The last chapter ended with these words,—The moment the mind of man awakens to his divinity, that moment he begins to rise superior to the animal nature, and his ascent has begun.
The question now arises: To what height is it possible for man to rise? Man has, intellectually, risen to tremendous heights in the past. History, the ﬁndings of the archaeologist, the explorer, and the geologist, have brought to light civilizations after civilizations, many of them having reached far greater heights of culture, science, genius, and civilization generally, than we have ever touched. The recent ﬁndings in Egypt have revealed a culture, reﬁnement, love of beauty, and the possession of the Fine Arts, that have been, to say the least of it, a blow to many people who actually considered that we were vastly superior in our civilization and culture to any peoples of the past. How little the average Occidental knew of the culture, poetry, literature, knowledge, science, and wonderful civilizations of the Oriental in the long ages past, until such men as Max Muller, Sir Edwin Arnold, and a few others in the past century brought it to light, and revealed to our modern egotistical minds the heights those nations had reached; heights that we see but dimly as a possibility for us in the far future. A few years ago I was visiting in the house of a very ﬁne specimen of an educated Englishman. He was well advanced in years, it is true, but was held in the highest esteem as a well read man, and a man of sterling character. But he was so narrow in his Christianity, and so prejudiced against every country and every people who did not see with his intellectual and spiritual vision, that to him all men outside the pale of his particular faith were heathen, and his one idea was to send them English education, English religion, English teachers and preachers. I happened to have The Light of Asia with me on that visit, and one day while I was reading it in his drawing-room, he asked. “What are you reading, may I ask?” I answered, “Sir Edwin Arnold's Light of Asia.” “That is a book every educated man is Supposed to have read," he said, "but I am sorry to say it is not in my collection of the poets, and I have never read it. Would you allow me to read your copy while you are with us?” Of course I at once handed it over with the greatest pleasure. I left him deep in its pages that evening, I felt so glad that I had chosen that particular book along with the few others I had taken with me. To my astonishment the next morning I was greeted with an outburst of ridicule, and scorn upon scorn was heaped upon such a “misrepresentation of facts, as if the heathen Indians who knew not God or the Christ of the Christians could ever have been in the state of culture, education, and civilization that that book would have one suppose. A dangerous book, a book designed to throw Christianity into disrepute.” I took my precious book away to my room lest he in his prejudice and anger should destroy it. I do not suppose for one moment that mine host would have been so ignorant of India and India's glorious past, if he had lived another twenty years or so. But I am fully persuaded that there are thousands in our midst today who look upon all Orientals as “heathen,” in the usually accepted meaning of that word, and would be just as indignant as mine host was if they were told that we, in this year of1933 with all our boasted civilization and education, have hardly as yet touched the outer fringe of the civilization and culture of India, when she, with her Sages and Rishas, lived in the splendor of her Golden Age of Literature, Poetry, Art, and Science. I remember the pathos of the words of an Indian who visited us some years ago, when he said, “Ah, you are looking forward to your Golden Age, but we look back to ours.”
But lndia’s Golden Age was only one out of many others, too many to write about here, but just in passing I would make mention of the Golden Age of China, far back in the mists of a past of which we have no history, we only know that Lao-Tzu, the great Teacher, who lived about 500 B.C., spoke with fervent longing of a Golden Age in China when great Sages, Masters of Knowledge and Wisdom lived, and China had reached a height of civilization and culture, equal, if not surpassing that of India. But it is true also that we need not go back to the Golden Age of which the Sage spake to ﬁnd a China as different from the China of today as Egypt or Greece are from the Egypt and Greece of history, for in the days of Lao-Tzu and Confucius, China had reached a state of civilization and culture that perhaps we may still be aspiring to.
Said Major-Gen. G. G, Alexander in writing of that Age,—
“It was an age of great men. Sakya Buddha, the religious reformer; Ezekiel and Daniel, Haggai and Zachariah, amongst the prophets; Cyrus the Great; Cambyses, Darius, and Xerxes of the power of the earth; Pythagoras, the Samian Philosopher; the writers, Pindar Aschulus and Anacreon; Leonidas the Spartan, Militiades and Themistocles the Athenian, and a host of others, too numerous to mention."
And again he says.—
“As it is, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that, whilst an acquaintance with the histories of Greece and Rome is so widely diffused that the names of many men mentioned in them, who were distinguished from their fellows by their virtues, or made infamous by their vices, are as familiar as household words, the history of this singular people (the Chinese) and the name of Confucius, one of the greatest moral teachers of his age, indeed of any age, remain comparatively unknown."
Perhaps my readers will say: “But what has all this to do with your subject?” Pardon, dear reader, but it is not the digression that it may seem to be. What I want you to understand is this, that Civilization. Evolution, Scientiﬁc Knowledge, Culture and Education—are all blind alleys, leading to nothing and nowhere. Empires arise in all their earthly pomp and power, their genius and science, education and culture, each one, it may be, in some respects an advance on all former civilizations, yet each one in its turn passes away, leaving man just where they found him. Civilization and Evolution do not lead to Life, but to Death. Some ten years or so ago I was asked to address a company of people in London, and speaking on Evolution and Civilization I said then what I am writing now, and my words were treated with ridicule by many very intellectual people, and some told me afterwards that I was wrong, they could not accept my “theories." Yet, we had, with all our boasted civilization, just come out of the most bloody and disastrous war that the world has ever known, a war in which our greatest scientiﬁc knowledge had been used for the most devilish ends, and now, scarcely has the blood of a million of our sons become mingled with the soil of France, before we are using our knowledge, our science, our “evolved" minds in inventing still more deadly gases by which to wipe out another million of our brothers; still more murderous weapons by which to destroy men, women and children, innocent of any crime, and having no quarrel with us. THIS IS WHERE CIVILIZATION, EVOLUTION, EDUCATION, AND CULTURE LEAD THE WORLD OF MEN. They are blind alleys in so far as any advancement goes, but in so far as the race is concerned they lead to Death. So I repeat again what I said that day in London, CIVILIZATION, EVOLUTION, EDUCATION, MATERIAL SCIENCE do not lead to LIFE but to DEATH.
The fact of the whole thing is this,—Man has advanced to a certain point by evolution, over and over again, but never has he believed that he is destined to overcome the habit of dying. I am absolutely certain of one thing, THE SUPREME MISSION OF JESUS, THE CHRIST, TO THIS WORLD WAS TO TELL MEN THEY NEED NOT DIE. I cannot get away from it, and the more I read His words, and study His life and mission, the more am I convinced that if men had understood Him and His message the race would have conquered death by this time. We have been taught—the whole civilized world has been taught, that death was inevitable. Men must die, has been drilled into the mind of the race age after age, and any hint at all as to death being contrary to the Divine Idea concerning Man has been taboo among both the intellectuals and the religious.
And now allow me again to ask the question I asked at the beginning of this chapter,—To what height is it possible for man to rise? And I answer,—Man was not made subject to death by his Creator. God made not death, but man called it unto himself and he can, by Divine Consciousness, rise superior to death, even to the death of the physical body. If only the race had believed the message of Jesus, and if only His message had been understood actually to mean what He said, and not given what has been called “a spiritual interpretation,” man by this time would have overcome the necessity of death, and his physical body would have passed out of its gross elements into those pure and deathless elements of which I verily believe our Lord’s physical body had passed while He yet walked among men. I imagine some reader may object—“But our Lord died?” Yes, He did, but remember He said of His life, “No man taketh it from me. I lay it down of myself, and I lay it down that I may take it again.” How His sayings have been misunderstood! Death had no power over the body of Jesus, and it could not have touched Him unless He had allowed it. “I lay it down of myself.” I cannot read the sayings of Jesus without being fully convinced that they contain this truth for the race,—the ultimate conquering of death by the transmutation of the gross or animal body into that Substance that can know no decay, and over which death can have no power. And now you will more fully understand why I wrote of the great civilizations and culture of the past ages, it was to show you that this great change cannot take place through Civilization, or Evolution, or Intellectual Knowledge, or Science, for if it could then these great men and great nations of the past would have overcome “the last enemy” long ago. Is it possible that we have misunderstood the words of our Lord concerning “the new birth"? Did He refer to a new Consciousness altogether, a DIVINE BIRTH through which the very nature of the physical body would be changed, and man would return again to that deathless state he undoubtedly once knew; and that he must become even as his Lord, when He was able to say, “no man taketh it from me, I lay it down of myself, that I may take it again”?
People talk of death as the decree and will of God! Yet those same people will tell the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead; the raising of the widow’s son at Nain, and also that of Jairus’ daughter, and at the same time say that death is the will of God for the human race! It that be so then Jesus, at times, deﬁed the will of His Father, and went absolutely against it, undoing what God had done. Here is a clue—follow it up. He came to do the Father’s Will, and one of the ways in which He showed a sad and dying world His Father’s will concerning them, was to raise the dead to life again, showing that death IS NOT THE WILL of God for any man. No one can logically read the Scriptures and come to any other conclusion.
If we will consider many of the sayings of Jesus, we will have to come to the conclusion that He meant His message to be understood as one that, carried out to the uttermost in the lives of men, would deliver them from the necessity of the death of the physical body, and that, by a Divine Consciousness, the physical body could be transmuted into the same substance as His own body when He walked upon the water, or passed out of their midst when they would have laid hands upon Him.
When I have spoken of these things I have been ridiculed by a few, and some have tried to enter into a controversy with me on the subject. One man pointed to a few people who in the last century wrote and talked a great deal on what they called “physical immortality” and (he added) “They died just as you, and all others will die, and yet they claimed to have found immortality in the ﬂesh.” My only answer was, “I have not claimed any such thing, neither do I say that I shall not die.” I would also point out that I do not mean the immortality of the physical body in its animal condition, with its physical passions, physical attractions, and under the compelling power of the law of Gravitation. Man must rise superior to the gross physical body, and by the power of the New Birth into the Divine Consciousness, he must change the very nature of his body, until it becomes as the body of our Lord, tree from the law of Gravitation, free from the material laws of the earth, and the ﬂesh, and is absolutely a body over which death has no power. This is what one here and there throughout the history of the race has manifested, as already pointed out in the case of Enoch “who was not for God took him,” and Melchizedek of whom it was said there was no end to his life. “For that after the similitude of Melchizedek there ariseth another priest, who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.” And this “Priest of an endless life” said, “Greater things than these shall ye do because I go to the Father.” And He called Himself, “The firstborn among many brethren.” He declared that all who accept His teaching, and keep His commandments, following Him faithfully in the Regeneration would never see death.
This clue concerning Life and Death throws such wonderful light upon the Agony in the Garden, for one remembers that He had said, “The prince of this world cometh and hath no part in me,” and one knows that Death had no power over His body unless He deliberately gave it that power. “No man taketh it from me, I lay it down of myself.” It was there in that Garden that He met face to face, the last act of Atonement for the race, to give up a body that need not know death, and to submit to all the pain and death agony of cruciﬁxion, not for Himself, nor because He must, but because HE WILLINGLY would do so. Oh, what love was this! If you will use this clue you will see a glory and a meaning in many of His sayings, and the sayings of His disciples that you never saw before. “Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame.” “I lay it dawn that I may lake it again." What a clue we have here! Look at the magnitude of His sacriﬁce! See Him, who need not die, giving His body to death for us! What a wonderful vision! And yet how blind we have been to it, for do you not see that He must die the death to show us that “death had no dominion over Him,” and that His own words might be fulﬁlled, “THAT I MAY TAKE IT AGAIN.” How could death hold a body from which all the elements of death had been purged, and in which the prince of the world could ﬁnd nothing to lay hold upon? “He hath ascended on high, He hath led captivity captive!"
Slowly but surely the real meaning of His death, and of His resurrection will dawn upon the mind of man, and the race will begin to realize its own high destiny. “When shall these things be?" Well might we ask l I know not. I only know that to me has been given a vision of the race that is to be, when man has risen out of the body of the gross flesh with all its passions, inclinations, appetites and propensities, and by the changing of (what St. Paul calls) “this vile body,” and by the transmutation of it, and all it is, into the deathless Body of the Sons of God, he will no longer have to pass through Death, for he will have destroyed “the last enemy.”