that is mentioned here.
By virtue of having agreed to that charge such an advanced spirit “approaches life on earth, already consecrated to God” and as long as he continues true to his agreement, he is thereby “enabled to complete his earthly incarnations”.
It is important to realise that while many people allow themselves to be controlled by their emotions, the man of faith rigidly controls his feelings (soul), a task that is likened to the way that a wise counselor guides a king We are told that it is by this means that he is enabled to “rule his earthly incarnations” – a phrase that refers to the way we become “Adept” at all the lessons of earth before passing higher. His soul either accepts the restrictions such a man places upon it or it complains bitterly, but when it complains this only demonstrates a lack of faith and the indecision that results from this internal conflict, may lead others “to mock the man of faith”.
The reference to earth life as a desert indicates that in the physical state, we are often unable to receive the Water of Life(Divine Life Force or Grace) whilst the various forms of pride represent a constant threat to spiritual success. Naturally this concerns the human guide whose task it is to help him in the search for Perfection for pride is the deadly enemy of all who approach the Goal. However, it is important to realise that the human guide is responsible for his guidance only in “this portion of his existence” After death others will guide him.
Then we are told that the counselor “explains completely a portion of the whole truth”; he is not expected to know it all, but merely to explain the part he does understand and this enables the good man to “grow at the well of Perfection,” another euphemism for the Divine Life Force.
Another key attribute of the good believer is the willingness to listen to and benefit from the advice of others, but he is also discerning and carefully considered the advice he receives before taking it. In this context, the one who gives the advice must be seen as a spiritual guide who was previously called a “counselor”. This willingness to take advice is itself an example of humility and is seen as the destroyer of proud thoughts.
This is important for we are all tempted to pride at one or more points in our journey and unless we overcome pride, we shall never reach our Goal, which is God. And the reason for this is that God is so high above us that we can never compare with Him, and only when we realise our comparative nothingness that we will be ready to draw nearer unto Him. Equally, once we are ready, we will constantly be aware of His Presence and then His goodness and virtue will flow from Him into our souls, so that even whilst still in the Physical body we feel as if we had already reached the Heavenly City.
However, until it actually leaves Earth behind and crosses over the threshold to the Spiritual Realms the good man’s soul is still bound to him by what is called “the common bond of earthly life.” In other words, although the soul may at times be elevated to the heights of the spirit even whilst still bound to the physical Plane it cannot be freed therefrom until God permits – until the last earthly debt is paid and the last lesson learned.
The good man may well fear the demands of perfection, and ultimately he must learn to reject “the wide and easy path” which Christ was later to say was the path that “leadeth to destruction”(St Matthew 7; 13) Instead he must choose “the narrow winding road of purity” and if he does so, then his fears will certainly not keep him away, and will themselves eventually find destruction because of “his firmness and vigour”.
Verse 12, however contains a very valid warning. As the progress of the good man is so greatly depends on following the good advice he receives, so the Adversary will seek to dissuade him from taking it through the mockery of others, which if heeded will “bind the dweller in God” to earth life by “slaying good advice.” However, if the good man is truly a “man of faith” he will not be dissuaded by the taunts and criticisms of others but by following the spiritual guidance given him he will achieve “purity before the altar of God”.
Clearly the man who is filled with faith and traveling swiftly along the Path of Perfection, is a great source of joy to his Guardian Angel, and it is not surprising that we are told that “his angel rejoices at the prayers and aspirations of the man of faith” This does not mean, however that he is now ready to enter Heaven, for he is still subject to the snares of the Tester.
The Hebrew idiom from which this description of the Evil One derives refers to one who sets snares to catch birds, and this is an excellent analogy of the Devil, who, according to St Paul lays a “snare” (2 Timothy 2; 26) to catch the earnest seeker.
Strange as it may seem he sets these snares mainly around the feet of good people – it is almost as if those who are not bothering to serve God are hardly worthy of his notice, and this is often true – for Satan, like all others has to husband his resources, and apply them where they may be of most value to him.
It is only when the man of faith has struggled for a very long time, often for most of that last incarnation that he can at last win free of the snares of the Evil One. Then and then only is he Free of the earth and ready to pass higher and a life-time of struggle against “the physical attractions that await him and the opposition of the world that oppresses him’ is at last brought to a successful conclusion.
Note, however, it is not by struggle alone that has achieved his freedom. It is by practising “humility and because of his link with God”. The importance of humility can never be overstated, because pride is one of the most common causes of failure in those who are approaching the end, but just as important, both in itself, and because it enables the seeker to overcome pride, is the link with God that mysticism can provides. This link not only assures him of the truth of that which he seeks, it also helps to prepare him for life beyond the physical state, which, whilst not the ultimate goal, is nevertheless a major step along the road.
The reference to the “original state” is seen by some to refer to the fact that the spirit returns to Paradise from which it descended many lives before. However, the use of the word “ultimately” suggests that in this passage at least, it is referring to the Perfection enjoyed by the Divine Spark when it first left God, and which it must regain if it is to re-unite with Him, which after all, is the ultimate end of the Quest. It is not easy to turn away from the things the world holds dear, and the believer only succeeds in doing so after a long struggle, but we are told “once initiated he is dedicated to seeking knowledge of God and constantly prays to Him”.
To those who are ignorant of the Path of Perfection, this seems like a simple and logical statement, but to the “initiated” it brings much wisdom. Firstly there is the word “initiated” itself; literally it means “begun” and refers to one who has just “begun” to tread the Path. However, it can also be seen as a reference to the “Great Initiation” that effectively starts all true mystics along the Mystic Path. Equally it can be linked with achieving “Enlightenment” that is of having reached a point in one’s spiritual journey, when one’s whole desire is to serve God. The phrase “constantly prays to Him” may seem to be an exaggeration, but it is not; it actually refers to a well-recognised stage on the Mystic Path – when one is constantly aware of the Presence of God.
This does not mean that one is constantly praying to God in the sense of asking him for things, though one will certainly do this frequently, but rather that one feels as if one is in constant communication with Him, and always aware of Him by one’s side, even as Christ Himself promised His faithful followers (St Matthew 28; 20)
For His part, God “hearkens to the man of faith” and responds to this mental closeness, by constantly sending inspirations to him and he receives them subconsciously, even if he does not consciously hear God’s Voice.
This, we are told causes there to “germinate within him and powerful desire for God”, which by constant work is developed until from being a “man of faith” or “seeker” he dedicates himself to God’s service and can truly be called “the servant of God”.
God, in His turn, is pleased with his offer of service and as long as he remains true to that dedication continues to bestow His favours upon him.
We are also told that God “loves him” which should not surprise us, because God loves all His children, yet we know that there was one “beloved Disciple” and in a very special sense God loves those who dedicate their lives to him in a very special way.
Nor was St John the only man in history to be singled out in this way for Daniel too, (Daniel 10; 11, 19) was said to be loved of God, yet be it noted that here we are told that God “loves him in silence” in other words it is a love conveyed by actions rather than by words.
Perhaps this is why the next verse calls the Afterlife – “the land of silence beyond the tomb”. Perhaps it seeks to convey that God still loves us “in the land of silence” where “the burden of earth life is shed and the soul is uplifted by the light of God.”
Clearly the last phrase is a reference to the light of God inParadise, but although the afterlife may be silent as far as the physical man is concerned, it is vital to our progress and the next few verses of “The Sayings” shed much light on the subject.
The last few verses of Chapter Six discuss what befalls the good man after death and presents a lot of basic information about the afterlife in some detail. Although the soul has “shed the burden of earth life” and although it is “uplifted by the light of God”, the spirit of the good man in Paradise still has much to learn.
The Sayings do not tell us about those lessons, for obviously they are lessons which pertain to life in the Spirit World and can best be learned there.
Verse 23 merely says that “After learning lessons in that bright land, he passes through the Wall of Fire”, but this is incredibly significant, for the fact that it is described as a “bright land” makes it clear that the good man concerned has actually been dwelling in Paradise for in that part of the Spirit Plane the light has been described as brighter than a tropic noon. Then, we are told “he passes through the Wall of Fire”.
This has been described by many mystics, and can best be envisaged as a barrier of spiritual light designed to prevent those who are unworthy from entering the Celestial Realms.
Beyond the Wall of Fire there lie two paths – one leading onwards to Heaven, and the other leading back to rebirth on earth and in verse 24 we are told that the spirit of the good man is inspired to take the Path of Rebirth even as he has done regularly on so many previous occasions.
In verse 25, however, we are given a promise that “if he continually presses forward towards the Light he will ultimately return to God from when he came.” This, we are assured, has been “appointed of God to the one He calls”.
And as we seem likely to ask, just what it is that God has appointed to the one He calls, verse 27 tells us. “The One whom God Calls, He appoints to circle from birth to birth.”
We may well ask, how is this different from those whom God does not call, and the answer must surely be, that God calls all – for we are all appointed to circle from birth to birth.
The difference is that the one who is a genuine seeker will continue to seek life after life and will eventually achieve the Goal.
There seems to be a double significance to the Two Paths described here as being perceived near the Wall of Fire.
Clearly there are two Paths beyond the Wall of Fire, but here it seems that in this passage we are being shown that even when a man must take the path of re-birth, he may from that moment also choose to follow the Narrow Path to perfection.
Such a choice, made even before one is conceived is the reason that some souls are born into a situation where they are trained from birth in the spiritual life.
This is the result of “choosing the Narrow Path” even before birth, by means of which they will “go forward to success”.
When one is called to re-enter earth life from the highest parts of the Spirit Plane, one approaches what mystics have called the Wall of Fire and it is within this boundary of Light that such mystical experiences occur. The Being, (to a Christian, usually Christ, to a member of another faith, some other Deity) invites the spirit to work for Him and if it accepts, (it is never compelled to do so) it is re-born into an environment in which it will have every opportunity to perform the task that has been appointed for it.
Some may question this description of the Path of Perfection, pointing out that Christ called it the Strait and Narrow Path in St Matthew 7; 14. This, however, is to misunderstand the Old English word “Strait” which is not the same as “straight” and refers to something that is constricted, such as a narrow stretch of water between two shorelines (e.g. Bass Strait) The Path of Perfection is narrow and constricted, but it is certainly not “straight”. It is long and winding and it is only when we are nearly at the end that we can ever hope to see our Goal clearly before us.
Any form of link with God can help us to overcome pride, because it shows us just how far we yet have to go to achieve perfection, and as long as we compare our selves with God as shown forth in the Life of Christ, rather than with others, we will constantly be reminded of this and so may well achieve victory over pride. However, the Tester has a “come-back” even on that – he tries to tempts us to see our spiritual links as something to be proud of – as if they were the result of our own unaided efforts. If we succumb, we are likely to fall into what is perhaps the most deadly of all forms of pride – spiritual pride and this may result, not only in our failing to make thjs incarnation our last, but may well mean that when in a future life we are permitted to assay the Path of Perfection once again, we have to do so without the benefit of a training in mysticism.
Nor should we see this as by God as smacking of favouritism, for it is totally compatible with karma; we earn God’s love by offering our love to Him, and He reciprocates in like manner but the degree of that love is clearly influenced by the degree of our love for Him.
Paradise is distinguished from the less spiritual parts of the Spirit Plane by the brilliance of the spiritual light that envelops it for which reason it is also called the Land of the Noon-tide Light