REFLECTIONS ON THE BOOK OF JOB
This article is in two parts. The first part is a brief outline of the Book of Job which appears in the Old Testament of the Bible. The second part is devoted to what we can learn from Job to assist our own spiritual evolution.
The Book of Job is considered to predate the Old Testament. It is generally accepted that the author is unknown and that Job probably did not exist.
The story is about Job reaching enlightenment and can be likened to both Arjuna in the Hindu Baghavad Gita and also to the Buddha reaching enlightenment. It is worthy to note that the Great Sacred Texts contain similar teachings and need to be understood at an esoteric level.
Spiritual enlightenment is awakening to our true identity, which is spiritual. This occurs as we gradually expand our consciousness and understand the unity of all life. We are all on the same pathway irrespective of our religious beliefs and all paths lead back to the Creator. As we read the Book of Job it is important that we each need to acknowledge Job as ourself and then we begin to see our own vast spiritual journey ahead.
Both Job and Arjuna had to change their thoughts and habits pertaining to the lower self, ie the personality, and pursue the need for the Soul to evolve.
The Book of Job is considered to be an allegory and thus it is left to the reader to decide what lessons are being presented. In ancient Mystery Schools teachings were presented as allegories and students progressed through a process of initiations. Each initiation took the Soul to a higher level of consciousness. We are all on a spiritual journey back to Source and are required to evolve through many initiations. These involve overcoming many trials and tests and cannot be achieved in one lifetime. Hence, the Soul incarnates many times to learn and evolve and the Law of Cause and Effect is the means of overcoming negative Karma. It is justice and not punishment by God. Personal responsibility is the means to progress.
In the New Testament Jesus taught by parables and, as with allegories, only those sufficiently advanced understood the esoteric meaning. Jesus often had to explain these to his Disciples but the masses were not ready for these lessons. Even St Paul told his followers he had to feed them milk as they were not ready for meat (1 Corinthians 3:2).
The Book of Job is considered to illustrate the process of initiation. We need to see ourselves as Job otherwise it is simply a story unrelated to our personal spiritual progress. H P Blavatsky, in her Theosophical writings, referred to the Book of Job as “the poem of initiation, par excellence”.
It is important to understand the experiences of Job are not intended to cover one earthly life and progress cannot be speeded up as there is so much not just to learn but to put into practice.
The narrative begins by describing Job as wealthy and with a large family. He obeys his religion and is anxious to please God. Each day he makes sacrifices in case his children have displeased God. This can be interpreted as failing to trust God. The spiritual Law of Trust asks us to totally trust in God’s care and omnipotence. If fear is allowed to replace trust the Law of Attraction comes into force. Where we put our attention is going to attract what we want to avoid. Later in the narrative it is interesting to note Job’s own words, “That which I feared the most has come upon me.” This is the lesson we need to take on board. Job criticises unrighteous people and is therefore being judgmental, whilst also craving admiration from others thus displaying an attitude of superiority.
The story moves to God and the Sons of God. God is pleased with Job whom he considers “perfect and upright”. However, Satan, one of the Sons of God believes Job is only good because he fears God. Satan tells God Job will curse him if he took away all that was dear to Job. God then allows Satan to test Job, but not to kill him. Job gradually loses everything dear to him, including his family and animals. He still obeys God but Satan then causes boils to cover Job’s body.
Three friends come to console Job but fail to do so. They tell him he must have sinned and God is punishing him. However, Job protests his innocence and blames God for punishing the righteous as well as the wicked. Job would like to talk to God but cannot find him. When we are overcome by difficulties we often call out to God and, like Job, cannot get an answer, thus doubting God’s presence. However, there is a true saying, “when the student is ready the teacher appears”.
These friends represent Job’s personality which is our physical, emotional and mental bodies. These are our three lower bodies. We have seven in total and have to ascend back to Source through these. The Soul takes on a new personality with each incarnation. When we gain control over our personality we have achieved the third initiation. This is not easy and can take many, many lifetimes. We have to consider what changes we need to make otherwise our progress stagnates and tests will continue to confront us until the message gets through. Spiritual help is always available, but we have to ask for it. We have Free Will and responsibility is personal.
Job is now ready to receive spiritual wisdom. This is when Elihu, the Hierophant, appears. A Hierophant is one who explains spiritual wisdom. There are various interpretations regarding Elihu. Christians and those Theosophists who have a Christian background believe Elihu is the Holy Spirit whereas Theosophists generally regard Elihu, the Hierophant, as one who is there to oversee the initiation process.
It is up to each one of us to decide what the meaning is for us personally and as to how we respond. From a Christian standpoint it is necessary to look to the Holy Spirit for Divine guidance rather than to Higher Beings such as Ascended Masters and Archangels who feature in Theosophy.
Whatever interpretation we take we are all on the same journey back to Source. The Christian approach fails to explain certain issues due to the fact that much has been removed from the Bible, such as Karma and Reincarnation which help explain the trials and difficulties we face in life. This gives the Church power and control. Even the Holy Spirit isn’t understood by many Christians. As a young child in Sunday School I loved the hymn “Holy Spirit truth Divine” written by the American clergyman Samuel Longfellow, a prolific hymn writer. I am sure that I didn’t understand a word but loved to sing it: I still do. No one explained anything. However, it makes much more sense now and is full of meaning. The first verse is “Holy Spirit truth Divine, Dawn upon this Soul of mine. Word of God and inward light wake my spirit clear my sight.” I now believe “clear my sight” refers to seeing spiritually and not focussing at a physical level. The entire hymn can be used as a meditation.
Elihu is Job’s teacher but Job still professes his innocence. He is certain he is righteous and condemns the unrighteous. Elihu points out to Job he justified himself rather than God and the cause of his suffering is pride, arrogance and being judgmental. He must let go of these attitudes and listen to what God wants. Elihu explains suffering is not punishment from God but is there for our ultimate good to bring us back to God.
Elihu explains God wants to guide us and does this through dreams and visions when our mind is quiet. Elihu is giving wise guidance to Job and encouraging him to take his thoughts away from the illusion of material existence to an understanding of what is true and eternal. It is only by losing attachment to the physical world and by trying to understand what is true and eternal that we find peace and fulfilment. By understanding where our thinking has gone wrong we can repent and change. Negative ideas and opinions have to be sacrificed as we turn our thoughts to what will lead us to oneness with God. Job is being prepared for his third initiation although he still believes in his innocence and is certain God will agree if he can talk directly to God.
God speaks in a whirlwind and takes over from Elihu as Job’s teacher. When we ask for God’s help it comes although perhaps not in the way we expect. Whirlwinds are mentioned several times in the Old Testament and are associated with God’s presence and power. A whirlwind is a sign that change needs to take place.
Job is about to achieve his third initiation but only after he understands God’s wonderful creation. God shows Job the wonders of the Cosmos and Job reflects on God’s wisdom and greatness. He understands that God is omnipotent and omnipresent. Job understands his personality cannot be compared to God’s wisdom and power. He becomes aware of the spiritual realm which we cannot see with our physical eyes.
Job then says “I abhor myself” and he repents. He is letting go of his lower self, ie his personality which controlled him, and his focus is now on God. He has now undergone his third initiation and can look to his Soul for guidance instead of allowing his physical, emotional and mental bodies to be his focus. He has now mastered these and can move towards his next initiation.
Job’s wife and family are returned to him. His wealth is restored, being double what was taken from him.
Job understands pride and self-righteousness along with cravings for respect from others must go and be replaced by humility. This is a reminder of the Four Noble Truths in Buddhism which states Craving and Desire are the cause of Suffering and letting go of these leads to the end of Suffering.
Reading the Bible literally does not give an esoteric understanding. It’s only when we take time to be silent, go within to ask for guidance that we gain an understanding of the teachings that are there to assist our initiation process and spiritual evolution. As with Job, it takes many incarnations, and eventually we will all achieve Oneness with God.
What we can learn from Job
1. Truth is within
Elihu taught Job to consider God’s wonderful works. This is good advice for us as well. Elihu explained that God does not punish but desires unity and harmony for all. In Chapter 32:8 Elihu states “There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” We are never separate from God as our Soul is our permanent connection to the Almighty. If we seek solutions to problems at a physical level we fail to make progress. By taking our consciousness to Soul level God will inspire us. However, we have free will and must request help. It is important to listen for guidance.
Job learned God speaks in many ways including dreams and visions. Requests for guidance can be made prior to falling asleep and it is helpful to keep pen and paper handy to make notes on wakening. Do not wait until later as guidance will generally be forgotten quickly.
Heaven is within and not a far off locality. We are never separate from our Divine Source and every difficulty overcome takes us forward on our journey back to the Source of our being. Sitting in the quiet and taking our thoughts to a higher level away from problems allows guidance to come through.
Theosophy teaches that there are many Ascended Masters who have undergone their 6th initiation and have chosen to assist us. Again, it is important to request their guidance. It is helpful to learn about these Ascended Masters as they have many different attributes which can support and guide us. Archangels and Angels are also available to be contacted and are mentioned in many religions.
2. Finding like minded friends
It is good to support friends in trouble and also to feel we can turn to friends for help during times of suffering. When offering comfort to others it is important to keep our thoughts at a higher level and not allow the personality to offer guidance. Job’s three friends came to offer comfort but were unhelpful as they judged him as having sinned which he denied. As already said, the allegory represents Job’s friends as his own personality. When problems are analysed at a material level Higher Wisdom cannot come through. It was much better when they simply sat in silence. If we wish to support friends and don’t know what to say sitting in the quiet for prayer or meditation is taking a higher, more helpful approach.
Compassion is a beautiful quality and is one of the Spiritual Laws. It’s about empathy for others without being judgmental. Having like minded friends who understand Spirituality is valuable and they will always be a comfort in times of suffering.
3. Coping with trials
Job’s trials and suffering seemed endless and he believed God was punishing him although he had committed no sins. It was only when Elihu taught him to seek God that his life changed.
We often go through all kinds of difficulties and it’s easy to blame God and others and not ourselves. It is then that problems seem to multiply.
These problems eventually led Job to his 3rd initiation when he understood God’s power and that God does not punish. When we understand difficulties are there to bring us back into harmony with God we can take steps to overcome them as we accept and learn.
We are each on our own journey of initiations and each one takes us to the next level. It’s like our education in life. We can’t go to college without going through tests and examinations in school. If we didn’t succeed in these we’d be setting ourselves up to fail. It’s best to understand that everything happens for a reason and be grateful for every lesson being presented.
4. Pride and Humility
Humility is a quality that Job had to acquire as his pride, along with other negative attributes, contributed to his suffering. This involved changing his beliefs such as condemning those he believed to be unrighteous.
Like Job, we have to examine our attitudes towards others and achieve humility. It’s not about putting ourselves down but being at peace with ourselves and accepting others without judgment or criticism. Pride eventually leads to humiliation.
When we understand the unity of all life, (the Spiritual Law of Oneness), see others as spiritual brothers and sisters, and look for the good within them, we can support them on their spiritual journey.
It is helpful to consider Galatians 5:22-23. It lists the fruit of the spirit which relate to love and humility. These qualities of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, meekness and temperance can be used for meditation.
5. Spiritual Laws – our guide to Initiations
The Creator has given us Spiritual/Universal Laws as pointers to evolving back to Oneness through many tests and initiations.
These Laws are permanent, unchanging and cannot be altered. By complying with them life will be satisfying and peaceful. The Laws are found in major religions but worded differently. When creeds and dogmas are ignored and the focus is on Truth, guidance is found which assists us in taking the right approach in difficult situations. Theosophy states “there is no religion higher than Truth”. Non compliance brings suffering and eventually we understand we have gone astray and take a Spiritual approach to right wrongs. As Elihu explained to Job, God does not punish, but these Laws when obeyed bring us back to harmony with God. They ensure justice and harmony will prevail. Charles W Leadbeater explained, in his Liturgy for the Liberal Catholic Church, that “perfect justice rules the world”.
The Law which brings us into harmony is the Law of Cause and Effect, often referred to as the Law of Karma. Whatever we do will return to us, even in another incarnation. In the New Testament (Galatians 6:7) it is stated “whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”.
Job did not understand that failing to work in harmony with Spiritual Laws brought the misery he hoped to avoid. By making daily sacrifices on behalf of his children he showed fear instead of trust. The Law of Trust is about understanding God’s power and desire to care for us in all situations. Job was afraid God would be displeased. Job’s attention was on the Law of Attraction and meant he was attracting what he wanted to avoid. We must keep our thoughts at a higher level of consciousness. Job also ignored the Law of Non judgment when he considered himself superior to others. There are many Spiritual Laws and our book, “Living the Spiritual Laws for Health and Abundance”, gives a basic introduction to 36 Laws with a set of questions for each Law.
If we can put into practice the Laws of Oneness, Cause and Effect and Unconditional Love this is a good start towards implementing other Laws. We incarnate to balance our Karma and by looking to the Spiritual Laws for guidance we find a more peaceful and satisfying life instead of blaming God and others for our suffering, which is what Job did.
Here are some pointers to where basic guidance appears in different spiritual texts.
In the New Testament Matthew Chapters 5 – 7 gives a summary of Jesus’ teachings about God’s Laws and ways in which these should be practised in daily life.
The Four Noble Truths refer to the cause and cessation of suffering. The Eightfold Path describes the path to enlightenment. It describes commitment to living each day with the right intentions, right action and mindfulness, which are just some of the practices required.
The Bhagavad Gita relates the teachings Arjuna received from Krishna. He taught that the Soul is the true self and we are all part of God who is omnipotent. Truth is within and needs to be sought to reach enlightenment. Everyone needs to achieve Dharma, a word with no exact English translation. It is about doing the right thing and taking action in accordance to one’s duty.
The Voice of the Silence is a translation by HP Blavatsky of excerpts taken from the Bhuddist text “The Book of the Golden Precepts”. All of us are on the path to enlightenment and we have free will as to which of two paths we choose to follow. One is selfish with the desire to relieve one’s pain and suffering, and the other is about service to others through spiritual practices. It is a source of spiritual guidance for taking steps to evolve spiritually. It explains the need to control the Lower Self which leads to gaining wisdom from the Soul. This is what Job had to learn.
6. Meditation and Journal Keeping
Job failed to see that his negative approach to his suffering was destroying him. His situation went from bad to worse as he failed to go within himself to find God.
By taking time twice per day to meditate the attention is taken away from the ego and problems are solved at a spiritual level. As thoughts are taken to a higher level of consciousness Soul guidance can be received. To gain most benefit it is advisable to keep a daily journal. This allows us to consider how the day went. Entries can include what went well and what we could have done better. This shows what positive changes need to made. Changing our thoughts is often the most important step to take. Our website contains helpful guidance on Journal Keeping and Changing Thoughts.
Actions taken, emotions felt can be recorded as can guidance received in meditation. A private Journal allows us to be honest with ourselves. It is helpful to use spiritual affirmations and examples of these are on our website.
Job had to repent of his sins. A journal assists us in identifying our wrongs. Thus we can repent and consider what changes need to be adopted.
Excellent guidance is given by William Q Judge in his short article “The Daily Initiation”. He reminds us that it is the daily events and our interactions with others that need to be monitored. It is how we handle these daily occurrences that lead to our next initiation.
7. A Question of Healing
The question of healing arises in the Book of Job but seems not to be addressed by commentators or churches. We are not told explicitly that God healed Job. It is stated that God restored what Job had lost but it is unclear if this included the healing of his skin eruptions.
However, in Chapter 33:23 there is an interesting statement by Elihu: “his flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth”. In the New Testament, in James 5:11, there is a reference to the patience of Job and James explains “the Lord is pitiful and of tender mercies”. We can’t be sure but it appears likely that Job was healed.
Job’s afflictions increased but he still viewed himself as righteous. The final affliction was the skin eruptions. When we experience difficulties and do not learn the lesson the stress we create within ourselves often leads to breakdown in health with varying symptoms. It is widely accepted that skin problems can be stress related. Like Job, if we fail to observe the Spiritual Laws we build up negative Karma. When a positive attitude is taken to life’s problems and trust in God is maintained we surmount difficult issues. The old cliché “let go, let God” is worth bearing in mind and we are less likely to suffer emotionally and physically.
Our thoughts and attitudes create all kinds of suffering. There can also be Karmic reasons for problems brought from past lives. The best approach is to allow negative Karma to come back and work with it without complaining. As we ask for guidance and healing energies to assist us problems become less burdensome and we avoid creating more negative Karma. (Please see our website for Articles on Karma and other topics.)
By understanding there is a reason for everything and looking to our Soul and Spiritual Laws for guidance in order to take a positive approach to difficulties we progress along our spiritual pathway, being more at peace.
8. Personality v Soul / Higher Self
Job’s three friends represented his personality which is the Physical, Emotional and Mental Bodies. Functioning at this lower level fails to achieve beneficial outcomes. The Lower Bodies have to become subservient to the Soul to achieve the third initiation.
When we function at a personality level difficulties cannot be overcome. When Job achieved enlightenment he understood his negative thoughts were the root of his misery.
It takes courage and perseverance to bring the personality under control. We have to learn to
(a) consider how we treat and use our physical body,
(b) become aware of negative feelings, such as pride and anger, and change these to loving and compassionate feelings, and
(c) recognise negative thoughts, such as being judgmental, and look for the good in others.
These changes will enable us to achieve the third initiation. It’s not easy but as we monitor ourselves daily we will eventually win. This makes keeping a Journal a valuable tool for positive change. It is our responsibility.
9. The wonder of Creation
Job understood the power and wisdom of God when shown the wonders of creation. We can begin to understand God by sitting in nature and meditating on life which we take so much for granted. Consider the minerals, plants and animals that are the manifestation of the Creator. Along with humans all life is interconnected and interdependent. All is one life. We begin to understand the Spiritual Law of Oneness by observing creation.
All forms of life need each other for survival. Everything is so often taken for granted and the wonder of nature is overlooked. All forms of life have their own level of consciousness and evolve through different levels by assisting each other. As humans it is our duty to care for and assist the lower levels to evolve.
Give thanks for the beauty of life, from the humble daisy to the mighty oak, the colour in the butterfly’s wings. Consider also the rhythm in nature, the seasons, the tides, the movement of the planets, and wonder also at the rhythm in our bodies. This is the Law of Gratitude, appreciating everything that we have been given.
It is worthy to note that God did not discuss Job’s problems but showed him how to take his consciousness to the beauty and majesty of creation. This tells us not to keep going over issues at a physical level, but to look for God’s power for answers that will bring solutions that restore peace and healing.
Cecil Frances Alexander, a 19th Century hymn writer, wrote a children’s hymn, “All things bright and beautiful”, which can be found on the internet. She lists so much in nature for which to be thankful and this is valuable, not just for children, but for adults to meditate on our amazing universe. We then understand Job’s words “things too wonderful for me which I knew not” (Job 43:3).
When we acknowledge we are part of all that exists we can appreciate our own God given power which is within us all.
10. The choice is ours
In the New Testament Jesus talked about entering at the wide gate or the narrow gate. The story of Job is an example of entering the wide gate. If we take this path in life we become absorbed in the illusion and glamour of the many physical attractions and the route back to Oneness with the Creator involves much pain and disappointment. Job endured much misery as a result of entering the wide gate. This gate seems attractive but it lengthens our journey as we take actions which distract us away from where we should be heading.
The narrow gate Jesus talked about is difficult and involves practising his teachings. Theosophy also teaches a choice between two paths both of which eventually lead to Oneness with the Creator. The first path is about drifting through life often accepting others’ teachings, eg those of the church and society, without questioning. It’s the easy route and can involve selfishness and a desire for personal gain.
The other path concerns going within to discover Truth. It’s a difficult route with trials and temptations to be overcome. It’s a path of service and requires humility, dedication and commitment. The initiations are the means of progress towards Oneness with all life. Job experienced much despair on the first path which is like entering the wide gate. Thus we can learn from Job’s traumas. Again there is a similarity between the teachings of Christianity and Theosophy. Both warn us the easy route is not the direct one, but both will eventually lead to the unity of all life.
As we take time to go within and ask for guidance we will be given strength and support to take the path which avoids the pitfalls of the easy route. The value of the Book of Job is to see ourselves as Job and seek to avoid the misery Job suffered. This doesn’t make life easy but when we understand the reasons for difficulties and disappointments we learn from them. As we daily monitor ourselves, and make beneficial changes we will understand and accept trials as our means to spiritual progress through many initiations.
Our thoughts create our actions, feelings and experiences. To make positive changes the power of thought must be understood and decisions made to monitor and change thoughts to bring positive outcomes. Thoughts are energy and we have the power to use that energy for our wellbeing.
Job craved admiration from others and this contributed to his misery. Cravings and desires cause us to give away our personal power to others instead of owning the Divine power within us and using it for the good of all. When we give away our power we become victims. Relying on what others think of us leads to lack of self-confidence and this negativity goes to the subconscious mind and becomes part of our belief system. It leads to becoming a victim instead of being master of our life and destiny.
We are all manifestations of God and all life is One. We are endowed with God’s qualities of Love and Will. Will is the power to manifest and it is our responsibility to manifest good. It is best to affirm this Divine power each day and our Higher Self Affirmation on our website is available to use.
To live a spiritual life will power must go hand in hand with the Spiritual Law of Self Love. This is not selfishness or feeling superior, as Job did. Love is a Divine quality and as we are all part of the Oneness of life, Love must extend to all. If we are not at peace within ourselves and don’t love and value ourselves as God’s offspring then we will not extend that quality to others. Self Love is Unconditional Love. No matter what we do God still loves us so we need to extend Love to all without judgment. Job saw faults in others rather than seeing their true identity.
Joshua David Stone, in his book “Soul Psychology: Keys to Ascension”, states that the two most important relationships in life are our relationship to self and our relationship to God. When we take our thoughts and beliefs away from the ego and seek guidance from our Soul this will benefit all areas of life. It is our responsibility and starts with us. When we succeed in bringing our life into harmony then our relationship with ourself will lead to the right relationship with God and with others.
The Soul Mantra, available on the internet, is an invocation given to Alice Bailey by Ascended Master Djwahl Kuhl. Using this daily in meditation assists merging with Soul consciousness which is what we strive to attain.
We are all striving, as Job was, to reach our third initiation. Let us learn from Job’s experience and avoid the pitfall which caused so much suffering. As we understand his trials led to spiritual evolution we can appreciate that our trials, when overcome with Unconditional Love, will lead us onward on our spiritual journey back to our Divine Source. Letting go of fear and trusting there is a Divine Plan for our ultimate good is our key to coping with whatever confronts us.
© Helen W A Hain 2021
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