• Awakening Soul

Integral Spiritual Mythology: The Divine Song (Part I)





"For what the center brings Must obviously be, That which remains to the end And was there from eternity." - Goethe, Westöstlicher Diwan (West-Eastern Diwan)



This essay series will explore several ancient mythological frameworks and examine how they relate to one other. It is intended to convince the curious, open-minded, and patient reader that these relations can only be explained in one way - by the fact that they all draw from the same shared spiritual reality - a reality that is also microcosmically expressed in each individual human soul. I am stating that up front to provide clarity as we move forward, but also as a helpful suggestion - the reader who cannot tolerate this conclusion of a shared spiritual reality may as well save their time and stop reading now. Nothing that follows will make sense to anyone who has already foreclosed on that possibility. I will also advise the religious fundamentalist to stop reading - if you cannot imagine yourself ever uniting the essential meaning of your particular spiritual traditions with those of all other major spiritual traditions, then you also will find little to no value in these essays. Mythic stories and their images are not the sort which can be approached with presuppositions and prejudices. They always ask their audience to participate in their unfolding from within, and that can only be done with an open heart and an open mind.


The parallels between these spiritual mythologies will not always be explicitly stated along the way, but I hope the essays provide enough insight so that all the relevant connections become plainly obvious. These mythologies unfolded in the ancient imagination of our ancestors and have now found their way to our modern intellect. Here is the central question we must answer for our purposes here - how do we modern humans set out rediscovering and reexperiencing what unfolded in their ancient imagination thousands of years ago? We can only start to answer that question with the help of our own imagination. And, to do that, we must understand what exactly the imagination is, in its essence, and how it functions, which are really two ways of asking the same question. For that task, we will turn briefly to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Rudolf Steiner, and Owen Barfield - three philosophers and spiritual emissaries who set out to return the mythic imagination of humanity to its rightful place in the modern and post-modern world (emphasis in original).


Most of my readers will have observed a small water-insect on the surface of rivulets, which throws a cinque-spotted shadow fringed with prismatic colours on the sunny bottom of the brook; and will have noticed, how the little animal wins its way up against the stream, by alternate pulses of active and passive motion, now resisting the current, and now yielding to it in order to gather strength and a momentary fulcrum for a further propulsion. This is no unapt emblem of the mind’s self-experience in the act of thinking. There are evidently two powers at work, which relatively to each other are active and passive; and this is not possible without an intermediate faculty, which is at once both active and passive. In philosophical language, we must denominate this intermediate faculty in all its degrees and determinations, the IMAGINATION.
- Coleridge, Biographia Literaria (1817)

That Europeans write novellas about things that do not exist is, according to the Oriental view, a highly superfluous activity. In their view, all our art is only a rather superfluous and useless occupation. Clearly, we have to understand the Asian art works we possess as Imaginations of spiritual reality; otherwise we will never understand them at all. We Europeans in turn judge Asian stories not by Asian standards but by our own and call them fanciful and beautiful fiction, products of the fertile, unbridled Oriental imagination.
People will gradually have to realize that we have to speak more and more in images. Of course, if we were to speak in pictures only, we would be going against modern European culture, so we can't do that. But we can gradually allow ordinary thinking, applicable only on the physical plane, to turn into thinking about the spiritual world, and then into pictorial thinking, which develops under the influence of the spiritual world. Natural scientists also develop a view of the world, but if they think their view is clear and comprehensible, they make the same mistake as we would if we claimed we could paint a portrait, and the subject would then step out of the canvas and walk around the room.
- Steiner, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (1895)

When we use language [symbolically], we bring it about of our own free will that an appearance means something other than itself... that a manifest 'means' an unmanifest. We start with an idol, and we ourselves turn the idol into representation... we use the phenomenon as a 'name' for what is not phenomenal... As consciousness develops into self-consciousness, the remembered phenomena become detached or liberated from their original [meanings] and so, as images, are in some measure at man's disposal... they are at the disposal of his imagination to employ as it chooses. If it chooses to impart its own meaning, it is doing... with the remembered phenomena what their Creator once did with the 'external appearances' themselves. Thus there is a real analogy between [symbolical] usage [of language] and original participation [in the creation of 'external appearances']... there is a valid analogy if, but only if, we admit that, in the course of the earth's history, something like a Divine Word has been gradually clothing itself with the humanity it first gradually created - so that what was first spoken by God may eventually be respoken by man."
- Barfield, Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry (1957)


What is described above is the essence of ancient mythological images produced through the ancient imagination. We penetrate into that essence when we internalize that co-creative role - by perceiving that, when the ancients remembered with mythic images, they were recreating, with representations, an actual world which once existed and actual events which once took place. It is the same world and same events for all ancient mythologies and their images, just as humans today looking at photos taken in the Grand Canyon are observing the same Grand Canyon in the photographic images. The ancient myths capture the same spiritual realm from different spatiotemporal angles and contribute, in their own unique way, to a comprehension of its unified totality. This simple fact will be most important to remember as we proceed, as it will act like a key which can unlock many doors when contemplating how the mythology has evolved from ancient times to present day. That, in turn, should shed a bright light on what it all means for our lives today.


Related to that, we should always keep in mind that the imagery of the "physical world", like the mythic images, are also symbols of the same spiritual realm. When we form mental pictures of 'entities' or events in the physical plane, we should treat them as mythic and look to their underlying spiritual meaning. That is more difficult to do, because the physical images are at least two levels removed from the mythic images for modern intellectual thinking, but still we should make that attempt in good faith that it will yield fruit for our imagination. The modern age has added so much of its baggage to words such as, "metaphorical", "allegorical", "symbolical", and "parable", that, every time they are used, the reader must avoid stepping on a whole mess of conceptual landmines before perceiving their essential context and meaning. So we will avoid those words altogether. The images brought forth by ancient mythology are symbols - not the Reality itself - but their meanings are closer to that Reality than most people fail to imagine.


Those images are speaking from the human perspective on a realm populated with spiritual beings who were then, and can once again be, our companions. There are seven epochs of our current age that we should keep in mind when considering integral mythology - (1) Indian, (2) Persian, (3) Egyptian-Babylonian, (4) Greco-Roman, (5) Germanic-Celtic, our current epoch, which we will call the (6) "Integral", and a (7) seventh epoch that is yet to come in our current age. A new consciousness was being born throughout these earlier epochs, but the older mode of clairvoyant consciousness was still somewhat alive. The primal clairvoyant mode was a dream consciousness which perceived the entire Cosmos inwardly with pictures, like we currently do in our dreams. Each earlier epoch is mirrored in a later one, with the exception of the fourth epoch which stands in the middle as a uniquely unmirrored epoch. We must keep this fact in mind when exploring the ancient mythology.


It is is very difficult for the modern intellect to imagine what it would feel like to experience the modes of consciousness in the first three epochs while we are awake. Nevertheless, when we deeply contemplate the mythology which resulted from that consciousness - when we sense the need to ally our feeling soul with the entire destiny of mankind from our earliest epochs to our distant future - a portal is opened which takes us our consciousness at least partially towards theirs. We travel through space and time to experience what was perceived by our 'ancestors' in the ancient past; to experience what caused them to produce the mythic images in the first instance. For our purposes here, we are mostly concerned with the transition between the third to fourth epochs, which is a mirror image of the transition from fifth to sixth epochs we are currently undergoing. The mirroring is not any sort of repetition - each epoch consists in novel human experience - but rather a mirroring of transformational soul-qualities.


The Bhagavad Gita (the "Gita") is an epic poem written in Sanskrit, synthesizing the imagination of three older Hindu traditions - the Vedic tradition, the Sankhya tradition, and the Yogic tradition. These three traditions roughly correspond to time periods colored in the diagram below. We should not take that diagram or these time periods too rigidly - what is important is their relationship to each other and to future epochs including our own. It is understanding of that relationship which partly enables imaginative penetration of mythic content. The Vedic tradition emphasized unity of experience above all else, the Sankhya philosophy emphasized polarity of soul and matter, while the Yogic philosophy began emphasizing how the polarized soul-matter could become a higher synthesis by way of the spirit. This transformation of emphasis from unity (Vedic) to polarity-duality (Sankhya) to integrality (Yogic) is very much mirrored in the course of Western thought from the early modern age to the present day - from German idealism of Hegel (integral) to 19th century dualism-materialism to 20th century philosophy which sought higher unity of spirituality and modern science.





Krishna:

"How hath this weakness taken thee? Whence springs The inglorious trouble, shameful to the brave, Barring the path of virtue? Nay, Arjun! Forbid thyself to feebleness! it mars Thy warrior-name! cast off the coward-fit! Wake! Be thyself! Arise, Scourge of thy Foes!" - The Bhagavad Gita ("The Divine Song")




The Gita is a sublime window into spiritual reality of the transformational periods mentioned above. It consists of a story narrated to the blind King of the Kaurava people, who were battling the closely related Pandavas. The blind king is told about Arjuna, the Pandava prince who was faced with the duty of going to war with his own blood relatives; his own brothers. We can still perceive some of the spiritual meaning behind "blood relative" - those who share the same blood belong to a communal soul-perspective (a "group soul"). Except in ancient times, that group soul was much more dominant, because the individual perspective simply exists in less and less concreteness the farther we go back. In the earliest times of the ancient Indian epoch, that individual perspective was still in Utero. So when the enormity of this duty set upon Arjuna - the duty to battle against his own group soul; to sacrifice his own identity - the divinity Krishna appeared in the form of his charioteer and spoke the above. Arjuna is advised to build up his courage and seize hold of his duty. Most of all, he is advised to recognize the Wisdom of its necessity and aim.


Arjuna was cowered by this duty for very understandable reasons - he was asked to allow himself to be killed and his soul to sink into an abyss. He was confronted by the inevitability of leaving the comfort of his spiritual home - a home he was all too familiar with - and emigrating to a strange land of physical sense-perceptions. In that strange land, he would be put at bloody odds with his kith and kin; with himself. The Gita, then, marks the last echo of the ancient clairvoyance which allowed human souls to dwell communally within the spiritual realm, and the beginning of their journey into the physical sense-world. It highlights a perspective which modern man is completely unfamiliar with. Arjuna needed Krishna to make sense of the physical world he was descending into - to make sense of himself as an individual - while modern man is all too familiar with the physical and needs Divinity to help him make sense of the communal spiritual world to which he will re-ascend. The blind old King, who was listening to Arjuna's exchange with Krishna, was blind to the emerging physical world.


A way to imaginatively remember the mythic experience is via our personal "psychological" development. When we use the word "psychological" we are referring to the dynamic processes of Reality itself. The "psychic" is identical with the "spiritual". We are always talking about the fundamental Reality which gives rise to all human experience. Erich Neumann, one of Carl Jung's brightest disciples, details many of these psychic transitions in his seminal work, The Origins and History of Consciousness. The various cultic rituals surrounding the Great Mother which evolved in ancient cultures speaks directly to what Arjuna must experience within his soul before finding his bearings in the sense-world and being initiated into a path which reunifies him not only with his own group soul, but the entire Cosmic Soul. Secular cynics, such as the rationalist Freudian psychologists of the 20th century, will write all of these ancient myths and practices off as "wish fulfillment" or "terror management", but those trite dismissals have no explanation for why they would have developed in this most terrifying form, as Neumann captures below.



Mythology, however, tells us that woman’s wildness and blood lust are subordinated to a higher natural law, that of fertility. The orgiastic element does not occur only in the sex festivals, which are fertility festivals. Women also celebrated orgiastic rites amongst themselves. These rites, often known to us only from the later mysteries, mostly revolved round the orgiastic dismemberment of a sacred animal or animal deity, whose bloody portions were devoured and whose death served the fertility of woman and consequently of the earth. Death and dismemberment or castration are the fate of the phallus-bearing, youthful god. Both are clearly visible in myth and ritual, and both are associated with bloody orgies in the cult of the Great Mother... But only when we view the disjecta membra as a unity can we grasp the original meaning. The preservation of the phallus and its embalming as a guarantor of fertility are the other side of the ritual. They supplement the castration, and together with it form a symbolic whole. Erich Neumann, The Origins And History Of Consciousness (1949)


Krishna then appears by the force of that which is dying within Arjuna to engage the latter in a dialogue, as the charioteer of his soul across the threshold. Arjuna is understandably confused by all the monumental transformations happening within his soul. He is wondering why bloody battle with his brothers should be necessary; why he should kill those who belong to his own soul? How can this deed be considered Divine when it brings such tremendous suffering and destruction of life? In the face of these questions, Krishna reveals to him a truth which was also familiar to the Western soul up until the modern age. We should really struggle with Arjuna to understand, by way of our feeling soul - our beating-and-breathing heart - in its imaginative thought capacity, what he was experiencing when imaging the verses below in their sublime fullness and richness. In fact, what Arjuna was experiencing then is especially relevant today because we are living in the mirror image of this transition - we are being asked to take no less of a responsibility than Arjuna when confronting his brothers on the battlefield of the human soul and spirit.


All major transitions of this sort are accompanied by a "dark night of the soul". It is only through this sympathy with Arjuna's dark night that we can begin to appreciate how his destiny, by the most manifold paths and perspectives within Cosmic history, is the same destiny as our own, if only we seize hold of it with the same intensity and sense of urgency that he did. That does not mean we should be rushed and careless in our pursuit of the spiritual, but rather we should devote as much of our free time as possible to its careful contemplation. Arjuna was not asked to forsake any of his duties in life to approach the spiritual, and in fact it was quite the opposite. He was asked to embrace his duties while contemplating the spiritual so that the former may be viewed and practiced in the sublimity of this higher spiritual light. We must get underway taking concrete steps towards the spiritual as Arjuna did and the devotional contemplation of his mythic experience is one extremely important concrete step, yet that is only if it leads to many more steps in the same direction afterwards.





Krishna:

"Who knoweth it exhaustless, self-sustained, Immortal, indestructible, — shall such Say, “I have killed a man, or caused to kill?” Nay, but as when one layeth His worn-out robes away, And taking new ones, sayeth, “These will I wear to-day!” So putteth by the spirit Lightly its garb of flesh, And passeth to inherit A residence afresh. I say to thee weapons reach not the Life; Flame burns it not, waters cannot o'erwhelm, Nor dry winds wither it. Impenetrable, Unentered, unassailed, unharmed, untouched, Immortal, all-arriving, stable, sure, Invisible, ineffable, by word And thought uncompassed, ever all itself, Thus is the Soul declared!"




The fact that the above teaching seems so self-evident to the Western mind, perhaps even trivial, should in no way diminish its significance for us. We would never think to dismiss the genius of Pythagoras because every child in grade school understands his theorem - in fact, because his theorem is widely understood and proves so useful in applied sciences, we feel compelled to reaffirm his Wisdom. The same applies to Krishna's teaching on the eternal Spirit-Soul who incarnates and reincarnates throughout the evolutionary course of human history. Arjuna's experience of this Wisdom was no less significant, and perhaps not much different from, the experience of what would have been revealed to an initiate in the Pythagorean mystery schools (to be discussed more in a later installment). This fact also reveals to us another piece of that ancient vs. modern consciousness puzzle - the concepts we take for granted in abstract form, such as "eternal spirit", were simply not present in the ancient mind. At least, that is, until the logical impulse was imparted by Krishna to Arjuna in the manner we are now recounting by way of the Gita.


So far we have seen Arjuna transition from the womb of the unconscious group soul to the infancy of the sense-world. The former is symbolized by the uroboros, womb, round container, or any image of anything big "which contains, surround, enwraps, shelters, preserver, and nourishes" anything small in ancient mythology - it is the image of "a cosmic region where many contents hide and have their essential abode." The emerging sense-world then confronts the infant soul as a perplexing and often terrifying realm, as that soul crosses the threshold of the Cosmic Soul's warm embrace. Yet this new world also confronts the infant as a riddle to eventually be solved with careful observation and thought. The most important early development in the nascent human psyche is that born of standing upright and walking - the infant learns to bring itself out of a forced gaze towards the Earth and look upwards to the Heavens. That is how the human infant begins to distinguish itself from its purely animalistic components. It naturally ascends from instinctive reaction towards its duty of knowing the world before acting and reacting.




Krishna:

"Passion it is! born of the Darknesses, Which pusheth him. Mighty of appetite, Sinful, and strong is this! — man's enemy! As smoke blots the white fire, as clinging rust Mars the bright mirror, as the womb surrounds The babe unborn, so is the world of things Foiled, soiled, enclosed in this desire of flesh. ... Govern thy heart! Constrain th' entangled sense! Resist the false, soft sinfulness which saps Knowledge and judgment! Yea, the world is strong, But what discerns it stronger, and the mind Strongest; and high o'er all the ruling Soul. Wherefore, perceiving Him who reigns supreme, Put forth full force of Soul in thy own soul! Fight! vanquish foes and doubts, dear Hero! slay What haunts thee in fond shapes, and would betray!"




The infant soul then learns to speak. That is accomplished via highly-skilled imitation of already speaking souls. At first, the infant only babbles in the form of interjections - it can only express syntactic feelings experienced without any semantic meaning. Once the infant develops past mere interjections to semantic speech, however, it can relate the meanings of forms in the world which seemingly exist apart from it. It is this power which then metamorphoses into our Memory - what can be named and imaged by speech with meaning can also be remembered by those names and those images. Without this capacity for Memory, there is no knowledge, judgment, or discernment. There is no ability to build off of previous experiences, with all of their errors and accuracies, into new ones. It is through speech and Memory that the faculties of logic and Reason develop. The human soul then leaps higher towards the eternal spiritual, yet that leap only bears good fruit if the next step is internalized. Here we come to the true border of the Imagination that was spoken of earlier by Coleridge, Steiner, and Barfield. The mythic realm is the realm of Imagination.


"To put forth full force of Soul in thy own soul!" - this verse reveals the archetypal image of spiritual freedom. It advises the soul to resist dogmatism in all its forms. What is being revealed by Krishna cannot be logically absorbed by Arjuna as a machine takes inputs and translates them directly to outputs. Rather, Arjuna must make the advice his own by evolving the meaning of its inner necessity through the higher levels of his thinking Spirit. It is this process by which imaginative traditions are metamorphosed into inspired revelations, and inspired revelations into true intuitive knowledge of the spiritual. This transition is not guaranteed for any individual soul today - it does not proceed as assuredly as the speaking and abstract reasoning adult human does from the walking and babbling infant. It takes a level of sustained cultivation and practice which, unfortunately, many people in the modern age find it extremely difficult to participate in. That is not for lack of time, however, or even lack of ability, but mostly for lack of knowing such participation is even an option. Krishna instructs Arjuna in this Wisdom which is ever-accessible to all human souls.




Krishna:

"This deathless Yoga, this deep union, I taught Vivaswata, the Lord of Light; Vivaswata to Manu gave it; he To Ikshwaku; so passed it down the line Of all my royal Rishis. Then, with years, The truth grew dim and perished, noble Prince! Now once again to thee it is declared — This ancient lore, this mystery supreme — Seeing I find thee votary and friend. ... Let each man raise The Self by Soul, not trample down his Self, Since Soul that is Self's friend may grow Self's foe. Soul is Self's friend when Self doth rule o'er Self, But Self turns enemy if Soul's own self Hates Self as not itself. ... Sequestered should he sit, Steadfastly meditating, solitary, His thoughts controlled, his passions laid away, Quit of belongings. In a fair, still spot Having his fixed abode, — not too much raised, Nor yet too low, — let him abide, his goods A cloth, a deerskin, and the Kusa-grass. There, setting hard his mind upon The One, Restraining heart and senses, silent, calm, Let him accomplish Yoga, and achieve Pureness of soul, holding immovable Body and neck and head, his gaze absorbed Upon his nose-end,[Note 11] rapt from all around, Tranquil in spirit, free of fear, intent Upon his Brahmacharya vow, devout, Musing on Me, lost in the thought of Me. That Yojin, so devoted, so controlled, Comes to the peace beyond, — My peace, the peace Of high Nirvana!"



There are two paths to approach and cross the threshold of Wisdom identified by Krishna - one is through deep and loving knowledge of the sense-world, so as to unlock its secrets and reveal its spiritual essence. The other is through inner understanding by way of patient and disciplined ascetic practice. The latter is a process of remaining fully conscious during a dream-state, so as to discern all of its transpersonal and eternal symbols. Krishna reveals the ascetic practice of Yoga to Arjuna, which is the practice of adapting one's individual soul to the soul of the entire Earth. That is done by attuning our soul with the Earth's rhythms - those rhythms of her daily progression from night to day, her seasonal progressions from Winter to Summer, and all manner of other rhythmic occurrences involving the waters, lands, and airs of Earth; it is ongoing journey from death to birth, birth to death, and death to rebirth. On this path, we must become conscious of our own inner rhythms, including those of our physiological processes. That is why traditional Yoga in Hinduism placed a central emphasis on careful observation of one's own breathing.


We obviously cannot get a good sense for this practice by simply writing and reading about it. However, the very same rhythm can be experienced by reflection on our thinking activity (the first approach mentioned above). Our thoughts are, in fact, always being born, dying, being reborn, and dying again. We can sense that as we wake up in the morning and we still experience dream images permeating our consciousness - that is the higher imaginative thinking alive within. Yet it is not long at all before those thoughts rapidly die within waking consciousness. Then our thinking about the world becomes increasingly more rigidified in physical sense-perceptions, although there is typically at least one part of the day where we begin day-dreaming for some time. At night, our consciousness gradually transitions back to the dream consciousness and deep sleep, where our thoughts are reborn. This process continues on and expands into higher and higher levels of knowledge as our thought-experiences build from each other. If we pay even more close attention, we will observe that rhythmic alternation occurring in even shorter timespans when we are contemplating any given idea.


Krishna:

"Now will I open unto thee — whose heart Rejects not — that last lore, deepest-concealed, That farthest secret of My Heavens and Earths, Which but to know shall set thee free from ills, — A royal lore! a Kingly mystery! Yea! for the soul such light as purgeth it From every sin; a light of holiness With inmost splendour shining; plain to see; Easy to walk by, inexhaustible! ... By Me the whole vast Universe of things Is spread abroad; — by Me, the Unmanifest! In Me are all [beings] contained; Not I in them! Yet they are not contained, Those visible things! Receive and strive to embrace The mystery majestical! My Being — Creating all, sustaining all — still dwells Outside of all! ... I am alike for all! I know not hate, I know not favour! What is made is Mine! But them that worship Me with love, I love; They are in Me, and I in them!"




In the verses above, we have arrived at the very heart of this Divine Song. These verses are found in the ninth discourse out of the eighteen total discourses, and their mythic imagery also stands at the center of the Song's total imaginative content. Looking back at the V-shaped diagram at the beginning of this essay, we can say we have reached the bottom of the "V" - not necessarily in terms of time, but in terms of the Song's own mythic content. Krishna has progressed from revealing Himself to Arjuna as a force rooted above, in all of His eternal spiritual splendor, to expressing how his branches will extend down into the lives of every human soul - "I encompass all beings, but they are not in me". We must not look at such declarations as static and absolute truths. In the mythic realm beyond mere intellect, there are no such truths. Instead, all truths are relational - truths which are spoken to a real personality existing in a concrete place and time, and with a unique perspective. So what Krishna speaks here is true - not all beings are [yet] in Him. Yet all who worship in love - by way of the feeling heart at the bottom of the "V", where blood (will) and breath (thought) meet - shall discover that they are truly in Him.


It is an understatement to say the dramatic mythic-spiritual progression of this Song may be the most sublime of all ancient mythology. It is here we must really try to adopt a devotional attitude to the Song's content and perceive how that content flows from a truly Divine being. From the the first discourse to the eighth, Krishna speaks to Arjuna of his eternal essence and counsels him on his duty to confront the physical world. He tells Arjuna that this confrontation will only be bearable if he remembers how everything encountered in the physical world, including the souls of other men on the battlefield, is always flowing from and returning back to the eternal spiritual realm. At the ninth and tenth discourses, however, the mythic narrative shifts so as to emphasize Krishna's immediate relationship with Arjuna and humanity in general - one that is radically changing into a new form. From here onwards, Arjuna begins expressing his own perspective on the mystery and majesty of Krishna, who he longs to seek by way of loving and devotional contemplation. Arjuna's eyes are fixed upwards as his soul ascends to a height from which it can truly Imagine Krishna's eternal beauty and nobility.




Arjuna:

"Yes! Thou art Parabrahm! The High Abode! The Great Purification! Thou art God Eternal, All-creating, Holy, First, Without beginning! Lord of Lords and Gods! Declared by all the Saints — by Narada, Vyasa Asita, and Devalas; And here Thyself declaring unto me! What Thou hast said now know I to be truth, O Kesava! that neither gods nor men Nor demons comprehend Thy mystery Made manifest, Divinest! Thou Thyself Thyself alone dost know, Maker Supreme! Master of all the living! Lord of Gods! King of the Universe! To Thee alone Belongs to tell the heavenly excellence Of those perfections wherewith Thou dost fill These worlds of Thine; Pervading, Immanent! How shall I learn, Supremest Mystery! To know Thee, though I muse continually? Under what form of Thine unnumbered forms Mayst Thou be grasped? Ah! yet again recount, Clear and complete, Thy great appearances, The secrets of Thy Majesty and Might, Thou High Delight of Men! Never enough Can mine ears drink the Amrit of such words!"




Let us consider, for a moment, what Arjuna is striving so mightily towards at this point. The meaningful content of what he is striving towards is actually what we have already begun to obtain simply by writing, reading, picturing, and reflecting on these mythic images. Of course, it would be foolish to think we are fully immersed in Imaginative thought just because we now have some solid understanding of the Gita's mythology, but we have truly grasped some content which Arjuna would have only gained by much consternation and toil in the direction of the spiritual through the physical. All of that content Arjuna was capable of discovering, for example, could be found in the spiritual philosophy of Fichte or Hegel. So the mirror image we spoke of before is not so much about the spiritual content we may reach, which will surely be more than Arjuna was ever capable of reaching, but the spiritual toil of Arjuna that the soul of the sixth epoch must match. We must not abstract this impulse of Arjuna away, but get a real feeling of what was laid before him and the soul-sacrifices which were expected of him.


We also possess an impulse which calls us forth to novel spiritual heights today, in the mirror image of the fourth epoch, which means we are transitioning from the physical to the spiritual. The Western soul will only perform its spiritual duty as Arjuna performed his when it travels through, in the most literal sense, his experiences of utter anxiety, fear, loneliness, and despair; when the soul feels stranded on a desert island with no rescue ships in sight; when it doubts absolutely everything about itself and its place in the vast expanse of the Cosmos. That is when Wisdom, the eternal charioteer of the human soul, gives birth to an impulse that raises us up from the abyss into which we have been gazing. Then we will beg our Father for this cup to pass, and we will begin to understand that our soul's existence is not dependent on the transient world around us. We remember that our soul's life rays forth from higher spiritual realms which have not passed, do not pass, and will never pass. In that remembrance, we can find the highest hope - not despair - in Krishna's words below.



"Thou seest Me as Time who kills, Time who brings all to doom, The Slayer Time, Ancient of Days, come hither to consume;"