The Reappearance of the Christ
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The Reappearance of the Christ is a book published in 1948 written by Alice A. Bailey. It is considered to be among the most important by students of her writings and relevant to the present generations.
Chapter I: The Doctrine of the Coming One
- Right down the ages, in many world cycles and in many countries (and today in all) great points of tension have occurred which have been characterised by a hopeful sense of expectancy. Some one is expected and His coming is anticipated. Always in the past, it has been the religious teachers of the period who have fostered and proclaimed this expectancy and the time has always been one of chaos and difficulty, of a climaxing point at the close of a civilisation or culture and when the resources of the old religions have seemed inadequate to meet men's difficulties or to solve their problems.
- When the times are ripe, the invocation of the masses is strident enough and the faith of those who know is keen enough, then always He has come and today will be no exception to this ancient rule...
- When men feel that they have exhausted all their own resources and have come to an end of all their own innate possibilities and that the problems and conditions confronting them are beyond their solving or handling, they are apt to look for a divine Intermediary and for the Mediator Who will plead their cause with God and bring about a rescue. They look for a Saviour.
- This doctrine of Mediators, of Messiahs, of Christs and of Avatars can be found running like a golden thread through all the world faiths and Scriptures and, relating these world Scriptures to some central source of emanation, they are found in rich abundance everywhere. Even the human soul is regarded as an intermediary between man and God; Christ is believed by countless millions to act as the divine mediator between humanity and divinity.
- An Avatar is one Who has a peculiar capacity (besides a self-initiated task and a pre-ordained destiny) to transmit energy or divine power. This is necessarily a deep mystery and was demonstrated in a peculiar manner and in relation to cosmic energy by the Christ Who—for the first time in planetary history, as far as we know—transmitted the divine energy of love directly to our planet and in a most definite sense to humanity.
- Always too these Avatars or divine Messengers are linked with the concept of some subjective spiritual Order or Hierarchy of spiritual Lives, Who are concerned with the developing welfare of humanity. All we really know is that, down the ages, great and divine Representatives of God embody divine purpose, and affect the entire world in such a manner that Their names and Their influence are known and felt thousands of years after They no longer walk among men. Again and again, They have come and have left a changed world and some new world religion behind Them; we know also that prophecy and faith have ever held out to mankind the promise of Their coming again amongst us in an hour of need. These statements are statements of fact, historically proven. Beyond this we know relatively few details.
- To sum up, therefore: the doctrine of Avatars is paralleled by the doctrine of the continuity of revelation. Ever down the ages, and at every great human crisis, always in the hours of necessity, at the founding of a new race, or in the awakening of a prepared humanity to a new and wider vision, the Heart of God—impelled by the Law of Compassion—sends forth a Teacher, a world Saviour, an Illuminator, an Avatar, a transmitting Intermediary, a Christ. He gives the message which will heal, which will indicate the next step to be taken by the race of men, which will illumine a dark world problem and give to man an expression of some hitherto unrealised aspect of divinity. Upon this fact of the continuity of revelation and upon the sequence of this progressive manifestation of the divine Nature, is based the doctrine of Avatars, divine Messengers, divine Appearances and Saviours. To Them all, history unmistakenly testifies.
- The reason He has not come again is that the needed work has not been done by His followers in all countries. His coming is largely dependent, as we shall later see, upon the establishing of right human relations. This the church has hindered down the centuries, and has not helped because of its fanatical zeal to make "Christians" of all peoples and not followers of the Christ. It has emphasised theological doctrine, and not love and loving understanding as Christ exemplified it.
- It is not for us yet to know the date or the hour of the reappearance of the Christ. His coming is dependent upon the appeal (the often voiceless appeal) of all who stand with massed intent; it is dependent also upon the better establishment of right human relations and upon certain work being done at this time by senior Members of the Kingdom of God, the Church Invisible, the spiritual Hierarchy of our planet; it is dependent also upon the steadfastness of the Christ's disciples in the world at this time and His initiate-workers—all working in the many groups, religious, political and economic.
- When the Christ, the Avatar of Love, makes His reappearance then will the Sons of men who are now the Sons of God withdraw Their faces from the shining light and radiate that light upon the sons of men who know not yet they are the Sons of God. Then shall the Coming One appear, His footsteps hastened through the valley of the shadow by the One of awful power Who stands upon the mountain top, breathing out love eternal, light supernal and peaceful, silent Will. Then will the sons of men respond. Then will a newer light shine forth into the dismal, weary vale of earth. Then will new life course through the veins of men, and then will their vision compass all the ways of what may be. So peace will come again on earth, but a peace unlike aught known before. Then will the will-to-good flower forth as understanding, and understanding blossom as goodwill in men.
Chapter II: Christ's Unique Occasion
- In any acceptance of the teaching that Christ will come, one of the difficulties today is the feeling that the teaching has been given for many centuries and nothing has ever happened. That is a statement of fact, and here lies a great deal of our trouble. The expectancy of His coming is nothing new; in it lies nothing unique or different; those who still hold to the idea are regarded tolerantly, or with amusement or pity, as the case may be. A study of times and seasons, of significances, of divine intention or of the will of God, plus a consideration of the world situation, may lead us, however, to believe that the present time is unique in more ways than one, and that the Christ is confronted with an unique occasion. This unique opportunity with which He is presented is brought about by certain world conditions which themselves are unique; there are factors present in the world today, and happenings have taken place within the past century which have never before occurred; it might profit us if we considered these matters... The world to which He will come is a new world, if not yet a better world; new ideas are occupying people's minds and new problems await solution. Let us look at this uniqueness and gain some knowledge of the situation into which the Christ will be precipitated. Let us be realistic in our approach to this theme and avoid mystical and vague thinking.
- He will come to a world which is essentially one world. His reappearance and His consequent work cannot be confined to one small locality or domain unheard of by the great majority, as was the case when He was here before. The radio, the press and the dissemination of news will make His coming different to that of any previous Messenger; the swift modes of transportation will make Him available to countless millions, and by boat, rail and plane they can reach Him: through television, His face can be made familiar to all, and verily "every eye shall see Him." Even if there is no general recognition of His spiritual status and His message, there must necessarily be an universal interest, for today even the many false Christs and Messengers are finding this universal curiosity and cannot be hidden. This creates an unique condition in which to work, and one which no salvaging, energising Son of God has ever before had to face.
- The sensitivity of the people of the world to what is new or needed is also uniquely different; man has progressed far in his reaction to both good and evil and possesses a far more sensitive response apparatus than did humanity in those earlier times. If there was a quick response to the Messenger when He came before, it will be more general and quicker now, both in rejection and in acceptance. Men are more enquiring, better educated, more intuitive and more expectant of the unusual and the unique than at any other time in history. Their intellectual perception is keener, their sense of values more acute, their ability to discriminate and choose is fast developing, and they penetrate more quickly into significances. These facts will condition the reappearance of the Christ and tend to a more rapid spreading of the news of His coming and the contents of His message.
Chapter III: World Expectancy
- He has been for two thousand years the supreme Head of the Church Invisible, the Spiritual Hierarchy, composed of the disciples of all faiths. He recognises and loves those who are not Christian but who retain their allegiance to their Founders – the Buddha, Mohammed and others. He cares not what the faith is, if the objective is love of God and of humanity.
- If men look for the Christ Who left His disciples centuries ago, they will fail to recognise the Chirst Who is in the process of returning. The Christ has no religious barriers in His consciousness. It matters not to Him of what faith a man may call himself... He cometh not alone. His advance guard is already here, and the Plan which they must follow, is already made clear. Let recognition be the aim.
- The generally accepted idea that He will return as a triumphant warrior, omnipotent and irresistible, has surely no basis in fact. That He will ultimately lead His people, humanity, into Jerusalem is a fact, founded on a secure foundation, but it will not be into a Jewish city called Jerusalem but into "the place of peace" (as the word "Jerusalem" means).
- He is the World Teacher and not a Christian teacher. He Himself told us that He had other folds, and to them He has meant as much as He has meant to the orthodox Christian. They may not call Him Christ, but they have their own name for Him and follow Him as truly and faithfully as their Western brethren.
Chapter IV: The Work of the Christ Today and in the Future
- The work and the teaching of the Christ will be hard for the Christian world to accept, though easier of assimilation in the East. Nevertheless, some hard blow or some difficult presentation of the truth is badly needed if the Christian world is to be awakened, and if Christian people are to recognise their place within a worldwide divine revelation and see Christ as representing all the faiths and taking His rightful place as World Teacher.
- Let us look for a moment at the erroneous interpretations given to the Gospel story. The symbolism of that Gospel story — an ancient story-presentation often presented down the ages, prior to the coming of the Christ in Palestine — has been twisted and distorted by theologians until the crystalline purity of the early teaching and the unique simplicity of the Christ have disappeared in a travesty of errors and in a mummery of ritual, money and human ambitions. Christ is pictured today as having been born in an unnatural manner, as having taught and preached for three years and then as having been crucified and eventually resurrected, leaving humanity in order to "sit on the right hand of God," in austere and distant pomp.
- All the other approaches to God by any other people, at any time and in any country, are regarded by the orthodox Christian as wrong approaches [...]
Every possible effort has been made to force orthodox Christianity on those who accept the inspiration and the teachings of the Buddha or of others who have been responsible for preserving the divine continuity of revelation. The emphasis has been, as we all well know, upon the "blood sacrifice of the Christ" upon the Cross and upon a salvation dependent upon the recognition and acceptance of that sacrifice.
The vicarious at-one-ment has been substituted for the reliance which Christ Himself enjoined us to place upon our own divinity; the Church of Christ has made itself famous and futile (as the world war proved) for its narrow creed, its wrong emphases, its clerical pomp, its spurious authority, its material riches and its presentation of a dead Christ. His resurrection is accepted, but the major appeal of the churches has been upon His death.
- People are apt to forget that the coming of the Christ necessitates a period of intensive preparation by Him; He, too, works under law and is subject to control from various sources—just as are all human beings, but in a much lesser degree. His reappearance is conditioned and determined by the reaction of humanity itself; by that reaction He must abide. His work is subject also to certain phases of spiritual and cyclic timing and to impressions from sources to be found on higher levels than those upon which He normally works.
- In the future, the eyes of humanity will be fixed upon the Christ, and not upon any such man-made institutions as the Church and its dignitaries; Christ will be seen as He is in reality, working through His disciples, through the Masters of the Wisdom, and through His followers who toil unseen (and usually unrecognised) behind world affairs. The sphere of His activity will be known to be the human heart and also the crowded market places of the world, but not some stone edifice, and not the pomp and ceremony of any ecclesiastical headquarters.
Chapter V: The Teachings of the Christ
- The problem of the Hierarchy has been (and still is) how much exact truth humanity can comprehend, and to what extent absolute truth can be presented to their awakening minds; They have to decide which aspect of universal truth will enable man to emerge out of his difficulties and thus move forward on the Path of Return to God; They have to know, therefore, at what point on the ladder of evolution humanity stands at any given period.
- The method hitherto followed has been to decide what is the major factor lacking in man's perception of reality (at any given time), and what recognised divine truth has in it the seeds of a living activity for a humanity in a particular condition, necessitating a certain type of help. They have also to determine how that help can best be presented, so that its results will be lasting, cultural and effective. Hitherto, the presented concepts have been formulated by the world Teachers of the period, and presented to a picked and chosen few whose task it has been to take the newly presented idea and promulgate it among those men who are enlightened enough to accept it, to spread it, to live it and to make it popular. This they have done for ages with more or less success.
- In the light of the past, therefore, and of humanity's present need, which Christ and the Hierarchy must meet, what will be the teaching which He will this time give?... The probability is that His teaching will fall into four parts; we would do well to consider each of them and do our best to understand and prepare the human mind for the reception of what He has to give.
- I. The Establishing of Right Human Relations. The phrase "right human relations" is one that is today being much discussed; it is being increasingly realised that it is a major human need, and the only hope of a peaceful and secure future. Wrong human relations have reached such a stage of difficulty that every phase of human life is in a state of chaotic turmoil; every aspect of daily living is involved—family life, communal living, business relations, religious and political contacts, governmental action and the habitual life of all peoples, including the entire field of international relations. Everywhere there is hate, competition, mal-adjustment, strife between parties, the vilest kind of muck raking and scandal making, deep distrust between men and nations, between capital and labour and among the many sects, churches and religions. The difference between a sect and a church is, after all, only one of degree and historical inception; it is one of interpretation, of fanatical adherence to some pet truth and always—exclusiveness, which is contrary to Christian teaching. Nowhere is there peace today or understanding; only a small minority in relation to the Earth's population are struggling for those conditions which will lead to peaceful and happy relationships.
- II. Christ Will Teach the Law of Rebirth. This Law is the major corollary of the Law of Evolution. It has never been grasped or properly understood in the West and, in the East, where it is acknowledged as a governing principle of life, it has not proved useful because it has been soporific in its effect, and a detriment to progress. The Eastern student regards it as giving him plenty of time; this has negated the driving effort to achieve a goal. The average Christian confuses the Law of Rebirth with what he calls "the transmigration of souls" and frequently believes that the Law of Rebirth signifies the passing of human beings into the bodies of animals or of lower forms of life. Such is by no means the case...
Chapter VI: The New World Religion
- Churchmen need to remember that the human spirit is greater than all the churches and greater than their teaching. In the long run, that human spirit will defeat them and proceed triumphantly into the Kingdom of God, leaving them far behind unless they enter as a humble part of the mass of men. Nothing under heaven can arrest the progress of the human soul on its long pilgrimage from darkness to light, from the unreal to the real, from death to immortality and from ignorance to wisdom. If the great organised religious groups of churches in every land, and composing all faiths do not offer spiritual guidance and help, humanity will find another way. Nothing can keep the spirit of man from God.
- The churches in the West need also to realise that basically there is only one Church, but it is not necessarily only the orthodox Christian institution. God works in many ways, through many faiths and religious agencies; this is one reason for the elimination of non-essential doctrines. By the emphasising of the essential doctrines and in their union will the fullness of truth be revealed. This, the new world religion will do and its implementation will proceed apace, after the reappearance of the Christ.
Chapter VII: Preparation for the Reappearance of the Christ
- If the general premise and theme of all that has been here written is accepted, the question necessarily arises: What should be done to hasten this reappearance of the Christ? and also: Is there anything that the individual can do, in the place where he is and with the equipment, opportunities and assets of which he stands possessed? The opportunity is so great and the need for definite and explicit spiritual help is so demanding that—whether we like it or not—we are faced with a challenge. We are confronted with the choice of acceptance and consequent responsibility, or with rejection of the idea and the consequent realisation that we are not concerned. What we decide, however, in this time and period, will definitely affect the remainder of our life activity, for we shall either throw what weight or aid we can on the side of the invocation of the Christ and in preparation for His return, or we shall join the ranks of those who regard the whole proposition as an appeal to the gullible and the credulous, and possibly work to prevent men being deceived and taken in by what we have decided is a fraud. Herein lies our challenge.
- The mass of straight goodness and vision in the world is enormous and the amount of clear, humanitarian thinking is unbounded; it is in the hands of the masses of good little men and the millions of right thinking people in every land that the salvation of the world lies and by them the preparatory work for the Coming of the Christ will be done. Numerically, they are adequate to the task and need only reassurance and wise coordination to prepare them for the service required, before the reappearance of the Christ becomes possible.
- The problems confronting us should be faced with courage, with truth and understanding; as well as with the willingness to speak factually, with simplicity and with love in the effort to expose the truth and clarify the problems which must be solved. The opposing forces of entrenched evil must be routed before He for Whom all men wait, the Christ, can come.
- The knowledge that He is ready and anxious publicly to appear to His loved Humanity only adds to the sense of general frustration, and another very vital question arises: For what period of time must we endure, struggle and fight? The reply comes with clarity: He will come unfailingly when a measure of peace has been restored, when the principle of sharing is at least in process of controlling economic affairs, and when churches and political groups have begun to clean house. Then He can and will come; then the Kingdom of God will be publicly recognised and will no longer be a thing of dreams and of wishful thinking and orthodox hope.
- People are prone to ask the question as to why the Christ does not come—in the pomp and ceremony which the churches ascribe to the event—and, by His coming, demonstrate His divine power, prove convincingly the authority and the potency of God, and thus end the cycle of agony and distress. The answers to this are many. It must be remembered that the main objective of the Christ will not be to demonstrate power but to make public the already existent Kingdom of God. Again, when He came before He was unrecognised, and is there any guarantee that this time it would be different? You may ask why would He not be recognised? Because men's eyes are blinded with the tears of self-pity and not of contrition; because the hearts of men are still corroded with a selfishness which the agony of war has not cured; because the standards of value are the same as in the corrupt Roman Empire which saw His first appearance, only then these standards were localised and not universal as they are today; because those who could recognise Him and who hope and long for His coming are not willing to make the needed sacrifices, and thus ensure the success of His advent.
- There are two major factors which condition the present opportunity; these can be regarded as so completely hindering that unless they are removed, there will be a long delay before Christ can return. They are: #The inertia of the average Christian or spiritually-minded man in every country—Eastern or Western. #The lack of money for the work of preparation.
- Lack of Financial Support for the Work of the Christ. This is perhaps the major difficulty, and it appears to many at times to be an insuperable one. It involves the problem of true financial trusteeship and the deflection of adequate sums of money into channels which will definitely aid in the work of preparation for the return of the Christ. It is closely tied up with the problem of right human relations.
The problem is, therefore, a peculiarly hard one, for the spiritual workers of the world have not only to train people to give (according to their means) but, in many cases, they have—first of all—to provide them with a motive so magnetic in its appeal that they must perforce give. They have also to provide the trust, foundation or organisation through which the given money may be administered. This presents them with a most impressively difficult task. The impasse which at present exists is not based only upon the novelty of raising funds in preparation for the return of the Christ, but it is based also upon the trained selfishness of the majority who own the world's wealth and who—even if they do give—do so because it fosters prestige and indicates financial success. Necessarily, there are exceptions to this but they are relatively few.
- Let me emphatically here state that the major method with which we can concern ourselves and the most potent instrument in the hands of the spiritual Hierarchy is the spreading of goodwill and its fusion into a united and working potency. I prefer that expression to the words "the organisation of goodwill." Goodwill is today a dream, a theory, a negative force. It should be developed into a fact, a functioning ideal, and a positive energy. This is our work and again we are called to cooperate.
- The task before the New Group of World Servers is great, but it is not an impossible task. It is engrossing, but as it constitutes an imposed life pattern, it can be worked out in every aspect of a man or woman's normal, daily life. Yet at the same time, we are called to abnormal living, and to the shouldering of a definite responsibility.