WHAT IS DANCE OF ECSTASY
Dance of Ecstasy is several things. First, it is a literary detective story, complete with elusive characters, hidden mysteries, secret keys, elaborate riddles, misleading clues and deliberate misinformation. Second, it is the analysis of a remarkable work of hellenistic literature dating to the end of the 1st century C.E. or beginning of the 2nd, which was the product of multiple motives and conflicting ideas, and containing multiple layers of meaning. Third, it is the comparison of that hellenistic work to others of apparently similar content and purpose, produced more or less contemporaneously, and in some cases afterwards, in India. Fourth, it is an attempted reconstruction of a theory of consciousness upon which that ancient work was in part based, although in a concerted effort to repress all evidence of the existence of that theory. And finally, it is an attempt to demonstrate the relevance of that theory of consciousness, as well as it can be known from the fragments that survive, to all human beings in all times, including, and perhaps especially, our own.
I think you will find that Dance of Ecstasy presents compelling evidence for new and exciting answers to the perennial questions: Who am I? What am I? What is going on here? You will find that these new answers challenge popular understanding of the nature of life, human experience, existence, consciousness, and sexuality. The radical reappraisal of these matters may shock some and anger others. Many will be simply incredulous. Yet, I hope you will find the evidence offered in Dance of Ecstasy as thoroughly convincing as it may be controversial.
Many hellenistic gnostic sects of the first and second centuries claimed to possess secret teachings and esoteric secrets. While few scholars have seriously thought that the sect which came to be called Christianity also did so, in The Apocalypse Unsealed, published in 1910, James Morgan Pryse exposed the presence of a secret teaching and laid bare its thoroughly gnostic content. If Pryse is correct, and I present the evidence that I think proves he is, then ironically orthodox Christianity, while bitterly opposing its gnostic competitors, preserved inadvertently within its own canon of sacred scriptures one of the most important gnostic documents ever penned! According to Pryse, the key to reading that hidden document lies in the numerical values of certain key Greek words used in the final book of the Christian testament, the Apocalypse. With a turn of its numerical key, what is revealed hidden within the Apocalypse is a gnostic manual of personal realization and conquest of death, as distinct from the orthodox Christian path to salvation as night from day.
Following Pryse, Dance of Ecstasy attempts to reveal the sources from which the gnostic authors derived their esoteric teaching. Textural evidence within the Apocalypse itself leads Dance of Ecstasy to conclude that the author or authors had access to other material in addition to the Greek and Vedic sources Pryse followed. Although the gnostic authors strove to disguise this other source material, usurp and corrupt its meaning when necessary and eradicate it wherever possible in the text, they could not remove all the clues to its presence. Again, ironically, in their efforts to preserve surreptitiously their own vision of existence, the gnostic authors inadvertently preserved within the text evidence of what appears to be a remarkable and holistic theory of human consciousness different in fundamental ways to their own. Fragments of this additional source, hidden within the Apocalypse under a gnostic veil of anagrams, riddles, misleading allusions and metaphysical accretions, suggest it is a comprehensive treatise on human consciousness and sexuality. Stripped of gnostic overlays and disguise, this source reveals itself and its methods tantalizingly as a sort of "proto" – tantric path to what in that Indian metaphysical system is termed "self realization."
Dance of Ecstasy concludes that the misconstrued "God" of Christian orthodoxy, as well as the "immortal vehicle" of gnosis, corresponds closely to the "self" as defined by tantric theory of every individual man and woman. The conscious realization of that self is the "kingdom within" to which all are summoned. Dance of Ecstasy presents the evidence for this conclusion and discusses the methodologies through which self realization can be sought. Dance of Ecstasy concludes further that the path to self realization is based firmly and ultimately upon an ancient, non-dual and life-affirming theory of consciousness that apparently predates Christianity and Indian tantra by many centuries and upon its methodology of the male/female love/sex relationship. I have dubbed this theory of human consciousness the Metaphysic of Ecstasy.
Dance of Ecstasy reveals clearly the complete complementarity of the meanings hidden within the Apocalypse, Indian metaphysics in general and that specific branch of it called tantra. I think you will find the correspondences and the parallels beyond doubt. The consequences for orthodox Christianity are, of course, enormous. Stripped of its theistic and soteriologic pretensions, orthodox Christianity is exposed, at worst, as an historical lie perpetrated by unscrupulous enablers and their unsuspecting dupes. At best, it is a childishly anthropomorphic interpretation of a profound psychological system. Instead of a theistic god "out there" to be placated, there is rather a realization of one's real nature "in here". Instead of reward or punishment after death, there is only now to be lived to the fullest.
As far as I know, Dance of Ecstasy presents the most detailed, rigorous and concise comparison between the metaphysical teachings hidden within the Apocalypse and Indian metaphysics ever attempted, explaining the differences between the ideas espoused by the gnostics and the theory of consciousness proposed by the Metaphysic of Ecstasy. Dance of Ecstasy demonstrates that the Metaphysic of Ecstasy is profoundly psychological and shares the broad pathway of tantric methodologies and metaphysical speculation. Dance of Ecstasy examines in detail the correlations between Indian tantra and the theory of consciousness of the Metaphysic of Ecstasy, explaining the ways that tantra preserves elements of the theory. And finally, Dance of Ecstasy illuminates how corruptions were introduced by systems of tantra.
You may judge for yourself how successfully I have accomplished this task.
Of course, the fundamentalist and literalist Christian generally accepts the New Testament Apocalypse as an accurate record of visions actually seen by its alleged author on the island of Patmos. The critical Christian scholar, on the other hand, has always found the meaning and interpretation of these visions a serious problem; quite simply, how does one reconcile faith and belief with credibility and reality? Most of this stuff when taken literally is just outrageous.
To the unbiased modern reader the fantastic setting of the book, macabre images, and the death and destruction at the hands of God seem farfetched. At best the book seems a farce, like some rather primitive and grotesque pseudo-science fiction fantasy. At worst, it seems the pathological and deranged outpouring of a religious bigot and fanatic. Yet, despite its visionary and bizarre superficial appearance, James Pryse shows clearly that the Apocalypse is a rather straight forward textbook. The subject matter is abstruse but, as Pryse proves, the presentation is logical and orderly from start to finish.
Had the book been written in our own era in undisguised language we would recognise it instantly for what it really is. That is far from being an account of the end of the world, the fantasies of a religious fanatic, or a mere cryptic chronology of political and religious intringue. We would find it rather beside Jung in the psychology section of any well stocked bookstore. For it has everything to do with the study of the human psyche. It has nothing to do with religion or politics, except to expose religion for the superstitious sham that it is; to use the religious and political jargon of first century Essenes and Jewish Zealots, the visionary style of the Hebrew prophets, the format of preceding and contemporary apocalyptic literature, and astrological symbols to diguise its true meanings.
According to Pryse, despite its appearance to the contrary, the Apocalypse is a very coherent whole, symmetrical in its composition, with every detail fitted into its appropriate place; in its clear, orderly arrangement and concise statement the book is a model of precise literary workmanship. But the Apocalypse was composed purposely to confuse and to mystify. It contains a series of elaborate puzzles, some of which are based upon the numerical values of certain Greek words. These key words serve to verify the correct interpretation of the more important symbols in the book. As well, these key words provide the necessary clues for interpreting the remaining symbols. Thus, the book itself contains all of the elements necessary to understand its hidden meaning and to verify the correctness of that understanding; and no recourse to outside sources is necessary to do so.
Christian literalists have failed to solve the various riddles of the Apocalypse only because of their dogged insistence on reading the book simply as a straight forward account. To the literalists there are no riddles! They see only what the book appears to be on the surface and nothing more, insisting that the meaning of the book is simply what their superficial reading can make of it and that there is no hidden meaning or interpretation.
But, as Pryse demonstrates, it takes but little discrimination to recognize clearly that the visionary style of the book is mere artifice. Whatever his reasons, the author utilized symbols and a rather simple yet ingenious cipher to mystify uncritical readers and to disguise the real meaning of his work. The author's cipher continues to mislead the literalists and to protect the hidden message from the ignorant and sentimental churchmen into whose keeping he entrusted it. For two millennia the orthodox have treasured and revered this, to them, incomprehensible text. They have even enshrined the Apocalypse in their canon of sacred scriptures, a place of reverence to which it above all their sacred books is entitled.
Yet this mysterious, metaphysical treatise remains elusive and totally baffling to the orthodox. The author apparently knew that if the narrow minded and literal understood the true meaning of the Apocalypse they would most certainly have destroyed it. They would never have permitted its hidden message to see the light of day, since to do so would initiate the beginning of the end of their church and the messianic politics that instituted it.
Indeed, the Apocalypse was written for the undoing of that very church which has so carefully preserved it through these many centuries! It was written for the undoing of literalism and fundamentalism. It was written for the undoing of religion and theocracy. Furthermore, the author used the churchmen's own superstition to ensure that in their messianic zeal they would not tamper with the text and thus inadvertently corrupt the secret message hidden within it! And preserve it faithfully they have done, more so than any other of their "sacred" books. For this we can thank them.
Conventional biblical criticism has undoubtedly contributed much to tracing the literary and linguistic heritage of the Apocalypse. Its methods, however, have so far proven almost totally useless for understanding anything more than the literal meaning of the text. This results primarily from the religious bias of most of the scholars involved in biblical work. They look only at the literal meaning and ignore anything that leads in directions contrary to their religious orthodoxy. Only lately, due primarily to the controversial theories about the Dead Sea Scrolls published by J. L. Teicher, Robert Eisenman and Barbara Thiering have conventional scholars been compelled to accept that deeper meanings may underlay the literal. Still, no connections to Indian metaphysics are so much as contemplated, let alone examined.
I encourage those who may be so inclined and qualified to pursue the comparisons with Indian ideas and metaphysics examined here in outline in a more detailed and technical manner. Certainly, this will prove a fruitful area of research. Knowledgeable readers are apt to be disappointed in my somewhat brief and superficial discussion of Indian concepts. I apologize for this. It was not my purpose here to elaborate beyond the essentials necessary for an understanding of the hidden meanings of the Apocalypse and to open the door to further investigation.
On the other hand, those readers with little or no background in the Sanskrit or Greek languages or Indian and classical metaphysics may find themselves feeling a bit overwhelmed at times. Rest assured that whenever Sanskrit or Greek terminology is used, the English definitions and descriptions accompany and/or follow them. My intention is to be as clear and concise as possible, not to obscure matters in any way.
Some general readers may wish more background information before making the deep dive. For any interested, I offer the following reading and reference suggestions.
For some serious problems regarding conventional criticism in the light of the CODEX SINIATICUS: Secrets of Mount Sinai. Alternative interpretations in the light of the NAG HAMADI texts: The Gnostic Gospels. Insight into the politics of religious doctrine: Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. Alternative interpretations in light of the QUMRAN texts: Jesus & the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
For a more detailed elucidation of the metaphysic of nonduality and its relevance to Christian doctrines: The Supreme Identity. For an introduction to the inner meanings of Christianity and its symbols: The Masks of God: Creative Mythology; and, The Kingdom Within.
The English meanings of Greek and Sanskrit terms are derived from a number of online lexicons. In very few instances are meanings other than their most commonly agreed upon. Greek text is derived primarily from the Scripture 4 All Greek Interlinear Bible (NT); Elpenor's New Testament, St. John's Revelation and Berry's The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament with Lexicon and Synonyms.
English renditions of biblical texts are derived from the King James Version. For those who might complain that KJV contains many inaccuracies, I point out that all English translations contain inaccuracies due to the failure of the translators to understand the meaning of what they are translating. While more recent English translations may have corrected some of the incorrect transliterations found in KJV, they have introduced additional errors of their own. Finally, in the attempt to render the New Testament in "modern" English, they lack the beauty and readability of KJV.[ What is Dance of Ecstasy ] ~ [ Introduction ]
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