This year the Aries full moon which is the Festival of the Risen Christ takes place on Good Friday, the day we remember the Crucifixion. So as we contemplate the splendour and joy of the resurrected life, we are reminded that death must always precede the resurrection, not only on a personal level but also in terms of planetary cycles.
We know that death was highlighted in the life and affairs of disciples during the Age of Pisces. They were urged to partake in the "fellowship of His sufferings", to "take up their Cross and follow the Christ", to "die daily to their sins", and so on. Religious artwork more often than not concentrated on depicting the tortuous Crucifixion and mostly ignored the glorious resurrection. All the major religions emphasised the Cross and only one day a year was devoted to the resurrection.
While this continues to be the case today, the focus on the sufferings and death of the Christ, both the historical Christ and the Christ within, is increasingly seen as a prelude to the resurrection that will take place in the Age of Aquarius on a planetary scale, and, indeed, is already taking place in the lives of disciples on a continual basis. We are told that in this coming age the work of the Spirit of Death will be replaced by the Spirit of Resurrection. This Spirit is not just an energy but an actual entity, an extra-planetary being who is a member and emissary of the Council Chamber of Shamballa, the centre where the Will of God is known. So we know that the resurrection activity that is now impacting on humanity is directed by the Will of God and is part of the Divine Plan for humanity and it will intensify and expand as humanity responds to it.
Alice Bailey tells us that the Spirit of Resurrection is the "Sun of Righteousness, Who can now arise with healing in His wings". He is not the Christ as one might expect but He works under the direction of the Christ - "it is this living spiritual Entity, working temporarily under the direction of the Christ, Who will restore livingness to men's spiritual aims and life to their planning; Who will engender anew the vitality needed to implement the trends of the New Age and Who will guide humanity out of the dark cave of death, isolation and selfishness into the light of the new day". i We are further told that this powerful server of humanity pours out His blessings in a special way at Easter "to men and women of goodwill [who] will think clearly, speak forcefully, demand spiritually, and implement the inner plans with intelligence". ii
But we have a critical role to play if the work of the Spirit of Resurrection is to be successful. We are urged to create "a form which will house the spirit of resurrection and express the enlightenment gained by the bitter experience of the past" and if we do we are assured that, "humanity will rise again". iii
So how do we create a form to contain and embody this Spirit and give it an opportunity to demonstrate its power in the three worlds of human endeavour? First, we must understand the mysteries of Easter and the Risen Christ.
Until recent years, most people viewed the resurrection as a (mere) historical event that required objective validation and attempts to do this have been a prime concern of Christian apologetics for the last two thousand years. Given the unique importance of the event and its claimed significance, its apparent defiance of natural law, its complete fulfilment of biblical prophesy and its reversal of the power and certainty of death, it is little wonder that scepticism rather than belief has been the most common response to the claims that Christ rose from the dead. Besides this understandable disbelief, some actively worked to undermine the truth of Christ's resurrection from the time the event took place eg:
"….some of the men who had been guarding the tomb went to the leading priests and told them what had happened. A meeting of all the religious leaders was called, and they decided to bribe the soldiers. They told the soldiers, "You must say, 'Jesus' disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.' If the governor hears about it, we'll stand up for you and everything will be all right." So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today". iv
Such stories persist today as people indulge in endless arguments about historical and objective facts rather than concentrating on the intrinsic significance of the resurrection of the Christ and its implications.
While true mystics and occults have always understood the deep, inner significance and symbolism of the resurrection, orthodox Christians still considered it as an historical event only that held the promise of future glory in Paradise for believers provided they proved themselves worthy.
However, this view took a huge blow on July 21 GMT, 1969, when American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon. As he stepped onto the Moon's surface, in the Sea of Tranquillity, Armstrong uttered the now-famous words: "that's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind", little realising the implication of his words as his achievement forced humanity to rethink the religious myths that had sustained it for millennia. For the first time, we saw that the earth and the heavens were not divided but that the earth is in the heavens and all the theological ideas based on the distinction between the heavens and the earth were without foundation. We saw that there was no separate "heaven" to which the Christ ascended and, perhaps even more alarming, for us to follow Him to. This event more than any other forced humanity to see the inherent unity in and of the universe as well as the unity of its own experience ie there is no spiritual order outside its own experience and its fate would not be decided by something "out there" because there was no "out there".
So humanity was forced to rethink and reformulate its literal interpretation of the historical events of Easter so that the power of the resurrection that was released 2,000 years ago could precipitate into the hearts and mind of men and woman everywhere in order to bring about their own resurrection. This approach was emphasised by mythologist, Joseph Campbell in an interview in the book about transforming religious metaphor, Thou Art That:
Eugene Kennedy (interviewing Campbell): You see a distinction between religion based on the literal interpretation of symbols as historical events and one in which the symbols are mystical references that help us see into ourselves.
Campbell: Yes, the latter is the religion of mysticism, the other a religion of belief in concrete objects, God as a concrete object. In order to understand a concrete symbol we have to let go of it. When you can let the literal meaning of a religious tradition die, then it comes alive again. v
We have been further encouraged to look for deeper meanings in our rituals and spiritual beliefs by the discovery of the universality and timelessness of these traditions by scholars like Campbell. The Christian crucifixion and resurrection, for example, reflect the initiation ceremonies practiced by the ancient Egyptians and other early civilizations. These initiations took place in the crypts, caves, temples, and pyramids where neophytes underwent a series of physical and psychological trials through which they proved their strength and readiness for spiritual rebirth. Theosophist Helena Blavatsky tells us:
The initiated adept, who had successfully passed through all the trials, was attached, not nailed, but simply tied on the couch in the form of a tau (in Egypt)...plunged in a deep sleep. He was allowed to remain in this state for three days and three nights, during which time his Spiritual Ego was said to confabulate with the "gods," descend into Hades, Amenti, or Patala (according to the country)...his body remaining all the time in the temple crypt or subterranean cave. In Egypt, it was placed in the Sarcophagus in the King's Chamber of the Pyramid of Cheops, and carried during the night of the approaching third day to the entrance of a gallery, where at a certain hour the beams of the rising Sun struck full on the face of the entranced candidate, who awoke to be initiated by Osiris, and Thoth the God of Wisdom….. The primordial system, the double glyph that underlies the idea of the Cross, is not "of human invention," for Cosmic ideation and the Spiritual representation of the divine Ego-man are at its basis. Later, it expanded in the beautiful idea adopted by and represented in the Mysteries, that of regenerated man, the mortal, who, by crucifying the man of flesh and his passions on the Procrustean bed of torture, became reborn as an Immortal. Leaving the body, the animal-man, behind him, tied on the Cross of Initiation like an empty chrysalis, the Ego Soul became as free as a butterfly. vi
But the Wisdom teachings go on to tell us that "Christ is also the Divine Principle in each one of us. Christ-the true esoteric SAVIOUR-is no man, but the DIVINE PRINCIPLE in every human being." vii
So the adept Jesus Christ is not the only Son of God; we are all sons of God in our divine nature. It is this divine nature which has fallen - into materiality, selfishness, and forgetfulness of its true nature - to become imprisoned in the very matter it came to redeem. Every time we refuse to listen to our divine nature-the Christ within-we crucify the Christ. So it is not the personality which suffers but the innocent Christ within us.
But the resurrection principle eventually prevails:
He who strives to resurrect the Spirit crucified in him by his own terrestrial passions, and buried deep in the "sepulchre" of his sinful flesh; he who has the strength to roll back the stone of matter from the door of his own inner sanctuary, he has the risen Christ in him. The "Son of Man" is no child of the bond-woman-flesh, but verily of the free-woman-Spirit, the child of man's own deeds and the fruit of his own spiritual labour. viii
To resurrect the Christ we have crucified, we must allow our divine nature to take charge of our terrestrial (earthly) nature and unite the two in the ultimate divine marriage between the Father (Spirit) and Mother (matter) principles. In this way we will join with the Christ to wield the energy and force of resurrection power and fulfill the Plan of God.
This spiritual rebirth or resurrection "is the spiritual birthright of every human being endowed with soul and spirit, whatever his religion may be. Such an individual is a Christ-man." ix It is the very force of evolution as resurrection is "the persistence on into the future of that which is the divine aspect, and which is integrated with the life and consciousness of that sum total which we call God". x
To accomplish it, we must train our mind to co-operate with the Christ within us. Only then can we live the keynote of Aries: I come forth, and from the plane of mind I rule.
To conclude, the resurrection of Christ was a watershed event in our evolution because it symbolized the formation and the precipitation of a new kingdom on earth - a kingdom in which humanity and all forms would be free from death. The resurrection of Christ shows us that the long task of evolution has at last reached its final phase providing we are ready to pay the price as He did, and, passing through the gates of death, attain to a joyful resurrection.
This emphasis upon the living Christ will facilitate the emergence of a new religion which will be as much divorced from form and the past as the kingdom of God is divorced from matter and the body nature. We are told that "orthodox religion, as a whole, can be regarded as a cross upon which we have crucified Christ; it has served its purpose as the custodian of the ages and the preserver of ancient forms, but it must enter into new life and pass through the resurrection if it is to meet the need of the deeply spiritual humanity of today.……. [The] form [of religion] must be sacrificed upon the Cross of Christ in order that it may be resurrected into true and vital life for the meeting of the people's need. Let a living Christ be its theme, and not a dying Saviour. Christ has died. About that let there be no mistake. The Christ of history passed through the gates of death for us. The cosmic Christ is still dying upon the Cross of Matter. There He hangs fixed until the last weary pilgrim shall find his way home. The planetary Christ, the life of the four kingdoms of nature, has been crucified on the four arms of the planetary Cross down the ages. But the end of this period of crucifixion is close upon us. Mankind can descend from the cross as Christ did, and enter into the kingdom of God, a living spirit. The sons of God are ready to be manifested". xi
And what is the form we have to create to house the Spirit of Resurrection? It is the heart and mind of the Christ. "Only when love holds sway over the human consciousness, and where the good of the whole, and not the selfish good of the individual, comes to be the supreme regard….can the real message of Christ be understood and men pass on towards a joyful resurrection and immortality". xii
This is the hope we remember and renew at Easter. It is a time when the Spirit of Resurrection arises with healing in His wings to pour forth His resurrection power to "restore our livingness and renew our vitality so that we are led out the dark cave of death, isolation and selfishness into the light of the new day". This is humanity's highest aspiration - to join with the Christ to make all things new - for themselves and each other. Humanity is no longer content to live in a Good Friday world. In the words of Pope John Paul II, "we are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song!".