The Long History Of Sacred Texts

January 24, 2020 Category: Religion


It only makes sense that a mantic text comes from a mantic person.  When it comes to a self-proclaimed prophet according himself authority on spiritual and/or moral matters, the most oft-used gimmick is fashioning himself as a mouthpiece of higher powers.  Here, the person claims to have been elected to speak (and act) on behalf of the designated deity–effectively serving as a divine afflatus.

In a sense, the anointed figure claims to have a direct hotline to the Creator of the Universe (or some other super-being); thus assigning to himself a nifty perk with which no other people in the world were worthy.  Based on what?  Well, according to the proprietary information being proffered.  It’s circular thinking with a radius of zero.

This fatidic mantle confers upon the claimant great privilege.  For once one affixes the imprimatur of the designated deity to one’s pronouncements, one has license to say / do whatever one wishes.  When whatever one says or does is styled as “god’s will”, ANYTHING goes.  So it should come as no surprise that there have been so many self-proclaimed mouthpieces for the godhead.

As is the case with any other gimmickry, the more people believe them, the more they are egged on.  This was nothing new in the Judaic tradition.  Who else claimed to be relaying messages from the Abrahamic deity?  Hosea, Elisha, Ezekiel, and Ezra all claimed to have been commissioned by the godhead to pass along some propitious communique to Beth Israel.  Such men were no different from “channelers” who claim to be relaying messages from the spirit realm…or shamans claiming to be relaying messages from deceased ancestors…or any other huckster claiming to have powers of divination.

Supplicants are so intoxicated by their own delusive thinking that they are blinded to its spuriousness–a spuriousness that everyone else can easily see.  Consequently, they recognize the preposterousness of ALL OTHER beliefs in outlandish revelation tales; yet are perfectly willing to believe their own version is incontrovertible.  So it is facile for most True Believers to blithely dismiss everyone else’s cynosures as a bunch of crackpots…even most are unwilling to acknowledge their own creed is based on the same logic.

The refrain is familiar: A messenger-of-the-god(s) makes a special delivery to a specially designated individual.  It is one of the oldest leitmotifs in human history.  It goes back to Sumerian lore, in which the godhead, Eresh-kigal’s “sukkal” [messenger] was “Namtar”.

In the 8th century B.C., the Akkadian writer, Kabti-ilani Marduk penned an epic about the god of chaos, Erra, which he claimed was dictated to him by Erra himself.  This may be one of the earliest instances of revealed text.  Why, exactly, this deity chose HIM–and ONLY him–to deliver this importune message, Kabti-ilani never said.  It was he who was selected; and that’s all there was to it.

The rest of the world was not privy to this nebulous source of information.  Everyone just had to take his word for it.  And so they did.

There seems to be a universal proclivity to espouse some version of this plot-line.  The same narrative device was later used with Mercury / Hermes in Ancient Greek mythology.  In some of the earliest Persian mythology, the tale of the first shah (Manuchehr of Iran) tells of a visitation from an angel named “Spendarmad” [Arabized to “Esfandaramad”] who delivered a special message to his countrymen.  Such a timely “revelation” was stupendously effective, as it enabled the presiding shah to defeat his adversary, King Afrasiab of Turan.  In Hebrew lore, the arch-angel “[n]Uri-El” [God is My Light / Fire] visited Noah to notify him of the impending flood. {36}

In Mandaean (a.k.a. “Nasoraean” / “Nazarene”) lore, the divine emanation [from the world of light], “Hibil Ziwa” was conveyed to “Abat[h]ur”: progenitor of mankind…who is also seen as the coming Messianic figure (a.k.a. “Yoshamin”, son of the first emanation).  In this Abrahamic theology, the godhead is “Hayyi R[ab]bi” [Great Living God; the divine source of life].  The message was also passed along to “Ptahil”, who is seen as a kind of fallen angel.  In this theology, the Holy Spirit is dubbed “Manda d’Hayyi”.  All of this is recounted in the “Haran Gawaita” [Mandaic for “Inner Haran”].  Note that the primary Mandaean patriarch is John the Baptist.  (“Manda” is Aramaic for “knowledge”.)

From the Kagyu to the Nyingma lineages of Tibet (whose messengers are known as “tülkus” or “tertons”, each of whom receives revelations called “termas”), this theme is ubiquitous.  (Most lineages are patriarchal–as with the various Tibetan lines: Shang-pa, Kargyu-pa, Ling-pa, Trung-pa, etc.)

This particular narrative trope is standard in hagiographical material.  Propitious messages are delivered to mankind in a way that ONLY ONE person knows about.  Revelations cannot be conveyed to everyone; only to a designated person–a cosmic ambassador of sorts.

In most cases, such episodes are said to have transpired in a place of seclusion.  This leitmotif can be found in legends around the world.  For example, the Tyrrhenian (Etruscan) prophet, Tages of Tarchuna, received his revelations in the middle of a field of crops.  Jesus of Nazareth is said to have met the holy spirit during a solitary retreat in the garden of Gethsemane.

The Christian tradition continued to use variations on the revelation-in-isolation leitmotif.  Saul of Tarsus claimed to have received his revelation on the road to Damascus.  Later, the (Coptic) cenobitic monk, Pachomius of Thebes, is said to have received a revelation from an angelic messenger whilst secluding himself in a cave (according to the “Lausiac History” by Palladius of Galatia).  Meanwhile, a prophet known as “Elkesai” claimed to have received revelations from an angel c. 100 A.D…a claim that lead to an Ebionite sect: the “Elkesaites”.

Indeed, in many cases, the revelation is claimed to have been delivered personally–secret knowledge channeled through the mouth / pen of the writer via preternatural means.  Five examples from the Renaissance:

  • In c. 1200, Marie of Oignies claimed to have had visions delivered to her from the Abrahamic deity…conferring on her special insights that were later recorded by her follower, Jacque of Vitry.
  • In c. 1330, Richard Rolle of Yorkshire claimed to have had visioned delivered to him from the Abrahamic deity…which he eventually put into a book: “Incendium Amoris” [Fire of Love].
  • Also in the 14th century, Julian of Norwich claimed to have received sixteen revelations from the Abrahamic deity…which she eventually put into a book: “Revelations Of Divine Love”.
  • And in the late 14th century, the “Kalam-i Saranjam” (composed in Gorani) is believed by the Yarsan to be a verbatim transcription from the Abrahamic deity, as delivered to Kurdish Sultan Sahak. {17}
  • In the 15th century, Margery Kempe of Norfolk claimed to have received messages from the Abrahamic deity; which she eventually published as “The Book of Margery Kempe”.

By the modern era, one would think that this leitmotif would have been sufficiently worn out.  Alas: not so.

The English occultist, John Dee claimed to have had some of his books dictated to him by angels…with whom he communicated via the prodigious psychic powers he claimed to have.  Queen Elizabeth believed him; and so kept him in her employ as an oracle of sorts.  Queen Catherine de Medici of France would do the same with Michele de Nostredame (a.k.a. “Nostradamus”).  Russian Tsar, Nikolas II would so the same with Grigori Rasputin.  Thus even rulers can be rubes.

More recently, other hucksters claimed to have received their messages in private.  Here are a dozen of the more well-known instances:

  • In the early 18th century, Swedish mystic, Emanuel Swedenborg claimed that he had been appointed by the Abrahamic deity to write “The Heavenly Doctrine”: the Final Revelation for Christians.
  • In the 1820’s, Joseph Smith lifted his revelation from a set of secret golden tablets on which were inscribed an ancient script that only he was able to decipher (with a set of special decoding goggles, provided to him personally).  Per his own testimony, he was visited by the angel “Moroni” at a special location in upstate New York (a place in Ontario County, just outside of Palmyra; later anointed the “Sacred Grove”).  (Revelation on a mountain-top was the preferred leitmotif.  Alas, there were no mountains available in the area; so a hill sufficed.  The Catskills aren’t quite the Himalayas, so Smith opted to work with what he had.)  While on the hill (now referred to as Cumorah Hill), Smith was shown the hidden location of the aforementioned tablets.  He then composed the “Book(s) of Mormon”.  Astoundingly, there are now more than 15 million members of his church worldwide.
  • In 1852, Baha-ullah wrote the aforementioned “Kitab-i Aqdas” [Most Holy Book] while in the prison at Acre, Palestine (or at Tehran, Iran).  Where did he get the material?  It was delivered to him by a “houri” [heavenly maiden].  (There was no word on whether or not she had wide eyes or large breasts.)  The resulting scripture also included the “Suriy-i Haykal”.
  • In 1897, storied Siberian mystic, Grigori Rasputin, claimed to have received messages from the Virgin Mary, who appeared to him in private at Verkhoturye.  (He also claimed visitations from the Russian saint, Simeon of Verkhoturye.)  As mentioned, Rasputin managed to persuade the Russian (Romanov) Tsar that this was true.  He boasted healing powers, with which he ingratiated himself by “treating” the Tsar’s son.  Crowds of credulous followers hung on his every word.
  • In 1904, famed occultist, Aleister Crowley claimed to have received his revelations in seclusion somewhere in Cairo, Egypt–thereby yielding a new religion, “Thelema”.  Crowley insisted that he heard the disembodied voice of “Aiwass”, the angelic messenger of the Egyptian god, Horus.  Over the course of the next three days, he wrote down everything the voice told him.  (As mentioned earlier, he titled the transcript, the “Liber AL vel Legis”; Book of the Law.)  As the mouthpiece for the vital message to mankind, he anointed himself the oracle for the “Aeon of Horus”.
  • In 1920, Michael Agerskov composed the aforementioned “Vandrer mod Lyset” [Toward the Light] based on his private communiques with astonishingly erudite, other-worldly entities.
  • In the inter-War years, American huckster, Edgar Cayce claimed to have received messages directly from Atlantis–a magical hotline that he invoked to explain his alleged psychic abilities.  The messenger’s name?  “Ra”.  Thousands upon thousands believed him.
  • Around the same time, Muhumusa (leader of a Rastafarian off-shoot in Rwanda / Uganda) claimed that she was possessed by Queen Nyabing.  She subsequently founded the “Nyabingi” cult.
  • In the 1940’s, Maria Valtorta of Campania composed “Il Poema dell Uomo-Dio” [The Poem of the Man-God; alt. “The Gospel As Revealed to Me”]; purportedly based on revelations she purportedly received in private, when nobody else was looking.
  • In 1959, Scottish esotericist, Benjamin Creme claimed to be speaking on behalf of “Maitreya”: Avatar of the Age of Aquarius.
  • Practitioners of the Slavic “Rodnover” Faith consider the Book of Veles to be a sacred text–based on ancient Slavonic inscriptions on planks of wood purportedly discovered by Yuri P. Mirolyubov near Saint Petersburg in the late 1980‘s.
  • And as mentioned earlier, the “Ofudesaki” is alleged to be yet another message from the one true god (dubbed “Tenri-O-no-Mikoto” in Japanese).  How was it transmitted to the world?  You guessed it: via a messenger.  According to the followers of “Tenrikyo”, the “chosen one” was a Japanese woman named Nakayama Miki (re-christened “Oyasama”).  As it turns out, she required no angelic intermediary to “channel” the verses; god spoke DIRECTLY to her…when nobody else was around, of course.  Tenrikyo now has over two million followers. 

The examples go on and on.  Korean demagogue “Ahn” Sahng-hong (who fashioned himself the Abrahamic prophet “Elijah”) founded “Witnesses of the Church of God” by claiming to be speaking on behalf of Jesus of Nazareth.  Fellow Korean, Sun Myung Moon employed the same gimmick; and would pull the same stunt soon thereafter–anointing himself and his current wife (followed by his next wife) the “True Parents” of mankind…subsequently composing the “Weolli Gangnon” [Divine Principle].  Thus the Church of Unification was born.  There are now almost two million “Moonies” around the world.

Sometimes, more than one person shares the mantle of “messenger”.  In Vietnam, Ngo Minh Chieu claimed to have received messages from the Creator of the Universe (dubbed “Duc Cao-Dai”).  Cao-dai-ism was officially established on Christmas Eve 1926 by a trifecta of “mediums” (Pham Cong Tac, Cao Quynh Cu, and Cao Hoai Sang) who claimed to be channeling those communiques…thereby yielding their sacred scripture: the “Phap-Chanh-Truyen”.  The Cao Dai Faith now boasts over SIX MILLION members worldwide.

New York City’s Helen Schucman claimed her inner voice was Jesus of Nazareth HIMSELF.  New Jersey’s Elizabeth Clare Wulf (who changed her surname to “Prophet”) claimed to be in direct communication with the Abrahamic deity; and founded the “Church Universal and Triumphant”.  The gimmick was also found in “The Great White Brotherhood”, the messenger of which is “Sanat Kumara” (who, we are told, dwells in Shambalah).  Self-proclaimed prophets like “Serapis Bey” and “Koot Hoomi” continue to draw followers.

Though many did not believe the claims of these figures, few laughed out loud at these people.  Instead, each of them enjoyed significant followings.  (Most of the authors of these screeds were not obscure crackpots; they enjoyed significant followings at one point or another.)

Do some these accounts ring any bells?  They should.  Mohammed of Mecca made use of the same trope when he claimed to have received the final revelation from the Abrahamic deity (via a divine emissary).  With Joseph Smith’s communiques with that same deity, the name of the divine emissary was changed (from the angel Gabriel to the angel Moroni).  Otherwise, the key plot points remained roughly the same.  Revelation-in-isolation is a timeless gimmick.

Interestingly, in Judaic lore, there is no difference between the concept of angle and that of messenger (the term in Classical Hebrew, “malakh” means both).  These beings are variously referred to as “malakh elohim” [messengers of god] and “bene elohim” [sons / children of god].  In the Book of Daniel (chapt. 7), the protagonist receives a dream-vision about the eschaton from the godhead.

We might bear in mind that this is not all about calculated deception.  It is not uncommon for SELF-deception (i.e. delusion) to be involved.  Indeed, many of these hoax-peddlers sincerely believed themselves to be who they claimed to be…even after it had been incontrovertibly proven that they were frauds. (!)  The best way to sell a lie is to first believe it oneself.

Claiming to have received “wahi” / “futuha” (the Arabic terms for “revelation” used by Muslims) in a remote place, with nobody else around to see, was nothing new.  The gimmick is as old as time.  The claim that Mohammed of Mecca received the “final revelation” from the angel “Jibreel” [Gabriel] in a cave on Mount Hira follows a tradition that goes back to the Persian prophet, Zoroaster (a.k.a. “Zarathustra”).  Zoroaster received his first divine revelation (“daena”) from the godhead, Ahura Mazda, on a mountain in Persia, at the age of thirty.  He was visited by a divine envoy referred to as “Amesha Spenta” (later rendered “[a]Mahraspand”) as attested in the “Yasna Haptanghaiti”.  The Avestan moniker “S[o]rush” / “Sraosha” is also used for an emissary of the divine (to wit: the means by which “daena” is relayed). {37}

And so when Nietzsche composed his parable about Zarathustra, he had the protagonist retreat to a secluded place in the mountains, whereupon he received Enlightenment.

The leitmotif also appears in the tale of Siddhartha Gautama of Lumbini (a.k.a. the Buddha) as well.  He received his first illumination while meditating alone under a Ficus religiosa (a.k.a. “Bodhi tree”; i.e. tree of Enlightenment / Awakening) near the village of Senani in Uruwela [alt. “Uruvilva”], at a place now referred to as “Bodh Gaya”. {38}

In the Far East, the notion of a sacred tree–typically a fig tree–goes back to Vedic myths about the sacred fig tree: “as-vattha” [alt. “as-sattha”; “akshay[-a-]vat”] at Prayag.  The earliest occurrence of that leitmotif goes back to ancient Sumeria, where the “huluppu” tree grew in Inanna’s garden.  Sacred trees play a prominent role in folklore.  Notable is the “uloko” / “iroko” tree in Yoruba / Igbo / Edo myth; and–most famously–“Yggdrasil” in Norse myth.

Revelation in caves then became part of the lore.  Buddha is said to have attained nirvana in the Satta-parna-guha cave [alt. “Sapt[a]-parni”] at Rajgriah (modern-day Rajgir).  Chandra-gupta is said to have achieved enlightenment in a cave at Sravana-belgola in southern India.  Later, the Bengal “maha-siddha” [tantric sage], Tilopa[da] / Talika claimed to have received his revelations in a cave at Pashupatinath c. 1000 (where he is said to have attained “siddhi”; Buddha-hood); and soon thereafter passed the wisdom to his disciple, Naropa.

The “Longchen Nyingthig”, the revealed scripture of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism…which was revealed via the “terton”, Jigme Lingpa in the 18th century.  (The scripture focuses on the path to liberation: “Dzogchen”.)  As it happens, ALL “tertons” are said to have received their revelations in isolation. {43}  And those places of seclusion are–you guessed it–typically in mountain caves; as with, say, the sacred Maratika cave in Nepal. {44}

The so-called “Cave of the Apocalypse” at Chora in Patmos has been a sacred site since the 10th century; fashioned as the site where the “Book of Revelation” was composed by “John”.  Also note the 11th-century (Eastern Orthodox) monk, Anthony of Kiev, who is said to have received revelations in the caves of Mount Athos…a trope that dated back to Athanasius of Trabzon [alt. “Trebizond”].

Mountain peaks are a natural place to receive revelation, as it is (literally) higher than the rest of the world…as well as (literally) closer to the heavens.  The lofty heights correlate with awe and majesty.  As is well-attested in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Hebrew prophet, Moses, received his pivotal revelation while alone on a mountain (“Horeb”) in the Sinai.  This idiom resonates with people.  It’s not for nothing that, in his final speech (Memphis, 1968), Martin Luther King Jr. averred: “[God] has allowed me to go up to the mountain.  And I have looked over and seen the Promised Land.”  Here, the mountain represented an enlightened vantage point (while the Promised Land was an ideal).

As with so many other ubiquitous mythemes, the notion of a sacred mountain goes back to archaic Sumer.  Indeed, the motif played a certain role in Sumerian–followed by Assyrian / Babylonian–myth.  In Sumerian cosmology, the gateway associated with E-Kur (the axis mundi) was believed to be located in the Zagros mountains.  Mountains were associated with Anu, Enki [alt. “An-ki”] and–most notably–Nin-hursag [“maiden of the mountain”]; as “hursag” was a term used for “mountain”.

The Sumerian god, Enlil was also associated with a mountain.  The temple to him at Nippur was dubbed “E-Kur”.  “E-” was used to refer to either a “house” or “mountain”; and is generally translated as “mountain house”.  Thus: “E-Kur-igi-gal” [House / Mountain of Sight] and “E-Kur-ma” [Exalted House / Mountain].  The sanctuary of Enlil (later, of Ishtar) was dubbed “E-nam-tila” [House / Mountain of Life / Creation].  “E-Kur” was seen as the venue at which the gods held court–as with Mount Olympus in Greek mythology.

Ninurta, the Sumerian god of law, was also associated with a mountain.  Mankind was given the divine law [“Mes”] on a mountain by his mother, Ninlil, consort of Enlil.  Hence the temple dubbed “E-Kur-Mes-ikil” [House / Mountain of Pure Law].  The sanctuary of Ninlil was later referred to as “Hursag-kala-ma”. {40}

We find the fascination with mountains in Greek mythology.  What the Greeks called Mount Kasios was Mount Hazzi (the home of Teshub) in Hurrian / Hittite lore; and Mount Sapan[u] (the home Baal; rendered “Zaphon” in Hebrew) in Akkadian / Canaanite / Phoenician lore.  This particular played a pivotal role in various religions throughout the region for thousands of years.  In Ancient Greece, Mount Olympus was seen as home of the gods.  The apotheosis of the legend of Prometheus occurred on Mount Strobilus (now called Mount Elbrus).  Zeus was born on Mount Kynthos on the island of Delos.  Dionysus was said to have been born either on Mount Pramnos on the island of Ikaria (or, in other versions, on a mountain in the faraway, mythical land of Nysa).  The Carians believed their godhead resided on the mountain of Herakleia, at Latmus.

As with ancient Greece, some people of the Far East assumed their gods dwelled on mountain peaks.  Hindus believe that Mount Kailash / Kailasa (a.k.a. “Mount Meru”) is home to Shiva.  Vajrayana Buddhists believe that the Buddha “Cakra-samvara” (a.k.a. “Demchok”) dwells on its peak.  And Tibetan Buddhists believe it is where Guru Rinpoche (a.k.a. “Padma-sabhava”) achieved enlightenment.

The great Jain “tirthankara”, Maha-vira–and even the Buddha himself, Siddhartha Gautama–was said to have retreated to a mountain named “Gijjha-kuta” [alt. “Gadhra-kuta”; “Vulture Peak”] at Girivraj [later dubbed “Rajagaha”; alt. “Rajgir”] in Bihar…where he received further enlightenment.  Jains also believe that the first “tirthan-kara”, Rish-abha-deva, attained “moksha” on the aforementioned Mount Meru.

In Abrahamic lore, Elijah’s alter was on Mount Caram-El.  Isaiah refers to a sacred mountain in chapter 14.  The (Coptic and Syriac Melchite) Saint Anthony’s monastery in the Red Sea Mountains of Eastern Egypt were seen as a sanctuary…especially by monks from Scetis, Nitria, and Kellia.  The use of the “revelation received on a mountain” trope persisted thereafter.  “Itabyrium” (Mount Tabor in Galilee) is said to be where Jesus of Nazareth was revealed to be the “son of god”.

Other sacred mountains are THEMSELVES mythical–as with “Hara Berezaiti” in Zoroastrian lore and Kunlun Mountain in Chinese mythology.  Such places were seen as the “axis mundi”: the center of the world (as well as the nexus of the earthly world and the divine realm).  It is not for nothing that in so many religious traditions, the “temenos” is a mountain.  Consequently, mountains often play a key role in pilgrimages.

So what of COMMANDMENTS?  According to Sumerian myth, the three clay tablets of Destiny–bequeathed by Enlil–established the divine law (ref. the Gudea cylinders of Lagash c. 2125 B.C.)  Hence the aforementioned “sukkal” [messenger], “Namtar”…who claimed to be delivering this propitious missive to mankind.

In subsequent Babylonian myth, Tiamat bestows the tablets to the legendary figure, “Kingu” (ref. the “Enuma Elish”).  Thus the general motif of DIVINE LAW (being delivered in a special way) dates back to the 3rd millennium B.C.  Later, in Babylonian lore, the son of the godhead (Marduk), “Nabu” delivered divine revelations on stone tablets–from which all wisdom was derived.

In Egyptian lore, Osiris dictated the divine law onto stone tablets.  In Greek lore, the laws of Zeus were delivered to King Minos of Crete.  Where?  On Mount Ida in Knossos.  (Minos was known to sometimes retreat to seclusion in caves.)  Mycenaean tales of Dionysus (Roman: “Bacchus”) of Thebes involve him receiving the gods’ laws on Mount Kithairon.  Other legends involved Rhea (later “Cybele”), mother of the gods, retreating to a sacred cave located on Mount Ida…thereby bringing forth the “Dactyls” (considered progenitors of the Greeks).

Such fantastical tales were invariably inspiration for the Judaic story of Moses.  Indeed, by the time the Torah was composed by Babylonian scribes during the Exilic period, the divinely-appointed man receiving divine law (alt. revelation) on a mountain was a familiar motif.  The divine giver-of-laws could also be found in Egypt with Osiris and in the Olmec / Aztec / Maya civilizations with the plumed serpent, Quetzalcoatl.  In Vedic lore, the “Smriti” was delivered to Manu on a mountain.  The Vedanta (Hindu) sage, Vashistha was able to bring forth the (Rajput) “Agnivansha” people by appealing to the Vedic god, “Agni” at the peak of “Arbuda-anchal” (alt. “Arbuda-ranya”; a.k.a. Mount Abu).

The notion of making a compact with the godhead has myriad occurrences throughout history, and around the world.  Oftentimes, the mytheme was appropriated from antecedent cultures.  The covenant between the Abrahamic deity and the Hebrews–as delivered to Moses–was inspired by the covenant between Assyrian King Esarhaddon and King Baal of Tyre c. 675 B.C.  (On the sacred amulets of Hadatu, we read about the Eternal One’s covenant, made by the sons of El.)

But in the Abrahamic tradition, the most well-known version of the mountain-motif is that of Moses–receiving the ten commandments from the Abrahamic deity on Mount Horeb–later referred to as “Mount Sinai”.  After the tales of Moses, the routine of receiving revelation on a mountain was repeated myriad times in the Judeo-Christian tradition. 

As mentioned, the Prophet Elijah claimed to have received his revelations while in a cave on a mountain (also Mount Horeb in some versions; though usually designated as Mount Car[a]m-El); as did his disciple, Elisha.  And we are told by Isaiah that the holiest place is mount Zaphon, where “El” convenes his assembly (14:13).

The author of the “Book of Jubilees” claimed his text was composed OVER A THOUSAND YEARS earlier…by Moses himself.  But how had Moses gotten the information?  It was delivered to him by the “Angel of Presence”…who, we are told, had been commissioned by the Abrahamic deity to dictate the book to him.  That text lay dormant for over a millennium before a Pharisee claimed to have re-discovered it in the 2nd century B.C…just in time for it to be used by the Hasmoneans as propaganda (along with the newfangled “Book of Daniel”).

Perhaps the closest precursor to the Mohammedan tale of “Laylat al-Qadr” (“Night of Power”) on “Gar Hira” was the Thracian / Dacian legend of Zalmoxis.  This great Anatolian prophet retreated to a cave on Mount Kogaionon for three years.  It was in that mountain hideaway that he received the revelations that he would deliver to the Getae.

By the time this plot-line was recycled by the Arabs, it had become somewhat of a cliche.  The tale of Mohammed’s “Night of Power” was likely cribbed from tales of the Abrahamic prophet, Zechariah–who was visited by a divine emissary, whereupon he experienced a series of propitious visions over the course of an auspicious night.  The formula is quite simple, and astoundingly effective when the target audience is sufficiently credulous, and looking for someone to proffer an inspiring message.

Even etiological myths often involve mountains–as with Mount Sinjar in the Yazidi creation myth.  So it should come as little surprise that mountains–real or imagined–play a common role in tales of prophethood.  This makes perfect sense, as their prominence on the physical landscape is symbolic of spiritual prominence.  Indeed, their elevation is as metaphorical as it is literal. {39}  The mountaintop emulates the vantage point of divinity (from on high).  For at such heights, one would seem to be closer to the divine; and one can see more of the world.  Moreover, one is “above” worldly concerns; removed from the petty distractions that dominate the world below.  The metaphor also works because it is a difficult place to reach; one must struggle to get there.  It is unheard of for popinjays to claim revelation in gullies or ravines.  After all, a ditch is not the sort of place people are inclined to exalt.

The “revelation in a cave on a mountain” leitmotif is not limited to the West.  Venturing to the Far East, we encounter it over and over again.  It was also used in Jainism, with the ancient tale of the Digambara monk, Dharasena.  This “acharya” relayed the key portions of the “Anga Viahapannatti” [alt. “Vyakhya Prajnapti”] and “Anga Ditthivada” [alt. “Drstivada”] to his disciples (Pushpadanta and Bhutabali) in the 1st century A.D.  As the story goes, he received–and then conveyed–the revelations in the “Chandra Gupha” [“Moon Cave”] located on Mount Girnar in Gujarat. {41}

In Tibet, there is a tradition of “revelations” that yield texts called “terma”–especially in the Bon and Nyingma traditions.  Prophets (revealers) who receive such revelations (via a process dubbed “Nang-jang”), typically in secluded places in the mountains, are referred to as “Tertons”.  The most famous “terton” [prophet] was the Kagyu monk, Karma Lingpa, to whom was dictated the holy book of Nyngma Buddhism, the aforementioned “Bardo Thodol” (a.k.a. the “Tibetan Book of the Dead”) in the 14th century.  The revelation was purportedly based on the “lost” revelations of Padma-sambhava of Oddiyana / Kalinga [“Lotus-Born”; a.k.a. “Guru Rinpoche”] from the 8th century.  Yes: He too received his revelation on a mountain.  Which mountain?  “Daklha Gam-po” [Mount Gam-po Dar], the place that was designated as a “temenos” by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gam-po around the same time that Mohammed of Mecca is said to have had his “Night of Power”. (!)

In the 2nd century A.D., a Han mystic named “Zhang Daoling” founded a cult of “Taoism” (many of its principles diametrically opposed to the original philosophy by the same name; i.e. genuine Taoism).  He probably thought he was being rather original when he presented his tale of revelation-in-isolation.  As the story goes, in the year 142, he retreated to Mount Heming (in Dayi)…whereupon the messenger (“Taishang Laojun”) delivered a revelation to him: the “Doctrine of the Orthodox One [via] the Authority of the Alliance”.  According to this charismatic Chinese prophet, whilst in the mountain cave, the deity bestowed upon him the title, “Celestial Master”.

The revelation was couched as a WARNING (something that might sound familiar to Muslims) in which a series of cataclysms would be visited upon mankind on the appointed day-of-reckoning…after which only 240,000 “chosen” people would be allowed to survive (who would then re-populate the world during the prophesied era of “Great Peace”).  Zhang Daoling claimed to be fixing the corruptions that had set into the Taoist tradition since its founding.  (That schtick should also sound familiar.)

Other Chinese believe that the Charya Tantra (a.k.a. the “Upa Tantra”) was handed down on Mount Jizu in Yunnan, China.

We might also note Buddhists’ handling of the three “Pitaka” of the Pali Canon and of the “Buddha-vacana”.  These works are alleged–by some–to be documentation of the “Word of the Buddha” (i.e. the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, from the 6th century B.C.)  The Maha-samghika writings and the Mula-sarvasti-vada writings are both considered to be authentic records of the “Buddha-vacana”, but hardly claim to be verbatim transcripts.  The same goes for the “Pitaka”.  Consequently, according to level-headed Buddhists, to fixate on specific words is to miss the entire point OF those words.  This is why there is no “issue” about translating the original Sanskrit / Pali into English…or into any other language.

Manichaeism was a syncretism of Zoroastrianism and Christianity, with some Hindu and Buddhist influences.  Mani called his Faith “Hope”, which emphasized redemption / salvation, and was based on the dichotomy between good (light) and evil (darkness).  In many ways, Mohammed of Mecca reprised the narrative pioneered by Mani.  How so?  Mani proclaimed the revelations he preached had been delivered to him in installments by a celestial entity, and were the culmination of all previous revelations in ALL the world’s religions.  He was elected to rectify antecedent revelations that had been corrupted by those who had gone astray.  This should oddly familiar to Muslims.  {42}

“Mani” insisted that he was receiving secret messages from a celestial entity (his “heavenly twin”)…when no one else was looking, of course.  He thus fashioned himself the “paraclete”–based on the Koine Greek term “parakletos”, which has sometimes been interpreted as a reference to the coming Messiah (as mentioned in the Gospel of John 16:7-13).  It is more commonly interpreted as the coming of the Holy Ghost at the Pentecost; per the following verses (16:12-14), which refer to the pending arrival of the “Spirit of Truth”. {45}

In the 3rd century, Roman Emperor Aurelian was visited by “Sol Invictus” via a vision.  Unsurprisingly, he received the revelation when nobody was around.  This visitation inaugurated a new sun-god cult.  Roman Mithra-ism promptly ensued.

Then there was the notorious charlatan, Augustine of Hippo, who received his revelation (so he said) while sitting under…surprise, surprise…a fig tree.  A message was delivered to him through a child-like voice that implored: “Pick it up and read.  Pick it up and read.”  Sound familiar?  It should.  According to Mohammedan lore, the first words delivered to the self-proclaimed prophet on Mount Hira by the divine envoy were, “Read. Read.”  (The Syriac term for “read” and “recite” were similar: “Q-R-N”.  Hence the moniker for Islam’s holy book.)

The Taoist prophet, Kou Qian-zhi (founder of the Northern sect of the Way of the Celestial Masters) received his revelation on Mount Hua c. 400.  In some sects of Buddhism, Mount Kailash[a] and Machapuchare are each considered cosmically significant.

We encounter similar motifs in Africa.  For the Yoruba, god’s messenger was Oduduwa of Ife.  Meanwhile, subsequent holy people are not singular in importance.  It is routine in Shamanistic practice for appointed people to speak on behalf of the god(s).  The catch with Shamanism is that there are many such people, and they occur in every generation.  That is to say: They are mere vessels, provisionally endowed with the preternatural ability to channel messages; they are not necessarily historically-significant figures.

It should be noted that belief in “mediums” (those with the magical ability to channel messages from “beyond” the empirical world) does not necessarily involve deities.  Often, it involves communiques with (alleged) spirits (as with seances) or with demons (as with exorcisms).  In modern times, divine envoys are a convenient shtick.  The idea is that a supernatural missive requires a supernatural courier.  One can also ask “Dada” Lekhraj Kripalani: his messenger was named “Shiv[a]”…

  • or Alice Ann Bailey: her messenger was named “Djwal Khul”
  • or Helena Blavatsky: her messenger was named “Master Morya”
  • or Richard Zenor: his messenger was named “Agasha”
  • or Jane Roberts: her messenger was named “Seth”
  • or J.Z. Knight: her messenger is named “Ramtha”
  • or Tom Kenyon: his messenger is named “Hathor”
  • or Esther Hicks: her messengers are–collectively–named “Abraham”
  • or Ramon Stevens: his messenger is named “Alexander”
  • or Carla L. Rueckert: her messenger was named “Ra”
  • or Sufian Chaudhary: his messenger is Archangel “Uriel”
  • or Lee Carroll: his messenger is named “Kryon”
  • or “Kahu” Fred Sterling: his messenger is named “Kirael”

…or ME.  MY messenger is Mr. Spaghetti-Pants…who I’ve just made up, but will now claim has given me the most important information ever given to any human in history.

In the modern age, the leitmotif can be mapped to space-age themes.  Hence the roster of self-proclaimed “contactees” like Ivo A. Benda–who claimed to have been in communication with “Ashtar Sheran”.  Other examples:

  • George van Tassel–who claims to be in communication with fantastical extraterrestrial beings: “Ashtar” and “Solgonda”.
  • Darryl Anka claims his extraterrestrial source is named “Bashar”.
  • Marshall Vian Summers claims his source is a nebulous cabal known as “the Unseen Ones”.
  • Geoffrey Hoppe claims to be channeling “Tobias” of the “Crimson Council” (hence his Crimson Circle Energy Company).
  • Gary Renard is in communion with “Arten” and “Pursah”: otherworldly beings who will communicate ONLY with him because they don’t want their message to be corrupted by others.
  • Bernard Perona (a.k.a. “Drunvalo Melchizedek”) claims to be getting the inside scoop from “Thoth”…who’s information is taken from the mythical “Akashic Records”.

Some prophets dispense with the “channeling” gimmick altogether–as with Sathya Sai Baba, who claimed to be the reincarnation of “Sai Baba of Shirdi”.  He managed to accumulate hundreds of thousands of followers–THOUSANDS of whom testify that they witnessed his miracles first-hand.

Ask ANY acclaimed channeler (alt. spiritual “medium”) who claims to be “in touch with” some mysterious entity “from beyond”, and one will surely be treated to a tall-tale crafted for the next sycophant-in-waiting.  Charismatic leaders make use of this schtick ad nauseam.  Whether a numinous source (which bestows upon her/him proprietary wisdom) or an angelic being from Abrahamic theology, the gimmick is the same.

Humans are predisposed to posit a spirit-world of some kind.  Indeed, the notion of “spiritual beings” is an alluring one.  Moreover, the prospect of being able to communicate with some kind of spirit-world holds tremendous appeal.  Ergo the ubiquity of animism in primitive cultures.  So it is that other-worldly realms, populated by mystical beings or ancestors, are what the hotline connects certain people to. {46}

Homo sapiens seem to be hardwired to be captivated by ideas of the paranormal.  Even in the modern age (when we should know better), many are enthralled by the prospect of communicating with numinous entities (hence the existence of Britain’s “Society For Psychical Research”).  Religion simply takes this motif to extremes.

A designated mouthpiece for god’s message to mankind: The theme is commonplace throughout human history.  In each instance enumerated here, the divine message was received while the “chosen one” had adjourned to a place of solitude.  As we have seen, there is nothing unique about Mohammed’s tale.  (To recapitulate: A convicted con-man, Joseph Smith would attest to this–via his encounter with Moroni–over twelve centuries later.  The golden tablets were a special added touch.  Such narrative rigamarole is useful; as it serves to add a patina of mystique to whatever material is being peddled.)

And so it goes: The notion of a “messenger” (a specific person who is uniquely positioned to provide a message to everyone else, typically via a divine envoy; per divine ordinance) has captivated mankind since time immemorial.  At first blush, the idea that someone might have privileged access to Truth seems remotely plausible.

What is odious about consecrated tracts that claim to be THE SOURCE is their finality.  Sacrosanctity is usually a red flag.  Contending that all major issues are resolved–once and for all–is inimical to the spirit of critical inquiry; and antithetical to progress in general.  We are expected to believe that the ultimate “Truth” has already been spelled out; just follow the instructions you’ve been given.  (No need to investigate further.  From here on out, all we have left to do is heed that last revelation.)  Consequently, introspection–the logic goes–is only for facilitating piety, not for critical reflection.  After all, the work has already been done for us. {48}

Many are seduced by the claim: “Herein lay all the answers!”  Alas.  “This is a work in progress” doesn’t have the same ring to it.  Suffice to say: “I may be mistaken on certain points; further inquiry needs to be done” is not an effective marketing pitch.  But, of course, this is an implicit disclaimer for any book that is worth reading.

Pseudo-concepts like “ancient wisdom” (as if genuine wisdom weren’t timeless) are bandied about in order to augment the mysteriousness of the drivel.  The contention is that claims are somehow “better” when they are OLD.  So the thinking goes: If it’s ancient, then it MUST have some credence.  Hence the “I have all the answers” gimmick is more compelling if the source of the insight derives from an (allegedly) ancient SOURCE.

Usually, there is a tactic of “intentional obscurity” employed in order to persuade the target audience that they mustn’t even attempt to fathom the explanation for this fantastical occurrence.  The proposal that “You can’t possibly do this yourself” often serves to further enrapture those who really, really want to believe.  The upshot of the charade is simple: “It’s all beyond your grasp.  And that is precisely why you need THIS for guidance.”

It is no secret that we ALL want to “get the scoop” from someone who, as it were, “has the inside track”.  The catch, though, is that the “inside track” must be shrouded in enigma–lest the need for a “chosen one” evaporate.  The formula here is simple: Create the fog, then provide a beacon.  This ruse usually works like a charm–especially for those suffering from existential vertigo.  As with ANY scam, credulous audiences rally around (and fawn over) anyone who is convincing.  Just ask the impresarios of Thelema, Tenrikyo, and Cao Dai…or the numerous mystics who claim to have channeled the the archangel “Michael”.

Michael, it seems, is the envoy-of-choice for many of those engaged in this sham.  This was the case with the aforementioned John Dee–who insisted the material he peddled could be validated by THAT particular arch-angel.  We also saw this with the Romanian fascist ideologue, Cornelius Zelea Codreanu–who claimed to have been visited by “Michael”.  Codreanu inaugurated his own messianic (anti-Semitic, fascist) “Legionary” cult with the imprimatur of this oft-invoked celestial entity.  The story is a familiar one: The supernatural courier informed the aspiring demagogue that he had been chosen by god to be Romania’s savior.  (Ring any bells?)  Codreanu thus saw his mission as ushering in a new, glorious epoch for the nation…and thereby bringing about the second coming of Christ.  Hence his creation of the Romanian (Eastern Orthodox) “Christian Defense League” (later rebranded the “Iron Guard”).

The invocation of divine Providence is de rigueur for panjandra.  The go-to intermediary has often been Michael; but for Mohammed of Mecca it was Gabriel, and for Joseph Smith it was Moroni.  For me, it’s Mr. Spaghetti-Pants.

Magic exists wherever one wants to see it.  (That’s part of what makes magic so magical.)  So many have been bamboozled by seemingly miraculous pablum–from Nostradamus’ “The Prophesies” to the latest self-help drivel.  At the end of the day, the easiest person to fool is oneself.  One thing that the True Believer (read: hidebound ideologue) is utterly incapable of doing is being skeptical about his own most cherished convictions (i.e. those he most depends on, and is consequently most addicted to).  The religious fundamentalist derives his fundamentals from SOMEWHERE.

This is especially so when the coveted dogmas are articulated in an anointed tome.  Every movement has its zealots.  And every zealot is enabled by material that has been spelled out and rendered inextricably sacrosanct.  For it is that sacrosanctity that SEEMS TO empower him (that is: to give his beliefs ballast and vitality).  Such scripture serves an important psychological purpose: It helps the True Believer rationalize the zeal (read: bull-headedness) and fealty (read: closed-mindedness) on which his continued hyper-dogmatism depends.  For he need only refer to a particular text and say, “See here on page 11!  Its says…”  End of discussion.

As the above list of hallowed tracts attests, history is littered with a long trail of sanctified poppycock.  Any fanatical following thinks that every other followings’ sanctified drivel is a hoax…even as it is thoroughly convinced that its own sanctified drivel is genuine.  (“The OTHER prophets were all impostors; but OUR prophet was the real thing.  THEIR beliefs are just superstitions; but OUR beliefs are bona fide revelations.”)  What better way to engender collective narcissism than a specific book that all compatriots can share to the exclusion of everyone else?

The notion that a scripture is not man-made, but is divinely authored began with the Vedas; using a concept in Sanskrit: “apauru-sheya”.  Such “shabda” [“words”] were dubbed “shruti” [that which is recited / heard].  Recall that “Qur’an” means “that which is recited”.  The idea of sacred scripture conceptualized as divine speech–conveyed via a human proxy–goes back millennia.  In Vedic (Hindu) lore, the “Mahabharata” was dictated to Vyasa.  In Persian (Zoroastrian) lore, the five “Gathas” were dictated to Zoroaster.  Some claims are blatantly fraudulent, as with the “Book of Revelation” by John of Patmos, who composed anti-Roman propaganda by cribbing imagery from the Book of Daniel and Ezekiel from the Hebrew Bible. {29}

Religious or not, when someone starts treating a particular book as an instruction manual for life, it’s a recipe for disaster.  That’s not how wisdom in gleaned.  Living life isn’t like putting together a store-bought mechanism.  There are no instruction manuals for probity, let alone for being human.  Like the Torah for Jews and the New Testament for Christians, the Koran is part of Muslims’ cultural heritage.  Nothing more; nothing less.

In the final analysis, “All you have to do is read this ONE BOOK” is a daffy claim.  That’s not how edification works.  As any (sufficiently well-read) bookworm knows, all wisdom could not possibly be captured in a single book–or even an entire shelf of tomes–no matter how sagaciously composed any of them might be.  To suppose the contrary is just as fantastical as presuming that all wisdom could be captured in the preachments of any particular person (a topic that will be explored in the next essay).

Whatever there is to discover about the nature of Reality can be discovered–and validated–independently of the existence of (or having read) any given text.  For Reality is what it is irrespective of any particular representation of it; and it is there, waiting to be understood as it is; as well as appreciated for what it is.  We only demean the divine by supposing it can be distilled in a specific tract.

*  *  *


{1  “Everything we’ll ever need to know is RIGHT HERE, in these pages.  It’s all the knowledge we’ll ever need.”  A similar mistake is often made regarding blockbuster “self help” books.  The point that is rarely made: Nobody ever became a better person because he read a particular book.  Nevertheless, some books sell millions and millions of copies by promising to show the way to happiness…or success…or fortune.  This is simply another version of the same gimmick: A book promising to unlock the secrets of the universe.  Sober minds realize such claims are risible; for that is not how wisdom is gleaned.  In such books, there may be some key insights offered here and there; but those insights needn’t come from any specific place.  If one person knew enough to put it in one book, others are capable of figuring it out on their own, but other means.  Nobody has an inside channel–a special hotline–to the source of life’s most important insights.}

{2  This work is the basis for “Merkabah” [“throne chariot”] mysticism–a sumptuous buffet of zany dogmas that passed for a collection of insights into the inner workings of the cosmos (with a particular focus on the musings of Ezekiel).  The material seems to have begun in the early 2nd century with the mystic, Akiva ben Yosef of Judea.}

{3  The Zohar became the basis for the “Lurianic” Kabbalah tradition via the Ashkenazi rabbi, Isaac ben Solomon Luria of Galilee–who lived in the 16th century.  It seems to have become the flagship book for those smitten with Kabbalah today; though their daffy superstitions are little more sophisticated than those who read daily horoscopes.}

{4  “The Orchard of Pomegranates” and “The Tree of Life” aren’t to be confused with the books of esoterica by the same names composed by the Hermetic Kabbalah icon, Israel Regardie, in the 1930’s.}

{5  H.P. Lovecraft even invented a fictional language for his fictional god, Cthulhu: “R’Lyehian”.  He did this because he recognized the integral role a liturgical language often plays in cult activity.  The Necronomicon is a reminder that a book does not even need to exist in order for people to become obsessed with it.  Cult activity can form around the most outlandish of farce–so long as it is sufficiently captivating / compelling.}

{6  A distinction should be made between the WORSHIP of a particular text (e.g. Haredi with the Torah; and–even more blatantly–Muslims with the Koran) and the fetishization of a certain corpus of text (as with, say, Harry Potter mania).  The latter is a more a matter of obsession–a broad phenomenon that typically involves delusive thinking.  In extreme cases, that can take the form of bibliolatry.  To fetishize something is not necessarily to worship it; but it is to become chronically preoccupied with it–and even bewitched by it.  Put another way: Fetishization is a matter of making the object-of-fixation out to be far more than it really is.}

{7  Insofar as one fixates on one particular book (nay, spends one’s life obsessing over JUST THAT BOOK), one will tend not to read many–or ANY–other books.  Insofar as one fetishizes a book, one will be disinclined to investigate much else–for what’s the point if all else is ipso facto inferior?}

{8  While both are means to salvation, the Word-made-flesh and the Word-made-text serve two different LITURGICAL purposes.  The former incarnation is a vehicle for vicarious atonement (from original sin).  The latter incarnation is more a memorandum on how to remain in god’s good graces.  Either way, the message is: You are damned if you don’t believe.}

{9  The earliest script in which Classical Arabic was written–as it was being developed–was the Syriac-based Kufic script.  See my essay: The Syriac Origins Of Koranic Text.}

{10  The “Koran” [Recitations] is the primary holy book of Islam–and, pace the “sahih” Hadith, most would consider it THE ONLY holy book.  For it is purported to be a verbatim transcript of the Abrahamic deity’s speech–as conveyed to the messenger, Mohammed, by the archangel Gabriel, in installments (between 610 and 632).  In terms of treating the Koran as a message delivered to Mohammed of Mecca, we might look to the long history of this (extremely seductive) trope.}

{11  The legend of Merlin was based on the Caledonian prophet, Myrddin Wyllt of Carmarthen.  This mysterious Welsh figure is supposed to have written the “Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin” [“Black Book of Carmarthen”] and the “Llyfr Coch Hergest” [“Red Book of Hergest”].}

{12  This Etruscan “Book of Revelations” was comprised of the Libri Haruspicini and the Acherontici.  The corpus also included the Libri Haruspicini, Libri Fulgurales, and Libri Rituales (which was itself comprised of the Libri Acherontici, Libri Ostentaria, and Libri Fatales).  Also note the revelations of the prophetess, Vegoia: the “Libri Vegoici”, which included the aforementioned “Libri Fulgurales”.}

{13  The oldest was the “Satkhanda-gama” (alt. “Pratham Shrut-Skandh”), written by the “acharya” Dharasena, from the 1st century.  Also from that time was the “Kasaya-pahuda”, written by “acharya” Gunadhara.  Then came the “Panch[a] Para-magama” by “acharya” Kundakunda.}

{14  “The Treasury Of Knowledge” was composed by the Tibetan Buddhist sage, Jamgön Kongtrül in the 19th century.}

{15  Beta Israel are Ethiopian Jews (a.k.a. “Falashas”) who go back to the era of Aksum and the Abyssinians.  Their version of the creed is NOT rabbinical.  They have priests [kohenim], not rabbis.  They still perform sacrifices.  They revere the ark of the covenant.  Lore is found in the “Kebra Nagast”, which traces the legacy of Menelik, son of Solomon via Sabaean queen, Makeda (a.k.a. the “Queen of Sheba”).}

{16  Such recognition needn’t detract from the fact that each book is fascinating in its own right.  That each has its own signature trains makes each interesting in unique ways.  The problem is that each community sees its own book as NE PLUS ULTRA, attributing to it cosmic significance, entailing that it is somehow ONTOLOGICALLY unique.}

{17  The Yarsan are also known as the “Ahl-i Haqq” [People of Truth], which–like Yazidism–was inspired by the pre-Islamic Kurdish religion, “Yazdan-ism” [cult of angels].}

{18  Ancillary Note: There are some “impostor” holy books, such as those falsely ascribed to the Yazidis: the “Mishefa Resh” [Black Book] and “Keteba Jelwe” [Book of Revelation / Illumination; a.k.a. “Kitab al-Jilwah”].  But in another sense, MOST holy books are impostors–in that they are purporting to be something that they are not.  The traditional Christian canon, for example, claims to be a record of JoN; yet it is largely a concoction of various authors, created generations after the protagonist’s death.  The same goes for the Hebrew Bible and the Koran.}

{19  This might be referred to as the “Refer To Page 11” syndrome.  Those who act ethically primarily–or, as the case may be, ONLY–because they are following orders are not acting morally.  That is: To perform a good act as a result of obeying a command is not a moral act.  Using the rationalization, “Because it said to do so in this book” or “Because X told me to do so” is not the mark of morality; it is the mark of servility.  Obeisance is not rectitude.  The supposition that one would not–nay, COULD not–conduct oneself ethically BUT FOR hewing to such-and-such directives is a plaintive admission that one is a moral imbecile.  Specific directions, whether issuing from an instruction manual or an instructor, are–at best–moral prosthetics; and are appropriate for juveniles and pets.  Nobody ever became a better person for having read a specific book; or by having subscribed to this or that sacred doctrine.  Dogmatism has never engendered erudition, nor has it ever been the basis for probity.  Quite the contrary: Order-following is an abdication of moral responsibility.  After all: Morality is based on autonomy, not on heteronomy.}

{20  Most infamously of all, the screed known as “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” was created at the beginning of the 20th century by unknown Russian authors in an attempt to rationalize Aryan supremacy by creating paranoia about a purported conspiracy amongst the world’s Jewry.  (The vehemently anti-Semitic diatribe was likely commissioned by the Czars as propaganda against the Bolsheviks.  The general idea is that there is a global network of diabolical Jewish impresarios bent on managing the world, and that all geo-political and economic activity is ultimately controlled by this hidden cabal.  It thus combined the fascination with sensational conspiracy theories with anti-Semitism, offering a scapegoat for all of society’s ills.)  A variation on such cultic activity are American white nationalists (spec. WASPs) with the writings of William Joseph Simmons and Thomas Dixon Jr., who’s material served as holy writ for the Klu Klux Klan.  The sacred text of the KKK was–no kidding–called the “Kloran”.  Propaganda could also be found in works of fiction like “The Turner Diaries” by William Luther Pierce (as “Andrew MacDonald”) and “Imperium” by Francis Parker Yockey (as “Ulick Varange”).}

{21  It was comprised of the “Ars Goëtia”, “Ars Theurgia Goëtia”, “Ars Paulina”, “Ars Almadel”, and “Ars Notoria”.   The term, “goëtia” derived from the Greek term for “demon summoning”.  There is debate about the distinction between a grimoire and books on goëtia and theurgy (e.g. Hermeticism).  All deal with the occult; as they involve what is generally known as “black magic” or “sorcery”.  Some might protest that such texts have little to do with holy books.  The fact of the matter is, though, that ALL of them proffer pontifications on the supernatural (esp. conjuring).  And they often serve as catalysts–nay, guidebooks–for cult activity.  To wit: All of it is equally absurd.  The point here is that similar psychical mechanisms are at work whether one is proffering explanations–and issuing incantations–from a grimoire or a holy book.  In both cases, hooked audiences are entranced.  The audience is subsequently inclined to engage in dogmatism according to the contents of one or another consecrated source.  It would be a mistake to underestimate the seriousness with which True Believers take such texts.  Bibliolatry takes many forms.  From the Theosophical Society to the Watchtower Society, the same socio-psychological machinery is operative.}

{22  The initial pseudo-historical founding documents are known as the “Old Charges”, the legitimation of which is predicated on an embellished historiography of the Masonic lodge’s origins.  Most notable is the so-called “York Legend”.  George Payne and James Anderson composed “The Constitutions of the Free-masons” c. 1720.  Laurence Dermott composed “Ahiman Rezon” c. 1756.  As with any apocrypha in a cult’s origin story, these accounts contain elements of historical truth peppered with an ample dose of spurious claims.}

{23  Revisionist Zionism has also been referred to as “Kahanism” after one of its patriarchs: Meir David Kahane of Brooklyn, New York.  Ze’ev Jabotinsky was the bellwether for Judeo-fascist ideology–most notably: his “Letter On Autonomism”.  Revisionist Zionism cannot be boiled down to any particular text; as the roster of Judeo-fascist expositors is disturbingly long.  Here are TEN MORE of the most notable: Abraham Isaac “ha-Kohen” Kook, Gush Emunim (ref. his “Book of the Faithful”), Zvi Hirsch Kalischer (ref. his “Drishat [t]Zion”), Samuel Klein (ref. his “Sefer ha-Yishuv”), Judah ben Solomon Chai Alkalai, Moses Leib Lilienblum, Ben-Zion Dinur, Abba Ahimeir, Zvi Yehuda Kook, and Avraham Shapira (of the notorious “Mercaz ha-Rav Kook”).  “From Time Immemorial”, published by Joan Peters in 1984, was a watershed moment for Revisionist Zionist propaganda.}

{24  This is not to be confused with the original Taoism, which was not a religion; it was a philosophy.  Authentic Taoism is non-dogmatic, and does not involve deification / idolatry of any kind, nor any kind of ritual.  It based on Lao Tzu’s “Tao-Te Ching” and–as an ancillary text–Zhuang Zhou’s “Zhuang-zi”.  So what of the religion that goes by that name?  In the 2nd century A.D., a Han demagogue named “Zhang Dao-ling” founded a cult in which he deified Lao Tsu as “Tai-shang Lao-jun” while disregarding virtually everything Lao Tsu actually said.  Under the aegis of “Taoism”, Zhang Dao-ling parlayed his following into an effort to create a Sichuan theocracy.  That led to a pantheon of demigods–replete with a catechism and lots of incense-burning.  Modern “Taoism” AS RELIGION has no connection whatsoever to the teachings of Lao Tsu–which were antithetical institutionalized dogmatism.  Most religious Tao-ists today (located primarily in Hong Kong and Taiwan) have never read–and are utterly unconcerned with–the “Tao Te Ching”.  Instead, they make use of the “Tai-ping-jing”.  They also tend to recite passages from the Diamond Sutra (effectively used as a book of incantation).  Also popular is the “Lei-zi” (named after the purported author, Lei Yu-kou of Zheng).  Adherents of the “Tao-shi” sect of the religion tend to read the “Tao-zang”.  In sum: religious Taoism is an oxymoron.  The religion that operates under this moniker has as little to do with genuine Taoist principles as, say, modern Christianity has to do with the message of Jesus of Nazareth (or as Marx-ism has to do with Karl Marx).}

{25  As mentioned, other sacred texts of Bon include the “Kangyur” (translation of The Word) and “Tengyur” (translation of treatises).  In the esoteric variants of Mahayana Buddhism, specifically in Tibet (and especially with the Bon and Dzogchen / Nyingma traditions), texts based on revelation are called “terma”.  There are countless sages who claim to have received revelations, on which the numerous “terma” are based.  Other “Sutras” that serve as sacred texts for Mahayana Buddhists include the Diamond and Heart Sutras; the Shuran-gama Sutra; the Amita-bha-vyuha / Sukha-vati-vyuha and Amita-yurdhyana Sutras (for Pure Land Buddhism); the Lotus Sutra (for Nichiren and Tendai Buddhism); and the Vajra-sekhara and Maha-vairocana Sutras (for Shingon / Tendai Buddhism; see footnote 30 below).}

{26  Other writings that influenced European fascism included those of the (Sardinian) Roman Catholic zealot, “Comte” Joseph-Marie de Maistre [of Savoy]; those of the Italian esotericist, Giulio [“Julius”] Evola (who’s hyper-reactionary occul writings and “Revolt Against The Modern World” held sway in the 1930’s); those of Prussian jurist, Carl Schmitt (sweetheart of the Nazi movement); and those of Florentine commentator, Giovanni Papini (sweetheart of Franco’s despotic regime in Spain).  Islamo-fascism exists as well, but does not make use of any divergent tracts.  Fundamentalist Muslims (Salafis / Wahhabis; when Sunni) adhere to the same holy book to which other Muslims adhere: the Koran.  Unlike the fundamentalist versions of most other religions, Islamic fundamentalism is INHERENTLY fascistic.}

{27  “Alice Ann Bailey” was the pseudonym for Alice LaTrobe Bateman of Manchester, England.  She claimed to be the messenger of a Tibetan “Master of Wisdom” whom she referred to as “Djwal Khul”.  The exposition, she claimed, was dictated to her telepathically.  To sample a book that was (purportedly) divinely-dictated, I browsed the compilation of her material entitled, “Serving Humanity” (released in 1972 by Lucis Press, the publishing arm of her Trust).  As with any other New Age mumbo-jumbo, I found myself trudging through page after page after page of arcane drivel–grandiose perorations about esoterica.  Typical of most mysticism, the material was comprised entirely of purple prose.  Suffice to say: The most profound thing about the book are the two words printed on the cover.  To an impartial observer, there is little difference between the ornate-yet-vacuous verbiage in this book and the vacuous verbiage found in many parts of the any other holy book–including the Koran.  Transitioning between the hocus-pocus of theosophy and the hocus-pocus of Abrahamic texts is primarily a matter of re-branding the hocus-pocus.  Whether one is reading the Talmudic / Kabbalistic texts, or reading Deepak Chopra, one ends up engaging in little other than mental masturbation.}

{28  This tract–infamous for being accursed–was composed by “Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst” (alias: Kerry Wendell Thornley; not to be confused with the 12th-century Persian poet, Omar Khayyam of Nishapur) and “Malaclypse the Younger” (alias: Gregory Hill).  The former also composed “The Honest Book of Truth” and “Zenarchy”; the latter also composed “Summa Universalia”.  The creed’s canon of scripture continues to grow.  What is unique about this particular movement is that its participants can’t seem to decide on exactly how seriously to take it.  After all, the central doctrine is to not take ANYTHING too seriously, including the doctrine itself.  This was best illustrated by the sacrament known as “Operation Mindfuck”, devised in 1968.}

{29  This screed obviously had nothing whatsoever to do with anything JoN did or said; and so was rejected for the first three centuries after Saul of Tarsus first promulgated the Christology on which Pauline Christianity came to be based.  Indeed, the “Synod of Laodicea” rejected it as canonical c. 363; and such prominent figures as Arius of Baucalis and Cyril of Jerusalem were clear on the matter.  However, in keeping with the writings of the millenarianist Berber exegete, Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius of Numidia (c. 300); then as a result of the mendacious influence of Athanasius of Alexandria (4th century); the text was eventually incorporated into the canon.  This was validated by the “Synod of Hippo” c. 393.  It was then re-affirmed by the (first) Council of Carthage four years later.  Thereafter, anyone who doubted its divine nature (e.g. the Arians and Nestorians) were persecuted.}

{30  This is also considered the first Tantra.  It is a Vajra-yana text composed in the 7th century at the university of Nalanda.}

{31  Ancillary note: (The absolutist treatment of) behaviorism is a derelict paradigm that persists to this day in ostensibly “liberal” circles.  Its corollary is relativism: the insistence that all everything is, and all anything can ever possibly be, is a social / psychological construct.  Ergo there is no objective reality (a.k.a. “Reality”), and hence no Truth; there is only “your truth” and “my truth” (that is: how we’ve been conditioned to see the world in which we find ourselves).  Taking an all-nurture-no-nature position entails a phobia of anything that posits a universal “human nature”.  A consequence of this (obtuse) thinking is an abiding aversion to evolutionary psychology, E.O. Wilson’s sociobiology, and Chomskian linguistics.  Thus the end-all-be-all of human behavior is conditioning.  The upshot of such absolutist “behaviorism” (one might call it B.F. Skinner-ism) is that homo sapiens are little more than Pavlovian dogs: programmable machines, operating primarily according to conditioned responses to certain stimuli.  This “blank slate” trope has been conclusively debunked (ref. Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate”).  Espousing such a spurious dogma invariably leads to absurd claims–such as that sex has no biological correlate.  The grandfather of behaviorism (and thus of the errant “blank slate” theory of mind) was John Watson–notorious for his schemes of manipulation.  Proponents of behaviorism tended to be obsessed with CONDITIONING, and harbored highly dubious views.  They contended that psychology was explainable ENTIRELY by nurture; not at all by nature.  Most infamous was the racist Austrian behaviorist, Konrad Lorenz, forerunner of ethology and eugenics.  The most doctrinaire forms of behaviorism have all the trappings of cult activity–replete with tribalism, routine Reality-denial, and a mandate to honor sacrosanct “truths”.  At the end of the day, institutionalized dogmatism is institutionalized dogmatism.}

{32  Some non-Christian right-wing libertarians fetishize the writings of Ayn Rand–who’s cult was “Objectivism”.  Most right-wing libertarians seem to be relatively indifferent to a Christian agenda–as with the Mercers, the Koch Brothers, Paul Singer, the Cato Institute, etc.  Some adamantly Christian right-wing libertarians subscribe to the Prosperity Gospel–promulgated by charismatic figures (read: hucksters) like Oral Roberts, Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II, Toufik Benedictus “Benny” Hinn, Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar, Robert Tilton, Jesse Duplantis, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, et. al.  (This line of thinking was embraced by Adolf Hitler, who–in a speech delivered at Nuremberg on September 11, 1936–averred: “I believe in Providence and I believe Providence to be just.  Therefore I believe that Providence always rewards the strong, the industrious, and the upright.”)  Such execrable material–with its Calvinist overtones–is regularly churned out by the Heritage Foundation.  The isolationist strain of American right-wing libertarianism is now referred to as “paleo-conservatism”–the epitome of which was the “John Birch Society” (largely inspired by the writings of Robert Henry Winborne Welch Jr.)  Also note the Mont Pelerin Society.  The hallmark features of such ideology is vituperative anti-communism, unabashed corporatism, anti-Semitism (under the auspices of anti-internationalism), vehement anti-intellectualism, and a chronic obsession with the monetary gold standard.}

{33  As this shows, even the pernicious diatribe of an ideological Supreme Court justice can be treated as holy writ.  Other sources of corporatist tripe is produced by odious organizations like the (Koch-funded) Mercatus Center and the American Enterprise Institute.  Proponents include the likes of Paul Singer and Robert Mercer–plutocrats who don’t bother composing scripture, as they need only fund propaganda to promote their agenda.}

{34  This amounted to Japanese fascism, which operated under the auspices of Shinto and Zen Buddhism.  As with European fascism (which was primarily Roman Catholic) and Judeo-fascism (i.e. Revisionist Zionism), Japanese fascism was characterized by a toxic–and volatile–admixture of Providentialism and ethno-centricity.  Tell-tale features also include militant hyper-nationalism and a literalist reading of ancient texts.  Fascism is invariably theocratic and imperialistic, as it depends on some form of cult activity and claims of blood and soil (“lebensraum” for the anointed tribe).}

{35  Also influential in the development of Nazism were the writings of Hans Friedrich Karl Günther, Adolf Josef Lanz von Liebenfels, and Guido von List.  As an illustration of how queer syntheses can be, a (fascist) French esotericist named Savitri Devi Mukherji (a.k.a. “Maximiani Portas”) penned a series of works melding Vaishnavism and Nazism into a bizarre Hindu-fascist hybrid.  Among other nutty things, it posited Hitler as an avatar of Vishnu.  This demonstrated that one can merge virtually anything with anything to yield a grotesque hybrid.  It is also a reminder that people are willing to believe things that are completely bonkers if it is wrapped in a sufficiently sanctified package.}

{36  “[n]Uriel” is one of the angels in the Syriac “Book of Protection”, the material of which would have been circulating in the Middle East during Mohammed’s lifetime.  (This angel also appears in the “Book of Enoch”, which was originally written in the precursor to Syriac: Aramaic.)  From whence did the Book of Protection come?  According to legend, the text was given to Adam by angels, and was then handed down to King Solomon.}

{37  Interestingly, “Daena” (revelation in Avesta) is a cognate with the Sanskrit term for enlightened thought, “dhena”, from which is derived the Chinese term for Zen Buddhism, “dhayana”.  The general notion of revelation in Zoroastrianism is now referred to as “Mathra-Spenta”.}

{38  The sage-anointed-under-a-special-tree leitmotif was commandeered by hagiographers for the prophet of Islam as well.  An apocryphal tale eventually started circulating that, on the way back from an errand in Syria (during his first job for Khadijah; prior to their marriage), Mohammed’s appointed companion, Maysarah, reported that the self-proclaimed Last Prophet stopped to rest under a tree.  During the nap, a passing monk named “Nestora” informed Maysarah: “None but a prophet ever sat beneath this tree.”  Gee-wiz.  Moreover, Maysarah reported that he saw two angels appear over MoM, placing a small cloud over his head to protect him from the hot sun.  (Evidently the special tree was not special enough to provide shade.)  Reference Ibn Ishaq’s “Sirat Rasul Allah” for the account of this episode.}

{39  Hence familiar idioms: I heard it on the mountain.  We’re exhorted to go tell it on the mountain.  Martin Luther King said that he’d been to the mountaintop.  Etc.}

{40  Ninlil would become the Assyrian “Mullissu”, consort of “Ashur”.  She would be rendered in Greek as “Mylitta”, the basis for Aphrodite.  In the Sumerian “Epic of Gilgamesh”, “Mashu” was a great mountain through which Gilgamesh passes (via a tunnel) on his journey to Dilmun, home of Ninlil.}

{41  The product of this was the “Shatkhand-agama”.  In the Jain tradition, a prophet (“tirthankara”) is given revelation, and recites it to disciples (“ganadharas”).  The material is sometimes later compiled by sages (“acharyas”).  The preeminent tirthankara was Maha-vira (a.k.a. “Vardha-mana”).  Vattakera’s “Mula-chara” (2nd century) was based on the now-lost “Acharanga Sutra”, which had been developed from the 5th thru 1st century B.C.  Other sacred texts received via revelation are attributed to Sudharma-swami (starting in the 6th century B.C.)–including the “Sama-vayanga Sutra”, the “Sutra-Kritanga”, the “Sthananga Sutra”, and the “Bhagavati Sutra” (a.k.a. “Vyakhya-prajnapti”).  There were a total of twelve Agamas based on Mahavira’s revelations.  The preeminent text is considered the “Satkhand-agama” (alt. “Dhavala) by the “acharya”, Virasena (alt. “Dharasena”)…followed by Kunda-kunda’s “Param-agama”.}

{42  “As a river joins another river to form a strong current, so the old books are added together in my scriptures; and they have formed a great wisdom, such as has not existed in previous generations.”  As the story goes, other votaries had been misled.  And he had been chosen to right the ship of humankind.}

{43  Another notable Terton was “Dudjom” Lingpa, who produced a canon of sacred texts called the “Dudjom Tersar” in the 19th century.}

{44  The Maratika cave is where the fabled Buddhist monk, Padma-sambhava received his (tantric) revelations in the 8th century.  The cave is also known as “Haleshi Maha-deva”, as it is also the venue where his disciple, Manda-rava, received HIS revelations.  The “termas” were delivered via divine envoys called “vidya-dharas” (on behalf of the celestial Buddha, “Amitabha”).}

{45 Also ref. John 15:26 as well as Acts 1:5-8 and 2:4/38.  Predictably, Muslims interpret this as a prognostication for the Last Messenger, a contention that is undermined by the fact that it is specified that said “paraclete” shall abide in all of us forever.}

{46  Note, for example, “Goloka” / “Vaikunta”, posited by Hare Krishna adherents.  Also note the so-called “Noösphere” posited by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.}

{47  The “Book of the Soul” by “Türkmen-bashy” (as the former dictator anointed himself) is essentially a hokey take-off on the Koran–infused with daffy New Age mumbo-jumbo, casting himself as the central character.  His successor, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, is even more of a nutcase.}

{48  The notion of a “Seal of all prophets” (i.e. THE LAST prophet, hawking THE FINAL revelation) exacerbates the dysfunction of this view.  There’s nothing important left to say; for if it were important, HE would have said it.}

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