Rescuing the Bible from Literalism

As you can probably tell, saving Christianity and Christ Consciousness from religion is very important to me. Sometimes it feels like it was my mission before being born. Maybe I was burned as a heretic in a past life…

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By RICHARD SMOLEY

“The world,” wrote the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, “is the totality of facts, not of things.” So it is, but facts take many forms. The hard-edged events of ordinary reality are only one form, and not always the most important.

This insight can be hard to accept in the positivist world of mainstream Western thought. In these terms, either an event took place or it did not. Truth and falsehood are judged by this criterion alone. And yet such a stance has only a limited value. It is indispensable in history and journalism and perhaps in science (although the anomalous discoveries of twentieth-century physics have blurred the picture somewhat). But in the spiritual dimension, even though there are facts here as well, they are not of this kind. To overlook this truth is to mistake one reality for another.

Conventional Christianity has often made this mistake. Practically from the start, it has presented its case in literalistic terms: the Bible is true; moreover it is literally true. Its facts must be historical facts, and its record of the past must be a true one. At first these claims fostered Christianity’s rapid success in the ancient world. By the early centuries of the Common Era, Greco-Roman civilisation could no longer take its own myths seriously, so it was persuaded to adopt the Scriptures of the Jews and Christians on the grounds that these presented not only sacred truths but an accurate record of the past.

Since the Enlightenment, such claims have been more of an embarrassment than an advertisement for the faith. Over the last 250 years, scholars in many fields have taken Christianity at its word and investigated in great depth just how much the Bible jibes with science and history. The findings have not exactly vindicated the Good Book. Indeed the trend over time has been to call more and more of the Bible into question as a historical record.

From a scientific point of view, the tide began to turn in the early nineteenth century. In 1830–32, the British scientist Charles Lyell published his classic Principles of Geology, arguing that geological changes that are recorded in rocks could not possibly have taken place in the mere 6,000 years that Genesis assigned to the earth’s lifetime, but had occurred over a much longer period. A generation later, another, even more famous scientist, Charles Darwin, suggested that animal species had not been created by the Almighty on a single day of creation in 4004 BCE, but had evolved over much longer periods by what he called “natural selection.” (In fact, when Darwin had finished his magnum opus, The Origin of Species, he sent it to Lyell for comments.)

Historicity of the Bible Questioned

In recent decades, archaeology has cast doubt even on parts of the Bible that had seemed more or less factual, such as the history of Israel in the Old Testament. To take one example, a generation ago most scholars accepted the historicity of the Exodus from Egypt, believing at least that some migration of this kind happened, even if the narrative had to be stripped of its miraculous festoonings. Since then, the picture has changed considerably. Summarising recent findings in their 2001 book The Bible Unearthed, Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman contend that the Exodus did not happen in any form that is recognisable from the archaeological record. The first mention of Israel in any known inscription, they note, dates from the reign of the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah in 1207 BCE. While this is around the time traditionally assigned to the Exodus, the inscription speaks not of a flight of Israelites (or even an expulsion), but of Merneptah’s successful incursion into Canaan, where Israel is reckoned among the peoples subdued. In any case, the Israelites could not have escaped to Canaan out of the hands of the Egyptians, because Canaan was part of Egyptian territory at the time; Merneptah’s invasion would have been to quiet a troublesome province.

Instead, Finkelstein and Silberman suggest that the biblical account of the Exodus is a composite of folk memories of the Hyksos – a Semitic people who ruled Egypt from c.1670 to c.1570 BCE before being expelled by the Egyptians. The Exodus story as we know it was framed in the seventh century BCE, when the national ideology of Jerusalem and the nation of Judah was beginning to crystallise – and Egypt was a powerful and aggressive neighbour.

Other scholars have come up with equally revolutionary insights. In her work The Great Angel, the British biblical scholar Margaret Barker points out that originally the Israelites worshipped a female goddess, known as Asherah (or sometimes as Hokhmah or “Wisdom”), as the consort of Yahweh, alongside El, the Most High God, and Yahweh himself, who was essentially a national deity allocated to Israel alone. Barker suggests that the famous Deuteronomic reform under the Judahite King Josiah – in which Josiah purges the Temple of these other gods and restores the worship of Yahweh alone (2 Kings 22-23) – was not a reform but an innovation, a purge of time-honoured traditions in an attempt to create a “Yahweh-alone movement.” This movement eventually took over Judaism after the Babylonian Exile and imposed its own agenda on the past.

One could make similar points about much of the rest of the Bible. The “quest of the historical Jesus,” as Albert Schweitzer so famously dubbed it, has gone on for over two centuries now without any really conclusive results. Most scholars are convinced that there is some admixture of myth and legend in the life of Christ as portrayed in the New Testament, but they differ enormously about just what was legend and what was not. The panel of liberal New Testament scholars known as the Jesus Seminar has won some notoriety for contending that Jesus neither said nor did most of the things attributed to him in the Gospels. As shocking as some may find this claim, it is hardly new: an array of German New Testament scholars reached much the same conclusions in the nineteenth century. A still more radical view holds that Jesus never existed at all: his story was merely a Jewish equivalent of the numerous death-and-resurrection myths circulating in the ancient world. Since there is no archaeological evidence for Christ’s life, and the textual evidence is elusive (none of the Gospels, canonical or apocryphal, even claims to be an eyewitness account), this position, as extreme as it is, is hard to definitively refute.

Biblical Stories as Allegory, Not History

What, then, are we to do with the Bible as history? Some will no doubt cling to it. The literary critic Harold Bloom has noted that in evangelical Christianity, the “limp leather Bible,” waved at the audience by the preacher, has itself become a totem. But others are unlikely to find refuge in a simplistic bibliolatry. They may be drawn to another approach – one that is equally ancient, and possibly more profound. It is that the Bible is not, and never was, meant to be taken literally, but has deeper meanings that are to be unearthed by those are capable of doing so.

This idea goes back to the very beginnings of Christianity and has always existed side by side with narrow literalism. Ironically, it was a major impetus for the creation of Christianity as a separate religion from Judaism. The nascent Christian movement often had to allegorise the Hebrew Scriptures to make use of them for its own purposes. The Apostle Paul writes about one biblical passage:

It is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all (Gal. 4:22–26).

Paul is saying that the real meaning of the story of Abraham and his two sons lies in the relationship of the Jews and the Christians. Ishmael, the older son, born to Hagar (or Agar), “the bondwoman,” is the Jews, who are in “bondage” to the Law of Moses. Isaac, the younger, born to Sarah, the “freewoman,” represents the Christians, who are freed from having to follow the Law. The story is an “allegory.”

The first authority to use the word “allegory” in this sense (the Greek is allegoria) – and the first to expound the Hebrew Bible in this way – was a philosopher who lived at the same time as both Jesus and Paul: Philo of Alexandria (c.20 BCE–c.50 CE). Although there is no reference to Jesus or Paul in his works or to Philo in the New Testament, it would be hard to overstate Philo’s influence on Christianity. To take one example, it was he who first used the Greek word logos (often translated as “word”) to mean the creative, structuring element in consciousness and to contend that this principle had engendered the world. Philo’s view was prevalent in the Judaism of the first century CE, in which the logos was often seen as a kind of deuteros theos or “second god.” The Christians appropriated this theology, especially in the Gospel of John, whose prologue “In the beginning was the Word” etc. is almost a programmatic statement of Philo’s thought. Philo, of course, never equated this logos with Jesus, as the Christians did, and once the Christian view had spread throughout the ancient world, the Jews dropped the concept of the logos entirely.

In any event, Philo viewed the Hebrew Bible through the lens of allegory. Here is Philo on Genesis:

“And on the sixth day God finished his work which he made.” It would be a sign of great simplicity to think that the world was created in six days, or indeed all in time…. But… it would be correctly said that the world was not created in time, but that time had its existence as a consequence of the world….. When, therefore, Moses says, “God completed his works on the sixth day,” we must understand that he is speaking not of a number of days, but that he takes six as a perfect number.

Philo goes on to explain what he means by a perfect number. Obviously this is a far richer and more sophisticated understanding of a sacred text than the simplistic idea that the world was made in six literal days.

The Christian theologian who is most indebted to Philo was the third-century Church Father Origen. Origen went further than Philo, however, in being much more eager to discard the literal truth of passages that seemed contrary to reason. Here is Origen on Genesis:

Who is so silly as to believe that God, after the manner of a farmer, “planted a paradise eastward in Eden,” and set in it a visible and palpable “tree of life,” of such a sort that anyone who tasted its fruit with his bodily teeth would gain life: and again that one could partake of “good and evil” by masticating the fruit taken from the tree of that name? And when God is said to “walk in the paradise in the cool of the day” and Adam to hide himself behind a tree, I do not think anyone will doubt that these are figurative expressions which indicate certain mysteries through a semblance of history and not through actual events.

Origen does not spare the Gospels or the writings of the Apostles, “for,” he writes, “the history even of these is not everywhere pure, events being woven together in the bodily sense without having actually happened; nor do the law and the commandments contained therein entirely declare what is reasonable.”

Such an attitude seems strikingly modern – and yet these are the words of a third-century Church Father. Origen spoke of three levels of meaning to Scripture (body, soul, and spirit, in accordance with the tripartite division of human nature accepted by early Christianity). This view would be tremendously influential. The scholar Beryl Smalley has written that “to write a history of Origenist influence on the West would be tantamount to writing a history of Western [biblical] exegesis.”

By the Middle Ages, Origen’s three levels of meaning for Scripture would be expanded to four. They were called the literal, allegorical, moral, and “anagogical” or mystical senses. Dante, writing in the early fourteenth century, refers to them in his Letter to Can Grande, where he says of the Exodus:

If we look at it from the letter alone it means to us the exit of the Children of Israel from Egypt at the time of Moses; if from allegory, it means for us our redemption done by Christ; if from the moral sense, it means to us the conversion of the soul from the struggle and misery of sin to the status of grace; if from the anagogical, it means the leavetaking of the blessed soul from the slavery of this corruption to the freedom of eternal glory. And though these mystical senses are called by various names, in general all can be called allegorical, because they are different from the literal or the historical.

Origen, who is evasive about actually setting out the hidden meaning of Scripture (“it was the method of the Holy Spirit rather to conceal these truths and to hide them deeply,” he writes), makes reference to Egypt as well. He speaks of “the descent of the holy fathers into Egypt, that is, into this world.” For Origen as for Dante, then, the Exodus ultimately presents an allegory of spiritual liberation.

Origen died around 253 CE, crippled by torture during the persecution of the Christians by the Roman Emperor Decius. Since then, Origen has had an ambiguous destiny in the mainstream church. Revered in his own day, in later centuries he fell into disrepute among the orthodox. This happened for a number of reasons, but it was largely because his views on the relationship between the Father and the Son did not jibe with the doctrine of the Trinity as it would evolve in the fourth and fifth centuries. Furthermore, later theologians did not feel entirely comfortable with Origen’s assertion that much of Scripture was not meant to be taken as literally true. Although the churchmen were generally content to accept his idea that there were other meanings in addition to the literal one, they did not like to think the literal sense was wrong or even (as we’ve seen Origen say about the myth of Eden) ridiculous.

Protestantism and Literalism

If the Catholic and Orthodox churches were always comfortable with a symbolic meaning to the Bible, where did today’s excruciating biblical literalism come from? Partly from Protestantism. Catholicism and Orthodoxy always regarded the Bible as an authority, but never as the authority: the teachings and practices of the Church itself were held to be of at least equal weight. The Catholic Church always insisted that the Bible could be easily misunderstood by those who lacked the proper training; this was why the Church discouraged Bible reading by laypeople until comparatively recently.

By the early modern era, however, the Catholic Church had become so corrupt that some Christian leaders (and many of the ordinary faithful) realised that the church was keeping an exclusive monopoly on spiritual power largely to suit its own worldly ends. In breaking with the church, these leaders – the Protestant Reformers – decided to return to the Bible as the only proper authority: sola scriptura, “Scripture only,” as the formula had it.

This in itself might not have been so problematic, but the Protestantism that reached the American frontier in the nineteenth century was dominated by men who had little education and little idea of any other literature than the Bible. Such people have always existed: Thomas Aquinas, the medieval Catholic theologian, was alluding to them when he said, “Timeo hominem unius libri”: “I fear a man of one book.” In the United States, and, I suspect, in much of the rest of the English-speaking world, evangelical Christianity has become co-opted by these “men of one book.” Today in many parts of the US, it is possible to go into people’s houses and see no other book than the Bible. It is this element in Christianity that has made its presence felt in the rise of fundamentalism.

As a result, the Bible’s inner meaning has increasingly become the province of esotericism. Regarding the story of Christ, in her book Esoteric Christianity the Theosophist Annie Besant speaks of “the Christ of the human Spirit, the Christ who is in every one of us, is born and lives, is crucified, rises from the dead, and ascends into heaven, in every suffering and triumphant ‘Son of Man.’” The story of Christ is thus the story of each of us; the Incarnation symbolises our own descent into the world of materiality, where we pass across the stage for a short while before being crucified on the cross of time and space. But this suffering and death is only transitory or even illusory, since the Logos – the principle of consciousness – in ourselves cannot die. It will be resurrected again in other forms, recognisable or otherwise. (In the Gospels the risen Christ is sometimes recognised by his disciples, sometimes not.)

Some may find themselves impatient with these ideas, insisting that they are nothing more than a way of skirting the issue of historical factuality that must supposedly serve as the bedrock of faith. But what, might one ask, is being dismissed as mere allegory? Viewed in the way sketched out above, the stories of the Exodus and the passion of Christ are not mere edifying tales of the past. Nor are they creeds for blind belief or flags around which to rally the faithful. Rather they are deep expressions of what is going on inside us now. To know from inner experience what it is to be spiritually in “the land of Egypt, the house of bondage,” to see the Logos in ourselves crucified on the cross of time and space, is not evasion but among the most profound insights a human being can have.

I would even take the argument a step further. An allegorical reading of the Bible can actually be more demanding than merely dwelling on the meaning of the letter. Acknowledging “Pharaoh,” “Moses,” the “scribes and Pharisees,” even Christ as parts of ourselves can be unsettling. Few are eager to come to grips with their inner tyrants and hypocrites, and there are possibly even fewer who can bear to see their own higher natures. After all, to know that Moses the lawgiver exists in oneself is already a step out of the house of bondage. To see the Christ within is already to experience a resurrection. Such realisations confer a responsibility upon us that we are not always delighted to face.

As a result, it is often easier to keep these things at the safe remove of antiquity – to follow the disputes about who was the Pharaoh of Exodus; to pore over accounts of recent excavations in Biblical Archaeology Review; to thrill over the latest news feature that breathlessly proffers some allegedly new fact about the historical Jesus. In such a way we can keep these issues alive, but at a comfortable distance: they remain ineluctably “other,” about people who lived long ago. I suspect that this dynamic helps explain the unshakable thirst for biblical archaeology among the American public.

All this said, there is admittedly a problem with leaning too heavily on allegorical readings of Scripture. To be no longer able to take one’s own myths literally – even while accepting them in a figurative sense – does strip them of their power. This is due to the limits of our own understanding; we as a civilisation seem unable to hear the message “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet believed” (John 20:29). This is not a call to blind, stupid faith; it is an appeal to recognise realities that do not present themselves to our physical eyes and hands – the “evidence of things unseen.” But, trusting as we do in the Gradgrindian world of cold, hard facts, we put more trust in texts than in our own inner experience. We discover that the texts are not telling the exact truth about history, and we lose our faith.

Despite the noise (much of it overstated) about rising fundamentalism in the Western world, this loss of faith is likely to accelerate. What will happen when the news sinks in and we collectively understand that much, perhaps most, of the Bible is not literally true? We may continue to see their beauty and power as myths, just as we do with the tales of the Olympian gods, but they will have lost their numinous force for us. We will see the old gods mocked and derided, as they were in antiquity in the satyr plays of the classical Athenian stage and the satires of Lucian, and as we see today in films like Dogma and Jesus Christ Superstar.

In such instances, new myths, new versions of eternal truths arise. What these will be in the future remains to be seen; it is hard to imagine that they will come from any religion now existing. Of the models of reality now available, it is above all the one provided by science that has most captured the imagination of the thinking public. Like Christianity in ancient times, it seems to offer truth in place of myth, actualities in place of legend. And then we are left with a question that, I suspect, will not be answered in the lifetime of anyone reading these pages now: what will happen when the facts of science, implacably hard and substantial as they now seem, are proved to be myths in turn?

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Bibliography

Dante Alighieri, Letter to Can Grande della Scala, Translated by James Marchand, http://medieval.ucdavis.edu/20B/Can.Grande.html

Margaret Barker, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God, Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox, 1992.

Annie Besant, Esoteric Christianity, or the Lesser Mysteries, Reprint, Wheaton, Ill.: Quest, 2006.

Harold Bloom, The American Religion, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.

Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, New York: Touchstone, 2001.

Susan A. Handelman, The Slayers of Moses: The Emergence of Rabbinic Interpretation in Modern Literary Theory, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1982.

Origen, On First Principles, Translated by G.W. Butterworth, Reprint, New York: Harper & Row, 1966.

Philo, The Works of Philo, Translated by C.D. Yonge, Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1993.

Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus: A Critical Study of Its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede, Translated by W. Montgomery, Reprint, New York: Macmillan, 1961.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Translated by D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuinness, 2nd edition, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971.

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RICHARD SMOLEY is author of Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition; Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions (with Jay Kinney); and The Essential Nostradamus. His latest book is Conscious Love: Insights from Mystical Christianity. He is editor of Quest Books and is executive editor of Quest magazine. His web site is www.innerchristianity.com.

The above article appeared in New Dawn No. 110 (September-October 2008).

© Copyright New Dawn Magazine, http://www.newdawnmagazine.com. Permission granted to freely distribute this article for non-commercial purposes if unedited and copied in full, including this notice.

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A Gnostic Creation Story

gnostics

Some (but not all) Gnostics believed that the creator Yahweh was the fallen God, the Demiurge. They believed that Lucifer (which means Light Bearer) was sent by Abraxas (the God above Yahweh) to enlighten mankind and set him free from “Satan’s” (demiurge) bondage. It does make sense. If the creation is imperfect, obviously you blame the creator. If we somehow create our own reality, perhaps the demiurge is the ego. I have to say that the church’s dogmatic explanation that God had to somehow satisfy his own ego by torturing and killing a human being in order to forgive sin doesn’t make much sense. No matter how you paint it, no matter what spin you put on it, it just doesn’t make sense. Not all Gnostics believe the same thing. Gnosis is ‘intuitive self knowledge.’  I know, and I believe the ancient Gnostics knew that myths were not separate entities. They are the same ‘things’ Freud called Id, ego and super-ego. The mythical ‘beings’ are parts of the human psyche. It is perfectly necessary to understand the Gnostic religion that ‘orthodox’ destroyed, and did so in a most inhumane and ‘un-Christian’ way.  The book The Dark Side of Christianity explains all the harm committed by Rome’s fabricated church. Gnosticism was a flourishing religion in it’s day.  They lived side by side, peacefully, with Pagans. Scholars believe St Paul was a Gnostic.When Rome became involved it did so for anything but spiritual reasons and changed Christianity. It soon became a violent political tool for mind control, simply by literalizing the myths and creating dogma.

Like Buddhism, Gnosticism begins with the recognition that earthly life is filled with suffering. In order to nourish themselves, all forms of life consume each other, thereby visiting pain, fear, and death upon one another (even herbivorous animals live by destroying the life of plants). In addition, so-called natural catastrophes — earthquakes, floods, fires, drought, volcanic eruptions — bring further suffering and death in their wake. Human beings, with their complex physiology and psychology, are aware not only of these painful features of earthly existence. They also suffer from the frequent recognition that they are strangers living in a world that is flawed and absurd.

In the Gnostic view, there is a true, ultimate and transcendent God, who is beyond all created universes and who never created anything in the sense in which the word “create” is ordinarily understood. While this True God did not fashion or create anything, He (or, It) “emanated” or brought forth from within Himself the substance of all there is in all the worlds, visible and invisible. In a certain sense, it may therefore be true to say that all is God, for all consists of the substance of God.

Humans are generally ignorant of the divine spark resident within them. This ignorance is fostered in human nature by the influence of the false creator and his Archons, who together are intent upon keeping men and women ignorant of their true nature and destiny. Anything that causes us to remain attached to earthly things serves to keep us in enslavement to these lower cosmic rulers.

I will now quote from the book ”The Forbidden Religion” by Herrou Aragon, Jose M. to try to understand some of the Gnostic view points.

Gnostics say “we are in the presence of a creator ignorant of the effects of his creation”. Likewise, the creator god always maintains that he is the only one. He doesn’t just say it once, he says it all the time, he is constantly saying “I am the only God”, “there is no other God”, “I, your God, am the only one”, etc. The Gnostics’ interpretation of this is that the creator suspects, since he is not altogether sure, that there is another God higher than him. A God infinitely more superior to him, much bigger, much more important than him, and that is what he is trying to hide by incessantly repeating “I am the only one”, “there is no other God”.  

He is sometimes portrayed as being vindictive, bad-tempered, arrogant, insecure and indecisive. A god who loves sacrifices in his name, genocide, and who orders people to kill others, and their belongings, land, inhabitants and livestock to be taken away. He gives orders to kill not only his enemies but also women, children and animals. A god who commits genocide. This god demands sacrifices in his name, since he loves the smell of the burnt flesh of the victims sacrificed at the altar. This is the god who caused the Flood. How many hundreds of thousands of men drowned in the Flood! This is how it is related in the bible and other pre-biblical texts, like that of the Babylonian Flood for example. He has a taste for sacrificing people and animals and for the spilt blood of his enemies. He likes to be admired, adored, served, feared and obeyed. He likes the temples built in his honour, the rituals, the commandments, the accomplishment of his orders, the prayers sent up to him. He likes the pain suffered by all his living beings, the torture, the suffering. Ancient Gnostics used to call him Ialdabaoth which means “son of chaos”; sometimes he was called Sabaot: “god of exertion”. They also used to call him Kosmocrator or the Great Arconte, the creator and arranger of matter. But the name most commonly given to him by Gnostics is the demiurge, Greek for creator.

Another interesting thing about the myths of various religions is that the creator isn’t creating alone, he says “let us make “, as if there were many creators working together. “Let us make this”, “Let us make that”. The bible says: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”. Us, Us, our . Why? Who are the others? Who else is he creating with?

Gnostics maintain that man has a body, a soul and a Spirit. Where did this Spirit, not created by the creator god, come from? Why is It there? This is one of the next issues we will be looking into. The man in Eden, this “paradise” in which god placed him, didn’t know who he was , he was only carrying out orders. He was naming the animals for example, being a sort of administrator, or representative of the creator god. There, in this “paradise” which god had prepared for him, it was like he was asleep, he did not know who he was or where he had come from. Man became aware of who he was, found himself, only after what was called “the sin”, the Disobedience, when he ate the forbidden fruit and was thrown out of paradise.

(An interesting fact is that, at the beginning of christianity, the existence of these three entities in man – body, soul and Spirit – was upheld. Saint Paul, for example, accepted this, Saint Augustine as well. Later it was lost through the councils and decisions of the pope and the roman church. It remained as it is known to us now: body and soul. Now it would appear that the soul is the only divine thing within man and that there is nothing else. What happened to the Spirit? It has disappeared. It is striking that it has happened this way).

Man in his normal state is lost in confusion, sleepy, not knowing who he is, where he came from or where he is going. He does not know what he should be doing and is in a state of confusion, as if in a mist or half-asleep. When we were talking about the creator of the world, we said that for Gnostics, the creator, the demiurge, the creator of matter, the universe and man can be likened to satan, since matter is satanic, all creation is satanic and the creator is a satanic being. This creator oppresses man. Since the creation of man, he has forced him to carry out his orders and obey his precepts and commands. This creator wants to be obeyed by man, admired, feared and adored by him by means of sacrifices and rituals. He wants to impose his oppressive rules on man. He wants man to obey him and renounce his own wishes, which are very often the desires of his Spirit, of this Spiritual Self that, although ignored by man is carried within him.

According to Gnostic legends and myths, the great Unknowable God sent Lucifer, angel of indescribable fire and light, to show man the light and to help him wake up and see his true origin, the origin of his Spirit, which has been perversely imprisoned in this impure matter called body-soul. He is an uncreated being, who came to the created world to bring Light: Liberating Gnosis. The saving knowledge which can wake man up and help him free his imprisoned Spirit. The knowledge which allows him to know who he truly is, why he is here in this world and what he has to do to liberate himself and fulfill his Spirit, which belongs to another uncreated and unknowable plane.

Gnostics consider that the biblical myth of creation can be explained as follows: the creator satan of the world trapped Adam and Eve in his miserable world, and Lucifer , in the form of a serpent , offered them the forbidden fruit of saving Gnosis, and showed them that the creator was deceiving them. In other words, the creator said to man “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” On the other hand, the Serpent said “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The bible continued : “And the eyes of both of them were opened”. It doesn’t say “they both died”, it says “the eyes of both of them were opened”, like the Serpent had said. Later, the creator says “And now man has become as one of us, to know good and evil”. The creator lied. He said that man would die if he ate the fruit, but man did not die.

The Serpent was telling the truth. The creator himself ended up agreeing that the Serpent was right. More precisely, Gnostics called the demiurge a liar as well as a plagiarizer. For them, the entire creation is a failed attempt by the demiurge to imitate the unknowable world. In this way, they think that the bible itself is a complete plagiarism, based principally on pre-biblical Babylonian and Egyptian texts.

So man did wake up, and he did become aware of good and evil. How did he manage to do this? The Serpent of temptation in Eden fed him the forbidden fruit which opened his eyes. According to Gnostics this Serpent is Lucifer, the Messenger of Light. This is the meaning of the word Lucifer: Bearer of Light. Lucifer took the form of a serpent to wake man up. He is a Messenger of the Supreme God, the Unknowable God. He is a Messenger of the True God who came into this imperfect, inadequate and wretched world to wake up and liberate man, to show him his true situation and what his great destiny could be like. For this reason, those who follow the orders of the creator god consider the serpent to be something malicious and satanic and in all this confusion liken it with satan.

Gnostic Christians regarded Christ as the Serpent of Genesis. This was because Christ, much later than the events in the earthly paradise, came carrying a liberating message,  just like the Serpent. A message which frees man from this impure world. These Christian Gnostics believe that it was this knowledge which allowed man to make contact with the other world, the one opposed to the demiurge: the unknowable world of the True God.

SOURCE: The Forbidden Religion, by Herrou Aragon, Jose M. (2012-06-04). Excellent book, fascinating perspective on an old mostly unchallenged story.

A Mask of God

Flickr-mask-epSos_de_

Most of us think we are individual human beings living in a world that is outside of us, along with billions of other individuals. While from the perspective of consensus reality it certainly does appear that way, it just may be that you are alone in a world of your own making. We live in an extremely materialistic culture, and even those that consider themselves spiritual or religious are not immune to this conditioning. The materialistic worldview focuses on the outer world and the objects of the five senses. When it comes to the subject of perception or the perceiver, we bring our materialism inside and see more objects of perception (thoughts, beliefs, feelings, personality), that is if we don’t explain it all away with physiology. What modern psychology fails to do, and what most forms of spirituality fall short of, is getting to the root of the perceiver itself. Physical science looks at external objects, and psychology looks at internal objects. The common factor between the two is that they are both objects of perception, but who or what is at the root of perception?

The ancient path of self discovery, taken by the seers and sages of old, was very much concerned with this question. They realized that for every object or every phenomenon there is a witness. That is, for us to be able to know something such as a person, object or thought, something must be there to observe it. No matter how you break down the world or the mind, there is always an subtle observer which is aware of it. This implies a subject/object relationship (duality) and some kind of separation between the observer and that which is observed. The ancient seers wanted to know what human beings really were at the core. Were we just a body or a mind, or was there some essence or spirit which made us sentient beings. They found that they were able to observe the aspects of the body and mind and noticed that these things could be broken down into smaller and more subtle parts. There was an instability to these parts because they could either continue to be broken down or they were not always present, all of it was subject to change. However, the unstable elements of the body and mind seemed to appear before a silent awareness that remained stable at all times even if it was not always paid attention to.

When these seers decided to turn their well-honed powers of observation back on their source, the inner witness, they made a remarkable discovery. They found nothing. Except it was not the usual nothing. The word nothing is used simply because no one was able to find or even make up a word that captured what was found at the root of perception. Many words have cropped up to try to describe this inner nothingness such as emptiness, Brahman, God, spirit, consciousness, the absolute, etc. If the inner observer was traced all the way to its root, it would always fall away into nothing. In that nothingness however there was profound peace and joy beyond description. They additionally found that nothing seemed to exist without being witnessed, as if the act of being witnessed by this consciousness was a necessary factor in the existence of everything we know including ourselves. So they considered consciousness the source or root of all existence.

Most people don’t realize this because they don’t turn their attention around and find its source. Generally, our attention is directly outwardly at objects so the external material world is what we take to be the only reality. But that’s just a function of what we pay attention to. The ancient sages realized with their discovery that this usual way of seeing reality was mistaken and actually the cause of unending misery. They saw that consciousness was the real source of everything that we experience and consciousness is what we are when reduced down to the root.

Out of infinite consciousness the first observable phenomenon that can be discerned is ‘I’. The root thought, I. In its pure form, it is the sense of individual presence, what we feel when we direct our attention inwardly and quiet the mind. From this root thought all the other elements of the mind arise. All the thoughts, feelings, habit patterns, beliefs, images and projections that make up a human mind. These develop as the I, as an individual entity which begins to interact and have experiences. The more complex mental patterns of the mind are further projected outward to make up the seeming external world. In this way, what we experience is the projection of a mental pattern powered by the consciousness (light) that shines through it. This is very much like a hologram as was briefly mentioned in the last post. The implication is that the external world is really not external at all. Even when we experience other people we are seeing our own mental projection of them overlaid onto another individual expression of consciousness.

For me the process of self inquiry validated this in my experience because in looking closely and honestly at my mind I could see the mental patterns behind many of the experiences and situations of my life. Western Occultism deals with this quite intimately in showing students how to identify and change the mental patterns that are creating the difficulty in their lives. If you have a long term pattern/belief that you are poor and lacking in what you need consciousness amplifies this and projects it out as your experience. You will see a world of scarcity where you are continually unable to get what you need. The unfortunate part being you will think it’s the world rather than your mental pattern of poverty, so you will be trapped in it and suffer accordingly. If we learn to look inward and identify the patterns behind our troubles, the possibility of conscious change arises. Dissolving those patterns and replacing them with ones that reflect what we want alters our entire experience of life. By giving attention to the new patterns, consciousness shines through them and we experience the result. Attention is the means by which consciousness is directed.

If you want to explore a very precise way of working with these patterns, dissolving those that don’t serve you and effectively creating ones that do, I highly recommend the lessons of the BOTA. As powerful as that understanding can be, personally I find the key discovery of the ancient sages of the root of the inner observer to be the most significant and profound. No matter how much we learn to reprogram our mental patterns and create better and better versions of our world, it’s all ultimately of little value unless we know who and what we really are. Like the lucid dreamer when you see the world as a dream and wake up in that dream, you can play and create a much more enjoyable dream. However, it’s still just a dream. The reality behind the dream is the ultimate jewel. For this we must go all the way to the center of our heart and wake up from the dream altogether into our true Self. As long as we take ourselves to be a separate entity, we can never reach true fulfillment because something is always missing no matter how good it gets. That something is the truth of who we are.

How beautifully ironic the cosmic joke that what could be considered the greatest achievement or discovery that a human being can ever make is to realize that there really never was a person, just a mask of God…..

About the Author

Colin Bondi is the author of the website, AwakenInTheNow, where this article was originally featured. Please visit his excellent site.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus

Who was Jesus?

Why is there no historic archaeological evidence of his existence?

Who wrote the Gospels?

Why were they written in Greek, rather than Hebrew or Aramaic?

How did the Christian religion come to be centered in Rome?

Why were the first Christian pope and earliest saints all members of the

Flavius Caesar ruling family?


The truth will set you free…

Biophotons: The Human Body Emits, Communicates with, and is Made from Light

dalai lama

Increasingly science agrees with the poetry of direct human experience:  we are more than the atoms and molecules that make up our bodies, but beings of light as well. Biophotons are emitted by the human body, can be released through mental intention, and may modulate fundamental processes within cell-to-cell communication and DNA.

Nothing is more amazing than the highly improbable fact that we exist. We often ignore this fact, oblivious to the reality that instead of something there could be nothing at all, i.e. why is there a universe (poignantly aware of itself through us) and not some void completely unconscious of itself?

Consider that from light, air, water, basic minerals within the crust of the earth, and the at least 3 billion year old information contained within the nucleus of one diploid zygote cell, the human body is formed, and within that body a soul capable of at least trying to comprehend its bodily and spiritual origins.

Given the sheer insanity of our existential condition, and bodily incarnation as a whole, and considering that our earthly existence is partially formed from sunlight and requires the continual consumption of condensed sunlight in the form of food, it may not sound so farfetched that our body emits light.

Indeed, the human body emits biophotons, also known as ultraweak photon emissions (UPE), with a visibility 1,000 times lower than the sensitivity of our naked eye. While not visible to us, these particles of light (or waves, depending on how you are measuring them) are part of the visible electromagnetic spectrum (380-780 nm) and are detectable via sophisticated modern instrumentation.[1],[2]

The Physical and “Mental” Eye Emits Light

The eye itself, which is continually exposed to ambient powerful photons that pass through various ocular tissues, emit spontaneous and visible light-induced ultraweak photon emissions.[3] It has even been hypothesized that visible light induces delayed bioluminescence within the exposed eye tissue, providing an explanation for the origin of the negative afterimage.[4]

These light emissions have also been correlated with cerebral energy metabolism and oxidative stress within the mammalian brain.[5] [6] And yet, biophoton emissions are not necessarily epiphenomenal.  Bókkon’s hypothesis suggests that photons released from chemical processes within the brain produce biophysical pictures during visual imagery, and a recent study found that when subjects actively imagined light in a very dark environment their intention produced significant increases in ultraweak photo emissions.[7]  This is consistent with an emerging view that biophotons are not solely cellular metabolic by-products, but rather, because biophoton intensity can be considerably higher inside cells than outside, it is possible for the mind to access this energy gradient to create intrinsic biophysical pictures during visual perception and imagery.[8]

Our Cells and DNA Use Biophotons To Store and Communicate Information

Apparently biophotons are used by the cells of many living organisms to communicate, which facilitates energy/information transfer that is several orders of magnitude faster than chemical diffusion. According to a 2010 study, “Cell to cell communication by biophotons have been demonstrated in plants, bacteria, animal neutriophil granulocytes and kidney cells.”[9] Researchers were able to demonstrate that “…different spectral light stimulation (infrared, red, yellow, blue, green and white) at one end of the spinal sensory or motor nerve roots resulted in a significant increase in the biophotonic activity at the other end.” Researchers interpreted their finding to suggest that “…light stimulation can generate biophotons that conduct along the neural fibers, probably as neural communication signals.”

Even when we go down to the molecular level of our genome, DNA can be identified to be a source of biophoton emissions as well. One author proposes that DNA is so biophoton dependent that is has excimer laser-like properties, enabling it to exist in a stable state far from thermal equilibrium at threshold.[10]

Technically speaking a biophoton is an elementary particle or quantum of light of non-thermal origin in the visible and ultraviolet spectrum emitted from a biological system.   They are generally believed to be produced as a result of energy metabolism within our cells, or more formally as a “…by-product of biochemical reactions in which excited molecules are produced from bioenergetic processes that involves active oxygen species,”  [11]

The Body’s Circadian Biophoton Output

Because the metabolism of the body changes in a circadian fashion, biophoton emissions also variate along the axis of diurnal time. [12]  Research has mapped out distinct anatomical locations within the body where biophoton emissions are stronger and weaker, depending on the time of the day:

Generally, the fluctuation in photon counts over the body was lower in the morning than in the afternoon. The thorax-abdomen region emitted lowest and most constantly. The upper extremities and the head region emitted most and increasingly over the day. Spectral analysis of low, intermediate and high emission from the superior frontal part of the right leg, the forehead and the palms in the sensitivity range of the photomultiplier showed the major spontaneous emission at 470-570 nm. The central palm area of hand emission showed a larger contribution of the 420-470 nm range in the spectrum of spontaneous emission from the hand in autumn/winter. The spectrum of delayed luminescence from the hand showed major emission in the same range as spontaneous emission.

The researchers concluded that, “The spectral data suggest that measurements might well provide quantitative data on the individual pattern of peroxidative and anti-oxidative processes in vivo.”

Meditation and Herbs Affect Biophoton Output

Research has found an oxidative stress-mediated difference in biophoton emission among mediators versus non-meditators. Those who meditate regularly tend to have lower ultra-weak photon emission (UPE, biophoton emission), which is believed to result from the lower level of free radical reactions occurring in their bodies. In one clinical study involving practitioners of transcendental meditation (TM) researchers found:

The lowest UPE intensities were observed in two subjects who regularly meditate. Spectral analysis of human UPE has suggested that ultra-weak emission is probably, at least in part, a reflection of free radical reactions in a living system. It has been documented that various physiologic and biochemical shifts follow the long-term practice of meditation and it is inferred that meditation may impact free radical activity.[13]

Interestingly, an herb well-known for its use in stress reduction (including inducing measurable declines in cortisol), and associated heightened oxidative stress, has been tested clinically in reducing the level of biophotons emitted in human subjects. Known as rhodiola, a study published in 2009 in the journal Phytotherapeutic Research found that those who took the herb for 1 week has a significant decrease in photon emission in comparison with the placebo group.[14]

Human Skin May Capture Energy and Information from Sunlight

Perhaps most extraordinary of all is the possibility that our bodily surface contains cells capable of efficiently trapping the energy and information from ultraviolet radiation. A study published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology in 1993, titled, “Artificial sunlight irradiation induces ultraweak photon emission in human skin fibroblasts,” discovered that when light from an artificial sunlight source was applied to fibroblasts from either normal subjects or with the condition xeroderma pigmentosum, characterized by deficient DNA repair mechanisms, it induced far higher emissions of ultraweak photons (10-20 times) in the xeroderma pigmentosum group.  The researchers concluded from this experiment that “These data suggest that xeroderma pigmentosum cells tend to lose the capacity of efficient storage of ultraweak photons, indicating the existence of an efficient intracellular photon trapping system within human cells.[15]  More recent research has also identified measurable differences in biophoton emission between normal and melanoma cells.[16]

In a previous article, Does Skin Pigment Act Like A Natural Solar-Panel, we explored the role of melanin in converting ultraviolet light into metabolic energy:

Melanin is capable of transforming ultraviolet light energy into heat in a process known as “ultrafast internal conversion”; more than 99.9% of the absorbed UV radiation is transformed from potentially genotoxic (DNA-damaging) ultraviolet light into harmless heat.

If melanin can convert light into heat, could it not also transform UV radiation into other biologically/metabolically useful forms of energy? This may not seem so farfetched when one considers that even gamma radiation, which is highly toxic to most forms of life, is a source of sustenance for certain types of fungi and bacteria.

The Body’s Biophoton Outputs Are Governed by Solar and Lunar Forces

It appears that modern science is only now coming to recognize the ability of the human body to receive and emit energy and information directly from the light given off from the Sun. [17]

There is also a growing realization that the Sun and Moon affect biophoton emissions through gravitational influences.  Recently, biophoton emissions from wheat seedlings in Germany and Brazil were found to be synchronized transcontinentally according to rhythms associated with the lunisolar tide.[18]  In fact, the lunisolar tidal force, to which the Sun contributes 30 % and the Moon 60 % of the combined gravitational acceleration, has been found to regulate a number of features of plant growth upon Earth.[19]

Intention Is a Living Force of Physiology

Even human intention itself, the so-called ghost in the machine, may have an empirical basis in biophotons.

A recent commentary published in the journal Investigacion clinica titled “Evidence about the power of intention” addressed this connection:

Intention is defined as a directed thought to perform a determined action. Thoughts targeted to an end can affect inanimate objects and practically all living things from unicellular organisms to human beings. The emission of light particles (biophotons) seems to be the mechanism through which an intention produces its effects. All living organisms emit a constant current of photons as a mean to direct instantaneous nonlocal signals from one part of the body to another and to the outside world. Biophotons are stored in the intracellular DNA. When the organism is sick changes in biophotons emissions are produced. Direct intention manifests itself as an electric and magnetic energy producing an ordered flux of photons. Our intentions seem to operate as highly coherent frequencies capable of changing the molecular structure of matter. For the intention to be effective it is necessary to choose the appropriate time. In fact, living beings are mutually synchronized and to the earth and its constant changes of magnetic energy. It has been shown that the energy of thought can also alter the environment. Hypnosis, stigmata phenomena and the placebo effect can also be considered as types of intention, as instructions to the brain during a particular state of consciousness. Cases of spontaneous cures or of remote healing of extremely ill patients represent instances of an exceedingly great intention to control diseases menacing our lives. The intention to heal as well as the beliefs of the sick person on the efficacy of the healing influences promote his healing. In conclusion, studies on thought and consciousness are emerging as fundamental aspects and not as mere epiphenomena that are rapidly leading to a profound change in the paradigms of Biology and Medicine.

So there you have it. Science increasingly agrees with direct human experience: we are more than the atoms and molecules of which we are composed, but beings that emit, communicate with, and are formed from light.

[1] Herbert Schwabl, Herbert Klima. Spontaneous ultraweak photon emission from biological systems and the endogenous light field. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2005 Apr;12(2):84-9. PMID: 15947466

[2] Hugo J Niggli, Salvatore Tudisco, Giuseppe Privitera, Lee Ann Applegate, Agata Scordino, Franco Musumeci. Laser-ultraviolet-A-induced ultraweak photon emission in mammalian cells. J Biomed Opt. 2005 Mar-Apr;10(2):024006. PMID: 15910080

[3] Chao Wang, István Bókkon, Jiapei Dai, István Antal. Spontaneous and visible light-induced ultraweak photon emission from rat eyes. Brain Res. 2011 Jan 19 ;1369:1-9. Epub 2010 Oct 26. PMID: 21034725

[4] I Bókkon, R L P Vimal, C Wang, J Dai, V Salari, F Grass, I Antal. Visible light induced ocular delayed bioluminescence as a possible origin of negative afterimage. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2011 May 3 ;103(2):192-9. Epub 2011 Mar 23. PMID: 21463953

[5] M Kobayashi, M Takeda, T Sato, Y Yamazaki, K Kaneko, K Ito, H Kato, H Inaba. In vivo imaging of spontaneous ultraweak photon emission from a rat’s brain correlated with cerebral energy metabolism and oxidative stress. Neurosci Res. 1999 Jul;34(2):103-13. PMID: 10498336

[6] Y Kataoka, Y Cui, A Yamagata, M Niigaki, T Hirohata, N Oishi, Y Watanabe. Activity-dependent neural tissue oxidation emits intrinsic ultraweak photons. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2001 Jul 27;285(4):1007-11. PMID: 11467852

[7] B T Dotta, K S Saroka, M A Persinger. Increased photon emission from the head while imagining light in the dark is correlated with changes in electroencephalographic power: support for Bókkon’s biophoton hypothesis. Neurosci Lett. 2012 Apr 4 ;513(2):151-4. Epub 2012 Feb 17. PMID: 22343311

[8] I Bókkon, V Salari, J A Tuszynski, I Antal. Estimation of the number of biophotons involved in the visual perception of a single-object image: biophoton intensity can be considerably higher inside cells than outside. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2010 Sep 2 ;100(3):160-6. Epub 2010 Jun 10. PMID: 20584615

[9] Yan Sun, Chao Wang, Jiapei Dai. Biophotons as neural communication signals demonstrated by in situ biophoton autography. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2010 Mar ;9(3):315-22. Epub 2010 Jan 21. PMID: 20221457

[10] F A Popp, W Nagl, K H Li, W Scholz, O Weingärtner, R Wolf. Biophoton emission. New evidence for coherence and DNA as source. Cell Biophys. 1984 Mar;6(1):33-52. PMID: 6204761

[11] Masaki Kobayashi, Daisuke Kikuchi, Hitoshi Okamura. Imaging of ultraweak spontaneous photon emission from human body displaying diurnal rhythm. PLoS One. 2009;4(7):e6256. Epub 2009 Jul 16. PMID: 19606225

[12] Masaki Kobayashi, Daisuke Kikuchi, Hitoshi Okamura. Imaging of ultraweak spontaneous photon emission from human body displaying diurnal rhythm. PLoS One. 2009;4(7):e6256. Epub 2009 Jul 16. PMID: 19606225

[13] Eduard P A Van Wijk, Heike Koch, Saskia Bosman, Roeland Van Wijk. Anatomic characterization of human ultra-weak photon emission in practitioners of transcendental meditation(TM) and control subjects. J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Jan-Feb;12(1):31-8. PMID:16494566

[14] F W G Schutgens, P Neogi, E P A van Wijk, R van Wijk, G Wikman, F A C Wiegant. The influence of adaptogens on ultraweak biophoton emission: a pilot-experiment. Phytother Res. 2009 Aug;23(8):1103-8. PMID: 19170145

[15] H J Niggli. Artificial sunlight irradiation induces ultraweak photon emission in human skin fibroblasts. J Photochem Photobiol B. 1993 May;18(2-3):281-5. PMID: 8350193

[16] Hugo J Niggli, Salvatore Tudisco, Giuseppe Privitera, Lee Ann Applegate, Agata Scordino, Franco Musumeci. Laser-ultraviolet-A-induced ultraweak photon emission in mammalian cells. J Biomed Opt. 2005 Mar-Apr;10(2):024006. PMID: 15910080

[17] Janusz Slawinski. Photon emission from perturbed and dying organisms: biomedical perspectives. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2005 Apr;12(2):90-5. PMID: 15947467

[18] Cristiano M Gallep, Thiago A Moraes, Samuel R Dos Santos, Peter W Barlow. Coincidence of biophoton emission by wheat seedlings during simultaneous, transcontinental germination tests. Protoplasma. 2013 Jun ;250(3):793-6. Epub 2012 Sep 26. PMID: 23011402

[19] Peter W Barlow, Joachim Fisahn. Lunisolar tidal force and the growth of plant roots, and some other of its effects on plant movements. Ann Bot. 2012 Jul ;110(2):301-18. Epub 2012 Mar 20. PMID: 22437666

About the Author

Sayer Ji is an author, researcher, lecturer, and advisory board member of the National Health Federation.

He founded Greenmedinfo.com in 2008 in order to provide the world an open access, evidence-based resource supporting natural and integrative modalities. It is internationally recognized as the largest and most widely referenced health resource of its kind.

via Biophotons: The Human Body Emits, Communicates with, and is Made from Light – Waking Times.