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CHAPTER FOUR - The Third Initiation: The Transfiguration on a High Mountain - Part 1

CHAPTER FOUR

The Third Initiation: The Transfiguration on a High Mountain

KEY THOUGHT

Arjuna said:

"The word which Thou hast spoken through love of me, the supreme mystery named the Oversoul—through it my delusion is gone.

"For the birth and the passing of beings have been heard by me at length from Thee, whose eyes are lotus petals; I have heard also of the Great Spirit, which passes not away.

"So I would see that Self as it has been spoken by Thee, Mighty Lord; that divine form of Thine, O best of men!

"If Thou thinkest it can be seen by me, Lord, Master of union, then reveal to me the Self everlasting!"

Bhagavad Gita, XI.1-4.

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CHAPTER FOUR

The Third Initiation: The Transfiguration on a High Mountain

1

Another period of service is ended. Christ faced another interior crisis, and this time, according to the story, one which He shared with His three favourite disciples, with the three people closest to Him. His demonstrated self-control, and henceforth His immunity from temptation, as we can understand it, had been succeeded by a period of intense activity. He had also laid the foundation of the kingdom of God which it was His mission to found, and whose inner structure and skeleton outline were built upon the twelve apostles, the seventy disciples whom He chose and trained, and the groups of men and women everywhere which responded to His message. So far He was successful. Now He faced another initiation and a further expansion of consciousness. These initiations, to which He subjected Himself on our behalf, and to which we may all in due time aspire, constitute in themselves a living synthesis of revelation which it may profit us to study before we consider the detail of the stupendous revelation which was accorded to the three apostles on the mountain-top. Three of these crises are perhaps of greater significance than has hitherto been grasped by humanity, which is prone to lay the emphasis mainly upon one of them only, the Crucifixion.

One wonders sometimes whether the other tremendous experiences through which Christ passed would have been relatively overlooked in favour of the Crucifixion had the [136] Epistles never been written and had we only the Gospel story upon which to base our Christian belief. This is a point to consider, and worthy of serious speculation. The bias thrown on Christian theology by St. Paul has perhaps over-balanced the structure of the presentation of Christ as we were meant to get it. The three initiations which, in the last analysis, may mean the most to the seeker after truth, are the birth into the kingdom, that august moment when the entire lower nature is transfigured and one realises the fitness of God's sons to be citizens of that kingdom, and the final crisis wherein the immortality of the soul is demonstrated and recognised. The Baptism and the Crucifixion have other values, emphasising as they do purification and self-sacrifice. This may surprise the reader, in that it seems to belittle the Christ, but it is profoundly necessary for us to see the picture as the Gospels present it, uncoloured by the interpretations of a later son of God, no matter if brilliant and sincere, as was St. Paul. In dealing with the subject of Deity, we have always been told that we know God through His nature, and that nature is Spirit or Life, Soul or conscious love, and Form intelligently motivated. Life, quality, and appearance—these are the three major aspects of divinity, and we know no others; but that does not mean that we shall not contact other aspects when eventually we provide the mechanism of knowledge and the intuition to penetrate deeper into the divine Nature. We do not yet know the Father. Christ revealed Him, but the Father Himself remains as yet behind the scenes, inscrutable, unseen and unknown, except as He is revealed through the life of His sons, and by the revelation given peculiarly to the Occident by Jesus Christ.

As we consider these initiations, the three mentioned above stand out clearly. At the Birth in Bethlehem we have the appearance of God, God is made manifest in the flesh. At the Transfiguration we have the quality of God revealed in its transcendent beauty, whilst at the Resurrection initiation the life aspect of divinity makes its presence felt.

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In His earthly life, therefore, Christ did two things:

1. He revealed the triple nature of Deity in the first, third, and fifth initiations.

2. He demonstrated the expansions of consciousness which come when the requirements are duly met—purification and self-sacrifice.

In these five episodes the whole story of initiation is told; birth, subsequent purification in order that right manifestation of Deity may follow, revelation of the nature of God through the medium of a transfigured personality, and finally the goal—life eternal and unending because decentralised and freed from the self-imposed limitations of form.

These three major initiations, the first, the third and the fifth, constitute the three syllables of the Word made flesh; they embody the musical chord of Christ's life, as they will be embodied in the life of all who follow in His steps. Through re-orientation to new modes of living and of being we pass through the necessary stages of adaptation of the vehicles of life, up to that mountain-top where the divine in us is revealed in all its beauty. Then we pass to a "joyful Resurrection," and to that eternal identification with God which is the everlasting experience of all who are perfected. We might depict the process as follows:

1st Initiation 3rd Initiation 5th Initiation

New Birth Transfiguration Resurrection

Initiation Revelation Completion

Beginning Transition Consummation

Appearance Quality Life

This is the first of the mountain experiences. We have had the cave experience and the stream initiation. Each of them has done its work, each revealing more and more divinity in the Man, Christ Jesus. The experience of Christ, as we have been seeing, was to pass from one process of at-one-ment to another. One of the prime objectives of His [138] mission was to resolve the dualities in Himself, producing unity and synthesis. What are these dualities which are to be resolved into unity before the spirit in man can shine forth in its radiance? We might list five of them in order to gain an idea of what must be done and in order to understand the magnitude of Christ's achievement. Transfiguration is not possible until these unifications have been made.

First, man and God must be fused and blended into one functioning whole. God, made flesh, must so dominate and control the flesh that it constitutes no hindrance to the full expression of divinity. Such is not the case with the average man. With him divinity may be present, but it is deeply hidden. However, today, through our psychological investigations, much is being discovered as to this higher and lower self, and the nature of that which is called at times the "subliminal self" is emerging through a study of the reaction of the outer active self to the activities of that inner subjective guidance. That man is dual has been recognised everywhere, and this in itself presents a problem with which psychologists are constantly confronted. Personalities seem to function in a "split" manner; people are distraught because of this cleavage. We hear of multiple personalities, and the necessity for integration, for coordination of the different aspects of man, and the fusing of his nature in one functioning whole becomes more and more urgent. The recognition of man's reach and the constant pull of the world of transcendental values have produced an acute problem for the world. The primitive and the transcendental; the outer conscious man and the inner subjective subliminal man; the higher and the lower self; the personality and the individuality; the soul and the body—how are these to be reconciled? Of the higher values, man is ceaselessly conscious. Of the man who wills to do good, and of the nature which in opposition causes him to perform evil, all the saints testify.

The entire human family today is split on the rock of duality. Either the personality is dual and therefore unmanageable [139] or groups and nations are divided into opposing camps, and again duality emerges in intense dynamic difficulty.

It is integration which Christ so fully exemplified, thus resolving the dualities of higher and lower in Himself, making "of twain one new man,"  [cxlvi]1 and it was this "new man" which shone forth at the Transfiguration before the startled gaze of the three apostles. It is this basic integration or unification which religion should aim to produce, and it is this coordination between two fundamental aspects of human nature—the natural and the divine—which education should effect.

This problem of the two selves, which Christ so strikingly synthesised in Himself, is the strictly human problem. The secondary self, in contradistinction to the divine self, is a fact in nature, however we may try to evade the issue and refuse recognition of its existence. The "natural man" exists, as does the "spiritual man," and in the interaction of the two the human problem is focussed. Man himself makes this clear. In speaking of man, Dr. Bosanquet says that:

"... his innate self-transcendence, his ineradicable passion for the whole, makes it inevitable that out of the superfluity which he cannot systematise under the good, he will form a secondary and negative self, a disinherited self, hostile to the imperative domination of the good which is, ex hypothesi, only partial. And this discord is actually necessary to the good; for it sets it its characteristic problem, the conquest of the bad. And the good is necessary to the evil, for beyond rebellion against the good, the would-be totality of the disinherited self can find no other unity." [cxlvii]2

Here lies man's problem, and here lie his triumph and the expression of his essential divinity. The higher self exists, and finally and inevitably must gain the victory over the lower self. One of the things that is happening today is the [140] discovery of the existence of this higher self, and many are the testimonies to its nature and qualities. Through a consideration of the self in every man we are steadily approximating an understanding of divinity.

Behind the manifestation of Jesus Christ lay aeons of experience. God had been expressing Himself through natural processes, through humanity as a whole, and through specific individuals, as the ages slipped away. Then Christ came, and in process of time, as a definite fulfilment of the past and as a guarantee of the future, He synthesized in Himself, in one transcendent Personality, all that had been achieved and all that was immediate in human experience. He was a Personality, as well as a divine Individuality. His life with its quality and its purpose has set its seal upon our civilisation, and His demonstrated synthesis is the inspiration of the present. This consummated Personality, synthesising in Itself all that preceded in human evolution, and expressing all that immediately may be, is God's great gift to man.

Christ, as the Personality that healed the division in human nature, and Christ, as the synthesis of the higher and the lower aspects of divinity, is the glorious heritage of mankind today. This is what was revealed at the Transfiguration.

However, it is useful to remember that only at a certain stage in human development does the expression of the indwelling Christ life and consciousness become possible. The fact of evolution, with its necessary distinctions and differences, is incontrovertible. All men are not the same. They vary in their presentation of divinity. Some are really sub-human as yet. Others are simply human, and still others are beginning to display qualities and characteristics which are super-human. The question might justifiably arise: when does the possibility come to man of transcending the human, and becoming divine? Two factors will at that time control. He will have transcended the emotional and physical natures, and, entering the realm of thought, he should be responding in some way to ideals as they are presented to him by the [141] thinkers of the world. There must come a time in the progress of each human being when the development of the triple human nature—physical, emotional and mental—reaches a point of possible synthesis. He then becomes a personality. He thinks. He decides. He determines. He assumes control of his life and becomes not only an originating centre of activity but an impressive influence in the world. It is the coming in, with power, of the mind quality, and the capacity to think, which make this possible.

It is this insistence upon thought, and this determination to handle life from the angle of mind and not of emotion, which distinguish a "personality" from the rank and file of human beings. The man who thinks and who acts upon the resolutions and incentives which have their origin in duly considered thought-realities becomes, in time, a "personality," and begins to sway other minds. He exercises a definite influence upon other people. Yet overseeing the personality is the inner spiritual man, which we might call the "individual." It is here again that Christ achieved success, and the second duality, which He so significantly resolved, is that of the personal self and the "individuality." The finite and the infinite must be brought into a close relation. This, Christ demonstrated in the Transfiguration, when, through the medium of a purified and developed personality, He manifested the nature and the quality of God. The finite nature had been transcended and could no longer control His activities. He had passed in His consciousness to the realm of inclusive realisation, and the ordinary rules governing the finite individual, with its petty problems and its small reaction to events and persons, could no longer influence Him nor determine His conduct. He had achieved contact with that realm of being in which there is not only understanding, but peace, through unity.

Rules and fixations and considerations Christ had surmounted, and consequently He functioned as an individual and not as a human personality. He was governed by the [142] rules which control in the realm of the spirit, and it was this which the three Apostles recognised at the Transfiguration, and which led to their submission to Him henceforth as the One Who represented to them Divinity. Christ, therefore, at the Transfiguration, unified in Himself God and Man, His developed Personality blending with His Individuality. He stood forth as the perfect expression of the uttermost possibility to which humanity could aspire. The dualities, of which mankind is so distressingly the expression, met in Him, and resulted in a synthesis of such perfection that, for all time, He determined the goal of our race.

There is a still higher synthesis, and this Christ also summarised in Himself—the synthesis of the part with the Whole, of humanity with the ultimate Reality. Man's history has been one of development from the state of mass unconscious reactions to that of a slowly recognised group responsibility. The low-grade human being or the unthinking individual has a collective consciousness. He may regard himself as a person, but he does no clear thinking as to human relations, or as to the place of humanity in the scale of being. He is easily swayed by the mass or collective thought, and is regimented and standardised by mass psychology. He moves in rhythm with the mass of men; he thinks as they think (if he thinks at all); he easily feels as the mass feels, and he remains undifferentiated from his kind. Upon this, orators and dictators base their success. Through their golden-tongued oratory or through their magnetic and dominant personalities, they swing the masses to their will because they work with the collective, though undeveloped, consciousness.

From this stage we pass to that of the emerging personality who does his own thinking, makes his own plans and cannot be regimented or beguiled by words. He is a thinking individual, and the collective consciousness and the mass mind cannot hold him in thrall. These are the people who pass on to liberation, and who, from one expansion of awareness [143] to another, gradually become consciously integrated parts of the whole. Eventually, the group and its will (not the mass and its feeling) come to be of supreme importance, because they see the group as God sees it, become custodians of the divine Plan, and conscious, integral, intelligent parts of the whole. They know what they are doing, and why they do it. In Himself Christ blended and fused the part with the whole, and effected an at-one-ment between the will of God, synthetic and comprehensive, and the individual will, which is personal and limited. In a commentary on The Bhagavad Gita, that supreme argument for the life of the whole as fused and blended in divinity, Charles Johnston points out that:

"The truth would seem to be that, at a certain point in spiritual life, the ardent disciple, who has sought in all things to bring his soul into unison with the great Soul, who has striven to bring his will to likeness with the Divine Will, passes through a marked spiritual experience, in which the great Soul draws him upward, the Divine Will raises his consciousness to oneness with the Divine Consciousness; for a time he perceives and feels, no longer as the person, but as the Oversoul, gaining a profound vision of the divine ways of life, and feeling with the infinite Power, which works through life and death alike, through sorrow and joy, through union and separation, through creation, destruction and recreation. The awe and mystery which surround that great unveiling have set their seal on all who have passed through it." [cxlviii]3

This realisation is far from the average man, and still further from the undeveloped.

The divine is the Whole, informed and animated by the life and will of God; and in utter self-surrender and with all the power of His purified nature and His divine understanding and wisdom, Christ blended in Himself the collective consciousness, the human realisation and the divine Totality. Some day we shall understand this more clearly. It is as yet something which we cannot grasp, unless for us the Transfiguration is a reality and not a goal.

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It is interesting to have in mind another at-one-ment which Christ made. He unified in Himself the past and the future, as far as humanity is concerned. This is significantly typified in the appearance with Him upon the Mount of Transfiguration of Moses and Elias, the representatives respectively of the Law and of the Prophets. In the one figure we find symbolised the past of man, with its summation in the Law of Moses, setting the limits beyond which man may not go, defining the injunctions which he must set upon his lower nature (the desire-nature), and emphasising the restrictions which the race as a whole must set upon its actions. Careful study will reveal that all these laws concern the government and control of the desire-nature, of the emotional, feeling body, to which we have already had need to refer. Curiously enough, the name "Moses," according to Cruden's Concordance, means "taken out of the water." We have already seen that water is the symbol of the fluidic emotional desire-nature in which man habitually dwells. Moses therefore appeared with Christ as typifying man's emotional past, and the technique of its control is to be later superseded when the message of Christ's life is duly understood, pouring through man's consciousness in ever greater fullness. Christ indicated the new synthetic commandment which is "to love one another." This would render needless all the Law and the Prophets, and would relegate the Ten Commandments into the background of life, rendering them superfluous, because the love which will flow out from man to God, and from man to man, will automatically and positively produce that right action which will make the breaking of the commandments impossible. The "shalt not" of God, spoken from Mount Sinai through Moses, with its negative emphasis and its punitive interpretation, will give place to the radiance of love and the understanding of goodwill and light which Christ radiated upon the mount of Transfiguration. The past met in Him and was superseded by a living present.

Elias, whose name means "the strength of the Lord," stood [145] beside Jesus Christ as the representative of all the schools of the Prophets which had for centuries foretold the coming of the One Who would stand for perfect righteousness and Who, in His Own Person, would embody, as He does today, the future achievement and the goal of the human race. That the future holds reaches of consciousness and standards of achievement as much beyond those of Christ as His expression is beyond ours, is entirely possible. The nature of the Father remains still to be known; some of its aspects, such as the love and wisdom of God, have been revealed to us by Christ. For us today, and for our immediate goal, Christ stands as the Eternal Prophet, to whom Elias and all the Prophets bear witness. Therefore, as He stood upon the mountain top, the past and the future of humanity met in Him.

That He at-oned in Himself certain basic human cleavages is thus apparent, and to those above enumerated we can add one already considered, the blending in Himself of two great kingdoms in nature, the human and the divine, making possible the emergence into manifestation of a new kingdom upon earth—the kingdom of God, the fifth kingdom in nature.

When considering the Transfiguration it is necessary to realise that it was not simply a great initiation, in which God revealed Himself in His radiance and glory to man, but that it had a definite relation to the medium of revelation—the material physical nature, which we call the "Mother aspect." We saw, when studying the Birth initiation, that the Virgin Mary (even when recognising, as we do, the historicity of Christ's existence) is the symbol of the form nature, of the material nature of God. She typifies in herself that which preserves the life of God, latent yet with infinite potentialities. Christ revealed the love-nature in the Father. Through His Person, He revealed the purpose and objective of the form-life of man.

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In this mountain experience we see the glorification of matter as it reveals and expresses the divine, indwelling Christ. Matter, the Virgin Mary, reveals God. Form, the result of active material processes, must express divinity, and the revelation of this is God's gift to us at the Transfiguration. Christ was "very God of very God," but He was also "flesh of our flesh," and in the interplay and the fusion of the two, God stood revealed in all His magnetic and radiant glory.

When we, as human beings, realise the divine purpose, and come to regard our physical bodies as the means whereby the divine, indwelling Christ can be revealed, we shall gain a new vision of physical living and a renewed incentive for the proper care and treatment of the physical body. We shall cherish these bodies, through which we temporarily function, as the custodians of the divine revelation. We shall, each of us, regard them as the Virgin Mary regarded her body, as the repository of the hidden Christ, and we shall look forward to that momentous day when we, too, shall stand upon the Mount of Transfiguration, revealing the glory of the Lord through the medium of our bodies. Browning sensed this and gave us the thought in the following well-known phrases:

"Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise

From outward things, whate'er you may believe.

There is an inmost centre in us all

Where truth abides in fullness; and around

Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in.

. . . . . . And, to know

Rather consists in opening out a way

Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape

Than in effecting entry for a light

Supposed to be without."

 [cxlix]4

Thus, for humanity, Christ stood revealed as the expression of God. There is for us no other goal. Yet let us remember with humility and awe that the stupendous words spoken by Krishna, in The Bhagavad Gita, remain also true [147] as an ultimate statement concerning the transfiguration of the whole world:

"Nor is there any end of My divine form, O consumer of the foe; this I have told thee for thy instruction, as an enumeration of My manifold forms. Whatever being is glorious, gracious or powerful, thou shalt recognize that, as sprung from a fragment of my fire. But what need hast thou of this manifold wisdom, O Arjuna? With one part of My being I stand establishing this whole world." [cl]5

Under the impact of the evolutionary urge God moves towards fuller recognition. "Purification" is the word generally used to cover the process whereby the medium of divine expression is prepared for use. The Galilee experience, and the daily effort to live and meet the eventualities of human existence (which appear to grow more drastic and disciplinary as the great wheel of life turns, and, turning, carries humanity onward), bring man to the point where this purification is not simply the result of life itself, but is something which is definitely imposed by man upon his own nature. When this process is self-initiated, then the speed with which the work is carried forward is greatly accentuated. This produces a transformation of the outer man of great significance. The caterpillar becomes transformed into the butterfly. Deep in man lies this hidden beauty, unrealised, but struggling for release.

The life of the indwelling Christ produces the transformation of the physical body, but deeper still, that life operates upon the emotional-feeling nature, and through the process of transmutation converts the desires and feelings, the pains and the pleasures, into their higher correspondences. Transmutation has been defined as "the passage across from one state of being to another, through the agency of fire." [cli]6 It is appropriate in this connection to remember that the threefold lower man, with whom we have been dealing so often in these pages, is a dim reflection of [148] Deity Itself. The physical body is related to the third aspect of divinity, the Holy Ghost aspect, and the truth of this can be realised if we study the Christian concept of the Virgin Mary overshadowed by the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is that aspect of divinity which is the active principle in matter, and of this the physical body is a correspondence. The emotional, sentient nature is a dim and distorted reflection of the love-nature of God which the cosmic Christ, the second Person in the Trinity, is engaged in revealing; and this aspect (transmuted through the agency of fire, the will or spirit of God) produces the transformation of the physical body. The mind in its turn is therefore the reflection of the highest aspect of deity, the Father, or Spirit, of Whom it is said that our "God is a consuming fire." [clii]7 The releasing activity of this form of God's spirit eventually produces that radiance (as a result of transformation and transmutation) which was the distinguishing characteristic of the Transfiguration initiation. "Radiation is transmutation in process of accomplishment." Transmutation being the liberation of the essence in order that it may seek a new centre, the process may be recognised as `radio activity' as far as humanity is concerned." [cliii] 8

It was these processes, carried on in the form nature, which led eventually to the revelation to the Apostles of the essential nature of the Master they loved and followed, and it is this aspect of Christ—the inner radiant reality—to which the mystics of all times bear testimony, not only in connection with Christ, but in lesser degree in connection with each other also. Once the world of the senses has been transcended, and the higher correspondences have become active, revealing the inner world of beauty and truth, there will come to the mystic a realisation of a subjective world whose characteristics are light, radiance, beauty and indescribable wonder. All the mystical writings are attempts to describe this world to which the mystics seem to have access, with [149] its forms varying according to the period, race and point of development of the seer. We know only that the divine stands revealed, while the outer form which has veiled and hidden it dissolves, or is so transformed that only the inner reality is registered. The temperament and tendencies of the mystic—his own innate quality—have also much to do with his description of what he sees. However, all are agreed on the essentially transcendent nature of the experience, and convinced of the divine nature of the person concerned.

Great indeed was the power and mystery of divinity which Christ revealed to the astonished gaze of His three friends upon the Mount of Transfiguration. In one of the ancient scriptures of India, quoted by Dr. Otto, there is an attempt to express or reveal that divine essential Spirit manifested at the Transfiguration:

"Finer than the fine yet am I greatest,

I am the All in its complete fullness,

I, the most ancient, the spirit, the Lord God.

The golden-gleaming am I, of form divine.

Without hand and foot, rich in unthinkable might,

Sight without eyes, hearing without ears,

Free from all form, I know. But me

None knows. For I am Spirit, am Being."

 [cliv]9

The mass of literature that has been written in an attempt to portray the wonder of the transfiguration and the vision of God, is an outstanding phenomenon of the religious life, and one of the strongest testimonies to the fact of the revelations.

The very simplicity of the story as related in the Gospels has a majesty and a convincing power of its own. The Apostles saw a vision and they participated in an experience wherein Christ Jesus stood before them as perfected Man, because fully divine. They had shared with Him His service; they had left their various vocations in order to be with Him; they had gone with Him from place to place and [150] helped Him in His work, and now, as a reward for faithfulness and recognition, they were permitted to see the Transfiguration. "When the mind," says St. Augustine, "hath been imbued with the beginning of faith which worketh by love, it goes on by living well to arrive at sight also, wherein is unspeakable beauty known to high and holy hearts, the full vision of which is the highest happiness." [clv]10

2

"After six days Jesus taketh Peter, James and John, his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them; and his face did shine as the Sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

"And behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

"While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only." [clvi]11

A consideration of the various unifications which Christ had made in Himself will have prepared us for the stupendous phenomenon of the revelation which forced the three disciples to their faces. Three kneeling kings or magi attended the birth initiation. At this crisis there were three disciples prostrate upon the ground, unable to look upon the glory which had been revealed. They thought that they knew their Master, but the familiar Presence had been transformed, and they stood before The Presence. The sense of awe, of wonder and of humility is ever an outstanding [151] reaction of the mystics of all time to the revelation of light. This episode is the first one in which we contact the radiance and the light which shone from the Saviour, and which enabled Him to say with truth "I am the Light of the world." Contact with God will ever cause a light to shine forth. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, his countenance was so irradiated that men could not look upon it, and history tells that he had to use a veil to shield that radiance from others. But the light which was in Christ shone forth in fullness from His whole Person. Increasingly, I believe, as the evolutionary process goes forward, we shall come to a deeper understanding of the significance of light in relation to humanity. We talk of the light of knowledge, and towards that light and its furtherance all of our educational processes and institutions are consecrated. We desire profoundly the light of understanding, which expresses itself in wisdom, and characterises the sage and the wise upon earth; this light marks them off from the ordinarily intelligent person, making their words of moment, and giving value to their advice. We have been led to believe that there are in the world the illuminati, working quietly and silently behind the scenes in world affairs, shedding the light when needed into the dark places of the world, elucidating problems, and eventually bringing to light that which must be eradicated and that which is needed. We have also learnt to recognize the Light-bearers of all time, and we feel that in Christ the light of the ages is focussed, and the light of God is centred. His disciples came into the radius of this light for the first time on the mountain-top, after six days of work, so the story runs, and could not bear the sight of so much brilliance. Nevertheless, they felt that "it was good for them to be there." Yet in our consideration of the light which was in Christ, and the rapture of the Apostles at its revelation, let us not lose sight of the fact that He Himself tells us that there is in us also a light, and that it too must blaze forth for the helping of the world and the glorification of our Father which is in [152] Heaven. [clvii]12 To this light the mystics testify, and it is this light into which they enter, and which enters into them, revealing the light which is latent and drawing it forth to potency. "In Thy light shall we see light." This is the outstanding fact of scientific mysticism. God is light as well as life. This the mystic has proved, and to this he eternally testifies.

This awareness of the fact of divinity is established in our consciousness first of all through the recognition of the wonder latent in every human being. That man who sees no good in his fellowmen is he who is unaware of his own goodness; that man who sees only evil in those around him is he who is seeing them through the distorted lens of his own warped nature. But those who are awakening to the world of reality are constantly made aware of the divinity in man, through his unselfish acts, his kindness, his spirit of enquiry, his light-heartedness in difficulty, and his basic essential goodness. This awareness deepens as he studies the history of the race and the religious inheritance of the ages, and above all when he is brought face to face with the transcendent goodness and wonder which Christ revealed. From this realisation he passes on to the discovery of the divine in himself, and starts on that long struggle which carries him through the stages of intellectual awareness of possibility, and of intuitive perception of truth, to that illumination which is the prerogative and the gift of all the perfected sons of God. The radiant inner body of light is present both in the individual and in the race, unseen and unrevealed, but slowly and surely emerging. At the present hour a large number of mankind are engaged in the activities of the six days which precede the transfiguration experience.

It is important here to study briefly the place of the disciples in the story of this experience. Down through Biblical history we meet this triplicity. Moses, Aaron and Joshua; Job and his three friends; Shadrach, Meschach and [153] Abednego, the friends of Daniel; the three kings at the cradle in Bethlehem; the three disciples at the Transfiguration; the three Crosses on Calvary! What accounts for this constant recurrence of three? What does it symbolise? Apart from their possible historical appearance, does there lie behind them some peculiar symbology which can, when understood, render clear the circumstances in which they played their part? A study of their names and the interpretation of them as given in the familiar Cruden's Concordance may supply a clue. Take, for instance, the meaning of the names of Job's friends. They were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. Eliphaz the Temanite means "my God is gold," and also "the southern quarter," the opposite pole to the north. Gold is the symbol of material welfare, and the opposite pole to spirit is matter, therefore in this name we have symbolised the tangible outer form of man, actuated by desire for material possessions and comfort. Zophar the Naamathite means the "one who talks," and his theme is pleasantness, which is the interpretation given to the word "Naamathite." Here we have the desire body typified, with its longing for pleasantness, for happiness and for pleasure, and an indication of the constant and ceaseless call and voice of the sentient nature, to which we can all testify. Bildad the Shuhite represents the mental nature, the mind, signifying as he does "contrition," which becomes possible only when the mind is beginning to be active (including the conscience). Shuhite means "prostration or helplessness," signifying that alone and unaided the mind can reveal but cannot help. Remorse and sorrow, involving memory, are the result of mental activity. Thus, in Job's three friends the three as aspects of his lower nature stand revealed. The same is the case when we study the names of Daniel's three friends. Abednego means the "servant of the sun," the server of the light; in that significance the whole duty and purpose of the physical outer man is summed up. Shadrach's name has a definitely emotional sentient connotation, for it means [154] "rejoicing in the way," and wherever we find reference to the basic dualities of pleasure and pain we are considering the emotional-feeling nature. Meschach means "agile," quick moving, which is in itself a very good description of the mental nature. Arjuna, in The Bhagavad Gita[clviii]13 points this out in his words to Krishna: "This union through oneness which is taught by Thee, ... I perceive not its firm foundation, owing to the wavering of the mind; for the mind wavers, Krishna, turbulent, impetuous, forceful; and I think it is as hard to hold as the wind."

Thus in the three friends, and in the various triplicities which we find in the Bible, we discover a symbolism which is vitally illuminating. The three aspects through which the soul must express itself, and through which it must shine, are thus portrayed. It is the same in connection with the three friends of Jesus Christ. I cannot here touch upon the friendships of Jesus Christ. They are very real and very deep, and universal in their inclusiveness. They are timeless and eternal, and the friends of Christ are to be found in every race (Christian or otherwise), in every clime and in both hemispheres. And be it remembered, it is only the friends of Christ who have any right to be dogmatic about Him, or who can speak with any authority of Him and His ideas, because theirs is the authority of love and of understanding.

We find also this basic triplicity in the persons of Peter and James and John, and in their names we find the same essential symbolism working out, thus giving us the clue to the meaning of this wonderful story. Peter, as we well know, means "rock." Here is the foundation, the most concrete aspect, the outer physical form, which, at the Transfiguration, is transformed by the glory of God, so that the outer image disappears, and God Himself shines forth. James, we are told, signifies "illusion," distortion. Here we have reference to the emotional-feeling body, with its power [155] to misrepresent and to deceive, to mislead and to delude. Where emotion enters in, and where the focus of attention is in sensitive and sensuous reaction, that which is not true rapidly appears, and the man becomes the subject of illusion. It is this body of illusion which is eventually transmuted, and so changed and stabilised that it provides a clear medium for the revelation of deity. John means "the Lord hath spoken," and herein is the mind nature typified, because it is only when the mental aspect begins to manifest that we have the appearance of speech and of that thinking, speaking animal which we call "man." So, in the apt symbology of the Scripture, Christ's three friends stood for the three aspects of His human nature, and it was upon this integrated, focussed and consecrated personality that the transfiguration made its impact and produced revelation. Thus again the essential duality of humanity is revealed through Christ, and His threefold personality and His essential divinity are portrayed for us in such a way that the lesson (and the possibility) cannot be evaded. The Apostles recognised God in their Master, taking their stand upon the fact of this divinity, as have the mystics of all time.

They "knew Whom they had believed."  [clix]14 They saw the light which shone in the Person of Jesus Christ, and for them He was more than the Person they had known heretofore. Through this experience God became a reality to them.

In the synthesis of the past, the present and the future, Christ and those who were immediately His friends, met with God, and so potent was this combination that it evoked from God Himself an immediate response. When feeling and thought meet in a moment of realisation, there is a simultaneous precipitation of energy, and life is forever after different. That which has been believed is known as fact, and belief is no longer necessary.

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The Transfiguration scene was the meeting-ground of significant factors, and since that moment the life of humanity has been radically changed. It was as potent a moment in racial history as the Crucifixion, of more potency perhaps than even that great and tragic happening. Seldom do such moments come. Usually we see only faint glimpses of possibility, rare flashes of illumination, and fleeting seconds wherein a synthesis appears and leaves us with a sense of fitness, of integration, of purpose and of underlying reality. But such moments are rare indeed. We know God is. We know reality exists. But life, with its emphasis directed on phenomena, its stresses and its strains, so preoccupies us that we have no time, after the six days' labour, to climb the mountain of vision. A certain familiarity with God's nature must surely precede the revelation of Himself which He can and does at times accord. Christ's three friends had been admitted to a degree of intimacy with Him which warranted their being chosen as His companions at the scene of His experience, wherein He staged, for the benefit of humanity, a symbolic event as well as a definite experience for which arrangement had duly to be made with the participants correctly chosen and trained, so that the symbolism which they embodied might appear, and their intuitive reactions be rightly directed. It was necessary that Christ should have with Him those who could be depended upon to recognise divinity when it appeared, and whose intuitive spiritual perception would be such that—for all time—the inner meaning might be made apparent to those of us who have followed later in His steps. This is a point at times forgotten. Inevitably "we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."  [clx]15

But to bring about this likeness two things are necessary to the consecrated and dedicated disciple. He must be able [157] to see clearly, meanwhile standing in the illumination which radiates from Christ, and his intuition must be active, so that he can rightly interpret what he sees. He loves his Master, and he serves with what faithfulness he can; but more than devotion and service are needed. He must be able to face the illumination, and at the same time he must have that spiritual perception which, reaching out beyond the point to which the intellect can carry him, sees and touches reality. It is love and intellect combined, plus the power to know, which is inherent in the soul, which recognises intuitively that which is holy, universal and real, and yet which is specific and true for all time to all people.

Christ revealed the quality of the divine nature through the medium of matter, of form, and "was transfigured before them."

"The Greek word here used is `metamorphosed,' the very word used by St. Paul to describe the transmutation of the mortal body into the resurrection body; for on the day of fulfilment, when the perfected disciple has attained masterhood, the `Robe of Glory' shines forth with such splendour through the garment of the flesh that all the beholders perceive it, and, their eyes and ears attuned to finer subtle vibration, they behold their Master in all His divine humanity." [clxi]16.