Esotericism (VII): H. M. Nicoll: The New Man (B)

Esotericism (VII): H. M. Nicoll: The New Man (B)

- in Esotericism


1. Jesus did, of course, speak many parables, many pithy tales or analogies with symbolic expressions and an inner signification that is not readily understood by the masses (even some clergy) of Christians. But this lack of understanding is not due to any special symbols or arcane expressions but to limited intelligence or limited application of intelligence on the part of the hearers/readers. There is nothing very special about the language of the parables used by the evangelists and put into the mouth of Jesus. M. Nicoll exaggerates the significance of the symbolism – which is found in many other traditions and has been elucidated by other researchers.

2. We examined in Ouspensky & Gurdjieff (ΙV): The New Testament, the parable of the Good Samaritan and saw that there was no real difficulty in the symbolism. The traveller that was robbed and denuded was ignored by the priest and the Levite (orthodox but hard–hearted) but was succoured by a Samaritan (unorthodox, despised but good-hearted) who then took him to an inn and paid for all expenses. If the vast multitude of Christians like to think that the “neighbour” (=GK plēsion) is anyone, when it is clearly stated that he is the one “who showed mercy”, then that is the fault of the theologians and Church-officials who maintain this view and that of the people who do not read the parable carefully.

The esoteric significance is secondary and refers to people following a discipline, a way to self realization, get robbed of energy by inner demons (wrong notions, vicious thoughts, negative feelings) and need the help of a teacher to lead them on.

3. The parable of the Good Sower is another example. This is found in Matthew 13.3-12, Mark 4. 1-11, Luke 8. 5-15 but not in John. The symbol of the field representing mind is found also elsewhere (e.g. Bhagavad-Gitā 13.3ff).

However, the import seems to be so well “veiled”, to use MN’s term, that even the disciples fail to get it. So Jesus has to explain it to them i.e. that there are four degrees of understanding a spiritual teaching: the wayside where the seed falls and is eaten by birds is no understanding; the stony ground gives little understanding; the area with thorns is a little better but still insufficient; finally, the good, fertile ground is true understanding.

4. I take as a final example MN’s treatment of the Marriage at Cana (John 2.1-11). MN presents this as “a parable” (p38) but it is not. It is an incident in Christ’s life and illustrates, among other things, his miraculous powers. However, MN quite rightly, perhaps, sees Mary, Jesus’ mother, as his “old self” now becoming obedient to the “new self”, capable of performing miracles and transforming water (=old truths of the Judaic tradition) into wine (=higher truth, which surprisingly is not linked here with the Mystery of the Eucharist, as in Mth 2: 28-29 “this is my blood”).

However, here too we find a difficulty. The evangelist writes that this is the beginning of “signs” (=sēmeion ‘miracle, wonder’) and this MN takes to be “the first sign of the inner development of Christ”. This may be so. But John has Jesus heal from a distance, again in Cana, the son of a nobleman (4:46) and calls this “his [Christ’s]” second sēmeion ‘sign, miracle’ (4:54). This is extraordinary, indeed, because the evangelist seems to have forgotten that he wrote in 2.23, between the 1st and 2nd miracle, that Jesus performed several others (autou ta sēmeia tha epoiei ‘the miracles that he did’). It is one of many inconsistencies.

5. It is worth at this point to point out yet another inconsistency in this same Gospel of John. In ch 12: 20-21, we read that some Greeks (probably Greek Jews) approached Philip (=GK philippos ‘lover of horses’) and asked to meet and talk with Jesus. He goes with Andrew and tells Jesus. Hereupon Jesus embarks on a long speech that his time has come to be glorified! The “Greeks” are not mentioned hereafter and the speech continues for another 20 verses.

Here obviously we have stitching together, compiling two (or more manuscripts) into one. The scribe (or scribes) did not do a very good job since the sequence is not at all smooth and the hiatus only too obvious. Why readers miss this is one of the many mysteries and absurdities that accompany NT studies.

Considering that the FCG are infested with such discrepancies and inconsistencies, one must be baffled by the occultists’ inability, despite their superior “psychological” method, to spot them and realize that these writings are a sad mixture of genuine sayings of Jesus and much irresponsible narrative, perhaps even invention.

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