Sir George Trevelyan: thoughts and writings
A Wrekin Trust lecture, 1974
We appear to be in for a time of trouble. Many have foreseen breakdown in our economy, since a great technology obsessed with getting rich quickly is too clumsy and top heavy, altogether too inhuman in its values. Avarice leads to rivalry and that to fear and conflict. The ecologists become aware of how delicately poised is the living organism of the ecosphere, and that our reckless exploitation of the earth's resources may well lead to retribution. The seers and adepts of the age with developed powers of intuition foretell a great spiritual crisis or turning point for humankind by the end of the 20th Century. 25 years to run! [This lecture was given in 1974]. If so our present troubles may well be the overture before the ringing up of the curtain for the grand opera. Therefore current events and distresses need to be seen in their widest aspect as part of an enormous canvas. It is probably too sanguine to think we can just patch up and carry on. We are being taught that merely getting more possessions and satisfying more desires and supposed wants is not the object to life. We shall have to simplify our lives drastically and be prepared to let go much that we now strive to hold on to. Values must change.
Attempts to solve our problems are mostly in the context of our narrow materialistic philosophy. We leave out a most important factor which holds the potential of the supremest hope man has ever conceived. This is the emergence of the wide cosmic view which sees that we are all part of a living universe, shot through with creative spirit and made up of energies which permeate every part of it and are imbued with intelligence and love. The earth is seen as a living seed rather than a fragment of mineral in a vast mechanism of a dead universe. Higher intelligences do indeed exist, are very much concerned with the future of Planet Earth and may be contacted by human thinking. To put it another way, we may forget God, but He is not going to forget us.
Why this concern with one tiny planet? Because it carries a precious cargo of self-consciousness, a race of beings who have been given the gift of free-will and can become co-creators with God. Man has been called the great experiment of the Divine World. It was no small complement to the importance of this planet that the Lord of the Universe, Supreme Being of Light, chose to incarnate upon it and take over the regency of the heavenly forces upon earth. There may of course be many other such centres of consciousness, perhaps carrying cultures far ahead of ours. This suggests that we may be playing a part in an enormous cosmic operation of which our struggles to achieve world harmony and the brotherhood of man are but a facet. The spiritual world cannot allow disaster to overtake Planet Earth. And why is now so urgent? Why the spiritual turning point in this generation? Because we now reach the end of an age when, in the long evolution of consciousness, man can step beyond the limitations of ego-bound desire and expand understanding. He can now achieve cosmic consciousness and blend with the widths of spiritual being, but this cannot come about if he clings desperately to all his fancied material wants. Therefore much has to be jettisoned if the great next step is to be taken. "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish". The word repent, in Greek 'metanoia', should rightly be translated as "change your thinking". Our present anxieties and disasters will not leave us till we achieve a fundamental change of attitude and values.
A materialistic culture is outward-looking, concerned with things and the getting of more things, desires and their satisfaction. A spiritually orientated culture implies the ability to look inwards and so to expand thinking into higher realms and draw on the sources of creative ideas. It is a question of telepathic contact with more exalted intelligence and this means developing the capacity to listen. Inner latent faculties must be opened and developed for the attaining of higher knowledge. Here lies the supreme importance of the art and practice of meditation in this time of crisis. Furthermore, the exercise of daily entering into the inner stillness makes us more capable of arising constructively to outward changes and challenges.
Now humankind is beginning to enter into intuitive and conscious communication with the Creative Intelligence, and with those of his own kind who have been freed from the body by so-called 'death', to operate in expanded awareness on subtler planes of life. This means that a tremendous operation of human and planetary redemption could be set in motion. Human intelligence could channel the energies and the Love from endless reservoirs of creative power.
It now looks as if energies are indeed being released which may sweep away the negative aspects of materialism now so powerful on earth, and that out of catastrophe a new society may be born, made of alt souls who can tune in to the New Age and give themselves wholeheartedly to its manifestation. Thus our age of anxiety is apocalyptic in its nature and the coming of disasters will not be truly understood till we see them as a prejudicial to spiritual awakening and redemption. It is made clear to those with heightened intuition that if men choose to go on treating the earth as an isolated unit in a dead cosmos they will never solve their problems, but that if they can awaken to the reality of the creative spirit in the universe, they can cooperate with higher intelligence and can bring a veritable new world into being. It is a fantastic prospect and a sublime hope at a time when potential disasters of his own making face humankind.
On what authority can these statements be made? A spiritual awakening appears to be taking place, a deepening of vision, as if barriers in the mind are breaking down and the veils between planes of being growing thin. Truth is apprehended with inner certainty. For those who, like myself, can make no claim at all to personal clairvoyance, the great teachers of our age can speak. These sensitives who have developed the faculties of perception of higher realms tell us of their findings but do not ask us to believe. Rather do they invite us to think the ideas, live with them as thoughts. If these thoughts are true, life will then be enhanced in meaning. Thus a spiritual picture of life emerges. There are faculties within us all which can apprehend living ideas, and those who have developed their powers of intuition can approach a science of the spirit. Thus we are invited to like with these concepts and find whether in our darkened age they bring a quickening of the spirit and a hope of salvation. Then we can test with the intellect and find whether they can be used creatively.
Let us therefore look at the great symbolism of the Apocalypse. It concerns, of course, the Coming of the Christ seen in a great perspective of past and future with, it would appear, our present age as the turning point.
Here are some verses from Matthew, Chapter 24.
"Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled, for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines and pestilence and earthquakes in divers places. And these are the beginnings of sorrows. For then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, nor ever shall be.
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.
"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven, and then shall the tribes of the earth mourn and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of trumpets and they shall gather together his elect from four winds.... Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled."
A great tribulation immediately followed by a supreme hope. And this may mean us. Of course, it was written 2,000 years ago ; then they expected a second Coming, but the allegory may have been phrased to hold good for the moment when the great evolutionary change reached humanity. And this it seems may be now, as we move from the Piscean to the Aquarian Age and the waters of the Spirit are poured out into human consciousness. Thus, the word 'generation' may refer to the end of the zodiacal cycle.
According to what is called the Doctrine of the Avatars it appears that, throughout history, whenever in despair humankind unites to send up an agonised cry for help an, Avatar or Saviour appears from the higher planes. Krishna in the Baghavad Gita says to Arjuna "Whenever there is a withering of the Law and an uprising of lawlessness on all sides, then I manifest Myself. For the salvation of the righteous and the destruction of such as do evil, I come to birth age after age."
The Saviour of our time is Christ, the Avatar of Love. May it be that what we are now witnessing is the beginning of His appearance on the invisible planes? The Power of Cosmic Love, which means not our emotional love but the experience of the great Oneness of all Being within all life could flood through human consciousness, inevitably breaking down and sweeping away that which resisted it and was not of its vibration. Christ will come as a pressure into our lives, lifting, searing, cleansing and perforce appearing at first as an angel of death and destruction to that which works on the negative laws of' avarice, selfishness or violence. The Coming is a phenomenon, an event which by this pressure will first throw men into confusion and distress, to be followed, for those whose understanding is opened, by a flood of unbelievable joy, a new and exultant courage, as heart and mind surrender to the fire of Christ's indwelling.
This time could be ours, now. It could be literally true that "this generation shall not pass away till these things are fulfilled". As Teilhard de Chardin has stressed, man has now reached that point in evolution when ego-aggrandisement begins to give way to the greater goal of widening consciousness which leads soul after soul to "home on the Omega point", the Cosmic Christ. Scientific intellect could now take a leap into true knowledge of the Spirit, through expanded awareness. Indira Gandhi in a speech at Ottawa pleaded for "a breakthrough of the mind". Her words were:- "The marvel of the living mind is that when it is illumined it can move into uncharted territories. It is enabled to take this step not out of reaction to the hurts of the past but through the miracle of liberation from them."
The late Tudor Pole, one of the great adepts of our time, wrote: "It is my belief that the 'Revealer of the Word' (the "Christos") for the historic times in which we now live, has already descended into the invisible spheres that surround our planet and that those with eyes to see and ears to hear can begin to discern the message He is bringing, even though the Messenger may not be clothed in form or outwardly discernible."
Teilhard, in the Epilogue to 'Le Milieu Divin', speaks of "the wild hope that our earth will be recast... .At all costs we must renew in ourselves the desire and the hope for the great Coming... What is the cause of this disorder in society, this uneasy agitation, these swelling waves, these whirling and mingling currents and these turbulent and formidable new impulses? Humanity is visibly passing through a crisis of growth. It sees the universe growing luminous like the horizon just before sunrise. It has a sense of premonition and expectation.... The star for which the world is waiting is, necessarily, Christ Himself, in whom we hope."
Steiner, in his lectures on "The True Nature of the Second Coming". tells us that initiate knowledge finds the Christ in the etheric body of the earth. The meaning of the Ascension was His withdrawal from sight to take over the whole etheric structure of the living earth, In this sense He is in truth present in the vital forces within each physical form. If we can raise our consciousness to the etheric, there we shall find Him. Within the heart of man the Christ Being can be reborn. He does not need again to be born into a physical body and suffer death, but can appear in the resurrection body anywhere on earth. The Second Coming is there already as Christ over-lights the whole of humankind. It is for each of us to make it good as a reality by the lifting of consciousness. The veils which hide the invisible planes of spirit are now very thin. Christ can come in glory in "the clouds", meaning the etheric plane, seen by us as our vision extends. Thus the outpouring of the Christ impulse could sweep through human consciousness, firing heart and mind and will. For those who understood, it could carry exultant joy. Those living for the lower self would experience it as the outpouring of the Vials of Wrath, sweeping away all that works on the old laws of self aggrandisement and avarice.
Thus T. S. Eliot speaks of "Christ the Tiger", and again:
"Who then devised the torment? Love.
Yet 'Wrath' apparently is rightly translated from the Greek as 'an impassioned movement of the soul'. Christ is not a God of Vengeance. The vehemence of His love appears only as Vials of Wrath when men resist the loving approach of the Hound of Heaven.
Does this apocalyptic picture sound a bit overdrawn, a bit sensational? Yet we live in sensational times in all conscience. "Affairs are now soul size". Our problems have grown on to a planetary scale. Perhaps we do need to stretch our imaginative thinking on to the widest canvas if we are to tackle the present situation. For now we see the writing on the wall. Things look grim when conceived from the materialistic viewpoint, and when with deeper vision we consider the terrible things man is doing to the animal world and the other kingdoms of nature we can expect retribution. But suppose the Apocalypse is speaking allegorical truth. Suppose the Christ power is really on the march and the flood-gates of Love are opening. Here is a factor wholly ignored in most of our analyses of current events. Here is a supreme hope in an age of apprehension and distress, which could fire man with a new ardour and creative power. The breakdown may truly be the prelude to a new dawn. And since the alternatives are so sinister, it is surely worth betting our bottom dollar on this grand possibility. Humanity channelling the energies from higher intelligence in the universe could redeem our polluted planet. The living Christ can be brought to birth within each human heart. Here burns the 'wild hope'.
We are all involved personally in the world suffering and the redemption. "These are but the beginning of troubles". But "Look up for your salvation draweth nigh". It is not comfortable to live through an apocalyptic age, but if seen in true proportion it is surely exciting. It is a privilege to be involved. All that now happens to each of us can be seen as a trial, an ordeal to be experienced and overcome. Events must be seen on this large scale. To quote Christopher Fry's words from his play A Sleep of Prisoners:
"The human heart can go the lengths of God.
A new society forms out of those souls who can awaken and open the heart to the reality of Christ and of His Power. The abundance of God will provide enough to meet the needs of those whose hearts are centred upon Him. Not the wants or desires, but the needs for manifesting His glory. We may be certain that the worse outward conditions become, the closer will be our invisible guides and the more ready to help. This factor is of profound importance. Telepathic contact is open to us from a plane lifted above the present confusion. So we must wake up, look up. We can learn increasingly to live in the present moment, confident that we shall be shown the next step and that we shall be led even through unprecedented and difficult situations. The adversary forces of darkness are manifesting evil, as is shown in the rising tide of crime and violence. But the worse things appear the more we must hold to the hope of the Light which will follow. There could be an extraordinary phenomenon of a flooding of Love through human hearts which would link with all others who had seen the great vision. The Great Coming will lift people into joy and creative action.
Never before in history has man in time of change been so strongly supported by such high power. The New Age is not someone's plan, devised by the intellect, but a recognition that cosmic energies imbued with higher intelligence and with love are there on the invisible planes to sweep through human consciousness. The Wind of the Spirit is blowing. 'Babylon' with all its wastefulness and deception and extravagance may fall, but
"I saw a new heaven and a new earth.... and I heard a great voice from the throne saying: Behold the tabernacle of God is with man and he will dwell with them.... And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes and death shall be no more.... Behold, I make all things new."
That astonishing document the Book of Revelation seems to speak directly to our present condition. In Chapter 12 it describes how the dragon, the Beast, is thrown down to earth. "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon: the dragon fought and his angels. And prevailed not, and the great dragon was cast out into the earth, having great wrath because he knoweth that he hath hut a short time", this implies that the battle for the light has already been won on the higher planes, and this is borne out in communications now being received from the high spiritual sources by those with developed intuition. The ultimate victory for Good is assured, but what happens in the interim upon earth depends on human endeavour and understanding. Armageddon is indeed being fought cut within human hearts and the outward disasters picture our soul condition, Inner and outer world reflect each other, and what happens to us we have brought down upon our own heads.
But, again, LOOK UP. Michael has been variously called Regent of the Forces of Light, Countenance of the Christ, Wielder of the Sword of Light, Lord of the Cosmic Intelligence. He is indeed commanding the energies and intelligence which can and will now redeem humankind. All men are called into his service for the Christ, for without human initiative and invocation the Michael/Christ energies cannot be earthed. We must provide the bridgeheads for the coming invasion. The forces of evil are obviously rampant and are fighting desperately. We have to recognise that we are indeed facing dark and sinister impulses of evil working for power overtly and behind the scenes. Hence the importance of acknowledging the reality of invisible and living forces. A naive denial of their existence opens the door to dark possession of the soul and the will. The devil is having a field-day because in our materialism we do not recognise his existence.
Mephistopheles, Ahriman, the Lord of Darkness is the denier of the Spirit, dragging consciousness down into the morass of materialism. Lucifer, or Satan, is the tempter who draws man into inflated egoism and lust of power. These dark forces are at work in all that makes for pollution both of environment and of the mind. They can be held at hay by the power of the Living Christ in the heart. If we fail to recognise their very existence we are indeed in peril, but sure protection lies in the Holy Name of Christ Jesus and in invocation of the Forces of Light. Thus the Apocalypse is indeed relevant to our understanding of the evils of our time and their overcoming.
The Book of Revelation in its closing chapters gives the picture of the Fall of Babylon and the descent of the Heavenly Jerusalem. Yet at the same time these two cities are identified with the two women, the 'Whore Babylon' and the 'Bride'. Note that it does not speak of the whore of Babylon. The city is the Woman. Thus the fall of Babylon represents a sweeping away of the soul qualities and attributes associated with the greed and self-seeking of materialism.
The images of the Apocalypse imply the hope and threat of a great cleansing of that within our culture which allows selfish exploitation of the world's resources and of the animal kingdom and the repression of truth in the striving after big profits. In his greed man has polluted the planet and failed in his stewardship and now calls down retribution on himself, for the evil has been allowed to go so far that some cleansing by a greater power seems inevitable. Without it we probably cannot redeem the present situation, but if a great spiritual impulse were to surge through our society it would mean a catharsis of mind and heart. it would undermine the greed which causes so much fear and cruelty and would attack the debasing sensuality of the time. It could mean the rising of a united human movement for harmony, goodwill and cooperation. It would mean a great awakening to the service of the Earth as a living Being. The big hope lies in seeing the present events as the beginning of a transformation of men, which will in process imply a purging of social dross and evil, through changes that must initially bring suffering and real distress in many lives.
In this light let us look at the words in the Book (Chapter 18). Babylon is described as "a great city that was clothed in fine linen and scarlet and decked with gold and precious Stones and pearls. . . . And when they saw the smoke of her burning they cried, what city is like unto this great city?". The Whore Babylon represents all that is made up of the greed and desire and the 'lusts of the flesh' in an age of materialistic values. She is described as the woman "arrayed in purple and scarlet colour and decked with gold and precious stones, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations... .upon her forehead was a name written MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLETS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." But now "Babylon the Great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils and of every foul spirit. Alas, alas, that great City Babylon, that mighty city, for in one hour is thy judgement come."
Jerusalem is described as "a Bride adorned for her husband," and the Heavenly city descends to earth. It is already there on the ethereal plane, and has now to be realised upon earth. It is to be formed out of every particle of matter and every human soul which can be imbued with the power and the light of the spirit. This is the Cosmic 'take-over bid.' Whereas Babylon is conceived from below upwards, Jerusalem descends from above. The long story of the Fall of Man has been one of the materialisation of the spirit ; the re-ascent now before him involves the spiritualisation of matter.
In chapter 20 it is written "Come and I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he took me up in spirit to a great high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem. coming down out of heaven from God, having the Glory of God. And the light there was like to a precious stone, even as crystal.. . . And the building of the wall thereof was of jasper stone but the city itself pure gold, like to clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones.... And the city hath no need of the sun nor of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God hath enlightened it."
The gold is the power of the Sun, the precious stones represent the influences of the stars. The Divine Light of the cosmos unites with Earth. The darkened planet can begin to become luminous and shine.
The gates of the city are of pearl. Here is a beautiful symbol ; for pearl is that substance made by transmutation of pain into beauty. Through this we enter the city. The Whore Babylon is also bedecked with pears, but these, be it noted, are got through the sufferings of others.
Babylon is to be thrown down into the abyss and the beast is to be "chained a thousand years". That which works on the old laws of avarice must be overthrown to give place to a New Age. It seems obvious enough that the very driving force behind much in our present economic structure is running out. The wheels of our materialism may cease to turn. But the New Age has behind it the infinite reservoirs of cosmic energy and power. Man, dedicated to co-operation with higher intelligence in the service of the Christ power, begins to work with a strength which is unlimited. Much must fall away. We must surely be prepared to recognise a kind of cleavage coming to humankind, but it is wrong to see this as 'the elite' and the 'lost souls'. the sheep and the goats. Those who are awake to the spiritual realities behind present events will be lifted into direct contact with the Christ Presence, and heart and mind will be filled with the joy and ardour of the Coming. Those who have rejected it are not lost, but will, after the great changes, be gathered on a different vibratory rate or plane to be shepherded by the Christ and to have their opportunity again at a later date.
The Bride may be seen as the redeemed purified human soul, cleansed through the catharsis of suffering and long karma so that it becomes of 'virgin' whiteness again and waits for the Bridegroom, the Lamb of Christ. The Book of Revelation ends, in chapter 22, with the wonderful dialogue between the soul and Christ who has already twice declared "Behold I come quickly."
"And the spirit and the Bride say, Come, and let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst, Come. And whosoever will, Jet him take the waters of life freely. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly, Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
We need to think big thoughts if we are to grasp the scale of present events. Breakdown of the old is inevitable if the New is to come to birth. All death means rebirth and release on to a wider plane of understanding. The outward shell of body or society must suffer and be discarded so that the immortal part of man may rise and a finer more beautiful social structure come into being. If really the present catastrophes image the outpouring of the Vials of Wrath before the Great Coming, then we can surely lift up our heads with a deep joy that we are involved.
If we chose to direct our attention solely to the manifestations of violence, crime and hate and all symptoms of general and personal difficulty and disaster, then prospects ahead could look bleak indeed. But already, for any who can see, there are signs of a flooding of goodwill, sympathy, a new creativity which can be seen as the manifesting of the living spirit. Like spring shoots in winter these signs appear and we know that Spring is a force which is absolutely irrepressible. So it is with the Coming of the New Age of the Spirit. Nothing can withstand the advance of the Christ Power. It is a cumulative process. The only real anxiety is whether we are alert and awake enough to recognise it. The only real tragedy would be if we failed to notice it when the Lord Himself came riding by.
Note: I acknowledge the inspiration of the important book "The Apocalypse" by Emil Bock (Christian Community Press).
"The True Nature of the Second Coming", two Lectures by Rudolf Steiner.
"The Form of the Fourth." Mary Fullerson.
"By a New and Living Way." Mary Fullerson.
"Revelation: The Coming of a New Age." David Spangler (published by the Findhorn Foundation.)
The Apocalypse passages in the Bible are
St. Matthew, chapter 24,
St. Luke, chapters 17 and 21.
The Book of Revelation.