Creative Life

The Creation story in the book of Genesis (called Bereshith in Hebrew) contains many levels and it cannot be translated word for word into other languages. All I can do in this blog post is give a glimpse into the deeper meanings of the Hebrew words.

Biblical Hebrew is regarded as sacred. For thousands of years it has differed from its use in everyday speech. Each letter-number is in fact a symbol containing an idea. These symbols are combined in patterns of relationship that carry a depth of meaning beyond the physical.

infant stars

So the first thing to understand is that the opening chapter of Genesis is not describing the physical universe at all: creation begins as formless principles of life that are here with us, now: Bereshith. These principles take on fluid form – the primal waters of creation, called Maim in Hebrew. Here Maim expresses the idea of water, and the womb-like quality of gestating and making life.

The loss of this knowledge has brought about many mistranslations and misunderstandings.

I am going to focus on verses 26 to 28 of Chapter One, which speak of the creation of Adam and humanities relationship with our fellow creatures. One of the biggest problems – or illusions – that come out of the mistranslations of these verses, is that God is supposed to declare that Adam is to rule, and have dominion over, the fish of the seas and the birds of the heavens, and over all the earth and all that moves on the earth. The rendering of the Hebrew word Radah as to rule or have dominion, is totally misleading. It comes from, and reinforces, the erroneous belief that we have the right to use and abuse our fellow creatures and the Earth itself as if they were nothing more than commodities put there by God for us to exploit.

Such translations are misguided. They contradict verse 22, where every living thing is said to have the creative capacity to bear fruit – to diversify from formless Idea into complex forms. This means that all the creatures that we share life with are creating life in each moment. If you stop for a moment and contemplate this it reveals Presence – the timeless eternal, out of which all life is continually emerging. When we are present we experience this directly. This is communion.

Radah like many Hebrew words has depths of meaning: to walk at the side of, to assist, and to have responsibility. We need to understand it within the context of the universal creativity of life. In this sense, it tells us that humanity has the potential to contain, and express universal, abundant life, with the power to animate it through the whole of existence, from spiritual idea, through diversity of form, into the physical universe. To be truly creative is to engage with an Idea and help to give it form. You are working with life and bringing it into manifestation: the degree of your attention gives the work its quality.

We have a choice – to involve ourselves fully in the creative matrix of life, or cut ourselves off from it. The human illusion is that we are a separate, special creature and from that perspective we seek to control, destroy and manipulate life as we will.

Before we look at a deeper translation of verses 26 to 28, we need to understand that in Hebrew, Adam means Universal humanity, containing both male and female. Universal humanity finds its reflection – that is, comes to know itself  – in the entire circle of life. To “awaken,” to be spiritually conscious, is to enter into living relationship with the whole of life, where we no longer exploit each other or turn our fellow creatures and the Earth into mere commodities.

My translation of Chapter 1:26 of Genesis reads: “And Elohim emanated the making of Universal humanity [Adam] in the likeness, with the ability to become like, Elohim; that they [Humanity] may walk at the side of, to assist with responsibility, all that multiplies in the primal waters, and the winged – soaring creatures of the Heavens, and the walking creatures and all the Eretz [Earth], and all the creepers moving upon the Eretz [Earth].

The verse tells us that the ability to be truly creative is inherent within us; like the Elohim. The next verse emphasizes this point again.

1:27  And the Elohim created Adam – Universal Humanity in the image of the One; In the image of the Elohim Humanity were created; male and female the One created them.

The created – spiritual – Adam, is androgynous: both genders in one being. Adam is your spiritual body containing both male and female. In Hebrew Eve means “the circle of life,” “a circle of tents” or “a sacred circle,” and “the Mother of all things.” Eve is the sacred circle of life in which we come to know ourselves when the feminine is in equal balance with the masculine.

The text 1:28 continues: And the Elohim blessed them and emanated; bear fruit and multiply – in diverse patterns – fill the Eretz [Earth] to shape an inspired dwelling place, and to walk at the side of, to assist with responsibility, all that multiplies in the primal waters, the soaring creatures of the Heavens and all the life moving upon the Eretz [Earth]. Kabash – to shape an inspired dwelling place – is usually translated as “to subdue” which indicates a total lack of understanding of the depths of the Hebrew.

Right now, we are impoverishing the circle of life through our unconscious behaviour and our wilful ignorance. We are doing this because we ourselves have become so impoverished. Cut off spiritually, psychologically, and physically from the abundance of life within us and around us, we have become a destructive force. The unconscious human mind generates psychological pollution, a madness which we are acting out in destructive ways on the earth – to such an extent that we threaten to destroy much of the web of life.

This is entirely contrary to the mystical teachings given within the creation story Bereshith – that we should fully realize our own potential and know ourselves within the circle of abundant life. As we raise our level of conscious awareness, and enter fully into life, we co-operate; we join with the whole of life in all its forms. We become co-creators with our fellow creatures and with ElohimDivine Being.

In the beginning the Logos was.

In the beginning the Logos was, and the Logos was with God and the Logos was Divine.

Even before I knew the deeper meanings of Logos, I felt the beauty of the opening lines in John’s Gospel. They spoke to my heart, bypassing the thinking mind, which is what all truly inspired poetry does.

The opening lines of John’s Gospel are asking us to stand at the point of the beginning of creation. This means to come fully into the present, because the beginning of creation is always here, now: it is never in the past. This is very explicit in the original Greek.

The diagram of the point within the circle, left, is a symbol of  Logos: A dimensionless point, eternal – nothing that we can say is anything – becomes the circle of existence through the principle dynamic movement: “in the beginning.” This is the immanence of the Divine in sacred space, the creative unity of  every thing that exists, every possible possibility.  

Just as Jesus says: “The Kingdom of Heaven is here, now,” so too, the beginning of creation is here, now. This means becoming aware of your spiritual body, the core of which is at one with the source of all life.

Logos denotes the stillness out of which creation continually emerges.

Logos denotes the pre-existent Divine universe, the eternal, which is now: all time-space continually emerges from it.

Logos is the stillness out of which all movement emerges; the silence behind every sound; the sacred space in which creation takes place. All of creation is sacred and the birth of the universe and its emerging diverse complexity is the continuation of this, the one great miracle.

The Gospel says that the Logos is with God, and the Logos is Divine, which means that God cannot be contained by existence, is limitless, beyond all our concepts of existence. It is through Logos – the Divine immanence of God – that God creates life. Divine immanence is total consciousness – true Love.

Logos was used as the name – the Divine immanence – of God, the source of creation, by Hellenized (Greek cultural) Jewish mystics and philosophers of the diaspora, living in places such as Alexandria in Egypt and Ephesus in Asia Minor.

Why is Logos translated as Word?

Around 600BCE the philosopher – mystic Heraclitus used Logos to denote the formless unity of the Divine. Logos has a range of meanings to do with pattern, proportion, ratio, balance, harmony, mediation, and also means to lay out or arrange in order. So the term Logos contains the play or pattern in sound – which is language; not just spoken words, but  music, the wind in the trees, the waves of the sea, the movement of a flock of birds, the rippling of light reflected in a million, million places. You can know Logos through witnessing the unfolding of creation in the natural world, and in the stars in the night sky.

The diagram right, from the book “Patterns of Creation,” illustrates the six directions of space emerging out of a central circle. The central circle symbolises the formless unity of  life, out of which creation continually emerges.

Logos is the formless essence of every woman and man, it is your Being, your goodness, beauty and true heart or centre. The teachings given through Jesus tell us that every woman and man is an expression of the Divine immanence of God.

It is only when we become unconscious and believe ourselves to be small and separate that we lose the sense of life’s abundance flowing through us, which John’s Gospel calls grace upon grace.

Since Logos is the essence of all life you can never be separated from it – separation is a mental illusion, which causes us to suffer and inflict suffering on other people and fellow creatures. Healing is remembering that you are One with all life.

To realise Logos, your connection with all life, spend moments throughout each day in stillness and silence – even while walking and speaking it is possible to remain aware of stillness and silence – this is to be conscious of Logos – the beauty of all life, here now.

The eternal light of Logos emerges from deep within; it is here within you now, and within every living thing, giving life to every star and planet, every animal and plant, every rock and speck of dust. Through your conscious presence the universe is becoming aware of itself. This the gospel of John calls Logos.

The Tree of Life

This post explores the origin of the Tree of Life in the creation story in Genesis and its link with the Logos in the Gospel of John. Logos is usually translated as “Word” but this is completely inadequate.

John’s Gospel opens with the words “in the beginning the Logos was.” These words tell us that there is a timeless, formless, pre-existent reality to time-space. This eternal presence is depicted in the creation story in Genesis, where it is called the Tree of Life. To open the Gospel of John with the first words of the creation story in Genesis makes the link between these two texts very plain. The Jewish mystic is trying to convey Hebrew ideas to a Greek audience. Genesis is the older Hebrew text – the Gospel of John the newer Greek text, written for the Jewish diaspora in the Greek-speaking world.

The depictions of the Tree of Life as the Menorah: the seven branched candle stand made from a solid piece of gold. 

 

The Tree of Life (Etz Ha Chaim) appears in the Hebrew text of Genesis in Ch2:9. The two Hebrew words Etz Chaim have multiple meanings:

Etz – Tree: also staff, bones, spinal cord – implying the axis of connection between heaven and earth, hence tree. Rooted in the earth, growing upwards, branching, and dividing as it spreads out into the heavens, it forms a circle or sphere in space embracing both sky and earth.

Chaim – Life: also breathing, growth, abundance, the burgeoning of life; greenness, the abundant flow of life from its source.

In Genesis 2:9 the translation reads: “And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the Tree of Life, also in the midst of the garden, and the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil.”

A deeper translation of the second half of this verse, which tries to bring out the abstract spiritual ideas the Hebrew contains:  The Tree of Life stands eternally at the point of dividing in an enclosed space (This is the idea of space, which has no fixed form or dimension.) It is from this point of dividing that the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil continually emerges.

cordoba-synag.jpg

Geometric pattern of the Tree of Life – Synagogue, Cordoba, Spain.

The Tree of Life stands – eternally – at the point of division in any given space. It never ceases To Be. It is the timeless essence of life, uniting everything that appears to be dividing, because nothing is truly separate. Life only takes on the appearance of separation through its movement through idea into form. These ideas and forms can be understood as the universal laws that govern the codes of diversifying life, and for this reason the Torah is often referred to as the Tree of Life.

The Tree of Life is the eternal presence underlying the up-building and down-breaking of idea and form, which Genesis calls Etz Ha Da’at – the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. This so-called Tree of Knowledge of good and evil is the continual creation that emerges out of eternal unity, which continually dissolves back into this same source.

In John’s Gospel Etz Ha Chaim and Etz Ha Da’at equate with the Logos, which, in the Greek world, expressed the continual emergence of the patterns of creation, from out of the eternal (timeless) essence of life. Logos was expressed through the symbolic languages of geometry and mathematics. I will explore the meaning of Logos in the next post.

This image of the Tree of life is one of the diagrams from my book, Patterns of Creation. This geometric form of the Tree of Life emerged out of spiritual and philosophical knowledge in the classical world, influencing the arts, literature, architecture and mathematics.

Patterns of Creation – the Book.

Patterns of Creation illuminates the ideas contained in the Greek – Aramaic text of Gospel of John, so that the untranslatable geometric figures of Logos and the Universal Tree of Life, may become for you, the reader, the living reality they point to, beyond their use as symbols.

The aim of Patterns of Creation is to help you experience these spiritual truths contained within the original Greek – Aramaic text of the Gospel for yourself. It contains my original translations  and meditative exercises to help you go beyond the everyday, unconscious mind, centered around the ego, to realise your eternal essence. John’s Gospel calls this formless essence, which exists within the heart of every human-being, Logos (usually translated as Word). The exercises help bring this into your daily life, so that you gain a deeper connection with the Eternal Presence that contains and connects every living thing within the great circle of life.

Spiritual awakening is freedom from fear and all the needless suffering that we inflict upon ourselves, each other, and all the creatures of the natural world. To awaken to the greater spiritual awareness is to realise our natural state: all life is sacred, and we are intimately connected with the whole of life.

There is One Universal consciousness, out of which, every form of life is continually emerging and into which they are continually dissolving. This Universal Consciousness is here within you now, an infinite creative potential, the timeless, formless essence of who you really are. To awaken to this deeper reality we need to learn to step out of the unconscious thought streams that dictate so much our lives. To Be, here, now, as a conscious witness, is to meet life fully, where the boundaries of inner and outer dissolve into a unified whole of non duality and no-mind.

 

These realisations have come out of my years of meditational practice and academic studies, and through the workshops and seminars I have shared with others.

These realisations do not belong to me; they have come through many people in a shared meditative space. Nobody can claim a spiritual realisation for themselves alone; they come through us but they can never be owned or added to our ego identity.

The realisation of Eternal Presence in such shared space takes us beyond the thinking mind, and all religious interpretations, dogmas and doctrines.

Endorsements

“Patterns of Creation” brings the reader into the creative power of the present. Written with great clarity and considerable scholarship, this book achieves its aim, that of awakening the reader to a greater awareness of the spiritual consciousness that exists in each of us, enfolding us within the greater circle of life of which so many people are largely unaware.

Natasha Hoffman, Author, with Hamilton Hill, of Let the Standing Stones Speak (O-Books)

The author’s overarching perspective and focus is the ceaseless unfolding of being into becoming, through the Logos itself; and that the “perennial wisdom” must be constantly experienced and enacted if it is to bear fruit. His words have real substance, and a clarity and simplicity that enhances the content of the book and makes it readily accessible to a wide audience. I believe this is a much-needed book with a much-needed message that will not disappoint, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Ingrid Walton  MA Lit. Hum. (Oxon.); Dip. Information Science (City) Translator of Classical Greek and Latin texts.

“Steve Pope is a marvelous Teacher, Scholar and Mystic. This book provides a modern way of approaching ancient Biblical texts and a practical roadmap to spiritual awakening. Through clear and penetrating insights, Steve helps the reader discover the deeper meaning hidden in the western mystical teachings.” 

Rev. Dr. Megan Wagner, PhD, Author ofThe Sapphire StaffProvost and Director of Spiritual Psychology at The Chaplaincy Institute in California, USA.

Reviews

This is a serious text on a serious subject and as such it is not light reading but you don’t have to be a Kabbalist to appreciate this really fascinating and enlightening book. Nor do you need to be particularly religious. All you really need is to want to understand more about the truth of existence. So often when I’ve looked at the Bible and struggled to put meaning to the stories, I’ve wished I had a teacher who could help me, using language I was familiar with. This book does just that and more. It goes far beyond explanations, allowing you, through the guided meditations to actually experience the teachings of the Gospel of John in a direct and personal way. It does this within the framework of the Kabbalah and The Tree of Life, showing you in an accessible way, how the two are intertwined. It truly brought the teachings to life for me and that is far more than I had hoped for when I began reading. There is so much information in this for anyone wanting answers and the stories, when explained, contain so much wisdom. It really is teaching at its very best.    Sara Geller (reviewer for Goodreads.)

Subtitled ‘Logos and the tree of life in the Gospel of John’, this remarkable and profound work takes the understanding of the gospel to a new level. The author is a practicing mystic in the Kabbalistic tradition and also a translator of Greek and Hebrew texts. This scholarship comes through very clearly in the text and commentary. The Logos is understood as the essence and unity of Life, and is designed to awaken the reader to the greater consciousness that exists at the core of our being. To this end, the author provides not only a narrative illustrated geometrically with the tree of life, but also a series of meditations to help the reader enter more deeply into the meaning of the gospel and the stillness within. The later chapters explore union with God in the symbol of death and resurrection, and there is a fascinating separate chapter on the historical background to the text. Some readers will know that the Gospel of John is the esoteric gospel and that it is not meant to be taken literally, as many fundamentalists have done. There is also a chapter on the symbolism of the Kabbalah and a full translation from the Greek of the first two chapters of the gospel. Readers interested in deepening their knowledge of the Gospel of John should make a careful and contemplative study of this book.

The Scientific and Medical Network (United Kingdom).

Steve Pope’s book has been many years in the writing – I’ve been lucky to have known Steve for more than 20 years now and have attended some of his workshops. This has been a true labour of love. The end result is more than worth it. Steve has taken the entire prologue of the Gospel of John and translated it in the mystical terms that most likely would have been used at the time (when the oral tradition was much stronger than the written one – 95% of people did not read or write).  Together with these beautiful translations, Steve has placed the teaching fairly and squarely in the 21st century, showing us how ancient wisdom is still valid in the modern world. He also includes simple meditations. It shows that the teaching of Jesus (and the mystical teaching of the time) is all-embracing AND it shows it with Biblical text and translation. This is incredibly valuable in the modern world where the fundamentalist will quote the Bible at the spiritual believer. Without wishing to encourage ‘Bible tennis’ it is wonderful to have contemporary but clear alternative translations to work with. The book takes a wider brief than just the prologue – giving a clear and concise view of the life and times of the people who wrote the Bible, and a sensible and not over-complicated guide to the Kabbalistic tradition. I won’t give it away, because the whole book is worth reading, but Steve’s translation of Jesus’ ‘well-known phrase, ‘I am the way the truth and the life…’ made me go ‘Yes!’ and feel a tremendous sense of relief and joy. Highly recommended.

Maggy Whitehouse, (Author of Kabbalah made easy. Axis Mundi Books)