Viewing entries tagged
the esoteric

Welcome new visitors from Truth Frequency Radio

Welcome new visitors from Truth Frequency Radio

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Special thanks to hosts Chris and Sheree Geo of Truth Frequency Radio for having me on their show last night, December 05, 2015.

We covered a range of topics related to the celestial foundations of the world's myths, ancient scriptures, and sacred traditions -- including some more extensive discussion than I have previously published regarding the spiritual message in the story of the inebriation of Noah, pictured above in a painting (oil on canvas) from the early 1600s by Carlo Saraceni (1579 - 1620).

We also went into some extended discussion of the importance of Thomas in the New Testament texts and in Gnostic tradition.

This interview is currently available for online listening or downloading at this link, and for subscribers to their show it will be available for listening or downloading in their show archives indefinitely.

I believe that for all other listeners, it will be available for listening or downloading only so long as it is the most recent interview, after which it enters the archives.

The part of the show containing my conversation with Chris and Sheree begins at about -145:00 (that's "minus one hundred forty-five minutes") on the embedded play bar found at the link above, which looks like this (you can click on this image to go there as well):

To navigate around to different points in time on the show you can simply click anywhere along that blue line with the high-voltage corona discharge resembling a streamer arc between the spark gap of a Tesla coil(which is a form of radio frequency oscillator, and hence highly appropriate for a show entitled "Truth Frequency").

You can also pause the playback at any time by clicking on the triangle inside the blue circle on the left of the play bar, which starts and stops the audio.

Prior to that -104:00 mark in the show, Chris and Sheree discuss various topics of their own. Of course, I don't necessarily agree with everything that anyone else on earth might say, or everything that might be said in that part of the show, but it should be obvious that none of us really ever agrees with anyone else on every single topic, and I believe that we are all here trying to figure out the complex set of data that we encounter as best we can -- I myself have had to change the entire paradigm through which I view the world on more than one occasion, based on new information that I encountered (my first published book, in fact, was written while I still believed that the scriptures of the Old and New Testament were intended to be taken literally, which I obviously no longer see as consistent with the overwhelming evidence in the stars).

I'm personally not comfortable with frequent references to a "New World Order," and suspect that the "Old World Order" might in fact be much more of a concern and a subject which requires careful examination and consideration. 

I also do not believe by any means that everyone in the police is corrupt, which appears to be implied in one of statements in an ad during a break. I actually believe that police forces and militaries are necessary, but I absolutely agree that they can be misused and also deceived (the metaphor of the orangutans and the gorillas in the extremely important original Planet of the Apes film from 1968 is very helpful in this regard, in my opinion -- see additional discussion here).

However, I most definitely agree with the sentiment that Chris expresses at around -108:00 in the portion of the show before I came online, in which he says: 

But the only way to overcome, I should say, is to realize the power that we have -- and to realize the power of unity, as a human species. You know, forget about all of the labels; forget about all of the religions -- forget about everything else, and just start seeing each other for just . . . human beings. And I guarantee you -- they won't be able to bring in a New World Order, because we won't be controlled at that point.

Chris and Sheree were very gracious hosts and I am very grateful to them for inviting me onto the show and allowing me to discuss a subject which I believe to be extremely important to all of the above subjects. They offered some of their own very insightful perspectives during our two hours that led the conversation in what I hope you will agree were some interesting and fruitful directions.

I have not had the opportunity to talk with them before but I think it is clear that they are exploring important questions regarding human consciousness, and seeking to elevate awareness and consciousness through their insights and their work -- a cause that I think we can all agree to be of the utmost importance.

The show ended just as I was getting ready to thank them for having me on to their program -- so, in case it was cut off by the closing music, I would like to express my deep appreciation to Chris and Sheree for having me on to Truth Frequency Radio.


Below is a list of links to things that I have previously written about some of the subjects that we touched on during the conversation (and, as mentioned above, we went a little deeper into some of these subjects than I have previously, during one or two parts of the interview):

Welcome to all new friends who found this page through the Truth Frequency Radio broadcast or website!


Balaam and the Ass

Balaam and the Ass

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The position of the earth on its annual journey around the sun is currently bringing the part of the heavens into view which I believe forms the basis for the fascinating ancient scriptural incident of Balaam and his ass (or donkey).

The account of Balaam is found in chapters 22 through 24 of the Old Testament book of Numbers, and it involves a number of important themes, chief among them the theme of blessing versus cursing.

The story of Balaam probably does not get much focus from those devoted to a literalistic reading of the scriptures these days (and my own personal experience during the nearly twenty years I was devoted to such an understanding was attending churches teaching a literalist understanding supports that assertion), due to the fact that it poses some fairly significant difficulties for those trying to read it literally.

Chief among these problems is undoubtedly the climax of the story, in which Balaam's donkey turns around and speaks to him to complain about Balaam's inhumane treatment. Balaam doesn't help things, because he answers right back to the donkey as if it is the most natural thing in the world do be accosted by one's mount while out for a ride. The two get into a conversation.

This is actually not the biggest difficulty in the text, as we shall see. The biggest problem is probably the fact that God appears to become angry with Balaam even after he explicitly tells Balaam to go ahead and travel to Moab, as we'll see in the text below.

Another factor which has probably led to the decline in focus on this story is the fact that the older translations consistently refer to Balaam's mount as an ass, which is what it is, because it was apparently not until some time in the 1700s that the word donkey was even used in English to refer to one particular sub-variety of ass. The 1611 King James translation, which had an enormous impact on literature and culture, thus refers to the animal as an ass, and the story has generally been referred to through the centuries in English-speaking cultures as the incident of "Balaam's ass."

However, if we can just get past those superficial problems, we can see in this story yet another example of the incredible worldwide system by which the same celestial foundations were dressed up in myth after myth after myth, in order to convey profound truths to us for our benefit during this earthly sojourn.

Unfortunately, trying to force the ancient scriptures into a literalistic-historical framework can cause us to miss their beautiful message altogether, or to distort it into something that means the exact opposite of what they were actually intended to convey.

The story of Balaam begins in Numbers chapter 22:

1 And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plain of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho.
2 And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.
3 And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel.
4 And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time.
5 He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face [literally "the eye"] of the earth, and they abide over against me:
6 Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou belssest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.

The messengers from Balak come to Balaam and convey the message, but Balaam consults with God and is told in verse 12 not to go with them nor to curse the people, "for they are blessed."

Disappointed, Balak sends yet more princes to Balaam, even more honorable than the first messengers, and this time offers great honor and says that Balaam can name his reward if he agrees to come.

Balaam is again visited by God at night who tells Balaam that if the messengers ask Balaam to go with them, he should rise up and go, but only say the word which God gives to him (verse 20).

This brings us to the most famous part of the story (still in Numbers chapter 22):

22 And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.
23 And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.
24 But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side.
25 And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again.
26 And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.
27 And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.
28 And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?
29 And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.
30 And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever won't to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.
31 Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.

The angel then informs Balaam that, had it not been for the fact that the ass perceived the presence of the angel, the angel would have slain Balaam. Balaam offers to go back home, but the angel tells him to continue, repeating the previous admonition from verse 20 that Balaam is only to say what is given to him to speak.

So Balaam continues, and joins Balak, who takes him "up into the high places of Baal" (verse 41). Balaam instructs Balak to have seven altars prepared, for seven bulls and seven rams, which are made into a burnt offering (Numbers 23: 1 - 6). But when the time comes that Balak expects Balaam to pronounce a great curse, Balaam announces that he cannot curse what God hath not cursed, and concludes with words of blessing (23: 7 - 12). 

Balak is upset, but Balaam notes that he had said from the very start when first approached by Balak's messengers that he could only say what was given to him by God for Balaam to say.

Balak doesn't give up, however, and suggests they try another location, where seven altars are again constructed for seven bulls and seven rams. But the LORD meets Balaam and tells him exactly what to say, resulting in an even more eloquent blessing than before (this time replete with celestial imagery, particularly of a great lion). Balak isn't very happy about this and asks Balaam if he can just say nothing if he's not going to pronounce a curse, but Balaam explains that he must say what the LORD tells him to say (23: 25 - 26).

Balak decides to try one more time, and seven more altars are built as before, with similar results. This time the blessing is even more elaborate and takes up the first part of Numbers 24 (verses 5 - 9). The text also tells us that to deliver this message, Balaam falls into a trance, in which his eyes are open but in which he was given a vision of the Almighty (Numbers 24: 4). 

After this, Balak tells Balaam to flee back to his home, but Balaam asks Balak if he wouldn't like to know more, and goes into another trance to give more predictions -- all of which I believe have to do with the celestial realms and to have spiritual meaning for our lives here on earth, but which could be (and often are) misinterpreted as literal predictions of things that would happen in earthly history. After delivering this message, Balaam returns to his place (Numbers 24: 25).

Now, how can we be reasonably certain that this event, preserved in ancient scripture, is allegorical and not literal and historical?

Setting aside the fact that donkeys cannot actually carry on conversations with humans as Balaam's ass is literally described as doing, there are abundant clues in the story which indicate the exact set of constellations involved.

The best place to start is with Balaam himself. The specific detail that he has his foot crushed by his donkey's efforts to avoid the awe-inducing presence of the angel (Numbers 22: 25), gives us our first clue as to his identity -- and it is a very important one. There is one specific constellation who appears to have a severely twisted foot, and that constellation is currently rising brightly in the east during the "prime-time" viewing hours after the sun goes down: the constellation Perseus.

Below is a star diagram looking generally south and east, in which I have drawn in the outline of the constellation Perseus and several of the accompanying constellations surrounding Perseus which may also play a role in this story.

I've labeled Perseus as playing the role of Balaam in this story, and noted the location of the foot that was injured (ouch -- that looks pretty bad):

Now, if we're correct in identifying Balaam with Perseus (primarily on the basis of the crushed foot in the story, although there is plenty of other corroborating evidence that we will find shortly), then we need to find out which constellation is playing the role of Balaam's mistreated beast of burden in the story: the ass.

It just so happens that, directly beneath the figure of Perseus is the zodiac constellation of Taurus the Bull. Now, we know that this story has not come down through history as the famous tale of Balaam's Bull but rather of Balaam's Ass, so how can we possibly assert that Taurus could be playing the role of an ass in this story?

Well, as you can see from the diagram above (and the labeled diagram below, both of which indicate the outline formed by the brightest stars of the constellation Taurus using orange lines), the zodiac constellation of the Bull primarily consists of the brilliant V-shaped Hyades, and then there are two stars much further out above each of the "prongs" of the "V" which enable us to trace a long line in our imagination from the top of the Hyades to the ends of two mighty bull-horns.

These "horns" could also be envisioned as the ears of an ass.

The ass as a species can have some pretty long and impressive ears, as shown in the image collection below (all images from Wikimedia commons, links to originals hereherehere and here):

Looking again at the stars of the constellation Taurus, it is not hard to understand why the formulators of the world's ancient Star Myths sometimes chose to envision this outline as a long-eared ass:

In the diagram, I've indicated the location of the V-shaped Hyades, and then if you look directly to the "left" of the "V" you can see the two stars which form the tips of the horns (if playing the role of the Bull) or the tips of the ears (if playing the role of an ass, as in the story of Balaam).

But in addition to the fact that the outline of the brightest stars in Taurus can very easily be envisioned as fitting a story with an ass or donkey, there is also plenty of evidence from other myths which help to confirm that our interpretation of the story of Balaam is on the right track so far.

Perhaps the most powerful piece of confirmatory evidence comes from elsewhere in the Hebrew scriptures themselves, for the V-shaped Hyades feature prominently in another Star Myth which I have outlined and discussed in some detail: the Samson cycle of myths.

In the story of Samson, of course, Samson's chosen weapon for slaying thousands of Philistines is the famous "jawbone of an ass," which does not seem to make much sense if the story is taken as literal history. Perhaps Samson might use such an implement in a hurry for one or two opponents, but it hardly seems likely that he would continue to employ it over and over against literally a thousand: wouldn't he decide to pick up one of their weapons after slaying a few enemies who had swords or spears? (Unless, that is, all his opponents were also using jawbones as weapons that day, which seems unlikely).

The account is recorded in the scroll of Judges, chapter 15 and verse 15. I have explained in previous posts and in a video that the story of Samson is clearly not intended to be understood literally, but that it was almost certainly intended to convey powerful esoteric truths regarding our experience in this physical incarnate life (Samson was not a literal-historic character but in fact represents aspects of the incarnation of each and every human soul: in a very real sense, the story of Samson is all about you).

The understanding that Samson's jawbone-weapon is actually a group of stars -- that this jawbone is, in fact, the very specific V-shaped formation of the Hyades -- was one of the first breakthroughs in my own understanding that the stories in the Bible are built upon the very same celestial foundation that underlies all the other myths found in virtually every culture and every corner of our planet. This conclusion is explained by Hertha von Dechend and Giorgio de Santillana in their groundbreaking 1969 text, Hamlet's Mill, in which they present evidence that jawbone-weapons are described in myths from the Americas and from the Pacific Islands as well, and all of them relate to the Hyades (the Hyades are located above the constellation Orion, who can be seen "reaching out" towards them, just as Samson is described as "putting forth his hand" to grasp the jawbone in the book of Judges -- you can actually see a few stars of Orion peeking above the horizon in the star-diagrams presented here).

If the Hyades can function as a jawbone-weapon, and if that jawbone is described as "the jawbone of an ass" rather than "the jawbone of a bull" (as we might expect, since the Hyades are in Taurus), then this is very strong confirmatory evidence to support the proposition that Taurus is functioning as the ass in the story of Balaam as well.

Interestingly enough, as can be seen from the included diagrams here, Perseus is reaching out with one arm in the direction of another important constellation: the beautiful maiden Andromeda, whom Perseus rescues in the Greek myth based upon these same stars. In a moment, we will see that Andromeda is playing the role of the powerful angel in this Old Testament story, but first let us briefly note another important confirmatory piece of evidence from Greek myths which also involves the theme of "ass's ears," and that is the story of King Midas.

In that story, of course, Midas reaches out towards his daughter (played, I am convinced, by the same constellation of Andromeda who plays the heroine in the story of Perseus). It is very noteworthy that Midas was later given ass's ears as a sign of his foolishness, given the above discussion regarding the likelihood that Taurus functions as the ass in the story of Balaam in the Old Testament. The existence of another myth involving Perseus and Andromeda, and featuring ass's ears, indicates that myths involving Perseus and Andromeda can also feature nearby Taurus, but as an ass rather than as a bull in some cases.

Note also that there seems to be an element of greed or of overstepping proper bounds due to temptation of money in both the story of Balaam and (much more clearly) the story of Midas.

All of this evidence appears to indicate that we are on the right track in our analysis of the Balaam story. Let's proceed to the identity of the angel.

In the scriptural text, we are told that an angel blocks the path of Balaam, and that specifically (in Numbers 22: 24) the angel "stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side."

Andromeda is positioned between Perseus and the Great Square of Pegasus, and she is actually touching one corner of the Square itself. If the Square represents the vineyards that are mentioned in verse 24, then it is quite evident that indeed she has a wall on "this side" of her, and a wall on "that side" of her. In fact, I believe this is exactly what the scriptures intend us to understand (it is very common for Star Myths all around the world to contain this very kind of super-abundant evidence, pointing us towards a fairly clear understanding of which constellations they represent).

Just in case we are still in confusion, we can also take a look at verse 22, where the angel is first mentioned, and see that in that verse we are told that Perseus is traveling with "his two servants with him." Just beneath the Great Square of Pegasus is one of the notable "dual constellations" in the zodiac wheel: Pisces. I would argue that the twin fishes of Pisces are probably the "two servants" of Balaam, traveling along the road with him (the road, in this case, following the zodiac through the heavens, up from Taurus to Aries to Pisces to Aquarius).

In fact, I have previously outlined another very important Biblical Star Myth in which Andromeda plays the role of an intercepting angel: the story of Abraham and Isaac. In that story, Perseus plays Abraham about to sacrifice his son, and Andromeda is the angel who stays his hand and points the way to the substitute: the Ram of Aries (located below Andromeda). In fact, the artist who drew this image  included in that previous post does a very good job of depicting the characters as they are arranged in the sky -- Abraham standing with his arms out like Perseus, the angel flying in with outstretched arm in the location that Andromeda is found in the heavens, and the Ram trapped in the thicket just about where Aries is actually seen in the sky as well.

The fact that Andromeda plays an intercepting angel in another Biblical scripture is very strong confirmatory evidence that our interpretation of the Balaam story is on track.

Let's have a look at the analysis thus far:

All in all, the amount of details included in the scriptural account provide overwhelming evidence that the story of Balaam is a celestial allegory, and that it is specifically a celestial allegory involving the region of the heavens containing the constellations Perseus, Taurus, Andromeda, Pisces and the Great Square. To hold that all these celestial correspondences are "merely coincidental" and that the story is really supposed to be understood as a literal-historical account of someone named Balaam (who also happens to have a literal conversation with his donkey using spoken human language, when his foot is crushed because the animal sees an angel blocking the path) seems to be a very unlikely hypothesis at this point, because the texts themselves provide us with abundant evidence that they want to be read as celestial metaphor.

One more set of clues from the text is worth a brief mention, which is the construction of seven altars for seven burnt offerings, which Balaam requests to have built each time Balak takes him up to a high place. Of course, the number seven is fraught with many layers of significance and may be present in the story because of some other aspect of its numerical and symbolical import. However, a very strong argument can be made that the presence of seven altars in this story (a detail repeated over and over) is one more textual clue regarding the celestial origin of this episode.

Just beneath the twisted foot of the constellation Perseus can be found one of the most beautiful celestial formations in the heavens: the brilliant Pleiades. The importance of the Pleiades to cultures around the world is very well known, and has been explored in numerous previous posts on this blog over the years: see for instance

Much more could be written about the importance of the Pleiades in other cultures as well (such as across the Pacific Islands, from Hawai'i to Aotearoa).

The Pleiades is a dazzling cluster of bright and beautiful stars, unmistakeable once you know how to locate it in the sky. It is currently rising up above the eastern horizon in the hours after sunset, and just last weekend I was sitting on a beach in California with some good friends watching the Pleiades climb higher and higher above the horizon in some of the best star-gazing conditions I can remember seeing in a long, long time.

While the number of stars in the Pleiades cluster which can be visible to the naked eye under good conditions number far more than seven, the Pleiades in many myth-systems of the world are depicted as "Seven Sisters" or as related to the number seven (the brightest of the Pleiades are six in number, and sometimes there are stories about the "missing sister" as well, although as you can see from the NASA images and my own hand-drawn diagrams in the blog posts above, there are more than seven stars that you can probably identify for yourself in the Pleiades cluster).

Because of the strong connection between the Pleiades and the number seven, and because the Pleiades are located very near to Perseus (Balaam) and are in fact technically part of Taurus (the ass in the story), I believe it is very possible that the seven altars which are built in the Balaam story are a reference to the Pleiades.

This possibility gains further traction from the fact that we are told that the altars are the site of burnt offerings -- very appropriate for a cluster of glowing stars. 

Additionally, we are told that the burnt offerings are bulls and rams. Of course, the two zodiac constellations in this part of the sky are Taurus and Aries.

Below is our now-familiar diagram of the Perseus - Andromeda region of the sky, with a few final labels added to round out the details we've discovered in our analysis of this Star Myth:

With this many details, I believe we can make a very strong case to argue that the incident of Balaam and the Angel is entirely celestial in nature, and that its message is thus allegorical and not literal-historical.

But what does it all mean? That, of course, is open to interpretation, but previous posts have cited the assertion of Alvin Boyd Kuhn to the effect that the ancient myths are not

about fabulous kings, powerful warriors, or even enlightened sages and mystics, but are actually about the experience of each and every human soul in this incarnate life (see for instance herehere and here). In an important 1936 lecture entitled "The Stable and the Manger," Kuhn said:

The one actor in every portrayal, in every scene, is the human soul. The Bible is the drama of our history here and now; and it is not apprehended in its full force and applicability until every reader discerns himself [or herself] to be the central figure in it!

That means that we don't have to try to imagine an external literal-historical figure named Balaam having a conversation with his donkey -- the story is not really about anyone named Balaam at all! It is about each one of us. 

But we will not be able to figure out what it is trying to convey to us if we try to force the text to be about a literal-historical figure named Balaam. In fact, as we will see shortly, doing so risks inverting the esoteric message entirely.

To understand what I think the story of Balaam is intended to convey (or at least part of what it is intended to convey -- there is no doubt much more to this very deep metaphor, the depths of which each reader is invited to plumb on his or her own), we must understand that the specific part of the heavens which we have been examining in our analysis is very significant due to the sun's rising in the sign of Aries at the point of the spring equinox during the Age of Aries during which many ancient myths (and especially Biblical myths in the Hebrew scriptures) are set.

This is the point of "crossing upwards" into the upper half of the year, when hours of daylight begin to dominate again over hours of darkness, after the long winter months in which darkness dominated over day.

The constant interplay between the "lower half" and the "upper half" -- between the forces of "darkness" and the forces of "light" -- were anciently allegorized in myths around the world as a great struggle or battle. Previous examinations of the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita, for instance, have discussed the evidence for this assertion, and the stories of the Trojan War in the Iliad as well as the crossing of the Red Sea in the Old Testament can be shown to relate to this same interplay.

But the myths are not "just" about the natural cycles of the year: they can be definitively shown to have used the great cycles to convey knowledge about spiritual truths. In other words, the myths use the most majestic physical models conceivable -- the mighty cycles of the heavens, the turning of the stars through the night, the progression of the zodiac signs and the planets through the year, the interplay of the seasons and the sun's path from equinox to solstice and back, the phases of the moon, and even the longer cycles of planetary conjunctions and the titanic precessional mechanism that grinds out the ages over the course of thousands and thousands of years -- in order to convey to our understanding truths about invisible matters.

In terms of the great zodiac wheel, at least on one level of metaphor, the upper half of the year is associated in myth with the invisible realm of spirit but also the spiritual and divine aspect in each and every incarnate human being, just as the lower half of the wheel is associated with our physical, material, animal, corporeal nature, into which we are plunged upon incarnation.

Much of the purpose of the myths of the world appears to have been to remind us that we are not merely physical, to awaken the spiritual within and point us towards the truth of our divine inner nature. Previous posts such as those linked above have connected this awakening of the "spiritual component" in ourselves, others, and in all the universe around us, with the concept of blessing

The opposite impulse, of course, denies the spiritual, seeks to degrade, debase, brutalize and otherwise reduce to the physical and the animal (which is why violence is so wrong, on any level). All forms of cursing can be seen to be connected to this opposite "physicalizing" and "brutalizing" impulse.

In the story of Balaam, the concept of blessing and cursing is clearly central to the narrative. In the allegory presented, Moab and her king Balak are representative of the lower half of the wheel, and the forces of darkness. The king, Balak, specifically wants cursing, and seeks to hire Balaam to do it.

The children of Israel in the metaphor are representative of the upper half of the wheel. In one part of the Biblical passage quoted, the text tells us that they "cover the face [literally the 'eye'] of the earth" (Numbers 22: 5). In other words, they are associated with the sun (the "eye of the earth") and with the half of the year in which the hours of daylight cover more and more of the hemisphere in question (the summer months, the upper side of the wheel).

The upper half of the year metaphorically represents the realm of spirit, and the re-establishment and re-affirming and uplifting of the divine present at all times in men and women (and in all of creation). It is  the same concept expressed by the raising-up of the Djed Column in ancient Egyptian myth-systems discussed in many previous posts and videos, such as here and here and here.

It should not have to be repeated at this point, but because literalism has so firmly entrenched itself in the cultural consciousness of the west for the past seventeen hundred years, it must be stressed that the children of Israel in this story do not represent historical or literal personages, any more than does Balaam (or, for that matter, King Midas). The text is a spiritual allegory. The children of Israel in this story represent a spiritual aspect of reality that is present in all of us -- not a group of literal or historical people (the allegorical understanding is inclusionary, not exclusionary as the literalistic understanding tends to be).

They (like the Danaans in the Trojan War) represent the upper half of the zodiac wheel, and allegorically the realm of spirit and the uplifting of the divine spark present in all human beings (and all nature as well). This is made clear in some of the "blessings" pronounced by Balaam in Numbers 22 - 24 (see for example the mention of the Lion in Numbers 23: 24, which is undoubtedly a reference to the sign of Leo, strongly associated with summer and the "upper half" of the zodiac wheel). None of us are literal descendants of any constellation -- but the idea of being descended from the stars conveys a an allegorical truth about our spiritual condition.

Moab and Balak represent the lower half of the wheel. The story is about spiritual matters, and not about historical and literal battles between different physical branches of the human family.

Thus, when Balaam is asked to curse the allegorical representatives of the divine spark, the invisible realm of spirit -- the very aspect of our dual human nature that we are supposed to be lifting up and calling forth -- he is being asked to deny the spiritual, the divine, and everything associated with the invisible realm.

Doing so would be to send the message that we are nothing but physical, animal, brutal beings, with no invisible, spiritual, divine component.

Of course, whenever Balaam gets in touch with the realm of spirit, with the realm of the divine, by going into a state of trance, he is strongly warned not to convey such a brutalizing, cursing message. He is instead given a message that raises up the spiritual -- and indeed a message that predicts the eventual and inevitable triumph of spirit over the brutal, the physical, the debasing and the degrading aspects of our physical incarnate condition.

Whenever Balaam is on the way to cooperate with the king of Moab, he is opposed by the angel, representative of the invisible realm (and indeed, invisible to Balaam until his eyes are opened). We watch as he grows more and more angry at his beast, more and more violent, more and more brutal, until his ass with her just questions appears to be at least as human as he is.

She is more in touch with the spiritual realm than he is, and she saves him from destruction even though he beats her for it.

Clearly, Balaam in this story is representative of our own human condition. And this helps us to understand one of the aspects of the scriptural passage which could give literalist readers major difficulties -- the fact that God told Balaam to go along with the messengers of the king of Moab, and then sent the angel to oppose Balaam (literalist interpreters often try to construe some kind of culpable motive to Balaam in his going along, even though he has just been told in a dream to do so).

If Balaam is representative of some aspect of our own soul's condition, here in this incarnate life, then our entry into incarnation is akin to "going into the kingdom of Moab" and it is ultimately for our own good and in thus in accordance with the divine will. In other words, we descend into this life from the realm of spirit for our own benefit. But our mission here is not to become brutal, not to become violent, not to become bestial, but rather to bless and to uplift and to reconnect with that upper half of our nature -- our spiritual and divine True Self.

When we understand this allegorical system, then the story begins to make sense in a way that it does not when we try to force a literal reading on the text. It is a story of hope and of the dignity and divinity inherent in each and every human being. We all are a combination of physical and spiritual, but we are told that the spirit will eventually and inevitably triumph, no matter how ugly the physical circumstances and situations may become, and no matter how our own spiritual blindness will often lead us to do stupid and even self-destructive things as we go up the path.

When we understand the story as esoteric and allegorical, then we see that it applies to each and every person, and that it teaches us to work to lift up the spiritual in ourselves and in others, and not to put them down.

But when it is taken as literal and historical, this message can become distorted, because when it is externalized then it can be mistakenly seen as a message which lifts up some groups and puts down others.

In fact, by externalizing the text, a literal reading can lead to some conclusions that are "180 degrees out" from the interpretation just offered. A "physical" message, so to speak, instead of a spiritual one.

But, when we see the clear and overwhelming evidence that the text describes the motions of the stars, it becomes clear that the literal and historical reading -- already very difficult to maintain in light of the incidents in this particular episode -- is almost certainly not the intended message of the ancient text.

The same exercise can be performed with virtually every single other story in the scriptures included in what we today refer to as "the Bible" (both the "Old" and "New" Testaments), and indeed with virtually every other myth and sacred story from around the world.

Leaving us with what I believe are several inescapable conclusions, among them:

that we are all connected,

that we are all primarily spiritual and that thus the external and physical should not be used to divide us from one another,

that we should pay attention to the invisible realm (as Balaam learned "the hard way" in the story, but as we ourselves also generally "learn the hard way" in this life),

that we should bless and not curse,

that we should lift up and otherwise draw forward the divine spark in others and, as much as possible, in the part of the cosmos that we can impact around us

(including by planting gardens, opposing degrading treatment of animals, and opposing the pollution of the air and land and waters around us),


that the side of uplifting will ultimately and inevitably win out, and that those who are on the side of cursing and debasing and brutalizing may seem to be powerful now but that in fact they are not.

Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋節 and the Total Lunar Eclipse ("Blood Moon") of September 2015

Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋節 and the Total Lunar Eclipse ("Blood Moon") of September 2015

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

This Sunday, September 27, marks the beginning of the traditional celebration of mid-Autumn festival in China and Vietnam. It is a very ancient holiday, its observance stretching back to as early as 3600 years ago, and perhaps even earlier, and it is one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture. Great effort is usually made to travel and be with family on this day, much like Thanksgiving in the US, and for several days around the holiday many businesses and markets are closed as people make their way back to the places where they grew up, in order to celebrate with their extended families.

The Chinese characters for this holiday are 中 秋 節 which is pronounced Zhong Qiu Jie in Mandarin and Jung Chau Jit in Cantonese, and which translates literally into "Mid-Autumn-Day" or "Middle-Fall-Holiday" (or even more literally the "Mid-Autumn-Node").

Jung Chau Jit is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, the fifteenth day corresponding in general to the full moon in a lunar month (because a lunar month commences with a new moon, and the moon waxes for fourteen days to become full, which happens on the fifteenth day, and then wanes for fourteen more days to the point of another new moon), and so this festival always falls very close to or directly upon the day of a full moon, as it does this year.

Thus, the Mid-Autumn Holiday is also a Moon Festival, and is in fact often called the Moon Festival, and an important tradition during the days (weeks!) leading up to this holiday and on the day of the holiday itself is the giving of round "mooncakes," light gold in color and filled with a variety of different kinds of heavy, sweet fillings, and sometimes with a candied egg yolk:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

These are traditionally served by being cut carefully into four equal quarters (a little combination cutting-and-serving implement, something like a small version of a cake trowel, is often included in commercially-sold mooncake boxes or packages), with each person present being given one section. The cakes themselves often have "blessing" words baked into the top of them. 

Being a Moon Festival, the holiday is also closely associated with the Moon Goddess, pictured at top, whose name is 嫦 娥 which is pronounced Chang Er  in Mandarin and Seung Ngo in Cantonese and translates rather directly into "Chang the Beautiful" or "Seung the Beautiful." 

There is a legend about Seung Ngo and her husband, 后 羿 being banished from the heavenly realms by the Jade Emperor (whom we met in the earlier discussion of the Lantern Festival, which takes place in the first lunar month) and having to live down upon the earth as mortals (his name is pronounced Hou Yi in Mandarin and Hau Ngai in Cantonese, and it means something like "King Archer").  

In the legend, he is distraught at the idea that his beautiful wife, having been banished from the celestial realms, is now faced with mortality, and so he seeks and eventually obtains an elixir of immortality which will restore their immortality to them. However, as so often happens in such myths, the plan goes awry, when she is forced to drink it all herself (either to keep it from a marauding robber who breaks in to steal it from her while her husband is away, or because she is overcome with curiosity while he is asleep, and drinks the whole elixir without knowing the consequences).

As soon as she does, she feels herself floating up into the heavens, without her unfortunate husband, who is left behind as a mortal. The two are thus separated forever, but Seung Ngo settles on the Moon, where she can look down upon Hau Ngai, and he can gaze up to her new home and think of her.

Having examined some of the most prominent aspects of this important ancient holy day, we are now in a position to benefit from the deep knowledge contained within its symbols and forms.

Because this poignant myth, and all the other symbols of the Mid-Autumn Festival, are powerful symbols which speak to truths about our incarnate existence, this existence in which we find ourselves crossing the "underworld" of the material realm in a physical body -- which is closely associated with the figure of the moon in the ancient system of celestial metaphor -- but doing so with the dimly-remembered awareness that we are separated from our true home (and disconnected from our higher "divine twin") during this earthly sojourn, and that we are in fact actually spiritual beings as much or more than we are physical beings.

The festival, positioned in the time of year next to fall equinox, contains the same symbols of a goddess and the fall from the celestial realm into the mortal incarnate life associated with the point of autumn equinox literally worldwide in the ancient myths.

Among them:

  • The presence of a goddess-figure (in this case, the goddess Seung Ngo, or Chang Er), goddess figures being shown in the previous post to be associated in ancient myth the world over with the point of fall equinox and the plunge into incarnation.
  • A myth in which there is a prominent theme of expulsion from the heavenly realm and banishment to the earthly realm (the plunge into this lower realm), featuring a duo in which one of the pair is mortal and one divine: just as we, in this incarnate life, find ourselves "crossed" with a physical body and an internal divine spark. 
  • The incorporation of moon-themes to go along with the incarnation theme of the fall equinox (dominated by the presence of a goddess at the point of incarnation). As Alvin Boyd Kuhn demonstrates in extended discussions found in Lost Light, published in 1940, the ancient myths  and sacred traditions very often used the moon to symbolize our incarnate form, and the sun our divine spirit, which lights up and animates our physical body in the same way that the sun gives its light to the moon (see pages 115 and following, for example, or 520 and following, or 139 and following, or 521 and following). In that exploration of ancient myth, Kuhn says quite explicitly: "The sun types soul, always, the moon, body" (479), and elsewhere: "The moon being the parent of the mortal body, lunar symbolism was prominently introduced into the portrayal "(140).
  • The connection of the moon (our incarnate side) with the idea of water, seas, oceans, and incarnation (through the tides, and also through the internal tides of our body), which also connects with the goddess-ocean connection discussed in the previous post (with examples which demonstrated the "mother-ocean" connection inherent in the names of Mary, Tiamat, and Aphrodite, as well as in the Chinese ideograms for mother and ocean).
  • The tradition of gathering together with family at the Moon Festival, representative of the idea that we align the cycle of our personal lives and our physical motions (often traveling great distances) with the cycles of the earth, sun, moon and stars: reinforcing the profound connection between "microcosm" and "macrocosm" discussed in the preceding post (and many others), a connection which the ancient myths and sacred traditions of the human race the world over all seek to convey. 
  • The tradition of gathering together with family at the Moon Festival, which also commemorates our physical, material entry into this incarnate life, which is celebrated when we honor our family and especially our parents.
  • Traditions in this holiday (especially as celebrated in Vietnam) which focus on children and proclaim it to be a holiday which honors young children, who are just embarking upon their journey through the incarnate human life.
  • The tradition that mooncakes are cut up into four quarters, which is clearly connected with the lunar symbology, but also with the concept of "crossing" or the crucifixion of this incarnate life (see numerous previous posts which demonstrate that the Great Cross of the year was associated in ancient myth with the twin components of incarnate human existence: the horizontal component representing the physical, "dead," "animal" nature of our body, and the vertical component representing the spiritual, divine, celestial component of the invisible and infinite realm which the ancient myths tell us is actually all around us and also within us and within every other being with whom we come into contact).

Clearly, then, the Mid-Autumn Festival preserves a great many symbols which carry a profound spiritual message, using the symbology of the moon (associated with incarnation), the casting down from the spiritual realms into incarnate existence (in the story of Hou Yi and Chang Er, or Hau Ngai and Seung Ngo), the myth regarding a married couple who are extremely close but who find themselves in the condition of one divine and one mortal (the "divine twin" pattern found around the world, including in the myth of Castor and Pollux but also of Jesus and Thomas and many others), the traditions of gathering with family and ordering our lives in accordance with the cycles of earth, sun, moon and stars, and the traditions of honoring our physical family and our parents, who brought us into this incarnate body in the first place.

It is also worth pointing out, in passing (although it could become a full-length examination and discussion) that a great many Chinese characters which use the symbol for "the moon" actually refer to our physical human body. The Chinese ideogram for "moon" is:

Other words whose ideograms use this as a "radical" in their Chinese character, and which relate to the physical human body, include:

The liver: 

The ribs or chest: 

The armpit, or arms:

The elbow:

Pelvis, groin or thighs:

The diaphragm:

Internal organs, guts, viscera:

A gland:

Fat, plump, or obese:

And there are many others.

Some scholars or those familiar with Chinese radicals may argue that none of the above characters are actually connected with "the moon," even though the radical looks just like the Chinese symbol for the moon, because the actual radical for "meat" -- which looks like this --

ends up looking like the symbol for "the moon" when it functions as a radical in a compound character. 

That is a valid argument, but we must ask ourselves why that "meat" symbol turns into a "moon" symbol in all of these ideograms? The answer, of course, could very well be the fact that the ancient wisdom of the human race universally acknowledged an esoteric connection between the moon and the physical, corporeal, carnal ("meat") body.

And so it becomes clear that all of the symbology of the culturally significant and anciently-established Mid-Autumn-Festival can be shown to be connected to other mythological symbols used in other myths around the world -- all of them designed to impart to us profound gnosis regarding our human condition here in this incarnate life, including the fact that we are not merely physical beings but that our human nature consists of both a physical and a spiritual component, that our physical "moon" form (associated with water) is illuminated by our spiritual "solar" and divine nature (associated with fire and with air -- or spirit).

Now, very briefly, let us also note the fact that because the Mid-Autumn-Festival always falls on or very near a full moon, it will also periodically happen that this anciently-ordained observation will coincide with a lunar eclipse. Previous posts on the actual celestial mechanics of the moon phases (see here, here, and here) have explained why lunar eclipses must always coincide with a full moon, and why solar eclipses must always correspond to a new moon (not every full moon is a lunar eclipse, of course, nor every new moon a solar -- but every lunar eclipse occurs at full moon, and every solar eclipse occurs at new moon).

This September 27 full moon also happens to take place when the moon is passing through a "lunar node" (a "crossing point" with the plane of the ecliptic of the earth) and will therefore result in a total lunar eclipse visible for most of the Americas, Africa and Europe (see resources from Sky & Telescope regarding this eclipse available here).

Not only is this a total lunar eclipse, but it is also a total lunar eclipse which corresponds to the moon's closest approach on its orbit around the earth, when it is physically closer to us and thus appears physically larger in the sky -- all of which add up to the promise of a spectacular heavenly event this weekend.

This particular moon (all month long) is in fact known universally as the Harvest Moon (in China also), which is traditionally understood to be the brightest moon of the year.

All of these factors argue that this weekend's lunar eclipse should be worth going out and watching, if at all possible in your particular global location and circumstance.

As the moon enters the shadow of the earth, it will take on a dusky red hue -- which (only recently) has begun to be designated as a "blood moon" by some in the popular media and in certain evangelical circles (largely based upon a literalistic interpretation of certain Old and New Testament scriptures which I believe can be definitively shown to be esoteric in nature and not literalistic in nature). Scriptures in the Old and New Testament which describe the moon as turning to blood or being bathed in blood include the following texts:

Joel 2:31 "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come."
Acts 2:20 "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:"
Revelation 6:12 "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;"

Alvin Boyd Kuhn actually addresses many of these Biblical passages directly, and argues (with extensive textual evidence) that the description of the "moon becoming as blood" only emphasizes even more dramatically the esoteric symbolical connection between the moon and our physical body in this human life.

Discussing the passage cited above from Revelation 6, he explains among the metaphors given: 

along with the darkness over the earth, the veiled sun, the blood-stained moon, is that "the stars from the heavens fell." In the same place we read that "when the message of the third angel was sounded forth, a great star went down from heaven and it fell upon the earth." Another star fell at the sounding of the trumpet of the fifth angel. The various legends, then, of falling stars become invested with unexpected significance as being disguised allusions to the descent of the angelic myriads to our shores , -- to become our souls. 116.

In other words, Kuhn here argues that the metaphors in Revelation 6 (and indeed throughout the Bible)  all have to do with our incarnate condition, consisting of a "crossing" between spirit (symbolized by the sun) and matter (our material bodies, symbolized by the moon). 

This interpretation (according to Alvin Boyd Kuhn) would include the metaphor of the earth being enshrouded by darkness -- because we plunge down to incarnation in the lower half of the zodiac wheel, as described in numberless previous posts. The lower half of the wheel is the half in which night triumphs over daylight (initiated by the fall equinox, when the hours of darkness begin to be longer than the hours of light, in each 24-hour period):

It would include (according to Kuhn) the moon being bathed in blood -- because the moon represents our incarnate condition, our sojourn in a body composed of water and blood and clay, our crossing of the "Red Sea" (which can be metaphorically seen to be the crossing which each and every human being undertakes, going through life in a human body through which courses the "red sea" of the blood in our veins and arteries).

It would include (according to Kuhn) the stars being cast out of heaven and forced to "fall upon the earth" -- for this is the very condition in which we find ourselves, as human souls who dimly realize that we come from a spiritual home, but who have been exiled (just like Hau Ngai and Seung Ngo) upon this material plane.

In other words, the passages in Revelation (and all the other esoteric Biblical scriptures) are describing our own human experience, our experience as divine beings who have been "crossed with" physical, material, animal bodies during this incarnate life.

And this is just what all the other Star Myths of the world are trying to convey to us as well! (Note that it can be conclusively demonstrated that the passages of the book of Revelation involving the opening of the seven seals are absolutely based upon metaphorical descriptions of the constellations in our night sky, as I demonstrate briefly in this previous post regarding Revelation Chapter 9: they are all allegorical celestial metaphors which use the awe-inspiring motions of the heavenly cycles to convey truths to us about the invisible realm).

Indeed, all of these metaphors and sacred scriptures are designed to convey to us the very same truths conveyed through the ancient metaphors connected to the Mid-Autumn-Festival celebrated in China and Vietnam and some other surrounding cultures from time immemorial.

As the day of the first full moon after fall equinox approaches, it is a time for contemplation and reflection upon our human condition in this incarnate life -- our "plunge into matter" which in ancient myth was associated with the point of the fall equinox, with the goddess at the edge of the ocean (or the goddess of the Moon), and with the "crossing" of our divine nature with a physical body.

And yet, even as we are plunged into this physical human form, we are given forms and symbols and myths and stories and scriptures to remind us that this material world that is visible and perceptible to our senses is not all that there is, and that this physical "animal" human body we inhabit is not all that we are. 

Just as the moon is illuminated by the fire of the sun's life-giving rays, so our material nature is illuminated and animated by a higher spiritual self that exists "above and beyond" our merely physical carcass. 

Just like the mooncake in the Jung Chau Jit celebration, which is divided and quartered into four equal sections, we ourselves are made up of a "cross," a "crucifix," a "quartered whole" consisting of both a horizontal line (between the equinoxes, and associated with matter) and a vertical line (between the solstices, reaching towards infinity, and associated with all that is spiritual, and with raising the spiritual aspect within ourselves and with calling it forth in those we meet and indeed in all of creation around us).

I sincerely wish you a very blessed Mid-Autumn Festival, and harmony between the microcosm and macrocosm. May all beings be freed from suffering and filled with peace and joy, love and light.

Chinese characters and the moment of Equinox

Chinese characters and the moment of Equinox

The ancient wisdom imparted to humanity in the myths, sacred stories, and scriptures found literally around the world is built upon a system that ties our motions in this incarnate life to the great cycles of the heavens -- the motions of the sun, moon, stars, and planets, and the multiple cycles of the earth including its rotation, annual orbit, and ages-long precessional motion.

Our lives here on earth, in our human bodies, reflect and echo the great movements of the celestial spheres -- and the motions of those celestial orbits can be seen as depicting the spiritual drama of each and every human soul journeying through this incarnate existence on earth.

All the sacred scriptures and stories of the human race can be shown to dramatize the great heavenly cycles in order to convey profound spiritual knowledge for our benefit during our human experience.

Amazingly enough, the very symbols and characters with which those sacred myths were recorded (for those that were written down in texts) also reflect and embody the very same heavenly cycles and the spiritual teachings conveyed by those celestial motions!

In other words, just as each individual man or woman is a "microcosm" who can be said to contain and reflect the entire infinite universe (that is to say, the "macrocosm"), so also each individual letter or hieroglyph or symbol can be seen to act as a sort of "microcosm" of its own, containing and conveying the same spiritual message that is found in the body of sacred scripture which is made up of all those individual letters and symbols.

Today, at a special point in the heavenly cycles seen as having great significance in the ancient myths of the human race, we will examine some ways in which the individual letters and symbols contain and reflect the same message conveyed by the ancient scriptures and myths themselves.

The earth will cross through the point of autumnal equinox at 01:22 am Pacific Time on September 23 this year (2015). This is the same as 08:22 am Greenwich time on September 23. 

The "calendar date" of the solstices and equinoxes shifts slightly from year to year, due to the fact that the earth does not rotate on its axis an exactly-even number of rotations from one point of equinox or solstice to the next from year to year: in other words, it rotates 365.242 times before coming back to the same point relative to the sun from one year to the next, which is why measuring from solstices and equinoxes is actually more precise than using the various calendar systems when figuring out where we are relative to the sun, and why calendar systems have to use various types of "correction mechanisms" (such as intercalary days or leap-years) to keep the calendar days from "slipping" too far from the mechanics of the earth-sun relationship.

Because of this fact, we can expect the autumnal or fall equinox to occur on September 22 in most years, but it will occasionally take place on the 21st or the 23rd.

The point of fall equinox is a "crossing point" at which the ecliptic path of the sun during the day crosses below the celestial equator, after being above it through the summer months (in fact, from the point of spring equinox, up through the summer solstice, and all the way back down until reaching fall equinox). In other words -- and all descriptions here are for an observer in the northern hemisphere -- the arc of the sun's path through the sky has been higher than the celestial equator, which is that invisible line in the sky that traces an imaginary great circle 90-degrees down from the north celestial pole (very close to Polaris, the North Star).

The arc of the sun through the sky during the day has been north of that line (closer to the north celestial pole, higher-up from the southern horizon) as it traverses from east to west.

Now the arc of the sun will be lower than that celestial equator-line in the heavens, and closer to the southern horizon, and thus the angle of the sun's rays on the northern hemisphere will be less steep and more shallow, and the hours of darkness will begin to be longer than the hours of daylight. This effect will increase as we hurtle towards the point of winter solstice: the arc of the sun's path will be lower and lower, the angle of the sun's rays will be shallower and shallower, and the hours of darkness will be longer and longer.

(Of course, for observers in the southern hemisphere, this point of fall equinox for the northern hemisphere is actually their spring equinox, because as the sun's arc gets further and further south, it is actually higher in the sky for them, as it gets closer and closer to the south celestial pole, and higher and higher above the north horizon).

As has been explained in many previous posts on this subject, the ancient scriptures of the world used these awesome heavenly cycles to depict truths about invisible aspects of our simultaneously spiritual-material universe, and about our human condition as spiritual beings "cast down" into physical-material bodies here in this incarnate life.

The point of equinox, at which the sun's path falls below the celestial equator-line, plunging the world into the half of the year in which darkness dominates over daylight, was used as a metaphor to convey truths about our plunge down from the realm of pure spirit into the realm of matter. Here at the fall equinox, the upper half of the year (associated with the spiritual realm and the "higher elements" of Air and Fire) gave way to the lower half of the year (associated with the material realm and the "lower elements" of Earth and Water).

Below is a diagram, familiar to regular readers of this blog from previous posts such as this onethis one, and this one, showing the Great Circle of the year with the points of equinox marked with a red "X" at each equinox: the spring equinox for the northern hemisphere on the left  (in the "9 o'clock position" if this was a clock face) and the fall equinox on the right (in the "3 o'clock position"). The progress of the earth through the year is clockwise in this diagram (from the spring equinox "X" at the "9 o'clock position," we proceed upwards to the summer solstice at 12 o'clock, and then start back downwards to the autumnal crossing point at 3 o'clock).

The "upper half" of this circle of the year is the fiery half, the heavenly half -- representative of the realm of spirit, the realm of the gods, and the spiritual part of our nature.

The "lower half," on the other hand, was the realm of matter and gross incarnation in bodies of "clay" (combining the "lower two elements" of earth and water) -- and it was often metaphorically connected with water, the ocean, the sea, the deep, and the underworld.

In the diagram above, I have attempted to illustrate this metaphor by adding watery ocean waves to the lower half of the circle.

The point of autumn equinox is the point at which we "plunge" down into this incarnate lower realm: the point at which we dive down into the sea, so to speak. And there, at the autumn equinox, guarding the gate to the incarnate realm, standing at the point of the plunge into the ocean, we see the zodiac sign of Virgo the Virgin (for the Age of Aries, which can be seen to be operating in many of the ancient myths of the world, although there are also abundant references to the earlier Age of Taurus and the even earlier Age of Gemini in the world's myths as well).

Interestingly enough, figures in the ancient myths associated with the sign of Virgo and with the plunge down into incarnate existence are often goddess figures, often mother figures, and often have names  or mythological attributes which explicitly connect them with the sea or the ocean.

The most obvious of these, perhaps, is the New Testament figure of Mary (or Maria) -- whose name contains a root word mar or mare which means "ocean" or "sea" (and which can be found in many English words connected to the sea, such as "mariner" or "marine life" and even "to marinade").

Another example is Tiamat, a creator goddess of ancient Sumerian and Babylonian myth associated with the primordial sea, and whose name was similarly synonymous with the ocean.

Even the goddess Aphrodite or Venus was strongly associated with the sea -- and in fact, with the very "edge of the sea" or the "verge of the sea," and with the sea-foam in particular (the name Aphrodite, in Greek, was associated with the word aphros, meaning "sea-foam," although some scholars also attest there may be an etymological connection as well to the name of the goddess Ishtar or Astoroth or Astarte).

All of these heavenly figures are mother figures (Aphrodite or Venus was the mother of Aeneas, for example, the central figure in the Aeneid) and are simultaneously associated with the sea -- and this is appropriate for the fact that our plunge down into this incarnate life, this "lower half" of the wheel, this crossing of the Red Sea, begins for each of us at our human birth. Every person who ever lived has a mother, to whom we each are indebted for our material life, our very incarnate existence.

It is fascinating to observe that this connection between "mother" and "sea" or "ocean" is contained in the very letters or symbols with which we convey thoughts in the form of writing: for instance, the words for "mother" in many, many languages of the world begin with the sound we write in the alphabet that is derived from Phoenician, Greek, and Roman sources as "M" or "m" -- a symbol which is clearly reminiscent of waves of water or the ocean's rollers.

In the Chinese characters, this connection between "mother" and "ocean" is even more clearly visible, in the characters for "mother" and "ocean," of which the symbol for "ocean" is built from the symbol for "mother," with a "radical" known as the "three water dots" or drops added, as well as a kind of crowning symbol sometimes known as the "top of mei" radical (radical 20 in the chart of modern radicals).

Here is the Chinese character for "mother" (pronounced mu in Mandarin and mou in Cantonese, both of which preserve the "m-sound" associated with the word mother around the world):

And here (and also at the top of this post) is the closely-related Chinese character for "ocean" or "sea," which is pronounced hai in Mandarin and hoi in Cantonese, and can be found in words such as Shanghai and hoi sin sauce:

In other words, the Chinese characters themselves (which are very ancient) appear to convey the same connection between "mother" and "ocean" which is found in the figures of Mary, Tiamat, Aphrodite and many others, and which is connected to the celestial cycle associated with the fall equinox and the plunge down into this lower realm, this world of matter (the very word "matter," as has been pointed out by many observers, also being linguistically very close to the word for mother or mater from which we get modern English words such as "maternal").

The characters themselves contain "microcosmic" representations of the spiritual messages conveyed by the ancient myths and sacred stories.

Nor do the esoteric connections of the ancient Chinese characters stop there. If they did, some might argue that attempts to find spiritual messages in the characters are stretches of the imagination, built upon mere coincidence or the "random," undirected development of the characters over the centuries.

But, this same sort of connection can be seen in other Chinese characters as well.

For example, the character for a "temple" is composed of the character for "earth" (which interestingly enough is symbolized by a "cross of matter" upon a horizontal "ground" that is wider than the cross-bar of the cross) above the symbol for a Chinese "inch" -- an "inch of earth," so to speak. The "inch-measurement" symbol is shown below, and was apparently derived from a symbolic depiction of a thumb (appropriately enough, for the measurement of an inch):

So, that is the symbol for an "inch," and if we write the symbol for "earth" above that, we get the character for a "temple," shown below:

This connection of an "inch of earth" with a "temple" is full of important meaning worthy of careful consideration.

A temple is a sacred space -- a place which is set apart from the simply material and which is specifically designed to invoke the invisible realm, the world of spirit, the world of the divine. And yet it is clearly a space that is connected with the measurements and the motions of the great spheres of the heavens and the great sphere of the earth -- because we ourselves reflect and embody the infinite universe in our individual bodies, and because the teachings given in the various temples and sacred spaces around the world have to do with harmonizing our motions with the motions of the spheres and cycles of the heavens and of the earth.

The fact that the character for a temple in the Chinese calligraphy is composed of the characters for "an inch" of "earth" connects the idea of the sacred space with the measurements and motions of our planet and the cosmos. Note that a measurement of distance on our planet is always simultaneously a measurement of time: "seconds" and "minutes," for example, are obviously measurements of time, but they are also defined as a specific distance-measurements, and are intended to relate to the amount of distance the earth rotates in those periods of time.

We should not be at all surprised, then, to find that the Chinese character for "time" is composed of the symbol for "temple," with the addition of the symbol on the left (the radical) which represents the sun.  Thus, a temple is connected not only to an "inch of earth" but also to specifically evoke the presence of the sun in addition to the rotation of the earth, and by extension could be though of as the space in which the rays of the sun move across the rotating earth.  The ancient Egyptian Temple of Karnak comes immediately to mind.

Here is the character for "time":

Note, too, the significant fact that the word for "temple" in English contains the root temp which means "time" and which forms the basis for many other "time-related" words such as "temporary" or "tempo" or "tempest" or "temporal." In other words, both the Chinese characters and the western-language words for a temple preserve this connection between the sacred space and the majestic motions of the sun, moon, stars and planets which translate into our understanding and measurement of time.

Finally, it is also very interesting and significant that the character for "poem" or "metered verse" in the Chinese calligraphy once again contains the character for a "temple," this time adding the radical for "words," which is the flattened-square character symbolizing a human mouth, with four lines above it as if they are words or lines of speech floating upwards from the mouth, just the way that words or letters sometimes float up out of the mouths of characters on Sesame Street (and which, when I was little, I thought would visibly float up out of my mouth also, if I made the sound of a "z" for example).

And so this character seems to be telling us that poetry is a form of sacred speech, or speech for the temple, or words that connect to the invisible realm -- and indeed many ancient myths are written in verse form (from the Vedas of India and the Mahabharata with the Bhagavad Gita, to the poems of Homer and Pindar and Ovid, to the verses of many of the Biblical scriptures).

It is also indicating, of course, that poetry is a form of metered (or "measured") language, which is to say that it is language that has a "time component" to it (a certain number of beats per line), and which thus connects it to the motions of the spheres and to the temp in temple and tempo, as well.

Below is the Chinese character for poetry (the word shi in Mandarin and si in Cantonese): 

In all of these investigations of the symbols used to convey and preserve the ancient wisdom of the human race, we can clearly perceive the thread of the same central teaching: that we have plunged down into a material world, but that the material world is only "half" of the circle, so to speak. 

We are being reminded in all of these myths and in fact in the very letters and characters and symbols used to preserve the myths themselves that we are also spiritual beings, intimately connected to the heavenly realm, the spiritual realm, the realm of the divine, the realm of the infinite.

The ancient traditions involved aligning our lives to the motions of the planets and stars, in part through the recognition of certain special points on the great cycles -- including the point of the equinoxes, two of the most significant stations in all the motions of the heavens and the earth. The aligning of our microcosmic motions to the macrocosmic spheres involved the creation of and visits to sacred spaces, as well as the recitation of verses (sacred speech, or "temple speech" -- metered language) and the singing of certain songs (singing also being a form of poetry or special metered speech).

All of this ancient knowledge can be found literally around the globe, embodied not only in the myths and stories but also in the writing-systems and in the geometry and architecture and measurements and alignments used in the temples and monuments found all across our planet.

On this moment of autumnal equinox, we might all want to pause to reflect upon and be thankful for our own human mother, who gave us this human form we inhabit (the body being specifically referred to as a temple in ancient scripture) and indeed this very life itself.

Which brings us to one more Chinese ideogram, this one for the word "good," which is literally composed of the symbol for a "woman" (slightly different from but symbolically related to the character for "mother" that we have already seen) plus the symbol for a child (the mother first, on the left, and the child character found to the right). It is very good that we each had a mother, or we would not even be here in the first place! And so we should all be able to agree that depicting the character for "good" as a mother with child is extremely appropriate, and relates on some level to all of the other concepts that we have been exploring in this little study.

Below is the character for "good":

In all of the above calligraphy, I am indebted to the outstanding teaching found in the indispensable little volume, Learn to Write Chinese Characters, by Johan Bjorksten (1994), which examines the aesthetics and "design" of the characters, their balance and form and shape and harmony.

In it, he explains the tremendous importance of calligraphy in Chinese culture, and the great weight attached to writing the characters correctly. On page 2, he writes:

Calligraphy, the art of writing, is considered in China the noblest of the fine arts. At a  very early stage in history it became an abstract and expressionist art form, where meaning is of secondary importance and aesthetic expression the prime concern. Many Chinese hold that calligraphy prolongs the writers' lives, sharpens their senses, and enhances their general well-being. By practicing calligraphy you can achieve a glimpse into Chinese aesthetics and philosophy and learn to appreciate an abstract art form.

He also explains that Chinese calligraphy is traditionally learned through writing-out classic poetry -- which clearly connects yet again to all the concepts we have been exploring here (i.e., the letters themselves are sacred and relate to the realm of forms, and they are explicitly connected to and practiced through the medium of poetry, which is a form of special metered speech, the very character of which is connected to the character for a temple).

Writing Chinese calligraphy, in fact, can be a form of meditation -- in which doubts and second-guessing will ruin the desired outcome and the best results require a kind of "action without action" described in the Tao Te Ching or the Bhagavad Gita. The structure of the characters themselves obey certain principles of balance and proportion and architecture, as Johan Bjorksten beautifully conveys in his text and his examples, and thus can even be thought of as "sacred spaces" all their own.

Any egregious errors or disharmony in the above examples of Chinese characters, of course, are entirely my own responsibility and no reflection on anyone else.

Wishing you harmony and balance at this moment of September equinox, 2015.

The blindness of Dhritarastra, and Upamanyu at the bottom of the well

The blindness of Dhritarastra, and Upamanyu at the bottom of the well

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

The previous post and video discussing the ancient sacred text of the Bhagavad Gita explored its celestial foundation, showing that like the rest of the world's Star Myths it uses the majestic celestial cycles as an extended metaphor portraying the descent of each human soul into this incarnate life, an incarnate life which can be seen as a sort of "battlefield" characterized by the endless struggle or interplay between the material and spiritual realms (both within the individual and without).

Immediately prior to Arjuna's descent into the battle of Kurukshetra, he is given direct guidance from his divine companion, the Lord Krishna: 

Do your duty to the best of your ability, O Arjuna, with your mind attached to the Lord, abandoning worry and attachment to the results, and remaining calm in both success and failure. [. . .] Therefore, always perform your duty efficiently and without attachment to the results, because by doing work without attachment one attains the Supreme. (2.48 - 49; 3.19).

In fact, over and over throughout the Gita, Lord Krishna's message to Arjuna is basically the same: do what is right, without attachment to the results: instead of attachment to the results, the mind should be attached to the Infinite divine principle.

This Infinite supreme principle is represented in the Gita by Lord Krishna, who shows himself in the Gita to be completely Infinite, beyond definition or categorization by the mind. The same Infinite supreme principle is represented in the chapters immediately preceding the Bhagavad Gita (in the Mahabharata of which the Gita is a small but central part) by the goddess Durga, who is also described in terms which indicate that she too is supremely beyond definition or characterization or containment within boundaries (see discussion and video in this previous post).

While this advice may seem to apply only to those ascetics who withdraw from the hustle and bustle of the daily struggle to make a living and negotiate the mundane world of keeping the dishes washed or the faucets from leaking, I believe that it may well have been given for the benefit of all of us here in this incarnate realm, even if we do not personally dress in flowing robes and retire to a life of full-time meditation and study of the Vedas (although of course it would be of great benefit to us in that particular path of life as well).

Consider, for example, the possibility that some of our greatest times of frustration and anger seem to come at moments when we experience serious self-doubt (such as when changing out the above-mentioned faucet, if that is a task we're not really sure that we will be able to do properly, and we don't have confidence that it will turn out no matter how many times we consult helpful internet videos purporting to show us what to do). It is in those situations (I find) that we seem to be most prone to lashing out (even if we are "only" lashing out at an inanimate faucet, or the entire unfair world of faucets and water-fixtures -- the things we say to inanimate faucets, bolts, washers, and threaded fasteners can in fact be quite ugly and embarrassing to us in later recollection, and things we certainly hope that the neighbors did not overhear).

Or, consider a classic hero in any of your favorite old kung fu movies: if he or she is completely confident in his or her ability to handle the situation, the kung fu master will not show the slightest bit of anger or frustration -- while the villain (who secretly fears he may not be able to handle the abilities of his opponent) gets angrier and angrier and eventually bursts out in a display of rage which lets the audience know that he is in fact about to lose.

Wouldn't we all desire to arrive at the place where we are like that hero in the kung fu movie -- totally secure in our knowledge that we can handle the situation at hand (any situation whatsoever), and therefore completely unflappable and beyond anyone's ability to make us "lose it"?

As we all know, however, the material world seems to be custom-designed to defy the possibility of any one mortal human to have such kung fu (and such knowledge of plumbing repair, automotive mechanics, personal finance, parenting, golf-ball physics, etc) that no situation can ever arise which would be beyond their ability. 

And yet it may well be that Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita is specifically telling us that no matter the situation in which we find ourselves, we can in fact transcend both the heart-clutching self-doubt and the attachment to results that can cause us to fly into a rage (or otherwise say and do and think things which we later regret), and instead become more and more like that enlightened kung fu master in the old movies (as an important side note, some of the asanas of yoga, which are basically impossible to accomplish at first try but which can eventually be achieved after years of disciplined practice, may be teaching this very same thing).

Again, I believe it is very possible that the lessons imparted to Arjuna prior to the great Battle of Kurukshetra are given to us not only for helping us in the extraordinary circumstances or extreme situations in which we might find ourselves, but in ordinary and mundane aspects of everyday life (including changing a faucet, or parenting). 

Even if most of us have not reached the level of the kung fu master for whom no situation could ever arise beyond our personal capability, by following the Bhagavad Gita's directive of doing what is right, to the best of our ability, and attaching our mind to the Infinite -- to which we, in fact, always have immediate access -- we can replace that clawing self-doubt with something completely different.

This may seem to be just too simple, but it may in fact be one of the primary things we are supposed to be practicing here in this material world. Remember, this one piece of advice is in fact the central message that Krishna offers to Arjuna, over and over throughout the Bhagavad Gita, in a variety of different ways. 

And, it certainly does not seem to me to be extremely simple to do consistently, even for one single day. First, it is not always perfectly obvious what it means to "do what is right" or "do your duty" in every possible situation -- we are often pretty good at rationalizing our way out of doing what is right, coming up with excuses to tell ourselves in order to excuse ourselves from doing what we know we should do, as the figure of the blind king Dhritarastra demonstrates very graphically in the Mahabharata. 

In fact, the character of Dhritarastra seems to embody a powerful warning against trying to distort the actual Bhagavad Gita message of "do what's right without attachment to the results" into the false message of "use 'fate' as an excuse to avoid doing what's right," or "leave it all to fate (without attachment to the results)." 

The Mahabharata portrays Dhritarastra's abdication of his responsibility to restrain evil as directly responsible for the chain of events that bring about the Battle of Kurukshetra in the first place. In this case, Dhritarastra fails to curtail the wicked schemes of his own son, and because as the king and the father everyone else defers to him as the one who should act, things get progressively further out of hand. 

Dhritarastra, for his part, consistently declares that all is in the hands of fate, and so he has to accept the outcome. For example, at the end of Book 2 and Section 48, in response to the urging of his wise brother Vidura to stop the disastrous dice game which will eventually lead to the enmity that brings about the cataclysmic battle, Dhritarastra defends his refusal to do his duty by saying, 

Therefore, auspicious or otherwise, beneficial or otherwise, let this friendly challenge at dice proceed. Even this without doubt is what fate hath ordained for us. [. . .] Tell me nothing. I regard Fate as supreme which bringeth all this. 

The ancient scriptures, through the events in the Mahabharata, appear to be showing us that this attitude of Dhritarastra is a perversion of what the Bhagavad Gita teaches: it is not "avoid your duty and abandon attachment to results" but rather "do your duty, to the best of your ability, without attachment to the results."

Because the Mahabharata is using metaphors to convey spiritual teachings, it makes Dhritarastra (whose character I believe to be a metaphorical figure meant to depict an aspect of our human experience in this incarnate life, and not a literal historical king from the ancient past), a blind king, whose failure to see the right course of action and his resulting failure to do what is right lead directly to the disastrous battle between two sides of the same family. 

But, the Mahabharata elsewhere tells us in no uncertain terms that this metaphorical blindness is exactly our condition when we plunge into material existence, until we regain our connection to the Infinite -- which is actually within us and thus potentially available to us at any time, in any situation.

In a fairly short passage found very early in the epic, in Book 1 and Section 3, the Mahabharata gives us the story of a spiritual disciple named Upamanyu, who out of hunger eats leaves from a tree which cause him to go blind. Crawling around on the ground in his blinded condition, Upamanyu proceeds to fall right into a deep well, where he winds up alone, at the bottom of a well, blind.

After his spiritual teacher notices his absence and comes looking for him and calling out his name, Upamanyu answers from the bottom of the well. His teacher comes to the top of the well and asks what has happened: Upamanyu relates the story of his having eaten leaves from a mighty tree, which caused him to go blind, and then fall to the bottom of the well.

The Mahabharata tells us that the teacher says:

"Glorify the twin Ashvins, the joint physicians of the gods, and they will restore thee thy sight." And Upamanyu thus directed by his preceptor began to glorify the twin Ashvins, in the following words of the Rig Veda:
"Ye have existed before creation! Ye first-born beings, ye are displayed in this wondrous universe of five elements! I desire to obtain you by the help of the knowledge derived from hearing, and of meditation, for ye are Infinite! Ye are the course itself of Nature and intelligent Soul that pervades that course! Ye are birds of beauteous feathers perched on the body that is like to a tree! Ye are without the tree common attributes of every soul! Ye are incomparable! Ye, through your spirit in every created thing, pervade the Universe! Ye are golden Eagles! Ye are the essence into which all things disappear! Ye are free from error and know no deterioration! Ye are of beauteous beaks that would not unjustly strike and are victorious in every encounter!"

And Upamanyu's glorification of the Ashvins continues, until the text tells us that "The twin Ashvins, thus invoked, appeared" and restore Upamanyu's sight, and give him a blessing and tell Upamanyu that he shall have good fortune.

Clearly we have here another illustration of the importance -- and the immediate availability -- of the connection to the Infinite. This time, instead of Lord Krishna representing the supreme Infinite or the goddess Durga representing the Infinite, it is the twin Ashvins who are specifically described in terms that indicate that they themselves are beyond categorization, that they are themselves the Infinite and undefinable and unbounded (at one point in the hymn of praise, Upamanyu says that they are both males and females, that they are the givers of all life, and that they are the Supreme Brahma).

And, just as in our previous examination of the Bhagavad Gita we saw clear evidence that Lord Krishna is associated with the celestial figure of the constellation Bootes the Herdsman (as Arjuna the semi-divine archer is associated with the celestial figure of Orion), and just as in our previous examination of the Hymn to Durga we saw clear evidence that the goddess is associated with the zodiac constellation of Virgo the Virgin, in this story of Upamanyu and the Ashvins, we see clear evidence of celestial metaphor at work as well.

The twin Ashvins very clearly correspond to the zodiac constellation of Gemini the Twins, who are located near the "top" of the shining column of the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way actually makes a complete ring in the sky, with one half of the ring visible primarily during the summer months and the other half during the winter months: when the part of the Milky Way that the Twins appear to guard (with Orion right nearby) is visible in the sky, the other half (it's "lower end") is not visible, and vice versa. On the other side of the celestial sphere, the Milky Way band is guarded by the constellations Scorpio and Sagittarius. When the Twins and Orion are in the sky, Scorpio and Sagittarius are not (because nearly 180 degrees offset on the celestial sphere), and when Scorpio and Sagittarius are in the sky, then the Twins and Orion cannot be seen.

Below are two frames from the Stellarium digital planetarium app, showing a southern-looking view for an observer in the northern hemisphere, looking at each of the "two sides" of the great Milky Way ring as it rises up from the southern horizon, at two different times of the year. On top is shown an image of the "upper reaches" of the Milky Way column (flanked by the Twins and Orion), and immediately below that is an image of the dramatic "base" of the Milky Way column (with Scorpio drawn in, lurking at the very bottom).

The constellations which I believe figure most prominently in this episode of Upamanyu and the Ashvins are given colorful outlines for ease of identification: if you want to see the same screen-shots without the colorful outlines, I have provided them at the bottom of this post, in the same stacked order (the Twins-side of the band in the top image, and the Scorpio-side in the lower image).

I believe that it is pretty clear that celestial representation of the "well" into which Upamanyu falls when he is blinded by the leaves of the tree is in fact that shining column of the Milky Way itself. Way up at the "top" of the column, we see the Twins of Gemini -- representing in this particular myth the helping deities of the Ashvins, who dwell in the realm of spirit but who will appear immediately when invoked by Upamanyu.

At the very bottom of the column we see the helpless figure of the Scorpion, who may well represent Upamanyu in his blinded condition (there are other important myths in which a figure associated with Scorpio is temporarily blinded, but in any case, we know that Upamanyu is located somewhere at the bottom of the well, which is where Scorpio is to be found).

When Upamanyu's teacher calls down to him in the well, the teacher may be "played" in the myth by the constellation Orion, who is also located (like the Twins) near the "top" of the well when Upamanyu is at the bottom.

In his praise and invocation of the Ashvins, Upamanyu declares that they are many things: they are both males and females, they are the parents of all, they are the ones who set in motion the wheel of time -- which wheel is itself described in imagery which parallels very closely the image of the wheel with "strakes" that is described in the famous Vision of the Prophet Ezekiel in the Hebrew Scriptures.

He also describes them as beautiful birds, as golden Eagles, who have perched on something that is very "like to a tree" -- undoubtedly, this is another celestial clue to help us decipher the constellations underpinning this text. The two birds on the body that is like a tree are the two majestic constellations of Aquila the Eagle and Cygnus the Swan, both of whom are above poor Upamanyu at the bottom of the well.

What is going on here? What is the message?

I believe that this story of Upamanyu, with all of its celestial trappings, is a condensed allegory of our human condition in this incarnate life -- the kind of spiritual teaching that the ancient scriptures almost always try to convey using celestial imagery. 

We are cast down into incarnate, material existence in a human body like Upamanyu falling down a deep well. The plunge down into the lower realms of matter is associated with the lower half of the zodiac wheel -- where Scorpio and Sagittarius basically "guard" the lowest point on the annual cycle, just prior to the winter solstice (see the now-familiar zodiac wheel diagram, used in countless previous posts, below):

In this incarnate condition, we are like prisoners at the bottom of the wheel -- like Upamanyu deep at the bottom of the well. We are also spiritually blind, prone to falling prey to all the many attachments and errors against which the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita warn us.

And yet at some point there comes a turn -- a turn in which we look to the realm of spirit, to the connection with the Infinite which has in fact been available to us all along (because we are not, in fact, entirely animal or entirely material, but have within ourselves a divine spark, an inner connection to the Infinite).

When Upamanyu invokes the Ashvins, he is calling to the ones who are located at entirely the other end of the wheel -- at the top of the cycle, in the upper realms of fire and spirit, and at the very top of the Milky Way column that can be envisioned as running from the bottom or "6 o'clock" position on the above zodiac wheel right up to the top or "12 o'clock" point on the circle, right next to the Twins of Gemini.

And so, when we look at Dhritarastra in the Mahabharata, and his disastrous failure to do the right thing, we must realize that he also does not represent an external king who lived thousands of years ago, but that he (like Upamanyu) is meant to depict one aspect of our human condition.

He is frequently wracked by self-doubt, and he also needs to be warned against the specific errors of wrath and anger by his wise brother Vidura, in Book 5 and Section 36 for example. His disastrous (even if often understandable and even at times well-meaning) failure to do what is right is a depiction of our own typical condition in this incarnate existence (as is Upamanyu when he becomes blind and falls down into the well).

But, although we are in this condition down here at the bottom of the well, we actually have access to the Infinite, right where we are -- as Upamanyu demonstrates when he calls upon the Ashvins and they appear, and restore his sight. This is depicted as the solution to our plight: connection to the Infinite, with which we in fact are already connected, if we could only see it (and even Dhritarastra later invokes through meditation the same connection to the infinity of the invisible realm, which is depicted in the illustration at the top of this post).

In fact, this is the only source of rescue depicted in the text. It is not Upamanyu's wise teacher who rescues Upamanyu: it is Upamanyu's wise teacher who tells Upamanyu to call upon the Ashvins. It is the connection with the Infinite that Upamanyu must achieve or restore in order to escape or transcend the condition in which he originally finds himself at the bottom of the well. 

This is in fact identical to the message that Lord Krishna gives to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, and identical to the message depicted in the invocation of Durga immediately prior to the Bhagavad Gita. All three parts of the Mahabharata are in fact telling us and showing us the very same message -- they are just employing different metaphors (and different celestial entities, whether Bootes, Virgo, or the Twins of Gemini) in order to convey that message.

And so, I hope, this discussion helps to remind us that these teachings are for all of us, all the time. The esoteric metaphors in the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita are not just for full-time yogis, or kung fu masters, or those facing extraordinary circumstances. We have all of us  eaten from the leaves that have temporarily blinded us, and we have all of us fallen into a deep well, so to speak. 

If that is the case, then these teachings are for everyone who finds himself or herself cast down into this physical existence, this deep well (which is, I'm sure, just about everyone who is reading this blog right now).

The solution is simple, but it is one that can occupy us for a lifetime. In the words of the ancient text: 

Do your duty, to the best of your ability, with your mind attached to the Lord [to the Infinite, to the goddess Durga, to the twin Ashvins, to Krishna the divine charioteer], abandoning worry and attachment to the results, and remaining calm in both success and failure.

(below are the screenshots of the Milky Way band, with the Ashvins on top and Upamanyu at the bottom of the well, without the annotated constellation outlines):

The Gospel of Thomas and the Everlasting Spring

The Gospel of Thomas and the Everlasting Spring

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

We're currently engaged in an examination of some of the ancient texts found buried at the base of the Jabal al-Tarif near Nag Hammadi in Egypt, for evidence of teachings which resonate with the teachings conveyed by other Star Myths around the world.

The previous post examined the Gospel of Thomas, found in Nag Hammadi codex 2, and argued that it is using a powerful esoteric metaphor to teach us that we are beings composed of two natures, that we are like a "set of twins," but contained within one being. We have our human, incarnate, doubting side -- but one privileged with the gift of direct access to and intimate communication with the divine, the Christ within, who declares in another manuscript contained in Nag Hammadi codex 2 that Thomas is indeed his twin , his true companion , and the one who will be called his brother.

In section 13 of the Gospel of Thomas, we find the following exchange:

Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me to something and tell me what I am like."
Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a just messenger."
Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher."
Thomas said to him, "Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable to say what you are like."
Jesus said, "I am not your teacher. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the spring that I have tended."
And he took him, and withdrew, and spoke three sayings to him. When Thomas came back to his friends they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?"
Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the sayings he spoke to me, you will pick up rocks and stone me, and fire will come from the rocks and devour you." [link to this translation].

This passage is noteworthy for many reasons.

First, it is very clearly a parallel to an episode found in the canonical gospels (those which, unlike those texts buried at Nag Hammadi, were included in the "approved list" of texts that eventually came to be called the "New Testament"): specifically, the mountaintop experience recounted in Matthew 16, Mark 8 and Luke 9, in which Jesus asks "Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?" and then "But whom say ye that I am?" 

In the versions included in the canonical gospels, it is Simon Peter who gives an answer that Jesus approves. In this version, it is Thomas -- and the answer that Thomas gives is different from that given by Peter in the canonical gospels. Thomas here says, in answer to the question, that his mouth is "utterly unable to say" what Jesus is like.

This answer is actually very profound, in that it is expressing the idea that the one with whom Thomas is conversing cannot be defined, cannot be labeled, cannot be delineated: he is utterly unable to be framed or contained by the faculty of language. This answer immediately points to the previous discussion in the posts: "Self, the senses and the mind," in which a distinction is made between the mind (with its endless attempts to define and describe and discriminate and delineate) and the infinite and ineffable Supreme Source which is behind and above mind, and of which Sri B. K. S. Iyengar, in commenting upon the teaching of the Vedas upon this subject, declares:

The mind cannot find words to describe the state and the tongue fails to utter them. Comparing the experience of samadhi with other experiences, the sages say: 'Neti! Neti!' -- 'It is not this! It is not this!' The state can only be expressed by profound silence. The yogi has departed from the material world and is merged with the Eternal. There is then no duality between the knower and the known for they are merged like camphor and flame. Light on Yoga, 52.

Note how well the above statement reflects the sentiment dramatized in the Thomas Gospel. Thomas declares that he can only say, "I am unable to say!" In other words, he must declare "Neti! Neti!" like the sages described by B. K. S. Iyengar and the teachings of ancient India. 

Further, in the description of Sri Iyengar, we see the assertion that there is in fact a merging of the yogi with the Eternal: there is no duality between the two; they merge like camphor and flame. The previous post makes the argument that the Nag Hammadi texts express this same idea by declaring that Thomas and the one who is ineffable, who cannot be described, are in fact twins. They are, in some mysterious sense, merged. There is no duality between them. In the words of the Hebrew scriptures in the book of Proverbs, the heavenly friend is the one who "sticketh closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18: 24).

In other words, the Nag Hammadi text of the Thomas Gospel is trying to convey to us that in our incarnate condition we are like Thomas: we are intimately connected to the infinite, the ineffable, the Eternal -- so closely that we are "twinned;" we are "merged like camphor and flame." 

And, this one with whom we are so close is in fact the un-namable, the undefinable: the Ultimate. In the Bhagavad Gita, this is expressed by Arjuna's divine companion and confidant, the Lord Krishna, who declares that: "The entire universe is pervaded by me" (section 9),  "I am the origin of all. Everything emanates from me. [. . .] There is no end of my divine manifestations" (section 10). Krishna then displays his ultimate form, and shows Arjuna that his divine companion is indeed unbounded, unlimited, unable to be described with words, endless and infinite.

The same is declared in the Hymn to Durga which is found in the Mahabharata immediately prior to the Bhagavad Gita, in which the goddess Durga is also declared to be "identical with Brahman [. . .] the unconsciousness [. . .] the beauty of all creatures [. . .]" (Book I, section 23). The fact that she appears to Arjuna immediately upon his meditation upon her and his hymn of praise to her indicates the same teaching that we have been exploring above: there is so little distance between the human being and the deity that they are as close as the camphor and the flame, they are closer than even the closest of brothers, they are twinned: the mortal with the immortal (like Castor and Pollux).

After Thomas declares that his mouth is utterly unable to say what the divine one is like, Jesus then declares to him that: 1) Jesus is not his teacher, and 2) that Thomas has drunk from the spring which Jesus has tended, and it is this spring which has made Thomas drunk.

This aspect of the passage is also extremely noteworthy. Thomas began his "confession" by saying "Teacher," but Jesus in a sense rebukes him and says "I am not your teacher." This might be interpreted as telling us that he is not separate from Thomas: there is not an external one to whom Thomas must look for guidance. The divine is within Thomas himself.

This interpretation might be seen as comporting very well with the declaration of Paul in the epistle to the Galatians, in chapter 1 and verse 16, in which Paul can be interpreted as saying that when God revealed the Christ in him, he did not confer with any teacher. 

This interpretation is strengthened by the next metaphor, in which Jesus declares that Thomas has obtained this insight because Thomas has drunk from the spring which Jesus has tended. In other words, according to this passage in the Nag Hammadi text, Jesus is here declaring that his role is as the one who tends to the spring (almost like a barista who tends to the coffee that is given to those who come looking for it). 

This declaration is very interesting in light of the passage in the canonical gospel of John describing the episode of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (at Jacob's well, in fact): Jesus tells her that he has living water that one can have and never thirst again, and then explains that this living water is within her. In verse 14 of John 4, Jesus says that this water can be in anyone a well of living water (unending water, unlimited water), "springing up into everlasting life." In other words, he is tending a spring which is infinite in nature, but which is available to each person internally

Based on this declaration found in John 4:14, and the declaration found here in the Thomas Gospel section 13 that Jesus is tending the spring, it does not seem too far of a stretch to conclude that the spring from which Thomas has drunk is the everlasting or infinite and Eternal spring within himself (within Thomas). Thomas is connected with the infinite, not externally but in himself.

Again, it bears repeating that this passage of ancient scripture is not intended to be understood as describing some ancient enlightened being named Thomas, who was different from ourselves. It is intended to convey to us a truth about each and every human soul who comes into this material life: we, like the "Thomas" in the text, are actually a composite being, a dual being -- a "set of twins," in which we usually identify with only the human aspect but which has a hidden or forgotten connection to the divine or the infinite or the eternal: a "divine twin," but our divine twin is not external to ourselves. 

Switching to a different metaphor, the text shows us that the divine or infinite or Eternal is already within us, like an everlasting or unending spring, from which we can drink.

In the beginning of the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus declares: "When you know yourself, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty" (section 3). This parallels the metaphor discussed in the previous post regarding the Gospel of Thomas, which says we are like one who has a field but is unaware of the treasure buried within that field.

Ultimately, then, the purpose of this ancient text seems to be identical to the famous dictum of the temple at Delphi: "Know thyself." 

Note that the temple at Delphi was closed under the reign of the Emperor Theodosius, after the literalists took control of the Roman Empire, in the year AD 390 -- during the same second half of the fourth century AD in which scholars believe the Nag Hammadi texts were hidden and buried, possibly due to persecution by the ascendent literalist hierarchy.

The Gospel of Thomas is telling us that if we know the truth, we are actually connected intimately with the ultimate -- with the divine. We are, like Thomas, a twin: a twin to divinity (like Castor was a twin to Pollux). We contain within us a bubbling spring which is connected to Eternity. But, if we remain in ignorance of this fact, we are like the one who had a treasure buried in his or her own field, and never knew about that treasure.

Peter Kingsley, who writes about the ancient knowledge of this internal connection to the infinite, says that when we are disconnected from that infinite source, we become impoverished indeed -- filled with a longing we can never satisfy, and with a hollowness that drives us to chase after substitute after substitute for what we perceive to be missing. This hollowness and chasing after substitutes, not surprisingly, characterizes western civilization (because western civilization almost by definition is directly descended from those cultures that are heir to the Roman Empire which had shut down the temple at Delphi and declared heretical the texts buried at Nag Hammadi). 

As the Gospel of Thomas tells us, if we do not know this truth, this treasure, then we will live in poverty, and will in fact be that poverty (clearly describing spiritual poverty, rather than material poverty, since the rushing after substitutes which Peter Kingsley describes can in many cases produce material wealth, although without corresponding release from the spiritual hollowness).

The worst part about this situation is that the actual solution is already within our grasp: the bubbling spring is already available to each of us. It is that Tao which cannot be named, that Krishna who declares that there is no end to his manifestations, that one of whom Thomas says the mouth is utterly incapable of describing or defining.

But that is also the best part, as well.

The Gospel of Thomas and the Divine Twin

The Gospel of Thomas and the Divine Twin

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Why was an entire "library" of ancient texts carefully sealed in a large storage jar at the base of the steep cliffs of the massif known today as the Jabal al-Tarif, along the banks of the Nile River in Egypt not far from the ancient city of Thebes, sometime during the second half of what we label today as the fourth century AD (the fourth century being the years in the 300s, since the first century AD consists of the years with numbers below 100, such as for example AD 60 or AD 70, causing all the subsequent centuries to have numbers "one higher" than the "hundred multiple" on the year-numbers, which is why the years in the 1900s were the "twentieth century")?

What would be the purpose of carefully sealing an upside-down bowl over the top of the large jar containing these texts, and burying them some distance from the city, underneath the talus at the base of the cliffs?

What was so important about the texts that someone would want to bury them? Were they worried about the texts being stolen? Or was there some other reason?

After this ancient jar was rediscovered in the 1940s (more details about that, along with some maps showing the location of the discovery, are in this previous post), and scholars began to decipher the ancient manuscripts, one possible reason these texts were buried began to suggest itself: these were ancient texts that were not included on the lists of approved writings that church authorities began to publish in the second half of that same fourth century -- and texts that did not make it onto the list of approved writings were no longer safe to have in one's possession (often texts excluded from the approved list were specifically denounced as heretical and spurious by the authorities).

Thus, it is quite possible that someone or some group who personally treasured these texts and their teachings, but did not feel it was safe to keep them in their immediate possession as the pressure against "heretical" texts ratcheted up during the second half of the fourth century, took them up the Nile to the cliffs away from the city and buried them there, fully intending to come back to them at some point in the future.

Apparently they never got the opportunity to go back.

These ancient texts, along with some others that have come to light in more recent discoveries, as well as a very few other fragments and manuscripts that had been found or preserved prior to those found in the jar at the Nag Hammadi, suggest to some researchers a very different history of the early centuries of the Christian church than has traditionally been taught. Some of the evidence can be interpreted as indicating that early teachings very different from what we today think of as "Christian teaching" were forcibly suppressed and driven underground (literally driven "under ground" in the case of the texts buried at Nag Hammadi) during the second, third, and especially fourth centuries, and replaced by an "approved list" of texts and teachings, which were to be interpreted from a primarily literalist perspective. 

In the next few posts, let's briefly examine a few of the ancient texts that were pretty much lost to history for nearly 1,600 years, surviving (as far as we know) only inside that sealed jar buried under the earth beneath the cliffs of Nag Hammadi and safely out of the way for the spread of literalist teachings until that jar was unearthed again in the twentieth century.

When we do so, we will find some teachings which seem to strongly resonate with some of the themes we have been examining recently in our examination of some of the "Star Myths" in the Mahabharata of ancient India, and in the

Bhagavad Gita that is part of the Mahabharata. In fact, we will find teachings in some of those long-buried Nag Hammadi texts that I believe have clear affinity with much that is found in the ancient wisdom preserved in myth and sacred stories literally around the world -- and indeed, that is even found in the texts of what we think of today as the Bible (the texts that did  make it onto those approved lists), but which are more evident in those Biblical texts when they are understood as esoteric allegory rather than as literal accounts.

Previous posts have presented evidence that the stories of the Bible were not intended to be understood as literal history but as esoteric allegory, and that forcing a literal reading onto them has resulted in an interpretation that is pretty much the polar opposite of their intended teaching -- see, for example, this discussion of the Easter cycle, or this discussion of the specific parts of the Easter cycle between the Triumphal Entry and the Betrayal, or this discussion of the Judgment of Solomon.

The entire "library" of texts that have survived from the discovery of that jar at Nag Hammadi (apparently, not all of the texts found in the jar survived, because when they were first found a few of the texts were actually burned as fuel for a cooking fire, according to stories surrounding the discovery) can be found online here, as well as in print form in various translations and collections (such as this collection edited by Nag Hammadi scholar and translator Marvin Meyer).

Out of that collection, we'll just look at a few passages from a couple of texts over the next few days or weeks. However, those interested in learning more can go straight to the Nag Hammadi texts themselves -- although the passages often appear cryptic at first, sometimes quite strange and alien, and even downright off-putting, remember that they are intended to be understood (I believe) as esoteric  allegory and that as such they are intended to convey spiritual truths which our literal or rational mind would "choke on" or reject, but which can often be best absorbed through powerful stories or metaphors.

Remember also that these texts were considered precious enough by someone living in ancient times to bury them, possibly at some risk to themselves, because they couldn't bear to see them destroyed -- and remember as well that the teachings in these texts was apparently considered so dangerous by those trying to spread a different system that these specific texts were literally unavailable after a certain point; they were completely or nearly completely eradicated. 

And, it should be noted, these texts were not marginal or unimportant texts: some of them (such as the one we will discuss in a moment) were mentioned quite often by ancient authors (including literalist Christian authorities, who were denouncing the texts), and so their titles were know to modern scholars even though -- until the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library -- their contents could not be consulted (except, in a few very limited cases, in a few fragments that survived, including in one case fragments which survived in a rubbish heap).

One of the most well-known and important of the texts found in that long-buried jar from Nag Hammadi is the text known as The Gospel of Thomas, which introduces itself as a record of the "secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded" (this is the translation version found here, by Stephen Patterson and Marvin Meyer; there are several other versions of English translations available and linked from that location, and it is interesting to read the different translations to try to get additional perspectives on the ancient text). 

This opening line itself offers us some extremely important insights, based on the name "Didymos Judas Thomas" -- the title "Didymos" or "Didymus" for Thomas is also found in the canonical gospel of John (in chapters 11, 20, and 21) and it means "Twin" (as does the name Thomas itself, apparently, but Didymos comes from the Greek word for "Twin" and Thomas comes from the Aramaic word for "Twin").   

Of course, a character specifically identified as a Twin might suggest a connection to the Twins of Gemini, to those who have become familiar with the patterns found in Star Myths around the world, and it is certainly possible that the Thomas character has some connection to the zodiac constellation of Gemini.

However, it is also quite possible that something even more interesting is at work here, something related to the previous discussion entitled "Why divinities can appear in an instant: The inner connection to the Infinite." That post argued that the ancient Star Myths are intended to convey the knowledge to us that even in this incarnate existence, we have inside of us a connection to the infinite: a connection to the divine, what is also described as the "hidden divine spark" or the "god within" (and see other related discussions on this very important subject, such as "Namaste and Amen," or any of the many previous posts about Osiris and the casting down and raising-up-again of the Djed).

How does the character of "Didymos Judas Thomas" convey a related message? The answer comes when we ask, "if Thomas is a twin, who is the other twin in the pair?" After all, that is a natural question to ask if we are reading a story and we are told that a character is a twin, but we are not immediately introduced to the other twin.

Interestingly enough, in another of the Nag Hammadi texts -- and in fact in a text which was bound up together with the Gospel of Thomas in the book-form or "codex" known to Nag Hammadi scholars as "Codex II" -- a text called

The Book of Thomas the Contender, we get a startling answer as to who the other twin of Thomas might be (in the esoteric allegory).

In Section II of The Book of Thomas the Contender, which is called "Dialogue between Thomas and the Savior," we read these words in a sub-section regarding the subject of ignorance and self-knowledge:

The savior said, "Brother Thomas, while you have time in the world, listen to me and I will reveal to you the things you have pondered in your mind. Now, since it has been said that you are my twin and true companion, examine yourself, and learn who you are, in what way you exist, and how you will come to be. Since you will be called my brother, it is not fitting that you be ignorant of yourself . . ."



Did this text just say that the Savior addressed Thomas as "my twin"?

Yes, that is what was asserted in this text. Now, if you are one who wants to interpret literally ancient texts about what the Savior said, then you are probably going to reject this text as being heretical. If you try to take this text literally, it will cause big problems with other texts, such as the scriptures describing the birth of the Savior (in which it is never said that he was born as one in a set of twins, for instance).

But, if you are not troubled with a need to force every ancient scripture into a literal mold, and if you believe that they were not intended to be understood that way, then you can ask yourself what this assertion that Thomas was the twin of the Savior might mean -- what it might have been intended to convey.

As you did so, you might remember that in other ancient mythologies, most notably perhaps in Greek myth, there are sets of twins in which one twin is divine or immortal, and the other twin is human and mortal. These Thomas narratives in the Nag Hammadi texts seem to be resorting to this same metaphor: we have a divine twin ("the living Jesus" as he is called in the opening line of the Gospel of Thomas, and "the Savior" as he is called in the Book of Thomas the Contender), and we have the mortal counterpart, the human twin: Thomas, the one who writes down the sayings for us, which he received from the divine twin.

Now, as we saw at the end of the preceding discussion regarding the "inner connection to the Infinite," there is a passage in the wisdom-book of Proverbs which declares "there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." As that post argued, and presented evidence from myth (particularly myths in which a god or divine being appears instantly, which also happens to be one of the characteristics of the risen Christ) this teaching may well be trying to convey to us the knowledge that our connection to the infinite, to the realm of the gods, is not external to us: it is within us already.

The metaphor of a divine twin and a human twin, such as the Gemini Twins in Greek mythology of Pollux (divine) and Castor (human), may well be referring to just such a concept or teaching. Expressing it in this way can convey this truth to us in a powerful, metaphorical, esoteric manner.

If that is the case, then what we see here in the Gospel of Thomas (and in the Book of Thomas the Contender) may well be conveying the very same truth, just in a slightly different form than it is found in (for example) the Greek myth of Pollux and Castor. In the Nag Hammadi texts mentioned here, Jesus is the divine twin and Thomas is the human twin, but they are not in fact two different entities. This is a teaching about the "Christ within" (which is a teaching also found in the writings of the apostle who called himself Paul, a name which the Reverend Robert Taylor points out is very much linguistically related to Pollux and to Apollo).

We are already, perhaps, getting a sense as to why these texts ended up buried in a large jar in a secret location, where the authorities who had declared such teachings to be "heretical" could not find them and destroy them.

There is much within the Gospel of Thomas itself to back up the interpretation that has been suggested above. In future posts we may have occasion to examine a few more of them, but for now let's just look at another metaphor, offered as a saying of Jesus, found in section 109 of the Gospel of Thomas.

There, in the translation of Stephen Patterson and Marvin Meyer, Jesus says:

The (Father's) kingdom is like a person who had a treasure hidden in his field but did not know it. And [when] he died he left it to his [son]. The son [did] not know about it either. He took over the field and sold it. The buyer went plowing, [discovered] the treasure, and began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished.

This is a very interesting metaphor, and one that suggests that the "treasure" of the infinite is buried away deep inside us like the treasure in the story that lies buried under a field, which can remain there our entire lives without our knowing it. But it is something which we actually already have, if we just knew.

The scriptures appear to be trying to break through our ignorance on this subject, to tell us that we already are connected to something that is actually inexpressible in its infinity (that cannot be quantified or defined or even named, as the opening lines of the Tao Te Ching declare, and that thus lies beyond all the quantifying and labeling and chattering of the part of us that we call our mind).

Thomas is telling us the words of Jesus, but perhaps "Thomas" received these sayings from a divine source that was not external to him (though none the less divine and none the less real for that). In fact, we should not think of the Gospel of Thomas as being about some "twin" who lived thousands of years ago: as Alvin Boyd Kuhn advised us in a passage quoted in several previous posts, we won't understand ancient texts unless we realize that they are about us. Each and every individual soul that incarnates in this world is, according to such a reading, like Thomas: a twin to a living infinite inner divinity, possessed of a friend that sticketh closer than any "external twin" (as close as literal twins are to one another, this twin is even closer).

This teaching is also portrayed in the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita, with Arjuna and his companion and divine charioteer, the Lord Krishna (as well as in the episode in which Durga appears before the battle: see videos here and here and additional discussion here).

These are not the messages that are traditionally drawn from the scriptures of the Bible when they are approached with a literalist hermeneutic (because literalist readings necessarily start off by seeing the characters in the text as primarily external to us, since those characters are understood to be literal-historical figures). But they are messages which resonate strongly with all the other myths and sacred traditions of the world -- and they are in fact the messages which I believe these texts were intended to convey to us, before something happened and that message was all but wiped out, around the period of time that the Nag Hammadi library was being sealed away.