World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts
Editor, Andrew Wilson
The Spiritual World: Mystery, Multiplicity, Analogy, Harmony
The general appearance of the spiritual world is the topic of this short section. Being invisible, it is not something that is easily fathomed, nor are its traces easily observed. However, three definite notions about the spiritual world are represented here: it is composed of a multiplicity of realms, it corresponds by analogy to the phenomenal world, and it operates in mystic harmony.
They will ask you concerning the Spirit. Say, "The Spirit is by command of my Lord, and of knowledge you have been vouchsafed but little."
Islam. Qur'an 17.85
No one in heaven or on the earth knows the Unseen save God; and they know not when they will be raised. Does [human] knowledge extend to the Hereafter? No, for they are in doubt concerning it. No, for they cannot see it.
Islam. Qur'an 27.65-66
Qur'an 17.85: Cf. Rig Veda 3.54.5, p. 74.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 13.12
I [Paul] know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into Paradise--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows--and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.
Christianity. Bible, 2 Corinthians 12.2-4
In my Father's house are many rooms.
Christianity. Bible, John 14.2
Of the nether worlds and heavens has He created millions; Men exhaust themselves trying to explore them.
Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 22, M.1, p. 5
There are celestial bodies and there are terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 15.40-41
The church of the Firstborn... are they into whose hands the Father has given all things--they are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fullness, and of his glory; and are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son. Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God.... These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.
And again, we saw the terrestrial world, and behold and lo, these are they who are of the terrestrial, whose glory differs from that of the church of the Firstborn who have received the fullness of the Father, even as that of the moon differs from the sun in the firmament. Behold, these are they who died without law;... who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it. These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men.
These are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fulness. These are they who receive of the presence of the Son, but not of the fulness of the Father. Wherefore, they are bodies terrestrial, and not bodies celestial, and differ in glory as the moon differs from the sun. These are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God....
And again, we saw the glory of the telestial, which glory is that of the lesser, even as the glory of the stars differs from that of the glory of the moon in the firmament. These are they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus. These are they who deny not the Holy Spirit. These are they who are thrust down to hell. These are they who shall not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work.
These are they who receive not of his fullness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial; and the terrestrial through the ministration of the celestial. And also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them, or who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them; for they shall be heirs of salvation.
And thus we saw, in the heavenly vision, the glory of the telestial, which surpasses all understanding; and no man knows it except him to whom God has revealed it. And thus we saw the glory of the terrestrial which excels in all things the glory of the telestial, even in glory, and in power, and in might, and in dominion. And thus we saw the glory of the celestial, which excels in all things--where God, even the Father, reigns upon his throne forever and ever; before whose throne all things bow in humble reverence, and give him glory forever and ever.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Doctrine and Covenants 76.54-93
All kingdoms have a law given;
And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom.
And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.
All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified.
For intelligence cleaves unto intelligence; wisdom receives wisdom; truth embraces truth; virtue loves virtue; light cleaves unto light; mercy has compassion on mercy and claims her own; justice continues its course and claims its own; judgment goes before the face of him who sits upon the throne and governs and executes all things.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Doctrine and Covenants 88.36-40
1 Corinthians 13.12: This passage points to the future, the last days, the eschaton. It may be interpreted either as the time after death (personal eschatology), as we do here, or to the final consummation of history: cf. 1 John 3.2, p. 1113. 2 Corinthians 12.2-4: Many interpreters think this man was Paul himself. On these manifestations of spiritual forces, cf. Doctrine of the Mean 16, p. 74. Japuji 22, M.1: Cf. Taitiriya Upanishad 2.7-9, pp. 180f. 1 Corinthians 15.40-41: Celestial bodies are those spirits who soar in divine love and grace; terrestrial bodies are earth-bound spirits who remain attached to worldly desires, but who may be lifted up through the ministrations of angels and higher beings. Doctrine and Covenants 76.54-93: This is a visionary interpretation of the preceding passage which describes three spiritual realms. Latter-day Saints and their families who are members of the priesthood and who make active witness to the gospel may become celestial spirits. Honorable and conscientious Christians may become terrestrial spirits, and non-Christians, providing they do not blaspheme the Holy Spirit or commit gross crimes, may become telestial spirits.
What is here [the phenomenal world], the same is there [in Brahman]; and what is there, the same is here.
Hinduism. Katha Upanishad 2.1.10
The spiritual world is connected with the physical world. The common factor connecting all things is true love.
Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 12-18-85
Thou who exists beyond the wide firmament, mighty in thine own splendor and strong of mind, hast made, for our help, the earth a replica of thy glory, and encompassed water and light up to the heavens.
Hinduism. Rig Veda 1.52.12
We have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle which is set up not by man but by the Lord.... There are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary; for when Moses was about to erect the tabernacle, he was instructed by God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern which was shown to you on the mountain." But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry which is much more excellent.
Christianity. Bible, Hebrews 8.1-6
The system of Change is tantamount to Heaven and Earth, and therefore can always handle and adjust the way of Heaven and Earth. Looking up, we observe the pattern of the heavens; looking down, we examine the order of the earth. Thus we know the causes of what is hidden and what is manifest. If we investigate the cycle of things, we shall understand the concepts of life and death.
Doctrine and Covenants 88.36-40: This teaches that people ascend to a 'kingdom' that suits their level of intelligence, virtue, light, mercy, and justice. Sun Myung Moon, 12-18-85: Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 4-18-77, p. 355. Katha Upanishad 2.1.10: Cf. Rig Veda 6.47.8, p. 77; Vachana 239, p. 355; Cree Round Dance Song, p. 55; Pearl of Great Price, Moses 6.63, p. 77; Anguttara Nikaya i.279, p. 355; Dhammapada 15-18, p. 339; Chun Boo Kyung, p. 95. This passage also describes the mystical union of 'this' with Brahman--cf. Katha Upanishad 2.1.10-11, p. 588. Hebrews 8.1-6: The sacrifice which Jesus the High Priest offers for the forgiveness of sins in the heavenly tabernacle is said to be in every way superior to sacrifices at the Jerusalem temple which were offered to atone for sins according to the Jewish Law--cf. Hebrews 9.11-14, p. 521. This is based upon neo-Platonic philosophy, which regards the spiritual realm, the realm of forms, as Reality, while the earthly realm is but its copy, shadow, and reflection. Hebrews quotes Exodus 25.40 as supporting this view: God instructed Moses to construct the tabernacle according to the pattern of the heavenly tabernacle which he saw on Mount Sinai.
Essence and material force are combined to become things. The wandering away of Spirit becomes change. From this we know that the characteristics and conditions of spiritual beings are similar to those of Heaven and Earth and therefore there is no disagreement between them. The knowledge [of Spirit] embraces all things and its way helps all under heaven, and therefore there is no mistake. It operates freely and does not go off course. It rejoices in Nature and understands destiny. Therefore there is no worry. As [things] are contented in their stations and earnest in practicing kindness, there can be love. It molds and encompasses all transformations of Heaven and Earth without mistake, and it stoops to bring things into completion without missing any. It penetrates to a knowledge of the course of day and night. Therefore Spirit has no spatial restriction and Change has no physical form.
Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.4.1-4
When King Solomon "penetrated into the depths of the nut garden" (Song of Solomon 6.11), he took up a nut shell and studying it, he saw an analogy in its layers with the spirits which motivate the sensual desires of humans....
God saw that it was necessary to put into the world so as to make sure of permanence all things having, so to speak, a brain surrounded by numerous membranes. The whole world, upper and lower, is organized on this principle, from the primary mystic center to the very outermost of all the layers. All are coverings, the one to the other, brain within brain, spirit inside of spirit, shell within shell.
The primal center is the innermost light, of a translucence, subtlety, and purity beyond comprehension. That inner point extends to become a "palace" which acts as an enclosure for the center, and is also of a radiance translucent beyond the power to know it. The "palace" vestment for the incognizable inner point, while it is an unknowable radiance in itself, is nevertheless of a lesser subtility and translucency than the primal point. The palace extends into a vestment for itself, the primal light. From then outward, there is extension upon extension, each constituting a vesture to the one before, as a membrane to the brain. Though membrane first, each extension becomes brain to the next extension.
Likewise does the process go on below; and after this design, man in the world combines brain and membrane, spirit and body, all to the more perfect ordering of the world.
I Ching, Great Commentary 1.4.1-4: On the lawfulness common to heaven and earth as grounding their resemblance one to the other, cf. Atharva Veda 4.1.3, Rig Veda 10.85.1, p. 150; Proverbs 8.22-31, p. 151; Chuang Tzu 6, p. 152; Doctrine of the Mean 12, p. 153; etc. Zohar: The idea that the world is filled with a hierarchy of Being, with the Supreme as its uttermost point, is also expressed in Katha Upanishad 2.3.7-8, p. 93, 3.13, p. 840; Kena Upanishad 1.1-2, p. 117; Qur'an 24.35, p. 116; and the Hadith, p. 87, describing seventy thousand curtains of light which veil the Presence.
God created the seven heavens in harmony.
Islam. Qur'an 71.15
Music expresses the harmony of the universe, while rituals express the order of the universe. Through harmony all things are influenced, and through order all things have a proper place. Music rises to heaven, while rituals are patterned on the earth... Therefore the Sage creates music to correlate with Heaven and creates rituals to correlate with the Earth. When rituals and music are well established, we have the Heaven and Earth functioning in perfect order.
Confucianism. Book of Ritual 19
Qur'an 71.15: Cf. Gauri Sukhmani 23, M.5, p. 88; Anandu, M.3, p. 201. Book of Ritual 19: Cf. Anandu, M.3, p. 201; Sun Myung Moon, 9-11-79, p. 176.
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