Contributing Writer for Wake Up WorldThe Brotherhood of Man
We are all siblings; a brotherhood of humanity. This is verified biologically of course, but perhaps more importantly for our understanding of one other, the brotherhood of man is verifiable in our belief systems, in our spiritual ideas that are upriver from the rest of our thinking, and our creation stories from which stems our very concept of existence.
Many of the foundational stories and principles of religions can be boiled down to their mutual essence, which inarguably reveal their common origins. And although many people frequently get caught up with the difference of the feather rather than the similarity of the bird, so to speak, the common origins of religions and their central tenets is proof that -- despite varying 'faiths' -- we are more alike than we are different.
In today's world, we have learned to use polarized, dualistic thinking -- the opposition of two competing ideas, left and right, black and white. The very inquiry into the origins of human nature is typically posed through such a limited mindset: "Is it nature or nurture?" But what if the truth was somewhere in the middle? Or somewhere else entirely? In reality, to consider any information or situation comprehensively -- including our belief systems and our origins -- questions must be posed in four ways, not just two. "Is it one or the other, or neither or both?"
Applying this Matrix of Four -- the duality of polarity -- to our thinking elevates individual consciousness to find alternatives, grey areas and potentials. And in the case of intimate theosophical understandings of our nature, it enables us to find commonality instead of divisiveness, bringing us ever closer to our collective truth.
Four is recognized as symbol for completion. This symbolism is illustrated in the four seasons, derived from the two solstices and two equinoxes of our orbit, and is represented in the four forms of arithmetic. Beyond that there are four aspects of self; the mental, physical, spiritual and the natural. These fundamental universal absolutes are alone powerful enough to be the sources of the Matrix of Four and its symbolism.
Correspondingly the Matrix of Four, the philosophy of the duality of polarity, is presented in the beginning of practically every creation story, whether the Popol Vuh or Genesis. Nearly all creation stories start with the polarity of Heaven and Earth followed by the polarity of male and female. In this respect the Matrix of Four is the basis of most all creation stories as well as being depicted in every cross that so many religions share.Creation Stories and the Foundations of Belief
Islam, Judaism and Christianity all share a common creation story, from Genesis, the first story in The Bible. The polarities of Heaven and Earth are immediately described followed by the polarity of male and female. Then the first four characters are described. These first four characters set the tone for the rest of the story. The first two characters are God and Adam, the masculine. The next character is Eve, the feminine (as opposed to the masculine), and the fourth character is the serpent, the deceiver (as opposed to the creator). These four biblical archetypes at the basis of the bible, which form the basis of 3 major world religions, are more influential than we can reckon at this point. Beside illustrating the common origin of these religions, they also illustrate and conceptualize our archetypal thinking and being -- the duality of polarity.
The matrix of four begins the Biblical creation story, is illustrated in the first four characters, and depicted in the cross -- the definitive symbol of Christianity -- but there are other biblical connections too. There are four gospels in the Bible; that of Mathew, John, Luke and Mark. The Hebrew word for God is a four letter word, YHWH (Yahweh), known as the tetragrammaton. The four letters are said to be symbolic of the four worlds of the Kabala; emanation, creation, formation, action. The Matrix of Four is also represented by the common saying in Kabala, "The wicked obey the law through fear; the wise keep the law through knowledge", based on the polarities of wickedness and wisdom, fear and knowledge. Four is also central to the Hebrew celebration of Passover, in the four questions, four cups of wine and four expressions of redemption.
Four is also embedded into the ancient philosophies and creation stories of many Native American peoples, perhaps none so well-known as the Hopi, Navajo and Zuni peoples of the Southwest. Their stories celebrate four symbolically and philosophically in the symbol of the four-quartered cross within a circle, as well as other similar designs. Perhaps most significantly the Hopi believe we are living in the fourth world. Hopi tradition states the first world was Endless Space, the second was Dark Midnight, the third was the Age of Animals and the fourth is the World Complete. Four migrations were written upon four sacred tablets which man was supposed to undertake once in this fourth world -- to separate into smaller tribes and began to migrate in four different directions, settling in new lands.
Thousands of miles away and centuries before the establishment of the Hopi and Navajo, the Mayan creation story -- the Popol Vuh -- told of four gods and four first men.
The four Vedas (Sanskrit for "knowledge") are the foundational scriptures in Hindu theology: the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda. Each Veda has been subclassified into four major text types: the Aranyakas (rituals and ceremonies), the Brahmanas (commentaries), and the Upanishads (meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge) and the Samhitas (mantras and benedictions). In turn, the Samhitas for example are grouped into four categories: the Rig-Veda, Sama-Veda, Yajur-Veda, and Atharva-Veda.The Cross Symbolism in Theology
One could go on about the number of occurrences of four in the Old and New Testaments, but its representation in the cross symbol adopted by Christianity, Judaism and Islam, its presence in the creation story, and its basis in the four worlds of the Kabala are alone reflective of its major significance.