Mystical Symbols

Meaning of the Star of David

Shown here is an ancient mystical symbol consisting of two interlocked triangles that is revered both by the Jewish peoples as well as the Hindus. Known as the Star of David in the West, and as the Shatkona in India, it figures prominently on the Israeli flag, and also in front of innumerable homes in India. Christians however seem to have largely ignored this symbol (the cross is good enough), except perhaps the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which uses it in their iconography. Here we will discuss what this symbol really means, as it represents a powerful unifying theme across Judaism, Hinduism and Christianity.

An incarnated personality has three main aspects to its being. These are the physical, emotional and mental aspects which can be distinguished from one another relatively easily. Since each of these aspects interacts with the others, they are best represented together as a triangle. This triangle of Being spans all of Creation and extends all the way up to the Godhead. When representing an incarnated *personality*, these triune aspects can be depicted as a downward pointing triangle, one that is focused down toward the earth plane, materialism, physical incarnation and so on. There is likewise an upward pointing triangle, which is of the soul or higher self. The higher self too has its triangle of being, known as the will aspect (corresponding to the physical), the higher intelligence, and the love-emotional. These aspects are found at even further levels such as the overself and beyond, all the way to the Godhead. At that highest level, these aspects acquire different names in Christian theology. The aspect of Godhead associated with will and physical manifestation is known as the Creator, the Father of all creation. The emotional aspect which exists as the very highest form of Love, is known as the Christ. The mental aspect is known as the Holy Spirit (‘He who teaches all things’). This triangle of being forms the trinity in Christianity.

One of the tasks of physical incarnation is to bring the lower in alignment with the higher. This alignment can be represented by first drawing the downward pointing triangle (lower self), and then superimposing the upward triangle (Higher self, Godhead) on it. The resulting figure is of course the Shatkona or the Star of David. In Judaic tradition it represents Man in Communion with God. In eastern parlance, it represents enlightenment, the integration (yoga) of the lower with the higher. Therefore this symbol is particularly used in the Shivite tradition with focus on union where the symbol is equated with the union of Shiva and Shakti. In Kundalini yoga, the Anahata (heart chakra) carries this figure of union, for that is where God resides in the temple of the human body. The Shatkona figure in its totality represents the Jeevan-Mukta – one who is fully active in the world but also one with the Divine and free.

In Christianity, the upper triangle represents the Godhead as mentioned above. Since the Love aspect (Christ) of the triangle manifested on the earth through the person of Jesus during the time of His ministry, the incarnated Christ is also called the ‘begotten’ son of the Father, which means a pure and direct projection from the highest level that man can meaningfully interact with. Since such a direct incarnation has no precedent in this epoch of history, His disciple John referred to Jesus-Christ as the only begotten Son of the Father. And since the ultimate plan for the human race is to return to the Godhead along the Love aspect (see earlier posting on perfection), in Christian lingo it can be said that humanity reaches the Father through the Christ – though it requires experiences over the vast millennia. This statement on the plan for the race is usually expressed in the double negative: that none comes to the Father except through the Christ – which can be interpreted differently.

The lower triangle by itself is also very interesting. This downward pointing triangle, by itself that is, has been used to depict extreme materialism, the dark arts, or the ‘vama marga’ as it is known in India. Animal symbolism, pointing to lower or animal nature, is often found here, with the goat (a triangular face) being the most common. The goat face is used as a personification of the Devil, such as in the Tarot. It is also used in Christian scriptures where the separation of the sheep from the goats is discussed. In India, the face of the water buffalo is often used (Chathan Seva for example has the buffalo as the carrier animal. Same for Yama the god of death). Perhaps the most interesting symbolism of the lower triangle is that of the Christ on the cross. The actual cross used in crucifixion was a Tau shaped one, quite common at that time, which Bill O’Reilly got right in the cover of his recent book ‘Killing Jesus’. If one draws the figure of the hanging Christ on it, it results in much the same symbolic shape as the lower triangle, the goat, or the water buffalo. The moment of crucifixion, from the purely earthly point of view, was seen as the height of the triumph of materialism or the Devil, so to speak. The downward pointing triangle cannot in any way be used as a symbol for edification of the spirit, which instead the current cross symbol does admirably well. Interestingly, Tesla Motors has adapted the goat / buffalo triangle symbolism into their logo. Their sales have, for whatever reason, gone through the roof.

Christianity does use the upper triangle by itself in its iconography. The most common one is the Christmas tree, which is sharply triangular (nothing else will do), which is decorated and under which are placed gifts of love. There is perhaps no better symbol of the Christmas spirit, than the upward pointing triangle of the decorated Christmas tree. Other instances of this triangle shape can be found in church steeples (very tall and prominent like domes are in Islamic architecture), and even in the mudra of prayer, where one’s palms are held together in supplication, pointing up.

The Star of David in the Judaic tradition can be fully understood only with the advent or introduction of the Christ (Messiah). Therefore to the Jews it is also a Messianic symbol, and in some movements was considered the symbol of the Messiah. It may also be of interest that the Nazis used another ancient Indian symbol on their flag, the swastika which represents the movement of life, but they used it in its negative orientation (which makes it akin to the downward pointing lower triangle). This negative movement of life then went forth and persecuted those of the Star of David (the Jewish people). Indeed, there is much more to the figure of the Shatkona which will occur to the reader on further meditation. Consider, for example, why the triangles are depicted as equilateral, or the specific way they interlock, or the number of spatial divisions they create.

One may also reflect on the fact that nations and movements that have placed such powerful ancient symbols on their flags have often ended up prostituting those symbols. The present Jewish state is no exception, nor is India where the Ashoka chakra represents a very high state of spirituality and order. Korea is another example where the Ying-Yang symbol has manifested in its negative form of conflict, tearing up what used to be one nation into two opposing factions, the north and the south - in much the same orientation as that of this ancient symbol on the flag. It may also be of interest that the top half of the symbol (in the South Korean flag) is colored red.

Human culture, institutions, nature, and indeed the universe at large are strewn with symbols, which can be read by those who have the eyes to see. These symbols are primarily meant to address subconscious levels, bringing up an intuitive awareness and recognition of what they stand for. The triangle is just one of the most common, but very important, of symbols that we find all around us.

The Principle of Refection