HOW THE WORLD CAME TO AN END
THE purpose of this series is to bring within the reach, intellectual and pecuniary, of all classes of readers, the teachings contained in the book after which it is named.
Of that book the full title is, The Perfect Way; or, The Finding of Christ. It consists of nine lectures – with appendices and illustrative diagrams – which were delivered in London in the summer of 1881, and published in the winter of 1881-2. Its subject is the interior and universal truth of Religion, as based upon the actual, ascertained nature of Existence, and symbolised in the dogmas and formulas of the Christian and other creeds. And its purpose is to meet the prevailing urgent need of the age, for a perfect system of thought and rule of life, by re-constructing Religion on a scientific, and science on a religious, basis.
As follows from the method whereby the knowledges set forth in The Perfect Way have been obtained, that book
represents neither a compilation nor an invention, neither opinion nor hypothesis, but a restoration. And it is this in two respects. For it is a restoration at once of Faculty and of Knowledge; – the knowledge being due to the faculty; and the faculty being one which, though ignored or denied by the modern world, was known and supremely honoured by the ancient world, as that whereby, and whereby alone, man can complete his intellectual system and attain to certitude of truth in respect of the highest and most recondite subjects of cognition.
The reception accorded to The Perfect Way by genuine thinkers and students, has already been of the most satisfactory kind; those who may be regarded as specialists in respect of the subjects treated, having recognised it as constituting, both by its method and its doctrine, a complete realisation of the Apocalyptic prediction of the drying up of the Euphrates and the passage of the Kings of the East. To make this clear it is necessary to explain that the Euphrates is the mystical symbol for the Spirit, and is thus used in Genesis, where it denotes one of the streams of the fourfold river of Paradise. (1)
The phrase “Kings of the East” signifies, in its highest and most interior sense, those forces, at once spiritual and personal, of the human kingdom, which, subsisting in every
man, ever seeking to perfect him after their and his proper Divine image, manifest themselves, and impart to him directly of Divine knowledges, only when, through his own inward purification, the spiritual barrier which ordinarily intervenes between the inner and outer man is removed, and there remains no impediment to his reception of Divine communication. The “East,” as the place of the sunrise, is the synonym for the celestial within man himself. And hence the utterance in question implies, primarily, a new revelation of the mysteries of the Kingdom of the Spirit, direct from the central and radiant point, the spiritual sun of the “heaven” of man’s own system, – a revelation rendered possible only by the “drying up” of the spiritual barrier which ordinarily shuts man out from the cognisance of that interior region, and by the opening, as it were, of a passage – corresponding to that across the Red Sea – from the one side to the other, from the inner to the outer, of his nature.
This utterance may be considered as having found at the same time a fulfilment also in its secondary sense – that which refers to the plane of the visible world.
The terms “Magi,” and “Wise Men,” or “Kings of the East,” have always been the distinguishing titles of the human possessors of the “magical” or Divine knowledges which have constituted the sacred mysteries of religion; and of these the original home was the East.
The sacred books and philosophical system of Hindustan and Thibet contain, in a manner and degree surpassing all others now extant, the occult knowledge and esoteric wisdom which alone are competent to interpret the mysteries of Existence with satisfaction at once to the mind and soul. Although originally forming the common basis of all the great religio-philosophical systems of antiquity, including Christianity itself, this knowledge now survives, in anything like its integrity, only in the East, where it is recognised as constituting the essence alike of Brahminism, Vedantism, and Buddhism.
Recently, however, in response to the pressing exigencies, intellectual and spiritual, of the West, a current has set in from the Orient which, like the “strong east wind” in the story of the Exodus, has driven back the sea of separation hitherto dividing them, and opened through it a channel of communication. Regarding, thus, the “Passage of the Red Sea” as a parable having a signification analogous to that of the “Drying up of the Euphrates” in preparation of “the way of the Kings of the East,” – it is impossible to avoid recognising in the recovery and promulgation of the doctrine set forth in The Perfect Way, the accomplishment, on this other also of its planes, of the event thus prefigured. (1)
(10:1) As see The Perfect Way, Lecture VI, Part I, 6.
(12:1) See Appendix, Note 1.