27. Resurrected Gods

THE POINT!

Every culture that is examined, whether ancient or modern, has the concept of a dying and resurrected god. The manifestation takes many forms and is as primal as the unconscious recognition of the deep spiritual meaning grafted onto the vernal equinox, the present religious veneer just as superficial and with as little "true" depth as a drying stream.

 

The dying and resurrected god images under discussion (there are many others) are: the Osiris, Isis, Horus Egyptian resurrectional trinity and the Sumerian/Babylonian Tammuz

 

 

Osiris:

 

Osiris was the Egyptian savior god and the chief deity of death, and the only god to rival the solar cult of Ra. His death came about when he was drowned, later dismembered, and the more than fourteen pieces of his desecrated body were scattered across the land and water by the brother of both Isis and her husband Osiris-Seth, (World Mythology 40-41) "god of evil, darkness, drought, perversity" (Knapp). After the death of Osiris, Isis searched for and found his body. Then, with Nut's (Osiris' mother) assistance, she resurrected the corpse except for the genitals which fish had eaten (World Mythology 41). This miraculous revival demonstrates that Osiris was one of the earliest archetypes of the dying and resurrected god. His cult spread widely during the time of the Roman Empire and was a large and important body of worship in many Roman provinces. Jung recognized this Egyptian prototype for he wrote, "...the Christian era itself owes its name and significance to the antique mystery of the god-man, which has its roots in the archetypal Osiris-Horus myth"...(Man and His Symbols 79).

 

Plutarch's chronicle of the birth, life, and death of Osiris is well known. Osiris was the god who had been metaphorically crucified, died, journeyed to the underworld, and then triumphantly rose again. Through the terrible ordeal of suffering that Osiris experienced, the ancient Egyptian believer held faith that his own mortal frame might at some point in the future after his death, live again in a phantasmagoric transformation or in some exalted shape. The believer offered prayers to his resurrected god, Osiris, who had conquered death and become lord of the otherworld, that eternal life would be granted, the archetypal idea of rebirth from death clearly demonstrated

 

Tammuz

Tammuz was an ancient Babylonian archetype of the dying and reborn god.Tammuz was recognized as the river god of the Tigris and Euphrates, and he was also the son and brother of Ishtar, for the two came together when the world began where she gave birth to Tammuz, had sexual intercourse with him and yet remained a virgin. After his death in the summer all vegetation also perished and Ishtar searched for him around the globe. When she finally descended into the underworld and found her consort, she resurrected the god in the spring and the world came back to life with his rise from the grave.

 

There are stories in Buddhism where the power of resurrection was demonstrated on at least two famous occasions in Chan or Zen Buddhist tradition.

 

One is the famous resurrection story of Bodhidharma, the Indian master who brought the Ekayana school of India to China that subsequently became Chan Buddhism.

 

The other is the passing of Chinese Chan master Puhua (J., Fuke) and is recounted in the Record of Linji (J., Rinzai). Puhua was known for his unusual or crazy-like behavior and teaching style so it is no wonder that he is associated with an event that breaks the usual prohibition on displaying such powers. Here is the account from Irmgard Schloegl's "The Zen Teaching of Rinzai".

Fuke went alone outside the city walls, and laid himself into the coffin. He asked a traveler who chanced by to nail down the lid. The news spread at once, and the people of the market rushed there. On opening the coffin, they found that the body had vanished, but from high up in the sky they heard the ring of his hand bell.F