Judaism and Christianity
Excerpt from the Book ‘Naam or Word’
The Jewish and Christian scriptures abound with references to the Word as the creative aspect of God, and as the means by which He is reached. In the very beginning of the Bible we read:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth […] And God said, Let there be Light, and there was Light.
This is elaborated by St John as follows:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. […] That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world […] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
St John 1:1-5,9,14
Christ further explained the initiatory aspect of the Word in one of his most famous parables:
Behold, there went out a sower to sow; And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and imediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some a hundred. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. […]
The sower soweth the Word. And these are they by the way side, where the Word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the Word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the Word, immediately receive it with gladness; and have no root in themselves, and so endure for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the Word's sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the Word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the Word, and it become unfruitful. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the Word and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.
St Mark 4:4-9,14-20
Following are some of the many references to the Word or the Audible Life Stream found throughout the Old and New Testaments:1
By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made […] For he spake and it was done.
Psalm 33:6, 9
Forever, oh Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven. […] Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a Light unto my path.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe.
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the Word of our God shall stand forever.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me, mightier than I, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize (immerse) you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.
St Matthew 3:11
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
St Matthew 4:4
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
St John 3:8
Verily, verily I say unto you, he that beareth my Word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
St John 5:24
Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you.
St John 15:3
I have manifested thy Name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world […] I have given them thy Word […]
St John 17:6,14
Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth.
St John 17:17
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the Word of his Power […]
For the Word of God is quick (living), and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls.
St James 1:21
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.
1 Peter 1:23
And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him a hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many water, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
The testimony of Christian Saints of all traditions (Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox) confirms and clarifies the scriptural references:
Those in whom the eternal Word speaks are delivered from uncertainty. From one Word proceed all things and all things tell of Him. Love the Word better than the world.
The Imitation of Christ
The Word of God became man that you also may learn from a man how a man becomes a God.
Clement of Alexandria
Absolutely unutterable and indescribable are the lightning-like splendours of Divine beauty; neither can speech express nor hearing apprehend. Shall we name the brilliance of the morning star, the brightness of the moon, the radiance of the sun – the glory of all these is unworthy of being compared with the true light, standing farther from it than does the gloomiest night and the most terrible darkness from midday brightness. This beauty, invisible to bodily eyes, comprehensible to soul and mind only, if it illumines some of the saints leaves in them an unbearable wound through their desire that this vision of Divine beauty should extend over an eternity of life; disturbed by this earthly life, they loathe it as though it were a prison.
St Basil the Great
The writings of Jacob Boehme, the Lutheran cobbler-mystic of seventeenth-century Germany, centre around the Word and offer conclusive evidence that the esoteric teachings of Christ (Surat Shabd Yoga) had not been completely forgotten:
If you should in this world bring many thousand sorts of musical instruments together, and all should be tuned in the best manner most artificially, and the most skilful masters of music should play on them in concert together, all would be no more than the howlings and barkings of dogs in comparison of the Divine Music, which rises through the Divine Sound and tunes from Eternity to Eternity.
For all whatsoever has life, liveth in the Speaking Word, the Angels in the Eternal Speaking and the temporal spirits in the re-expression or echoing forth of the formings of time, out of the sound or breath of Time and the angels out of the Sound of Eternity, viz., out of the Voice of the Manifested Word of God.
The Disciple said to his Master:
How may I come to the super-sensual life, that I may see God and hear him speak?
His Master said:
When thou canst throw thyself for a moment into that where no creature dwelleth, then thou hearest what God speaketh.
Is that near at hand or far off?
Is it in thee. And if thou canst for a while but cease from all thy thinking and willing, then thou shalt hear the unspeakable words of God.
How can I hear him speak, when I stand still from thinking and willing?
When thou standest still from the thinking of self, and the willing of self; when both thy intellect and will are quiet, and passive to the impressions of the Eternal Word and Spirit; and when thy soul is winged up, and above that which is temporal, the outward senses, and the imagination being locked up by holy abstraction, then the Eternal hearing, seeing, and speaking, will be revealed in thee; and so God 'heareth and seeth through thee,' being now the organ of his spirit: and so God speaketh in thee, and whispereth to thy spirit, and thy spirit heareth his voice. Blessed art thou therefore if that thou canst stand still from self-thinking and self-willing, and canst stop the wheel of imagination and senses […] Since it is naught indeed but thine own hearing and willing that do wonder thee, so that thou dost not see and hear God.
Of the Supersensual Life
The following is the spiritual experience of Eliphas Levi, a Catholic priest:
A particular phenomenon occurs when the brain is overcharged by Astral Light; sight is turned inward instead of outward; night falls on the external and real world, while fantastic brilliance shines on the world of dreams; even the physical eyes experience a slight quivering and turn up inside the lids. The soul then perceives by means of images the reflection of its impressions and thoughts. This is to say that the analogy subsisting between idea and form attracts in the Astral Light of reflection representing that form, configuration being the essence of the vital light; it is the universal imagination, of which each of us appropriates a lesser or greater part according to our grade of sensibility and memory. Therein is the source of all apparitions, all extraordinary visions and all the intuitive phenomena peculiar to ecstasy.
The appropriation or assimilation of the light by clairvoyant sensibility is one of the greatest phenomena which can be studied by science. It may be understood in a day to come that seeing is actually speaking and that, the consciousness of light is a twilight of eternal life in being. The Word of God Himself, who creates light, and is uttered by all intelligence that conceives of forms and seeks to visualize them. 'Let there be light.' Light in the mode of brightness exists only for eyes which look thereon, and a soul enamoured with the pageant of universal beauty, and fixing its attention on that luminous script of the endless book which is called things manifest, seems to cry on its own part, as God at the dawn of the first day, the sublime and creative words: Fiat lux […]
[…] To understand the cause of this force, but never to be obsessed and never overcome thereby, is the trample on the serpent's head. In such secrets are contained all mysteries of magnetism, which name can indeed be applied to the whole part of antique Transcendental Power. Magnetism is the wand of miracles, but it is this for initiates only; for rash and uninstructed people, who would sport with it or make it subserve their passions, it is as dangerous as that consuming glory which, according to the allegorical fable, destroyed the too ambitious Semele in the embraces of Jupiter.
One of the great benefits of magnetism is that it demonstrates by incontestable facts the spirituality unity and immortality of the soul; and these things once made certain, God is manifested to all intelligences and all hearts. Thereafter, from the belief in God and from the harmonies of creation we are led to that great religious harmony […]
[…] It follows from this revelation of the ancient world that clairvoyand extasis is a voluntary and immediate application of the soul to the universal fire, or rather to that light – abounding in images – which radiates, which speaks and circulates about all objects and every sphere of the universe. This application is operated by the persistence of will liberated from the senses and fortified by a succession of tests. Herein consisted the beginning in the light, the adept became a seer or prophet; then having established communications between this light and his own will, he learned to direct the former, even as the head of an arrow is set in a certain direction. He communicated at his pleasure either strife or peace to the soul of others; he established intercourse at a distance with those fellow-adepts who were his peers, and, in fine, he availed himself of that force which is represented by the celestial lion. Herein lies the meaning of those great Assyrian figures which hold vanquished lions in their arms. The Astral Light is otherwise represented by gigantic sphinxes having the bodies of lions and the heads of Magi. Considered as an instrument, the Astral Light is that golden sword of Mithra used in his immolation of the bull. And it is the arrow of Phoebus which pierced the serpent Python […]
The Astral Light as a whole, that element of electricity and of lightning, can be placed at the disposition of human will. What must be done, however, to acquire this formidable Power? Zoroaster has just told us; we must know those mysterious laws of equilibrium which subjugate the very powers of evil by sacred trials, must have conquered the phantoms of hallucination and taken hold bodily of the light, imitating Jacob in his Struggle with the angle. We must have vanquished those fantastic dogs which howl in the world of Oracle, we must have heard the light speak. We are then its masters and can direct it, as Numa did, against the enemies of the Holy Mysteries. But in the absence of perfect purity, and if under the government of some animal passion, by which we are still subjected to the fatalities of tempestuous life, we proceed to this kind of work, the fire which we kindle will consume ourselves; we shall fall victims to the serpent which we unloose and shall perish like Tullus Hostilius […]
Pythagoras defined God a 'living and Absolute Truth clothed in Light'; he defined the Word as number manifested by form; and he derived all things from the Tetractys – that is to say, the tetrad. He said also that 'God is supreme music; the nature of which is harmony'.
It is related furthermore that beasts were obedient to Pythagoras. Once in the middle of the Olympic Games, he signalled to an eagle winging its way through haven; the bird descended, wheeling circle wise, and again took rapid flight at the master's token of dismissal. There was also a great bear ravaging in Apulia; Pythagoras brought it to his feet and told it to leave the country.
It disappeared accordingly, and when asked to what knowledge he owed such a marvellous power, he answered:
To the Science of Light.
Animated beings are, in fact, incarnations of light. Out of the darkness of ugliness forms emerge and move progressively toward the splendours of beauty, instincts are in correspondence with forms; and man, who is the synthesis of the light whereof animals may be termed the analysis, is created to command them. It has come about, however, that in place of ruling as their master, he has become their persecutor and destroyer, so that they fear and have rebelled against him. In the presence of an exceptional will which is at once benevolent and directing, they are completely magnetized, and a host of modern phenomena both can and should enable us to understand the possibility of miracles like those of Pythagoras […]
The Astral Light is the living soul of the earth, a material and fatal soul, controlled in its productions and movements by the eternal laws of equilibrium […]
This light, which environs and permeates all bodies, can also suspend their weight and make them revolve about powerfully absorbent centre […]
Footnote: 1) For a complete discussion of the teachings of Christ in this connection, see the 'Crown of Life' (Delhi, 1970) by the same author.