Mt. Meru, Part 1 - The crypt of Rosslyn chapel

I recently made a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland with my family to meet some friends and visit the mysterious 15th century Rosslyn chapel. In the process, I discovered something very interesting.

First, I met up with Stuart Mitchell, co-discoverer of the cymatic music carved into the chapel’s arches, and John Stuart Reid, acoustic engineer and author of Egyptian Sonics. We had a wonderful dinner at a place called the Witchery on Friday evening, then set out the next morning to visit Rosslyn.

It was a sunny day and before long we arrived at Rosslyn chapel in the beautiful and very green Scottish countryside. The chapel was even more amazing than pictures can express. Symbols of harmony were everywhere and the arches were full of cymatic resonance patterns. Stuart and I spent a lot of time inspecting the chapel before proceeding down the stairs into the crypt.

Along with various masonic architectural symbols, I found a few pentagrams and one Egyptian flower of life carved into the walls of the crypt. This was not really much of a surprise, considering the pentagram design in the central pillar of the chapel and the pentagonal lightbox window at the top of the chapel - but, there was one carving I had never read about that caught my attention. There was a diagram of what appeared to be some kind of tower on one of the walls.

Emphasizing the lines in the figure above, we can see that it looks something like a cross between an oil derrick and a cell tower with a kind of funnel at the top. Stuart, John and I puzzled over this for a while, but in the end we left with absolutely no idea of what it could mean.

Back home, I returned to my work. And as always, I let intuition guide my writings, bringing me to my last post entitled “The Golden Ratio in Hindu Mythology”. In this post, I discuss the connection between the Fibonacci series and the mythology of gold concerning a sacred mountain in Tanzania known as Mount Meru. Then, right after I finished that post, I stumbled across this painting of Mt. Meru.

Well, it immediately struck me that this looked a lot like the carving in the Rosslyn crypt. Both are pyramidal (like Pascal’s numeric triangle), both have five sections demarcated by horizontal lines, both have three circles stacked vertically at the top and both have zig-zag patterns (suggesting Fibonacci diagonals). Sharing this with Stuart, he noticed that the four-point flower in the bottom section also corresponds to the Mayan symbol for the planet Venus. Could one of the Rosslyn masons have been trying to sketch Mt. Meru from memory on the wall of the crypt to provide a golden gateway to the afterlife?

After reading the following legend of Mount Meru, see if you don’t find this a likely explanation for this mysterious mural in the crypt of Rosslyn chapel.

The City on the Edge of Forever
by Aaron Ross
Spring 1992

In the mythology of Tibetan Buddhism, Mount Meru is a place which simultaneously represents the center of the universe and the single-pointedness of mind sought by adepts. Thousands of miles in height, Meru is located somewhere beyond the physical plane of reality, in a realm of perfection and transcendence. Symbolic representations of Mount Meru are commonly found in Tibetan mandalas, contemplative diagrams designed to aid meditators in focusing.

It is said that Meru has its roots in hell, and its summit in heaven. Meru is surrounded by seven rings of golden mountains, each separated from the other by one of seven circular oceans. It is crowned by a golden palace wherein Indra, king of Hindu gods, resides. This entire superstructure rises from an outer ocean, and is flanked by four main continents, each with two subcontinents.

The southern continent, Jambudvipa, corresponds to the physical earth. Each of the other continents represents a nearby planet upon which transmigrating souls following the yellow light-path may be reborn. However, it is said that all of these worlds are undesirable, for they are non-human worlds inhabited by sheep, cattle, or horses. The teachings of Buddhism clearly state that existence as a human being is the only way to achieve Buddhahood, so rebirth in any other form (including that of a deva or demigod) is a distraction from the path to enlightenment.

According to legend, somewhere in the northwest region of Jambudvipa lies a land called Shambhala. This is a magical land which is shaped like an eight-petalled lotus flower. It has been ruled by priest-kings for many thousands of years; in fact, the legend of Shambhala predates the introduction of Buddhism into Tibet. In the aboriginal Bon religion, Shambhala is known as Olmolungrung, and is based on the square instead of the circle.

Shambhala forms a gateway between the physical and spiritual realms. It is endowed with riches, and is ideally suited for the habitat of enlightened souls. They are not attached to the fruits of karma, and are but one step from Buddhahood. This is the realm to be sought for rebirth if one desires the swiftest path to nirvana.

In the Tibetan Buddhist version of the apocalypse, barbarians will overtake the earth at the end of the Kali Yuga, the present age. It will be necessary for the king of Shambhala to join forces with the gods to wage war on the barbarians. At this time, armies will be sent forth from the city, the location of which has been kept secret for millennia. Order will be restored on earth, and the wisdom which Shambhala has been holding will be dispensed to the peoples of the world.

Many western explorers, hearing tales of a "golden city" of Shambhala, sought to find it in the frozen wastes of northern Tibet. This resulted in the present-day term "Shangri-la," which, like El Dorado, signifies an unattainable goal. This is an unfortunate misunderstanding, for ultimately Shambhala is a place accessible to anyone, if only one can be free of karmic attachments.

The Great Pyramid of Khufu

Now, with this in mind, consider the Kings Chamber of the Great Pyramid of Khufu in Egypt.

Like the carving in the Rosslyn crypt and the mural of Mt. Meru, the Kings Chamber is actually a tower structure at the heart of the Great Pyramid. And like these depictions, it too had five levels. Given that the proportion between the height and half the base is derived from the golden ratio and square root of five, should we be at all surprised to find that its central structure is also arranged in five levels with the chamber itself five blocks high?

I don’t think it would be too far fetched to say that this 5-fold tower design could be the theosophical foundation for pyramid building around the world, including those built by the Mayans in the Americas. First, consider that “tikal” in Sanscrit means temple and there happens to be a huge Mayan temple complex in Guatemala identically named Tikal. And consider that the ancient worldwide spiral symbol known as the Schwass-tika - Sanscrit for "Serpent's Breath Temple" - was also sacred to some American "Indian" tribes, like the Hopi.

As the universal symbol for spirals in nature, the Serpent's Breath was a reference to the Fibonacci spiral, depicted by the Vedics as a mountain. Given the increasing probability of trans-oceanic voyages to the Americas in ancient times, a worldwide Vedic religion founded on the divine proportion very likely existed, developing along similar paths of pyramid building and astronomical observations centered on Venus.

Was this the spiraling "yellow brick road" that once led the world to God at the top of the mountain - the golden tip of Khufu? And was the divine proportion in Venus's pentagonal orbit taken as proof positive that the Serpent's Breath spiral flowed through all things? I think this may be the prime link between Rosslyn and an ancient world religion based on harmonic science.

Continue to Part 2

Tikal in Guatemala