Giovanni Bellini Sacred Allegory

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward,

in Eden; and there He put the man

whom He had formed.

Genesis 2, 8.

Plato in the Republic, It is written as a fictional dialogue between Plato’s teacher Socrates and Plato’s brother Glaucon at the beginning of Book VII lets Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato’s Socrates, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners.

The Allegory is related to Plato’s Theory of Forms or for our purpose Archetypes, the first massive use of the word, Archetype  whence it becomes a philosophical term, is with Philo.

This Allegory according to which the Archetypes  and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. Only knowledge of the Archetypes constitutes real knowledge.

The eye, Plato says, is unusual among the sense organs in that it needs a medium, namely light, in order to operate. The strongest and best source of light is the sun; with it, objects can be discerned clearly.

“the region revealed through sight”—the ordinary objects we see around us—”to the prison home, and the light of the fire in it to the power of the Sun. And in applying the going up and the seeing of what’s above to the soul’s journey to the intelligible place, you not mistake my expectation, since you desire to hear it. A god doubtless knows if it happens to be true. At all events, this is the way the phenomena look to me: in the region of the knowable the last thing to be seen, and that with considerable effort, is the idea of good; but once seen, it must be concluded that this is indeed the cause for all things of all that is right and beautiful—in the visible realm it gives birth to light and its sovereign; in the intelligible realm, itself sovereign, it provided truth and intelligence—and that the man who is going to act prudently in private or in public must see it”

In a clear day you can see forever

Thus if we attempt to understand why things are as they are, and what general categories can be used to understand various particulars around us, without reference to any Archetypes, we will fail completely, as if [we] lacked reason. By contrast, “the domain where truth and reality shine resplendent” is none other than Plato’s world of Archetypes illuminated by the highest of the Universals, that of the Good. Since true being resides in the world of the Archetypes, we must direct our intellects there to have knowledge, in Plato’s view; otherwise, we are stuck with mere opinion of what may be likened to passing shadows.

The sun … not only furnishes to those that see the power of visibility but it also provides for their generation and growth and nurture though it is not itself generation. … In like manner, then … the objects of knowledge not only receive from the presence of the good their being known, but their very existence and essence is derived to them from it, though the good itself is not essence but still transcends essence in dignity and surpassing power.

The Sun

Plato’s Archetypes asserts that non-material abstract  forms or Archetypes, and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. When used in this sense, the word Archetype is often capitalized. Plato speaks of these entities only through the characters (primarily Socrates) of his dialogues who sometimes suggest that these Archetypes are the only true objects of study that can provide us with genuine knowledge

Plato often invokes, particularly in the Phaedo, Republic and Phaedrus, poetic language to illustrate the mode in which the Archetypes are said to exist. Near the end of the Phaedo, for example, Plato describes the world of Archetypes as a pristine region of the physical universe located above the surface of the Earth (Phd. 109a-111c). In the Phaedrus the Archetypes are in a “place beyond heaven” (huperouranios topos) (Phdr. 247c ff); and in the Republic the sensible world is contrasted with the intelligible realm (noēton topon) in the famous allegory of the cave.

Bosch The Garden of Earthly Delights

For those who have been patient to follow me so far I want you to understand that Plato’s Forms or Archetypes are no other than the Divine World, or Heaven of Religions, a Paradise, or Spiritual World that is Reality, and from where our own Earth derives it’s existence…Now I do not want you to conclude that we are talking of a different World, or Dimension but as in the Gospel of Thomas:

“Jesus said, “If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.”

Or the Holy Qua’ran:

“Those will have gardens of perpetual residence; beneath them rivers will flow. They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and will wear green garments of fine silk and brocade, reclining therein on adorned couches. Excellent is the reward, and good is the resting place.” 18, 31.

beneath them rivers will flow


Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve lived in innocence, having tasted of the Tree of Knowledge they lost the eyes who allowed them to see everything with the primeval innocence, and therefore they were cast from the Garden of Eden, and they knew impurity, toil, and suffering. some Christians assume that Earth is the Garden of Eden, and that God would transform Earth in to Eden, but in my opinion it is Man who has to restore his innocence, and purity,  in order to be able to  see Eden…

Adam and Eve Holbein Bible

The Barzakh

Barzakh it is an Arabic  word to signal an isthmus, or separation between two things, yet share the attributes of the two things in question, in Western thought that is basically dialectic, we separate the Physical from the Spiritual, with no intermediary realm, however the Soul is the barzakh between. This is also known as the world of Imagination (khayal) or Images (mithal) this is the intermediary realm who shares both the Spiritual, and the Corporeal, but because is between both, the barzakh is more Real than the Corporeal, since is one degree closer to the Spiritual realm the World of Light, this middle or intermediary realm we have access in dreaming, where the Spiritual communicates to our consciousness through an imagery of Symbols, or Archetypes.

When a person dies Muslims believe that the soul lives on in a special stage of time. In barzakh the person is asked questions in the grave and may receive blessings or torments. When Judgment day comes they are led to either heaven, hell or limbo, but while they are waiting for that day to arrive they are in the state of barzakh.

In the barzakh, it is said that the contents of “who you are” are turned inside out and you experience the contents of your soul (Nafs or your own self) as a universe that surrounds you. Just as in a dream fears and anxieties can take concrete form and shape, so in the barzakh you experience as concrete, manifest realities the deeds you did and the substance of your soul. It is sometimes referred to as the “imaginal” (mithal) world – since the realities of the soul will manifest as images and forms, creating an encompassing world of concretized images. But the reality of the barzakh, it being higher than this world in the hierarchy of creation, is that it has a more intense reality than this world and our experience in that world will be correspondingly more intense. The soul will dwell in a universe that is nothing but a representation, a living image of it’s own internal architecture, a reflection, a mirror of its true stature.

So the barzakh can take on the aspect of a garden of paradise or that of a nightmare come to life (or a mix of the two) – depending on the contents and state and ruling characteristics of one’s soul.

Since it is a place where one experiences nothing other than their own reality, their own true self – this is why, at the second resurrection (the judgment ), the Qur’an states that each soul knows its own place – there is no argument because everyone is cognizant of their own reality and of the totality of the effect of all that they have done, since they have experienced it firsthand – “every soul becomes acquainted with what it sent before it….”

The illusory nature of all that people devised and chased after in this life becomes manifest and their inventions fail them and vanish away – “and what they devised shall escape from them” (10:30). They imagined that they were Rabb (Lord) over what they invented, but here it becomes clear to all that only God is Rabb – and all other lordships are only a fading mirage.

“…they know a manifest side of the life of this world, but of the last world they are utterly heedless and ignorant.” (30:6-7)

Nafs in Barzakh



When a person had died he was taken to Underworld where his deeds in life were taken to the Court of Osiris for the final judgement. Since this place also was called “The Island of Fire” it’s quite obvious that the Egyptians had knowledge about the burning interior of the Earth though they had no volcanoes in their own country. Before coming there the dead person had to pass a labyrinth of gates and doors and answer questions correctly to pass through. The lion-god Aker let him through the last gate and he was facing the fourteen members of the jury in the Tribunal Hall. There he was allowed to speak about his behavior on Earth. (Shown in the upper left in the picture below).

Then god Anubis took him into the courtroom presenting him the scale where his heart would be put in balance with the feather of the goddess Máat, patroness of truth and harmony. The procedure was recorded by Thoth – the god of writing and wisdom. Sometimes Thot’s animal (a baboon) was sitting on top of the scale ready to adjust the result using a sliding weight.

 Osiris' Court in the Underworld 

The deceased enters from the left guided by Anubis. His heart is placed on the scales and the result is recorded by Thoth. Then Horus takes him in front of the judge Osiris for the final verdict. Behind the throne stand Isis and Nephtys.

If the heart of the deceased wasn’t too heavy with sins from his life on Earth, he went through and could continue his voyage to the afterlife and was granted a plot of land in the “Field of the Reeds”. This was the paradise for the ancient Egyptians – to grow crops for eternity in a land that was the very image of the Nile Valley they just had left.
If he failed the test on the other hand – his heart was immediately devoured by the beast Ammut sitting under the scale ready to have a good blow-out. In that case the dead faced the most horrible future imaginable for the Egyptians – he was denied an eternal life in the land in the West and his soul would be restless forever.


The seven steps to Paradise

1. Crossing the celestial river by Nemty to the “Land in the West”.
2. Passing through gates and labyrinths by answering questions.
3. Being let into the great Court of the Underworld by the god Aker.
4. Addressing a jury of 14 judges about the deeds during life on Earth.
5. Taken by Anubis to “Balance of Truth” to weigh his heart for sins.
6. If the heart wasn’t heavy, brought by Horus to Chief Judge Osiris.
7. Entering the “Fields of the Reed” (Paradise) and get eternal life.

Ancient Egypt Paradise

Mount Meru

A striking parallel to the Egyptian and Akkadian idea of two opposed polar mountains, an arctic and an antarctic,—the one celestial and the other infernal,—is found among the ancient inhabitants of India. The celestial mountain they called Su-Meru, the infernal one Ku-Meru. In the Hindu Puranas the size and splendors of the former are presented in the wildest exaggerations of Oriental fancy. Its height, according to some accounts, is not less than eight hundred and forty thousand miles, its diameter at the summit three hundred and twenty thousand. Four enormous buttress mountains, situated at mutually opposite points of the horizon, surround it. One account makes the eastern side of Meru of the color of the ruby, its southern that of the lotus, its western that of gold, its northern that of coral. On its summit is the vast city of Brahma, fourteen thousand leagues in extent.  Around it, in the cardinalpoints and the intermediate quarters, are situated the magnificent cities of Indra and the other regents of the spheres. The city of Brahma in the Centre of the eight is surrounded by a moat of sweet flowing celestial waters, a kind of river of the water of life (Gangâ), which after encircling the city divides into four mighty rivers flowing towards four opposite points of the horizon, and descending into the equatorial ocean which engirdles the earth.

Thus the Sûrya Siddhânta says: “A collection of manifold jewels, a mountain of gold, is Meru, passing through the middle of the earth-globe (bhu-gola), and protruding on either side. At its upper end are stationed along with Indra the gods and the Great Sages (maharishis); at its lower end, in like manner, the demons have their abode,—each [class] the enemy of the other. Surrounding it on every side is fixed, next, this great ocean, like a girdle about the earth, separating the two hemispheres of the gods and of the demons.”

Conceiving of Meru in this way, as a kind of core extending through the earth and projecting at each pole, one can easily understand the following passage, in which two pole-stars are spoken of instead of one: “In both [i.e., the two opposite] directions from Meru are two pole-stars fixed in the midst of the sky.” As these mark the two opposite poles of the heavens, it is correctly added that “to those who are situated in places of no latitude [i.e., on the equator] both these pole-stars have their place in the horizon.” Farther on in the same treatise the common designation used for the northern hemisphere is the hemisphere of the gods, and for the southern the hemisphere of the asuras, or demons.


That the cosmology of ancient India should have been retained and propagated in its main features by all the followers of Buddha was only natural. Accordingly, in their teachings our earth, and every other, has its Sumeru, around which everything centres. Its top, according to the Nyâyânousâra Shaster, is four-square, and on it are situated the three and thirty (Trayastriñshas) heavens. Each face of the summit measures 80,000 yôjanas. Each of the four corners of the mountain-top has a peak seven hundred yôjanas high. These, of course, are simply the four buttress-mountains of the Hindu Meru lifted to the summit and made the culminating peaks. They are ornamented, we are told, with the seven precious substances,—gold, silver, lapis-lazuli, crystal, cornelian, coral, and ruby. One of the cities on the summit is called Sudarsana, or Belle-vue. It is 10,000 yôjanas in circuit. The storied gates are 1½ yôjanas high, and there are 1,000 of these gates, fully adorned. Each gate has 500 blue-clad celestial guards, fully armed. In its centre is a kind of inner city called the Golden City of King Sakra, whose pavilion is 1,000 yôjanas in circuit, and its floor is of pure gold, inlaid with every kind of gem. This royal residence has 500 gates, and on each of the four sides are 100 towers, within each of which there are 1,700 chambers, each of which chambers has within it seven Devîs, and each Devî is attended by seven handmaidens. All these Devîs are consorts of King Sakra, with whom he has intercourse in different forms and personations, according to his pleasure. The length and breadth of the thirty-three heavens is 60,000 yôjanas. They are surrounded by a sevenfold city wall, a sevenfold ornamental railing, a sevenfold row of tinkling curtains, and beyond these a sevenfold row of Talas-trees. All these encircle one another, and are of every color of the rainbow, intermingled and composed of every precious substance. Within, every sort of enjoyment and every enchanting pleasure is provided for the occupants.

Outside this wonderful city of the gods, there is on each of its four sides a park of ravishing beauty. In each park there is a sacred tower erected over personal relics of Buddha. Each park has also a magic lake, filled with water possessing eight peculiar excellences. Thus beauties are heaped upon beauties, splendors upon splendors, marvels upon marvels, until in sheer despair the wearied and exhausted imagination abandons all further effort at definite mental representation.


Other peculiarities in Buddhist cosmography, especially the detachment of Uttarakuru and of Jambu-dwîpa from Mount Meru,—in both of which particulars the Buddhist cosmos differs from the Puranic,—lend some apparent confirmation to this claim.

In ancient Iranian thought this same celestial mountain presents itself to the student. Its name is Harâ-berezaiti, the mythical Albordj, —”the seat of the genii: around it revolve sun, moon, and stars; over it leads the path of the blessed to heaven.”

The following description of it in one of the invocations of Rashnu in the Rashn Yasht forcibly reminds one of the Odyssean description of the heavenly Olympos: “Whether thou, O holy Rashnu, art on the Harâ-berezaiti, the bright mountain around which the many stars revolve, where come neither night nor darkness, no cold wind and no hot wind, no deathful sickness, no uncleanness made by the Daêvas, and the clouds cannot reach up to the Haraiti Bareza; we invoke, we bless Rashnu.”

The following description is from Lenormant: “Like the Meru of the Indians, Harâ-berezaiti is the Pole, the centre of the world, the fixed point around which the sun and the planets perform their revolutions. Analogously to the Gangâ of the Brahmans, it possesses the celestial fountain Ardvî-Sûra, the mother of all terrestrial waters and the source of all good things. In the midst of the lake formed by the waters of the sacred source grows a single miraculous tree, similar to the Jambu of the Indian myth, or else two trees, corresponding exactly to those of the Biblical Gan-Eden. . . . There is the garden of Ahuramazda, like that of Brahma on Meru. Thence the waters descend toward the four cardinal points in four large streams, which symbolize the four horses attached to the car of the goddess of the sacred source, Ardvî-Sûra-Anâhita. These four horses recall the four animals placed at the source of the paradisaic rivers in the Indian conception.”

Colbert Monks and Elephants

The Western Paradise

Sukhavati, the Pure Land of the West, is discussed in the Amitabha Sutra, one of the three sutras that are the principal texts of Pure Land. It is the most important of the many blissful paradises into which Pure Land Buddhists hope to be reborn.

Buddhist scholars generally understand a Pure Land as a transcendent state of being. In Asian folklore, on the other hand, a Pure Land is thought of as a real place, not unlike the way many people conceptualize Heaven. The Pure Land is not the final destination, however.

Hui-yuan and other early masters of Pure Land believed that achieving the liberation of Nirvana through a life of monastic austerity was too difficult for most people. They rejected the “self effort” emphasized by earlier schools of Buddhism. Instead, the ideal is rebirth in a Pure Land, where the toils and worries of ordinary life do not interfere with devoted practice of the Buddha’s teachings. By the grace of Amitabha’s compassion, those reborn in a Pure Land find themselves only a short step from Nirvana.

Practices of Pure Land

Pure Land Buddhists accept the basic Buddhist teachings of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. The primary practice common to all schools of Pure Land is the recitation of the name of Amitabha, who is also called Amida.

In Chinese, this chant is “Na-mu A-mi-to Fo” (Hail, Amida Buddha). The same chant in Japanese, called the Nembutsu, is “Namu Amida Butsu.” Sincere and focused chanting becomes a kind of meditation that helps the Pure Land Buddhist visualize Amitabha Buddha. In the most advanced stage of practice, the follower contemplates Amitabha as not separate from his own being.

Amida Buddha statue

The common characteristic shared by all this “Paradises” of different Cultures, and Religions, it is the Imaginal  perfection of the Archetypes compared to our Earthly realm, where if beauty is abundant, decay, old age,  deterioration, erosion and many other perceived maladies also abound, like dust, in the Imaginal Realm there is no dust, ugliness, or decay, only change from wonder, to wonder…


About theburningheart

This entry was posted in Adam, Amida Buddha, Ancient Civilizations, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Religions, Angels, Anubis, Archetypes, Barzak, Cosmogony, Counsciousness, Dreams, Garden of Eden, God, Gospel of Thomas, Metaphysics, Mount Meru, Mysticism, Myth, Mythology, Ontology, Paradise, Philosophy, Plato, Pure Land, Reality, Spirituality, Symbology, Uncategorized, Wisdom and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. kethuprofumo says:

    Great, profound, stong, Mr. Brigido! How odd….If we read ‘Aker’ back to front we will get a Russian word ‘Reka’/river. If we change letters in ‘Meru’ we will get a Russian word ‘umer’/died. Indeed a proto-language is everywhere. ))))

    Best regards,


    • theburningheart says:

      Thank you Maria, yes all languages have a common origin, of course through the many ages of History, migrations, and social interaction languages evolve, and change,but after all Balto-Slavic it’s part of the Indo European family. 🙂

      • kethuprofumo says:

        Indeed! When I used to work as a linguist I made language comparative researches that demonstrated amazing facts and interconnections! There is an interesting word example in Russian ‘Mir’ -‘World’, back to front ‘Rim’ – ‘Rome’. )))

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