Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Joseph Campbell - The Ultimate Boon Part 2

Kashyapa "the Turtle Man" 
Married 13 daughters of ancient demiurgic patriarch, Daksha "Lord of Virtue". Two daughters gave birth to titans and gods who battled for many years. Titan priest comes in Shiva's "Lord of the Universe" favor who bestows a charm to raise the dead. Brahma & Vishnu tell the gods to form a truce

Brahma, Vishnu, & Shiva - Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer
After 7th Century BC Brahma becomes an agent of Vishnu.
Creator-Preserver versus world-destroyer

Truce to churn the Milky Ocean of immortal life for its butter 'Amrita' "not mortal" aka "nectar of deathlessness". Mount Mandara as churning stick, Vasuki "King of Serpents" churning rope
Vishnu in the form of a tortoise dove into the Milky Ocean to support the base of the mountain
A thousand years

Black, poisonous smoke, Kalakuta "Black Summit" highest concentration of the power of death
Shiva drank and held it in his throat which turned blue aka "Blue Neck" Nilakantha

Apsarases (nymphs)
Lakshmi "Goddess of Fortune"
Uchchaihshravas, milk-white horse "Neighing Aloud"
Kaustubha, the pearl of gems
Other objects to the number 13
Dhanvantari, physician of the gods, holding the moon, the cup of the nectar of life

Battle for the possession of the drink
Rahu, stole a sip, then beheaded before swallowed, body died, head immortal, his head pursuing the moon through the sky, eclipses of the moon.

Vishnu, in guise of a dancing damsel, beguiled the titans and passed the cup to the gods.
Mount Sumeru, gods victorious, titans banished.

The gods as icons are not ends in themselves. Their entertaining myths transport the mind and spirit, not up to, but past them, into the yonder void; from which perspective the more heavily freighted theological dogmas then appear to have been only pedagogical lures: their function, to cart the unandroit intellect away from its concrete clutter of facts and events to a comparitively rarefied zone, where, as a final boon, all existence - whether heavenly, earthly, or infernal - may at last be seen transmuted into the semblance of a lightly passing, recurrent, mere childhood dream of bliss and fright. 

The gods and goddesses then are to be understood as embodiments and custodians of the elixir of Imperishable Being but not themselves the Ultimate in its primary state. What the hero seeks through his intercourse wit them is therefore not finally themselves, but their grace, the power of their sustaining substance. This miraculous energy-substance and this alone is the Imperishable; the names and forms of the deities who everywhere embody, dispense, and represent it come and go. This is the misaculous energy of the thunderbolts of Zeus, Yahweh, and the Supreme Buddha, the fertility of the rain of Viracocha, the virtue announced by the bell rung in the Mass at the consecration, and the light of the ultimate illumination of the saint and sage. It guardians dare release it only to the duly proven.

Gilgamesh, Mesopotamian
Summerian city of Erech
Watercress of immortality, the plant "Never Grow Old"
Lions guard foothills, scorpion-men the heaven supporting mountains, a paradise garden.
The sea that surrounds the world, Goddess Ishtar in a cave, Siduri-Sabitu, closed the gates.
She advised him not pursue his quest but to enjoy the mortal joys of life.
Seeming hedonistic but actually a test. 
Seek ferryman Ursanapi, found chopping wood in the forest, guarded by "those who rejoice to live" or "those of stones", once defeated he traverses the water of death.

Utnapishtim, hero of the primordial deluge, "Noah", tells Gilgamesh the story of the flood then has him sleep six days. A bath, and seven loaves, then the secret of the plant, it was growing atthe bottom of the Cosmic Sea. Gilgamesh tied stones to his feet and sunk, grabbing the plant, mutilated his hand with its thorns. Rested, serpent stole away the plant, ate it, gained power to shed its skin, and so renew its youth. 

Fountain of Youth "Bimini", Juan Ponce de Leon

Chinese philosopher Ko Hung, pills of immortality
Three pounds of genuine cinnabar (red mercury) and one pound of white honey, mix, and dry, and roast over a fire to be shaped into pills. Ten pills a day.

To enlarge the pupil of the eye, so that the body with its attendant personality will no longer obstruct the view. Immortality is then experienced as a present fact. 

"All things are in process, rising and returning. Plants come to blossom, but only to return to the root. Returning to the root is like seeking tranquility. Seeking tranquility is like moving toward destiny. To move toward destiny is like eternity. To know eternity is enlightenment, and not to recognize eternity brings disorder and evi. Knowing eternity makes one comprehensive; comprehension makes one broadminded; breadth of vision brings nobility; nobility is like heaven. The heavenly is like Tao. Tao is the Eternal. The decay of the body is not to be feared."

The agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth. Art, literature, myth and cult, philosophy, and ascetic disciplines are instruments to help the individual past his limiting horizons into spheres of ever-expanding realization. As he crosses threshold after threshold, conquering dragon after dragon, the stature of the divinity that he summons to his highest wish increases, until it subsumes the cosmos. Finally, the mind breaks the bounding sphere of the cosmos to a realization transcending all experiences of form - all symbolizations, all divinities: a realization of the ineluctable void.

This is the highest and ultimate crucifixion, not only of the hero, but of his god as well. Hee the Son and the Father alike are annihilated - as personality-masks over the unnamed. For just as the figments of a dream derive from the life energy of one dreamer, representing only fluid splittings and complications of that single force, so do all the forms of all the worlds, whether terrestrial or divine, reflect the universal force of a single inscrutable mystery: the power that constructs the atom and controls the orbits of the stars. 

The Buddha's victory beneath the Bo Tree.
With the sword of his mind he pierced the bubble of the universe - and it shattered into naught. The whole world of natural experience, as well as the continents, heavens, and hells of traditional religious belief, exploded - together with their gods and demons. But the miracle of miracles was that though all exploded, all was nevertheless thereby renewed, revivified, and made glorious with the effulgence of true being. Indeed, the gods of the redeemed heavens raised their voices in harmonious acclaim of the man-hero who had penetrated beyond them to the void that was their life and source.

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