I feel that I need to put a little disclaimer before I get into this post. Some of the concepts I have described here can seem a little complicated. I understand this, as it can be very difficult to break down complex symbolical ideas into one blog post. Non-the less I have tried my best and if any part of this doesn’t make sense please let me know and I will try to clear it up in a later blog post.
We all know the story of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The New Testament tells us of his birth, his teachings, his death and his resurrection. Many have discussed whether a real historical Jesus existed and if the stories of the New Testament are real historical accounts. Whether he existed or not is not important. The important thing is understanding the symbolic meaning of his life story.
In accordance with Christian belief, Jesus Christ was god on earth. He walked among his creation and out of love and compassion allowed himself to be sacrificed for our sins. As a result of his sacrifice we enter into god’s kingdom by accepting him. This is stated in John 14:6,
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
The symbol that Christians have adopted which is also a symbolic representation of Jesus’s sacrifice is the cross. The cross is a very old symbol; its origins are lost in the sands of time. The psychologist Carl Jung believes the symbol was first adopted as a power symbol when humans discovered fire, the two lines representing two sticks rubbing together to create fire, which provided early humans with warmth and light. Our early ancestors subsequently adopted the symbolic representation of the thing that gave them this warmth and light.
A more common use of the cross symbol in mystical schools is the 4 elements, which in turn represents the human being. The cross has many other symbolic representations such as the Yin Yang or Tiphareth on the Kabbalistic tree of life. But I will not go into these here, as I want to explore one aspect of the Jesus story that I think is symbolically very important.
In Kabbalistic tradition, the name for god is Jehovah. This comes from the Hebrew name for god YHVH. Notice that YHVH are four letters and again this corresponds to the 4 elements. Those who are in the know, know that there are 5 elements. In Kabbalistic tradition the 5th element is spirit, which is represented by the Hebrew letter Shin or SH. Notice that the 4 elements YHVH, when the 5th element descends upon it gives us YHSHVH, which spells Yeheshuah. Yeheshuah was the Aramaic name for Jesus. What the western mystical schools are saying here is when a normal person allows Holy Spirit to descend upon them they have sacrificed their lower self and have found the path to god’s kingdom.
Many mystical traditions teach that to truly be alive, one must first die. They obviously do not mean a literal death as that wouldn’t work, what they mean is a symbolic death. We grow up creating a chain of moments that become a memory of our life and this chain of memories is what we call us. This idea of “I” needs to be sacrificed. Jesus being sacrificed on the cross (which remember is a symbol of man) is a great symbolic representation of this. The only way to the truth is through sacrificing the idea of ourselves that we have, the illusion of I.
Shkar Sharif is the head instructor at Tiger Crane Kung Fu in London. Any other questions, ask!