07/24/2010 08:57 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Holy Bible, Holy Mirror: How Looking Beyond Literal Meaning Enhances the Bible's Sanctity

As the consciousness revolution hots up, it's becoming pretty clear that what's really holy about the Holy Bible is the person reading it. We may imbue the book with holiness, but surely, isn't it even more valuable to see it as a mirror in which our soul is reflected? Isn't the Bible about us? About God's purpose for us? How he created us as an expression of himself? How we lost awareness of our divine nature? And how we can restore it?

Maybe instead we should call it "The Human Bible."

Yet, as we gaze into it, the Bible dazzles us with seemingly misleading information. Largely as a result, we are still fighting the same wars within and between ourselves over the same issues since circa 6,000 BC.

Take Genesis. Let's face it, we know for sure that

  • The universe was not created in seven days;
  • Man is not made from dust;
  • Serpents do not hold conversations with naked ladies.

Orthodox doctrine maintains that everything must be taken literally and that the Bible is a full, final, immutable transcription of God's Word -- mess with it at your peril!

So, as increasingly large numbers of intelligent people are rejecting the entire book, how do we reconcile the word of God with the discoveries of science and our emerging understanding?

One way could be to neither dismiss nor take it on faith, but to use the words to look deeper within ourselves, to fathom the meaning in the metaphors, to expand our consciousness, and to embrace new ideas and revelations.

As told in the story of Jacob, God may want us to struggle with his teachings in order to receive enlightenment. My working hypothesis is that God leaves us clues. Scripture is poetry that speaks through our minds to our souls. Perhaps our spiritual evolution occurs as we use these clues as a catalyst for looking within ourselves for meaning and truth. This would be fully consistent with the first commandment, "Have no other gods before me." He may be saying, "I, God, am within you. I am your true self. Don't look out there and worship symbols or you'll get lost. Use the symbols to go deeper inside."

Take Genesis again. The Bible offers us three versions of the creation story: Genesis 1, Genesis 2, and John 1. Why? Maybe this is a clue, a pointer?

Perhaps the anomalies are the portals to the hidden meaning. If John says it is "the Word" that is the causative factor in creation, why is it not mentioned in Genesis 1? Maybe it is. Maybe 6,000 years before John came along, they used a different word for the same thing? That's hardly heresy, is it? So where does Genesis 1 tally with John?

John says, "In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God. The Word was God ... All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made."

Genesis 1, however, says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void. And darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light."

Throughout Genesis 1, the expression "the waters" is used seven times, culminating in verse 20: "And God said, 'Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life ... '"

Could the missing word for "Word" in Genesis be "waters"? In Genesis 2, "the waters" as a creative force has morphed into the river that "went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became four heads." The four forces of the universe, perhaps? Imagine that: has Genesis been telling us all along what science is now discovering?

Could these metaphors be God's inscrutable way of telling us who we are and why we're here?

Consider the logic in Genesis 1. If there were no light, how could there be darkness? Darkness is a shadow, an illusion caused by the presence of light striking a solid object. Darkness requires light to create it. Before there is light there cannot be darkness, only nothingness. That's exactly what it's saying! The earth was without form, and void. Empty. No space. (Ergo no time.) Nothing yet manifest. So both "the deep" and "the waters" must be symbols for something else. They cannot be the "dark angry seas" that are seductively conjured by the words in our imagination -- because there was an empty void!

John 1 gives us more clues, "And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." Here, "light" and "darkness" are not physical electromagnetic light energies; they are obviously symbols for awareness and ignorance, respectively!

As we step past the miasma of the mind and move into our holy consciousness, it sheds light on verse 1. What if "heaven and earth" is not the universe but us, who we really are? The dual elements of consciousness? The spiritual touching the physical, like Da Vinci's "Creation of Adam"? Our purpose here, then, is God's simply stated purpose:

"Let there be light."

Is this not God's plea to himself that sings in our soul, "Let me now know who I really am and what my possibility may be"?

Couldn't life be just that simple?

If you'd like to join this discussion in more detail, look within Paul's new book draft, Original Heresy: The Light Behind the Shadows in the Bible.