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Levels of Meaning in Holy Scripture

Rev. Dr. Thomas Hickey

posted on Donmeh forum
Wed, 30 Jun 1999

The notion that there are many levels to scripture is found in most sacred traditions. The literal level is concerned with action (observance and ritual) and is available to all. This is called karma kanda in the Vedic tradition and shari'ah in Islam. The allegorical level is the inner teaching about "the Way," and it is applicable to those who have risen to the level of the spiritual path. This contains the methodology of spiritual practice for transcending the mind and realizing the deeper dimensions of relative existence, and ultimately the Real. This is called upasana kanda in the Vedic tradition, tariqah by Sufis, and the Way or Path in the West. Ultimately, there is the anagogical level, which is the explication of the Real by those who have reached realization of THAT. This is called jnana kanda in the Vedic tradition, ma'rifah by Sufis and gnosis in the West. I do not know the Hebrew correspondences. I would be grateful if someone knowledgeable would be good enough to provide them.anchor  Each of these levels has its own truth, because knowledge is structured in consciousness and is therefore different in different levels of consciousness. Much if not most of the apparently "problems" in spiritual discourse arise from not distinquishing the applicable level of consciousness for a particular statement. As a result different levels become conflated and confusion ensues.

Levels of Meaning in Holy Scripture: Vedic
Dr. Thomas Hickey

Yakov Leib:
They go by various names, but the ones I prefer are as follows:

1. Levush (Levush Elyon) = the "outer garment," or the plain meaning.
2. Guf = the "body," or Torah Laws "covered" by the Levush.
3. Neshamah (Pnimiyut) = the "Soul" or "Essence," its esoteric meaning.
4. Neshamah le'Neshamah = "Soul of the Soul", meaning of the Hebrew Letters themselves.


About the author: external link Thomas Hickey is Director of the Circle School, spiritual counselor, Vedic astrologer, Yogacharya of the Advaitin tradition, Bishop in apostolic succession in the Communion of the Christos, and Taoist sifu.

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