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Aton, the Original Solar Monotheism

Aton, the Original Solar Monotheism

The pharaoh Akhenaton and his queen, Nefertiti, adoring the golden solar bowl, Aton. Like the Buddhist deity of Compassion, Avalokitesvara of the Thousand Arms, Aton is portrayed always ready to lend a helping hand.

Akhenaton was a great religious revolutionary in Egypt, completely transforming the religion into the first monotheism in history, with Aton as the One God of all creation. On a physical level it is easy to recognise that, for us on earth, the Sun has been the original and on-going creator of our world. All life depends on the Sun and every living cell probably pulses with an awareness of where this overwhelming fierce majesty might be.

If we add to this a recognition that the spirit of the Sun fires every heart and is the centre of all spiritual life, as astrology and the Tradition of the Tree reveal, there is, effectively, only One God for us all. However keen we may be to recognise and honour His divine family members, the offspring planets. Akhenaton got it about right and about three thousand years later his essential theology still stands as a clarity we could use. After his overthrow by the priests all his good work was quickly undone.

Akhenaton played a messianic role in bringing in a new, more dynamic understanding into the business of religion. His reforms were reversed in Egypt which was already on the verge of impotence and irrelevance after several millennia of more or less imperial glory. But it is possible his inspiration was adopted in more promising cultures.

Exporting monotheism to India and Israel ?
In India a revolutionary development saw the philosophical Vedantic inspiration succeed the more ritual-based faith of the ancient Vedas, proclaiming the monotheistic revelation of Brahma(16), the One Creator, whose spirit, Brahman, is at the heart of all creation, from the rocks to the peacocks, and as the atman, dwells immortal and much travelled in every human breast. This was the brilliant foundation for the Hindu faith we know today. It is probably impossible to date this inspiration precisely but about 800 BC may be near enough. Perhaps it was earlier and Akhenaton learnt from India, via the Magi, during his youth at the Persian court.

In neighbouring Palestine, monotheism may also date from Akhenaton’s time with Elijah breathing a fiery annihilation against the priests of Baal and the cacophony of gods which were neighbourly embraced by the Israelites up to this time, about 840 BC .

Conventional history places five centuries between Akhenaton and Elijah. With this dating historians have been unable to correlate the great events in Egyptian history with the very clear accounts of her neighbour, Israel, often an Egyptian vassal state. Immanuel Velikovsky, an eminent scholar of Jewish history and a friend of Albert Einstein, has closed that chasm and found two sides of a jigsaw which fit very well together. Not just a significant relationship between the realisation of only One God by these next-door neighbours.

This has meant questioning the rather fragile foundation used to date Egyptian history and includes other rather challenging, absolutely extraordinary revelations. Accepting this major revision would strike at the foundations of a century of venerable Egyptologists’ work. Velikovsky’s revised dating of Egyptian history has been widely dismissed.

A generation and more of Scrolls scholars have studiously avoided the conclusion that Jesus Christ was probably not historical and we need the Essenes to explain the origins of Christianity. A generation or more of Egyptologists are equally capable of avoiding the conclusion that, if we cannot fit Egyptian history with the impressive biblical history of events in Palestine, something must be horribly wrong. We are only human after all, and while we love to point out others’ failings down the ages, we very often fall into the same mistakes.

This is not the place to sample the impressive evidence Velikovsky assembles. (Apparently endorsed by ‘unofficial’ radiocarbon dating, there seems to be a great reluctance among the archaeological authorities to either accept or pursue this test.) We have observed that religious wisdom does tend to cross great distances (see page 12 and Note on Maitreya) and it is striking that both India and Israel adopt the knowledge of monotheism about the same time. It would fit the spirit of these things if Akhenaton’s monotheistic, One God, revolution in Egypt synchronised with this and actually provided the initial inspiration.

Akhenaton : an Egyptian Messiah ?
Akhenaton fits very well into the mythic picture as a classic Messiah. Akhenaton grew up at the distant court of Persia as a result of a dire prophecy at birth. It was a banishment he was not expected to survive. (We find the same motif of the attempted murder of the prophesied wonder-child in the stories of Christ and Krishna.) Finally he was overthrown by his nearest and dearest, his brother-in-law and Chief Minister, also the high priest of Egypt. It is a remarkable, extremely colourful story. Tutankhamen was his young son. In the style we find familiar for rejected Messiahs in the Essene and early Christian history, the roof fell in on Egypt very soon afterwards. It was the End of their World. As it was for Jerusalem after 170 BC and again in 70 AD .

More than this, there is an extraordinary parallel with Christ’s divine story. Not content with marrying perhaps the most beautiful woman ancient art has immortalised for us, Akhenaton caused an almighty stir by divorcing her and marrying his mother (see the Bride of Christ) Velikovsky’s ‘Oedipus and Akhenaton’ makes a very full case that Akhenaton was the historic model for the Greek myth of Oedipus and it is remarkable how much of this history seems to fit the classic tragedy.

The illustrated sculpture is a mural from Akhenaton’s prolific garden of art. Akhenaton introduced a new style of art, emphasising the beauties of nature instead of the highly stylised, monumental art which had gone before. It is believed this unique pharaoh was a poet and some of his supposed compositions have survived, again presenting a revolutionary focus on the wonders of nature which is still modern and meaningful. Highlighting himself as the sole interpreter of the knowledge of Aton sounds egotistical but may well have expressed the loneliness of his situation and echoes the hymns of Onias, the Essene Teacher of Righteousness, below :

‘These things I know by the wisdom which comes from thee,  
for thou hast unstopped my ears to marvellous mysteries.’

These are Akhenaton’s verses, extolling the One God, Aton, the supreme Sun, and the beauty of His Creation :

‘Thy rays, they encompass the lands…. 
Thou bindest men by thy love,
Though thou art afar, thy rays are on earth… 
When thou sendest forth thy rays…  
All trees and plants flourish, 
The birds flutter 
Their wings uplifted in adoration of thee…  
Thou art he who createst the man-child in woman, 
Who makest seed in man,                          
O thou sole god, whose powers no other possesseth…

Thou makest the beauty of form, through thyself alone…  
Thou art in my heart, 
There is no other that knoweth thee, 
Save thy son Akhenaton.  
Thou hast made him wise in thy designs 
And in thy might … 
For thou art duration…  
By thee man liveth,  
And their eyes look upon thy beauty…   
Since thou didst establish the earth,   
Thou hast raised them up (they live) for thy son 
Who came forth from thy limbs,  
The King living in truth…’

‘The chick in the egg that peepeth in the shell, 
Thou giveth breath to him within it to maintain him;  
Thou hast prepared for him his time to break his way from the egg,  
And he cometh forth from the egg to peep at his time, 
And so he walketh upon his feet…’

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