Alchemy-Astrology-Magic-Kabala (Tape 38)
As one becomes interested in knowing self, in being aware of the self, and realizing that there is a great amount of material available, many people begin to look for outside sources other than the material that is at hand to be studied. This is quite natural and some such material is available. Up until a while ago very little of it was available in written form; and that was mostly so enciphered under various and sundry mythical figures, that it was very difficult to understand. Now, many of these books are around in these many symbols of various orders. The symbols were used long ago when it was impossible to speak openly. Some years ago, if someone had talked as openly as we have been discussing the subject, one would have been hanged, beheaded, or quartered and drawn for heresy. Today the usual greatest effort is ostracism from a group because one does not agree further.
There were four branches of the TEACHING over many, many years. These four branches were known under unusual names which seemingly had no connection with the study of the human psyche or the human soul. The first of these was known as ALCHEMY which seemed to have been a study in chemistry. The next was the study of ASTROLOGY, not astronomy, but of astrology, which seemed to be on the outward sign trying to discern the course of human events by studying the stars, and various and sundry attributes attributed to each one of the symbols of the stars, the signs of the zodiac and of the planets. And MAGIC which was considered on the outside as being able to control things--that one could handle, by various means known only to the initiate--the magician--and it was on the outward form, the ability to control things. And the fourth one was called the KABALA was more or less the Hebrew study as used by the Hebrews in various and sundry areas. It was the mystical study; and its outward form was to discover the name of God in everything. The name of God in Hebrew is unpronounceable YHVH (yad he va he) (4 consonants). These four letters in the Hebrew language had very specific meaning; and so they look for the four--basically they are initiative, passive [resistance], form and result.
ALCHEMY had an inner and outer school as did the others in that time because there was a great possibility that the school could be annihilated by those in power, for heresy or studying things that was considered dangerous by the state. These people had a school but the school was divided into two aspects: the outer school which almost anybody could come to and study--but from the outer school, they accepted certain students to take to the inner school. This is where the idea of exoteric and esoteric comes from--exoteric means the outer, and esoteric means the inner. So having two schools, the outer school was engaged in the study which was an attempt to make gold out of base metal. Now, this was quite an acceptable pursuit. The various great professions all felt this would be a wonderful thing if this could be accomplished--so they could work rather openly in their schools. If they only had had the inner school, they would have been destroyed.
So, as it were, they were patronized by kings, popes, and the healing art. So gradually, in order to please all the great professions, they said they were not only trying to make gold out of base metal; but that they were attempting to find the "elixir of life," the panacea for all illness. They also said they were looking for the philosopher's stone.
So in this way they were unmolested, and the curious and their genuine students all studied together on the long complicated process of attempting to make gold out of base metal; or to find the elixir of life; or to make the philosopher's stone. Each was supposed to give the man great powers.
Some of the questioning students recognized that this outer idea of making gold out of base metal was for some other purpose; so they--by their behavior--by their attitudes--by what questions they asked; they could demonstrate to the head of the school that they were worthy of being taken to the inner school. The inner school was to make a completed man out of an incomplete man--a golden man out of a base man. They considered the person conditioned--totally under the control of suggestion, and almost an "automan" [automaton]; but that by observing self over a period of time with the various symbols that they used, which the person understood, that that would be the same as recognizing unpleasant emotions, seeing the accounts receivable, of dis-identifying from the self, etc. As they recognized these, they of course, evolved into a completed man.
So the whole idea of alchemy was not to make literal gold out of base metal, but to make a completed man out of an incomplete conditioned man--where "I" or the awareness was conditioned-incomplete; and was base. Of course, the very base thing they started with was the four dual basic urges; and under the many, many symbols of alchemy, one may find all these things.
However, it takes forever and a day to tediously separate out--to discern what meaning was used for each symbol. One writer may have used one set of symbols in his school, and another one may have used another set. When they were looking for the elixir of life, of course, they were looking for life everlasting--to have a spiritual body--to be a completed man.
The same was true for ASTROLOGY. Astrology on the outer school seemed to be trying to foretell the future, to chart the course of future events. But the inner school was to understand the seven planets. In the olden days, they only knew of seven planets. Now, I believe, they know of nine; however, I don't keep up with that one. At that time, there was known seven planets--so each of the planets was assigned a meaning in the inner man--one for each of the basic decisions. The four dual basic urges, which was the moon was considered the lowest possible state of man--even lower than that of the animals. Then the other six were on up to the sun, and I was to be the sun when it was completed. It was to go to the sun and to be a Leo. As these things were studied, of course, on the outer aspects they cast innumerable horoscope charts, attempting to trace the course of future events. Again, some of the students recognized that there must be some inner meaning. These students were accepted into the inner school and were taught the same ideas that we know today only under symbols, of course, so that they would not be divulged to the outer world.
And then, of course, there was the MAGICIAN or the school of magic. The outer school was said to be able to control spirits. They were sometimes called elementals. They had four different classes of them; but what it really meant on the inner meaning was to be able to put under observation the "self" which was considered by the magicians to be demons. In fact, you'll find much reference to demonology or the study of demons in the New Testament--that a man was possessed by a demon--a demon was a tormenting demon to the person. Of course, we know that that was the "stress producer"; and as this was cast out of a person--he had been exorcised of that particular demon. Most of us have experienced having a demon cast out of us--the demon of jealousy or the demon of anger or the demon of fear, the demon of resentment, the demon of envy-we refer to them as not "I's". All of these are cast out as one casts the light of self-observation on it.
So according to the people of that day, we are practicing "magic." However, we would not consider it magic. It is the science of man; but the science of man has had a long and rocky road for many, many centuries. To study man other than the accepted literal outward surface would have meant being in a position to be executed almost without question. So they used all these things which, of course, appeals to the outer ideas of alchemy, magic and astrology. All appealed to the greed of people, so they were allowed to operate quite openly as far as the outer school was concerned; and they got along without being hindered in their work on the inner school. Many, many people went to these schools and never got beyond the outer school. They may have contributed a few worthwhile things here and there; and maybe they contributed much to superstition. However, it was the only means under which the school could operate under those situations.
The other school was the KABALA which was the attempt to find the four aspects, or the name of GOD in everything (YHVH): the initiative, the resistance, the form and the result. [see The Four Forces on web page under Definitions] To see the four forces at work; and as these forces were understood, the person would have a state of inner understanding--or inner comprehension--because they would see what they related to. The outer idea of the Kabala was very much in the form of magic. It was supposed to give great powers to whomever possessed it, like the power of healing, the power of divination--of being able to foretell the future--the power of producing visions. So, of course, those schools had many, many people. However, the Kabala was never widely spread except in the Jewish community; and as it went through the many vicissitudes of ups and downs, it finally began to be known as the Hasidic, which was the last stage of the Kabala as having any actual practice or schools. These were mostly in eastern Europe.
The purpose of the inner school was to always understand the four aspects of man. These schools, where they had an outer and inner aspect, had students in the outer school for 12 to 15 years before they were allowed to enter into the inner school. Obviously many, many people had very little opportunity; they didn't have the necessity of having ever questioned the purpose of living. You see, if you boiled many things, worked in metals being melted down, mixing and mixing, all of which was very hot hard work, sooner or later the person had to begin to question the meaning of the search for gold; and still there were very dedicated people working on it. So it seemingly had some other meaning.
Also these people hoped to have a "superman" as their goal or their aim, we should say. Their aim was to produce a completed or a superman. These teachings go back thousands of years, more than 2,000 years. Most of them are somewhat as old as Christianity; and some are a little younger in the various aspects.
The school of astrology was much older than Christianity, and the Kabala was much younger. Alchemy came along a few years later, somewhere, maybe 400-600 years later. Magic had been around long before. Men had worked in many ways to have--what on the outer surface was magic or sorcery or witchcraft--but the inner meaning which was to have the completed man--a man who had powers--and obviously, a man who had FAITH, and experienced the spiritual experiencing of faith, and was experiencing faith to all others--was a wonder worker because they did notice that many things took place; and of course, they all were very interested in having it.
Something like 2000 years ago a school was started in the Near East that has since been known as Christianity on the outer school. The inner part was always known as THE WAY; and you will find that the Great Teacher was completely identified with the teaching. He said, "I AM THE WAY, I AM THE LIGHT, I AM THE TRUTH." This was called The Way for a long time. It was not called Christianity for many, many years. It was called The Way and it was a very specific study. They had an assembly meeting for group discussions on Sunday, the day after the Sabbath. The Sabbath was Saturday. Most of them probably attended some Sabbath service starting Friday evening at sundown and ending Saturday at sundown. The school was held on Sunday--the first day of the week. The symbol of it was a "fish,"; and the idea of the fish was the "sign of Jonah." Jonah was swallowed by a whale and later cast out. So the idea of the fish was that the teaching was the fish; and that it could swallow a man. The man who studied it, valued it, and applied it was supposed to be "swallowed" by the teaching, and then he was cast forth from the teaching as a new man.
Now, in every case the teaching was to consume as short a length of time as possible, and it wasn't something one spent years and years and years and years at. If one was an adequate student, one was through it in a reasonable length of time - say two or three years, usually approximately three years; and then he was to be a worker in the school. If he didn't make it that way, he was just kept around to do whatever he wanted.
The outward form of this school was again concerned with behavior. It had an outward form, the same as the school that it succeeded - the House of Israel. It had as its outer school--certain disciplines of behavior sometimes referred to as the "commandments"--and then many, many more commentaries on the commandments, which altogether were called the "law."
Now, the "law" was a testing ground for a person to see if they were adequate to take into the inner school. If they could not be faithful over little things, which was simply behavior in a certain a form of being, shall we say today, possibly simple good manners plus a few other things - they washed hands to remind them that they were to cleanse their mind; and they did certain other rituals that were all to have a symbolic meaning.
Gradually those had been lost, so the Christ set up the Great Messiah, the Teacher who came and taught the people LOVE. In other words, they had to get to a point where they experienced AGAPE. Without this experiencing of agape, they were considered to be nothing. They were servants. Christ repeatedly taught that a servant--when he had done all he was supposed to do--was still to consider himself an unprofitable servant. It was also considered that "love" would serve.
So in this great school, which we still have some signs very definitely around us, but, which, of course, as most schools have done, it has turned into an outward ritualistic form.
However, The Way went underground. When Constantine the Great took over and organized it as a state church--a religion--the school began to be called a church. It was originally from the word meaning "assemble," and it was formed into a very definite thing using many of the symbols; but only the outward form. So the real teachers and the real students went underground. They worked in various and sundry places. They had many, many different forms under which they worked. Some attribute of it may be referred to as masonry [Free Masons]. They built great buildings and put all the symbols of the study in the stone; and there was other means of working underground where they wouldn't be molested by the authorities who were very jealous of their new-found power. They didn't want someone coming along and pointing out that it wasn't just a ritualistic procedure; but that it was really the study of the inner man.
These schools stayed in various small groups and traveled over most of the world. They are known in the Near East, some in the Far East, many, many in Europe, a few in the North American continent, some in the South American continent, some in Africa - in other words, all over the whole world. It has been carried to the ends of the earth, but relatively few people have ever been involved because of a requirement that one, at least, question the "mammon purpose of living", and that the whole purpose of living is not just to gain pleasure and escape pain.
Of course all the organized setup began to be purely organized to promise great rewards in the future--of some "ideal";--and to threaten with the total loss of the "ideal" if one did not agree and serve. Severe penalties were inflicted if any were found to be involved in any sort of study. In the Mohammedan world it is known by other names.
In recent years there have been many books published that have reference to Sufi, which is the same teaching with different ethnic groups and backgrounds, and adapted to the particular needs of the people of the day in which it is taught. Always the teaching has to be adapted to the present day meaning of existence. We have shown much that is in the New Testament parables, so that one could see that there is a direct line of endless successions of the teaching from ages long bygone until today. The only difference is in the similes and the words and how it is presented.
Always it has had to be a very few people because the great numbers of people have never questioned the purpose of living. They are totally intent upon serving mammon.
So at the present time, there is seemingly a decided upsurge. This is usually explained by the fact that when one's necessity is increased, one does something. We may think about doing something for a long time, but one day the necessity is increased, and we get up and do it.
So man has had an opportunity in much of the world to have his senses gratified to the point of satisfaction--until he can't stand any more. It hasn't given him happiness, peace, ending of conflict, or anything. So he has had to question.
The same simile is used during the exodus from Egypt. The people complained and wanted meat. They were crying for comforts. They wanted leeks and garlic; and they wanted meat. Flocks of quail came up to the camps of the wanderers from Egypt to the promised land--which was the idea of a school--and they got the meat - all they could stand - until they couldn't even stand the sight of a quail. So obviously, the simile is that they had the pleasure they wanted and possibly this is one thing that can help people begin to question the purpose of living - to have so much of what they think is so valuable that it becomes unbearable.
Most of us have lived in an area and a time when we have had every conceivable amount of stimulation of the senses to produce pleasure and comfort--all that we could possibly want; but we still see that most people are quite miserable--that they are still involved in wars--in conflicts and in fights. Family divorce rates are extremely high because they can't stand each other. Now, it is not because they can't afford all the so-called "good" things of life because they can buy all the wonderful expensive food, have nice clothes, and have nice houses. If an ancient king had had the ordinary city apartment with the comforts of central heating and air-conditioning, he would have thought he had really made it. But those comforts and those pleasures have not brought what man was looking for.
You see, there is a hunger within man that keeps him looking. Even though he can sometimes blot it out by pleasures, comforts, sensations and violence, sooner or later he comes up against it - that he is very incomplete--that something is lacking within--that he has no spiritual body--that he is in a state of conflict regardless of how wonderful his affairs are; and no matter how much he blames. You see, mammon always fails--no matter how many of the "ideals" could be realized--how much one felt one was self-improving--no matter how many signs and wonders--there will always be mammon's call for more, better and different, and the person would be just as miserable as before.
We only throw this in so that you may be acquainted with these various ideas - that they have been around; and that you need not take all the time away from the work to try to screen out and discover these peculiar strange books with the strange symbols, the strange words, and the seemingly strange ideas; and that they refer to magic, witchcraft, astrology, etc. The real meaning of them, of course, in most cases has been utterly lost. The outer meaning, of course, never did work in the first place. It was only something to keep themselves reasonably safe. It was a veil over the actual work.
So if you see this, you will not need to waste so many hours looking through them. They are possibly interesting as to how people had to study what we study today openly--what precautions and what veils and what subterfuge that was necessary a few centuries ago in order for a man to be acquainted with the teaching ideas that would liberate him from the bondage of conditioning.