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ATLANTIS - THE UNFINISHED STORY

Dr. Yitzhaq Hayut-Man 06.01.2015 16:18
ATLANTIS - THE  UNFINISHED STORY - Book of Genesis - Utopian writings


Who invented the Atlantis myth and what for - and what use can it have now? (Updated article from a 1999 issue of an Israeli magazine)



Re-beginning from the Beginning
Atlantis - the Unfinished Story*

“Give me a fulcrum and I shall turn the world”. This was the plea of Archimedes, a Greek scientist of the 3rd century BC from Sicily. We do not know whether he was aware of the endeavor of another eminent Greek, Plato, who died about fifty years before Archimedes' birth, to change the world with Sicily's help. Plato proposed to the Sicilian ruler to found the Ideal City, but did not succeed in realizing it.

To attempt “to turn the world”, even culturally, it seems necessary to have a point of support from outside the world. For many “New Age” people, this external support point is the fictitious continent Atlantis, the fruit of Plato’s imagination.

Here is how the great writer Jorge Luis Borges sees the myth of Atlantis and its influence over his contemporaries: In his short story, “Tlön, Uckbar Tertius Orbis”, the creation of an imagined planet is planned at the beginning of the 17th century in Lucerne or London (what perhaps hints at the endeavor of the British philosopher, to whom we shall return, Francis Bacon), at the hands of a large group of scientists and philosophers of all disciplines, a "benevolent secret society".{They attempt to create an imagined perfect world that will  manifest according to the philosophy of idealism, thoughts becoming matter.} The man who contributes most to the creation of Tlön was the 19th century American recluse millionaire Ezra Buckley, who dedicates all his fortune on condition that “the operation will not in any way be identified with Jesus the false prophet”, perhaps an allusion to the American senator Donnelly whom we shall discuss below . Tlön is a work of art. Its ideology is so realistic that it materializes, and objects from Tlön begin to manifest in our world.

"Reality" - sums up Borges - "immediately caved in to imagination at more than one point."

The truth is, it wanted to cave in. Ten years ago, any symmetry, any system with an appearance of order — dialectical materialism, anti- Semitism, Nazism — could spellbind and hypnotize mankind. How could the world not fall under the sway of Tlön, how could it not yield to the vast and minutely detailed evidence of an ordered planet?

Contact with Tlön, the habit of Tlön, has disintegrated this world. Spellbound by Tlön's rigor, humanity has forgotten, and continues to forget, that it is the rigor of chess masters, not of angels. Already Tlön's conjectural "primitive language" has filtered into our schools; already the teaching of Tlön's harmonious history, filled with moving episodes, has obliterated the history that governed my own childhood; already a fictitious past has supplanted in men's memories that other past, of which we now know nothing certain ...

Indeed, the whole cultural phenomenon known as “The New Age” is, to a large extent, the product of the continuing construction of Atlantis. In this article, I shall present the major master-builders of Atlantis and will try to assess the benefits this project might bring and how it might be improved.

The “inventor” of Atlantis was, as mentioned earlier, Plato. In his book “Timeus”, a story is told of the Athenian lawmaker Solon, who visits ancient Egypt. There, the Egyptian priests, who hold historical records of over 10,000 years, tell him of a continent called Atlantis. This continent existed “West of the Pillars of Hercules” (the Straits of Gibraltar) and sank under the waves about 9,000 years before the time of Solon. In his book “Critias”, Plato recounts the customs and manners of Atlantis, and goes into great architectural detail describing its regional and urban design. At the climax of Plato’s tale, when the council of the Gods convenes to judge the fate of Atlantis, which has turned corrupt, Zeus rises to pronounce the punishment, and the book ends abruptly.

It should be noted that the Athenians regarded the story of Atlantis as a fable. The philosopher Aristotle wrote that the inventor of Atlantis (namely Plato) was forced to drown it, so that he could not be called upon to bring tangible proof of its existence. But the name “Atlantis” took root, and it is even cited (see the Hebrew Encyclopedia) as the origin of the name “Atlantic Ocean”.

 

Many generations passed until another great scholar found use for Atlantis – albeit not the Platonic one – and for renewing the myth. In Elizabethan England of the 17th century, the time of Shakespeare, Doctor Dee and the English Renaissance, there arose an eminent philosopher and statesman named Francis Bacon who sought to construct a new basis for Western Civilization – that of modern experimental science. He published a colossal plan – the “Novum Organum” – for the reformation of education and for the outlining of scientific method. On his deathbed, Bacon wrote a utopian novel called “The New Atlantis”. In it, he tells the tale of survivors of a wayward ship that are pulled to an unknown continent, somewhere between Peru and the Far East. While the book is called “The New Atlantis” – apparently referring to Plato’s work – this Island is actually called “Benshalem” – a reference to Jerusalem. The sages of Benshalem know the stories of “The Great Atlantis” – the one that Plato told of – which is the contemporary America, and they compare its sinking with the sinking of the Old World in the days of Noah. Benshalem is an ideal commonwealth, which has intentionally cut itself off from the rest of the world in order to retain its purity. Its leaders know all the wisdom of the Orient and its temple is the Academy of Sciences, a research institute called “The House of Solomon”, in honor of the wisest of all men. The story is cut abruptly, when one of the nobles of the island tells the author about their scientific discoveries, and like with Plato’s tale we are left only half satisfied.

Did the two creators choose to end their work a moment before the climax and leave the readers to guess the rest? Or was this their punishment for trying to reveal the land the seas sought to cover? Or perhaps it was Atlantis herself who chose to cloud herself in mystery forever?

Whichever way, it seems that Bacon brought Atlantis back to cultural recognition, and introduced Atlantis to its third founder, the man who made it into one of the great creations of the 19th century.

 

Ignatius Donnelly, a Minnesota congressman, was an eccentric polymath. He was very attached to the figure of Francis Bacon and dedicated much of his life to a massive work that strove to prove – by revealing hidden codes in the original editions of Shakespeare’s plays – that Francis Bacon was the true author of the Shakespearean opus. Like the people who find hidden codes within the Bible, Donnelly was finding – much before the days of computers – such hidden messages as “I, F. Bacon, am the real author of the works attributed to Shakespeare”. This work – contained in two volumes of over 1,200 pages – did not convince many. But his naive attempt to renew Atlantis met with a phenomenal success. In 1882 Donnelly published his book “Atlantis – Our Antediluvian World” as an attempt to create an American national mythos, independent of the European heritage. According to Donnelly, Atlantis was the source of all the cultures of our world. It was the original site of Paradise, the garden of the Hesperides, the fields of Eleusis, Mount Olympus and much more. This was the ultimate place where human life once prospered in peace and felicity. The settlers from Atlantis founded the civilizations of Egypt and America, and are the forebears of the Aryan and Semitic races, who brought the Bronze Age to Europe. After the flood destroyed Atlantis, her refugees dispersed to all the corners of the world; this event being the origin of the natural disaster stories in many cultures, like the Biblical Flood.

Ignatius Donnelly opened the floodgates that inundated the imagination, and since then almost every esotericist, “channeler” or occultist in the US cannot afford not to bring up some new evidence of Atlantis. The Theosophist Society, for example, founded by Blavatsky and Olcott, was a movement that sought an alternative to Western culture. The lost continent of Atlantis as well as the lost continent of Lemuria on the other side of the globe, provided them a stage for a fictitious pre-history of many tens of thousands of years of humankind.

Atlantis received a big push through “the Sleeping Prophet”, Edgar Cayce, who lived in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. Cayce was enamored of Atlantis and regarded it as the original Garden of Eden, where some two hundred thousand years ago, humans became transformed from spiritual entities to physical creatures. According to Cayce, three periods of destruction came upon Atlantis, always as punishment for the transgressions of its people. The refugees from Atlantis settled in Europe and the Americas, and built the pyramids in Egypt and Yucatan.

However, Cayce’s vision foretold that this was not the end of Atlantis. It was still due to re-emerge at the Bermuda Triangle at the end of the 1960’s. And indeed, in September 1968 a local fisherman showed an archeologist from the Science Museum in Miami a course of squared stones, about twenty feet below the sea level, near the Island of Bimini in the Bermuda Triangle. The discovery caused much excitement, but to the disappointment of Apocalypse theorists, nothing more has turned up since then. Also, Cayce’s other prophecies have not yet been realized. In 1998, which is already past, there was no destruction of most of the world. The year 1999, in which he foresaw the Third World War, has passed and so has the Year 2000 – the end of civilization according to Cayce. Cayce himself was due – according to his prophecies – to return to us in 1999, in a different incarnation.

Until now, about two thousand books have been written about Atlantis. Most of the “New Age Esoteric Schools” dedicate chapters of their curricula to Atlantis, and about every “Enlightened Master” has his/her store of juicy Atlantis tales, in the style of the spirit that moves him/her. (I recall, for example, a certain ”channeler” who had some prominence in Israel during the 1980’s, describing the sexual perversions of the people of Atlantis, who purportedly employed advanced genetic engineering to produce slave-animals for their sexual plays. I myself have undergone a “reincarnation seminar” with a person who believed that he had been the high priest of Atlantis, where I was found to have had a major role in destroying Atlantis). The skeptics may point to the total lack of archeological evidence for the existence of this lost continent, but the believers in Atlantis are many, and some of them even fanatically so.

It is evident that in the myth of a drowned civilization there is an analogy to the soul. The old structure – namely the former personality – crumbles and is inundated by the rising of the waters – namely the arousal of mighty emotions that cannot be controlled. Anyone who meditates on or visualizes Atlantis is likely to raise some interesting stuff from his/her subconscious.

The Bible contains similar motifs. We may recall the Garden of Eden – which is surrounded by water on all sides (four mighty rivers), and the story of the new world that is founded by the refugees of the Flood, who survived in Noah’s Ark. The pertinent question is, therefore, what is the main moral that is related to the destruction and, perhaps, the rebuilding of Atlantis? To this end, I submit, it would be worth understanding the main motive of the original authors in creating the myth of Atlantis.

 

Plato is – as noted – the original inventor. From the study of his work it appears that his main goal was to bring about the foundation of an ideal society, as described in his books “The Republic” and “The Laws”. As hinted in his introduction, he even conducted negotiations for founding a real ideal city – which he called Magnesia – in an unpopulated region of Crete. He presented the idea to the Sicilian ruler Dionysus, who did not retain Plato as court philosopher/advisor but appointed him as teacher for his son. This son eventually sold his teacher into slavery.

The description of the ideal city of Magnesia largely parallels the description of Atlantis, which Plato brings in his book, “Critias”. But this plan of Atlantis seems to be a kind of parody, portrayed as an example of defective Utopian planning. Her keys are handed to unworthy people who have not merited the secrets of the higher knowledge, geometrical and musical, that Plato preached.

Though most of Atlantis's description is given in “Critias”, the story of its assumed destruction comes in an earlier text – “Timeus” – which deals principally with the World Soul, mathematical-geometrical patterns that were used in the creation of the world for the composition of the soul and its incarnations as well as for medical theory. This book is evidently based on older mystery teachings and has served, in turn, as the source of most occult theories ever since. Why then did Plato include there the story of the destruction of Atlantis?

John Michell, one of the foremost contemporary researchers of sacred geometry and author of the classical study of Earth Mysteries, “The View Over Atlantis” (the current version of it, “The New View Over Atlantis”, is still in print), discusses this question in his book “The Dimensions of Paradise”. According to Michell, the main difference between the master plan of the ill-fated Atlantis and of the future Magnesia is that the first was based on a ten-fold pattern, whereas Magnesia is cast in the twelve-fold pattern. The twelve-fold pattern* allows a more just and egalitarian distribution of the resources of the state, while there is an inequality inherent in the pattern of the city of Atlantis: The agrarian division of its valley must provide for its 600,000 citizens, and therein is contained the seeds of the disaster that eventually destroyed it. (In Magnesia, on the other hand, there would have been 5040 homesteads, where 5,040 = 1x2x3x4x5x6x7, namely a number that can be divided evenly by all the numbers from 1 to 10 and also by 12). Plato’s Atlantis was introduced only to teach us about the preferred order for the ideal city, the secrets of which are given in numerical and geometrical codes.

Michell examines the numerical codes of the pattern for Magnesia in great detail. He shows that this eternal celestial pattern for building the earthly city has also been used by all builders of the ancient temples: from Stonehenge in England and the Pyramids in Egypt until “The New Jerusalem” pattern implied in the Book of Revelation, which seals the Christian Bible. In fact, John Michell shows that the ideal pattern for Magnesia exactly parallels ‘The New Jerusalem Diagram’ which he has unveiled in the Book of Revelation.

Here, I bring to the fore the figure of Joseph, the son of Jacob and the viceroy of Pharaoh (whom I introduced in a former article). It is difficult to ignore the parallel between Plato and Joseph: Plato planned the ideal society – based on the twelve-fold pattern – and was sold into slavery in his attempt to realize it. Joseph was also sold into slavery, by the Ten trying to usurp the Twelve, but through this, came to found a new social and economic order, and only then, returned to reveal himself to his brothers in Egypt, thus returning to complete the ideal, twelve-fold, pattern of Israel. Plato’s Atlantis was doomed for destruction because of the ten-fold pattern it selected. Likewise, the Tribes of Israel, ultimately divided again into ten and two, and ended in exile. Perhaps, by choosing the count of Ten – the Minyan - as their religious symbol, the Tribes ignored the implied lesson of Joseph's sale?

The image of “The New Atlantis” constitutes a spiritual legacy for the English philosopher and statesman Bacon, who finally overcame Plato’s rival – Aristotle. The philosophy that dominated the middle ages was the scholastic-Aristotelian philosophy, whose great representatives were Maimonides in Judaism and the Catholic saint Thomas Aquinas in Christianity. But Bacon, in the 17th century, proposed basing knowledge upon empirical research instead of relying upon tradition. The Temple of the New Atlantis is the Temple of the Sciences, something like an interactive Science Museum, whose servants and trainees are the practitioners of the comprehensive science envisioned by the philosopher. But was Bacon a rationalist philosopher as he is generally portrayed today? The intuition of his admirer Ignatius Donnelly – that Bacon was the hidden author of the plays of Shakespeare – is not so incongruent with his true character.

So, let us turn then to Ignatius Donnelly, the man of the 19th century, a politician and founder of the American Populist Party. What he contributed to Atlantis was its popularization, a task that did not become to its aristocratic founders Plato and Bacon. Even before its foundation, the United States of America served as an arena for a host of utopian experiments. It needed only one more vote, for example, for the US Congress to have adopted Hebrew as the official language of the United States, and the one dollar bill (the one the late Lubavitcher Rebbe used to hand out) is decorated with a clear Kabbalist-Masonic code. Even the planning of the American Capital City was given to an 18th century Freemason architect, named l’Enfant, who designed it according to clear geometrical and Masonic symbols. These symbols are evident to this day in the pattern of the Avenues, the Monuments and the squares of the US Capital. It was in the story of Atlantis that the American visionaries were able to play freely and enhance the mythical frenzy overtaking them, unfettered by the Puritanical-Biblical bounds common in the USA. Ignatius Donnelly tried, perhaps unaware, to enable each citizen to become a prophet, and indeed, in the US, “channeling” is an important characteristic of the “New Age” burgeoning there today.

So, is Atlantis a mere myth, or are there any actual evidences for its existence? On one hand, the many attempts made by the fans of Atlantis to find traces of it, in the Atlantic Ocean and elsewhere, have been in vain. On the other hand, there is other evidence from the side of professionals. Heinrich Schliemann, the archaeologist who uncovered ancient Troy, wrote: “I have come to the conclusion that Atlantis was not just a great territory between America and the Western coast of Africa, but the cradle of all our civilizations”. The Greek archeologist Spiridon Marinatos, who wrote the book “The End of Atlantis”, proposed to move Atlantis from the Atlantic Ocean to the Aegean Sea, and from some 10,000 years CE to the time of the disappearance of the Minoan Culture of Crete, about 1450 BCE. According to his contention – it was the volcanic eruption of Tyra (today’s Santorini) at about 1,500 BCE that caused the surging of the waves that drowned the palaces of Knossos. (If the historical Atlantis was indeed the Minoan Culture of Crete, then the attempt of Plato to found Magnesia might have closed a circle, as the original goal of Plato was to found Magnesia precisely in an uninhabited part of Crete). Whoever is looking for purportedly scientific evidence for the existence of Atlantis (this time in Indonesia) may turn to the Internet site www.atlan.org.

John Michell brings another kind of evidence for the possibility of the existence of an “antediluvian” universal culture. It is the correspondence, which we already mentioned, between the different measuring scales used for building the most ancient temples. These exist, or their ruins exist, till this day, in separate and diverse places upon the globe – places like China, India, Ancient Egypt and the Americas – places that have no apparent connection to one another. These sacred yardsticks relate to each other in simple numerical ratios and comprise a kind of harmonics. The assumption is that it all has a common origin reflecting the relationship of heaven and earth in sacred patterns and measures.

The most interesting evidence I found for the existence of an ancient civilization different in its character from the world cultures of the last six thousand years is in the book “The Chalice and the Blade” by Riane Eisler. Eisler bases her argument on archeological excavations from Turkey and Crete, especially the findings of the archeologist Gambutas, according to which there once prevailed upon earth a different culture in which wars were not widespread and the large cities needed no walls. The main difference between that culture and our modern culture today is in the status of women.

There is no lack of theories about traditional matriarchal cultures, which were replaced about 6000 years ago by the patriarchal cultures that dominate till today. But according to Eisler, these were not cultures of dominion of women over men, but of equality and cooperation among the sexes. It was a kind of Golden Age, an egalitarian and abundant economy that utilized fairly modest technology and worshiped fertility goddesses. What brought an end to this culture was the invasion from the Asian Steppes of tribes of nomad warriors who idolized masculinity, pillaged and destroyed, and instituted the cults of the male-God.

Riane Eisler does not designate this culture as “Atlantis”. Her book aims to convince scientists. What is important for her is to show that the accepted state of affairs, where women are discriminated against and the culture is one of dominance and cruel competition, is not a necessary and inevitable state of affairs. A more egalitarian and cooperative arrangement is feasible. Eisler claims that the “history” that is accepted today is a chronicle of the many attempts to overthrow the male dominated state of affairs and to renew the ancient culture which is recalled in the collective memory as the lost paradise.

The connection of her findings with Atlantis is only associative, but she shows that Minoan Crete was the last vestige of the worldwide egalitarian (“gylanic”) culture. So if the assertion of Marinatos is right and Atlantis was actually Crete, and since the digs at Knossos verify the existence of a rich and great culture which did not hide beyond walls, then we may also assume that Eisler’s book deals with Atlantis.

Eisler’s book has a clear mission – to help the restoration of an equal, gylanic, culture. Is this the meaning of the restoration of Atlantis? Does all culture developed over the last 6000 years have to disappear in order to return to the “good old days” before the flood or the expulsion from the Garden of Eden? In other words: is the alternative culture, which is implied in the myth of Atlantis really so different from what is offered in the Bible based Judeo-Christian myth?

We have already asserted that the stories of the Garden of Eden and of the flood are analogous to the story of Atlantis. Those 6000 years of “the existence of this world" - on which the religious fundamentalists insist – do not exhaust Biblical perspective. Some legitimate and accepted interpretations of the Hebrew Scriptures assume that the “Lord created worlds and destroyed them”, and there are Kabbalah theories of world-cycles in the pattern of the Sabbatical years. There are even 13th century Kabbalah calculations that put the age of the universe as 15 billion years, just as the most updated contemporary cosmologists do. According to the Hebrew Calendar, the marking of the year 2000 CE as 5,760 is not the year counted since the creation of the world, but the counting since the expulsion from paradise. The goal of the scriptures is most definitely the restoration of paradise – but on a different, more conscious level. The story of the Six Days of Creation is an allegory of the six thousand years of development of our present culture. According to this scheme we are now at the end of the sixth millennium, the time of the formation of “Adam” – namely the unified and integrated humankind. Now is the time to return to the Garden of Eden, to seek the Tree of Knowledge and The Tree of Life and to choose Life*.

It is possible that an egalitarian universal civilization devoid of modern technology did exist in the remote past. The expulsion from paradise and adopting a masculine orientation might have been necessary in order to develop the technical-scientific culture that Bacon aspired to. Now that we are so entangled in the Tree of Knowledge (of Science) it is high time to return to the Tree of Life and establish anew a collaborative and egalitarian culture that will know how to make responsible use of advanced technology. This means co-operation between the genders and between Adam- humankind and Adamah - the Living Earth.

I shall now allow myself an excursion to the present founders of a “New Atlantis”, consciously and unconsciously, and introduce another member, a great admirer of Plato, David Ben Gurion, founder and first Prime Minister of the State of Israel. In the 1930’s Ben Gurion advocated a canton confederation for all our land, Arab and Jewish alike, and was the only leader of Israel who had no hesitation to speak about establishing a state that would be “A Light to the Nations”. It was Ben Gurion who insisted on calling “The Jewish State” by the name of “Israel”- an Israel based on the Biblical stories that implied the pattern of the twelve, not only the State of “Judah”, based on rabbinical Judaism. In these days of confusion over the future form of Israel, it is important to be reminded that the founder of Israel left us an option for its reestablishment as “The New Atlantis”.

 

*This article was published in Hayim Aherim (Alternative Living), the Israeli monthly magazine for natural health, mysticism and alternative thinking, (issue 33, 1999).


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