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July 13, 2010

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David Clark

This text is certainly the most problematic of all of the New Testament writings. Viewed strictly as worldly prophesy, it is used to point a shaky finger at whatever scary event or trend is on hand to suit the moment, heralding the "end of the world". A great many Christian believers seem to see it this way.

It is such a dramatic text that it always tends to liven things up when read aloud from in church. "Ah, The Apocalypse of St. John, this should be good!"

It may indeed be at one level a genuine prophesy concerning the ruling Roman Empire of its' day. Because all amalgamated things come to an end, bloody pagan Rome morphed into a Christian empire and so on and so on to this day. But as you say, it can also be seen as a look into a metaphysical mirror for a look at the conflict and resolution at the time of enlightenment. The great war in Heaven and Earth brings comes to a shattering conclusion, until the next time (being bound for a mere thousand years is nothing in the life of an immortal being).

As you suggest, all of us get to live this Apocalypse for ourselves, perhaps many times, perhaps every day and certainly on our last!


Barry Briggs

Thanks for your generous comment, David. As you know, I'm not a Biblical scholar by any means - and am mostly ignorant of the various meanings of the Book of Revelation.

But I do believe that this "great war in Heaven and Earth" can be understood as a conflict of our own making - and that we engage in warfare every day within ourselves and among those closest to us.

So it's worth a good study....

(And I wonder if the Zen tradition has a text that could serve the same "liven up" function ....?)

Marcus

A Buddhist Book of Revelation? Oh yes, for sure!

"After my nirvana, when the Dharma is about to extinct, the Five Mortal Sins will foul the world, and the demonic-way will flourish exceedingly. The demons will become monks, to spoil and wreck my Way....

"The Dharma is about to be wiped out, and when the time for that comes, all the gods will weep tears. Rainy and dry seasons will be untimely, the Five Grains will not ripen, pestilential vapors will be prevalent; there will be many dead....

"What will happen then is not possible to describe in detail. But several thousand myriad years after this happens, Maitreya will descend to be Buddha in the world. All-under-Heaven will enjoy peace, prosperity, and equality;

... men will be eight Tzerng tall. All of them will live eighty-four thousand years. It is impossible to count how many living things will be able to be saved...."

The Sutra Preached by the Buddha on the Total Extinction of the Dharma (Taisho Tripitaka 0396)

Barry Briggs

Ah, well. I'm clearly in the "pestilential vapors" phase.

Thank you, Marcus. Made my morning (so far)!

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