Max Heindel – The Mystic Rite of Baptism

The Mystic Rite of Baptism






Max Heindel

It is not noteworth that nearly all religious systems prescribed ablutions previous to the performance of religious duties and the worship performed in the ancient Atlantean Mystery Temple, the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, was no exception, as we have seen from the previous articles on “Symbols of Ancient and Modern Initiation.” After having obtained justification by sacrifice on the Brazen Altar, the candidate was compelled to wash in the Laver of Consecration, the Molten Sea, before he was allowed to enter upon the duties of his ministry in the sanctuary proper. And it is in conformity with this rule that we find the Hero of the Gospels going to the river Jordan, where He underwent the mystic rite of Baptism. When He rose, we learn that the Spirit descended upon Him. Therefore it is obvious that those who follow the Christian Mystic Path of Initiation must also be similarly baptized before they can receive the Spirit, which is to be their true guide through all the trials before them.

But what constitutes Baptism is a question which has called forth arguments of almost unbelievable intensity. Some contend that it is a sprinkling with water, and other insist upon the immersion of the whole body. Some say that it is sufficient to take an infant into church, sprinkle it with water despite its protests, and presto! it becomes a Christian, an heir of heaven; whereas should it unfortunately die before this sacred rite is performed, it must inevitably go to hell. Others take the more logical position that the desire of an individual for admission into the church is the prime factor necessary to make the rite effective, and therefore wait until adult age before the performance of the ceremony, which requires an immersion of the whole body in water. But whether the rite is performed in infancy or in later life, it seems strange that momentary immersion or sprinkling with water should have the power to save the soul; and when we examine the subsequent life of those who have thus been baptized, even in adult age and with their full consent and desire, we find little or no improvement in the great majority.

Therefore it seems evident that this cannot be the proper rite, because the Spirit has not descended upon them. Consequently we must look for another explanation of what constitutes a true mystic rite of Baptism. A story is told of an Ottoman king who declared war on a neighboring nation, fought a number of battles against it with varying success, but was finally conquered and taken captive where he was compelled to work in the most menial capacity as a slave. After many years fortune favored him, and he escaped to a far country, where by hard work he acquired a small estate, married, and had a number of children, who grew up around him. Finally he found himself upon his deathbed at a very ripe old age, and in the exertion of drawing his last breath he raised himself upon his pillow and looked about him, but there were no sons and daughters there. He was not in the place which he had regarded as home for so many years, but in his own palace which he thought he had left in his youth, and he was as young as when he left it. There he found himself sitting in a chair with a basin of water close to his chin and a servant engaged in washing his hair and beard. He had just immersed his face in the water when the dream of going to war had started, and a lifetime had been lived in dreamland during the few seconds it took until he raised his face. There are thousands of other instances to show that outside the physical world time is nonexistent and the happenings of millennia are easily inspected in a few moments.

It is also well known that when people are under water and in the act of drowning, their whole preceding life is re-enacted before their eyes with crystal clarity, even the minutest details which have been forgotten during the passing years stand out sharply. Thus there must be and is a storehouse of events which may be contacted under certain conditions when the senses are stilled and we are near sleep or death. To make this last sentence clear it should be understood and borne in mind that man is a composite being, having finer vehicles which interpenetrate the physical body, usually regarded as the whole man. During death and sleep this dense body is unconscious on account of a complete separation between it and the finer vehicles, but this separation is only partial during dream-filled sleep and prior to drowning. This condition enables the spirit to impress events upon the brain with more or less accuracy according to circumstances, particularly those incidents which are connected with itself. In the light of these things we shall understand what really constitutes the rite of Baptism.

According to the Nebular Theory, that which is now the earth was at one time a luminous fire-mist, which gradually cooled by contact with the cold of space. This meeting of heat with cold generated moisture, which evaporated and rose from the heated center, until the cold condensed it and it fell again as moisture upon the heated world. The surface of the earth being thus subjected to alternate liquidation and evaporation for ages, it finally crystallized into a shell which perfectly covered the fiery center. This soft moisture-laden shell naturally generated a mist, which surrounded the planet as an atmosphere, and this was the cradle of everything that has its being upon the earth, man, animal, and plant.

The Bible describes this condition in the second chapter of Genesis, where we are told that at the time of the first man a mist went up from the earth, “for it had not yet rained.” This condition evidently continued until the Flood, when the moisture finally descended and left the atmosphere clear so that the rainbow was seen for the first time, the darkness was dispelled, and the age of alternation, day and night, summer and winter, commenced. By a study of the cosmology and the pictorial account of evolution given in the Northern Eddas, treasured among the sages of Scandinavia before the Christian Era, we may learn more of this period in the earth’s history and the bearing which it has upon our subject. As we teach our children, by means of stories and pictures, truths that they could not intellectually grasp, so the divine leaders of mankind were wont to teach the infant souls in their charge by pictures and allegories, and through these prepare them for a higher and nobler teaching of a later day. The great epic poem which is called The Lay of the Niebelung gives us the story of which we are in search, the cosmic origin of the rite of Baptism and why it is necessarily the preliminary step in the spiritual unfoldment of the Christian Mystic.

The cosmogony of the Eddas is similar to that of the Bible is some respects, and in others gives points which bear out the theory of Laplace. We quote from the poetical version of Oehlenschlaeger:

In the Being’s earliest Dawn
All was one dark abyss,
Nor heaven nor earth was known. Chill noxious fogs and ice,
North from murk Niflheim’s hole, Piled up in mountains lay;
From Muspel’s radiant pole, Southwards fire held the sway.
Then after ages passed,
Mid in the chaos met
A warm breath, Niflheim’s blast, Cold with prolific heat.
Hence pregnant drops were formed, Which by the parent air
From Muspel’s region warmed, Produced great Aurgelmer.

Thus, by the action of heat and cold Aurgelmer, or as he is also called, the Giant Ymer, was first formed. This was the pregnant seed ground whence came the spiritual Hierarchies, the spirits of the earth, air, and water, and finally man. At the same time the All-Father created the Cow Audumla, from whose four teats issued four streams of milk, which nourished all beings. These are the four ethers, one of which now sustains mineral, two feed the plant, three the animal, and all four the human kingdom. In the Bible they are the four rivers which went forth out of Eden.

Eventually, as postulated by science, a crust must have been formed by the continued boiling of the water, and from this drying crust a mist must have ascended as taught in the second chapter of Genesis. By degrees the mist must have cooled and condensed, shutting out the light of the sun, so that it would have been impossible for early mankind to perceive the body, had they possessed the physical vision, but under such conditions they had no more need of eyes than a mole which burrows in the ground. They were not blind, however, for we re told that “they saw God”; and as “spiritual things, (and beings), are spiritually perceived,” they must have been gifted with spiritual sight. In the spiritual worlds there is a different standard of reality than here, which is the basis of myths.

Under these conditions there could be no clashing of interests, and humanity regarded itself as the children of one great Father while they lived under the water of ancient Atlantis. Egoism did not come into the world until the mist had condensed and they had left the watery atmosphere of Atlantis. When their eyes had been opened so that they could perceive the physical world and the things therein, when each saw himself or herself as separate and apart from all others, the consciousness of “me and mine, thee and thine,” took shape in the nascent minds, and a grasping greed replaced the fellow feeling which obtained under the waters of early Atlantis. From that time, to the present stage, egoism is considered the legitimate attitude and even in our boasted civilization altruism Utopian dream not to be indulged in by practical people.

Had mankind been allowed to travel the path of egoism without let or hindrance, it is difficult to see where it all would have ended. But under the immutable Law of Consequence every cause must produce an adequate effect. The principle of suffering was born from sin for the benevolent purpose of guiding us back to the path of virtue. It takes much suffering and many lives to accomplish this purpose, but finally when we have become men of sorrows and acquainted with grief, when we have cultivated that keen and ready sympathy which feels all the woe of the world, when the Christ has been born within, there comes to the Christian Mystic that ardent aspiration to seek and to save those who are lost and show them the way to everlasting light and peace.

But to show the way, we must know the way; without a true understanding of the cause of sorrow we cannot teach others to obtain permanent peace. Nor can this understanding of sorrow, sin, and death be obtained from books, lectures, or even the personal teachings of another; at least an impression sufficiently intense to fill the aspirant’s whole being cannot be conveyed in that way. Baptism alone will accomplish the purpose in an adequate manner; therefore the first step in the life of a Christian Mystic is baptism. But when we say baptism, we do not necessarily mean a physical baptism where the candidate is either sprinkled or immersed and where he makes certain promises to the one who baptizes him. The Mystic Baptism may take place in a desert as easily as on an island, for it is a spiritual process to attain a spiritual purpose. It may take place at any time during the night or day, in summer or winter, for it occurs at the moment when the candidate feels with sufficient intensity the longing to know the cause of sorrow and alleviate it.

Then the Spirit is conducted under the waters of Atlantis, where it sees the primal condition of brotherly love and kindness; where it perceives God as the great Father of His children, who are there surrounded by His wonderful love. And by the conscious return to this Ocean of Love, the candidate becomes so thoroughly imbued with the feeling of kinship that the spirit of egoism is banished from him forever. It is because of this saturation with the Universal Spirit that is able later to say: “If a man takes your coat, give him you cloak also; if he asks you to walk one mile with him, go with him two miles.” Feeling himself one and all, the candidate does not even consider the murder of himself as mistreatment, but can say: “Father, forgive them.” They are identical with himself, who suffers by their action; he is the aggressor as well as the victim. Such is the true Spiritual Baptism of the Christian Mystic, and any other baptism that does not produce this universal fellow feeling is not worthy of the name.