Revelation (Video Script)
In the context of religion or spirituality, revelation is often associated with the revealing of higher knowledge or truth through some form of communication or mystical experience with a supernatural or divine entity. Thus the process of revelation can culminate in sacred text or holy scripture regarded as divinely inspired.
The Vedas are the oldest sacred texts of Hinduism, supposed to have been revealed to various seers in deep meditation. Forming the basis for religious ritual and spiritual practice, the Vedas contain early philosophical and metaphysical writings about the nature of the macrocosm (the gods and the universe), and the microcosm (the world of humans) as well as the relationship between the individual soul (the ātman) and the universal Brahman.
For the ancient Hebrews, prophetic revelation was the primary source of knowledge of the divine and God’s will. Amongst the varied and numerous Hebrew prophets and their revelations, the Torah given to Moses forms the foundation of sacred scripture. Some Jews believe that the Torah was transmitted directly to Moses who merely wrote it down like a secretary taking dictation, resulting in a text that is perfect, holy, and true. Other Jews recognize the human role in revelation, accepting that holy scriptures are divinely inspired, but nonetheless subject to human error.
Flowing out of Judaism, Christianity has adopted much of the revealed wisdom of that tradition in the form of the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. Thus, some modern Christians regard the various books their Bible as authoritative and written by human authors under the inspiration of God or the Holy Spirit. The most extreme position represented by fundamentalist Christians is that their Bible is totally free from error and contradiction and factually accurate in every aspect, including issues of historical and scientific fact. Thus the Genesis account of creation is taken literally as occurring in six 24-hour days, a few thousand years ago. A talking snake in the garden of Eden tempted Adam and Eve, who were the first humans on the planet, a special creation of God. Jonah was swallowed by a big fish and then spat out alive and whole, and so forth.
To be sure, there are other factions within Christianity that accept the inspired source of some, or all of the biblical texts, but rely on a more symbolic or allegorical interpretation of the scriptures. In addition to holy writ, Christians also regard the life of Jesus as a revelation of the divine – a living example of what God desires of all humans.
Muslims accept the sacred text of Islam, the Qur’an, as being dictated to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. The text was conveyed orally by memorization until shortly after the prophet’s death, when the revelations were written down and compiled into a single document.
In more recent times, the Book of Mormon, the sacred text of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints first published in 1830, claims to be a prophetic revelation transcribed from golden plates found by Joseph Smith Jr. with the help of the angel Moroni. Apart from the various doctrines related to Christian theology, one of the central themes of the Mormon tradition is that revelation is ongoing and personal. Each member of church is encouraged to seek direct personal revelation from God with regard to common human experiences such as raising a family and meeting the challenges of daily life.
At some point, all the various examples of revelation cited thus far do ultimately come down to this basic level of human experience and certain fundamental questions. Do the sacred texts and holy scriptures of spiritual traditions reveal the divine in some practical way? Can the rituals, rules, and stories be applied for soul development? Should written texts, ascribed to divine revelation, be interpreted in a rigid, literal manner? Or is there room for symbolic understanding of these pronouncements? Are some sacred texts inerrant and infallible? Or is there an inherent human dimension in revelation that waver it to some extent? And most importantly, is God revealed directly to humans in the present?
God Revealed Through Experience
Although the discussion thus far has focused primarily on revelation through the written word of the various religious traditions, there are other forms of divine revelation. Since the mind of God is revealed in nature, natural revelation is empirical. Studying the laws of nature reveals the impersonal aspect of God. Reveling in the wonders of nature is a direct personal experience of the divine that can take the form of worship, if so desired. As scripture attests, "The heavens declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1-4).
As noted with regard to the Vedic texts of Hinduism, sacred knowledge can be revealed through inner contemplation and deep meditation. Through quietness and listening, the still small voice of God can be perceived within the self.
As described in the lesson on God’s Manifestation In The Earth, human relationships and the events of history can reveal the nature of God. The Judaic tradition includes this aspect of revelation with regard to the history of the Jewish people.
By interpreting history as a living covenant, events in space and time document the relationship of humans with their God and provide insight into how historical events have influenced the development of Jewish law. Thus history itself is an ongoing process of revelation.
At the individual human level of relationship, God is revealed through compassion. God is love. God is revealed in the experience of love shown by one to another.
John’s revelation, as told in the last book of the Christian bible, represents many of the questions and challenges associated with revelation. Traditionally this account is ascribed to John the apostle who was a prisoner doing forced labor on the Mediterranean isle of Patmos, near modern day Turkey. While in deep meditation in his cave, John experienced fantastic visions of mass destruction and redemption.
As written scripture, there is tendency to interpret John’s revelation as a literal prophecy of the end times and divine judgment. As such, Armageddon will be a real battle in Palestine. There will be an anti-christ who will rule the world… and so on. This line of thought has generated an entire industry catering to the hopes and fears of fundamentalist Christians seeking to make sense of the modern world with its wars and rumors of wars.
But there is another way to interpret John’s visions that can serve as a model for working with revelation, regardless of its source. The Cayce readings choose to view John’s revelation as a personal experience of that individual soul. The key to interpreting John’s revelation is to apply the themes and symbols at the personal level. Then it becomes the revelation of self, a psycho-spiritual experience leading to enlightenment.
The first few chapters describe the body soul connection, certain glands and nerves, as the lifeforce energy is raised through the system. The Cayce readings recommend the use of Gray’s anatomy to assist with the interpretation of symbols such as the churches, candlesticks, and book with seven seals, with regard to anatomy and physiology.
Other sections of John’s revelation pertain to purification and initiation as the psyche is purged of selfishness. The eventual outcome is described as becoming as rivers of light – enlightenment, both at the personal level, but also as a source of light to the world.
Thus interpreting the revelation is like interpreting a dream by looking for symbols that can be applied in daily life. As a pattern for interpreting other sacred texts, this approach relies on the use of ideals to ascertain the truth or relevance of the revealed information, so as to avoid being misled.
It is by application in daily life that revelation can be judged based on its truth by personal experience. Whether the sacred texts of traditional religions or personal revelations from dreams, visions or the events in the midst of life, all human experience can reveal the divine if that is the choice and purpose of the seeker.