What's the Role of Divine Personifications and Images?

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What's the Role of Divine Personifications and Images?

#1 Postby Drew » Wed Mar 06, 2013 2:48 pm

Greetings Tau Malachi and Fellowship,

I have found myself challenged by fear and doubt, caused by different philosophies of spirituality. I have acquaintances who are older and have many years experience in religion and spirituality, who are very adamant about their beliefs that my spiritual practice is counter productive to true self realization, and true liberation. They say, that since I worship figures such as Jesus, Mary, Joseph etc.. that I do not have any chance at self realization and liberation from suffering.

Here is a quote by Alan Watts that I am hoping I can get your thoughts on..

"To discover the ultimate Reality of life- the Absolute, the eternal, God - you must cease to try to grasp it in the forms of idols. These idols are not just crude images...They are our beliefs, our cherished preconceptions of the truth, which block the unreserved opening of mind, and heart to reality. The legitimate use of images is to express the truth, not to possess it." -Alan Watts

They say I worship the Golden Calf, because I worship divine beings.

I would very much appreciate anything you can share that may help me understand this turmoil I am experiencing.

Thank you and God bless this fellowship

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Divine Images

#2 Postby sheryl » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:35 pm

Shalom Drew,

This feels to be very troubling for you. If I might offer some insights into the lineage's teachings and usage of the Divine Personifications in our spiritual practicing.

In the Sophian lineage, there is only One True God, Divine Being that is within and beyond all forms.

Divine Images or Personifications are a means whereby this One True God reveals Itself to the mind and heart of humanity, as well as a means whereby humanity is able to draw near. Thus they are expressions of God, or as you offered, expressions of Truth, and are used for a variety of purposes in our spiritual practicing.

They are vehicles of kavvanah (focus) and devekut (devotion) - a means whereby we can develop our focus and devotion.

They are used in Kabbalah to teach us about the Divine Attributes. For example the Divine Mother is Understanding, the Divine Father, Wisdom.

These images also are means whereby we heal our own self image, they representing as well the Attributes of our Self in God, or who we are in God.

And perhaps most amazing is when in our practicing, the images that we have constructed with our imagination are taken up by the Divine, God revealing through them something of GodSelf to us.

As expressions of God, expressions of Truth, these Divine Images play a crucial role in our spiritual practice. Though, as I have understood it to be taught, all that we think we know about God must be left behind to enter into the Supramental. But it is also taught that in Supernal Realization there is no difference between form and formlessness, it all being God. Whether form or not form, in Supernal Realization, it is all the same.

I pray that these words provide a bit of clarity on the topic for you, Drew, and perhaps others will have more to add.

May all be blessed with Understanding.


Tau Malachi
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All in view and intention...

#3 Postby Tau Malachi » Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:44 am

Grace and peace to you in Hayyah Yeshua!

I love the quote you share from Allen Watts brother, for it speaks very well to this issue.

In the ascent of consciousness into higher, more expanded states of mental consciousness, from one gradation of consciousness to another we must shed vital beliefs and mental concepts we held on to in the previous grade. We will not to let go of the preconceptions, preconditions and expectations we held; we will have to abandon what we think we know, and who we think we are, and what we think Reality Is or God Is. It is only in this way that consciousness ascends from one grade to another, through a process of self-purification, or self-negation. Then ultimately, to break through into Supernal or Supramental Consciousness, to look and see, and listen and hear, Reality as It Is, and God as God Is, thought and desire must be brought into a singularity, and we must let go of thought and thinking, or the mental consciousness altogether.

The truth is, early in our journey many of our cherished beliefs, and virtually all of our concepts about Reality and God, are indeed idols, or are, at best, partial truths mixed with much falsehood or misconception. Of course, this is true of the knowledge, understanding and wisdom of mental consciousness in general, all that way to its peak in the experience of cosmic consciousness and the overmind, for the mental consciousness is inherently dualistic, and therefore, even at its peak, there is a subtle and sublime distortion of seeing, hearing and knowing, because there is a subtle and sublime illusion of separation from Reality and God, the True Light.

So long as we remain in self-grasping, ego-grasping, and the play of egoistic desire and fear, our entire experience of Reality, or God, is more or less corrupted, and often our thoughts and desires are like idols, which grasping at we worship as though our “gods and goddesses.” So, there is this issue, or barrier, that we need to learn how to overcome, and therefore we need to learn ways of prayer and meditation that may facilitate knowledge, understanding and wisdom in conscious unification with the source of our being and all Reality; hence, the true enlightenment experience, or what we would call “True Gnosis.”

It is true that there are teachings and practices, or religious traditions, that will only carry the soul so far in spiritual realization, or that may even become an obstruction to the full enlightenment and liberation of the soul. Then there are those teachings and practices that have their foundation in the actual experience of enlightenment and liberation, or actual self-realization, and therefore can and do facilitate the greater enlightenment experience, or what we would called the “Gnostic experience.” In its peak this Gnostic experience is something much more than luminous dreams and visions, and so on, it is an experience of conscious unification with Divine or Enlightened Being, and so becomes the experience of the “Divine” or “Enlightened Mind” – what we often call the Perfect Thunder Intelligence (Supernal or Messianic Consciousness).

In this experience there is an embodiment of a Living Presence and Power, and it becomes possible to communicate, or transmit, something of the spiritual power of this realization to others – an energetic transmission that uplifts consciousness in ascent and awakens something of this Fiery Intelligence in others. Naturally so, for in the experience of realization a soul abides in union with this Living Presence and Power, and is this Living Presence and Power – Divine or Enlightened Being. As we experience this energetic transmission, and begin to enter into the Gnostic experience, through prayer and meditation we labor to bring the realization of the soul to its fruition in Christ and God, seeking to actualize and realize the full unification of the soul with Christ in God, the True Light.

Seeing, hearing, and such, in dream and vision is not realization or enlightenment, but rather, in the midst of seeing, hearing, and such, do we recognize and realize that the reality of our experience is a radiant or magical display of the mind, consciousness or soul, and therefore that the mind, consciousness or soul is inseparable from it? Do we recognize and realize the true nature of the mind, consciousness or soul, or the foundation or source from which the mind, consciousness or soul arises, and all realities of our experience arise, whether in waking consciousness, sleep and dream, or death and the afterlife? It is this that corresponds with actual self-realization or enlightenment, not as a belief or concept, but as our direct experience.

At times many religions keep people “asleep and dreaming,” and while perhaps they dream more luminous dreams, many religions do not teach them to recognize the dream-like nature of all realities that arise in their experience, and do not teach them how to look and see, and listen and hear, Reality as It Is, or God as God Is. Instead, people are encouraged to remain in the ignorance, the illusion of separation, believing the reality of their experience on all levels is something separate and apart from them; hence, the play of subject and object, you and Reality, you and God, separate from one another. In a word, many religions instruct and encourage people in “idolatry,” whether gross or subtle.

I teach and practice in a Gnostic Christian lineage and tradition, and so the language I use is Judeo-Christian, but the Gnostic experience, and Supernal Consciousness, is beyond the name of “Christian” – it is universal and primordial, and there are other manifestations of this Living Presence and Power by other names. Essentially, what we mean by “Christ” transcends the person of Jesus, or Yeshua; while this Living Presence and Power was fully embodied in our Elder Brother, and we speak of him as a Perfect Master, so it is to be fully embodied in us as well – we also are meant to embody the Christ-Spirit in full.

This is the distinction between mainstream Christianity and Gnostic Christianity, not only do we believe we are to become Christ-like, but that we are to be and become Christ – enlightened; hence, in our view Jesus, Yeshua, teaches a path to enlightenment, not dissimilar to what the Buddha taught, or Krishna taught.

In our way of prayer and worship it is not that we are praying to and worshipping Jesus the man, but rather we are praying to and worshiping The Christ within and beyond him, and God, the True Light, from which Christ emanates. This is not prayer and worship that remains bound up in the illusion of separation, however, for there is the recognition of the indwelling Christ, this Living Presence and Power in us, and this is the foundation of our communion, our prayers and worship.

We do not worship tzaddikim or maggidim, or “saints and angels,” but rather we entertain their communion, and we pray and worship with them, among them, praying to, and worshipping, Christ and God; hence, we worship God within us, and ever beyond us, the Infinite and Eternal (Ain Sof).

Just last week I corrected a dear sister who spoke of “praying to angels,” for that is a very different view than praying with the angels and through the angels, and their praying with us and through us; the same would be true with regards to “saints,” or what we call tzaddikim, we pray with them and through them, and they pray with us and through us – hence, a Gnostic communion with the saints and angels in a worship of God in spirit and truth.

In our experience of worship, though, prayer often becomes something different than “praying to,” it becomes a praying, an intending or speaking, in union; an intention, or utterance, of the Divine I Am.

As I share this, it is also completely true that tzaddikim and maggidim, or “saints and angels,” render spiritual assistance along the way, and it is completely true that they engage in intercessions; we do not begin our journey realized or enlightened, and so these enlightened souls and angelic beings are like elder siblings to us, and they do offer much help, and as younger siblings we need their help early in the journey. As we mature in Christ, progress in the Gospel, and deep our spiritual realization though, so we will stand among them, engaging in the very same Great Work on behalf of others.

It can be good to invoke tzaddikim or saints of the past, and to entertain communion with them – as we have said, realized beings do have the capacity to transmit something of the spiritual power of their realization. If, however, in so doing we only strengthen the illusion of separation, or if it happened that we encountered a living tzaddik, or “saint,” but cannot recognized them or draw near to them because we are so focused on the past, then this could be an obstruction, a very severe obstruction, to the enlightenment and liberation of our soul.

The virtue to encountering living tzaddikim is that we will know and understand that it is completely possible for us to embody this Living Presence and Power, and beholding it in them, so we may recognize and realize this Living Presence and Power in us. If through the invocation of great tzaddikim of the past we can bring about this insight, and are empowered in the recognition of this Living Presence and Power in us, that too is very good, serving as a vehicle of our realization, rather than an obstruction.

In our lineage and tradition, if one looks into practices envisioning and invoking tzaddikim of the past, or divine personifications (partzufim), one will find that the intention is one of communion, and by “communion” we mean unification with that emanation of the Living Presence and Power, or Divine Presence and Power; hence, our intention is realization and embodiment of the Living Presence and Power invoked.

In this, among Gnostics, terms like “communion” or “worship” take on a deeper meaning.

There is a place for images and divine personifications in our spiritual life and practice; very much so. They can help us cultivate kavvanah-concentration and devekut-cleaving through which deep prayer and meditation become possible; and through deep prayer and meditation, so the actual enlightenment and liberation of the soul becomes possible. In this they can be very good and helpful, and in skillful means can be necessary along the way. Of course, however, there are any numbers of ways to enter into deep prayer and meditation, and not all of them use images and personifications; methods that do not rely upon images and personifications are also taught in our lineage and tradition. In the end, it is all about whatever works for each sojourner of the Way, and each must do whatever it takes to bring about the full illumination of their soul.

Here we can speak an open secret. What is an obstruction to one person, may be a vehicle to another, and visa versa; we are unique individuals, and so from one to another different methods of prayer and meditation will be needed. That is why there are so many different practices taught in our tradition, different vehicles for different individuals, though the aim of all of them is the same, Supernal Realization.

At the outset of the discussion these are some points I’m inclined to share.

God bless you!
Tau Malachi
Sophia Fellowship
Ecclesia Pistis Sophia

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Specific alignments or roles?

#4 Postby Drew » Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:17 am

Thank you Tau and Sheryl, your responses are very helpful for me.

The responses have so far provided clarity and comfort for me as I continue to meditate on my experiences with the personifications of God, and how they relate to me and my spiritual work. The admixture of spiritual forces that I experience seem to cause imbalances within me, that can be quite difficult at times.

Tau, in regards to.. "What is an obstruction to one person, maybe a vehicle to another, and visa versa; we are unique individuals, and so from one to another different methods of prayer and meditation will be needed."

- I understand that the aim of all of them is the same, Supernal Realization, but is it true that, each individual during their lifetime or lifetimes, plays a specific role, to achieve a certain objective, in order for them as individuals and in order for the whole as God, to reach a certain aim?

And perhaps, aligned with certain personifications of God, more so, then the others?

Thank you,

Tau Malachi
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a few more thoughts...

#5 Postby Tau Malachi » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:43 am

Grace and peace to you from Hayyah Yeshua!

We can look to Elijah and Elisha and the reincarnations of their souls as Yohanan the Baptist and Adonai Yeshua to answer this question. Quite clearly, these are two perfect tzaddikim who share the same realization or enlightenment, and who come to accomplish the same mission; hence, to bring about the advent of the Messiah, or the dawn of Supernal or Messianic Consciousness in the human life-wave on earth. Yet, they are two very different tzaddikim, with different ways of preaching the Gospel and fulfilling two different roles in the advent of the Messiah, one being the tzaddik of the Messiah, and prophet of the Gospel, and the other being the embodiment of the Messiah, the Anointed of God. One lived out in the wilderness, ate locus and wild honey, and preached the Gospel and uttered prophecy out by the Sacred Jordan, while the other was known to eat and drink freely, and to go from town to town, and even into the City of Jerusalem, teaching and initiating, preaching the Gospel. As we might imagine, their communion with the Spirit of God was the same in essence, but it was also different, unique to each corresponding with their role and mission.

We each do have a role and mission, from one life to another, as well as an overarching mission to accomplish throughout our many lifetimes. It is a very interesting dance, and at times quite a complex weave of actions and embodiments. A soul may very well labor in a certain stream of Light Transmission through a number of lives, as we know the souls incarnate as Yohanan and Yeshua did, likewise a soul might dance between several streams of Light Transmission. There are many possibilities. In this dance there will be natural, “God given,” affinities, and the very root essence of our soul will also orient us a certain way as unique individuals. As an example, here I am teaching and initiating in a Christian stream of Light Transmission in this life, one in which the soul within me has labored before, and at the same time there is a deep familiarity with several other wisdom traditions in this world, and the memory of wisdom traditions in other world-systems. Here and now in this life, though, I have a deep resonance with the Judeo-Christian stream of Light Transmission, and from my youth, in terms of personifications of divine or enlightened being, first and foremost there has been a deep resonance with Magdalene, along with Elijah, or Yohanan. These holy and enlightened ones, along with another, would come in dream and vision when I was a little boy, and it was some years before my first direct experience of Adonai Yeshua or the Risen Messiah. Joined with this, I also find a very deep resonance with the Black Madonna and Child – Kali Imma and Kali Shemesh, as we would call them. This has something to do with my role and mission here, and the root essence of the soul that is in me, or who I am in the Light Continuum and God; I’m not those tzaddikim of the past, but something of my role and mission, and root essence, has a resonance with them. Other initiates, of course, will have a natural resonance with different divine personifications, all corresponding with their role and mission, and root essence.

Such affinities reveal something about our way on the Path, and the spiritual works that we have come to take up – you might say that they are a remembrance of why we have come. So, yes, certain personifications of divine or enlightened being will stand out to us, and it is good for us to pay attention when they do.

I’ve been contemplating idolatry, gross and subtle, quite strongly for a couple of days now, and naturally it has been a contemplation of many years. What strikes me is that there is something of idolatry anytime our worship becomes focus upon anything other than the Spirit of God; hence, when relying upon the Christ-Spirit is replaced by relying upon other things, external things, for an ascent of consciousness, or our deeper spiritual and mystical experiences. The use of various kinds of external things as supports and vehicles along the way can be helpful and good, but if such things become too central to our worship or communion, as though we cannot do without them, then they can, in effect, become our “gods.”

It is like the feast of bread and wine. In some churches this, in effect, has become an idol, as though there cannot be true and full worship, or communion, with Christ and God without these. Granted, in our own lineage and tradition we use bread and wine often, but what the bread and wine is, is something much more than “bread and wine,” and while we enjoy using bread and wine as a symbol and talisman, we can also do just fine without it.

If and when external things become the source of our knowledge and power, rather that the Spirit of God, or when such things are given more importance than the ought to have, then it seems there is a slip into idolatry – or something of the “sin of the golden calf.”

The truth is that in the mystical journey, if full enlightenment is our aim, more and more as the years pass we must learn to go within and live within, relying on nothing external for the generation of the Presence of Awareness and Expanded Consciousness, for when it is time for our soul to depart the body, and when we die, nothing external will be of help to us. It will all be a question of that which is within us, the spiritual realization that has been established.

I can say that as years pass in the mystical journey that more and more we may experience a transcendence of set methods and spiritual practices in our own continuum of prayer, meditation and communion, and likewise, a certain transcendence of divine personifications; in the generation of the Presence of Awareness and Higher, or more Expanded Consciousness, the need for such things does fall away, that, or the experience of such things radically transforms becoming a very different experience of “embodiment.”

In this I ponder idolatry, for something that was once good and true, and was needed and helpful, later can become obsolete; if and when that is the case, and we were to cleave to what has become obsolete, then it might become an idol to us. At the outset it might not be, but later it could be, interestingly enough. Along a similar line, at times we can get stuck in a pattern or form of worship, or communion, which we have outgrown, but are unwilling to move beyond it and seek new ways of worship, or communion. The truth is, the continuum of spiritual practice from one cycle of our life to another can be very different, and as we grow and mature in the Christ-Spirit and progress in the Gospel, so our spiritual practices will often need to change.

The very nature of life is movement, growth, change, evolution, the opposite being death; this may provide another insight into idolatry, for an idol has no life or light of its own, and may be understood as anything that hinders or obstructs spiritual development and evolution, or that might cause spiritual stagnation.

It seem that there are many, many things, that can become like idols to us – most especially what we think we “know,” and our general unwillingness to venture into unknowing!

This is a little more I was inclined to share on this subject.

God bless you!
Tau Malachi

Sophia Fellowship

Ecclesia Pistis Sophia

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