In The Apocalypse Unsealed (1910), James Morgan Pryse revealed metaphysical doctrines within the literal meaning of the words of the of the last book of the New Testament. Pryse decoded a gnostic message concealed very skilfully within the fanciful imagery and symbolism of the Apocalypse. He demonstrated beyond doubt striking parallels between the hidden gnostic message of the Apocalypse and Indian Vedic metaphysics, specifically the doctrines of Samkhya, Raja and Kundalini yogas.
One of the purposes of this series of essays is to examine Pryse's analysis and attempt to determine the following. What exactly did Pryse discover? What exactly does it mean? Is his interpretation plausible? What implications follow for Christianity as we know it? In addition, I attempt to determine whether an even more fundamental message underlies that discovered by Pryse, and if possible determine its meaning.
An online version of The Apocalypse Unsealed in several formats is available. While I will discuss The Apocalypse Unsealed in depth and quote from it extensively, I recommend you read it through once and then keep the link handy for reference while you read these essays. Alternatively, you can simply refer to it as this series of essays progresses. A word of advise, however: I do not develop the material in exactly the same manner as did Pryse.
According to Pryse, the key to understanding the secret message hidden within the Apocalypse is really quite simple yet ingenious. That key lies in the numerical values of certain Greek words. With a turn of that numerical key, the esoteric contents of the Apocalypse emerge. I discuss the word key fully in succeeding essays. What is revealed is a doctrine of self emancipation that is identical to the doctrines of the Indian Yoga School, epitomized by Raja Yoga as elucidated by Patanjali.
Now, in plain words, what does this very occult book, the Apocalypse, contain? It gives the esoteric interpretation of the Christos-myth; it tells what "lesous the Christos" really is; it explains the nature of "the old serpent, who is the Devil and Satan"; it repudiates the profane conception of an anthropomorphic God; and with sublime imagery it points out the true and only path to Life Eternal. It gives the key to that divine Gnosis which is the same in all ages, and superior to all faiths and philosophies — that secret science which is in reality secret only because it is hidden and locked in the inner nature of every man, however ignorant and humble, and none but himself can turn the key.
Thus, the topics covered in this series of essays include:
In addition, there are multiple passages and symbols contained in the Apocalypse that seem to derive from sources other than those examined by Pryse in great detail. He rather passes over the referred to passages and symbols in some instances with hardly a word. This lack of apparent interest piqued my own curiosity to determine just why. This leads to additional topics to be covered:
In The Supreme Identity Alan Watts discusses the idea that the concept of deity "out there" is a psychological projection of the self "in here". This idea that "God" is simply mistaken identity seems to be very much a part of the source left unexplored by Pryse. So it is another topic to be covered:
The precise "how" and "who" of the theories hidden in the Apocalypse may never be fully understood. Pryse does not help by neglecting to cite sources that led him to his interpretation other than the obvious classical philosophers and Vedas, but even there omits specific citations for the most part. However, the theory behind Pryse's interpretation is elaborated by Arthur Avalon; and, it is likely that Pryse was influenced and inspired by C. W. Leadbeater and other theosophists, especially Helena Blavatsky. One version of how these Indian doctrines might have traveled to the Middle East, Greece and Rome is given by Rudolf Otto.
The orthodox, of course, have taken great pains during the past 2000 years to liquidate the evidence of their early competitors and to give the impression of doctrinal uniformity. The discovery of a cache of gnostic documents at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1948 and their subsequent translation refutes this deception. Despite the efforts of the orthodox to convince us otherwise, there has been doctrinal disconformity since the earliest years. In fact, one of the major documents discovered at Nag Hammadi virtually intact, the Apocryphon of John, has been known in fragments since as early as 180 C.E. when it featured prominently in the best-known book of Irenaeus (died c 202 C.E.), Adversus Haereses or Against Heresies (c. 180). The fact of the gnostic document hidden within the Apocalypse can not be denied, as proven by Pryse. That document is there and I will show it to you.
I make no claim that the metaphysical theories discovered hidden within their own sacred writings represent the efforts of orthodox Christians. Indeed, since winning the gnostic wars in the mid-late 4th century and becoming the official religion of the fading Roman Empire, Christians have claimed they possess no secrets, that their catholicity leaves no room for elite and secret teaching. So the best I can claim is that the orthodox became the custodians of a body of knowledge most likely not of their own making, and if not their own than the making of gnostic and/or non-orthodox Christians with whom the orthodox were in active contention for more than three hundred years; and, in the case of the Manichaeans until the Middle Ages. Indeed, many gnostic and other non-orthodox ideas survived past the Middle Ages and formed the fragmentary base of an esoteric current of alternate "Christian" ideas.
Fortunately, the Apocalypse has not suffered textural corruption to the same extent as other New Testament writings. Furthermore, the relatively pristine condition of the Apocalypse can be demonstrated from the text itself without recourse to any other New Testament material. In fact, the Apocalypse provides the key to understanding and properly interpreting the fragments of hidden doctrines within the remainder of the New Testament. Pryse attempted to reconcile these fragments scattered through the gospels with The Restored New Testament in 1914. That work, however, is extraneous to the task of revealing the hidden message and its teaching, so I ignore it in these essays.[ What is Dance of Ecstasy ] ~ [ Introduction ] ~ [ Riddles of Revelation ]
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