Also in this Series
‘And to the woman were given two wings
of a great eagle, that she might fly
into the wilderness, into her place,
where she is nourished for a time, and times,
and half a time, from the face of the serpent.’
The Revelation, of St. John
‘… What is really out there are
the Eagle’s emanations, fluid, forevr
in motion and yet unchanged, eternal.’
The Fire From Within, C. Castaneda
In this final part of the series I shall draw the threads together of the unusual web that is being woven with the energy of Time by the help of the various animals who have been the equal participants in our work during this most important cycle of Neptune – 1980 to 1989. During this period indeed a web has been woven with the power of time, and it is in this way that a change is introduced in the evolutionary pattern; in this way a new blueprint emerges and forms the basis of a new world order and ultimately a new species.
The animal participants offered a precious aid in these immensely complex tasks by drawing clear lines in this web, devoid of ‘knots’, which served as a sort of basic backdrop to the more intricate designs that the human participants contributed. But, as I have explained in the previous parts of this series, the human contribution centred largely on the undoing of those knots, rather than anything else. For the present this is still a key feature of the Yoga, insofar as there are two aspects to the construction of this web, or the new blueprint. One is the creative part that introduces a new structure, and the other is a sort of dismantling. It has been necessary to undo the old web, in a sense. Since we are using energies of and in the old field, it is understandable that pari passu with the creative act, as a part of that process, the original energies gathered together in Kodaikanal for this construction must, at the same time, be utilised to undo the old. This is the true process of transformation and transmutation of energies.
The animals took part in this aspect of the work because the forms they inhabit offer clear vehicles for the Divine Consciousness to utilise in an integral work of this nature. They are pure channels for Time’s energy to manifest in the construction inasmuch as they offer no psychological resistance. At the same time, this limits their contribution to the formation of the aforementioned backdrop, or the essential web. Onto that the more sophisticated and complex design is woven into the fabric by the human consciousness so as to form this ‘new way’. That is, the animal in a very real sense serves as the vehicle, or vahana of Hindu tradition, to effect the crossing of the threshold to a higher and as yet unexplored region. But without the light of that ‘eye that sees’ – meaning the consciously lived experience – nothing of that path can be effectively opened and established.
We could describe it in this way: the American continent existed for millions of years prior to its ‘discovery’ by Christopher Columbus in 1492. There were even formidable civilisations established on this continent; but they had no cohesive bearing on the global ‘extension of boundaries’ of the human, mental species in evolution. There also seem to have been Nordic seamen on the eastern American coast long before Columbus’ voyage. But this too had no bearing on the larger process, on creating the cognisable network which began around the time of Columbus and which would serve to unite the geography of the planet in preparation for the emergence of a global consciousness. These were all pieces in a vast mosaic, the clear lines of which are now more than apparent.
The Horse is the symbol of the power that effects the crossing to a wider dimension beyond the confines of the mental creation. In 1961, the Mother described just such a crossing. I reproduce here a portion of The Magical Carousel’s ‘Commentaries’, written in 1979, in which I discuss the sign Sagittarius and its position in the zodiac in terms of the crossing of the threshold which until now has not been a conscious part of our collective experience. Much like the voyage of Christopher Columbus, it is only now, with the path opened by the Yoga of the Chamber, that we may speak of an effective crossing by which we may GO AND COME BACK on the same route, so to speak; or bring into the evolutionary process the light of those wider realms:
‘The Mother refers to this symbol [the Horse] in her 1961 Conversations. On 7 November of that year she discusses different schools that have each in their own way prophesied the coming supramental world, to use Sri Aurobindo’s term. The Vedic school was one, and also an occult brotherhood into which the Mother had been initiated. About the latter she remarks that they used the Evangelist term (found in The Revelation of St, John) to describe the gnostic apotheosis, ‘a new heaven and a new earth’, which is the same phrase used by the Vedic seers, the Mother points out. About this occult school the Mother explains how a woman initiate therein, whom she was close to, was able to come out of her body twelve times, each time entering into a more subtle dimension, until finally she reached the Formless, where the experience of total and perfect unity came, “the unity of something that was like the essence of Love”. Love was simply a denser manifestation of that Essence. There was no form, just that, and the experience of this essence was the perfect Unity.
‘This, in our odyssey, indeed corresponds to the twelfth sign Pisces, the waters of Divine Love.
‘However, the most interesting part of this 1961 conversation follows. The Mother then discusses her own experience when involved with that school of occultism. She explains how she came to this borderline, between the formless and the formed. She had been told not to cross it, because if she did she risked being unable to return into her physical body. But once she did cross the borderline, and there, to her immense surprise, she came face to face with a most unusual creature. It was “the principle of the human form”. Yet this form, strangely enough, was not as we might expect. It was a horse! It was “right on the frontier between the world of form and the Formless, and it was like a stallion.”
‘This is exactly the knowledge contained in the zodiac, which the Mother experienced directly, for the Centaur’s horse half is the human principle, while his upper human half is the symbol of the next higher stage. For this reason he stands with the children at the frontier, where they enter the kingdom of the integral realisation at the portals of the supramental world, Swar of the Rig Veda.
‘Sri Aurobindo confirms this. The Mother continues in her talk to say that since no one had ever mentioned this being and no one seemed to have seen it, she felt she was about to “discover a secret”. And she continues to say, “When I met Sri Aurobindo and I spoke about it with him, he said, ‘It is certainly the prototype of the supramental form.'”
‘The Mother then mentions that she saw the being again on several occasions and that later “it was proven”.’
The Magical Carousel, ‘Commentaries’, pp 140-41.
Ever so many elements of this new way are contained in this brief description of the Mother’s occult experiences ‘at the borderline’. There is the connection with the Rig Veda made explicit, as well as with the zodiac, though she does not say it in so many words. It is clear, however, that the ‘twelve stages’ correspond to the 12 signs of the zodiac. In fact, this occult school of Theon she discusses published a book in which it is revealed that the basis of their occult cosmology was the zodiac. However, the Mother’s experience of this ‘zodiacal occultism’ is certainly far in advance of anything that that school had to offer, as displayed by the fact that only she had seen the stallion at the borderline.
We may continue with our example of the maiden voyage of the discovery of the Americas and bring forth the point that the Horse even then played a significant role. History records that this animal was unknown when Cortez landed in Central America, and the sight of his men mounted on these strange animals is said to have been the element which convinced the native population that these were indeed ‘gods’ who had arrived in accordance with certain of their prophecies. I am not so sure that this is the full truth of the matter; however, I do believe that the Horse was a key element in whatever transpired between Cortez and the inhabitants of middle America, and that the symbol being the thing symbolised, this animal was representing the great expansion that was overtaking the Earth as the first foundation of the new global consciousness.
The Horse then is seen to embody the power or to be the materialised energy that is the basic component of material creation which ‘carries us beyond’. In the zodiac the sign of the Horse (Sagittarius) and its symbol-role of ‘carrying us beyond’ is the 9th and it follows the sign of Death, Scorpio. But the 9th sign has, until now, represented a beyond out of this material, manifest dimension. That is, out of this creation characterised by the formula 0/Spirit-9/Matter. This limitation is the perfect description of the old creation. The zodiacal wheel, as a blueprint of the evolution of the species, for the purposes of any effective aid stopped at the Beyond. In this case the Horse’s true dharma (Sagittarius) is not really being fulfilled. It is like our first horse, Jaya, in the Yoga of the Chamber of 1982. He was allowed to fulfil his dharma of propelling power only in death – that is, in a dimension ‘out of this world’. Only then, in that subtle ‘heaven’ could he release that precious energy.
Swati, on the other hand, effected this crossing in life, fully conscious. However, we must be more precise. Swati did not actually ‘carry the work beyond’. His contribution was something far more precious for this initial stage. He crashed through the barriers which were ‘symbolically’ obstructing that crossing in life. Thus, he opened the way for us to then tread. His great power was needed to fulfil impeccably an act which the human being is not capable of; the human consciousness is wrongly aligned for such a work. Nor has the human creature the needed concentration of power for this massive act of crashing through the obstacles.
Those barriers that Swati broke through are the boundaries fencing in the human consciousness and for which reason we cannot cross the threshold and return via the same passage. What this means is that while still in a material body and in full connection with the Earth plane, such an initial breakthrough permits the construction of a permanent bridge between realms which have, until now, seemed to be hidden from our vision by an impenetrable veil. The Beyond, that Heaven, has not been attainable, except when we cross the threshold via death. That is, without maintaining the link with the embodied Earth-consciousness. When the Mother came to that threshold in the early part of this century, the work had not yet been done to permit this crossing and a return, hence she was warned not to proceed lest she be ‘unable to return’ to her body. The warning was valid because at that stage nothing had been accomplished to permit this passage beyond without the danger of severing the link with the body. In Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri, the Goddess is also warned by Death not to follow him beyond that threshold (in the 9th Book of his 12-part epic) for the same reason: return is impossible for a mortal creature.
This is the most fundamental point to bring forth. If this much is grasped by a select group, the work of transformation will go on at a far more accelerated pace. For this is the illusion of death that the Mother has referred to so often. The illusion lies in the fact that there is a fixed belief: one cannot make the crossing and still maintain a conscious connection ‘here below’. Death demands that severance, that separation, that irremediable disruption. Consequently, when it is seen and experienced that the Threshold can be crossed without this definitive disruption, that one can cross and return on that Bridge, so to speak, the ‘sting of death’ is gradually weakened. Death’s hold over the consciousness of humanity is then effectively undermined.
I repeat, the ‘sting’ of death is the dread of an irreparable loss. This dread is legitimate insofar as it is really the loss of a continuous, conscious awareness. The oblivion forced upon us, while presently a merciful act, is really the gravest affront to the higher consciousness in evolution. Yet for the present it is indeed a merciful act because a race of Ignorance whose ‘blueprint’ is a web in which the centre is merely a void, holds this emptiness as its axis. It orbits this nothingness. Consequently, it can only play out an inevitable collapse into that Void when occupying a body which is a product of just such a limited blueprint.
The purpose of the Yoga of the Chamber has been to change that blueprint. This is beautifully reflected in the process of rectification of the Mother’s Chamber. The architects of Matrimandir, introduced a hole in the centre of the Chamber – not a ‘symbolic’ but a real void. The symbol is equal to the thing symbolised: the temple they are building is a hymn to a dying creation, a race that sees in a nirvanic obliteration of the consciousness the ultimate attainment in the quest for liberation.
The Yoga of the Chamber has revolutionised all this. By the invaluable assistance of Cow and Horse, that central axis of nothingness was replaced with the Light materialised and the energy transmuted and released in material creation to serve as the propelling power of consciousness. The Ray of Light is a concrete shaft of time-energy, pure and unsullied by the gaps which are necessarily present in a creation that has not forged a blueprint of integrated and harmonised wholeness.
Thus, in Swati’s passing the great Reversal came into being. It is the shift which a new base introduces. The meaning is, as Sri Aurobindo has described in Savitri, a new base of life. This signifies that the last three signs of the Zodiac, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces, are no longer descriptive of a Beyond, of a Swar that bears no real and conscious connection with the planet’s flow of time and its continuous lived experience in matter, in a material creation of 9. Without the lived experience that connects the 9 to the 0, that makes the two equal agents of the Absolute, the Zero is simply ‘shunya’, or the Buddhist ‘emptiness’, and not the encasement of that compact ‘seed’, the essence of all that then flowers in material creation on the basis of the propelling energy of the 9.
To experience that Reversal a new poise is demanded. Consequently, Swati’s participation in the Yoga of the Chamber was also to bring about this realignment, the countless details of which cannot be described in this small space. That work is ‘symbolised’ in the Chamber by the Core consisting of a globe and a pedestal, perfectly positioned so as to provide the true Centre and Base – globe and pedestal, respectively – of the Temple city-consciousness. For it is only on the basis of a correct positioning such as this, and the consequent unveiling of a TRUE CENTRE that the energy the Horse symbolises is released and the crossing in full conscious awareness is effected. For the whole of humanity this Yoga then opens the new way.
The ‘Near-Death Experience’ of the Threshold
There are various indications of the dismantling of Death’s hold. In an ever increasing manner human beings are ‘crossing the threshold’. However, these ‘near-death experiences’, as they have come to be called, have not been completely understood as yet. That is, while all the gaps in consciousness persist, distortions are introduced in the descriptions. One carries into that realm a wrongly aligned consciousness. Consequently, what one perceives then must necessarily be coloured by the perceiving instrument, in this case inferiorly poised and therefore a source of unavoidable distortion. Regarding the Mother’s experience in crossing that same threshold, the fact that her consciousness was aligned differently then that of her colleagues of the time, is what permitted her to have these initial glimpses of what others could not perceive, and to bring these seeings back into her physical body intact.
Nonetheless, the near-death-experiences are valid and they are helping to undermine the hold of Death. They are lessening that ‘sting’.
If a study is undertaken of all the near-death-experiences on record, it is interesting to note how perceptions are true but partial. Usually the person comes out of the experience with different values. He or she sees the purpose of life somehow inextricably connected to Love (note the Mother’s occult experience, in that Beyond the ‘highest essence was Love, and creation was known then to be simply a densification of that essential Substance). In addition, the experiencers invariably state that ‘knowledge is important’ on the other side. That is, they perceive that one takes knowledge there; and so, the persons who have survived such ‘deaths’ strive thereafter to increase their knowledge. Many of them enroll in college to complete their degrees, or they simply take a greater interest in studying, in reading, in broadening their knowledge.
But this is again a wrong perception. Knowledge is being equated with learning; hence they enroll in different courses and whatnot, their interest in studying increases. A consciousness rightly poised on the basis of Yoga perceives that what one never loses, what one carries even into a ‘beyond’ is the higher knowledge which arises out of the pursuit and the lived experience of a divine consciousness. It is not learning. It is gnosis as a concrete immortal substance, as a foundation of one’s consciousness. It is this same supramental Gnosis that is the indestructible, immortal foundation of the Mother’s Temple, which was attained in the Yoga of the Chamber.
The limitation of the near-death-experience is the fact that though the subject ‘crosses the threshold’ and returns, he or she still believes that the inevitable finality of life is the definitive crossing. So, the subjects return to this plane and dedicate themselves to a living which though far more meaningful and insightful, is still a part of the old network. The ‘tunnel’ which these subjects pass through before they reach the ‘light’ on the other side, is the perception of a gap, or that portion of the bridge which is still a blank in their consciousness, – in the consciousness of the race, I would add. It is this gap that allows us, as a species, to be lorded over by Death.
The purpose of the Yoga of the Chamber is to illuminate that very tunnel-gap. For this, a tremendous release of this light-energy is required. The Cow and the Horse have served this purpose in our Yoga. Together, by forging the 24 October axis in the sign-month of the Scorpion, the energy was released which then transmuted that compressed, concentrated, contained energy into the soaring power of the Eagle. This was the great Reversal. The time was mid 1984.
The Time-Axis Shifts
After Swati’s passing, a new horse came, this time a mare. She was named Sundari (‘the beautiful one’), because she was so beautiful and because this is a name connected to the Third Principle and to Shiva’s Son. She arrived on 10 October 1984. I shall not go into all the details of Sundari’s arrival and contribution to the Work. This is not the place for such a discussion (as I have also made only brief mention of Swati’s contribution). Let me simply point out that she bonded strongly with the cow, Deepa, and that from that point on the axis was set by this shift to 10 October. Thus, the very next heat and insemination of Deepa after Sundari’s arrival was precisely on 10 October 1985 – a year later to the day. And this date has everafter played a central role in the Yoga of the Chamber and particularly concerning the base, Skambha. It was the date of the naming ceremony of Skambha – not, may it be pointed out, arbitrarily chosen, but simply because in 1986 this was the date of the Ayudha Puja, as the Mahanavami of the Durga Festival is known in South India. Prior to all this, however, it was the date of birth of the Collie bitch given to us in 1984, who has mothered all the Collies we have bred and who have materially helped to support our work. This bitch came from Italy. I ought to point out – even risking the criticism that this might be just ‘too much’ – that this is the date of my own mother’s birth in Italy. On the Gnostic Circle both follow the very same cycle. That is, on 10 October 1986, when my mother was 90 years old, the Collie was 9.
The reader must understand that these are not just casual ‘coincidences’. When it is a matter of one or two episodes that criticism may be justified. But not when we are dealing with a pattern covering a number of years and countless interrelated circumstances and people, only some of which I am mentioning in this brief space. The student would do well to bear in mind what is involved in a simple fact like being given a bitch born in Italy, here in India where the breed is very rare; and born on a particularly significant person’s birthday also from Italy, and the link up in all this made in India where the gift of the Collie was made. This entails a conspiracy of circumstances the likes of which boggles the mind, utilising as it does this elusive ‘energy of time’ and involving elements over which the human being has no direct control and of which he or she cannot claim to be the originator.
Likewise, the student must note that a forging of the Cow/Horse axis-ray around certain dates is equally if not more astounding, insofar as while the arrivals of the horses could feasibly have been determined for a particular date, how could the onset of the heats of the cows be controlled by a human agent? And, I repeat, there was not just one such incident but many, thereby excluding the question of ‘chance’
In Part II of this series I wrote of Sundari’s passing on 10 October, the very date of her arrival four years earlier. But before this happened another astonishing ‘coincidence’ took place. I was offered a mare in November 1987. This offer was accepted, but only toward the end of January of 1988 did our work permit us to send someone to Bangalore to fetch her and bring her to Skambha. This person duly returned with the mare, but he also brought a splendid Thoroughbred stallion, a totally unexpected happening. Yet the most felicitous part of this surprise was, once again, the timing of their arrivals at the Centre. It may be recalled that the Horse experience began with the date 30 January, as a complement to the Cow on the 30 July/30 January zodiacal axis of Consciousness-Force. Thus, true to the power of time that operates in this new cosmos, the stallion arrived exactly on 30 January, the very date the Horse element began in our work six years earlier with the first and only other stallion, Jaya. And at the exact 9 months into the year, on October 1st, that mare who had arrived with the unexpected stallion on this most important date relating to the Horse experience, produced the unexpected filly foal. Nine days after her birth, Sundari left on the fourth anniversary of her arrival. (It ought to be pointed out that the Thoroughbred’s ‘official’ birthday is January 1st. Hence October 1st is exactly 9 months from that official reckoning.)
I have had a very special connection with these horses and this is because the Third Principle relates to the vital centre, of which the Horse is the most important symbol. This is also reflected in the cycles of the Gnostic Circle because Swati and I can be said to have been following the same time-cycle. His birth was in 1965 (January 1st, which was a year of 3 Power. Mine was in 1938 (January 5th)), also a year of 3 Power. Thus, when he was 18 (=9) in 1983, I was 45 (=(9). We were moving together through the wheel; and I have to state that Swati was an intrinsic power and participant in perhaps the most important realisation in my Yoga.
The same situation has repeated itself with the new stallion whose birthday was in 1974 – again a 3-power year and the 9 years after Swati’s. Another ‘coincidence”?
Enter the ‘White Dove’
I would briefly like to describe some of the events which accompanied the passing of Sundari because they highlight the role of other creatures of the animal kingdom at Skambha.
Firstly, I should point out that this unhappy event transpired while I was abroad. Thus Sundari’s passing was an entirely different ‘lived experience’ from all the others in our Yoga of the Chamber. I was present and deeply involved in the other deaths; but in this one, while I felt an immense sadness at the news of this mare’s accident and departure, I did not experience her actual death. When I returned to the Centre, it was to find her gone, but without a sense of tragedy. And it must be recalled that she had to be put down, in a certain sense a victim of a conscious decision. All of this created a completely different alchemy. The substance of the experience was entirely different.
With this preliminary explanation, I must now mention the contribution of the avian world in our work, because Sundari’s passing brought into relevance the Black Eagle, Skambha’s ‘mascot’, as well as the ‘white done’.
I had had a formidable experience with a living white dove early in the Yoga. This occurred in Pondicherry in 1977. At that time, and even prior to the living contact, I had understood the place of this symbol in the work and how incomplete the conception was of the Dove as a symbol of peace and love. This, we may say, is the layman’s understanding; there is much more to the symbol however.
On the basis of these lived experiences, I realised that the Dove is a symbol connected to the psychic being and hence directly related to the soul, or the spark of the Divine Consciousness in an individualised form. Inasmuch as the properties of the soul are love and peace – among others – it is easy to appreciate how the white Dove came to be associated with these attributes.
In India the Dove is sacred for other reasons and associations, foremost of which is its connection to Shiva and Parvati. It was a white Dove who eavesdropped while Shiva was imparting the secret Knowledge to Parvati and then carried it far and wide. To this day in the Amaranth cave in the Himalayas, where three ice Lingams form at the time of the full moon in August and are said to represent Shiva, Parvati and their divine Son, pilgrims can witness the regular appearance of a pair of white doves at that special time, to participate in this sacred event.
But, above all else, the Dove figures most prominently in the birth of the divine son, Skanda (Murugan or Kartikeya, to give just a few of the names by which he is known). It was Agni in the form of a white Dove who stole the precious ‘seed’ which issued from the love play of Shiva and Parvati and which then developed into the saviour War God who was destined to rescue the world from the overpowering forces of evil. Agni, with this seed in his beak, flew over the Ganges and let it fall therein. Ganga then carried the precious Bija along and nurtured it until the Child was formed. This tale and its relevance to our work is discussed in detail in The New Way, Volume 2, Chapter 9, and also in The Hidden Manna.
Thus the white Dove has always held a special place in this Yoga, but it did not reach its apex of relevance until 1987 when the living dove became an ‘equal participant’ in the Yoga of the Chamber. This occurred on 8 July 1987, less than a month before we moved from Kodaikanal to Skambha, the permanent seat of the work.
During the night of 7-8 July 1987, I had a profound experience of the Dove in the Yoga of the Chamber and how important it was to have these creatures represented at Skambha. The experience was so complete that I even ‘knew’ what the dovecote should look like, its more or less precise design and basic measurements. I had wanted a pair of doves for a long time, but somehow they never materialised. However, oddly enough, it was at the very time that I was having this experience that a friend in Bangalore, just before her return to Kodaikanal, found a pair for me. (Interestingly, it is from Bangalore that all the horses have come, also supreme symbols of Agni.) Naturally this person had no idea of the experience I was having right about the time she had purchased the doves; nor was I aware of what she was doing. What is clear, though, is that the doves had entered the ‘atmosphere’ of the work that night, and consequently I was given this experience to be better able to accommodate them. The pair thus reached me during the day of 8 July 1987. I named them ‘Heart and Soul’ because of their connection to the third and fourth powers of the Solar Line – the heart that carries deep within, as in a womb, that Point, that divine spark that is the soul/son.
Once again it must be emphasised that the timing of the experience is as important as the experience itself and it was in no way a planned affair. For again we are dealing with an ‘axis’ in this timing. However, on this occasion it was not the Consciousness-Force axis of end-July and end-January, nor the Scorpio 12-month axis hinging on the 24 October coordination between Cow and Horse. In this case the signs involved were Cancer and Capricorn. Indeed, it is this axis that describes first the plunge of the soul into the confinements of material embodiment (Cancer), and then the full awakening of that same spark, the full unveiling, the realisation of the inner truth it contains, and the soul’s victory over the forces of ignorance and death (Capricorn).
This pertains to India as well, since the axis I am discussing cuts through the 360-degree zodiacal wheel at 15 degrees of Cancer and Capricorn. The 15th degree of Capricorn in the zodiac corresponds to the calendar day January 5/6. It is this degree in Capricorn that must be called the degree of the Soul of the Earth and hence the degree of India’s true ‘birthday’ – as a physical consciousness/mass, as an area on the Earth of this incarnate soul force and as a place on Earth where the ‘centre’ comes into being for the foundation of a new Earth, giving forth a new race whose main characteristic is that its consciousness orbits this soul-point rather than the ego. For, as the Mother wrote to me on December 1, l971, ‘The Truth-Consciousness can manifest only in those who are rid of the ego.’
In terms of actual dates we would expect July 5th to form the 15-degree axis with January 5th – and indeed it does in terms of dates and numbers. But in the zodiacal wheel of 360 degrees, there are discrepancies due to the uneven motion of the Earth around the Sun. Thus in the month of July this 15th degree of Cancer that stands opposite to 15 degree Capricorn, is usually reached around 7/8 July. That is, the very day the white doves joined our work. True to their connection with the soul, with India, with this time axis of Cancer and Capricorn, they started their ‘equal participation’ with their very arrival on this special degree/day.
The bonding I made with these exquisite creatures was immediate and unavoidable. Since I had no safe place to put them in the temporary quarters I was occupying while waiting to move to Skambha, I was forced to keep them in my own room. This sharing of very close quarters continued even several weeks after the move to the Centre on 3 August. Sharing my living space with Heart and Soul made our contact deeper than otherwise would have been the case, I am sure.
I ought to clarify one more point. The species we are discussing is not, properly speaking, the dove. The birds who have participated in our work are white Fantail Pigeons. However, the layman is justified in calling them doves since they are so similar and it is invariably this Fantail Pigeon that is used when the white Dove is called upon to depict the symbol of love and peace. This may be because of its immaculate whiteness and exquisite beauty, which surpasses that of the actual dove. However, I find more in this substitution, which justifies the white Fantail’s position in our work. The first point is that it is native to India and was exported from here to the rest of the world. The second point is its lovely ‘fantail’ which spreads out proudly to form an exquisite figure reminiscent of the peacock. Insofar as the Peacock is the national bird of India (and the Peacock is the vehicle of Shiva’s Son, the 4th Cosmic Principle), the Fantail invoking in its reduced form the peacock’s most salient feature is, of course, not simply another ‘meaningless coincidence’.
The nature of this bird helps us to understand something of the gnostic being. I refer in particular to the fact that these creatures are so utterly vulnerable. They are immaculately white and thus they can be easily spotted by many birds of prey; they have virtually no defences of any sort. In living closely with these birds one can observe how their consciousness emanates a distinct trust. It would appear that their extreme vulnerability demands this quality, which is so intimate a part of the nature of the gnostic being: transparent to the point of a disarming trust. This is engulfed in a voluptuous sweetness, a quality that is in no way effeminate but powerfully victorious, capable of ‘securing the victory’.
Added to this are the habits of these creatures, the way in which they interchange roles in the care of their young, the way it is often impossible to distinguish the male from the female because of their physical similarity as well as the total sharing of their duties: they alternate in brooding and then, when the young are hatched, they share equally in the task of feeding. There are hardly any distinctions and equality of the sexes is certainly the norm in their procreative functions and responsibility toward their offspring. Thus the Fantails reveal a certain key aspect of the new creation: the elimination of clear-cut physical distinctions as well as any conditioning habits which serve to enhance or fortify any such distinction. At the same time, Heart and Soul were as close as their names imply. The bond between the two was immensely moving to observe.
Heart and Soul’s symbol representation was fully revealed with the hatching of their first offspring at Skambha on 27/28 December 1987. This was exactly timed with the arrival of the first student/visitor to the Centre. Thereafter, in a long series of arrivals of students, Heart and Soul produced a chick in exact and perfect synchronisation with these arrivals. It went to the extent that if there were two eggs, one would hatch in accordance with one arrival, and the second in accordance with another a day or two later. The timings were utterly exact, in an incredible display of harmony of gnostic time and as ‘the symbol being the thing symbolised’. These birds truly served as heralders of a gnostic community and they must be considered the symbol-bird of the new creation.
The white Fantails’ representation went further than this. Skambha is a ‘power point’ on Earth, in the true sense of the word. This fact has been known from the beginning of its discovery on 10 December 1985. True to the aphorism of our work – the symbol is the thing symbolised – the Skambha Falls are that symbol of the Supreme Shakti. This imposing geographical formation is the focal point of the estate.
The July/January-Cancer/Capricorn axis Heart and Soul formed draws into play those immensely important first five days of the new year, 1-5 January. In the cosmological geography of the New Way (see The New Way, Volume 2, Chapter 9), these are the degrees of the source of Ganga – the heavenly Ganges whose powerful waters Shiva receives in their descent amidst his matted locks, to mitigate the impact on earth of this inrush of Power; and interestingly, the river that feeds the Skambha Falls is called ‘Gangavar’ in Tamil, or Sri Ganga, as the translation would be in Sanskrit or Hindi, ‘var’ being the respectful form equivalent to ‘sri’. Thus the Skambha Falls represent the Power that ushers in each new year. Therefore, just 4½ days after producing their first ‘timely’ offspring, in the very early hours of January 1, 1988, almost with the first rays of the new-year sun emerging above the horizon, Heart and Soul disappeared.
I have mentioned their connection to Agni, the white Horse, and the fact that the Thoroughbred’s official birthday is 1st January each year. This, combined with the importance in my work of the seeding time at the crossing of the threshold of the new year, left us with a sense of doom when these precious ‘symbols’ disappeared on that very meaningful day. Heart and Soul passed in front of my window (by that time they were housed outside the door of my room) and flew off into the distance. Wherever they were going, it was with a clear and definite purpose instigated from within. Nothing had happened externally to force these birds to flee. And, most unusual of all, it seemed they had abandoned their chicks of only 4 days – a very odd thing for birds of any species to do.
Indeed, Heart and Soul had set out with a definite purpose. Several hours later they were found at the bottom of the Skambha Falls, sitting in the sand starkly still. Thus, we ‘crossed the threshold’ of that first new year at the Centre in this way, with Heart and Soul paying homage by their unusual action to the symbol of the supreme Power of Time at Skambha. Thereafter, they continued throughout the year to produce their ‘timely’ offspring. (I ought to state that there was only one arrival which was not accompanied during that period by the hatching of a chick. And, interestingly, that person felt so uncomfortable at Skambha that he fled!)
In August 1988, the time came for my trip to America. On the day I left Skambha, Heart, the female of the pair, fell as if in a trance and shortly after died. Soul was left bereft of his dear mate and spent the entire time I was abroad perched outside my door pining for his lost Heart. When I finally returned we managed to get him to accept a new ‘Heart’, the only available female, and with her he found consolation in this new companionship. But here I must relate the most surprising discovery of all. This only available female which he accepted was born precisely on July 7/8! Thus Soul has a new Heart whose own birthday in turn reinforced the 15-degree Capricorn/Cancer axis. The symbol was again the thing symbolised by the aid of gnostic time.
Enter ‘the Black Eagle’
There is another part to the story of the Fantails and it concerns my departure for America. This involves an eagle; but first let me give a brief background history of this creature’s participation.
Shortly after construction work began at Skambha, we discovered that a Black Eagle lived on the land, in the rain forest right by the falls. This majestic creature would often emerge and circle the sky above Skambha at significant moments, times when special things were happening or about to happen on the estate. Or else, he would come out when I was approaching the land for an inspection visit, before actually settling there permanently. Since the Fantails were a part of the ‘Ark’ that moved into Skambha, the presence of this eagle on the site caused us some concern for the safety of these extremely vulnerable white Fantails; and for good reason, since the landscape of the Centre is such that the roof of my quarters, where the birds perch or promenade for most of the day, is visible from every angle of the sky, with the landscape sloping down to the falls. Thus the birds are on constant display for the piercing eye of Skambha’s ‘mascot’, the Black Eagle.
In spite of their vulnerability – they were virtually ‘sitting ducks’ – not once did this powerful creature attack the birds. The Collies, perhaps obeying their protective herding instinct, seemed from the very beginning to sense the potential danger. They guarded the Fantails and whenever they would spot the eagle circling the sky in the distance to the front of this roof, they would all begin barking in the effort to keep the bird away. However, we were all aware that the eagle at such times had no intention of attacking; for if he had wanted to snatch a pigeon, the barking dogs would have been no hindrance. To prove this point, one day the eagle did ‘attack’ – or at least, so it seemed. In effect, this was not so. The eagle had come to give a message.
Thus, just hours before my departure, the black eagle, flying across the sky and approaching my quarters from behind, out of sight of the Collies, alighted on the portion of the roof just above my head. The Fantails were all basking in the sun on the extension to the left of this roof, which covers the stables – that is, very close by. Had the eagle wished to, in his swift flight undetected by the dogs, he could have snatched any one of the Fantails in his beak and been off without the least intervention on anyone’s part. But, as it turned out, he alighted on my roof, gave a strong rap with his wings on the tiles above my head, and then flew off toward the falls. Meanwhile, the Fantails were scattering in all directions! Not one, however, had been touched or even threatened. It was evident at the time that the eagle’s approach, the first in all our time at Skambha, had been for another purpose. I felt the bird was trying to say something, perhaps connected with my departure. A ‘goodbye’, perhaps? But, as later developments proved, the black eagle was the announcer of the unhappy losses to come. The first of which was Heart, just a day or so after this incident.
And so, on 10 October while I was away and Sundari was breathing her last breath, this same Eagle with his mate was heard calling wildly as he circled the sky right outside her stable. He circled many times, always emitting this piercing cry – at the very time this precious energy that is the Horse was released.
‘…The old seers, risking untold dangers, actually saw the indescribable force which is the source of all sentient beings. They called it the Eagle, because in the few glimpses that they could sustain, they saw it as something that resembled a black-and-white eagle of infinite size.
‘They saw that it is the Eagle who bestows awareness. The Eagle creates sentient beings so that they will live and enrich the awareness it gives them with life. They also saw that it is the Eagle who devours that same enriched awareness after making sentient beings relinquish it at the moment of death.’
The Fire From Within, p. 39
Integrating the ‘Unknowable’
These tales are not of course the stuff that ordinary spirituality is made of. But their occurrence in our work is logical. Ever highlighted by these happenings is the ‘collaboration of material Nature’. They occur without any possible intervention or control of the human being. This sort of display involving the animal kingdom also cannot be said to be new, for myths and folklore of every culture in the world are replete with such tales. Today we read them as quaint ‘symbolic’ fantasies and nothing more. That is, devoid of any real connection between symbol and thing symbolised. Even in Castaneda’s work, his nagual teacher, don Juan, draws a line when it comes to symbol and essence and seems not to have bridged this gap. The reason is clear, as I shall explain; for don Juan’s effort leads to the ‘threshold’ and not beyond with the full connection maintained below. To illustrate, let us use the Nagual’s own explanation of the ‘Eagle’s emanations’:
‘[Don Juan] said that not to seek order was one of the great mistakes that the ancient seers made. A deadly consequence of that mistake was their assumption that the unknown and the unknowable are the same thing. It was up to the new seers to correct that error. They set up boundaries and defined the unknown as something that is veiled from man, shrouded perhaps by a terrifying context, but which, nonetheless, is within man’s reach. The unknown becomes the known at a given time. The unknowable, on the other hand, is the indescribable, the unthinkable, the unrealisable. It is something that will never be known to us, and yet it is there, dazzling and at the same time horrifying in its vastness.’
The unknowable don Juan describes in this passage lies beyond the threshold in the land of that ‘dazzling’ Sun, the truth-conscious Supermind. It is that hitherto unknowable Essence which is attained when the present boundaries are extended. What I have been discussing in this series and elsewhere is the method arranged by the Supreme Shakti for material Nature to extend her collaboration to further this attainment.
In the new way [caps?] there is something entirely new in this collaboration. It is the knowledge her intervention highlights, reinforces, consolidates in the being. It is the manner in which her collaboration has served to reveal the new Gnosis, the manner in which her collaboration eliminated the scourges of the modern mind: speculation and abstraction. The knowledge is living, immediate, measurable. And Nature has consented to make this a provable fact of the new way [caps?].
Thus, before these experiences with animals could begin, a formidable foundation had to be laid, otherwise nothing of this newness would have surfaced. This foundation was the backdrop of the Gnostic Circle – or the new revelation of the divine Measure, rendering obsolete the old systems of zodiacal-calendrical reckoning. Without that preparation all these experiences with animals would have been subjected to an old framework which would have impeded this collaboration in the way Nature intended. It could then have been labelled ‘superstition’ because there would have been a meaningless, irrelevant ‘measure’ as the backdrop of the Year onto which the experiences were projected.
A renewal of that measure is necessary in the course of the evolution of consciousness on Earth, at particular periods when expansions occur such as the extension of our solar system to nine planets. Then, it is clear, renewal, reassessment, re-measurement must take place. ‘As above, so below’ will as well demand a reflection of that expansion in the consciousness of the perceiving species. And this is where the Yoga of the Chamber enters the scheme of things. The new Measure was effectively secured at the centre of the emerging cosmos, which is a microcosm in the image of the macrocosm now made new before our eyes.
It is in this light that we must assess ancient traditions and their symbols which were once held as sacred but which today seem to have lost their relevance. Often this worship that has been passed down through the ages is ridiculed. The modern scientific mind cannot appreciate the real and effective participation of Nature in any way that does not fit into its limited, pragmatic ‘measure’. But it is not only the man of science who ridicules beliefs he holds to be superstitions. We find this same attitude in so-called spiritual quarters as well. In a sense, the Arya Samaj movement in India, which arose in the last century as a response to western ridicule of certain Hindu customs, was an attempt to ‘modernise’ Hinduism and cleanse it of seemingly outdated customs and beliefs. Hence the Arya Samaj eschews idol worship and concentrates exclusively on the formless aspect of God. Conforming to the ‘measure’ of the western missionary, the Samaj followed the thrust of the Middle-Eastern religions with their cries of idolatry and paganism. To a certain extent, Sikhism followed this measure (set this time by Islam). Or more remotely in history, Buddhism sought to cleanse Hinduism of beliefs it considered primitive and degrading. But never and nowhere else has this attempt reached a more obnoxious level than in our own times and precisely during the month I was writing the first part of ‘Animals in the Emerging Cosmos’. This came from Acharya Rajneesh. I reproduce here a news item on this very subject from the August 14, 1988 issue of The Times of India, entitled, ‘Rajneesh ridicules idol worship’:
PUNE, August 13: Acharya Rajneesh recently inaugurated a museum of ancient gods in Rajneeshpuram here, with its first exhibit: a cute pink, fully automated toy pig.
An audience of 10,000 disciples and visitors joined Rajneesh in laughter as the pig trotted across the podium of the auditorium, making little squeals and grunts, a release by the Rajneeshdham [a journal] said.
He said he was opening the museum to show humanity how it had demeaned itself through animal worship.
‘Even this inauguration will hurt many people’s religious beliefs. But this has been the right ancient god to inaugurate the museum, where we are going to collect all the dead gods that have been worshipped by a stupid humanity.
‘The Buddhas had been forced to worship pigs, and nobody had objected to it. Stones, monkeys, elephants and the like had all been worshipped somewhere or other, he explained.
‘But nowhere in the whole history of mankind had man been given the dignity of a god,’ he said, and added, ‘For the first time I am giving you the dignity of a god, and I want you to make a plaything of all the so-called gods worshipped by humanity.’
I could not help but be struck once again by the synchronicity of events. At that moment I was writing about the animal participation in our work for the first time, while Rajneesh was hauling up before his rapt followers a series of ‘animal gods’ and ridiculing the very phenomenon I was seeking to explain. This ‘inauguration’ revealed a special brand of ignorance.
The ignorance I refer to is the self-importance, the condescension, the total and complete lack of any understanding of the truth of symbols and why some have come to occupy an especially sacred status. It is a mark of the human being’s arrogance to debunk whatever he does not understand; and this news item is saturated with that arrogance.
But the synchronicism of the two happenings – my discussion on animals and Rajneesh’s museum of ridicule – goes a step further because he is reported to have referred to the ‘status of a god’ that he is giving to his disciples, which, we deduce from the report, he believes had never been given before. His claim is that he is creating ‘the new man’. Yet I must question his capacity to do this, or what exactly the consciousness of that ‘new man’ would be like, if this creature is to possess such a limited perception that he cannot see the immaculate truth in these symbols, beneath the veils that have indeed come to cover that truth over the ages. Superstition resides in these veils, not in the symbols they hide.
Rajneesh is constantly ridiculing customs one finds in Hinduism. But I must state that it is because these customs prevail, though they are covered by disfiguring veils, that Hinduism can lay claim to the sanatan dharma, the eternal Truth. We all agree that a renovation is required. However, that renovation cannot cut at the very root and inner fibre of that Truth. To seek to fit Hinduism into a Buddhist or Christian or Islamic mould, simply because these have been the dominant trends for the past two thousand years, is not, in my view, a renovation but an avowal of impotency.
The inner Truth of Hinduism, rooted as it is in the Cosmic Truth – and I feel quite confident that my work has proven this fact – provides for a periodic method of reestablishment of the Dharma. This is usually taken in a moralistic sense: it is a new ethos, a new moral code a la Gandhi, a victory of the loftier human ideal over the base and the low. But this is an immature view. It does not correspond to the understanding of the realised being or of the initiate. The reestablishment of the Dharma founds itself on the bedrock of the highest Knowledge which arises from and is nurtured by the most ancient source of Hinduism, the Veda. The Knowledge that saves, that renews, that infuses the body of Hinduism with new life is the only means to secure the eternal flowering of the inspired Word.
To present an escape into the Formless as the way of renovation is a regression into ignorance and a denial of the inner truth of the Sanatan Dharma. The renovation that is required is an acceptance of both Form and Formless, an integration of the two and not a denial of one in favour of the other. Indeed, if any single assessment can express the collapse of our times it is this: the dichotomy that has arisen between form and formless, between science and spirituality, between matter and spirit, between symbol and essence. Thus the urgent need of our times is simply to re-establish the divine Maya or Measure, on the basis of the unveiled Cosmic Truth. For this, a seeing whereby that symbol is one with its essence must be discovered. And this means restoring our capacity to perceive the sacred in the forms Nature has evolved over the ages as channels for the Transcendent’s manifestation in material creation. The Yoga of the Chamber has come into being for this very purpose.
Only a person of true knowledge can appreciate what a reestablishment and restoration of this order signify for the Earth. The ‘new man’, if at all he is to emerge, must have a consciousness poised on the pillars of that sacred knowledge of Oneness, forged in the fires of a tapasya that is born out of the practice of a Yoga which alone can produce a new consciousness and a new species. All the rest is ignorance and pretension and empty words.
Nonetheless, there is a legitimate limitation in this attainment, which closes the entrance to that Bridge we must cross in order to extend our boundaries. This is beautifully expressed in the teachings of the nagual don Juan, precisely in the discussion of symbol and essence. He explains to his pupil that the reason why the all-pervading Consciousness is described as the Eagle is because the old seers saw it to have that form. Thus, the new seers, he explains, are blocked by this perception and most of them accept unquestioningly the accuracy of those past seers. When his disciple asks him if the source of the ‘emanations’ is the Eagle because eagles in general have important attributes, the Nagual replies. ‘This is simply a case of something unknowable vaguely resembling something known… On account of that there have certainly been attempts to imbue eagles with attributes they don’t have.’
The point is, where has the mistake been made? Is it not that a demand has been made on the symbol which does not correspond to that form’s contribution and sacredness? What I am describing in these articles is the method by which certain animals, precisely because they do possess specific attributes are able to serve the course of evolution. However, if one has not understood what that contribution really is, or what those attributes truly are, then the point is missed and we fall back into superstition, or errors wherein ‘impressionable people learn to perform acts that require great sobriety’, as don Juan warns.
The line that is drawn between the Nagual’s school and the New Way is exposed precisely in the discussion regarding the Eagle, the ‘form’ the ancient Toltec seers of his line have given to that ‘unknowable’ source of everything that exists. And it concerns this question of the known, the unknown and the unknowable. According to the Nagual, the Eagle is in the category of the unknowable. Therefore no accurate description can ever be given of that which is beyond the human grasp, beyond the boundaries of our embodied consciousness.
The goal of our work, the goal of this new age is precisely to widen the perceptive capacities of the human being so that what lies beyond is no longer inaccessible but is rather integrated into our world of perception. The gnostic being is one who has this extended capacity. For this being the ‘heaven’ of the Veda is not a region which can be experienced only when a final severance has been made with the physical at the time of death; or else in trance or samadhi, when for all practical purposes the body is ‘dead’ and the consciousness has been ‘liberated’ from its confinements for a time. The idea is to connect that ‘heaven’ with this Earth, to integrate it fully in order that the Truth-Consciousness may become the ‘new base of life’. This means that an entirely new foundation of existence comes into being – a truth foundation rather than the present one of ignorance which characterises the human mental species. And it is in this way, via this mathematically hewn path, that a ‘new man’ can emerge. This new being must have eyes made new – but not on the basis of a constant tearing down, a constant act of destruction and an encouragement of ridicule and disdain and arrogance. Those attitudes foster the old seeing and fall within the boundaries of the old man, plagued by the insecurities a foundation of ignorance provides.
To perceive in this new way we must accustom ourselves to see the sacred where others see only the profane. This need has been brought dramatically to the fore in the present century, for the ecological collapse civilisation is witnessing is the outcome of a society that has lost all touch with the sacred being of the Earth and every living and inanimate thing that is housed on this special planetary base. Unless that vision of oneness, of the sacred, of the Divine Presence permeating ALL of creation comes into being, it is hardly likely that a true ecological regeneration can come about. We face this situation daily in India, right in the land of the Veda, perhaps the Earth’s most sublime hymns to all that is sacred in creation. Perhaps more than any other country, India is guilty of the most maniacal disconnection between essence and form. Hence the gods and goddesses the nation worships, all whom bear a direct relation to the animal and vegetable kingdoms – as all Hindu rituals reveal – have come to occupy only a ‘symbolic’ place with respect to these various forms of life. And this occurs in a land where the Divine Mother is fervently adored – she who is the divine Maya, or the formative power of the Brahman, she who creates all the myriad forms of everything that we can perceive in existence, as well as what is still for us ‘the unknowable’. Her goal in this creative act is to make that Unknowable our lived experience. Her goal is to bring into being ever more sensitive and harmonious forms which can then sustain a seeing that until now has been an unbearable experience for the human being – just as the Supreme Vision of Mahakal, the Time-Spirit, which Sri Krishna grants to Arjun, was almost unbearable and had to be withdrawn.
Yet the Shakti uses Time in this creative process – for Time gestates and consolidates those myriad forms. Time is not synonymous with Death, as we find in certain traditions such as the Hindu, where the Lord of Death and the Lord of Time are one. That is the old way, before the Bridge was built. Without that open channel Time, the executive power of the Supreme Mother, carried the human being to the portals of that Threshold and then swallowed up that ‘energy of awareness’ in the true fashion of don Juan’s Eagle – for what is meant is that without that Bridge the human consciousness caved in upon itself like a collapsed star in the heavens. It consumed itself, being unable to carry its material form through this passage because the physical body has not had the proper alignment for this crucial crossing. The ‘collaboration of material Nature’ has therefore been essential in this endeavour because unless Nature agrees to the change, unless she offers the means to evolve these superior forms, we can do nothing to further the transformation. Therefore in 1957 the Mother realised the importance of securing this collaboration. We are now able to benefit from her precious insights and the results her formidable Yoga bore.
The Yoga of the Chamber is rendering obsolete the seeing of the Nagual’s line of Toltec seers in that the Eagle is not the ‘unknowable’ they perceived it to be. But, what exactly rendered this perception of the Eagle off-bounds, unsustainable, similar to Arjun’s vision of Mahakal on the battle field of Kurukshetra? It is not, properly speaking, a vision out there. The impossibility to see this Consciousness that permeates all of creation, or that IS all of creation, lies simply in the fact that it is too close to us. It is the essence we are made of, as well as ‘what we see out there’. Thus, to see the Eagle’s emanations requires an alignment based on a centre that until now has been closed to the human being, a centre that permits a new seeing of the one and the many, the vast and the detail, the near and the far. This centre is unveiled by the action of the Third Power in a new act of seeing, at the third level of the Supramental Descent. This centre is found in the soul of the Individual.
The bridge now being built connects the Transcendent ‘beyond’ to its immanent Seed. It is this ‘seed’, this ‘point’ that the Third gives birth to in the form of the Fourth Power, or the One. From this ‘point’, on the basis of the new alignment this produces in the individual, the Unknowable – or that extra-cosmic Transcendent – becomes immanent in the closest and most intimate part of our being.
The Eagle symbolises beautifully this potential. His majestic soaring through the heavens is reminiscent of the Transcendent’s freedom and vast scope, so magnificently embodied in Sri Aurobindo as that Transcendent Power of the Solar Line, whose vision was indeed all-embracing, all-encompassing, potently the seeing of the Absolute. Therefore, it is not only the flight of the Eagle that captures the symbolism. It is the creature’s vision which, more clearly than anything else, indicates why the Toltec seers of old saw this ‘unknowable’ in such a form; for while the eagle can embrace in his vision a vast expanse, he is equally capable of a microscopic, telescopic vision of the detail. He can spot the smallest prey from great heights and nothing escapes his acute, piercing eye.
Thus, the eagle’s power of seeing foretells the principal quality of the gnostic being: a seeing of the vast and the minute, the totality and the detail, the unity and the multiplicity. And when I use the term ‘seeing’, I mean the scope of the perceptive consciousness.
It is the Third Power of the Solar Line who bridges these dimensions, draws this eye of vastness down and into the minute of material creation. Hence the Third took birth in a land whose national bird is the Eagle – the United States of America – and whose national flower has just recently been declared the Rose; indeed, this Third Power is nowhere better evoked than in Sri Aurobindo’s poem, ‘Rose of God’. The Eagle and the Rose have joined together in the land of birth of the Third to provide another example of ‘the symbol being the thing symbolised’. In addition, both India and America came into being as independent nations in years of 3 power – 1947 and 1776, respectively.
American is ruled by Cancer (through its date of independence), the sign of the detail par excellence, the sign of the cell, of the minute organisms that form material creation and the patterns therein. The ‘bridge’ the Third constructs must link that sign/nation/dimension to its counterpart in the zodiacal wheel, Capricorn, whose symbol-landscape is the mountain, or the domain of the Eagle. Capricorn rules India, and it is in India that the Third’s base is located (‘…and to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle that she might fly…into her place’). In India the ‘construction’ of that Bridge is taking place. From this mountain-point, as if through the eye of an eagle, the new seeing comes into being that joins symbol and essence and that ‘makes all things new’.
Pigeon and Eagle: the New Symbols of Harmonious Integration
To draw this series to an end, I must bring the discussion once more into the immediate present, dismantling in the process any seed of speculation and abstraction that may seek to contaminate this new way. We can do this by reporting a very interesting synchronisation as our finale. Indeed, this synchronisation does involve a ‘finale’. It was the closing ceremony of the Festival of the USSR, held in India from November 1987, to November 1988.
While I was in the midst of writing ‘Animals in the Emerging Cosmos’, in mid-November I had occasion to view the finale of the Soviet Festival. To provide a brief background, readers of VISHAAL should know that India embarked upon a major cultural dissemination programme in 1980, with Indira Gandhi’s return to power. Thus, in this cycle of Neptune (the higher octave of Venus and therefore a most appropriate decade for such a campaign), India presented a series of ‘Festivals of India’ in various countries throughout the world. The USSR reciprocated in 1987-88 with its Festival of Russia in India, brought to a close last November with the aforementioned finale.
There has been a rather close bond between India and Russia; ostensibly for political reasons, but I feel this bond responds to deeper impulses, urges, stimuli. From the geography of the Gnostic Circle (see The New Way, Volume 2, Chapter 9), the student can observe that on the Earth/Gnostic Circle map Russia falls in the double Aquarius configuration; India, on the other hand, is found in the double Capricorn section. I cannot enter into a discussion of the significance of these configurations in this brief space, but I must mention these facts in order that some idea of the deeper connection between these two nations can be appreciated in the context of our new cosmology; and this will enrich our present topic and the event I shall now describe. India and Russia share a certain responsibility in this new age. And in this light, the remarkable changes presently occurring in Russia can be better understood, as well as the fact that in the political area of the world, the USSR has taken the lead – understandable, given its double Aquarius position – and with India’s support it is ushering in changes which are affecting the course of humanity’s future.
I find it therefore most appropriate to describe what I saw in the Russian finale in November last – precisely the sign/month wherein the Scorpion is transmuted into the Eagle. Indeed, the culmination of the finale was the astonishing spectacle of an eagle integrated into the choreography of the show with a group of white Fantail Pigeons. These creatures were used as ‘symbols’ of a peaceful coexistence of apparently instinctively antagonistic species. The Fantails flew about the eagle, they sat by him, on him even. The eagle would extend its wings as if to give shelter to the white pigeons, to offer them protection rather than harm. And the public – which included Mikhael Gorbachev and Rajiv Gandhi, and their wives – took delight in this extremely accomplished and beautiful display.
Shortly after, a news item appeared in The Times of India, on 24 November 1988 (its New Delhi edition, in which the Russian trainer of the birds was interviewed. Her name is Alla Lazova, and I reproduce some of her comments regarding her experiences in training the birds:
‘…“To be with birds is like being with winged angels,” she says.
‘The incredible harmony between an eagle, the most dreaded bird, and the sweet, docile pigeon, shown at the recent Soviet Festival, was just a brief introduction to her otherwise elaborate art…
‘According to Alla, who has been working with birds for the past 13 years, training avians is not easy. It takes almost two to three years to train each bird, during which she plays a patient mother, an enthusiastic teacher and an understanding friend.
‘“Birds are very intelligent, living beings. They think, they grieve, they have their moments of jubilation and of sadness,” Alla pointed out. What fascinates her most is the contrast between an eagle and a pigeon. The challenge of making them friends acts as a spur to her.
‘Training eagles, who are carnivorous, is full of hazards. Even though she picks them young – when they are almost newly hatched chicks – when she first started training them for the first few weeks she covered her eyes with thick glasses because eagles tend to attack the eyes.
‘But, in spite of her precautions, she has had her moments of anxiety. Once when she was teaching an eagle to sit on her hand, it gripped her wrist and wouldn’t leave it. “The nails had dug in and it was very painful. Finally they had to use a metallic instrument to loosen the grip,” she recalled.
‘On another occasion, she disclosed that eagles had their gentler side too, and since then she has never looked back. Spectators at the Soviet Festival who saw white pigeons sitting on eagles and displaying their tricks may not have realised that those birds actually knew what they were doing.
‘The eagle brought to Delhi was trained for about three years…’
During the three years that Alla Lazova had been training her eagle for this presentation, at Skambha we have been witnessing a similar behaviour, but entirely spontaneous. The Black Eagle of Skambha somehow knows – even as Alla’s birds appear to know what they are doing – that the white pigeons who have moved into his territory, who have even spent the dawn of the new year right in his own private garden, so to say, without being harmed by him in any way, are creatures together with whom he is becoming the symbol of power allied to love.
Indeed, the Eagle and the white Fantail are replacing the Lion and the Lamb of old. They are the new symbols of ‘the Power of Love’.
It is this Power that is the true essence of the Third in the Solar Line; and it is the Power that is active in the world today in this necessary phase of harmonisation and integration which we are witnessing.
At Skambha, in our work with animals there is no training programme. This is important to note for this fact constitutes the essential newness of our experience. We are not concerned with what man can train animals to do, as a sort of imposition of his power and will, however remarkable and laudable a display this may be. Rather, at Skambha experience has permitted us to be witnesses to the new Power working in the world. The Skambha experience has allowed us to engage in a special ‘act of seeing’ which creates an atmosphere unlike any other to be found on this planet. It is this new ‘field’ that permits the animal to participate in the transformation in a unique harmony of gnostic time and thereby to contribute to the process in the way Nature has intended for the establishment of the new creation on Earth.
The New Organisation in the ‘Cellular Mind’
As a final summary, I would like to use the Mother’s words to help explain what exactly the contribution of the animal has been in the Yoga of the Chamber, and why it has been necessary and has played such a central role in this revolutionary process.
What we are dealing with is ever and always the creation of a cosmos. That is, the purpose of our Yoga at this stage is to create this new order, to reorganise the structures that go into the formation of consciousness and physical being.
Our experiences with animals concern primarily the latter. As the Mother called it, ‘the organisation of the cellular mind’. Until now, she explains, this ‘mind’ has not been coordinated or transformed. But it has been present in evolution, particularly in the animal.
In 1965 the Mother had an important experience in her own body involving this cellular mind and its role in the work of transformation. I wish to end this series by reproducing the Mother’s description of her experience, since it bears directly upon our present work. In reading her words, the student will understand more precisely why animals have been required in this part of the process, given their ‘easy response’ in this cellular mind. The Mother makes a distinction between the physical mind and the cellular one. In grasping this distinction, the student at the same time is better able to comprehend just what has been accomplished by the equal participation of animals in our work. And exactly what I mean when I state that Time and Nature collaborated in this experience to create a superior blueprint for the evolution of a new consciousness-being. The ‘new organisation in the cellular mind’ is this new blueprint, the formation of which has required the participation of a species responsive at that level in an impeccable, uncontaminated way. Particularly important was that the mental faculties of the human being would not be permitted to interfere; therefore a species other than the human was required. This is made clear at the very end of the Mother’s talk.
The extracts I reproduce below are taken from discussions between 21 and 31 August, 1965:
21 August 1965
Since the 15th there has been a whole work of preparation for the transformation. What could one call it? …a transfer of power.
The cells, the whole material consciousness obeyed the inner individual consciousness – most often the psychic or the mental (but the mind has been silent since long). But now this material mind is busy organising itself like the other or rather like all the others, like the mind in all the states of being.
It is, as it were, a displacement of the directing will. And there, materially, physically, it is something like a surprise; and a need for identification with the new direction – that is a little difficult. It is difficult also to explain… It is no more the same thing which makes you act… It is no more the same centre. And then, if through habit you try to cling to the old centre, oh! it makes a great disorder and you must be very careful not to let the habit, the old habit, express itself, manifest itself.
It is difficult to say. It is still too much only an action.
Thought here, in this brain, finds it difficult to adapt itself.
Because, for two days…there was all the while an aspiration: ‘How will this new world be when it becomes material here? How will this new world be? And then that put me so much ‘within’ that I was…I was not distant, but there was a kind of thick blanket of haze between me and the world as it is. It was there even today.
This morning, for example…the cells of the body, that is to say, the form of the body, had the experience that to remain together or to be dissolved depends on a certain attitude – an attitude or a will, something of both will and attitude. And with the perception (sometimes almost double at the same time, one being rather a memory and the other a thing lived) of what makes you move, act, know: the old way as a memory, and the new in which evidently there is no reason to be dissolved unless one chooses it – that has no meaning, it is a meaningless thing: why be dissolved?
…That gives, at the same time, the feeling of the unreality of life and of a reality which one might call eternal: the feeling of death does not exist, it is nothing, it is merely a choice. And the dislocation, which has no meaning, which has no reason to be there, is a fantasy.
And then all the old way of seeing, feeling, perceiving, is there behind, like a kind of habit – a blanket of haze, which renders the contact woolly, imprecise.
28 August 1965
…This change of initiating power, if one may say, this transfer of power, has had upon me the effect of a unique experience, of something that had never taken place before. Unhappily, that did not last long. But the experience has left a kind of certitude in the body – it is less uncertain of the future. It came to it, as if to tell it: ‘It will be like that.’
If that remains, it is evident immortality.
31 August 1965
How do you define this physical mind which was made the object of the transfer of power?
It is not the physical mind. It is long since the physical mind has changed… It is the material mind – not even the material mind: it is the mind of Matter. It is the mental substance which belongs to Matter itself, to the cells. That is what was once called the ‘spirit of the form’, when it was said that mummies kept their bodies intact as long as the spirit of the form persisted… It is that mind, this wholly material mind. The other, the physical mind, was organised long ago.
Then what is the difference between this material mind and the physical mind?
The physical mind is the mind of the physical personality formed by the body. It grows with the body, but it is not the mind of Matter: it is the mind of the physical being. For example, it is this physical mind which gives the character – the bodily character, the physical character – and which is in a large measure formed by atavism and by education. All this is called the ‘physical mind’. Yes, it is the result of atavism, of education and of the formation of the body; it is what forms the physical character. For example, there are people who are patient, people who are strong, etc. – physically I mean, not for vital or mental reasons, but purely physically; you have a character. It is the physical mind. And this is part of all integral yoga; you go through the discipline of this physical mind. More than sixty years ago I did it.
But then, for example, this mind which is spontaneously defeatist, having all sorts of fears, apprehensions, always seeing the worst, repeating always the same things, is it the physical mind or the material mind?
That is the most unconscious part of the physical mind and that is the link joining the physical mind and this material substance. But it is already an organised mind, you must understand, it is the most material part touching the mind… How can one call this ‘mind’? You cannot even call it the bodily mind – it is the mind of the cells, it is a cellular mind.
This cellular mind exists in animals, and even a little (very little, as a promise) beginning in the plants – they respond to a mental action. They do respond. As soon as Life manifests, there is already a promise of mind, of mental movement. And in animals it is clear. Whereas this physical mind truly begins to exist only in man. It is this which very little children already have; they already have a physical mind; that is to say, two babies are not the same, their reactions are not the same, there is already a difference. And it is this, above all, which is given to you with the special form of your body, by atavism, and the fully developed by education.
No, the physical mind, as soon as you take up an integral yoga, must be dealt with; but this material mind, the cellular one, I assure you, is altogether new, yes, altogether new.
It is the mind which was like an uncoordinated substance, which was constantly active, but not organised (the Mother makes a gesture of continuous trepidation). It is this which is now being organised. It is that which is important – for Sri Aurobindo had said that it was unorganisable and it had only to be thrown out of existence. And I too had the same impression. But when the action for transformation upon the cells is constant, this material mind begins to be organised. And as it is being organised, it learns to keep silent – that is most remarkable! It learns to keep quiet, keep silent and allow the supreme Force to act without interfering.
…It is very interesting, it explains much, explains many things. A day will come when all this will be explained and put in its place. It is not yet the time to reveal, but it is very interesting.
I have truly the impression that it is being organised, the work has begun to be organised.
Naturally, one must carefully avoid allowing a mental organisation to intervene; that is why I do not try to explain too much; the mind would come in and then it is nor more that.
TMCE, Volume 11
The cellular mind the Mother describes as a new phenomenon is the area that must be dealt with when we are engaged in a transformation of matter. Prior to the Supramental Manifestation this dimension of the physical was not important, though it was active in the animal. However, in the human being it was in a state of chaos, as the Mother explains. When we reach the third and fourth levels of the Manifestation, the vital and physical strata, it is clear that these links must be made, and for this purpose a new organisation must be carried out. This means that the field expands now. The human being’s private laboratory is extended to include these hitherto remote, inaccessible and unknown areas of the embodied consciousness-being; just as the solar system has expanded from six to nine planets and this also requires a ‘new organisation’. The new blueprint must incorporate these multiple dimensions – above all, at that material base an organisation or a creation of a cosmos out of the chaos must come into being.
Since the animal functions largely on the basis of a will acting in and through this cellular mind – uncontaminated by the mental process – we have been called upon to make use of these creatures for the purpose of bringing about this new order, which is done through the power of time. That our animals have displayed such a remarkable attunement with time in their natural functions such as heats, conceptions, births and deaths, and in such an entirely ‘new way’, proves that not only is this organisation a fact, but that indeed it is with the collaboration of Time, working through the centremost ‘seed’ at the core of matter, controlling the manifestation from this luminous, infinitesimal Point, that this revolutionary process is done.
Books are being written by disciples of the Mother on various aspects of the transformation, including this cellular mind. But the Mother made it clear that the mind was not to interfere, and therefore she was not in a position ‘to explain’ the process. Hence, one cannot understand the true nature of the work simply by piecing together the Mother’s words. It is only by the lived experience that any real understanding can come about. ‘A day will come when all this will be explained and put in its place’, she said, but that it was ‘not yet the time’. This was in 1965. Now, two decades later, we are able to explain what time and the lived experience had previously withheld.
Skambha, January of 1989