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Symbols - What does heaven look like

Cardinal directions

There is one set of symbolism that is related to the Spiritual Path.  The Four seasons and the hours explains this symbolism.

There is however, another set of symbolism that is based on navigation around the Egg.  Your position in the universe [including all its vibrational levels]  can be found using the vibrational level and some co-ordinates  - up, down, east, west, north, south.  Many older documents have these co-ordinates, for example, Mem, North, East so many 'degrees'.

I have tried to show this diagrammatically below in relation to the Egg  itself.  From the point of view of the soul in ascension, the direction taken is ‘Up’  - up the celestial pole, but the actual direction taken is towards the Orient – meaning the direction in which one orients oneself in order to attempt the Spiritual Path. 

This has been interpreted incorrectly in most literature now to mean the East. This has produced some rather odd literal interpretations of the spiritual realities. People are buried on a literal East west axis, people pray to the literal east and so on. The Cardinal directions are figurative and not ‘physical’.  One travels up the vibrational levels [Levels and layers]  and hopefully reaches the point where our soul cone touches that of the Creation and Creator. From there it is assumed we are in paradise.

Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth – Henry Corbin [translated by Nancy Pearson] 1977

In the true sense – that is to say, in the spiritual sense – the Orient is the world of the beings of Light, from which the dawn of knowledge and ecstasy rises in the pilgrim of the spirit.  There is no true philosophy which does not reach completion in a metaphysic of ecstasy, nor mystical experience which does not demand a serious philosophical preparation.  And such precisely was the dawning wisdom of the Khusrawanids, those ancient Iranians in whose person the two meanings of the word Orient – Aurora consurgens, Ishraq – were thus conjoined.

But what happens if you are just exploring?  Rather than look at the Egg as a circle, for simplicities sake let me go back to a flat representation.

Now imagine that we are at one level or layer  – earth, or water, air or fire for example.  You can go up and down between levels – see the diagram below, but you may also be travelling horizontally.  Furthermore, wherever you are journeying in the spiritual world you will have a start point and if you are travelling at a level you will be going in a certain direction. 

Particularly if you are travelling at a level where a very distinct landscape [perhaps a recognisable landscape] can be seen you will want to describe the direction you went in so that maps can be drawn for other shamans or for the edification of your tribe or group.  So you use the Cardinal directions to describe your route at that level – ‘I went east, west, north or south’.

In effect, the cardinal points in this context are used in a vision as reference points relative to the position and direction in which the person is facing in the vision and is used to ‘navigate’ their out of body travels.  In some cases they appear to be essential to ensuring the person makes it back!  In all visions therefore travel can be in three dimensions up and down as well as from east to west or north to south in relation to where the ‘body’ or rest of the soul is situated.

Daito [1282-1337]

At last I’ve broken Unmon’s ** barrier
There’s exit everywhere – east, west; north, south
In at morning, out at evening; neither host nor guest
My every step stirs up a little breeze

**Yúnmén Wény?n (862 or 864-949 CE), is also known in English as "Unmon".  He was  a major Chinese Zen master in Tang-era China and founded one of the five major schools of Chinese Zen Buddhism. 

Now let me try to transpose this picture on to the circular matrix and you get the following [incomplete] picture.

The reason it is incomplete is because I cannot show on this diagram the idea of north and south, only east and west, because north goes into the picture and south comes towards us – in effect because this is a 3 dimensional structure – the other two directions cannot be shown.

There is more detail on the Cardinal directions and the colour symbolism used to denote the various cardinal points, in the symbol section Cardinal directions and the colours.


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