The word text can mean the definitive “written word,” as in scriptures considered to be the word of God. At this external level, texts are often taken literally, some even written in stone. However, root meanings of text are closer to a sense of “weaving, joining, fitting together.”
Whereas literalized texts tend to divide and polarize people; esoteric texts can carry subtle textures and symbolic threads that can weave things together at deeper levels. The text within the text can offer living textures for reweaving and rejoining all that has been literalized, polarized and torn asunder.
The trap of literal, exoteric texts came to mind when I read an article about a recent search to find Mount Sinai where the Bible tells how God spoke to Moses from within a burning bush. Hundreds of scientists and seekers set off on the solstice for a remote mountain in the desert in southern Israel. They hoped to witness a phenomenon that might prove to be the actual location of the burning bush at which Moses was appointed to lead the Israelites out of exile in Egypt.
The expedition included a 90-year-old archaeologist who had been seeking the historical location of the burning bush for decades. As he stated, "this is the story of the history of humankind." Another way to see it, an esoteric way to view it, is that this is part of an obsession with history, an example of the trap of the literal and the exoteric. When texts have to be taken literally and historically, revelatory events become trapped in the remote past and that tends to remove the divine from the present world. The more profound meanings and deeper connections to the divine and to the mystery of nature become lost.
Part of the wonder of the original event was the sense that the bush was on fire, yet was not consumed by the flames. When seen on a deeper, esoteric level, the burning bush can be any bush, any tree, almost anything that strikes us deeply, opens the eyes of our souls and allows us to see through the surface text to the deeper textures which include the mystical sense that everything in the world is burning in its own way. Any event can become an epiphany for the person who allows their soul to be struck by the presence of the divine in the things of this world at this time.
Nature can be seen as having its own esoteric language that can speak directly to our own inner nature. In that sense, the ecology movement may not change how people see and relate to the world unless it finds deeper, more esoteric levels of meaning and understanding. A genuine reweaving of human culture with great nature may require a more profound sense of the essential connection of the human soul to the living text of nature in which each moment is potentially an epiphany.
Ancient ideas of the cosmos include the sense of continual revelation, the world seen as a living text, as the open book of the divine word of creation ongoing. In losing our connection to the esoteric realm, we lose the vertical imagination that connects us with both heaven and earth. In the modern world, with its exaggeration of the statistical, the technological and the historical, the soul itself is exiled.
Imagination is the key to the esoteric levels of understanding and is also the true spark of the divine in each soul which can suddenly connect us to the heart of nature, as well as to the presence of things divine. The divine spark within us is like the flame inside the burning bush. It is a gift of life, a burning birthright through which we each share in the illumination of stars, in the burning heat of animal life, and in the cool inner fire of trees and the blue smoldering of water that used to be known as the Green Fire and the Blue Fire.
The flame that burns at the center of our heart and soul is our own inner nature seen in its fiery form. Because this inner flame can take many forms, it goes by many names - spirit, imagination, purpose, consciousness, soul, genius.
In order to truly see the world, in order to genuinely help this troubled world, the eyes of the soul need to open and see, not simply the exoteric level of life, but to the profound levels of the esoteric in all of life. When we see the world that way, everything can light up, anything can flare with beauty and spark our inner joy and remind us that we are part of the mystery of creation, the eternal living flame that manifests through the constant changeability and mutability of existence.
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