In our last lesson we promised to tell you the esoteric story of the youth of Jesus. And there is such a story to tell, although the churches know little or nothing about it. The churches have nothing but the husks that have always been the property of the masses. The real kernels of truth have been possessed by but the few elect ones. The legends of the mystic brotherhoods and occult orders have preserved the story intact, and you shall now be given the essence of the mystic legends and traditions.
At the end of our first lesson we left Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus in Egypt, the land to which they had flown to escape the wrath of the tyrant Herod. They dwelt in Egypt for a few years, until the death of Herod. Then Joseph retraced his steps, and returned toward his own country, bringing with him his wife and the babe. For some reasons unknown to those familiar with the legends and traditions, Joseph decided not to locate in Judea, but instead, bent his way toward the coast and returned to Nazareth where Mary and he had originally met and become betrothed. And, so, in Nazareth, the humble little mountain town the boyhood days of Jesus were spent, the grinding poverty of the family being relieved (according to the occult legends) by the yearly presents of gold from the hands of disguised messengers of the Magi.
The traditions relate that Jesus began His study of the Hebrew Law when He was but five years of age. It is related that He displayed an unusual ability and talent in the direction of mastering not only the text, but also the spirit of the Hebrew Scripture, and far outstripped His fellow students. It is also related that He displayed an early impatience at the dreary formalism of His Hebrew teachers, and a disposition to go right to the heart of the text before Him, that He might discern the spirit animating it. So much was this the case that He frequently brought down upon His head the censure of His instructors who overlooked the spirit of the teachings in their devotion to the forms and words.
Nazareth was an old-fashioned place and it and its inhabitants were made the target for the jests and witticisms of the people of Judea. The word “Nazarene” was synonymous with “lout”; “boor”; “peasant”; etc., to the residents of the more fashionable regions. The very remoteness of the town served to separate it in spirit from the rest of the country. But this very remoteness played an important part in the early life of Jesus. Nazareth, by reason of its peculiar location, was on the line of several caravan routes. Travelers from many lands traveled through the town, and rested there overnight, or sometimes for several days. Travelers from Samaria, Jerusalem, Damascus, Greece, Rome, Arabia, Syria, Persia, Phoenicia, and other lands mingled with the Nazarenes. And the traditions relate that Jesus, the child, would steal away and talk with such of these travelers as were versed in occult and mystic lore, and would imbibe from their varied founts of learning, until He was as thoroughly informed on these subjects as many a mystic of middle age. The traditions have it that the boy would often delight and astonish these traveling occultists with His wonderful insight into their secret doctrines and knowledge. And it is also told that some of the wisest of these, seeing the nature of the child, would overstay their allotted time of sojourn, that they might add here and there to the various parts of general occult lore possessed by the child. It is also taught that the Magi informed some of these travelers regarding the boy, that they might impart to him some truth or teaching for which He was ready.
And so the boy grew in knowledge and wisdom, day by day, year by year, until, finally, there occurred an event in His life, which has since been the subject of greatest interest to all Christians and students of the New Testament, but which without the above explanation is not readily understood.
The Feast of the Passover occurred in its allotted time of the year—April—when Jesus was in his thirteenth year. This feast was one of the most important in the Jewish calendar, and its observance was held as a most sacred duty by all Hebrews. It was the feast set down for the remembrance and perpetuation of that most important event in the history of the Jewish people when the Angel of Death swept over all of Egypt’s land smiting the first-born child of every house of the natives, high and low, but sparing all the houses of the captive Hebrews who marked their door-sills with the sacrificial blood as a token of their faith. This is no place to give the explanation of this apparently miraculous event, which students now know to be due to natural causes. We merely mention it in passing.
The Law-givers of Israel had appointed the Feast of the Passover as a perpetual symbol of this event so important by the nation, and every self-respecting Jew felt obligated to take part in the observance and sacrament. Every pious Jew made it a point to perform a pilgrimage to Jerusalem at the time of the Feast of the Passover, if he could in any way manage to do so.
At the time of the Passover celebration of which we are speaking, Jesus had just entered into His thirteenth year, which age entitled Him, under the ecclesiastical law, to the privilege of sitting with the adult men of His race at the Passover supper, and also to publicly join with the male congregation in the thanksgiving service in the synagogues.
And so, on this year, He accompanied His father and mother to Jerusalem and made His second visit to the Holy City. It will be remembered that His first visit there was made when as an infant He was carried thither from Bethlehem in His mother’s arms in accordance with the Jewish law, and at which time an aged priest and an old prophetess had publicly acknowledged the divine nature of the child.
The father, mother and child—the divine trinity of Human relationship—traveled slowly over the highway that led from Nazareth to Jerusalem. The father and mother were concerned with the details of the journey, mingled with pious thoughts concerning the sacred feast in which they were to take part. But the boy’s mind was far away from the things that were occupying his parent’s thoughts. He was thinking over the deep mystic truths which He had so readily absorbed during the past few years, and He was looking forward in delightful anticipation to His expected meeting with the older mystics in the temples and public places of Jerusalem.
It must be remembered that underlying the Jewish ecclesiastical teachings and formalism, which were all that the mass of the people knew, there was a great store of Jewish occultism and Mysticism known to the few elect. The Kaballah or Jewish occult writings were closely studied by the learned Jews, and this work with other similar teachings were transmitted verbally from teacher to student, and constituted the Secret Doctrine of the Hebrew religion. And it was toward the learned teachers of this Secret Doctrine that Jesus directed His mind and steps, although His parents knew it not.
Four or five days were consumed in the journey, and at last the Holy City—Jerusalem—came into full view, the wonderful Temple of Israel showing plainly above the other buildings. The bands of pilgrims, of which the family of Joseph formed a part, formed into orderly array and led by flute-players they solemnly marched into the streets of the Holy City, singing and chanting the Sacred Songs used by the faithful upon this solemn occasion. And the boy walked with the rest, with bowed head, and eyes that seemed to see things far removed from the scene around them.
The Passover rites were carried out—the duties were performed—the ceremonies were observed. The Passover Feast extended over a full week, of which the first two days were the most important, and during which two days the obligatory ceremonies were performed. Each family made the offering of the sacrificial lamb—each family baked and ate the unleavened bread. The beautiful idea of the Passover had degenerated into a horrible feast of blood, for it is related that upon these occasions over a quarter-million of poor innocent lambs were slaughtered and offered up as a sacrifice pleasing to Jehovah, who was supposed to delight in this flood of the blood of innocents. In pursuance of this barbarous idea, the altars and courts of the Temple of the Living God ran red with the life-blood of these poor creatures, and the hands and garments of the anointed priests of Jehovah were stained like those of butchers, that the vanity of a barbarous conception of Deity might be fed.
All this for “the Glory of God!” Think of it! And think of the feeling that must have been aroused in the mystic mind of Jesus at this horrible sight. How His soul must have been outraged at this prostitution of the sacred rite! And what would have been His thoughts had He known that centuries after, a great religion would stand, bearing His name, the followers of which would be carried away with this same false idea of sacrificial blood, which would be voiced in hymns about “A fountain filled with blood, flowing from Immanuel’s veins,” and about “sinners plunged beneath that bloody flood losing all their guilty stains?” Alas, for the prostitution of sacred truths and teachings. No wonder that a people so saturated with the abominable ideas of a Deity delighting in this flow of blood should have afterward put to death the greatest man of their race—a Being who came to bring them the highest mystic and occult truths. And their prototypes have survived through the centuries, even unto today, insisting upon this idea of blood sacrifice and death atonement, unworthy of any people except the worshipers of some heathen devil-god in the remote sections of darkest Africa.
Disgusted and outraged by this barbarous sight, Jesus, the boy, stole away from the side of His parents, and sought the remote chambers and corridors of the Temple where were to be found the great teachers of the Law and of the Kaballah, surrounded by their students. Here the boy sat and listened to the teachings and disputations of the teachers and exponents of the doctrines. From one group to another He wandered, and listened, and pondered, and thought. He compared the teachings, and submitted the various ideas to the touchstone of the truth as He found it within His own mind. The hours rapidly passed by unnoticed by the boy, who found Himself amidst such congenial environments for the first time. The talks with the travelers of the caravans paled into insignificance when compared with these of the great occult teachers of Israel. For be it remembered that it was the custom of the great teachers of that day to so instruct those who were attracted to their company. And Jerusalem being the centre of the culture and learning of Israel, the great teachers dwelt there. And so it will be seen that Jesus now found Himself at the very fountain-head of the Hebrew Secret Doctrines, and in the actual presence of the great teachers.
On the third day, there began a breaking-up of the vast gathering of the two million of people who had made the pilgrimage to the Holy City. Those poorer in purse were the first to leave, after the obligatory rites of the first two days had been performed. And Joseph and Mary were among those preparing to retrace their steps to their distant homes. Their friends and neighbors gathered together, and the preparations for the return were completed. But at the last moment, the parents discovered that the boy, Jesus, was missing. They were alarmed, but friends told them that their boy had been seen in the company of kinsmen and neighbors traveling along the same road, who had preceded them but a few hours. Somewhat reassured, the parents left with their company, hoping that they would overtake the boy before nightfall. But when they reached the first station on the caravan route—a village called Beroth—and the night descended upon them, and the boy failed to appear among the neighbors and kinsmen, the parents were sorely distressed. They slept but little that night, and when the first rays of dawn appeared, they parted from the company, and retraced their way back to Jerusalem, in search of the boy apparently lost in the great capital amid the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims.
Every mother and father will enter into the feelings of Joseph and Mary in their frantic return to the city, and in their subsequent search for the lost child. They inquired here and there for the boy, but not a trace of him was found. And night came without a ray of hope. And the next day was likewise barren of results. And the next day after. For three days the devoted parents searched high and low for their beloved child—but no word of encouragement came to them. The boy had seemingly dropped out of sight in the vast crowds and winding streets. The parents reproached themselves for their lack of care and caution. None but a parent can imagine their anguish and terror.
They visited the many courts of the Temple many times, but no sight or word of the boy rewarded their search. The bloody altars, the showy costumes of the priests; the chants; the readings; seemed like mockery to them. They wished themselves back in their humble village, with their boy by their side. They prayed and besought Jehovah to grant their hopes and desire, but no answer came.
Then, on the last day, a strange event occurred. The weary and heart broken parents wandered once more into the Temple—this time visiting one of the less frequented courts. They saw a crowd gathered—something of importance was occurring. Almost instinctively they drew near to the crowd. And then amidst the unusual silence of the people they heard a boyish voice raised to a pitch adapted to a large circle of hearers, and speaking in the tones of authority. It was the voice of the boy, Jesus!
With eager feet the couple pushed forward, unto the very inner row of the circle. And there, wonder of wonders, they saw their child in the centre of the most celebrated teachers and doctors of the Law in all Israel. With a rapt expression in his eyes, as if He were gazing upon things not of this world, the boy Jesus was standing in a position and attitude of authority, and around him were grouped the greatest minds of the day and land, in respectful attention, while at a further distance stood the great circle of the common people.
When one remembers the Jewish racial trait of reverence for age, and the consequent submission of Youth, one will better understand the unusual spectacle that burst upon the gaze of Joseph and Mary. A mere boy—a child—daring to even speak boldly in the presence of the aged teachers was unheard of, and the thought of such a one actually presuming to dispute, argue and teach, in such an assembly, was like unto a miracle. And such it was!
The boy spoke with the air and in the tones of a Master. He met the most subtle arguments and objections of the Elders with the power of the keenest intellect and spiritual insight. He brushed aside the sophistries with a contemptuous phrase, and brought back the argument to the vital point.
The crowd gathered in greater volume, the gray heads and beards grew more and more respectful. It was evident to all that a Master had arisen in Israel in the form of a boy of thirteen. The MASTER was apparent in tone, gesture, and thought. The Mystic had found his first audience, and his congregation was composed of the leading thinkers and teachers of the land. The insight of the Magi was verified!
Then in a momentary pause in the argument, the stifled cry of a woman was heard—the voice of the Mother. The crowd turned impatient, reproachful glances upon Mary, who had been unable to restrain her emotion. But the boy, looking sadly but affectionately at his lost parents, gave her a reassuring glance, which at the same time bade her remain still until he had finished his discourse. And the parents obeyed the newly awakened will of their child.
The teaching ended, the boy stepped from his position with the air of one of the Elders, and rejoined his parents, who passed as rapidly as possible from the wondering crowd. Then his mother reproached him, telling him of their distress and wearisome search. The boy listened calmly and patiently until she had finished. Then he asked, with his newly acquired air of authority, “Why sought ye me?” And when they answered him in the customary manner of parents, the boy took on still a greater air of authority, and in tones that though kindly, were full of power, he replied, “Knew ye not, that I must be in my Father’s House? I must be about the things of my Father.” And the parents, feeling themselves in the presence of the Mystery that had ever been about the child, followed Him silently from the Temple grounds.
And here closes the New Testament story of the boy Jesus at the age of thirteen, which story is not resumed until His appearance at the place of the preaching of John the Baptist, over seventeen years later, when the boy had reached the age of a man of thirty years. When and how did he spend those seventeen years? The New Testament is totally silent on this score. Can anyone who has read the above imagine that Jesus spent these years as a growing youth and young man, working at His father’s carpenter bench in the village of Nazareth? Would not the Master, having found his strength and power, have insisted upon developing the same? Could the Divine Genius once self-recognized be content to be obscured amid material pursuits? The New Testament is silent, but the Occult Traditions and Mystic Legends tell us the story of the missing seventeen years, and these we shall now give to you.
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The legends and traditions of the mystic and occult organizations and brotherhoods tell us that after the occurrence of Jesus and the Elders in the Temple, and his recovery by his parents, the latter were approached by members of the secret organization to which the Magi belonged, who pointed out to the parents the injustice of the plan of keeping the lad at the carpenter’s bench when He had shown evidences of such a marvelous spiritual development and such a wonderful intellectual grasp of weighty subjects. It is told that after a long and serious consideration of the matter the parents finally consented to the plan advanced by the Magi, and allowed them to take the lad with them into their own land and retreats that He might there receive the instructions for which His soul craved, and for which His mind was fitted.
It is true that the New Testament does not corroborate these occult legends, but it is likewise true that it says nothing to the contrary. It is silent regarding this important period of between seventeen and eighteen years. It is to be remembered that when He appeared upon the scene of John’s ministration, the latter did not recognize Him, whereas had Jesus remained about His home, John, his cousin, would have been acquainted with his features and personal appearance.
The occult teachings inform us that the seventeen or eighteen years of Jesus’ life regarding which the Gospels are silent, were filled with travels in far and distant lands, where the youth and young man was instructed in the occult lore and wisdom of the different schools. It is taught that He was taken into India, and Egypt, and Persia, and other far regions, living for several years at each important center, and being initiated into the various brotherhoods, orders, and bodies having their headquarters there. Some of the Egyptians’ orders have traditions of a young Master who sojourned among them, and such is likewise the case in Persia and in India. Even among the lamasaries hidden in Thibet and in the Himalayan Mountains are to be found legends and stories regarding the marvelous young Master who once visited there and absorbed their wisdom and secret knowledge.
More than this, there are traditions among the Brahmans, Buddhists and Zoroastrians, telling of a strange young teacher who appeared among them, who taught marvelous truths and who aroused great opposition among the priests of the various religions of India and Persia, owing to his preaching against priestcraft and formalism, and also by his bitter opposition to all forms of caste distinctions and restrictions. And this, too, is in accord with the occult legends which teach that from about the age of twenty-one until the age of nearly thirty years Jesus pursued a ministry among the people of India and Persia and neighboring countries, returning at last to his native land where He conducted a ministry extending over the last three years of His life.
The occult legends inform us that He aroused great interest among the people of each land visited by Him, and that He also aroused the most bitter opposition among the priests, for He always opposed formalism and priestcraft, and sought to lead the people back to the Spirit of the Truth, and away from the ceremonies and forms which have always served to dim and becloud the Light of the Spirit. He taught always the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. He sought to bring the great Occult Truths down to the comprehension of the masses of people who had lost the Spirit of the Truth in their observance of outward forms and pretentious ceremonies.
It is related that in India He brought down upon His head the wrath of the Brahmin upholders of the caste distinctions, that curse of India. He dwelt in the huts of the Sudras, the lowest of all of the Hindu castes, and was therefore regarded as a pariah by the higher classes. Everywhere He was regarded as a firebrand and a disturber of established social order by the priests and high-caste people. He was an agitator, a rebel, a religious renegade, a socialist, a dangerous man, an “undesirable citizen,” to those in authority in those lands.
But the seeds of His wisdom were sown right and left, and in the Hindu religions of today, and in the teachings of other Oriental countries, may be found traces of Truth, the resemblance of which to the recorded teachings of Jesus, show that they came from the same source, and have sorely disturbed the Christian missionaries that have since visited these lands.
And so, slowly and patiently, Jesus wended his way homeward toward Israel, where He was to complete His ministry by three years’ work among His own race, and where He was to again raise up against Himself the opposition of the priests and the upper classes which would finally result in His death. He was a rebel against the established order of things, and He met the fate reserved for those who live ahead of their time.
And, as from the first days of His ministry to His last, so it is today, the real teachings of the Man of Sorrows reach more readily the heart of the plain people, while they are reviled and combatted by those in ecclesiastical and temporal authority, even though these people claim allegiance to Him and wear His livery. He was ever the friend of the poor and oppressed, and hated by those in authority.
And so, you see the Occult teachings show Jesus to have been a world-wide teacher, instead of a mere Jewish prophet. The world was his audience, and all races His hearers.
He planted His seeds of Truth in the bosom of many religions instead of but one, and these seeds are beginning to bear their best fruit even now at this late day, when the truth of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man is beginning to be felt by all nations alike, and is growing strong enough to break down the old which have divided brother from brother, and creed from creed. Christianity—true Christianity—is not a mere creed, but a great human and divine Truth that will rise above all petty distinctions of race and creed and will at last shine on all men alike, gathering them into one fold of Universal Brotherhood.
May the Great Day be hastened!
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And so we leave Jesus, wending his way slowly homeward toward Judea, the land of His father and the place of His birth. Dropping a word here—planting a seed there—onward He pursued His way. Visiting this mystic brotherhood, and resting a while in another occult retreat, He slowly retraced the journey of His youth. But while His outward journey was that of a student traveling forth to complete His education, He returned as a Master and Teacher, bearing and sowing the seeds of a great Truth, which was to grow and bring forth great fruit, and which, in time, would spread over all the world in its primitive purity, notwithstanding its betrayal and corruption at the hands of those in whose keeping He left it when he passed away from the scene of His labors.
Jesus came as a World Prophet, not as a mere Jewish holy-man, and still less as a Hebrew Messiah destined to sit upon the throne of His father David. And He left His mark upon all of the great peoples of earth by His journey among them. Throughout Persia are found many traditions of Issa, the young Master who appeared in that land centuries ago, and who taught the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. Among the Hindus are found strange traditions of Jesoph or Josa, a young ascetic, who passed through the Hind long since, denouncing the established laws of caste, and consorting with the common people, who, as in Israel, “heard him gladly.” Even in China are found similar tales of the young religious firebrand, preaching ever the Brotherhood of Man—ever known as the Friend of the Poor. On and on He went, sowing the seeds of human freedom and the casting off of the yoke of ecclesiastical tyranny and formalism, which seeds are springing unto growth even at this late day. Yea, the Spirit of His real teachings are even now bearing fruit in the hearts of men, and though nearly two thousand years have passed by the “soul” of His social teachings still “goes marching on” round and round the world.