Truth Exorcises Demoniac Obsessions


Chapter XVII

The debate on diabolic obsession and the predicament in which the history thesis plunges it are both beautifully resolved and reason is restored to the throne in the kingdom of Biblical exegesis once more by the simple device of understanding that the entry of Christly love-wisdom into the life and consciousness of the race and the individual drives out those irrationalities, fixations, obsessions of error, those almost literally demoniac possessions, which the rampant elemental forces, centered in the lower carnal mind, stamp upon the psychic nature. This is all that could ever have been sanely meant by the myth of the Christ casting out evil spirits. The Bible stories are but the scripts of the dramatizations of the inner change.

Likewise, it can be said summarily, the diseases, leprosies, palsies, "deaths," infirmities, cripplings, which are the subject of Jesus’ whole run of miraculous cures, belong to the same general category of typology. The touch of Jesus’ physical hand, or his magic words, upon the human sufferer is beyond any doubt or controversy the type, and type only, of the general healing and integrating power of the impact of true Christliness in the subjective life. The miracles, as Massey so clearly noted, can not be taken as objective historical occurrences. It has been seen how even a writer like Warschauer has thrown grave doubt over the most of them. Again it is seen that as history a large section of the Gospels is unacceptable and stirs incredulity; as allegory it takes its high place in both understanding and cultural stimulus. In every case gain is won by discarding the history and accepting the allegorism.

Then there is the matter of the several numbers used over and over again in Gospel narrative. Nothing has so glaringly revealed the pitiable meagerness of the orthodox scholar’s equipment for archaic interpretation and the innocence of his mind as regards knowledge of ancient systems of numerology in scriptural writings as does his blindness or opacity of mind as to the meaning of these numbers. This want of insight into a profoundly technical subject and the inveterate refusal to credit the matter with any definite significance whatever, have become a trifle pathetic in these late days, when competent research has well established the bases of intelligible comprehension of a profoundly abstruse science. Even chiasmus would have been howled down before this epoch; now it is accredited. Number symbolism must now also be legitimatized. The recurrence of such numbers as 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 12, 30, 40 and 300, more especially 3, 7, 12 and 40, should have spoken to the dullest of imaginations as to the lurking presence of great significance in their ubiquitous appearance in scripture. It would take pages of elaborate exposition to set forth here the meaning of the three days in the tomb, the walking on the water at the fourth watch of the night, the five wise and five foolish virgins, the servant’s setting out six pots of water to be turned into wine and this happening "after three days," Jesus’ going up into the Mount of Transfiguration "after six days," his tarrying at certain places seven days, and the 40 days’ duration of the temptation. The number forty occurs sixty-three times in the Old Testament. It is surely a bit naïve to ask coincidence to explain why so many events in the natural course of actual history should run just forty days or forty years. The very unlikelihood of so much coincidence should have taught students that they were dealing with symbolism and not factuality. Forty was a universal number used to typify the period that the seed of divine consciousness must lie dormant in incubation in matter before germinating in a new birth. The human foetus is forty weeks in the maternal womb. In Egypt the grain was said to lie in the ground forty days before sprouting.

There is the item of Jesus’ unknown years. Can it be imagined that if the Gospels were in any real sense intended to be biographies, or even merely works designed to link the principles of the new religion with the ostensible life and acts of the divine Messenger who allegedly brought it into being, they would leave a nearly total blank in his history from the birth events up until the last few months of his abbreviated life? The very doubtful incident of his temple argument with the doctors at twelve is the only item that breaks the long hiatus. This plan of the presentation of the material does not suggest history. The claim is that the data were--by the time Mark came to think of writing his recollections--meager and scant enough. In the first place, the Gospel that is alleged to have been written first does not read in any respect like the work of a man who is really trying to piece together what he recalls of events that he had once had actual knowledge of. No man in any age would produce a work that reads as those Gospels do, if he were aiming to restore a series of veridical historical events in a historical narrative. He would not inweave and embellish it with so large a proportion of admittedly legendary garnish. Reading it, one gathers the feeling that one is reading a work of allegorism. If it is history it is surely the most lyric type of history ever written. Practically there is little to its very substance save a cluster of prodigies at the birth and a larger cluster of prodigies and miracles, interspersed with discourses and moral philosophy, and a dramatic denouement at the end. Anyone with a cultivated sense for ancient dramatism can feel that it is allegory he is reading, and not history. The three years of his "ministry"--all there is of his life--have even been reduced by some scholars to one and a half, or even to one. The ancients did indeed represent the cycle of spiritual initiation, or symbolic history of the Christian life, under the typism and within the frame of the solar year, with its twelve solar months and its thirteen lunar ones. The festivals around the year were all set to match the symbolism of the dying sun of autumn, the resurrected one of spring, the balance (of spirit and matter) at the two equinoxes, and the alternate victory of light (spirit) and darkness (matter) at the two opposite solstices. Samuel, a type of the Christos, is said to have made an annual circuit of Ramah, Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpah, which can be equated with the four "corners" of the annual zodiac, or the two solstices and the two equinoxes. The Biblical "year of the Lord" was a phrase that had this typological reference. The sun being always masculine and the moon feminine, several of the patriarchs were given a progeny of twelve sons and one daughter! It is of no avail for the modern theologian to snort in annoyance at such renditions of meaning, or such a method of exegesis. The snort is silenced by the fact that the ancient sages did resort to such devices to embalm the precious core of meaning in structures of subtle indirection. If we would interpret what they wrote, we must at least follow their method and cease grumbling at its peculiarities. We shall no longer be annoyed if we yield our recalcitrancy, follow their scheme and find at last that apparent nonsense is replaced with the most luminous intelligence. We are annoyed at their method because our own presuppositions defeat our efforts to comprehend. Our key won’t fit their construction and we blame them for stupidity. When we have sense enough to use the key they used, or the key that alone fits their lock, the obstructing door can be opened and the light let in. The events between birth and final climactic end of the Christ story are missing, not because Mark forgot anything in that interval, but because those given were the episodes featured in the allegorical depiction. It must be put down as a very unlikely circumstance that if Mark could remember even the words spoken by many characters throughout, and short speeches of long discourses in places, and the minutiae of the miracles and journeys, he could not recall a single item between the birth and year twelve, and between twelve and thirty! Massey is authority for the observation that the same two lacunae occur in the "lives" of other legendary Messiahs; so that again every rational implication points to its being allegory and not objective fact.

The triumphal entry into Jerusalem: not only is this as unlikely a historical event as could be imagined, but it is definitely an episode in the dramatic ritual of initiation. It did not need to happen on the streets of Jerusalem to get into Gospels; it was already in the scripts of the ritual drama. Like many another incident and miracle of the narrative, it would have been in the "record" if no Jesus had ever lived--for it was already there centuries before Christ. Every religious dramatization or initiatory ritual had as part of its climactic denouement the entry of the candidate into a room, palace or "city" emblematic of the "city of heavenly peace"--St. Augustine’s "City of God," Bunyan’s "Celestial City"--as the place to which the exiled pilgrim soul returns to its empyrean "homeland." This feature of dramatic topography originated--as did nearly all others--in Egypt, where the prototype of the Greek Elysian Fields was found in the form of the Aarru-Hetep. "Hetep" is the Egyptian for "peace" and so is the equivalent of the Hebrew Sholom or Salem. Aarru is the origin of the "hiero"--meaning "sacred," which became the "Jeru" of Jeru-salem, the city of "sacred peace," or finally the celestial paradise. Jerusalem is spelled in old manuscripts "Hierosolyma." The entry of Jesus into the Holy City is but the historicized drama of the soul making its regal entry into the "city" of blessed peace and rest after its triumphant battle with the lower forces on earth. Each nation of antiquity used its capital city, named often to fulfill this function, as the earthly counterpart of the heavenly city of the allegory. That he entered it riding on an ass and her colt is the cryptic fashion of representing the soul’s being carried from the outlying regions of the material experience up to and through the gates of the Holy City by the agency of the animal portion of its own dual nature. And the presence of two generations of the faithful animal is to typify the fact that the soul’s journey from animalism up to divinity can not be consummated in one cycle of experience in the flesh, but must proceed through a succession of lives, passing continuously from the older phase of one generation to the succeeding younger phase. If this seems far-fetched and strained, it will be seen in its proper relevance if one studies the functionism of the Egyptian pair Osiris-Horus, Father-Son, Horus the Elder-Horus the Younger, and Kheper, the beetle-god, and the ideologies connected with them. Each younger generation of animal bodily life took up the labor of carrying the soul ahead through its progression and the ideograph of this had to represent the older and the younger stages in the line of procreation to convey the full meaning. If literalism pictures Jesus as entering astride both animals at once, it faithfully preserves the idea that he has won his victory by virtue of what both generations of the animal embodiment have done for him.

On its realistic side the incident seems logically impossible. How Jesus--if he had stirred up the popular hostility that was to hound him to his death within a week--could have found the populace at Jerusalem in mood to welcome him with hosannas and strewn palms, and how he got the crowd out for the reception, is a little more than credulity can swallow. And to crown the whole procedure with anomaly, the episode, taken from the drama, got into the Gospel scenario at the wrong place. It was put in too soon. The Gospels being a dramatization of the unfolding history of the soul in its struggle through the elements, it is an anachronism to put the final episode of his return from earthly exile to his celestial home ahead of the crucifixion and death. It would logically even follow the ascension, and should be the final and climactic act of the entire drama. Life proceeds outward from the silence of the inner chambers of creation at the beginning of a cycle of new growth, fights its battle on the plain or on the "mount" of open visible manifestation then retires again within the inner sanctum of the temple of the universe, its last tones ringing like an echo over the scene of its late activity. The church recessional symbolizes the return of the evolutionary pilgrim to his Father’s house, chanting its song of triumph as it enters the gates of the "Holy City," "Jerusalem, the Blest." If one will in imagination rise to some degree of appreciation of the grandeur of this evolutionary drama, and then displace it suddenly with the imagined realism of Jesus’ riding the lowly animal into the Judean capital, one will gain a realizing sense of the tragedy which befell human culture when allegory was turned into history. By feeding our minds on the grossness of historical realism instead of the dynamic psychic power of allegorism and typology, we have lost touch with the bases of cathartic purification.

The crucifixion! The longer and more closely one ponders it--realistically--the less it seems possible as an actual occurrence. It, too, had its dramatic prototype in the Mystery ritual where the candidate for initiation was tied or bound or symbolically nailed to the cross and even put into a hypnotic coma to be awakened from "death" after three days on Easter morning. Thus the non-historical source of the feature is clearly evident. There is much doubt as to the Roman practice of physical crucifixion, and particularly on a Tau cross. It was not a Hebrew custom, or sanctioned by Hebrew law. It was resorted to, as far as known, only in exceptional and rare occasions. It seems on the surface more like a ritual procedure than a physical event. Again, like the temptation, the Sermon, the transfiguration and ascension, it was consummated "on the Mount," which is the hieroglyph for the earth. And it is surely not without occult significance that "Calvary" is from the Latin calvus, meaning "the head," and "Golgotha" is Hebrew for "the place of the skull." It is of course clear that the inner significance of all that goes into the interior experience of the crucifixion of the Son of God as immortal soul on the cross of matter, is "localized" within the head or brain, or mind, of man. This datum is enough to enable anyone familiar with ancient habits of typology and dramatization of truth to penetrate to the heart of the mystery behind the names of the Mount of Crucifixion. Prometheus, whose name signifies the archetypal creative Fore-Thought, was chained to a rock on a Mount and tortured there. The allegorical background and archetypes of the Gospel crucifixion are complete and perfect; the historical evidences and possibilities are far from similarly strong. It makes much greater sense as drama than it possibly can do as history.

The picture of the Son of God coming to earth to show mankind how to be victorious over the conditions of mortality, and then demonstrating his victory by the method of physical helplessness and an ignominious death of his body on the cross, has never seemed anything but unnatural to the naïve mind. The mind even of piety and devotion has to be "conditioned" by subtle sophistries before it can accept the postulations of Christianity. Not until one studies the Egyptian and Greek philosophies and views the resultant findings through the eyes of symbolic depiction can the feature of sacrifice and immolation in the mission of the divine Son to earth be aligned with the reasonable background of our position. Long lost to ecclesiastical philosophy is the ancients’ characterization of matter as the cross on which the Christ-soul is crucified, and this physical life itself as the "death" of the divine Ego. These two concepts were the ribs or spine, so to say, of the archaic wisdom. For the Christ to die on the cross was simply a dramatic glyph for its incarnation. Incarnation was the ground and primary base of all meaning in religion. Therefore to represent the incarnating divinity as being immolated on a cross was to dramatize the basic experience from which all religion flows. Any soul is being crucified on the cross whenever it is alive in a physical body. This life is its (comparative) "death," for in all ancient systems the body, living, was the tomb of the soul’s "death." Witness the Greek sema, tomb, and soma, body. Even sarcophagus is from the Greek for the physical body,--sarx. Here, then, is the full meaning of the crucifixion:--the soul’s life in body in its incarnational experience, with the infinitude of varied signification attaching to or flowing from that ground. Drama portrayed it by the binding or nailing of a man on a cross of wood. That is drama; the thing dramatized is the god’s life under the limitations of mortal flesh. But the drama was not history. It merely depicted the meaning of history. But who can calculate the tragedy of the annual wastage of emotional stress and strain in the pouring out of oceans of maudlin sympathy and vicarious grief over the Passion Week sufferings of a man who never lived? The numberless crucifixes seen on every side stand as a most gruesome and lugubrious sight, filling the beholder not only with morbid revulsion at its positive ugliness, but with a sense of the lamentable breakdown of reason under the force of indoctrinated ignorance. For it stands not as luminous symbol of high meaning, but as the graven image of alleged but impossible historical fact. It stands as the sickening seal of the enslavement of the human mind under the force of a gross delusion and a lie. As the picture of alleged fact it is ugly; for the fact itself--if true--is ugly, because it is incompatible with reason and intellectual integrity. Anything which mocks the reason and strikes at the probity of the mind is ugly. The crucifix, as monument of historic event, is the darkest, most dispiriting object in any landscape, for it speaks of the darkness of the human intellect under the pall of religious superstition.

And the resurrection? So majestic, so powerful in the reach of its grandeur is this doctrine that even though the deeper meaning may not be apprehended, it is deeply affecting. It is so sublime that no inadequacy of conception or representation can quite mar its beautiful suggestiveness. Yet again, it must be said that if it is still full of majesty even in its misconception, how infinitely more moving must it be when rightly comprehended! As the supposed miraculous bursting of the bars of a rocky hillside tomb by a man in human form, risen from bodily death, it leaves us in wonder, awe and--incomprehension. As the dramatization of our own eventual bursting of the bars of "death" and the physical limitations of the mortal body, and our ecstatic stepping out of this prison-tomb through the rent in the veil of this bodily temple into the glorious resurrection-body of light, it leaves us truly lost in wonder, reverence and--comprehension. Surely a more salutary repercussion for the whole of the Ego’s mind, soul, body flows from the adequate grasp of a great metaphysical reality than could possibly accrue from the same representation completely misapprehended. If this is not granted, then the argument is that incomprehension is more beneficial than understanding. This is indeed a frequent resort of ecclesiastical helplessness in face of questions that children can--and do--ask. As a glyphic representation of the climactic rapture of our final apotheosization the resurrection is transcendently meaningful and exalting; as the claimed exhibition of one exceptional man’s miraculous power, it arouses speculative wonder. Paul says that if Christ has risen, the bases of Christianity are sound. For if he rose, we, too, shall rise. Yet nineteen hundred years have passed and not one believing in him has ever risen in the same (alleged physical) manner. If more were needed to prove that the Gospel resurrection could never have been meant to be taken in the objective historical sense, it is found in Paul’s statement--which indicates that Christianity has put a wrong interpretation on the incident--that the divine Ego is sown, i.e., incarnated, in a natural body, but is resurrected from that physical tomb in a shining spiritual body. Equally, then, with the crucifixion, the resurrection is dissipated out of its historic character and becomes resolved into its infinitely more marvelous transcendental significance. And as in every other case, for it to die as history and be reborn as dynamic enlightenment, is gain.

The ascension, in any physical sense, is similarly a degradation and caricature of its lofty transcendency. At a high rate of speed, a physical body rising off the earth nineteen hundred years ago would not yet have reached the nearest star. The perfervid but not very realistic imagination of piety assumes that Jesus arose in the sight of his disciples in his body (that Thomas touched) and when he got up a fair distance, his physical substance somehow changed over into what angels are thought to be composed of. And that is enough for faith and credulity. Does "heaven" begin at forty thousand feet above the earth?

There is left one situation that comes under critical view in the Gospels, which certainly bears weighty testimony to the disqualification of another large group of events recorded as history in the Jesus "biography." This relates to the long list of "events" that allegedly transpired on the night before the crucifixion on Good Friday morning, of Passion Week. When zeal for history outran intelligence it did not seem to occur to the ignorant transformers of the myth into that category, that in a case where Egyptian wisdom had concentrated many aspects of meaning into a single symbolic point of time, the transferal of allegorical representation over into factual occurrence might meet unexpected difficulties in the crowding of a long series of symbolic "happenings" into a limited period of actual time. Mythical depiction requires only hypothetical time; history demands actual time or measured duration. This very predicament developed in connection with the incidents recounted in the Gospels as taking place on this last night of Jesus’ life. It was the night of the Passover, placed by one account on the 14th of Nisan, by another on the 15th, and both dates symbolical of the first full moon after the vernal equinox, a fact which at once gives it the simple significance of Easter. It was the night in the religious (solar) year on which all the significance of the entire course of incarnate experience came to a head in its last (symbolic) climactic moments. On this "night," under solar symbolism, the soul in the flesh on earth came to the end and consummation of all its labors in the body, finished its assigned task, accomplished the final stages of its perfection and stood on the door-sill of its liberation forever into celestial freedom out of earthly bondage. On that night all things heaped up in consummation and in victory. It was the night of triumph. All phases and lines of development reached their apical convergence in the glorious unfoldment into light, as the Greeks call it, of all the latent potentialities of the spiritual Ego in that final consummatum est. In the nineteenth chapter of the Egyptian Ritual (Book of the Dead) the symbolic narrative recounts a long list of allegorical processes which depict the concluding stages and steps of the many varied forms of portrayal under which the soul’s experience had been typed. It was all one experience, but it comprised the blending in one grand climactic moment or realization of many strands and facets of growth in man’s composite nature, and each phase had been allegorized under its appropriate typism. It was the final merging of all the varied rays into the ultimate white light. So in this nineteenth chapter there is a description of the climactic stage of each aspect. So to say, each stream of the living force had to be brought up to empty its final product and consummation into the crystal sea of complete divinization. The chapter therefore speaks of this last "night" of the soul on earth as "the night of" some fifteen or more apparently different transactions, when in fact it is descriptive of but the one grand collective denouement of salvation. And this "night" in the Ritual is none other than the night of the full moon of the vernal equinox! Symbolically the soul then crosses the line (of the equinox) which in the diagram of meanings marks the boundary between earth and heaven; and thus at its climactic moment in all its earthly experience it "passes over" from earth to heaven, to become "a pillar in the house" of its God, to "go no more out."

Frankness calls for the admission that the Egyptian list of "events" occurring on that meaningful "night" has apparently not been reproduced or copied in the Gospel story. Several of them correspond and might point to transmission from Egyptian into Palestinian literature. However, the difference in most of them can readily be accounted for on the ground of the great diversity of symbolic representation and the constant attempt throughout the ancient day to vary the systems of typing. Hebrew symbology did assume a quite different face from the Egyptian in many respects. But it still remains highly significant that in both the Egyptian and the Hebrew (or Greek) scriptures the narrative crowds a long list of "events," factual or ritualistic, into the few hours of this night of the Passover. The meaning of both groups of occurrences is, if the symbolism be penetrated, one at base. But the Egyptian was frankly allegorical; the Hebrew, under Christian handling, purports to be history. This difference becomes exceedingly, overwhelmingly embarrassing to the claims of the historical rendition. For it turns out that there could not possibly have been time enough--on the historical presupposition--in that night to enable the events narrated to have occurred in reality. On the symbolic basis one can crowd any number of developments into a single "night," for meaning expands into a fourth dimension and occupies no space or fills no time. But when one converts these imponderables over into history, they require time to occur. It makes a vast and in this case catastrophic difference. It all conspired to give the personal Christ a very full program and a busy time on his last night on earth! It is interesting to list the card for the hours from sunset until the next morning’s gruesome finale. This schedule began with the "Last Supper" with the twelve, which, if held at "supper-time" would have started off the night’s activities. This would have taken several hours, perhaps, if the animated discourse pictured so vividly by Leonardo in the famous painting be accepted as possible reality. After that came the walk out to the Mount of Olives and return. As there would have been no point in turning back the moment of arrival there, this item would have consumed time running on toward midnight. Then came the switch of scene to Gethsemane and the detailed series of incidents there, including time for Jesus’ long agony and sweat; his chiding of the disciples for falling asleep and not being able to watch with him "one little hour"; his arrest by the special guard sent out to take him; the cutting off and healing of the ear of the centurion’s servant; then--wonder of wonders!--three separate and distinct court trials, involving the presence of officials, the procurator, the Sanhedrin, and the masses, all in the late hours of the stillness of an Oriental night; then the mockery of the soldiers, the casting lots for his garments, the pressing of the crown of thorns on his brow;--then at last the toilsome journey up the hill, with cross on bleeding shoulder, to Golgotha; the erection of the cross, with those of the two thieves; and the final agony. It may be argued that this program could have been run through in the ten or twelve hours that have been assigned to it. But the three court trials seem to throw the decision against the possibility. To accept this all as history is indeed asking us to swallow a camel. It seems clear that in this instance history overreached itself and betrayed its own incompetency as an interpretative key. History here at last breaks down under its own impossible weight. It reads itself out of court. It fails when tested empirically. As fact it goes down; only as allegory can its material retain plausibility and sane meaning.

Writers spin fine theories to render it all acceptable as occurrence, but in the end it comes back to the point of obvious impossibility in any common sense view of it. The legerdemain of miracle must be called upon to rescue it. There is really no likelihood that it could all have taken place as narrated. And once more all unseemliness and difficulty vanish through the simple expedient of viewing it for what it obviously is,--a dramatic play, garbled and altered to make it fit the dimensions of history.

Although it is by no means the whole of the available material, this much of the refutation of the Gospel narrative as history must suffice. Here, then, we have the record of events making up the biography of the man Jesus of Nazareth, a biography acclaimed by hundreds of learned scholars as one of the best authenticated of historical lives. The entire story is found only in one book, in four varied "editions." We take this book’s elaborated detail and, instead of finding it to be admittedly genuine history, we are amazed to discover that, even on the admission or by the declaration of the supporters of the historic interpretation, event after event, whole series of events, whole sections of the text, evaporate into the thin mist of legend and poetry, leaving next to nothing of solid substance to ground the historic position upon. The very material that has been advanced as proof of the historicity is admitted to be not history at all! Orthodoxy is found to have for centuries maintained the claim of the historicity of a character whose available life record turns out to be myth and fable. And the egregiously vaunted unimpeachable history of the man of Galilee rests only upon allegory at last. In the plainest of words Paul says that the Abraham-Sarah-Isaac-Hagar-Ishmael story in the Old Testament "is an allegory." His own silence as to Jesus and a hundred other silent but logical voices seem to proclaim that the whole Gospel story is likewise allegory. The whole of its "history" fades at the touch of realism into the unsubstantial hues of dramatic romance. And this verdict comes as forcefully out of the mouths of its confessors as from its opponents. And the final devastating blow to the historical thesis falls with the recognition that not only does the supposed historic framework prove to be in the end mythic invention, but it turns out to be in the main a mere copy of mythic material from originals drawn from earlier pagan systems. The grand upshot of the whole investigation is that the life of Jesus reduces to nothing but the re-edited body of ancient Egyptian mythology.