Beginning the Spiritual Journey
Next, we will examine the seven churches, and seek to discover which ray each represents and the inner message to the aspiring disciple. Let us first list them with their equivalent meaning from the Greek.
(1) Ephesus comes from the Greek EPHESINOS, which in turn is derived from EPHESOS and means “permitted or permission.”
(2) Smyrna is derived from the Greek SMURNA, which is the herb myrrh. This is an antiseptic and was used for embalming, an ingredient of oil used for anointing. Myrrh was one of the gifts of the three wise men to the infant Jesus.
(3) Pergamos is unchanged from the Greek spelling and is derived from PERGOS, which means a “tower” or fortification “rising to a considerable height, to repel a hostile attack or to enable a watchman to see in every direction.”
(4) Thyatira comes from THUATEIRA, which is thought to be associated with affliction.
(5) Sardis comes from SARDIES. and means “red ones.” Sardis was a particularly luxurious city.
(6) Philadelphia in the Greek means “brotherly love.” This was sometimes called “the white city.”
(7) The seventh church was the Laodiceans from the Greek LAODIKEUS and means “justice of the people.”
We shall examine these one at a time.
The letters to the seven churches represent instructions to the seeker as he undertakes seven different stages on the path to initiation where he reaches the point that he can hold his mind “steady in the light” and not be moved out of his place. In addition, the churches represent seven groups of people. Those in the groups are loosely attracted to each other due to reaching a similar point on the path and similar ray qualities.
Notice that to each group the Master gives both compliments as well as stern criticism. This fits the paradigm because, until the disciple learns to keep his mind steady in the light and overcome illusion, his actions will waver in and out of his spiritual center. In some areas he will be focused and follow the inner voice, but in other areas he will ignore the inner voice in favor of preconceived notions and lower desires.
Ephesus: Gaining Permission
Let us look at the first set of instructions:
“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;” Rev 2:1
Ephesus basically means “given permission.” Why is permission an important word as the seeker begins his path to discipleship?
It is indeed of extreme importance, much more than has been realized in the past. Throughout his long struggle the pilgrim has only acted when given permission from some earthly authority. That authority may be a priest, prophet, king, teacher, book, belief system, political party, group etc. Because the average person can only act under the permission of earthly authorities the inner voice is muffled. Why? Because the inner voice gives permission that overrides all outer authorities.
A great problem then arises when the inner voice is recognized. The authority of the inner voice conflicts with the authority of the outer. Which is the seeker to follow? At first he has many fears of defying the outer authorities and hesitates. Later, after he takes the initial plunge, he goes to the other extreme and defies all authority almost mindlessly. He makes many mistakes until he learns the true lessons of harmonizing the inner voice with the outer world.
To help the seeker put things in perspective he is told that the voice holds “the seven stars in his right hand, (and) walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.”
The seeker is reminded that he is only lighting the first candlestick on the path to discipleship. He has six more great obstacles to hurdle and six more teachers and belief systems to transcend before he becomes a disciple. He must eventually realize that all seven stages are under the guidance of the inner Christ. Even though there are many perils, the path is a part of a grand design.
A smile is the shortest distance between two people. Victor Borge (1909 – 2000
Dec 22, 2006
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