Myths and Symbols

Shinto symbols, the square, circle and triangle with a Shimenawa

A square, circle and triangle with the sun, moon and stars,
by D. Stolcius von Stolzenberg, Viridarium chymicum,
Frankfurt, 1624

This website is about symbols of Presence in the Japanese culture. The Japanese culture, like all cultures on earth, has grown out of the influences of conscious schools. Conscious school on earth teaches people to wake up from the state of sleep in which they spent their life, to the state of Divine Presence. The legacy of a conscious school surviving through the ages in the form of art, literature and ritual, is, in its conception, designed to carry a double meaning, an inner and an outer one. The inner meaning is directed to the participants’ personal development, while the outer meaning preserves the tradition through the ages. The outer and inner meanings can be differentiated by their relation to the divine, by where they locate God. The outer meaning refers to God, Gods or Angels as external beings to be pleased or asked forgiveness from. Accordingly, its rituals have a strong external flavor intended to be seen and accepted by them. The inner meaning locates God within one, as one’s own Divinity or Higher Self, and focuses on reaching him.

The body is the house of God. That is why it is said, ‘Man know thyself.’ -- Temple Aphorisms from Luxor

Gods and Angels refer to faculties in man that attempt to awaken the God within.

If I accept the fact that a god is absolute and beyond all human experiences, he leaves me cold. I do not affect him, nor does he affect me. But if I know that a god is a powerful impulse in my soul, at once I must concern myself with him, for then he can become important… like everything belonging to the sphere of reality.
-- Carl Gustav Jung (20th c. psychiatrist and psychotherapist)

The rituals and acts of worship to reach the God within are invisible and internal. With the passage of time, as a rule, the inner meaning is forgotten and only the outer meaning remains. Consequently, what later generations see when they approach esoteric traditions, without exception, is only the outer meaning.

The sutras of the Buddha contain countless metaphors. Because mortals have shallow minds, they don't understand anything deep. -- Bodhidharma (1st Chinese patriarch of Zen Buddhism)

But thanks to this the form of the teaching is preserved, and once another School surfaces it can take advantage of this form, unlock its hidden meaning and apply it for its own needs.

Mythological beast with a human head and 6 eyes on it`s body, Gohyaku Rakanji Temple, Tokyo

Winged Sphinx of the Naxians, ca.560 BC Sanctuary of Apollo, Delphi Museum, Greece

Myths and symbols are part of the legacy of conscious schools. A new way of looking is required to understand myths and symbols. The intellect is useful and necessary to deal with every day situations and solve complicated problems, but in spiritual matters it falls short. In a state of presence, when the Higher Self is awake, one perceives the meaning directly, without words.

The aim of 'myths' and 'symbols' was to reach man's higher centers, to transmit to him ideas inaccessible to the intellect, and to transmit them in such forms as would exclude the possibility of false interpretations.
-- Ouspensky, quoting Gurdjieff (20th c. Fourth Way spiritual teacher)
The eyes of a great physician see (the plants growing by) the wayside as medicine (where others see only weeds). A man who knows gemstones sees jewels (where others see only) rocks and stones…..(Whether the context of a text is ) exoteric or esoteric depends on the (discriminative ability of) the reader. It is not a matter of sounds and letters (of that text).  -- Kukai (9th c. Founder of Japanese Esoteric Buddhism)
Understanding of symbols belongs exclusively to higher functions, and must always produce a sense of bafflement, and even frustration, when approached by ordinary functions, such as that of logical thought.
-- Rodney Collin (20th c. Fourth Way spiritual teacher)

The ordinary functions refer to the four lower functions or centers of the lower self. Higher functions refer to functions of the Higher Self. Myths, symbols and rituals contain knowledge about the path to awaken the Higher Self. As their inner meaning gradually gets lost, a religion develops in which only the outer meaning is practiced and the conscious school ceases to exist. Over the centuries, symbols and rituals also enter into the culture that the religion developed in. Once the inner meaning is no longer understood, a new teaching, about awakening the Higher Self arises, which later also gradually develops into a new religion with new myths and symbols, but with the same inner meaning.

Esotericism inevitably founders and degenerates in the course of time, giving rise to the need for the esoteric impulse to be constantly revivified and redefined. -- Alex Horn (20th c. Fourth Way spiritual teacher)

A drawing by William Blake
Is it not a fact that the three doctrines of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism may be three, but the Way is ultimately one? -- Introduction of 'Understanding Reality' by Zhang Boduan (11th c. Taoist master)
Ask of those who have attained God; all speak the same word. All the saints are of one mind; it is only those in the midst of the way who follow diverse paths. All the enlightened have left one message; it is only those in the midst of their journey who hold diverse opinions.
-- Dadu (15th c. Indian saint)
The Hierarchy is one, and the esoteric sides of all religions were launched by it, as was the great experiment started through Ouspensky and Gurdjieff for our own time.
-- Rodney Collin (20th c. Fourth Way spiritual teacher)

All religions, all this singing, one song.
The differences are just illusion and vanity.
Sunlight looks a little different on this wall
than it does on that wall and a lot different
on this other one, but it is still one light.
-- Rumi (13th c. Sufi mystic and poet)

This website also shows many examples of symbols from other Esoteric traditions, which have the same inner meaning as the symbols shown of Japanese Esoteric traditions.

English 日本語

Copyright 2010 - 2021 Walther Sell