Rosicrucian Writings Online

The "Great Master" Hoax

By The Imperator
[H. Spencer Lewis]
[From The Rosicrucian Digest July 1936]
AT least once a year I find it necessary to warn our new members, and especially our many readers of the Digest who have not yet become members of the Order, against the temptations that follow the reading of certain forms of "mystical" literature issued in the Western World by individuals or groups of individuals who seek deliberately to mislead those who are in search of the arcane truths of life.
At the risk of once more being accused of intolerance, fear of rival claims, and jealousy of other organizations that are attempting to establish themselves, I again say that the claims and pretensions of some of the so-called mystical, spiritual, metaphysical, occult, and "secret" societies of North America particularly are the most preposterous and inane, as well as the most fraudulent and insidiously destructive, that have ever been circulated since the dawn of religious and philosophical racketeering.
There comes to my desk and to our Research and Editorial Departments a constant flow of leaflets, booklets, pamphlets, as well as announcements of public lectures and private classes and carefully worded letters of invitation and insinuation, that make one wish at times that a large portion of the North American public could be taken by the hair of the head and shaken until some sense or some common understanding of the simple truths of life could be forced into their consciousness, and the gullibility burned out through some process that would make a lasting impression. Certainly these individuals and groups that live and grow on the returns from their misleading claims, could not exist and increase in number in the Western World today if there was not a large portion of the public that is more than anxious to believe the ridiculous statements, and apparently ready to fight and argue, sacrifice and suffer, in order to protect and support these schemers in their brazen and stupid activities.
Very seldom is any of this literature marked by cleverness of thought, by real ingenuity, or by an attempt to appeal to the cultured, thinking person. Such literature is very often printed on the cheapest of paper with the cheapest of ink, and distributed in a manner which plainly indicates that the person or persons back of the proposition could not afford to spend more than a few pennies to carry on their propaganda, and shows no appreciation of artistic arrangements, cultural presentation, refinement in ideas, or distinction in character. Yet, with the earmarks on their literature plainly labeling them as uncouth, illiterate, stupid, and deceptive, they issue and distribute matter containing claims that are out of proportion to the picture of the background, and people who do not think and analyze do not seem to notice the earmarks and the telling signs which should and would condemn the propaganda at once. It is as if a person wrote with a cheap, scratchy lead pencil on a common piece of wrapping paper the statement that he was the wealthiest man in the world, with a secret for producing wealth that he was ready to share with all, and that at his command he could have the finest things in life. One would immediately say, "Then why hasn't he a good lead pencil and a good piece of paper upon which to put his message in the proper form?" Little groups of unknown, uneducated, uncultured persons located in some semi-furnished house in the poor section of a city will organize themselves as a "secret society of transcendental wisdom" and announce to the world that they constitute the international headquarters and world-wide foundation of the most eminent, glorious, successful, prosperous, mighty brotherhood that civilization has ever known. An individual living an obscure life with little or no education, no background or preparation, no understanding or appreciation of human needs, will proclaim himself the "great Master" or great leader of a Cosmically decreed, divinely ordained, and universally accepted system of unusual wisdom and power. The more fantastic, the more extravagant, the more uncanny, weird, impossible, and unbelievable the claims thus made, the more quickly and completely will a large portion of the public bow down before him and do his bidding, accept his offers, sacrifice their worldly holdings, and risk their lives and reputations in his behalf.
With all of the magicians and the eccentric, strange, and mysterious cults and systems of faith to be found in the Orient, and with all of the peculiar and fantastic representatives of these faiths which one meets in these lands, still in no other country of the world are such preposterous ideas presented to the public and turned into gold and silver while the victims fall into pits and traps which bring ruin and disgrace to individuals and their families.
The tales of personal suffering, family discord, loss of reputation, arrest, conviction, prison confinement, suicides and murders that are revealed to us from one end of the year to the other by the victims or friends of victims of this Western World deception would fill a book that would be a horrible commentary on the development of civilization in our enlightened world. Men and women who would suspect even the sincere recommendations of their friends when they are extraordinary, who mistrust the scales of their immediate merchants, who cast out the statements of their priests, clergymen, and rabbis, who examine their dollar bills very closely in fear of counterfeits, and who bite their coins to see if they are real, will accept the ridiculous and fantastic claims of these propagandists and mortgage their homes if they own any, pawn their jewelry, take their savings out of the banks, and even rob their employers and friends to pour wealth into the coffers of these deceivers with complete confidence and trust in the extraordinary claims they make.
You may think that I am going to extremes when I speak of robbery, and of human sacrifices, of disgrace, of immorality, or broken hearts and homes, but we can prove that these statements are true by the mass of correspondence in our files. Right before me at this moment is the report of a man who was led to appropriate two thousand dollars of his employer's funds to assist a woman in giving birth to a new "Divine Master" of the world in the foothills of Mount Shasta. A broken home, a sad, heartbroken wife, several children disgraced, a lost position, and a mass of unpleasant newspaper publicity was the inevitable result of his foolish beliefs.
And this brings me to the crux of most of these sad situations. It is the belief possessed by a large portion of the public that some "Great Masters" of Divine origin, or at least Divine appointment, and possessing remarkable knowledge and miraculous power, are walking the streets of our North American cities, or are living in humble huts and homes, or are hiding away in caves and grottos, and only occasionally reveal themselves to seekers who are bidden to come and prostrate themselves before them and sacrifice their worldly possessions. I can see many of my readers smiling with sincere doubt as to the possibility of there being many individuals so gullible, and it is not always among the most illiterate or the most uneducated, or the most primitive types of mind that we find this gullibility. We are shocked sometimes to find it among those who have had educational opportunities, who live in larger cities and read various newspapers and magazines, who can make investigations, who contact sane and rational people daily, and who hold fairly good positions in society and business. But evidently the age-old hope that some day a marvelous mystic "Master" or highly spiritualized individual will come into their presence or make himself known to them and change the course of their lives in the twinkling of an eye, is still a popular belief.
Many of our readers will say, "Do you mean to intimate that there are no Great Masters, no Cosmically-inspired, Divinely-sanctioned individuals who possess the ability to receive direct revelations of great knowledge, and who have developed to a high plane of mental and spiritual power, and who can aid and guide us in our worldly affairs?" To such persons I would say most positively that there are such Masters, and it is our hope and the hope of every individual who is trodding along the path of spiritual, philosophical, mental, or cultural unfoldment to some day contact such a Master and to become his pupil, and to be benefited by his extraordinary wisdom and his Cosmic understanding. We are all mindful of the ancient injunction that "when the pupil is ready the Master will appear," but while this is true, there is a vast difference between the ideal of the "Master" in the minds of the sane and understanding student, and the fantastic, impossible idol in the minds of so many.
We regret to say that ever since we ventured to reveal some of the facts relating to the antiquity and the traditions surrounding the Mount Shasta district in the stories we published about Lemuria, the "mystical racketeers" ever seeking some new angle and ever anxious to seize upon a plausible excuse, have been commercializing the Mount Shasta district to a degree that astonishes thinking individuals and is becoming a pitiful situation. We were fearful that our stories about Mount Shasta, and especially some of the very old traditions about it, might tempt many unthinking persons to journey there by automobile or otherwise, and tramp through the woods and up the hillsides hoping to have some glimpse of the old ruins or some contact with the strange individuals claimed to be living there. We were, in fact, fearful that seekers and explorers for novel experiences might waste some of their time, and perhaps some little money in such journeys to be awarded only with bitter disappointments. We realize, however, that a brief vacation in the district of Mount Shasta, and the very tiresome and tedious efforts of climbing its sides or penetrating the woods surrounding it would be good, wholesome exercise for a great many, and therefore no great harm could come from such an exploration. But we never suspected that sane men and women would believe one-tenth of the foolish, fantastic, extremely improbable stories that a score of individuals and groups have invented in the past two years and used for the purpose of leading men and women to the foothills of Mount Shasta, and incidentally leading them also into disgrace, dishonor, imprisonment, and even suicide. If we could retract today everything we have ever said about Mount Shasta, we would gladly do so, and thank God for the opportunity. But the books now in the public libraries, and the stories that have been reprinted from our book in newspapers and magazines and partly verified by recent explorations, cannot be retracted, and all we can do is to continue to republish the original statements made in our book and thus show by comparison with the idiotic propaganda of these other individuals and groups just how foolishly they are being misled by exaggerated statements and money-making illusions.
When two of the leading schemes of deception are combined in a fantastic form, it is a certainty that thousands of individuals are going to be placed in unfortunate circumstances. One of the oldest means of deception to the mystically and spiritually inclined is that fictitious elaboration, and deliberately and knowingly false idea that "Great Cosmic Masters" or "Divine World Masters" are now ready to be revealed to the public, and to receive followers and worshippers. For fifty years or more this idea has been very popular in the Western World, much to the amusement of the mystic of the Orient who cannot imagine why the people of the Western World unfamiliar with what a "real Master of Wisdom" represents should be so ready to believe anything and everything said about such a Master. We have had propaganda that announced that a little babe in the crib in some isolated community was discovered to be the coming Savior of the World or Master of the Universe, and funds were collected and followers were organized to care for and educate the little one, while his guardians filled their coffers and lived a life of luxury. We have had propaganda announcing that a Great Master from some unknown place in the Orient has suddenly arrived in the darkness of the night in an airplane or dirigible, and has descended upon an isolated peak of some mountains in a midwest or western part of the United States, and is living in seclusion and is ready to receive the homage (and the material things) offered by prospective disciples and devotees. We have had propaganda announcing that an individual heretofore unknown in the world of spiritual wisdom or in the fields of mystical literature and culture, has suddenly discovered himself to be the reincarnation or the still-living Soul and Spirit of a great Master of the past, and that he has found on the earth plane the very abode, the very grotto, cave, or temple in which he lived two thousand years ago, and is now ready to prepare men and women to be his pupils, his followers, and at some later date escort them in secrecy to his hidden sanctum. We have had lecturers traveling across this continent giving free lectures to the public and conducting private classes with large fees, or on a voluntary donation basis, claiming that they are in daily and hourly contact with one of the Great Masters of the past who has revealed to them his former earthly abode, his former earthly possessions, and the inventions of his past life which will bring freedom, power, wealth, and happiness to his new disciples. We have had organizations announce that a youth in their midst who has been carefully reared is truly the reincarnation of Jesus the Christ, or is most certainly the second Christ come again to the world. And thousands upon thousands have paid him homage, paid for the instructions issued by his guardians or propagandists, and have found again that they were deceived, and also deprived of many of the valuable things of life.
In nearly every case the followers of these "Masters" look upon them as Divinely-born individuals, and in some cases as immaculately conceived, and always as individuals who have extraordinary omnipotence even greater than that possessed by Jesus the Christ, and the right to command and enslave without question or investigation. Thousands of men and women today are living in accordance with the dictates of a score or more different "Divine Masters" whose predictions when incorrect are excused on the basis of deliberate deception to test the faith of the followers, or whose nondescript "bits of wisdom" are accepted because of their "simpleness of truth," and whose instructions are followed even to the extent of securing divorces, breaking up homes, absconding with funds not belonging to them, abandoning children, committing treason, recommending suicide, practicing deception, and doing a thousand and one things that no truly Divine being, no truly spiritual human being would think of recommending or permit to be carried on in his name or with his knowledge.
Why is it that in this day of great enlightenment, and after centuries of Cosmic revelations regarding the immutability of nature's laws, the grandeur of universal principles, and the accumulating evidence of the existence of a Supreme Mind--an ever-living God--who is the creator of all beings, and the ruler of everything, men and women cannot understand today that there is but one God, and that there can be only one God, and that no "Master," no especially appointed avatar, no highly evolved human being, no extraordinarily wise person, can supplant God as the sole object of our adoration, the central point of our very life, the only dependable source of Divine Wisdom, and the only one worthy of our worship and obedience? And why is it that sane and rational people, or those who are nearly sane and rational, cannot understand that the coming of the Christ will not be in the form of an illiterate, uncultured, scheming man or woman who will deliberately deceive us, even with the pretense of testing our faith, nor recommend deception and destruction to us even with the pretense of pointing out evil to us, nor approve of any injury, suffering, or unhappiness being brought upon others, but will be the development of the Christ Consciousness within each one of us, and not in the form of an external person? And when will sane men and women come to realize that the greatest "Master" whom anyone can ever contact will be that wise and learned, that merciful and understanding individual who will point toward the inner self of each individual and say, "To him, the God of all creatures, the God of all the universe, shalt thou look for guidance, and shalt thou worship and adore!" The greatest of the great Masters is he who has discovered through his wisdom, through his evolving consciousness, through his learning, and through his experiences in life how to guide the seekers for truth to the gateway of God's great palace where God alone may be worshipped and inwardly comprehended.
The greatest of the great Masters in all of the spiritual and mystical movements of the past and the present are those who are laboring in God's vineyard to lead seekers toward the Kingdom of God, and not toward themselves, nor toward any fanciful, fictitious, and false kingdoms. As Masters, indeed they will urge and guide and direct. They will instruct through intuition, they will reveal through visions. They will assist through their protective influence the one who is on the path and making his way straight toward God, and not toward any earthly idol.
When propaganda of any kind tells you that it is correct to leave your wife or your husband, rob your employer, take that which does not belong to you and give it to another in exchange for spiritual wisdom, marry someone who is to give birth to a Christ Child at the foot of Mount Shasta, abandon your friends and your home and go to live with others in a camp or grotto in the foothills, or some unknown and theoretical temple in the Mount Shasta district, or in any other district, or in any foreign country; when you are being tempted to turn your back upon all of the honest, straightforward principles of life, to ignore the Golden Rule, to discontinue your confidence in your marriage partner, to violate all your sacred obligations to God and man, to make yourself a hidden, hunted, despised, and suspected individual, to break all the decent moral, ethical ties and standards of life, to believe that you are to be a disciple of an immaculately conceived and divinely-born individual; when you are told you are to see special miracles performed for your benefit, or find a soul mate or an affinity awaiting you in some secret encampment--when any or all of these things are held forth to you, remember that it is the devil himself, the satanic power of the universe trying to turn your spiritual progress backward toward the only hell, which actually is the hell of wrongdoing here on earth, while the propagandists will prosper and benefit by your thefts, your gifts, your sacrifices, and your suffering. Make God your sole, omnipotent Master; let the Christ Consciousness of the Savior of Man be your inspiration; let the real Masters of the Cosmic be your instructors and companions, and beware of the individual or groups of individuals who say otherwise.

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