by Michael Maciel
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. – Exodus 20
As we examine the Ten Commandments through the lens of mystical and occult teachings, a simple, religious rule like “Keep the Sabbath holy” begins to reveal its deeper and more relevant meaning. That meaning has to do with mathematics, cycles, and process. But before you let those words turn you off completely, let’s skip to the important part, the part that lets you apply the principle today, in both your spiritual and your mundane life. Then, if you’re still interested, we can explore the underlying principles.
The Fourth Commandment is about letting go, as in “let go and let God”—not the letting go as in giving up, but the letting go as in not pushing the cue ball across the table with your stick. In other words, it’s about action, then non-action. In archery, it’s not “pushing the arrow,” as in pulling the string back with a jerk before releasing the string, as though the extra effort will make the arrow fly farther. In gardening, it’s leaving the seed alone after you’ve planted it, instead of digging it up to see if it’s germinating. In child-rearing, it’s resisting the urge to call your kid every day after they’ve moved away to college. At that point, your parenting is, for all intents and purposes, done. Now you have to let your young adult discover and develop the skills you taught them.
This is letting go. This is what it means to “rest.” This is the conventional wisdom of the ages hidden within what on the surface looks like a simple obligation to go to church on Sunday. This, however, is just the tip of the metaphysical iceberg.
Okay, here we go:
Seven is a peculiar number. It is the only number in the numbers one through ten that cannot be constructed geometrically with a compass and square. For this reason, the ancients called it “virgin.” As a symbol, the number seven represents the vibrational architecture of the cosmos. It shows up in the number of endocrine glands in the human body, the number of crystal systems, the number of chakras, the number of “heavens,” and the number of notes in the Pythagorean musical scale— the basis of the principle of “octave.” As such, it describes the process of growth, the way life spirals upwards in its evolutionary journey towards complete self-expression. Each return recapitulates what has gone before, only this time it’s happening at a higher level, having gained the experience of previous rounds.
Seven also has a unique relationship with the number four, which is the fundamental number of the process of creation, as expressed in the Tetragrammaton (the Jewish name for God—Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh). Four describes the four cardinal directions, the four elements, and the four stages of the creative act: to will, to dare, to do, to be silent. It’s the “to be silent” part that is the theme of “keep the Sabbath holy.”
When you set four fence posts in the ground, you have an implied seven—the four posts and the three spaces between them. This might seem to be a childish observation, but it’s not. It reveals a most important aspect of the creative act, what we might call “layering.” It is the fundamental binary system of the mental/physical world we live in. What occurs in matter occurs in iterations. What we call physical substance is anything but solid—it occurs in a series of blinks, an on-again, off-again kind of existence. It’s there, then it’s not there. Then, it’s there again, ad infinitum.
Unless we allow our creations to “blink,” which is to say, unless we let go of them, they cannot manifest in the world. The word “Sabbath” indicates to the educated reader this principle of cyclic action in nature, both in the natural world and the super-natural world. We cannot separate God from Matter.
Layering is two things mediated by a third, a separator. We see it everywhere. In a battery, the positive and negative poles are separated by an electrolytic medium. Soil-building requires the successive layering of sediments along with decaying plant matter, facilitated by the freeze/thaw cycle which breaks up larger particles into smaller ones. The transfer of short-term memory into long-term memory requires a consistent sleep pattern—the layering of conscious states with unconscious states. Everywhere we look we can see that the principle of process consists of two things separated by a third, like the spaces between fence posts.
Dividing the week into seven days was not an arbitrary decision. It has a basis in reality. To form a habit, it takes three cycles of twenty-one days (three times seven). The human gestational cycle is 280 days (forty weeks—another expression of the relationship between seven and four). The enigmatic pi (3.14159…, the relationship of a circle’s diameter to its circumference) is roughly three and one-seventh, which brings us to perhaps the most important principle hidden within the Fourth Commandment:
Grace is the principle of epigenesis, which simply means that every action will produce an equal reaction plus a little bit more. That “little bit more” is the one-seventh expressed in pi. If the cosmos were a business, pi would be its profit margin. It is the forward momentum of the Creation. The Fourth Commandment to keep the Sabbath holy is the implication of grace. All of the commandments, really, imply this—the idea that if you keep God’s law, you will be blessed—you will receive a bonus, a little bit more that isn’t a direct result of your efforts. But keeping the seventh day as a day of rest fairly screams—for those who have ears to hear—that understanding cyclical activity is the key to getting your prayers answered.
So, when it comes to prayer—which is really planting a seed thought in the subconscious mind—letting go is essential. And the best way to let go is to turn your thoughts to something entirely different. You layer an unrelated thought on top of your original prayer. In other words, think about something else!
This is the secret to successful prayer, a successful act of creation. You have to completely turn away from it, the way an Orthodox Jew turns completely away from the activities of the world and rests on the Sabbath. This is the principle that’s being described in the Fourth Commandment. It’s the science part of religion.
Books by Michael Maciel