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If Christ Comes Back This Christmas

What Can Happen If a Sacred Teacher of
Our Mankind Suddenly Appears in Public?
 
 
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
 
 
 
The United Nations headquarters in New York. Jesus might
decide to appear there if we update Dostoevsky’s approach to his return.
 
 
 
Labels do not, and cannot replace reality.  Divine wisdom flows above visible appearances, personal names and outward images.
 
Universal knowledge is like an infinite circle whose center is everywhere: the essence of each religion or philosophy contains, therefore, the essence of all the others.
 
An in-depth look at the idea of Jesus Christ will show that he is a symbol for those Wise Teachers who lead mankind across the ocean of time and along the path to eternal Truth. Krishna, Buddha, Pythagoras, Plato, Lao-tzu, Confucius and Christ teach the same universal wisdom.
 
The great sages never turned away from humanity; however, contact with them is not verbal or visual.  Human beings receive help and inspiration from them in higher planes of consciousness,  and above that which can be perceived by the five senses and “personal” levels of brain activity.  One must seek contact with the universal wisdom itself, and not the outer personality of this or that teacher.
 
What is, then, the true meaning of the hope for a visible coming back of Jesus?
 
The idea symbolizes the return of the Wise Ones to the self-conscious aspect of human community. It means the reappearance of Wisdom, the recovering of peace and equilibrium in the visible community of human beings. There is no reason to personalize the Return. The next step in human history is to recover individual and collective peace, and not to obtain autographs or personal favours from some famous artist newly arrived from the sky.
 
Persons of goodwill sometimes ask themselves:  “When will the Return take place?”  And it  is not a bad idea to examine the question.
 
Let’s suppose, then, that one of the great teachers of mankind accepts the task of resuming a visible presence within human community. One could adopt the hypothesis that for the occasion he decides to take advantage of the atmosphere of fraternization typical of the end of the year, reestablishing contact in a way that makes his physical presence easily recognized by persons of goodwill as the same Jesus Christ of the New Testament.
 
Will he become visible in New York, while entering the headquarters of the United Nations?  Will he then have a closed-door meeting with the U.N. Secretary-General? Or is he going to become visible while healing people among the poorest villages in Africa?  Perhaps the sacred teacher will send an e-mail message to the main heads of state. What are the political, social and economic effects of his return? 
 
These are uncomfortable questions. The public apparition among us of a great being, a divine master, might threaten the personal habits and emotional attachments of many. It would shake social structures and some apparently respectable institutions. In order to investigate what could happen if Jesus reappears in the next Christmas Eve, the first step to take is remembering a classical text. Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) described how the physical return of Christ could have taken place during the 16th century.
 
While writing the text - entitled “The Grand Inquisitor” -, Dostoevsky was perhaps inspired from higher levels of consciousness.  In 1881, a raja-yogi of the Himalayas asked H.P. Blavatsky to translate Dostoevsky’s narration from the Russian and to publish it in English. The Mahatma also wrote to a lay disciple:
 
“The suggestion to translate the Grand Inquisitor is mine; for its author, on whom the hand of Death was already pressing when writing it, gave the most forcible and true description of the Society of Jesus than was ever given before. There is a mighty lesson contained in it for many and even you may profit by it.” [1]
 
Dostoevsky’s narrative is part of the novel “The Brothers Karamazof”: the divine teacher materializes among the inhabitants of Seville, in Spain.
 
Those were glorious times for the Inquisition.  The Vatican priests arrested, tortured and killed many in the name of Jesus. Would-be heretics were burned alive every day in public ceremonies, “for the greater glory of God”, and this was the motto of the Jesuits.  Under such conditions, what would happen if Jesus came back? According to the tale by Dostoevsky, the Master decided to appear with no previous warning. The Russian author writes:
 
“… He appears silently, and unperceived, yet all - how very strange! - yes, all recognize Him, at once! The population rushes towards Him as if propelled by some irresistible force; it surrounds, throngs, and presses around, it follows Him.”
 
Yes, the Master is back. Dostoevsky proceeds:
 
“Silently and with a smile of boundless compassion upon his lip, He crosses the dense crowd, and softly moves on. The Sun of Love burns in His Heart and warm rays of Light, Wisdom, and Potency beam forth out of His Eye, and pour down their waves upon the swarming multitudes of the rabble assembled around, making their hearts vibrate with a returning Love. He extends His hands over their heads, blesses them, and from mere contact with Him, aye, even with His garments - emanates a healing Potency. An old man blind from his infancy, exclaims: ‘Oh Lord, heal me, that I may see Thee!’ and the scales falling off the closed eyes, the blind man beholds Him... The crowd weeps for joy, and kisses the ground upon which He treads. Children strew flowers along His path and sing to Him - ‘Hosanna!’ ” [2]
 
The members of the community repeat with deep emotion:
 
“It is He, it is Himself.”
 
Jesus Christ pauses in front of the old Cathedral and makes a dead girl live again. As the emotion of the crowd reaches the highest point, a sudden event occurs. Dostoevsky writes:
 
“…Before the Cathedral door, appears the Cardinal-Grand Inquisitor himself... He is a tall, gaunt-looking old man of nearly four score years and ten, with a dried-up, stern face, and deeply sunken eyes from the cavity of which glitter two fiery sparks. He has laid aside his gorgeous Cardinal’s canonicals  in which he had appeared before the people during the auto-da-fe of the enemies of the Romish Church, and is now clad in his old, rough monkish cassock.”
 
The city has reasons to fear the Grand Inquisitor:
 
“He pauses before the crowd and observes. He has seen all. He has witnessed the placing of the little coffin at His feet, and the resurrection; and now, his dark, grim face has grown still darker; his bushy gray eye-brows nearly meet and his sunken eye flashes with a sinister light. Slowly raising up his finger, he commands his guards [3] to arrest Him...”
 
Jesus is taken into custody by the authorities.
 
Hours later, it is one of the darkest hours of the night when the door of a dungeon is suddenly thrown open. The powerful Inquisitor himself, holding a dark lantern, slowly enters into the cell.
 
He is alone. 
 
He looks at the Holy Face and says to the Master-Prisoner:
 
“It is Thou! ... Thou!”
 
As the Master remains silent, the Inquisitor quickly adds:
 
“Do not answer me, be silent…. and what couldst Thou say?... I know but too well Thy answer.... Besides, - Thou hast no right to add one syllable to that which was already uttered by Thee before.... Why shouldst Thou now return, to impede us in our work? For Thou hast come but for that only, and Thou knowest it well. But art Thou as well aware of what awaits Thee in the morning? I do not know, nor do I care to know who Thou mayest be: be it Thou or only Thine image, to-morrow I will condemn and burn Thee on the stake, as the most wicked of all the heretics; and, that same people, who to-day were kissing Thy feet, to-morrow at one bend of my finger, will rush to  add fuel to Thy  funeral pile...”[4]
 
The chief of the Inquisition proceeds with emphasis in his priestly speech. He says that the “narrow path” taught by the Master cannot be actually trodden. It is too difficult.  Its excessive truthfulness causes suffering.  It is impossible to walk along the path of true and unconditional love.  Only an authoritarian religion, in which blind belief replaces wisdom, can make people happy.  One needs pious falsehoods, legitimized by institutions, to grant social order and to sustain it. Universal truth is therefore unacceptable.
 
Christ but listens to the Cardinal. He looks at his jailer with peaceful eyes and smiles with infinite compassion.  The mind of the jailer-theologian has no secrets for him. His sentences are already known before he pronounces them. The guardian of the church condemns the individual freedom taught by the Master.  Priests are shepherds and need herds.  The Inquisitor explains that the idea that human individuals might be responsible for their own destiny is absurd.  Therefore his prisoner must be punished with the death penalty.
 
After such a long discourse, the Master-Prisoner has nothing to say. Jesus stands up, looks at his accuser in the eyes and embraces him.  The powerful Inquisitor gets surprised, confused and scared. He makes an effort to maintain an attitude of self-control.  Opening then the  heavy door of the cell, he nervously points to the way out and says to the Master:
 
“Go, go and return no more .… do not come at all…. never, never!” [5]
 
The sacred Master does not answer.  With a transcendent light in his eyes, he exits the dungeon and vanishes in the air.
 
This is, in a few words, the tale.  What would happen if, five centuries after the events narrated by Dostoevsky, Christ decided to suddenly reappear in public this December?
 
Challenges would not be small.  Few would be ready to abandon old dogmas and live up to his teachings.  
 
Indian writer Anthony de Mello, a priest and author of 20th century who was inspired by theosophical ideas and received harsh criticism from the Vatican, examined the possibility in a short, symbolical story, which takes place soon after Jesus is known to be back.
 
Mello writes:
 
“A proposal was made at the United Nations that the Scriptures of every religion be revised; everything in them that leads to intolerance or cruelty should be deleted; everything that damages the dignity of human beings should be destroyed. When it was found that the author of the proposal was Jesus Christ, reporters rushed to his residence. His explanation was simple: ‘Scripture, like the Sabbath, is for human beings, not human beings for Scripture’.” [6]
 
What could happen to the great institutions of present civilization if Jesus came back and did not get killed or incarcerated?  Would his visible presence among the inhabitants of 21st century have a revolutionary effect? 
 
Since Jesus is a Jew, he might appear in the middle of a shootout or urban battle provoked by anti-Semitism and religious hatred.
 
As the shooters fired at him, they would see that his body was immaterial. The Master would be using his subtle body or mayavi-rupa, to use the technical term in esoteric philosophy; that principle of consciousness which replicates the physical body. He would be perfectly visible; however, it would be impossible to touch or kill him.
 
After that, the Master would become visible in the streets of New York in his dense physical body. He would walk towards the building of the United Nations.  People would recognize him as he crossed a street under a traffic red light. Cars would stop. An aura of transparent white light would entirely enwrap his body. “It can only be Him”, people would immediately think.
 
The traffic jam expands as he walks.  The scene is silent.  Cars are abandoned with open doors. Men and women kneel down as they see the Master.  Children run into him and he blesses the people. From time to time he interrupts the walk and heals someone. He counsels, gives help and teaches. On the external gate to the building of the United Nations, he informs the guards he wants to talk to the Secretary-General. His documents are requested. The Master says he has no personal documents, but “the meeting with the Secretary-General will not be long”.
 
The security system is put on alert. In a few seconds the Master is surrounded by FBI Special Forces and taken into custody.  When the questions start, the “undocumented foreigner” remains silent. As the institutional pressure increases, the Master smiles and immaterializes himself, disappearing into thin air.
 
From the episode, only the perplexity of policemen and public remains.  Once more, it is clear to the Initiates that a visible, conscious interaction between Western civilization and the Masters is not easy. The Master returns to his retreat in the Himalayas, one of the places around the world from which the persons of goodwill are quietly inspired in their hearts. 
 
Due to the limitations of human consciousness in its present degree of evolution, no great teacher can appear in the world in such an obvious and external form, for it would only generate too much embarrassment and misunderstanding.  Masters of the Wisdom also do not “channel” verbal messages through the numerous self-styled prophets and intermediaries which one finds almost everywhere in esoteric circles. Any personalized “return” or “apparition” which may seem to take place physically is but an illusion.
 
The Jesus Christ of the New Testament is a symbolic personage and not a historical individual.  His life according to the prevailing version of the Christian gospels is a beautiful parable containing lessons in Theosophy, Pythagoreanism and Buddhism.
 
According to such gospels, Jesus was only recognized as a Master and understood by a few disciples. Even among the Few, he was understood in a partial and precarious way as many episodes demonstrate, among them Judas’ treason and the fact that Peter denied him. [7]
 
For countless millennia the Immortals, the Arhats, the Rishis, the Masters of the Wisdom, have helped our humanity in an anonymous and unceasing way. Under different wordings and cultural garments, they have placed within our reach an eternal wisdom that contains the answers to all human questions.
 
Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islamism, Christianity and various philosophies and cultural traditions of different ages contain lessons of supreme beauty.   In order to effectively learn from them, we must transcend the dogmatism and emotionalism which personalize and distort the teachings.
 
The different personifications of the wisdom - among them the ideas of Christ, Krishna, Buddha and Lao-tzu - work as symbols of the existence of perfected beings and immortal sages. Such teachers have no public life. They preserve physical bodies, but live anonymously. They keep away from social life and work in a plane of consciousness on which words are not necessary, although it gives life and meaning to words.
 
On a subjective level, public images of sacred teachers can work as symbols of our own aspirations towards purity, virtue and wisdom.  The ideas people have about them are in part projections from the divinity present in the average human soul. They can be accepted as such, but must not be taken literally. 
 
There are in human beings divine seeds which must germinate. Esoterically, the true “return” of Christ is the process of re-awakening in each human soul of the higher and universal levels of consciousness.  In announcing the return of Christ, the gospel according to Matthew says:
 
“Then if any man shall say unto you, ‘Lo, here is Christ’, or ‘there’; believe It not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, ‘Behold, he is in the desert’; go not forth: ‘behold, he is in secret chambers’; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”  (Mt 24: 23-27)
 
The light of the wisdom comes from the East, indeed. Yet in the last sentence of the above quotation, the Greek word parusia, translated as “coming”, means in fact “presence”. The sentence says the presence of Christ will be felt as a lightning and from East to West, that is, all over the world. Helena Blavatsky, the founder of modern esoteric movement, wrote that there are two meanings in this passage.
 
In the first place, the expression “coming of the Son of man” means in fact the presence of CHRISTOS in a regenerated world, and not at all the actual coming in body of “Christ” Jesus. On the other hand, “this Christ is to be sought neither in the wilderness nor ‘in the inner chambers’, nor in the sanctuary of any temple or church built by man; for Christ - the true esoteric SAVIOUR - is no man, but the DIVINE PRINCIPLE in every human being.” [8]
 
Helena Blavatsky says that to see Christ literally as a human being is a mistake, but the idea can be used as a symbol of the divine principle in each human being.
 
She proceeds:
 
“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.” [9]
 
For countless millennia, in every tradition, the sky has been a symbol for the world of the spiritual soul and the higher levels of consciousness.  The apparition of Christ “among the clouds in the sky” (Matthew, 24:30) means that the inner Master and divine wisdom will emerge first in the higher aspects of human mind; on the plane of spiritual intelligence, universal brotherhood and unconditional love for truth.  
 
Christ is not a person: it is the light of Universal Law. His “return” must take place as a rebirth in every human heart.  No great teacher of mankind can appear in the external world and be  recognized as such, unless human hearts have the ethics, the purity and the truth that constitute the consciousness of an immortal sage.  
 
As 2 Corinthians, 6:16 says:
 
“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God…”
 
The great opportunity ahead of us is therefore the task of self-transformation.  The Christmas celebrated at the end of each year symbolizes the periodical rebirth of the hope of  individual and collective redemption.  It means the cyclic renewal of our learning, and also our decision to be born again from the point of view of the consciousness of the inner Master, the immortal soul which lives in unity with the universe.
 
As the external Christmas takes place, an inner rebirth is undergone.  The exchange of gifts and other celebratory actions reflect in the world of appearances the annual renewal of life-consciousness in human hearts.
 
If we look beyond outward formalities, we can see that each Christmas does bring about the return of the Christ, of Buddha and other great teachers, as much as we are prepared for it.
 
In this time of the year, a feeling of peace inevitably enlightens human mind “as the lightning cometh out of the east”.  It enwraps the whole planet. It heals the sufferings of human souls and prepares them for the starting point of another annual cycle.
 
Don’t ask, therefore, when is it that the return of Christ will take place. Christ will come back in your heart and mind during this Christmas and New Year, and whenever you are ready for it to take place.
 
It is from the consciousness of each citizen that the great Advent irradiates, stimulating the renewal and regeneration of every form of life.
 
NOTES:
 
[1] “The Mahatma Letters”, TUP edition, Pasadena. See the final lines of Letter 27.
 
[2] “The Grand Inquisitor”, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, translated from Russian to English by Helena P.  Blavatsky and published in two parts in the magazine “The Theosophist”, India, at the editions of  November and December, 1881. The lines quoted here belong to the part published in November 1881.
 
[3] “Guards”:  “sbiris” in italics, in the original version at “The Theosophist” (p. 40).
 
[4] “The Grand Inquisitor”, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, translated from Russian by H. P.  Blavatsky and published in two parts in the magazine “The Theosophist”, at the editions of November and December, 1881. The lines quoted here belong to the part published in November 1881.
 
[5] “The Grand Inquisitor”, by F. Dostoevsky, translated from Russian by HPB and published in “The Theosophist”, at the editions of November and December, 1881. The sentence quoted here belongs to the part published in December 1881.
 
[6] “The Song of the Bird”, by Anthony the Mello, Image Books, Doubleday, New York, copyright 1982. See at p. 48 the story “Amend the Scriptures”, which contains a dialogue with the Buddha and the Jesus story.  In Portuguese language, “O Canto do Pássaro”, by Anthony de Mello, Edições Loyola, SP, 1995, p. 61.
 
[7] See the text “The Symbolism of Judas Iscariot”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.  The article is available at  our  associated websites.
 
[8] “Collected Writings”, Helena P. Blavatsky, TPH, USA-India, Vol. VIII, pp. 172-173.
 
[9] “Collected Writings”, Helena P. Blavatsky, TPH, USA-India, Vol. VIII, pp. 172-173.
 
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If Christ Comes Back This Christmas




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