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The Gospel of St. John

Gospel of John: Lecture V: The Seven Degrees of Initiation

V

THE SEVEN DEGREES OF INITIATION

The First Sign

In a consideration of the Gospel of St. John, we should never lose sight of that most important point which was brought out in the lecture yesterday namely, that in the original writer of the Gospel we have to do with the “Beloved Disciple,” initiated by Christ-Jesus Himself. One might naturally ask if, aside from occult knowledge, there exists, perhaps, some external proof of this statement by means of which the writer of this Gospel has intimated that he came to a higher order of knowledge about the Christ through the “raising,” through the initiation which is represented in the so-called miracle of the raising of Lazarus. If you will read the Gospel of St. John carefully, you will observe, that nowhere previous to that chapter which treats of the raising of Lazarus is there any mention of the “Disciple whom the Lord loved.” In other words, the real author of the Gospel wishes to say: What precedes this chapter does not yet have its origin in the knowledge which I have received through initiation, therefore in the beginning you must disregard me. Only later does he mention the “Disciple whom the Lord loved.” Thus the Gospel falls into two important parts, the first part in which the Disciple whom the Lord loved is not yet mentioned because he had not yet been initiated, and that part which comes after the raising of Lazarus in which this Disciple is mentioned. Nowhere in the document itself will you find any contradictions of what I have presented in the previous lectures. Naturally, anyone who considers the Gospel only superficially will easily pass this by, will not notice it and at the present time when everything is popularized, when all manner of knowledge is forced upon us, we can often experience as an extraordinary spectacle much of a very doubtful character in this knowledge.

Who would not consider it a blessing if all kinds of knowledge could be brought to the people through such inexpensive literature as the Reclam'sche Universal Bibliothek. Among the last volumes, one has appeared on the Origin of the Bible. The author entitles himself a Doctor of Theology. He is, then, a theologian! He believes that throughout all the chapters of the Gospel of St. John, from the 35th verse of the 1st Chapter, John, the author of the Gospel, is the one referred to. When this little book came into my hands, I really could not believe my eyes and said to myself: there must be something very extraordinary under consideration here that repudiates all previous occult points of view that the Beloved Disciple is not mentioned before the “raising of Lazarus.” Still, a theologian ought to know! In order not to pass judgment too quickly, take up the Gospel of St. John and see for yourselves what stands there: “Again the next day after, John stood and two of his disciples.” Here John the Baptist and two of his disciples are spoken of. The most generous point of view that one can take toward this theologian is that his consciousness was filled with an ancient exoteric tradition which declares that John, the author of the Gospel, is one of these two disciples. This tradition is supported by Matthew IV 21. But, the Gospel of St. John cannot be explained by means of the other Gospels. A theologian therefore was responsible for introducing into popular literature a very harmful book. And if one knows how such a thing which is brought to the people in just this way continues to spread, it is possible to measure the harm which arises out of it. This is just an interpellation, in order that a certain protective wall may be erected against all kinds of objections which might perhaps be brought forward in refutation of what has been said here.

Now let us hold in mind that what preceded the “raising of Lazarus” is a communication of weighty matters, but that the writer has reserved the most profound matters for the chapters subsequent to that event. Nevertheless, he wished throughout to indicate that the content of his Gospel is something which will be thoroughly understood only by one who has attained a certain degree of initiation. Therefore he indicates in various passages that what is communicated in the first chapters has to do with a certain kind and degree of initiation. You already know that there are different degrees of initiation. For example, in a certain form of oriental initiation, seven degrees can be distinguished and these seven degrees were designated by all sorts of symbolical names. The first was the degree of the “Raven,” the second that of the ”Occultist,” the third of the “Warrior,” the fourth that of the “Lion.” Amongst