The story of Jonah and the whale is a story most kids are told in Sunday school, others might recall the story from reading the Bible. But the deeper meaning beyond the literal story takes us beyond a man who was swallowed by a big fish; in its esoteric sense, the story is about the human condition and the initiation process into the higher state of consciousness that you all need to go through. And while the literal viewpoint might give you the impression that Nineveh is being presented with an important opportunity, the real opportunity is for Jonah, and as you’ll come to see, Jonah experiences an initiation process and subsequent rebirth from his lower nature to his higher nature.
The story begins by the “word of the Lord” instructing Jonah to go to Nineveh to ask them to repent. In ancient religious texts big cities like Nineveh were often symbolic of the lower human mind that is steeped in spiritual idolatry; the hustle and bustle of city life represents the egoistic mind—with our thousands of daily busy thoughts—anchoring the soul to the material plane.
When the “word of the Lord” comes to Jonah, he tries to flee from the presence of the Lord by taking a ship out to sea and avoiding his destiny. Since the “presence of the Lord” represents drawing near to him through the stillness of meditation and going within ourselves, we can see that Jonah would rather remain in his ego and lower nature.
As the literal story continues, we learn that the Lord sends a “tempest” (mighty storm). Esoterically, this act starts Jonah’s initiation process. At this point in the story it is important to remind you that most of you are completely unaware that you consciously reside in your lower natures (ego). This is a state of ignorance that was often portrayed in ancient literature as someone who is asleep. I now want you to think about what Jonah was doing on the ship to Tarshish during the raging storm: he was asleep! Can you imagine that? If this story were really literal as so many have taught you, does it make sense that anyone could sleep during a raging storm at sea? Of course not! The Bible tells you that the storm was so bad “that the ship was like to be broken”, and there Jonah was in the bottom of it fast asleep. The Bible wants you to know that Jonah, as well as most people, remains in a state of ignorance about his true natures until he is awakened. When we continue with the story, we see that the other men on the ship to Tarshish are in a panic about how to appease the God that is causing the storm. Jonah comes out and tells them that it is his entire fault because he is fleeing from the Lord. He also tells them that he is a Jew that fears the Lord God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. Like so many of you who are interested in spiritual things, Jonah too has a knowledge of the higher nature, but he hasn’t been transfigured yet. In other words he didn’t walk the talk.
The Bible writes these words in chapter 1 verse 17:
“Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17).
Now at this point it is important to really pay attention because of all the important symbolism. Jonah was in the belly of the whale for 3 days and 3 nights. Similarly Jesus was in hell for 3 days and 3 nights after the crucifixion. You might even remember that the Apostle Paul was blinded after meeting Christ (in a bright light) on the road to Damascus for 3 days. What’s so important about 3 here? This recurring pattern in Biblical literature is symbolic of the initiation process into higher conscious awareness. It is representative of what some call Christ consciousness. Now if you have been reading the previous article there is the tree and the snake with 3 hours on the clock on one side and 3 hours on the other side, and there is another 4 and 4 like 40 days and 40 nights which in turn is related to Daath. You have two pentagrams on one side and one on the other that reaches into 33. Most ancient religions before Christianity, Judaism, and Islam were based on the zodiac and the sun. During the winter solstice, the sun can symbolically be thought of as dying because during the 3 days around December 21st, 22nd, and the 23rd (it varies slightly from year to year) the sun seems to stand still.
Wikipedia has this to say about the observation of the sun during the solstice:
“Direct observation of the solstice by amateurs is difficult because the sun moves too slowly at either solstice to determine its specific day…”
In a higher state of consciousness beyond the ego, time can be seen for the illusion that it is. This is important for several reasons. The solstice was a way how the ancients symbolically represented a higher state of consciousness where time and space cease to exist and all is realized to be ONE in the eternal NOW. As it says of the Lord in Revelations, he is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and end (of time and space). You mustn’t forget the scripture Malachi that states that those who fear his name will the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wing…
While all this might be interesting, how can you be sure that the 3 days and 3 nights in the whale’s belly symbolically represents the winter solstice where the sun dies and then resurrects to give new life? To answer that let’s look at the symbol of the whale based on two more Wikipedia quotes which should help solidify your understanding of the Jonah story as it is supposed to be represented:
Cetus is a constellation. Its name refers to Cetus, a sea monster in Greek mythology, although it is often called ‘the whale’ today. Cetus is located in the region of the sky that contains other water-related constellations such as Aquarius, Pisces. Cetus is also viewed as a misfortune or bad omen by sailors. Superstitious sailors believed in a Cetus as the bringer of a great storm or misfortune to the ship like lost cargo, pirates, or being swept off course…”
You should begin to understand the way the story of Jonah and the whale unfolds the way it does. The constellations referred to above in ancient lore were identified with grand happenings during the winter solstice. This grand event can be seen as a conscious resurrection. In ancient literature the whale, or great fish, usually represented the earth and man’s lower nature. In contrast to this, the sun represents the great light of man’s higher consciousness nature.
So, Jonah in the belly of the great fish represents the dormant state and darkness of the winter solstice (ignorance) that must be overcome if he is going to transcend his lower nature. Remember, Jonah is thrown in the watery grave of the sea, entombed by the great fish, and has the opportunity to rise the third day with his born again, resurrected spiritual nature!
This is what happened to Jesus. Why do you think Jesus is supposed to have been born at Christmas? Because this is the time of the winter solstice! And the story of Jonah is a resurrection story just like the story of Jesus. Why do you think Jesus himself quotes the story of Jonah as the only true “sign” to the Pharisees? An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:39-40).
Remember I told you earlier that the great fish represented the “earth” and man’s lower nature? Even Jesus is telling you symbolically that his story represents a birthing from the lower nature to the higher nature when he states that the “Son of man” must go to the “heart of the earth” (death to the lower nature).
When you continue to read the story of Jonah, you learn that something significant happens to him in the belly of the whale. He begins to pray and meditate on the Lord. Did he really die physically as you are taught in the traditional Christian church? Not at all! Rather he died to his physical nature. The Bible makes this clear in Jonah’s prayer: I went down to the bottom of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me forever: yet hast thou brought me up my life from corruption, O Lord my God” (Jonah 2:6).
Notice how this prayer has nothing to do with being in the literal belly of a whale. Jonah’s prayer shows you to man’s lower nature as represented by the earth! Remember that the earth represents the lower nature. The corruption he speaks of deals with the physicality. If you look closely at Jonah’s prayer you will see that it is about completing the initiation process into higher awareness through the process meditation and prayer (going within the kingdom). This brings the initiate beyond the physical and into spiritual awareness beyond the ego.
In essence, the three days in the tomb of the earth/whale in which Jonah resides gives the opportunity for a new emergence of higher consciousness, through a process of initiation by prayer and meditation. And just like the sun emerges from the winter solstice and provides the resurrection of life by the coming spring, so too, does Jonah rise to give the repentance message to people of Nineveh and God lets them live! Jonah has awakened, and, in the metaphorical sense, the dry ground represents the solid truth of the higher conscious state.
I encourage you to read Jonah’s prayer again while he is in the belly of the whale. The prayer is clearly about Jonah’s soul, and as your lower nature seems to be ruling your life. It reminds you to step back from the ego and return to a time of meditation and prayer where you can draw near to the light. Again Jonah too had knowledge but did not practice it.
You have two natures. You are comprised of the low man and the high man. By going within the kingdom through meditation, you begin the process of joining to the two natures into one unlike Jonah, who was forced into this process, I recommend you to do it now on your own time. With the changes coming, many will be forced beyond their comfort zones. It isn’t fun being forced. It’s much better being prepared. I recommend setting aside time early each morning to meditate. Go in with high expectations and add a minute a day so it becomes a state of being as explained in other articles.
Don’t forget all is part of you, when someone suffers or is hungry part of you is too, if one is deaf or blind part of you is too, if you wish them to be loving be loving first, if you wish to experience his unconditional love then start by giving your unconditional love, be as you wish others to be and not just when it suits you best and other times you wish them to their grave.
Let me tell you another little story. A young man wanted to become a farmer and got himself some cows and he took his cows to the meadows every morning and brought them back to the cowshed at the end of the day. One evening, as he was tying the cows up for the night, the young man found that one of them was missing her rope. He feared that she might run away, but it was too late to go and buy a new rope. The young man didn’t know what to do, so he went to a wise man who lived nearby and sought his advice.
The wise man told the young farmer to pretend to tie the cow, and make sure that the cow saw him doing it. The boy did as the wise man had suggested. The next morning the young farmer discovered that the cow had remained still throughout the night. He untied all the cows as usual, and they all went outside. He was about to go to the meadows when he noticed that the cow with the imaginary rope was still in the cowshed. She was standing on the same spot where she had been all night. He tried to coax her to join the herd, but she wouldn’t budge. The young farmer was perplexed. He went back to the wise man and complained “What have you done to my cow? It is not moving at all; It is not going out for grazing. Did you cast any spell on it? Did it fall sick because of it?” The wise man asked “Have you untied the cow?” The young farmer replied “Why?? I haven’t tied it at all, I just pretended!” A little perplexed, the boy asked “How do I untie something which did not exist at all?” The wise man said, “Well, YOU know that. Not the cow. That is how you were able to keep the cow in place. This is the same trick that is used in taming the elephants. I did not cast any spell. The cow still thinks she is tied up. Go back and pretend to untie her, make sure that the cow sees it”. The young farmer did as he was told, and the cow happily left the cowshed.
This is what the a teacher does with the ego of the disciple. The teacher helps untie that chronic bondage of the world, that deep rooted perception in the mind of the disciple that the world they see is real and perpetual.
Like the cow, due to our ignorance, we believe that we are bound by the ego when, in fact, we are completely free if you simply know it well. We need to be convinced of this, however. The ego is an illusion with no existence of its own.
It appears to be real because it is animated by the Aatman. The ego itself can be compared to dead matter (non-living substance); for without the self-conscious Aatman, it would have no life. Stop supporting the ego, and it will withdraw and disappear. If you identify with ego, you give it life.
We ourselves lend the unreal ego its reality. Expose it for what it is, or rather, for what it isn’t, and that will be the end of it. A dog wags its tail; the tail does not wag the dog. The same is true with the mind. So long as you give in to the wants, emotions, biases of the mind (all of which are mere impressions from the past), it keeps driving you, as if it is self-conscious and you are not. In reality, it is a parasite living on the shadow of your consciousness.
The mind should be nothing more than a useful tool; you shouldn’t let yourself be ruled by the whims and fancies of the mind.
Our thoughts are our own creation. We make them real by cooperating with them. If we withdraw our support, they will dissolve.
A teddy bear is made of fabric and is real to a child, but to a grown-up it’s a piece of cloth. For the child, the fabric is concealed revealing only the teddy bear. The grown-up may also enjoy the teddy bear but he knows it is not real. For him, the fabric is real, not the teddy bear. In the same way, to a self-realized soul, the entire universe is nothing but the essence, the “fabric” that comprises everything, the Absolute Consciousness.
What happens in meditation is stopping this current of thoughts, so you get a little space to see who you are. “See” is used here as a metaphor, as this seeing will be beyond what the eyes can do. Perhaps observe, feel or know would be better words. Let it be whatever. What happens in meditation is that you start to see yourself without the clutter of all this super-imposed world over yourself.
So, to summarize, meditation is NOT a transient practice. It is like a torchlight to find something, that which you are. It is a permanent state of yourself! It is the best tool to remove the transient clutter that you think is real.
This cannot be explained further or debated and proven. You need to get into that and experience. Once you learn to still your own mind, you’ll know for yourself. Until then, you’ll be flooded with questions and no one can answer for you. To be precise, the imaginary questions in an imaginary world, coming from an imaginary false-ego that neither need to be answered, nor is there ever any second person to answer.
That which is ever there is unlimited, unbound, beyond time, and never born. There is no name.
Moshiya van den Broek