Manly P Hall The Sources Of Sacred Writings || EP 353

In spite of human prejudice to the contrary, there is but one religion and one truth, and all the great faiths of the world are parts or fragments of the Ancient Wisdom. The Scriptures of the world are the written records devised both to preserve and at the same time to conceal the secrets of the forty-nine branches of the Eternal Law. It naturally follows that there is a certain interdependence between religious writings. To understand any one sacred book completely it is necessary to also understand all other sacred books.

It has been difficult for human beings to accept this truth, and for lack of interreligious understanding there has been very little religious understanding. Each man, clinging to his own book, hugging to his heart his own fragment of the law, has believed that there is a peculiar virtue in proclaiming a part and denying the rest. Bibles, so-called, are collections of inspired writings and the recording of ancient oral traditions. They are accumulated over immense periods of time and can usually be traced to the lore of preceding civilizations.

Built up from earlier fragments, they should never be regarded as revelations in the sense of being delivered in toto to any individual by some divine being. The revelation factor is generally limited to interpretation—some illumined individual, contemplating sacred matters, perceives some deeply concealed value, and by placing special emphasis upon this new aspect comes to be regarded as a religious founder. Among ancient peoples, sacred writings were reserved for the contemplation of initiated priests and were not available to the laity.

The priests interpreted such parts of the Scriptures as applied to the problems of the occasion. The populace, gathered before the temple, received their spiritual instruction from initiates of the priestly orders who stood upon the porch of the holy house and solemnly expounded the laws. These priests were equipped with the keys to the Scriptural allegories by which they were enabled to unlock the profounder parts of the spiritual tradition. After the decline of the Mysteries, when the sacred books fell into the hands of the profane, the subtler values were lost.

The Vedas, the sacred books of the ancient Aryan Hindus, appear to be the oldest of Scriptural writings and the source of most of the sacred books now venerated throughout the world. The religious traditions of the ancient Hindus are of incredible antiquity. The traditions of these people indicate that the laws and institutes of the gods were revealed to the progenitors of the Aryans in the highlands of the Himalaya mountain country nearly a million years ago. The migration of the Aryan tribes, first southward and then westward, resulted in the establishment of several sub-races and cultures. The migrating tribes carried with them the sacred traditions of their ancient gods. With the development of writing, the records passed from the memories of priests and scribes to the more permanent and impersonal media of stone, clay and papyrus.

From the Vedas poured forth the streams of religious tradition which, flowing into various nations down through the ages, appear in the course of time as the single source of the numerous Scriptural writings of the world. Great saints and sages interpreting this ageless wisdom wrote their commentaries or re-stated in the terms of their own day the Vedic lore and the sacred tradition. In China, Lao-Tze and Confucius were the interpreters, and their writings have become Scripture. In India, Buddha was the great Emissary. In Persia, it was Zoroaster. In Egypt, Akhnaton and Hermes. In Greece, Orpheus, Pythagoras and Plato. In Syria, it was Moses, and later Jesus.

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