It's common for a wisdom story to contain levels of meaning from the most literal/factual to the most hidden/mystical.
In the Jewish tradition, there are names for these levels of meaning – the most literal/factual being Pshat, the most hidden/mystical being Sod.
And it seems to me that the problem with our post-enlightenment/western world is that we’ve grown to so value the literal/factual levels of meaning that when a wisdom story doesn’t resonate at that level, we dig no farther. When fish who eat people and women who become salt and men who built arks and rabbis who traverse water and gods who destroy worlds fail to raise the needle on our collective good sense meter, we dig no farther. In fact, in increasing numbers, we discard the stories altogether.
Our post-enlightenment/western world has grown to frown upon all that cannot be charted on a graph, weighed on a scale or measured with a ruler. I’m reminded of the old saying often attributed to Einstein, that says everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid.
And so it is with our wisdom stories. Our post-enlightenment/western world has grown to so frown upon all that cannot be charted on a graph, weighed on a scale or measured with a ruler, that we dig no further, inadvertently assigning these helpful, insightful, transformative, powerful tools as stupid fish in a tree climbing world.
Church is dying, you see, not because our wisdom stories lack appropriate wisdom. Church is dying because our wisdom seekers lack appropriate vision.
So, at literal/factual levels of understanding, our wisdom stories tend to exist as history or prophecy or artistry or fantasy or poetry alone. But at deepest levels of understanding, our wisdom stories come to exist as autobiography as well. At deepest levels of understanding, Dorothy’s trek to Oz and back comes to be experienced as your trek. At deepest levels of understanding, Rocky Balboa’s capacity to believe against unthinkable odds comes to be experienced as your capacity to believe.
And so it is that as we approach the Judeo-Christian Bible, the same applies. It’s undeniable that Unity Cofounders Myrtle and Charles Fillmore stood with countless other metaphysically-minded interpreters and teachers and our mystical/esoteric Christian and our Jewish/Kabbalist brother and sisters in encouraging us to pursue the deeper meanings of the Judeo-Christian Bible and to reveal its wisdom as autobiography.
It’s counter-intuitive, I know, that you would read a message such as this only to have the writer encourage you to ask, “Yeah, but what’s in this for me?” And yet, that’s exactly what I’m asking you to do because I’m asking you to start digging again. I’m asking you to look beyond outer factuality for inner truth.
So, I’ve wanted to do some meditation on the creation stories from the Judeo-Christian tradition. And there are two. The first is often called the “Priestly Version” and it was written around the time of the Hebrews return to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile, long before the time of Jesus. Understand that the early Hebrews were forever subjugated to one empire or another; that that their periods of freedom were fleeting.
So, because I know only that the first was written around the time of the return, I cannot say whether this arose from a consciousness that was exhausted and desperate, a consciousness that was determined and hopeful or a consciousness that was joyous and free. I cannot say whether this arose from a consciousness that was at an end, in a process or at a beginning.
It’s a good question for your meditations, perhaps. What was the consciousness from which this story arose? I have some opinions of my own, of course.
Nonetheless, I’ve wanted to do some meditation on the first of the creation stories; so I invite you to take the journey with me into what our metaphysically-minded interpreters and teachers and our mystical/esoteric Christian and our Jewish/Kabbalist brothers and sisters would offer as seven stages of creativity; not a creativity having to do with seas, trees and bees springing into being overnight, but a creativity having to do with living life in a modern world.
Now, before we get into the seven days themselves – starting next week with what it might mean in your life to say, “Let there be light,” there’s something of a prologue that deserves our attention.
And that prologue offers, “In the beginning, God created.”
Now, when one has a Rabbi Ted Falcon in one’s audience, I’m sure you can understand that a certain humility is appropriate when pressing into any conversation about the Hebrew language. It reminds me of that summer I took acting classes with Meryl Streep. Even so, what I would have you know is that Hebrew (and all Semitic languages) are wildly imprecise languages, leaving a great deal to be inferred from context, tone and so forth.
I imagine this is why Rabbi Ted has said something to the effect that all translation is interpretation.
Point being that while the King James version of your collection of writings offers, “In the beginning, God created,” you deserve to know that this is merely one of a number of possible translations from the original Hebrew through the Greek into English.
The Hebrew word from which beginning is derived shares a root with the Hebrew word from which head (meaning the physical head) is derived. So, another possible translation is that “In the head, God created,” which is really quite rich, don’t you think? I mean think about it: It’s in perfect keeping with the common teaching that everything is created twice – first in thought, and second in form.
Another possible translation is something akin to, “When in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (which is another way of saying, “When in the beginning when God created everything”) the earth was untamed and shapeless,” at which point our passage becomes less about creating worlds and more about establishing order from chaos or bringing form to potential.
So, having acknowledged the fragility of translation, I suggest for our purposes today a translation that goes something like this, “In the beginning of creation, God.”
Now, I can work with this. I can work with this because, while I may not know you personally, I do know a thing or two about you. I do know there is that which would be brought forth from you.
Perhaps there is a healing which would be brought forth.
Perhaps there is a dream which would be brought forth.
Perhaps there is an entirely new self which would be brought forth.
I know there is that which would be brought forth from you because you are a dynamic being exploring an infinite universe. I know there is that which would be brought forth from you because you can’t help it.
You do not long for more because you are greedy, you see. You long for more because you are creative!
And yet, if you’re like me, God is seldom where you start.
If you’re like me, statistics might be where you start. “Well, you know – I’m of a certain age now,” is one of its voices. Or, “Well, you know – this is what the experts say.” Or, “Well, you know – that’s never been done by one of my ________ (fill-in-the-blank).”
And if not statistics, how about those fears. “But what if I fail?” and, “But what will they think?” and, “But what if I’m wrong,” are among its voices. What if I’m wrong – that’s a big one for me. It might even be the voice of fear that sneaks in to hiss, “But what if I succeed?”
And, of course, there is the history. “Well, you know – my father tried it and failed, and his father before him tried it and failed, and his father before him tried it and failed,” and so forth. All-too-often we launch into a diatribe that would leave anthropomorphic God snorting himself awake, pretending to listen.
My favorite place of all to start is my bloated self-righteousness – what I believe to be true, what I believe to be effective and what I believe to be necessary. My favorite place to start is my egotistical knowingness. It’s voice sounds like, “Yeah, but I know what that costs, yeah, but I know what that requires,” and on and on and on.
And yet, my chosen translation of the prologue reminds us, “In the beginning of creation, God.” It doesn’t say, “In the beginning of creation do a statistical analysis.” It doesn’t say, “In the beginning of creation seek a life coach.” It doesn’t say, in the beginning of creation forgive your past or assemble your resources,” although each of these has its place.
In short, it doesn’t say, “In the beginning of creation, contract. It doesn’t say, “When you’re standing at the threshold of bringing forth that which is within you, dwell upon your human limitations.”
It says, “In the beginning of creation, expand.” It says, “When you’re standing at the threshold of bringing forth that healing or that dream or an entirely new self, dwell upon your divine possibilities.”
Quantum theory suggests that were you able to see the basic building blocks of the you whom you see in the mirror, you would not see localized matter locked in space and time, but infinite energy limited by nothing at all.
You see, Newtonian physics told us the universe and everything in it is something of a giant machine operating in accord with earthly laws. Quantum physics tells us the universe and everything in it is something of a giant idea operating in accord with far finer laws.
I have to wonder if the revelations of the mystics and the findings of the scientists aren’t saying the same thing: There is an infinite is-ness in which we live, move and have our being.
And perhaps the first step in more consciously unleashing your power is offered in the prologue when it says, in the beginning of creation, think about that. In the beginning of creation, turn from habitual contraction to audacious expansion. In the beginning of creation, become a vessel for higher possibility by dwelling in higher possibility. In the beginning of creation, give yourself over to the feeling of the thing completed. In the beginning of creation, delight in the possible you.
Oh, you are so much more than you think you are. You are a mystical, magical being wielding the very power of the universe in your fingertips.
And perhaps the first step in more consciously unleashing your power is offered in the prologue when it says, in the beginning of creation, God.