An Exodus for our time
The allegory of Exodus is being played out now in the modern world, complete with slavery, a cruel Pharaoh and a modern-day Moses, sent by God.
Auckland, New Zealand
An Avatar is someone sent "from above" in answer to humanity's cry for help. They bring succour and a teaching which, when correctly applied, brings humanity further along the path of spiritual evolution. This is the essence of the Moses story as found in the holy Bible's Book of Exodus.
The genesis of the current film was a discussion between the studio's founders on what makes for a great animated movie. According to Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of the most important ingredients was "a powerful allegory that we can relate to in our time." Steven Spielberg replied: "You mean like the Ten Commandments?" "Exactly," said Katzenberg, and The Prince of Egypt was born. What its creators may not realize, however, is how deep an allegory the story of Exodus actually is, and how much it relates to certain events unfolding in our time.
The word 'Exodus' is itself symbolic, and indicates the central theme of the story. The Hebrews who live in the land of Egypt are in bondage, forced into cruel slavery by the Pharaoh who rules over them. Egypt is the symbol of all that limits us: our wrong beliefs, our wrong actions, our oppression of, or by, our fellow human beings. God hears the people groaning under the Egyptian slave-drivers and sends Moses to lead them out of this state of limitation, and into the Promised Land.
The birth of freedom
Dreamworks' movie-makers weren't the first to discover a modern message in the Moses story. Cecil B. De Mille saw his famous film epic The Ten Commandments as being "the story of the birth of freedom". Students of the Ageless Wisdom Teachings will note that this theme is the very story of life itself: the eternal struggle of the spirit aspect, or soul, to free itself from the "prison house" of matter. De Mille sees it more simply, as the struggle to determine "whether men are to be ruled by God's laws or ruled by the whims of a dictator like (the Pharaoh) Rameses".
The two struggles are related, however, for physical freedom is a precursor to spiritual freedom. If human beings are to have the opportunity to evolve spiritually, they need the wherewithal to live a healthy and productive life. They need time and freedom to express themselves. They need a peaceful environment in which the inner life of the soul can flourish. They need to be able to live in harmony with others. Above all, human beings need to live a life free from the grip of fear. None of this is possible unless men are free, politically, economically, religiously and socially.
There is a poetic scene in De Mille's Ten Commandments that is like a dividing line, separating Moses' life into two parts. It takes place at the border of Egypt, when he is about to be sent into exile. Soldiers lead him in chains, his arms bound to a pole that he carries on his shoulders. There is more than an echo of the Christ in his appearance.
"The slave who would be king" mocks the Pharaoh's son. "You will have need of a sceptre: give him his binding pole," he orders. So the soldiers unchain the wooden pole from his shoulders and hand it back to him to use as a staff. It is the very staff that in the second part of the film becomes his badge of office as the Lawgiver of Israel.
The pole is thus a symbol of the eternal battle between slavery and freedom, between bondage in the Egypt of human sorrows, and the liberation of Divine Justice. In its horizontal form, chained to Moses' shoulders, the pole is the yoke of bondage, where man, impelled by desire, seeks to do his own will. This brings about conflict; the weak end up serving the strong and humanity lives in the shadow of injustice. In its vertical form, held freely in Moses' right hand, the pole becomes a staff. Now it symbolizes the rule of law, bringing justice and equality to human affairs.
Moses is himself a symbol. When Moses was a baby, he was found floating in a basket in the River Nile. His name literally means "taken from the water", and in the Ageless Wisdom Teachings water represents our emotional desires. It is the attempt to fulfil all that we desire that leads us to harm and exploit others. By circumscribing that fulfilment we avoid such harm, and the soul is able to free itself from the "tyranny of matter".
The infant Moses thus represents the human soul at the start of its journey to lift its consciousness beyond the control of desire. This journey reaches a climax when Moses parts the Red Sea and the Hebrews escape from their Egyptian overlords. The path to freedom thus appears when the "waters of desire" are held back, and the pilgrim can reach the desert that lies beyond. The desert wilderness, dry and empty, is the purified state of consciousness that we must attain before we can arrive at the state of bliss signified by the Promised Land.
Liberation requires not only that we cast off the shackles of oppression, but also that we create a system of justice to take its place. It is Moses' work in this department that earned him the epithet of "Lawgiver".
The Law of Moses was more than just a set of rules and dictates. Underlying it was the idea that justice reflects the natural order of the universe. In the words of spiritual scholar Edmond Szekeley: "Moses discovered the Law. Not a law created and promulgated by a monarch or legislative body, but a Law that was the totality of all laws - the Law itself.... He saw that this Law was the sum total of the laws governing all manifestations of life and the universe." Moses' aim was to bring the life of men into harmony with this Law.
In the Bible story, God sends Moses to demand that Pharaoh free the Hebrew slaves, and to warn of the dire consequences should he fail to do so. Pharaoh refuses, and divine retribution comes in the form of 10 plagues that desolate Egypt. This episode is really a parable that illustrates the working out of the Law.
According to Szekeley: "Moses had no power behind him but the invisible power of the Law, and his own ability to understand the law of cause and effect to foresee phenomena.... Moses pointed out to the Pharaoh all the consequences of deviations from the Law. He showed how all the misery, the epidemics, the plagues and series of troubles which followed the Pharaoh's system of ruling were the results of deviations from the Law. But the Pharaoh and the ruling classes of Egypt were blind to the iron logic of Moses and his predictions."
A modern Exodus?
We are living out this same great story in our own time. In the 20th century, the eternal struggle for freedom has reached its climax. Truly "the world groans for justice", and into this tense world situation another great Teacher of the Law has come.
We know Him as the Christ, Maitreya, and in one of His messages given through Benjamin Creme He has declared: "I am the Lawgiver. I hear all pleas. I come to save."
Maitreya will illuminate for us the workings of the Law that governs all life. In particular: "He will show how action begets reaction and thus how men create, themselves, the circumstances of their lives. In this way will men come to understand the need for harmlessness in every situation and relationship."
Maitreya has already given a series of forecasts, which demonstrate the workings of this Law. Published in Share International between 1989 and 1991, these forecasts show how the destructiveness in human consciousness is behind many of the natural disasters and disturbances to the weather patterns that we are experiencing. They also show the degree to which people influence political and economic events: "If you are constructive and creative, it will be for the good. If you are destructive or divisive, as is often the case, separative, then you reap this karmic reaction."
Like the Lawgiver of old, Maitreya uses His understanding of cause and effect to outline trends and tendencies that are inevitable unless humanity changes direction. The most critical of these trends is that our very existence on this planet is now in peril. The political and economic tensions that divide humanity are at a point where, if not resolved, they would lead to a third and final world war. In addition, the damage we are causing to the ecosystem, already a major threat to our health, will soon become irreversible.
At present we are behaving like Pharaoh, blindly ignoring the effects of our actions, and creating disaster upon disaster. Fortunately for us, Maitreya is in no doubt that He can inspire us to change direction. He will point out the escape route from our troubles, and lead us into the "wilderness experience" of a simpler and saner existence.
When the people of the developed world adopt a simpler lifestyle, their demand for the world's resources will decrease dramatically, enabling others to receive what is rightfully theirs. Thus will justice finally rule the lives of men and humanity will arrive at the "New Country" of freedom and love.
References: Emmet Fox, The Ten Commandments: The Master Key to Life, Harper Collins, 1993. Edmond Szekeley, The Essene Book of Creation, International Biogenic Society, 1989.