It’s been claimed that there are some amazing connections between Biblical stories and ancient Chinese writing. For example, many Christian websites proclaim that around seven hundred years before the Hebrew of the Old Testament was in use, an individual Chinese character that means “boat” seems to reveal the story of Noah and the Great Flood. Some Christians go so far as to argue that it proves the world-wide flood in Genesis literally happened. The argument is based on the following:
The ancient Chinese symbol for boat is made of up three characters, that, when taken together, represent a boat with eight people inside.
The first character means “vessel” or “boat.”
The second character means “eight.”
The third character means “person” or “mouth.”
Thus the symbol is eight people in a boat. As you already know, Noah’s Ark carried Noah and his wife and his three sons and their wives for a total of eight.
Here’s a few websites promoting such information:
If you really want to get serious, check out the PDF article below:
Of course there are many other websites that seek to disprove the above arguments. One of the more popular ones is listed below. I recommend checking all of them out for yourselves.
So what’s my take on it? I certainly don’t believe it proves Noah’s Flood. Even though China has its own flood story, it doesn’t contain eight people in a boat. This is a big setback for those Christian websites which claim the ancient Chinese character for boat proves Noah’s flood.
I am also skeptical because there seems to be some good scholarly evidence that one of the characters in the ancient Chinese symbol means “divide,” not eight. But in the end it doesn’t really matter either way; both sides of the argument are wasting a lot of energy. Why do I say this? Because Noah’s Ark represents something much more spectacular than a boat.
Noah’s ark represents the causal body. For those of you who aren’t familiar with theosophy and other esoteric literature, the causal body is the storehouse for all the permanent qualities of the human soul. These permanent qualities are developed over many lifetimes, and they represent the real you. A new personality is possible through the process known as reincarnation because of everything that’s stored in the causal body. Although the personality that manifests each lifetime dies at death, there are qualities attained that you learned through experience in every lifetime that are permanent. These certain qualities are stored in the causal body after the dissolution of the physical body. Therefore the causal body is immortal as far as humanity is concerned. Of course one day humanity will evolve and even the causal body will be discarded in favor of something greater, but this is quite a long way off. We shouldn’t be concerned with that now.
Shed in this light, we can see that Noah’s Ark is a symbol for the preservation of our individuality. But the story isn’t just about the preservation of our individuality, it’s also about the preservation of the individuality that attains higher consciousness. This is what is really meant when the Biblical author states that:
“…Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.”
All those who “walked with God” in scripture represent the individual who attains higher consciousness.
Since Noah is the archetype of the individuality of the soul, his ark is the bodily vehicle (the causal body) that makes the evolving soul possible. Because Noah has earned the status of being obedient and righteous before the LORD, the ark/causal body is lifted up to manifest higher consciousness.
The causal body is part of the higher mental plane and the ark’s description fits this perfectly. According to Gaskell’s Dictionary:
“The ‘lower, second, and third stories’ are the three higher subplanes of the mental plane; as the casual body is situate on the higher mind plane above the lower consciousness which perceives it not.”
“The lower consciousness which perceives it not” is simply fancy language for the waking conscious activity of the individual manifested on the lower planes of mind, emotions, and the physical body.
The Real Possible Meaning of the Chinese Symbol and the Connection with Noah’s Flood Story
I have not looked into the Chinese symbol representing “boat” enough to say this with absolute certainty, but if there is a connection I am willing to bet it has something to do with the universal truths that govern the evolution of the soul. Perhaps the ancient Semites did have some beliefs which coincided with China’s ancient spirituality and the Chinese symbol simply reflects a universal spiritual knowledge. If the one of the characters in the symbol really does mean “divide” instead of eight, perhaps this is speaking of the division of the higher and lower self. Maybe this second character of the Chinese symbol meaning “boat” is used to mean both “eight” and “divide.”
Below is some other interesting evidence to consider.
Noah’s Three Sons
Noah’s three sons do not represent three literal people. Rather they are three active principles within the individual soul (Noah). They are will, action, and wisdom. As Gaskell’s Dictionary also points out, we can also refer to these attributes in their lower aspects as works, intelligence, and desire. Shem represents will, Japheth wisdom, and Ham desire.
In a sense, Noah’s three sons represent the attributes of the individual that are built and stored up inside the causal body. In the story of Noah’s ark, the literal sons spread out and repopulate the earth. This represents the life that is disseminated from the causal body into the physical plane in each incarnation.
When we step back and look at Noah’s flood story in panoramic view, we can see that it’s all about the preservation of the individuality so that a person can go from lower to higher consciousness through the manifestation of will, intelligence, and desire over many lifetimes until they reach “righteous” status. Fascinating!
The Bigger Picture of the Universal Flood Myth
We cannot deny the fact that a global flood exists in most ancient cultures all over the world. Many Christians see this as an opportunity to proclaim the Genesis account is literal. But the flood stories differ greatly in the details. Literally, these highly differing details seem to say that we cannot trust any of them as being based in literal fact. However it does make more sense to say that they contain a kernel of universal spiritual truth; rather than saying they prove a literal flood, I propose that they provide evidence of a universal truth buried deep within the human psyche and subconscious: namely, that the flood story represents the evolution of individual consciousness.
I believe that the earth has been through some cataclysmic changes (like major flooding) as a result of global warming and cooling trends over the last tens of thousands of years. There is scientific evidence for this. But to say that Noah’s flood was a reality is ludicrous. I have written about some of the reasons for this HERE.
In conclusion, I believe we must admit that the Bible and its sacred stories are much more powerful and productive if we view them as promoting universal spiritual truths about the soul rather than as literal stories.
In the next post I’ll delve a little more of the aftermath of Noah’s flood. We’ll look at more of the details, break them down symbolically, and hopefully come up with a much better alternative to the literal Christian account.