THESE words are addressed to those who are seeking the way into the Kingdom of God-the Kingdom where a Great Love and Wisdom, the serving and the inspiring of others, and the utter forgetfulness of self, are the natural life of everyone who dwells therein.
If you who read have reached that stage on your journey through life where the world without can offer you nothing that will stay your efforts to find that Kingdom, and you welcome any directions that will clearly point you there, then you are ready for these words, and they will be to you a quickening power that will hasten you on your way and perhaps will enable you speedily to reach the goal. One traveling in a new country is always better able to make his way if provided with maps and information about the conditions to be met and the requirements to be observed along the route. Therefore, we will first try to map out for you the various stages of the journey into the Kingdom, and to tell you of some of the conditions through which you will pass, and what will be required if you expect to reach your journey's end without mishap or undue delay.
This naturally is no new knowledge being offered you, but is what has been learned and tabulated from the experience of many who have passed over this route-the one over which we would direct you, and which is the narrow and only way that leads straight into the Kingdom. All may essay the journey into that far country. Indeed, many have started more or less consciously on it, but are now loitering on the way, enticed by the myriad allurements of the senses, the emotions, or the intellect, and by yielding to the appeals of the self to halt and enjoy. Only the few, the very few so far, the earnest and determined ones, and for whom these words are intended, are definitely consecrated to winning the goal. These it is our purpose to help reach it quickly, and to inspire them to help recall the loiterers to their objective and speed them on their way; for it is vitally important at this time that every soul seeking the light but whose human self is wandering in darkness, be led back upon the path.
If you are one of the earnest ones, you will recognize much of what follows as part of your own past experience. Others, it will help to understand the meaning of that through which they are passing. This journey into the Kingdom, sometimes called "The Path," is symbolized in the allegory of the Prodigal Son, who wasted his substance in riotous living and, when he had spent all and could nowhere get anything to eat, remembered that the hired servants in his father's home had plenty of bread and to spare; and he awoke to who and what he was, and rose up and said, "I will go to my father and will say unto him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight; make me as one of thy hired servants.'"
The Prodigal's journey back to his father's home was not as speedy as the allegory seems to depict. Jesus mentioned none of the vicissitudes of the way; He only wanted to show that the Father is always waiting and can see us coming afar off, and will lovingly welcome us and shower upon us all the good things of life when we come back consciously into His home and love.
This journey, in reality, is a long one, covering a greater or less period of years, oftentimes several lifetimes, depending upon the nature and soul status of the individual. The early stage of the journey is evidenced by a spiritual awakening similar to that of the Prodigal Son, followed by an intense and eager thirst for knowledge of the realities of life; a turning away from former sense attractions and obeying an insistent urge from within to seek Truth wherever it can be found. In this stage the urge is largely unconscious to the seeker, especially as to its meaning and purpose; only the insistent desire to know being felt and that desire has to be satisfied.
Gradually, through the deeper knowledge of the meaning of life gained as a result of the cumulative force of this urge, something unfolds in the consciousness. It can be likened to the life within the stalk, concentrating, as it were, upon the building and forming of the bud, pushing out, expanding, swelling itself, becoming big with that which is unfolding, evolving from itself. It can also be likened to the conception and growth of the child in the womb of the mother, and approaching the birthing time.
For that which is felt by the seeker is indeed a birthing-it is the stirring of the Christ-child within, the life that has concentrated in your part of the human stalk now grown to the stage where it can unfold its true nature-your Love nature, and can come forth and blossom in your life as a compelling desire to help others and especially to give to them of the truths you have found.
Such is the sure outcome of such seeking-for those who are not seeking merely for self but to use the knowledge gained for the good that may be done with it. The Christchild is born in the heart, the bud opens into the blossom, and the fragrance and beauty of the life within shows and proves itself to all who are near.
This is the first stage of the journey back to the Father's house. It is called the stage of the Aspirant or the Neophyte. It is necessarily a long and very gradual stage, starting with some definite experience-perhaps a physical healing by a Metaphysician, the death of one very dear, or some extreme mental suffering-which are the birth-pangs preceding the awakening of the Spiritual nature. With such there is born the urge to know for one's self, and after many years of following this urge it develops into a final push which results in an expansion of consciousness and opens up a new world, one of which previously the seeker had been wholly unaware, although it had always been present awaiting his recognition.
There were many soul experiences leading up to this point, many steps along the Path, many vicissitudes and trials, and much mental suffering over leaving behind worn-out joys and useless habits and possessions acquired in the old state of consciousness. This may have resulted in decided changes in outer conditions and things; wealth gained by selfish, ruthless methods; health always before natural and unconsidered,-these now taken away, and their lack a constant source of concern. All or many of the old states of mind given place to new ones, thus prepared the way for the new birth.