Also in this Series
- Culture and Cosmos – 1
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 1
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 2
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 3.1
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 3.2
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 3.3
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 3.4
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 3.5
- Culture and Cosmos – 2, Part 3.6
- Culture and Cosmos – 3, Part 1
- Culture and Cosmos – 3, Part 1.2
- Culture and Cosmos – 3, Part 1.3
- Culture and Cosmos – 3, Part 2.1
- Culture and Cosmos – 3, Part 2.2
- Culture and Cosmos – 3, Part 2.3
- Culture and Cosmos – 3, Part 3.1
- Culture and Cosmos – 3, Part 3.2
- Culture and Cosmos – 3, Part 3.3
- Culture and Cosmos – 4, Part 1
- Culture and Cosmos – 4, Part 1.2
Continued from TVN 9/1
If we wish to formulate a succinct albeit unorthodox definition of a cosmos, or the cosmic manifestation, it is surely the act of putting boundaries on the Infinite. A cosmos comes into being by virtue of this action of setting up boundaries, limits, confines. Within that, once the Boundless is closed within boundaries, the energies thus enclosed experience a process of ordering. Cosmos, order, and subsequent harmony cannot come into being without a specific structure. It is similar to the raga of Indian classical music. There is a theme, a specific scale and tone and tempo. This would be cosmos for the musical experience. These are the music’s (the Infinite’s) boundaries. On this basis the raga organises the flow, the inspiration, the activity. Each of the 72 major ragas, we could say, is a cosmos in itself. Indian music is entirely cosmic in nature because it is the fruit of a yogic experience in which the sage or seer identified with that Supreme Consciousness in its bounded form and experienced a similar ‘establishment of boundaries’ by virtue of which the Infinite is made manifest, – i.e., given a body.
Thus a cosmos is a body. Likewise, each form in the universe is a cosmos within a cosmos. But more especially, the human being is a microcosm equal to the macrocosm in that he or she houses a soul, or a centre which holds this cluster of energies together. The body is thus a precious vessel that serves to set boundaries within which this amalgam of energy may find a field appropriate for the act of harmonisation, or ordering. Hence, the unveiling of that soul-centre is undoubtedly the single most important attainment in the lifetime of a human incarnation.
The boundary comes into being through the correct balance of two cosmic directions: expansion and contraction. It is as if from a point something on the order of a ‘big bang’ – but not quite – were to occur. But instead of experiencing an endless and unregulated expansion of the energy released from that centre, the simultaneous condition of contraction and expansion, and the balance reached between the two, allows for the emergence of a boundary, a cosmos; in Sanskrit it is called adhara, vessel or container. This is another way of saying that a cosmos is the perfect harmonisation of space and time, or the energy ration contained therein. The horizontal direction, equated with expansion, is joined by the vertical which in turn is equated with contraction.
But the quality of that ‘centre’ or ‘point’ is important to scrutinise, insofar as without a centre nothing could be ‘held together’ and the emergence of a cosmos would be impossible. However, to comprehend the true nature of this elusive Point, one has to step beyond that border, that ‘event horizon’ of contemporary theoretical physics, because what expands from the Point is actually what had been contracted beyond that ‘event horizon’. It is as if the Supreme Consciousness were turning Itself inside-out.
In this way the human being can experience that vast, that Supreme Consciousness by similarly plunging into his or her innermost depths and experiencing the same reversal. The experience of the microcosm is the same as the macro, provided one has access to the dimension of Essence, of essential Energy.
The zodiac, inasmuch as it is a formulation of this creative process, describes in its arcane hieroglyphics this very activity of the Supreme Consciousness. Thus there is the symbol of the first sign Aries,, designed to express that original emergence or release of (compressed) energy from the Point. Thereafter, from that initial burst, the two ‘horns’ are seen to rise and separate; the symbol provides us with the key to the movement of expansion from the (compressed) Point.
After six signs or stages there is the sign opposite to Aries, Libra. Its symbol, , clearly conveys the question of balance. What was thrust out at the Origin is now brought into a balance of energy. Astrology has very accurately preserved this knowledge of the essentials of the creative process by incorporating the planets into the scheme by way of relationships to the signs, their ‘exaltations’, or ‘falls’ or ‘detriments’, and so forth.
In the case of Libra, it is important to note that this sign is considered Saturn’s exaltation. We know from the Gnostic Circle and the new cosmology that Saturn is the planet representing the Cosmic Divine, or the process of ordering by way of setting boundaries or limits. Hence its exaltation, Libra, suggests that a key feature of the creative process which produces a cosmos is balance of energies. Saturn is also indicative of contraction; by its exaltation in the sign opposite to Aries of the great release, or first thrust, we understand that our material universe is thus balanced on these two cosmic directions, expansion (Aries) and contraction (Libra), given the pre-eminent status of Saturn in the sign.
This is only one of the poles which form the basic structure of the 12-part wheel, the zodiac of 12 signs. It is the horizontal pole of masculine signs, comprised of the elements Fire and Air. The second cross-sectioning pole is formed of Water and Earth, or Cancer and Capricorn, both feminine. This additional pole indicates another aspect more particularly related to our own planet within this solar system. It refers to the existence of a soul-centre by virtue of which the species in evolution on the planet can indeed experience that original act of creation in full consciousness. Properly speaking, the Cancer/Capricorn pole is the direction of contraction – the feminine, receptive Water and Earth signs which draw within, into the innermost depths. The Aries/Libra pole is the direction of expansion, masculine, out-going, releasing, inspirational, as the Fire and Air signs are known to be.
However we analyse the zodiac as a map of evolution, we understand that a cosmos of whatever magnitude comes into being by virtue of these two simultaneous, interacting directions, expansion and contraction. But this describes only part of the process. The zodiacal script, inasmuch as it is based on the measure of 12 and thus corresponds to the horizontal poise, is concerned only with process on this side of the event horizon. Aries is the emergence of Agni of the Veda, first of the Gods, leader of all the rest. And indeed his vahana, or carrier, tradition tells us is the Ram. He is the God of Fire, indicated by his very name, even as Aries is the first of the Fire signs. He is the supreme Voyager or Traveller on the path to the mountain-top, the apex where the full realisation occurs. Sri Aurobindo describes this symbolism in his Hymns to the Mystic Fire (Agni):
‘…The image of this sacrifice is sometimes that of a journey or voyage; for it travels, it ascends; it has a goal – the vastness, the true existence, the light, the felicity – and it is called upon to discover and keep the good, the straight and the happy path to the goal, the arduous, yet joyful road of the Truth. It has to climb, led by the flaming strength of the divine Will, from plateau to plateau as of a mountain, it has to cross as in a ship the waters of existence, traverse its rivers, overcome their deep pits and rapid currents; its aim is to arrive at the far-off ocean of light and infinity.’ (CE, Vol. 11, page 28.)
It is in the sign of the Mountain, Capricorn, the 10th in the scale of 12, that the experience is offered to the Traveller which can carry him or her beyond that ‘event horizon’.
In The Magical Carousel this experience in the womb or the zero, symbolised as the innermost recesses of the Mountain, is described in the 10th chapter of the sign Capricorn. The Centaur of the 9th, Sagittarius, carries the story’s ‘little travellers’, Val and Pom-Pom, beyond that horizon, or the ‘border’:
They gallop off at great speed, crossing the violet and fuchsia coloured land, for the Centaur makes every effort to fulfil his mission properly and to bring the children to their destination on time. He travels so swiftly they seem to go even faster than sound and light, and at a certain moment the very space around them disappears, they are almost unaware of moving at all and seem to have entered a point right within themselves…
The result of this plunge within on the basis of acceleration and speed, for which reason the Horse is the symbol, is made evident in the beginning lines of the next chapter when the children, after this reversal in direction, find themselves in ‘Capricornland’…
An enormous steep mountain rises before them, a majestic sight that juts up from the plains and stretches to the heavens…
Thereafter, having scaled the Mountain with the aid of the Goat, the children reach its mid-point and can go no further. There they are encouraged to enter the Mountain, to penetrate into the depths of this mass…
‘But this isn’t the top! they exclaim.
‘Oh, you cannot reach it by the outside. It is only through the inside that you may come to the peak, and this you must do alone’…
Thus it is a movement into the depths of oneself, into one’s innermost recesses which permits the human being to reach the dimension of the origin of Being. What we find there, in this densest zone symbolised in the compactness of the mountain-mass, is the seed of compressed Time – the three times, past, present and future, simultaneous, unextended, unevolved, spheric and not linear:
Lying there in complete stillness they become aware of a hole in the middle of the room, which seems to have been there all the while. The children crawl up to it, peer over the rim and down below they see an old, old man with flowing beard and long white hair, seated at a table with a huge book open before him. Behind him stands a great clock, unusual and unique for there are only three symbols drawn on its face: a minus to the left, a plus to the right and a circle in the middle. But there are no hands pointing anywhere as one would normally expect. The ticking is loud now for it comes from this very clock…
The important feature of this modern myth is that it describes the essence of that across-the-border condition. Or the very essence of Being: compressed energy which when thrust beyond the Border, over the event horizon, becomes time as we know it, measurable essence of the Infinite. Time then, from the point of its contracted Self, delineates space whose essential nature and purpose is to provide a field to expand that compression of Being.
Myth satisfies the emotional, visualising part of one’s being, the ‘picture’ drawn from the soul. On the other hand, we have the Gnostic Circle which plays its part in the integral knowledge by providing us with ‘a new measure’ that involves or integrates the higher mental centres of one’s being. Its important feature is that it incorporates in one diagram the two dimensions: this side of the Border, and that which lies beyond the event horizon. Thus the Gnostic Circle can be described as the new key to a knowledge which only recently has been made available to the human creation because it is only in our present Age of Aquarius that the ‘heaven beyond’ is brought down to Earth – or better, unveiled as the inner Summit attainable by all humans provided they are willing to experience the reversal demanded for such an experience.
The ‘beyond’, or the seed of compressed Time, is depicted in the Gnostic Circle in the Sacred Triangle consisting of the number-powers 9, 6, 3. These are the Transcendent (9), the Cosmic (6), and the Individual (3); or God, Nature and the human being. As time-energy, they are future (9), past (6), and present (3). The meeting point, it is clear, is the 3, or the present.
The Gnostic Circle thus offers the seeker a formidable tool both for the collective and the individual expression in the course of evolution of the essence of that innermost ‘seed’. This we identify as the Divine Purpose. In terms of number-power it is the 1, but as the first numeral emerging from the fulness of the Zero. This process describes the birth that fills the void. We see it in terms of individuals; we realise it in terms of nations or collective expressions of consciousness. But whatever, it is always a question of Fulness, of the evolution of the sacred contents of that compressed seed of Time. This is the upholder of destiny. This is Skambha, sacred support of the worlds.
Unextended, unbound, facing downwards, facing upwards
how does he not sink? By what self-law does he go on
his journey? Who has seen when he joins heaven and is its
pillar (Skambha) and guards the firmament?
Mandala 4, Sukta 13,5
Hymns to the Mystic Fire
CE, Vol. 11, page 194
The abdication of Spirituality, and the conquest of the Underworld
The precise explanation of the present great labour humanity is experiencing in its transition to a higher level is the hitherto irredeemable emptiness central to the consciousness-structure of the species. As individuals we have sought to fill the central emptiness in ever so many ways. But society is realising the painful truth that nothing we can devise with our mental prowess and vital distractions proves adequate and capable of filling that emptiness. The problem lies in the fact that we seek to do so with designs and strategies which bear no relation to the problem. Indeed, we are faced with a central void. And yet, oblivious of the real nature of centrality, disregarding the fact that it is central to everything, we seek to fill this special zone with elements pertinent and natural to the periphery. In other words, a centre unveils from within itself its sacred Occupant. It can never be occupied by an outside element.
Thus throughout the ages and particularly accentuated in our times, we have witnessed usurpation, mis-location, disturbances in the true harmonious condition of being. It has been a futile struggle because until our Age the introduction of the highest Principle expressible by the human being, there was no possibility of this act of centering. By consequence, spirituality fell into a Black Hole. It was forced to devise a means to escape the confines of cosmic manifestation because within that boundary it was incapable of offering the seeker the experience which could give birth to the One that fills the void.
We see this in clear graphics in the Gnostic Circle where the 4.5 Orbit discloses the area of ‘escape’, or the extinction of the consciousness by means of a wrong direction. Thus while the true direction is inward and the poise is centred on the innermost Point, the pressures pushing in on the human consciousness could not be sustained by this incomplete structure and collapse of consciousness was the result, with the obliteration of the nexus of awareness as the goal.
Death has been a well-designed and superior instrument in this cosmic structure. In the scheme of existence in this cosmic manifestation, Death is the lord of a mortal creation which has not known the full gamut or range of experience available to this evolving species. I have explained the conundrum as being a quarter of the Gnostic Circle closed to the experience on Earth, posited ‘in heaven’, or experienced in trance, disconnected from our time and space on this planet; but never in the full and connected waking consciousness. The summit for this mortal creation lies beyond that Borderline which until now has been the demarcation forced upon us due to an incomplete base that cannot sustain the full range of experience which is our true birth right and which we must reclaim.
Therefore we have required Death to provide us with an entry into that Beyond. Sri Aurobindo described this condition and the redemption in his epic poem, Savitri. He has done so in the sublime verses he left us, but also in the structure of the poem in its final version. We find it to coincide with the cosmic formula and script because the death of that One, Satyavan, transpires in the 8th Book of the epic which coincides with the 8th sign of death of the Zodiac, Scorpio. Thereafter, the Goddess Savitri follows Death into his domain in the 9th Book, again corresponding to the zodiac where the 9th sign represents that passage to the ‘beyond’. But the victory of the Goddess in the 10th Book, corresponding to the 10th sign of the Divine Mother’s victory, Capricorn, is precisely the conquering of Death as lord of the Beyond, and the great reversal which brings this experience of ‘heaven’ within the panorama of the Earth’s evolving consciousness of the species. Savitri is Sri Aurobindo’s masterful exposition of the new future that awaits humanity – no longer mortal, no longer requiring death to provide entry into a dimension which was reserved for the Beyond.
And yet, in her victory over Death and the retrieval of Satyavan’s soul which she later carries back to Earth, the Goddess utters these memorable lines, …Live, Death, awhile, be still my instrument.
It is more than clear that the 9th sign/stage of the zodiac is a critical zone. Being the ninth it is of course related to birth as the human species experiences in its nine months of gestation. What is ‘seeded’ in the first sign, Aries, is thus ‘born’ in the 9th. However, this is the sign following Scorpio, the sign of death. Therefore we understand that the ‘birth’ of Sagittarius can be this passage ‘beyond’, death here to be reborn elsewhere, or else reversal. That is, the birth that fills the void and thus allows for that ‘beyond’ to become established here and to be realised on this planet in the full waking consciousness, with no disconnection or rupture of one’s time.
Because of this Sri Aurobindo’s return took place precisely in the zodiacal sign of Sagittarius, that crucial ninth. His own passing and rebirth reversed the direction and drew the link between the Beyond and this Earth by taking birth in an unbroken line of time, having moved into and through Death’s hitherto unchallenged territory of oblivion where that link had to be forged by means of a conscious ‘death’ and rebirth.
Energies that nurture and fulfil
Indeed, we are in a transitional period of great moment which may last a number of centuries but which is characterised by a knowledgeable instrumentation where Death, and even the Ignorance, become allies in the transformation, fully in orbit of the One and fulfilling its divine Purpose in the world.
When we set out to transform an element of the material universe, an individualised body, we are obliged to deal with certain ‘laws’ to which that particular body is linked, to which it owes its life and mechanism of continuity or reproduction. If, then, we propose to alter these laws or set a different mechanism in motion, we must discover a higher system by which that lower structure can be refined and raised in its level of expression and instrumentation.
We are dealing with energy in the Zero. This means that if a true centre comes into being it indicates that there is a perfect balance of energies. In the ancient Vedic tradition these are the gunas, Rajas, Sattva, and Tamas. The order must be correct so that each thing is in its place because this is what constitutes harmony and balance. In the zodiac through the sequence of twelve signs we have a repetition of these triune energies in their correct order, rajas, sattva, tamas, or cardinal, fixed and mutable according to astrological nomenclature. The order and positioning is of vital importance. Any disturbance means a disruption in the flow and the transmutation of energy fails, becomes overpowering of one of the poises, or is insufficient to fuel the system so that the full gamut or stages are experienced in the rise to the summit of Being.
Thus, in the Solar Line we do indeed find a balanced play. The 9, Sri Aurobindo, was born in Leo of Fixed or Sattva guna; the 6, the Mother, was Mutable or Tamas; while the Third is Cardinal or Rajas. In this arrangement we see that the 9 stands between the two, as in the sacred triangle, and depends upon that base for its manifestation. In terms of energy transmutation this means that Sattva, the middle guna of Preservation/Fixed quality, cannot fulfil itself unless it is fed by the flanking energies. Hence Sri Aurobindo stated that his mission was incomplete without the Mother, or that he could not manifest without her. But that was only half the story; the full picture emerges with the appearance of the triune powers, each corresponding to a guna or energy flow.
For this reason, given the fact that this perfect allocation, positioning and balancing is indispensable if we wish to bring about the transformation desired and its needed transmutation of energies, I have constantly drawn attention to the fact that the clearest indication of the decline of the Vedic Dharma is found in this mis-arrangement of these gunas, placing Sattva first and the others thereafter. When this was done the knowledge suffered tremendous damage. It became obscured inasmuch as the correct process of transformation for any yoga involving an embodied consciousness could no longer be carried out. For this time is indispensable as an ally, since the gunas are channelled or regulated by time. They are time’s limbs, as it were.
This mis-arrangement indicates a Peace (normally associated with Sattva) which is no longer dynamic but entirely static. The reasons are obvious and we shall analyse them by proceeding with this discussion through an application of the formula in contemporary times.
I have stated that Sattva ‘goes nowhere’, does not move unless it receives energy from the flanks, Rajas and Tamas. Because of this entirely passive poise, impelled to action or movement only when it is fed by the flanks, Sattva became equated with immobility, peace, inaction, and so on. Its connection with the spiritual realisation of Peace, dynamic and static, results from this inability to move if not fed by the flanks, – Rajas moving into, and Tamas turning back upon Sattva. The latter then balances or harmonises this play or input of energies. It easily became seen as the superior poise because this harmony was associated with Sattva exclusively, and with a certain detachment, uninvolvement; whereas Sattva merely allows each thing to find its rightful place and balance by not interfering, so to speak, due to its immobile poise. It cannot engender movement, otherwise the thrust into and turn back upon activities of Rajas and Tamas would be disturbed. Clearly we observe that a disassociation of any sort, for whatever reason, spells disaster due to the inevitable and attending collapse of energy. Sattva is then neither an upholder or a preserver but simply a void. That is, in its central and critical position the right poise is not encountered, on the order of a base into and onto which the energies of Rajas and Tamas can find the field for their intermingling and transmutation.
When the order was disturbed about 2000 years ago in India, wisemen had no choice but to withdraw. That is, the base on Earth became the void, a black hole into which the flanking energies collapsed. The base was transported to the Beyond, to Swar or heaven. The Earth was no longer the home for that transmutational process. All spirituality then focussed on the Sattvic realisation but disconnected from Rajas and Tamas, both energy expressions of which were looked down upon and even despised by the then and present realisers.
The Sattvic Escape
Let us observe how this played itself out centuries later in the physical body of Mother India, a geographical configuration constituted by precisely these very triune energy flows. The true Body consists of the complete Capricorn hieroglyph which delineates the total landmass that encompasses this sacred play of energy. But when this knowledge was lost approximately two millennia ago, the base was corroded and energies started collapsing, turning in on themselves rather than offering the Aryan warrior of the Vedic Age that precious fuel, outcome of the transmutation, indispensable for the rise to the victorious Capricorn summit of Being. The mountain symbol of Capricorn implies a base in matter, in this material creation. Whereas wisemen then sought the summit in an extra-terrestrial paradise, even extra-cosmic, somewhere beyond this dizzying movement which seemed to represent chaos rather than cosmos.
This removal of the consciousness, given the otherworldly direction of their quests, caused the base on Earth, namely India, to suffer the consequences which were immediate in coming. Invasions and conquests followed, leading up to this century and the actual physical dismembering of the sacred body of the Mother.
The argument is put forth that India was never a united whole as described by the Capricorn symbol/map. She always consisted of separate kingdoms and states which were continuously at war with each other. Furthermore, it was alleged that her very culture in its entirety was imported from beyond the borders which the Capricorn hieroglyph defines. Therefore, it should not surprise or confound us that partition of the subcontinent simply consolidated this age-old state of affairs.
This argument is fallacious. What held the symbol-map together was not a politically unifying force but a DHARMIC power based on the visions and realisations of the early Vedic Rishis.
However, and the point must be strongly emphasised, this is not to be confused with religion as we know it and which as an expression of the human spirit has arisen precisely during the decline of the Dharma over the past 2000 years or so. This spirit of the civilisation, still intact today in spite of its struggle for survival in our very times, consisted of all-inclusive, all-pervasive consciousness-being which extended over the entire area and was not at all affected by the divisions of kingdoms and states within those sacred boundaries provided by the Vedic Dharma. This consciousness-being was anterior to religion. It is therefore not surprising that in order to make inroads into that hieroglyphic Body, the tool would be a shadow of that Dharma. The result was that gaps were left in the physical energy-body, just as the withdrawal syndrome of the earlier wisemen in their quest left the Earth’s energy base void and unsupported.
This dramatic circumstance was then played out at the time of Partition, the final display of the effects of withdrawal. The two-nation formula, supposedly necessitated by the two religions occupying the body of the Mother, was the strategy implemented to deal the final and everlasting blow to the Dharma. We see this reflected in the map above, indicated by the X marks, where the two flanking energies, Rajas and Tamas, were cut into and thus debilitated to the point where the central portion, Sattva, cannot play its own righful role nor offer the central support-base the play demands. Rather, we find India today unable to stand as that sacred Pillar, that central support of the world. That is, India is not able to fulfil her destiny of soul and centre of this planet, which is the definition of that perfect centre, because she does not enjoy the balance of the triune energies in her physical base.
The dismembering of the hieroglyphic map on the basis of religion was the ultimate falsehood and the final blow to the Vedic Dharma in that it sought to equalise that which had never any connection or correlation. Hinduism even as it stands today is still a civilisational-cultural expression and not a formal religion by any definition. To divide the geography on the basis of a ‘two-nation, two-religion’ formula marked the ultimate in decline. The Dharma had reached its nadir when this came into effect.
Interestingly, during the very period that this ‘formula’ was being devised and implemented, another energy base was right then in the process of completing itself. By 1938 the triune powers of the Solar Line, demanded for the appearance of the 9th Avatar of Vishnu, were all incarnated. That is, they had all taken their place in Earth time to fulfil the formula: Rajas-3, Sattva-9, and Tamas-6. With the addition of the 0 we have the radius of the Earth, 3960 miles according to the measure of 12. Indeed, as the radius, the measure of unity, itself signifies, with the fulfilment by 1938 the full destiny of the Earth could finally begin to reveal itself through the Line, foremost by embodying these triune energy-powers with which the crossing beyond the border, or ‘event horizon’, could be made.
However, just the fact of incarnating was not enough. The unveiling is part and parcel of the affirmation. Thus a longer period of darkness, perhaps increased in intensity due to the very appearance of the three as yet disconnected powers, ensued. In the 9th year after 1938, on Sri Aurobindo’s very birthday, India attained independence in this dismembered form. This prompted Sri Aurobindo to make the following statement on the occasion of the assassination of Gandhi shortly after Independence,
…the Light which led us to freedom, though not yet to unity still burns and will burn on till it conquers. I believe firmly that a great and united future is the destiny of this nation and its people. The Power that brought us through so much struggle and suffering to freedom, will achieve also, through whatever strife and trouble, the aim which so poignantly occupied the thoughts of the fallen leader at the time of his tragic ending; as it brought us freedom, it will bring us unity. A free and united India will be there and the Mother will gather around her her sons and weld them into a single national strength in the life of a great and united people. (5.2.1948)
Thereafter, events set in motion by his own passing engendered a process of integration and harmonisation precisely involving those three gunas which found themselves severed by Partition; until 24 years later, in 1971, the new beginning was possible.
From that year till today the constant, uninterrupted effort or tapasya has been to fill the void left by the Sattvic escape, to integrate the energies left dangling by the mis-arrangement of the order, and to heal the wounds inflicted by the loss of the Knowledge and the damage resultant to the Vedic Dharma. The Solar Line in its own consciousness-being has lived out the harmony of the three.
We know that the Solar Line is the nucleus consisting of the three energies shaping the manifestation and mission of the 9th Avatar of Vishnu in the Hindu line of Ten Avatars. This 9th requires for his appearance and fulfilment the feminine powers, 6 and 3. If not, the 9/Sattva remains inert, unmoving, static. The Transcendent which he embodies remains ‘up there’ and cannot be brought down, rooted here for the fulfilment of the Earth’s destiny.
But when we say ‘the knowledge was lost’, we are only partially explaining the situation. It is more correct to state that the knowledge went underground. In earlier portions of this study (see TVN, 6/4, December 1991), I have referred to the special means adopted to preserve that knowledge precisely during the period of decline. This tool was Myth. Even today the knowledge can be found in India in its vibrant mythic culture. The Vedic Truth was hidden in the nation’s treasure chest of myths.
Thus we find the same truth of the balance of energies and the Sattvic demand for input in order to be ‘aroused’ in a very special myth. It is the tale of Vishnu reclining and asleep on the serpent Ananta (Unending Time); and then the birth of his shakti, or Energy, when the aroused Vishnu takes part in the Churning of the Ocean and movement is initiated by the aid of Ananta, who is used wrapped around the churning stick (Mt. Meru) and pulled by the Gods and Demons. From that churning of the primordial Ocean, one of the prized treasures that emerges is Sri or Lakshmi, Vishnu’s divine Consort. Creation is then released from the pralaya sleep or paralysis.
Vishnu, as we know, is the embodiment of the Sattva/Preservation guna. Thus, the Avatars of the Line of Ten, whose appearance can only take place on Earth during those particular gunas in the passage of the zodiacal ages (the Ages of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio/Eagle and Aquarius, or the four parts of the Sphinx), are known as emanations of Vishnu, the Preserver. But these myths reveal that Sattva is ‘churned’ by the aid of Time (Ananta); the Churning myth reveals the precise role of Sattva in the triangular balance of energy by describing Vishnu as both the Tortoise upholding the act, and at the same time his carrier, the Eagle, holds the stick in place from above. Around this ‘pole’ the Ocean of creation is churned.
By escaping, by focussing on an external cosmic goal and a static peace, realisers in India have been identifying with the sleeping Vishnu. Only half of the myth was played out. When Vishnu in his 9th appearance is aroused by the 6 and the 3, the new creation is upon us. Instead of bemoaning the condition of our planet and the scourge of birth in so infested a cosmic space, we ought to rejoice at the choice we are given: to be or not to be CONSCIOUS in this momentous crossing of an age.
Exaltations and transmutations
There is a story involving the ancient Sage of Tamil Nadu, Agastya, which reveals how the knowledge was preserved in the countless apparently quaint tales which abound in Indian myth and folklore. In this case, as in so many others, the knowledge is specifically zodiacal and refers to Aries, sign of the Ram, ruled by Mars, ‘exaltation’ of the Sun.
The story goes that Agastya married a most demanding woman. As a condition for producing a child she insisted on fine ornaments, garlands, and so forth. But Agastya was a poor sage who could not meet her demands. Thus he went to several benevolent and wealthy kings and asked each of them to come to his aid. However, the kings in turn pleaded their inability to help by producing their account books. There was no balance which could be handed over to the sage.
Agastya then, in the company of the kings, went to the abode of Ilvala, a rakshasa, or titan, who had amassed great wealth. Together with Ilvala lived his brother, Vatapi.
To be brief, the Titan brothers had an intense dislike for Brahmins, the caste traditionally appointed to preserve the knowledge. They devised a means to liquidate any Brahmin who ventured into their domain. Ilvala would turn Vatapi into a ram, prepare a sumptuous meal from the sacrificed animal and serve it to the Brahmin. But once ingested, Ilvala would call out to Vatapi. ‘Come out!’ At which point, Vatapi would burst forth from inside the Brahmin’s belly, and in this manner Ilvala killed many Brahmins.
Agastya being himself a Brahmin, and a sage at that, was also served a sumptuous meal of the sacrificed ram, together with the three kings who accompanied him to Ilvala’s abode. But when Ilvala, as was his custom, shouted, ‘Come out!’, Agastya forcefully and slowly spoke these words, ‘Be digested!’ Thus it was Vatapi who was done away with, and not the sage.
Some versions relate that Agastya then destroyed Ilvala by fire from his eyes, while others go on to state that upon realising that Vatapi was ‘digested’ by Agastya, Ilvala was awe-stricken and proceeded to shower wealth on Brahmins, and particularly on Agastya. In addition, he presented Agastya with a fine chariot pulled by two magnificent horses named Suraav and Viraav (or Suravan and Viravan).
Agatstya then returned to his wife with the wealth she had demanded in order to produce a son, and thereafter the child was born.
In some versions the animal of the metamorphosised Vatapi was a goat and not a ram. But the ram element is certainly revealing, for the names of the horses the Titan presented to Agastya are significantly connected to Aries, sign of the Ram; and it offers us another key to the importance given in India from very ancient times to the ‘exaltations’ in zodiacal tradition. For example, the horoscope traditionally attributed to Sri Ram, the 7th Avatar, is simply one in which all the planets are in their signs of exaltation, – i.e., the Ideal Man.
The Sun is said to be ‘exalted’ in Aries; while the sign is ruled by Mars. We have therefore two celestial bodies involved prominently with Aries, – the Sun and Mars. Now, the two horses named Suraav and Viraav are representative of these two bodies, thus revealing that this quaint tale is a zodiacal or alchemical formula, the latter being suggested by the transmutation of the ingested material – i.e., Vatapi digested in the sacred vessel that was Agastya. Suraav is obviously linked to the Sun via his Sanskrit name which comes from the root word for the Sun, surya; while Viraav is connected to Mars through his name which is ‘hero’ (vir) in Sanskrit, traditionally Mars. That these two elements, Sun and Mars, and connected to the Ram (Aries) came to Agastya through a titan, points to the important factor which was not lost on the ancients: redemption or release of the energy (Ilvala’s wealth) hoarded by the asura/titan is indeed stored in the vital being, whose symbol is the Horse, and which must be released if the journey is to proceed and the seeker is to reach the Mountain-top of the 10th victorious sign, Capricorn, sign of the Goat. Thus, Vatapi as either Goat or Ram represents that same element – the transmuted vital energy.
The ‘journey’ begins in Aries, ruled by Mars. The entire progression through the 12 signs can be explained as merely a saga (or formula) of the transmutation of that which Mars represents. Agastya the sage ingests this hoarder of energy and transmutes the energy (digests it), whereby it cannot continue to destroy (the Light, the Knowledge, symbolised in the Brahmin). Mars is transformed from the energy equation that brings death (hence Mars also rules Scorpio, the 8th sign of death) to the fuel needed for the rise to the Summit by the attainment of a reversal which RELEASES ENERGY – symbolised in the wealth Ilvala then releases so that Agastya can finally appease his demanding wife and be given a son by her. This finality of the saga points to the birth of the One, the Son, once again after a transmutation and reversal or release of the power hoarded by the ‘panis’ who steal the ‘rays/cows’ of the Sun; or else in this case by a similar hostile power, hoarder in equal measure of the precious wealth the seer/yogi needs to bring forth the One.
But perhaps the most important key in this myth for the seeker is the pregnant message we receive that the beneficent and ‘good’ kings whom Agastya approached initially were misers with the wealth/energy and would release nothing; or perhaps they had nothing ‘accumulated’. Whereas, it was finally from the Titan stronghold that the greatest power was extracted. This is indeed the story of our world, our civilisation, our species.
This very same knowledge can be found in our contemporary tool for preservation and transmission, the Gnostic Circle, reproduced here in a simplified form. We note that Aries is of course the initiator of the wheel, at the apex(0/9); but opposite to this point is the mysterious and hidden 4.5 Orbit, or the halfway point between precisely Mars and Jupiter.
Mars we have identified with that energy to be transmuted and released, while Jupiter is of course the sage Agastya. Jupiter is also known as ‘Guru’ in Sanskrit, and in all traditions it is the planet connected to sages and higher knowledge and wisdom, as is Sagittarius, the sign it rules in the zodiac.
The 4.5 is the point of reversal, precisely the ‘belly’ of the wheel, its nadir where that transmutation is set in motion. In the tale it is represented as the ‘belly’ of Agastya the Jupiterean sage, wherein indeed the titan (Mars) is obliged to transform himself and release the hoarded wealth/energy. This connection between wealth and energy is made evident in the gift of the two horses.
In this manner, through a comparison between this very ancient myth and our contemporary key, we again discover the alchemical/transformational aspects of the ancient knowledge contained in the zodiacal script, which in turn is taken from the cosmic harmony of our solar system. Agastya’s saga is the story of each human being set upon the journey of life; it is the story of the Earth’s own yoga and ‘journey’ and describes in detail the destiny of this planet which is itself that ‘cauldron-belly’ for the great transmutation of Mars. In addition, it is again revealed that the key to a real and profound understanding of India’s cultural, mystical and yogic heritage has to be found in a penetrating perception of that cosmic harmony whence this knowledge was taken.
The Gunas or the breath of the Divine Mother
Agni is equal to Skambha, the Point, the Pillar, the Support, who is described in great detail in some of the most magnificent and truly sacred verses ever bequeathed to the world, the so-called Creation Hymn of the Rigveda. Nowhere in the heritage of spiritual, mystical and philosophical literature do we find so accurate a description of the Origin as in these verses. I have included three translations of the Hymn in the February 1994 issue of VISHAAL (TVN 8/6, Appendix 2. In this issue I would like to dissect other portions of that masterpiece of ‘seeing’ in order to establish its transformational quality, as well as the example it provides of a yogic ‘probing’, if it may be so called, into the origins of our material universe. It is perhaps incorrect to write ‘origins’, insofar as the question of beginnings and endings does not arise in the true vision. Nonetheless, there is a 0 point in a process of this nature; and it is that initiation of the process that we refer to as the Origin. In other words, the moment when a certain threshold is reached in a cosmic process and ‘order’ comes into being. The most important and revealing line of the high quality of enlightenment we encounter in the Hymn is the final line,
…He who surveys it (the Origin) in the highest heaven,
He surely knows – or maybe He does not!
For indeed, what existed then to know? This is the question we must ask today, even as the Rishis of old did. And it is not an abstract and speculative questioning but bears relevance to our yoga of transformation today just as it did for those early wisemen of the Vedic Age. Once we have attained the correct poise of consciousness, or a balance of energies the outcome of a penetration into the depths of the embodied consciousness rather than the route of escape from the cosmic manifestation, we come upon this same question: What was then? Who or what became what now is?
The Veda makes a specific statement in this regard: The One breathed without breath by its self-law. Or, as Pannikar translates it; ‘by its own impulse’. Thereafter we find the significant line, Other than that was nothing else, nor aught beyond it…
And so, in this grand act of penetration we come upon nothing other than a POINT; or better, a pulsation. As an outcome of my own probings, in 1971, before any contact with the Veda, I described the Origin in verses which echo this same perception or experience:
A fiery Dancer awakens to the beat of a
rhythmic breath heaving through density of matter…
We have in this line 1) fire, 2) breath), 3) a pulse or beat; and of course the awakening or beginning of movement, hence the figure of a dancer, similar to the Shiva-Nataraj imagery, the Cosmic Dancer encircled by fire.
But what exactly is that ‘self-law’, for other than that there was nothing else. We learn through these verses that at the origin of things lies only this law. The Vedic concept of ‘law’ or ‘impulse’ is indeed something very far removed from religion, for example, usually translated as dharma. It is the essence of Skambha, the very first ‘thing’ to emerge: …Unextended, unbound, facing downwards, facing upwards how does he not sink? By what self-law does he go on his journey…And these pregnant words follow, Who has seen when he joins heaven and is its pillar and guards the firmament?
Again there is this question of self-law, in this instance connected to the journey, or movement (of a particular order and purpose). At the same time, it is Skambha that ‘joins heaven’, upholding it, guarding the firmament or universe. What is indicated here is on the order of an event horizon and the first emergence of the Point which is described as a ‘pillar’ in order to indicate its capacity to hold, or uphold. The earlier lines quoted are more specific, ’…Unextended (a point), unbound…’, for as yet that ‘body’ or boundary has not become established. A cosmos requires a boundary, and the Point at the origin is the first Cause of it all, that centre that holds. As a centre it is described as ‘facing downwards, facing upwards, how does it not sink?’
There can be no question but that these verses describe experiences and realisations which have formed the foundation of this New Way and the new cosmology it gave birth to. The Age of the Supermind, or the Truth-Consciousness, is ushered in by the supramental Descent of the triune powers which embody the Transcendent, the Cosmic, and the Individual Divine, or the soul in evolution. They have the numerical values 9, 6, and 3, respectively, and their appearance on Earth is measured in our calendar time by these numbers. But they also embody the three gunas as pointed out earlier, Rajas (3-Capricorn), Sattva (9-Leo), and Tamas (6-Pisces). The Zero or singularity, which is the compacted essence of 9, 6, and 3 beyond the event horizon, evolves in this material universe as the gunas. Likewise the supramental Descent which ushers in the New Age is also an embodiment of the same trinity.
A triune balance of energy is the essence of a creation in matter. The Descent simply imprints this pattern in the evolutionary matrix in a way never before accomplished due to the limitations imposed by the Spirit of Time.
In this portion of our study I propose to draw more connections between these earlier recorded perceptions of the human spirit and this contemporary body of higher knowledge which finds its corroboration in various fields of consciousness in evolution, – i.e., in the individual and his or her yogic quest for self-perfection, as well as in society and civilisation, particularly the Indian through the Capricorn symbol-map.
The basis for this correspondence is the play of the gunas. Just as we have divided the map of India into this trifold progression, we must also consider the gunas as the breath of the Divine Mother in its threefold character; inhalation, suspension, exhalation. The part most pertinent to our discussion of Agni, the One, the Son, the Point, involves a particularly recondite feature of the breath cycle: the ‘space’ between exhalation and inhalation. In terms of the new cosmology and the Gnostic Circle yardstick, this ‘space’ is the 4.5 Orbit directly opposite to the 9 apex, as the diagram below indicates.
While this diagram can be considered the breath of the Shakti, it is equally descriptive of the human breath cycle. We inhale, we suspend breath, we exhale, and then inhale, suspend, exhale. What we do not realise each time this automatic action transpires is that in breathing we live the act of creation. Hence the Veda states, ‘…When he is born he becomes one who voices the godhead: when as life he grows in the Mother he has been fashioned in the Mother he becomes a gallop of wind in his movement…’
The gunas are the Mother’s tri-part breathing experience, similar to our own. But in analysing this act of breathing we can appreciate the conundrum posed regarding this question of emptiness or fulness as the matrix-origin of creation. Our breathing itself provides the answer on the backdrop of the gunas, Rajas, Sattva, and Tamas. This diagram of the innermost triangle of the Gnostic Circle can be equated with inhalation/rajas, suspension/sattva, and exhalation/tamas. Note that Sattva/suspension falls at the apex.
It is clear that this is the point of Fulness. When we hold our breath after inhalation, we feel full. From that fulness we exhale, we release, we become emptied.
This is the point to emphasise: the experience of emptying falls at the 4.5 Orbit in the diagram. The movement goes from 3 to 9 to 6, following the pattern established by the Solar Line, and then to the 3 again once we have been replenished of breath. But if our lungs are emptied where does that addition come from? From outside?
As a parallel with the act of creation it can be said that the whole, the all, is Fullness. That is, the Gnostic Circle describes in its entirety that ‘womb’ (…A mighty child in the womb he is called the son of the body…). Within that womb of fullness the movement of breath ensues, always drawing from the circumscribing womb for sustenance. The critical point is then the emptying process and the fact that we live in a separative consciousness which cannot perceive the eternal upholding substance of the Womb and becomes engrossed in the Becoming, or the movement of breath solely. This separative consciousness moves linearly through breathing and experiences fulness and emptiness as distinct qualities or conditions and not as a rising tide of the same substance/essence of the Womb. It is best expressed in Indian classical music whereby the background drone is the everlasting upholder of the music that rises out of the drone as if it were sound weaving itself from the substance of an upholding silence, while that silence continues throughout to be the background support of this play, untouched, unmoved, eternal.
The ancient Rishis understood this most fundamental concept of life, that creation is a product of fulness and not emptiness or nothingness. But when a separative consciousness began to dominate and determine the course of civilisation and the evolution of consciousness on Earth, this action of the gunas, which seems to represent a play of fullness to emptiness to fulness, and so on, appeared to be a pointless and distracting experience, describing as it seemed to do the very nature of creation itself: a pointless pursuit after impermanence and constant change. Sattva lay beyond it all. The apex of breath, or the mountain peak, was above and beyond and not enmeshed in this material creation. But the true experience indicates that this triadic play is indestructible, its trifold nature is self-supportive and an eternal expression of the Beyond brought into this material dimension.
The ‘error of the Buddha’, as Sri Aurobindo called it, is best understood through analysis of this diagram. The 4.5 Orbit indicates the Buddhist realisation of nirvana, or dissolution, as the word suggests; and indeed it is the ‘space’ of the Asteroid Belt in our solar system, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, populated by countless fragments which do indeed mirror the disintegration the experience of nirvana demands of the realiser. Once this disintegration of the point/nexus rooting the consciousness in this material creation takes place, escape to beyond the cosmic boundary appears to be realised. This is a great illusion, however, for the element dissolved in such an act is not that pillar/point but rather the peripheral ties that hold the totality of one’s consciousness-being to that Point. The connecting links, as it were. The result is a fortification of the separative consciousness insofar as the connection between things, between essence and form, is dissolved, duality takes the place of unity. But this the realiser ignores because for him the unity he believes he is experiencing is simply a positioning of the consciousness in the pole of unity disconnected from the multiplicity. It is not the total reality but only a partial expression, not unity as an outcome of integration.
This is the supreme act of undermining since it serves to corrode our base in life which, as individuals, is the body and its various centres and sheaths, subtle and dense – that is, our vehicle or vahana. It can no longer serve as our carrier on the journey to the Summit because it is depleted of the energy required to do so. These ‘escape’ the system and therefore that 4.5 Orbit is, as it were, an unplugged hole through which energy seeps out and is not concentrated, contained as in a closed vessel and which we can draw upon for replenishment. When a critical threshold is reached, this act of draining produces death. The idea of ‘something’ upholding, supporting, carrying us through the journey of life, is meant to instruct us that the hole has to be filled, – hence, the birth of the One.
The 4.5 is the shadow of the Sattva apex. The latter is fulness, the former emptiness. But herein lies the fallacy. Breath is not drawn from nothing, or from an empty vessel. Yet how do we experience increase and replenishment?
In the human breathing cycle we can understand the process better if at the end of exhalation one presses the breath into itself, so to speak. One presses down or into the cavity of the vessel rather than inhale immediately upon the termination of exhalation. In that ‘empty’ state the breath is pressed down – the action is felt forcefully in the navel centre – and then a greater expanse of breath is opened up after several such thrusts of the breath into itself. One has moved into the Titan’s domain, as it were, into the lower reaches beneath the horizon and released the power. (In medical terms this is the expiratory reserve volume, or ERV.)
The character of the 4.5 Orbit is described to a certain extent in the Agastya tale of Ilvala and Vatapi. The latter – that is, the power hoarded by the Ignorance in the densest depths of matter – is ‘digested’ by the sage in his belly. The belly is that lowest portion of the Gnostic Circle. (…He is full of joy and closes not his eyes from day to day, once he has been born from the belly of the Almighty One…) There is a compression identified with the yoga of the Gnostic Circle which requires an action of pressing in at this point in the wheel or development. There can be no dispersion or dissolution, escaping this compression. Rather, the act of pressing in fortifies or consolidates the element which serves as one’s anchor or ‘pillar’ throughout the remainder of the process or journey. It is this sacred Point that comes into being, symbolised by the birth of the son to Agastya. The important feature of this process is that it reverses the trend of the past Age of Pisces – i.e., dissolution of the seed of consciousness, a severance of any connection in time and space whereby a network is forged that roots the human being in creation, in the material dimension of this universal manifestation.
That the realisation of dissolution should have taken such a firm hold on the human spirit during the Age of Pisces is in keeping with the gnostic symbolism and significance of the signs/ages. Pisces being the last sign indicates a return to the Origin, a merging, a dissolution of the separative consciousness which creates barriers to the condition of Oneness. It is in Pisces that the ‘journey’ is completed and the circle and point, or the Becoming and the Being reveal their eternal oneness. The Magical Carousel provides a clear understanding of this condition of oneness through its mythic imagery when in the land of Pisces the children encounter Ayama, she who ‘breaks bubbles’, those veils which separate them from the totality, from the all. With this accomplished they return to Earth to bring the message of Oneness, of Love.
This rooting in creation is therefore of a very special order. It is the beginning of one of the most important realisations on the path to supermanhood. This is the realisation of the Immobile amidst the mobile. In the Vedic Age such a realisation was attributed to Agni. But in what more specific way is this different than the experiences offered in other spiritual paths?
When the direction of the quest is reversed, which means that dissolution is resisted and an inwardly penetrating movement is sustained during the act of compression, that compaction engenders a sort of combustion. It is the ‘fuel’ required to propel the seeker through the remainder of the wheel/journey, a quarter of which had been closed to our experience on Earth due to the inability of the human being to sustain that pressure and resist the temptation of escape from this cosmic womb by virtue of a dissolving of the lines that root us in our time and space.
The nature of this Point, or centre that holds, is such that it functions as a magnet of sorts. It can be ‘known’ only if we follow the same act of creation which brought a cosmic manifestation into being and continues to sustain this everlasting creative process. Indeed, BEING is the key issue. For we may safely describe the material universe of time and space as the field wherein the Supreme or Absolute knows itself. Being cannot know, it simply IS; unless there is movement, an action of drawing Being out from itself as a spider draws its web from a substance it carries within. Being can be known only if time and space lend their properties as power of movement in a horizontal field for this purpose. In other words, a certain separation is required. The simultaneity of the Zero must be extended in order for knowing to be made possible. The purpose of this material creation is thus to provide this field for the Supreme Consciousness to know itself. By consequence, to deny any ‘reality’ to this cosmic manifestation, as most schools of yoga and spirituality have done, and to seek to find escape from its inexorable contraction and expansion and release into a Beyond, freed from the play of the gunas with its attending uncertainties, is in effect to deny that Absolute the offering of the instruments that we are, devised precisely to serve the Mother in this exacting manner, for this sacred act of knowing. Hence, in keeping with Sri Aurobindo’s perception, to become is the purpose of our existence.
The formula 9/6/3/0-1 describes the bringing into being of the One. Similarly, it describes each individual’s coming into being as a conscious instrument by living that ‘descent’ and attending compression, by refusing to opt for dissolution, and thereby to become instruments of conscious awareness, to serve as knowing channels for the Supreme Mother to know itself through her instruments.
The Vedic Rishis probed this material creation to its depths and heights. The Hymn of Creation is the most remarkable document of that unique penetration into the nature of existence. It is a document which, like no other, records the exact character of embodied consciousness in quest of its origins, as well as the quest for discovery of the nature of creation itself. These verses are records of cosmic discoveries of greater significance and value than anything our contemporary physicists and cosmologists have yet produced by their scientific methods. The yoga of those Rishis unveiled through the act of identification with that creative Power, that which science seeks to discover so determinedly – i.e., the origin of this material dimension and the nature of that which allows for its emergence beyond the ‘event horizon’. This quest of science is to culminate in a unified theory of all laws of nature.
We find these early discoveries admirably recorded in line after line of the Hymn. To begin, the sage states, there was neither Being nor non-Being, for indeed creation implies a coming into existence of that which lies beyond both. It is, as described further on in the Hymn, Water indiscriminate. Not nothingness, not a Void, but simply a consciousness (water) undifferentiated, vast, EVERYTHING, not nothing, or no-THING. Indeed, this is the difficulty we, as humans, experience in seeking to comprehend the act of creation, as well as these ancient records left by sages who had reached that superior state of comprehension: our consciousness and sphere of perception cannot encompass EVERYTHING simultaneously, which is the character of the Absolute. We could say the Transcendent Absolute is Everything simultaneously. It is BEING undifferentiated, the Totality, the All. Consequently, it has no channel of self-knowing. To bring into being that channel requires compression, or tapas.
The sages understood this through their yoga. The Rishi questions the nature of that Being and non-Being: What was its wrapping, the sage asks, or what enveloped it? And where? Indeed, he comes upon this same limitation of the human consciousness which cannot cope with EVERYTHING simultaneously, nothing ‘beyond’, where there is only ‘…darkness…all wrapped around by darkness and all was Water indiscriminate…’ This is the limit or border beyond which we cannot extend our perception. The Rishi faced the same limitation, which he expresses in the final verse,
That out of which creation has arisen,
whether it held it firm or it did not,
He who surveys it in the highest heaven,
He surely knows – or maybe He does not!
We can understand the coming into being of existence if we realise that a cosmos is precisely the act of putting boundaries on that ‘indiscriminate Water’, that All, that vast Transcendent, so that the differentiation through compression of its essence can occur which permits the Absolute to know Itself through that which evolves from an involved seed of Itself. The Boundary is thus of the same substance as the Boundless; the periphery is equal to the central point. The only difference between the two is ‘darkness’ and ‘light’. The former strives to become aware of its origin through the Becoming; the latter IS.
For that Point is the One who emerges from the act of compression, in the cosmic scale as well as in the human evolution. Madhusudan Reddy translates the next verse significantly, ‘…When that lay concealed by endless fragmentation, the One came to be by the power of its own infinite austerity (tapas)…’ Or we have Panikkar’s version, ‘…the One, emerging, stirring, through power of Ardour, came to be’. The ‘endless fragmentation’ has begun to be organised into cosmos from this primordial chaos. And for that TO BE, the One has to be ‘born’. But since Being was not even there, how did this One arise, emerge, come to be? The Rishi gives us the precise answer: The One breathed without breath by its own self-law (or impulse).
It is not difficult to understand this apparent contradiction of ‘breathing without breath’ if we cease to make divisions and separations. That which lies ‘beyond’ is the same essence as that which lies embedded in this ‘wrapping’. It is Being in the act of Becoming itself, with no divisions between the two. That is, the Immobile amidst the Mobile. Added to this is the question of support, upholding, for the seer, as earlier quoted from the hymns to Agni, the mystic fire, questions: How does he not sink? And then, ‘…by what self-law does he go on his journey? That is, how can movement be impelled without that which gives impulse when nothing but ‘self-law’ is?
In the indiscriminate Waters of the Absolute there is nothing measurable, – i.e., there is no movement distinguishable and hence no ‘journey’. But by tapas, combustion through compression, the One comes into being as a mere Point, or a cross-section of directions. It does not ‘sink’ because contraction and expansion provide that ‘support’ by which he ‘joins heaven and is its pillar’ or Skambha. The seer is here describing the event horizon and the connecting link between this plane and that beyond; transcendence and imminence.
None of this can be known, experienced, lived, in a state of conscious awareness in a condition of only Sat, or Being. Time and space, the ingredients of the compressed Seed, are required to provide movement and distance for knowledge to be. Thus, this experience of probing into the origin of things by those early Rishis was not an abstract exercise such as the contemporary cosmologist carries out. The need to discover the innermost truth of the cosmos was simply because it is the very same truth of one’s incarnate being, the truth of every human being engaged in the process of evolution on Earth. As above, so below, provided the Rishi with the key to existence. The sage probed the inner universe to discover the true nature of the cosmos because in so doing he or she understood the process of consolidation of the ‘seed’ by compression, and then the utilisation of that energy concentrated in this innermost space through Ardour, or tapas, this being the first step on the road to Immortality.
Science knocks at Vedic doors
On the basis of the Uncertainty Principle, contemporary physics states that the observer of a particle phenomenon disturbs or determines the trajectory of that particle through this observation. The Vedic Rishi would not disagree insofar as his own ‘observation’ can itself be described as an act of creation. The act of ‘seeing’ is akin to a probing into the world of the particle by the physicist in that it too brings an alteration in the observed phenomenon. Energy is released in such an act which alters the evolution of the element seen.
In his book, Parallel Universes, Paladin (Harper Collins Publishers, 1988), Fred Allen Wolf carries his reader through a voyage of discovery, or rather review, of the findings of contemporary physicists. Interestingly, the ‘singularity’ he reaches at the ‘start of things’ is remarkably similar to the Point discovered in the Vedic yogic process which forced the Rishi, in a similar quest or probing, to question why it does not sink, what ‘upholds’ it, what is its ‘self-law’ by which it engenders movement of itself, this ‘thing’ that is unextended and unbound. These are the ‘qualities’ descriptive of the singularity of contemporary physics but which the Rishi discovers through channels of the ancient yoga. In his chapter entitled, ‘Problems in Eden’, Wolf writes,
‘Here we are looking at the very beginning as far as the laws of physics can go. And here is where we need to reconsider the whole question of the start of things.
‘If we use our classically conditioned minds and just extrapolate back in time as I have been leading you, we find, of course, a single point with no diameter. Going back in time is like imagining a spherical balloon getting smaller and smaller each instant. As the balloon gets tinier, shrinking down to atomic size, down to nuclear size, and even tinier than that, its rounded surface curves more and more in on itself. We say that its curvature is ever-increasing as its radius is ever shrinking.
‘Finally when it reaches zero radius, it has infinite curvature. Such a region of space is called in mathematics a singularity.’’
Of this ‘singularity’ the physicist must ask the same question as the Rishi, ‘Why does it not sink though it is unextended, unbound and faces upwards and downwards?’ And further on Wolf approaches even closer to Vedic methodology as recorded in the Rigveda, in chapter 20, entitled, ‘Who saw what when’, in probing the origins of the universe. The Rishi similarly asked, ‘Who saw it, and when… ‘That out of which creation has arisen, whether it held it firm or it did not, He who surveys it in the highest heaven, He surely knows – or maybe He does not!’ To argue his theory about the existence of parallel dimensions or universes, quite a common and accepted part of Vedic knowledge, as well as the new cosmology, Wolf writes in his section entitled, ‘The measure of all things’,
‘Parallel universes contain information that must exist in order to produce all of the possibilities needed to create matter. These possibilities are measurable; some are more likely, rational, and meaningful than others. To remove all doubt consistent with uncertainty, these possibilities must have a numerical measure. Without the numerical measure of possibilities, and their ability to cohere, there would be no universe.
‘The uncertainty principle, with the connection it establishes between matter-energy and its location in time and space, shows that information has a rather special character – it is decisive and meaningful only if we consider probabilities with numerical values between zero and one.
‘Now this is not the case in a single universe of classical physics. There everything is or it is not. Probabilities are either zero or one – nothing in between. Of course, we do assign probabilities between zero and one to situations we don’t know about or can’t practically predict. However, these probabilities are only measures of our ignorance or laziness.’
Wolf realises that in order to come upon the true structure and condition of our material universe, we must probe areas which have been considered mythical or belonging to the realm of superstition.
The difference between a Rishi’s observations and a scientist schooled in our academic institutions today is that the former observes the cosmic order by a reverse process, not outward but rather an inward penetration, a scanning based on the yogic law of equivalency: as above, so below. What he sees is indeed altered, just as the uncertainty principle predicts the trajectory of a particle and the disturbances the observer introduces. The yogi similarly isolates a ‘particle’ in his or her consciousness. His knowledge tells him that through the Law of Equivalency what he sees is that ‘seed’ containing the all, compressed to form a singularity. In that tiny Point he encounters the transcendent Immanent. His tool of observation is something entirely lacking in the scientist. It is a consciousness of unity the outcome of a process of transformation and yoga which permits him to know the oneness and unity of all things. In other words, observation of that ‘particle’ is done through a ‘lens’ of a certain specific quality. The ‘eye’ of the yogi is focussed and unified. It covers those many dimensions which Wolf speculates must exist, and it integrates them into a unified field within which observation takes place. If the observer affects the particle under observation, as the uncertainty principle proclaims, then there is clearly a connection between the condition of the observing eye and the observed. The sage who observes from an integrated consciousness of unity must necessarily SEE unity in the observed, and at the same time influence the observed to manifest unity. Needless to say, the physicist of today does not enjoy such a consciousness, hence the unified theory so assiduously sought after by cosmologists will continue to elude them. Wolf hints at this by stating that people more evolved have a greater facility in ‘connecting’, that is, in bringing the future to the present and altering its substance via the theory of parallel universes in which all possibilities are postulated to exist simultaneously.
We may draw a similar parallel with Indologists and scholars who have sought for the past two centuries to ‘decipher’ the Rigveda without a background in the yoga that produced the text. What these scholars ‘saw’ in the verses was true to their own ‘lens’. They knew nothing of the origin of the cosmos, consequently they could not recognise the accurate description thereof in the text. They could ‘see’ in the lines nothing but paganism, idolatry, nature worship, ritualism; and of course a ‘history’ equally distorted by the imperatives of their colonial lens of perception. To ‘see’ the Veda is to be just what the word means: a person of Knowledge in this most profound sense of identification with That. Hence, to be the enjoyer of an integrated consciousness of unity.
For this reason it has become necessary to qualify the new cosmology as an applied study of the harmonies of the cosmos. One cannot understand this circumscribing space in a unified manner, which in turn will affect the quality of our world, unless one works on oneself pari passu with the act of observing or seeing. The harmony is unveiled as the consciousness observing is transformed, integrated, unified. Only then do the veils fall away and the true nature of creation, the act of creation and the ever recurring creative process are appreciated in their character of integrality, harmony and unity. The inner work, but of a special order, is the first step along the way to a newly manifested world of higher laws.
But this discovery cannot be made, much less be the channel for its manifestation on Earth, unless that essential reversal takes place and a new alignment of one’s consciousness-being comes to replace the binary structure of the former creation which has carried the evolution of the species on this planet to the impasse it presently faces and the breakdown of the old structures which were sufficient to sustain our civilisation through ages of darkness and half-light but which cannot support the evolution and manifestation of the supramental creation.
In an applied cosmology it is important to discuss the manner in which these truths of the cosmic process find expression in different fields of life and yoga. But to do so, we must eliminate speculation and provide concrete examples of the process, and through this analysis, understand the stage we are in and what difficulties may lie on our path to this integral realisation. Thus we can examine certain situations in the Mother’s work in this regard. That is, what happened to perceptions from the plane of truth when the right poise of consciousness was not attained by the perceiving instruments, obliging these perceptions to pass through unfocussed lens, as it were. The result was a mixture of truth and falsehood, and not a vision faithful and true to that highest reality which was seeking to secure a place in this material dimension. The discussion can only be non-speculative if we analyse the changes brought into the Mother’s original plan of her Temple. We are not dealing with abstracts which cannot be applied or corroborated in the cosmic process itself. We are dealing with an architectural plan which is that very harmony measured out in our dimension by the Mother whose consciousness did not suffer from the limitations experienced by the architects involved in the project with her. In other words, the temple she ‘saw’ and ‘measured’ in our space and time proves the dictum of the new cosmology: the symbol is the very thing symbolised.
Through the true cosmic experience we understand that at the origin of a cosmic manifestation there is a Point, or ‘singularity’. This is as if suspended, ‘…unextended, unbound, facing upwards, facing downwards, how does it not sink?’ The Vedic seer perceived the true character of that singularity with its capacity to uphold like a pillar though itself only a point, or centre. For indeed the yogic experience of spherical compression of the embodied consciousness to reproduce that original ‘birth that fills the void’ does indeed confirm modern speculations. Given the reality of this perception and its correspondence with the reality of the cosmic manifestation, it is clear that in a project which was immediately concerned with that cosmic truth, the atmosphere around the Mother was bound to be permeated with that very Truth; and those receptive to her inspirational force would pick up aspects of this truth and seek to incorporate these perceptions in their modifications of the Mother’s plan. The problem I repeat, is the mixture introduced due to a mis-alignment of consciousness on the part of the participants. The Mother herself described these introductions as ‘mixtures’, and worse. On the basis of the discoveries of this new cosmology and yoga, we are in a position to confirm the Mother’s views of those modifications which finally distorted the entire vision.
The Mother’s act of bringing down this cosmic truth in a new temple for this new Age was free from mixture and falsifying veils which could distort its purity. But that was not the condition of her instruments, all of whom overstepped the self-limits imposed upon them by their poise of consciousness and the hierarchical regulation of the Work in the presence of a divine incarnation such as the Mother. More specifically, being an embodiment of the Cosmic Divine in the descent of 9, 6, and 3, the Mother was particularly and uniquely suited to transmit this vision, or transport that Chamber from the plane of the Truth-Consciousness to our physical dimension without distortion.
To illustrate, the original architect in charge of the execution of the temple introduced a very significant alteration in the very early stages of the work. His inspiration bore something of the truth which was seeking to become consolidated as a key experience in the supramental yoga. He considered that the luminous, translucent globe the Mother devised for the centrepiece should be suspended over a void, rather than held by a pedestal. The three-metre central portion of the Chamber should, in his vision, be a void over which this globe was to be suspended by means of air jets, magnetic currents, or whatever. Given the unique relevance of the Point ‘which does not sink’ in the Vedic realisation as an essential feature of the Cosmic Truth, it can easily be appreciated that the architect was indeed tuning into something quite true; but as the inspiration moved through his ‘filter’, that truth became distorted accordingly. The distortion concerns precisely the question of a central void. And indeed, this Globe/Point he intended to suspend over a void.
Insofar as the human being does indeed orbit a void given his binary structure, the architect received the inspiration of that truth on the backdrop of his own inner void. This ‘mixture’ was then projected onto the vision and resulted in a deformation of the original and true experience the Mother sought to have captured in the symbolism.
Likewise, the second architect, who edged out the first and took over complete control of the construction work, carried out a similar exercise of picking up something of the truth, the true realisation expressive of the cosmic harmony the Mother had captured in her design, but distorting it. In this case the distortion was equally as revealing of the human binary predicament as the first architect’s alternative. The second, under pressure from us to return to the original plan but refusing to do so, did concede to close the three-metre void the first architect introduced and reinstall the centrepiece on firm ground, so to speak. But, by his own admission he left a small central hole, proportionately the size of a ‘point’, in the middle of the filled in portion. For some reason not elaborated by him, he considered this empty point to be ‘symbolic’.
Given that the most important realisation of the supramental yoga, mother of all that is to follow, is precisely the birth of the Point that fills the Void, this central empty dot establishes the architect’s own ‘mixture’ in the symbolism. Not having done this ‘filling’ yogically, he could only execute the modified plan according to his poise of consciousness. And just as the Mother had warned, these changes would introduce mixtures which would necessitate beginning over ‘again and again and again’.
These important telltale examples indicate the period of transition we are experiencing in that the highest Truth has descended into the atmosphere but the instruments below are far from adequate to receive these inspirations in a way which would convey the correct position vis-à-vis the new supramental creation and its body of gnostic symbols. A descent of this order provokes and demands a refocusing of our lens of perception. This is achieved on the basis of a special yoga which is also conveyed in the Mother’s original plan, insofar as it is a cosmic process akin to the transformation and transmutation of energies operating in the cosmos. But there are not many who can or who desire to carry out this process and realign their consciousness-being. The first step is abdication of the ego – perhaps the hardest part inasmuch as the binary creation is ego-driven. A complete abdication is demanded nonetheless.
The simplest manner in which to progress in this apparently impossible endeavour which appears to be undermined from the outset, given that we are human beings in a human structure which is binary and contradicts the higher truth, is to posit at the core of one’s consciousness and being the divine Purpose. But this too may prove a colossal and impossible task given the difficulty we experience in recognising or distinguishing what exactly that might be. It is that ‘self-law’, that tapas, that ‘breathing without breath’ of the One. Succinctly, it is will. And inasmuch as Mars in the cosmic harmony holds the key to this recondite transmutation and unveiling of the divine Purpose and Will centremost in our beings, in the next issue we will discuss in depth this great mystery.
These are all symbols expressing the higher or recondite innermost truth or reality, the symbols of the Veda no less than the astrological symbols, or the geometric representations we find in Tantra or the Hindu temple. Throughout the ages these symbols have been handed down from generation to generation, guru to disciple, on and on down the line into the present. But when the Age of the Supermind arrives these same symbols are in a sense transformed, enhanced. Their original content, meaning, as well as purpose, is expanded, for it is only in this Age that the symbol ‘becomes the thing symbolised’, matter is now destined to fully reveal its divine Inhabitant. This means that where the Veda uses the Horse to describe the cosmic manifestation by virtue of its quality of speed, or the Cow as ‘symbol’ of the Light, it is possible now to make use of these symbols in a more integrated form. They participate not by becoming humanoid, humanlike, by acquiring human qualities, capacities, functions. On the contrary, they become more themselves, their consciousness is enhanced within their essential being and the instruments that they are. I have documented a certain aspect of this enhancement in the series which appeared in VISHAAL, ‘Animals in the Emerging Cosmos’, as well as in the more recent ‘Vedic Symbol of the Universe’.
The purpose of a creation in matter is to give a ‘body’ to the Absolute. Each of us is a cell or atom of that Body. As the material substance of this Body becomes more and more luminous, as it increasingly sheds its veils and reveals its sacred essence, the symbol can begin to be that thing symbolised in this material creation.
July of 1994
Aeon Centre of Cosmology
(To be continued)
‘States upon states are born, the coverer of the coverer awakens to knowledge: in the lap of the Mother he wholly sees. They have called to him, getting a wide knowledge, they guard sleeplessly the strength, they have entered into the strong city. The peoples born on earth increase the luminous (force) of the son of the White Mother; he has gold on his back, he is large of speech, he is as if by (the power of) this honey wine a seeker of plenty. He is like pleasant and desirable milk, he is a thing uncompanioned and is with the two who are companions and is as a heat that is the belly of plenty and is invincible and an overcomer of many. Play, O Ray, and become towards us.’
Rig Veda V. 19
Sri Aurobindo’s translation