Daniil Andreev. «The Rose of the World»
Book I. The Rose of the World and Its Place in History

I. Chapter 3. Perspective on Religion

How often we use the word “truth” and how seldom we ponder its meaning. In pondering its meaning here, we will not, however, let ourselves be troubled by the fact that we are essentially repeating the question posed by Pilate. Rather, we will attempt, as best as we are able, to arrive at a deeper understanding of the concept.

We call “true» a theory or teaching that, in our opinion, presents an undistorted view on some object of knowledge. To be precise, truth is an undistorted reflection in our mind of an object of knowledge. There can exist as many truths as there are objects of knowledge.

But objects of knowledge are known through us, not through themselves. It thus follows that a truth about any object of knowledge known through us should be recognized as a relative truth. Absolute truth is the reflection of an object of knowledge that is known by some subject in itself. In principle, that kind of knowledge is possible only when the duality of object and subject is removed: when the subject of knowledge becomes identified with the object.

Absolute universal truth is the undistorted reflection in a consciousness of the Greater Universe known in itself. Absolute component truths are undistorted reflections of some part of the Universe, also known in itself.

Naturally, absolute truth of the Greater Universe can exist only in the consciousness of a subject of knowledge commeasurable with it, an omniscient subject capable of being the object, capable of knowing things not only through itself but also in itself. That subject of knowledge is called the Absolute, God, the Universal Sun.

God, as an object of knowledge, is knowable in Himself only by Himself. The Absolute Truth of God, as well as the Absolute Truth of the Universe, is attainable only by God.

Clearly, any component truth, no matter how small the object of knowledge, is attainable by us only in its relative form. But this sort of agnosticism should not be viewed as immutable. When any component subject of knowledge, any monad, ultimately merges with the Absolute Subject, it avails itself of the possibility of not only knowing through itself, but also of knowing in itself. It is, therefore, correct to speak of a phased, as distinct from an immutable, agnosticism.

There may be few or many versions of component truths – personal, individual varieties of one component relative truth. Objects of knowledge of smaller scale (in comparison with the subject) are, however, reflected in the consciousness of a number of like subjects in an identical, or almost identical, manner. It is that likeness between many subjects that dictates that their individual versions of one or another truth will be alike as well. If it were not so, it would be impossible for people to understand one another about anything. But the larger the object of knowledge (in comparison with the subject), the greater the number of versions that arise. The relative truth of the Universe and the relative truth of God give birth to as many individual versions as there are subjects of knowledge.

It should be clear that all our “truths» are, strictly speaking, only approximations of the Truth. The smaller the object of knowledge, the better it can be grasped by our consciousness, and the narrower the gap between its absolute truth and our relative truth concerning it. There is, however, a lower limit in the ratio of scale between subject and object, below which the gap between the absolute and relative truth again begins to widen. For example, the gap between the absolute truth of an elementary particle and our relative truth concerning it is enormous. The gap between the absolute truth of the Universe, the absolute truth of God, and our relative truths concerning them is boundless.

One would think that, after Kant, these ideas should be universally known and acknowledged. But if they were internalized by every religiously feeling and thinking person, there would be no claims of individual or collective knowledge of the absolute truth, no claims of the absolute truth of some one theory or teaching.

As was shown above, only the Omniscient Subject is in possession of the absolute truth. If a human subject – for instance, the collective consciousness of some historical church – possessed that truth, it would be objectively revealed in the unqualified omniscience of that collective consciousness. But the fact that not one human collective or individual is invested with that omniscience proves yet again how groundless are the claims to absolute truth by any teaching. If the representatives of the Rose of the World ever think to assert the absolute truth of its teachings, such claims would be just as groundless and absurd.

But the claim that all teachings or some one teaching are false is just as groundless and absurd. There are not, nor can there be, any wholly false teachings. If there appeared an opinion that lacked even a grain of truth, it would never become a teaching, a system of ideas communicated to someone else. It would remain the invention of the person who brought it into being, as sometimes happens, for example, with the philosophical and pseudoscientific imaginings of the mentally ill. Only individual component statements can be false, in the strict sense of the word. Such statements maintain the illusion of truth with light borrowed from true component statements that enter into the same system. There is, however, a certain ratio of quantity and weight between true component statements and false ones whereby the latter begin to nullify the grains of truth contained in the given teachings. There are, furthermore, teachings in which the false statements not only nullify the elements of truth but consign the whole system to the category of spiritual negatives. It is customary to call them “left-hand teachings.» The future teaching of the Antigod, by which, it appears, the penultimate period of the world history will be marked, will be formulated in such a manner that a minimal weight of component truths will, by their light, lend the appearance of truth to a maximum number of false statements. The end result will be that the teaching will entangle the human consciousness in webs of lies stronger and stickier than any other.

Religions that are not left-hand teachings differ from each other not by virtue of the truth of one and the falsity of all the rest, but rather in two altogether different respects. First, they differ by virtue of the varying stages of their ascent to absolute truth – that is, in accordance with the decrease of subjective, temporal elements within them. That developmental distinction can be provisionally labeled a vertical distinction. Second, they can differ by virtue of the fact that they speak of different things – they reflect different sets of objects of knowledge. This type of segmental distinction can be provisionally labeled a horizontal distinction.

One should always bear in mind these two types of distinctions as we examine the Rose of the World's perspective on other religions.
Scientific progress presents itself to us as a continuous process whereby relative component truths are accumulated, elaborated, and fine-tuned. At each successive stage it is the custom to repudiate not the set of facts accumulated earlier but merely their outdated interpretation. Instances when a previous set of facts was cast into doubt and repudiated – as happened, for example, with alchemy – are comparatively rare. But in the history of religion, other practices have, unfortunately, prevailed. Rather than seeing a continuous succession of interpretations of spiritual facts not subject to doubt, what we usually witness is that the repudiation of large numbers of relative component truths that were grasped earlier as a new set of truths, with the inclusion of a certain number of old ones, is presented as absolute. That is particularly true in regard to the supersedence of the so-called pagan religions by monotheistic systems.

It should be obvious to all that observance of such practices in the context of the expanding horizons of the twentieth century would at best lead to the creation of yet another religious sect. It would, of course, be ridiculous to apply the scientific method to religion, just as it would be ridiculous to apply the artistic method to the field of science. But it has long been time for us to adopt the scientist's good habit and not repudiate but rethink sets of relative truths accumulated earlier.

From the above it follows that no teaching (except left-hand teachings, which are recognizable, above all, by their spiritually corrupting influence) can be rejected outright. They should be recognized as inadequate, as clouded with subjective, human contaminants of a temporal, classist, racist, or individual nature. Nevertheless, a grain of relative truth, a grain of knowledge “through us» of one or another aspect of the transphysical world, is present in each religion, and each of those truths is a precious jewel belonging to all humanity. At the same time, it is natural that the weight of truth in systems that take shape as the sum of the experience of a great many individuals is, as a rule, greater than the weight of truth in systems found only among small groups. An exception to the rule are new systems that might be in the process of gaining wider acceptance but naturally must first pass through an esoteric or infant stage.

In the worldview of the Rose of the World, such widely embraced systems are called myths, a point that will be explained in detail a little later. One or another transphysical reality always lies behind the myths, but it cannot help being distorted and muddied through contamination of the myth by the “all too human”. It is hardly possible, at least, at present, to formulate strictly and precisely a method to liberate the transphysical kernel of a myth from its human-made husk. The necessary set of criteria that would obtain in every case has yet to be devised. In addition, it is doubtful that such an intricate mystical task could be performed with the help of rational analysis alone. It is true that we could, by drawing on the teleology of history, devise a system of classification of religions that would allow us to group the highly developed religions together and thus convince ourselves that there are beliefs professed, though with different degrees of purity and stress, by the entire group. Among such beliefs are the oneness of God, the plurality of different spiritual hierarchies, the plurality of variomaterial worlds, the infinite plurality of evolving monads, and the existence of some universal moral law which is characterized by the rewards or punishments people receive before or after death for what they do during their lives. As regards everything else, even the interpretation of the shared beliefs just listed, the myths either contradict one another or speak of different things.

If, however, in many cases the individuality of the subject contaminates the image of the object with something extraneous, something exclusively human, there are just as many instances when a spiritual truth can be intuited only by a mind of a definite cast. Individuality then becomes a factor that does not cloud intuition but, to the contrary, makes it possible. The teleological process in the history of human religions has partly consisted in readying the consciousness of individual persons, peoples, races, or eras by means of historical and biographical factors to make possible for it to intuit a given truth, a given transphysical reality. To other individuals, peoples, races, and eras, a consciousness readied in that manner and its religious experience may seem strange, distorted, or naive, and fraught with every sort of aberration.

From the hundreds of those possible, I will, for the time being, cite only one particularly illustrative example: the idea of reincarnation. An intrinsic part of Hinduism and Buddhism, and present in the Kabbala of the esoteric Judaism, the idea of reincarnation is rejected by orthodox Christianity and Islam. But must one conclude on the basis of the idea's non-universality that it is no more than a racial or temporal-cultural aberration of the Indian consciousness? The problem is that in order to reconcile the beliefs of different religions one must, first of all, learn to sift out the primary from the secondary, the common from the particular. The common, primary aspect of any belief consists of the seed of the idea, a seed which displays remarkable tenacity over the centuries. Sowed in the soil of different cultural milieus, it sprouts in different ways, all of which are varieties of the given belief. If there is any teleological aspect to history at all, then, of course, that aspect should first and foremost inform the life of just those tenacious spiritual seeds – in the widely embraced core of an idea professed by millions of individuals.

The seed of the idea of reincarnation is the teaching about a certain self that completes its cosmic growth, or a segment of it, through stages of successive existences in our physical world. Everything else, such as the spiritual-material nature and structure of the reincarnating self, the dependence of reincarnation on the law of karma, the application of the principle of reincarnation to the animal world – all these are merely variations of the core idea. And it is easy to see that one will encounter genuine aberrations more often in those variations and details than in the seed, on whose intuition by the Indian people the teleological forces labored for many centuries, expending fantastic amounts of energy to weaken the partition between waking consciousness and deep memory – the repository of memories of the soul's journeys up to the moment of its last reincarnation.

The error of religious doctrines lies, for the most part, not in their contents but in their claim that the law stated by the doctrine is in universal force and must be professed by everyone who desires salvation. The above leads us to acknowledge the genuine nature of the spiritual experience that was molded into the idea of reincarnation. Yes, such a formative path does exist; there is in principle nothing in the essence of the idea unacceptable to Christianity and Islam, save, perhaps, the fact that no utterances by their founders about the idea have reached us. (Which, in any case, proves nothing in itself, because, as is known, far from everything they said found its way into the Gospels and Quran.) But it categorically doesn’t follow that the path of reincarnation is the single possible and real formative path for an individual spirit. The Indian people's consciousness, readied in such a manner as to intuit that type of path, expressed its discovery, as often happens in such circumstances, in absolute terms and turned a deaf ear to intuitions of other types of formative paths. The exact opposite happened with the Jewish and Arab peoples. Intuiting the truth of other formative paths, on which incarnation on the physical plane occurs only once, the consciousness of these peoples expressed this second type of path in absolute terms that were just as unwarranted. The fact that one or the other path can, generally speaking, predominate in different human metacultures also led them to do so. As a result, an apparently irreconcilable dispute has arisen between the two groups of world religions. In actual fact, both these seemingly contradictory ideas are true at their core, having pinpointed two paths of those possible, and beyond a renunciation by each side of claims to the universal exclusivity of their ideas nothing is needed to resolve the “conflict”.

Thus, one of the historical bases for supposedly irreconcilable conflicts between religions consists in the unwarranted expression of a belief in absolute terms. Another basis is as follows.

One of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity is, of course, the teaching of the Holy Trinity. The founder of Islam rejected that doctrine, because he suspected it of being a relapse into polytheism and, more importantly, because his own spiritual experience did not contain any positive indication of such a truth. But in this twentieth century there can hardly still be a need to reiterate the arguments of Christian theologians who, in their time, proved and explained the fundamental distinction between the doctrine of the Trinity and polytheism. It is a point so elementary that one can only suppose there are no longer any Muslim thinkers who, having studied the Christian creed, would persist in making that erroneous claim. As for the second argument – that Muhammad's spiritual experience contained no confirmation of the Trinity – it is logically unsound. No one person's experience can contain a confirmation of all truths that were arrived at earlier in the course of humanity's collective intuitions about God and the world. There is a limit to every individual's knowledge. Only the wisdom of the Omniscient encompasses the entirety of truth “within Himself”. Therefore, the fact that Muhammad did not encounter anything in his personal spiritual experience that supported the Trinity doctrine should not in itself serve as sufficient grounds for rejecting the idea, even in the eyes of orthodox Muslims. Instead of the statement, «The Prophet, in intuiting the absolute oneness of God, recognized the falsity of the Trinity doctrine,» one should, in all fairness, rephrase the statement as follows: “The Prophet, in intuiting the absolute oneness of God, did not receive any indication of the truth of the Holy Trinity.”

It is entirely natural that the Christian creed not only has no objections to the Muslim doctrine of the One God but wholly concurs with it. But Christianity supplements that belief with an idea whose persistence for two thousand years and whose acceptance by millions of individuals point to the truth of the core concept. So what does the conflict between these two fundamental doctrines of the two religions resolve itself to? Doesn’t it boil down to the arbitrary and unwarranted denial of one's truth by the other, a truth that has no mention in the latter's own positive experience?

Now, we see the second historical and psychological basis for deep-rooted disputes between different faiths: the unwarranted denial of the truth of a differing belief solely because we don’t have any positive evidence for it.

Unfortunately, disputes founded solely on that logical and epistemological inconsistency are beyond count. Let us examine another well-known instance. Both the Sunni sect of Islam and Protestantism deny the truth of the cult of the saints, yet almost all other religions embrace it and in one or another form give expression to it. Objections to the cult can be reduced to two: first, people have no need of mediators between themselves and God; second, worship and prayer offered not to God but to those who were once human is sinful, as it leads to the deification of persons. But what exactly is meant by that famous statement that “people have no need of mediators”? If the one who gives voice to that thought has no need of them, then what right does he or she have to speak for others, even for all humanity? Who invested that individual with the authority? Certainly not the millions of people in almost every country and religion who have felt a vital, daily need for such mediators – a need that has made the existence of the cult of the saints psychologically possible. If we don’t feel a need for something (there are people, for example, who don’t feel a need for music) and become indignant with all those who do, regarding them as fatuous dreamers, self-interested liars, or unenlightened ignoramuses, what are we proving but our own ignorance?

The second argument concerns the sin of offering up divine worship and prayers to those who were humans. But divine worship, in the monotheistic sense, is not offered up to the saints; no one equates them with God. The very idea is ludicrous and, for people raised in Christian countries, inexcusably uninformed. True, there is in Hinduism the concept of the avatar – an incarnation of God in human form – but avatars are not saints. We kneel before saints as people who were able to overcome the human in themselves, or as instruments of God's will, as celestial messengers.

Protestantism denies the concept of sainthood altogether. But here we are dealing with an argument over particulars rather than the essence of the matter. For, in rejecting the ideal of monastic asceticism, Luther and Calvin didn’t belittle earthly saintliness, though they understood it, on the one hand, in a wider sense than did Catholicism and, on the other hand, in a somewhat lower sense: the Narrow Path as such was rejected.

The dying Muhammad forbade his followers to invoke his spirit in prayer. That shows the purity and sincerity of his purposes, but it goes directly counter to the basic principles of a religious-moral worldview. For if saintliness, as the highest form of self-sacrifice for the sake of humanity, is faultless and selfless service of God, and if we understand it thus, then it would be silly to deny that it exists on Earth and that it occurs, however rarely, in life – if that is so, then it is impossible to imagine the soul of a saint resting in idle bliss after death. Saints will help those still living and those below them in their ascent with all the powers of their souls, including those powers that are revealed only after death. It is as natural as an adult helping a child, and just as little does it diminish or demean those to whom the help is proffered. The Prophet Muhammad could hardly have been unaware of this. One can only suppose that certain abuses and excesses that he observed in the cult of the saints moved him to forbid his followers to establish anything of the sort. He may have thought that the prohibition would be balanced by the fact that deceased saints do not necessarily need reminders from people at prayer in order to extend them unseen help.

Every teaching that preaches the truth of the soul's immortality and of a higher moral law can suppose that the spirit of a saint will in the afterlife become indifferent and unresponsive to those still living only by going counter to all logic and its own principles. The denial of the truth of the cult of the saints makes sense only from the point of view of materialism. On the other hand, to express the cult of the saints in absolute terms as obligatory is unwarranted. There can be protracted legs in the journey of a soul, or in the journey of an entire people, when there is no need of «mediators,» when a soul, consciously or unconsciously, feels that the growth of its independence, energy, freedom, and spiritual will precludes any need to appeal to anyone for help other than God Himself. On what basis and by what right will we force such an individual to take part in the cult of the saints?

A much greater difficulty is posed by the fundamental dispute between Christianity and other religions concerning the belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ and the worship of Him as the incarnation of one of the hypostases of the Trinity. It is well known that the other religions either recognize Jesus as a prophet among other prophets or ignore Him, sometimes even going so far as to positively deny His Providential mission. Christianity, for its part, citing the words of its Founder that no one can come to the Father except through the Son, denies all non-Christians the possibility of salvation.

It is possible, however, to avoid many misunderstandings and vulgarizations of ideas if we examine each utterance of Christ that has reached us, asking ourselves: did Christ, in the present instance, speak as a person, as a concrete historical figure who lived in a particular country at a particular time, or does the voice of God that He hears in Himself become transformed through His mind and lips into human words? Every one of Christ's utterances requires examination in just such a vein. Does He speak in the present case as a person or as a Herald of truth from the spiritual world? For it is impossible to imagine that at every moment of his life Jesus spoke only as a Herald and never as a simple human being. There can hardly be any question that in His anguished cry on the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” the pain of one of those minutes is recorded when he, Jesus the man, experienced the tragedy of separation, the tragedy of the cutting of the link between his human self and the Divine Spirit. On the other hand, in His teachings given at the Last Supper one hears clearly God the Son, the Planetary Logos behind the first-person singular pronoun.

All Christ's words recorded in the Gospels should be grouped into one of these two categories. It then becomes perfectly clear that His saying that no one can come to the Father except through the Son should not be understood in the lower, narrow, literal, and merciless sense that no human souls besides Christians are going to be saved. Rather, this must be heard in the majestic, truly spiritual, cosmic sense that every monad that reaches full spiritual maturity immerses itself in the depths of God the Son, the Heart and Demiurge of the Universe, and only after that crowning act returns to its source, to God the Father, and in a manner unfathomable for us merges with Him and the entire Holy Trinity.

Keshab Chandra Sen, one of the most prominent leaders of Brahmo Samaj, an Indian religious-philosophical society, voiced a profound insight when he said that the wisdom of the Hindus, the meekness of the Buddhists, the courage of the Muslims all come from Christ. In referring to Christ, Sen clearly meant not the historical figure Jesus, but the Logos who found expression chiefly, but not exclusively, in Jesus Christ. That idea, in my opinion, provides the intimations of a path to an outlook whereby Christians and many Eastern religious movements can arrive at mutual understanding.

Certain expressions that have become rooted in Christian theology, that are repeated almost automatically by us, and that are exactly what is unacceptable to other faiths also require reexamination and clarification. What is meant, for example, by the word embodiment in reference to Jesus Christ? Do we continue to think even now that the Universal Logos was contained within the form of a human body? Can we grant that a bodily instrument, an individual physical organism, a human brain capable of accommodating the Universal Reason was created after generations of teleological preparation? If so, then one must conclude that Jesus was omniscient in His human lifetime, which does not concur either with facts from the Gospels or with His own words. Do we not consider the disproportionate scale – the mixture of cosmic categories, in the very extreme sense of the word, with categories belonging to the local-planetary, the narrowly human – preposterous? And preposterous not because it surpasses the limits of our reason but, to the contrary, because it is all too obviously the product of thinking at a definite, long-past period of culture when the universe appeared a billion times smaller than it is in reality, when it seemed quite possible for the solid firmament to fall upon the Earth, and for a dreadful hail of stars to come loose from the hooks on which they were hung. Would it not then be more precise to speak not of the embodiment of the Logos in the person of Jesus Christ but of the Logos's expression in Jesus through the medium of the great God-born monad that is the Planetary Logos of the Earth? We call Christ the Word. But a speaker doesn’t, after all, take shape in a word but expresses himself or herself through it. Similarly, God is expressed, not embodied, in Christ. It is in that sense that Christ is in truth the Word of God, and thus yet another stumbling block to reconciling Christianity and certain other religious movements disappears.
I have touched on only four interreligious disputes. With the exception of the last one, which springs from a moot and insufficiently precise formulation, these disputes are founded on discrepancies in the spiritual experiences of the great prophets, on the fact that while viewing certain objects from different vantage points in Shadanakar, from different spiritual points of view, these visionaries see different aspects of the given objects. Such disputes can be provisionally labeled as horizontal conflicts, meaning by that the validity of the points of view and their illusory contraposition.

Yet another example. Throughout their existence, Christianity and Islam have been battling with what they call paganism. Over the centuries, the idea that monotheism and polytheism are irreconcilable and incompatible has become impressed on humanity as a kind of axiom. Discussion of why and how that came to be would lead us to digress too far. What is important is the question, on what basis did the religions of Semitic origin, while affirming the existence of spiritual hierarchies and devising a detailed description of them – both angelology and demonology – in the Middle Ages, restrict their number to those few that found a place in medieval schemata? Is there even a shadow of consistency in their denial in principle of truth to all other experience of spiritual hierarchies? There are absolutely no grounds for it, except references, once again, to the Gospels' and the Quran's silence on the subject. It was because there were insufficient grounds for a blanket denial that the Christian Church, in the first few centuries of its existence, did not so much deny the existence of the gods of the Olympic pantheon as identify them with the demons and devils of Semitic canonical texts. In doing so, the Church, contrary to the facts, ignored the character of the divinities as it was intuited by the polytheistic spiritual tradition, arbitrarily ascribing to them demeaning and shameful traits or deliberately overemphasizing the all too anthropomorphic element the subjects of knowledge – polytheistic humanity – had introduced into the images, an element which by that time had been preserved only in its lower, popular aspects. As if acknowledgment of the existence of hierarchies of nature, of great elementals, or of national guiding spirits could undermine the oneness of God, the Creator and Builder of the Universe, the source and estuary of the earthly flow of life, more than would acknowledgment of God's other beautiful children – angels and archangels, not to mention those demons of the Bible!

Unfortunately, even today that ancient misunderstanding has not been cleared up. For a long time now, nothing has remained of classical polytheism. But a hardened, narrow-minded intolerance lacking all wisdom is discernible every time the Christian churches – or, at least, those persons who speak in their names – have occasion to pass judgment on the Hindu, Chinese, Japanese, or Tibetan systems. The two other religions of Semitic origin are just as intolerant. What we are dealing with here is a typical example of horizontal differentiation between religions. Without contradicting each other in the essentials, without clashing with each other in the boundless spiritual cosmos, Christianity and Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, Judaism and Shinto speak of different things, of different spiritual lands, of different parts of Shadanakar. But human ignorance interprets this as a contradiction and pronounces one of the teachings true and the rest false: “If there is one God, then other gods are nothing but shams. They are either devils or figments of the human imagination.” How naive! God is One, but there are many gods. The writing of that word with both a capital and small “g” testifies in clear terms to the differing connotations attached to it in both cases. If someone is frightened of repeating the word in different senses, let that person substitute some other for it when speaking of polytheism – ”great spirits” or «great hierarchies» – but nothing will be changed. That is, nothing will be changed if we discount the possibility that the use of the word “spirit” could in certain cases lead to misunderstandings, as many of those gods are more than spirits – they are powerful beings possessing material form, though they do so on other, transphysical planes of being.

All these disputes arising from misunderstandings across religions bring to mind an analogy I once saw in a religious text, though I do not remember which one. It told of several hikers who each climbed different slopes of one and the same mountain, saw and studied its different faces, and upon their return argued about who among them saw what really existed and who saw nothing but figments of the imagination. Each believed that the mountain was exactly as he or she had seen it, and that the testimonies of the other hikers about the other slopes were lies, absurdities, and traps to snare human souls. Thus, the first conclusion that follows from our examination of interreligious disputes reveals a path to eliminating those that arise either from a simple misunderstanding or from a discrepancy between the religious objects of knowledge experienced – that is, horizontal conflicts.

Not only polytheism but animism and preanimism, too, consist of more than vague, random, subjective images that arose in the minds of prehistoric humans. Transphysical reality lies behind them as well. Providence is Providence for just the reason that it has never left peoples and races to be the dupes of fantasies and illusions without any possibility of contact with a higher reality. One would have to posit in place of God a dark, evil power as the true shepherd of humanity if one were to think that prehistoric humanity was barred for tens of thousands of years from the possibility of experiencing anything spiritual, or at the very least variomaterial, of coming into contact with something besides the physical world and our own fantasies.

But if this is so, how can the spiritual experience of so-called savages enrich us, who stand on such a high level of spiritual knowledge compared to them? By that which was intuited back then, in that milieu, by that inimitable psyche, but was not passed on and not included by succeeding spiritual traditions in their treasury. Research specifically devoted to theurgic beliefs and the tradition of proto-logical thought could help not only to “rehabilitate” those ancient beliefs in their essential features but could also establish a place for them in the synthesized religious worldview that is now beginning to take shape. It would come to light, for example, that the belief of the Arunta tribe of Australia in a single living substance that flows between matter constantly and everywhere, from being to being, from object to object (and, in essence, the religion of that tribe consists entirely of such beliefs) is one of humanity's oldest revelations about the transphysical cosmos. It is a vivid, brilliant revelation, more definitive than any later ones about that single life force. The Australians called it “arungvilta”, the more highly developed religion of Hinduism calls it “prana”, and we have yet to hear what science will call it in twenty or thirty years from now.

That dispute – the belief in arungvilta-prana by the oldest faiths and the denial of it by the overwhelming majority of later religious teachings – can be viewed as a developmental dispute, a vertical conflict between different levels of religious knowledge. But here we also encounter the same error, the same faulty approach to another tradition that we saw when we examined the question of Islam's denial of the cult of the saints and the concept of the Trinity. Here, too, behind all the arguments (Incidentally, if the Gospels do not speak of arungvilta-prana in so many words, they do recount in detail many cases when Christ and, later, the apostles put the substance to use. It is incomprehensible how orthodox Christian believers could account for the variomaterial mechanism that the performers of miraculous cures employed if they deny the existence of a life force flowing everywhere and through everything.) brought against those ancient revelations, lurks the same naive way of thinking, something along these lines: as the canonical texts that are authoritative for me say nothing about arungvilta-prana; there is, therefore, no such thing. That way of thinking is, at the very least, foolhardy, because one is then forced to deny the existence not only of arungvilta-prana but of radio waves, elementary particles, a host of chemical elements, other galaxies, and even, for example, the planet Uranus, for the canonical texts maintain strict silence concerning all of them.

It also becomes clear that it is absolutely necessary to take into consideration what was disregarded back during the formation of the older, classical faiths: the experience of prehistoric spiritual revelation. In addition, we must consider something that could not be taken into account previously: the experience derived from the centuries-long evolution of religions on every continent, from world history, and from science. The material taken from those various experiences teaches us to treat all doctrines and beliefs dynamically, to see every belief as a link in the chain of religious-historical evolution, and to separate them into three layers. The deepest layer is the core idea which contains the relative component truth. The next layer is the particular coloring, molding, or specification of the idea to the extent that its individual, racial, or temporal features are justified, as it was precisely that racial or temporal cast of mind that made it possible for the people to intuit the idea at all. The third and outermost layer is the husk, the aberrations, the unavoidable haze of the human mind through which the light of revelation passes. Therefore, experience from every stage of development, including polytheism, animism, and others, must be freed from its outermost layer, rethought, and included in the Religion of Epitome’s teachings.

The principles on which such work would be done have barely been outlined here. The set of criteria requires a vast deal of work. Besides, such a reexamination of our religious legacy is a colossal undertaking requiring the combined labor of many, many people. At present, there are not enough people even qualified for the task, not to mention the absence of other necessary conditions. But if the task is huge, then it is better to undertake the preliminary work sooner rather than later. The difficulties should not be underestimated, but there is every reason to hope that with the commitment, energy, and initiative of those involved, the gulfs and rifts that now separate all religions will gradually be filled in and that, though each religion will preserve its uniqueness, a kind of spiritual amalgamation will in time unite all right-hand teachings.

It is well known that many Japanese who profess Christianity remain at the same time faithful to Shinto. An orthodox Catholic or Protestant, and a Russian Orthodox, too, are appalled by such a thing. They cannot comprehend how it is psychologically possible, and they even sense something blasphemous in it. But, far from any blasphemy, such a thing is possible and even natural, because the Christian tradition and the Shinto tradition differ from each other horizontally: they speak of different things. Shinto is a national myth. It is an aspect of the world religious revelation that was unveiled to the Japanese people, and to them alone. It is a conceptualization of the spiritual or, better yet, transphysical reality that presides over the Japanese people and them alone, manifesting itself in their history and culture. One will not find in Shinto answers to questions of a cosmic, planetary, or international nature – questions about the Creator, the origin of evil and suffering, or paths of cosmic growth. It deals only with Japan's metahistory, its metaculture, the hierarchies guiding it, and with the heavenly assembly of enlightened souls that have risen from Japan to the higher worlds of Shadanakar. The syncretism of the Japanese – that is, their simultaneous profession of Shinto and Catholicism or Shinto and Buddhism – is not a psychological contradiction. Quite the opposite: it is an intimation of how the traditions and truths of various religions will harmoniously complement each other.

Before the amalgamation of Christianity and other right-hand religions and faiths is realized – and that is one of the Rose of the World's historical tasks – it would, of course, be natural to bring about the reunification of the Christian churches. The Rose of the World will do the theological, philosophical, cultural, and organizational preparation for such a reunification with untiring commitment. Until the reunification of Christianity has taken place, until the Eighth Ecumenical Council (or several subsequent councils) has reexamined the entire mass of old doctrines and has adopted a number of beliefs based on the spiritual experience of the last one thousand years, until the highest authority of a reunified Christianity has sanctioned the Rose of the World's teachings – until that time those beliefs can be, of course, professed, propounded, and preached, but they should not be molded into a fixed, final form to be offered up for profession to all Christians.

The Rose of the World sees its suprareligiosity and interreligiosity in the reunification of Christian faiths and in the further amalgamation of all religions of Light in order to focus their combined energies on fostering humanity's spiritual growth and on spiritualizing nature. Religious exclusivity will not only be foreign to its followers, it will be impossible. Co-belief with all peoples in their highest ideals – that is what its wisdom will teach.

The structure of the Rose of the World will therefore suggest a series of concentric circles. No followers of any right-hand religion should be considered outside the global church. Those who have not yet reached an awareness of suprareligious unity will occupy the outer circles; the middle circles will be composed of the less active and creative of the Rose of the World's followers, the inner circles will be for those who have equated the meaning of their life with conscious and free divine creative work.

May a Christian enter a Buddhist temple with reverence and respect. Eastern peoples, separated from the centers of Christianity by deserts and mountain ranges, have over thousands of years intuited through the wisdom of their teachers the truth about different regions of the heavens. Glimmering through the smoke of incense are statues of the high guardians of other worlds and the great messengers who spoke to people of those worlds. Few Western people have had contact with those worlds. May the knowledge preserved in the East enrich their minds and souls.

May a Muslim enter a Hindu temple with a peaceful, pure, and solemn feeling. Those are not false gods that gaze on them there, but provisional images of great spirits perceived and passionately loved by the peoples of India. Other nations should accept testimony about them with joy and trust.

May an orthodox follower of Shinto not pass by the nondescript building of a synagogue with disdain or indifference. There, another great people that has enriched humanity with profound treasures preserves their knowledge of those truths through which the spiritual world revealed itself to them and no one else.

One can compare the Rose of the World to an upturned flower, the roots of which are in heaven and the petals here, among humanity, on Earth. Its stem is revelation through which flow the spiritual juices that feed and strengthen its petals, our fragrant chorus of religions. Besides the petals, it has a heart: its own teachings. Its teaching is not a random blend of the highest beliefs of various theosophies of the past. In addition to a new perspective on our religious legacy, the Rose of the World will establish a new perspective on nature, history, the destiny of human cultures and their tasks, on creative work, love, the paths of cosmic ascent, and the gradual enlightenment of Shadanakar. In some cases, the perspective will be new because, although various figures of the past have spoken of them before, they will be adopted and professed by a religion, by a church, for the first time. In other cases, a perspective of the Rose of the World will be new in the full sense of the word, because no one has ever voiced it before. These new perspectives flow from new spiritual experience, without which, instead of the Rose of the World, only a rational and sterile religious eclecticism would be possible.

But before moving on to the contents of that spiritual experience, to the principles of that teaching, we must first investigate by what paths of the soul that experience is acquired and by what methods we can facilitate or accelerate our acquisition of it.

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