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I understand that the Bible contains both truth and distortion since it was written by man. My question concerns truth and distortion in the book of Revelation, the last book in the New Testament, John’s vision. For years I have been puzzled and disturbed by its abstract symbolism and violent quality. I feel a lot of fear when I read this book.
Much of my confusion comes, I am sure, from the rigid interpretation the Seventh-day Adventists gave to both Daniel and Revelation – to the entire Bible for that matter. But even having realized that their literal interpretation of everything in the Bible is not truth, I am still perplexed and uncomfortable with this book, especially with such symbols and events as: the beast with ten horns and seven heads, ten crowns and a blasphemous name on each head; the mark of the beast, 666, which is man’s number; the 144,000 sealed on the forehead with God’s name who are untouched by the doom at the end of the world; the pregnant woman, the dragon and the woman’s fleeing to the desert for 1260 days; the thousand years of Satan’s imprisonment.
What meaning does this book have for me and for those of us here at this time?
The Guide: My beloved friends, how in the world can you – whoever believes in and fears those horrors depicted in the Bible and elsewhere – assume that a loving God could punish with such vicious vengeance and sadism, with such vindictive cruelty, as all these threats imply?
It is indeed true that the lower self of man creates events and situations that are painful to him, that can kill his physical body and can create a climate of terror and senselessness. This happens precisely because of man’s belief in terror and senselessness.
However, if you but look around yourself and see Creation – its unchanging goodness, mercy, kindness, beauty and grace – you will see that it is senseless to fear that you are victims of a general and overall fate which will affect you, regardless of your own state of consciousness. These fears are exactly the expression of the existential fear I discussed in Lecture #243 The Great Existential Fear and Longing.
This fear exists individually in man’s soul and also collectively. It is the height of lack of faith. This fear induces religious leaders to disseminate a philosophy of fear, thereby hoping to alleviate – in themselves and in their flock – the ultimate threat of a senseless, cruel universe and deity. No matter how enlightened Jesus’ apostles and disciples were, for the times they lived in, they were oblivious of these levels of consciousness.
All was projected outward and nothing seen in the light of self-creation. They were deeply influenced by the manifestations of these inner fears and the separation in consciousness, between cause and effect. They disregarded their own perception of Jesus’ glory and the courage with which they stood up for him.
Testimonies must be read with the understanding that their authors operated only within the framework of their era, their culture and their development. When for example, spiritual leaders who are enlightened in other respects have certain visions of horror, these visions are usually interpreted as objective outer facts and as events that will outwardly occur.
They are not understood as expressions of the inner world of terror and fear that exists in the visionary’s soul, that part of the soul which is still separated from God’s truth and which is unaware of doubting God’s reality. Today you have gained sufficient knowledge in the course of mankind’s general development, to recognize that a nightmare is not heralding an objective event, but signifies a personal and subjective inner condition.
Jesus always tried to convey this in all his teachings, but all these references were misunderstood and often totally deleted. Often he tried to show that these inner fears have the power to manifest outwardly, that they can create an outer reality, as you all well know. But it is impossible to draw people into these creations if they have not themselves created them too.
Therefore all such references in the Bible are descriptions of inner states of consciousness, whether the narrator was aware of this or not. Do not forget that the Bible has gone through many translations. It has been rewritten many times. This is why any kind of orthodoxy in these subjects is so foolish and so destructive for the soul. It hinders growth and expansion of consciousness.
At those times even dreams, regular ordinary dreams, were interpreted as outer, objective facts and events. The cosmic language is always symbolic – it cannot be otherwise, because it does not lend itself to be squeezed into human language. Do not believe for a minute, my friends, that my language to you is not also, in many instances, symbolic.
Symbolic language changes in the same way as human consciousness changes. What is now apparently real can only be a fumbling, symbolic description of cosmic realities and events – the same in essence, as was the case then. But obviously as man grows and his consciousness expands, his ability for abstract thinking also grows and therefore the symbolism alters. Similarly the myths of each era change.
There is no point in analyzing the exact nature of these fearful images you mention. With your understanding of dream interpretation and of cosmic symbolism, some of it will become quite clear when you meditate about it, as I suggest you do.
For example, “the beast with ten horns and seven heads” refers to the ability of the Forces of Darkness to confuse man with contradictions that are not contradictions. Evil speaks with many minds – seven heads – always splitting off consciousness from the truth and the simplicity of divinity. This is their weapon – the horns. There are many weapons, just as there are many heads – contradictory messages.
Numbers have a particularly symbolic significance. If you study some of the old mysteries and myths, allowing your deeper mind to inspire you, you will begin to discover some of the miracle keys of numbers. But I warn against the common mistake among numerologists who interpret all numbers uniformly for all situations.
You will never be able to totally understand the interaction of cosmic and personal forces that are all contained in numerical keys. But you can at least become aware of these mysteries and thereby open your minds for more inspiration and deeper enlightenment.