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CHAPTER V - THE PROBLEM OF THE CHURCHES - Part 2

To all these above truths, essential to human unfoldment, must be added another. This truth is only as yet dimly sensed because it is a larger truth than any hitherto presented to the consciousness of mankind. It is larger because it is related to the Whole and not to individual man alone and his personal salvation. It is an extension of the individual approach to truth. Let us call it the truth concerning the great Cyclic Approaches of the divine to the human; of these all world Saviours and Teachers are the symbol and the guarantee. At certain great moments down the ages, God drew nearer to His people and humanity at the same time made great, though oft unconscious efforts to draw near to God. From one angle, it might be regarded as God transcendent recognizing God immanent, and God in man reaching out to God in the Whole and greater than the Whole. On the part of God, working through the Head of the spiritual Hierarchy and its Membership, this effort was intentional, conscious and deliberate; on the part of man, it has been in the past largely unconscious, forced upon humanity by the tragedy of circumstances, by desperate need and by the driving urge of the immanent Christ consciousness.

These great Approaches can be traced down the centuries; each time one took place, it meant a clearer understanding of divine purpose, a new and fresh revelation of divine quality, the institution of some aspect of a new world faith and the sounding of a note which produced a new civilization and culture or a fresh recognition of relationship between God and man or man and his brother.

Back in the dim past of history (hinted at through symbolism and in the Bibles of the world) there was a first major Approach when God took notice of man and [150] something happened—under the action and will of God the Creator, God transcendent—which affected primeval man, and he "became a living soul". As the yearning urge towards an undefined and unrealized good made itself felt in the inchoate longings of unthinking man (literally unthinking at that stage), it evoked a response from Deity; God drew near to man and man became imbued with that life and energy which, as time went by, would enable him to recognize himself as a son of God and eventually to express that sonship perfectly. This Approach was signalized by the appearance of the faculty of mind in man. In man was planted the embryonic power to think, to reason and to know. The universal Mind of God was reflected in the tiny mind of man.

Later, we are told, when the mental powers of the early humanity warranted it, another Approach between God and man, between the spiritual Hierarchy and humanity, became possible and the door into the Kingdom of God was opened. Man learned that the way into the Holy Place could be entered through love. To the mental principle was added—again by the force of invocation and responsive evocation—another divine attribute or principle, the principle of love.

These two great Approaches made it possible for the human soul to express or manifest two aspects of divinity: Intelligence and Love. Intelligence today is flowering through knowledge and science; it has, however, not yet unfolded on any large scale its latent beauty of wisdom; love today is only just beginning to engross human attention; its lowest aspect, Goodwill, is only now being recognized as a divine energy and is still a theory and a hope.

The Buddha came embodying in Himself the divine quality of wisdom; He was the manifestation of Light, and the Teacher of the way of enlightenment. He [151] demonstrated in Himself the processes of illumination and became "the Illumined One". Light, wisdom, reason, as divine yet human attributes, were focussed in the Buddha. He challenged the people to tread the Path of Illumination of which wisdom, mental perception and the intuition are aspects.

Then came the next great Teacher, the Christ. He embodied in Himself a still greater divine principle—greater than the Mind, that of Love; yet at the same time, He embraced within Himself all that the Buddha had of light. Christ was the expression of both light and love. Christ also brought to human attention three deeply necessary concepts:

1. The extreme value of the individual son of God and the necessity for intense spiritual effort.

2. The opportunity, presented to humanity, to take a great step forward and undergo the new birth.

3. The method whereby a man could enter into the kingdom of God, voiced for us in His words, "Love your neighbour as yourself'. Individual effort, group opportunity and identification with each other—such is the message of the Christ.

Thus we have had four great Approaches of the divine to the human—two major Approaches and two lesser Approaches. These lesser Approaches made clear to us the true nature of the great Approaches and showed us how that which was conferred in the far distant history of the race constitutes a divine heritage and the seed of ultimate perfection.

A fifth great Approach is now possible and will take place when humanity has put its house in order. A new revelation is hovering over mankind and for it the previous four Approaches have prepared humanity. A new heaven and a new earth are on their way. The words "a new Heaven" signify an entirely new conception as to the world of spiritual realities and perhaps of [152] the very nature of God Himself. May it not be possible that our present ideas of God as the Universal Mind, as Love and as Will may be enriched by some new idea and quality for which we have as yet no name or word and of which we have not the faintest understanding? Each of the three concepts as to the nature of divinity—mind, love and will— were entirely new when first presented to humanity.

What this fifth Approach will bring to humanity we do not and cannot know. It will surely bring as definite results in the human consciousness as did the earlier Approaches. For some years now, the spiritual Hierarchy of our planet has been drawing nearer to humanity and its approach is responsible for the great concepts of freedom which are so close to the hearts of men everywhere. The dream of brotherhood, of fellowship, of world cooperation and of a peace, based on right human relations, is becoming clearer in our minds. We are also visioning a new and vital world religion, a universal faith which will have its roots in the past, but which will make clear the new dawning beauty and the coming vital revelation.

Of one thing we can be sure, this fifth Approach will in some way—deeply spiritual, yet wholly factual—prove the truth of the immanence of God and will prove also the close relationship between God transcendent and God immanent, for both expressions of God are true.

IV. THE REGENERATION OF THE CHURCHES

Can the churches, both in the East and in the West, be regenerated, purified and brought into line with divine truth? Can they in reality take over the task which they loudly proclaim is theirs and become the genuine dispensers of truth and the representatives of the kingdom of God on earth? The answer is yes. These changes [153] can be made and their possibility can be demonstrated by the recognition of certain factors which are oft overlooked.

A profound and sound optimism is entirely possible even in the midst of discouraging conditions. The heart of humanity is sound; God in His very nature and with all His power is present in the person of every man, unrevealed as yet in the majority but eternally present and moving towards full expression. Nothing can or ever has prevented mankind from a steady progress which has been from ignorance to knowledge and from darkness to light. The first great clause of the most ancient prayer in the world, "Lead us from darkness to Light", has seen fulfilment to a large degree. Today we are on the verge of seeing the answer to the second clause: "Lead us from the unreal to the Real". This may well be the outstanding effect of the coming fifth Approach.

God is not as He has been presented; salvation is not achieved as the churches teach; man is not the miserable sinner which the clergy force him to believe. All this is unreal but the Real exists; it exists for the churches and for the professional representatives of organized religion as much as for any other man or group. Churchmen are as basically divine, as sound and as surely on their way to enlightenment as any other group of men on earth. The salvation of the churches rests on the humanity of its representatives and on their innate divinity as surely as does the salvation of the mass of men. This is for the church a hard saying.

Great and good, holy and humble men are to be found serving as priests in every church, silently and quietly endeavouring to live as Christ would have them live, setting an example of a Christlike consciousness and demonstrating their close and recognized relation to God.

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Let these men rise up, and in their spiritual might let them eliminate out of the churches those materially minded and narrow doctrinaires who keep the church as it is today; let them intensify the fire in their hearts and draw closer—with deliberation and understanding—to the Christ they serve; let them gather closer to the Hierarchy those they are seeking to help; let them discard—without fighting, comment or fury—the doctrines which hold the people in a mental prison and present those few and true teachings to which the hearts of all men everywhere respond. Let them have courage and cheer, optimism and joy, for the forces of evil have been greatly weakened and the masses of men are rapidly awakening to the true spiritual values; let them know that Christ and the true inner church are on their side; therefore, victory is already theirs.

The processes of evolution may be long but they are proven and sure and nothing can arrest the moving forward into the Kingdom of God. Humanity must progress; stage by stage and cycle after cycle, humanity approaches closer to divinity, discovers a more brilliant light and arrives at a growing knowledge of God. God, in the person of Christ and of His disciples, also draws nearer to men. What has been in the past shall indeed be in the future; revelation will succeed revelation until the great Informing Life of our planet (called in the Bible the Ancient of Days) will stand finally revealed in all His glory; He will then Himself approach His regenerated and purified people.

Another point which should be remembered is that in the new generation lies hope—hope through repudiation of the ancient and undesirable, hope because of their ceaseless demand for spiritual light, hope because of the promptness with which they recognize truth wherever it is to be found (in the church or out of it) and hope because, having been born in the midst of a [155] ruined world and a general chaos, they are ready for the rebuilding.

The church will then proclaim that men can draw near to God, not through the mediation, absolution and the intercessory work of any priest or churchman but by right of man's inherent divinity. This it will be the duty of every churchman to evoke by example, by the energy of applied and practical love (not expressed through a soporific paternalism), and by the unified effort of the clergy of all faiths everywhere in the world.

The churches in the West need to realize that basically there is only one church but it is not necessarily only the orthodox Christian institution; God works in many ways, through many faiths and religious agencies; in their union will the fullness of truth be revealed. This is one reason for the elimination of nonessential doctrines.

V. THE NEW WORLD RELIGION

In what way will this new presentation of religion and its new rituals and ceremonies take form? A new presentation is deeply desired and hopefully anticipated by those to whom the religious attitude is of fundamental importance. What are the signs of its coming? What must be the preliminary first steps? Are there any indications of developing trends which would incline one to believe in its eventual appearance?

Many such questions arise. Much of what might be said in reply can be regarded by the sceptical and the orthodox as purely speculative. The present attitude of the churches would seem to negate any possibility of a universal religion at this time—if ever; the divergences in doctrine and in the presented approach to God would appear to preclude any uniformity of approach. Necessarily, the outer structure of the New World Religion will be long in manifesting; there is [156] little chance of its full emergence during the present generation. The signs, however, of its rising are already to be seen on the horizon, and the dawn of true thinking is revealing them; the blueprints are already drawn. The inner attitude of humanity and a few outer happenings indicate a true inner recognition of the necessity for a revisal of orthodox religion and a revival of its spiritual influence. These are ever the preliminary steps to creation. Subjective realization always precedes the objective manifestation and so it is today in this case.

Humanity is recognizing the need for a more vital approach to God and one more intelligently presented; men are tired of doctrinal and dogmatic differences and quarrels; the study of Comparative Religion has demonstrated that the foundational truths in every faith are identical. Because of this universality, they evoke recognition and response from all men everywhere. The only factor in reality which militates against the spiritual unity of all men everywhere is the existent clerical organizations and their militant attitude to religions and to faiths other than their own.

In spite of all this, the structure of the New World Religion is being raised by the dissenting groups within the institutional churches, by the many world groups who present the concept of God immanent, even when they do so with selfish motive and with an unwholesome emphasis upon the powers of the indwelling divinity to provide perfect health, plenty of money, serene business success and unbroken popularity!

The New World Religion is also being brought into expression through the work of the esoteric groups throughout the world because of their particular emphasis upon the fact of the spiritual Hierarchy, upon the office and the work of the Christ and upon the techniques of meditation whereby soul-awareness (or the Christ-consciousness) can be achieved. Prayer has been [157] expanded into meditation; desire has been lifted into mental aspiration. This is supplanted by a sense of unity and by the recognition of God immanent. This leads eventually to at-one-ment with God transcendent.

It is at this point that the Science of Invocation and Evocation can at times supersede the earlier techniques. The whole of humanity is moving forward into the area of mental understanding. The grasping nature of the prayers of the average men (based as they are upon desire for something) has long disturbed the intelligent; the vagueness of the meditation, taught and practised in the East and in the West (with its emphatically selfish note, personal liberation and personal satisfaction) is likewise causing a revolt. Something bigger and larger than individual desire and liberation is registered. Many groups are wrestling with these changes and this is, in itself, most hopeful.

In the aggregate of these groups—within the churches or outside them—is to be found the nucleus of the New World Religion. To this should be added the activities of the spiritualistic movement, not from the angle of its emphasis upon phenomena (much of it is spurious or imaginative, but some of it realistic and true) but from the angle of its surety about human immortality and the evidence which it has collected. The spiritualists have not yet succeeded in proving immortality; they have succeeded in proving survival and have thus made a valuable contribution to the structure of the New World Religion.

The slowly developing powers of telepathic communication and the recognition of extra-sensory perception by science are also playing their part in demonstration of the world of non-tangible life and values; all these factors necessitate and "sub-stand" the demand for a new presentation of religion which will be inclusive in its scope and not exclusive—as it is today. The religion [158] of the future will account for the progress of humanity by its recognition of a divine Plan, historically proved. Scientifically applied discipline and training will enable mankind to function under the control of the inner divinity, or interior spiritual man; this training will also reveal to them the fact of God immanent in all forms and will enable them to participate in that great planetary movement—now slowly taking place—whereby God immanent is entering into a closer relation with God transcendent, via the spiritual Hierarchy of the earth.

The keynote of the New World Religion is Divine Approach. "Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you" is the injunction, emanating in new and clear tones from the Hierarchy today. The great theme of the New World Religion will be the unifying of the great divine Approaches; the task ahead of the churches is to prepare humanity, through organized and spiritual movements, for the fifth imminent Approach; the method employed will be the scientific and intelligent use of Invocation and Evocation and the recognition of its stupendous potency; the objective of the coming Approach, of the preparatory work and of the invocation, is revelation—a revelation which has ever been cyclically given and which today is ready for man's acceptance.

Invocation is of three kinds. There is, first of all, the massed demand, unconsciously voiced, and the crying appeal, wrung from the hearts of men in all times of crisis, such as the present. This invocative cry rises ceaselessly from all men living in the midst of disaster and is addressed to that power outside themselves which they feel can and should come to their help in their moment of extremity. That great and wordless invocation is rising everywhere today. Then there is the invocational spirit, evidenced by sincere men as they participate in the rites of their religion and take advantage of the opportunity of united worship and prayer to lay their [159] demands for help before God. This group, added to the mass of men, creates a huge body of invocative applicants and, at this time, their massed intent is in great evidence and their invocation is rising to the Most High. Then, lastly, there are the trained disciples and aspirants of the world who use certain forms of words, certain carefully defined invocations and who—as they do—focus the invocative cry and the invocative appeal of the other two groups, giving it right direction and power. All these three groups are, consciously or unconsciously, swinging into activity at this time and their united effort guarantees a resultant evocation.

This new invocative work will be the keynote of the coming world religion and will fall into two parts. There will be the invocative work of the masses of the people, everywhere trained by the spiritually minded people of the world (working in the churches whenever possible under an enlightened clergy) to accept the fact of the approaching spiritual energies, focussed through Christ and His spiritual Hierarchy, and trained also to voice their demand for light, liberation and understanding. There will also be the skilled work of invocation as practised by those who have trained their minds through right meditation, who know the potency of formulas, mantrams and invocations and who work consciously. They will increasingly use certain great formulas of words which will later be given to the race, just as the Lord's Prayer was given by the Christ, and the New Invocation has been given out for use at this time by the Hierarchy.

This new religious science for which prayer, meditation and ritual have prepared humanity will train its people to present—at stated periods throughout the year—the voiced demand of the people of the world for relationship with God and for a closer spiritual relation to each other. This work, when rightly carried forward, will evoke response from the waiting Hierarchy [160] and from its Head, the Christ. Through this response, the belief of the masses will gradually be charged into the conviction of the knowers. In this way the mass of men will be transformed and spiritualized, and the two great divine centres of energy or groups—the Hierarchy and Humanity itself—will begin to work in complete at-one-ment and unity. Then the Kingdom of God will in deed and in truth be functioning on earth.

It will be obvious to you that this technique of invocation and evocation has its roots in past methods of human approach to Deity. Men have long used the method of prayer with important and deeply spiritual results, in spite of its frequent misuse for selfish purposes; people, more intelligent and more mentally focussed, have employed more generally the method of meditation in order to arrive at knowledge of God, to awaken the intuition and to understand the nature of truth. These two methods of prayer and of meditation have brought humanity to the various spiritual recognitions which distinguish human thinking; through their means also the Scriptures of the world have been produced and the great spiritual concepts which have conditioned human living and which have led man on from one revelation to another have found their way into the minds of men. Worship also has played its part and has attempted to organize groups of believers into an oriented and united approach to God; however, the emphasis has again been on God transcendent and not on God immanent. When the God immanent in every human heart is awakened and functioning (even if only in a small degree) the potency of worship as an act of invocative approach to God will prove amazing and miraculous in its results. A response beyond man's deepest hopes will be evoked from Christ and His group of workers.

To these two great concepts underlying the New World Religion—Approach to God, and Invocation and [161] Evocation—must be added the exceedingly modern one of energy as the basis of all life, all forms and all action and the medium of all relationships. The force of the mind in producing telepathic rapport has already been recognized by science; mental power is today registered as an energy, capable of contact, of recognition and of producing a reciprocal activity. Prayer has always recognized this, without attempting to formulate the mode whereby phenomena are produced through the medium of prayer. But in prayer, meditation and worship there is undoubtedly an energy factor, proceeding from this to that and producing in many cases the desired response in some form or another. Meditation is also an energy, setting in motion potencies which can eliminate certain aspects of thought or attract other aspects, such as visions, ideas, and spiritual recognitions. Worship has ever been known to produce a group stimulation when successfully oriented and focussed even to the point of ecstasy or hysteria, Pentecost or revelation. To these three—Prayer, Meditation and Worship—must now be added conscious Invocation, plus a trained expectancy of a reciprocal Evocation.

There are also many forms of energy and many spiritual potencies which are not as yet generally recognized but to which the church Festivals of all religions bear witness; these are released at the period of the Festivals. It is not possible in this book to deal with this subject in any detail. But we can indicate the general line of thought which will produce and condition the New World Religion, which will link it with all of the good which the past has given, which will make it spiritually effective in the future and which today will slowly condition man's approach to God—an approach which for the first time in history can be organized on a worldwide scale and consciously undertaken. This indicates that because of man's desperate need, because of [162] the crisis through which humanity has just passed and is now passing, men and women of vision and of inclusive thinking in all the churches of every world faith will end their doctrinal differences, agree on the essential religious truths and then proceed unitedly and with some uniformity of ritual and ceremonial to approach together the centre of spiritual power.

Is this too much to expect and to ask of humanity in the hour of man's need? Cannot the enlightened members of the present great world religions in the East and in the West get together and plan for such an invocative undertaking and thus together inaugurate the mode of spiritual Approach which will serve to unify their efforts and establish the seed at least of the New World Religion?

The establishing of a measure of uniformity of procedure will not prove so difficult once a measure of unity on the spiritual essentials has been achieved. This carefully determined uniformity will aid men everywhere to strengthen each other's work and enhance powerfully the stream of thought energy which can be directed towards those spiritual Lives, working under the Christ, Who stand expectantly waiting to come to the aid of humanity. At present the Christian religion has its great Festivals; the Buddhist keeps his particular set of spiritual events, and the Hindu has still another list of holy days, as has also the Mohammedan. Is it not possible that in the world of the future, men everywhere and of all faiths will keep the same holy days and unite in honour of the same Festivals? This will bring about a pooling of spiritual resources and a united spiritual effort, plus a simultaneous spiritual invocation. The potency of this is surely apparent.

Let us indicate the possibilities of such a spiritual happening, and prophesy the nature of certain of the future worldwide Festivals. There are three such Festivals [163] each year which all men could and would normally and easily keep together, in unison and with a uniformity of approach which would link them all closely together. These three Festivals are concentrated in three consecutive months and lead, therefore, to a prolonged annual spiritual effort which should affect the entire year. They would serve to unite in closer spiritual ties the Eastern and the Western believer; they express divinity in manifestation through the place where the will of God is known, through the spiritual Hierarchy where the love of God is fully expressed and through humanity whose task it is intelligently to work out God's plan in love and goodwill to all men.

I. The Festival of Easter. This is the festival of the risen, living Christ, the Head of the spiritual Hierarchy, the Inaugurator of the Kingdom of God and the Expression of the love of God. On this day, the spiritual Hierarchy which He guides and directs will be universally recognized, man's relation to it emphasized and the nature of God's love registered. Men everywhere will invoke that love, with its power to produce resurrection and spiritual livingness. This Festival is determined always by the date of the first Full Moon of spring. The eyes and thoughts of men will be fixed on life, not death; Good Friday will no longer be a factor in the life of the churches. Easter will be the great Western festival.

II. The Festival of Wesak or Vaisakha. This is the festival of the Buddha, that great spiritual Intermediary between the centre where the will of God is known and the spiritual Hierarchy. The Buddha is the expression of the will of God, the embodiment of Light and the indicator of the divine purpose. Men everywhere will evoke wisdom and understanding and the inflow of light into the minds of men everywhere. This Festival is determined in relation to the Full Moon of Taurus. [164] It is the great Eastern festival and is already meeting with Western recognition; thousands of Christians today keep the festival of the Buddha.

III. The Festival of Humanity. This will be the festival of the spirit of humanity—aspiring to approach nearer to God, seeking conformity to the divine will to which the Buddha called attention, dedicated to the expression of goodwill which is the lowest aspect of love to which Christ called attention and of which He was the perfect expression. It will be the day pre-eminently on which the divine nature of man will be recognized and his power to express goodwill and to establish right human relations (because of his divinity) will be stressed. On this festival we are told Christ has for nearly two thousand years represented humanity and has stood before the Hierarchy as the God-man, the leader of His people and "the Eldest in a great family of brothers". This will, therefore, be a festival of deep invocation and appeal; it will express a basic aspiration towards fellowship and for human and spiritual unity; it will represent the effect in the human consciousness of the work of the Buddha and of the Christ. It will be held at the time of the Full Moon of Gemini.

If in these early days of restoration and of the inauguration of the new civilization and of the new world, men of all faiths and all religions, of every cult and all esoteric groups were to keep these three great Festivals of Invocation, simultaneously and with understanding of the far-reaching implications, a great spiritual unity would be achieved; if they unitedly invoked the spiritual Hierarchy and sought consciously to contact its Head a great and general inflow of spiritual light and love would occur; if they together determined, with steadfastness and understanding, to approach nearer to God, who could doubt the stupendous results which eventually would be seen? Not only would an underlying unity [165] between men of all faiths be attained, not only would brotherhood be recognized as a fact and not only would our oneness of origin, of goal and of life be recognized but that which would be evoked would change all aspects of human living, would condition our civilisation, change our mode of life and make the spiritual world a dominant reality in the human consciousness.

God, in the person of Christ and His Hierarchy would draw nearer to His people; God, through the instrumentality of the Buddha, would reveal His eternal light and evoke our intelligent cooperation; God, through the spiritual Hierarchy and through that centre where the will of God is known, would bring humanity to the point of resurrection and to a spiritual awareness which would bring about goodwill towards men and peace on earth. The will of God transcendent would be carried out through the medium of God immanent in man; it would be expressed in love in response to the work of Christ; it would be intelligently presented on earth because the minds of men would have been illumined as the result of their united invocation, the unity of their effort and the oneness of their understanding.

It is for this that humanity waits; it is for this that the churches must work; it is these qualities and characteristics which will condition the New World Religion.

The great Invocation or Prayer does not belong to any person or group but to all Humanity. The beauty and the strength of this Invocation lies in its simplicity, and in its expression of certain central truths which all men, innately and normally, accept—the truth of the existence of a basic Intelligence to Whom we vaguely give the name of God; the truth that behind all outer seeming, the motivating power of the universe is Love; the truth that a great Individuality came to earth, called by Christians, the Christ, and embodied that love so that we could understand; the truth that both love [166] and intelligence are effects of what is called the Will of God; and finally the self-evident truth that only through humanity itself can the Divine Plan work out.

THE GREAT INVOCATION

From the point of Light within the Mind of God

Let light stream forth into the minds of men.

Let Light descend on Earth.

From the point of Love within the Heart of God

Let love stream forth into the hearts of men.

May Christ return to Earth.

From the centre where the Will of God is known

Let purpose guide the little wills of men—

The purpose which the Masters know and serve.

From the centre which we call the race of men

Let the Plan of Love and Light work out

And may it seal the door where evil dwells.

Let Light and Love and Power restore the Plan on Earth.