When, in the fifth century, the West was moving towards a period in which the light of spiritual intuition was almost extinguished, there occurred what is known as the Pelagian Controversy. The decision arrived at by both ecclesiastical and temporal authorities marked the final stage of the process by which the universal truth concerning man's relation to Divinity became distorted and crystallized into a theological dogma, that spread a heavy 'cloud of unknowing' over the West for hundreds of years. For, surely, the doctrine of original sin is the very nether pole of the Archaic Wisdom-teaching — the Doctrine of the Diamond Heart.
Pelagius was a Briton, a man of pure life, who was interested chiefly in the ethics of Christianity and who, say his critics, had too enthusiastic a belief in the inherent goodness of human nature. He and his pupil, Coelestius, asserted that there is no such thing as original sin, that baptism is not a necessity for the salvation of infants, that sin is a thing of will and not of nature and that human beings have will for good as well as for evil, and that even before the coming of Jesus there were men who were free from sin. Augustine, on the other hand, maintained that innate human depravity derived from Adam rendered man helpless to overcome sin without divine grace as shown in the sending of the Son of God to die on the Cross for the salvation of mankind.
In 418 Pelagius and Coelestius and all who were known to believe as they did had their property confiscated and were sentenced to perpetual banishment. Their protest was, however, not in vain. Again and again, in different quarters — notably in Holland when Arminius opposed the severe Calvinistic teachings — it flamed up. And even when dread of being deprived of the sacraments of the Church, then the only known means of salvation, kept many silent, the homage of the heart was not given to the dogma of original sin.
The Archaic Wisdom-Science traces man's origin to Divinity and outlines for him a sublime destiny worthy of that ancestry. Every entity, even as the tiny lives of which our bodies are composed, 'lives and moves and has its being' in a greater entity, which is itself part of a still greater, and so on as far as the mind can grasp and beyond. Man, a lesser life in the Superior Entity whose visible form is the Solar System, is in his higher parts a Son of the Sun and partakes of its intelligence and Divinity, and in his highest, the innermost divine root of him, is the offspring of the Superior Being, whose physical vehicle is the Universal Kosmic System, in which our Solar System is a lesser life. And — superb challenge to the aspiring and compassionate — man has latent within him the power to expand his intelligence and his heart-life, and thus raise his consciousness, step by step, to that of the Superior Beings in whom he now dwells more or less unawakened as to the possibilities inherent in his nature.
These Superior Wondrous Beings are the prototypes of the later conceptions of the Supreme Being, which finally degenerated into the idea of a Personal Deity, whom few in our day can accept as their Father in Heaven. And naturally so. Intuitions of the noble ancient teachings are astir everywhere. Every dogma is being reinterpreted in the light of the Ancient Wisdom. From the Diamond Heart of the Universe, which sent forth (and why should not the Heart be a creative power?) the Wondrous Beings of greater and less range of compassionate activity, down to the Superior Being at the head of our own Home-hierarchy, there streams into the human heart the urge to make divinity manifest. The impulse rises from within, from man's own individual Father in Heaven, now active on its own plane of life.
The further quickening and fostering of the divine seed is the work of those who have been awakened, the Guardians, the Watchers, the Mahatmans, those whose hearts are as the diamond only to their own pain. Salvation is the awakening to consciousness of the Wondrous Being within. Every man is a potential Christ. The Universal Kosmic Hierarch was once a man.
Original sin? No. Innate divinity, destined to become fully conscious and active, consecrated to the infinite duty of calling forth in others the latent seed of the Diamond Heart that is and is to be.
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE