Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mother Goddess - From Myth to Meaning

In this article we try to see the connection as to how the imagery of the Christian Mother of God has been arrived at. In Roman Catholic iconography of Mary is often depicted as the Woman of the Apocalypse from the New Testament's Book of Revelation as described in chapter 12, "with the [crescent] moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars and crushing the head of the serpent" The most well known of these is the icon of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Taking from Upper Palaeolithic, Sumerian and Greco-Roman iconography, the early church fathers adopted the imagery of the Mother Goddess into the spiritual representation of the role of the mother of Christ. This is endorsed in the role defined by the Catholic Church as Mary being the new Eve. The original Eve who was created in God's image, as original Adam - male and female or the Mother Goddess, had been corrupted into lower level of consciousness through the prompting of the serpent (symbolizing the lower mind of duality).

" . . The word, "woman," aptly portrays Johannine symbolism with regard to Mary's role in giving life to the Life-giver as Adam calls his wife "Life" (Zwn') in (Genesis 3: 20), because she is the mother of all living, similarly John suppresses Mary's name, calling her simply "woman" in order to present her as the new Eve, the mother of all whom Jesus loves in the person of "the disciple whom he loved." John also never mentions this Disciple's name in order to emphasize his symbolic role. Thus, John proclaims the spiritual motherhood of Mary, the new Eve, with regard to the faithful represented by the beloved disciple."  ....................The New Catholic Encyclopaedia, V. 13, p. 139.

Though there is no direct or categorical and stringent proof of the dogma regarding the Mother of God that can be brought forward from Scripture, the first indirect scriptural passage can be inferred from the sentence against the first parents in which a promise was there to put enmity between the serpent and the woman: "and I will put enmity between thee and the woman and her seed; she (Johannine symbolism with regard to Mary's role) shall crush thy head and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel" (Genesis 3: 15).

The crescent moon symbol has its history going back to nearly 25,000 B.C. The archaeological dating of the statue of "Venus of Laussel" who carries a bull horn, in the shape of a crescent moon, with 13 notches carved. Joseph Campbell explains that this represents the menstrual  cycle of a potent mother and the corresponding lunar cycle. This is probably the oldest evidence of the Mother Goddess cult from the Upper Palaeolithic period. The crescent moon also represents the cyclic death and reincarnation through mother earth which generates new life and consumes the lifeless matter at the end of a cycle.

The twelve stars represent the twelve constellations through which the precession cycle of the earth axis moves in approximately 25,772 years. This knowledge existed with scholars both in the Babylonian and Egyptian culture in the first millennium B.C. This symbolism which is shown around the head like a crown signifies the inseparable link between the human, planetary and cosmic consciousness, the realization of which is the basis of a fully developed spiritual being.

Crushing of the snakes head signifies the destruction or elimination of the duality of polar opposites which manifested itself in the fall of individual consciousness through eating the fruit of the" tree of knowledge" at the behest of the serpent. Serpent thus represents the Ego dominated consciousness.

Hence in the Iconic symbolism of the Mary, Mother of God we have our spiritual mother and a link to our Spiritual Father.

Divine consciousness in every individual is to be birthed from and re-emerged into the Cosmic realm only through the Divine Feminine represented by the Mother Goddess symbolism.

Love to you all.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Finding the Real Hero

"There are two aspects of the hero, I think. The hero is somebody whom you can lean on and who is going to rescue you; he is also an ideal. To live the heroic life is to live the individual adventure, really. One of the problems today is that with the enormous transformations in the forms of our lives, the models for life don't exist for us. In a traditional society—the agriculturally based city—there were relatively few life roles, and the models were there; there was a hero for each life role. But look at the past twenty years and what has come along in the way of new life possibilities and requirements. The hero-as-model is one thing we lack, so each one has to be his own hero and follow the path that’s no-path. It's a very interesting situation." ........Joseph Campbell

The human is by very nature (instinct) a social animal. From primates, he has been shaped by evolution over a 4 million year period to live in small tribes. With the invention of fire and tools about 2 million years ago, his social life became that of a warrior/hunter. The survival of the individual and immediate family, in those harsh times, depended on the survival of the tribe. The role of the tribal chieftain was in ensuring the primary levels of needs such as physical wellbeing, adequate shelter and a collective strategist in the long term survival of the tribe. But as man settled into an agrarian society the role shifted to the village chief. As man became more and more diverse in his capacities and the challenges of collective living and social hierarchies increased multi fold, the role of the chief protagonist shifted from the real world into the individual psychological realm. This is amply evident in the age of mythological consciousness as defined by Jean Gebser.
The advantage of the virtual protagonist was that there could be a hero for each life role. This what Joseph Campbell brings out as the evolutionary emergence of the mythological hero.

Carl Jung says in "The Archetypes and the Collective Unconsciousness" in the chapter on "Unconscious origin of the Hero"

"It seems that the libido has suddenly discovered an object in the depths of the unconscious which powerfully attracts it. The life of man, turned wholly to the external by nature, does not ordinarily permit such introversion; there must, therefore, be surmised a certain exceptional
condition, that is to say, a lack of external objects, which compels the individual to seek a substitute for them in his own soul..........."

This emergence of the cult hero identified through rituals and sacred mythologies dominated humanity through the evolution of consciousness from the mythological to the rational age.

With rapid development of human consciousness from the rational age to the integral stage, the nature of the hero himself has to change. Due to the extreme complexity of the current age of information and knowledge, the individual psyche rejects a common cult hero as this figure falls far short of the high level of role expectancy that is demanded of it. This role has also transcended from the highly individual to that of a collective sustainable ecological dimension. The hero himself has to evolve and morph into an individual and as yet collective requirement. This is the reason for Joseph Campbell saying " follow the path that’s no-path...."

To facilitate this evolution the first major hurdle that has to be removed is the duality of subject / object experience. The very reason for the emergence of the object driven mythological hero from the very depth of the individual has to now transcend all object perception and evolve in a pure subjective domain.

This is a process of spiritual experience and collective action in empowering individual cannot be externally driven as in the past but facilitated through a metaphysical ambience. To the new generation, this is the reason why rituals and all external diktats have become meaningless.

Love to you all

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Purification through Compassion

"According to the sutras, numerous eons ago, when the Buddha was an ordinary being, he took rebirth in a hell realm. He suffered gravely there as a result of his past negative karma.
He and a companion were forced to pull a wheel of fire on which a wrathful hell-guard was sitting, holding a burning club with which to beat them. His companion was so weak that he couldn’t pull the wheel anymore. The hell-guard stabbed his companion with a burning trident. His companion kept crying loudly and bleeding profusely. At that moment, with strong love and compassion, the Buddha developed enlightened aspiration, a vow to take responsibility for helping his companion and all the suffering beings from the depth of his heart, and he became a bodhisattva for the first time.
The bodhisattva begged the hell-guard, “Please have a little mercy on my suffering companion.” At that, in a rage the hellguard hit him with a burning trident. Because of the power of his strong compassion, the bodhisattva died and was liberated from the hell-realm. His evil deeds of many eons were purified instantly by the power of such enlightened aspiration. Thereafter, he started his journey toward the fully enlightened state of buddhahood." ............ Incarnation: The History and Mysticism of the Tulku Tradition of Tibet by Tulku Thondup

We are not here to debate on the eschatological issues or the concept of karma but this episode represents a beautiful way of illustrating the power of compassion.

 When I read this passage from the book, the immediate thought that struck me was the closeness of the event to the one in the life of Moses. To jog our memories, I tell the story here.

When Joshua, the Jewish stonecutter  sculpting a figure on Pharaohs temple, for which heavy stones were being hauled up, sees an old woman, who is applying lubricant on the leading edge of the stone, getting her tunic caught beneath the stone. rushes down and stops the hundreds of workers and cuts the woman free. The infuriated task master arrests Joshua and orders him to be chained in his garden for lashing punishment. Moses, who is also a lobourer at the work site, witnesses this and steals into the task master's garden and lies in wait and when the punishment is started grabs the whip end and strangles the task master. Joshua immediately calls him 'the deliverer' of the nation of Israel. This is the life changing moment in the liberation of the Jewish people from Egypt. This is a story again to illustrate how the inglorious past of a worldly prince, Moses, is transformed through an act of compassion into the liberating role and leader of a nation.

Compassion and empathy comes from the higher reaches of consciousness where a non-differentiated view of all that exists around us is seen as part of our self. This perception can only result from an egoless mind. In both episodes we see that the suffering of the fellow being is totally internalized and is felt as if it is one own suffering and pain.

Perhaps in Jainism, we have the total concept of compassion through its philosophy of "Ahimsa" or nonviolence. Bhagwan Mahavir said, "If you kill someone, it is yourself you kill. If you overpower someone, it is yourself you overpower. If you torment someone, it is yourself you torment. If you harm someone, it is yourself you harm."
The very core teaching of Jainism is non-violence. Positively stated, Jainism is a religion of compassion, universal love and friendliness. It aims at the welfare of all living beings, and not of man alone. It maintains that living beings are infinite, all so called empty spaces in the universe are filled with life energy.

Today, we know through science that there is no empty space. The whole universe is seething with vibrating energy.

Understanding this interconnectedness leads to universal compassion.

Love to you all