Dr Campbell’s “The Inner reaches of Outer Space” is a book which draws the main lines of his thought. In the first chapter, he speaks about mythic motifs. As he sees them, they relate to a life beyond death, where there are malevolent and protective spirits. These spirits, or as Adolf Bastian calls them, elementary, ethnic or folk ideas, are the differing manners of their representation, interpretation, and application in the arts and customs, mythologies and theologies, of the peoples of this single planet. There are two aspects to these motifs. The first one is a universal aspect, which is connected to psychology and symbology, and a local one, which is the one studied by historians and ethnologists.
Universal aspects are, as Dr Carl Gustav Jung calls them, archetypes of the collective unconscious. They transfer the emphasis from the mental sphere of rational ideation to the obscure subliminal abysm out of which dreams arise. The imagery of a dream is metaphorical of the psychology of its dreamer, just as mythology is metaphorical of the psychological posture of the people to whom it pertains. This posture is intended to shape the community and its beliefs about the cosmos, the position of it and its connection to its people. The Africanist Leo Frobenius defined the sociological structure coordinate to such posture as a cultural monad, meaning that every feature of such a social organism is expressive and therefore symbolic of the informing psychological posture of the community. The monad functionality is therefore looking at the psychological stance in relation to the universe of the people, whether great or small, to whom the monad is the cohering life. What an ethnologist or historian study, therefore, is the relevance of its myths, festivals, rituals or any other cultural metaphors, communities have created to disclose the structure and force of the nucleating monad. This obviously aims at understanding every feature of the culture and their spiritual sense.
Adolf Bastian understands these monads as local organisations of the number of ethnic or folk ideas of the represented cultures, constellating variously in relation to current needs and interests the primal energies and urges of the common human species. They are bioenergies of the essence of life, that when unbridled, become terrific, horrifying and destructive. These bioenergies or motivations, Adolf Bastian groups them in three. The first one is an innocent voraciousness of life, which feeds on lives and provides the first interest of the infant feeding on its mother. Psychologists have found recurrent nightmare themes, in which it appear the cannibal ogress, the cannibal giant, or the approaching crocodile, which are also features of the fairy tale. An example of this is the Hindu figure of the world mother herself as the goddess Kali, licking up with her extended, long, red tongue the lives of all the living of this world. The second motivation or bioenergy is the sexual, generative urge, which during the years after infancy comes with such urgency that in its seasons, overlaps the claims even of the first. Its representation comes as desire and longing, a counterpart of Cupid, symbolising the splendid youth, emitting a fragrance of blossoms, dark and magnificent as an elephant stung with vehement desire. The third and last motivation is the irresistible impulse to plunder (found from Sargon I of Akkad onwards). Psychologically, it is an extension of the bioenergetic command to feed upon and consume. However, the motivation is not of any such primal biological urgency, but of an impulse driven by the eyes, an impulse to possess. There are many examples of this in mythological stories. War lords of this kind, always tribal in their ranges both of mercy and of power, have abounded over the earth as the fomenting agents of world history. Indra of the Vedic Aryans, Zeus and Ares of the Homeric Greeks, just to give but few examples, were deities of this class.
So according to the just mentioned, the over-powers of this triad of god-given urgencies are feeding, procreating and overcoming. However, it is required an order of nature. An order of nature that is provided not by the three motivations shaping world mythology, but by qualities such as mercy, empathy, or compassion. These qualities are also a gift of nature, late to appear in the evolution of species, yet evident already in the play and care of their young of the higher mammals.
One of them as just mentioned is compassion, which is an impulse launched from the eyes and it is opened to the appeal of the whole range of living beings. One of the concerns of the elders, prophets and established priesthoods of tribal or institutionally oriented mythological systems, have always tried to limit and define the permitted field of expression of this expansive faculty of the heart, holding it to a fixed focus within the field exclusively of the ethnic monad, while deliberately directing outward every impulse to violence.
The life of a mythology derives from the vitality of its symbols as metaphors delivering, not simply the idea, but a sense of actual participation in such realisation of transcendence, infinity, and abundance. So it is this actual participation and the subsequent involvement, which makes the life of mythology life-lasting. The services of mythology are various but we are going to mention two of them. One is the opening of the mind and heart to the utter wonder of all beings. Another one is to represent the universe and the whole spectacle of nature, both as known to the mind and as beheld by the eye.
According to contemporary authors of his age and to Dr Campbell himself, the elementary ideas (as called by Adolf Bastian) or archetypes of the collective unconscious (as defined by Carl Jung) of this single species, which are claimed to be biologically grounded and at once the motivating powers and connoted references of the historically conditioned metaphorical figures of mythologies throughout the world, are, like the laws of space, unchanged by changes in location.
Mythologies are brought to life by artists, as those are who bring the images of a mythology to manifestation, and without images, there is no mythology. Through art, we view the features of an environment, becoming the latter transparent to transcendence, which is the way to vision of myth. In this way, features of special moment or objects of essential use, become symbolically significant, as do likewise personages in social roles of importance. Every functioning mythology is an organisation of insights of this order, made known by way of works of visual art and verbal narrative and applied to communal life by way of a calendar, of symbolic rites, festivals and manners, social classifications, pedagogic initiations and ceremonies of investiture, by virtue of which the community is itself mythologized, to become metaphorical of transcendence, participating with its universe in eternity.
As an example of these elementary ideas, or archetypes, which, as I mentioned, are functioning mythologies, we find the virgin birth, found all over the world, or the promised land, which must have come from a spiritual place on the heart, not by conquering a place, but to reach it by contemplation. So the promise land must be an idea of an inner reach of a divine god that is within us, something like heaven, the Tao or the Nirvana. Creation myths for example, in their mystical sense bring to mind the idea of a background beyond time out of which the whole temporal world with its colourful populations has been derived. However, in real, it justifies the supernaturally endowed moral order of some local culture. What this means? Amongst other things, that the social, as opposed to the mystical function of a mythology, is not to open the mind, but to enclose it. The social order binds a local people together in mutual support by offering images that awaken the heart to recognitions of commonality, without allowing these images to scape the monadic compound. But it also encloses communities into a unique world view, creating at the same time divisions between communities and geographic spaces. In contemporary times, this is something that needs to be thought of. As it seems that the planet is soon-to-be-unified. It is surely evident, therefore, that whatever the future mythology may be, its story of creation and the evolution of civilisations shall not be turned to the magnification of any one, two or three of the innumerable monadic instances in the vast polymorphic display, but to integrate all of them to make it as much diverse and inclusive as possible.
In the passage titled “Cosmology and the mythic imagination,” Dr Campbell commences by mentioning Emmanuel Kant, who states: “the laws of space are known to the mind because they are of the mind. They are of a knowledge that is within us from birth, a knowledge a priori, which is only brought to recollection by apparently external circumstance”. What this means is that the outer space is within us, outer and inner space are the same. We have been born from the space, since it was out of primordial space that the galaxy took form, of which our life-giving sun is a member. And this earth, of whose material we are made, is a flying satellite of that sun. We are, in fact, productions of this earth, we are its organs. All of this goes back to the theory of the Big Band. What has been described both as a great featureless mass and (more mysteriously and, therefore, perhaps more accurately) as an impulse (Ovidis deus), reached a maximum concentration that could be sustained no more than a billionth of a second when the inconceivable pressure of an entire incipient universe confined to a single point became converted into energy and mass, the primal twin manifestations of all perceived realities in what is known to the mind as space-time. This was already defined in Sanskrit as Maya.
Examples of this are various. The elementary idea of bodies such as Jesus, his mother or Elijah, going to the inner space, the return to the mind in spirit to full knowledge of that transcendent source out of which the mystery of a given life arises into this field of time and back into which it in time dissolves. Perhaps the old story of Alpha and Omega, in which the ground of all being, is to be realised as the beginning and end of this life. The imagery is physical and thus of outer space, such as for example objects, events or rulers. The inherent connotation, or its symbology, is psychological and metaphysical, of inner space.
This is the wonderland of myth. From an outer world, the world of our perception, the senses carry images to the mind, which do not become myth, however, until they are transformed by fusion with accordant insights, awakened as imagination from the inner world of the body. This is what we define in our world as the Buddha realms, the universal or elementary ideas, the archetypes of the collective unconscious, or the Marga (an Indian term for representations of deities or revered ancestors), as footprints left which if followed through contemplation, one attains self-rupture (Atmanananda).
Mythologies are considered to be works of art, however, their images represent sociologically and psychologically a degree of their opening of inner space of their function of the reach into outer space that they unclose. From the humanity of an awakened inner eye and consciousness, a vision released from the limitations of its local, tribal horizon might open to the world and even to transcendence. This is as black elk remarked to Neihradt when telling of this vision beheld from Harney Peak, South Dakota, as where is the centre of the world: “But anywhere is the centre of the world”. Said on a different way, when the inner eye is awakened and a revelation arises from inner space to meet impressions brought by the senses from outer space to the mind, the significance of the conjunction is lost unless the outward image opens to receive and embody the elementary idea, this being the whole sense of the transformation of nature in art.
It was in Mesopotamia, on the fourth and third millenniums BC, that a leap from Geography to the cosmos occurred. During these times writing was invented, also mathematical measurement, the wheel and the observation of the planets. It was then when it appeared the idea of a cosmic order, mathematically discoverable. In the cradle of civilisation it would have been the function of a governing priesthood to translate from its heavenly revelation an order of civilised human life. Kings, Queens and courts enacted an aristocratic manner in imitation of the celestial display, so when signs appeared interpreted as marking the end of an eon, they were ceremonially buried alive.
Ancient civilisations saw and connected the rhythms and structuring of the outer space with the functionality of the inner space. It was during this time that a vast concept took form of the universe as a living being in the likeness of a great mother, within whose womb all worlds, both of life and death, had their existence. Similarities in its functionality, meaning the way it worked the universe and the inner self must have occurred. As an example we find two apparently unrelated clocks, one, the ultimate clock of outer space, and the other of inner space, respectively the astronomical precession of the equinoxes and the physiological beat of the human heart, which must have projected a feeling of interactivity or even of a whole interdependence in ancient people. The mystery of the night sky, those enigmatic passages of slowly but steadily moving lights among the fixed stars, had delivered the revelation, when charted mathematically, of a cosmic order, and in response, from the depth of the human imagination, a reciprocal recognition had been evoked. Dr. Campbell speaks of the Bible’s flood of Noah’s Ark as a cycle of life, of the Finnish story of kingdom and also of the Jews staying outside Jerusalem, which all happen to have identical dating mathematical calculations. The idea conceptualised by the author is that the Human body is a miniature of the macrocosmic world / cosmos, so that an occult harmony prevails throughout the whole. Mythology and other relevant rites function is to make this known. The Tao is an example of this development of the micro-macrocosmic insight. The Dharma, which means virtue as conformity to the caste laws of one’s birth, is also understood to come from nature, so by conforming by it one supports and is supported by the universe.
Nevertheless, it was in Iran, in Ancient Persia to be more specific, during the times of the mystic Zoroaster (Zarathustra), that a radical enormously influential ethical protest against the uncritical submission to the will in nature broke forth. This break with the ordering of nature, with this cosmos-mystical insight system, brought the distinction between good and evil. According to the teachings of Zarathustra, there were two creator gods, Ahura Mazda, representing goodness, light, truth, and Justice. Then it was Angra Mainyu, the evil god, representing darkness, deception and malice. According to Zoroaster teachings, in the beginning Ahura Mazda created a universe of virtue and light, which Angra Mainyu then maliciously corrupted. The world in which we live is therefore mixed of good and evil. According to this view, man is not to put himself in accord with nature, as in other ancient and oriental worlds, but to make a decision for the good, to put himself in accord with the good, fight for justice and the light, and to correct nature.
Out of this new conceptualisation, a completely new mythology arose. Instead of the ancient Sumer-Babylonian contemplation of the disappearances of planets as revelatory of an order of nature with which society was to be held accord, an idea of good and evil, light and dark, even of life and death as separable, took hold, and the prophecy was announced of a righteousness of the order of nature. It is quite a difference how this ethical religious conceptualisation understood the concept of the cosmos, the position of humans with respect to the world and how nature is structured in regard to humanity. It was under Darius I, that Jews took this ethical conceptualisation of religion and assimilated it, as the Essen Dead Sea Scroll “The war of the sons of darkness” probes.
With the years, other significant changes occurred in the psychological environment of our species. One of them is that even though our perception makes us feel the centrality in the cosmos of the earth, thanks to a mental process we have found out, that it is the sun in the centre of our galaxy. This heliocentric universe has never been translated into a mythology. It is indeed with the influence of rationalism that mythology leaves the sphere of influence that during ancient times have covered. Nietzsche’s Zarathustra states: “Have you not yet heard that god is dead? The god in point, of course, being the named and defined creator, the god of the historically limited Bible. For the conditions, not only of life, but of thought also, have considerably changed since the centuries of the composition of that guide to truth and virtue, which with its deliberately restricted and restricting ethnocentric horizon and tribal “jealous god” is culture specific to such a degree that its folk ideas and elementary ideas are inseparably fused”.
Dr Campbell explains that to reach a mystical realisation, we must abandon a defined god and to choose an experience of transcendence, disengaging the ethnic from the elementary idea. He claims that any god who is not transparent to transcendence is an idol, and its worship is idolatry. Another important step to participate in the destiny of humanity, which is neither of one or another folk, but of the whole population of this world, is to recognise any single image of a god as but symbolisations of that same mystery beyond sight or thought which our teachers taught us to see in their god alone the centre is everywhere, like god, whose centre could be anywhere. The holy land is not special place. It is every place that has ever been recognised and mythologized by any people as home.
This understanding of the ubiquity of the metaphysical centre perfectly matches the lesson of the galaxies and of the Michelson-Morley finding that was epitomised in Einstein’s representation of the utter impossibility of establishing absolute rest. It is the essence of relativity and when translated from the heavens to this earth, it implies that moral judgement depend likewise upon the relation of the frame of reference to the person or act being measured.The same applies for these new ethical religions and their good and evil’s dualism. There is no absolute good and evil. So as Nietzsche suggested, if Zarathustra were to return today, his message would not be of good and evil as absolutes. The lesson of his first teaching, which was of integrity, has been learned. The lesson now, beyond good and evil, is to be of life. For as Nietzsche himself stated: “all ideals are dangerous, since they denigrate and stigmatise what is actual”. What Nietzsche claimed when he said that god is dead, was that all previous and current gods and beliefs are dead, that the new god have not yet been born. A god that is within you, a superman, able to create his own values and attitudes, without being influenced by any religious dogmas.
In those communities where agriculture was the main source of living and where communities established themselves in geographical areas and therefore understood the area in which they settled as their cosmos, had as main goddess the Earth’s fertility and life, with local forms, for the most part, of the Great goddess of many names, of whom all beings, even gods and daemons, are the progeny. These divinities were local representations of the powers of nature that indeed are the creative energies of all life. In these communities we find mythologies of the ever-returning cycles of unending time. Similarly we find the mystical philosophies and meditational disciplines of the inward, in which we find an individual quest for identification with the ground of one’s own and world’s existence. In contrast, conquering deities such as the Vedic-Aryan tribal deity Indra, Yahweh, the Olympian Zeus, Asur of the Assyrians, Tarhun of the Hittites; were all guardian family gods of the various nomadic herding tribes that throughout the second millennium BC invaded and assumed control over the cultivated lands and their temple-cities. Gods which were predominantly male warrior gods, champions, each of his special people.
There is a fundamental contrast in these two conceptualisations, as the sociological tribal gods are of a secondary, local-historical definition and relevance. Their swelling is not, and can never be, inward of nature, in the way of an immanent, pantheistic presence domiciled in the heart as the actuality of its life. As guardians, they are always invoked from out there. They are lawgivers, support-givers to those they favour and to those alone, since they are not of nature, but of a people. Consequently, when such a secondary deity, on achieving at some historical moment masters over a certain parcel of this earth, exalts themselves to a posture of omnipotence, like the Aryan’s Indra or Judaea’s Yahweh.
In the passage “Metaphors as myth and as religion,” Dr Campbell states that myths are productions of the human imagination, just as dreams. Their images, though derived from the material world and its supposed history, are revelations of the deepest hopes, desires and fears, potentialities and conflicts, of the human will, which in turn is moved by the energies of the organs of the body operating variously against each other in concert. Every myth is psychologically symbolic. Its narratives and images are to be read, therefore, not literally, but as metaphors. Mythologies are addressed, however, to questions of the origins, both of the natural world and of the arts, laws and customs of a local people, physical things being understood in this view as metaphysically grounded in a dreamlike mythological realm beyond space and time, which, since it is physically invisible, can be known only to the mind. And as the substantial shapes of dream arise from the formative ground of the individual will, so do all the passing shapes of the physical world arise from a universal, morphogenetic ground that is made known to the mind through the figurations of myth.
Authors such as Carl Gustav Jung or Dr Joseph Campbell believe these mythic figurations to be the ancestral forms, the insubstantial archetypes, of all that is beheld by the eye as physically substantial, material things being understood as ephemeral concretions out of the energies of this noumena. In this way, we understand that traditional forms of tools, dwellings, weapons, or any other material objects, have their justification in such everlasting models. Rituals are direct expositions of their life-sustaining patterns. Temples and the narratives of myth are hermetic fields within which those apparitions known as gods and goddesses, daemons, angels, demigods, incarnations and the like, typify in the guise of charismatic personalities the locally recognised vortices of consciousness out of which all aspects of the local theatre of life derive their being.
The first function of a properly read mythology is metaphorical and psychological, to release the mind from its naive fixation upon such false ideas, which are of material things as things-in-themselves. An example of this we find it on the metaphor of the virgin Mary, giving birth without the actual act of love. Another example is the historical fact of crucifixion, which has been created as a representation of the medium of salvation, with this latter term subject to a variety of interpretations. The founding myth has been that of man’s fall by the tree in the garden and salvation by virtue of the sacrifice of the God-man Jesus on the cross, whereby a mythological fall has become historicised as a prehistoric fact from the cradle of civilisation in 4004 or 3760 BC, and a historical crucifixion, AD 30, mythologized as the reparation for that fall. The result has been a blend of history and mystery of such compelling fascination that both the psychological and the metaphysical connotations of the metaphoric symbols have been all but lost in the pathos of the screen.
If we look at this matter though from a dispassionate point of view, the narrative of these myths open readily to its archetypal revelation. The fall, it is a variant, as universally known, of the separation of earth and heaven, where the consciousness of an intelligible presence informing all the transformations of the temporal shapes of the world is represented as having being in some way, at some moment, lost, with the mind and spirit of mankind then trapped in phenomenality alone. Mythology has been the universally practiced method to bring this intelligible kingdom to view in the mind’s eye. The promised land is any landscape recognised as mythologically transparent, and the method of acquisition of such a territory is, poetically, by intelligence and the method of art; so that the human being should be dwelling in the two worlds simultaneously of the illuminated moon and the illuminating sun.
In the passage the “Metaphors of Psychological Transformation,” the Yogic centres of energy are explained. According to this yogic psychological schedule, in the normal course of a lifetime, the biological urges generated from three pelvic spinal centres mature naturally in succession as the body develops through its first three and a half decades. According to Yogic thought, these, and these alone, have supplied the motivations of historical men, his effective moral systems, and his nightmare of world history. They are the centres of the basic urges, furthermore, that mankind shares with the beasts. These basic urges already explained in this article are to survive alive by feeding on other lives, to generate offsprings and to conquer and subdue. According to this Yogic way of understanding, the micro- and macrocosmos, the aneled awakening is achieved by the elevation of the human will to aims transcendent of this bestial order of life, which is achieved with Cakray, which is one of the centres of the heart.
This is exactly the way mythology works and what myths aim at reaching with its symbology: an awakening (metaphorically) to a new world (the promise land) and to life in the spirit (the virgin birth). In the way of nature one may experience, from time to time, glimpses of the world in this light. This should happen once the pelvic bioenergetic commitment have been honoured and fulfilled, so that, freed from the dictatorship of the species, one is released to live as individual. The disciplines of yoga and devotional religion are meant to facilitate and ensure attainment of this revelation. Following from this, the deity of one’s worship is a function of one’s own state of mind. But it also is a product of one’s culture ineluctably, the image of any god beheld will be of a local ethnic idea historically conditioned, a metaphor, therefore, and thus to be recognised as transparent to transcendence. Remaining fixed to its name and form, whether with simple faith or in saintly vision, is therefore to remain in mind historically bound and attached to an appearance, to an external product of one’s and a community’s creation.
So what can be done to reach that inner self, that divine that exists in us all? According to the Yogic way (according to Ramakrishma), at the threshold of the passage from time to eternity, which is in fact the plane of reference of the metaphors of myth, it is to lose yourself, together with the cosmos, in transcendence, following to the end the metaphysical connotations of the icons of devotion, disengaging altogether from their psychological hold, to the loss of the psyche itself. A majority though chooses a devotional way in faithful love to the icons. These are two worlds at once: a temporal one in the human appeal of their pictured connotations, while by connotation opening to eternity. We have as an example the Ramakrishma story of the mendicant monk trying to feel a devotional image and concluding that god was at once form and formless.
In the Yogic thought we find the “Brahman, existence-knowledge-Bliss absolute,” which is like a shoreless ocean, where finite ice meets infinite ocean. In the ocean, visible blocks of ice are formed here and there by intense cold. Similarly, under the cooling influence, so to speak, of the devotion (Bhakti) of its worshippers, the infinite transforms itself into the finite and appears before the worshipper as god with form. That is to say, god reveals himself to his devotees as on embodied reason. Again, as, on the rising of the sun, the ice in the ocean melts away, so on the awakening of knowledge (Jnana), the embodied god melts back into infinite and formless Brahman. Therefore people compare the love of god to the cooling lights of the moon and knowledge to the burning rays to the sun.
In terms of the ascent of the yogic lotus ladder, the ultimate aim of any worshipper of a god with form must be to come to rest forever in an eternal heaven, “tasting the ambrosial juice” of bliss in the presence of the worshipped form; whereas a fully aspiring mystic will be making every effort to pass through and beyond that moonlike reflecting image to extinction in the full light of the sun. In that state, said Ramakrishma, reason no stops altogether and man becomes mute. A salt doll once went to measure the depths of the ocean. No sooner did it get into the ocean than it melted. Now who was there to report the ocean’s depth?
The sun and the moon in the practiced disciplines of the Yoga of expanding consciousness are associated psychologically with two subtle nerves or channels, of “vital energy” (Pranik), known as Nadis, “stems or tubes.” These nerves are related to the breathing and breaths of the right, respectively, and left nostrils. They descend along the central spinal cord to right and to left of the Sushumna, ending with it together, at the Muladhara, Cakray I, which is accordingly known as Yuktatriveni, “three river junction,” this being in allegorical reference, in the way of a geographical land Nam identification, to the mythological junction at Allahabad to the Jumna, Ganges and (to mortal eyes invisible river) Sarasvati.
The right nerve, known as Pingala, is red. The breath that it carries from the right nostril to the Muladhara is of solar energy, representing “masculine,” fiery, poisonous and deadly; for the sun, as Ramakrishma has told, is of consciousness absolute and eternal, disengaged from space-time and temporal life. It is a blaze of sheer spirit, whose full force is more than corporeal life can stand. In contrast, the left nerve, known as Ida, is pale yellowish or white, and the breath that it carries from the left nostril down to the Muladhara is of lunar energy, associated with moisture, “feminine”, cooling and refreshing as dew. The moon, ever dying and self-renewed, is symbolic of consciousness incarnate in all living beings, suffering in each the pains of desire for the passing gratifications of temporal life, subject in each to death, and yet through death’s progeny renewed. It is thus the celestial sign of the necessity of sacrifice; for with each giving of itself to death, lunar life is sustained.
Life temporal and eternal, attachment to the world and disengagement from the world: these are opposed terms. In the imagery of moon and sun, however, the two are brought together, since the light of the moon, is but solar light reflected. Likewise, by analogy, our body’s life is eternal life, reflected, and our body’s consciousness, eternal consciousness, only modified by the limitations of our mind’s logical manner of dualistic thinking, which break those limitations (so runs the argument of Yoga) and the mind regains possession of original knowledge. As it symbolises the salt doll walking into the ocean. According to buddhist thinking immortality is already ours. Only the mind’s attachment to mortal aims has deprived us of this knowledge. Physical desire and fear are all that are debarring us from the garden in which, ironically, we already dwell; for in this tradition there never was an exile, only a mistaken focus of mind.
The practical method employed to the achievement of this end is known as Pravayama, “disciplined control (Yama) of the breath (Prana; latin, spiritus). The sense of it becomes obvious, once the assignments are recognised of mortality and immortality to the breaths of the left, respectively, and right nostrils. By this inhaling, right to left and vice versa, this continuing through hours without end for days, for months or for years, the body and the mind become fundamentally aware and convinced that the energy by which the body is pervaded is the same as that which illuminated the world and maintains alive all beings, the two breaths being the same: which is the moment of an awakening of the body itself to its inherent spirituality and the beginning of the ascent of Prana up the central nerve or channel, the Sushumna. These psychophysiological exercises have been practiced in India for over 4000 years.
On the same line, the deity Siva, which is associated with Yoga, is represented with three faces, the right one of male profile, the left one, of female profile and the centre one as the glorious countenance, reflecting eternity. The prime symbol of Siva is the Lingam (erect phallus), symbolic of his creative energy ever pouring into the cosmic womb (Yoni) of the world-mother, Mayasakti-Devi, while his emblematic weapon is the trident. The figure of Siva is surrounded by four animals (possibly of the four directions), a tiger, an elephant, a rhinoceros and a water buffalo. The same animals are found all fused in the figure standing at the main gates of the Nimrud palace, in Persia. These figures most surely represent a relationship with four zodiacal signs of the spring and autumn equinoxes, summer and winter solstices.
Returning again to the patriarchal versus the matriarchal pantheistic divine worlds, Ancient Egypt is a good example of the former, as the feather against which the heart of the deceased was to be weighed was symbolic of the goddess Maat, as a personification of the cosmic order and its natural laws, to which both the social order and the order of an individual lifetime were required to conform. The Indian idea of Dharma (virtue in the performance of duty) and Chinese of the Tao (the unitary first principle from which all order, change and propriety in action spring) are alike derived from the same prehistoric background as the ancient Egyptian idea of the goddess Maat. The structuring realisation out of which these equivalent ideas arose was of a society and its members being all equally products of nature; to be held in accord with nature by means of metaphorical disciplines, social and psychological, intending harmonisation of the individual will with the general will and thereby with the will in nature.This contrasted with the later Zoroastrian – Judaeo – Christian – Islamic – Marxist notion of nature, which represents it as “fallen” or indifferent. The latter positions society as the ultimate determinant and criterion for what is right and what is wrong.
In the context of the Ancient Egyptian, Indian and Chinese thought, the macrocosm, microcosm and mesocosm (order of the attuned society) are equivalent. The social ideals and moral principles by which individuals are constrained to his group are conceived to be of his own nature. Hence why the visionary realisations of the Yogi in solitude are of the psychological sources out of which the mesocosmic order of his mythologically grounded cultural monad originated.
Dr Campbell explains that the usage of hallucinogenic drugs influenced the symbology in ancient cultures. As an example we have the two serpents intertwined, symbol found in Greek, Indian and Mesopotamian culture. The same applies to some of the sacramental revelations of Yoga. There is no doubt that the source of those revelations is the human psyche, the unconscious. They are revelations, that is to say even further, of the archetypes of the collective unconscious, elementary ideas a priori of the human species, such as may appear spontaneously no matter where. It is therefore not random that in Mesoamerica is found a great number of archetypal features of similar type as in Eurasia. A distinctive constellation of such features propagated in both continents: seasonal festival calendars based on mathematically registered astronomical observations, marking cycles upon cycles of solar, lunar and planetary periods; a magnificent serpent deity (the feathered serpent Kukulcan – Quetzalcoatl, incarnated as a god-man and king, who dies and is resurrected); temple towers; religious images, music and so on. One wonders if the development of such similar two constellations of metaphorical images originated independently, and whether were due to the making of the human psyche.
In the passage “The Metaphorical journey,” Dr. Campbell describes a Navaho sand painting, in which the initiate becomes a character of the mythologic story, as well as the rest of characters entering paradise on earth, or the temple, which is used for healing. This painting in fact has similarities with the Yogic Sushumma. The experience of an ascent of the Sushumna is of a psychological order and the vision is culturally conditioned (as are all visions and dreams). Every petal of the envisioned lotuses, from the four petals of the Muladhara to the two of Ajna and the thousand of Sahasrara, bears a letter of the descriptions of the lotuses by those who have experienced them carry the conviction of a reality, not indeed of a gross material (Sthula) but of a subtle (Sukshama), dreamlike, visionary kind. The impression is that in the symbology behind both of them, we encounter what Adolf Bastian called elementary ideas and Jung collective unconscious, an archetypal thought that is on our unconscious inherited by ancient humans to our days. Our task is to interpret those stories, and to recognise and interpret the various locally and historically conditioned transformations of the metaphorical images through which these universals have been rendered. These ideas are not limited by cultural or even linguistic boundaries, they cannot be defined as culturally determined. However, the local metaphors by which they have been everywhere connoted, the local ways of experiencing and applying their force, are indeed socially conditioned and defined.
These local interpretations are named “ethnic ideas (Adolf Bastian) or hierophanies (Mircea Eliade). Eliade says: “the very dialectic of the sacred tends to repeat a series of archetypes, so that a hierophany realised at a certain historical moment is structurally equivalent to a hierophany a thousand years earlier or later. Furthermore, hierophanies have the peculiarity of seeking to reveal the sacred in its totality, even if human beings in whose consciousness the sacred “shows itself” fasten upon only one aspect or one small part of it”. What this means is that in the most elementary hierophany everything is declared. The manifestation of the sacred in a stone or in a tree is neither less mysterious nor less noble than its manifestation as a god. The process of sacralising reality is the same, it just differs on the forms taken by the process in man’s religious consciousness. A hierophany therefore occurs when, through some detail, whether of a local landscape, an artefact, social custom, historical memory, or individual biography, a psychological archetype or elementary idea is reflected. The object so informed becomes thereby sacralised, or mythologized. Correspondingly, a religious experience will be realised when there is felt an immediate sense of identification with the revelation.
In the blessing ceremony of the Navaho, the psychosomatic healing of spiritual initiation is accomplished by means of an identification of the patient with the mythological adventure. Paradise is a term from the greek (paradeisos) meaning “enclosed park”, and from the old Persian pairi, meaning around, and daeza, meaning will, compounding pairidaeza, “enclosure”. In the metaphorical promised land or earthly paradise of the Navaho sand painting, we have a rainbow curve, springing red and blue from the root, covering the zone of the first three Cakras to the node of the second fruiting, where lighting strikes, flashing from the summit. Then, there are the white footprints of the ceremonial path, which do not identify the initiate with either the rainbow or the lightning, only with the middle way. This means that the individual does not identify either with the gross matter of the world nor with the unembodied light of sheer spirit. Both are recognised, evidently, as attributes of the pollen path. The ordeal is to hold to the way in between. The path that goes in between matter and spirit is the right path to be followed.
By comparing the Navaho song, used as an initiation rite to reach the gods, and the Yogic path to dissolve humanity and its world into the mysterious morphogenetic field, detailed comparative studies of Tantric iconography and the greatly various yet morphologically homologous initiation rites and mythologies of revelation that have been observed and recorded from every part of the planet, make it evident that the Yogi is losing himself in exactly those psychological universals which have been forever the connoted field of reference of the metaphors of myth. The universally distinguishing characteristic of mythological thought and communication is an implicit connotation through all its metaphorical imagery of a sense of identity of some kind, transcendent of appearances, which unites behind the scenes the opposed actors on the world stage.
The dreams and lives of all interlock, as though of a single, superordinate context. Even though the whole context of world history is of destinies unfolding through time as a vast net of reciprocal influences of this kind, which not only are of people upon people, but involve also the natural world with its creatures and accidents of all kinds, those dreams, even though they seem to appear accidental, are actually of a context composed and controlled according to an unsuspected intention which is of none other than one’s own will. So our wills all interlock, as being part of a pre-ordained archetypal unconscious, that reveals in our dreams and nightmares. A counterpart of this idea is the Indian image of the Net of Gems, where in every Gem of the net all the others are reflected.
Schopenhauer’s contribution to this is that whereas our outer eyes do indeed behold only phenomenal appearances, the inward experience of each and every one of those appearances is of him-, her-, or itself as a willing subject. This inward experience of the will to live is a veiled experience within oneself of the energy of Atman-Brahman, the universal self, but linked however to Samsara (the temporal, apparitional field) by the apparitions own fear of death and desire for continued apparitional existence. The impulse of one’s will to life, that is to say, is the inward experience of the Atman as oneself; and the correlative outward experience of the Atman as another occurs only by way of the insight of compassion (Karuna), which is the quality of a Bodhisattva. An example of this Schopenhauer commented on when one person helps another one, meaning that the latter has identified her- himself with the other and therewith removed for a moment the barrier between the I and the not-I.
Dr Campbell states that individuation is only appearance in a field of space and time, these being the conditioning forms through which our cognitive faculties apprehend their objects. Therefore, the multiplicity and differences distinguishing individuals are only appearances, they exist only as mental representations. Our inner being is actually existing in every living creature as truly and immediately as known to our consciousness only in ourselves. The metaphors of mythology therefore are just the conjunction of playing of this inner self with all the forms of local manners of life, made manifest through ritualised representations, pedagogical narratives, prayers, meditations, annual festivals, and the like, in such a way that all members of the relevant community may be held, both in mind and in sentiment, to its knowledge and thus moved to live in accord. However, there is an interrelationship of those two worlds, the temporal and the eternal. William Blake states: “Eternity is in love with productions of time”.
Said this, seeing this human experience and action as an attribution to nature, reaching all beings, including inanimate objects, plants, animals and so on, it is not other than our view of romantic ascription to inanimate nature of human traits and feelings. This has been called the pathetic fallacy: a sentimental projection of the imagination like Don Quijote’s work in a windmill. Anthropologists, in the same vein, describe as “animism” the attribution in tribal mythologies, not only of consciousness, but also of a discrete indwelling spirit, to every material form of reality, whether it be animal, plant, stone, star, moon, sun or cyclone, while in the vocabulary of Judaeo-Christian theology, diabolism is the word for such beliefs.
In the passage “The way of the art,” Dr Joseph Campbell states that the artist, as the priest, is a master of metaphorical language. The priest though is committed to a vocabulary already coined, of which he is representative. Their scripts are already wrought, and his art is in execution. In contrast, creative artists are creative only in so far as they are innovative. From their innovations, two degrees are distinguished. One has to do with technical innovations; the other with innovative insights. It is to the latter that artists and mystics are alike. It is of their own inmost truth brought to consciousness: by the mystic, in direct confrontation, and by the artist, through reflection in the masterworks of his art. The fact that the nature of the artist (as a microcosm) and the nature of the universe (as the macrocosm) are two aspects of the same reality accounts sufficiently for that creative interplay of discovery and recognitions, which alerts the artist to the possibility of a revelatory composition in which outer and inner realities are recognised as the same.
The writer James Joyce states that proper art, whether of sensible or of intelligible matter, rests in aesthetically, disinterested perception, apprehension and feeling, whereas improper art is in the service of interests other than the aesthetic, such as for example, ethics, economics, sociology or politics. Joyce in fact defines improper art as pornographic and didactic.
On a similar line, Aquinas states that three things are needed for beauty: wholeness, harmony and radiance. Wholeness meaning that everything within the frame is to be regarded as our thing, not as a collection of unrelated objects of various use, but as the related parts of a composition. Harmony defined as the relationship of all parts, of each part to the whole, and of the whole to each of its parts. Lastly, Aquinas understands radiance as this supreme quality: how is felt by the artist when the aesthetic image is first conceived in his imagination. The instant wherein the supreme quality of beauty, is apprehended luminously by the mind, which has been arrested by its wholeness and fascinated by its harmony, is luminous silent stasis of aesthetic pleasure.
During the times of Ancient Greece, the theatre was throughout its career associated with the shrines and festivals of Dionysus, who was a god, not only of the vine and drunken ecstasy, but also, more fundamentally, of the generative power of all life, the will in nature. Dionysus was a god at once of the wilderness and its untamed beasts, the Phallus and spiritual transport through enthusiasm. His Hindu counterpart was Siva.
During theatre performances, recurrent themes spread through Greek plays. Aristotle, in his work Poetics and other posterior books of him, did not define pity and terror. As a consequence, these concepts have been confused with desire and fear, and catharsis as a cleansing out of pity and terror by means of a large dose of the same. But surely the mystical aim of theatre was to inspire pity and terror; for these are the two preeminent religious sentiments. What was to be achieved was a voiding of secular desire and loathing (or fear) by a transformation of consciousness, desire and loathing (or fear), to motivate the mind and feelings in relation to phenomenal appearances, moving one either to possess or to reject them. These concepts are kinetic, while pity and terror are static. Pity (or perhaps better, compassion) arises in the recognition of shared humanity. The Kinetic states (desire, loathing or fear and delusion) detach art from proper art, and the static state of the mind and eye relate to proper art, which is also the path of the mystic.
In drama, the sufferings revealed through the episodes are not accidental or occasional, but grave and constant, archetypal of human life. Thus, a breakthrough is accomplished from biography to metaphysics, the backdrop of time dissolves and the prospect opens of an occult power shaping our lives that is at once of the universe and of each of us, a mysterium tremendum et fascinans, which is finally that everlasting fire which is exploding in the galaxies, blazing in the sun, reflected in the moon, and coursing as the ache of desire through our veins.
When looking at the beginnings of the Buddha, we acknowledge that the prince of Siddhartha, Gautama Shakyamuni, the blessed one, the future Buddha, acquired the eye of transcendent vision, the knowledge of his life beyond lives, and the comprehension of dependent origination, after going through ascetics of fasting and staying unmovable in front of desire (Kama), fear of death (Mara) and Dharma. Just then, the blessed one became the awakened one, remaining awaking in the world as a teacher of the mystic way. Buddha’s antagonists are, on Joyce’s view, motivating artists from turning from proper art. It is significant the idea of the immovable spot, upon which the future Buddha took his seat to pursue his aim. This corresponds to black Elk’s “centre of the world,” which is everywhere and from which he viewed “in a sacred manner” all things. It is the state of mind in which one is released from the vortex of delusory desires, fears and commitment by which lives in this world are compelled to their sorrows and pains. This state, achieved when the eyes open to the transcendent vision, to the attainment of the Nirvana, results in the die out in the heart of the three fold fire of Raga, Dosa and Moha (passion, hatred and delusion). Heinrich Zimmer says: “For Indian art, man is god, and art is created so that he might experience this truth and need art no longer.”
The way of the mystic and the way of the artist are related, except that the mystic may come to regard the world with indifference, or even disdain. As an example we have Asia, where in the literature of asceticism, passages abound of disparagement of the body, its functions and its motivations. The question finally at issue is of the conflict of metaphysics vis-a-vis morals within the jurisdiction, not only of art, but of myth, religion and social action as well. For during the course of the nineteenth century, the separation of these two opposed orders of human experience, concern and fulfilment became in the West exaggerated to such a degree by the increasingly industrialised megalopolitan centres of mass intelligence and democratisation, that anything like the functional grounding of a social order in a mythology (so that individuals of whatever social class, participating in the metaphorical festivals, should become joined with all in a profoundly shared experience of the ground and sense of their lives) simply disappeared into irrelevance.
The only true service of a proper artist today is to individuals: re-attuning them to forgotten archetypes, Les Grandes Lignes de la Nature, which have been lost to view behind a cloud of contending Jeremy Benthamoid’s philosophies of the “greatest (economic) good of the greatest number”. The first noble truth of the Buddha is that “all life is sorrowful!.” The aim and intended target of the word, is but one feature of a context in which the artist himself participates, and the force that carries is compassion. The word, furthermore, is not the artists’s own, but a gift to him, of which he is responsible agent, a gift to him of the spirit, which is in love with the productions of time. Thomas Mann says: “the poet who does not offer himself up entirely is a useless drudge… but how can I offer myself without at the same time giving up the world, which is my idea, my way of knowing, my agony, my dream?”. James Joyce already cut himself off completely from the valves of his culture on his book A Portrait of a Young Artist. “Non serviam,” he had quoted proudly, using a phrase attributed to Lucifer in his defiance of God, his creator. “I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call it self, my home, my fatherland, or my church”.
The judgemental (didactic) eye, whether of negation or of participation, is governed by a very different order of shared suffering and love than the eye at the top of the pyramid, which is of god, the god that is without and within; for whom, as we hear from Heraclitus, “all things are fair and good and right; but men hold some things wrong and some right”.
Based on the book “The inner reaches of outer space” by Dr. Joseph Campbell.
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