Book of Records
Each of the great ancient religions had its Book of Records and Teachings, which were for the outer ring of students.
This Book was always supplemented by a Commentary written for the inner circle of the priesthood, explaining the secret symbolism of the Book and the Mysteries therein concealed. Sometimes there was a second and third Commentary giving the deepest inner meanings. These Keys or Commentaries were carefully guarded and hidden, and in many cases have apparently disappeared altogether.
The ancient Indian philosophy began with the Veda, including the Upanishad books and their great Commentaries. The Rig a Yajur Vedas are some of the earliest records of Aryan thought. They come between the Egyptian and the Greek civilizations, and are assigned to about 5000 BC. They worshipped a Heavenly Father (Dyans-Pitar) and spirits controlling the elements. They had a very deep conception of the One God. The Indian book of moral code, called the Laws of Manu, taught continence and moderation and the striving for a spiritual ‘second birth’. All ten of the Indian philosophies taught Reincarnation.
Shankara, born about AD 788, was the great Indian saint and elucidator of the Upanishads. He wrote one of the world’s masterpieces, his commentary on the Brahman Sutras, the Upanishads, and his ‘Song of the Lord’ (the ‘Bhabavad Gita’)’. He was a great adept in Yoga.
Yoga is not a religion. It is a science, a method of ‘yoking’ up with the ‘Supreme Self’, a practice of extreme discipline for the attainment of perfection. A Yogin is one who has studied, Yoga, often at the Buddhist University of Nalanda.
The Buddha was the great Indian mystic, founder of Buddhism. The Buddhist philosophy is based on the law of Karma. The Brahmins believed Buddha to be the reincarnation of Vishnu, their ancient Teacher. They absorbed his teachings, which also took hold in Tibet, China, and in Japan among the Zen monks.
The Tibetans have also a Book of the Dead containing the ‘Bod’, which is a guide-book to the dying during the forty-nine days which constitute the ‘Intermediary Stage’ between death and Union with the Divine. Passages from this book are read to the deceased for forty-nine days after his death, while he is supposed to be passing through the three lower astral planes and viewing the panorama of his created thought-forms. He finally realizes illusion and craves a new rebirth. He is exhorted to believe in the One great Divinity of whom he is a part.
In Persian a very fine philosophy was cultivated. This was the Sufi with its book the Avesta. This was built upon a very early worship of the sun-god Mithra, which at one time held great sway in Europe as well as upon the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster.
The Rubaiyat of Omar Kayyam is inspired by Sufism. The Sufis find ecstasy through losing themselves in union with the One Divine Spirit. Some of the Fakirs and Dervishes are their offshoots, but these are sometimes degenerated.
The Mohammedans possess a great wealth of philosophy in their book the Koran, which also teaches an aspiration to unity with the One God.
In China the religion, whether Buddhist or Taoist, is built upon the teachings of Confucius. Confucius was a very practical teacher and social organizer. Born in 551 BC, he worked to develop social science and the building up of individual character, and did much to bind China together. He was almost a contemporary of Buddha, and was greatly influenced at one time by Lao Tze. His pupils recorded his teachings in a book called The Digested Conversations, a large part of which was burnt later during the Ts’in dynasty, with the usual object of keeping the people in ignorance. Confucius believed in the one God over all, and in three types of subsidiary spirits. He called himself the ‘transmitter of the wisdom of the Ancients’.
Lao Tze was the Chinese ‘Jesus’. He was born of a virgin mother, conceived under a falling star. He was a high mystic and left a famous book called Tao The King, which expounded a moral code for the Way of Attainment. ‘Tao’ means Way and represents the aspiration of the Taoists, Lao Tze believed in Reincarnation, Karma, and the victory of gentleness.
The Japanese State religion was Shinto. Shinto means the Way of the Spirits. Some of the Japanese became Buddhists, and nearly all of them became Confucians as well.
Then there was a very stern type of Buddhism called Zen which gained great sway in China and was finally transplanted to Japan. The Zen classic is a poem called ‘The Taming of the Bull’, the bull being of course the animal nature or materialism. The Zen monks originated ju-jitsu, which has a deep scientific and mystical origin, and was practised by their famous samurai warriors.
The Greek philosophies, founded by Pythagoras, Plato and others, upon the Egyptian teachings accepted rebirth and other of the ancient doctrines.
The Jews have their own great book of ancient records called the Kaballah, and the inner meanings of these writings were sought and studied by the famous Alchemists of the Middle Ages.
The Christian Church, as founded in Rome, guarded many priceless manuscripts. It accepted Reincarnation and Karma, as it said that Christ had also done. But from the first General Council of Christendom at Nicaea in AD 325, to the last Council in Constantinople in AD 869, Christian principles, rules and teachings were subject to many deletions and changes. The result was to decrease public knowledge for the aggrandizement of the priesthood. From that time onwards all who possessed or were teaching the Secret Wisdom were mercilessly persecuted and put to death.
Henceforward the occult sciences were studied in secret. They were guarded and kept alive by such people as the Freemasons, Rosicrucian's, Alchemists, Troubadours, Knights of the Grail and the Round Table, and the Avengensies or paper-makers. In Russia there were the Trottes, and in Britain there had been the Druids. Earlier still, in Mexico, there were the remnants of the teachings of Quetzalcoatl, and of the ancient Atlantean settlement at Peru. In Chaldea there were the Magi or Magicians, the famous astrologers who possessed the Egyptian Wisdom and knew of the time and place where the new Messiah should be born. And in Palestine itself the wise ones belonged to the sect called the Essences, which had existed for 8000 years, and was to have the privilege of training Jesus.
Everywhere in the world the self-same Ancient Wisdom can be traced, until its widespread stamping out and persecution at the beginning of the Dark Ages from which we are now emerging.
And everywhere in the world at present are the signs of the re-emergence of that Wisdom back into the light of day, not as the prerogative and secret of the priesthood, but as the hard-earned right of the whole of humanity. The tables have indeed been turned, and now we find much of the Wisdom outside the churches and temples instead of inside them.
Humanity is taking its salvation into its own hands. That is because we are now coming into the great Aquarian Age under the Sign of the Zodiac Aquarius, which will last, as do all the Signs, for about 2000 years. During this time the ‘Waters of Life will be poured down on all mankind’, and the astrological influences will bring a golden age to birth. Many believe that the Ever-Coming One will arrive again in His newest guise, which we may not yet know; but great will be the fulfillment for those who are ready and awaiting His Coming.