In the beautiful setting of Camp Chesterfield nestles one of the most marvelous tributes to the religions of the world that has ever been erected. The first awe inspiring spectacle that greets the eye of the visitor is the gigantic stone fountain, beautifully illuminated with multi-colored neon lights, spraying thousands of gallons of water skyward every hour.
From the fountain, the visitor walks down the grassy slope to the Garden of Prayer, the shrine wherein thousands have made communion with Spirit, there to receive health of body and peace of mind. In this calm and peaceful atmosphere you may really feel the touch of Spirit.
Further down the shady grove is the memorial to religious leaders of all times. It is doubtful if there is anything similar in the entire world. In the center of a semi-circular wall stands Osiris, symbol of the ancient civilization and religion of Egypt and the River Nile. On his robe are hieroglyphics: the circle, meaning Sun, and the crab, representing sun worship. To the right around the wall are busts of Zoroaster, founder of Magi, Abraham the Hebrew Patriarch, Mohammed, the mighty Arab, and Zeus, the Greek king of Gods. To the left of Osiris is the bust of the Chinese Lao-Tse, bearing on his head the words, “to understand and to proclaim.” Next is the great Hindu, Buddha, and the Chinese Philosopher, Confucius, also wearing the Chinese inscription of Lao-Tse. Vardhammana, founder of Jainism, completes the semi-circle.
The great religious founders of history are gathered in one large arc, each with his arms imprisoned in rough natural stone, each has his eyes turned toward the center of the circle, where stands the pedestal supporting the bust of Christ, free and unfettered, head thrown back, with eyes upraised toward the Creator of All. The fierce countenance of the Moslem, the wisdom of Confucius, Lao-Tse and Zoroaster, the inscrutable Buddha and Vardhammana, are completely dominated by the passionate sweetness, and impregnable strength of the spirit of Christ.
The next spectacle on this Trail of Religion is the tribute to the American Indian, those freedom-loving, God worshiping first inhabitants of the country in which we are now living. The Indian is close to the thoughts of every Spiritualists and no fitting of a tribute to him could be conceived than this life-sized statue of the American Indian atop an eight foot pedestal, palms upturned, face looking toward the source of all light and life.
This Trail of religion can mean as much to you as you may make of it. As you wander down the trail you will go, in thought, to the ecstasies of religious feeling from the past to the present. There is nothing like it in all the world—erected through the help of many kind donors, it has been built at the cost of many thousands of dollars to help you enjoy your visit to Camp Chesterfield, and to take home with you a new understanding and appreciation of your religion.
|GUATMA was the son of a Hindu Rajah, who was disillusioned by his first real contacts with life and people. He lived about 500 years before Christ, and was one of the first teachers of reincarnation. He believed that after death the spirit returned to earth in another body, possibly human, animal or even vegetable. He believed that life was a curse, and only the practice of certain virtues in the various living experiences could end the endless unpleasantness, resulting in complete extinction. When he began to teach this religion, he called himself Buddha, which means enlightened one. The typical image of Buddha depicts a self-satisfied smile, coupled with an aura of mystery, which is quite appropriate, since no occidental mind has ever been able to grasp the full meaning of Buddhism. There are today approximately 376,000,000 Buddhists in the world.
VARDHAMMANA was also a Hindu, who lived about the time of Buddha, and his religion, which was called Jainism, was very similar. He, too, taught re-incarnation, and believed that trees, grass and even water, had souls. Very little is known of the life of Vardhammana, but about 10,000,000 Jains are still in existence today.
ABOUT a hundred years before the two great Hindu leaders, there were two leaders living in China—Lao-Tse and Kung-Fu-Tse (Confucius). Lao-Tse founded Taoism. He believed that man’s every action should be spontaneous; that everything should be done on impulse, without reflection or reasoning. He believed that life should be effortless, that there could be no beauty where there was strain. The name Lao-Tse means “old boy,” and he was reputed to be of miraculous birth. Legend says Lao-Tse was eighty years old when born, and that he had long white hair and beard at birth.
CONFUCIUS was a scholar and teacher, and for a time held official positions in China. His wisdom is revered to this day, but he took no account of life after death. “While you do not know life,” he said, “what can you know about death?” There are about 394,000,000 Confucianists and Taoists today.
ZOROASTER, the Persian Prophet, is claimed by some to have really been a version of Abraham. His teachings and that of the Hebrew are strikingly similar. He believed in the good God Ormuzd, and an evil God Ahriman. He taught that the soul, after death, passes over the Accountant’s Bridge, where the good and bad deeds of the soul are written. If there are more good deeds than the bad, the soul goes to bliss; if there are more bad than good, the soul goes to pain. If the tally is equal, the soul goes to a land of Shaw to await the decision of the Great Judge. His writings, called The Avesta, were written on animal hides. Most of these, together with Zoroaster and his priests, were destroyed by invaders, who were later defeated. It is said Zoroaster laughed the day he was born, being of unusual mentality at birth. It is claimed, that by placing one’s hand on top of his head, a person could feel the vibrations of his remarkable brain.
|ZEUS or Jupiter was the great symbol of Greek Mythology. The king god of Olympus was the subject of the great sculptor Phidias, which became one of the great wonders of the world. This great seated statue was seven times normal size, and was erected in a beautiful temple. The body was carved of ivory, and the robe of beaten gold. The throne os ebony was covered with precious jewels. The nature of the work made it famous as the world’s greatest sculpture. This mighty throne is spoken of in the prophesy of Revelations as the Seat of Satan. The temple was pillaged and the statue completely destroyed.
|OSIRIS was an ancient Egyptian, believed to have been the son of the Sun. He is believed to have originated Sun worship, which spread over the prehistoric world. Osiris, the son of Re (Sun) followed his father as king of the world. His wicked brother, Set, murdered him, and took his place. Isis, the wife of Osiris, together with the jackal-god Anubias, found Osiris’ body, and by various charms brought it back to life. Unable to return to his earthly kingdom, Osiris became ruler of the spiritual world. Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, overthrew Set, and became king. Set then became the wicked god. Egyptians worshiped animals and many other gods, but Sun worship persisted throughout their history, and helped develop their great astronomical science.
|ABRAHAM, the grand old Jewish Patriarch, is well known to all as the father of the Hebrew race. His life and legend are well known to most of the civilized world. He was the great ancestor of the Messiah, and he received the promise that in his seed were all nations of the world to be blessed. He has a place in practically all present day religions, with the exception of the Oriental.
|MOHAMMED, the great warrior, was the founder of the Moslem religion. The name Moslem means “traitor,1 and was given because this new religion opposed the pagan gods of its day in Mecca. This great Arab was well along in life as a successful merchant, when he claimed to have had a vision calling him to be the prophet of Allah. He spread his teachings largely at the point of the sword, and threatened to overthrow the Christian world for many years. He wrote the Koran, supposed to have been dictated by the angel Gabriel. There are approximately 1.5 billion Muslems in the world today. 1The term “Moslem” has largely been replaced in modern usage with the term “Muslim” which actually means “one who surrenders and submits to the laws of God.”
Christ is regarded as the outstanding religious figure of all history by the present civilized world. He brought to mankind the most sublime teaching and pattern of existence ever known. Some unbelievers also claim that Christ apparently founded more different religions than the rest of mankind. Regardless of opinion, however, Christ still stands as the greatest religious founder of the entire world.2
2 This statement reflects the time period in which it was written. During the 1940s, many “Christian Spiritualists” had very influential voices and held powerful positions within the organizational arm at Camp Chesterfield. Spiritualism accepts the truths from all religious traditions equally, allowing Spiritualists to follow a spiritual path which is most suited to their beliefs and convictions.