Interesting Similarities between "Seven Valleys" and "Seven Heavens"

Jun 2014
In the Seven Valleys, in the Third Valley, or the Valley of Knowledge, Baha’u’llah writes the following:

"Yet those who journey in the garden land of knowledge, because they see the end in the beginning, see peace in war and friendliness in anger.

Such is the state of the wayfarers in this Valley; but the people of the Valleys above this see the end and the beginning as one; nay, they see neither beginning nor end, and witness neither ‘first’ nor ‘last.’ Nay rather, the denizens of the undying city, who dwell in the green garden land, see not even 'neither first nor last'; they fly from all that is first, and repulse all that is last. For these have passed over the worlds of names, and fled beyond the worlds of attributes as swift as lightning. Thus is it said: ‘Absolute Unity excludeth all attributes.’ And they have made their dwelling-place in the shadow of the Essence."

Comparing this to the accounts of the prophet Enoch ascending through the seven heavens (namely, the Second Book of Enoch) and to accounts of the prophet Muhammad ascending through the seven heavens (namely, Ibn ‘Abbas' Primitive Version) yields some interesting points of similarity.

Baha’u’llah’s words characterize the first two valleys as being places where dichotomy rules, where the seeker sees the world in terms like “first and last”, “good and bad”, “war and peace”, “friendliness and anger”. He then states that the Third Valley is the valley where the seeker starts seeing “the first in the last”, “good in bad”, “war in peace”, “friendliness in anger”. Baha’u’llah characterizes the seekers in the last four valleys as seeing the world as Unity and no longer seeing the world as dichotomy, no longer good nor bad, no longer first nor last.

Accounts of Enoch’s ascent through the Seven Heavens makes mention of dichotomy in the Third Heaven, where Enoch witnesses both Paradise and Eden, as well as witnessing Hell and its torments, within the Third Heaven. This is a very clear dichotomy within this Heaven.

Eden is also the location of the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”. According to the story of creation, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of this tree they broke God’s Law and were cast out of paradise. Eating the fruit of this tree, they began distinguishing “good” from “evil”, and thus this moment is mankind embracing dichotomy and rejecting divine unity.

Enoch’s story tells of places of torment within the Second Heaven (where the fallen angels are imprisoned in darkness) and the Third Heaven (where the unrighteous are tortured in a hell of darkness and black flame) alongside the Heavens, but ceases mentioning such locations past the Third Heaven, as if the dichotomy of Paradise and Hell has been left behind.

Accounts of Muhammad’s ascent through the Seven Heavens are even more interesting to me. During all of the first three heavens Muhammad encounters symbolic dichotomy. In the First Heaven, he witnesses Adam sending souls through either a horrible door or a glorious door, depending on the nature of that soul.

In the Second Heaven, Muhammad encounters the angel Azrael, who governs death, and is attended by Angels of Mercy, made of light with pleasant and sweet words, and also Angels of Wrath, made of darkness and with weapons and words of fire. These angels receive the souls of the dead, depending on the nature of the dead.

In the Third Heaven, like Enoch, Muhammad sees the Heavenly Paradise of the Third Heaven, but also sees through the “Gate of Protection” into Hell itself to witness the torments therein.

Then, when Muhammad enters into the Fourth Heaven, the symbols of dichotomy no longer appear in his story going forward. In fact, the first group of angels he meets in this heaven are engaged in constant prayer of the words “Praise be to the Creator of darkness and light, Praise be to the Creator of the sun and the shining moon; Praise be to the Highest of the High.” This is essentially a prayer of unity, praising God for both darkness and the light, and for the sun and the moon. Two traditional dichotomies, light/darkness and sun/moon, all placed as one in God’s Creation.

So just an interesting synchronistic thing I noticed working on a research project of mine, in that Baha’u’llah’s words in the Seven Valleys about the higher valleys being characterized by a rejection of dichotomy lining up quite well with both the story of Enoch and the story of the Mi’raj, where Enoch and Muhammad encounter dichotomy in the earlier three heavens, but not in the later four heavens.
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