The Great Work
Even if we learn to accept the principle of the Divine Law, we might well ask these questions, “Why did God give the power of free will to human beings?” “Would it not have been easier just to make men and women mere followers of instincts like the rest of the animals?”
The answer is simple:
Only with such free will are we able to reach the Divine estate intended by our Divine Creator, to become “as one of the gods.” The process and effort required to reach this spiritual attainment is rightfully called the Great Work.
The ancient Mystery Schools taught that the accomplishment of the Great Work is the main reason for our sojourn on Earth. They, like the Nazarene himself, taught that this was the only way to the fulfillment of all the desires, ambitions and loves of earthly life, and the only road to an immortal productive and creative existence once earthly life is completed.
The Creation Story
In order to gain a solid grasp of the concept of the Great Work, we need to move back in history several hundred thousand years to a time when human beings as we know today did not exist. In the world of that time, all Creation was functioning in full harmony with the Divine Law instituted by our Creator. However, at some point in time, one of God’s celestial beings- what we call souls, had a desire to come down and experience life on earth.
On the Earth, the creature we now call Homo sapiens had evolved to a point where some of God’s celestial beings in the soul world (souls) could descend to earth and inhabit the physical bodies of early upright human beings. This rather fascinating and intriguing situation produced what the Bible terms the “Garden of Eden.”
What has been taught us by the “Keepers of the Mysteries,” was that the combination of this Celestial entity (the soul) and the human body had done very well for a while, but eventually the angelic part of this dual being allowed the mortal part to corrupt the more Godly. This is when human beings first disobeyed the Divine Laws of Universal Balance. This time period, when the mortal part of the soul-body human being became dominant, is illustrated in the Bible by Adam and Eve being evicted from the Garden of Eden.
Once this dual entity, soul and human body, by its free will, attempted to circumvent the Divine Laws of God, the angelic part of became entrapped in the physical body of this two-legged animal and a new being was formed:
A hybrid of animal and angel that we now call a human being.
Humans are thus a paradoxical dual being that is part mortal and part immortal. A being that is less than an angel, but because of the opportunity to learn from our transgressions, a being that has the ability to become greater than an angel- one of God’s Celestial Helpers.
Only through personal effort to overcome the animalistic passions of our nature, thereby resuscitating the angelic portion of this dual entity, can we obtain our lost estate. The soul, the one time angelic part of men and women, must learn to find wisdom by overcoming the same weaknesses that cost us our original innocence. This effort will allow us to gain godhood by “knowing” both good and evil and choosing, of our own free will, the good over the evil.
This is the great Drama of the Ages. It is the supreme experiment of God to date. It is what has always been known as The Great Work, and such it truly is.
Once the angel-human being attempted to circumvent the Divine Law, God’s creation on earth became a whole new ball game. Drama, wonderful drama, was introduced into this perfect but perhaps dull world. The famous British Initiate Lord Bulwer-Lytton once wrote a novel entitled, What Will He Do With It? This statement perfectly describes the underlying nature of what Initiate Masters call The Drama of the Ages.
Prior to the “fall of man” (which is again, the animal part of us having succeeded in gaining control over the angelic part of us) the world had no real drama. That is, there was no suspense, no indecision, no guessing- no fun! However, with this “fall” all these and many more fascinating opportunities were introduced into Creation. For the first time since God's “Big Bang” (the formation of organized matter out of Chaos), even God could not predict what might go on in the world of earth.
It is for this reason that Sidney Beard described the Great Work as both an adventure and a romance:
“The Workers and Teachers of the higher spheres see to it that all requisite help is rendered and instruction given- faithful and constant cooperation alone being asked in return. The earthly pilgrimage then becomes a romance, filled with unsuspected happenings that are intentionally brought about, and all of which tend to facilitate the progress of the aspirant for Real Knowledge and that higher service in God's Kingdom which becomes possible for those who are spiritually and mentally qualified.”
(Our Real Relationship To God, by Sidney Beard)
The Biblical Precepts of the Great Work
Scripture describes the first descent of the angelic soul into the newly formed Homo sapiens body as:
“the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.”
Using less poetic patriarchal language, our angelic souls (sons of God) were permitted by God to leave their heavenly abode and enter the human bodies of both men and women (took wives from daughters of men).
This rather fascinating and intriguing situation produced what the Bible terms the “Garden of Eden,” a period in human history aptly described in Scripture:
“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”
Unfortunately, this halcyon time of the “men ad women of renown” did not last for long. If we go to the next Biblical verse that follows the above, we discover that all was not well in Paradise:
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
Our angelic part, our soul, was the quintessence of innocence prior to its earthly escapades. As such, it was but a servant of God and God’s Helpers. However, with our soul’s attempt to defy and circumvent Divine Law (our “fall”), it gained a new opportunity, as indicated in this verse from Genesis:
“And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: [he discovered evil by his attempt to circumvent the Divine Law] and now, lest [if] he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life [accomplish the Great Work], and eat [follow the Divine Law], and [then he will] live for ever: [having made of himself an immortal god].”
One of the most intriguing phrases in the Bible is the first line from this verse:
“Behold, the man is become as one of us.”
It should not take more than a moment's contemplation for an astute seeker to see the fascinating concepts inherent in this verse. It is obvious that God is talking to others who, like God, are godlike in that they too understand the nature of good and evil (that which is in harmony with the Divine Law and that which is not). To these other Celestial Helpers (gods), God clearly states, in this chapter and verse, that the human “fall” was not entirely that bad. For our “fall” also gave us the opportunity and ability find our way back to God and become like the “gods,” one of God’s co-worker. This is true, provided we follow the Divine Law and make the effort complete the Great Work.
How Is this Great Work Accomplished?
Now that you have an idea of what the Great Work is, we can address the manner in which it must proceed. Our unique dual being (half angel–half mortal) must return to the “scene of the crime” (come back to Earth) over and over until one of two things occurs:
1. The angelic part is able to so transform the mortal self that it is able to restore its pre-fall contact with the Creator. Once this state of Soul Illumination is achieved, the Soul has the option of taking its place in the Celestial world above or returning to Earth to help others.
2. The animal part succeeds in completely destroying the angelic. In this case the body may survive, but without the angelic, all hope of immortality is lost and only oblivion follows the death of the body. The remnant of what was the soul is returned to God forever losing the possibility of Immortality.
The Great Work consists of several parts. One of the most important is the willingness and successful effort to pay all past debts. Whenever there is an attempted transgression of the Divine Law, a debt is incurred. Most of us have a large cache of these past debts, not alone from this life, but also from our many other incarnations since we first became dual beings eons ago. All such debts must be paid on the plane of their creation:
“Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.”
Each area of activity has its own province; debts created in Heaven must be paid in Heaven and those created on this physical plane must be paid on this physical plane.
The Initiate Masters (individuals who have completed the Great Work in its totality) assure us that there are two ways to pay these debts:
1. We may pay them by suffering the reaction of the Divine Law, or
2. We may pay them by neutralizing them by our good deeds in the present or future lives.
For example, an individual may kill many of his fellow-humans in one life, only to neutralize the Divine Law's adverse reaction by saving the lives of many more in a subsequent incarnation.
While no one can complete the Great Work or forego this “Circle of Lives” until he or she has compensated for all past debts created here on Earth, this is only the physical or first part of the Great Work. There still exists the spiritual part to be accomplished. This is the effort to attain Soul Illumination and begins with the process of transmutation.