3.1 THE SOURCE

In my quest for method I arrived ultimately, and to my great surprise, at a new and deeper understanding of the Apocalypse. This new view differs dramatically from that expressed in the Apocalypse Unsealed by James Pryse.

In addition, and again quite unexpectedly, I discovered that the intermediate and esoteric level of meaning of the Apocalypse as detailed by James Pryse misconstrues this deeper, more subtle level. It does so deliberately and consistently. Of this fact there remains no doubt.

Clearly, the superficial, literal interpretation of the orthodox church fully misconstrues the inner meaning of the Apocalypse as described by Pryse. It takes as literal history matters that should be understood as symbols and sees as symbols matters that are really literal truths.

So too, in its own way the intermediate and esoteric level of understanding interpreted by Pryse disguises the more fundamental source material from which it constructs its specific metaphysical doctrine! But this misconstruction takes place on a very subtle and profound level. For what we see here is a clash between two distinct and very contradictory metaphysical systems. The latter system supplanted the earlier, but in the process attempted to take as its own the world view and truths expressed by the earlier, simply adulterating them to suit its purposes.

In my journey of discovery I encountered plain evidence of the suppression of the earlier source by that which came after. I found the unmistakeable evidence of systematic replacement and inversion of meaning. I saw the subversion of symbols and the metaphysical truths they embody.

I have described the hidden source material of the Apocalypse as the metaphysic of ecstasy. This ancient metaphysic expresses a subtle teaching more profound, and at the same time, simpler than that which is propounded by the esoteric and intermediate level of the Apocalypse.

The metaphysic of ecstasy is more profound I think, because it presents a more mature perspective on the real nature and the true process of human consciousness. It is simpler because the method it advances, although not easy, is simplicity itself.

Although failing to give even a clue to its particular, esoteric method, as Pryse argues, the Apocalypse reveals a description of the process of human consciousness clearly and completely, and in doing so also reveals the method of the metaphysic of ecstasy hidden within. But it does this only inadvertently.

For if James Pryse has interpreted correctly the meaning and intent of the esoteric, and intermediate, level of the Apocalypse, as doubtless he has, then its author or authors never intended to divulge the method that is advocated in the hidden source of their material. In fact, the esoteric and intermediate level of meaning of the Apocalypse is so totally contrary to the original intention of its source material that its author or authors very obviously exercised great precision and skill in distorting that original source. In fact, they made black into white and white into black.

The metaphysic of ecstasy and its doctrines were rendered very nearly invisible in the reworking that produced the Apocalypse. A great metaphysical system was plagiarized and bowdlerized. With its symbols inverted and its meanings misconstrued, the ancient metaphysic was recast to justify and reinforce the sexist and escapist doctrines of its usurpers.

Unfortunately, the endeavour was successful. That ancient and beautiful metaphysic of love and vulnerability gave way before the violent and authoritarian metaphysic of its destroyers. Until finally it was relegated to the backwaters of history.

With relentless consistency and thoroughness James Pryse demonstrates convincingly that beneath its literal and fanciful facade, the Apocalypse provides the esoteric interpretation of the Christ myth. He shows clearly that it reveals exactly what "Iesous the Christos" really represents. He proves that it explains the nature of the "Devil" and "Satan," and totally repudiates the simplistic concept of an anthropomorphic God. It undermines the edifice of orthodoxy.

But when Pryse writes that, in his interpretation, the Apocalypse "gives the key to that divine Gnosis which is the same in all ages, and superior to all faiths and philosophies,"23 he is only partly correct. Although the Apocalypse, as he interprets it, does furnish the key, the "divine Gnosis" he refers to has not been the same in all ages. The very assertion that it is, is itself the big lie of patriarchal metaphysics, its feeble attempt to legitimize its sexist and escapist world view by claiming that it is really identical to the metaphysic of ecstasy that it overthrew.

The fundamental understanding of metaphysical gnosis as it is expressed by various metaphysical and religious doctrines has not been the same in all ages. Quite the reverse! For the gnosis expressed in the yogic metaphysic of the Apocalypse, and so faithfully deciphered by James Pryse, is not the gnosis of that earlier age from which it copied its material.

Its proponents would like to have us believe that their biased version of metaphysical reality is basically the same as what they forcefully and deceptively overturned. But it is not now nor ever was the same.

The new gnosis of the intermediate Apocalypse is rather a corruption and complete misrepresentation of the older and more affirmative material of the metaphysic of ecstasy. In its patriarchy, the usuper relegated women to the status of mere chattel. It denounced the material world. It elevated mental reverie to the most exalted position. It removed humanity from nature and nature from the divine scheme.

The Apocalypse, at its esoteric and intermediate level of meaning, describes the transformation of the consciousness of its supposed author, John. The task proves monumental in the extreme. For this transformation takes place not only through the course of one, but many incarnations!

By implied correspondence, any other individual who undertakes to follow the same prolonged course of intensive self development and discipline as defined by this new metaphysic will achieve the same transformation. That is the transition to an ultimate state of disembodied perfection and complete emancipation from incarnate, relative existence.

James Pryse writes, "This process of transcendental self conquest, the giving birth to oneself as a spiritual being, evolving from the concealed essence of one's own embryonic nature a self luminous immortal body, is the sole subject matter of the Apocalypse."24

The particular school of esoteric science that James Pryse expresses in the Apocalypse Unsealed has for its goal the liberation of the individual from physical, imperfect existence in the natural world. For that school of esoteric science, human sexuality and the desire for sentient life present the primary obstacles to that great task of self liberation.

That school of thought advocates retreat into a pathologically introverted state of mind as its method. That introverted state of mind is to be achieved by various meditative, physiological and psychological techniques taught very openly in the orient for centuries. Some of these same techniques have been taught secretly in the west for an equally long period.

Granted, this school of esoteric science professes a secret doctrine of personal emancipation. But this esoteric school adheres to, and also shares with orthodox Christianity, a metaphysical system and doctrine that is no secret. Quite the opposite.

Contrary to Pryse's very mistaken assertions otherwise, this shared metaphysical system is itself the "conventional school of thought in the means of acquiring knowledge,"25 that Pryse assails in the Apocalypse Unsealed.

Although it has been under steadily stronger attack since the first days of the Renaissance and the development of experimental method, this doctrine remains the supporting metaphysic of western civilization. It has been the supporting metaphysic of western civilization since long before the classical Greek philosophers first articulated it in the beginning of the fifth century B.C.

Surprising as it may seem this metaphysical system underlies all of the so-called great religions of the world today. This includes Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam as well as every sect of Christianity. The many religions that are based on this metaphysical system differ markedly on the surface. But underneath they are metaphysically the same.

This metaphysical system predates the Hellenic philosophers by at least a millennium and a half or more. In the case of the Indian Vedas, this system dates possibly to as early as the first half of the third millennium B.C. It first appears in India at the time of the Indo European conquest; in the Near East during the early second millennium.

This metaphysic remains all too familiar. It is the primary source of the malaise from which the western world now suffers. It has also been western civilization's most widespread and pernicious export. Thus it is the primary source of the psychological malaise from which the world as a whole suffers.

The western world can not claim to have originated this metaphysic. It apparently had its birth somewhere in the steppes of central or northwest Asia. But in the west it has realized its fullest potential for both psychological and spiritual damage.

It was the philosopher Parmenides of Elea (c 515-475 B.C.) who in the western world first set forth clearly the fundamental tenets of this, then, relatively novel metaphysical system. It was certainly around long before Parmenides. For instance, in the Middle East a long succession of new male deities from the sky, culminating in the brutal introduction of the Yahweh cult among the Hebrews, marks its unmistakable entrance into the western world.

Parmenides, however, succinctly summarizes this metaphysic for us. In his On Nature Parmenides attacks the reality of the changing, physical and sensory world. He makes the claim that the physical world can not be real since it is variable.

Parmenides then condemns any and all differences as illusory. He makes the proposal that fundamental reality can best be described as being wholly invariable. Since all things that are sensory change, his hypothetical fundamental reality must be invisible and intelligible. By this he means that it can be apprehensible only by intellectual abstraction and must remain unavailable to sensory investigation.

For Parmenides, fundamental reality must possess the characteristics of being single, indivisible and totally homogeneous. The multiple, divisible and heterogeneous world of experience pales into illusory insignificance for him.

The philosophy of Parmenides rests on a distinct dualism of reality and appearance. In this view the realm of reality is qualitatively different from the realm of appearance and also superior to it in all respects.

Later, Plato (427-347 B.C.) in the Phaedo, an early work, introduced the concept of the existence of a separate order of abstract or ideal Forms, which possess ontological being. These Plato termed eide. Plato specifically defined these archetypes as being accessible only to the mind and its mental powers of abstraction. He further defined these hypothetical archetypal forms as being more real than any type of evidence offered by the mere senses. Throughout his life, Plato continued to refine this theory of forms.

The chief characteristic of the metaphysic as described by Parmenides and refined by Plato may be summed up briefly as follows. The real world is best known and understood by means of the logical investigation of concepts rather than by empirical experiment and inquiry based on sensory data and evidence.

This reliance upon an exclusively intellectual method for getting at a true understanding of reality follows directly upon a relative distrust of the variable, visible and sensible world. In turn, this basic distrust of the world of the senses leads to the seeking for a reality that is simple, invariable, invisible and intelligible. This invariable reality is assumed to underlie and give rise to the illusory world of the senses. It is accessible only through the abstracting powers of the intellect.

Hope for success in understanding and experiencing reality is based on the assumption of a basic unity of thought and being and of logic and existence. Consequently, only rationally coherent and logically consistent systems of thought can reveal the way the world really is.

Investigation of the world itself as it is perceived by the senses is considered a waste of effort. By its very changeability the world of the senses reveals itself to be illusory, or at best less real than the intelligible world that is perceived by the mind and insignificant in comparison.

If we analyze such a metaphysical doctrine critically we can readily see that it implies psychological immaturity. The seeking for a simple and invariable world suggests strongly the childish attachment to the security of the known environment of mother, father and home.

Furthermore, the immature child fears venturing out from the secure world of its family into the insecure and changing realm of the greater world beyond the immediate family. It resists leaving the family until its own inner and maturing psychological forces drive it out. Or until other circumstances do the job for it.

From the childish perspective, the greater world beyond the immediate family can offer only insecurity. To take on the burden of responsibility for oneself requires a big psychological leap. The child, on the other hand, relinquishes the task of personal responsibility to its parents.

Individuals who remain psychological children even into the chronological age of adulthood substitute state, culture or religion for their parents and thereby continue to avoid taking on the responsibility for their own lives. As I noted earlier, age has nothing to do with maturity.

Like the philosophy of Parmenides and Plato, at the intermediate and esoteric level of understanding of the Apocalypse, the goal is to "rise above" the insecurity of the realm of the senses to the security of the invariable realm of the mind. The mind is regarded as the real man and the mental archetypes regarded as the only reality.

The only real differences between the various esoteric systems, such as Pryse describes and espouses, and the conventional systems of orthodox religion, are methods. The question for all of them is simply this. How is the realization of the perfect mental realm to be brought about? How does one avoid assuming the self responsibility needed to live in the changing world of the senses and phenomena? How does one avoid the necessity of making choices and accepting change? These are the only real questions.

The orthodox faithful await death and God's saving grace to transport them to the promised realm. Theirs is a nearly totally passive transformation. Theirs is the most childish attitude.

The esotericists are slightly more mature in the sense that they at least think that they can hasten the process by their own efforts. They advocate a much more radical transmutation and in the process assume some degree of self responsibility for doing so. They do not sit passively.

The many esoteric systems do not simply await death, as do the orthodox. Indeed, to them death is no liberation at all, but only the next revolution of the wheel of fate that binds them to physical life. They can not escape the variability of the world just by dying. Thus for them suicide is pointless.

Instead, the esotericists attempt to negate their presence in physical existence totally. In their efforts to negate and detach themselves, they even refer to life itself as "death."26 They see the desire for sentient life, the very will to live, as the power that chains man to the wheel of karma and rebirth. Anything that reinforces the will to live or the exuberance of life is viewed by them simply as an obstacle to liberation. Since total and radical detachment is their goal.

Sexual attraction and intercourse appear as the greatest obstacles to "spiritual" growth for the esotericist. As Pryse points out, "there being a direct and intimate relationship and correspondence between the sacred centers in the brain and lower procreative centers, it follows that true spirituality can be attained only when a pure and virtuous life is led; while for the neophyte who would enter upon the telestic labour, the task of giving birth to oneself, perfect celibacy is the first and absolute prerequisite."27

Even though the esoteric schools are more mature than the orthodox and literal religionists, they are so only because their adherents take some responsibility for "saving" themselves. The esotericists, however, are still only attempting to escape the insecurity of the world as it really is.

Instead of accepting the way the world actually is, the esotericist, like the childish adherent of orthodox religion, only wants it the way he or she thinks it ought to be. That is intellectual and secure. The esotericist simply does not believe that death is the way to escape.

Otherwise he would seek death by suicide as the simple way out of this world. The quick ticket back to the spirit.

For this esoteric school of the Apocalypse, true spirituality elicits the "birth from above." What this means is the exercise of an exclusive mental and intellectual masculine domain. This notion naturally opposes its correlate, the false spirituality of "birth from below."28

In addition to the actual physical birth process, the phrase "birth from below" refers also to feelings, sensations, sex and women in general. That it does not refer solely to the supposedly illusory world of the senses is quite apparent from its very emphasis on so-called purity, virtuousness and celibacy.

This supposedly true spirituality involves the "higher" mind (as defined by ancient Greek philosophy), sensibilities, aspirations, and consciousness. These again refer to a supposedly superior male domain of philosophic intellect. In stark contrast, there is much contempt for the "lower" mind (as defined by ancient Greek philosophy) and functions. These refer to the physical body, and its sensory organs and awareness, which are all consigned, with varying degrees of derision, to the supposdly inferior and female arena of existential life.

Escape from the allegedly sex and female engendered prison of the physical body and incarnate existence into a sexless and androgynous immaterial state of being is the goal of esoteric and orthodox doctrine alike. This view conveniently ignores men's sexuality. By it, women are made into mere scapegoats for men's lack of ability to deal effectively with their own sexual drives and needs.

According to this sexist school of thought, it is only through the dire atrophy of certain supposed higher mental faculties that the indivisible spirit has become trapped in physical imperfection. There, the "spirit" is further chained to sentient life by the sexual lust of women, who seduce from it repeatedly its divine creative energy to form more and more bodies that will serve only to enchain more spirit essence to physical imperfection.

If you think I am exaggerating, it is pertinent to note in this matter that a great debate raged for many centuries in Christendom about whether or not women actually possessed souls like men. That they do indeed bear that minimal similarity to men has been resolved only in fairly recent times in many places.

And if you find this fact difficult to accept, ask yourself why, in the final decade of the twentieth century A.D., women still fight for recognition of their equality with men. In a world defined by a patriarchal and sexist metaphysic, women can never be the equal partners of men. There will always be some justification for inequality and subservience.

Trapped in the physical world the indivisible spirit must undergo many lifetimes of suffering before it can learn, mostly by trial and error, how to regain its rightful place in the immaterial, spiritual realm. This entrapment has been brought about by the spirit's ignorance of its true nature. Having recollected is natural state, the spirit must then endure terrible ordeals in order to break its physical shackles and return.

There is no suggestion in this metaphysical view that existence in its entirety might be something good and desirable. Just the opposite, for incarnation in this impermanent and imperfect world is seen as a tragedy.

In the view of this metaphysic, the physical world and nature become the enemy which must be conquered. At best nature and the world become mere playthings and a storehouse of resources, which can be simply used and abused to satisfy the whims and fancies of a detached intellect.

Nature finds no respect here. The interconnectedness of all life and all things is not seen or comprehended. If the world and nature are trampled by man's efforts to use them for his own purposes it is of no consequence. If the world is destroyed by man's attempts to escape it, what does it matter? Nature and the physical universe are flawed and best destroyed anyway.

There is no hint that spiritual might be something akin to physical. Or that the two might have any complementary relationship to one another. Rather the two are viewed as diametrically and irrevocably opposed to one another. They are seen as two opposing forces in a cosmic war whose battlefields are the souls of mankind.

In this metaphysic, each human being thus becomes a "kingdom divided against itself." The inner and invisible spirit wars with the prison of the flesh around it. Psychologically, the intellect wars against the feelings. Sin is invented to subdue and subvert the feelings. Sex, not violence, becomes the worst offence. And since violence fills the inner life, it spills into the outer.

Women, because of their different psychological orientation from men, become the embodiment and scapegoat for all ills. Further, they take the blame for fuelling the fires of sexual desire that keep humanity chained to the wheel of karma and rebirth.

This very lopsidedly escapist and blatantly sexist viewpoint represents the total corruption and misunderstanding of the immensely older metaphysic of ecstasy. This corrupt metaphysic offers only mental reverie and self deception as the ultimate goal of human life.

This monumental misunderstanding provides a ready excuse for any and every exploitation of nature and one's fellow human beings. It fuels the rationale for destructive competition in all endeavours and has brought the human race and the life support systems of the planet earth precariously close to the brink of extinction.

In stunning contrast to the bleak and destructive patriarchal metaphysic, the ancient metaphysic of ecstasy offers construction and equality. It presents a vision of profound simplicity and beauty. It affirms consciousness and life, for they are seen as one and the same, in all its forms. It sees existence as a grand tapestry of consciousness/life in activity, creating and dissolving myriad forms of itself for the sole purpose of discovering and loving itself!

In the metaphysic of ecstasy, nature embodies the divine. The visible and the invisible, the absolute and the relative form a complementary whole.

Significantly, women, sex, love and physical existence constitute the central themes of the metaphysic of ecstasy. They are blended into a view of human life and existence that in its entirety is both majestic and awesome. This view does not divide life into mutually exclusive and destructive forces, but unites all aspects of existence into a cohesive, creative event.

For the metaphysic of ecstasy, the universe is best known and understood by empirical experiment and inquiry based upon sensory data and evidence. The logical reflection upon concepts can only follow experience. This metaphysic is grounded in the real world, not fantasy worlds of the mind.

Logic and mental conceptualization divorced from real world experience can and will go astray. One need only examine some of the incredibly silly notions held by philosophers during the Classical era, and long afterwards for that matter, which could easily have been disproved by simple experiment.

For example, Aristotle asserted that objects of differing weights fall at differing rates, since one is heavier than the other. This assertion was completely logical and no one attempted to verify it until the seventeenth century when Galileo dropped his cannon balls from the leaning tower of Pisa. By this simple experiment Galileo proved Aristotle was wrong.

The same was true about the relative motions of the earth and the sun. Most of the ancients thought the earth was fixed in space and that the sun, as well as all other stars and planets, moved around the earth. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church officially condemned both Copernicus and Galileo for claiming that the earth was the one moving.

The reliance of the metaphysic of ecstasy upon experience and empirical inquiry for getting at a true understanding of reality follows directly upon a profound trust in the sensible and variable world. In turn, this basic trust in the world of the senses leads to the quest to become a consciously active participant in its multiplicity and variability. This variability of the sensory world is recognised as an aspect of a twofold reality which is both absolute and relative simultaneously.

Hope for success in understanding and experiencing is based on the assumption of a unity of life and existence within multiplicity and variability. Success is realized in the ecstatic union with the synergy of life itself.

In the metaphysic of ecstasy the human race is inextricably woven into the tapestry of nature. To serve one is to serve the other. To destroy one is to destroy the other. All of life is seen to form a great, interconnected web of interactions. This notion, in fact, accords precisely with the most recent discoveries of modern science.

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