Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Gods of Eden - Ch.15


MOHAMMED WAS BORN circa 570 A.D. AS with Jesus, there are gaping holes in the life history of Mohammed, especially in regard to his childhood and early adulthood. To fill in the gaps, some historians hypothesize that Mohammed was an orphan who had been shunted about among relatives during his youth. It is known that at age 25 he married a wealthy widow, and some biographers believe that he worked as a tradesman in her business for the next fifteen years, although that is not entirely certain. At age 40, Mohammed suddenly emerged as a religious prophet and the leader of a powerful new religious movement.

According to Mohammed's own statements, his religious mission was triggered by an apparition. The vision occurred outside a secluded cave to which Mohammed would frequently retire for prayer and contemplation. The apparition was an "angel" bearing a message for Mohammed to spread. This was not just any angel, however. It called itself Gabriel—one of the most important of the Christian angels. Mohammed described the meeting in these words:

The Koran [the holy book of Islam] is no other than a revelation revealed to him* One terrible in power taught it to him, endued with wisdom. With even balance stood He in the highest part of the horizon. Then He came nearer and approached, and was at a distance of two bows, or even closerand he revealed to His servant what He revealed.

The Koran repeats the story:

That this is the word of an illustrious Messenger, endued with power, having influence with the Lord of the Throne, obeyed there by Angels, faithful to his trust, and your compatriot is not one possessed by jinn [spirits]; for he saw him in the clear horizon. 

Mohammed was either semiconscious or in a trance when the angel Gabriel ordered him to "Recite!" and record the message that the angel was about to give him. The angel's command to Mohammed was much like the commands given earlier in history to Ezekiel of the Old Testament and to "John" of the Book of Revelation by similar Custodial personnel.

When Mohammed awoke, it seemed to him that the angel's words were "inscribed upon his [Mohammed's] heart." This is significant, for it suggests that Mohammed, like Ezekiel, John, and perhaps even Constantine, had been drugged and mentally tampered with so that the message would be more firmly implanted in his mind.

The message given to Mohammed was a new religion called "Islam," which means "Surrender." Followers must "surrender" to God. Members of Mohammed's faith are therefore called "Moslems," which comes from the word "muslim" ("one who submits"). Islam was one more Custodial religion designed to instill abject obedience in humans.


* Mohammed uses the third-person "him" when referring to himself.

The Supreme Being of the Islam faith is named "Allah," who was said by Mohammed to be the the same God as the Jewish and Christian Jehovah. Two key themes of the Koran are its Day of Judgment prophecy and its "fire and brimstone" depiction of Hell. Mohammed honored Moses and Jesus as Allah's two previous messengers and proclaimed Islam to be the third and final revelation from God. It was therefore the duty of all Jews and Christians to convert to Islam. Hebrews and Christians tended to be less than cooperative with Mohammed's demand. After all, they had been warned in their own apocalyptic writings about the dangers of "false prophets." The result has been some of the bloodiest fighting in world history.

Like so many Custodial religions before it, Islam did not allow people the luxury of choosing whether or not to become adherents. Mohammed embarked on a program of conquest to make it clear which way the choice was to go. Using the tactics of a generalissimo, the "divinely inspired" Mohammed raised an army and set off to convert "unfaithful ones" ("infidels") to his faith. Mohammed's apocalyptic army cut a wide bloody swath through most of the Middle East, including important Christian centers. The militant Moslem empire eventually stretched as far east as India where elements of Islam were incorporated into the Hindu religion. Untold lives were lost during the Islamic conquests because the Islamic armies were prone to commit fearsome genocides as part of their mission to bring Utopia to mankind.

To most "infidel" Christians, Moslems were nothing more than savage "heathens" ("nonbelievers"). This set up an inevitable conflict into which millions of people would be dragged. Five hundred years after the death of Mohammed, the Christian world launched a coordinated military effort to force the Moslems out of the Holy Land. That effort is known as the Crusades.

The Christian Crusades to free Palestine from the Moslems took place between 1099 and 1270 A.D. Skirmishes and minor battles between Christians and Moslems had broken out beforehand, but it was a call-to-arms by Pope Urban II in 1095 that finally turned those skirmishes into an organized war effort involving nearly every Christian ruler of Europe. Hundreds of thousands of Christians enlisted in the Crusades after being promised religious blessings, fiefdoms, and spoils of conquest. Volunteers came from nearly every social class. For many serfs and peasants, the Papal call-to-arms represented a way to escape feudal lords and perhaps to return as wealthy heroes.

The Crusades got off to a good, but bloody, start. The Christians captured Jerusalem in the summer of 1099. Although the knights and peasants who marched under Christian banners were extolled to practice high virtues and chivalry, they frequently degenerated into butchery and other acts of viciousness. When the Crusaders took Jerusalem in 1099, they murdered many of the non-Christian survivors in a slaughter that claimed the lives of more than 10,000 victims.

Not only were the Crusaders killing Moslems, they were also killing Jews, who were considered by many Christians to be as heathen as the Moslems. The slaughter of Jews began even before the first Crusade to the Holy Land. In the year 1095, Christian factions started murdering Jews in Europe. A genocidal wave in the German Rhineland was the first major episode; it was sparked by unsubstantiated rumors that Rhineland Jews were using Christian children in their religious sacrifices. Obliterating the Jews became an important element of the Crusades, and the massacres continued even after the Crusades to Jerusalem had ended.

The Crusades had another important effect on Europe. Several decades before the launching of the First Crusade, Pope Gregory VII had attempted to put the Roman Catholic Church under greater centralized control. Prior to Gregory's effort, the Catholic Church in Europe was a loosely-knit organization run primarily by nonclergymen; the type of organization envisioned by Christianity's earliest founders. After Pope Urban II ascended to the Papacy and rallied all good Christians to fight the unholy Moslems, Christian princes and supporters began pledging allegiance directly to the Pope, thereby hastening the centralization effort attempted earlier by Pope Gregory VII. The power of the Roman Papacy increased as the holy wars dragged on and growing numbers of people proclaimed their Papal loyalty.

Behind the Crusades lay the Brotherhood. The Christian Crusaders were led primarily by two powerful knight organizations with intimate Brotherhood ties: the Knights Hospitaler and the Knights of the Temple ("Knights Templar").

The "Knights Hospitaler" were so named because they operated a hospital in Jerusalem to help pilgrims in distress. The Hospitalers began operations in the year 1048 as a charitable order. Their purpose was aid and comfort. When the first Crusaders successfully captured the Holy City, the Hospitalers began to receive generous financial support from the wealthier Crusaders. In the year 1118, seventy years after their founding, the Knights Hospitaler underwent a change of leadership and purpose. They were made into a military order dedicated to fighting the Moslems who were continually trying to recapture Jerusalem. With this change of purpose came a change in name; the Hospitalers were variously called the "Order of Knights Hospitaler of St. John," "Knights of St. John of Jerusalem," or simply, "Knights of St. John." The Hospitalers had named themselves after John, son of the King of Cyprus. John had gone to Jerusalem to aid Christian pilgrims and knights.

There is some doubt as to whether the Hospitalers were founded as a Brotherhood organization. They reportedly did not function as one at the outset. However, they soon became affiliated with the Brotherhood network by adopting Brotherhood traditions and titles. They became ruled by a Grand Master and developed secret rites and rituals.

By 1119, one year after the Hospitalers had become a fighting order, the Templar Knights were in existence. The Templars originally called themselves the "Order of the Poor Knights of Christ" because they took solemn vows of poverty. Their name was later changed to "Knights of the Temple" after they were housed near the site where Solomon's temple had once stood. Although the Templars and Hospitalers had a common enemy in the Moslems, the two Christian organizations became bitter rivals.

The Templar Knights began their existence as a branch of the Brotherhood. They practiced a deep mystical tradition and used many Brotherhood titles, notably "Grand Master." Like the Hospitaler Knights, the Templars received large sums of money from well-to-do Christian crusaders. The Templars thereby became enormously wealthy and were able to transform themselves into an international banking house during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The Templars loaned large sums of money to European kings, princes, merchants, and to at least one Moslem ruler. Most of the Templars' riches were stored in strongrooms in their Paris and London temples, causing those cities to become leading financial centers.

After the fall of Jerusalem and the final victory of the Moslems in 1291, the fortunes of both knightly orders changed. The Knights of St. John (Hospitalers) were forced to flee the Holy Land. They took up residence on a succession of islands during the ensuing centuries. With the changes of location came changes in name. They became the "Knights of Rhodes" after moving to the island of Rhodes. They were the "Knights of Malta" when they moved to that island and ruled it. While on Malta, the Knights became a major military and naval power in the Mediterranean until their defeat in 1789 by Napoleon. After enjoying temporary protection under Russian Emperor Paul I, the Knights of Malta had their headquarters moved to Rome in 1834 by Pope Leo XIII. Today they are known as the "Sovereign and Military Order of Malta" (SMOM) and have the unusual distinction of being the world's smallest nation. Located in a walled enclave in central Rome, SMOM still retains its status as a sovereign state, although new Grand Masters of the Order must be approved by the Pope. SMOM runs hospitals, clinics, and leper colonies throughout the world. It also gives active assistance to anti-Communist causes and is surprisingly influential in political, business, and intelligence circles today despite its small size.*


* Recent American members of SMOM have included the late William Casey (American C.I.A. director), Lee Iacocca (chairman of the Chrysler Corporation), Alexander Haig (former U.S. Secretary of State), and William A. Schreyer (president of Merrill Lynch).

The Templar Knights did not fare as well as the Hospitalers after the Crusades. They were forced to flee with the Hospitalers to the island of Cyprus, whereupon the Templars split up and returned to their many Templar houses ("preceptories") in Europe. The Templars came under heavy criticism for their failure to save the Holy Land and rumors circulated that they engaged in heresy and immorality. Accusations were made that the Templars spat on the cross during their initiations and forced members to engage in homosexual acts. By 1307, the Templar controversy had become so strong that Philip IV the Fair of France ordered the arrest of all Templars within his dominion and used torture to extract confessions. Five years later, the Pope dissolved the Templar Order by Papal decree. Many Templars were executed, including Grand Master Jacques de Molay, who was publicly burned at the stake on March 11, 1314 in front of the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Nearly all Templar properties were confiscated and turned over to the Hospitaler Knights. The long and intense rivalry between the Hospitalers and Templars had finally come to an end. The Hospitalers emerged as the victors. The Hospitalers' victory could not have occurred at a more fortuitous time for there had been serious discussion within Papal circles about merging the two orders—a plan which would have been completely unacceptable to both.

Despite the downfall of the Templar Knights, the organization managed to survive. According to Freemasonic historian, Albert MacKey, the Knights Templar were given a home in Portugal by King Denis after their banishment from the rest of Catholic Europe. In Portugal, the Templars were granted their usual rights and privileges, they wore the same costumes, and they were governed by the same rules they had before. The decree which re-established the Templars in Portugal stated that they were in that country to be rehabilitated. Pope Clement V approved the rehabilitation plan and issued a bull (official proclamation) commanding that the Templars change their name to "Knights of Christ." The Templars, or "Knights of Christ," also changed the cross on their uniform from the eight-pointed Maltese cross to the official Latin cross.

The Templars became quite powerful in their new home. In 1420, King John I gave the Knights of Christ control of Portugese possessions in the Indies. Subsequent Portuguese monarchs expanded the Knights' proprietorship to any new countries which the Knights might discover. The Knights of Christ became so powerful, reports Albert MacKey, that several Portugese kings felt compelled to curtail the Knights' influence by taking over the Grand Master position. The Knights of Christ survived under Portugese sponsorship until well into the eighteenth century, at which time the Templar name re-emerged and took on renewed importance in the stormy political affairs of Europe, as we shall see later.

There was a third Christian knight organization during the Crusades worth mentioning: the Teutonic Knights. The Teutonic Knights were originally called the "Order of the Knights of the Hospital of St. Mary of the Teutons in Jerusalem." Like the Hospitalers, the Teutonic Knights started as a charitable order. They operated a hospital in Jerusalem to aid Christians making pilgrimages to the Holy Land. In March 1198, the Teutonic Knights were given the rank of an order of knights, which made them into a fighting order. Like the Templars, the Teutonic Knights lived a semimonastic lifestyle, practiced initiation rites, and were ruled by a Grand Master. The Teutonic Knights permitted only Teutons [Germans] to become members. They also feuded a great deal with the Hospitalers and Templars.

During the Crusades when Brotherhood military organizations were valiantly leading Christian armies to fight the Moslems, other groups in the Brotherhood network were rallying Moslems to battle the Christians! Of the several Brotherhood branches promoting the cause of Islam, one is of particular interest to us: the sect of the Assassins.

Mohammed died in 632 A.D. A struggle immediately ensued over who was to become his successor. This caused the Islamic religion to break apart into competing sects, each having its own ideas about who was to succeed Mohammed. One such Islamic faction was the "Shia" sect, which adhered to a strong "End of the World" tradition. Shiites believed in the "Millennium": a Day of Judgment followed by a thousand years of peace and spiritual salvation. Eventually the Shia sect itself split apart. One faction to emerge from the Shia split was the Ismaili sect, which gave birth to the Assassins.

The Ismailians broke away from the other Shiites in the eighth century. The Ismaili sect was a Brotherhood secret society with a lodge system similar to Freemasonry and to other Brotherhood organizations. The Ismaili Grand Lodge was situated in Cairo where it practiced step-by-step initiations with all of the attendant symbols and mysteries. Led by a Grand Master, the Ismailians promulgated a very strong apocalyptic message complete with the promise of a coming Messiah.

One Ismaili lodge member was a man named Hasan-i Sabbah. Mr. Sabbah's mystical conversion came about as the result of a "severe and dangerous illness" during which he believed that God had purged him and had given him a spiritual rebirth. In 1078, at the Grand Lodge in Cairo, Mr. Sabbah asked the Ismaili caliph* for permission to spread the Ismaili gospel in Persia. The caliph granted Mr. Sabbah's request on the condition that Sabbah agree to support the caliph's eldest son, Nizar, as the next (ninth) caliph. Sabbah accepted the deal and named his new Ismaili branch the "Nizaris" after the caliph's son. It was not long, however, before Mr. Sabbah's branch became known by its more famous name: the "Assassins."

The Assassins are usually referred to as a religious sect. They were, more accurately, a secret society. According to Masonic historian Albert MacKey, the Assassins adopted the organizational structure of the Ismailians. The Assassins practiced step-by-step initiations and possessed a secret mystical doctrine. Mr. MacKey adds that the Assassins appear to have practiced three of the very same fraternal degrees used in Freemasonry today: Apprentice, Fellow, and Master. The Assassins had a religious code similar to


* A "caliph" is a successor to Mohammed. The title "caliph" was given to those Moslem heads of state who claimed to be a successor to Mohammed. 

the Hospitaler and Teutonic Knights. The Assassins were an integral part of the Brotherhood network. 

A distinguishing feature of the Assassin organization was its use of drugs, primarily hashish, for mystical and other purposes. In fact, the word "assassin" comes from the word "hashshishin," which means "users of hashish." The Assassins and several other Brotherhood groups in history extolled the virtues of mind-altering Pharmaceuticals as a way to achieve mystical enlightenment. 

The Assassins were also a fighting organization with an army. Grand Master Sabbah chose a fortress located high in the northern mountains of Iran for the headquarters of his new group. This Assassin fortress was known as "Alamut," which means "Eagle's Teaching" or "Eagle's Nest." The Assassins became a formidable military and political power in the region and eventually controlled other fortresses in Persia and Syria. The Assassins feuded with other Moslem organizations and fought against the Knights Templar and other Christian armies during the Crusades. To help win its feuds and wars, the Assassins developed the deadly tool for which they became famous and feared: the tool of the "lone assassin."

Most people today are painfully aware of the phenomenon of the so-called "lone assassin." This is usually a young man in his twenties or thirties who is driven by crazed delusions and who displays little or no concern for his own safety as he murders an important leader in broad daylight, in public, and in front of witnesses. The killing has tremendous shock value and it can greatly affect the political direction of a nation.

Many people believe that so-called "lone assassins" are products of our modern age. It is quite amusing to read ponderous psychiatric tomes to that effect. In truth, the "lone assassin" has been a political institution for over seven hundred years, if not longer. Seven hundred years ago, however, no pretense was made that the "lone assassins" acted alone, as is done today. Back then, the "lone assassin" was known to be an effective and terrifying tool of political and social control. It was a technique used by the Assassin organization to win its wars, increase its political influence, destroy its enemies, and enlarge its coffers by extortion.

How did the Assassin sect get young men to commit the murders? It is not easy to make people kill others, especially when the murderer is likely to be caught and slain himself. The Assassin organization had an effective method for overcoming this natural resistance and programming young men to kill. One of the earliest people to describe the Assassin programming technique was Marco Polo, the famous European traveller of the 13th century who wrote a bestselling book about his journeys. Although Mr. Polo was accused by a few people in his own time of fabricating stories, subsequent investigation has verified nearly everything he described in his famous book.

According to Mr. Polo, a portion of the Assassin fortress in Alamut had been converted into a beautiful secret garden fashioned after the paradise described in Mohammed's visions of Heaven. The garden grew almost every imaginable type of fruit and was watered with streams of wine, milk, and honey. The palaces were beautifully ornamented and had a company of singers, dancers, and musicians. If certain young men in the region showed promise as potential murderers, they were drugged, usually with opium or hashish, and taken to the secret garden. There they were pampered for a few days and nothing was denied them, including women. They were then drugged again and returned to their homes. The young men believed that Assassin leaders had transported them to Heaven and back. Eager to return, the young men would gladly follow the instructions of their Assassin leaders. The heaven-struck underlings were often told that a return to paradise lay in boldly assassinating a targeted enemy leader. The young assassin was instructed to wait in a public place and strike down the victim with a dagger as the victim passed by. Because the young assassins would often be killed on the spot or be later executed, they were made to believe that their death at the scene of the crime or by later execution would result in a return to the paradise they remembered.

The notoriety of the Assassins spread. It was rumored that some European kings were paying tribute to the Assassins to avoid becoming targets. Although the extent of Assassin activity in Europe is still debated today (some historians assert that the Assassins focused most of their deadly practices on the conflicts going on in the Middle East), the Assassins became famous far and wide. As a result, all people who attempt the murder of a political leader have come to be known as "assassins," or "users of hashish." Although most modern "assassins" have not been hashish users, many have shown evidence of considerable mental tampering, which will be discussed near the end of this book.

By the end of the 13th century, the Mongols had overrun the Middle East and had destroyed major Assassin strongholds. Interestingly, the Mongols were also inspired by mystical beliefs. The Assassins managed to survive the onslaught, and they exist today. Modern Assassin sects are reported to be peacably settled in India, Iran, and Syria. Their titular head is the "Aga Khan," who is the spiritual leader of all Ismailians worldwide. The Ismailians are estimated to number about 20 million people today. As of 1840, the Aga Khans have been operating out of India because of an unsuccessful rebellion in 1838 of Aga Khan I against the Persian Shah. When the rebellion failed, Britain offered sanctuary to the Aga Khan in India, which was then under British rule. Since then, the Aga Khans have been traveling in elite circles of Western society. Recent Aga Khans have received educations at Oxford, Harvard, and in Switzerland. The Aga Khans have also gained a place in the international banking community through their establishment of a central bank in Damascus, Lebanon.

It may be a coincidence that "lone assassins" arose as an important phenomenon in the United States at just about the time that Aga Khan I was establishing a relationship with the British in the early 19th century. The first known "lone assassin" to strike a U.S. President did so in 1835. The intended victim was Andrew Jackson who was, interestingly, a member of a Knights Templar organization in America. Since then, U.S. Presidents have been the targets of "lone assassins" every ten to twenty years. Many other Western leaders and public figures have also been victims. Although I have seen no evidence that the Assassin sect itself is behind modern "lone assassins" episodes, it is clear that their technique has been picked up and used by influential political sources with Brotherhood connections in the Western world, as I shall discuss more fully in a later chapter.

As we have seen, the Crusade era witnessed the birth of institutions which still affect us today. To the list we can add two famous Christian Orders: the Franciscans and the Dominicans. The Franciscans adopted the cord-at-the-loins outfit and bald spot used by ancient Egyptian Brotherhood priests at El Amarna. The Franciscans appeared to be quite humane. The Dominicans, on the other hand, were placed in charge of the most widely-hated by-product of the Crusades: the Catholic Inquisition.

The medieval Inquisition has been universally condemned as one of the most oppressive human institutions ever developed. It was known for its tortures and zealous excesses. The Inquisition arose out of an effort by Pope Innocent II to stamp out a large heretical sect in the south of France known as the "Albigensians." Innocent II had called for a special Crusade in 1208 to enter France and wipe out the sect. The five-year war which ensued devastated the region. Ten years later, a new Pope, Gregory IX, continued the action. He placed the Dominicans in charge of investigating the Albigensians. Gregory gave the Dominican Order full legal power to name and condemn all surviving heretics. Out of this campaign grew the full inhuman machinery of the Catholic Inquisition which sought to stamp out heresy of every type. The Inquisition generated a fearful climate of intellectual and spiritual oppression in Europe for the next six hundred years. Hearsay, innuendo, and honest intellectual disagreement led many decent people to the torture rack and auto-da-fe (death by burning). The social scars are still visible today in the instinctive fear so many people have of expressing nonconforming ideas. The Inquisition helped breed a social reaction of violence to nonconforming ideas that the world has not yet fully escaped.

It is clear that the Christian Church had undergone many changes by the time the Crusades ended. The Church was no longer the humanitarian decentralized religion envisioned by Jesus. The new Catholic ("Undivided") Church headquartered in Rome had succumbed to the "reforms" of the East Roman emperors. It was a religion Jesus would have deplored. Fortunately, after the demise of the Inquisition, the Catholic Church began to improve and it has many good qualities today.

Perhaps the most significant event of the Crusades does not involve the waging of war, the programming of assassins, or the creation of an Inquisition. It entails the making of a peace.

In the year 1228, German emperor Frederick II led a Crusade to Jerusalem. Frederick was not in good graces with the Pope at the time. Frederick has been described as a "strange secular-minded, highly educated prince, a sworn enemy of the papacy on political grounds, who had acquired by marriage the title to what was left of the kingdom of Jerusalem."1

Frederick's fight with Pope Gregory IX had begun only one year before his trip to Jerusalem. The conflict between Frederick and Pope Gregory centered around the issue of centralized Papal power. Frederick opposed it and Gregory was striving to hasten it. This dispute caused Frederick to be put under sentence of excommunication—a sentence finally carried out in 1245.

While under the sentence, but not yet excommunicated, the unrepentant Frederick journeyed to his kingdom in Jerusalem at the head of his own crusade. Despite a deep involvement with the Teutonic Knights, Frederick II proved on that trip that he could be a man of peace. Instead of prolonging war with the Moslems, Frederick negotiated a peace treaty. He apparently felt that it was in everyone's best interests to end the religious strife, and that is precisely what he did. Frederick accomplished this feat by negotiating with the reigning Moslem leader, Sultan Kamil. Within a year of starting his talks with the Sultan, and without the approval of the Pope, Frederick concluded a treaty signed in 1229 that gave Jerusalem back to the Christians for ten years provided that the Christians did not arm themselves. The arrangement worked.

Using negotiation and appeals to reason, Frederick had accomplished in one short trip what the Popes had claimed they were trying to do for almost 130 years with warfare and blood. Under Frederick's treaty, Christians were free to inhabit Jerusalem and make pilgrimages there, and the Moslems were freed from the threat posed by Christian armies. Many Christian and Moslem leaders were not at all happy with this arrangement, however, for Frederick had set it up "leaving both parties indignant at so peaceful a settlement. When the truce finally ran out in 1239, the holy war was resumed ..." 2* We might legitimately ask, why was Frederick's treaty not extended or a similar one negotiated? What purpose was served by diving into seventy additional years of bloody warfare? The Christians wound up losing the Holy Land altogether. So often we hear that wars are a product of basic human nature, yet in one peace effort we saw 130 years of raging conflict end through the effort of one man appealing to the reason and cooperation of another man, resulting in a peace for the duration of the treaty. We can see that the ability of people to have peace is as strong, if not stronger, than a desire for war. What then, drove Moslems and Christians to slaughter one another over a trivial bit of dry real estate?

One answer to this question may be found in what the Moslems and Christians thought they were ultimately fighting for: their spiritual salvation and freedom. They believed that by fighting, and perhaps even dying gloriously, for their faith, they were guaranteed eternal salvation. History has clearly demonstrated that the drive for spiritual freedom is so strong that it can override any human drive, including the urge for physical self-preservation. At some


* There is an amusing sideline to the story. After Frederick completed the treaty, he wanted to be crowned monarch of Jerusalem per his inheritance. Because he was under sentence of excommunication, no Catholic authority would perform the ceremony for him. Frederick, however, was not one to be thwarted by technicalities. He simply crowned himself and sailed back home to Germany.

point, people will sacrifice their own physical existences, and even the physical survival of loved ones, if they believe that the sacrifice will ensure their spiritual integrity or that it will bring about their spiritual salvation. When genuine spiritual knowledge is distorted, yet the desire for spiritual salvation continues to be stimulated, a great many people can be led into doing a great many stupid things. One important step to solving the problem of war, then, is to achieve a true understanding of the spirit and an actual way to its rehabilitation.

When we look at the spiritual practices of the Christian knights and the Moslem Ismailians, we discover that participation in warfare was often exalted as a spiritual quest. Warriors on both sides were inspired by corrupted Brotherhood mysticisms which taught that spiritual rewards could be earned by engaging in military endeavors against fellow human beings. This was the mythology of the "spiritually noble" war in which gallant soldiers were promised eternal salvation and a place in Heaven for fighting a noble cause. This mythology still remains vital today for recruiting people to participate in continued warfare. It twists the urge for spiritual freedom into an honoring of war.

What is war, then, if not a noble quest?

Analyzed down to its most basic components, warfare is nothing more than the act of causing solid objects to destructively collide with other solid objects. That might sometimes be fun, but there is not much spiritual benefit to be derived from constantly engaging in it. Although it is true that war has many elements of a game, the destructive nature of war causes it to be little more than a series of criminal acts: primarily arson, battery, and murder. This reveals something of great significance:

War is the institutionalization of criminality. War can never bring about spiritual improvement because criminality is one of the main causes of mental and spiritual deterioration.

Societies which exalt criminal actions as a noble quest will suffer a rapid deterioration in the mental and spiritual condition of their inhabitants. "Spiritual" doctrines which exalt combat are doctrines which degrade the human race.

Is not warfare in pursuit of a just cause a good thing?

The biggest problem with using violent force to fight for a cause is that the rules of force operate on completely different principles than do the principles of right and wrong. The victorious use of violent force depends upon skills that have nothing to do with whether or not one's cause is a just one. The man who can draw his six-shooter the fastest is not necessarily the man with the best ideals. We like our heroes when they can outshoot or physically overpower the bad guys, and there is nothing wrong with their being able to do so, but not all of our heroes can. Those who have a legitimate cause should therefore be wary of the temptation to assert the rightness of their beliefs in the arena of violent force since their cause may undeservedly lose. There are many effective methods to promote good causes and make them win, but those methods are seldom used in a world educated to use violence as the ultimate court of appeal.

The Crusades and other religious conflicts have often been fueled by the issue of who is a true "messiah" and who is not. Passions can run strong on this topic. It therefore behooves us at this time to discuss what a "messiah" might or might not be.

- pages 151-167, The Gods of Eden, by William Bramley

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