Truth teachings about divinity take a progressive approach because people by nature are of differing and varied moral strength, intellectual and virtuous faculties.
Each person was and is nursed, guided and strengthened by Sages or Adepts to the individual needs and progressive teachings in line with the varied grades of intelligence.
The role of the Adepts is “to assign to man his rightful place in the scheme of the universe; to rescue from degradation the archaic truths which are the basis of all religions; and to uncover, to some extent, the fundamental unity from which they all spring.”
Deep understanding and interpretation of divine has always been an exercise of assistance for those knowledgeable, “So the Levites read from the book, from the law of Yahovah, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.” – Nehemiah 8:8.
Candidates for higher and deeper divine teachings were and are expected “of an unblemished reputation and of a contented disposition”.
In all civilisations and advanced theological schools, truth teachings about the Divine, Nature and Humanity have always been of a three-fold progressive approach.
Stage 1. Written Law (Physical Body) – a visible surface, basic and literal, which uses the five physical senses adapted to the cognition of natural phenomena and, therefore, historical;
Stage 2. Oral Law(Soul) – an intellectual interpretation of the visible using abstract values and principles; and
Stage 3. Esoteric and Mystery (Spirit) – a very deep meaning of the truth underneath the visible or ordinary, as committed by the teacher to his worthy and prepared students, “in whose hands this knowledge would be safe and useful, while concealing it from others…” Some scriptural evidence of mystical or esoteric teachings, Matthew 7: 6;13:9-17; 13:34-35, Luke 8:9-10.
Philo Judaeus, considered to be the first Hellenistic Hebrew philosopher of Alexandria, said: “The law of Moses is like to a living creature whose body is the literal sense, but the soul is the more inward and hidden meaning, covered under the sense of the letter.”
In the study of Scriptures, the Judaic rabbinic interpretation of a text uses a learning approach called Pardes, an acronym formed from the name initials of the following four progressive approaches to communicate the Truth, that is:
· “Peshat (‘Pa’) – literalist, historical, plain, simple and habitual. “This level does not appeal to reason. It simply demands acceptance of and implicit faith in pronouncements”;
· Remez (‘R’) – allegoric, symbolic and meaning beyond the literal sense. “Make no statements that are not supported by reason and logic” in an effort to “spiritualize Science and make Religion scientific” and to “explain the mystery of Life and Being from the scientific standpoint in harmony with Religion”;
· Derash (‘De’) – moral or discourse to inquire and seek meaning through similar occurrences; and
· Sod (‘S’) – secret or mystery meaning. The knowledge of the “invisible realities” based on focusing and holding “disciplined interior attention upon ourselves”) – to uncover and explain mysteries about the Divine,Nature and Humanity.
All organised religions are largely of literalist (“peshat”) teachings and have been very militant and historically treated “Others” savagely and brutally.
“Pardes” (“PRDS”) is also the Hebrew word for orchard, garden (Songs of Solomon 4:13) or park (Eccl. 2:5 and Nehemiah 2:8) and formally related to the Hebrew word ‘Paradise’, (‘Nirvana’ in Sanskrit, ‘Firdaus’ in Arabic). This is the state of purity, innocence and happiness or the “blissful heavenly abode for the righteous” or the “abode of the blessed” – (Luke 23:43, II Corinthians 12:4 and Revelations 2:7).
Scribes presented scriptural texts with the most complex details that are poetic, dramatic, allegorical and symbolical. Using the Pardes method, one is able to pierce the veil and discover a “key” to realise the ultimate truths hidden underneath the scriptural texts and the secrets about the Divine, human life and nature.
A learner seeking goodness and deeper Truth should be conversant in and imbued in all four facets of the Scriptures in their “literal, intellectual, esoteric and secret” meanings. The four progressive levels of Truth correspond with the esoteric “Four Worlds/Dimensions” of Existence (Action, Formation, Creation and Emanation).
These also correspond with the elements and building blocks of life – earth, air, water and fire; and the four Hebrew acronym (Tetragrammaton) of the sublime name of the Divine,YHVH, the impersonal, sexless and infinite cosmic force or energy.
When one has successively completed all of the four levels of truth learning and understanding, PRDS, he/she is then considered to have reached ‘Paradise’ or ‘bliss’ here and now on earth. The Torah refers to the “Garden” as the veil or garment of the scriptural text.
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