Tithing – a way to another dimension of reality

Tithing – a way to another dimension of reality

The nature of mind is like the sea, and the mind that is subject to samsara is like waves moving on its surface. Samsara exists at the level of the moving mind, which divides reality into samsara and nirvana. (Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, Wonders of the natural mind)


The tendency to improve one’s living conditions is quite common and there are those for whom this pursuit is not limited only to material things. There is in them a certain rather unclear, but at the same time very noble longing for an unspecified other dimension of reality. It seems that there are relatively many such persons nowadays, commonly associated with the influence of the Aquarius era.

Numerous religious groups have long been promising various solutions for such longing or fulfilment, but only after death, because then you can find yourself in a better world, usually called heaven, paradise, Eden or Arcadia – of course, provided that you lived in accordance with the established rules. Some Eastern philosophies maintain that even if we manage to achieve such a state, it is only temporary, because we are all subject to reincarnation, i.e., constantly repeating cycles consisting of birth, life, death, longer or shorter stays in subtle intermediate regions (known, e.g., as heaven, hell or purgatory) and rebirth.

For some people – for various reasons – following a religious path is not attractive and they have an inner feeling, bordering on certainty, that there is another possibility. The so-called gnostic spiritual schools confirm that this is the case and propose various ways to break out of the cycle of reincarnation and reach this other dimension of reality, bypassing – in a sense – the stage of death. What are these ways?

Generally, it comes down to trying to achieve a certain state of being (especially at the mental level), characterised by a significant weakening of one’s tendency to egocentrism and becoming as independent as possible from the influences of the ego on one’s behaviour. This state is also called pure, unconditioned (neutral) mind, e.g., in the traditions of Zen, Tao and Dzogchen. Obtaining such a state allows for a different perception of impressions created under the influence of both external and inner reality. It also changes the way of thinking from dualistic – based on distinguishing external from inner phenomena, existing from non-existent – to a new one, which can be described as multi-threaded and characterised by a somewhat different, broader and more objective perception of existing relationships.

To put it very simply – using the description given by P. D. Ouspensky[1] and concerning the methods used by G. I. Gurdjieff – it could be said that as a result of maintaining appropriate, unforced and quite neutral states of consciousness and mindfulness, such a great sublimation of the received impressions occurs that they become food for our truest essence (sometimes called a new soul), causing it to renew and grow. This approach is sometimes called the alchemical process, in which impressions related to ordinary nature are transformed into “gold”, that is, into a very subtle and noble type of matter with extremely high “vibrations”. The description of the process accompanying this – presented in Ouspensky’s book – uses a seven-tone musical scale with two semitones, known to us as the major scale.

After some time of such sublimation of impressions in people, their ability to use the non-dualistic (mentioned earlier) ways of thinking and understanding increases. Such ways could be called contextual and situational. They are characterised by the skill to view observed events in a multi-threaded way. One could then also say that synthetic perception or understanding occurs.

In the Bible, metaphors, allegories and parables – describing more or less real events – refer to this type of understanding. Their goal is to stimulate the development of contextual thinking, and not to explain anything or answer questions in the traditional sense. An example of such a story is discussed below.

This type of thinking is necessary to understand the further stages of human transformation on the gnostic path of spiritual development and is possible only with a purified mind, the symbol of which is an empty, transparent space (as in Dzogchen, Zen and Taoism), or an empty vessel or jug.

Now let’s try to explain what tithing has to do with all this? Well, the concept of tithing is usually derived from the Bible, where it is mentioned several times. Traditionally, it is believed that the first person to submit it was Abram. The fragment describing this is included in the Book of Genesis (14:17-24) and in NKJV has the following form:

And the king of Sodom went out to meet him [Abram] at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the Kings Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him.

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said:

Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

And he [Abram] gave him a tithe of all.

Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.”

But Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, I have made Abram rich’— except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.”

The question naturally arises whether the concept of “tithe” (a tenth part of something) used in this text has any significant meaning for us and why it is associated with 10 and not some other number.

First, let us note that God Most High is a symbol of human highest aspiration, and therefore the priest Melchizedek – serving this God – represents the way of realising such aspiration by the human aspect that is called Abram. This is done through a struggle with ordinary reality – symbolised by the battle with Chedorlaomer and the kings.

This conflict ends with Abram’s victory, which means that the relationship with reality is already under some control and therefore provides profits (spoils of war) in the form of various important impressions and perceptions. This is important because in realising the above-mentioned aspiration, the main task is to naturally stimulate in yourself certain internal phenomena, sometimes called the reconstruction and growth of the soul. This can be done by providing the so-called body of the soul with appropriately noble food, created from our experiences and collected observations (war spoils) through the previously mentioned alchemical process.

It is this alchemical process that can be associated with the symbolic meaning of the number 10 and called giving the “tenth part”, i.e., tithing.

To justify this last statement, let us first focus on the role the number 10 plays in the decimal numeric system. Let us mention here that this system was already used in the Vedas[2], the older texts of which were written over 1000 BC. At that time, the zero symbol – so familiar to us – was not applied (it was popularised only in the Middle Ages), but other symbols played a similar role. The remaining digits also had forms different from modern ones.

Note that in this system the number 10 symbolises both the end of the cycle of numbers from 1 to 9, and the beginning of a new cycle of larger numbers from 11 to 19, as well as the beginning of the cycle of tens: 10, 20, 30 … So it is, in a sense, information about taking the number 1 to a higher level.

It is easy to see that the meaning of this symbolism does not depend on what characters we use to denote digits. Therefore, in the following, to simplify our considerations, we will use modern ways of writing numbers and refer to them.

Building on what was written earlier, we can treat the number 10 as a symbol of a phenomenon that ends an earlier cycle and is qualitatively at a higher level than what was symbolised by the number 1 (and possibly subsequent digits). So, if we assume that the number 1 means the initial, natural state of human life, then the number 10 may be associated with a higher, as if in some way completed, state of being. Clearly, the role of the zero symbol is very significant here.

A similar meaning of zero can also be found in other passages in the Bible. For example, in the concept of Pentecost associated with the number 50 (cf. Acts of the Apostles 2:1-4), where the number 5 (pentagram) means a new soul (often understood also as the higher, abstract mind), and the zero added after it symbolises the fullness of this soul and at the same time raising its state to a level enabling direct contact with the spirit (such contact is sometimes depicted as the Alchemical Wedding or Chymical Marriage[3]).

We can also mention the number thousand, which appears several times in the Bible – e.g. in the expressions “till the thousand years were finished”, “they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years”, “the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished” and “shall reign with Him a thousand years” (see NKJV, Revelation 20:2-6). In this case, the number 1000 can be treated as a symbol of elevating the ordinary state of being (represented by the number 1) to a much higher level marked by three zeros, which can be associated, for example, with completing the ability to absorb and process the experiences of one’s life (so-called karma) on the planes of three states of existence, that is at the levels of: the ordinary body (including the etheric, astral and mental spheres), the soul striving for the Spirit, and the renewed soul already connected (alchemically married) to the Spirit. It can also be related to the three stages distinguished by the Cathars: listeners, believers and the perfects.

Let us now return to the concept of tithing. The process described by the number 1 – i.e., ordinary life – is completed by the emergence of the human ability to fully accept impressions as they come, without judging them by referring to previously acquired prejudices. This is possible by maintaining a naturally neutral attitude towards all perceptions – the so-called empty (unconditioned) mind, symbolised by the digit 0 appearing after 1 (in the number 10). Then, the fully conscious understanding of the essence of these impressions transforms them alchemically into the previously mentioned very subtle matter, perceived only extremely vaguely by our ordinary emotional and mental faculties, as very fleeting phenomena – generally considered as some kind of illusion associated with premonitions of something unusual. Sometimes we notice such very ephemeral, subtle and indefinite impressions when we come into contact with, e.g., unusual works of art.

Tithing can also be identified by multiplying by 10 the value (in the spiritual sense) of what one perceives inwardly and externally – as if increasing the “vibrational level” of these impressions tenfold. Of course, this does not mean resorting to any types of exaltation, but only full concentration, attention and awareness of what you are doing and/or what is happening, as well as your own reactions to it.

The conditions facilitating such activity are created in the already mentioned Gnostic spiritual schools, which provide contact with energy called the Gnosis, that supports and actually enables the entire process. Certain meditation and contemplative techniques also serve this purpose.

Let us return for a moment to the earlier quoted fragment of the Bible. The figure of the king of Sodom appears there, who – according to accepted connotations associated with Sodom – can be considered to symbolise the tendency we often observe in ourselves to identify strongly with our role in the ordinary world. He is mainly interested in people, i.e., social relations, because they provide him with a sense of the meaning of his own life. But Abram declares that he wants to offer the king of Sodom all the spoils that are due to him, because by keeping even some of them he could create unnecessary connections with aspects of ordinary reality. This part of the acquisition (i.e., spoils of war) consists of all impressions, including the most beautiful and sublime ones, which for some reason cannot be properly refined. You should part with them – without regrets – by giving up competing with other people for things that are not necessary in your life, i.e., except only what the young men (our basic ordinary nature) have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre (the part of the human being that consciously acts in the world and therefore must be interested in it to some extent).

For in the case of this highest, aspiring part of us (called Abram), not only relationships with people, but also all other connections with ordinary reality must be either left behind, or sublimated and take place as if on a higher level, without any self-interest (even if it is very noble). It is a way of receiving perceptions through the mind, which is not prejudiced and conditioned by expectations (it is non-conceptual) – as much as it is possible in a given situation.

But what about all the other details in the Bible passage that has been quoted? Do we need to analyse them all in detail to reach more fully the essence of the message? In principle, this is not necessary and many of these details and their interpretations can be omitted, because they serve to satisfy the hunger of the conceptual mind for knowledge and help to hide from it (in the situational context) deeper, more significant information – according to the axiom, which states that what is sacred is not offered to the ordinary mind [4].


[1] See: P. D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, ch. IX.

[2] The word véda comes from Sanskrit and means knowledge and wisdom.

[3] See: J. van Rijckenborgh, The Alchemical Wedding of Christian Rosycross, v. 1 and 2, The Rosycross Press.

[4] See.: Jan van Rijckenborgh, The Light of the World, ch. VI, The Rosycross Press.

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Date: April 28, 2024
Author: Janusz Brzdęk (Poland)
Photo: Photo by Boston Public Library on Unsplash CCO

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