We often hear about devout Christians complain of their periods of depression. At times they are almost in the seventh heaven of spiritual exaltation, they all but see the face of Christ and feel as if He were guiding their every step; then without any warning and without any cause that they can discover the clouds gather, the Savior hides His face, and the world grows black for a period. They cannot work, they cannot pray; the world has no attraction, and the gate of heaven seems shut against them, with the result that life appears worthless so long as this spiritual expression lasts. The reason is, of course, that these people live in their emotions, and under the immutable Law of Alternation the pendulum is bound to swing as far to one side of the neutral point as it has swung to the other. The brighter the light, the deeper the shadow, and the greater the exaltation, the deeper the depression of spirit which follows it. Only those who by cold reason restrain their emotions escape the periods of depression, but they never taste the heavenly bliss of exaltation either. AND IT IS THIS EMOTIONAL OUTPOURING OF HIMSELF WHICH FURNISHED THE CHRISTIAN MYSTIC WITH THE DYNAMIC ENERGY TO PROJECT HIMSELF INTO THE INVISIBLE WORLDS, WHERE HE BECOMES ONE WITH THE SPIRITUAL IDEAL WHICH HAS BECKONED HIM ON AND AWAKENED IN HIS SOUL THE POWER TO RISE TO IT, as the sun built the eye wherewith we perceive it. The nestling takes many a tumble ere it learns to use its wings with assurance, and the aspirant upon the path of Christian Mysticism may soar to the very throne of God times out of number and then fall to the lowest pit of hell's despair. But some time he will overcome the world, defy the Law of Alternation, and rise by the power of the Spirit to the Father of Spirits, free from the toils of emotion, filled with the peace that passeth understanding.
But that is the end attained only after Golgotha and the Mystic Baptism, the latter of which we discussed in the preceding chapter. Moreover, it is only the beginning of the active career of the Christian Mystic, in which he becomes thoroughly saturated with the tremendous fact of the unity of all life, and imbued with a fellow feeling for all creatures to such an extent that henceforth he can not only enunciate but practice the tenets of the Sermon on the Mount.
Did the spiritual experiences of the Christian Mystic take him no further, it would still be the most wonderful adventure in the world, and the magnitude of the event is beyond words, the consequences only dimly imaginable. Most students of the higher philosophies believe in the brotherhood of man from the mental conviction that we have all emanated from the same source, as rays emanate from the sun. But there is an abyss of inconceivable depth and width between this cold intellectual conception and the baptismal saturation of the Christian Mystic, who feels it is his heart and in every fiber of his being with such an intensity that it is actually painful to him; it fills him with such a yearning, aching love as that expressed in the words of the Christ: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings;" a brooding, yearning, and achingly protective love which asks nothing for self save only the privilege to nurture, to shield, and to cherish.
Were even a faint resemblance to such a universal fellow feeling abroad among humanity in this dark day, what a paradise earth would be. Instead of every man's hand being against his brother to slay with the sword, with rivalry and competition, or to destroy his morals and degrade him by prison stripes or industrial bondage under the whiplash of necessity, we should have neither warriors nor prisoners but a happy contented world, living in peace and harmony, learning the lessons which our Father in Heaven aims to teach us in this material condition. AND ALL THE MISERY IN THE WORLD MAY BE ACCOUNTED FOR BY THE FACT THAT IF WE BELIEVE IN THE BIBLE AT ALL, WE BELIEVE WITH OUR HEAD AND NOT WITH OUR HEART.
When we came up through the waters of Baptism, the Atlantean Flood, into the Rainbow Age of alternating seasons, we became prey to the changing emotions which whirl us hither and yon upon the sea of life. The cold faith restrained by reason entertained by the majority of professing Christians may given them a need of patience and mental valance which bears them up under the trials of life, but when the majority get the LIVING FAITH of the Christian Mystic which laughs at reason because it is HEART-FELT, then the Age of Alternation will be past, the rainbow will fall with the clouds and the air which now composes the atmosphere, and there will be a new heaven of pure ether, where we shall receive the Baptism of Spirit and "THERE SHALL BE PEACE" (Jerusalem).
We are still in the Rainbow Age and subject to its low, so we may realize that as the Baptism of the Christian Mystic occurs at a time of spiritual exaltation, it must necessarily be followed by a reaction. The tremendous magnitude of the revelation overpowers him, he cannot realize it or contain it in his fleshly vehicle, so he flees the haunts of men and betakes himself to the solitude allegorically represented as a desert. So rapt is he in his sublime discovery that for the time being in his ecstasy he sees the Loom of Life upon which the bodies of all that live are woven, from the least to the greatest-the mouse and the man, the hunter and his prey, the warrior and his victim. But to him they are not separate and apart, for he also beholds the one divine thread of golden life-light "which runs through all and doth all unite." Nay, more, he hears in each the flaming keynote sounding its aspirations and voicing its hopes and fears, and he perceives this composite color-sound as the world anthem of God made flesh. This is at first entirely beyond his comprehension; the tremendous magnitude of the discovery hides it from him, and he cannot conceive what it is that he sees and feels, for there are no words to describe it, and no concept can cover it. But by degrees it dawns upon him that HE IS AT THE VERY FOUNTAIN OF LIFE, beholding, nay, more, FEELING its every pulse beat, and with this comprehension he reaches the climax of his ecstasy.
So rapt has the Christian Mystic been in his beautiful adventure that bodily wants have been completely forgotten till the ecstasy has passed, and it is therefore only natural that the feeling of hunger should be his first conscious want upon his return to the normal state of consciousness; and also naturally comes the voice of temptation: "COMMAND THAT THESE STONES BE MADE BREAD."
Few passages of the sacred Scriptures are darker that the opening verses of the Gospel of St. John: "In the beginning was the word . . . .and without it was not anything made that was made." A slight study of the science of sound soon makes us familiar with the fact that sound is vibration and that different sounds will mold sand or other light materials into figures of varying form. The Christian Mystic may be entirely ignorant of this fact from the scientific point of view, but he has learned at the Fountain of Life to sing the SONG OF BEING, which cradles into existence whatever such a master musician desires. There is one basic key for the indigestible mineral stone, but a modification will turn it to gold wherewith to purchase the means of sustenance, and another keynote peculiar to the vegetable kingdom will turn it into food, a fact known to all advanced occultists who practice incantations legitimately for spiritual purposes but never for material profit.
But the Christian Mystic who has just emerged from his Baptism in the Fountain of Life immediately shrinks in horror at the suggestion of using his newly discovered power for a selfish purpose. It was the very soul quality of unselfishness that ld him to the waters of consecration in the Fountain of life, and sooner would he sacrifice all, even life itself, that use this new-found power to spare himself a pang of pain. Did he not see also the Woe of the World? And does he not feel it in his great hearth with such an intensity that the hunger at once disappears and is forgotten? He may, will, and does use this wonderful power freely to feed the thousands that gather to hear him, but never for selfish purposes else he would upset the equilibrium of the world.
The Christian Mystic does not reason this out, however. As often stated, he has not reason, but he has a much safer guide in the interior voice which always speaks to him in moments when a decision must be made. "MAN DOES NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, BUT BY EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDETH FROM GOD";-another mystery. There is not need to partake of earthly bread for one who has access to the Fountain of Life. The more our thoughts are centered in God, the less we shall care for the so-called pleasures of the table, and by feeding our gross bodies sparingly on selected simple foods we shall obtain an illumination of spirit impossible to one who indulges in an excessive diet of coarse foods which nourish the lower nature. Some of the saints have used fasting and castigation as a means of soul growth, but that is a mistaken method for reasons given in an article on "Fasting for Soul Growth" published in the December 1915 number of "Rays from the Rose Cross." The Elder Brothers of humanity who understand the Law and live accordingly use food only at intervals measured by years. The word of God is to them a "living bread." So it becomes also to the Christian Mystic, and the Temptation instead of working his downfall has led him to greater heights.
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