METAPHYSICAL BIBLE INTERPRETATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Fall semester 1975 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Lecture given on October 21, 1975
Gen. 37, pp. 167-175 of transcript.
Now the story of Joseph beings in the 37th chapter of Genesis and finishes with the end. Charles Fillmore in Mysteries of Genesis refers to Joseph, in fact he titles the chapter dealing with Joseph, as a type of Christ and this is correct if you take it very figuratively. Joseph is the first character in the Old Testament who does bear a resemblance to Jesus on a much cruder, superficial plane, of course, but nevertheless the resemblance is beginning to show - though not in the case of Elisha. Now Elisha is the only character in the Old Testament who bears a startling resemblance to Jesus, but his story is so brief you just become acquainted with him and it is over, but it is this character, Joseph which starts the train of resemblance to Jesus.
In the actual narrative of the Bible they often become more than the symbol and become the ego itself - rather than just the initial quality that they represent. In this story of Joseph which is quite long, sometimes Joseph is being used for more than a symbol than just the activity he stands for, but also as the person, as the deciding ruling ego or entity on a purely personal plane, and other characters do this too. They symbolize this portion in us at certain times, but then at other times as used in the narrative they actually are persons - actual ego entities. So if you can reconcile yourself to that, some of the inconsistencies will not bother you.
The faculty of imagination is the primary basis for what will develop into that which Jesus stands for - since Joseph stands for the faculty of imagination, it is this faculty which will develop, which can become something greater than just mere imagining; but controlled constructive spiritually motivated exercise of the imagination soon will produce something called positive constructive controlled thinking. Imaging then becomes a mode of thinking - a decided type of thinking when it is spiritually motivated and evolving more and more into spiritual awareness.
Then what kind of thinking would it be the basic responsible faculty for producing? WHAT WE CALL IN UNITY - POSITIVE CONSTRUCTIVE THINKING, and then when that is well established, does it just stay that? No. Then it becomes Truth thinking and Truth thinking leads into spiritual awareness which will lead into Christ Consciousness. But the basis of it all begins in this little faculty called imagination. Of course the way we are going to talk, it will often sound as though we mean those faculties act isolated and alone, but this is not true. Then there will always be a blending and intermingling of other faculties, but we speak about one at a time. How can I speak about all of these at once. You have got to zero in on each of them in order to be able to talk about them with any degree of coherence. So that is what we are going to have to do.
Now the faculty of imagination is primary basis for what develops into right thinking, or positive constructive, or controlled thinking. Right thinking governs the process of growth and unfoldment into what will come - what we now refer to as Christ Consciousness. But remember folks, and I say this again and again, we only call it that because we are referring to a goal, to something, but when you reach it you are not going to call it that, you are going to call it me.
Just like - what you are now in one with in your evolution was what you were aiming for at one time. Maybe we called it Christ Consciousness, I don't know, but we called it something that was beyond our imagination. At that stage we used to dream of what we have become now, but now that we have this made what are we calling it - We are calling it not having it made, so we have set another evolutionary goal for ourselves which we now just call Christ consciousness because we just call it that. But when we do achieve that we are going to say I haven't got it made. I've got this and it's only going to be words, terms. You see, referring to reality from our perspective - from wherever we are.
So all True spiritual development in this human family begins from an individual in his thinking - for example when many of us come into Unity, for most of us the teaching which attracted us and which we decided to test was positive thinking - the power of positive thinking, the results that would be attained through positive thinking. For most of us this was the thrust which brought us in - got us started. Why? Because we had come to that first step where we must have realized that this would be the necessary first step. We must have realized that this would be the necessary first step for all the future changes and improvements that we were willing to undertake and undergo. We must have realized that practicing this would prepare us for other steps and then we were ever being guided and led by Spirit into deeper phases of spiritual unfoldment.
Remember, Joseph, even though Mr. Fillmore refers to him as a type of Christ, is in no way to be taken as a symbolic character on par with Jesus. Even the best things Joseph did are in no way equal to the most insignificant things that Jesus does. Just as by no means should positive thinking should be taken as the whole of Unity's teachings. Joseph represents one important step along the way to the character of Jesus Christ in the cast of Bible characters, and positive thinking is a big step on the way to developing spiritual consciousness, but I still hear once in a while, Well what is Unity? Well Unity is a positive thinking cult and they think they have said it then. Positive thinking as you know is just kindergarten introduction to what we call the Unity teachings.
The word Joseph means "whom Joseph shall add to." He shall increase metaphysically in the faculty of imagination and basically imagination is our ability to form or shape the formless mental energy, the mental energy which is omnipresent, invisible, formless, unlimited. The imagination faculty in man is the God given ability for man to appropriate the formless, shapeless, invisible mental energy and give it form, shape, color and density, and direction. This is all on the mental plane, of course and the results or products of imagination doing this to mental energy we call thoughts and thoughts in turn build states of consciousness or awareness which produce substance into form or things.
Now in the early part of life Joseph symbolizes uncontrolled and undisciplined or uncontrolled expression of imagination. This is characteristic in our teaching. We are told Joseph was his father's favorite, while he was a young baby he was his father's favorite and in any human entity imagination, uncontrolled, undisciplined appears as the favorite of that entity. I often wonder what little babies do lying in their cribs. They have a secret life of their own I am sure. I'm sure that what it consists of for the most part is their enjoyment of something they are not in control of, imagination, maybe colors, maybe shapes. We don't really know since the baby can't express what is going on in its inner life, but it seems to me as if the baby would merely be enjoying the undirected products of the imagination faculty.
As the baby develops one of the best ways to be to a child is to appeal to its imagination. We do all those things when it's older by letting it know that we know that it has an imagination and the baby I'm sure takes this as a sign of friendliness from its parents and other people. This is the favorite of the father, the entity then has this particular faculty (favorite) at this stage we are referring to.
But the imagination as that state can also cause eventual mischief and unhappiness. Early in his life we read that Joseph told tales to his brothers and dreamed of being superior to his parents and HE TOLD. If he had kept his dreams to himself he might have escaped a lot of stuff, but we told. How much trouble have you and I brought upon ourselves because we told. So this symbolism shows that the activity of imagination when we are not yet mature in what we now call psychological insight or spiritual understanding, but we are told that Joseph matures and begins to learn, to develop insight- Now remember - I know I have pointed this out before, but I have to remind you for my own security. Joseph keeps stepping in and out of his own symbolism. Sometimes he's just the imagination faculty, but sometimes he's just the person, the entity, the deciding ego itself.
So as Joseph lives and learns he begins to develop depth and insight. Soon in the story he will no longer symbolize uncontrolled imagination, undirected, but he progresses into the higher more progressive or creative levels of imagination which is of course, right or constructive thinking. That's as far as he gets. The character of Joseph never establishes the level of spiritual awareness. No character does that prior to Jesus.
Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children and made him a coat of many colors and this coat of many colors represents one of the most striking and attractive powers of our imagination. Remember that in the Bible a garment of any kind always stands for an embodiment of a certain kind of power or talent and the imagination is imbued with a garment which is a cloak of many colors and most artistic presentations of this coat have it with the stripes running up and down (vertically), so that if a person was wearing it he could have stripes of color facing in all directions, and metaphysically that would be valid because the imagination has been imbued to project color and/or emotional meaning. Colors in the Bible stand for emotional meaning.
The way is imbued with this power to add color, interest and meanings. One of the meanings of color in the Bible is emotional meanings, and the interest that life holds for us. It is the emotional meanings we give to things which add up to the interest it holds for us. You see if things in the world had no emotional meaning for us or caused no emotional response in ourselves - What would (do) you do with things that cause no emotional response in you? You lose interest. So it is because imagination has this ability that we are able to maintain interest in any direction of life that we give our attention to.
Now these colors face in all directions. Now when Joseph is stripped of his coat of many colors and made prisoner, it symbolizes a state a person can get in to and when he is in that state not responding with the right emotions to things in his life and we call that state depression, when everything is colorless, dark, and in a sense meaningless. These are variations of the states of depression which is the plight of Joseph stripped of his coat and cast into prison.
Joseph's first two dreams - notice the peculiar nature of his first two dreams. Both consist of his being acknowledged as being superior to (over) others and telling it (and believing it) is what gets him into trouble with others and this is true concerning so much of our immature imaginings. An immature imagining very often consists of this same sort of dreaming and telling. We visualize ourselves as becoming somehow greater than others. This is one of the most pernicious dreams of the imagination, as we actually visualize ourselves as becoming greater than others. We get the strange notion that our superiority depends on the inferiority of other persons. A completely wild whim of the imagination.
FLOYD. "Ed, as you talked about the imagination or taking substance or mental, and then you moved from there to the positive constructive thought on the way to Christ consciousness, then what you are saying now as to the decision as to which way to go, they may not all be founded on positive thought.
ED. That's right. All through the story of Joseph, there is a mixture of positive and negative thought, of constructive motivation and malicious motivation. All the way through until almost the very end. Joseph is in no way a spiritual character. He is only a symbol of different phases in development, in modes of thinking toward illumined spirituality.
FLOYD. Well the first goal you gave was the ideal -
Ed. Right. That's the goal rather than actual narrative. So we get this strange notion, which is really a wild dream that our superiority depends on other person's inferiority. We can actually believe our worth can be enhanced by another's unworthiness. You see there is a crazy cockeyed logical sound in this, but it's all false - completely off base and this notion that other persons inferiority can contribute to my superiority or that my worthiness is enhanced by your unworthiness, we can actually have that make a great deal of sense for a while because Joseph really believed those dreams.
Now Joseph was a very superior person with a great deal of worth but his superiority and worth were entirely inherent in himself as with us. We are great persons, persons of great worth entirely inherent within ourselves, and nothing to do with the other person's lack or short comings - only with your own genuineness, you see, and that's not a dream. That's reality.
Right thinking then, and eventually Joseph showed signs of that also, but his worth, his superiority had nothing to do with what others may have lacked. OK. Here's the lesson for our own developing imagination. Imagine your own greatness and your own worth, but not by comparing yourself to others, with all creation. We should never use our faculty of imagination as an instrument of separation or estrangement from our fellow human beings, because what else really, basically - the severe form of mental illness which have names - do not many consist of that person's devoting his imagination completely to separateness and estrangement from fellow human beings. Again this is a mad stream of the imagination.
But it came to pass when Joseph was come to his brothers, that (Gen. 37:23) they stripped Joseph of his coat of many colors that was on him - meaning that in our human nature there will be a negative reaction among our faculties, disorientation, as a result of our imagination having indulged too long in critical and self-centered thinking. If you could observe your own soul's lusting and if you could pinpoint the points where you were all disoriented, one part of you was all dissatisfied and displeased with another part of you and this particular factor in you was not functioning in harmony in you and you were a mixed up person, you would find, I believe, and this is an intuitive guess, you would be able to trace that result to a point in your existence where you were indulging yourself too long in critical self-centered thinking, and all of its ramifications, not so much in deliberate negative thinking. Not many people really do that the way we make it sound, but we do a lot or we have done a lot of long drawn out periods of critical and self-centered thinking, and this throws the faculties on a certain level in us out of kilter with each other and most of the time they will turn against the imagination other and most of the time they will turn against the imagination faculty which has been responsible for this and bring on a state of disorientation and or depression.
CAROLINE. Ed, I see it a little differently. Could it be that Joseph allowed his personal ego to take over when those dreams came on and he used it thinking of his own success rather than the expression of the God-self within someone? Because of his inflation he had to experience then.
ED. Yes, isn't that self-centered thinking and critical? Now remember, Joseph keeps going in and out, person to faculty and we have to think in this double level to get the overall pattern that the writer is trying to present to us.
So when imagination has temporarily lost its color, its ability to give color, beauty, interest and attention to life's details this is a symbol of inner confusion, inner desolation or depression. The person finds himself depressed and depleted.
Eventually a person may find himself, his imagination completely dominated by material and sensual desires and pressures. Joseph was sold into slavery. Where? Egypt. Egypt symbolizes in general the realm of materiality and sensuality and a prisoner or slave in Egypt is the state of a person who's thinking is all bound up - imprisoned in materiality and sensual anxiety and pressures for that period. Joseph was a slave in Egypt. He is sold to a man named Potiphar, who was a very important person in Egypt, and Joseph makes himself very useful to Potiphar. What is one of the most useful of all talents to have on the material and sensual level of life? A good active imagination. Who gets by best in the world materially and sensually? Those with the keenest imagination. Joseph quickly finds a way to make himself useful and begins to find favor and if you want to make yourself useful in the sensual and material realms, use your creative imagination and it will serve your ego well and find much favor with that ego, Potiphar.
Metaphysically, this refers to the fact that a live and useful imagination (Joseph) can be very useful in the realm of involvement of material affairs and sensual experiences.
You know when you have a very satisfactory sensory experience what faculty in you is very much contributing to that pleasure. Your imagination. You go to a fine restaurant and get a marvelously prepared mean and you enjoy it to the hilt. Do you think it's only your palate that is giving you that enjoyment? Your imagination goes into it. You accompany what is going on with color - with shape, from emotional reactions and evaluations and it isn't just your palate. It's your palate being served by your imagination.
When you make love to your beloved, and this becomes a wonderful thrilling enjoyable experience, is it only your nerve endings that are giving you this great pleasure? It is your imagination involved also, involving on this sensual love making experience that gives that dimension that makes it indescribable except to that one who experiences it. So Joseph in Egypt, simply means the active and lively imagination fully involved in the activities of sense and material life.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on February 15, 2015.