The world today is more spiritually inclined than ever before. This is said with a full realization of the generally accepted idea that the world of men is on the rocks spiritually, and that at no time has the spiritual life of the race been at such a low ebb. This idea is largely due to the fact that humanity is not excessively interested in the orthodox presentation of truth, and that our churches are relatively empty and are under public indictment as having failed to teach humanity to live rightly. These affirmations are distressingly true, but the fact still remains that human beings everywhere are searching for spiritual release and truth, and that the truly religious spirit is more fundamentally alive than at any previous time. This is especially true of those countries which have suffered the most in the late world war (1914-1945). Countries, such as the United States and the neutral countries show, as yet, no sign of any real spiritual revival. The other countries are spiritually alive – not along orthodox lines but in a true search and a vital demand for light.
The religious spirit of humanity is today more definitely focused upon Reality than has ever before been the case. The orthodox world religions are rapidly falling into the background of men’s minds even whilst we are undoubtedly approaching nearer to the central spiritual Reality. The theologies now taught by the ecclesiastical organization (both in the East and in the West) are crystallized and of relatively little use. Priests and churchmen, orthodox instructors and fundamentalists (fanatical though sincere) are seeking to perpetuate that which is old and which sufficed in the past to satisfy the enquirer, but which now fails to do so. Sincere but unenlightened religious men are deploring the revolt of youth from doctrinal attitudes. At the same time, along with all seekers, they are demanding a new revelation. They seek something new and arresting by which to attract the masses back to God; they fear that something must be relinquished, that new interpretations of old truths must be found, but fail to realize that a new outlook upon the truth (as it is in Christ) must be attained; they sense the approach of new, impending spiritual revelations but are apt to shrink back from their revolutionary effects. They ask themselves many questions and are assailed by deep and disturbing doubts. It is interesting here to note that the answers to these questions come (and will increasingly come), from two sources; the thinking masses, whose growing intellectual perception is the cause of the revolt from orthodox religion, and from that over-shadowing source of truth and light which has unfailingly brought revelation down the ages. The answers will not come, as far as one can see, from any religious organization, whether Asiatic or Western.
Some of these questions can be expressed as follows:
- Why has the church been unable to arrest the overpowering expression of evil, as evidenced in the late world war?
- Why has religion proved inadequate to the need of humanity?
- Why have the so-called spiritual leaders of the religious world proved themselves incompetent to aid in the solution of the world problems?
- Why, as exponents of the God of Love, have Christian teachers been unable to arrest the unparalleled growth of hate in the world today?
- Why are the majority of such teachers so sectarian, separate and denominational in their approaches to truth? There is, however, a spiritual, open-minded minority.
- Why do the young people refuse to go to church and lack interest to accept the doctrines presented for their belief?
- Why is death and not life stalking the world today?
- Why do so many new cults arise and sidetrack the people away from orthodox organizations of a religious nature?
- Why does Mental Science, the Unity Movement and the New Thought presentation attract people away from the better established organizations? Note the use of the word “organizations”; it holds the key to the problem.
- Why is there a growing emphasis upon the Eastern theologies, upon the various yogas, upon Buddhistic teachings and oriental faiths?
- Why do such teachings as astrology, numerology and various magical rituals find so many adherents whilst the churches remain empty or are only attended by old people, the conservatives and reactionaries or by those who go there by force of habit, or desperate unhappiness?
- What is wrong, finally, with our presentation of the spiritual realities and the truths of the ages?
Many answers can be given. The most important one is that the presentation of divine truth, as given by the churches in the West and by the teachers in the East, has not kept pace with the unfolding intellect of the human spirit. The same old forms of words and of ideas are still handed out to the enquirer and they do not satisfy his mind nor do they meet his practical need in a most difficult world. He is asked to give unquestioning belief but not to understand; he is told that it is not possible for him to comprehend and yet he is asked to accept the interpretations and the affirmations of other human minds who claim that they do understand and that they have the truth. He does not believe that their minds and their interpretations are any better than his. The same old formulas, the same old theologies and the same old interpretations are deemed adequate to meet man’s modern needs and enquiries. They are not.
The church today is the tomb of the Christ and the stone of theology has been rolled to the door of the sepulchre.
There is, however, no point in attacking Christianity. Christianity cannot be attacked; it is an expression – in essence, if not yet entirely factual – of the love of God, immanent in His created universe. Churchianity has, however, laid itself wide open to attack, and the mass of thinking people are aware of this; unfortunately, these thinking people are still a small minority. Nevertheless, it is this thinking minority which (when it is a majority and it is today a rapidly growing one) will spell the doom of the churches and endorse the spread of the true teaching of the Christ. It is not possible that He has any pleasure in the great stone temples which churchmen have built, whilst His people are left without guidance or reasonable light upon world affairs; surely, He must feel (with an aching heart) that the simplicity which He taught and the simple way to God which He emphasized have disappeared into the fogs of theology (initiated by St. Paul) and in the discussions of churchmen throughout the centuries. Men have travelled far from the simplicity of thought and from the simple, spiritual life which the early Christians lived. Is it not possible that the Christ may regard the separative life of the churches and the arrogance of the theologians as wrong and undesirable – dividing (as they have) the world into believer and unbeliever, into Christian and heathen, into the so-called enlightened and the so-called benighted – and as contrary to all that He Himself held and believed when He said, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold.” (John X, 16.)
It is not the evil rampant in the world today which is hindering the revelation and hindering the unfoldment of the spiritual life. That evil is the result of the misapprehension and the wrong orientation of the human mind, of the emphasis upon material things which ages of competitive activity have brought about; it rests upon the failure of the religious organizations throughout the world to preserve the truth in its purity and to avoid the fanatical idea that anyone’s individual interpretation of truth must necessarily be the only and correct one. Theologians have fought (and with sincerity of intention) for forms of words which they believed were the only true and correct formulation of the divine idea, but Christ was forgotten behind the words; churchmen have expended effort and executive ability in raising funds for the building of stone edifices whilst God’s children everywhere went hungry and unclothed and so lost their belief in divine love.
How can the need of humanity for spiritual guidance be met when the leaders of the churches are occupied with temporal concerns, when the emphasis is laid in the Roman Catholic, the Greek Orthodox and the Protestant Churches upon pomp and ceremonies, on great churches and stone cathedrals, upon gold and silver communion sets, on scarlet birettas, on jeweled vestments, and upon all the paraphernalia so cherished by the ecclesiastically minded? How can the starving children of the world – and of Europe in particular – be salvaged when pleas go out from Popes and Bishops for money to build cathedrals and erect more churches when the existent churches now stand empty? How can light shine again in the minds of men when churchmen keep the people in a state of fear unless they accept the old theological interpretations and the old ways of approaching God? How can the spiritual and intellectual needs of the people be met when the theological seminaries teach nothing new or appropriate to the day and age, but send out young men to guide humanity who are grounded only in the past interpretations. These young men enter upon their religious training and preparation for the ministry with high hopes and vision; they emerge with little hope, not much faith, but with a determination to “make good” and rise to prominence in the church.
The question arises whether Christ would be at home in the churches if He walked again among men. The rituals and the ceremonies, the pomp and the vestments, the candles and the gold and silver, the graded order of popes, cardinals, archbishops, canons and ordinary rectors, pastors and clergy would seemingly have small interest for the simple Son of God, Who – when on Earth – had not where to lay His head.
The presentation of religious truth in the past has blocked the growth of the religious spirit; theology has brought mankind to the very gates of despair; the delicate flower of the Christ life has been stunted and arrested in the dark caves of man’s thinking; fanatical adherence to human interpretations has taken the place of Christian living; millions of books have obliterated the living words of Christ; the arguments and discussions of priests have put out the light which the Buddha brought, and the love of God as revealed by the life of Christ has been forgotten whilst men have quarrelled over meanings, over phrases and words. In the meantime, men have agonized, starved, suffered, demanded help and instruction and, unsatisfied, have lost faith.
Today everywhere people are ready for the light; they are expectant of a new revelation and of a new dispensation, and humanity has advanced so far on the way of evolution that these demands and expectations are not couched in terms of material betterment only, but in terms of a spiritual vision, true values and right human relations. They are demanding teaching and spiritual help along with the necessary requests for food, clothes and the opportunity to work and live in freedom; they face famine in large areas of the world and yet are registering (with equal dismay) the famine of the soul.
We are surely not in error if we conclude that this spiritual dismay and this spiritual demand have assumed a paramount place in the consciousness of the Christ. When He reappears and when His Church, hitherto invisible, appears with Him, what can They do to meet this demanding cry and this intensified attitude of spiritual perception with which They will be greeted. They see the picture whole. The cry of the Christian for spiritual help, the cry of the Buddhist for spiritual enlightenment, and the cry of the Hindu for spiritual understanding – along with the cries of all those who have faith or have no faith – must be met. The demands of humanity are rising to Their ears and the Christ and His disciples have no sectarian scruples, of that we may be sure. It is impossible to believe that They are interested in the views of the Fundamentalists or in the theories of the theologians upon the Virgin Birth, the Vicarious At-one-ment or the Infallibility of the Pope. Humanity is in desperate need and that need must be met; only great and fundamental principles of living, covering the past and the present and providing a platform for the future, will really meet that human invocation. The Christ and the spiritual Hierarchy will not come to destroy all that humanity has hitherto found “necessary to salvation,” and all that has met its spiritual demand. When the Christ reappears, the non-essentials will surely disappear; the fundamentals of faith will remain, upon which He can build that new world religion for which all men wait. That new world religion must be based upon those truths which have stood the test of ages and which have brought assurance and comfort to men everywhere. These surely are:
1. The Fact of God
First and foremost, there must be recognition of the fact of God. That central Reality can be called by any name that man may choose according to his mental or emotional bent, racial tradition and heritage, for it cannot be defined or conditioned by names. Human beings perforce always use names in order to express that which they sense, feel and know, both of the phenomenal and also of the intangible. Consciously or unconsciously, all men recognize God Transcendent and God Immanent. They sense God to be the Creator and the Inspiration of all that is.
The Eastern faiths have ever emphasized God Immanent, deep within the human heart, “nearer than hands and feet,” the Self, the One, the Atma, smaller than the small, yet all-comprehensive. The Western faiths have presented God Transcendent, outside His universe, an Onlooker. God transcendent, first of all, conditioned men’s concept of Deity, for the action of this transcendent God appeared in the processes of nature; later, in the Jewish dispensation, God appeared as the tribal Jehovah, as the soul (the rather unpleasant soul) of a nation. Next, God was seen as a perfected man, and the divine God-man walked the Earth in the Person of Christ. Today we have a rapidly growing emphasis upon God immanent in every human being and in every created form. Today, we should have the churches presenting a synthesis of these two ideas which have been summed up for us in the statement of Shri Krishna in The Bhagavad Gita: “Having pervaded this whole Universe with a fragment of Myself, I remain.” God, greater than the created whole, yet God present also in the part; God Transcendent guarantees the plan for our world and is the Purpose, conditioning all lives from the minutest atom, up through all the kingdoms of nature, to man.
2. Man’s Relationship to God
The second truth to which all give allegiance – no matter what the faith – is that of man’s essential relationship to God. Inherent in the human consciousness – inchoate often and undefined – is a sense of divinity. “We are all the children of God” (Gal., III, 26.); “One is our Father, even God,” says the Christ and so say all the world Teachers and Avatars down the ages. “As He is, so are we in this world” (I John IV, 17.) is another Biblical statement. “Closer is He than breathing, nearer than hands and feet,” chants the Hindu. “Christ in us, the hope of glory” is the triumphant affirmation of St. Paul.
3. The Fact of Immortality and of Eternal Persistence
Third, is the sense of persistence, of eternal life or of immortality. From this recognition, there seems to be no escape; it is as much a part of humanity’s reaction as is the instinct of self-preservation. With that inner conviction, we face death and we know that we shall live again, that we come and we go and that we persist because we are divine and the controllers of our own destiny. We know that we have set ourselves a goal and that the goal is “Life more abundantly” – somewhere, here, there, and eventually everywhere.
The spirit in man is undying; it forever endures, progressing from point to point and stage to stage upon the Path of Evolution, unfolding steadily and sequentially the divine attributes and aspects. This truth involves necessarily the recognition of two great natural laws; the Law of Rebirth and the Law of Cause and Effect. The churches in the West have refused officially to recognize the Law of Rebirth and have thereby wandered into a theological impasse and into a cul-de-sac from which there is no possible exit. The churches in the East have over-emphasized these laws so that a negative, acquiescent attitude to life and its processes, based on continuously renewed opportunity, controls the people. Christianity has emphasized immortality but has made eternal happiness dependent upon the acceptance of a theological dogma: Be a true professing Christian and live in a somewhat fatuous heaven or refuse to be an accepting Christian, or a negative professional Christian, and go to an impossible hell – a hell growing out of the theology of The Old Testament and its presentation of a God, full of hate and jealousy. Both concepts are today repudiated by all sane, sincere, thinking people. No one of any true reasoning power or with any true belief in a God of love accepts the heaven of the churchmen or has any desire to go there. Still less do they accept the “lake that burneth with fire and brimstone” (Rev., XIX, 20.) or the everlasting torture to which a God of love is supposed to condemn all who do not believe in the theological interpretations of the Middle Ages, of the modern fundamentalists or of the unreasoning churchmen who seek – through doctrine, fear and threat – to keep people in line with the obsolete old teaching. The essential truth lies elsewhere. “Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap” (Gal., VI, 7.) is a truth which needs re-emphasizing. In these words, St. Paul phrases for us the ancient and true teaching of the Law of Cause and Effect, called in the Orient the Law of Karma.
The immortality of the human soul, and the innate ability of the spiritual, inner man to work out his own salvation under the Law of Rebirth, in response to the Law of Cause and Effect, are the underlying factors governing all human conduct and all human aspiration. These two laws no man can evade. They condition him at all times until he has achieved the desired and the designed perfection and can manifest on earth as a rightly functioning son of God.
4. The Continuity of Revelation and the Divine Approaches
A fourth essential truth and one which clarifies all the planned work of the Christ is tied in with spiritual revelation and the need of man for God and of God for man. Never has Deity left Itself at any time without witness. Never has man demanded light that the light has not been forthcoming. Never has there been a time, cycle or world period when there was not the giving out of the teaching and spiritual help which human need demanded. Never did the hearts and minds of men go out towards God, but that divinity itself came nearer to man. The history of mankind is, in reality, the history of man’s demand for light and for contact with God, and then the giving of light and the approach of God to man. Always the Savior, the Avatar or the World Teacher issued forth from the secret place of the Most High and brought to man fresh revelation, fresh hope and a fresh incentive towards fuller spiritual living.
Some of these Approaches have been of a major nature, affecting humanity as a whole and some of them are of less importance, affecting only a relatively small part of mankind – a nation or a group. Those Who come as the Revealers of the love of God come from that spiritual center to which the Christ gave the name “the Kingdom of God” (Matt., VI, 33.) Here dwell the “spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb., XII, 23.); here the spiritual Guides of the race are to be found and here the spiritual Executives of God’s plan live and work and oversee human and planetary affairs. It is called by many names by many people. It is spoken of as the Spiritual Hierarchy, as the Abode of Light, as the Center where the Masters of the Wisdom are to be found, as the Great White Lodge. From it come those who act as Messengers of the Wisdom of God, Custodians of the truth as it is in Christ, and Those Whose task is to save the world, to impart the next revelation, and to demonstrate divinity. All the world Scriptures bear witness to the existence of this center of spiritual energy. This spiritual Hierarchy has been steadily drawing nearer to humanity as men have become more conscious of divinity and more fitted for contact with the divine.
Another great Approach of divinity and another spiritual revelation are now possible. A new revelation is hovering over mankind and the One Who will bring it and implement it is drawing steadily nearer to us. What this great approach will bring to mankind, we do not yet know. It will surely bring us as definite results as did all the earlier revelations and the missions of Those Who came in response to humanity’s earlier demands. The World War has purified mankind. A new heaven and a new earth are on their way. What does the orthodox theologian and churchman mean when he uses the words “a new heaven”? May these words not signify something entirely new and a new conception as to the world of spiritual realities? May not the Coming One bring us a new revelation as to the very nature of God Himself? Do we yet know all that can be known about God? If so, God is very limited. 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 or quality for which we have as yet no name or word, and of which we have no slightest understanding. Each of the three present concepts of divinity – of the Trinity – were entirely new when first sequentially presented to the mind or consciousness of man.
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 approach will, in some way – deeply spiritual, yet wholly factual – prove the truth of the immanence of God. The churches have emphasized and exploited the extra-territoriality of Deity and have posited the presence of a God Who is creating, sustaining and creatively active, but at the same time outside His Creation – an inscrutable onlooker. This type of transcendent Creator must be shown to be false and this doctrine must be countered by the manifestation of God in man, the hope of glory. It is this surely that the expected Approach will demonstrate; it will prove also the close relationship between God Transcendent and that in “Him we live and move and have our being,” because, “having pervaded this entire Universe with a fragment of Himself, He remains.” God is immanent in the forms of all created things; the glory which shall be revealed is the expression of that innate divinity in all its attributes and aspects, its qualities and powers, through the medium of humanity.
On the fact of God and of man’s relation to the divine, on the fact of immortality and of the continuity of divine revelation, and upon the fact of the constant emergence of Messengers from the divine center, the new world religion will be based. To these facts must be added man’s assured, instinctive knowledge of the existence of the Path to God and of his ability to tread it, when the evolutionary process has brought him to the point of a fresh orientation to divinity and to the acceptance of the fact of God Transcendent and of God Immanent within every form of life.
These are the foundational truths upon which the world religion of the future will rest. Its keynote will be Divine Approach. “Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you” (James IV, 8.) is the great injunction, emanating in new and clear tones from Christ and the spiritual Hierarchy at this time.
Excerpted from “The Reappearance of the Christ – Chapter VI – The New World Religion”
By Alice Bailey & Djwhal Kuhl