A ROSICRUCIAN INSTITUTION IN SWITZERLAND
SOME time after the first edition of the foregoing pages appeared, an attempt was made in republican Switzerland to carry into effect these ideas. In the midst of the mountains, among the most sublime and picturesque scenery, upon a secluded hill near the shore of the most beautiful Italian lake, extensive grounds were purchased, and it was proposed to build a house whose object it was to serve as a refuge for those who wanted to cultivate spirituality pure and simple, without any admixture of priestcraft and superstition. It has not yet been finally decided whether this undertaking will be a success or a failure; but the latter is more than probable, as the method of thinking in old dilapidated and dying Europe is too narrowminded to permit of grasping such an exalted idea.
We have asked the question whether there would be any use or necessity for such an institution, and received the following answer.
Upon the wide expanse of our social sea of life there is at present no dry spot to be found where the white dove of truth may rest her weary feet. The waves of contending self-interests clash together, being blown into fury by the storms of passion that rage in the human heart. Selfishness, deceit, and the follies of fashion are the kings that rule over the peoples of Europe, claiming as their tribute the immortality of their souls. The battle for superiority in the struggle for existence forces nations and individuals to use evil means; conventionalism forces men and women to be hypocritical; to be honest and unselfish means starvation and ruin; to be true and sincere means to incur social ostracism; sharpness, cunning, and policy are the vermin that infest the seat of divine wisdom; every social unit seeks to live and to thrive upon the ignorance of the rest. Thus man’s whole time and attention is taken up with running after the worthless baubles and pleasures of this grossly material world, and the only redeeming angel, the true living faith–meaning the spiritual power to recognise spiritual truth–is fast driven away, taking with it the true light and leaving the world in darkness and despair.
Is there no one whose aspirations go higher than to enjoy the comforts of life, to eat and to drink, to be merry to-day and to die tomorrow, and who has ever been longing to find some way of escape from this great carnival, and to throw off the mask which he is forced to wear and which prevents him from seeing the truth? Do such persons never wish for a place where they might find refuge and enjoy communication with the God whose temples they are? Is such a desire to escape selfish, and is it necessary to hold out in the whirling dance that ends in the abyss of death?
It is truly said that spiritual strength grows only by resistance to temptations, but there must be a certain amount of strength before these temptations can be resisted and overcome by the power of the spirit. Is it selfish to seek to gain strength before the battle is entered? Is it selfish to wish for the possession of a certain amount of truth before one enters into an atmosphere filled with lies? Is it selfish if the gardener shelters a delicate plant in the hot-house until it grows strong enough to be set out in the garden and to encounter the vicissitudes of the climate? and is not spirituality such a delicate plant? Is it selfish for a child to remain in the mother’s womb until it has gained strength to support its own life, and is not the spiritual regeneration of man most difficult to accomplish? The world is full of spiritual miscarriages which have entered the battle with the devils that rule the world prematurely, and without being prepared for the fight; neither will the means for such a preparation be found in our churches and schools as they are constituted at present; where what is miscalled “religion” is carried on as a social amusement, and where not even the meaning of the term “spirituality” seems to be known. Those who wish to find the true light must rise up and embrace it with their whole heart and their whole being; they have no time to dream or to amuse themselves with the illusory treasures of the terrestrial plane.
It is often said that people with spiritual aspirations should remain in the world and teach others, and do all the good they can; but what good can anyone do, if he has no knowledge of the consequences of his acts, and what knowledge can anyone teach to another if he knows nothing himself? Spiritual aspirations alone do not constitute spiritual knowledge; we must not only feel the truth but see it before we can know it ourselves. How can anyone teach the truth if the truth does not itself teach in and through him? There is already an abundance of preachers and teachers in the world who know the truth only from hearsay and from the reading of books; but it is only their light that shines, and not the light of the truth. What man needs is the Light itself, and not merely a description of it. There is no necessity to start a new sect with a new set of opinions and creeds; but there is a great necessity that a way should be found to teach mankind how they may open their eyes, so as to be able to perceive the truth themselves.
To those who know nothing about the possibility of attaining self-knowledge, imagining that God is incapable of teaching anything to the soul and that divine wisdom like manmade science is to be learned from man, the object of our institution will be incomprehensible. To those we can only say that it is not the object of this enterprise to furnish a retreat for misanthropes and hypochondriacs, where they may lead a lazy life, amusing themselves with bemoaning the wickedness of this sinful world; neither is it to be an infirmary for ghost-seers, visionaries, or dreamers, where they may revel to their hearts’ content among the creations of their own fancy; nor is it to be a “school for occultism,” where magic arts are taught to the fool; but it is intended to be a place where those who earnestly aspire to spirituality may find the external conditions necessary to cultivate it and to acquire the true “magic staff” that will securely support them on their voyage through eternity; namely, the power to recognise divine truth within their own selves–not by any capacity of their own, but by the power of the Light itself, which comes to all men if they are willing that the darkness should be driven away.