Thirty

The numbers thirty has a special meaning.

Horus entering the Narrow Gate with 30 stars,
Going forth by day (Egyptian book of the Dead)

The number thirty, understood with reference to the spiritual life, signifies the practice of the virtues.
-- Maximos the Confessor, The Philokalia (Greek Orthodox Christian text)
Out of thousands of birds that set out on the journey, only thirty birds from the outer world
contemplated the face of God in the inner world.
-- Fariduddin Attar (12th c. Sufi poet)

God refers to the God within oneself, the state of Divine presence.

Man’s virtue is that by which he seeks eagerly for God, and when he finds him, holds to him with all his might.
-- Bernard of Clairvaux (12th c. French abbot)
Call the stars virtues. -- Bernard of Clairvaux
As the sun journeys each day from east to west, thus making one day, while when it disappears night comes, so each virtue that a man practices illumines the soul, and when it disappears passion and darkness come.
-- Peter of Damaskos,The Philokalia

A virtue is that by which one eagerly seeks for the state of Divine presence. The thirty manfruit, thirty virtues, thirty stars or thirty birds, all refer to thirty ways to remind oneself to be present. For example, while reading this paragraph, one reminds oneself to be present by saying read, which means read with presence.The image of a manfruit, a virtue, a star or a bird, each show a different aspect of the state of presence. Manfruit is shaped like newborn babies, implying that one must get rid of all one`s attitudes and opinions and be empty-minded like a newborn baby, when one tries to be present. A virtue is a useful or desirable quality in a person, and presence is the most useful and desirable quality in a person, because this state is out of time and immortal. A star is a spark of light that guides one during the night. In the same way, a reminder to be present is a spark of light in the state of darkness that man spends his waking hours in, and guides him to the state of enlightenment. The image of a bird implies that the state of presence is as different from the normal state of man, as flying is from walking.

Thirty gods of the 30 days of the months, 1566 AD, Daihōji Temple, Toyama Pref.
Thirty gods of the 30 days of the months, 1572 AD, Daihōji Temple, Toyama Pref.
O Unas, look!
O Unas, hear!
O Unas, be there!
-- Egyptian Pyramid Texts

These two scrolls show thirty gods from Japan. They are called 30 Gods of the 30 Days of the Month, one for each day of the 30-day lunar month. There exist ten different groupings of these Gods in Japan, some related to Buddhism and some to Shintoism, each protecting one day. A day symbolizes a breath.

You will find the day spoken of as the breathing.
-- Bernard of Clairvaux

These thirty gods also symbolize reminders to be present. Each reminder is timed with one`s breath, so that one is present for one breath.

To breathe consciously means passing from one breath to the next in presence, not in heedlessness. Do not allow a single breath to be drawn empty and heedless of God. -- Kashghari (15th c. Nakshbandi Sufi)
Return to Chapter 24