This is a transcription of a lecture originally given live and unscripted on Gnostic Radio. Download the audio lecture here.
Let us delve into the symbolic mysteries of the Gnostic tradition, which encompass the root knowledge of all the world’s religions.
The word Gnostic indicates a type of understanding that arrives not through the intellect or through something written, but instead that comes through the consciousness, something that we discover through our conscious experience. Conscious experience has nothing to do with beliefs or theories, but is a living reality. The Gnostic understanding is the very heart and root of all the worlds religions, which in their foundations are based upon and directed towards conscious experience, not belief or theory. Stated another way, religions came from the experiences of their founders, and were founded so that others could experience, too. To believe or theorize is not religion. True religion is to experience, to know consciously. In this way, when we approach the study of religion and mysticism with this point of view of conscious knowledge, we can penetrate the meaning of any religious symbol, because it is not based on belief or theory, either of which are based only on feelings or ideas. Experience is based upon facts.
Today we will look at the famous Ark of the Covenant. Anyone who has heard of or participated in Christianity or Judaism knows about “the Ark.” Most Christians and Jews would say there are two Arks. But in fact, when we examine the scriptural evidence we discover there are not two Arks. Even if we study only the literal meaning of the scriptures we will find there are many more Arks in the Bible. If we rely on the Latin and later translations of the Bible, we can find at least four Arks. But if we look into the actual scriptures in the Hebrew language, we discover that there is not a single Ark anywhere in the scriptures. The word Ark does not appear in Hebrew, ever. Our English word “Ark” comes from a Latin word.
We need to understand that this idea that we have inherited of a literal “Ark”—be it a boat or a box—is just a symbol, a myth. The real meaning is far more important and far more mysterious.
The first time this Ark is mentioned in Latin is in relation with Noah. But in the Hebrew scripture, there is no word “Ark.” In the King James Bible, it says,
And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark [from Latin “arcam”], and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. - Genesis 6:13-14
In Hebrew, the same line says:
עשה לך תבת עצי־גפר קנים תעשה את־התבה וכפרת אתה מבית ומחוץ בכפר׃
Instead of “Ark” or “Arcam,” it says תבה, tebah, which means “boat.”
The next time the Latin mentions an Ark is related to Moses.
And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid [it] in the flags by the river's brink. - Exodus 2:3
In Hebrew it does not say Ark:
ולא־יכלה עוד הצפינו ותקח־לו תבת גמא ותחמרה בחמר ובזפת ותשם בה את־הילד ותשם בסוף על־שפת היאר׃
In Hebrew, it does not say Ark, it says תבת, tebah, which means “boat.”
The next time the word Ark appears in Latin, it is related to Moses again. The King James says:
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, and rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood, oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it. And they shall make an ark of shittim [acacia] wood...” - Exodus 25:1-10
Again, in Hebrew the scripture does not say Ark.
ועשו ארון עצי שטים אמתים וחצי ארכו ואמה וחצי רחבו ואמה וחצי קמתו
It says ארון, Aron, spelled Aleph-Resh-Vav-Nun. This does not spell Ark, it spells “Aron.”
It is very mysterious that the Hebrew words tebah and Aron were both translated as Ark. Very mysterious, very interesting, and yet when you investigate why with your consciousness, it makes sense. There is a relationship between the boat Noah made and the boat Moses was found in and the box Moses made. There is a relationship, a very deep one. Nonetheless, you cannot see it in English or in Latin. You need to know the Hebrew words and their letters.
Nonetheless, the Ark is said to have been holiest object in the entire tradition, and the source of the greatest power. This is true, and it was also the most secret. The Ark is an arcanum: a secret imparted only to those who earn it. Yet now, the secret has been revealed, so that we may - if we choose - enter into this mystery and correct our errors.
The Hebrew word Aron in Hebrew seems similar to the name Aaron but it is spelled differently. Aron means a chest, a box, a sanctuary, something to hold something. It comes from an ancient hebrew root, “arah,” which means to gather or pluck, to accumulate. This is important, because the first time the word Aron appears in the bible is in the book of Exodus / Shemot.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering...
And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them...
I will arrange My meetings with you there, and I will speak with you from atop the ark cover from between the two cherubim that are upon the ארון Aron [Ark] of the Testimony, all that I will command you unto the children of Israel. - Exodus 25
This root word arah, which means “to gather,” is related with the sacrifice, the offering, that the children of Israel must make. This is the source of the word Aron, which is the place to hold the sacrifice or offering, the place the offering is placed, and in return God appears. This is very significant. But the real meaning of it will be elusive if we take it literally.
Gnosis is a conscious knowledge that seeks to penetrate the actual meaning—or to be more explicit, the meanings, because every symbol has multiple levels of significance. There is the literal meaning, such as the physical item or artifact called the Ark of the Covenant or the Aron of the Testimony. Such a device or artifact existed. Nonetheless, the literal meaning does not concern us. Whether this physical thing still exists or not is irrelevant. What we need is knowledge that will help transform our life now; not knowledge of an ancient possibility, but knowledge of a possibility in this moment.
In this story we need to look at the symbol of the story of the Ark for its significance for us. In this level, we know that Moshe (Moses) represents an aspect of our consciousness. Every prophet represents an aspect of our own Being, an aspect of something inside of us. So this story of Hashem (the Lord) speaking to Moshe represents our own inner Being speaking to another part of us (the consciousness) whose duty it is to guide us out of slavery, to guide us out of suffering.
Moshe represents the sephirah Tiphereth, that mysterious sephirah on the Tree of Life that is precisely in the center of the tree. If you divide the tree in halves, whether vertically or horizontally, the half is always Tiphereth, the middle. This is Moshe, symbolically speaking.
Tiphereth in this sense represents our human soul, our human consciousness, which must serve the Lord. If our inner Moshe serves the Lord and builds the Aron, he can receive the commands of god directly. This is why Hashem says, “Speak ye unto the children of Israel,” which are the other parts of our consciousness that are trapped in slavery to the ego. We know this is a fact because right now we are trapped in suffering. Our consciousness is trapped in slavery to Egypt, Matzarim. Our consciousness, which is represented by the “children of Israel,” is in bondage to our ego, to desire. Because of that slavery, we need our Moshe to save us, to lead us out of bondage.
We have a longing to know God. Otherwise, we would not study this information. All of us want to know, “How can I perceive God? How can I see my inner Buddha or Yidam? How can I see God, how can I hear the voice of God? How can I commune with my Being?” The answer is here in the Aron. Its stated very clearly in the scripture:
...there [above the Aron] I will meet with thee and I will speak with thee.
Thus if we want to receive the guidance of God, we need to build an Aron. But the Aron is not a boat or a box. It is a special kind of sanctuary related specifically with the heart. We know this is true because God says it in the scripture:
Speak to the children of Israel, and have them take for Me an offering; from every person whose heart inspires him to generosity, you shall take My offering. - Exodus 25:2
When we make that offering of our heart, we offer to God the best that we have, and God comes there and sanctifies that place. This is why this chapter in Exodus continues:
And this is the offering that you shall take from them: gold, silver, and copper; blue, purple, and crimson wool; linen and goat hair; ram skins dyed red, tachash skins, and acacia wood; oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the incense; shoham stones and filling stones for the ephod and for the choshen. And they shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst...
These items are all symbolic.
This becomes more interesting when we understand that the Aron is described as “Aron kodesh,” which means holy vessel or holy sanctuary. Kodesh or Kadosh means holy or sacred.
The word Ark comes from Aron Kodosh. That is, when the Aron is made pure, it becomes kadosh, holy. Thus to make the Ar-k, we have to make our Aron holy, pure.
What this tells us is that we ourselves are the Ark. You and me. We are the vessel. God wants to fill us, but only if our sanctuary is made pure. There is abundant information about this in the Bible. In Corinthians, Paul states:
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? - 1 Corinthians 3:16
That temple is the sanctuary, the temple of Solomon. The Aron is placed within the holiest place in that sanctuary. We need God to dwell in our heart temple. Our soul is centered in our heart; our very essence, the very root of our soul, is there.
The heart is related with Tiphereth on the Tree of Life. Tiphereth is related with Moshe. This is why God instructs Moshe on how to build the Aron, because it is a development related with Tiphereth and the heart.
We know that the Aron—the Ark—is you and me because of the letters that spell Aron, which is spelled ארון Aleph-Reish-Vav-Nun. When you understand the meanings of these letters, then you know immediately that the Aron is pointing to us, that it indicates symbolically how the Spirit, the breath, descends into us to dwell.
The first letter is א Aleph, which is the trinity in its shape. Two Iods and a vav. The Aleph represents the air, the Ruach Elohim that hovers over the waters of creation. It represents the most holy divine, who can descend in us through the letter Reish.
The letter ר Reish represents our head. Through our head we have the pineal and pituitary glands; the three nervous systems emerge from here. Through the nervous systems emerge all the energies that we utilize to be alive. The triple force of God, represented in the letter Aleph, the Trinity, descends through our three nervous systems, through the Reish, through and down the spinal column, which is represented by the letter Vav.
The letter ו Vav represents our spinal column. Through the spine those three energies manipulate, manage, and empower our three nervous systems. But the ultimate synthesis of all of that ends in the letter Nun, the final letter of Aron.
The letter ן Nun represents the seed, the essence. Everything that we are as a person is synthesized and condensed in our sexual seed. Everything that you are is encoded in your sexual seed (sperm or ovum). The power to create life, as a God, is in the letter Nun.
But the Nun is not explicitly or expressly related only to sex, because it is also the very name of Noah, the Nun that resides in the heart. Noah enters the Ark to be saved; remember that Ark is related with the heart. First Noah enters the heart to be saved (written in Genesis, the first book), then later (in the second book) emerges Moshe from his “Ark.” So the letter Nun is the beginning of the development of Moshe.
There are very deep meanings hidden in those four letters that clearly point to us and how we receive and utilize the energy that gives us life, chai. The force that gives life is the sexual force. That force comes from God. But unfortunately, we do not see God. Our own Aron is dark, without light. We do not see God. Many people do not even believe in God, or if they do, they have contradictory ideas. Our vision, our perception, has become very limited, such that we only see the body, not the Spirit or the soul.
This is important, because in the creation of the Aron, God states quite explicitly that when the the Aron is constructed, God will dwell there and speak to “his children” through Moshe. That is, our inner God will speak to us through our inner Moshe (Tiphereth), which is related with the heart. The way God does that is through Shekinah [שכינה], the very essence of God, the energy, the force, the Spirit.
When the Aron is constructed in the right way, when our temple has been made pure, the Shekinah dwells there. This is why in the ancient traditions it states that inside of the Ark were kept not only the body of the law, which are the tablets of the written law (the second law or in other words “Deuteronomy” or the ten commandments), but also is the soul of the law and the spirit of the law. These three items are:
- the intuitive, conscious knowledge is the spirit of the law
- the oral tradition is the soul of the law
- the written law is the body of the law
On the literal or physical level, in the Judeo-Christian tradition these are:
- the intuitive knowledge or Kabbalah (Zohar) is the spirit of the law
- the oral tradition (Midrash or Talmud) is the soul of the law
- the written law (Tanakh or Bible) is the body of the law
These three are said to be kept inside the Aron. If we ourselves are the Aron, then we need to understand that these books are not stored inside of our body. The meaning is that when our own Aron is sanctified and made into Aron kadosh, the holy place, then we ourselves embody the teachings through our actions, through how we behave, through what we do. We become the law, as then our behaviors are in accordance with the commandments the we receive through God. And secondly we embody the oral tradition, the soul of the law, which is not something written but spoken. Our words reflect the Shekinah; that which we say, that which we teach, represents the Shekinah, the divine, feminine aspect of God. And thirdly, our very spirit reflects God; this is through intuitive, conscious development.
If you recall, later in the Bible due to the misbehavior of the children of Israel, the soul and the spirit abandon the Aron. The nation was only left with the written law, only the literal meaning. We see this as a fact on the face of the Earth now: humanity only sees the written words and takes them literally, and no longer understands the soul or spirit of it. If we saw the soul and spirit of the law, we would not kill each other over beliefs and theories, because we would see that all religions come from the same source, and all religions would be honored and respected.
We no longer intuit the real meaning of our religions because we have become spiritually blind. This is reflected in how we are as people; many of us do not even believe in the soul or the spirit; we demand physical proof. If we do not see something with our physical senses, we do not believe in it. Some of us may believe in the soul or the spirit, but do not know the difference between them. In fact, we have many contradictory ideas about the soul and spirit because we have never seen them. The reason is quite simple: it is because our own Aron is in darkness; the Shekinah does not dwell there. If the Shekinah dwelled within our own Aron, we would see it, we would know it. We would have gnosis: conscious knowledge. We would see and know and be able to intuitively understand the entirety of this.
We can reach that if we follow the instructions that God provides. So the first step to make our own Aron holy, kadosh. The scripture says here very clearly that this is done through sacrifice. The scripture says:
Speak to the children of Israel, and have them take for Me an offering; from every person whose heart inspires him to generosity, you shall take My offering. - Exodus 25:2
What is this offering? It is not something that we do because we are forced or because we feel we have to. A true offering is given from generosity, spontaneously, sincerely, with a genuine expression of love. This is the beginning of the creation of this holy sanctuary in our heart. In other words, if we are approaching our religion—whatever that religion may be—mechanically, because we have to or because we are forced, we cannot create the Aron in ourselves because there is no sincerity. We are doing things literally, by rote, by repetition, by force. This has no purpose, and benefits no one, most of all ourselves. In other words, we are performing mechanical, literal actions of the body, repeating the written law, not truly living it.
For the written law to fully be alive in us, it has to be enlivened by the soul and spirit of the law, which is intuitive action through the law: sincere, present, awake.
We have our consciousness asleep. We exist in the fetid cage of our intellect and our beliefs. We believing that our thoughts, ideas, beliefs or theories will save us. We fail to realize that only the spirit and soul can save us. They are not intellectual. They are related with consciousness, not the intellect.
In other words, when we abandon the decaying cage of our mind and we call up the true sincere essence of ourselves, to cry out to God, to offer our entire selves to our own inner God, God responds. This is the only way. Through sincere action in the moment, being present, being alive. Being, in other words. This is so fundamental that we could simply repeat this for the rest of the lecture. The creation of the Aron will occur spontaneously if we can just do this one thing: activate the consciousness, which is related with the heart, the letter nun, by means of which we open a direct connection to God, because the consciousness is a part of God.
We unfortunately are so asleep, so habitual, so encaged in ideas, theories, beliefs, expectations, and duties that we do not even realize what the consciousness is. We only see the body and have no clue about the soul or spirit. Its a sad state that we live within and it is why we suffer. But if we can learn to activate our consciousness, to be present, to start sincerely manifesting a continual awareness of ourselves and God, this produces a fragrance in the heart, something that vibrates and lives in the heart. God responds to that, and life changes; life truly changes. From that change, from that continual expression of the sincerity of our being, God responds. We start to receive instructions on how to make our heart a fit temple. We start to see the garbage that is in our temple.
If we don’t make the sincere effort to be awake from moment to moment, we cannot see the true state of our mind. By mind, I am indicating mind-heart, our essence, our soul (what we have of it).
When we go along mechanically—on auto pilot—from moment to moment, from day to day, we only see the projections of that mind. We see our desires, our fantasies, our ideas, our wishes, our hopes, our fears, but we do not see where those projections come from, we do not see why they are there. We can only truly see ourselves when we make the conscious effort to direct the flow of our attention (energy) to look at ourselves, instead of being fascinated by the images being projected by our mind. We can then see that all of those images, those fears, those worries, those attachments, all those theories about religion or about life, are actually produced by fear, by pride, by shame, by lust, and anger, envy, gluttony, jealousy, and the list goes on.
All of that is garbage or filth that clutters the temple that our own inner God longs to inhabit but cannot. God cannot mix with those impurities. God cannot mix with lust. If we have lust in ourselves, God cannot come there. God is God; God is pure. If you try to mix God with impurity, God departs.
So then what is there in our mind? Filth. We do not like to see this in ourselves. We do not like to admit it. We like to think of ourselves as pure and holy people who have been wronged or perhaps made mistakes, but we do not like to admit that we ourselves are responsible for our pain, that we are the ones who created our situation. We do not like to admit what every scripture, including the Bible, says:
Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. - Galatians 6:7
Whatever affliction may visit you is for what your own hands have earned. - Qur'an 42.30
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. [...] For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. [...] Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. - Jesus, in Matthew 5
Every man will receive according to his action. The dharma says that we are the result of what our mind does. We are what we are because of what we do. We are in our situation because of our actions. Simple cause and effect.
We prefer to blame our situation on circumstances, people, things, our boss, our spouse, our friends, our parents. In our mind, they are all to blame; we have just done our best to get along. This is a lie. Its a lie we tell ourselves in order to avoid the truth. The truth is that we are the ones who have driven Shekinah out of the temple of our heart. We are the ones who have driven out our Divine Mother. We have driven out God out of our inner temple. We went into our temple and started committing crimes—and we continue to do it. That temple is our heart and mind.
A simple example that we repeat all the time which is incontestable:
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. - Jesus, in Matthew 5
This is not just a Christian ethic.
Commit no adultery. This law is broken by even looking at the wife of another with a lustful mind. - Buddha Shakyamuni
Approach not adultery: for it is a shameful deed and an evil, opening the road to other evils. - Qur'an 17.32
Thus, according to what Jesus has said, we are all adulterers. Our temple is impure and God cannot dwell there.
We are all guilty not only of lust, but of murder, killing, because through our anger we kill one another in our mind. In fact, we love violence so much we indulge in it every day. We are so fascinated with the images of violence and bloodshed because we like it. We like the taste of killing. Our anger likes it, our pride likes it, our gluttony likes violence. This has nothing to do with God. How can God dwell in a room (our mind, our heart) within which we indulge in these filthy pleasures?
We need to be sincere with ourselves and recognize our behaviors for what they are. We need to change. If we really want to know what God actually is, we can, but we have to change. The instructions on how to build the Ark come after we make the sacrifice to change, to make our offerings to God from our heart.
That sacrifice means instead of following the desires of the mind, instead of falling into temptations of that impure spirit, Ra (pollution), we transform our anger into love. We sacrifice the desire and transform it. That is an offering. The instant we feel the pull to indulge in a lustful image, whether inside or outside, we reject that desire, remember God, and transform that impulse into chastity. That is an offering to God, if we maintain consciousness of what were doing. The result is a fragrance in the heart. This is a great sacrifice to make; its very difficult, because we have become so submerged in impurities. Nonetheless, in the instructions in the Bible it says after listings all the items of the offering:
And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them...
So that action of transforming impressions from moment to moment begins to cleanse the environment of our heart and mind. Then, God can begin to dwell there. How do we know this? Because we are becoming conscious. The consciousness is the very power of God to act here and now. Our human consciousness is related to Tiphereth, Moshe. God acts through Moseh to save Israel. If our Moshe, the consciousness, is not present and receptive to God, then God cannot be present or act. If our consciousness is present and awake, it resists lust, anger, and pride. Because those elements are the opposite of God; they are cages, traps, prisons for the spirit of God. Nonetheless, we are tempted by those desires, adn when we fail, we through our action eject God from our temple.
And they shall make an ark of shittim [acacia] wood...” - Exodus 25:1-10
Right after this in the bible it says "they shall make an Aron of acacia wood.” This type of wood is very important and symbolic. In Egypt, this was a very important wood, the most sacred, because of its symbolism in the myth of Osiris (the Egyptian Christ). Seth murders his twin brother Osiris, and puts the body of Osiris in a chest on the river, just like Moshe. When the boat arrives at the shore from that place springs up an acacia tree, which grows up around the chest to protect Osiris, Christ. This is in the Egyptian mythology. So you see all of the meanings of the Ark are contained here: the ship, the box, and how impurity (Seth) kills purity (Osiris).
It is also said that from an acacia tree the Roman Centurions cut the crown of thorns for Jesus of Nazareth. The acacia wood is deeply Christic and is related with the death and resurrection of Christ, whether symbolized as Osiris or Chiram Abiff amongst the primeval freemasons. When Chiram was murdered by his betrayer and buried, they placed an acacia branch to mark the grave.
In all these stories, the acacia wood is a symbol of the power of sacrifice. The prophets and Gods who represent Christ always sacrifice themselves for others. Osiris, Chiram, Jesus, Krishna, Quetzalcoatl, and more—all of them sacrificed themselves for others, which relates to acacia wood. Sacrifice is the basis of making the Aron.
Then the scripture gives the measurements.
They shall make an ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height. - Exodus 25:10
To explain these measurements completely would take several hours. There is so much depth in those little numbers, so many meanings.
The basic point here is each of these numbers is a number and a half. Two and a half, one and a half, one and a half;, why? Because of Tiphereth. The acacia wood represents sacrifice, the power of Christ. The half of the Tree of Life is Tiphereth. It is located half way between the top and the bottom and from side to side. These measurements relate to Tiphereth (Moshe), who is receiving these instructions from God. In other words, these numbers are deeply meaningful with how our inner Moshe develops himself. But the full significance would be very complex in the context of this lecture. I am just giving you hints that you can use for meditation.
After these measurements, it says:
And you shall overlay it with pure gold; from inside and from outside you shall overlay it, and you shall make upon it a golden crown all around. - Exodus 25:11
Gold is always used in temple interiors because it represents the power of the Sun, which is also an ancient symbol of Christ.
Gold is a solar metal that relates with the pure Spirit. Its considered precious because it has a relationship with the Sun. Tiphereth is ruled by the sun and also by Venus.
Gold must be purified through the process of alchemy. Alchemy is that ancient science to remove impurities from metals. The impure metals represent the ego: lust, pride, envy, anger. When all of those are removed, what is left is the pure gold of the spirit. Our own Aron has to be covered completely with gold. This points directly at “the body of gold,” which in Greek is call To Soma Heliakon. The Golden Body representes the solar bodies, the Christian “wedding garment,” the Kabbalistic Mercabah. These are the bodies of gold represented in the lower portion of the Tree of Life. They are in themselves the very soul that we have to create.
The bodies of the soul are symbolized in the structure of the Ark, which is a box or a chest: a square. If we visualize a box, we see it is conjunction of four sides. Those four sides, four edges, four lines, relate to the cubic stone and to the four bodies below Tiphereth, which is the Causal Body.
- Netzach: The Mental Body, related to thought
- Hod: The Astral Body, related to emotion
- Yesod: The Ethereal Body, related to vital energy
- Malkuth: The Physical Body
The scripture continues:
And you shall cast four golden rings for it, and you shall place them upon its four corners, two rings on its one side, and two rings on its other side. And you shall make poles of acacia wood and you shall overlay them with gold. And you shall bring the poles into the rings on the sides of the Aron, to carry the Aron with them. The poles of the Aron shall be in the rings; they shall not be removed from it. - Exodus 25:12-13
The two rods shall never be removed from the Aron because they are the very support and foundation of the Aron. In religious symbolism, the staff relates to the spinal column. In all of the ancient traditions, the priest or cohen carries a staff topped by a pine cone. The word “pineal” comes from “pine.” Atop our spinal column is the pineal gland, the seat of the soul, the “third eye” or source of spiritual vision. Thus, the staff represents how spiritual force descends into the spine, which is the letter vav in Aron. Moshe and Aaron performed many magical works with the staff or rod, and did the pharaohs, the Greeks—the staff is visible in every religion and always represents the spine. But why is the Aron dependent on two staffs that are covered with gold? And why is it that those staffs cannot be removed and what are the four rings?
Every temple has two columns at the entrance through which one must pass. These two columns have a very deep significance because they represent the Elohim: God and Goddess, Shiva and Shakti, the male and female creative principles through which all of creation occurs. The Elohim created man in their image. The Elohim is the Father-Mother in Daath: the Tree of Knowledge, which is where creation occurs. The two columns represent that creative root.
In order to enter into a sanctuary, a temple, we always have to pay respect to the two columns. The one on the right is called Jachin [Jakin], which is the white column, and is masculine, projective. The one on the left is called Boaz, the dark column, and is receptive, the mother. Together, they are Father-Mother, El and Eloha. Their combination provides support to the temple.
The structure of the temple depends upon the Elohim. There are three parts: two columns and a roof; this is how a temple is built in its most basic form. In Egypt, every temple has this, without exception. Moshe was raised as an Egyptian priest. He wrote these instructions and prepared his doctrine, which is entirely Egyptian: the acacia wood, the temples, the Aron, everything.
The two staves represent two spines. In Egyptian mysticism the column is called Djed. The hieroglyph for Djed is a column that has four indentation or four lines. The Djed column is a visual depiction of our spine. There are sculptures of Ptah the creator with a spine as a staff in his hand. There are many images of the gods, goddesses, pharaohs, and initiates raising the Djed (the spine) to be upright, as a symbol of process of initiation.
The spine is represented by the staff of Aaron and the staff that Moshe placed in the ground and raised a serpent upon it in order to heal the Israelites. That spine is our own spinal column, the letter Vav. The letter Aleph descends through the Reish (the head), into the pineal gland (the pine cone on the rod), down the spine, in order to enliven our letter Nun. These letters spell Aron (Ark).
The Aron depends upon the spine, but not one: two. The word Aron only has one vav, but the temple cannot have one column, it must have two: Father-Mother, priest and priestess, male and female working in cooperation and in accordance with the divine law.
In other words, God tells Moshe very clearly: to make an Ark, an Aron, you need two spinal columns that work together side by side. Two, not one. A single person cannot complete the Ark, just as a single person cannot create a child. Creation always requires sexual cooperation.
In order for the two spinal columns to work in harmony with each other, they need to pass through the rings of gold. What is that? This is also a very beautiful symbol. These golden rings are the letter Mem [מם]. In Hebrew, the letter Mem looks like a ring or a circle. There are two Mems: [מ] the open mem and [ם] the closed, final mem. When you put two mems together and you put a man between them (a letter Iod), you spell מים “mayim,” which means the waters (Eden).
We have discussed at length that the Mem is related to two spheres on the Tree of Life:
- The upper Mem is related with Daath, the upper Eden.
- The lower Mem is related with Yesod, our sexual organs, the foundation of life.
In other words, when you look at the Tree of Life superimposed over our body, the rod is the spine, which is the central column of the tree; then you can see the two rings of gold: Daath and Yesod. Yesod is the lower Eden, the Mayim. Daath is the Shamayim, the “fiery waters” of heaven. So in these few little words about four golden rings and two staves is hidden the whole doctrine of the mystery of the tree of knowledge (Daath).
After the rods are firmly within the two rings each, then God says:
The poles of the ark shall be in the rings; they shall not be removed from it. And you shall place into the aron the testimony, which I will give you. - Exodus 25
This is a significant clue. Once the two spinal columns are established in Daath and Yesod, then the testimony of god is placed in the Aron. This is when the First Law emerges, the real testimony; not just the written law, but the soul and spirit of the law, the Shekinah as testimony emerges; conscious knowledge, in other words.
Then the scripture explains how to make a cover for the Aron, to seal it; this cover also has a deep significance and meaning, but most important is that on top of it are Cherubim. The word Cherubim refers to a type of awakened or highly developed being. When Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden, a Cherubim was placed there to guard the way back to the Tree of Life with “a fiery, ever-turning sword.” It is not accidental that its described as a Cherubim, because a Cherubim is a awakened being who lives in Yesod. A Cherubim is someone who has their consciousness developed at that level. According to Kabbalah, the awakened beings who live in Yesod are called Cherubim. In esoteric Christianity, Cherubim are related with Chokmah, a very high sphere related with Christ. Nonetheless, on the cover of the Aron are Cherubim depicted in gold.
The curious thing is that if you do not know this teaching in depth and you read the passage in the scripture about this you would assume there are two cherubim on the cover for the Aron. Because it says:
And you shall make two golden cherubim; you shall make them of hammered work, from the two ends of the ark cover. And make one cherub from the one end and the other cherub from the other end; from the ark cover you shall make the cherubim on its two ends. - Exodus 25:18-19
Most people think that the Ark has two golden angels on the top. But actually there are four: two on each end. This is related with the Tetragrammaton, the Holy Name of God, and many other levels of significance.
What is specifically important here is that the Aron cover goes on top of the Aron, and inside is placed the testimony; then God says:
I will arrange My meetings with you there, and I will speak with you from atop the ark cover from between the two cherubim that are upon the Ark of the Testimony, all that I will command you unto the children of Israel. - Exodus 25:22
So if we want to receive knowledge from God, guidance from God, we need to understand how this passage relates to us.
It is easy to get intellectually confused by these symbols; you have to listen to the intuitive, symbolic meaning. What this is telling us is something very sacred, which is hidden from those who have not been initiated in the ancient traditional mysteries. The initiated priests knew the true meaning. The Talmud explains explicitly what these cherubim symbolize”
Rabbi Katina said, 'When the Israelites would ascend [to the Holy Temple] on the festival, [the priest/kohen] would roll up the curtain for them, and display for them the cherubim, who were joined together [in an embrace].' The priest/kohen would then tell them, 'Behold the beloved feelings for you on the part of the Omnipresent are like the beloved feelings of a male for a female'."
Rabba bar Rav Shila explains that "[The cherubim appeared in the engravings] as a man joined in an embrace with his female companion." - Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 54a
If you have ever seen a tantric sculpture of Vajrasattva, Padmasabahva, Buddhi Shakyamuni, or Adhi Budda, they are all represented cast in gold as a male and female in sexual union. It is the same symbol that is on the Aron: the cherubim in sexual union.
Furthermore, in the Talmud it says:
Said Resh Lakish, ‘When the Gentiles entered the Sanctuary, they saw (the engravings of) the cherubim joined together in an embrace. They took (the engravings) out to the marketplace, and they said, Should these Israelites - whose blessing is a blessing and whose curse is a curse (so they are so close to G-d) - be involved in such (erotic) matters? Immediately, (the Romans) debased (the Israelites), as it is said, (Lamentations 1:8) All who once respected her (Israel), debased her, for they saw her nakedness.’” - Talmud, Yoma 54b
In other words, the Romans cursed them and defaced the temple, because they saw the most holy of holies, the most sacred object in the temple, a golden couple in sexual union.
This is documented in scripture. The entire basis of Christianity and Judaism is based upon this fact, and yet it is has been erased from the modern tradition. The true heart of the religion has been forgotten. People do not want to see the actual roots: that sex is the power of creation. Sex is how God creates on all levels, but not through animal sex. Animal sex is only good for animals to create more animals. Angels create sexually, but angelically - not with lust, not with fornication, and not with adultery, but with pure sexuality.
This is the meaning hidden in of all the symbols of the Aron. On every level, every part of it points toward this: the most holy, sacred heart of Judaism and Christianity is a doctrine of sexuality: pure sexuality.
This is why marriage is sacred. This is why fornication is forbidden. This is why adultery is forbidden. To make our own Aron holy we have to abandon those behaviors. We have to create a pure sanctuary for God to enter in and inhabit. Unfortunately, because we abuse our temple, we fall into temptation and eat the forbidden fruit and defile the temple of God, so we are cast out of Eden, out of Yesod. We are forbidden access to the Tree of Knowledge (Daath). We suffer in the wilderness and know pain and death.
The way back to Eden (Hebrew for “bliss”) is guarded by a Cherubim with a flaming sword. The cherubim is on the Aron. The very entrance to Eden, the doorway, is sex. But we can only enter that doorway if the Cherubim on our own Aron allows us to enter, because Eden is sacred. Eden is pure and holy. In other words, what we find inside of the Ark is Eden itself; Eden is inside of us.
The entrance to Eden, the entrance to paradise, is through our own heart and mind, when sexuality is used in a pure way so that these forces of the divine, the breath, the Neshamah of the Ruach Elohim, descends through our Reish down the Vav and into the Nun, the seed. We combine those male and female principles in purity and in that divine union we give birth to the soul.
This is why Jesus said we must be born again of the Spirit and the water. The water is מים mayim, the two Mems. Mayim means “waters” and relates with Yesod. The Spirit is א Aleph; it is also ש Shin, the letter for fire. When ש Shin is connected with מים mayim, it spells שמים Shamayim, which is usually translated as "heaven," but actually means "fiery waters."
The fire of God (Shin) which is the Shekinah, comes between the four Cherubim who sit on the cover of our Aron. Remember those four Cherubim represent the Tetragramaton: יהוה Iod-hei-vav-hei, the holy name of God. When that Shin (fire of Christ) descends into the midst of those four, that spells יהשוה Yeshua, the savior, Jesus Christ.
This is not just theoretical, this is not something just to contemplate, it is something to actualize.
Whether we are a single person or married, there is work that we can do. The work begins through sacrifice: sacrificing our psychological state. It is not through sacrificing physical things. God tells Moshe moses to receive from the people their sacrifices. Moshe is the consciousness, willpower, Tiphereth. We are here in our physical bodies, but we have a mind and a heart and impulses in our three brains and we need to transform them, to take the impurities and discard them. We do that through our own Moshe: conscious willpower. In this way our “Moshe” acts on our behalf to make offerings to God in our heart. In this effort, it does not matter if you are in a couple or single: you can do this. Be conscious of yourself from moment to moment, and stop your bad behaviors, in your heart, in your mind and in your body. That initiates a profound change psychologically and spiritually, and God responds.
Furthermore if you are in a couple, this is even more vital, because from moment to moment we are receiving and transforming energy. If you are transmuting your sexual energies but not working on your ego, then you are working in a impure way and are creating grave consequences, because a couple works with more forces. A man and a women who are working together multiply the results of their actions. The union of the two has the power of God, the power of creation. Through their actions (singly or together) there is a greater impact. They share everything and multiply by their cooperation. This does not mean that if the man does something wrong that the woman is immediately guilty, but she does share in the result because they are one flesh. They do share the consequences to some degree. So those who are married have a much more grave responsibility, not only to themselves, but to their spouse. Members of a couple have to behave in an upright way and never forget the presence of God.
In the tradition it is stated that when the Israelites committed their crimes and defamed the temple, the Shekinah began to abandon the Aron, little by little. This relates to those who developed their Aron in the past but then began to behave badly. The shekinah little by little withdraws. In most of us, the Shekinah, the essence of God, the illuminating Spirit that provides the wisdom and insight, is not there at all. In those who developed their Aron in the past, little by little that essence withdraws from the temple altogether so that the person is left with nothing but the written law; we see this in people who speak the doctrine, who have the written word, but the soul and spirit have abandoned them. The Shekinah is not there. They may project themselves as priests, as masters, and they may be perceived as that, but the Shekinah is not there, the soul and the spirit is gone because their temple is impure. This is very common. The way to restore the Shekinah is to restore the purity of the temple, which can only be accomplished by the two staves, the two spines.
It is said that when the spirit of god is present that the Shekinah speaks from between the cherubim. In other words, the Shekinah (the Divine Mother) communicates to us through our inner Being, through the Cherubim who is within us, and through our Moshe who is in us. So these symbols represent levels upon levels on the Tree of Life much as the Aron itself symbolize this. The Four Worlds of Kabbalah — Assiah, Yetzirah, Briah, and Atziluth — are represented here.
In synthesis, whether we are single or in a couple, if we sincerely want to know God directly, it is up to us; it is not up to anyone else, and no one can bestow it upon you. The presence of God emerges in us because we have prepared a holy sanctuary in ourselves psychologically. This is the Aron, and this is done through the great sacrifice, through death.
Questions and Answers
Audience: What is the difference between repressing those impurities and purging ourselves of those impurities?
Instructor: Repression is mere avoidance. It does not solve anything, in fact it makes things worse. For example, if you get an illness and you avoid it, you will get sicker and you will die. The ego is no different; the ego is a psychological illness, a disease, and it is very similar to cancer. It is a kind of psychological disease that eats and consumes everything else until it kills the organism. That death of the organism is called “the second death,” which is when the entire psyche has been absorbed by the ego and there is nothing that God can do, so he just puts us in the fires of the abyss in order to be cleansed. Repression leads to that, quite simply. If we avoid the facts of our own impurities, the end result will be the descent into hell. Those impurities have to be cleansed, and God—out of compassion—provides cleansing, one way or the other.
Audience: What is the relation between Ark and Archangel?
Instructor: The term Archangel refers to a being who has created the Aron. There are different levels of angels; there is the common Angel who is on there way to creating the Aron, but the degree of Archangel relates to a level of establishing that Aron (Ark-angel). A Cherubim has developed even more.
This word Ark is only related to Hebrew through the contraction of Aron kodesh or kadosh. But if we look at it in Latin, it actually has a lot of importance. We get the English word chest for the trunk of our body from Arka which is Latin for chest. Our own Ark is hidden in the chest where our heart is contained. And the heart is the Arcanum, the hidden mystery.
In the Greek mysteries and Latin mysteries, the creative power where God creates is the Arkaeous, which is were we get the word for chaos.
Moreover, Noah’s Ark landed on Ararat, and there he built the first altar; these words all have the same origin. So all these terms relate and point to that same ultimate root which is within.
Audience: After someone has built the Ark and they lose it, is it any easier to get it back? Moreover, is this the same work as a bodhisattva or bodhichitta?
Instructor: Yes, it is the same work. The Ark itelf is the bodhichitta; it is the same thing. The word bodhichitta indicates a profound development of consciousness rooted in the power of sacrifice and compassion, the same as the Aron, the Ark. Bodhichitta as well is always centered in the Ethereal body in Yesod, so the Aron and bodhichitta have the very same basis.
Bodhichitta is Sanskrit and is the basis of the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions, which are dependent on the power of conscious love; through that power the soul is elaborated and the bodies of the Buddha are created (all the paramitas). That entire creation begins and ends in Yesod / bodhichitta / Aron / the Ark.
As to whether its easier to do it once you have done it, it is easier in the sense that for example if you have already traveled to a given city then you know the route, you have some familiarity with the path. The problem is that when someone has worked in this path before but has failed, they acquire an enormous debt, that they then have to carry if they wish to return to the place they once abandoned. This is not easy and very few do it.
It is relatively easy to reach a beginning degree of liberation or enlightenment, to enter into the beginning stages of our own Aron or Ark. In other words, to establish oneself in nirvana or Eden—relatively speaking—is easy, once you know the science. It is relatively easy to create the solar bodies. Many do it. Yet, if one then falls, one acquires a huge karma because one becomes a fallen angel. That one has betrayed God, has assassinated the inner Buddha, has betrayed all of the Gods who helped them reach that stage, and along the way committed many crimes in order to have fallen. So one has all of those debts to pay in order to recover ones place. That is why its really absurd to hear people boasting of being fallen. They say, “I was such-and-such initiate in the past, but now I’m fallen.” They boast about it. It is absurd. They might as well boast of having been Hitler, because they are boasting of betraying the gods; they are boasting of assassinating their own inner God. How arrogant, how ignorant, and yet people do it.
The fallen one, the one who did it before, is cursed. They cannot be trusted by anyone, and this is why Samael Aun Weor said the fallen bodhisattvas are worse than demons. At least with demons you know where they stand, but a fallen bodhisattva you do not. They have been to the light and they have been to the darkness. Then, you cannot tell which way they will go. They may flip from one side to the other. Yet, they are the ones who can develop the most light. This is the great contradiction. It is the fallen bodhisattvas that return to the light who become the greatest prophets. This is why in all the religions we have quotes saying the greatest sinners become the greatest saints. It is because they know the depths of pain. Nonetheless, one should not boast.
Audience: Can you do it through prayer and observation?
Instructor: Prayer and observation of oneself are basic components of the work to create the Aron but they are only a part of the work.
Prayer is the natural extension or purpose of meditation, which is when we enter into a state of consciousness where we commune with our Innermost. This is real prayer as a state of meditation. A state of communion its not a state of spacing out. It is a state of active, awake, very bright consciousness.
Observation is a state that helps us achieve meditation. Without observation, without active consciousness, we cannot do it. But these alone are incomplete. We need three factors: birth, death, and sacrifice. Prayer and observation are good but they do not include the three factors on their own.
We need daily to be changing our behavior and working to establish the death of our impurities. This is a rigorous psychological work it does not happen automatically or just because we happen to be a good person with good intentions. It happens because of cause and effect. You produce causes, you receive results. If you do not actively and consciously destroy an ego, that ego is not dead.
Furthermore, birth: we need to be transmuting our energies, transforming our divine forces so that those can be utilized for the birth of our soul.
Thirdly, sacrifice: we have to do good for others any and every way we can.
It is only when these three - birth, death and sacrifice - are in harmony in our moment to moment, day to day lives, that the Aron can emerge. Stated another way, if you only meditate you cannot do it; if you only transmute, you cannot do it; if you do a lot of sacrifice for others but do not transmute or meditate, you cannot do it. There are a lot of believers who love Gnosis or love their religion, but cannot create the Ark because they do not harmonize these activities as conscious action. There are many who try to sacrifice, who transmute, who try to meditate, but they do it mechanically, as mere habit, thus they cannot create anything.
This work is very rigorous, very scientific, very demanding; we have to be extremely precise. You cannot assume you are on your way to heaven, you have to experience it. If you do not experience it, you need to revise your practice.
We hear from many students from this tradition. Some are new, while some have been five, ten, twenty years who still say, “How do I know where I am? How do I know what level I have reached? How do I know if I have killed an ego?” These students think they already know how to do the work, yet they do not know where they are in their work. This is a contradiction. If you practice in the right way, you will know where you are in your work, and you will know the state of your consciousness. If you do not know the state of your consciousness, if you do not know if an ego is dying, if you do not know your degree of initiation, you need to revise your practice.
The vast majority of the time the problem is one of two things: the person is either too intellectual or too lazy; one or the other, or both. So you can revise your own practice based on that. If you feel you are stuck, if you feel you do not know where you are, if you feel like you have been trying for a long time and nothing is happening, then you are making some kind of mistake. Somewhere, something in your practice is not accurate. So you need to find an instructor who can help you. You need to appeal to God and practice harder, and pray and meditate and get the guidance you need.
Audience: If the Ark is the body and the body is the temple, what does Jesus mean when he says destroy it and I will rebuild it?
Instructor: The construction of the Ark is a symbol for our work to enter into the Christic path. The Ark or the temple is not a literal object, it is symbolic of a process of our soul. When Jesus says “destroy it and I will raise it again,” he is talking about death and resurrection. The highest path, in which everything that we are, whether that temple is illuminated or perfect or not, must die. But in order for us to reach that Christic mystery of resurrection, the Ark that we create - the soul - must die. The process of initiation is a process of a spiritual birth, but the resurrection cannot happen if there is no death. How can you resurrect if you have not died? In order to be born again, in order to resurrect, you have to die psychologically. All of that impurity has to die. Furthermore, the soul passes through a symbolic death, an initiatic death, a spiritual death, which is painful but beautiful, because after that arrives that divine butterfly, the soul itself, the Vajrasattva, the most divine.