Thursday, December 27, 2012

Birth in the Cave

“The motif of birth in a cave is . . . very ancient. This symbol is associated particularly with the winter solstice, when the sun has travelled to its farthest point away from the tilted earth and the light is in the nadir of the abyss. That is the date of the birth of the god Mithra, who is lord of light. He was born—we recall that his mother is the Earth—holding a rock-hewn weapon in his hand. Mithra was the principle competitor with Christianity, in the period of the first three centuries. The Christmas date was placed on December twenty-fifth, which was the solstice time, in order to compete with The Lord of Light, Mithra. No one really knows when Christ was born. It was settled on December twenty-fifth for mythological, not historical, reason.” …………Joseph Campbell

It is not to refute any tradition that this post is done, rather to illustrate the rich fabric of mythology in which many a deep spiritual wisdom are embedded. Mythology is the bedrock of spiritual insights. It is a format for ease of communicating spiritual mysteries. As Joseph Campbell explains the cave birth signifies the emergent phenomenon of Divine light.
It is important that the burial of Christ takes place in a cave to rise again in three days.
In her article “Mithra – The Pagan Christ”, D. M. Murdock writes:
“..the cave shown at Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus was actually a rock shrine in which the god Tammuz or Adonis was worshipped, as the early Christian father Jerome tells us; and its adoption as the scene of the birth of our Lord was one of those frequent instances of the taking over by Christians of a pagan sacred site. The propriety of this appropriation was increased by the fact that the worship of a god in a cave was commonplace in paganism: Apollo, Cybele, Demeter, Herakles, Hermes, Mithra and Poseidon were all adored in caves; Hermes, the Greek Logos, being actually born of Maia in a cave, and Mithra being "rock-born."………”

All sacred texts must be read as sacred history and not should not be subject to historical critique or analysis.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa compares the birth in the cave to the spiritual light which abolished the darkness of death that ruled the world.  The incarnation of Christ has humility as its beginning and its end.  His death is prefigured in the manger:  the swaddling clothes foretell of His burial clothes.

In the 2nd century, Justin Martyr stated that Jesus had been born in a cave outside the town, while the ‘Protoevangelium of James’ described a legendary birth in a cave nearby.

In the “infancy Narrative of James” which is an apocryphal text, witness of the midwife at the birth Christ is explained in the following passage:
“And the light, when it was born, multiplied, and it obscured the light of the sun itself by its shining rays. The cave was filled by the bright light together with a most sweet odour. The light was born just as the dew descends from Heaven to the earth. For its odour is fragrant beyond all the sweet smell of ointments.
I, however, stood stupefied and amazed. Awe grasped me. I was gazing intently at the fantastically bright light which had been born. The light, however, after a while, shrank, imitated the shape of an infant, then immediately became outwardly an infant in the usual manner of born infants. I became bold and leaned over and touched him. I lifted him in my hands with great awe, and I was terrified because he had no weight like other babies who are born. I looked at him closely; there was no blemish on him, but he was in his body totally shining, ……….”
It is very important to understand that this is not a historical narrative but rather a deep mystical experience of the evangelist expressed in common language.

In the same text we witness another symbolical reference to the three day waiting before emerging from the cave; “On the third day after the Lord's birth, Mary went out of the cave; she went into the stable and placed the child in a manger, ………….."

The rich mythology in the nativity narrative should prompt us to understand the spiritual significance of these writings.

May the blessing of Divine light eradicate the darkness of narrow views and free us from the slavery of ordained belief systems.

Love to you all

Monday, December 24, 2012

Humanity - Word Made Flesh

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” ………Isaiah 55: 10-11

"The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began. Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.” ……….Proverb 8:20,21,30,31

Tomorrow the world celebrates Christmas, the birth of Christ. What is so special about Christmas and why this particular birth is celebrated in such a significant way. This question leads us to some of the esoteric writings in the Old testament and the two quotes I have selected portray the meaning and purpose of human creation in this world. Prophet Isaiah, form whose scroll Jesus read out in the synagogue the purpose of his mission….Luke 4:17-18, lays out in clear terms the purpose with which the process of creation takes place in the Divine plan.

Co-creation is the purpose of all creation. We are participants in the creative process and thus we become Sons of God and His extension in this world. This is a process of empowerment. The creative potential of the Divine does not directly act in every single act of creation from the primary source. The primary source is a pure potential. It is non-moving, still, a non-duality and yet the ‘primum evocare’ (primary call-out) of all creation from which all creation proceeds. This is what the prophet, in simple language calls “… word that goes out from my mouth….”. This word itself is the potential that carries out the act of creation. The raw material, the tool, the design, the instruction and the artisan are all contained in this very potential that emanates from the Divine. Through this unique process, the product of creation and the Divine Creator become indistinguishable. The role of the creature thus becomes that of the creator and this is the true purpose for which creation takes place. It is wrong to assume that the creative process was a one time act of the Divine. This concept became prevalent due to conditioning of our mind based on a linear time scale. For the Divine which is beyond time there cannot be an action with a time tag.

In simple language, the Proverb, in the 8th chapter authored by King Solomon, captures the inseparable nature of the creature and the Divine creator by eliminating the time dimension and positioning all human creation to the very first instant of creation. This is why he times the call to be a Divine craftsman as one that has been “………appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began……”

This is in the same vein that John talks of the birth of Christ in the first chapter of his Gospel
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” …….John 1: 1-3

It must be understood that the Divine word which emanates from the Divine mind is an expression of an intent, yet this intention is not limited by the constraints of the human mind but operates beyond the space-time limitation and formulation. Every creation is endowed with this potential but we are limited due to our own nature which seeks to reside in the sensory domain. To be called to become Divine co-creators, we need to emulate Christ Consciousness which while being born in the world and residing in this world always stood apart in the creative process of endowing a superior consciousness to all whom he touched. This is the second birth of which Christ talks to Nichodemus; namely to be born of the spirit.

May the birth of Christ reignite the spark of our true creative potential.

Love to you all

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Self Propagation of the Absolute

“The Augustinian idea that the good tends by its very nature to communicate itself, is at bottom Platonic: this idea is self evident since, according to Plato, the Absolute is by definition the “Sovereign Good”, the Agathón (αγαθών), and is to say “Good” is to say Radiation or Manifestation. And that is why in Islam the second name of God is the “infinitely merciful”, Rahman; it is in its virtue of Rahmah that God created the world, He who “was a hidden treasure” and who “wished to be known”, according to a hadith. …” …………Frithjof Schuon

In his book “Survey of Metaphysics and Esotericism”  in the chapter “Creation as a Divine Quality” the above passage occurs. When reading this passage, it touched me because what has been intuitively understood by many mystics and sages prior to the information age, today we can take a mental journey to pry open the deep truth brought out in these words. Let us first analyse from where the various elements of these metaphysical and esoteric thoughts evolve.

Plato represents the inward arena, subjective extrapolation, synthesis and reintegration, he would have been influenced both early thinkers as well as by intuitive intellection. The linkage between the Absolute, Sovereign Good and Manifestation though Platonic in nature it could have been derived from earlier postulates derived from Pythagoreanism and also the Egyptian tradition originating in the wisdom of Thoth which would have survived in alchemy. This link has been extrapolated into the future through various philosophers and theologians in various spiritual traditions.

The link between Plato and Islam is very apparent in the perception of early Sufi saints and mystics.
Abdul Karim Jili had a vision of him “filling the whole of space with light”; also, that the disciples of Rumi see in Plato (Sayyid-na Aflatun) a kind of prophet. Moslem authors in general see in him an eminent master of music, like Orpheus charming wild beasts with his lute in virgin nature whither he had withdrawn after a disagreement with Aristotle, which is full of meaning. It may be added that Plato, like Socrates and Pythagoras, was the providential spokesman of Orphism. Some Sufis consider Plato and other Greeks to be prophets.

Similarly Christian mystics and thinkers, starting from St. Augustine to Meister Eckhart had a great influence by Plato’s philosophy and theology.
Neo-Platonism was a major influence on Christian theology throughout Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages in the West notably due to St. Augustine of Hippo, who was influenced by the early Neo-Platonist Plotinus and Porphyry, and the works of the Christian writer Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, who was influenced by later Neo-Platonist, such as Proclus and Damascius.
It should be noted that Meister Eckhart called Plato “the great priest”.
In the twentieth century, Rudolf Steiner’s  Spiritual science under the brand of Anthroposophy had Neo-platonic fabric.

The idea here in this short article is to see the continuous chain of thought that culminates in Frithjof Schuon’s statement quoted above. Sovereign or Absolute good is the that which has no qualifiable attributes as any assignment of attribute leads to duality. If manifestation consists, at the most fundamental level, a primal entity then this entity has to be non-dual in nature. This is what we are discovering in Quantum physics. The phenomenon of Entanglement necessitates removal of all restrictions imposed by space-time and both special and general theory of relativity. Hence, in no less term than consciousness, many leading physicists define the basic ‘ground of being’ of all manifestations.
The Divine consciousness being devoid of all dualities is the Absolute Good from which all manifestations evolve.

In the words of David Bohm, the pioneering Quantum Physicist:
“In the enfolded [or implicate] order, space and time are no longer the dominant factors determining the relationships of dependence or independence of different elements. Rather, an entirely different sort of basic connection of elements is possible, from which our ordinary notions of space and time, along with those of separately existent material particles, are abstracted as forms derived from the deeper order. These ordinary notions in fact appear in what is called the "explicate" or "unfolded" order, which is a special and distinguished form contained within the general totality of all the implicate orders.”  (Bohm, 1980)

Love to you all

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fortress on a Hill

Yeshua said, "A city built on a high hill and fortified cannot fall, nor can it be hidden."
……Saying 32, Gospel of Thomas

Deep truth can only be revealed through simple stories or examples when communicating them to an audience of average or below average people of spiritual consciousness. This saying appears very simple and very evident and yet contains two very important requirements of a spiritual aspirant.

The human body is the temple of God or Divine consciousness. It is the fortress in which Divinity resides. It is compared to a city because just as a city has many mansions as well as moderate dwellings along with that of the governor or king, yet subject to the rule in achieving social harmony, so also the human consciousness is the sum total of all karmic imprints manifest in the present form striving towards perfection to unite with the Divine which is the essence of all that exists within this domain.

The fortification which Yeshua talks of is the clothing of the individual manifest soul with a garment of unbreakable yarn bound and woven together to ward off sensory modifications and worldly attachments. A fortress is not made of only stones. The stones are held together with mortar and mortar itself consists of various ingredients which gives it the needed strength. In spiritual progress these fortifications are achieved through detachment from sensory pleasures, controlling the mind through meditation, acquiring superior knowledge through experiential and intuitive journey within and by surrendering to the Divine will to achieve superior consciousness.
A person who achieves these can be compared to a fortified city and whatever assails it, whether it be the force of nature or the enemy from outside, cannot destroy it. So also a person of superior consciousness will not be defeated by the forces of darkness as the city is fortified and bathed in the light of Christ.

It is also a necessity to understand why this city of which Yeshua speaks has to be built on a high hill. Any well fortified city can withstand the assault of an enemy but a fortified city on a hill becomes all the more difficult to take because of the climb and exposure. In Hebraic spiritual language, the hill is symbolic of the hierarchy of Sefirot in the tree of life and the highest level is the Ein Sof or the divine origin of all created existence.

The old Testament prophets used the same language when communicating the unassailable nature Divine consciousness. “this is the man who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. His bread will be supplied, and water will not fail him.” ……. Isaiah 33:16
Yeshua thus declares “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” …….John 6:35

The entire reference to the “city on the high hill and well fortified” thus points to an individual who is a superior state of consciousness and thus lives in the light of Divine or Christ consciousness.

When this stage is reached this illuminated individual becomes like a beacon on a hill top and cannot be hidden. The darkness dispelling quality that one acquires when enlightened to Christ consciousness becomes the illuminating source for the entire creation.

Love to you all