Many years ago a book came out called The Art of Inner Listening. by Jessie Crum.
It is long out of print. In it she described how she had asked questions of herself, and then learned to go very still and listen deeply for the answers. These she wrote down, and published in the short guide book. The answers were often in beautiful language and full of insight. She provided a useful step by step approach as to how to do this.
Anyone who has tried this, or done many of the various forms of journalling that use similar techniques, will know how rich the response can be. The words that gently settle in the mind are often poetic and have a subtle beauty. Read later, they can appear as though someone else entirely has written them.
The source appears wiser than we are.
So what is the source?
There is a consensus view in science that everything started with the Big Bang. (The Pope recently agreed.)
The scientists who hold this view suggest there was a 'Singularity' and from this Singularity everything in the Universe came into existence.
The scientists – who tend not to have a training in Philosophy, Theology or Ethics – suggest nothing meaningful can be said about "What was there before the Big Bang?" or "Where did the Singularity come from?"
After the Big Bang, they (the scientists) can hold forth in great detail about what happened in the first second or first three seconds and so forth.
An aunt of mine was fond of saying "there is no justice in this world and probably none in the next”! As she was a minister's wife, living in a vicarage, we may rightly conclude her tongue was somewhat in her cheek when she said this. The first part of her statement can appear true on occasion. There can seem to be so many injustices in this world of ours. Dictators can apparently commit crimes with impunity. Drug barons can become exceedingly wealthy. The great forces of Nature can wreak havoc equally on the virtuous and the unjust. It is only human to wonder "Does God care? And is God fair?"
Michael Douglas committed a stupid indiscretion in the film Fatal Attraction. Having been briefly unfaithful to his wife, he and his family are pursued in a way that is truly scary. To be attracted to Alex Forest (Glen Close) in this story at least, is a fatal mistake. The Ancient Greeks would have understood Mr Douglas’s dilemma. To act in this way was indeed to put himself in the power of the Fates. In Greek Mythology there were three Fates, one who span, one who measured and one who cut life’s thread. If we are unlucky in love or in business, or if good fortune visits us, we may believe that it is just a matter of fate. Does this mean that our world is indeed capricious? Or is there a serious idea behind the myth of the Fates?
If, as many believe, the world is indeed capricious, then my aunt's first dictum is probably correct. There is much that we can see and indeed experience ourselves, where justice does not appear to have been done. At the time of the recent devastating tsunami, the news was full of reports about what a challenge this was to ‘people of Faith’. If acts of Nature are indeed arbitrary, then we would be right to question whether God is infinitely Good and Absolutely Just.
If our perspective is limited to the tiny portion of space and time that we personally experience, then we may well question Divine Justice. Any event in time and space may appear unjust, for by definition we can only see it in part. Even the most elaborate computer that we might envision, cannot calculate all the possible causes of a given event, nor can compute all the possible outcomes until the end of the time. Yet, such a vision would be a necessary yardstick in order to judge Divine Justice.
If we conclude that we are "only bodies", then the world in which we live does indeed look capricious. If we accept as a working hypothesis or if we know in the depths of our being, that we have a Soul, then our perspective can be entirely different. The Soul participates in time and space. However, the Soul is not limited to time and space. It is at this Soul level that we need to consider the question of Justice. If we reflect on the idea that the Soul has really been gifted with free will, then certain conclusions inevitably follow. For free will to mean anything, the Soul has to live with the consequences of its choices and its actions. If this was not the case, then free will would really have no meaning.
If we consider the individual at the level of their body, then they may appear subject to grave injustice. If we recognise that every individual is a Soul, then we can hold, at least as a working hypothesis, that the Soul has chosen its current experience. It is from this viewpoint that we may be able to conclude, that every experience a Soul receives is the most timely and perfect that can be imagined. For if this was not so then God’s Justice would be less than perfect. God would not be the Good. This would be a contradiction in terms.
By this he meant being conscious and aware of what we do and using our best understanding. Our behaviour is then prudent rather than impulsive. The second is ‘courage’. It takes real fortitude to do what we know is right rather than what may be expedient. The third has been translated as ‘moderation’. If we are moderate, then we avoid the excesses of our emotional life. This does not mean we become coldly calculating but rather we warmly embrace life, avoiding extremes. With these three virtues operative we will, according to Plato, enjoyed the fourth virtue which is justice.
To live a virtuous life does not mean to emulate being uptight and Victorian in all that we do. It means to be fully human, because the word virtue has as its root (in Latin and Sanskrit) the word vir or ‘man’. In other words to be virtuous is to embrace our full humanity. In so doing, we leave behind the world of the Fates, and participate in the realm of Providence.
To live a life providentially is to "go with the flow". However, the flow in this case is of divine origin rather than being merely worldly. For, to the degree that we can participate in Providence, we can recognise that there is both justice in this world as well as the next.
This article was first published in the magazine New Vision.
One of the most famous adventures of Odysseus, is when he comes up against the Cyclops. These one eyed monsters live on their own island (which some say is Sicily!).
Odysseus arrives with twelve sailors and starts exploring. He finds a cave and decides to enter!
(For his previous adventures click on 1 or 2 below)
Polyphemos and the Cave
The Greeks, accustomed to plundering, steal cheeses and lambs from the cave. Odysseus is interested in who lives there and remains behind with his men. A huge creature blocks all the light from the cave entrance, and proceeds to roll a stone to block it, that twenty teams of horses could not shift. Expecting hospitality (for Zeus punishes those who do not offer it) Odysseus makes himself known, but the great giant, Polyphemos, with one eye in the middle of his forehead has no time for Zeus and hospitality, and promptly eats two sailors raw!
Odysseus dare not kill the giant with his sword, as they cannot move the stone, and at dawn the hungry monster breaks his fast with two more hapless sailors, and leaves, rolling the stone across the entrance. Wily Odysseus plots their escape, and using a club of olive wood left by the giant, they sharpen it and harden the point in the smouldering fire.
When Polyphemos returns, he eats two more sailors and, drunk on Odysseus's wine, asks his name, and is told 'Nobody'. When he falls into a drunken stupor, Odysseus and the remaining six sailors drive the stake of hardened olive wood into his eye, blinding him. He screams out and other giants come running to help him. when they ask who is hurting him, he responds "Nobody is", so they ask him to quieten down and go away.
The giant guards the entrance to the cave when the sheep and goats need to get out, so Odysseus groups them in threes and ties a man under each group; he leaves hanging under the biggest ram. Polyphemos feels their backs but misses the fleeing mariners.
When they reach their ship Odysseus calls out a taunt, and reveals his real name. the outraged giant hurls a rock that nearly sinks their vessel, and Polyphemos calls on his father Poseidon to avenge him, ensuring Odysseus has a most uncomfortable journey home.
There are various motifs here that are indicative:
This is a beautiful analogy of the skull, bearing the brain and the mind. Odysseus enters in as a thief. He has no idea whose cave it is or that he might be in real danger. His arrogance leads to the death of six of his sailors.
This lawless giant (and shepherd) devours human beings. He can be seen as the baser instincts and the lawless mind. He is destructive and indolent (and so represents the way the crew of Odysseus were raping and looting, as well as 'under the influence' in the land of the Lotus Eaters).
The one eye lacks perspective. It is also suggested by Rudolf Steiner that such a single eye (or three eyes) represents an older clairvoyant awareness, whose time has past. Odysseus is moving on to the power of reason and (eventually) spiritual intuition.
Olive wood club:
The olive features five times in The Odyssey, and is associated with Athena (who is helping Odysseus's son, Telemachus to find his father). In other words the presence of the olive suggests the deployment of wisdom.
The sharpening of the wood:
The making a sharp point and the hardening in the fire both symbolise the use of intellectual power, and being 'one-pointed' about things.
By putting out this one eye, that clairvoyant faculty is blinded or restrained, and also instinctive wild emotion or dream consciousness no longer drives thought.
Clever means of escape:
Polyphemos blinded, says 'Nobody' is hurting him. Odysseus uses his cunning to escape under the sheep and goats, rather than riding on them. The power of Polyphemos has been limited and Odysseus can get away from the limitation of this archaic form of thinking.
Taunting the son of Poseidon:
However, Odysseus is still is foolish enough to taunt the immortal giant, who calls out to his father, Poseidon, to revenge him and nearly destroys Odysseus's ship. Odysseus still has much to learn.
Poseidon, God of the 'Waters of Transiency') is ruler of the realm of life where Odysseus is. It is his tempestuous environment that Odysseus has to contend with, and by blinding the Cyclops he makes an enemy of Poseidon.
Dealing with the one-eyed Cyclops is the first step taken by Odysseus to rise above instinctive consciousness, and to - essentially - wake up.
He manages to escape the limitations of dream-like thought and takes the first tentative steps towards wisdom, hanging on the underside of a sheep (sheep's wool is symbolic of knowledge and wisdom as in the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece)
Odysseus is beginning to think, and not just react.
The first post in this series can be found here.
Warriors will be warriors
Land of the Lotus Eaters
The whole story of the Odyssey can be seen as the journey of the Soul back to its Source. More precisely, it is a journey in awareness, and the awareness is that of Odysseus. Odysseus's name means wrathful, he is an angry man. We also know he is a clever man, The anger never leaves Odysseus, and he draws on it when he finally gets back to Ithaca, and has to deal with the feckless suitors and their faithless maids.
At first, his mind is unwise. This is represented by the rape within the temple of Athena. The band of sailors is beaten back by the Cicones.
Their next trial is to even be bothered. It is easy simply to stay in a state of lethargy. Soul culture, soul growth, training the mind and hear and will, is hard work. Mostly the indolence and lethargy of the untutored soul has to be overcome. One of the major inner battles is against inertia.
Odysseus, being a hero, knows this and thus forces his sailors, less developed aspects of himself, back on the ships and their return journey.
This will bring him against one of the most fearsome of his opponents, a story we will consider in the next post.
The first two ports of call for Odysseus represent the great interior trials of the Soul, underpinning much else. He has to deal with:
A good friend once told this writer that the Iliad and the Odyssey are the story of the phases of the Soul.
The Iliad tells of the descent of the Soul into matter.
This becomes quite clear when we look carefully at the Odyssey and how the story is constructed. The confirmation comes particularly with certain stages of the story, as when Odysseus arrives without clothes to be found (and dressed) by Nausicaa on the Kingdom of Scheria (Phaeacia); early in the story the blinding of Polyphemus is also indicative as we shall see.
But the story does not start with Odysseus, it starts with the Goddess of Wisdom Athena, and the search for Odysseus, lost since he set sail for Troy. His son, Telemachus, is encouraged to search for him. His home is in disarray, as suitors vie for Penelope's hand. There is not a moment to lose.
The story is set on the 'wine dark sea' of the Mediterranean, But Odysseus' journey cannot really be made to fit to any real geography, especially when some of the places he visits are so clearly states of being, rather than actual islands.
Our map, as we work through the key stages of the return to Ithaca, is more of a hierarchy of consciousness.
As with the story of Herakles, there are twelve testing places before Odysseus returns to his home and wife, Penelope.
Odysseus on his return, must deal with each of these twelve challenges. he is never really alone, although towards the end he feels as though he is. In the first part of the story, his son Telemachus (which means "he who fights for ends") seeks news of his father.
Telemachus represents the spiritual soul, the true soul purpose. This is why, in his seeking, Telemachus is always accompanied by Athena, or Divine Wisdom. However far the individual soul strays from its true purpose, there is always that part that has never left its true home or its connection with Divine Wisdom, and will search. This is why the story starts here with the son, before we meet Odysseus, for there has to be a stirring of spiritual yearning for the soul to move at all. And, as we shall see, Odysseus makes plenty of errors before he gets anywhere near Ithaca.
The stories associated with Masters often have elements of the hero's quest about them. Often divinity is involved with their birth, and miracles abound. Buddha has his time of wandering and his testing under the Bodhi Tree. Jesus also has his (supposed) travels and his testing in the desert. Krishna deals with demons.
With those Masters who did not found religions, there are elements too, like the wanderings of Pythagoras or the mysterious powers of the Theosophical Savants.
In this post we will consider the relevance of heroes to our own spiritual journey today.
In the recent post on Masters, we looked briefly at the life of Orpheus. His story rests somewhere between myth and history, as it is very likely there was an individual called Orpheus, and there was an Orphic School. However, his life story follows the pattern of that of a hero, complete with the (almost) obligatory visit to the Underworld or Land of the Dead.
He fits the pattern of a hero, because like so many he has to cope at some point with the Underworld. In our earlier consideration of the story of the Soul and Persephone, we saw how that myth indicated the Underworld was - in fact - this world, the Mundane, or in some cases Mundi. The great love of Orpheus, Eurydice, running from the amorous advances of a Satyr, dies through a snake bite. Orpheus, inconsolable, travels (safely, because the Gods love his music) to the Underworld to retrieve her. Hades and Persephone whose hearts are softened by his music, take pity on the couple. He is allowed to return with her following him, to 'the upper world' but only if he does not look back. But when he is safe, he looks back and she is lost to him for ever.
The full story is given here.
Meaning of the myth
Myths can be considered to have layers of meaning and are always worth thinking about as they reveal their treasures slowly. One way of considering this myth is seeing Orpheus and Eurydice as different aspects of the Soul. Orpheus is in touch with the harmonies of Apollo; he is the spiritual soul. Eurydice (whose name means 'wide justice') is that aspect of the soul that descends into time and space. She, entangled with baser desires (the satyr) receives the deathly bite of a snake and so enters the underworld (in other words the Mundane realm of 'dream existence').
Orpheus, the heroic aspect of the soul, is unable to sustain the divine law (the interdiction to 'not look back') and indicates the soul that is not yet ready fully to 'ascend'. So part of the soul (Euridyce) remains under the rule of Hades and Persephone.
Jason and the Argonauts
Jason, raised by a centaur (half man half horse), returning to his home, carries an old woman across a river. But she is Hera, Queen of the Gods, and gets heavier and heavier. He struggles and loses on gold sandal.
Later he travels with other heroes (the Argonauts, who include Orpheus and Herakles. to recover the Golden Fleece from Colchis. If he is successful, he will gain his father's throne.
On the way he has various trials, which he largely succeeds in overcoming. Herakles leaves them along the way (having lost his lover, Hylas). He copes with the Harpies, and like Odysseus, learns how to manage to get past the clashing rocks. When he arrives at Colchis, where the Golden Fleece is to be found, he is seen by Medea, the beautiful daughter of the king, but one who has the powers of a sorceress.
She helps him with the task of dealing with the dragon's teeth that turn to soldiers, and the yoking of two great bulls; Medea guides him in dealing with the dragon that guards the fleece. Her price, in his success, is to escape with Jason, and to marry him. She does this when they reach the land ruled by Alcinous.
Later, when Jason is unfaithful, Medea wreaks destruction on Corinth, where he rules, igniting the city with her fire breathing dragons.
A fuller version of the myth can be found here
Meaning of the myth
Each element of a story like that of Orpheus or Jason, or indeed Herakles and Odysseus, can be seen to have symbolic significance. The hero's journey is the journey of the Soul.
We will consider just a few of the elements.
The Golden Fleece
The golden fleece of the ram travels from West to East, and can be seen as representing the knowledge pre-dating both Egypt and Greece (some would say from the – Druids – of Ireland. This will be the subject of another post in due course.)
Jason, cannot carry Hera as he crosses the river (moving from the spiritual reality of the centaur to the ordinary world) and he loses one golden sandal. In other words he has not sustained all his youthful spiritual power and strength, but must now prove himself. To gain his throne by right - from his uncle who has usurped it – he must find the lost wisdom (Golden Fleece). His uncle Pelias who has stolen his throne represents ignorant power,
Jason gathers many talents in his ship the Argo. But in time he loses Herakles, whose lover, Hylas, has been abducted by a river nymph (Hyle = illusion). The loss of Herakles, who represents a Soul who has mastered all twelve challenges of the Zodiac, indicates Jason still has not overcome the illusions of this transient world.
Medea, (a sorceress like Circe who beguiles the sailors of Odysseus), loves Jason and is prepared to help him, provided he takes her with him. She – like Circe – has enormous power, for she can be seen as representing the power and knowledge of Nature. She therefore provides Jason with the wisdom to deal with the dragon's teeth, the two bulls and the dragon that guards the Golden Fleece.
As long as Jason is in right relationship with Medea, he is safe. he marries her when they reach the realm of Scheria and King Alcinous. The name of the King has the suffix 'nous'. The meaning of Nous as Highest Mind has been discussed here. Jason, in reaching Scheria, has attained the power of reason. He marries Medea there, meaning the powers of Nature are under the control of reason, and are safe.
When, later, he is unfaithful to Medea (unreasonable) then she wreaks havoc, using her chariot driven by two (duality) dragons. Like Circe, she is a goddess and cannot be destroyed.
Relevance of the Hero Myth
In the Lightworker and Spirituality Community (what used to be referred to often as New Age) there is much talk of Masters. This has been particularly influenced by the Theosophical Movement of the 19th Century. Prior to that, the masters tended to me drawn from the ranks of the Ancients, and might or might not include the founders of great religions, like Krishna, Buddha and Jesus.
We will look at known great masters, divine teachers, masters contacted telepathically and how (and when) masters may arise.
In the telling of his myth, Orpheus is decapitated, and his head floats to Lesbos. This indicates the dissemination of his teachings and how his ideas flowed on through time.
"HERMES, draw near, and to my pray'r incline,
From Orpheus' Hymn to Mercury trns Thomas Taylor
He plays a part in this novel. In one tradition he married the remarkable Theano from Crete, who led his school for many years after he died.
Pay honour first to the immortal Gods,
"The Tao that can be expressed in words is not the All-embracing and Immutable Tao; the name which can be uttered is not the Ever-applicable Name."
Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind
Plato The Republic
Just as with Jesus, there is a question over whether we are dealing with a God in human form, or a human that in some way transcends their humanity, so with Krishna, some see him as Divine as such and some as the Messenger of the Divine.
Beyond the Manifested there is another, Unmanifested and Eternal,
When the agitations of the mind are under control,
The Arrival of Theosophy
With the arrival of Madame Blavatsky and her extraordinary teachings, the Western World was introduced to a range of Masters reputed to be living in the fastness of Tibet or the Himalayan Mountains. Although the images above look like early photographs of these august teachers, it is unlikely that anyone took pictures of them in India.
As a psychologist, the current writer has always been perplexed at the lack of interest in the prolific writings of people like Helena Blavatsky and also Alice Bailey (whose works are shown above). Both claimed to have received teachings from "Masters'. In both cases the content of the teachings have been highly influential. The valuable school of psychotherapy called Psychosynthesis was developed by the Italian Psychologist Assagioli. He was directly influenced by Alice Bailey's teachings (amongst other things). He is reputed to have been one of the Disciples referred to cryptically in her writings.
The Problem with the Masters
With the Masters as described by Blavatsky (19th Century), Alice Bailey, David Anrias (early 20th Century) and many who have written since, much has to be taken on trust. With Saint Germain. Khut Hoomi, Hilarion, and The Tibetan we do not have direct access to their teachings, in writing or from those who have literally 'sat at their feet'. In each case their work is through the medium of those who received the words in some form of telepathic state.
With many of these masters, there have been a multitude who claim to have channelled their words, so a huge amount of discernment has to be exercised to differentiate between what might be the teachings of a great mind (received by one attuned to that mind) and the deliberate disinformation arising from either a discarnate being with mischievous intent, or the rearrangement of commonplace truths within the subconscious of the one channelling.
But knowing that certain writing is truly the work of a great mind, or indeed revelation, requires a certain element of trust. This applies in all cases. If we take, for example, The Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
These words were not spoken in the English language, however beautiful the King James version manages to be. Nor were they spoken in Greek. Can we be sure that they were written down as they were spoken (in Aramaic or whatever language we assume Jesus used). Or were they transcribed by an inspired genius decades later? Or possibly centuries later?
In the end, we have to judge the words according to their own merits and the beauty, truth and goodness of the ideas they convey. Although religions will claim the words of their scriptures have been protected by Divine Fiat, a glance at the different Bibles of Catholicism, Orthodoxy and the many sects of Protestant Christianity in America, will show that a bewildering number of versions of "God's Word" exist, each with subtle (and unsubtle) differences.
So the teachings of the known great teachers of mankind rest partly on the teachers being real and not fictitious, but more so on the wisdom of the teachings themselves. The persistence of teachings over great periods of time, when they have been the object of study and inspiration to generations of fine minds, is another indication that the ideas are worth careful reflection.
So what is a Master?
The very concept of a Master, suggest an exceptional being delivering a teaching necessary at a particular time, for certain historical groups or for humanity as a whole.
We need to address first the lack of women amongst the Masters mentioned above. There may be many reasons for this, and we should bear in mind that the Soul of each of us is both male and female. The expression of a teaching through a male body may reflect requirements both esoteric and exoteric, cultural and social. In the case of many Masters, there is often a woman who is absolutely crucial in the development and life of the individual.
Pythagoras was the son of Pythia, a priestess and his earliest teacher. Plato's mother, Perictione, is considered to have been of utmost importance in his intellectual development, as was the mysterious philosopher, Diotima for Socrates. With Jesus his mother Mary (almost certainly an Essene and trained in their wisdom) and – more controversially - Mary Magdelene (who some suggest was a priestess of Isis and whose true import has been deliberately distorted) were crucial to his fulfilling his destiny. Similarly, Krishna has Radha as his lover.
Sri Aurobindo, a Master within living memory, could not have done his work without 'The Mother' a French woman of remarkable abilities.
So although the teachings may be associated with a given man, the conception, reception and dissemination of those teachings required specific women (for example Blavatsky and Bailey).
The making of a Master
Various factors may be considered in the 'making of a master'.
They need teachers who are wise and steeped in a tradition. They need to be part of a tradition that can receive their insights and wisdom. Some, it is said, are God taught (without a teacher). This title was given to Ammonius Saccas of Alexandria. But even they need a tradition receptive to their revelation.
They have to have the right body (genetic constituency). This is one reason that the idea of blood-lines is emphasised with certain of the great teachers. Their ancestry is important.
We may assume that they are remarkable Souls. This does not require a belief (or indeed necessity) for reincarnation. But it is clear that the individuals listed at the beginning of this post were in no way 'run of the mill' and that they brought some extraordinary capacity with them at birth. Often their births appear to have miraculous elements. In today's parlance we would say they are 'old souls'.
We may suggest that in some way they can access the Higher Mind and the collective higher minds of the tradition to which they belong. In this way they are in tune with their times and their teachings have a huge impact at that time to those who can 'hear' what is being said to them.
All, without exception, have many moments when they are inspired, The Divine Spirit, raises their thinking and actions to a higher level of significance. They see further, their ideas fly higher. And with all true Masters, there is also Revelation. They are the conduit of a new Divine Teaching, that is not and cannot be in contradiction to any other Divine Revelation that has gone before.
Their teachings have a beauty and a simplicity and carry the spark of inspiration across millennia.
In the early 1980's if you went to a specialist spiritual bookshop in London, like Watkins, to find books about angels, there were virtually none. Ten years later, there were whole shelves devoted to the subject. Some books were of value, and many were not. Often angelology and psychic experiences are mixed up, when the two are dealing with entirely different realms.
The idea of an angel is also often mixed up with the idea of a 'Master'. How a master has become a master is often not specified. There are some in the lightworker community that talk of physical angels, or the idea that we will become physical angels during the process of ascension (see here and here) which adds a further level of potential confusion.
All the major religions talk of angels. Hinduism has its devas and does Buddhism. These differ a little bit from the western view of angels, but with many similarities. The Fravashis of Zoroastrianism are akin to Guardian Angels. Judaism, Christianity and Islam not only all have an angelology, often they share the names of the key Angels as with Uriel and Gabriel and Michael.
Christianity has been hugely influenced by the insights of a mysterious writer named Dionysus the Areopagite, whose true identity is not known. It is from him that we gain deep knowledge of the three Choirs of Angels or the Celestial Hierarchies. The writings originate (it is estimated) in the 5th century CE. In Rudolf Steiner's lecture series Spiritual Beings, he suggests that Dionysus the Areopagite was an Athenian mystic alive at the same time as Jesus, which is an interesting proposition.
So what is an Angel? The meaning of the word (from its Greek roots) is messenger. Indeed the Hebrew word has exactly that meaning. So an angel bears a message from Divinity. A useful key to understanding the real nature of angels is that they are Intelligences. They are not part of nature. they are not advanced human beings. Quite simply they are divine.
It is helpful in seeking to understand the mysteries of Spirit or Soul to differentiate which chief category of knowledge it falls under. The Hermetic doctrine suggests there are three, and this classification is incredibly helpful in understanding many mysteries.
The Divine is Eternal and Spiritual. The Cosmos (which means 'beautiful order') is not Divine as such, because it is created. It is under the Divine Law, but also under immutable Natural Law. The Cosmos may be seen as the perpetual showing forth of Divine Life through endless creation. It is characterised by multiplicity. Finally Man* is a principle separate from both the Cosmos and the Divine, and yet participating in Divinity and Cosmogenesis.
* Man here refers to the Principle of Man (and thus includes the Spirit which is neither male nor female, the Soul which is both male and female and the body with is either male or female.)
Part 1 of this post is found here
Ancient Alexandria was home to one of the greatest minds to walk this planet, namely Plotinus. Although he is considered a 'pagan'*, his writings have been hugely influential on Christian thought. He is considered by certain authorities to be equal in stature to Plato and Aristotle in terms of the power of his thought and ideas.
*Pagan is an interesting word, that relates to the dwellers in the countryside (Latin paganus meaning villager or rustic). The towns adopted the official religion of Rome, namely Christianity, quicker than those who lived in more rural, and less accessible, settings. Hence the non Christians were referred to as pagan.
Plotinus developed the theory of Soul more fully than any of his predecessors. As he uses the term (he of course spoke of psyche) it can refer to a 'world', zone or state of being, as well as the individual identity of a human being.
One definition that can be applied to the Soul is
"that which has its centre everywhere and its circumference nowhere"
The soul is not something the body has, tucked away somewhere. Rather it is the limitless reality that is the source of all that the body can do.
Soul can be seen as midway between Spirit and Body. The body is limited in time and space. Spirit is eternal and without any limitation. Soul is the principle that connects the two.
In this sense, Man (women and men) live in what has been called, "The blessed station of the midst". Created with an individual Soul human beings dwell between the eternal heavens and temporal Earth and can participate in both.
The Soul is a mystery and will not reveal her secrets quickly or to those who are not prepared to make an effort to seek.
The Delphic Oracle rightly stated "Man Know Thyself", for that is the journey of the self-realisation of the Soul.
The Soul is free, but that freedom may be curtailed by the Soul's own choices. The more she immerses herself in the world, its ways and its multiplicity, the less she will be likely to experience the simple unity of her essential nature. Identifying with the world, dims the awareness of that that is - to use Plotinus's word - Yonder (the Realm of the Divine Life)
Taken at the level of the individual, certain things can be said about the Soul.
The Soul is self-consciousness, or is the quality of self-consciousness. It is the principle that enables awareness of the continuity of self, throughout all the changes in an individual's condition. It provides the sense of 'I am'.
It would be wrong, though, to say that Soul can be defined as 'self-consciousness' as it is more than that.
The Soul is self-motivity. It moves itself, rather than being moved by another force outside itself (remember we are referring to the Soul here, not the body). In an earlier post here we mentioned the book Meditations on the Tarot. In that book, the anonymous author points out that the symbology of the arms and legs (on the Tarot cards), often refers to the will. The legs carry us where we want to go, once we decide to go. The arms and hands enable us to manipulate our environment, by picking up and letting go. When we act consciously, then that action (or movement) derives ultimately from the Soul. It is at the level of Soul that we have free will, rather than the level of the specific body.
The Soul is self-vitality. The Soul is alive and cannot die. It is not Life as such (that is a superior and Divine Principle) but it enables lesser natures to have life. This life is expressed through desires, instincts, appetites and similar. This is true of the individual Soul as well as what is described as World Soul.
The Soul is self-subsistent. The body and its faculties, as well as its characteristics and personality, persist over time. This permanence indicates a quality that 'stands under or sustains'. This is subsistence.
These aspects of the Soul and how they interelate are dealt with a a very fine book, recently republished after a thorough revision, called Plotinus and the Path to Liberation.
The Soul and the Mind
The Soul is self-conscious. However, the Soul is not the mind. Plotinus and ancient Greek philosophers were clear on this point. We saw in an earlier post that Hermes is necessary for Persephone to be released from Hades. The same idea is represented when the same caduceus bearing god protects Odysseus from the enchanting ways of Circe. His crew have become like wild beasts, but Hermes gives Odysseus a way to remain clear thinking amongst her charms.
Odysseus can only free himself from the clutches of the endless cycles of life, if he uses his connection with Divine Mind. That comes through his soul and through the god Hermes (the power of Divine Thought). When Hermes aids Odysseus, then Circe has no direct power over him. Rather she can help him with his journey home, for through mastering her realm (she is Divine herself), wisdom is revealed that enables Odysseus to journey further.
The Soul is self-conscious but is not self-gnostic. In other words all knowledge is not within the Soul but must be found by experiencing all the realms above and below. The self-gnostic principle for Man is nous in the Plotinian system of thought. Nous is at one with Divine Mind, and knows All.
Just as Hermes guides Persephone home, and helps Odysseus in his return to Ithaca, the Higher Mind is companion to the Soul throughout its journey. These gnostic powers range from the senses and instincts shared with the animals, through the speculative powers shared with higher animals, to reason, that is Man's alone. But above the faculty of reason lies Intuition*, where truth is beheld as whole and complete. And above Intuition lies Nous.
The Soul on its path of return, has to master these different powers of gnosis. Each have their part to play. But the City of God (if we may put it that way) will only be revealed to the Intuitive vision. It cannot be simply reasoned about, as its origin lies above human reason. And dwelling in the City of God comes through nous. where the Soul is raised to the its Spiritual Essence.
*Intuition as used here, is different from hunches, gut feel and instinct, which are about specific things. Intuition, in this context, is always impersonal and about universal ideas in relation to the All. Some describe intuitions as 'wholenesses of truth'.
We have already suggested that Soul may be considered as an individual attribute or reality, but also it refers to a World or Plain or Zone of the greater Reality of All That Is. Soul, as World Soul is the true dwelling place of all individual souls. It is where they are truly at home. It is where we are seeking to return.
World Soul, as an idea, is represented by Dionysus and by Osiris, and the myths of these two gods explain much about the relationship of World Soul to the Mundane World analogically 'below'. For more on the Mundane World click here and here.
In some systems the Ka would be considered the etheric double, and that it persists for a time after death. It is the energetic matrix that sustained the body, and when the body dies, this matrix is released, until it tiself eventually disintegrates. If you visit Egyptian temples you will often see stone doorways where the symbol for the Ka is inscribed. these were doorways for this part of the departed individual to use after death (presumably). It is represented by two upraised hands (see below).
The soul is represented more closely by the Ba, a bird figure, that departs when the body is mummified with all due ceremony. Initially it was believed only kings had a Ba, but later teachings suggested it was part of everyone.
The teachings of the Egyptians influenced Greek thought profoundly. Both Pythagoras and Plato acknowledge their debt to Egypt. Pythagoras studied in Egypt, and Plato talks of his ancestor, Solon, having learned about Atlantis from the Egyptians.
The Egyptian belief system was woven into the totality of their existence. the genius of the early Hellenic thinkers was to represent these ideas in a way that could be grasped by the intellect. That is why the study of early Hellenic myths and hymns is so rewarding. Much is hidden that is of value to a spiritual seeker even today.
The myth of Persephone is a case in point.
Hades is brother to Zeus. He is king of the Underworld whereas Zeus rules in the Olympian Heights. Hades has taken a fancy to Persephone, who is daughter to Zeus and Demeter. When Persephone picks flowers on the Isle of Sicily, Hades swoops upon her and abducts her (abduct being a gentle synonym for rape).
The Goose Girl
Key slides from a talk are given below. Play them in order both to understand the story and to see what it means.
Each slide has a caption. Fairy Tales release their wisdom bit by bit. they have many layers of meaning. What is suggested below is one interpretation ... and of course it is not the only truth.
That said, The Goose Girl presents in vivid imagery the journey of the Soul from innocence, through forgetfulness, and back to realisation and finally transformation. It is one of the most profound wisdom tales in the Grimm collection.
What ascends and how?
Man (men and women) incarnates (is born) in a body on earth. Once he passes beyond an entirely natural life, at one with the animal kingdom, a deep yearning may arise, to pass beyond the boundaries of earthly life, and return from whence he came. This happens, even if the memory of that Edenic place is vague. When such an awakening occurs, a flame is ignited within a woman or a man, that can never be extinguished. The things of this world don't fully satisfy any more. The path of return is the only path that provides real peace.
Tales of heaven, sacred gardens, angelic realms, the courts of Jove, the Grail, each speak of a state of being far removed from time and space; beyond a world of scarcity, pain and death. It is natural that the chance to 'ascend' from down here to up there, appeals to many who hear of that possibility, whether within a religious context or without. Mighty Norse warriors would happily die on the field of battle to obtain Valhalla, even as a Buddhist priest might set himself alight to free his country and achieve Nirvana.
The questions arise: what ascends and how does the ascent take place?
What is Ascension?
What does ascension mean? Since before the millennium the new spirituality has spoken of a coming time, often relating to the Mayan Calendar, when humanity or part of humanity would ascend.
If indeed there is ascension, and if it has been foreseen over hundreds if not thousands of years, then the ancient wisdom will also have a part to play in explaining what will or may happen, as well as the emerging understanding as we move further into 2012.
The Christian story, which contains profound echoes of other earlier traditions, provides clues as does the understanding of the Ancient Egyptians, the Greeks and their academies and mystery schools.
This important topic may take more than one letter. Understanding Mundi is essential to grasping what is going on in the world currently.
The Mundane has an everyday meaning of 'ordinary', 'commonplace' or even 'boring'. This is not how the term is used here. This idea comes from Ideal Philosophy. It refers to the world we live in as well as the material cosmos we are part of. It is people as well as trees, and animals as well as planets. It includes all nations and societies. It also includes hidden aspects, not known to current science, the etheric and astral realms. Everything technological is in the Mundane, as are all the arts.
The Mundane arises from three major principles:
Each of the terms above deserve several letters of their own, but we will offer a simplified explanation here. I hope it makes enough sense.
It is useful to see Soul as twofold, World Soul (Dionysus in the Hellenic System) and individual human Soul. In a sense, individual souls spring from World Soul (one meaning of Dionysus being torn apart ... there are others).
World Soul and individual souls have a ruling and creative aspect. They bring worlds into being. They are, from one point of view, the activity of the Divine in the realm of matter.
For anything to 'be' in the world, for it to have reality - to be real rather than unreal - there needs to be three aspects:
a material aspect (stuff as the Germans say), matter. This is sometimes called prime matter. In and of itself it has no qualities at all. It is before there are atoms. You cannot see it.
A life aspect that vivifies, animates or moves. Because for any material object to be, and to have reality, requires life; everything, without exception is alive.
A Soul or form aspect, that is the creative power making one thing a rose and another thing a dog. Their abstract form is different. (The doctrine of Forms, as you know, relates to the Master Plato!)
So the Mundane World results from these three fundamental causes in this model. (Other models also may work, but will have to provide adequate answers as to how things in reality arise.)
This leads to the conclusion that this Mundane World is one of effects. The causes arise at a 'higher' level.
There is one other point to make before moving on to Mundi.
When Nature and Matter are considered without Soul, you get the creation of the Cryptic (Greek Word) realm. This is a realm of natural forces and powers that 'underpins' reality. It is a life realm (all the power of Nature, and the Life spirits). This is the realm of gnomes and elves, fairies and salamanders. It is where ghosts find themselves. From within the Mundane realm this cryptic world is unreal. But within its borders, this cryptic realm is real enough to have consequences. This is why playing with 'the occult' is so dangerous.
Mundi is a term Frank O'Collins has developed. It does not contradict the above but has a different emphasis. It is referenced in the idea of axis mundi the World Tree, and the phrase sic transit gloria mundi (thus passes the glory pop the world).
Murray Morison is a novelist living in Crete
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When a teenage priestess, living 5,000 years ago in Ancient Egypt, connects with Rhory, an English schoolboy visiting the British Museum, she puts herself and him in grave danger.
Click here to learn more about M C Morison's time slip book
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The World's Oldest City
Is God Fair
Queen Nefertiti and Treasure in Turkey
Dark Deeds - Mind Lab
Darwin and the Mousetrap
One eyed monsters
Do Angels have wings
Psyche Soul and Mind 2
Psyche Soul and Mind 1
Atlantis Old and New 2
Atlantis Old and New 1
Secret space programme
Spirit and spirits
Awareness and Higher mind
The fake news war
Citizens hearings on disclosure
Understanding the Goddess
Thrive - did you miss this
Fake news and the alt media
Ascension Part 2
Ascension Part 1
Mundi - a mind trap
The Mundane and mundi 2
The Mundane and mundi 1