, meaning father of the heights, to Abraham
, meaning “father or a multitude” This in turn indicates that at a certain stage in its journey, the progress of the spirit, which until then has revolved around its acquisition of knowledge about the heights of the spirit, becomes dependant on transmitting that knowledge to others. In other words, he must begin to pass on that which he has learned, for it is only by helping others that man on the physical plane we can take the final steps that lead from earth to Heaven.
There is no doubt that when after many lives the good man is at last ready to think about turning away from material things, the actual effort of doing so costs him dear. It is only with great mental labour that His mind is able to break free of the mental links which for so many lives have bound him to life on earth. Even then it is a whirl of conflicting emotions but once that break has been made, his spirit may well be free to burst forth from this material world into the higher parts of the Spirit Plane.
Until then, however, as he struggles with himself, there is no doubt that “the idealist is in misery”. There are a range of fears within him, but foremost among them is the fear of the unknown – just how great will be the eventual cost of sanctity? Just how much he will have to surrender – just how great will be the sacrifice that his “higher consciousness” will demand of him?
Yet he already knows the answer, for “if he intends to dwell on higher planes” materialism – the desire for material things – will have to be completely eradicated, or as the Sayings puts it “materialism must be trodden underfoot”. This is essential, for God has given every one of us Free Will and as long as we hanker after the things of the world, we will never completely break free of the ties that keep us coming back to the physical Plane life after life.
Verse 3 could be seen as a reference to Baptism, but in a spiritual sense it refers to the downpouring of Divine life-force – otherwise known as Grace – that God always sends to any human spirit when it first offers its life to Him.
Baptism can of course be seen as a physical symbol of this downpouring of the Divine Life force, but it is the actuality, rather than any physical symbol thereof that actually consecrates such a spirit to God’s service. Thereafter it is a “chosen spirit” that is to say, God has chosen him, by this downpouring of Grace, and although undoubtedly it will still face many temptations, ideally this “chosen spirit” thereafter “dwells in purity”, meditating and pondering on “the lofty ideals of his Heavenly Father”.
It is through such meditations that God is able to “elevate him to the heights of the spirit” and this is the way that God has appointed for him to draw nearer unto Him. Certainly this idea of “meditation” has formed an essential part of the spiritual life of all religions for as far back in time as we can accurately determine and not surprisingly we are told that “this is God’s appointed way of uplifting him.
It is important that such spirits demonstrate their faith to all, for thereby they may lead others to emulate them – if they conceal it, perhaps because they fear the mockery of men, then clearly their faith is much reduced in value to God. However it is even more important that they demonstrate that faith to God; for if they do not live up to their beliefs; their faith becomes a hollow sham.
Finally we are told that without the contact with God that meditation allows that faith “clings only to human values”. In other words it loses its reality and becomes no more than an outward cloak or worse still a hypocritical sham put on in order to impress others, but without any real spirituality.
The importance of faith in the soul at this stage in its evolution cannot be over-emphasised, for as yet it has no firm contact with God, and even if it has begun to scale the Mystic Path, as yet it is not sufficiently well-established thereon for faith to have become un-necessary as eventually it will.
Clearly there are many possible interpretations of this name depending on whether one sees the first syllable as Ab, meaning father, or ancestor, or alternatively new growth, greenness or fruit, rather than Abra, meaning feather, to take flight, pinion, or protection. As there is no well-known Hebrew word “am” the first is usually considered more likely, in which case “ram” which has a basic meaning of “to raise up” is usually rendered heights, but can also be translated “ haughty” or “pride”
Here, too, there is a question of whether the first part of the name is Ab or Abra, with each seeming to be equally likely, for “ra’a,” means “to see” or “to know” and “ham” means heat or rage, but as the context of Genesis 17; 5 refers to him as the father of many nations, this is the translation usually given. However, in looking for a spiritual meaning, a second interpretation may also be of value, and this seems to refer to “flying above knowing and rage” – that is, one who has risen above earthly knowledge and emotions..
Baptism, though traditionally associated with Christianity also played a major part in later Jewish initiation rites – those who were to be admitted to the Jewish faith from other nations, were required to undergo baptism, as also did those Jews, who having done wrong sought to re-dedicate themselves to the Service of God. It is not clear, however that Baptism as an initiatory Rite was practiced as far back as the time of Melchizedek – though the use of Water in purificatory rituals certainly was, and the use of this spiritual symbolism, seems to indicate that some such ritual was known to the Semitic peoples at that time.
Eventually the true mystic reaches a stage when God is completely real to him, until then, however we all need to travel by faith.