Book of Life as the Akashic Records is an excerpt from my book The New Akashic Records. Early in the modern history of the Akashic Records several spiritual leaders associated the Book of Life with the Akashic Records as a way to explain the nature of the Records. In my book, I do a deep dive into this history going back to the beginning of written history in Sumeria and tracing the history of the Book of Life from that ancient point. This excerpt is the first of five chapters which trace this history and association showing that they are not one and the same. Rather each reflect the human experience of divine memory, judgment, and destiny.
Associated with the Akashic Records, the Book of Life reveals God’s remembrance not in fear but in awe.
Equating the Akashic Records with the Book of Life is one of the most commonly held ideas about the Akashic Records. Mentioned in the Jewish Torah, the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible as well as in the Islamic Qur’an, the Book of Life is used in defining the purpose and outcome of the course of human existence.
As a global concept found throughout China, Japan, India, Egypt, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas, the Book of Life is described as a record of a person’s deeds and destiny. Believing that the gods in their various and familiar forms are not secreted away in remote corners of the heavens without interest or participation in our lives, we attribute authorship of this book to them.
The gods remember us, charting our destiny and our lives before even our birth in records, tablets or books. At the end of this physical life, our Book of Life becomes the basis for the gods’ decision, about the value of the life we have lived and our direction in death, in the afterlife. The Book of Life is an accounting, a remembrance.
The Book of Life is also a powerful concept providing cultural and spiritual reference for many around the world. In the world of science, the Book of Life acts as metaphor for an all encompassing chronicle of the beginnings and cycles of natural history. For example, scientist Stephen Jay Gould titled his inclusive natural history of Earth and humanity, The Book of Life.
In a similar vein, an article about important archaeological discoveries in China in the prestigious journal Science titles the piece: Exquisite Chinese Fossils Add New Pages to Book of Life. In 2000, the New York Times article announcing the successful decoding of the human genome, declared in the title that scientists have succeeded in reading the Book of Life.
The Book of Life also functions metaphorically as instruction manual, providing directions and advice on the proper way to live life. In 1489, Marsilio Ficino wrote The Book of Life for Cosimo de Medici, one of the most powerful men in Italy and of the Renaissance. Before writing this book, through de Medici’s patronage, Ficino, one of the greatest scholars of his day, had translated various lost works of the early masters of antiquity including Hermes Trismegistus, Plato and Plotinus, to name a few.
Ficino presented The Book of Life as an amalgamation of his personal understanding of life, included wisdom gleaned from many of the translated philosophies, and added all sorts of advice from proper nutrition to the importance of fulfilling work. The topics and even the flow of the content are strikingly similar to modern day self-help books. Plus, with a patron as powerful as Cosimo de Medici, Ficino’s words reached many people of that influential time which may explain why his “book of life” is still known 500 years after its first publication.
Consider also Sojourner Truth who became a well-known preacher, abolitionist, and feminist even though she was born into slavery in 1797. Her autobiography, also titled The Book of Life, relates her life in slavery, her decision to run from her master when he did not free her according to New York’s Emancipation Act of 1827, and her experience as a well-known and powerful orator in favor of emancipation and women’s suffrage. Her book is a compelling example of the instructions based on personal experience one can pass on to another. By gaining a glimpse into her life, we find encouragement and inspiration to begin to understand our own “book of life.”
Even the music legend Duke Ellington acknowledged that his music came from the book of life (1). While this may also be a biblical reference, Ellington is also referring to the book of life as an accumulation of experience and wisdom that living a full life can bring to the creative effort as well as to our everyday lives.
In the same vein, in 1921, Upton Sinclair offered The Book of Life: Mind and Body so that the reader might learn from the author’s experience, avoiding the pain of unnecessary mistakes.
Perhaps the most well-known version is the Christian Book of Life I remember learning about in my Protestant Sunday School: God records my deeds and uses the record at my death to decide whether I am accepted into heaven or not.
However, the idea of judgment after death is not limited to Christianity. The Qur’an explains that each person receives a recording angel at puberty who compiles a record of everything said and done as a Book of Evidence to be used on the Day of Judgment.
In Japan, the Judge of Hell, Emma-cho, uses a similar chronicle to determine who stays in hell and who goes to heaven.
In the Book of Psalms, found in both the Christian Bible and the Jewish Tanakh, the function of the Book of Life begins even before we are born:
Yahweh, you have searched me, and you know me.
This knowledge is beyond me. It’s lofty. I can’t attain it.
For you formed my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. My soul knows that very well.
My frame wasn’t hidden from you, when I was made in secret, woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my body. In your book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there were none of them. (2)
Thus, God knows us, not just as we are now, but as we were even before we took form. God is the one capable of seeing all of who we were, are and will be. God knows us, recording all in “thy books.”
Malachi, the messenger, appears in the Jewish Tanakh as the last of the writings of the prophets and in the Christian Bible as the very last book of the Old Testament. In the third chapter of Malachi, the people who revere the Lord are grumbling and complaining to themselves that those who do not keep the laws of the Lord seem to be prospering and not suffering for their irreverent ways. In response to them, those slackers, we find the primary biblical link to the Book of Life as the Book of God’s Remembrance:
Now we call the proud happy; yes, those who work wickedness are built up; yes, they tempt God, and escape.’ Then those who feared Yahweh spoke one with another; and Yahweh listened, and heard, and a book of memory was written before him, for those who feared Yahweh, and who honored his name. (3)
Here the Book of Life is a recording of those who follow God’s ways and hold God in esteem and reverence. The implication is that those written in the scroll will receive reward that those who are not entered will not receive.
Looking at this passage in several different versions of the Bible, you will find the phrases “those who revere the Lord” and “those that do not revere the Lord” also presented as “those who fear the Lord” and “those that do not fear the Lord.” While we might quickly put this down to a simple difference in translation, if we take a look at the original Hebrew word used in Torah, we find the source of both fear and revere. The Hebrew word in this context is yare, meaning both to be afraid and to have both awe and fear, and is translated by some simply as fear and others as revere to include the sense of awe as well as fear.
Fear and Awe. Awe and Fear. I see them as opposing sides of the same coin, especially when used to describe the relationship between self and God as divine source. God seen as the divine figure with control over my fate in this world and in the next, I stand in fear because I feel no control. I dread the future, out of my hands subject to the punishing hands of the Lord. In fear, I am closed to possibility, in fear for myself, my family, my future, and my death and the horrors that come after. Fear is the only relationship possible with the controlling Almighty who eternally looms over me in every moment. The power of God has ultimate authority and I stand in fear of that power and that authority. I must show respect to this power in hopes that any error on my part is ignored. I follow law to avoid punishment and misfortune. I shake. I stand humbled, feeling defeated. I fear.
In contrast, when eternal source is an indwelling experience, fear can transmute to awe. In the beginning is Awe. God is in me, is me. I stand at the beginning, at the horizon of the unknown, in awe of the majesty of the unfolding from the whole, from All That Is. I pass through the gates of understanding into the wonder of all. Awe comes through hope and wonder, through standing open to possibility. Awe steps forward as God is understood as essence and root of the whole to which we are all absolutely connected. The divine flow manifests me. Law becomes truth as I look for balance within this flow. Each wonder, each resonance brings new awe. New awe brings again new unfolding. Through awe comes the unfolding. I awe. I create. I awe.
In response to fear and to awe, Malachi says that God hears and notes those in reverence in a scroll of remembrance. Remembrance in Hebrew is the word zikrôwn, meaning also memorial, and comes from the root word zâkar, which includes both the sense of to remember and to mention. In Hebrew, being verbs such as remember always denote an action.
Remembering is not just a state of being, you remember in order to do. Memorial tablets are created not just as lists for posterity or as clever decoration, but as reminders to take action in our own lives. Here memory activates action. Consider the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC. The names of the fallen and dead in combat inscribed on black slab after black slab stand as testimony confronting each visitor, leaving no one unmoved. Memorial services allow celebration for life well lived. Memorial dedications encourage reflection and movement within and without. Live in remembrance, live now and forever with the retained awareness, within the memory of All That Is.
Looking then at Malachi at another level, the divine comes forward as the ultimate observer, observing and responding. Divine memory becomes action on our behalf. Action that anticipates our becoming. Action that supports our becoming. Those in fear blind to the possibilities of interaction, while those in awe able from time to time to glimpse the possibilities of the divine dance.
Observer becoming observed. Observer being observed. Memory is the resulting flow of information from the eternal unfolding. Memory is always at this intersection of being and becoming. Memory as observation, witness to all that is, providing connection and direction to observer and observed. Not to freeze us in fear, but to open our entire beings to the awe of All That Is. An awe which motivates and inspires, an awe which gently encourages us to act, to move, to feel the energy of our souls responding and moving within the infinite potential of All That Is.
Remembrance occurring in every moment of our flow from potential to form, we claim our never-ending promise of dynamic, divine remembrance. In awe of All That Is.
1 Steed, Janna Tull, “Nothing’ Without God: Duke Ellington’s Prayerful Music,” Christian Century, October 12, 1994, Volume III, Issue 28.
2 Psalms 139:1,6,13-16
3 Malachi 3:15-16.
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