I imagine interest in the Bible increases as we head into events that are more and more miraculous and seem to require interpretation.
The purpose, I think, of the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, Koran and other sacred books is to assist us in achieving the purpose of life. The purpose of life is enlightenment – that is, knowing our true nature and identity. (2) That true nature and identity is God (but notice how knowing the right answer does not help. Realization is what’s needed.)
We learn our true identity be realizing who we are step by step in regard to three levels of reality. Christians call them the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Hindus call the same three levels of reality Brahman, Atman and Shakti. In the last analysis, these words are code words that need explaining.
The Father or Brahman is the Transcendental. The Holy Spirit or Divine Mother is the Phenomenal or Material (Mother, mater, matter). The Son or Atman is the Transcendental in the Phenomenal (or the Soul in the body).
Other code words for them are:
- The Father – the great tree into which the mustard seed grows, the Source, the All-Self, the Alpha and Omega
- The Mother- the Word of God, the Voice in the Silence, the Voice of One crying in the wilderness, Aum/Amen, Prakriti/Procreatrix, etc.
- The Son or Atman – the firebrand plucked from the burning, the fire always burning on the altar (of the heart), the treasure buried in the field, the pearl of great price, the savior, the prince of peace, etc.
The passage in question that the reader was inquiring about was that of Jesus appearing in the clouds:
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (3)
What were the clouds? I was asked. Well, here is Paramahansa Ramakrishna describing them:
“I felt as if my heart were being squeezed like a wet towel. I was overpowered with a great restlessness and a fear that it might not be my lot to realize [the Divine Mother] in this life. I could not bear the separation from Her any longer. Life seemed to be not worth living.
“Suddenly my glance fell on the sword that was kept in the Mother’s temple. I determined to put an end to my life. When I jumped up like a madman and seized it, suddenly the blessed Mother revealed Herself.
“The buildings with their different parts, the temple, and everything else vanished from my sight, leaving no trace whatsoever, and in their stead I saw a limitless, infinite, effulgent Ocean of Consciousness.
“As far as the eye could see, the shining billows were madly rushing at me from all sides with a terrific noise, to swallow me up! I was panting for breath. I was caught in the rush and collapsed, unconscious. What was happening in the outside world I did not know; but within me there was a steady flow of undiluted bliss, altogether new, and I felt the presence of the Divine Mother.” On his lips when he regained consciousness of the world was the word ‘Mother.'” (4)
Whenever you see a passage in the Bible that seems cryptic, the first place to start is to reason out whether it refers to the event or process of enlightenment or the nature of the Trinity.
The parables of a treasure buried in a field, the pearl of great price, the great fish, and the mustard seed are all statements of how to achieve enlightenment.
A statement of the sun going down in Jerusalem would be the moment at which this world disappears and we are face-to-face with God, so to speak. The sun might then be said to come up on the New Jerusalem, coming foursquare down from the heavens, which would be the writer’s way of saying we achieve enlightenment
Why did the sages write in code? Well, as you can see by what happened to Jesus, one could be murdered for going against what the reigning religious leaders said. Remember too that he was chased out of a synagogue earlier.
Jesus called revealing too much spiritual truth to the uninitiated throwing one’s pearls before swine. He didn’t mean that insultingly. Swine want corn, not pearls. If what we offer is not to their liking, in those days, one could be stoned or chased out of town. So he couched the truths in code.
This same caution was unnecessary in tolerant India so that the Bhagavad-Gita, for instance, could be written in relatively plain language, except for specialized terms for things of which we have no knowledge, like the Atman or Christ. But for the rest, the plainest language possible appears to have been used, which makes the Bhagavad-Gita a good source to go to to understand the Bible.
The parables and metaphors of the Bible are also good epitomes of what’s explained in the Bhagavad-Gita.
Someday, the sooner the better, we’ll take up cross-cultural spirituality and translate all the terms of the world’s great religions back into what was called the Perennial Philosophy. On that day, we’ll be able to read the descriptions of any religion and know plainly what is being said.
The work of life doesn’t differ down through the ages. It isn’t the case that enlightenment is the purpose of life for this generation but was not for a generation, say, four centuries ago or four centuries into the future.
Many of the processes for accomplishing that task also remain the same (and many change). So knowing how to break the code has tremendous value in terms of what life is really all about: knowing ourselves as the One.
(1) For more articles on the subject, see “Cross-Cultural Spirituality” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/spiritual-essays/cross-cultural-spirituality/
(2) On this subject see all the papers under “The Purpose of Life” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/spiritual-essays/16244-2/.
(3) Matthew 24:30.
(4) Paramanahsa Ramakrishna in Swami Nikhilananda, trans. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 13-4.