The Common Origin of Religions and Theology

The Common Foundations of Religions and Theology

By Ethan Indigo Smith

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

The Brotherhood of Man

We are all siblings; a brotherhood of humanity. This is verified biologically of course, but perhaps more importantly for our understanding of one other, the brotherhood of man is verifiable in our belief systems, in our spiritual ideas that are upriver from the rest of our thinking, and our creation stories from which stems our very concept of existence.

Many of the foundational stories and principles of religions can be boiled down to their mutual essence, which inarguably reveal their common origins. And although many people frequently get caught up with the difference of the feather rather than the similarity of the bird, so to speak, the common origins of religions and their central tenets is proof that – despite varying ‘faiths’ – we are more alike than we are different.

The Matrix of Four

In today’s world, we have learned to use polarized, dualistic thinking — the opposition of two competing ideas, left and right, black and white. The very inquiry into the origins of human nature is typically posed through such a limited mindset: “Is it nature or nurture?” But what if the truth was somewhere in the middle? Or somewhere else entirely? In reality, to consider any information or situation comprehensively – including our belief systems and our origins – questions must be posed in four ways, not just two. “Is it one or the other, or neither or both?”

Applying this Matrix of Four — the duality of polarity — to our thinking elevates individual consciousness to find alternatives, grey areas and potentials. And in the case of intimate theosophical understandings of our nature, it enables us to find commonality instead of divisiveness, bringing us ever closer to our collective truth.

Four is recognized as symbol for completion. This symbolism is illustrated in the four seasons, derived from the two solstices and two equinoxes of our orbit, and is represented in the four forms of arithmetic. Beyond that there are four aspects of self; the mental, physical, spiritual and the natural. These fundamental universal absolutes are alone powerful enough to be the sources of the Matrix of Four and its symbolism.

The Common Foundations of Religions and Theology - Navajo Creation Story - Fourth World

Navajo Creation Story – the Fourth World

Correspondingly the Matrix of Four, the philosophy of the duality of polarity, is presented in the beginning of practically every creation story, whether the Popol Vuh or Genesis. Nearly all creation stories start with the polarity of Heaven and Earth followed by the polarity of male and female. In this respect the Matrix of Four is the basis of most all creation stories as well as being depicted in every cross that so many religions share.

Creation Stories and the Foundations of Belief

Islam, Judaism and Christianity all share a common creation story, from Genesis, the first story in The Bible. The polarities of Heaven and Earth are immediately described followed by the polarity of male and female. Then the first four characters are described. These first four characters set the tone for the rest of the story. The first two characters are God and Adam, the masculine. The next character is Eve, the feminine (as opposed to the masculine), and the fourth character is the serpent, the deceiver (as opposed to the creator). These four biblical archetypes at the basis of the bible, which form the basis of 3 major world religions, are more influential than we can reckon at this point. Beside illustrating the common origin of these religions, they also illustrate and conceptualize our archetypal thinking and being — the duality of polarity.

The matrix of four begins the Biblical creation story, is illustrated in the first four characters, and depicted in the cross — the definitive symbol of Christianity — but there are other biblical connections too. There are four gospels in the Bible; that of Mathew, John, Luke and Mark. The Hebrew word for God is a four letter word, YHWH (Yahweh), known as the tetragrammaton. The four letters are said to be symbolic of the four worlds of the Kabala; emanation, creation, formation, action. The Matrix of Four is also represented by the common saying in Kabala, “The wicked obey the law through fear; the wise keep the law through knowledge”, based on the polarities of wickedness and wisdom, fear and knowledge. Four is also central to the Hebrew celebration of Passover, in the four questions, four cups of wine and four expressions of redemption.

The Common Foundations of Religions and Theology - Hopi ''World'' or ''four directions'' Symbol

Four is also embedded into the ancient philosophies and creation stories of many Native American peoples, perhaps none so well-known as the Hopi, Navajo and Zuni peoples of the Southwest. Their stories celebrate four symbolically and philosophically in the symbol of the four-quartered cross within a circle, as well as other similar designs. Perhaps most significantly the Hopi believe we are living in the fourth world. Hopi tradition states the first world was Endless Space, the second was Dark Midnight, the third was the Age of Animals and the fourth is the World Complete. Four migrations were written upon four sacred tablets which man was supposed to undertake once in this fourth world — to separate into smaller tribes and began to migrate in four different directions, settling in new lands.

Thousands of miles away and centuries before the establishment of the Hopi and Navajo, the Mayan creation story — the Popol Vuh — told of four gods and four first men.

The four Vedas (Sanskrit for “knowledge”) are the foundational scriptures in Hindu theology: the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda. Each Veda has been subclassified into four major text types: the Aranyakas (rituals and ceremonies), the Brahmanas (commentaries), and the Upanishads (meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge) and the Samhitas (mantras and benedictions). In turn, the Samhitas for example are grouped into four categories: the Rig-Veda, Sama-Veda, Yajur-Veda, and Atharva-Veda.

The Cross Symbolism in Theology

One could go on about the number of occurrences of four in the Old and New Testaments, but its representation in the cross symbol adopted by Christianity, Judaism and Islam, its presence in the creation story, and its basis in the four worlds of the Kabala are alone reflective of its major significance.

Clear examples of the cross are used in many theologies, not just Christianity and Islam. The universality of the cross in Hindu, Taoist, Native American, Egyptian, Celtic and Judeo-Christian theology and symbolism illustrates its archetypal noteworthiness and hints at the commonality among human spirituality and theology. Jesus, Moses and dozens of other figures from the Old Testament also appear in the Quran, the central scripture of Islam, which literally translates as “the recitation”. The Quran describes the polarities of believers and unbelievers as well as peacemakers and mischief-makers. These four characterizations are frequently noted in the Quran and arguably form the basis of its characterization model.

The Matrix of Four of Theology - Proof of The Brotherhood of Man - Swastika

An elaborate variation of the cross, the swastika, was used throughout the world for thousands of years before the Nazis adopted it. It was used by American Indians from Saskatchewan to Central America. The Kuna people of Panama believe the swastika shape represents the octopus that created the world in all four directions. The Swastika was used by the ancient Greeks to represent movement in art as early as the eighth century BC. The Hindus used it for thousands of years and it is still a holy symbol among Hindus, in Buddhism and Jainism. Jain temples and texts must contain a swastika and it is essential to begin Jain ceremonies. The Sanskrit word swastika means auspicious object and it is often displayed with four dots at the four angled arms. The swastika is representative of totality. And like all crosses it is also representative the matrix of four — the duality of polarity.

The Ancient Egyptian cross is the Ankh. It is one of the oldest and most distinguished crosses. The top section is not a line, but an oval. The mysterious symbol is said to represent eternal life. The ankh has four parts, two matching lines, one longer line and a wholly distinct fourth part, the oval. Hieroglyphs show Egyptian gods carrying one or a pair of ankhs and various sarcophaguses depict buried royalty holding ankhs. The ankh symbol was later adopted by Coptic Christians.

The Matrix of Four Expressed in Ideology

Nearly every form of theology and ancient philosophy points to the Matrix of Four, and its potentiation, whether subtly or not so subtly. This potentiation results from the duality of polarity — the contrast of the divine with the demonic, and our elemental physicality with our elaborate spirituality. Like Adam and Eve, we choose. According to the Bible, God gave Adam and Eve the gift of moral agency — the freedom of choice — Eden and expulsion. This idea is visible in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, as well as nearly all other theology, with varying interpretations.

The Four Wise Monkeys : hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, fear no evil

The Four Wise Monkeys: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, fear no evil

Similarly, the archetype of the four wise monkeys – the epitome of archetypal thinking – has its roots in Chinese philosophy and can be traced back to at least the 8th century. In Japan, it is interpreted as akin to the Golden Rule, the code of morality and ethics that essentially states “treat others as you would like to be treated”: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil and, as a result, fear no evil. Further indicating their shared origin, a version of the Golden Rule is at the foundation of each major religion around the world, reflecting a common understanding our choice in duality.

The Common Foundations of Religions and Theology - The Golden Rule

“From a deeper point of view Yamantaka (The Slayer of Death from Buddhist legend) represents the dual nature of man, who shares his physical nature, his instincts, drives, and passions with the animals, and his spiritual nature with the divine forces of the universe. As a physical being he is mortal, as a spiritual being he is immortal. If his intellect is combined with his animal nature, demonic forces are born, while the intellect guided by his spiritual nature produces divine qualities.” ~ from The Way of The White Clouds, by Lama Anagarika Govinda.

December 25, Crucifiction, Wise Men and The Virgin Mother

Notably, there are also numerous other details common to the central stories of major religions. For example,

  • Jesus was born in a manger on December 25 to a virgin, Mary, and an earthly father, Joseph the shepherd. His birth was marked by a star and was attended by Wise Men bearing gifts. He had 12 disciples, walked on water, and was crucified and subsequently resurrected, an event which is celebrated at the Vernal Equinox (Easter).
  • Chrishna of India was born on December 25, 3228 BC, his mother was a virgin, Maia (similar to Mary).
  • Mithra of Persia, the Roman pagans god of light, was born on December 25, before 1500 BC. His birth was witnessed by Shepherds that brought gifts to honor him.
  • Horus of Egypt was born on December 25, before 2500 BC. His mother, Isis, gave birth to him in a swamp. He had 12 disciples, walked on water, and was crucified and resurrected.
  • Buddha of India was born on December 25, 563 BC, his mother’s name was Maya (again, similar to Mary) and she was also a virgin. His birth was announced by a star, and he was visited by Wise Men who declared that they had seen Signs of his birth.
  • Beddou was a god of Japan, China, and Ceylon born on December 25, 1027 BC. Born of royal blood, his mother was also a virgin.
  • Quetzalcoatl, a god of ancient Mesoamerica was born of a virgin on December 25 around 900 BC. He fasted forty days, and was crucified.
  • Hercules, son of the god Zeus, was born to an earthly mother on December 25 around 500 BC. He was raised by an earthly father, and died by crucifiction (albeit voluntary).
  • Attis of Phrygia was born on December 25 around 1200 BC, again, to a virgin mother. He was a shepherd who rose from the dead at the Vernal Equinox (Easter).
  • Osiris of Egypt was born on December 25, before 2500 BC, to a virgin (Isis-Meri, also similar to Mary) in a cave. His birth was announced by a star and was attended by three wise men. His Earthly father was “Seb”, which translates to “Joseph.” Osiris walked on water, was betrayed by Typhon, was crucified, and was resurrected 3 days later — which is celebrated at the Vernal Equinox.
The Common Foundations of Religions and Theology - Jesus and Horus

The stories of Jesus and Horus

When one considers how much commonality there is between religious scriptures, their theological foundations and their central characters, it becomes clear that each is born of the same origin; this becomes particularly apparent when one considers similarities between the teachings of Buddha and Jesus, for example. So in serious consideration of these common scriptures, it becomes clear that the benefit to be found in their teachings is not in their literal interpretation but the metaphorical or allegorical.

The Matrix of Four: The Deeper Interpretation of Theology

There are countless instances of theological correlations with the philosophy of the Matrix of Four, and they all suggest ways to utilize this metaphilosophy in navigating the duality and polarity of our world.

Although some people believe there can be no interpretation of holy books at all — that there is only one truth (usually their own) — the fact is that all religious and philosophical texts might be interpreted differently by different people, depending on their level of conscious awareness. A critical divergence in their interpretation is firstly between the literal and the allegorical, and secondly, whether the story is reflective of internal spirituality or external physicality.

For instance, as noted Islamic tradition refers to four characterizations in the external world — believers and unbelievers, peacemakers and mischief-makers — however some hold it is possible that this is, at least in part, reflective of the illustration of our internal state of consciousness, our thinking as well as the resulting external being. Of course this interpretation idea and the divergence of literal and allegorical interpretations of theology may be considered blasphemous to some and quelled instead of rewarded.

The Common Foundations of Religions and Theology - Evolutionary Tree of Religions

Evolutionary Tree of Mythology and Religion (click image to enlarge)

According to The Zohar, a Kabalistic text first publicly known in the 13th century, there are four ways to interpret theology which lead to ascension. Ascension is said to be like shedding the cocoon of unconscious ignorance and developing the butterfly of consciousness. Again, this concept is based on the duality of polarity, as ascension of both the self and the collective consciousness begins with breaking – or not – the patterns which unknowingly cause unhappiness.

In Judaism, the theological interpretive formula (which reflects the Matrix of Four) is called the four PaRDeS. The capitalized letters represent the four aspects of this formula, translated from Hebrew (in such translations vowels are ignored). Each type of PaRDeS examines the meaning of a text; the Peshat means the literal or contextual meaning of the text, Remez is the allegorical meaning, Derash includes the metaphorical or comparative meaning, and Sod represents the hidden meaning. Legend has it understanding this formation of four is a final step on the path to ascension. Notably, the combination of the letters PRDS is similar to paradise, where ascension through consideration of the four aspects is said to lead.

The first two are obvious, while the comparative and hidden levels of interpretation are more subtle and require more to decipher. And while the more complex modes of awareness are often left unconsidered by many people, still constrained to the left/right mode of thinking, awareness of the four PaRDeS of interpretation and the Matrix of Four as a mode of thinking, is a valuable tool not just in understanding theological presentation but also in understanding our society. When extrapolated as a lens to view society, the Four PaRDeS can be applied firstly by our surface understanding; our individual senses. The secondary more elaborate layer of understanding our society arrives in the teachings of others; the third is a combination of collective learning and our own experience used comparatively; the fourth is the intuitive approach, where one cannot explain exactly how one reaches an answer but the answer is nonetheless a useful and truthful one.

Understanding and striving toward these interpretive modes of thinking can enhance both our intuitive and critical understanding of our collective and individual nature. We have the potential to be either materialistically driven or spiritually driven, and we can be either war-makers or peace-makers.

The Common Foundations of Religions and Theology

When we understand not just the common origins but the common philosophies at the core of religious theology, we have the opportunity to rise above the societal and political influences that promote dualistic black/white thinking and division between religious beliefs. By applying deeper modes of thinking — the PaRDeS, or the Matrix of Four — we can uncover the hidden context behind religious scriptures and, by understanding their commonality, can decisively choose to be peacemakers — rather than focusing on their literal interpretation of religious scriptures and fighting over the “one true faith”. Indeed, understanding the metaphorical and intuitive/hidden meanings of these scriptures allows us to realize the true brotherhood of man. Let’s reintegrate our human cultural beauty and collective consciousness instead of separating each other by our belief systems as a justification for waging war on our brothers and sisters.

The Little Green Book of Revolution

The Little Green Book Of Revolution - Ethan Indigo SmithThe Little Green Book of Revolution is an inspirational book based on ideas of peaceful revolution, historical activism and caring for the Earth like Native Americans.

A pro-individual and anti-institutional look at the history of peaceful proactive revolution, it explores the environmental destruction inherent to our present energy distribution systems and offers ideas to counter the oligarchical institutions of the failing ‘New World Order’.

The Little Green Book of Revolution is available here on Amazon.

Previous articles by Ethan Indigo Smith:

About the author:

Ethan Indigo SmithActivist, author and Tai Chi teacher Ethan Indigo Smith was born on a farm in Maine and lived in Manhattan for a number of years before migrating west to California. Guided by a keen sense of integrity and humanity, Ethan’s work is both deeply connected and extremely insightful, blending philosophy, politics, activism, spirituality, meditation and a unique sense of humour.

Ethan’s publications include:

For more information, visit Ethan on Facebook and check out Ethan’s author page on Amazon.


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  • Whew!

    Don’t ever confuse the creator with god. The force of creation is love and does not wish to be worshipped. That is not the mentality of a divinity – that is the mentality of a downpresser. It makes absolutely no difference what you call the thing you worship – worship IS the constitutive act of satan. Worship, by definition is an act of fear pretending to be love – think obeisance, supplication. God is satan’s mask, created to oppress and enslave us. There was no slavery, no womyn abuse before biblical times – they were all as a result of god’s intervention.
    This whole AGW thing is to make it law that we worship earth. Thru enslavement of humans via religion, money, govt and big corporations, thru enslavement of animals thru CAFO and thru destruction of all unenslaved life thru destruction of habitat and ancient forests, god has gained critical mass in the struggle for control of the will of all life on earth. However this has not given them critical mass in control of the whole of earth’s will. This they can only achieve if we worship earth. If we do that we will truly be in hell.

    Thank you – I love you all

    As a rasta i say to you all – commit no worship – LOVE IS ALL!

    • Alexandru Constantin Bogin

      very well said 10x

    • gertrude van voorden

      Rastafari yearn to return to Zion, which implies a judaic connection.

  • Hi there Voldemort Rupert,

    There is a bit of lag time between when comments are sent, then posted on to our site. Just so we can check that spam etc, does not get through!

    I wish for you a beautiful day 🙂

    Meagen @ wuw

  • The “others” in Islam only applies to other Muslims. They are the only ones considered worthwhile. Unbelievers are considered “filth,” Mohammad’s word, and are not worthy of that pillar of Charity. Sorry to burst the bubble. Islam is dualistic, believers and unbelievers, there is no one humanity.

    • Cygnifier

      Uh….No. They are very respectful of all the “People of the Book,” i.e. Jews and Christians, because it is the SAME GOD! The characters are the same as in the Old Testament, just in Arabic. In fact, the most frequently mentioned name in the Qu’ran is Mary, the mother of Jesus. (Their problem with Israel today has to do with Zionism, not with Judaism per se.) The pillar of charity is to show charity not just to their own people, but to everyone. And only God is to judge one’s belief. Go back and actually read the Qu’ran.

  • Michael Anthony Sakell

    Step 1 – Give thanks to the Creator;
    hold the intention of gratitude and love in both heart and mind before
    initiating the Cannabis session.
    Step 2 – Inhale a puff of Cannabis and retain in lungs in a relaxed manner.

    Step 3 – While savoring this sacred breath, witness the euphoric ‘high’
    as it enters the lungs and steadily engulfs the body paying particular
    attention to heartfelt love and gratitude.
    Step 4 – Exhale while
    remaining focused on your observation of the high state now present in
    the body and mind. Let thoughts continue to slip away to the point that
    only awareness of gratitude and love remains.
    Step 5 – Knowing that
    the Cannabis consciousness ‘high’ is a sacred tradition utilized as a
    catalyst of communion with all creation providing an opportunity for
    boundless spiritual enlightenment, tranquilly continue your focus on
    gratitude and love recognizing the ‘high’ will become greatly amplified
    as you proceed with your Cannabis session.

  • Horvath Ernone

    I liked this artickle very much!

  • The simple truth is we are God ! each of us is a small slice of the life force present in the universe and that is God , Nothing more or less . This article forgot and dismissed one very important component and nobody seemed to pick up on it ? Our soul. We are in fact very unique because of that soul and few grasp that part. But we also have free will in conjunction with our soul. And that means we can do good deeds and improve ourselves or we can do bad deeds and harm ourselves and others. Our highest endeavor is our soul journey and understanding that journey !

    I read a book by Watts many years ago. “The taboo against knowing who you are” Watts gift was to help western minds understand eastern thinking. And thereby open up our domination by materialism to some different perspectives. Nearly all westerners do not consider spirit matters and are consumed in materialism. Here is my current take on religions, prayer and meditation.–prayer-and-meditation.html

  • trime1

    I agree with the sentiments expressed about religion.
    There is no deity or god as depicted by religions of any kind.
    We have all evolved from the universal energy which is ultra powerful;ultra intelligent and ultra creative this to me is the holy trinity and the universal energy is our creator. As Stephen Hawkins suggested “there is no involvement of a deity or spiritual being in the creation”..
    As we have evolved from this wonderful universal energy it stands to reason we are as powerful; intelligent and creative as this energy force. religion is confusing and leading us up the garden path. In fact it limits us in developing into the powerful;intelligent and creative beings we can and should be.
    (more to follow)

    • Kelly Wolff-Littleton

      Oh & I suppose the snowman, with a carrot, as its nose, built itself, out of the snowflakes, all geometrically perfect & no 2 even look similar, if you could actually examine one, underneath a microscope! Hummingbirds that’s wings flap so fast, our human eyes, can’t even begin to see it, unless it’s been filmed, with a specific lens that actually slows down the actual time…Every man made object, that flys, carrying human beings, was designed by…hmmmm?? BIRDS IN FLIGHT, that just magically evolved, with their beautiful iridescent colors, or any flower has a precise geometric patterns…oh that’s just coincidence?? WAKE UP & acknowledge that it’s absolutely unreasonable & mathematically impossible for all of the wildlife, ocean life, trees, flowers, birds all just evolved, from some simple one cell organism…If anyone believes that, then if I was that individual, I wouldn’t ever think of getting on an airplane or a helicopter!
      Much Warm Agape Love, Prayers & Blessings to you & your loved ones ????

    • Jonas Linnemann

      wauw…..: “We have all evolved from the universal energy which is ultra powerful;ultra intelligent and ultra creative this to me is the holy trinity and the universal energy is our creator.” — “energy is powerful” – I can agree on that. “energy is intelligent” – say what? How can something without a consciousness be intelligent? I REALLY wanna hear you explain that. “energy is creative” to some point yes, it does create, power, but can energy draw a painting? can energy build a car? can energy make a musical? Can energy get ideas?
      – I do not believe in “god/satan” I do however believe in a “supreme being” that is love, an energetic force of love. But I do believe this “force/being” can “think”/is conscious about “it self”. But I also believe we dont have the words or minds yet to fully understand and/or define this being/force.

    • Micah Geni

      Who can order energy into various forms, without any “plan” ?
      Without any consciousness ?

      Does a computer make it self or did some more intelligent being, we call mankind, make them first ?

  • gertrude van voorden

    Wrong. The first there was was Lilith who created the adams/humans. Our entire history of the past 2000 years has been forged according to historians.

  • gertrude van voorden

    There is some interesting research of the man who researched baboons, He found when accidentally the males died after eating diseased meat, the entire social system among the remaining females changes. This held when new males joined the tribe. Irish myths/legends refer to gods as being female. So possibly somewhere along the line something changed which was different before that. We simply have no clue. Interesting is also research on neanderthal culture by a uk scientist, who painted an entirelyt different picture about that culture as we were taught. Historians claim our entire history of the past 2000 years has been forged, faked. Many names of goddesses were changed into male variants by the catholic church can still be proven.

  • gertrude van voorden

    Nonsense. In those spiritual traditions Allah/God walked with Abraham on this earth. What the Quran says is that s/he is neither male nor female, has no partner and no children.

  • gertrude van voorden

    Nice try. Somewhere else the Quran says to muslims to respect the people of the book, who practice their religion. Meaning christians and jews. Allah also forbids muslims touch the jews as he states he will deal with them himself/herself. Using non believers for the concept of Kafirs, which were a specific tribe in those days, is putting many people on the wrong foot, including muslims themselves. The Quran states Allah is the same God as the God of christians and jews, but that the Torah was falsified/changed in many ways. Christians in the region also call God Allah. Judaic traditions advise the same concept of lying to one’s enemies, only more stronger, it is obligated. Stop inciting people towards islamofobia when you don’t know the first thing about that religion or history. Possibly you read the mormon version of the Quran, a fake religion founded by a krypto jew.

  • Micah Geni

    It probably did. Depends on how far back we go. But say modern times.. 3-4000 thousands years back, Fear was probably the most easily understandable tool to make people behave. So the religions are likely colored from being raised out of a more “instinctive and primal” situation/culture, I’d reckon.

    “Primitive man, primitive tools”.

    This exploitation economy of today, freezes spiritual development (which I guess many of the leaders are well aware of), by making the daily bread the major strive. A hell of a life, makes people turn to quick comfort. Some use drugs. Some use dogmatic holy scriptures. Some go from one to the other. And some choose none.

    But extra time, to self-realize, is a luxury good still today

  • David Alexander Barnett

    People are animals. If not, what else? Fungi? Plants? Bacteria? Protists? Next, animals have the ability to display, fear, courage, empathy,as well as savagery, violence and mindlessness. Same as people. People (who are animals) and non-human animals are capable of both. In every civilization people revered that which they could not understand. God wasn’t created to imbue fear and division. It was out of reverence and respect. Fear and division may have followed.

    Many people think that humans were at their most intelligent 2000 years ago. If I went back in time, I would only be able to teach people about general hygiene…little more. They would wipe the floor with me intellectually…

  • Wayne Melrose

    Nicely written Ethan. This is the kind of article that can open some minds hopefully and help us Humans to evolve into better beings. I consider ALL religion to be divisive, elitist and limiting because it has been manipulated and used by man whenever it was convenient.