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Serial Lesson 138

From Course XII-2, Natural Alchemy
Part 2: Evolution of Religion

Original Copyright 1949, Elbert Benjamine (a.k.a. C. C. Zain)
Copyright 2011, The Church of Light

To purchase the print book Natural Alchemy Part 2: Evolution of Religion click here

Subheadings:
Early Christianity    Jesus Had Extraordinary Extrasensory Ability and Psychokinetic Power    Modern Christianity    The Means Orthodoxy Has Employed to Enslave the People of the West

Illustrations:
Ancient Expression of Stellar Religion    Ancient Religious Ritual    Spiritual Crossroads, drawing by Mildred Schuler

Chapter 6

Judaism and Christianity

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Ancient Expression of Stellar Religion

AT a very early date the Hebrew religion was developing in the northwest corner of Arabia. As told in the Bible, the founders of the Hebrew nation, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, lived the typical life of patriarchal Bedouin chiefs. They were nomadic shepherds in the country between Babylon and Egypt. Canaan, later called Palestine, was at that time inhabited by another Semitic people, called the Canaanites. The country is about one-fourth the size of Pennsylvania.

Before the Hebrews contacted the higher culture of Babylon to the north or Egypt to the west, they were no doubt at the stage of heliolithic religion. Gen. 28 :18—“And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.” Gen. 28 :22—“And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.”

Before the Hebrews finally attempted to conquer Canaan, it had been invaded by the dark-white Ibereans from Italy and Greece, who brought with them the old Aegean culture. Such were the Philistines, with whom the Hebrews waged long warfare. Pressing Palestine from the far north were extensions of the Aryan-speaking Hittite Empire. Closer, to the north along the seaboard, were the seafaring commercial Phoenecians, another Semitic people.

Through Palestine was the natural trade route, and also the war route, between the Hittites, Syrians, Assyrians, and Babylonians to the north and east, and the Egyptians to the south. And in the time of Solomon, Hiram, a Phoenecian trader-king, opened a trade route across Palestine linking the Mediterranean and the Orient by way of the Red Sea. All of these nations had some influence upon the religious views of the Hebrews.

If we are to credit the Bible narrative—there is no Egyptian record of the career of Moses, of the plagues of Egypt, or any Pharaoh drowned in the Red Sea—the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt for some time. The Bible gives an account of their forty years of wandering in the desert country after leaving Egypt before they successfully invaded Canaan. Later, Israel was overcome and at least ten of its tribes were lost to history and one was absorbed by its conquerors. The remaining tribe of Judah, in 578 BC, except for a few common people, was taken captive into Babylon and held there until Cyrus of Persia overthrew the last Chaldean ruler in 539 BC.

During this captivity their hitherto divergent and bickering groups became welded by national consciousness into a common aim and toward a common destiny. They went to Babylon a barbaric people, as the Bible plainly shows, probably at the heliolithic level. But they came out of captivity a nation. This, perhaps, was not entirely due to what they had appropriated from the Babylonians, for they held stubbornly to certain ideas of their own. But they had both time and energy that need not be consumed in politics and warfare; and residing, as they did, in the seat of the world’s highest culture at that period, they had opportunity to adopt ideas from others, to develop ideas of their own, and to climb well above the level of heliolithic religion.

There may have been secret records in their possession before the captivity, but they certainly had no commonly recognized literature. Yet at the end of the Babylonian captivity the Pentateuch was in existence as a sacred book, and other books of the Bible were extant as separate histories. From the Babylonians they had appropriated the two interlaced trines—which with the name of Deity in the center and astrological symbols around the outside was the emblem of The Religion of the Stars—and later called it Solomon’s Seal, or the Star of David. And the square formed letters of the alphabet which they use, along with this symbol, also were appropriated from the Babylonians.

The two interlaced trines were used by the initiates of the older centers of civilization to signify, among other things, the involution and evolution of the soul through the Cycle of Necessity. The down-pointing trine, which often was dark in color, indicated the descent of the soul into material conditions for the purpose of gaining necessary experience. The up-pointing trine, which often was light in color, indicated the ascent, or evolution of the soul, back to the realm of spirit after gaining experience in matter.

The descendants of the tribe of Judah had, and still have, a perfect right to use this symbol which had been handed down from times far more ancient than that of their Babylonian captivity. But they have no exclusive claim on it merely because they appropriated it; no more than they have an exclusive claim on the money of the world because they have succeeded in various areas in appropriating it.

Two other religions also use it, and with equal right. These interlaced trines were used in ancient India; and today the Theosophical Society, with headquarters at Adyar, Madras, India, uses it as their symbol. As they use it, in the center is the phallic symbol—the symbol of life—around the outside is the serpent of wisdom, and at the top is a swastika in a small circle. Above this circle are some Sanskrit characters. Because the Theosophists use this so-called Star of David as part of the symbol indicating their philosophy and aspirations does not mean they took it from the Jews. India had it long before the Jews used it.

The Religion of the Stars also uses this so-called Solomon’s Seal as part of the symbolism expressing its philosophy and the aspirations of Stellarians. Inside the interlaced trines, however, is the word of Deity, Jod-He-Vau-He, written in the square formed Chaldean letters, letters which were in use before the Jews started using them. Thus written, it not only signifies the belief that there is a Super-Intelligence Who interpenetrates and exercises a guiding power over, the whole universe, but sets forth the four universal principles through which this Super-Intelligence, instead of being moved by whim or prejudice, always operates. The joined sun and moon at the top of the symbol indicate that spirituality may best be reached, and still further evolution in spiritual realms accomplished, through the marriage of a male and a female soul. The seven stars and the astrological symbols around the outside of the interlaced trines indicate the belief that astrological energies powerfully influence all life, and that a knowledge of them will enable the aspirant to avoid many misfortunes he otherwise would encounter, and permit him to best advantage to develop his talents and so conduct his life that he can most successfully advance his own spirituality and at the same time contribute his utmost to universal welfare.

After the Babylonian captivity other works, such as the Songs of Solomon, the Psalms, Proverbs, etc., came into existence from time to time, and at last it became necessary to decide how much of this literature should be considered sacred. Not all that made claim to sacredness was retained. The Old Testament, venerated by both Christian and Jew, is a group of such books as most strongly impressed the priesthood as being of value and less self-contradictory in character than other similar books which they discarded.

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Ancient Religious Ritual

One unique feature of the Hebrew religion is the stubbornness with which its devotees cling to the worship of Jehovah. Another unique feature is the exceedingly personal relation between Jehovah and his worshipers. He walks in the garden and converses with Adam, speaks directly with some of the prophets, who even see his face, and intervenes frequently in the affairs of his chosen people.

He is at first represented as a tribal god, early considered the most powerful god, next considered as a god above all other gods, then as the only true god, and finally with his evolution completed, as the god of the whole world. The Jews considered that Jehovah had promised to make the Jewish race the dominant people on earth that they were the chosen people of the one God, and that to accomplish this a Messiah would arise.

Familiar as the Bible is to nearly everyone, I shall not detail its teachings. In it, as in other sacred books, may be found many astrological references and in its symbolism a complete exposition of the Ancient Secret Doctrine. But here we are concerned with its prevalent interpretation. To be sure, instances of divination are mentioned, and instances in which lying spirits deceive, and mediumship between the living and the dead, such as that of the so-called witch of Endor, to be mentioned later.

But as the story of the Bible develops we are struck by the influence of certain men who possessed extrasensory perception in considerable degree, and some of whom were able also to employ psychokinesis to perform greater feats of magic than the magicians pitted against them. These prophets, rather than being scientists, such as were some of the Babylonian priests, depended upon extrasensory perception implicitly. They thus became the avenues through whom Jehovah spoke to his chosen people, even as later Zoroaster became the avenue through whom Mazdah spoke to the Persians.

These prophets demanded that the people should accept without question that which they claimed Jehovah said to them. Jehovah laid down laws for the guidance of human conduct, and the Hebrew religion is based on implicit obedience to such laws instituted by Jehovah in personal interviews with the prophets, and on unwavering devoted worship of him.

These prophets undoubtedly did contact, on the level of their intelligence and vibratory rate, through extrasensory perception, the all-pervading Super-Intelligence of the universe. But the scope of their contact was limited by their own mental conceptions, and what they did contact, of necessity, when it reached objective consciousness was limited and slanted by their intelligence and preconceptions. But the most significant thing about the Hebrew religion—now the Jewish religion—is not that it convinced the Jewish people that they would in Jehovah’s appointed time rule the earth; but that it brought into such prominence the institution of prophecy. It thus paved the way for Jesus, for Mohammed, and for numerous lesser prophets, who from time to time, similar to Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, became leaders of religious movements.

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Early Christianity

We will bypass scholastic criticism which, having made historical research, claims there is no authentic record that such a person as Jesus ever lived. Instead of entering this controversy we will consider the Bible account as the valid basis on which early Christianity rests, and consider Jesus as one of the great religious teachers of the world.

He lived at a time when it was common to follow the Hero Cult practice of making a god of any highly endowed individual. Some of the pharaohs of Egypt were considered divine beings. Some of the emperors of Rome were by their subjects considered gods. Up to the end of World War II the emperor of Japan was considered a god. And even today the Roman Catholic Pope is considered to be Gods’ representative on earth, whose pronouncements must be obeyed as orders given from a divine source, and certain men and women after their death are made saints and prayed to in the effort to get them to intercede with God to bring the asked for boon.

When Jesus said that my father and I are one, he indicated that he had attained divine consciousness; had entered into rapport with the Super-Intelligence which guides the destiny of the universe. When any person attains this consciousness, quoting from Chapter 5 (Serial Lesson 53), Course III, Spiritual Alchemy, “He becomes conscious of Divine Intention, and clearly perceives his own function in the Divine Plan, and just what he can do at any time to further cosmic construction.”

This is a very different thing than being the boss of the millions of galaxies, of which our earth is but a speck revolving about one of the hundreds of millions of stars embraced in each galaxy. Yet when Jesus is referred to as the Son of God that is quite correct; for the potential spark, or ego, which actuates and gives each soul its drive for significance is an emanation, or child, of Deity.

At the time Christianity began, God in various regions was worshiped as a Holy Trinity. In India, for instance, there was Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. In Egypt, Osiris the Father, Isis the Mother, and Horus the Issue, were popularly worshiped; and in addition there was a fourth deity which included the three others, and overshadowed them, as do the thoughts of a family, called the Holy Ghost.

Just what were, and just what were not, Christian doctrines was a matter of violent controversy during the first three hundred years of Christianity’s existence. Furthermore, the Christians were hated and persecuted. Diocletian in the latter part of his reign was induced by his colleague, Galerius, to sanction a particularly determined and sanguinary persecution of them.

Diocletian was proclaimed Emperor of Rome by the army in 284 AD, but because of the dangers threatening Rome was compelled to share the government with M. Aurelius Valerius Maximian. In 292 AD, Gaius Galerius and Constantinus Chlorus were also raised to share the empire, which thus became divided into four parts. As a result of the reconstruction they accomplished the barbarians were driven back on all frontiers and once again Roman power extended from Britain to Egypt.

The one later to be called Constantine the Great was the son of Emperor Constantinus Chlorus and his wife Helena. While Constantine’s father was associated in the government with Diocletian, the son was held at the court as a hostage. But after Diocletian and Maximian resigned, to escape the machinations of Galerius, Constantine escaped and went to his father who was in Britain. After his father died the soldiers chose him emperor in 306, and he took possession of the countries ruled by his father.

After defeating the Franks he directed his armies against Maxentius, who had joined Maximian against him. This required a campaign in Italy. During this campaign it is reported that he saw a flaming cross in heaven, beneath the sun, bearing the inscription, “In hoc signo vinces.” (By this sign thou shalt conquer). And that the following night Christ appeared to him and commanded him to take for his standard an imitation of the fiery cross he had seen. Therefore, he had a standard made in this shape, which was called labarium. Not many days after this, on Oct. 27, 312, he defeated the army of Maxentius under the walls of Rome, drove it into the Tiber, entered the city in triumph, and liberated the political prisoners. He was proclaimed by the senate, chief, Augustus, and pontifex maximus.

In cooperation with Licinius, in the year 313, he published an edict of toleration, not only favoring the previously persecuted Christians, but permitting any person to embrace the religion of his choice. Thus for a very short time was there freedom of religion.

But Licinius, jealous of Constantine who had married his daughter, soon resumed persecuting the Christians. Their armies met in battle in Pannonia in 314. Not only was it a battle of armies, but a battle of psychokinetic power; for Constantine was surrounded by bishops and priests, who prayed for his victory, while Licinius was surrounded by soothsayers and magicians who called upon their gods to make him victorious. Constantine was victorious, but in later years Licinius was again able to gain enough power to renew hostilities. But in this engagement he was not only defeated but was taken prisoner and put to death. Thus in 325 AD Constantine now called the Great, became the sole head of both the Eastern and the Western Roman Empires.

He not only gave the Christians permission to erect churches, but the cost of these churches was met by the government. As had the Greeks and Romans of previous periods, he decided that one of the surest ways of consolidating an empire was to have its people believe in a single religion. Thus Christianity became the state religion of Rome But if it was to be an instrument to unite the Empire the squabbling over its doctrines must cease. Therefore, in the year 325 AD he called what is known as the Council of Nice. He attended it in person to see to it that there should be an end of its schisms.

Nice, or Nicaea, as it was then called, was a city of Bithynia, in Asia Minor, on the east shore of Lake Ascania. It had been called Ancore, also Helicore, but Lysimachus, having conquered this part of Asia, changed its name to Nicaea, in honor of his wife who had that name. It was here that Constantine called together some 250 bishops, many of whom came from the East, along with numerous presbyters, deacons and other church dignitaries from all parts of the world. While other matters were decided, such as which books should be embraced in the Bible and which should be discarded, the chief controversy was over the so-called Arian heresy.

Alexandria for over six centuries had been the great seat of learning of the world. At Alexandria resided Arius, a Christian Presbyter. Earlier, Sabellius had held that there was only one god, as against the view that in the Godhead there are three distinct persons. But in 317 AD Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, had publicly expressed the view that the Son of God is not only of the same dignity as the Father, but of the same essence. Arius did not agree either with Sabellius or Alexander, but declared that the Son of God was only the first and noblest of created beings, and though the universe had been brought into existence through his instrumentality by the Eternal Father, yet the Son was inferior to that Father, not merely in dignity, but also in essence.

Some of the Christians of that day held with Alexander and some held with Arius. The conflict threatened to cause the whole Christian world to take sides and engage in violent conflict. And this would bring disruption within Constantine’s empire.

Having failed to bring peace by private means, Constantine called the Council of Nice. At that council, at which all church tenets were decided, was Bishop Athanasius who came from Alexandria, Egypt, particularly to help settle this matter of the orthodox trinity. It was he who insisted upon the Holy Ghost. Most contemporaneous nations, other than the Egyptians, held merely to the Trinity of Father, Mother and Issue. But the Holy Ghost came to Christianity at an opportune time; for due to the teachings of Paul, and the fanatic asceticism that was developing, it was becoming quite certain that woman could have no part in anything divine. The monks who retired to monastic life looked upon woman as an instrument of evil, a tempting agent of the devil strictly to be avoided. They characteristically shifted the blame for all the ills of humanity to her shoulders by teaching that the fall of Adam was due to the guile of Eve.

At the Council of Nice Athanasius, with his doctrine of Father, Son and Holy Ghost prevailed. The Council voted that Christ was of the same essence as the Father, and Arius was deposed and exiled.

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Jesus Had Extraordinary Extrasensory Ability and Psychokinetic Power

Jesus in an amazing degree was able to use extrasensory perception. With it he contacted the all-pervading Super-Intelligence of the universe on a high level. And apparently he was able to get information telepathically: St. Luke 22:47-48—“And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?”

He also used extrasensory perception in what is now called precognition, as indicated by this incident involving Peter: St. Luke 22:33-31—“And he [Peter] said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he [Jesus] said, I tell thee Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.”

He not only had psychokinetic power in an amazing degree, using it to heal the sick, to feed the multitude, to walk on water, and to get a coin with which to pay taxes, but his disciples also employed psychokinesis. St. Luke 9:1-2—“Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.”

At the time Jesus lived there was almost no scientific knowledge, little was known about nature, and the people to whom he talked were quite illiterate. He had to speak to them in terms they understood, telling them stories (parables) to illustrate his points.

He lived at a time when materialism and greed for material possessions were dominant, and when gross brutality stalked the earth. The tooth for a tooth, eye for an eye doctrine, and the belief in a cruel god, were orthodox tenets of his day. He was a great world teacher not because the religion which was derived from his life and teachings is the most powerful one on earth today, but because he brought three messages, which are as valid now as then, with which to combat the orthodoxies of his time. Each assists man to realize his drive for nutrition, his drive for reproduction, and his drive for significance.

l. Instead of a god of vengeance, he gave to the world the conception that the Heavenly Father desires the welfare of all creatures, even the sparrow.

2. Instead of the greed and ruthlessness which is still the great plague of the world, he taught that people should do unto others as they would be done by, and that they should treat their neighbors as themselves. And if people would thus be as helpful and sympathetic toward others as they would like others to be toward them, the ensuing cooperation would lead by way of specialization of parts and division of labor to freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

3. He not only taught, but he demonstrated in a manner that the world has not been able to forget, that the personality survives the tomb and lives after physical dissolution on the inner plane. He said that in his Father’s house were many mansions, implying that there was room for all to continue their lives and progress there.

Some of the things he taught which were sound enough in his day are not sound now; and some of them, if they are given the literal interpretation that is common from present-day pulpits, are decidedly erroneous. It may have been well enough in his day to sell all one had and give to the poor and then spend the life in disseminating his teachings, but it would not work today. To wander about the country completely broke is not the present-day efficient way to get a religious message to the public. At least, various ministers of The Religion of the Stars have found it more effective to have some income, and to use that income for a living while donating their time and energy to spreading the Stellarian religion.

It is quite proper for those where a missionary teacher or a minister of The Religion of the Stars goes to donate sufficient for his expenses. But there are many places where the teachings are needed that could not be induced to give sufficient donations for the one disseminating the religion to live on. Therefore, only if the missionary or minister has some independent income, or those in another region will foot his living expenses while he is teaching or lecturing in such a needy place, can the teachings be carried there.

Jesus did not try to destroy the Jewish religion, he merely added certain teachings that importantly, and for the better, modified it. Christianity still retains the Bible of the Jews, but accepts also the teachings of Jesus and of Paul.

The doctrines propounded by Jesus: return good for evil, love your enemies, and do good to those who despitefully use you, profoundly modified the older Jewish doctrine of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But the doctrines of Jesus shortly underwent important modifications at the hands of Paul.

Paul taught—I Corinthians, 12—that woman should look up to man even as man should look up to Christ, that a man should pray with his head uncovered, but that it dishonored a woman to pray with her head uncovered, and that woman was created for man, but that man was not created for woman. He also taught, I Corinthians, 14—that woman should be obedient and should keep silent, and if she wished to know anything she should ask her husband at home, for “it is a shame for woman to speak in the church.” And Ephesians 5:22-23—“Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the church; and he is the savior of the body.”

As the old Hero Cult still had such a powerful grip on the people, it was to be expected that any extraordinary person would be considered a god. And it was the custom to weave legends about gods and heroes that corresponded to astrological positions. Thus was there incorporated into the Christian religion a large variety of customs that had been part of the astrological religion practiced in Chaldea and Egypt. These had been adopted in Greece, and by Christian times in Rome. No one made any enquiry as to the date of birth of Jesus until 580 years after the approximate year he was born.

Mithraism had become the dominant religion in Rome about 60 BC And Mithra, god of light, was, according to this religion, born in a cave on Christmas day. Mithraism not only celebrated Christmas as the day on which its god was born, but just before the Christian era haoma, the alcoholic drink of the early Aryan Persians and some of the Aryan invaders of India, had been abandoned in favor of partaking of wine and cakes at the ceremonies sacred to Mithra. Therefore, when Paul advised that this ceremony should be adopted by the early Christian churches, he but appropriated a ceremony that was already customary among the Roman people.

With the adoption of Christianity by Constantine as the state religion of Rome, a great many other modifications were made. The pomp and show and rituals, chants, incense, figures of saints, and other church accessories and ceremonies were, from motives of expediency—to gain a following and secure for the priests a position of influence and power through making the masses dependent upon them for entertainment and for everything pertaining to religion—adopted directly from the customs and ritualistic ceremonies as conducted by the priesthood of the Roman Empire previous to the advent of Christianity.

The Church also set the day celebrated in honor of John the Baptist and the day celebrated in honor of John the evangelist, according to the old Religion of the Stars. And Christianity has, one after another, adopted a dozen other days and usages of the old Religion of the Stars. These are explained in the reference book, Astrological Lore of All Ages. No doubt if Jesus came to earth today he would marvel at church customs.

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Modern Christianity

We should appraise any religion, including modern Christianity, as to its true value by the extent to which its teachings increase the ability of man while on earth, and after earthly life is done, to attain in their extended sense, satisfaction for the drive for nutrition, the drive for reproduction, and the drive for significance.

Let us first consider the teachings of the Old Testament which largely revolve around the Ten Commandments. Deuteronomy 5:

“Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

“Thou shalt not bow thyself down to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”

Here we have the Old Testament deity injected into modern life; a deity with the attributes of fierce jealousy, and given to revenge. Not merely given to revenge upon those who transgress his arbitrary commandments, but extending that revenge to innocent children, and their children. Furthermore, if we are to interpret this commandment literally, all statues, all carvings, being graven images, are sinful. If we interpret it more liberally to mean only such images as are bowed down before, the cross, the Virgin Mary, and the images of the saints, before which some bow down, are still transgressions of this commandment.

We no longer thresh grain by beating it with a flail, we no longer use a crooked stick for a plow, we no longer use the ox or the donkey with which to plow, nor do we commonly go to the city well with an earthen vessel to get the necessary supply of household water. Why, then, should we permit orthodoxy to cause us to fear an invisible and all-powerful monster which was conjured up by the imagination of priests in the primitive days when the mentioned outmoded methods were used?

“But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.”

Today the observance of this command would mean no electric lights on Sabbath evening, no street cars running on the Sabbath, and a great loss to our larger industries where fires must be kept burning that men may again work after their day of rest, and the flooding of many mines with water which must keep their pumps going continuously if they are to be maintained in working condition. Happily this command is no longer taken seriously by most people.

Even the command, “Thou shalt not kill,” needs to be interpreted according to the concept of universal welfare. Human slaughter is abhorrent. But it is less abhorrent than permitting some brutal and ruthless totalitarian regime to conquer the world and impose on it physical, intellectual and moral slavery.

The commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” should be broadened to include any method of unfairly exploiting, or taking unfair advantage of, another. Legally to acquire a monopoly on some natural resource or public commodity, and thus squeeze the public into paying an exorbitant price for it, is merely a legally unpunishable theft.

The commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,” also needs expansion. It should be interpreted to include such reticence and silence as permits another to form misleading conclusions in matters where more complete information would be advantageous.

But let us now move from the doctrines of the Old Testament which were formulated by a people only recently evolved one step above the old heliolithic religion, to the New Testament, the gist of whose teachings are to be found in The Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.”

This is a good doctrine only for tyrants who wish to keep people in subjection; for it is certainly destructive to human progress. Initiative and reasonable self-esteem, as well as confidence, are necessary for success in any worthwhile undertaking. The attitude of meekness tends to servitude, and to discourage effort. The progress of society is built upon accomplishment, and accomplishment is thwarted by poorness in spirit and meekness. This doctrine, if adopted, not only would hinder the progress of the race, but it would thwart the drive for significance. It is thus an erroneous religious tenet.

“Blessed are those that mourn; for they shall be comforted.”

Sorrow, next to fear, is the most destructive human emotion. Through its effect upon the endocrine glands, it poisons the body, inhibits effort, weakens the mind, and confers no benefit of any nature. Mourning never helped the condition occasioning it. It is one of the most pernicious of mental states, without a redeeming quality, unfitting the individual for constructive work, and building discords into his thought cells that will cause them to use their psychokinetic power to attract misfortune into his life. As it thus hampers the drive for nutrition and the drive for significance, this also is an erroneous religious doctrine.

“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

Such a doctrine may be practiced by one who has attained so high a spiritual state, and developed so much psychokinetic power, that he can compel others through inner-plane energies to respect his person and his rights. But there are few spiritually and psychokinetically powerful enough to enforce respect for their rights by such means. The fallacy of this doctrine was demonstrated in the persecution and crucifixion of Jesus.

Although taught for nineteen and a half centuries, almost no Christian follows this doctrine. It is highly impractical, and teaching it in church and Sunday school is base hypocrisy. Those who in the past practiced this doctrine perished. Christianity did not persist because this doctrine was practiced, but because those who taught it carried it into various lands throughout the earth with the sword, and often violently crammed it down the throats of those who were less powerful. Had Christian nations practiced this basic Christian doctrine, today there would be no Christian nations, for many centuries ago they would have been vanquished by the warlike Mohammedans, and had they survived until recently they would have succumbed to Hitlerism, to prevent which World War II was fought.

The drive for nutrition expands into the first law of life on the physical plane, the law of survival, which implies resisting evil, resisting destruction. The organism, or group, that during the 1,750 million years life has existed upon the earth, has not protected itself from invasion—resisted evil—has invariably perished and been supplanted by a hardier stock.

The “sucker” who permits another to take his property, even lawfully, does not need to give away his cloak also; for other confidence men, appraising him as an easy mark, quickly relieve him of it.

Humanity should devise means by which war and violence can be avoided; but the history of biology and the history of mankind, show that higher forms of life can survive only so long as they can repel the attacks of lower forms of life. A civilized people can retain its culture, as history has repeatedly proved, only so long as it can, and does, repel the attacks of other people less civilized. Warlike aggression on the part of advanced people is intolerable; but if they are to remain advanced they must possess the ability—preferably through a United Nations military force having the duty of policing the world—to repel warlike aggression from others.

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The Means Orthodoxy Has Employed to Enslave the People of the West

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Spiritual Crossroads, drawing by Mildred Schuler

As far back as there are records certain individuals have sought power and special privileges through being the interpreters of the will of Deity. Before there were kings there were priest rulers. Then there were, in Egypt and elsewhere, priest-kings. Later priests and kings divided their power.

To keep their people servile and obedient has been a prime objective of both kings and priests since they came into existence. How to do this was the big problem confronting them.

In the East the priests solved it by the doctrine of reincarnation and karma, in the West they solved it by the doctrine of heaven and hell. Certainly not from anything in the Old Testament, and certainly not from anything Jesus taught, they created a heaven and a hell, a static condition in the afterlife in which those who followed the rules the priests laid down, whatever they might be, would reside for all eternity in a land of happiness and bliss; but those who did not live in the manner the priests prescribed—and the priests made the rules so the priests would have both material power and material abundance, even if it brought poverty and misery on their followers—would live for all eternity in the torments of hell.

Both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament are given accounts of those who once lived on earth and returned to converse with those still in physical form. And in each instance they retained their earthly personality, had no wings, and gave no evidence they had come either from heaven or hell. Such conceptions were foreign to those who related these incidents.

Saul consulted a medium, and talked with Samuel who previously had died. I Samuel, 28:14. “And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.”

Jesus took with him Peter, and James, and John to a high mountain. St. Mark, 9:4. “And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.”

The orthodox heaven and hell were created by the priesthood in times long past to make the people do just what the priests wished. The priests could lay down any rules they chose, and make people obey them by the promise of a spurious heaven, and the threat of a spurious hell. It was a most cunning device to keep people their slaves. How it hampered scientific progress is set forth in Chapter 1 (Serial Lesson 125), Course XII-I, Natural Alchemy: Evolution of Life, and Chapter 7 (Serial Lesson 139).

Intelligence was developed by life forms for use in adapting themselves to the conditions with which they were faced. And man moved higher than other animals because he developed greater intelligence and drew logical conclusions from his observations and experiences. But as such logical conclusions about religion might interfere with priestly authority and privilege, the priests used their cunningly created hell to force people through fear of burning, not for a day or a year, but forever, to relinquish intelligence and logic and rely entirely on belief; the belief which was to save them thus from eternal suffering, of course, being belief in whatever the priests wanted them to think.

It was intelligent and logical to think that even as man’s acquisition of knowledge and character on earth are the result of his own individual effort, and that neither knowledge nor ability can be acquired by one person for another, that an individual’s condition in the life to come would be determined by his own initiative and effort while on earth and after he had crossed to the inner plane.

But any such reliance on his own powers would release the individual from intellectual slavery to the priests. If the priests could offer an easy way, a plan of getting something for nothing, to the devotee, it would be more easy for the priests to retain their prestige. The doctrine of vicarious atonement thus appeals to the get-something-for-nothing desire which most people possess. The encouragement of this desire is highly detrimental to the individual; for the universal law of compensation is that the reward of effort is greater ability. Thus to discourage effort, and encourage the individual to believe someone else can atone for his sins, or someone else can without adequate effort on his own part, procure for him in the life to come a satisfactory environment, is highly pernicious.

The only things people can take into the next life are the knowledge they have acquired, the thought-cell organization of their finer form, the ability they have developed, and the dominant vibratory rate which determines their spirituality and the level to which they are attracted, this level having a similar vibratory rate. And none of these four things, which determine the condition of the individual on the inner plane after life on earth has been finished, can be provided by another. The most that anyone else can do to help the individual in this direction is to furnish guidance through supplying him with outer-plane and inner-plane facts.

Therefore, it behooves all persons who wish to assist in the progress of the race, and enable people more fully to find satisfaction in this life and the next for their expanded drive for nutrition, drive for reproduction and drive for significance, which all life forms endeavor to find, to do all they can toward correcting the following four widespread erroneous orthodox beliefs:

1. The teaching that reliance should be placed upon blind belief, instead of upon demonstrated facts.

2. The teaching of vicarious atonement, instead of teaching that the individual’s progress depends upon his own motives and efforts.

3. The teaching of a static heaven or hell, instead of the teaching that life after death is somewhat parallel to life on earth, and that there is always opportunity for progress.

4. The teaching of a personal and patriarchal God—a glorified and supernatural person of whim and prejudice—instead of an all-pervading intelligence Who works toward the realization of His cosmic plan through undeviating laws.

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