The Ramsund and Gök rune carvings must be amongst the most surreal images seen on rune carvings. The roots of the images can be traced back to the 6th-century Goths who had a permanent settlement in the Crimea in the Black Sea and were described as philosophers, “written with a Greek pen”.
What did philosophy mean in the 6th century BC?
Zalmoxes, teacher of the Goths, was a favourite student of Pythagoras, who was a contemporary of the Buddha Gotama in India. The shapes of the runes are the same as symbols found on Linear A and B clay tablets found in Crete. Were the symbols used in Crete designed by Pythagoras, were the mystic numbers of Pythagoras, thought to be lost to the world, based on concepts taught by the Buddha? When comparing the numbers found on many high quality 6th-century objects such as the Vix crater that was cast in Sybaris, the neighbouring town of Croton where Pythagoras was teaching how to find past lives and in this way to purify the mind, the same as Dependent Origination first taught by the Buddha, it is clear that the same numbers used by Pythagoras were also used to explain the system of meditation originally taught by the Buddha. The numbers are found on illustrated on an endless number of objects in Europe.
One thousand years later, in the fourth century, the Elder Futhark rune alphabet with 24 runes was developed to write votive messages on stones with images that depicted meditation concepts to celebrate a millennium of meditation practice. After 1,500 years the rune carvers made new rune stones to commemorate the ongoing practice of meditation techniques in the tenth century, now a shorter version of the runes were used, the Younger Futhark with only 16 symbols. The number 16 represents Sixteen Insight Knowledges that is a summary of the steps of meditation practiced only by advanced meditators who will attain liberation, if practiced successfully.
The Ramsund and Gök rune stones were designed around the tenth century to provide a source of information for both laypeople and advanced meditators. The image of a camel on the Gök stone tells that there had to be a special guest, a visit of a special teacher from the East who traveled on a camel along the northern Viking trade routes with the East, the camel is not only seen on the Gök stone, but also on the Meigle I Pict stone in Scotland. Meditation was still practiced with a high level of competence, as can be seen on the complex combinations of numbers used in the rune carvings and on objects such as the massive silver pict chains and golden collars of Sweden from the 4-6th century, which were again repeated on the 10th century Rök stone but as rune lines - the underlying structure of numbers that was used by the designers of these objects can be found in the meditation system that was originally taught by the Buddha and is found summarised in the Abhidhamma. A small 6th-century Buddha statue from the Swat Valley in Pakistan is evidence that the Scandinavians not only traded but also studied formal Buddhism in India, Bactria and China.
When the Ramsund and Gök rune stones are investigated with this background in mind, the images reveal that Vikings were not the merciless robbers and killers described in texts, but that the faces of images have the gentle and calm smiles of meditators who know that they are rooting out their personal defilements of anger, greed and jealousy. The characters illustrated on the stones aspire to live a life of generosity with the aim to cut the roots of all defilements with the sword of wisdom to attain inner peace, described by the runes on the Ramsund and Gök stones as "the highest value”.
All contents is the personal view of the author.
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