Guarding the Way of the Tree of Life

Ain Soph – The Unknown God

Chapter 30

By F. J. Mayers

We may now, perhaps, begin to understand what is meant by the “Cherubim” “keeping” or “guarding” the “way” of the “Tree of Lives.”

The whole life of the human race is conceived of as one great tree-like “growth.” The individual lives of human beings on earth are, as it were, the “leaves” of that “tree.” “Man,” while on earth, lives in an earthly, physical body, but that body is not the “Man”; it is only the “coat of skin” (Chapter XXVII). When the leaves of a tree have finished their season’s work, they fall and die; their substance disintegrates and is absorbed into the substance of the soil but the life of the tree continues. Very similar is the case with man; when he comes to the end of an earthly life, his physical body dies and returns to the earthly elements of which it was formed, but the “man” himself-the “Soul”–was not formed from earthly, but from spiritual elements; it does not dissolve away, but returns to the realm of spirit whence it was taken. And when it returns to that realm it does not become lost, as a little stream is lost in the ocean, or a wisp of vapour in the air, because during its life in a physical body, the “Soul” has become the nucleus of an individuality: the spiritual centre of a permanent living “being,” capable of continuing development. It does not develop far in its earliest experiences on earth; and for a long time its progress is very slow, and full of imperfections and errors resulting from the complete ignorance in which it commences its “human” evolution. We explained in earlier chapters why the injunction to “be fruitful and multiply” made the physical plane of being necessary. The development 9f full “self-consciousness in humanity is only possible in physical conditions; it has required thousands of ages to bring about, and the process is far from completed yet.

As a man does not attain full “human” stature until he has attained full self-consciousness and becomes a fully responsible moral being, it is perfectly obvious that if a soul could only enter into physical existence once, countless millions must have lived and died without ever reaching maturity as “human” beings at all. They have been little more than the snowflake on the river: “A moment white-then melts for ever.” But God did not destine the “sons of Adam” to be snowflakes lost in a river, so He appointed the “Way of the Tree of Lives” for the development of human souls through a series of lives, alternately in the physical and spiritual realms.

Western religious teachers, basing their opinions on some expressions of St. Paul, such as: “It is given unto men once to die, and after that the judgement,” have almost unanimously -rejected any doctrine of “Reincarnation,” and have stated that nothing of the kind is taught in the Bible.

All the present writer is concerned with is to explain what -he finds in the book of Moses. If any of his readers should be inclined to think that the teachings of Moses and St. Paul cannot be harmonised, he merely asks them to reserve judgement for the time being. St. Paul was not unacquainted with the writings of Moses, and as he was a pupil of one of the greatest of Hebrew teachers, he probably know them inside as well as outside.

When we go a little farther with the teachings of Moses it may help to an understanding of the quotation from St. Paul, and we may be able to see that the two great teachers are far from being in such contradiction as they, at first glance, appear to be. In any case, what we gather from the task assigned to the “Cherubim” in the Mosaic narrative, clearly involves the idea of Reincarnation.

In this connection we may, in passing, call attention to another passage which is not included in the section of “Genesis,” which it was proposed to deal with in this book: In Genesis IV, verse 19, there is a statement, in the usual symbolic presentation, which is really very striking, although no commentator, as far as the present writer is aware, ever appears to have noticed its significance. Yet it only needed a translation of the (mis-called) “proper names” to make its meaning clear. The verse reads: “and Lamech took unto him two wives; the name of one was Adah and the name of the other Zillah.” “Lamech”* means the “chain” or “sequence” of human existences. “Adah” means the “visible,” “apparent,” “evident”; as the initial letter of the “name” is the “material sign” “ayin,” it applies to life in the physical realm. “Zillah” means the “hidden,” “obscured,” “withdrawn,” or “unseen.” Adah represents human life manifested in physical, earthly conditions; Zillah represents lives withdrawn from earth and passing a period in the “Great Unseen”-the realm of Spirit.

The Cherubim bring about, and plan, the courses of these alternating lives. To us, their work appears to be “fate” or “chance”; it is in reality the perfect working and inter-working of great spiritual “laws”; these “laws” are conceived of, not as mere “forces,” but as the activities of “living, conscious intelligences,” or as the “Divine Intelligence” working through a myriad of Angelic Agents. These “intelligences” are the “Cherubim.” They see everything that happens in every life; take stock of every situation, and do everything that is possible short of violating human Free-will, to save man from error anci wwng-:loing-and their results; to bring some good out of all evil ; and to guide the evolution of humanity steadily towards its predestined goal.

*The root “mech” denotes much the same idea as our word “mesh”-the “meshes” of a net.

Their memory” is a great, universal Cosmic memory in which is stored the eternal record of everything that has happened in the Universe since time began. Every civilisation, every religion, every nation, every family, every individual, has its record-ever instantly accessible, and ever growing with every passing moment.*

The Cherubim cannot keep man’s judgement from error. but they can provide him with help and opportunity to grow wiser. They cannot prevent man’s Will from “sinning,” but they can lead him into the path of repentance and amendment. Man is free to desire, and to Will. He is only partially free to act, but when he can and does act, every act becomes the “Cause” – of a perfectly corresponding and strictly relevant “result.” The result is inevitable. It may be, and most often is, something very different from what the doer of the act hoped and expected. The “desire” out of which the act arose may have been a very foolish one-it may have been formed in ignorance of important considerations; or it may have arisen from illogical thinking. Its intention may have been good or bad, worthy or unworthy, wise or unwise but it is the act itself to which the direct, inevitable results will be exactly related. When anything is “done” the doer has no control over the results. Gunpowder will explode if a match be applied to it whether the application of the match was intentional or purely accidental.

The question of moral responsibility for an act, of guilt or innocence, of merit or blame-worthiness, is quite separate from that of the direct “results” which follow it. Of course, in one sense, “desire” and “intention” are “acts,” but until they are acted upon they are internal and in the power of their creator, they can be modified or abandoned at will; they have an effect inwardly according to their nature, but do not extend into the outer world, producing results affecting others. How often, when face to face with something resulting from some thoughtless, careless word or deed of ours, we have cause to repent bitterly of it. We would do anything to undo what we have done, but often there is, in this life, no possibility even to make any amends for it.

*See Chapter IX, pages 49 and 50.

All that there is of “good” in us earnestly desires an opportunity to atone for the evil we have done; this feeling is instant and spontaneous especially in the case of a wrong or harm done -to anyone we love. We can never forgive ourselves for it, nor can we forget it; it becomes a fixed sorrow in our souls which we can do nothing to heal. But the Cherubim can, and will, in due time arrange the matter.

Now, take a case of a different kind: suppose we have done something of a malicious, vindictive, or revengeful nature. In this case we do not instantly and spontaneously regret the deed- we may even feel an evil satisfaction in it-for a time. In the first case, the “latent good” (which really exists in everyone) awoke in us of itself, we were already on the true “Way of lives” in our regret and our desire to make atonement; the Cherubim only had to prepare the opportunity. In the second case, the “latent good” has to be awakened; we have to be made to regret our angry, vengeful feelings, and then to be led to desire forgiveness and some means of reparation, and 59 be brought back into the true “Way of lives” in which alone “justice” can be done and the soul find peace. To do all that is the work of the Cherubim. They continually work to help the “souls” of men to help themselves to make due reparation for their transgressions of the “perfect law of Love,”-whether voluntary or involuntary, and so to further continually the development of every soul in the right direction.

They work continually to that end throughout our lives on earth; but as mentioned above, there is always much that cannot be put right in this present life and yet can only be straightened out in a “physical” life and in contact with the same individuals who have been harmed. In those cases the soul during its stay in the Spirit world has to be “prepared” for re-entry into earth life at a suitable time and in suitable -conditions. No soul can escape the direct results of its deeds; regrets and repentance cannot remove them; but by the work of the Cherubim, all that we needs must suffer for evildoing becomes purely “remedial,” and a means of our rising to higher and nobler life, and finally to eternal life. Paradoxical as it may seem, “error” and “sin” are the stepping-stones to “wisdom” and “goodness.”

The whole subject is so infinitely complex that it is impossible to give more than a general hint of the nature of the work of the Cherubim, and many readers, no doubt, will read what we have said with much scepticism; but anyone with awakened spiritual perception can find demonstration of its truth in his own life. He will see how everything in his life, even to the smallest details, is over-ruled by some conscious, purposeful and yet unseen- spiritual powers; how

There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew-them how we will, and yet it is always done without in any way interfering with the exercise of our Free Will. The Cherubim guide and influence us, but never make “puppets” of us. Their purpose is solely to make us wise, morally responsible beings; they do not destroy our Will, nor take away our Freedom. Without freedom of Will we could not love, and it is Love that is the “fulfilment” of the Law; and that harmonises our Wills with the Will of God. God knows that no “punishment” of man for his errors or misdeeds can bring Him the love of men. Love cannot be compelled, but He can “win” it, “draw” it from us, and He can lead ‘is to see and to experience in our lives the Love that is manifest in all His dealings with us, and the Wisdom and Beauty that permeates everything that He wills.

When once we understand this third chapter of Genesis aright, we see that it does not contain one single word about the “sin” of Adam that brought the “wrath of God” on all mankind-even on “children,” as we have been taught by the Churches. The word sin is never even mentioned. The so-called “expulsion” from Eden and the “barring” of the Way to the tree of Life prove to be the only possible means by which man can ever attain to Eternal Life.

This universal misunderstanding and distortion of the Truth is perhaps the greatest of all obstacles ever put in the way of man “knowing” and “loving” God. There is enough “good” latent in the soul of man to revolt against the teaching that “we are all by nature born in sin and the children of wrath”-the moment it fully realises the implications of the doctrine.

Jesus taught something very different: “of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” When the world is shown truly what God is- “Infinite Love and Wisdom,” the hearts of men will instinctively turn to Him. Till then He remains the “Unknown God.”

There was a time in the evolution of the human soul when Fear-fear of God’s “anger”; fear of “death”; fear of “judgement”; fear of “eternal torment”;-(like the cane in the hand of a schoolmaster) may have been the most effective means of keeping the unruly in check; they may have kept up “church attendance” and at least an outward observance of the Church’s laws; but “fear” in any form never led anyone to “love” God. In the verse “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” the word “fear” really means “reverence for.

There were, of course, even in those days many souls who did really love God, but it was because they had found some-thing which had blotted out the thought of fear and its phantoms.

In the XV and XVI centuries, maturing rational self-consciousness revolted against the Absolute Authority of the Church, and the suppression of private judgement in matters of religion. The result was the “Reformation,” which marked a definite upward step in the evolution of humanity. (This does not mean that, while something very important was gained, nothing was lost. Something certainly was lost.)

Today, at least in the nominally Christian countries, and where thought is most free, another step is being taken: During the last century an entirely new idea of “justice” has -developed, both as an abstract principle, and in all its social -applications. We have an excellent example of it in the fact that the national conscience demanded a “fair trial” even for the inhuman monsters of the German concentration camps.

If God’s justice and His dealings with men are pictured–as they too often are-as being below the standard of the ideals of decent-minded ordinary people, God Himself is criticised and

) rejected. If God is so rejected, the fault lies with “blind leaders -of the blind.”

It is a sign that the development of moral consciousness in the ordinary man is proceeding more swiftly than it is in organised religions. The probable reason is that leaders of the Churches do not feel “free” to modify or discard any traditional teachings. The present writer hopes that his attempt to shed a little new light on the first three chapters of Genesis may provide some suggestions for overcoming their difficulties.

Before closing this chapter we must not omit to explain some of the principal words in the verse we have been considering. We ought, perhaps, to have done this at the beginning of the chapter, but the significance of the explanations will be much more evident after what has been said.

English R.V. Genesis III, v. 24: “drove out,” “va-igaresh.” This word means to “put outside,” “to bring forth,” “to put -forth” in the sense of a tree “putting forth” shoots and blossoms.”

“Placed,” “va-ishehen,” means literally “and- he caused to dwell,” or “abide,” or “be stationed,” or “established,” etc. It is in the “causative” form.

“At the east,” “mi-kedem.” This word was fully explained in our notes to Gen. II, v. 8 (see Chapter XVIII) -it means “from eternity” (“from the eternity that was before time began”).

“Cherubim” is the plural of “Cherub.” The initial letter is the “assimilative” sign, “ch.” It denotes “similarity,” “likeness,” “as,” “as it were.” It may be considered here as exactly equivalent to the expression Ezekiel uses in his description of his vision: “the likeness of.” The real root of the word is – “rb,” “rab,” “rub,” etc. It conveys a number of ideas, several

of which are combined in the word “Cherubim.” It denotes “multiplication,” “augmentation,” “increase,” “greatness,” “multitude,” “a great number,” “abundance,” “great man,” “teacher,” etc.

This will be seen from the following examples:-

“arubbah,” “the visible heavens” (Gen. VII, v. 11).

“arba,” a “giant.”

“arbaa” = “four.”

“räb,” “became numerous.”

“rab,” “much,” “many,” “abundant,” “great,” etc.

“rob,” “multitude,” “abundance.”

“rebäbah,” “ten thousand,” “myriad.”

“räbah,” “became many,” “multiplied,” “was great,”

“powerful,” “extended,” “great,” etc.

“räbaa,” “four-sided,” “fourfold.”

The same root is in the Persian word “Rubaiyat” “Quatrains” (Omar Khayyam)- “four-line verses.” The reader will have no difficulty in seeing how completely the above meanings agree with our account of the “Cherubim: “the “visible heavens”: their “fourfold” nature; the “myriad” stars in the Zodiac; the idea of their governance, teaching and guidance; their greatness, extent and power, etc., etc.

Then we have the mention of “the flame of a sword.” “Flame” is “lahat,” it denotes something which “flashes out” or “gleams.”

“Sword,” “chereb.” This word is certainly used for a “sword,” but there is much more significance in it than that. The reader will see at once that it is only a slight variation from the word “cherub.” It denotes the “activity,” the out-going forces of the Cherubim. The “cheth” which takes the place of “caph” (as we have explained in other places), differs from the sign of “Life,” “h,” in that it does not denote “Life” in itself as an abstract “principle,” but “Life” being expressed outwardly in “effort,” “energy, or “influence.” That explanation at once brings the word into logical and significant relationship with the whole passage. A “sword” of fire with no one to handle it, is rather a meaningless conception, but the “continual activity of the Cherubic forces in all directions” is intelligible.

“Which turned every way,” “ha-mithehapphecheth.” This is the verb “haphoch,” “to turn.” It is, grammatically, used as a “present” (or continuing) participle, in the “reflexive” and feminine form. The definite article is prefixed to it to add force to its significance. It means “whirling ceaselessly on itself”; a “never-ceasing activity extending in every direction.”

– “To keep,” “li-shmör,” “for guarding,” or “protecting.” That is: “in order to bring about wise and intelligent relationships” in the working together of human lives. The word is the same as that used in Gen. II, v. 15: “and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to ‘keep’ it.” See Chapter XX, page 142.

“The Way,” “eth-lerech.” The composition of the word -the sign of “abundance” preceding the root, “rach,” which -denotes the “stretching out” or extension of anything, makes it -suggest it here the idea of “all the paths, or ‘every path’ of life.”

The ultimate purpose of the Cherubim is that men shall become entirely free and independent beings, in the “likeness” of God, masters of their own souls, and the controllers of their own lives. They can only fulfil that purpose when they have attained a high degree of initial development, and have harmonised their Wills with the Divine Will. In the meantime, the Cherubim do for men what they cannot do for themselves; they give them the guidance, assistance and discipline which they need at every stage of their development, and without which they would involve themselves in failure after failure -and an ever-increasing entanglement of error. At the same -time they encourage all men’s upward strivings, and “pari passu” with his progress they withdraw their control, as far as is consistent with “keeping safe” the “Way of the Tree of Lives” for one and all.

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