find the gnosis, the knowledge that shall bring us towards theosis, the incarnation of the Divine.
In order to do this we need to look, we need to place our attention, our observation, within our mind and within our heart. We must see the way that we actually behave. We must begin to contemplate the way in which our mind actually works. It is not enough to be repentant of some poor decision, or some poor action, that came forth. It is good, and it is even necessary, but it is not enough. We must come to know our own darkness, our own sins.
God gives us the capacity to know our self, and through that relationship of struggling to work on our self, and asking for help, little by little, the Lord gives us the light. Only through the process of learning from our mistakes to we become very wise. The Lord is not interested in an ignorant person, the Lord wants wisdom, love, compassion. In order to inhabit those qualities, that we must look inside of ourselves, we have to look at our own ego, our own passions.
If we sit down, we rest, we close our eyes, we relax, what do we see?
What activity do you see?
For most of us if you have just done this for the first time you will find something.
You will realize that your mind continues even though you do not wish it to. You will find that you have emotions that have no good place within you. You have enmity towards others, jealousy, lust, hatred. Perhaps you worry. Perhaps your mind continues to think even when you do not want to think. All of this is activity. All of this has some origin. It is your duty to discover it.
Notice that you have the capability to see it, that you are the watcher. You are noticing it, which means you do not have to be automatically pulled into doing anything. You can see your mind acting on its own accord.
This is exactly what the passions are. They seem to act even though we do not want them to. This is what we call the ego, but the ego is really egos, many different things many different activities that erupt from moment to moment without our slightest endorsement. They arrive upon their own accord and they seem to do whatever they want. Normally we think that is who we truly are. Someone says some bad words to us and we immediately become insulted or hurt, and that activity of hurt or feeling insulted, we believe, that is who we truly are. We are always thinking that whatever activity arises in our mind must be an expression of our ‘perfect’ self.
But actually, most of what occurs in our mind is imperfection. Things arrive in our mind based on no good reason. The way that we act, the way that we behave reinforces all of these patterns of behavior. The way we behave, the way our mind reacts to the world, tells us something about our self. Normally we believe that what is going on in our mind says something about the other person, but esoterically what it means is that it is something about our self. The way that we behave is always coming from within.
Certainly, the mind is responding to something in the environment, but two people experiencing the same environment will react differently. Therefore the origin, the radical origin of the activity emerging from those two people is not from the outside world. There is a relationship there but the radical origin is always within. Therefore all of this activity which is emerging from us must be seen for what it is, which is usually just nonsense, some imperfect way of being.
Jesus said that we must become perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. This is the goal. Do not be confused, that is exactly the goal. But the message that is everywhere today is that such a goal is a fallacy, a sophism, an impracticality. The message expressed everywhere today is that we are just filthy animals and we should just engorge ourselves, that if we feel lust we should just engage in lust, we should just find things to engorge our mind in. Some activity erupts in our mind and wants something and the best way to deal with it is to just engage in it and develop it more. That we should have ‘healthy’ and ‘wholesome’ egotistical desires.
But the truth is every activity that emerges, if it is based on ignorance and we engage in it, we will suffer. If our life is full of suffering it is because we are ignorant of the true cause of that suffering, and every time we reengage in some activity that we believe brings happiness, but actually brings suffering, we reinforce these patterns until they become very strong.
Every time we placate our fears, instead of analyzing them, we reinforce the fear. And the next time that fear has an opportunity to arrive, it will come back stronger. Every time we engage and satisfy our lusts, the next time that lust has an opportunity to become active in our psyche it will be stronger. If you keep following that over and over again, you build a state of mind which has zero freedom. When we have a rigid, caged mind, everything causes an enormous eruption, and the person lives a very chaotic life, always compelled to act, always a slave to every impression that appears, never having any true free will, never having any opportunity for happiness. This type of person, which is all of us basically, usually resorts to attempting to control the outside world in such a way that their mind will be satisfied, but it never actually works.
In our previous lecture we talked about needing to adopt a contemplative lifestyle, but by this we are not talking about disengaging from our practical life and going into the forest or into the mountains. Certainly that type of life or retreat is good, in its own way, but in this modern era we have to combine our practical daily life, as it is, with these contemplative themes, to integrate a contemplation of our daily life.
This means to begin to reflect and begin to meditate on our life, as it is here and now. All of our impressions of our ordinary world provide all the eruptions of activity from our mind that we need to comprehend. It is not necessary to run away from life. What is necessary is to analyze, to reflect, to contemplate, to meditate on all the things that are arriving in our mind.
Normally everything that arrives in our mind, we see as something that happened “out there” in the external world. We do not recognize that it is actually our mind that is reacting; we think that something happened, and immediately it was terrible, that we are just forced to be depressed about it. But actually, it is our state of mind that was attached to some circumstance in life, and when that circumstance changed, it was our mind that was attached to it that suffers.
Every time we feel intense suffering it is an opportunity to know the truth about our self.
Instead of taking every difficulty in life as some obstacle to your happiness, take it as the path directly to your happiness.
Unpleasant manifestations are showing you something about your mind, an extreme level of activity within you, that beforehand you did not have the opportunity to see. What you must come to know is that you have a spark of divinity within you, and no matter what happens you will always have that, you will always have the capability of observing yourself at any moment, at any spontaneous moment you can observe your mind. From that basis, that is the mustard seed of faith, and by faith here we mean directly experiencing your mind. You can directly experience your mind.
When you can observe it, you can see its activity and in combination with prayer you can transform your psychology. You must have a true repentance for the evils you have inflicted, for the sufferings that you have inflicted upon the world, for your inability, your incapability of upholding the Christian ethic, you must feel the remorse for that, you must acknowledge that you have acted in the wrong way.
You must confess your sins, but you do not need to confess it to someone else, you must confess it within yourself. You must pray to the Lord and confess your sins daily, with true repentance. But you must do more than just ask for forgiveness, you must see how that activity arrived, why you chose to do what you did, why the impulse of your mind arrived in you. You took the wrong path, you took the wrong choice, why? Perhaps you take a selfish way, an easy way... Perhaps we feel hurt, so we hurt another person.
All of this is wrong and we know it is wrong, so pay attention to it, look within yourself, acknowledge its existence, see the origin of that wrong activity and from that basis see how you could have done it correctly, see where such a notion, or such a wrong impulse arrived in the first place, ask for assistance, pray. Do all those things daily and your mind will transform, your heart will transform.
Unfortunately as much as people say they want to be a good Christian they do not take the effort practically, they just want to pray on Sunday, they want to give glory to God on Sunday, but then they behave in all sorts of other ways and when they do wrong actions.
We often ignore their wrong actions, and if they are confronted we justify, we say we had to act that way. All of this is laziness which prevents us from entering honestly into the esoteric doctrine. To be truly prepared for the esoteric doctrine we must be prepared to look radically within ourselves at every moment to acknowledge the imperfection that we have.
We must want to change that imperfection, we must know that it is possible to change that imperfection, because what lies within us at the root is that teleios (perfection), which Paul speaks about.
Paul says “Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect…” (1 Corinthians 2:6). This is not a perfection of the ego; this is a perfection of the Glory of God manifesting the Light of Christ.
Beyond our personality, affections, and mind, beyond our individuality, is the Light of Christ, the Glory of Christ, the Wisdom of Christ. That is our root, and that is what we must work to manifest in the world. This is Esoteric Christianity.