09/9/12

A Stream of Prophets – Jesus

The biographical sources of Jesus’ life are mainly the four gospels of the New Testament; Matthew, JesusMark, Luke, and John. As well as other books such as the Gospel of Thomas, one of fifty-two texts included in the Gnostic Gospels. It has been estimated that all the books combined account for anywhere from six to forty days of Jesus’ life. He is estimated to have lived from about 6 BC to 31 AD.

The books of Matthew, Mark and Luke are similar in their content, though the fourth book, by John, is different in its approach. The book of Matthew was written primarily for a Jewish audience showing Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah, an aristocratic, rightful and legitimate king born to a wealthy family in Bethlehem who descended from David and Solomon. According to Matthew’s story, upon his birth Jesus was visited by three kings bearing gifts and writes of Jesus as being a powerful and majestic sovereign.

The book of Mark, the shortest of gospels, portrayed Jesus as performing as many as eighteen miracles and being a servant, constantly serving others. The book of Luke was written for a Gentile audience. Luke was the only Gentile disciple and a Greek doctor, who portrayed Jesus’ family as poor carpenters who moved from Nazareth to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born in the poverty of a manger. There he was visited by three shepherds. Luke portrayed Jesus as a meek, lamb-like saviour. While the most theological of the four books, the book of John, deals mostly with the actual nature and will of God, as revealed to people.

The focus of all these books was that Jesus was the Son of God, the Father and that they are addressed to the world at large. They also paid more attention to conversations and teaching than the earlier written books of the Torah (Old Testament). The four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written over the course of two different time periods, with the first books appearing from about 66-74 AD, thirty to forty years after Jesus’ death and the others written from 132-135 AD, more than one hundred years after his death.

The Gnostic Gospels meanwhile were found in 1945 at Jabel al-Tarif, a mountain of honeycombed caves in Upper Egypt. Written around 50-100 AD, the fifty-two texts include the book, Gospel of Thomas, which suggested that Thomas was the twin brother of Jesus and that Mary Magdalene was indeed Jesus’ wife for he “loved her more than all his disciples.” The books also included, Book of Phillip, Testimony of Truth, Gospel to the Egyptians and the Apocryphon (secret) of John. Many of them contained the same sayings from the New Testament and the four gospels, but in different contexts, perhaps suggesting other dimensions of meaning. The Gnostic Gospels, as well as others attributed to Jesus’ followers, are called cryptic translations, with the originals written in Greek, the language of the New Testament. Many of the Gnostic gospels, though written about 1500 years ago, seem to be copies of even more ancient manuscripts of the Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians and Zoroastrians.

While history suggests that Jesus could also have been Jesus of Nazareth, a Zealot, much like many young men at the time, rebelling against Roman rule, persecution and oppression. The countryside at the time swarmed with gangs of disciples. Unemployed, they would sometimes enter the Roman policed cities and fight against the tyranny of the Roman puppets, the Judean Kings and their harsh control of the populace. At the time of Jesus, most all people hoped and desperately needed a saviour. And perhaps a Jesus of Nazareth, through doctrine written decades after the fact, could be transformed into a being the people still so desperately needed, a Jesus of Christ.

Jesus is vaguely mentioned in the writings of Roman historians, Tacitus, Suetonius and Josepus, as well as some anti-Christian Hebrew writings. But the historical Jesus we know very little about, though he was known to be literate, nothing was written down when he was alive, much like Socrates and Confucius and  many other prophets up to this time, Jesus spoke to disciples who transmitted orally and in later in writing, the wisdom that was preached.

Jesus’ sayings, teachings and symbolic acts were seemingly ironic, in that the intended meaning of many of his words was often in direct contrast to their usual sense, much like the Bible in its entirety. It is filled with contradictions and inconsistencies. Thus we have no way of judging the accuracy of either form of the communication, especially considering the fact that after the Bible was put together at Nicaea in the 4th century, no one but a few could even read it. It would be more than a thousand years later that it was translated and printed and finally read by people outside the church- a mere five hundred years ago.

In Bethlehem, Judea, at the time of the winter solstice, when the three stars of the constellation Orion reached their ascent and lined up brightly to form its belt, Jesus was born as the first son of the virgin, Mary or Miriam, of the tribe of Judah and descendent of David; and wife of Joseph, a carpenter.  A poor family making the best of hard times, left to their own devices with faith in their fate. Jesus would become a disciple of John the Baptist and charismatic reformer of spirituality.

Before his birth, a rumour had made its way across the land of the coming of a messiah. Driven somewhat by Judaism, the tale also became a dream for many as the reality of the time was of oppression, civic and social persecution and intermittent rebellion. Where only a few hundred years before, the Babylonians ravaged the lands and peoples of Judea, now it was the Roman Empire’s turn for supremacy of the Middle East.

The dream for a rightful king to appear and deliver the people to freedom brought much hope. King Herod, the king of Judea at the time, who was appointed by the Romans heard the rumours and announced the persecution of all innocent new born children. Joseph and his family, with many others, were forced to flee to Egypt and upon their return years later, moved to Nazareth. Jesus is believed to have followed his father’s trade and became a carpenter. At twelve he was known to sit in the square and endlessly talk, argue and discuss with the scribes who gathered there. Jesus accepted spiritual responsibility by becoming a student at the synagogue like every other Jewish boy. Although young he seemed to be already aware of his unique relationship with his spirituality. For the next 18 years, nothing is known of his life, until his baptism at the hands of his cousin, John the Baptist, a cousin to his mother, in Jordan. This rite gave Jesus the first divine intimation or hint of his life’s mission. John himself was known as a prophet of the one God and through visions was given the task of preparing the people for the way of the Lord. John preached far and wide about reaching salvation through the forgiveness of sins.

Judea at the time of King Herod’s reign was filled with cruelties and atrocities, for he was a man overcome by jealous fears with the backing of the mighty Roman Empire and the Jewish Sanhedrin, a high court of 70 men who met in the great Temple, in Jerusalem. The authorities in Rome allowed the Sanhedrin to pass any sentence under Jewish law except the death penalty. Jerusalem represented the central government and its large administrative cabinet was the centre for all business and trade in the region. It was also the religious capital. In Jesus’ day the population of Jerusalem was about 250,000 people, with most its people speaking Aramaic. There were many markets with shops, stalls and restaurants, but away from Jerusalem and beneath the covers of society, there was much infighting and feuding, with mutually destructive strife and rebellion.

Away from the big cities, the wealthy class of rulers and officials had bought up all the land and oppressed the poor. Family farms disappeared and were replaced with huge estates, with the people having to hire themselves out as farm labourers. Slums appeared first in the villages and then within towns and cities, with the bigger and better homes of the rich usually built on large estates on the outskirts of a town. Within each community, the poor suffered tremendous hardship and tyranny. Thus when prophets such as Jesus, cried out against all the injustice and inequality, the people listened and began to believe in the hope for a saviour to save them from the drudgery of their persecuted lives.

Around 6 AD, Judas of Galilee began a highly militant revolutionary movement called the Zealots. When Jesus began his own ministry years later, the Zealots had by then assumed a prominent role in Palestine affairs. Palestine had been split into two provinces, Judea and Galilee, with Judea under direct Roman rule. Heavy taxes became the norm with much torture and a climbing suicide rate. But to many, these Zealots were revered for their activities against the oppression of the Romans. Jesus was still a child during this time, but it is conjecture that this time covered the eighteen years of his life which has gone unrecorded. We have no way of knowing who or what his influences were growing up. We do know however that when Jesus reappeared in historical accounts, the situation in Judea had become critical.

The rebellion would escalate until 66 AD, when the whole of Judea rose in revolt against Rome, albeit futile. Within four years Rome defeated all the rebel forces that fought against her and occupied Jerusalem razed the city and sacked and plundered all the temples. The fortress at Masada would be the final nail in the coffin for the Jews in Palestine and the Diaspora of the Jewish people began. They scattered to countries far and wide, feeling in exile. While the blossoming new religion of Christianity arose and within only a few hundred years became the Roman Empire’s official religion.

When Jesus reappears he is being baptised by John and afterwards Jesus felt so full of the Holy Spirit he would spend forty days in the wilderness alone, wrestling with doubts and fears, but was successful arguing against numerous temptations, even from the devil himself. In one of these temptations, Jesus rejects the traditional Jewish role of the militant Messiah who was to raise the Israelites to world domination by the sword. Besides showing moral character, Jesus’ rejection of this temptation would have a dynamic effect, for it showed the conception of the Messiah in a new light and with a new power, not evident before.

Upon his return from the desert, Jesus gathered twelve disciples around him; Peter, Andrew, Thomas, James the Less, John, Jude, Matthew, Matthias, Bartholomew, Philip, James, and Simon, as well as his companion, probably his wife, Mary Magdalene. He encouraged them all to go out and preach that which he was to teach them; only the positive and pure contents of the Old Testament and that his teachings were for all men equally, no matter the race. They were to go out and tell the people that the kingdom of God was at hand. The goal would be to provide hope and create a believing community. He was a very charismatic individual and seemed to carry himself confidently often using human and earthly analogies to explain spiritual and eternal concepts and moral issues, teaching that man’s true battle lay within. He warned people against careless talk and blasphemy against their God and that all of God’s children were to correct one another, to pray for one another, and to forgive one another. This demanding focus on others was very radical for the time.

During one of their journeys across the land of Judea, they eventually made their way to Nazareth, where Jesus, who still considered himself a Jew, as did all the apostles, entered the synagogue. Many elders were in attendance, and as Jesus entered he was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah, which he immediately opened and told all who gathered that, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are down trodden and to proclaim the favourable year of the Lord.” Finishing, he handed back the book and sat down. At first, you probably could have heard a pin drop. All eyes were upon him, no doubt some mouths agape, for here was a man proclaiming he alone to be the prophet of their God. The silence was soon enough broken as they then began to argue against him in rage, a cacophony arose. But word began to spread of this man, Jesus.

He was once asked by a lawyer, “Which is the greatest commandment of all?”, he answered that there are two commandments on which all the laws and the prophets are based, and that is to love thy God with all your heart and soul and, secondly, to love thy neighbour as thyself. He undertook at least two other missionary journeys through Galilee, where he is said to have performed many miracles, including the miraculous feeding of the five thousand by blessing a scant number of loaves and fish. He spoke revolutionary words at the Sermon on the Mount, where he emphasised love, humility, meekness, charity and service to God.

This Sermon began when those who had gathered around him, some from as far away as Decapolis, Jerusalem, Palestine, Syria and Jordan, became many, and he began to speak of many things in detail as he stood above them on a hill. He spoke about ethical living, about not seeking revenge for injury, but forgiveness of wrongdoers, about going beyond the minimal requirements of law and courtesy, in order to show true generosity of spirit. He blessed the poor, those who mourned, the gentle, those who sought righteousness, the merciful, and the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who had been persecuted for the sake of righteousness in their lives. He told them he was not there to abolish the law or the prophets, but to fulfil them. That, whomever commits murder shall be liable, those angry with others for no reason shall be guilty, and those who called a fellow person good for nothing or a fool, shall be guilty; that you shall not commit adultery, nor make false vows, speak the truth even if it is simply a yes or no response that is only needed. Give when asked and do not turn away from someone who wants to borrow. That one should love thy neighbour as well as their enemies, and to pray for them. To not practise your righteousness before others simply for the sake of being noticed by them and when you give to the needy there is no reason to blow your own horn.

When praying, Jesus stressed the need to pray in private and not bring undue attention to one self, to “go into your inner room and when you have shut the door, pray to the Father in secret and the Father, who sees in secret will repay you. And when you pray, pray in this way – Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”.

Jesus talked about not amassing material things or “treasures of the earth”, “for they decay and rust and thieves will break in and steal them”. Gather instead, the goodness of one’s heart. Not to worry or be anxious about life, one’s body, what one wears or what one eats and drinks. Who, he asked, can add even a single hour to his day by worrying. He spoke that one should not worry about tomorrow, “for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” And not to judge others, for you too could be judged. Ask and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and the door will open for you. Do to others what you would have them do to you and to be leery of false prophets.

Jesus ended his Sermon on the Mount by saying that, for those who understood the messages he had spoke and who would go forth and practise such values and norms in their daily lives were wise and would be like those who build their homes on solid rock. While those who listened but have no intention of living in such a way were people who build their homes on sand.

The essence of the Sermon was trying to get people to believe in the things their god once held sacred and important, without the militancy that had become so much a part of it. With the New Testament not yet written, the majority of the populace followed both the written and oral traditions of the Torah and were ruled by a hateful, revengeful and jealous god. Jesus was speaking about the opposite.

Of course when the ruling Sanhedrin and the militant Pharisees heard about the Sermon they thought it to be rebellious with dangerous implications, especially in keeping the populace controlled. Though Jesus had only visited Jerusalem once or twice, the Sanhedrin already knew him as being a religious and political troublemaker who had gained a reputation for healing, for exorcism and for challenging the religious authorities. On an earlier visit to the temple in Jerusalem, people had gathered around Jesus, so he decided to sit and talk with them. The priests suddenly brought in a woman, saying to Jesus that she had been caught in the act of adultery and according to their laws should be stoned. Jesus ignored them at first then said, “He that is without sin among you, let them first cast a stone at her.” One by one the accusers left the temple. After they had gone Jesus asked the woman, “Where did they go, has no one condemned you?” “No” she answered. “Then neither do I condemn you”, Jesus declared, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Such actions would beget much resentment amongst the Jewish elders.

They were especially offended and insulted that Jesus appeared to possess an insight to reality and the fatherhood of God. They were also disgusted with the fact that he ate and drank with the castoffs of society and taught forgiveness, compassion, and humility. The idea that God was closer than they had been led to believe, disturbed them.

After the Sermon, Jesus and his disciples began to feel the pressure from the authorities and had to seek refuge in the Gentile territories of Tyre and Sidon. There Jesus secretly revealed that he was the promised Messiah and that their God is one who cares for his people in this life and prepares them for their next life in heaven. Jesus held five great priorities as the central roles in a Christian’s life and stressed that he would not ask anyone something he would not do himself. The priorities were: a life of Surrender to God; a life of Service; a life of Obedience; a life of Communion, where God’s laws and expectations are not just for the Jewish nation, but are for all of God’s people; and a life of Witness, to be courageous in their convictions and emphasising that personal commitment matters most, whatever the cost.

Then came a day where he gathered his closest disciples around him and told them that he must soon die and that they would not believe him. Perhaps reading the writing on the wall, Jesus realized his destiny and resigned himself to the likelihood that he was going to be wrongfully put to death. He calmly continued to be seemingly in control of every situation, while his disciples were perplexed and dismayed.

Jesus then made his way to Jerusalem, a week before or after the Festival of Passover Feast, which commemorated Moses leading the Hebrew tribes in their escape from enslavement in Egypt. It was held on the 15th day of Nisan (Hebrew calendar), represented by March and April in the Gregorian calendar. It was at this time that Jesus and his disciples sat down together, to break bread for the final time and talk, discuss, argue and whisper. Fifteen hundred years later an Italian, Leonardo Da Vinci would give us his depiction of this gathering in his painting, The Last Supper.

Later betrayed by Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, Jesus was arrested and deserted by his followers. His disciple Peter denied Jesus three times in court, and he was tried without proof by the Sanhedrin, for blasphemy, for claiming to be the son of God and condemned for practising sorcery and leading Israel astray. The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate also questioned Jesus, not about blasphemy, but of treason for his claim of being the King of the Jews. Jesus replied that his kingdom was not of this world. Pilate found no fault with this and passed Jesus off to King Herod, who taunted Jesus and sent him back to Pilate.

This condemnation of Jesus took place at the time of Passover, where each year at this time, the people were allowed to decide freedom for a prisoner of their choice. Pilate asked the crowd if it should be Jesus, but it was an angry crowd and they shouted for the release instead, of the assassin Barabbas. Jesus refused to defend himself to Pilate or to the crowd, which was becoming angrier and more insistent. The earliest texts of the New Testament stated that Jesus was then handed over to a Roman guard for crucification. Later manuscripts had him being handed over to the Jews, “so that they might crucify him”. Pilate finally condemned Jesus to death on a Roman cross between two thieves, in public. At his end Jesus was at first suffering, crying out in despair, “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken me”, soon though came the words of resignation, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” and finally, near his end he whispered, “It is finished.”

He died and was buried. Three days after his death it is said that he arose, made several public appearances and then rose aloft and into space, where he would continue to provide leadership to his followers. It is believed that, as well as being murdered for perceived heresy against the laws of the time, the spiritual corruption of society and the oppressed way, in which people were treated, he also died for humanity’s sins.

Jesus’ death and resurrection is commemorated each year at Easter, the most important religious date, on many religions calendars. The Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, established the date of Easter as being the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon (14th day of a lunar month), following the spring equinox, on or about March 21st, which varies the date of Easter between March 22nd and April 25th. Easter represents the day Jesus was resurrected, having died three days earlier on what is known as Good Friday. Besides Easter, the spring equinox has also been known for millennia, as the time of re-birth and/or awareness; the time when the seeds of the crops begin to sprout from the earth. The Roman calendar associated the Ides of March, a festival that celebrated the planet Mars, with celebration and military parades, to be the middle of the month of March 15th, the day Julius Caesar was murdered in 44 BC, and the day the Christians celebrate the Passover. The spring equinox is also the first day of the astrological year and the first full day of the sign, Aries.

Even though Jesus’ ministry only lasted approximately three years, his disciples continued to spread his word of peace, love, compassion, purity, worship and service to God far and wide, and a few would soon write of his story and teachings. By doing so they would elevate a man, Jesus of Nazareth, into the embodiment of the Holy Spirit, represented by Jesus Christ, and upon this they would build his church.

Interestingly enough, considering our social ills of today and on through the millennia, one third of all the parables and one sixth of all the words recorded as being said by Jesus and what topics are addressed, the most often in all scripture relate to our treatment of the poor, the distribution of wealth, of resources, and the danger of wealth to our souls. And yet, most Christian societies today are associated with militarism, interest paid for the use of money, gross inequality and violent assault upon the environment.

The often used symbol for Christianity, a fish, is not from the Bible calling the Apostles, fishers of men; it is because the letters of the Greek word for fish, ichthus, stands for the Greek phrase, Iesous Christos Theou Uios Soter (Jesus Christ, Son of God, and Saviour). The symbol of the fish first appeared in Christian art from about 100 AD and was used as a symbol of Jesus and the newly baptised. As to the known “seven deadly sins” mentioned in Christianity, these were first compiled long after Jesus’ death, around the year 600 AD, by pope Gregory I, and are pride, covetousness, lust, envy, gluttony, anger and sloth.

After Jesus’ death, the continuing Roman persecutions only helped in strengthening the new belief among the people that he, now called Jesus Christ was the messiah, and that he had died for them. By the Fourth century, in Nicaea, the present day city of Iznik, Turkey, Christian theologians edited Platonic metaphysics and transcendences of spiritual and ideal characteristics into their theology and decided which books would make up the Bible. Soon after, Christianity became the Roman Catholic Church, and the official religion of the Roman Empire upon Emperor Constantine’s conversion.

Meanwhile the Gnostic gospels and hundreds of other documents were banned and denounced as blasphemy and heresy, with the writers of this material deemed as heretics. While in fact, a heretic is from the Greek word, gnosis, or knowledge; through observation, experience and insight.

As Christianity became an officially approved religion, possession of books became a criminal offense with all copies burned or destroyed. The Christian bishops, who were once victimized by the police, now commanded them. Penalties handed out for misbehaviour escalated and it was announced that there would be no salvation for anyone outside the church, while whoever argued with its teachings and principles was declared a heretic and expelled, or worse. The New Testament was translated into Latin, which hardly anyone could read and a few hundred years later the paranoia and cruel aberration escalated into an era of violent persecution, which today is known as the Inquisition.

The books that became the New Testament perceived the many Christian prophets as being individuals inspired by God, through the Holy Spirit to deliver a message about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. But one of the problems with Christianity, as well as with Islam, is that Jesus, along with Muhammad, were both misinterpreted as the final prophets, while in reality there were many who came later, from all different cultures, all over the world.

 

 

 

 

Photo by James Shepard

http://www.flickr.com/photos/biblevector/

 

 

11/13/11

A Stream of Prophets (2009) Prologue

“If people bring so much courage to this world, the world has to kill them to break them. So of course, it kills them. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these, you can be sure that they will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.”       Ernest Hemingway,   “A Farewell to Arms.

Prologue

The central message of many of the great teachers of wisdom that have come along, as well as the multitudes we do not know about, and yet who have entered each of our lives at some point in time, is that they all stressed a spiritual awakening, and the need to rise above materialism, fear, inequality, and/or persecution. They appear to help us rid ourselves of the physical substances we identify with such as the essential natures of who we are which only keeps the ego, the collective madness of our species, in place and imprisons each of us separately within our own conditioned personalities and the voices in our heads.

In many cases these teachers are simple, humble heroes, courageously facing off against the forces of greed, fear and the lust for power. Forces that are forever being pushed along by humanity’s ego and which have a thirst made never to be satisfied. Its infection comes by way of warfare and violence, and its presence has tainted nations, religions, beliefs, and personal relationships. This gap between the way human behaviour is and the way it ought to behave, is from where many philosophers speak and teach. They realize that empathic consciousness overcomes this gap; for there is no dividing line between what one is and what one should be, for they are one in the same.

The earliest of prophets taught about the need for enlightenment, salvation, and awakening. They were talking about transformation. They spoke of sin, suffering and delusion and they also shared the insight of a transformation of the nature of the human condition and of what lies within our consciousness. Trying to become a better human being is a great idea, but unless there is a change of consciousness it is yet another form of self enhancement, the desire for a better self image. One cannot become good by trying to be good. One must find the good that is already within us, and allow it to emerge. But to emerge, there has to be a change in our state of consciousness.

In most cases, the message that the prophets were trying to get across arose from their concern for their people, and their collective sense of existence. What they are trying to communicate often times goes against the grain of the framework that our sense of existence is based on, our world-view. Strangely enough many of us don’t really acknowledge a world view, but most prophets had a very good understanding of this. The world-view is what was created by individuals who ran and continue to run societies and are basically behaviour control methods. They include laws, patriotism, religion, propaganda and nationalism and operate nationally, at the community level and the unconscious level. The princes of capitalism don’t like people walking around preaching spirituality and world peace, let alone inner peace.

For many of the prophets, after they had been ridiculed, reviled, spat on, stoned, beaten, imprisoned, or killed, their messages would often be misinterpreted, distorted, and misunderstood by the disciples that followed them. Other men took the teachings and organized them into books; and the belief of a religion came to be. Soon there was no more need to seek enlightenment, but instead, in the belief of one god, and to serve and worship him on the basis of guilt.

And that was one of the main problems with the teachings of many of the prophets, especially before the 16th century. Nearly all religions had stubbornly resisted any attempt to translate their sacred texts into languages everybody could understand. It became more important to believe, but not think.

Over the years many things were added and edited that had nothing to do with the prophet’s original intentions and lessons. Incredible publicity campaigns grew up after them, spreading the word. With the best scribes and much influence from the literate elite of society who attained much wealth along the way, the original teachings of many of the prophets, and the changes they brought about, created cultures. Culture became the beliefs, values, behaviour, and material objects that constitute many peoples’ way of life. Our culture and where we live, not only shapes what we do, it also forms our personalities. The religions that formed from these original teachings became divisive and not unifying at all, because they brought more violence, hatred and racism and a greater lack of tolerance for other people and other religions. They became ideologies, belief systems that people could identify with and use to enhance their false sense of self. They who believed were right while all others were wrong. Others were either nonbelievers or wrong believers and could be killed because of it. Convert and repent or die. If you did not think as they did, you were considered evil. As religions grew it soon became all about conflict between the dominant and disadvantaged, the rich and poor, the black and white, Aboriginal and Anglo-Saxon, Westerner and Asian, Christian and Muslim and on and on and on.

Far too many people do not realize the differences between spirituality and religion. Having a set of thoughts regarded as the absolute truth, dictated by a belief system, does not make you spiritual. The more one tries to make these fabricated beliefs a part of their thoughts and identity, the more one moves away from the spirituality within themselves. That is why the original teachings of many prophets, such as the need for mankind to transform consciousness, have arisen again, but this time outside the structures of most organized religions. Though structures are still needed in modern societies because of the size of our population and the fact that our species is flawed, in that we are a menace to ourselves because we continue to fall into disasters caused by our passions. Thus man-made systems have to be created and put into place to keep our desires in check and on an even keel.

Many of the prophets were spiritually enlightened individuals who liberated themselves from attachments that led to selfish desires. They were people who preoccupied themselves with thoughts, feelings, and aspirations for their fellow human beings. True prophets believe in the value of human life, any human life. Both preaching and open dialogue are used. And more often than not, the messages indicate that there is always a reason for what happens in our lives. It may not be the most obvious reason, but if you look hard enough you will find it, as nothing really happens by chance. The proof lies in the universe itself, which has proven time and time again, and against all odds, that it is a very meaningful place indeed.

Appropriately enough, the journey to enlightenment, bears many comparisons to the composition of the classical heroes’ tale. Though a few prophets do reach the final stage of enlightenment, the reality is, it is very rare. The majority of prophets are simply, mere mortals, who have flaws just like everyone else; ambitions and regrets, wives, sons and daughters. But something inside them would arise, and above all they held dear, even their own personal safety, they felt compelled to throw themselves onto the tears in the fabric of our existence. To stand up and say what was needed to be said. And if they were righteous and true in their stance and point of view, many would come to support them, and to revile them.

Reaching enlightenment is where one feels to be a part of the realization of spirit, of the energy that exists in the global human community. The enlightened do not necessarily believe in a god, but they seem to carry a grace that makes them more aware and complete than other fellow humans. They do not think of themselves as perfect, rather they think of all humans and nature, and hold dear the aspect of each.

The enlightened are able to get along with anybody, and are able to have dialogue with all people, no matter their stage of spirituality or faith-based tradition. They live each moment as it happens. The problems the enlightened and many prophets have, as mentioned earlier, are the structures that make up our societies, the world-view that has been constructed by despotism and religions. These structures are what we sustain ourselves with for personal and corporate survival and which are significant, to our existence. Structures of institutions, habits, culture, and tradition, are the things that people cherish, and which brings about social cohesion, religious faith and national pride. But if these values disappear and we no longer have our distractions and allegiances of the ego, then the majority of the populations of most countries would then clearly see their exploitation and with the curtain drawn back would see the flagrant, harsh, and unadorned reality of the differences between the corporate elite and the worker. It is why many who reach enlightenment are murdered at the hands of those who they had hoped to change.

According to Ken Wilber’s “Integral Spirituality,” there are six stages of spiritual evolvement. The first stage on the road to enlightenment begins when we reach about the age of seven years. Before and after birth we make no distinctions at all about anything. By seven, our thoughts are made up by what we’ve learned from our parents, the surroundings of our childhood and interactions with other children. As for spirituality, our thoughts are made up of unconscious and mostly religious fantasy. The next stage is when we begin to hold certain aspects of these myths as literal and absolute truths. We also start believing in miracles. The third stage is when we move beyond our family’s faith and start accepting the judgments of others, such as teachers, the media, and priests. This is when we first start developing a loyalty to a certain ideology, group or lifestyle, whether it is religious, the military, artistic, sport, economic, or political.

The fourth stage is where self, our inner being, comes into contact with the ego. Spirituality suddenly becomes more of an individual struggle. One becomes more reflective, concerned about achieving their full potential through creativity, independence, and a grasp of the real world, and to take more responsibility for their beliefs. It is the time one starts asking if there is anything beyond this deity-ruled world. Much of what they seek is hidden behind words and language. It becomes a time when one stops ignoring those little voices in our head that are forever questioning orthodoxy and when one will begin to seriously examine other religions and belief systems and many times coming to the realization that some of one’s personal convictions are very relative to them. Many organized religions fearfully believe that this stage is the “mortal sin” of humans in thinking of self and not ego controlled thoughts. To seek knowledge and to ask questions, to be more confident or to use reason have all been deemed “evil thoughts” by many of the faithful. The most important characteristic of this stage is when we realize that each one of us has a choice in how we live our lives. Allowing the masses to know they have a choice is what most scares the few at the top.

The fifth stage is integration. It is when we recognize our weaknesses and can see truth over contradictory and absurd beliefs. We no longer take literally the stories of spiritual and cultural traditions, but instead seek the truth which is deep within each one of us. We study all the philosophers and scriptures, using their symbolism to bridge the gap between rational and intuitive. Both sides of our brain working together allows us to seek that which is not directly visible in the material world.

The final stage is enlightenment and being aware of each moment of each day. It has nothing to do with what you do with your body or mind; it has to do with what you do with your soul. One does not need classes, religious ritual, or seminars to find out who they are. Love without exception, without requirement, and without wanting or needing anything in return. One achieves enlightenment when their life possesses happiness, peace, and wisdom, and they share these with others. They see that life is no longer just about them, but instead is about everyone else that their spirit touches. It is this final stage of enlightenment that the earliest priests and rulers tried to hide from the masses.

After the first cities arose more than five thousand years ago, they had quickly begun expanding outwards. In conquering nearby lands for room to grow more food to feed and work their increasing populations, they rolled over other cultures and cities for their wealth, natural resources and people, who would become their slaves with generation after generation of warfare, enslavement and bloodshed, compounded regularly by drought, famine or flood. Every city-state was busily rushing around using humanity as fodder with each frantically trying to claim the biggest piece of the pie.

No doubt because of this Dynastic Age world-view, which lasted two thousand years, in about 800 BC, many cultures would come to similar solutions to the war and violence that plagued their respective societies. Before this time, the majority of the planet was ruled by their kings, pharaohs, priests, and hundreds of gods, with two prophets, Abraham and Moses standing out because they would be among the first to believe in only one god, were respected and feared leaders of their own distinct tribe and their stories would become written word.

But after 800 BC, what the German philosopher Karl Jaspers would call the Axial Age began and gradually ended about seven hundred years later. The Axial Age was an explosion of spiritual growth and influx of prophets all over the planet. It was like the world had decided to come up for air, and by taking a big breath, it brought out its consciousness. But then that is what a true prophet’s role in society is, promoting change, based on their messages and actions.

The similar solutions these respective societies would come to, was the development of four great religious traditions; Confucianism and Daoism in China, Hinduism and Buddhism in India, Monotheism, from which would arrive Judaism, and later on, Christianity and Islam and the philosophical rationalism in Greece.

By 800 BC the Hebrew tribes had conquered all of Palestine and Israel and finally laid claim to their promised land. At last there was a measure of peace. The scribes began writing and copying the books of the Torah, which would become known as the Old Testament and be written for only the Jewish people. The stories of Abraham, Moses, the history of the Hebrew tribes, and the belief in only one god, were finally being recorded and fine tuned, though all around them were tribes who believed in many gods. The preceding centuries had created much waste and injustice from mankind’s unending and brutal violence upon itself. And it would have an effect on the Hebrew, where, though their god was still the father, demanding, and threatening, and still existed outside of humanity, he would now become more of a personal god, more responsive and the sole creator of the universe.

At nearly the same time, the Greeks, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle threw themselves into the roles of being prophets of humanity and nature, through the theory that reason provides the primary basis for knowledge rather than experience, authority, or spiritual revelation. They also brought about a new system hoping it would end the carnage of the past. It was a system where the exchange and discussion of ideas were allowed, a system that protected the right of each citizen to hold their own view and opinion, no matter their strength. This system, based on interaction, would become democracy.

In the East, Buddha, Confucius and Lao Tzi brought forth simplicity and inner and cultural peace by taking the concept of a god and accepting it as a force, but a force that could only be found through enlightenment. God became a consciousness one could be connected to on the inside, instead of a god one had to please by obeying his laws and rituals. It was a shift in awareness for the Chinese, an opening that brought their collective consciousness into harmony and security.

Oceans away, the Olmecs and Aztec would soon construct their pyramids and temples, and begin sacrificing the blood of their people to appease their own gods.

Many of the Axial Age prophets were not concerned with doctrine or the supernatural. The belief was in the behaviour of humanity. “What mattered was not what you believed, but how you behaved,” behaviour that was characterized by an emptying of the self, the abandonment of egotism and materialism, and having compassion for others. The focus was now about how one treated their fellow man, and the idea that there was nothing wrong with who or what you believed in, as long as those beliefs impelled you to act with consideration toward others, especially strangers. These were new ideas to many people of the Axial Age, especially the realization that one’s behaviour, rather than one’s belief, was what was important in both life and community.

The main principle these prophets gave was hope. They made changes that in practical terms, brought people out of an abyss. They taught that the quest for happiness and harmonious interaction between individuals and groups, involved some kind of spiritual journey, whose completion, though sometimes beyond the limits of human emotion and ordinary understanding, would bring fulfilment and remove the pain, tribulation, tragedy, worry, and confusion. A sense of purpose of why we are here began to develop. They also emphasised the importance of resolution, of being vigilant and aware of one’s path. And most importantly, when journeying to fulfilment, one should not look back.

The concepts of the Greeks, Asians, and the knowledge contained in Babylon, would have a profound effect on what would eventually become the Bible and later the Qur’an, as well as on the rest of the world. But unfortunately much of what was envisioned during the Axial Age would be pushed to the sidelines, hidden and banned with Christianity, and then Islam, arising after the Greeks and the Romans were no more. By 900 A.D., most Western cultures would revert back to adopting a religious view that society expressed God’s will. Christianity and Islam saw their societies and their worlds as the product of supernatural forces and lived their lives guided by selfish human nature and the worship of different versions of the same god. Social thought became focused on what society ought to be. And it would not be until 1500 A.D. that social thought would be based on the need to understand society as it existed. The changes in the spirituality of humanity during the Axial Age had profoundly affected people, and it had continued to run deeply until the 16Th century, where it once again arose from the mist, and sprouted the prophets, thinkers, and philosophers of the Scientific Revolution and humanity would develop a new world-view of heaven and earth. Then arrived the Age of Enlightenment in late 18Th century Europe, which would begin to shape the modern Western world.

The words of the prophets do overlap on many issues and what was and continues to be written of their teachings; identifies fundamental points of observances and rituals, and characterize ancient wisdom with contemporary language. They seem to share a common resource and spiritual heritage which allows its believers within a particular tradition, to identify, support, and commune with others, though not all of their new found knowledge went to the common people. In many cases, the theories and discussions and understandings were for the elite of society, who in most cases were the only ones who had the idle time to spend their days arguing points of philosophy and life, as well as being, in most cases, the only ones who could read.

The Greek philosophers, as well as men like Confucius taught only aristocratic men, sharing their wisdom with just a privileged few, mostly males of noble birth. Throughout much of human history, formal schooling was generally only available to the wealthy. Indeed, the Greek root of the word school, is leisure. Many of their beliefs and philosophies did eventually make it to the common man, but unfortunately not until hundreds of years later.

Many prophets were simply figureheads, patriarchs of beliefs that arose from their visions, meditations and reflections. Some scholars suggest that the visions and insights of the earliest prophets could very well have been a result of schizophrenia. And though some of the teachings of the prophets might very well have been based on haphazard fantasy, undeniably most are based on some sort of a sense of other levels of reality; forms of awareness that we in the modern West gave up in order to develop a more rational and more efficient way of thought.

Virtually all the brilliant thinkers of the ancient world were more interested in envisioning the “ideal” society rather than caring about the actual society around them. What they achieved worked its way down the chain eventually, but even then, only to the educated.

Other prophets dealt with issues, for social change, and brought forth values and norms for society. Values that would serve as guidelines for social living, and which would be culturally defined standards, such as desirability, goodness, and beauty, while beliefs would become specific statements on what the people held to be true and of what ought to exist in their lives. The norms of cultures are the rules and expectations by which a society guides the behaviour of its people. Values and norms do not describe actual human behaviour as much as prescribe how people of a society should act. The most important thing many prophets brought, besides hope, was change, because it is a fact, that new ideas create change in sociological thinking within a culture.

Since the first ancient civilizations, our lives have been framed by the social forces at work in our particular time and environment in which we happen to live in. Society is a complex system, and has always been characterized by inequality and conflict, which at times has created social change. However division in society has always been based on social inequality. Unequal distribution of wealth, income, education, power and prestige are all linked to the factors of race, ethnicity, gender, and age.

Typically, social structure benefits some while depriving others. But what often rises above these truths is the fact that shared values or social interdependence generates unity among members of society. And this is where most prophets have made their mark.

In religion, a prophet (or a prophetess) is a person who has encountered the supernatural or the divine, often one who serves as an intermediary with humanity, an agent of god. Though there are also prophets in music, science, philosophy, literature, and even in our daily lives, all of whom made a difference to our sense of existence, and who are not divine or supernatural in any way.  That is why authentic prophets by some are false prophets to others.

But ethical leadership is what the world desperately needs today. Our modern age came about after an age of enlightenment, while today it has become an age of entitlement. There is less gratitude and more attitude in today’s society because too many are living lives of flagrant consumption and yet at the same time acting so hard done by. Our attitude of not appreciating what we have, because of so much concern with what we want and can get is what is not allowing us to behave in a civilized manner anymore, to ourselves and to others.

This essay contains only a few of the untold numbers of prophets who have made a difference in their fellow human beings lives’, whether culturally, spiritually, scientifically, or behaviourally. It also includes prophets who preached a simple life apart from the materialistic world, and some who were prophets for justice, equality and peace, and strangely enough, most of the greatest prophets seem to always show up when their neighbours, people or culture, needs them most. Many of these prophets have also admitted, at least once in their lives, that when everything is said and done, “the most cherished thing we could do for each other, is to simply be a little kinder.” Or as the respected Jewish rabbi, Hillel, once answered a skeptic who had asked him to teach him the Torah, ” What is hateful to yourself do not do to another. This is the whole Torah, go and study it, the rest is commentary.”

07/14/11

Some Creation Stories

Part 1 of 3

Mesopotamia – Egypt – Mayan – China – Ainu of Japan

After having spent some twenty years commercially working upon and beneath the ocean’s surfaces, where most days, you are out there on the edge, over time and multiple near death experiences, one’s mind ponders many things. I began to study religion and science through history, then drifted to researching the time before religion and science. I found many answers and as many, if not more, questions. I continued to do my homework and of course ended up at the beginning, where this essay’s seed began to germinate. It was followed by others, but we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, as we most often do.

Throughout my researching and reading I sought to gather as much, and as up to date, information as I could pertaining to creation, human behaviour and history. Encapsulating hopefully what those in the know, know now, and continue to learn, as well as sharing the creation myths of groups of human beings who together inhabit the planet earth as a single species. Thereby perhaps allowing us to get some perspective on many truths and illusions.

Much thanks, admiration and respect goes to anyone who has made it their passion in life to seek truths through the disciplines of science and philosophy. The following essay, Some Creation Stories, grew as an essay and eventually peaked out at a goliath fifty-seven pages, so I will be posting it in parts. It was completed in 2009. Part One includes the Prologue and the creation myths of early Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Mayan, China and the Aniu of Japan. All resource material and bibliography for this essay is listed under Research. Have fun. Much peace and thanks.

Prologue

Most all the cultures of the world have their own creation myths, with many of them rooted in oral traditions and histories that have been passed down through the previous generations, and then with the invention of writing more than 5,000 years ago, they were finally recorded, and then through multiple translations and interpretations, they became hopeful answers to the question of, where did we come from? They represent a time when growing cultures began to dominate the direction our thoughts would take and when memory came into our beings. Though at one time, before the earliest creation stories, the question where we came from was perhaps not even asked, for it had nothing to do with, and was not a concern in one’s life, when most were living in the present moment, with memory used more as a survival tool. Creation stories’ emphasis is on explaining humanity’s place and role in the world.

Thousands of years ago this became important, when small groups of humans grew to form larger populations of hundreds, then thousands of individuals. It was the time when we had to learn how to get along with each other, outside of our traditional small tribal group, and village.

Within these first populations, human morality would become defined by creation stories as a means for social control, conflict resolution and group solidarity. Before creation stories and the subsequent religions that would arise from them, humans already understood how to properly behave with their fellow humans and always had. Our behaviour was based on the ability to be able to understand the present, to be aware of our surroundings and most importantly to remember the behaviour that would be right for the situation at hand and for living peacefully with others.

Even chimpanzees have a deep understanding of the social world around them. Each chimpanzee has the ability to mentally model the impact of its own action on the group, as well are able to guess the intentions of others. Thus, the perceived belief that we only get our morality from religion is layed open. We used to very much, understand that there were many important similarities behind life’s experiences, but then with the emergence of creation stories and religion, we were told only of perceived facts, a specific doctrine, that would be taught to us in a very specific way. We were preached to ignore the truth and that reality is actually nothing but a blurred and confused general definition of life, and truth soon began to disappear. What we thought, what memories we had, all began to be controlled. People would begin to believe in a god, because they would become conditioned to believe in a god.

Personal memories are mostly constructed by us without any influence. While the memories of belief systems are actually deemed factual by way of manufactured knowledge, which soon dilutes the wisdom of a culture and polarizes the races of human beings. Races who are not allowed their individual view on the matter, but instead taught of a right way and a wrong way. Which instantly creates enemies who believe their way is the right way, and therefore have justification for all sorts of actions and behaviours.

These systems would become developed to be easily learned and were, and are, taught in a very systematic and certain way, using proverbs, textbooks, churches, and classrooms. The inflexibility of these teachings has been the disability of anyone actually trying to learn something. Very early on certain individuals found that the way to control a population was to control the population’s mind. And the best way to start is to get them when they are young, and quickly teach them all about fear and guilt, the enemies of human beings. Look at a newborn child, happy as a clam, hears words but they don’t yet appear in their heads, they simply don’t believe in anything yet. Their minds are a blank slate (tabula rasa), and do not even possess an ego yet, which they won’t develop for another couple of years. Babies are even born with the ability to make sounds of any language, but as they learn the language of their parents, they lose this ability.

The dominating values of all societies do not come from the people, but are generally the views held by a domineering, authoritative control group, either the church, the military, banks and corporations, or the power elite. They are the ones who determine the public agenda, which in most cases, is to serve only their own interests, and not, we the people. Rulers and governments become the tools used to suppress or explain away any deviations that may threaten the power of the elite. Today, much of what we call our conscience, or believed to be morality, is unfortunately, not influenced as much by our soul, but more by where we live, the era we live in, and how we are raised. Even government, has given way to the power of the media. Our most cherished beliefs, our thoughts on what is good and evil, and even our concepts of morality has been created by our cultural heritages and experiences, and defined by the media. Where before the rulers and priests ruled with the whip and sword, and revolt and disturbances were put down quickly and viciously, today the media is used instead, to constantly manipulate and control the masses. This method of control is very subtle as it doesn’t use force, but is so successful we don’t even know, or sense, we are being manipulated. Besides many organized religions, the media is also very adept at hiding the realities of our economies, of really what’s going on elsewhere in the world and in our own communities, as well as the realities of life itself. Combined, these concepts represent the perception we would have of our worlds, and would become known as the world-view.

When language was invented, it became the manifestation of the world-view, and began trying to explain our collective sense of existence. This world-view would be the framework for generating, sustaining, and applying all the knowledge that we would gain over the centuries. The concept of a world-view comes from the German word, “weltanschauung,” and is just that, our sense of existence. It operates and is constructed by individuals, mostly at the national level, but also at the community level and/or the unconscious level, and is most always made up of six basic building blocks.

These six building blocks would be used by individuals all though history, for all different reasons and intentions. The using of different scientific disciplines, language and various systems of knowledge give us Ontology, a descriptive model of the world or the ideas and beliefs through which we interpret, to be able to interact with our world. The Center Leo Apostel for Interdisciplinary Studies at the Flemish university, the Vrije Universiteit Brussels, in Brussels, Belgium, lists them as; an Explanation for the world; Futurology – Where are we going? ; Ethical Values – What are we supposed to do? ; Methodology – How are we to behave and attain our goals? ; Knowledge – What is true and false, real or imagined? ; and Etiology – the building blocks of our origins and construction of our societies.

Our hidden being is what is hidden within these symbols, codes, and fables that would become the scriptures, which all appeal to our moral intuitions and have evolved over the centuries by our thoughts and experience about the causes and possibilities of human happiness. We combine science with this knowledge to create our world view. Intertwined and woven into most scripture are truths about our inner being and that all the wisdom we will ever need is within us, it only takes a pure heart and deep need to seek the divinity within each of us. And then to be able to listen and trust what we hear or feel. This ethical wisdom should be desired by each one of us and realized that it has always been within each one of us, instead of being made to believe that if we worship a creator of the universe, he would allow us this wisdom. And yet at the same time, this supreme creator, in most all cases, tends to be an intolerant, jealous, angry, oppressive, demanding, restricting, violent, vengeful, and killing god. For example, people who don’t understand that cruelty and violence are wrong, won’t learn this from reading most scripture, like the Bible or the Qu’ran, which are filled with unmentionable cruelty, especially toward women. Too often it seems that religion gives people bad reasons to behave well, when good reasons have always been within us.

All social animals live in hierarchical societies in which each individual knows their place. Social order is maintained by rules of expected behaviour, while dominate group members enforce order through punishment. Nearly all animals, not just humans, possess this morality, though humans and the higher primates, such as chimps, also have a sense of mutual exchange and fairness. What separates humans from all other animals, at least socially, is the difference in the change of our natural character to a higher level of sophistication and urbanity. Human society’s moral codes are enforced much more with rewards, punishments, and reputation building than other animals. Humans also have a higher degree of judgment and reason.

Most creation stories also represent a time when our expanding cultures began to dominate the direction our thoughts would take and memory would become important to our lives, arising from our development of language and speech. Before speech, early man had considerable reasoning power and were very intelligent, but language soon enabled us to have control over our thoughts. Where once our environment shaped us, speech would now take over that role, though the perception of our worlds would only be in terms of the symbols contained within that language. Instead of living in the moment, we could now chase after thoughts far removed from the present and better plan our behaviour.

Personal memories and history would become an artificial addition to the mind. Because creation stories are very similar to what human memory is, a repetitive, re-creation of events rather than an exact snapshot or video replay of what actually happened. It is one of the ways that beliefs begin to become true, even if they are not. When something is repeated enough, it is held to be true, even though in fact it could be the farthest thing from the truth. To this day society is still controlled this way in our thinking and our behaviour. It is our dogma. Our fantasies and imaginings are only limited by the diversity of our vocabulary and the level of the awareness of the world around us and are most always deliberately fictitious. We are still very much wrapped up in illusions.

Before the dawn of the first civilizations, early man routinely engaged in religious rituals, based on their interpretation of the stars, of their natural surroundings, with certain aspects of their lives becoming sacred, such as births, deaths and the passage to adulthood. People lived more in the present tense and used memory only to assist them in their understanding of what was going on around them from moment to moment, very much like the wordless mind of an animal that reacts only to events that surround them at a particular moment. With a clear uncluttered mind an animal focuses on its environment as each moment happens, its life is lived in the present tense. It has no ability to decide for itself what it concentrates its awareness on. For though it is hard to imagine, we humans, before language and speech, didn’t have voices in our heads. But with language and speech we were then able to control our thoughts more, by using words and visions to deliberately focus our attention on other aspects of our world.

Creation stories are beliefs in our origins and represent a time when not only memory, but reason as well began to become more controlling and dominate in our minds. They represent a time when we began regretting and feeling guilty about the past and forever worrying about the future, when we started to lose our focus on the present moment. It would lead to more dramatic, unwarranted anger, jealousy, and unhappiness in our daily lives. We should not totally ignore our past, for reflection of the past is good for acknowledging things that one can perhaps make right in the present time, situations that call out for healing. But we must not spend all our time trying to analyse every doubt, worry, and regret we’ve ever said and done, either.

The earliest people’s spirituality was based on animism, the belief that natural objects were conscious forms of life that affected humanity. They viewed the forests, mountains, oceans, even the wind, as spiritual forces, and displayed a reverence for the natural environment. The rain was a blessing, the warmth of the sun, the coldness and freshness of the water one would sip, all were probably felt as being a blessing.

Ten-thousand years ago, before the first civilizations, which were really just empires that were ruled by shamans, astronomer-priests, and tyrants, the chief deity of most of the planet was the sun of each day. All over Europe and much of the Indo-Asian continent they called the sun Dyeus, or as it was known all over the world, the Sky Father or Sky Mother, representing life, as well as the position of the patriarch or matriarch of that particular society. Only after humankind had butchered most of the big game and started to use hand tools to raise crops and start the domestication of animals, which led to trade and commerce, and which eventually led to the first civilizations, did the belief that a divine power was responsible for creating the world appeared. Where once everything on the planet was looked at as all on the same level, creation stories deemed humanity insignificant compared to the universe. For instance, the characters in the earliest creation myths were most all represented in animal form and represented in the stars, but with the birth of civilization this changed to where the gods of the creation stories were now viewed in human form, and possessed human traits and behaviours, and in many cases, were considered, basically, reflections of those that worshipped them. In many of the creation myths, after the gods or god had created the universe, these divine beings did seem to act human, but only if you are comparing their behaviour to a dysfunctional, egotistical, immoral human. Many of the gods seemed to just spend the rest of their days wrapped up in all sorts of debauchery. Each day was a party spending the time feasting, drinking, lusting, fighting, intervening in earthly affairs, or even, just sitting back and watching, with no intention of intervening at all.

But the priests would instill in the people that the balance of order and chaos in the universe could only be maintained by the gods and goddesses, or their representatives on earth – the kings, emperors, and the priests themselves. These divine forces required constant replenishment through worship, devotion, and sacrifice to maintain the continuity of the cosmic equilibrium. The gods had to be honoured for the cosmic order to be upheld. What separated these gods from mankind, was they were believed to possess sublime power and immortality. The people themselves would come to believe that their lives were to be totally dependant on the continued goodwill of these most powerful gods. The biggest loss to our collective humanity at this time was, where before we each had a choice, that choice was then taken away from us, and we would come to believe that we have no choice. It would become humanity’s crutch.

Out of these creation myths, two main thoughts on what god actually means began to arise. Pantheism would become the belief that God the creator was transcendent, existing in all living things. Nature and God were the same thing. Theism meanwhile believed God to be transcendent, but even though he works within the world, he also exists apart from, and is not subject to, the material limitations of the universe. These two main beliefs persist to the present day, where half the planet is traditional in their need for spirituality, in the belief that they must worship and pray to a supreme being, while the other half are more eastern in that it’s all about getting in touch with one’s inner self.

What also began happening within these early societies was that other gods, spirits, and ever watchful ancestors would appear in the social realm. It would become a very effective way to restrain selfishness, create order and enhance a population’s survival, by using the adaptive value of building cooperative groups of people, but because of religious belief, groups of humans actually began separating themselves from each other.

In many of the ancient cultures, the priests were the only ones who were literate enough and able to interpret the omens and portents of the gods, and use their creation stories to create order and control over the people’s everyday lives, to govern agriculture, but also, to set apart certain ideas, objects, events and experiences and make them sacred. Instead of trying to seek the truth as it is, many of the early scholars and priests sought what they thought the truth should be. Creation stories are believed to take care of the question of where did we come from, who created us, and emphasize that we should be grateful for being created in the first place, with the histories of both creationism and religion following this same path.

Besides giving interpretations on how and why the world was created, creation myths are limited in the definition of what the author’s world was thought to be at the time as well. The vast majority of humans at the time were completely illiterate, and whose reality of daily life was based only on what they could hear, see, smell, taste and feel. Their worlds were very small. Family, food, and shelter. The early Sumer peoples of Mesopotamia knew of their world to be only the Mesopotamia plain, the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, the Arabian deserts, the Syrian hills, and the Zagros mountains. They had no idea how large the planet truly was, or even the concept of what a planet was. Up until the 16th century, most inhabitants of the world still believed the world to be flat and lay at the center of the universe.

Most all creation stories are religiously motivated rejections of evolution as an explanation of humanity’s origins and were, in most cases, successful in replacing the principles of human nature and awareness. The real and unchanging natural laws of being human are deep, fundamental truths, and have always been with us. Principles that govern human effectiveness and are guidelines for human conduct. Universal principles of fairness, on which equality and justice are based on. Integrity and honesty, which creates trust, then service, which is based on quality or excellence and potential, which brings about growth, patience, encouragement, and human dignity. But when creation stories came along, they brought forth aspects of human nature that did not necessarily exist before. These aspects would enter peoples lives and become the illusions of humanity that persist to the present day, and which would become the illusions of need, failure, disunity, inadequacy, judgement, criticism, conditionality, insolence and ignorance. This foundation of illusion would be upon which religion would be created, and adopt the religious view that society would manifest a god’s will. The populations of the first civilizations and cultures worldwide believed very much in what the early priests told them of their creation and why they were in the world. There was somewhat of an appearance of security given and some sort of continued existence above the reality of their daily lives that the people began to believe in. This promise of an afterlife, gave most people hope to get through their own lives as well as the perception that they too were immortal, just like their gods.

At the same time, most creation stories also emphasized that the common people were impure, flawed, and lived error-filled, short lives, but that if one behaved, kept his head down and said his prayers, there would be hope for salvation. Unfortunately much of this is true, we human beings are flawed, this is most obvious when it comes to our conduct during times of temptation. What is not true, is our only hope for salvation is not through prayer or keeping the head down, it is by keeping the head up and interacting respectfully with the people around us. Most of our problems, our flaws, have to do with our behaviour that arises when we succumb to our own passions, thus the artificial systems that would be created, beginning with the creation myth, which more often than not, had to be created to balance and keep within bounds our selfish desires. Before creation myths, humans were not inherently evil, nor was the earth, but after the myths appeared, both would become thought of as much.

Because there are literally hundreds of creation stories, and in different peoples minds, the world was created in a variety of ways, this essay relates only the stories of the people of Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Mayan, China, the Aniu of Japan, India, the Greeks, Aztec, Norse, Haida of the Queen Charlotte Islands, on the west coast of North America, the Iroquois nation of eastern North America, Inca, Judaism and Christianity, the Mandinka of West Africa, and Islam. There are of course a multitude of other creation stories we know about, just like there are many others that we’ll never hear or know about because they’ve been lost over time. And because the genetic map of an organism of every living thing on the planet is linked in fundamental patterns, and are able to change and adapt in many definable ways, I have also included the chapter, Big Bang and Darwin.

The People of Mesopotamia
In the beginning there were two divine beings, Apsu, god of fresh water and Tiamat, god of salt water. Though at first separate, they one day united and chaos was created. From this chaos arose the four levels of creation. The sky, air, earth, and water. The god of the sky was An (Anu), who would become known as the father of all the gods who would appear after him. He represented the heavens, with his symbol being a star. The god of air and the wind was Enlil (Ellil), who was believed to be the cause of a great flood, due to his angry character. Then there was Enki (Ea), who at first, was just the god of the earth, but he would succeed Apsu and become the god of fresh water as well. Enki was the child of Ninhursag (Nintu), a consort of the sky-god, An. Enki is known for being the god who had saved mankind after a great flood and was also regarded as a fertility god who brought agriculture to the Sumerian people. He was believed to be a benevolent god, the source of wisdom and creativity, and would eventually become the supreme Sumerian deity.

Working as a team, these gods began to create their world. They first dug out channels in the earth which became the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and then proceeded to create the irrigation infrastructure on which the land would depend and would allow vegetation to grow. All this work exhausted the gods though and soon they rested. While they slumbered, they discussed how could they free themselves from the mundane and arduous tasks of creating a world, as well as creating for themselves the idle time they craved and felt they deserved, being that they were celestial, all-powerful gods.

Ninhursag and her son, Enki, came up with an idea. Grabbing fists of clay, they worked together and melded mankind out of the clay. Turning toward one of the more rebellious, lesser deities that was emerging out of the chaos, they grabbed him and killed him, mixing his blood with the clay. The blood gave life to the clay, as well as the divine essence that is a part of mankind, in the form of a soul that would never die. The problem was that the blood had come from a rebel god, so it was deemed to be naturally flawed. Undaunted the gods finally had a workforce to take over their tasks of creating the world. The rules for mankind were that they were to work each day and pay homage to their gods, in the form of praise, worship, and sacrifice. With mankind created to finish the job, the gods retreated to their celestial realm, to live lives of luxury and look down upon their creation.

Then one day a man named Adapa, out fishing upon the river, had his boat overturned by a powerful gust of wind. Scrambling onto the overturned hull he shook his fist at the sky and cursed the wind and everything else he could think of. Unfortunately the gods heard him and they summoned Adapa to appear before them. Adapa stood before the gods and gave such an excellent account of himself during his defence that the father of the gods, An became very impressed by this man. He offered Adapa the bread of eternal life and water. While Adapa decided what to do, the god of water, Enki whispered into Adapa’s ear and told him to reject the offer. So Adapa rejected the bread of eternal life and water and agreed to accept two other gifts that were offered to him, oil and a robe, but Adapa very quickly came to regret his decision. The oil turned out to be the type that was used to dress corpses, with the robe turning out to be a burial shroud. Thus, from that moment on, humans were condemned to mortality. Eventually Enlil (Ellil) god of the air and the wind would unseat An as the supreme god and become, “Father of the Gods and King of Heaven and Earth.”

Though the Mesopotamia people’s earliest gods were worshipped in the form of animals, soon after writing was invented in about 3000BC, the gods began to be described in the form of humans. Over time the people would recognize thousands of different gods, each associated with a different aspect of the universe and their lives. They felt each one of them had to have their own personal god or they would cease to survive. The people would become obsessed with divination and considered themselves to be at the mercy of their gods, reliant on divine goodwill for success in any goal or enterprise. To avoid giving the gods any reason to be angry with them at all, the people employed diviners to seek out omens and portents on earth, as well as in the night’s sky. Even sickness was thought of as a punishment for some transgression, perceived or not against their gods. Many times it was not even possible to know whether or not you had broken any rules. The diviners would gain power and become the earliest priests, who would control the population by retaining their power through an ideology that would arise out of creation myths that they themselves had created.

The priests held their power and would become wealthy, while at the same time they had the populations of their growing city-states believing that they had no free will, which was something only the gods held. The people accepted and believed themselves to be simple slaves to their leaders, priests, and gods.

Egypt
Egyptian creation stories took on different versions of how the earth was created, each attributed to a certain group of scribes and priests, depending on which temple and city they were from. Each story was equally accepted and regarded as no less valid than the next. Though each story is based on the belief that in the beginning the earth was covered with the “Waters of Chaos” and then a huge eruption occurred beneath the surface of the water. From this eruption arose a dark and formless void, known as Nun. Soon after, a primeval mound of earth rose from the depths and it was on this mound that the gods would create life. There are theories that the pyramids are based on the representation of this original primeval mound of creation.

According to the scribes of the Egyptian temple at Heliopolis, the supreme creator was the god Atum, “the All.” At the first sunrise, a lotus flower had sprouted from the ground of the primeval mound, this was Atum, who then created all things. Within himself he held the life force of the universe, the creative power of the sun. The sun god took the form of Re (Ra) and was depicted as a falcon, ram, or a human with a falcon’s or ram’s head. According to two different versions, Atum either ejaculated or spat out, twin gods, Shu, god of air and Tefnut, goddess of moisture. Shu and Tefnut quickly threw themselves at each other and produced Geb, god of earth, and the sky god, Nut. Geb and Nut quickly had intercourse together as well, but Shu stepped in and separated them, but not before they had produced four children, Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys.

The Memphis temple version of creation was based on the idea that the primeval mound that had arisen out of the waters of chaos was in fact the creative world of the god Ptah, who used his mind, and thought the world into being, thus making all things of the earth by simply speaking their names.

According to the temple of Hermopolis, life was formed by the eight gods of the “Ogdoad,” who lived in the waters of chaos. There was Nun and his counterpart Naunet, who represented the waters, along with Heh and his consort, the goddess Hauhet, who represented infinity. Kek and his companion Kauket represented the darkness, the god and goddess, Amun and Amaunet, the hidden forces of life. Working as a group, and combining their energies, they would create the primeval mound of creation. The sun then exploded upon the world and life began. Amun would soon become the “King of all Gods,” and is depicted in human form, but is also seen as a ram, a goose, and as Amun-Kematef (“He who has completed his moment”), in the form of a snake shedding its skin in a constant, forever cycle of renewal. The Egyptians also believed that in the beginning, before the written word, their rulers here on earth were in fact, the gods themselves. The first king was the sun god Re. His realm became known as the golden age of plenty. But then a day came when he abandoned the world for a celestial realm, taking the sun with him. Mankind felt they had fallen from grace at the loss of the life-giving sun and quickly turned against each other and began to fight amongst themselves. As he watched from above, Re quickly sent Thoth, god of wisdom, down to settle the people and restore order. Re then appointed a succession of gods to rule in his place. Some believe this to be the Horus-line of rulers, the first pharaohs.

The twin goddesses’ Nekhbet (Vulture Goddess of Upper Egypt) and Wadjet (Cobra Goddess of Lower Egypt) would become known as the Mighty Ones, and whose roles would be to protect the pharaoh, with Nekhbet able to use her outstretched wings to act as a shield, and Wadjet able to spit fire into the eyes of the reigning pharaoh’s enemies. Indeed one of the royal titles of the pharaoh was “He of the Two Ladies.” In her role of directing the forces of aggression and destruction, the Lioness Goddess Sekhmet also guarded the pharaoh and was able to cause pestilence and disease. The shrewd and perceptive judgement of the northern goddess Neith (Mistress of the Bow and Ruler of Arrows) was respected and sought out by the other gods, with the Scorpion Goddess, Selket another maternal Guardian of the king.

The Goddess Hathor was represented as a cow, and was the goddess of love and beauty. She was also known as the “Mistress of Darkness,” who oversaw music, dancing and all forms of revelry. Also known as the Lady of the West, and though she received souls of the dead in the afterlife, she would become a much loved and joyful goddess, and became one of the peoples most popular goddesses.

Another myth accounts for Osiris being the first king, inheriting the right by being the firstborn of the four offspring of the gods Geb (God of the Earth) and Nut (Goddess of the Far-Reaching Sky). Osiris ruled alongside his sister Isis and together they brought peace and prosperity to the world and gave wisdom to mankind. Isis was the first daughter of Geb and Nut and over time would merge with many of the attributes of the goddess Hathor, and become the Goddess of Motherhood, Magic and Fantasy. She would be known as the ideal mother and wife, a friend to both, the downtrodden and the wealthy. One of her many other titles was the Mistress of the House of Life and she would become one of the most powerful figures in the Egyptian pantheon. Osiris was murdered by the god Seth (Lord of Chaos), his brother, who took his crown, dismembered him and scattered the remains around the world. The grieving Isis would use her magical powers to gather up all the pieces and revive Osiris. The virgin Isis then gave birth to a son, Horus (Lord of the Sky), whose eyes were the sun and the moon. As soon as Horus reached adulthood he would avenge Osiris’ death, and take back the crown. All the gods supported Horus in his claim of the throne except for the Sun god Re, who thought the stronger Seth should have kept the throne. Horus would be the last in a long line of gods who had ruled Egypt, after him, would arise the pharaohs, who would now be counselled and aided by priests, who began to record great stories of gods and creation. The priests themselves began to accumulate great wealth and power, which rivalled the pharaohs themselves. The gods became to be many and were nearly all symbolized aspects of the natural world, such as the sun, sky, land and the river. The early priests also had an incredible knowledge of the sky and the movements of celestial objects, which led them to be able to keep track of time, keep records, create calenders, and keep order in the world by performing the necessary rituals at the proper time of the day or season. They appeased the gods and kept the general population eternally grateful and afraid at the same time.

These priests would invent writing and be the only ones that could read the words, which the population thought to be sacred and divine, and which was believed to hold great power. It was something that the general population felt they could never attain themselves. Great temples would be built, which the priests maintained and directed for the good of the country. Scrolls and the best of the artisans works were kept inside them. They were also totally forbidden to the public, and in many cases to the nobility as well. Only the astronomer-priests could enter them. The priests would become the agents between the mortal and the divine worlds. The knowledge they gained they shared only with the pharaoh and the nobility, thus keeping their power intact. They would honour, soon to be, hundreds of gods, with a constant stream of offerings, festivals, music and dance. Every aspect of ancient Egyptian life would have a god, each represented by combined elements that were both male and female, active and passive, aggressive and temperate.

As with most all inhabitants of the earth, the sky, especially on a clear night, was and is everything, with the most supreme being, the almighty sun. To the Egyptians the sun rising in the east was the god Khepri (the evolving one), represented by the scarab or dung beetle pushing the day along. As the sun rose it was also known as the falcon god, Horus (the far one) or Harakhty (Horus of the horizon). Combining Khepri and Horus was the single solar deity, Re-Harakhty (the Dawn god). As the sun set in the west it was Re-Atum and it would then be swallowed by the sky goddess Nut, as they sank down into the underworld of Duat. All night the sun god, Re, confronted the forces of darkness and the giant serpent of chaos, Apep (Apophis). With each dawn, Re would emerge victorious, reborn in the east as a child of Nut, amid the “redness of her birth blood”. With each day after, Re would come to represent life, death, and rebirth.

The Mayan
In the beginning there was nothing except the sky and a vast ocean. Then one day the sky gods met with the ocean gods and they talked about the need for worshippers, and where these beings could live. They all agreed that to create the earth, they would simply say “earth”,which they did, and suddenly a cloud that, “formed and unfolded “, arose out of the water. The earthly realm was square and flat with four sides and four corners. Above this earthly realm was the celestial realm which had thirteen layers, each with its own god, and is from where they would tell stories in the night sky using the movements of the stars and planets. Below the earth lay the underworld, Xibalba, which had nine layers, also each with its own god. At the center, rising up through all three levels was the World Tree, with four other trees standing at each corner of the earth, holding up the sky.

Each side of the square and flat earthly realm, faced either north, south, east or west, with each direction having its own distinct colour. The east was the red of the rising sun, the west was black, signifying death, the south was yellow and the north was white. The center of the earthly realm was green, representing vegetation and life.

The Mayans had many gods, but the sun was the most important element in the life of the Maya. The sun was a male god known as Kinich Ahau, the “Sun-faced Lord”. He had created the light and heat that had created life. In the morning, Kinich Ahau was portrayed as being young, but as the day progressed he aged and by sunset was old, bearded, and withered, only to be reborn the next morning. The moon was a goddess who at first was just as bright as the sun, but one day the other gods threw a rabbit into her face to make her paler.
Hieroglyphic inscriptions gave the date of Mayan creation as 13.0.0.0.0.4 Ahau 8 Cumku. By using the two main calenders of the Maya this translates to Aug.13th 3114BC, or about the time that extreme global environmental change occurred due to a catastrophic event, and was recorded the world over. Interestingly enough, it is also about the same time as the great flood of the Bible, of the Mesopotamia plain in the Middle East.

The Mayans believe the earth goes through cycles, though unlike other creation myths, their cycles of time are more determined by the solar and lunar cycles of the sky. The current world age is a cycle of about 5,200 years and is due to end on December 23, 2012, though it is rarely determined to be apocalyptic in any way, but rather a change in universal consciousness. Even up to the present time, each year, on the night of August13th, Orion rises in the sky near to a point at which the Milky Way crosses the ecliptic and then, just before dawn, it reaches its highest point in the sky. The Mayans believed that this is when the gods placed the first thing onto the earth, the “Three Stones of Creation,” which is interpreted as the setting up of the first fireplace.

Other accounts of the Mayan creation tell that the earth was supported on a turtle’s back and since they believed the constellation of Orion was a turtle, the three stars of Orion (Alnitak, Saiph, and Rigel) are linked to the “Three Stones of Creation.”

After the gods had placed the first three stones, they began the task of somehow creating worshippers. At first they created animals. Instead of worship and praise all they heard from the animals were grunts, hisses, chirps, howls, and squawks. This didn’t impress the gods at all, so they then went about trying to create a human. On the first attempt to create a human they used mud. Though the human they created could speak, what was coming out of its mouth made no sense at all and its form soon dissolved into a shapeless puddle of slime. On their next attempt the gods made humans made out of wood. Once again these wood people looked human, spoke, and seemed to be very attracted to each other. Unfortunately they lacked a soul and the gods saw that these humans would not recognize them as divine beings, which would make them therefore useless. The gods became ever more angry and frustrated and began to destroy these wooden people by many means, including a great flood and attacks from wild animals like the jaguar. They even got the domesticated animals to turn against the people. Still not satisfied the gods even ordered the peoples’ cooking utensils, like pots sitting in a fire and grinding stones, to attack, at which time incredible damage was caused. Soon most all of the wooden people were destroyed. The very few that were left standing were transformed into monkeys to live forever in the forests.

The gods regrouped and decided to give one last attempt at creating humans. They each gathered up handfuls of maize kernels, then the goddess, Xmucane took the kernels and ground them up nine times. Adding some water, she made a paste, which she used to create the first four people. These people could speak and be understood by the gods, and seemed to hold up well to the earth’s environment, and most important, the gods found that these humans were able to quickly learn how to worship and make appropriate sacrifices to their creators. This made the gods very happy. They finally had their worshippers and began to teach them how they should perceive the world.

And from the very beginning, these first Mayans began to study the skies in reverence to their creation and to seek direction. With astronomer-priests soon arising, interpreting what the sky was saying and controlling any knowledge gained through the use of fear of the gods, they were able to keep the people, and their rulers, in their place and subdued.

China
In the beginning there was nothing, no light, no dark, no hot, no cold, nor time or space. But within this formless mass was a slimy substance that contained all matter. It was called Grand Unity (Tai Yi). Out of this nothingness, water was born, and when it mixed with Grand Unity, heaven was created. Heaven then mixed with the Grand Unity and made the earth. Heaven and earth then united to produce the spirits, the sun, and the moon, as well as intellect, spirituality, and moral qualities. As soon as this was all accomplished and everything had come together, the Yin and Yang were born, who in turn, gave birth to the four seasons. The two natures’ Yin and Yang were in the beginning only shade and sunshine, though they were made up of all the energy and matter of the world. Soon enough they became a series of oppositions that would carry onto the humans that were to still be created and represent both inner and outer, private and public, good and bad, male and female. The four seasons that had been created brought forth both hot and cold, after which moisture and dryness appeared, which would from then on determine the cycles of the seasons.

Everything was now set for the creation of humans. Chinese mythology has two different explanations for the creation of mankind, one about a man, and one about a woman.

The man, Pan Gu “Coiled Antiquity” was the personification of Grand Unity. When he neared his death, his body suddenly exploded. His breath became the wind, his left eye the sun, his right eye the moon, his arms and legs the four quarters of the world, his blood and semen the rivers and seas. The lice on his skin were touched by the wind and these became people.

The woman was Nu Wa. She used clay of the earth to make people, the noble ones were yellow, the meaner ones were darker. Another version of Nu Wa is that she coupled with her brother, Fuxi, the only other person alive, and together they made children. Whichever method was used, it was agreed that the body was to be made up of two elements, or souls. The Po, which was viscous and material, and Hun, which was vaporous and transparent. When combined they produced life, but upon death Hun would separate from the body, as it did when people slept, where its wanderings produced dreams.
The Chinese universe was complete, and contained three realms, the heaven, the earth and humankind, with an emperor becoming the living link among them. The first emperor was Fuxi, brother and husband of NuWa. He was responsible for all important cultural inventions, including the first marriage. Fuxi would invent the carpenter’s square, the hexagrams that would become the book, I Ching, and also would become the models for the building of nets used for hunting and fishing.

The second emperor was Shen Nong, the divine farmer, who would continue on Fuxi’s work, inventing the plow and the first market, where the people could exchange goods. Next up was the emperor Huang Di, the yellow emperor. He would invent armour, medicine, pottery, and the compass. These first three emperors would forever be known as the “Three August Emperors.”

The August emperors would be followed by the Five Emperors of Antiquity. Zhuan Xu, Di Ku, Yao, Shun, and Yu. Collectively they made government an institution, with emperor Yu The Great, dividing China into nine regions, each with it’s own particular traits.

Very much like other ancient creation stories, the stars and planets were believed to be gods and that their movements affected people and events on Earth. Chinese mythology also included the idea that the human realm had corresponding effects in the natural world, though not necessarily reactions, and vice versa.

The five visible planets in the sky at that time were Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Each were each believed to have their own personalities, with Jupiter considered the most important because it governed time as it appeared to pass from one constellation to another, and like elsewhere, time was deemed to be cyclical rather than linear. These five planets also could be related to the myth of the Wu Xing or “Five Motions” or “Five Phases” of which all matter was thought to be composed. Of all the ancient Chinese myths, the most important aspect seems to be the idea that the universe is a self-contained entity with no abstract, supernatural, and supreme being outside of it, and that civilization is a legacy from generations of divine beings and imperial ancestors.

The Ainu of Japan
The Ainu people of Hokkaido recount that in the beginning their cosmology consisted of six heavens and six hells where gods, demons, and animals lived. Demons lived in the lower heavens. Amongst the stars and the clouds lived the lesser gods. In the highest heaven lived Kamui, the creator god, and his servants. His realm was surrounded by a mighty, metal wall and the only way in was through a great iron gate.

Kamui made the world a vast, round ocean that rested on the backbone of an enormous trout. As the trout sucked in the ocean and spit it out again he made the tides and whenever the trout moved it would cause earthquakes. One day Kamui looked down on the watery world and decided to make something of it. He sent down a water Wagtail to do the work. By fluttering over the waters with its wings and by trampling the sand with its feet and beating it with its tail, the wagtail created patches of dry land. In this way islands were raised to float upon the ocean.

When the animals who lived up in the heavens saw how beautiful the world was, they begged Kamui to let them go and live on it, and he did. But Kamui also made many other creatures especially for the world. The first people, the Ainu, had bodies of earth, hair of chickweed, and spines made from sticks of willow. Kamui sent Aioina, “the divine man,” down from heaven to teach the Ainu how to hunt and to cook, after which the people soon began to multiply.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sunrise photo by Sean Macentee : http://farm1.static.flickr.com/39/86898564_8450ac24a7_m.jpg

earth photo: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/39/86898564_8450ac24a7_m.jpg