“The initiates of old warned their disciples that an image is not a reality but merely the objectification of a subjective idea. The images of the gods were not not designed to be objects of worship but were to be regarded merely as emblems or reminders of invisible powers and principles. Similarly, the body of man must not be considered as the individual but only as the house of the individual, in the same manner that the temple was the House of God. In a state of grossness and perversion man’s body is the tomb or prison of a divine principle; in a state of unfoldment and regeneration it is the House or Sanctuary of the Deity by whose creative powers it was fashioned. ‘Personality is suspended upon a thread from the nature of Being,’ declares the secret work. … The immortal is the reality; the mortal is the unreality.” ~Manly P Hall
Images and Symbols
In an age when many people never visit parks or other countries in person, but instead view videos online, or read the Facebook posts of those who do, it is not surprising that they can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is merely symbols or images of reality. In a sense, of course, an image is a kind of reality. But the reality of a photo of a rose is not the reality of an actual rose. Even if you could make the photo three dimensional and add the scent of a rose, it would still be just an image.
When we do go on a trip, we are likely to take photos. These photos are used to show others where we went, but also as reminders to ourselves in the future. A reminder is not the thing itself, however. Looking through our vacation photos is not the same as retaking the vacation.
When it comes to the mostly invisible world of spirit, we are more prone to confuse images with reality. Since we can’t see the reality of angels, we start worshiping the statues and paintings of them. Paintings and statues which, by the way, almost never depict angels as they really are (hint: they are not people with bird wings on their backs). Likewise, people start worshiping statues of God and saints as if the image was the actual thing. When I visited Vatican City many years ago, I saw an old copper statue in St. Peter’s with it’s feet nearly worn off. That is because many worshipers visiting the place will put their hands on the feet while they pray. They can certainly see that they are damaging the statue by doing so, yet they continue. They can understand the physical reality of a statue better than the abstract concepts behind it, so they are really praying to the statue, even if they deny it. Similarly, in a Greek monastery, I saw elderly woman shoving tourists aside so they could get close enough to touch a painting of an important saint and pray to him. They need to touch the image, but not the actual saint. Again, confusing the symbol with the think itself. Ann religion is not the only place we find this. Continue reading “Image Reminders for Mind and Soul”