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Tree of Life
In the story of Genesis 2:9 this is a sacred tree planted in the Garden of Eden, representing eternal life.
When Adam and Eve eat from the forbidden tree of knowledge, they are cast away from the tree of life and become mortal.
For conservative Christians, only through the redemption of Jesus Christ does mankind regain everlasting life.
The tree of life was a popular symbol in the ancient world, appearing on seals, reliefs, pottery and literature. It forms an important prelude for aspirants in the mystical tradition of the Kabbala. Hindu mythology ascribes all sorts of magical properties to different trees. And the Buddha is said to have gained enlightenment under a bodhi tree.
Some Christian theologians say that non-Christian precursors and parallels to Jewish and Christian stories and symbols does not indicate that all stories are just myths of equal value, an idea forwarded by figures like Joseph Campbell and sometimes by the psychiatrist C. G. Jung.
Instead, traditional Christian theologians usually say that non-Christian symbols act as a kind of rough and abstract “blueprint” for the perfect manifestation of God’s true revelation–i.e. the Christian Bible, the Word Made Flesh, and so on.
Not surprisingly, this reasoning has been critiqued and debated from various angles.
Add more, fix errors, suggest edits or voice your opinion by commenting
According to Buddhist legend, the Bodhi Tree the tree under which the seated Buddha-to-be resolved to find Truth.
Apparently the future Buddha was first pursued by demons and then received what he believed were heavenly visions.
Rejecting both as temporary and unreal, he attained Nirvana, which for him and his followers is the ultimate, true and unchanging reality.
The term Bodhi Tree also refers to a number of trees that Buddists believe are descendents from the original Bodhi Tree. Wikipedia explains:
The Bodhi tree at the Mahabodhi Temple is called the Sri Maha Bodhi. According to Buddhist texts the Buddha, after his Enlightenment, spent a whole week in front of the tree, standing with unblinking eyes, gazing at it with gratitude.¹
Buddhists preach about non-detachment and anatman (no-self) and yet, like adherents of most other religions, tend to venerate a whole series of ritualistic objects, from this kind of tree to well-kept rock gardens. In fact, one could argue that some Buddhist monasteries – not unlike some Christian monasteries – appear more like well-funded middle class havens instead of a place where any kind of real letting go of worldly things occurs.
That would be fine if admitted as such. But the sanctimonious preaching about renunciation that often comes from these places sometimes seems facile and, perhaps, a touch hypocritical.
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- March 18, 2013 Critical Commentary: THE HOLY BODHI LEAF AT MAHABODHI TEMPLE (worldreligionnews.wordpress.com)
- Under the Bodhi Tree (lifeisavacation.wordpress.com)
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In Jewish and Christian belief, based on the book of Genesis 2-3, Eden [Hebrew Eden: delight, pleasure] is the garden of paradise in which God first created mankind.
According to the Bible story, the first humans were vegetarians. God allowed them to eat of any fruit in the garden, except the fruit from the tree of knowledge (either an apple or a pomegranate).
Later in the Bible story, after the disobedience and expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden, God gives his chosen people (the Israelites) prohibitions concerning which meats are permissible to eat and which are not.
In the Book of Ezekiel Eden symbolizes Israel’s promised redemption after being in exile.
Eden is also mentioned in the Koran. And a rough parallel to Eden is found in the Sumerian Dilmun, a mythological place where everyone lives forever and never gets sick nor dies.
- The Garden of Eden: Between two trees (onedaringjew.wordpress.com)
- Bible Challenge – “GARDEN OF EDEN” (pjsprayerline.blogspot.com)
- Eden – The First Earth-Home (brakeman1.com)
- How Long Were Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden? (jeffandcindy.wordpress.com)
- It’s official – Adam and Eve, er, weren’t. (wellthisiswhatithink.wordpress.com)
Genesis (Hebrew Bereshit = “In the beginning”) is the first book of the Bible, containing the two different versions of the Jewish and Christian the creation story. Among other things, Genesis tells the tale of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah’s Ark, and God’s involvement with the apparently chosen people, the Israelites.
Although Genesis is the first book to appear in the Bible’s collection of different books, scholars say it’s not the oldest written biblical material. The following is a transcription of the first few verses of Genesis:
1:1 In the beginning God created heaven and earth.
Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve’et ha’arets.
1:2 The earth was without form and empty, with darkness on the face of the depths, but God’s spirit moved on the water’s surface.
Veha’arets hayetah tohu vavohu vechoshech al-peney tehom veruach Elohim merachefet al-peney hamayim.
1:3 God said, ‘There shall be light,’ and light came into existence.
Vayomer Elohim yehi-or vayehi-or.
1:4 God saw that the light was good, and God divided between the light and the darkness.
Vayar Elohim et-ha’or ki-tov vayavdel Elohim beyn ha’or uveyn hachoshech.¹
The author of Genesis was traditionally thought to be Moses. But modern scholarship looks to several different anonymous sources, and academic theories are always changing as to why and how this book came about.
Genesis is also the name of an English progressive rock group which recorded the notable album, Selling England by the Pound (1973), along with other, arguably less achieved albums like The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974).
The band’s mature sound was, for the most part, complex and introspective (some nicknamed the band “Genesnooze”) but they remain an important influence in the history of rock.
The band also spawned commercially successful solo careers for Peter Gabriel and drummer/vocalist Phil Collins. When Gabriel left the band in 1975, the remainder of Genesis (with Collins taking up lead vocals) began to produce more radio-friendly singles. But some hard core Genesis fans felt that the departure of Gabriel left behind a watered down, flimsy remnant of the “real” Genesis.
The Genesis space probe was launched by NASA in 2001 to study and collect samples of solar winds. It was the first spacecraft to return material to Earth since the Apollo missions.
Unfortunately the Genesis recovery parachute malfunctioned. So in 2004 the probe crash landed in Utah, resulting in the loss of some otherwise valuable data.
Genesis I is the name of an experimental space habitat launched by an American firm in 2006.
The habitat is inflatable, making launch easier due to its initial deflated diameter of 1.6 metres. Fully expanded, the Genesis I measures 4.4 by 2.54 metres.
¹ Source » http://bible.ort.org/books/torahd5.asp
- Peter Gabriel (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Genesis 10 (newwestminsterchapel.wordpress.com)
- The Genesis of Modern Psychology (dirteaters.wordpress.com)
- Genesis 1:16-19 (biblicaljournal.wordpress.com)
- Genesis 1-3: History or Allegory? (ldstalk.wordpress.com)
- Genesis 11 (newwestminsterchapel.wordpress.com)
Abraham Abulafia (born 1240) says that unlike Old Testament prophets, who passively experience different degrees of God‘s light through grace, the meditating Kabbalist consciously ascends through levels of light to the final realization of God.
Not unlike the Hindu mystics and their beliefs about Sanskrit, Kabbalist mystics believe that the Hebrew letters are both physical and spiritual. The three primordial Kabbalist letters (aleph , mem and shin) are said to contain all of the potential elements of the universe.
Because all Kabbalist letters are ruled by angels, when pronounced properly, a single letter is said to evoke its corresponding angel. And merely writing a Hebrew character apparently can transport the mind to a higher sphere.
While the Zoharic school of Kabbala advocates contemplation of various spheres within a ‘cosmic tree,’ Abulafaria says this is only a prelude to the contemplation of Names, leading to the Divine Name.
Abulafaria openly defies the chain of secrecy that has been maintained for centuries by previous Masters. In the Light of Intellect he claims to have been the first to bring this wisdom to the ordinary person (to include non-Jews), making him popular among Jews and Christians alike.
He also warns his students against the false meditation manuals found in the Middle Ages, which aimed at worldly power through magic.
The most prominent Kabbalist, Israel ben Eleazer, a.k.a. the Baal Shem Tov (Master of the Holy Name), further popularized Jewish-based mysticism, making it universally accessible.
The Baal Shem Tov founded what is now called Hasidic mysticism. Following his example, the Hasidim democratized the Torah, delivering it from privileged scholars to the ordinary person.
As for the dangers of the Kabbalist mystical quest, Perle Epstein is worth quoting at length:
Kabbalists who uttered God’s Names and altered their breathing patterns were making use of the third rung of the soul’s ladder, the breath which tied them to the spiritual world. By binding himself mentally to a specific ‘spiritual being,’ the Kabbalist could either elevate himself further (as Abufalia taught) or he could obtain significant information about the future. This second practice was dangerous, for it often resulted in making contact with shedim, demonic beings who altered and confused the meditator’s mind. Along this path lay the danger of insanity. The ‘breath,’ or third level of soul, was therefore regarded as a two-edged sword. Only utmost purity of purpose assured the Kabbalist safe passage to the next rung. But spontaneous ecstasy would occur here, too-a condition in which the mystic, without any conscious effort, might find himself flooded with a rush of divine bliss. Yet even this level of ‘divine inspiration’ was not really considered true ‘prophecy.’¹
¹ Perle Epstein, Kabbalah: the way of the Jewish mystic, Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, 1978, p. 143.
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M. H. Abrams says that at the most fundamental level a symbol is anything that signifies something else.
Abrams also notes that a distinction is often made between the public and private symbol. The public symbol, such as the cross, is apparently understood by everyone in a given culture whereas the private symbol, such as an obscure poetic allusion, isn’t.
This distinction, however, seems open to debate: Surely not everyone in a given culture interprets the cross in the same way.
In literature a symbol is
a word or phrase that signifies an object or event which in turn signifies something, or suggests a range of reference, beyond itself (A Glossary of Literary Terms, 2005, p. 320).
In depth psychology, Carl Jung says the symbol is a meaningful image that mediates healing or destructive forces from the collective unconscious to ego consciousness–for example, the symbol of the Cross or Serpent.
Jung says symbols arise from the unknowable archetypes but are recognized as archetypal images. Archetypes interpenetrate among themselves; likewise, archetypal images are discrete but exhibit similarities. For Jung the flow of psychic energy between the collective unconscious and the symbol is a two-way process.
Jungian Erich Neumann says that the symbol acts as both as an “energy transformer” and as a “moulder of consciousness.” As an energy transformer the symbol facilitates the ego’s experience of the numinous, arising from the collective unconscious. As a moulder of consciousness, the symbol operates on the level of collective consciousness by contributing to the ideology of a given culture.
Jung says the interconnected conscious and unconscious aspects of humanity cannot be severed. He’s widely quoted as saying in The Undiscovered Self (1958):
You can take away a man’s gods, but only to give him others in return.
Likewise, political leaders of the mass state cannot avoid being glorified or demonized. This occurs through brute force, clever calculation and also through public fascination and projection.
Jung believes, for example, that a mass-produced placard image of Joseph Stalin expresses an archetypal force articulated on the conscious level that both sways and oppresses individuals.
A more contemporary example would be the disempowering psychological effect that massive bank towers (symbolizing ‘Big Business’) have on the poor and disenfranchised. And in ancient cultures such as Greece, Rome and Egypt, impressive architecture apparently had a similar effect on slaves, the exploited, the underprivileged and on less powerful visitors from foreign cultures.
» Abyss, Agape, Alchemy, Anima, Animus, Atlantis, Censor, Cirlot (J. E.), Cylons, Dean (James), Death and Resurrection , Denotation, Dreams, Eden, Ego, Eleusinian Mysteries, Eucharist, Felix culpa, Geertz (Clifford James), Goddess vs. goddess, Hero, Individuation Process, Jonah, Kraken, Kundalini, Labyrinth, Language, Mandala, Mead (George Herbert), Miracles, Object, Psychoid, Pyramids, Square Cross, Sublimation, Theosophy, Totem, Transubstantiation, Tree of Life, World Tree
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Hieronymus Bosch (Originally Jerome van Aken, 1450-1516) was a Catholic Painter from the Netherlands born in Hertogenbosch. Later in life he was suspected of heresy, which is not surprising, considering the times and the nature of much of his work.
Bosch’s depictions of demons and hell are horridly convincing, perhaps enough to compel some of the most hardened of sinners to repent and pray.
The contemporary treatment of Bosch’s work is illustrative. Prestigious art galleries display his frightening and gruesome representations without any public protest while fundamentalist and conservative religious persons point to the alleged debauchery and danger in rock and rap music videos, seeing these as indicative of a decline in cultural morality.
This arguably is a form of hypocrisy and, perhaps, racism against black rappers. In any case, it illustrates how societies, or certain aspects of a given society, can be arbitrary and selective when pointing the proverbial finger.
Many people don’t realize that representing evil doesn’t necessarily mean that an artist (or writer) advocates evil. In fact, C. G. Jung argued the opposite. Jung believed that evil left unrepresented or “swept under the rug” just reemerges in equally disgusting forms—a point that many religious persons and pillars of society sometimes overlook.¹
Among Bosch’s most popular works are The Garden of Earthly Delights (in the Prado) and the Temptation of St Anthony (at Lisbon). Bosch also had a noticeable impact on Surrealism.
Interestingly enough, there’s ongoing debate over how many of Bosch’s works were actually created by Bosch. He only signed seven works and art scholars agree on a mere 25 that they believe can be attributed to him. Many other works once thought to be Bosch’s are now thought to be those of his followers and imitators, his style being hugely influential.
¹ A similar dynamic occurred with satirical writings and dialogues of Erasmus (1466 – 1536). Martin Luther denounced Erasmus’ Ten Colloquies and vowed to tell his son not to read them. Even some of Erasmus’ friends and patrons didn’t like some of his work. Craig Thompson notes that, in his defense, Erasmus distinguished between (a) content appropriate for characters and dramatic situations and (b) an author’s actual opinions. See Erasmus, Ten Colloquies, trans. Craig R. Thompson 1986, MacMillan, pp. xxv – xxvii.
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Bodhisattva [Sanskrit bodhi = enlightenment + sattva = existence]
According to Mayhayana Buddhist belief, the bodhisattva is the near enlightened being who forestalls complete enlightenment in order to lead others to a similar state of awareness.
The bodhisattva is said to have seen the proverbial door leading to total enlightenment but waits before entering in order to help others reach that same realization.
Wikipedia elaborates as such:
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva (Sanskrit: बोधिसत्त्व bodhisattva; Pali: बोधिसत्त bodhisatta) is either an enlightened (bodhi) existence (sattva) or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, “heroic-minded one (satva) for enlightenment (bodhi).” The Pali term has sometimes been translated as “wisdom-being,” although in modern publications, and especially in tantric works, this is more commonly reserved for the term jñānasattva (“awareness-being”; Tib. ཡེ་ཤེས་སེམས་དཔའ་་, Wyl. ye shes sems dpa’).
Because the bodhisattva has a sincere desire to lead others to enlightenment (as they understand it), they’re often venerated as a personal savior, which seems a bit ironic considering Buddhists usually claim that ultimate truth is beyond individuals, veneration, status, attachment to others, etc.
- How-to Become a Bodhisattva: (buddhistinsight.com)
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Beatnik is a slightly derogatory, superficial or amusing (depending on how one looks at it) term for those belonging to the 1950s youth subculture called the Beat Generation. In the 1960s the term also described listeners of rock and roll, hippies and those advocating anti-authoritarian lifestyles and social arrangements.
Wikipedia puts it this way:
Beatnik was a media stereotype of the 1950s to mid-1960s that displayed the more superficial aspects of the Beat Generation literary movement of the 1950s and violent film images, along with a cartoonish depiction of the real-life people and the spiritual quest in Jack Kerouac‘s autobiographical fiction.
The beatniks wore unconventional dress, hairstyles, imbibed in psychotropic drugs and listened to jazz and bebop. Among Beat writers Jack Kerouac (On the Road, Dharma Bums), William S. Burroughs‘s Naked Lunch (1959) and poet Allen Ginsberg reigned supreme.
The first line from Ginsberg’s “Howl” (1955) epitomizes the dark side of the Beat Generation:
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters, burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.
From this, it seems a bit simplistic to suggest the Beatnik culture was an entirely positive spiritual quest. From a Catholic perspective, illegal drug use rarely, if ever, culminates in genuine spirituality. It might represent a stage a seeker passes through before coming to a place where he or she can appreciate an experience of true grace and holiness later in life. But drug use, itself, arguably messes with the mind (and brain) and obscures the pure spirituality of the Holy Spirit.
On the other hand, it would be equally simplistic to entirely dismiss the insights and societal benefits that came out of the movement. Like anything, one has to sift through the entire phenomenon to discern the good from the bad.
I Feel Like Saying A Beatnik Poem 1950′s B Movie Style
On the World Wide Web:
The Beatniks (video, 1960)
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Corinthians, I and II are letters written by St. Paul to the early Christian community in Corinth. Corinth was the city of Aphrodite, where temples of various Greek deities could be found.
It seems that Paul was concerned about members of the Christian community becoming too individualistic in their faith. Paul emphasizes the ‘body’ of the community, a body with many members. As such, each member has different gifts but belongs to a single body. And those gifts are meaningless if not rooted in unselfish love.
Paul stresses the importance of either unmarried celibacy or married sex, the former being more desirable. Everything else is regarded as sinful. He warns against falling back into idolatry, perhaps due to the community’s precarious location.
Toward the end of the second letter Paul defends himself, Titus and another ‘brother’ against allegations of fraud. Some in the community had voiced concerns that the collection money intended for Jerusalem would be pocketed.
On this point Mike adds:
Something you didn’t mention about 2 Corinthians is that because of the need to defend himself Paul has to describe his ministry. » See in context
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