Hidden Wisdom in the Bible
An occult investigation of the hidden meaning concealed in the Bible
Guest article by John Temple
In the fifth of his articles on the search for Truth, occult writer and theologian, John Temple investigates the hidden wisdom in the Bible, how and why it was concealed, and the tools the sincere seeker needs to dig it out.
The Bible is regarded by many scholars as belonging to a special category of literature, sometimes called sacred texts. The distinguishing characteristic of this kind of writing is that, while many of its narratives have a historical basis, the language itself is largely, though not entirely, allegorical; it is constructed of symbols and myths containing profound spiritual truths. Why this is so, and why the Bible was written in this way, I shall discuss later.
Not everyone is convinced there is any hidden meaning in the Bible. There are many people who accept nothing but the most literal interpretation of this sacred text. There are others who, whilst they acknowledge that there is a hidden meaning, insist on confining it within the straitjacket of Christian dogma, and are horrified and repelled in equal measure at the very suggestion that it has any connection with the 'occult', which they have been taught to believe is rank superstition at best and tantamount to devil-worship at worst.
Whatever your own convictions may be, or whether you have no strong opinions either way, I hope that this investigation will provide you with many good reasons to take up the serious study of the Bible. If you do so with an open mind and full attention I can promise you not a few surprises and a broadening of your understanding of many of life's mysteries, regardless of your religious convictions, or even if you have none at all.
How and why wisdom was hidden in the Bible
I have often been asked why, if such occult doctrines as reincarnation are true, are they not mentioned in the Bible? Actually, reincarnation is mentioned in the Bible many times, but in a concealed manner (see John 1:21-27, 3:3-7 and 8:58; 1 Peter 1:23; Matthew 16:14; Mark 9:9-13; Luke 1:17). Now this raises another related question, namely, why was such knowledge hidden in the first place? Why not state such truths in plain words for all to read and comprehend? On the face of it this seems a perfectly reasonable objection, but is it? Let us examine it more closely. If we explain something in plain words can we be certain that all who hear it will understand it in the same way? The accounts given by eye-witnesses to accidents or crimes rarely agree and often contradict one another in several, critical particulars. If this is true of everyday facts, how much truer must it be when we are dealing with complex metaphysical concepts?
Suppose you tell a dozen people the facts of reincarnation as YOU understand them. Let us also suppose that you have thoroughly investigated the subject from every possible angle over the course of many years. Will each of your auditors share your understanding to the same extent? Will they even agree on the essential facts after you have patiently explained them? If you have any experience at all of human nature the answer to both questions must be in the negative. Moreover, by the time those 12 people have related what they have understood to another dozen of their friends, and these have passed this knowledge on in turn, how much of what you painstakingly conveyed in plain, simple words will be left? If you are honest, you will admit very little. Now imagine that some busybody, or even a whole meddling tribe of them, comes along every hundred years or so, and 'improves' your record to make it 'easier' to understand.
Had the wisdom hidden in the Bible been expressed in such a way it is doubtful whether any of it would have survived intact, especially during the early centuries of the Christian era, when every legitimate and illegitimate means were employed to expunge any taint of esotericism from the dogmas of the Church. By concealing such knowledge under the cloak of simple, allegorical tales all could read and understand, the compilers and authors of the Bible ensured the preservation of the hidden wisdom for posterity.
The parable of the prodigal son (see afterword) is a classic example of this technique. It appears to be a simple morality tale of redemption through suffering and the acquisition of wisdom through bitter experience. The universal appeal of such tales ensured their survival among the great mass of humanity, while at the same time preserving their hidden meaning for the few. Jesus affirms this fact when he says to his disciples: "Unto you (that is, the pledged, trained and tested pupil of the Master) it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God; but to them that are without (the masses), all these things are done in parables." (Mark 4:11).
The Mystery Language
As I made clear in an earlier article on the hidden meaning in the story of the birth of Jesus, it is not my desire to undermine the faith of any Christian in the literal reading of the Bible with all its beauty, consolation and inspiration. On the contrary, it is my aim and hope that such faith may be strengthened by an understanding of the hidden wisdom which is concealed in plain sight of all.
As I said earlier, the Bible, like other sacred texts, is written in a particular language full of allegory and symbolism. This very ancient language was designed to reveal the hidden truths of life, to convey metaphysical ideas, and to describe higher and lower states and planes of consciousness. It is constructed of symbols, metaphors, myths and allegories, none of which were intended to be taken literally. This at once answers the criticism of atheists and sceptics alike that the Bible "piles the incredible upon the impossible." It does so only for those who cannot, or will not see beneath the surface and know nothing of the Mystery Language.
This language was constructed millions of years ago by the great Sages and Seers of Atlantis who taught it to their carefully chosen pupils. Their descendants in turn founded the Mystery Schools of Egypt and Greece. It was only when the last of these schools finally closed some two thousand years ago, that an attempt was made to combine what was left of their teachings with the doctrines of the emerging religion of Christianity. Although the intention was good, the result was an uneasy marriage between the ancient Wisdom and Church dogma, mixed up with the superstitions of those times, which did little to enlighten mankind in the succeeding centuries. As the Church grew in power and influence, the wisdom hidden in the Bible became increasingly inaccessible to all but the very few who possessed the keys to unlock it.
Thus we arrive at the modern era, when thanks to the labours of such great scholars and mystics as H. P. Blavatsky, Gerald Massey and others, the existence of the Mystery Language is once again affirmed, even though there are few who teach it, and even fewer who understand it. We have now learned that this language was carefully designed to achieve two things. Firstly, to communicate the occult or hidden knowledge of the Sages to those qualified to receive it, and secondly to conceal that knowledge from those to whom it would be a danger and a temptation.
The reasons for such secrecy have been fully explored by the authors of this website in several of their excellent articles, so I will not recapitulate them except to say that the ancient Sages were only too well aware of the weaknesses of men ever to risk the smallest particle of the great occult secrets falling into the hands of those who might misuse them for their own selfish ends. It is for this reason that the Mystery Language had and has a triple meaning. The first level of interpretation was the literal or exoteric one, and this was what ensured its survival, as we have seen earlier. The second level was the esoteric which could only be understood with the aid of the keys of symbolism, allegory and metaphor. The third and deepest level was reserved for the great Sages and their immediate circle.
The keys to the Mystery Language
The keys to the Mystery Language are many, and each has several levels and aspects. To learn them all, and employ them is the work of a lifetime. The most I can hope to do in a short article such as this is to provide you with a few clues and hints, which if judiciously followed, may encourage you to take up the study of comparative mythology, religion and symbology, without which it is impossible to discover the hidden wisdom in the Bible. For we must bear in mind that the authors and compilers of the Bible were very learned men, steeped in Greek philosophy, Jewish mysticism and the remnants of the Mystery Teachings of ancient Egypt, Chaldea and Persia. Without some prior knowledge of these sources the Bible will remain a closed book to us.
My first hint is that you take nothing literally, but search diligently for the allegorical meaning. The dictionary tells us that an "allegory is the representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms." Parables are compound allegories which contain one or more abstract or spiritual meanings or principles concealed in concrete or material forms. In Luke 14:16-24 we may read about a certain 'supper' and the various excuses given by the guests, resulting in those who had not been invited (the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind) taking their places! Now whether we regard the 'supper' as an allegory for wisdom, truth, liberation from reincarnation, or any other desirable spiritual thing, the meaning is plain; the majority of mankind are far too busy to pay any heed to spiritual matters.
It is very different for the 'poor, the maimed, the halt and the blind.' Please pay careful attention to these words for each is an allegory in itself. They do not refer to physical ailments but to mental, emotional and spiritual ones. Those who suffer in these ways may be ready for a step up in their spiritual evolution, for they have seen and experienced the emptiness of material things. 'Poor' does not mean lacking in material things, but hungry for spiritual knowledge. 'Maimed' means hurt in some emotional or mental way, perhaps through illness or grief. 'Halt' has a similar but not identical meaning for it implies a want of development or a deficiency of some kind, such as doubt, indecision, prejudice, etc. Likewise, the 'blind' are those whose eyes are closed to anything spiritual or transcendental.
To understand such parables we must read them intuitively, opening our minds to that vaster and higher consciousness within us called the Higher Self, which is so often ignored or derided in favour of mere intellectual reasoning and cold logic.
My second hint is that many of the characters described in the Bible symbolize a specific state of consciousness. The actors in the great dramas we behold in both the Old and New Testaments are personifications of aspects of the lower and Higher selves of man. Just as in Shakespeare's plays and sonnets they illustrate human and superhuman attributes, qualities, powers and weaknesses. The devotion and selfless love of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is within us all, as are the doubts of Pontius Pilate, the cruelty of Herod, the vengeance of Moses and the faith of Job. The Christ principle, even if asleep in most, is present in every man and woman in the shape of the often sorrowing Master within—also called the Higher Self. It is up to each one of us to listen to His guiding voice or hearken to the selfish demands of the lower self and body. The choice is ours, though external circumstances may sway us toward one or other pole.
My third clue is that very many narratives in the Bible describe some phase of the evolutionary journey of the Higher Self from darkness to Light and ignorance to Wisdom. This applies both to normal evolutionary progress and also to the quickening that may be obtained through mystical and occult studies, especially those that lead to Initiation, which is the "strait gate" and "the narrow way" referred to by Jesus. There are times in the lives of all when a change of consciousness occurs that inspires a sincere aspiration towards the spiritual and transcendental. There are other times when we are "tempted in the wilderness", whether that wilderness is one of material want or a sort of mental or spiritual desert, in which our lower self tempts us to betray truth and goodness as we see it.
So we may say that we all, in our different ways, live out the great dramas of the Bible during our many lifetimes. There is not one genuine seeker after Truth, who alone and friendless, has not cried out in the bitter sorrow of their heart: "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me!" (Matthew 27: 46). Equally, there is no seeker, who having found and embraced the One Light of Truth, has not exclaimed in joyful gratitude: "My God, my God, how Thou dost glorify me!" Both these extremes are encountered in our spiritual pilgrimage.
My fourth and final hint is to study well the occult science of symbolism. The Mystery Language is primarily built on symbols whose meanings are the same throughout the whole world at all times. Whether we look to East or West, we find the same sacred symbols of the Cross, the Circle, Trees, and the Serpent or Dragon, to name but a few of the oldest symbols of all. A symbol may be regarded as an allegorical picture, describing in a few lines a specific idea, fact, law or principle. A good example of this is the circle which symbolizes infinity, whose centre is nowhere (or no place) but whose circumference is everywhere. You can find an explanation of a few mystical symbols in several articles on this website, especially in The Science of Symbolism.
Some examples of Hidden Wisdom in the Bible
Before I end this investigation, let us examine some well-known Bible stories to see what hidden wisdom they contain. Firstly, let us look at the story of Jesus and his disciples being caught in a severe storm on the Sea of Galilee. You can find this in Mark 4:35-41. The boat was in danger of sinking and Jesus was asleep in the stern when His disciples, in panic, awakened him. He rebuked them, saying: "Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?"
Using the keys we have learned, we may say that the sea symbolizes the waters of earthly life over which we sail in the boat of the lower self and body. In life we encounter storms of all kinds, whether these are minor trials and tribulations, major disasters, or simply the ever-present winds of our turbulent emotions, desires and passions that can so easily overwhelm us when we least expect it. Without faith even the smallest storms cannot be overcome.
But there is more to this story than the simple injunction to have faith. As I suggest in my afterword (see sidebar) many parables in the Bible bear a striking similarity to the didactic Wisdom literature of ancient Egypt. The symbolism of boats figures very largely in the religion of ancient Egypt, which is not surprising when we consider how important the Nile was throughout the long history of Egypt. In the Egyptian mythos it is Horus who is the Teacher in the boat, sometimes accompanied by 12 disciples as we find in the Bible, at others by seven. Now this is significant, for as man is composed of seven principles, the disciples of the Lord (whether he is Jesus or Horus) may well represent these different aspects of our consciousness, revealing a further and deeper level of meaning.
Let us now turn to another familiar story from the New Testament: the healing of the blind man found in Mark 10:46-52. As many of you will know blindness symbolizes a state of mental darkness and ignorance. Being cured of blindness means seeing with our spiritual eyes. This is not to say that Jesus did not cure purely physical blindness, or that his so-called 'miracles' are exclusively allegorical. One may mix allegory with actual fact without losing the verisimilitude of either, as I am sure my more discerning readers will know. Nevertheless, whilst it is highly laudable to restore a man's physical sight, I am sure you will all agree that the restoration of one's spiritual eyes—that is the ability to see and know spiritual truth in all its Divine effulgence and sublimity is a far greater blessing. The former only cures the physical affliction of one incarnation, the latter, if truly applied, may last for all eternity.
In this story, we find the blind Bartimaeus begging by the wayside. Significantly he is not on the road but sitting by the side of it. We may say the same of many would-be seekers after Truth, who, lacking the courage to walk the path to the Light themselves, sit down beside it ineptly, hoping against hope that someone, somehow, will notice them and give them a hand-out. This was the situation of Bartimaeus, who calls out to Jesus to have mercy on him. Do you recognise the type? I hope so, for there are many people in the world who beg for help but will do little or nothing to earn it!
In any event, Bartimaeus' self-pitying entreaties eventually succeed in arresting the progress of Jesus, who "stood still and commanded him to be called." Jesus' disciples call the blind man, saying: "be of good comfort, rise, he calleth thee." This is significant. We must first rise by our own efforts if we are to benefit from the truth we wish to receive; we cannot do so if we remain sitting on our backsides by the wayside of life! But Bartimaeus does more than get up; he casts away his garments before he approaches the Teacher. This too is highly significant. Nakedness is one of the greatest symbols in the Bible. It may refer either to ignorance, to innocence, or as in this case, to the shedding of one's preconceptions, prejudices, superstitions, dogmatism, and all the rest of the mental encumbrances which prevent us from perceiving the true Teacher and the true Teachings.
Having cast away these useless garments, Bartimaeus receives the gift of sight from the Lord. So here, in a few words we have a most wonderful description of the processes of interior illumination. Note too that after he receives his sight, Bartimaeus "followed Jesus in the way." The way of Truth by means of the path to the Light. How simple it all is when one applies a few of the keys of the Mystery Language!
There have been several occultists and mystics who have written extensively on the hidden wisdom in the Bible, notably Gerald Massey and the Theosophical seer, Geoffrey Hodson. There is much of value in the writings of these and other authors, but we should exercise our critical thinking when studying their books and accept nothing on trust, for as we have learned, there are many different ways in which sacred writ can be understood, and it is all too easy to seize on one particular interpretation, thereby missing the wider picture.
There are other writers who have attempted to comprehensively explain the meaning of every symbol which appears most frequently in the Bible, such as fish, ships, trees, arks, mountains and valleys, serpents and snakes, birds, animals and flowers, and so on and so forth. I'm sure their intention was good, but the result on the whole has led to greater confusion and oftimes argument and strife among these well-meaning but misguided scholars and their followers. The moment we try to pigeon-hole a specific symbol, such as the serpent, dragon or snake (which reptile is mentioned more than 100 times in the Bible) by saying it represents Divine Wisdom, a host of nay-sayers rise up in wrath to claim it as the embodiment of the Devil. Many conspiracy theorists confidently assert that all the Biblical serpents represent extraterrestrial 'shape-shifting' 'lizards'. Yet others maintain that the serpent symbolizes temptation, or the animal cunning of the lower self, or physical sexual desire.
All these interpretations contain some truth, but not all the truth, and therein lies the snag, dear reader. To even begin to understand the hidden meaning of the grand symbol of the serpent we must first qualify which of the many 'serpents' and 'snakes' mentioned in the Bible we are discussing. Is it the serpent that "was more subtil than any beast of the field" which tempted Eve to eat the 'forbidden' fruit mentioned in Genesis, chapter 3? Or is it the "great red dragon" that appears in Revelation, chapter 12, "having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads" whose "tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven"?
Or is it perhaps the magical 'rod' which Aaron threw down before Pharaoh, which became a serpent that swallowed up the serpent rods of Pharaoh's magicians mentioned in Exodus, chapter 7? Then we have the "fiery serpents" that the 'Lord' sent among the disobedient Israelites which bit and killed them. If these serpents were 'good', what are we to make of the "serpent of brass" raised up by Moses, which healed those who had been smitten by the serpents of the 'Lord'. Was this an 'evil' serpent to counteract the 'good' serpents of the 'Lord', or is it the other way around? Or were both these serpents 'evil'? You decide! But think carefully before you do so. And what are we to make of the serpent mentioned in Genesis 49:17, in which we may read: "Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward."
What on earth can this mean? We seem to be getting deeper and deeper into a bottomless pit of deceitful snakes, twisting and turning this way and that, so that it seems we shall never find our way out and so arrive at a satisfactory conclusion! One key to the mystery is the duality of ALL things, enshrined in the Hermetic Law of Polarity. A Higher state, quality or power may be good in relation to a lower one and vice versa. The "adder in the path" mentioned above illustrates this polarity very well, for it refers in a hidden manner to the lower self which may well be said to 'bite' us in the form of our animal desires and passions, so that perchance we, or rather our Higher Self (the 'rider' of the senses of our body) falls backward in its evolution.
Another key is that serpents symbolize material or spiritual power and energy in some form or other, which is neither good nor bad in itself, but may become so by its operation. This grand symbol is also described in the aforementioned article on The Science of Symbolism and in The Golden Star—see review at right. Those of you who wish to learn more about the hidden wisdom in the Bible and the meaning of specific symbols found in it, will find a tremendous amount of information in the sources given in my further reading list at right.
If all this shows us nothing else it shows us that the hidden wisdom in the Bible cannot be uncovered in a day or a month, but is the constant work and study of a lifetime. If you should doubt this, and I expect my readers to take nothing on trust, I refer you to The Mystic Rose by Ernest Crawley, who devotes no less than 300 pages to the mythology and symbolism of the rose! One could write similar books on each of the aforementioned symbols and not cover a fraction of their possible meanings in the Bible. For these reasons, the few examples I have given of the great spiritual treasure hidden in the Bible must suffice. If I have encouraged you to mine these riches by and for yourself, I shall be well content.
About the author
John Temple is the pen-name of a writer who has studied and practised the occult sciences for more than 50 years. He graduated from Cambridge University with a first in Theology and Religious Studies and has lectured to students around the world on a wide variety of occult, religious and mystical subjects.
He is now retired and lives quietly in London with his wife, two Yorkshire terriers and a talkative African Grey Parrot called 'John' (no relation). He can be contacted via this website.
Read more articles by this author on the Search for Truth
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An occult investigation and analysis of some parables from the NT gospels.
Hidden meaning in the Book of Proverbs
An investigation of the origins of the Book of Proverbs and the hidden meaning in it.
Esoteric meaning of Easter.
An investigation of the true significance and esoteric meaning of Easter.
If God is good why does he allow evil? A metaphysical investigation of the problem of Good and Evil.
Esotericism in the Nativity. An occult investigation of the Bible story of the birth of Jesus, revealing the many layers of hidden meaning it contains.
Who are the REAL illuminati? An evil conspiracy or something quite different? His answers may surprise you!
Searching for Truth.
The true story of one seeker's personal journey of spiritual discovery.
© Copyright John Temple & occult-mysteries.org. Article added 19 July 2015.
Updated 17 August 2016.