Spiritual Suicide. Thought of the Day 22.0

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असुर्य नाम ते लोका अन्धेन तमसावृताः ।
तांस्ते प्रेत्याभिगच्छन्ति ये के चात्महनो जनाः ॥

asurya nāma te lokā andhena tamasāvṛtāḥ |
tāṃste pretyābhigacchanti ye ke cātmahano janāḥ ||

‘In to the worlds of the asuras, devils, enveloped in blinding darkness, verily do they go after death who are slayers of the Atman, the Self.’

A deep philosophical truth is couched in mythical, symbolic language. Life lived without the consciousness of our divine nature is trivial; it is life of darkness and sorrow. The word ‘darkness’ used in this verse is not physical darkness, but the darkness of ignorance; it is spiritual blindness. The verse compares this darkness to hell. In myths, hell is abode of the asuras, the demons. An alternating reading is asurya, literally ‘without sunlight’, absolute darkness. The verse further tells us that those who prefer to live in such spiritual blindness are really killing themselves. Ātmahana means ‘people who kill themselves’. The death of the body is not so serious as the death of the soul. By neglecting our true nature, by ignoring it by clutching at the shadows of the non-Self all the time, we commit suicide of the most serious kind. Shankaracharya, in his commentary on this verse, explains the nature of this extraordinary kind of suicide which the world practices on the widest scale. Says he:

अविद्यादोषेण विद्यामानस्यात्मनस्तिरस्करणादात्महनेत्युच्यते ।

avidyādoṣeṇa vidyāmānasyātmanastiraskaraṇādātmahanetyucyate |

“Because a man neglects his ever-present Self through the evil of ignorance (spiritual blindness), he is called ‘one who commits suicide”.

Prometheus and Hinduism. Note Quote.

Prometheus: Yes, I caused mortals to cease foreseeing their doom.
Chorus: Of what sort was the cure that you found for this affliction?
Prometheus: I caused blind hopes to dwell within their breasts.
Chorus: A great benefit was this you gave to mortals.
Prometheus: In addition, I gave them fire.
Chorus: What! Do creatures of a day now have flame-eyed fire?
Prometheus: Yes, and from it they shall learn many arts.
Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound

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After the coming into being of the world, the stories tell us, everything had found its place. But one creature, capable of lofty thought, was still missing. When Kronos ruled Olympus, the deathless gods decided to fashion a golden race of mortal men. Knowing of the divine seed that slumbered in the Earth, only recently separated from the heavenly aether, Prometheus mixed clay and running water. He shaped this into likenesses of the all-controlling gods, including also qualities taken from all the animals. This is how the first humans came into existence. In the course of ages, after Zeus had banished the ancient gods to Tartarus, humans populated the Earth, but lumbered witless as if in a dream. They did not know how to see, hear, or understand, or how to create things with their hands. Prometheus’s empathy led him to steal for them the forbidden divine fire hidden by Zeus, which allowed him to teach them skills and sciences that used all their potentials.

Angered by the theft, Zeus plotted revenge on both humanity and its benefactor. He had Hephaestus, smith of the gods, create a beautiful virgin, Pandora, who was furnished with disastrous gifts by Athena, Aphrodite, and other gods. When a box she was carrying was opened on Earth, all evils and diseases escaped from it and spread among mankind. One single good thing, Hope, had not escaped when she clapped the lid closed. Meanwhile Prometheus was dragged to earth’s remotest wilderness and bound to a rock over a terrifying abyss with chains that could not be undone. Every day an eagle came and ate from his liver, which would regenerate each night. He endured this torment for centuries until the hero Hercules set him free.

This myth calls to mind stories of divine fire brought to mankind in many other traditions.

The allegory of the fire of Prometheus is another version of the rebellion of the proud Lucifer [“light-bringer”], who was hurled down to the bottomless pit, or simply unto our Earth, to live as man. The Hindu Lucifer, the Mahasura, is also said to have become envious of the Creator’s resplendent light, and, at the head of inferior Asuras (not gods, but spirits), to have rebelled against Brahma; for which Siva hurled him down to Patala. But, as philosophy goes hand in hand with allegorical fiction in Hindu myths, the devil is made to repent, and is afforded the oppor­tunity to progress.

Also in Hinduism are the Manasaputras or “sons of mind,” who brought mankind the fire of thought. In the Nordic Edda the name of the god Loki – a blood brother of Odin – comes from the old word liuhan, “to illuminate.”

What then is the inner significance behind these particular stories? Long ago the early human race had undergone a certain amount of evolution but “thinkers” had not yet been born: nature had succeeded in developing a suitable body but the soul-giving principle, the fire of self-conscious thought, had not yet been awakened. Adam and Eve, to a certain extent, existed in paradise without self-awareness. Like Lucifer, Prometheus is an allegorical representation of the incarnation of our higher self, the awakening of the active, self-reflective capacity for thought. This subject is therefore of the highest significance for human evolution.

It is owing to this rebellion of intellectual life against the morbid inactivity of pure spirit, that we are what we are — self-conscious, thinking men, with the capabilities and attributes of Gods in us, for good as much as for evil. Hence the rebels are our saviours. . . . It is only by the attractive force of the contrasts that the two opposites — Spirit and Matter — can be cemented on Earth, and, smelted in the fire of self-conscious experience and suffering, find themselves wedded in Eternity.

By the gods allying themselves with us for this period of development, it became possible for us to attain knowledge and wisdom. But why was Prometheus harshly punished? Other legends suggest a motive; for instance Genesis reports:

And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. – 3:22-4

As with Pandora’s box, all evil in this world arose from the joining of the spiritual with the human world. Many commentators see in this a question of guilt, but this misses the crux of the matter: Adam and Eve are driven out of paradise because, with the power of thought, there is no longer any paradise for them. The human being, equipped with the divine capacity for self-reflective thought, can use this newly-won strength to create or destroy, to accomplish wonderful things or great crimes. One day we will ascend again and establish a human race worthy of the gods, but there is still a long way to go in overcoming “I am I” (egoic awareness) to reach “I am” (universal consciousness).

This evolutionary process is also clearly reflected in symbolism. Spirit, represented by a vertical line, is linked with the material world, represented by a horizontal line. Together these give rise to the cross, the son or third logos. If this logos becomes active, as with the awakening capacity for thought through the incarnation of the higher self, then this cross begins to turn. The turning of the cross produces the swastika, a symbol found in many religions. Quite a number of terracotta discs were found under the ruins of ancient Troy that contained this symbol in two forms:  Svastika1 and Svastika2. Again, Pramantha, the Vedic divine carpenter, unites himself with Arani, nature or Maya (illusion). They produce the divine boy Agni, god of fire. In the Bible too, Joseph is a carpenter, a master builder, and Mary is very reminiscent of Maya. Their child is mankind, with the fire of self-aware thought bestowed by the Holy Spirit. The son of the creator nailed to the cross – is he not a symbol of this process that speaks the same clear language as the legend of Prometheus, spirit chained to the cross of matter? The Crucified Titan is the personified symbol of the collective Logos, the ‘Host’, and of the ‘Lords of Wisdom’ or the heavenly man, who incarnated in Humanity.

We are also told that the suffering of Prometheus – the “one who foresees” – will end. He who has sacrificed himself for mankind is redeemed out of pity by the demigod Hercules, a son of Zeus, despite the fact that he may not take off the indestructible chains (karma). Still, the vulture – our base nature – will no longer come to eat the Titan’s liver. Human mental development, accelerated by the incarnation of the higher self, became unbalanced, with physical and moral development unable to keep pace. Once we regain our inner equilibrium, we will recognize our true destiny and nature, release the god chained within us, and as mankind conquer the darkness of ignorance.

Initiation

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Every country has its own methods of preserving the knowledge and tradition of the Mysteries. The degrees are variously reckoned, sometimes four, five, seven, or even ten; but whatever the divisions, during the days of their purity they all honored the one divine purpose of consummating the spiritual marriage of the higher self with the awakened human soul, from which union springs the seer, the adept, the master of life. Through the ravages of time and priestcraft, and the tangle of intrigue and ignorance in which exoteric rites are enmeshed, one perceives the venerable tradition.

In Asia Minor, Theon of Smyrna writes of five degrees in the initiatory cycle:

(1) “the preliminary purification,” because taking part in the Mysteries “must not be indiscriminately given to all who desire it”;

(2) “the tradition of sacred things” which constitutes the “initiation proper”;

(3) the “epoptic revelation,” where the candidate may experience direct intuition of truth;

(4) “the binding of the head and placement of the crown” — a clear reference to the mystical authority received with the crown of initiation to pass on the sacred tradition to others; and, finally,

(5) “friendship and interior communion” with divinity — this was considered the highest and most solemn mystery of all, the complete assimilation of the enlightened mind with the divine self — (Theon of Smyrna, Mathematics Useful for Understanding Plato + Isis Unveiled).

In Persia during the time of Mithraism, when the sun god was honored above earthly things, seven were the degrees, the candidate receiving a name relevant to each stage of interior growth. Using the Graeco-Latin names that have come down to us, the first-degree neophyte was called Corax, “raven” — the dark bird, one in whom the light of wisdom had not yet awakened in great measure. It signified likewise a servant: one who gives of his heart totally before receiving admission into the second degree which was termed Cryphius, “occult”: one accepted as a disciple of esoteric lore; the third was Miles, “soldier,” one who had received sufficient training and purification to become a worker for good. The fourth — Leo, “lion,” emblem of solar power — has reference to the fourth initiation in which the candidate begins the conscious solarizing of the nature through instruction and specialized training. The fifth degree was known as Perses, “Persian,” signifying to the Persians of the time one who was becoming spiritually human — manasaputrized, that is, mind-born. The sixth, Heliodromus, “messenger or runner of Helios (the sun)” is a reference to Mercury or Budha, as messenger between the sun in the cosmos and the sun in man: the bloom of buddhi. The final and seventh was called Pater, “father,” the state of a Full Initiate — (Esoteric Tradition 2:864).

The Hindus likewise had various names for their disciples as they passed from one degree to another. For instance, in one school the candidates received the names of the ten avataras of Vishnu. The first degree neophyte was termed Matsya, “fish”: one yet low in the scale of spiritual mastery. The second was Kurma, “tortoise”: one step higher in evolutionary development. The third degree was called Varaha, “boar,” a further advance in individualization, while the fourth was termed Nara-simha, “man-lion.” This fourth stage marks the turning point between the preliminary degrees of the Lesser Mysteries and the advanced degrees of the Greater Mysteries. This title of man-lion points to the choice demanded of the aspirant between dominance of animal soul qualities and the supremacy henceforth of the truly human attributes. Success in the fourth degree insured the entrance into the fifth called Vamana, “dwarf,” in which the candidate assumed the robes of occult humanhood, though such humanhood was as yet infantile compared to full mastery. Parasu-Rama, “Rama with an axe,” name of the sixth-degree neophyte, suggests one capable of hewing his way with equanimity through the worlds of both spirit and matter. In the seventh degree the disciple becomes fully humanized, receiving the name of Rama, hero of the Ramayana, an important epic of Hindustan. The last three degrees, the eighth, ninth, and tenth, are called respectively: Krishna, the avatara whose death ushered in the Kali yuga some 5,000 years ago; Buddha, whose renunciation of nirvana brought light and peace to a sorrowing world; and the final and tenth, Kalkin or Kalki, the “white-horse” avatara who is yet to come. As noted in the Vishnu Purana, he is destined to appear at the end of the Kali or Iron Age, seated on a white horse, with a drawn sword blazing like a comet, for the destruction of the wicked, the renovation of creation, and the restoration of purity. In ancient symbology the horse also symbolized the sun, hence the tenth avatara will come riding the steed of solar glory to usher in the New Age clothed with the sun of spiritual illumination.

While seven were the degrees usually enumerated in the Mysteries, hints have been given of three higher degrees than the seventh. But so esoteric would these be that only the most spiritualized of humanity could comprehend and hence undertake these divine initiations. Rare indeed are those who become avatara-like; rarer still, “as rare as are the flowers of the Udumbara-tree” are the Buddhas. As for the tenth and last — such has been left unmarred by description.