We’d like to warmly welcome our author of the month for December, Freddy Silva, and his seminal history on the original concept behind the highest grade of initiation, the living resurrection. For according to Mr. Silva’s research, to be ‘risen from the dead’ may be quite contrary to what you have believed…
©2014 Freddy Silva
Based on material from the book
The Lost Art of Resurrection: Initiation, secret chambers and the quest for the Otherworld
Released August 2014, Invisible Temple. Only available at www.invisibletemple.com
Let me begin with a legend of a child: born in cave, saved from death in infancy, who grows up to teach a new religion to the masses. He then removes himself to a wilderness for a prescribed period, before being fixed to a wooden structure and killed upon his return, only to be resurrected three days later and deified as a god. The description, from c.1800 BC, is of a god-man called Krishna. Were you expecting someone else?
There are 346 analogies between the story of Krishna and Jesus alone, just as there are other avatars around the world who answer to the description of a divine child, conceived by a virgin; sometimes son to a carpenter, who is saved from death in infancy; retires for a prescribed time to a sequestered location; undergoes a major suffering or death as an act of atonement; crosses into the Otherworld for three days while his physical body remains incorruptible; then resurrects; becomes an example of a perfected individual; and is deified as a god-man, redeemer, or messiah. And what’s more, they all precede Christianity by 500 to 2000 years – Thammuz of Sumeria, Atys of Phrygia, Indra of Tibet, Iao of Nepal, and Wittoba of Java – a god-man nailed to a tree and symbolized by a crucifix. And not forgetting, of course, the god-man savior of the Maya, Quetzcoatl, who is born of a virgin, indulges in a forty-day fast on a sacred mountain, is atoned, rides an ass, is purified in a temple with water and anointed with oil, is nailed to a cross on a sacred hill, and rests in the Otherworld for three days – all before resurrecting and claiming the attribute ‘Morning Star’.
From Phoenicia to China the pagan world celebrated the hero who crosses into the Otherworld as a ‘dead’ man on the winter solstice, only to rise as a god three days later. But by the the 4th century, fundamental Christians had gone to extraordinary lengths to deny and even eradicate evidence of earlier crucified, atoning god-men in order to exalt singular status upon the new hero, Jesus. But alas, the idea had long been in vogue. Five hundred years before Jesus, even the Greeks were enacting a morality play of the life of Prometheus; the atoning god-man of the Caucasus who rises from the dead after being nailed to an upright beam of timber with extended arms of wood.
A different concept of resurrection.
So why was the Church promoting Christ as a unique case? Part of the answer lies in the anomalous tomb of Thutmosis III, a pharaoh c.1470 BC. Written upon the walls of this subterranean chamber is a text called Treatise of the Hidden Chamber, which provides instruction on how to proceed into the Otherworld; a parallel place outside of time, but present, eternal and simultaneous with the physical. The Egyptians called it Amdwat.
The Amdwat interpenetrates the world of the living; it is the place from where all physical forms manifest, and to where they return. It is an integral component of birth, death and rebirth. Only through a direct experience of the Amdwat can a person fully grasp the operative forces of nature, the knowledge of which was said to transform an individual into an akh — a being radiant with ‘inner spiritual Illumination’. All these instructions cover the chambers of Thutmosis’ resting place. There is just one problem: the text states that the experience is meant for the living, “It is good for the dead to have this knowledge, but also for the person on Earth…whoever understands these mysterious images is a well provided light being. Always this person can enter and leave the Otherworld. Always speaking to the living ones. Proven to be true a million times.”
Certainly Thuthmosis’ tomb is anomalous: it features a well, a redundant feature for a dead person; its main chamber is aligned northeast, the traditional direction associated with enlightenment and wisdom; and despite the pharaoh’s extraordinary accomplishments, the tomb was painted in a humble style uncharacteristic for a ruler of his magnitude; its oval sarcophagus is of superlative craftsmanship, and yet Thutmosis was buried in the temple of Hatshepsut, where the pharaoh had earlier built himself a mortuary temple.
Thutmosis was certainly not the only pharaoh to have a burial chamber with an absent burial. When the step pyramid of Sekhemkhet was excavated, its entrance was still sealed. Inside the innermost chamber stood an alabaster sarcophagus of the most delicate workmanship, also sealed, and when opened it was found to contain nothing but air; the same situation occurred at the pyramid of Zawiyet el-Aryan. Two Old Kingdom pyramids, un-burglarized, with no body inside: clear evidence that not all funerary buildings were intended as final resting places but served some other, possibly ritual purpose.
To ancient Egyptians, a tomb was considered a place of rest but not necessarily a pharaoh’s final resting place, and in much the same manner, experiencing the Otherworld did not require a person to be dead. Rather, evidence shows that after undergoing a secret rite of initiation, the candidate was roused from a womb-like experience and proclaimed ‘risen from the dead’.
Sekhemkhet’s pyramid lies in Saqqara, a sprawling ceremonial temple complex named for Seker, falcon god of rebirth. The name arises from sy-k-ri, the cry made by the Egyptian god of resurrection, Osiris, as he wanders through the darkness of the Otherworld seeking to unite with his bride, Isis, and become ‘one’ again. These factors alone identify Saqqara as a place where one comes to experience resurrection; indeed, it is in Saqqara where the earliest surviving works of sacred literature that offer a unique ritual experience connecting a living person with the Otherworld are found; in the subterranean tomb of Sekhemkhet’s neighbour, the pharaoh Unas.
The Pyramid Texts contain the most detailed instructions of the Amdwat; how to get there, how to overcome negative forces, and the correct use of incantations essential for the soul to maintain focus throughout the journey. They quite possibly contain the first evidence that informs us that such a ritual was transmitted visually rather than orally, and their influence resonates throughout all ancient Mysteries schools. Above all, the Pyramid Texts clearly imply they were intended as a ritual where the initiate was expected to return to the living body.
From floor to ceiling the texts, which are quite likely the version copied onto the walls of Thutmosis III’s chamber, cover the innermost chambers of the c.2350 BC pyramid of Unas. Likewise, Unas’ necropolis contains a sarcophagus but no evidence of his burial. Indeed, the site resembles a ritual complex, originally accessed from the east bank of the Nile by a boat ferrying an initiate who disembarked in the west into a valley temple, and proceeded along a covered causeway leading into the subterranean temple under the pyramid. After residing in the womb-like chamber for a prescribed period, the candidate reappeared at dawn at the summit of this man-made hill. Thus the candidate followed the figurative path of the Sun into the Otherworld. Even Unas’ massive black granite sarcophagus lies symbolically in the western section of the complex. Granite was the material of choice for a number or reasons. As an igneous rock emanating from within the earth in a molten state, it effortlessly mimics the soul’s immersion in the void, changing from a liquid to solid form as it reenters the physical world following a transfiguration. Even the choice of black carries a further significance in that it was the colour associated with spiritual resurrection.
Far from being mere funerary beliefs, the Pyramid Texts represent a series of mystical experiences akin to those described in shamanism, such as the ascent of the soul, encounters with gods, and the spiritual rebirth of the individual. What defines them as instructions meant for a living person undergoing a figurative rather than a literal death is neatly encompassed in the text closest to the sarcophagus, Utterance 213, “O Unas, you have not departed dead, you have departed alive to sit upon the throne of Osiris, your aba scepter in your hand that you may give orders to the living.” The message is clear: the pharaoh has ascended into the Amdwat very much alive and is capable of communicating with the living and the discarnate alike.
A second clue lies in the section where Unas undergoes a spiritual purification and rebirth to a chorus of, “Unas is not dead, Unas is not dead, Unas is not dead.” No other utterance encapsulates the central theme common to all Mysteries traditions so aptly: that the soul is capable of temporarily disengaging from the living, physical body, and journeys independently into the spirit world before returning.
The point of the Pyramid Texts was for the soul of the living to be exposed to the Otherworld and return to the body with knowledge of celestial mechanics, apply them on a practical level, and allow the divine to flow through the conscious self whilst performing earthly duties. This theme forms the central tenet of all Gnostic and esoteric traditions
Following The Way
At Saqqara, there is a theme associated with living resurrection, where members of pharaoh Teti I’s household join a privileged inner circle. One inscription describes the surprise of one such individual upon being admitted to “master secret things of the King.” Teti built his pyramid beside that of Unas, which contains part of the latter’s Pyramid Texts. The humbled servant continues, “Today in the presence of the son of Ra, Teti…more honoured by the king than any servant, as master of secret things of every work which his majesty should be done…. When his majesty favoured me, his majesty caused that I enter the chamber of restricted access.” At the end of his ritual experience, this grateful individual proclaims joyfully, “I found The Way.”
‘The Way’ was a ritual of self-realization practiced by Mysteries schools of ancient Japan and China in 2600 BC, as well as in Persia, Ireland and Native America. It was also later adopted by the Mandeans and the Essenes, with whom Jesus was involved. While the popular version of the legend has Jesus hailing from Nazareth, nothing could be further from the truth, for Nazareth consisted of little more than a few hovels and caves. The title nasoraiyi was, however, awarded to members of the inner brotherhood of the Mandeans who possessed secret knowledge (the term derives from the Babylonian nasiru, meaning ‘preservers of divine secrets’); someone who’d achieved the highest grade of initiation following a ritual in a secret “bridal chamber”, whereupon the successful candidate was thereby declared ‘raised from the dead’. Only they were officially qualified to administer that most secret of rites – the living resurrection. Later, when Jesus formed his own sect, his nasoraiyi were based in the town of Cochaba.
WHY THE COVER-UP BY THE CHURCH?
In the 1st century, when a new religion was brought to Rome with a man who occupied the role of resurrected hero – Yeshua ben Yosef – the populace, who were accustomed to deifying its heroes, did not take his story well. Nor did it wash with the Gnostics of Greece, Asia Minor and Egypt, who not only considered Jesus to be a mere mortal, but also believed that he had never been crucified, much less reincarnated from physical death. The chief proponents of such ‘heretical’ views were bishop Marcion of Sinope, Valentinus of Alexandria, and the scholar Basilides, who claimed the crucifixion was a fraud — that a substitute named Simon of Cyrene took Jesus’ place. Manuscripts that were written within a century after Jesus’ time and rediscovered at Nag Hammadi claim as much. One of them, Second Treatise of the Great Seth, is particularly damning, because it quotes Jesus in the first person when describing the crucifixion, “I did not die in reality but in appearance, lest I be put to shame by them…. For my death which they think happened, happened to them in their error and blind- ness, since they nailed their man unto the death…. It was another, their father, who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I…it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. It was another upon whom they placed the crown of thorns…. And I was laughing at their ignorance.”
Even as late as the 7th century the Quran upheld the same argument, “And their false allegation that they slew the Messiah, Isa, the son of Maryam, the Messenger of Allah, when in fact they never killed him nor did they crucify him but they thought they did. And those who disputed his fate were themselves in a state of uncertainty as to the truth and reality of the incident; their belief was based on empty knowledge and their supposition was formed on grounds admittedly insufficient, for indeed they just did not slay him.”
Most damning of all is the debauched Pope Leo X’s admittance; that the story of Jesus is a myth, in what must rank as one of history’s biggest gaffes, “All ages can testifie enough how profitable that fable of Christ hath ben to us and our companie.” Nevertheless, a literal view of the resurrection was leveraged by the Church, whose authority relied on Jesus’ apostles’ exclusive experience of the miraculous regeneration, and the subsequent position of incontestable authority the event bestowed upon them. Since Peter the apostle was the first witness, and the Pope came to derive his authority from Peter (for Peter, despite a total absence of evidence, was declared first bishop of Rome), it was in the Church’s best interests to promote a literal spin on resurrection. This position was aided by Paul the apostle’s misunderstanding of Jesus making dead people return to life, not to mention the ritual of living resurrection being performed in secret by the Jerusalem Church, to which he had never been privy. The First Epistle to the Corinthians nearly lets the cat out of the bag when it notes that Paul was “determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified,” in other words, that Paul sought to deny the existence of earlier, established myths of risen god-men. Paul then dug himself into a deeper hole by professing that spiritual knowledge is a vanity created by the devil — hardly the position taken by a man with a true understanding of spiritual doctrine.
Thus a whole population was brainwashed into accepting the resurrection as a miracle experienced solely by Jesus following a physical death, contrary to the laws of nature and contrary, even, to Jesus’ personal views! But this turn of events did not occur overnight. In order for the new cult of ‘Jesus the God’ to supplant the cult of the ‘gods’, Jesus had to be seen to possess similar supernatural powers to the rejuvenating gods of the Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians and Greeks — Thammuz, Adonis, Zeus, Osiris. And so, Jesus allegedy crossed into the Otherworld on the winter solstice and re-emerged as a resurrected god.
Whereas Catholic dogma maintained that survival of the soul is only possible upon physical death, everyone else shared the common understanding that resurrection was to be achieved while still living, a point unequivocally stressed by the suppressed Gospel of Philip, “Those who say they will die first and then rise are in error. If they do not first receive the resurrection while they live, when they die they will receive nothing.” In other words, those who believe in a literal interpretation of resurrection are confusing a spiritual truth with an actual event; Philip himself even goes on to describe fundamental Christianity as “the faith of fools.”
Gnostics of the period had a better grasp of the Mysteries than orthodox religion. The knowledge they’d acquired in secret over centuries concerned an inner experience of God. They could claim the experience, and thus a sense of authority, that surpassed that of the apostles and their successors. This posed a great danger to the authority of the Church — a concern voiced by Iranaeus, father of Catholic theology, “No one can be compared with them in the greatness of their gnosis, not even if you mention Peter or Paul or any of the other apostles…they themselves have discovered more than the apostle.”
This would have been Iranaeus’ mere opinion had the Apocalypse of Peter — another banned gospel — also not come to light, in which a ‘risen’ Jesus explains to Peter, “those who name themselves bishop or deacon and act as if they had received their authority from God are in reality waterless canals. Although they do not understand the Mystery they boast that the Mystery of truth belongs to them alone. They have misinterpreted that apostle’s teaching and have set up an imitation church in place of the true Christian brotherhood.”
HOW TO RAISE THE DEAD.
From ancient Egypt and India and right into the classical Greek era, the Mysteries teachings were open to those who passed tests of moral aptitude. During a one-year probation period the candidate was often taught the Lesser Mysteries through parables and symbols; the successful individual was allowed into the Greater Mysteries and its secret cosmic truths, concluding in a ritual where the initiate was placed in a figurative grave to have their consciousness directed out of body and into the Otherworld. Upon discovering the true place and nature of their soul, the initiate returned to face the perceived tyranny of physical death without fear, because they’d already experienced paradise and were therefore free.
Philosophers such as Plato — himself an initiate of the Eleusinian Mysteries — describe the rite of passage as a voluntary near-death experience involving an immersion in a sarcophagus or similar vessel inside a secret chamber, followed by a return into the living body whereupon initiates were declared “risen from the dead.” While surviving accounts do not reveal the information gleaned during their immersion in the Otherworld, each person unanimously describes the experience as the pinnacle of spiritual development that revealed the true nature of the soul and the celestial mechanics that move the universe.
The ritual survived the Inquisition, thanks in part to the Knights Templar who followed the prescription laid down by the Essenes, after the knights rediscovered the instructions hidden under Temple Mount, where it was said the elders of Jerusalem “engaged in secret mysteries…of Egyptian provenance, in darkness beneath the Temple of Solomon,” in a secret chamber referred to as “the bridal chamber.”
These rituals, handed down from pharaoh Seqnenre Taa (meaning ‘The Way’) in Luxor, were already in existence a further fifteen hundred years prior to his reign, at which time there appears the concept of an inner group of initiates defined as ‘the living’ who separate themselves from ordinary people, ‘the dead’. This ritual is still commemorated in the Third Degree of Freemasonry, where the candidate is lifted from a figurative grave and pronounced ‘risen’.
THE PURPOSE OF LIVING RESURRECTION.
Plato reminds us that the point of initiation into the Mysteries is to restore the soul to that state of perfection in which it entered the world, but from whose aim it becomes deflected whilst in the physical body. The Gnostic gospels describe this pursuit as the antidote to the forces of darkness whose primary aim is to frustrate self-empowerment by making people “drink of the waters of forgetfulness…in order that they might not know from whence they came.” Every social system of organized thugary founded on deception has always promoted the anaesthetizing of intelligence and the pursuit of “mind blindness,” to which esoteric cults responded by liberating humans from this ensnarement through initiation into the cult of Knowledge, from whence they might discover the truth via a shamanic journey. No wonder the banned Gospel of Philip advises, “while we are in the world we must acquire resurrection.”
Despite a cover-up of the roots of the noble tradition pursued and promoted by Jesus, its Egyptian connections remain in the feast of Palm Sunday, marking Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem riding a donkey; an event loaded with ritual symbolism, being as it is the representation of a man who’s overcome his animal nature, which Jesus had achieved by undergoing a figurative death and living resurrection. His followers marked this rite of passage by waving palm leaves, a gesture harking back to the resurrection of Osiris and the palm tree used to honour the occasion. Osiris and his bluish-green skin is the oldest surviving expression of the cult of the Green Man, the tutelary deity of fertility, who annually, at the spring equinox, revitalizes the land from the dead. Although Jesus is never depicted in green, the attentive eye glancing at the stained glass in Chartres cathedral — a site with long links to Mysteries schools — will notice Jesus resting on an uncharacteristic green throne in the southeast window.
The benefit of living resurrection is to assist people in transcending their perceived helplessness by revealing their active role in the process of conscious manifestation. As such, they can become masters of their own reality rather than being victims of it: far from being passive observers, they can make reality respond to their will. Ultimately the gift of living resurrection is freedom of conscience, precisely as the Gospel of Thomas reminds us:
“Whoever finds himself is superior to the world.”