The Invisible Sun Within
The student of the wisdom religion is confronted with the statement that the whole universe, physical and metaphysical, is reproduced or recorded in human beingsâ€™ physical and superphysical vehicles of self-expression: that sun, planets, satellites, their regents, powers, beings, kingdoms of nature and orders of life are all represented by a system of mutual resonances in every person. Each individual is, in fact, described as an epitome of the whole universe, a reproduction in miniature of all nature, visible and invisible.
This fundamental concept was known by ancient philosophers as the theory of the macrocosm or â€œgreat worldâ€ and the microcosm or â€œlittle world.â€ In the reflection of the macrocosm (God and the universe) in the microcosm (individual human beings) was said to lie the key to all knowledge; for through the part, the whole may be perceived; through knowledge of the individual, the universal may be comprehended. Hence the words carved over the doors of the mystery temples of old: â€œMan, Know Thyself.â€
â€œMan,â€ says the Ancient Wisdom, â€œis that being in whom highest Spirit and lowest matter are united by intellect.â€ Each human being is an epitome of the cosmos, a microcosm in which the macrocosm exists potentially.
If, as was taught and believed in the ancient schools, all nature exists potentially in human beings, then a clue may be discovered to a mystical meaning of the words of the title of this chapter. The reference may be not to the external physical sun at all, but to a solar power and light indwelling within both nature and individuals. â€œLife is a pure flame,â€ says Sir Thomas Browne, the English mystic, â€œand we are lit by an invisible sun within us.â€
In the sixtieth chapter of the book of Isaiah, which reads like a charge to an initiate, there is also a suggestion that, at a certain stage of evolution, a sunlike source of light is revealed or self-declared within the spiritually awakened individual. He or she discovers an interior light and thereafter is no longer mentally and spiritually subjected to the alternations of night and day. The sun within becomes oneâ€™s light for evermore. The chapter begins with the words: â€œArise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.â€ Later verses read:
The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.
Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended (Isa. 60:19â€“20).
There is evidence here that neither the physical sun nor the physical moon are referred to. It is apparent that some other nonphysical source of illumination is denoted.
A further interesting reference from the Bible, which supports this concept of the sun, is contained in the story of Joshua and his power to cause the sun and moon to stand still. Joshua had gone from Gilgal to relieve the besieged city Gibeon, in answer to a call from its citizens. After the victory an extraordinary, not to say impossible, event is said to have occurred:
Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.
And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.
And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the Lord fought for Israel (Josh. 10:12â€“14 ).
Here, again, it seems clear that the reference is neither to the physical sun nor to the physical moon; for if the verses are taken literally, the astronomical knowledge of the authors is seen to be seriously at fault. As previously stated, it is the Earth which moves, not the sun; and if the Earthâ€™s rotation were suddenly arrested, it would probably disintegrate. Morever, if the sun had remained in the midst of the heavens, there would have been neither need for nor value in a similar arrest of the movement of the moon.
What, then, is mystically implied by Joshuaâ€™s action in keeping the sun â€œin the midst of heavenâ€? What is the significance of the statement, made both in the account of this incident and also in certain rituals of initiation, that the sun can be held still at its meridian? In esoteric philosophy the sun within is the highest spiritual Self, the Monad, center and source of that divine fire and light of which, in their essence, both macrocosm and microcosm consist. The moon, on the other hand, is used as a symbol of a mortal being, who derives light from the spiritual Self or sun within, and with varying degrees of perfection and in different phases, reflects that solar light.
The sun and the moon may therefore be taken to represent immortal and mortal aspects of human nature, the spirit and the flesh. If one accepts this interpretation, Joshua is revealed as a highly developed man, an initiate of the greater mysteries or school of the prophets perhaps, who before he can pass to the next phase of his unfoldment, must have brought the highest (sun) and the lowest (moon) aspects of his nature under his control and placed them in harmonious relationship. In his outer life he must also have acquired the power to maintain the spiritual sun within him always at its meridian, or position of maximum power. In terms of physical life and conduct, this may be taken to imply attainment of the power to rule all outer activities by spiritual will and according to spiritual laws. Since this power is dangerous, the way to its attainment is concealed, even while revealed under a veil of symbology and, indeed, of absurdity.
In terms of the seven principles of human nature, Joshua represents the mind. Up to a certain stage of unfoldment, the mind imprisons, distorts and, in consequence, frequently loses the light of the interior sun, the divine Self within. Intellectually each person is subject to night and day, or to alternating periods of spiritual and intellectual light and darkness. When, however, symbolically, the battle of Gibeon has been successfully fought, as by Joshua, then victory has been attained by the mind over both sun and moon, and mastery achieved of interior spiritual power and light and of their material expression.
The description of the battle of Gibeon, like many others in world scriptures, may be thus regarded as an allegory of the universal and perpetual Armageddon for which the whole of nature, and so humanity itself, is the field. It is the universal and individual conflict between spirit and matter, life and form, consciousness and vehicle of expression. Joshua personifies the person in whom that battle has been won, as Gibeon was won, by the aid of the Lord, the divine within. Victory was attained because the forces of both sun and moon, or the spiritual and material natures, were under Joshuaâ€™s control. He, himself, had placed his sun at its meridian or position of maximum power. Never again could the lower quaternary, the fourfold personality, obscure the rays of the threefold spiritual sun, the divine Self within.
The peace after the conflict may be taken to refer to that stillness of mind in which alone the direct rays of the spiritual sun can shine down into the mortal personality and illumine it. Thus the astronomically absurd standing still of both sun and moon can provide an important and even deliberate clue to the inner meaning of the allegory, as also a valuable guide to the attainment of self-illumination. By an effort of will and thought, the spiritual Self, the mind and the bodily consciousness, can be brought into perfect â€œverticalâ€ alignment and held there, always â€œon the plumb.â€
Stillness of mind has ever been recognized as essential to self-illumination. Elijah heard the divine voice not in earthquake, wind or fire, but in the silence which followed after they had passed. The Psalmist enunciates this law in the words: â€œBe still, and know that I am Godâ€ (Ps. 46:10 ).
The Ancient Wisdom itself is also regarded by many as the source of both the body of ideas common to world faiths and the spiritual light received by humanity; for just as the physical sun brings light and life to the evolving forms of nature, so the Ancient Wisdom is as a sun which brings illumination to the unfolding minds of human beings. Ideally, orthodox religion should perform the two important functions of revealing this light of the Ancient Wisdom and providing the means whereby that light directly reaches the brain-mind. This the greater mysteries have done, for when a person is admitted to a valid, esoteric order he or she receives that light. In addition, the act of consecration and the training which precedes and follows it help to open the consciousness to its rays. Successive initiations are recognitions of successive ascents into higher states of consciousness. Each ascent both draws the initiate nearer to the Source, the spiritual sun, and by stimulation of appropriate physical and superphysical sense organs, increases his or her ability to perceive its light. Symbolically, the sun is first placed at its meridian or place of maximum power and thereafter is maintained in that position. Symbolically also for the successful initiateâ€”personified by Joshuaâ€”the sun stands still.
One condition of the descent of the solar fire from the spiritual sun, through the Monad or human, microcosmic sun, through the intellect and into the brain, is a complementary ascent, from the center of the planet, of the fireâ€”sometimes referred to as lunarâ€”resident there. In esoterically trained and developed individuals, this force flows up into the spinal cord, to be concentrated at a force-center at the base of the spine. When fully aroused, this fire rises in serpentine motion within the spinal cord into the middle of the head, the sanctuary or â€œEastâ€ in the temple of the body. This extremely esoteric, potent, power bestowing and â€œdangerousâ€ energy is universally symbolized by dragons and serpents in various forms in one of their hidden meanings.
Egyptian religious art portrays portions of ceremonies of initiation, and in most of the sculptures, relics, murals and papyri, candidates wear a triangular apron. This symbol also has many meanings. In one it represents the protective action of the will, which prevents this power from flowing forward into and through the physical creative organs and directs it upwards along the spinal cord into the head. There it is met by and united with the descending solar fire. Such union is sometimes symbolized by marriage and even by sexual union. This flow and union of the two fires opens the doorway at the crown of the head (rolls away the stone of the sepulcher), and the consciousness of the initiate is thereafter immortal, free (resurrected) from the reparative tendency of the mind and the mortality of the body from both of which it has now arisen.
The genuine secrets of the mysteries then discovered consist less of expositions of facts, of intellectual concepts concerning life, than of direct, living experience of the divinity and universality of life and its mode of manifestation. The result is ever a secret, and always incommunicable to those who have not entered into the experience.
The tables of the law were not so much deliberately broken by Moses as by the operation of certain laws of nature revealed in the allegory. Only on the mountaintopâ€”symbol of the higher consciousness, of spiritual exaltationâ€”can illumination be gained. The resultant power, wisdom and knowledge are always marred, if not lost, as consciousness descends to lower levels. According to the biblical allegory, the tables of the law are broken, or spiritual light is darkened for those who remain in the vale of exclusively mundane awareness, worshipping the golden calf of materialism and material power. For such people, substituted secrets, in the form of allegories, parables and symbols, and the theology, creeds and observances of exoteric religion will always be necessary and, indeed, all that is available to them. The genuine secrets can be known only by those who ascend regularly by the practice of meditation into the illumined state of their own Sun-self and through that into the Sun-self of the universe. By maintaining themselves in that condition, they symbolically cause the sun to stand still.
The inner purpose of religion is thus to lift its followers onto the mountaintop of full spiritual awareness. There, as depicted by the story of Elijah and the â€œstill small voiceâ€ (1 Kings 19:12 ), communion with God, the divine principle within, is attainable. On the mountaintop Moses inwardly perceived, rather than received from without, the laws of existence and their application to human conduct. On the mount Christ preached his greatest sermon (Matt. Chs. 5, 6 & 7 ) and was transfigured (Matt. 17:1â€“2 ). So, also, every aspirant to light must symbolically ascend and thereafter remain upon the mount, elevated mentally toward the sun within.
As in the many solar allegories in scripture and myth, the physical sun is used as a symbol for both the all-pervading, omnipresent spiritual sun and its consequent presence in human beings, so may that luminary also be used in meditation as a gateway leading to spiritual illumination. When successful, meditation on the fiery orb leads the aspirant into its heart, in which the fire and the force aspects of the solar system begin to be perceived. From this point of view, the universe is all sun. The globe of fire disappears, giving place to all-pervading sun-power, sun-life and sun-fire.
This is the universal triplicity, the Trinity, reflected microcosmically in human beings as the threefold spiritual Self. In the exaltation of sun-consciousness, all beings are recognized as part of the sun. Devotees know themselves as manifestations of universal sun-fire and sun-force. For them, thus exalted, all objects glow and shine with the solar fire indwelling in every atom and every cell. The Earth itself is alight with a fiery glow. The subtler vesture of the Soul of the devotees shines uplifted. Their consciousness is ablaze with the sun-light and sun-fire. In ecstasy they know themselves as one with the sun, not in duality, but in unity and identity. The solar system is known as a single sun, within which the thought of duality cannot arise. Sunness becomes the totality of existence. The sun is everything; everything is the sun.
The would-be initiate must command this spiritual sun within the Self to stand still. This sun must be maintained at its maximum power, or in the perfect relation to life and consciousness indicated in the phrases â€œat its meridianâ€ and â€œin the midst of heaven.â€ A similar symbolic reference to the sun occurs in the passage from Isaiah (60:19â€“20) quoted earlier in this chapter.