Day Three – The Rise of Virtue

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

This water can be seen as a the embryonic state of a civilization, a community or an individual. The myth conveys archetypes that are manifested repeatedly and in many aspects of creation. The land that rises from the water can be recognized every time a new religion emerges, when a society is entering a time of renewal, or when an individual is lifted from the depths of ignorance. It may also be worth noting that man’s element as a species is earth, not water. In the Flood Myth of Noah the imagery is more elaborate, but the symbols tell us the same story. When the water is gone, peace is established, as expressed in the symbol of the dove with the olive branch. It is in this, the third day of Creation that the community becomes visible, when repression turns into acceptance and the spiritually inspired society is, even in a worldly sense, distinguished from and raised above the materialistic.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

The divine spring time. In Jewish tradition the earth is being seen as the heart of man. So when the earth sprouts vegetation this tells us something about the nature of our inner life – the organic process of building character, of cultivating virtue. Kind words, compassion, truthfulness, honesty, trustworthiness, generosity and helpfulness grow like plants that spread their seeds in the wind – seeds that may fall into the earth of the hearts of others. Note that neither the plants (or herbs), nor the trees here are mentioned without them being seed-bearing. As described in the Sixth Day, only man is given the seed-bearing herbs and fruits, and man stands for perfection (the image of God). This verse can then, in a sense, be seen as referring to the perfecting of man’s character. In the Parable of the Sower we may also gather that the earth is indeed the symbol of the heart, as it is there that the divine teachings, the heavenly virtues can root.

And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root,they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”[1]

The tree is a symbol of perfection or greatness. With its roots deep into the ground and branches stretching out towards the sky, we see the qualities of people who stand firm, who are offering a shelter and a refuge; individuals who are strong and upright, seeking sustenance from the Sun of Truth. “Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring…”[2] describes these qualities of the Jewish prophet. The greenery that comes out of the earth can be interpreted both as individuals and as society. The earth may be a symbol of the heart as well as the world of humanity.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.[3]

In the myth, these events are renewals, thus each kind of plant, herb and tree have grown in past societies and will appear in future ones. This can be understood to be the meaning of “each according to its kind”; spiritual qualities, embodied in people (or personality types), are recreated in each spiritual cycle, in each society. “Let the earth sprout…” may also be taken as an exhortation to spread love; to teach one’s fellow men about virtue, to spread the message of peace and unity far and wide.

For glorious is the fruit of good labours: and the root of wisdom shall never fall away.[4]

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Notes and references:

1 Matthew 13
2 Genesis 49:22
3 Psalms 1:3 also Jeremiah 17:8
4 Wisdom of Solomon 3:15

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Day Two – The Two Waters

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

In the world of humanity there may be seen two kinds of water – one which is spiritually reviving and one that quenches, or drowns the spirit. Then, in each dispensation man learns how to differentiate between these two waters through the revealed law of the divine messenger. The law emerges from between the two waters – the life-giving heavenly water and the bitter earthly water. Every divine messenger must subdue to this position: the message needs to be suited to its times, to the receptiveness of the earth, i.e. the people, but it must also allow for the seeker of truth to reach a higher degree of learning than the previous revelation made possible, and indeed for society to progress.

The word expanse may also be translated into firmament, barrier or canopy.

“…Thou hast like a skin stretched out the firmament of Thy book, that is, Thy harmonizing words, which by the ministry of mortal men Thou spreadest over us.”[1]

Augustine clearly sees the expanse as the Bible. In the Gospel of John it becomes clear that the separation of the waters, and the access to the heavenly water is indeed associated with the divine messenger, the revealer of the “harmonizing words”.

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” [2]

With these words, Christ bridges the water symbolism of The Six days of Creation with that of other accounts in Genesis and Exodus. He speaks of the two waters, but also mentions the heavenly water as a source within man. When the water comes from within, it is the water of the heart – the deeper knowledge that is alluded. The water that seeps up from a mysterious source in the parched earth, or the hard rock, is perhaps the most eloquent description of what happens in a person who finds faith.

In every day of Creation we find the words (and God saw that it was good…) except in this day. Why? What may this day hold in store when it has not earned to be seen as good? Reading the history of the Israelites may cast some light upon this matter, as will surely, the study of the Enhuma Elish. For this is a day marked by war, suffering and oppression. In the Babylonian myth Marduk fights the Chaos dragon, and in Exodus we can see the parallel – the struggle between Moses and Pharaoh. When the prophet comes to raise the vault (or firmament) the people holding on to tradition arise in violent opposition against him and do their utmost to quench his light, for the firmament entails the annulment of old customs and laws and the disapproval of idolatry. The water that is split in two may also be a direct reference to the exodus from Egypt, where the Israelites pass dry-shod through the Red Sea and their adversaries drown in the waters. In the Rig Veda there is a verse with striking similarities to the aforementioned story. Here there is a river that withdraws on divine command for a fleeing people to cross, and when they are safe on the other shore, the water returns and their persecutors are drowned.

Soon as the Bharatas have fared across thee, the warrior band, urged on and sped by Indra,
Then let your streams flow on in rapid motion.[3]

However mind-boggling it may be to pinpoint stories such as these to specific times and places, as have been customary for centuries, this shallow reading will bar us from the knowledge conveyed through metaphor. The parting of the water is to illustrate the true miracle that the divine messenger performs, namely that of establishing virtue where chaos ruled. As the word yisra’el is the designation of someone who “struggles with God”, the Egyptians and Pharao stand for those people, or internal forces that reject the principles of faith – that oppress the soul’s longing for union with God. The miracle performed by Moses, as expressed in the myth, is the liberation from the slavery of materialism. Those who rejected his words and persecuted him were drowned in their egotism and animosity, and as the Kingdom of the Jews did arise, so did the ancient culture and empire that was theirs fall.

–› Day Three

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Notes and references:

1 Confessions XII:16
2 John 12:46
3 Rigveda 3:33