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 31, 1975
They'll study how to hold faith, in the midst of even the most adverse appearances and they clearly understand that they are not telling falsehoods when they deny sickness, right in the face of the appearance of the illness. In the same way we achieve our victory over Satan when ill temper, vanity, greed, selfishness and other sins of greater and lesser degrees come up, they should be denied and what is it that we deny? Their existence? No. Their power over us, we deny them permanent connection to us. Please know that you have this power to deny sin to have permanent connection with you. Do not, however, think that you have power to deny it entry into your awareness.
I guess I did at the very beginning, but not as definitely as I will be now. There was something that Jack brought up in the last class which I think we do need to think about and one of the students in the first year class brought up something rather similar in regard to Unity fundamentals and I always take these coincidences as a sign that there is something spurious saying "let's get something said to be helpful".
Two points I want to mention, first of all - this business of what actually happens between students and teachers is not what it seems to be looking at the situation from the without. What it looks like is, here's a person who is supposed to know a lot, traditionally is supposed to know more than the students if you go by the book, and this teacher is supposed to take his knowledge and transfer it to the students and constantly be testing the students to see if they're agreeing with the knowledge he has, and if this succeeds we say the teacher did a good job, he taught the students.
There is an element of that in it, but not really. That's not the real thing. I am convinced what happens is this. First of all, so much depends upon the quality of understanding that the teacher has, regardless of what field it is, or what level of meaning it can be, especially in a subject like this, in fundamentals. Now, if the teacher really does believe in the level of meaning that he understands, now I'm not talking about what level of meaning it is - do you follow me? If the teacher really does believe in the meaning of the knowledge that he has to teach, on whatever level of meaning it is, he is of value to that class, not because of the knowledge itself, but of the genuineness of his understanding on whatever level.
So, if a student then accepts the teacher, trusts him, gets into the spirit of the activity going on, that student will learn, but not be the rote transference of knowledge-type of learning. The quality of what I might present, for instance, might be below the level of meaning on which you have your understanding, see? But if my understanding is genuine, no matter what level of meaning, or particular subject I'm dealing with, that honesty of understanding itself will be imparted, through almost like osmosis to the student. What the student is doing is tuning into the quality of understanding, rather than the level of knowledge.
The student then draws from the teacher and from the activity, through rapport, through metaphysical osmosis, an increase of his own capacity for understanding, and then he, himself, chooses to fill this in with the level of meaning in which he is most concerned. So, even if you are a member of a class where your level of understanding is higher than that of the teacher, and higher than that and greater than that of the presentation that is made, yet if that teacher really believes in and understands what he is teaching, the students will gain greatly from it.
Ordinarily, the way we'd like it to be, is that the teacher's understanding is on a higher level than the general par of the student body and, in that case, it's both the information and the presentation itself which benefits the student and also the techniques of the teacher will benefit the student, plus, and most important, the sharing of understanding. But, if the teacher's level is lower than the student's, if the teacher's understanding is genuine, that student can learn from that teacher, and vice versa. If you keep this in mind, your role as teacher will be much more comfortable for you when you get into your own work.
Now, let's go about this Bible interpretation business. It's pretty generally accepted among the higher metaphysical religious movements that all of the genuine scriptures of the known religions in the history of our planet have valid meaning on at least four levels. But they are not the levels that the mob is used to dealing with. The mob usually is dealing with scripture on the distorted level. Such is the case with our Bible today. The distorted literal level. Tune in Sunday morning to practically any AM radio station and you'll know what I'm talking about. The distorted literal level, and unfortunately this is where the mob usually is concerned. Jesus called this the broad way, the wide gate, the crowd that goes in and all that it leads to is - you know.
But then there's this level in scripture - correct literal, this is the level aimed for in most of your seminaries and your basic Bible classes in many, many religions. The effort is to rise out of the distorted into the correct literal. Here is where legitimacy starts. Valid, useful meaning begins on this level - correct literal.
But there are always those people who cannot stay on that level, it does not fulfill their spiritual aspirations and if they are Bible oriented they will seek the next level, which is the mundane or planetary level. Here is where the symbolism begins, on this level, the mundane or the planetary, that is, the Bible is really talking about the things that go on in the human family on the terrestrial level, geography, history, climate conditions, the arts and sciences, and this is a very good level and certainly is an expansion of this level.
But again, most persons who are fit to be interested in this level can't stay interested in that level, so they seek the next highest, which is metaphysical.
Q. Where would race consciousness come in?
A. In the metaphysical. A lot of people I think would rather reverse the metaphysical and the mundane-planetary. I have private reasons why I prefer the metaphysical above - I think it's more important what my definition of what metaphysical is. It's not Webster's - it's mine and it came to me through prayer. By metaphysical we mean, that which is true concerning the inner life of every human being, regardless of time, space and circumstance. To me that's a higher plane than even this. It is more intimate, more personal, but who's to say it's not higher, or more important.
Then we have, and we know very little about this, but we know it's there, we know it exists, the cosmic. It might be that it doesn't even end there, but for our purposes, this is quite high enough. Now, the cosmic level of meaning, which is a very valid, in fact, you couldn't have the other levels if this didn't come first, if this wasn't the priority, origin level. However, and I think I'm not being unfair when I say, that we as a human family, most of us are not ready for this, this level does not yet hold, or we do not yet have enough equipment to find points of interest and connection on this level, except in here - in speculation and in theory - and through history there have been individuals who were illumined into this level of meaning of scripture, but they really didn't do much good with that, some such persons as Swedenborg. Somehow or other he tuned into the cosmic level of meaning of our Bible, but did you ever try to read his descriptions of being on that level? There are 14 volumes in our library, Celestial Arcana. Which are the cosmic meanings of the entire, complete O.T. from page to page to page. Bless his heart, try to read it and judge for yourself.
Well, we've had others who have glimpses into it. Now, to the best of my knowledge, and I'm no authority on this, I'm just reporting reports. It has been told to me that in the group that have followed Edgar Cayce there is now work being done, research going on and material written about the Bible on this level. Now, I haven't investigated it yet, I certainly plan to but I haven't as yet. Keep in mind that all five of these, at least the five that I've been able to discern are in operation today, among people interested in scripture.
Q. Have you read that book, A Million Years to the Promised Land?
A. No, I've heard that and I think that would be a good introduction to this new activity coming from that group. I certainly want to read it. We should be aware of all these things, to the best of our ability.
Now, I'm going to have to talk like a faculty member. You're paying my salary, folks. Let me do my job. My job and I would assume the job of most of the people who will be working here in the centers is to deal with where we feel the needs and interests of the Unity public life. My feeling is while we have lots of good people who can do the work, we do not have enough workers as yet who can do the job of working with scripture between these two levels, and trying to get more and more of this up onto this level, to get it out of the planetary scheme of things into the human inner life of each individual who comes to our centers.
It is not just in Bible classes, you might not have much of that going on, but your scriptural understanding or the understanding you've gained from what we've talked about scripturally in these classes will aid you in all kinds of fields in your ministry. Counseling, socializing, correspondence, sermon composing, and all that, will all color it. What we are trying to do now is to get more and more of the scriptural meaning comprehended on the metaphysical level. Now, my feeling is that when we accomplish that, then we will begin to realize the importance of the cosmic level of meaning, but we have to build the equipment first to function on that level. We have to devise a terminology or we'll do what Swedenborg did, he had the understanding, the insight as to the meanings, but he put it into the wrong terminology, he put it into the terminology of the Lutheran hellfire and damnation language, and therefore - you try to read what he says. If he had first had a terminology or a language prepared through the whole human family's evolution of language and semantics, then I think he could have put those visions into a more useful language. We will do that because we're evolving from this, I say most of us are really evolving from this to this. Now we're trying to get more of this. This will take care of itself when we're ready and it will be very beautiful.
Q. Is there a simple way to interpret what the cosmic meaning of the Bible is?
A. Cosmic meanings would be almost what we would now call impersonal, unemotional as we now know emotion, it would be full of feeling, there will be nothing competitive. There is no judging, or fault finding on this level. You just have to get a sort of a feel for it and you do get preview of it on this level. We'll evolve step by step with little connections, this is how - we'll take this, not in leaps - we'll know it's there, we can love it and keep it in the realm of our personal idealism and we will be guided in every way in our unfoldment of greater understanding of it.
Q. Your example about Swedenborg may be an isolated one, because it is possible to deal with the cosmic and still be able to relate on other levels because Jesus did.
A. Yes, Jesus is, of course, the perfect example, also the way-shower. But you will find His teachings are pointing in this direction rather than consisting of this. He brings it down to the earth level so that we can use it to re-ascend into the heavenly level or cosmic level of understanding. This is the mode of thought of Christ-consciousness and we're working toward it. I agree with you that Swedenborg is an example, and not any disrespect to Swedenborg, I mean this in a completely loving way, he's a rather grotesque example, he's so out-of-the-ordinary that you don't know quite what to make of him, but you do realize that he's functioning on a level that is genuine, but he is handicapped as to time, place and circumstance.
Q. Help me with an understanding here, the metaphysical is the inner man, where the cosmic is like coming from the inner and going out again.
A. The cosmic would be dealing with universal mankind, the oneness of all humanity in Christ. Now, on this level, we keep that as our vision, as our source of light, as our idealism towards which we struggling and working, but we're using the working material on this level because that's what we are to communicate with people about and with.
Q. We're preparing ourselves as individuals more or less so that we can participate in this universality.
A. Right, but we also have to develop the skills to deal with people who are functioning on the sense of Bible, on these lower levels, but who are seeking this, not those who don't want it, please, hands off those who don't want it. We are not sorcerers, we are truth teachers and ministers and nothing is to be forced on the unwilling soul consciousness.
Now, please remember that when I give you an interpretation, I'm not giving you the, it is a, and even one out of many alternatives even on that level, but it'll at least enable us to get our teeth into something and whatever we choose to do in the direction of expansion or variation from there on is a personal thing. It's just fine. So, Pharaoh, finally, at least lets the people go, let's the people get started. Ego has, in a sense, surrendered to the higher aspirations and has said, "O.K. we'll let you go now and you can study this phony new religion called "Unity - or Truth, or Christian Science - or Christianity, or whatever name you give", at one time that was avant-garde. That was new thought. It was contrary to prevailing materialism and sensuality. So, everybody had his turn to be a star and Pharaoh relents over his decision and pursues the Israelites with his army, Chapter 14, "And when the Israelites reached the shores of the Red Sea, and Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night and made the sea dry land and the waters were divided."
Now, in all the interpretations or explanations of that phenomenon, which level have you heard resorted to most often? The mundane and planetary. All kinds of scientific explanations about how the wind could have done it to that body of water and who's to say that's not correct as any explanation of a natural or planetary or mundane phenomena, but something in you, even while I'm talking to you says, but it must mean more than that. It also must mean something concerning the metaphysical, which is the inner life of each individual. Then, it must also have cosmic significance, which we aren't able to deal with right now, and so, it's just fine, so the Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea and Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea and the sea returned to his strength and the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen and all the host of Pharaoh that came to the sea after them. There remained not so much as one of them.
Now, here is a very vivid episode on the metaphysical level, one of its meanings would be that once a person is really on the path of willing and sincere study of truth for purposes of soul growth and unfoldment, spiritual unfoldment, nothing shall ever again take him back to the old states of bondage and limitation, that is, he cannot be taken back to prior states of evolution. You cannot reverse the process of evolution once it reaches that degree, where the person himself is the willing and cooperative entity, then evolution cannot be back-tracked for that person. Whether it can be at other stages is a question, I'm not sure. So, you can't go back on your evolution once you have become the responsible and willing, cooperator that you have become. It may look like you're going to go back, but you won't. Even things in your life which will at first appear to you to be very serious obstacles, setbacks, like L & O committees, and big-mouth Ed Rabels and all kinds of stuff, these things may appear to be an obstacle or even a set-back, but believe me, believe the writer of Exodus on the metaphysical level, these will turn out to be the very helps which will further your progress. It's true, the shores of the Red Sea first appeared as an obstacle, but turned out to be a channel leading to greater freedom.
So, it is in the life of every person who really is on the level in his sincere and faithful desire for spiritual growth. Even though Pharaoh will act up and try to pull tricks, ego and selfishness still rear their ugly heads, and the waters of the same Red Sea drowned the pursuing Egyptian army. Now, think of the Red Sea as principle rather than just a literal body of water. It is the action of principle, the water principle, in being. These waters, in this action, stand for the dissolving and cleansing power of denial, renunciation and elimination. That from which you really leave behind you will be dissolved and cleansed. Any area of harm - causing to you, that is as far as your development in consciousness goes, the pursuing Egyptian army could symbolize persistence of certain negative and threatening appearances and habits, memories in our lives. The waters of denial work to cleanse our mind and to free our lives from all in the past that would harm our progress into higher spiritual understanding. Now, I have a note here - the key idea in this symbol extends into the religious rite of water baptism.
Now, in Chapter 17, we are introduced to the manna in the wilderness, provided by the Lord by day, sustenance for the traveling Israelites. This manna and its method of being provided, plus the limitations imposed on this kind of manna has a rather deeply esoteric significance, perhaps a bit too abstract sounding for some tastes, but, the manna symbolizes the type of nourishment by means of which life is sustained physically for man up to a point. Man partakes of nourishment for physical life, mechanically, automatically, by the process of what we now call nature. Nature now acts the part of a channel between the source of life, spirit and the expression of life, man. Man does not consciously or directly cause this, it is in a sense, done for him. It is given unto him. You don't do the cow - you partake of the cow. The cow was done for you by certain secret processes called Mother Nature, so, you can go and you can kill the cow and eat the flesh of the cow. You don't do the cabbage, you may plant the seed of the cabbage, but you don't do the cabbage. Through the processes of nature the cabbage grows and then you may pluck and eat.
So, in a sense, this is being done for man, he only enters into the process in a secondary, indirect way. Man merely partakes of it and is sustained for how long a time. A day, you eat the cabbage today, you only get one cabbage worth of nourishment from it and then you need another cabbage, or maybe you'd like a pineapple. So, by this current arrangement, which is perfectly legit, on this level, man partakes of and is sustained day-by-day by this current arrangement, ordinary or natural man is enabled to continue an ordinary or natural existence. However, this is the part that is not - for a lot of person's taste. Since all this is predominantly a mechanical process, even though it's organic, these things are growing and living, but not living in the sense that we mean living. It is predominantly a mechanical process as all mechanical processes, unless they're transformed to a higher level on their own level, all mechanical end in death. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness. Dependency on life from the material realm can only be a makeshift, a temporary arrangement and then it comes to an end. Because if eating could keep you alive forever, we'd eat constantly. But, we eat, we live, we die - the natural level of mankind.
This arrangement will change as man obtains greater development of consciousness. The time will come and is arriving, we're seeing signs of it already. Like Swedenborg, an almost grotesque example of something magnificent, we also have a rather grotesque example of this something magnificent; read Dr. Bach's book containing his interview with Teresa Neumann. You should. It's a series of interviews he had with people all over the world to get their understanding of the meaning of Jesus Christ, and one of the characters was Teresa Neumann who recently passed on, but who only ate one communion wafer per year. That was it, she did not eat food. She was in a convent, she was watched, she was checked up on, she was practically torn apart to prove that there was some quackery there. But there was nothing, she did not eat, and was very healthy, and every Good Friday she would bleed in all the places tradition says that Jesus bled, but she did not eat and Dr. Bach interviewed her, and I think his chapter on her is one of the most fascinating things he's ever written.
Q. That's in Autobiography of a Yoga, too.
So, you see, we have enough signs that this is a possibility, and more than a possibility, it's very much a preview of things to come. Man will learn to partake of a different type of a nourishment for his life, because his consciousness will be manifesting a different kind of body organism and it will not require the type or source of nourishment that the former organism may have required. He will begin to eat the living bread come down from Heaven, spoken of more than once by Jesus. This will be a direct conscious life-appropriation, not ending in death, but continuing in eternal life. Now, this theme by the way, is taken up more extensively in the Gospel of John.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on February 10, 2015.