As I pointed out in my book The Esoteric Bosch, many of the things that Hieronymus Bosch painted are not at all obscure, if one has an understanding of the esoteric meaning behind the images. These meanings are universal; one can recognize esoteric imagery and its implications in artworks all over the world if one understands the divine inward flow and nature of the way that the Word becomes flesh, which is what Bosch illustrated in the left panel of the Garden of Earthly Delights.
The previous post, which quoted Meister Eckhart's Sermon 29, details this question of the Word and how the inward and perfect expression of the Word manifests outwardly. Make no mistake about it; what Eckhart speaks of in the quote and what Bosch painted here are one and the same thing.
The inward flow of energy from a higher source has been discussed by many masters, including the teaching I have preferentially followed, which originated with Gurdjieff and was further expanded by Jeanne de Salzmann. In reality, this teaching differs little — if at all – from all the other great esoteric teachings. de Salzmann called the inward flow influence— a word which means exactly the same thing, if one understands the way in which she used the word. But this particular understanding is only tangible if one has the experience, organically.
At that point, many things become obvious. One can know for certain what a great deal of esoteric art is saying. And this particular illustration by Bosch beautifully details what Eckhart was saying in sermon 29. The Divine Word, which emanates (as the universe originally emanated) from a single point — exactly as illustrated here — descends into the material world, creating a perfection and magnificence — the bed of gemstones and jewels — which is only afterwards corrupted by the mind of man.
The descent of the divine energy and its manifestation in the material is a universal language; and this explains the similarity in imagery from widely disparate cultures who could not possibly have had contact with each other. While we were in Mexico (see yesterday's post) we visited Palenque, where we saw the entire complex of temples, including the Temple of the cross. And in the Temple of the cross, there is a fine esoteric masterpiece which encodes a great deal of imagery that reflects the Maya understanding of the divine inflow.
This image, a drawing by Frederick Catherwood, shows the Mayan world tree, which appears in the shape of a cross indicating both the horizontal (earthly, or personal) and vertical (heavenly, or essential) nature of reality. The cross rests on the skull or face of a great demon, representing the Mayan underworld, and corresponding in Western terms to the collective unconscious of mankind. It also represents the root, or essence, of our animal nature, as well as the base of the spine which receives the energy that flows downward from the top of the universe. At the top of the tree is a spectacular bird, representing the divine energy in all its magnificent and unknowable iterations.
As I pointed out in my essay on Mayan yoga, the Maya had an enormous amount of spinal imagery and serpent imagery in their art; in fact, the founding King of Palenque — a king whose exact origins are lost to time —was named Snake Spine. One suspects that the city was one of the key Mayan schools for esoteric practice, which may have been what marked it as a gem that the city of Calakmul could not resist putting in its crown.
Aside from the specifics of yogic and Tantric art and Maya art, a subject which deserves far more investigation and treatment — not because of purported (and dubious) cultural contacts, but simply because of the similar esoteric content — the general tendency of the Maya to depict this divine inflow in their own terms and understanding is striking. As I said at the beginning of this piece, anyone who knows the effects and influence of the inflow will immediately recognize it in spiritual arts. There are times when it is obscured; and times when it is lost. But the world's great esoteric masterpieces all share this in common, and, as unlikely as it seems, both Bosch and the Mayan artists who created this image (as well as the other images at the temples of the cross group and Palenque) were painting the same thing; and all of them had experienced the same understanding of this energy and its divine creative force.
More will be said on this in the March 3rd post..