There are practically no athiests among traditional farmers, even in England –a country whose main “intellectual” export right now is atheism. Also in a country like France, which is known for its secularism, where only 11% of people go to church and 40% of people are agnostics and atheists, if you were to go to the French countryside and talk to a farmer who produces that wonderful French cheese you eat for lunch, there are hardly any athiests among them. To do something that is close to God’s world is to participate in a sense in things which are natural, and thereby to circumvent the illusion of the absence of God which the modern world has created, an illusion upon which the modern world is based.

–Seyyed Hossein Nasr

The process of secularization of the microcosm resulted in one impoverishment after another of the human reality. First, the depletion of the angelic content of the microcosm helped transform the three dimensional traditional man into the two dimensional modern man. Since traditional psychology is closely related to angelology the transformation resulted in the disappearance of the idea of the soul from modern science wheras its reality at various ontological levels was affirmed in the traditional sciences. Not only that, the soul served as a key scientific concept in traditional sciences. For example, in Islamic science, we encounter the development of scientific concepts of plant, animal, rational and even universal souls. Second, the human reality became further reduced when two-dimensional man comprising body and mind was transformed into a living organism with a mechanistic body and mind largely determined by the brain. Mechanization of the human body was only one side of the coin of mechanization of the cosmos, the other being the better known mechanization of the macrocosm. The reduction of human reality reached its extreme end when every aspect and dimension of it, including consciousness, is visualized as being entirely determined by matter and physical processes.

–Osman Bakar (From secular science to sacred science: The need for a transformation, sacred web 33)

The traditional man is defined by its three essential components, namely body, soul and spirit. In the constitution of modern man the combined reality of soul and spirit has shrunk to what is called mind, a fused reality without a sacred meaning and significance.


“A sense of well-being is achieved not only through the effects of healthful practices but through the very act of taking good care of ourselves. Regimens, by contrast, are nothing but aimless effort and sacrifice, whereas diets mean a new way of life. Diets imply constant change, being constantly on the move.


        Changing has to do with being able to free ourselves from conventional attitudes that we repeatedly imitate without realizing it. The more they are repeated, the more vulnerable to the evil impulse we are. And this tendency to form habits—which are something mechanical that is neither thought about nor chosen—ends up blocking us from freeing ourselves. A story about the lighting of candles on the Sabbath exemplifies this fact. Legend has it that when returning home from work or the synagogue on the Sabbath eve, a person is escorted by two angels, one on either side, a bad one and a good one. On arrival, if he finds that the Sabbath candles have been lit, the bad angel will have to humble itself and say along with the good angel, ‘So be it next Sabbath!’ If, however, the candles have not been lit, it will be the good angel who is forced to utter along with the bad one, ‘So be it next Sabbath!’


        Every time attitudes are put into action, they reinforce themselves. As depicted in the story, there is no impartiality—we either change or become more the same. Rabbi Aaron of Karlin used to say, ‘Those who do not rise, fall; those who do not get better, get worse.’ One who follows a regimen is like one who follows a recipe without paying attention to what he or she is doing, or taking medicine while repeating again and again the unhealthy behavior that caused the illness to begin with. The one who avoids dealing with real causes and real hungers is sure to suffer a relapse. At every relapse, one gets farther and farther from the goal, for attitudes are never neutral. Relapses reinforce our habits even more, to such an extent that the regimen becomes just another one of our habits.”


— Nilton Bonder (The Kabbalah of Food )


Here we can see a clear example of why the “Goal” of Magick is to not do Magick, something few Magick practioners know/realize/ approach. Ritual itself of course can lead to madness, arguably we find this in the example of Abraham Abulafia, who’s use of God name permutations changed the face of practical Kabbalah forever. He also thought he had been annointed by God and commanded to kill the pope….. so who knows?

Egyptian wooden model of beer making in ancient Egypt, Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, San Jose, California

Egyptian wooden model of beer making in ancient Egypt, Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, San Jose, California





When I want a convenient break from Shambhala Mountain Center, the Buddhist retreat where I live and work, I head to a dark, smoky bar called the Red Feather Café. The Café isn’t the only dive bar in western Larimer County, Colorado, but it is the only one with two pool tables, good service, and great pub food. Half of the regulars are the local ranchers while the other half are fellow Buddhists from Shambhala Mountain. Almost any night of the week, I can find both ranchers and Buddhists shooting pool at one of the two tables or sitting at the bar, matching each other drink for drink.

Check your Sutras and you’ll see that the basic Buddhist teachings on alcohol consumption are quite clear. Alcohol, the Buddha taught more than 2,000 years ago, is a poison that clouds the inherent clarity of the mind. That timeless logic would explain why, if you visit a typical American Buddhist community or meditation center, you are likely to be entering an alcohol-free zone.

Yet there is no prohibition on frequenting the Café or even on drinking alcohol here at Shambhala Mountain. While public consumption of hard liquor is verboten, wine and beer are regularly offered at private parties, public events and special dinners–most of the places you might see alcohol in regular American life. It wasn’t long before I started wondering: Why isn’t my Buddhist retreat center on the wagon?

The answer, like most involving Buddhist practices, lies in the particular lineage of teachings represented here at Shambhala Mountain. Acharya Bill McKeever, Shambhala Mountain’s resident teacher, explained how drinking alcohol in certain contexts is considered one of the many advanced practices offered in Shambhala’s Tibetan Vajrayana tradition. It is called “mindful drinking.”

Here’s the basic idea: Once a meditator has developed basic Buddhist discipline (known as Hinayana training) and adopted the intention to dedicate his or her life to benefit others (the Mahayana view) the practitioner is ready to incorporate Vajrayana teachings, where the simple prohibitions outlined in the Sutras are re-evaluated. When a meditator reaches this point, which often takes a number years in the Shambhala tradition, a dangerous substance like alcohol is viewed as a potential aide for the practitioner. Within the context of strong discipline and clear intention, alcohol holds the possibility of no longer acting as a conventional escape, but instead being a tool for loosening the subtle clinging of ego.

“Imagine you are enjoying a picnic in a beautiful spot with your lover,” says McKeever. “You want for nothing in this situation.” If you choose to drink at this moment, theoretically, you have no reason to overdo it. You’ll drink just enough to relax, to appreciate your situation and, as McKeever puts it, “to help your ego go to sleep.”

That is why for centuries in the Kagyü monasteries scattered across the high plains of Tibet, monks incorporated alcohol into their esoteric Vajrayana practices. (These Tantric rituals have historically been viewed skeptically by more straitlaced Buddhists around the world.) When one of those Vajrayana lamas, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, fled Tibet during the Chinese invasion of the country, he brought his teachings, including those on the use of alcohol, to the West.

This month, more than 100 people have gathered at Shambhala Mountain Center to become full-fledged Vajrayana practitioners. In the seventies and eighties, long before the Dalai Lama visited Central Park, Chögyam Trungpa taught Vajrayana Buddhism in North America, establishing hundreds of Shambhala meditation centers including this rustic retreat in the Rockies. For many people, this Vajrayana Seminary is the culminating event after years of study and practice. The Vajrayana students meet every morning in a large white tent in the center of campus, spending their days mixing meditation, talks, and study groups. At some point, they will be given a lesson in mindful drinking.

As a relatively new student who has not yet attended Vajrayana seminary, I’ve never experienced this lesson, but I’ve been told that it is much different than a normal night at the bar. Imagine people seated in lotus position with cups of sake (rice wine) in front of them. McKeever recalled the lessons Trungpa Rinpoche offered him decades ago. “He had us take three sips and then look at the effect on our mind. ‘Have you relaxed?’ he’d ask. ‘Is your mind extending into space?’ If so, stop there.” The goal of drinking mindfully is to bring full awareness to every sip.

Once instructed in this setting, Vajrayana students begin incorporating the practice into regular ritual feasts, which are not unlike Jewish Passover seders, where alcohol is served. “If you’re really paying attention to alcohol’s effect on your mind, those feasts can be very illuminating,” one Vajrayana student told me. “Literally, everything is brighter.” The practice acknowledges an intuitive truth: a little alcohol can be a useful thing.

The problem out in the real world is that it is hard to know where the line between utility and abuse lies. It turns out that, despite their mindful drinking lessons, it is hard for the people in Shambhala, too.

“When the formal feasts work, they can be great, but sometimes people drink too much and it can be a disaster,” says John Ohm, a resident at Shambhala Mountain center, a Vajrayana practitioner and a recovering alcoholic.

That’s in a formal setting. The issue gets even muddier in plain old social contexts. While few fellow Buddhists claim to be practicing “mindful drinking” when I see them out at the Café, the community is remarkably tolerant of alcohol. Drunkenness is about as prevalent up here as it was when I lived in New York. When a visitor or a new arrival inevitably questions all the drinking, it is common for an old hand to justify the excessive behavior by explaining that Shambhala Mountain is a “Vajrayana practice community.”

People sometimes invoke the personal example of Chögyam Trungpa, who was by all accounts a prolific drinker who died in 1987. McKeever says that Trungpa Rinpoche implored his students to follow his teachings, not his personal embodiment of them, but it was a distinction that many of his students missed. “We just didn’t get it,” he says. “Because we’re Buddhists we think we’re special, but drunkenness is drunkenness.”

Ohm points out that mindful drinking should be seen as one valid tool for practice within a tradition remarkable for its wide variety of effective tools. And a dangerous one for people with an alcohol problem. “It is suicide for some people,” he says. ” ‘Mindful drinking’ can be such an easy excuse.”

Vajrayana practitioners need only remember the context of the mindful drinking lesson in order to use it correctly. Ohm recalls a comment made by a fellow recovering alcoholic Buddhist: “When I get to the point where I can walk through fire or fly through the air, then I’m ready to try drinking again.”

Without the formal Vajrayana lessons, most of us are left to get the gist on our own. But the heart of this teaching, like so many of the Buddhist instructions, is easily accessible for any individual willing to maintain an open, honest perspective.

So I’ve turned a few visits to the Café into my own mindful drinking laboratory. On the nights when I order one or two beers, I’ve noticed that I feel relaxed and open. If I pick up a pool cue on those nights, I can even hang in a game with the local ranchers. Then there are nights when I order that third beer. When that happens, my mood gets a little more erratic. I become either giddy or sullen. And my pool game? Don’t ask.

–Ted Rose

“It helps me to speak, although I hate speaking.  My classes help me very much too.  I have learned more theology in three months of teaching than in four years of studying.  But talking also helps my prayer–at least in the sense that it inviscerates the mysteries of faith more deeply into my soul.  It is very important to live your faith by confessing it, and one of the best ways to confess it is to preach it.”

–Thomas Merton

“Nothing of the mystery realm is revealed in its truth to the one who has not first fine-tuned their conduct. For the path to mystery wisdom is blanketed with snake spirits who watch to see who is walking up that road to acquire holiness. This is not unlike thorns that watch over the path leading to the rose. And these snake spirits will not permit passage to those who are not worthy.

Not everyone is worthy of approaching the mysteries of Torah, which requires battling with whatever wrongness lingers within us. Only then — after one has worked strenuously on one’s character — can one achieve the fullness of the wisdom and gift of true wholeness. You should not think that anyone who wishes to leap into the mystery realms can simply do so, and that you can know the wisdom of the unknown without mastering first the wisdom of the known. So many of us simply want to jump into the mystery realm without working on ourselves first, wanting to skip the basic wisdom and discipline and immediately study Kabbalah. Of such it is written: “Woe onto the one who builds his house void of balance; and his upper chambers without good judgment” (Jeremiah 22:13).

Rather, you must enter this realm of study in its proper sequence: first through the courtyard, then into the house, then to the upper chambers, and then within the chambers of chambers. But if you wish to jump ahead of the cycles and leap straight into the chamber within chambers of the upper realms without cleansing what is unwholesome within you and without removing the impediments that block your inner vision‚ know that you will taste the flaming swords of the Cherubim who are assigned to guard the path to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:24).  After all, who can taste the nut without first breaking off the shell?”

–From Hakdahmaht Chemdat Tzvee ahl Teekoonay Zohar: translated by Gershon Winkler

“Those who seek to enter the Orchard should know that it is a very harmful, dangerous space to visit. Therefore, first make certain that in your daily life you pursue peace and harmony in all of your relationships; that you do not create an atmosphere of terror in your home; that you do not be too demanding and exacting in your relating with members of your family, not concerning even a major issue, and certainly not a minor one; and God forbid do not flare up in rage at them. And do not ever chastise your children with anger.

Also steer clear of conceit and self-aggrandizing behavior, especially when it comes to doing the sacred work. For it is in the course of performing the sacred work that we become most prone to conceit and feelings of superiority. And when you make love to your partner first prepare your mind and heart so that you do not make love solely for your own pleasure to the neglect of the needs of your partner. And at night when you go to sleep, liberate your mind from all the tumult of your thoughts and concerns of this world, so that your soul can ascend with ease to the upper worlds and be clear enough to receive the continuous flux of divine wisdom that emanates from there. Finally, as you seek to learn how to enter the Orchard, seek also to learn how to leave the Orchard and return. For the mystery lies not only in the entering, but as much in the leaving.”

–From the 16th-century Rabbi Chayyim Vital in his introduction to Etz Chayyim, toward the end

The spirit of the human being loves purity, but his mind disturbs it. His reason loves the silence but his desires drive it away. If he were able always to neutralise his desires, his mind would naturally become pure. The six desires (those of the five senses and the imagination) would not develop and the three poisons (greed, anger and stupidity) would be taken away and disappear.

The reason why people are unable to achieve this is that their minds are not purified and their desires are not neutralised. If someone is able to neutralise his desires and looks at his reason, these desires are no longer his; if he looks down at his body, it is no longer his; if he looks further away to the outward things, they are things that do not concern him.

When he understands these three things, they will appear only a void to him. This beholding of the void will awaken the idea of nothingness. Without such nothingness, there is no void. When the idea of empty space has disappeared, also that of nothingness will disappear, and when the idea of nothingness has disappeared, then, clearly, the state of permanent silence will follow. In that state of rest and independent of place, how would desire be able to develop? And if desire no longer develops, there is true silence and rest. This true silence becomes a permanent property, and in this state, everything is comprehended as to its essence; yes, this true and permanent property becomes the ruler of human nature. In such a continuous representation and permanent silence, there is permanent purity and rest.

He who has this absolute purity, will gradually come into the true Dao. And once he has arrived there, he will be called master of Dao. Although he is called master of Dao, he does not really think that he has become master of anything. Because he is accomplishing the transformation of all things, he is called master of Dao. He who is able to understand this, is also able to pass on the holy Dao to others.

‘Book of Purity’ by Ko Juan (AD 222-272)

“But I made answer unto them; O ye Fishers, who lap up your filth, no fisher am I who fishes for fish, and I was not formed for an eater of filth (non vegan). A fisher am I of souls who bear witness to Life”

Yeshu as quoted from chapter 36 of the Ancient Aramaic Nazorean Prophets scroll

Read Entire Book Faiths of Man Part 1

Buy entire book Faiths of Man

Abadon. Hebrew. “ Destruction ” personified as the Greek

Apolluōn (Revelat. ix, 11), and as Asmodeus (see Asmodeus) called

by Rabbis Ashmadai (see Job xxvi, 6); and in the Book of Wisdom

(xviii, 25) Olothreuōn in the Greek.

Abel. It is necessary to distinguish Abel the second son of Adam

(Hebrew Habl), from Habāl or Hobāl the great Arabian deity,

though the letters seem the same (see Habāl). Abel is usually

supposed to be the Babylonian word Ablu “ son.” The Hebrew Ābel

is again different—a common term for “ meadow.” Arabs and

Persians call Abel and Cain, Habīl and Ḳ abīl. No very satisfactory

explanation of their legends in Genesis has been given (see Ḳain).

Detail of the Ghent Altarpiece (1432) at Saint Bavo Cathedral.

Detail of the Ghent Altarpiece (1432) at Saint Bavo Cathedral.

Aben. Hebrew Eben, “ a stone.” Perhaps the root is found in

Banah “ to build,” as Ban or Ben (“ a son ”) is builder of the family

(see Ben). Ebenezer (“ stone of help ”) was a stone emblem of the

god, like those of Arabia (see Arabia). Jeremiah tells his tribe that

a stone begat them, and that they committed adulteries with stones

Jer. ii, 27 ; iii, 9. See also Gen. xxxi, 48 ; and 1 Sam. iv, 1 ;

vii, 12). Āban (says Delitzsch) has the sense of a “ peak ” or “ pointed

thing ”—the Assyrian Ubanu “ peak, rock, or finger ” (see Finger).

Abhi-Marsin. Sanskrit. Courting, inciting.

Abi-Kāma. Sanskrit. “ Love primeval,” intense desire, struggle,


Ablathanabla. See Abraxas.

Abors. Bors. The Asamese term for the wild race, calling

themselves Padams or Pagdams, inhabiting the N.E. frontier of British

territory at the bend of the Brāhmapūtra River (N. and N.W.), and

embracing the greater and lesser Dihong river valleys, north of

Sadiya. The term Abor is said to mean “ savage,” “ non-tribute

payer,” or “ fierce man ” : for Abors are a much-feared people who

hunt down even the “ wild cow ” (or Nilgau), and eat buffalo beef,

but not cows—showing a Hindu influence. They worship Nāts or

fays, spirits of the woods and waters : they tattoo their bodies, and

clothe themselves in skins and bark, but go naked in the hot season.

They are never without their bows and arrows—the latter poisoned

(for war) with the powdered root of the wild aconite, or with blood.

They wear a dhār, or long cutlass, at the waist, or slung (as by

Burmese) over the shoulder.

These people are scarcely as yet out of the communal stage, and

pay scant respect to chiefs, with some 250 of whom the Government had to deal in 1859-1870, and to try to keep them quiet by

subsidies. They are all sullen, clownish, and violent when roused,

like their congeners of Tibet and Barmah. Families are distinguished

by totems, or by marks on the forehead. The poorer are often

polyandrous : the richer are polygamous ; and sometimes they are

communists, a group of men living with a group of women. There

are barracks for bachelors and women, where considerable licence is

practised ; and chastity consists in having no intercourse outside the

clan. As regards religion, they believe in a life hereafter, with rewards

and punishments ; and sacrifices are said to please and propitiate the

spirits, and to be necessary to prevent famine and pestilence.

Abram. Abraham. There is no very satisfactory etymology of

this mythical patriarch’s name. Abram (Babylonian Ab-ramu) is

usually rendered “ high father,” that is to say, a deity like Brahmā.

Abraham is compared with the Arabic rahām, “ a host—a “ Lord of

Hosts” like Gānesa, or Yahveh. Hindus call a loving brother Rāmu.

The tablets of Esarhaddon’s days give such names as Abi-ramu and

Am-ramu. If we take the root to be Abr “ strong,” as in Abir a

“ bull ” or “ hero,” the m is only a suffix—as in Hebrew, Sabean, or

Babylonian speech. Some think this word connected with ’Abr (see

Gen. xiv, 13, and Exod. v, 3) ; for Abraham is especially called the

“ Hebrew,” and descendant of ’Eber, father of Peleg. Coming from

Padan-Aram he would naturally worship the “ high God ” (El-’Eliūn),

and seek his shrine at Ieru-salem (“ the abode of salvation ”). There

stood (no doubt) his symbol, a sacred stone (menhir or lingam) ; and

naturally he dedicated to this the agent of creation by circumcision,

swearing solemn oaths thereby, as we read that Abram and Isaac did

by what is euphemistically called the “ thigh.” See the Jewish World

(3rd April 1885), where the learned writer says: “ Abraham is a title

applied to the Creator only ” ; and if so, based on the root Bra “ create “

(Gen. i, 1).

Most Syrians and Arabs considered Abraham to be a Messiah ;

and prayers are still addressed to him (at his tomb in Hebron), as

Christians pray to Christ or to Mary. Abraham, as Ab-ram, “ the high

father,” was both a Malaki-ṣadī ḳ (Melchisedec), or “ King of righteousness,”

and a Shem—“ sign ” or “ mark.” Yet, says the Rev. Dr Cheyne

(Hibbert Lectures, 1892), “ Abraham must be given up as an historical

figure . . . some one must confess this truth, which ought, long ago,

to have found its way into our schools and colleges.”

This view is corroborated by the various widely different periods

assigned as the age of Abraham. The Samaritan and Greek Bibles say

he lived in 2605 B.C. Josephus said 2576, and the Vulgate, 2015 B.C.

Prof. Hommel (in 1896-7), says he “could not have lived earlier

than 1900 B.C.,” and Archbishop Ussher makes him 175 years

old in 1821 B.C. According to this Biblical chronology, he left Padan

Ararn in 1921 B.C. (see Bible), and went to Egypt on account of a

famine. But by Egypt we may understand the south of Palestine,

then perhaps an Egyptian province. Thence, about 1917 B.C., he

went to settle with Lot, “ towards Sodom.” In 1913 B.C. Chedorlaomer,

King of Elam, came, with ’Aniraphel, King of Shinar, Tidal king of

nations, and Arioch, King of Ellasar (Larsa), to quell a rebellion in

Eastern Palestine, which had been under Elam for twelve years.

The Biblical legend runs that Abraham (apparently 83 years old),

pursued this Babylonian army with three hundred and eighteen armed

retainers, defeating it, and taking the spoil and prisoners (Lot among

them), near Ḥ obah, “ north of Damascus.” This Hebrew fable, however,

enables us to test the dates. A tablet from Tell Lo ḥ (Revue Assyr. iv, p.

85, 1897), has been supposed to mention ’Amraphel (as Ḥ ammurabi),

with Arioch (Eriaku),and Tidal (Tudkhal), in which case Abraham would

live about the 22nd century B.C. [This translation is, however, rejected

by most specialists ; and the tablet is late, and probably refers to events

about 648 B.C.—ED.] Ḥ ammurabi (Kha-am-mu-ra-bi), is usually

supposed to have acceded in 2139 B.C. (the date given by Dr Peiser,

and by Col. Conder in his Hittites, p. 175). He ruled over “ the

west ” (Martu in Akkadian), like his successor Ammi-satana

(2034-2009 B.C.).

It has puzzled some commentators that Abraham went “ south ”

from Egypt on his way to Bethel [see Gen. xiii, 3. But the Hebrew

word so rendered is Negeb, a term applying to the “ dry ” country—as

the word means—near Beersheba.—ED.] The fatherland of Abraham

was at “ Ur of the Chaldees ” (Hebrew “ Ur of the Kasdīm ”), the later

Edessa, now Orfah. Ignoring this site, scholars have placed Ur at

Mugeiyer in Chaldea (near the mouth of the Euphrates), and have been

puzzled to explain why he went to Ḥ aran (near Edessa); but that

Ḥ aran was his fatherland, we see by his sending his confidential servant

there to seek a wife for Isaac. [The error is due to following the Greek

translation of Kasdīm by Khaldaioi (whom Herodotos mentions in

Babylon), and identifying them with the Kaldu, a people of Kaldea,

south of Babylon. Kasdīm appears to mean “ conquerors ” in Assyrian.—

ED.] The author of Acts vii, 2-4 calls Padan-Aram (Mesopotamia), the

“ land of the Ohaldeans.” Ṭ eraḥ called his youngest son also Ḥ aran ; and

there are still many legends of the patriarchs in this region—such as that

Orham, King of Or (Edessa), called Abram Ab-or-ham—reminding us of

Pater Orchamus (Ovid. Metam. iv, 212), the fabled son of Zeus, founder

of the empire of the Anatolian Mineans, who ruled Boiōtia and North

Greece from their capital Orkhomenos. M. Renan (Hist. Israel, i,

p. 63), even says, “Orham has lent his name, and several characteristic

traits, to the history of Abraham.”

Many years after the above was first written appeared the

valuable paper by Mr Hormazd Rassam, the old explorer of Nineveh

(Proc. Soc. Bib. Arch., February 1898), which proves that “ Ur of the

Ohaldees ” was Edessa, or Orfah. Cappadocia (Kappadokia) proves to

have been early entered by the Babylonians, who spread all over

North Syria. The name Khaldaioi (in the Septuagint) may thus be

connected with that of Khaldis on the Vannic inscriptions [applying

to a deity.—ED.]. From Ur, Ṭ era ḥ ’s family went to Ḥ aran, which is

only some two days’ journey from Edessa. In Judith (v, 6, 7), Jews

are called descendants of the Arameans, “a belief prevalent among all

Hebrews in Biblical lands at the present day” (Rassam). It is not

known, however, why the Septuagint translators changed the Hebrew

Kasdīm into “ Chaldeans.” According to Ezekiel (i, 3), the “ land

of the Kasdīm ” was by the River Chebar (or Khabūr River), a great

tributary of the Euphrates, one affluent of which rises in the Aram

or “ high land ” near to where Edessa is situated. It was the country

of Bal’aam (Deut. xxiii, 4), and was higher up the Euphrates than

Babylon, whereas Mugeiyer is near the mouth of that river, far below

Babylon. All this, and more, is ably set forth by Mr Rassam, who

only follows in the track of many other Oriental scholars.

In the Book Zohar (see Ḳ abbala) Abraham is called an “ incarnation

of love, mystery, and divine unity ” : he is symbolised by a pillar

(p. 41) as were Zeus, Yahveh, etc. He was the first to teach the

Ḳ abbala to Egypt, and received the mysteries “ from Noah, who

received them from Adam, who received them from God ” (Ginsburg’s

Zohar). Moses had personal intercourse with Abraham, as had most

legislators down to David and Solomon (p. 80). In the Book Jetzira

(“ Creation ”) the Ḳ abbala is called “ a monologue of Abraham,”

whereby he is induced to accept the true faith; and he is there said

to have invented writing and the Hebrew characters (p. 65). Elsewhere

he is described as a “ giant, a monster, having the strength of

seventy-four men, and requiring the food and drink of the same.”

The Arabian El Kindy (in our 8th-9th century) says, “ Abraham

lived seventy years in Ḥ aran, worshipping Al’Ozzah, who is still

revered in Arabia ” (see Royal Asiatic Society Journal, January 1882 ;

and Sir W. Muir’s El Kindy). He says that the inhabitants were

given to human sacrifice—which Abram wished to continue in

Palestine, whence the early rite of devoting the first-born to Yahveh.

The sacrifice of Isaac (or, as the Arabs say, of Ishm’ael) has now been

whittled down by Ezra-itic writers, who were evidently ashamed of it,

as making their God a bloodthirsty fiend, and their patriarch the

heartless murderer of his innocent boy. Tradition, and the persistence

of race barbarism, are however too strong for the would-be cleansers of

history ; and God and man still appear cruel and deceitful, while

multitudes still commemorate the half-enacted rite (see Sacrifice).

Abraham is represented as trying to hide his murderous purpose from

his son and servants by a lie, saying he would return with the child.

The deity doubts his sincerity till the knife is raised, when the wouldbe

murderer is lauded for wondrous “ Faith.” Faith in a God ?

—nay, in a dream. His God then promises him wealth, and offspring,

in abundance.

The sacrifice was originaJly commemorated in autumn, when

human sacrifices were common ; and what would be more orthodox

than that a great Sheikh, entering on a new land to found a colony,

should begin by offering his first-born to the god of the land ? Did

not the Christian Saint Columba bury his brother, St. Oran, in the

foundations of his church ? (Rivers of Life, ii, p. 340.)

Abraham, however, seems to have been anything but wealthy

when he died, possessing only the burial-place that he is said to have

purchased. He had given “ all he possessed ” to Isaac, and “ the

rest ” to numerous children by two stray wives. Islāmis say that he

travelled in both Arabia and Babylonia, but chiefly in Arabia ; and

that he assisted Ishm’ael in building the fourth shrine of Makka, and

in establishing the “ Black Stone ” (see our Short Studies, p. 539).

Hebrews and Arabs have reverently called him the Khalīl, or “ friend ”

of Allah (see Gen. xv, 17 ; Isaiah xli, 8).

Among arithmetical errors in the Bible is the statement that he

was born when Ṭ era ḥ was 70 years old, yet was 75 when (apparently)

Ṭ era ḥ died at the age of 205 years. He is also said not to have

known Yahveh, but only the tree gods—Āle-im or Elohim. He twice

dissembled to save his life by endangering his wife’s chastity, which

he seems to have valued little, as she lived some time in the harīms of

Pharaoh and Abimelek, who heaped riches on Abraham. It is untrue

to say that Sarah was “ without shame or reproach,” for Genesis

xii, 19 should read, “ she is my sister though I have taken her for

my wife.”

We shall not attempt to record the voluminous legends (in the

Talmud, etc.) concerning Abraham, of which the Old Testament does

not give a tithe. He is said to have visited Nimrod, and to have

converted him by the old feeble argument: “ Fire must not be worshipped

for water quenches it ; nor water because clouds carry this ;

nor clouds because winds drive them.” He might have added, “ Nor

Yahveh because we invented him.” According to other traditions,

Yahveh found great difficulty in calling (or killing) Abraham. He

sent the archangel Michael several times, to break the command to

Abraham as gently as possible : for the patriarch loved life. The

archangel—whom he fed—told his mission to Isaac, who tried to

explain it, deploring that both sun and moon (Abram and Sarah)

must ascend to heaven. The patriarch then accused Michael of

trying to steal away his soul, which he said he would never yield up.

The Lord then reminded him, by Michael, of all that he had done

for him ; and that, like Adam and others, he must die. Abraham

asked that he might first see “ all peoples and their deeds ” ; but,

when carried up in a chariot, he was so disgusted, by what he saw,

that he begged the earth might open and swallow all peoples. God

then shut his eyes lest they should all be destroyed, saying, “ I do not

wish it so, for I created all, and will only destroy the wicked.”

Abraham then saw a narrow road with few people on it, and a man

on a gold throne, “ terrible and like God,” though it was only Adam :

and again a broad road thronged with people, and with pursuing

angels. The man (or god) tore his hair and beard in sorrow, and

cast himself and his throne to the ground ; but, as people increased

on the narrow way, he rose rejoicing though “ in 7000 years only

one soul is saved.” The angels were scourging the wicked with

whips of fire ; and at the door of heaven sat one “ like the Son

of God,” though he was only Abel, having before him a table, and

a Bible twelve yards long and eight yards wide. He wrote down

the virtues and sins of all, and then weighed the souls (like Thoth).

The Lord had commanded Abel to judge all till the final judgment,

which is to be by the Son of God. Some souls were however set

aside as wanting an extra good deed, and “ Abraham prayed for such,

and the Lord saved them because of Abraham’s holiness.” He also

saved, at his request, all whom Abraham had cursed on earth. The

patriarch was then taken back to his house, to the great joy of his

family, and commanded to settle his worldly affairs, and to give up

his soul to Michael. This Abraham again refused to do; so the

Angel of Death was told to visit him—which he was very unwilling

to do. He was however commanded to disguise himself as a gentle

and beautiful spirit ; but he confessed to Abraham that he was the

“ poison of Death.” He argued long that he could not depart

without Abraham’s soul ; and he assumed many horrid forms, but

did not frighten the patriarch, who accused Death of killing even

boys and girls, and made him kneel down with him and pray for

their restoration. Death continued to torment the patriarch, who

was 175 years old ; and at last he slept on his bed, and kissed

Death’s hand, mistaking it for that of his son, so receiving “ the

poison of death.” Michael and innumerable angels “bore away his

pure soul, and placed it in the hands of the Lord ; and his body was

swathed in pure white linen, and buried in ‘ Dria the Black ’ or Elonē-

Mamre.” (From a Roumanian text, published by Dr Gaster, who

gives this interesting Apocalypse in the Transactions, Bib. Arch.

Soc., ix, 1.)

Abraxas. Abrasax. Abracadabra. Ablathanabla.

Abanathabla. Various terms on Gnostik charms—see Rivers of

Life, i, p. 511. [The translations are much disputed. Probably

they are Aramaic sentences: Abrak ha dabra, “ I bless the deed ” :

Ablaṭ ha nabla, “I give life to the corpse” : Abana thabla, “ Thou

our father leadest.”—ED.] The Persian sun-god was seen in the

Greek letters Abraxas, representing in numbers 365—the days of

the solar year. This word, placed on an amulet or seal, exorcised

evil spirits, and was eXplained by Semites as meaning Abra-Shedabara,

“go out bad spirit out” [or perhaps better, Abrak ha āsh, “I

bless the man.”—ED.] In Syria Abraxas was a form of Iao (Yahveh),

Mithras, Ṣ abaoth, or Adonis, figured as a lion-headed solar serpent

with a rayed glory (Rivers of Life, ii, p. 274) : or as a cock-headed

serpent, or the eastern serpent (Sesha) biting his own tail as Ananta

“ the Eternal.” In Egyptian Abrasax was thought to signify “hurt me

not ” ; and the pious Christian Marullus bequeathed to his children

an amulet, with this name on the one side, and a serpent on the

other, of jasper enclosed in a golden Bulla shaped like a heart—the

seat of emotions. Such bullæ are said to be the origin of the “ Sacred

Heart,” and to explain the name of Papal “ Bulls,” though these had

leaden “ seals ” later (Rivers of Life, ii, pp. 237-8). Such amulets

cured bodily pains, and averted the evil eye. We read of the

physician of Gordian II. as prescribing one for his patient (see King’s

Gnostics, pp. 105-6). Basilides the Gnostik is said to have invented

Abraxas, to denote the spirit presiding over the 365 days of the year.

But the radical idea was that of fecundity, for the image is found as

a bearded Priapus grasping his organ like Osiris.

Embracing the Way, you become embraced;
Breathing gently, you become newborn;
Clearing your mind, you become clear;
Nurturing your children, you become impartial;
Opening your heart, you become accepted;
Accepting the world, you embrace the Way.

Bearing and nurturing,
Creating but not owning,
Giving without demanding,
This is harmony.

–Tao Te Chin (10)


If I had no choice about the age in which I was to live, I nevertheless have a choice about the attitude I take and about the way and the extent of my participation in its living ongoing events. To choose the world is not then merely a pious admission that the world is acceptable because it comes from the hand of God. It is first of all an acceptance of a task and a vocation in the world, in history and in time. In my time, which is the present. To choose the world is to choose to do the work I am capable of doing, in collaboration with my brother and sister, to make the world better, more free, more just, more livable, more human. And it has now become transparently obvious that mere automatic “rejection of the world” and “contempt for the world” is in fact not a choice but an evasion of choice. The person, who pretends that he can turn his back on Auschwitz or Viet Nam and acts as if they were not there, is simply bluffing.

–Thomas Merton. Contemplation in A World of Action


I need to become better at caring for living things. I’m good enough with words and concepts, objects and designs. Things become more alive when you start working with yogurt, beansprouts, yeast-bread (‘specially with the chance to feed people!). And the seedlings for herbs, vegetables and flower gardens. Nursery work wil be good. With the plants grows intuition, sensitivity and concern for other beings, patience, tolerance, devotion, responsibility –abilities to be a radiance of love.

Passionate animal nature can be transformed into a beautiful tenderness and compassion. When you have animals, yopu can’t ignore or leave them, you have to be consistent in caring for them. It’s more than just ‘doing the chores’; it’s being sensitive to their emotional needs as well.

Plants need some stability. They get too shocked and stunted if you transplant them too much.

–Miriam Baum


To pray, therefore, is to infuse the blood with one Master-Desire, one Master-Thought, one Master-Will. It is so to attune the self as to become in perfect harmony with whatever you pray for.

This planet’s atmosphere, mirrored in all details within your hearts, is billowing with vagrant memories of all the things it witnessed since its birth.

No word or deed; no wish or sigh; no passing thought or transient dream; no breath of man or beast; no shadow, no illusion but ply in it their mystic courses till this very day, and shall so ply them till the end of Time. Attune your hearts to anyone of these, and it shall surely dash to play upon the strings.

You need no lip or tongue for praying. But rather do you need a silent, wakeful heart, A Master-Wish, a Master-Thought, and above all, a Master-Will that neither doubts nor hesitates. For words are of no avail except the heart be resent and awake, the tongue had better go to sleep, or hide behind sealed lips.

Nor have you any need of temples to pray in.

Whoever cannot find a temple in his heart, the same can never find his heart in any temple.

Yet this I say to you and to the ones like you, but not to every man. For most men are derelict as yet. They feel the need of praying, but know not the way. They cannot pray except with words, and they can fin no words except you put them in their mouths. And they are lost and awed when made to roam the vastness of their hearts, but soothed and comforted within the walls of temples and in the herds of creatures like themselves.

Let them erect their temples. Let them chant out their prayers.

But you and every man I charge to pray for Understanding. To hunger after anything but that is never to be filled.

Remember that the key to Life is the Creative Word. The key to the Creative Word is Love. The key to Love is Understanding. Fill up your hearts with these and spare your tongues the pain of many words, and save your minds the weight of many prayers, and free your hearts from bondage to all gods who would enslave you with a gift; who would caress you with one hand only to smite you with the other; who are content and kindly when you praise them, but wrathful and revengeful when reproached; who would not hear you save you call, and would not give you save you beg; and having given you, too oft regret the giving; whose incense is your tear; whose glory is your shame.

Aye, free your hearts of all these gods that you may find in them the only God who, having filled you with Himself, would have you ever full.

–The Book of Mirdad


“In reality, none of our possessions and none of the beings we are attached to belong to us indefinitely. We are constantly at risk of losing them, and when we do lose them we must call upon all those forces within us that are able to help us endure the loss. These forces are found in light, disinterested love, humility and sacrifice. So why not seek them immediately and consciously? It’s difficult, when everything is going well, to convince humans they should concentrate on what is essential in order to prepare themselves for the ordeals to come. For they will come, that is certain; no one is spared. So do not wait for poverty, illness or misfortune to arrive before you seek spiritual direction. If you are already well armed, not only will you overcome them, you will also be strengthened by them.”

–Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

O heart!

When will you stop trying to hide
From Him in Whose realm you abide?
Where do you think to find relief
When there is no relief beside?

–Rafael Alejandro Jara.

“It is quite usual, when a man comes into intimate spiritual contact with God, that he should feel himself entirely changed from within.  Our spirit undergoes a conversion, a metanoia, which reorientates our whole being after raising it to a new level, and even seems to change our whole nature itself.”


–Thomas Merton


In Evolutionary Enlightenment, we begin to understand
that who and what we all are, at every level of
existence, is part and parcel of a vast, cosmic
process—a process that began 14 billion years ago when
something burst out of nothing, and is constantly
developing and ever-unfolding in every moment. And our
own personal salvation is found when we reach that
point where we begin to care more about the evolution
of that process than we do about our own liberation,
our own happiness, or even our own enlightenment. When
we begin to care about something that is so much
deeper and higher and more important than ourselves,
we find ourselves remarkably and quite spontaneously
less preoccupied with and burdened by our personal
fears and desires. This is not because those fears and
desires have necessarily gone away, but because
something more important has entered into the very
center of our being, and our heart has become consumed
with that. In this way, personal liberation becomes no
longer the goal of our spiritual search, but merely a
spontaneous byproduct of our passionate care for the
unmanifest potential of the next moment.

–Andrew Cohen



“There is a treasure in the mountain.

He who seeks it, does not find it.

He who does not seek it, does.” 


The sustenance of a person can be symbolized by the idea of the manna. In its deepest meaning, manna (or sustenance) originates from the most hidden supernal planes, as it is written: “… for they did not know what it was” (Exodus 16:15). The manna represents the most difficult test to human beings, since to have access to it, they have to go through the most “filthy places.” This is so because one’s daily sustenance originates in a very recondite and exalted source, and the moment it penetrates this material world, its orig­inal light becomes immediately concealed. For such light cannot be apprehended in a rational way, but through faith only. Therefore, the instant when the manna came down from Heaven for

daily sustenance, it was difficult for the people to believe it would also come on the following day. Such doubt constantly assaults the heart. And be­cause they did not believe the manna would come on the following day, many of the people started storing part of their manna for the next morning, and “it became putrid and maggoty with worms” (Exodus 16:20). The truth is that the manna for a specific day serves for that day alone.



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