David – Chapter 6
February 15, 2011 § 2 Comments
“Krishna, who are you?”
And there was a flash of light, bright as a thousand suns, and Arjuna saw Krishna’s cosmic form as Narayana, one of the great gods. There, all at once, were all of the planets and all of the stars and all of the gods and all of the demons and spirits, gandarvhas and apsaras, all of the sages and saints, all of the priests and warriors, all that is and all that ever was and all that will be. Arjuna saw, and felt, endless perfect love swelling to fill the everything that Krishna had become. And he saw all the gory deeds that were ever done and the carnage that must come with time; he saw Krishna tall as mountains, black as night, his eyes blazing as he waded through rivers of blood, the mangled corpses of Duryodhana and his brothers dangling from his bloody jaws.”
– Bhagavad Gita
In Chapter 6 Dennis has provided a general outline for the Ground of the Work, the Prima Materia, that primal Matrix from which all Things emerge and eventually return. More so Dennis has provided the direct warning, “if you look at this dragon in the face and attempt to take control of it, you will be destroyed.”
Rudolph Steiner in his work How to Know the Higher Worlds provides direction for those who seek entrance on the Path, who wish to come to Nature’s Fountain and drink:
“There is a universal law among initiates that the knowledge due a seeker cannot be withheld. But there is also another universal law that esoteric knowledge may not be imparted to anyone not qualified to receive it…
Only a person who has passed through the gate of humility can ascend to the heights of the spirit. To attain true knowledge, you must first learn to respect this knowledge.”
Cyril of Jerusalem is perhaps a bit more direct:
“A certain man in the Gospels once pried into the marriage feasts, and took an unbecoming garment, and came in, sat down, and ate: for the bridegroom permitted it. But when he saw them all clad in white, he ought to have assumed a garment of the same kind himself: whereas he partook of the like food, but was unlike them in fashion and in purpose.
The bridegroom, however, though bountiful, was not undiscerning: and in going round to each of the guests and observing them (for his care was not for their eating, but for their seemly behaviour), he saw a stranger not having on a wedding garment, and said to him,
“Friend, how camest thou in hither? In what a colour! With what a conscience! What though the door- keeper forbade thee not, because of the bountifulness of the entertainer? what though thou weft ignorant in what fashion thou shouldest come in to the banquet?—thou didst come in, and didst see the glittering fashions of the guests: shouldest thou not have been taught even by what was before thine eyes? Shouldest thou not have retired in good season, that thou mightest enter in good season again? But now thou hast come in unseasonably, to be unseasonably cast out.”
So he commands the servants, Bind his feet, which daringly intruded: bind his hands, which knew not how to put a bright garment around him: and cast him into the outer darkness; for he is unworthy of the wedding torches. Thou seest what happened to that man: make thine own condition safe.”
In a beneficent aspect we might recognize the Prima Materia in the Medieval concept of the “Dei Genitrix”:
Salve, Regina, mater misericordiae,
vita, dulcedo et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus, exules filii Hevae.
Ad te suspiramus gementes
et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte.
Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo Maria.
Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix.
Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Pray for us O holy Mother of God,
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
In Eastern traditions the more violent nature of the Prima Materia is shown by Krishna in the aforementioned section of the Bhagavad Gita, or in keeping with the Marian connection, Kali, the Dark Mother, the destroying face of Durga, the Great Mother.
At the dissolution of things, it is Kala [Time] Who will devour all, and by reason of this He is called Mahakala [an epithet of Lord Shiva], and since Thou devourest Mahakala Himself, it is Thou who art the Supreme Primordial Kalika. Because Thou devourest Kala, Thou art Kali, the original form of all things, and because Thou art the Origin of and devourest all things Thou art called the Adya [primordial Kali]. Resuming after Dissolution Thine own form, dark and formless, Thou alone remainest as One ineffable and inconceivable. Though having a form, yet art Thou formless; though Thyself without beginning, multiform by the power of Maya, Thou art the Beginning of all, Creatrix, Protectress, and Destructress that Thou art.
In India the sect which is most closely tied to the Tantric worship of Kali is the Aghora. Sadhus in the Aghora tradition paint themselves in ashes from the cremation grounds and live in austere meditation. Aghora means Not-Terrifying, they are the Light in the Darkness. The extremity of their meditation is such that one of their initiatory rites is the consumption of human flesh, and they are known to use the skull caps of past initiates as drinking vessels. In this they physically take on the consuming aspect of Nature, the Cycle of Time as embodied in Kali, and come into direct experience of the Prima Materia.
“He, O Mahakali, who in the cremation-ground, naked, and with dishevelled hair, intently meditates upon Thee and recites Thy mantra, and with each recitation makes offering to Thee of a thousand Akanda flowers with seed, becomes without any effort a Lord of the earth. 0 Kali, whoever on Tuesday at midnight, having uttered Thy mantra, makes offering even but once with devotion to Thee of a hair of his Sakti [his female companion] in the cremation-ground, becomes a great poet, a Lord of the earth, and ever goes mounted upon an elephant”
Our concepts of Light and Dark are often mislead by the ease of life in the Western world, but the Great Work encompasses and comes to the very root of existence. I don’t mention the Aghora for shock value, their practice is a legitimate method which has parallels in the many Memento Mori pictures we find in the Western Tradition. Even the much beloved Francis of Assisi is often portrayed meditating with a skull. He was blessed with the Stigmata, the physical expression of Christ’s Crucifixion through open and weeping wounds, as a sign of his sanctity, and passed on not long after. This Quest is not for the faint of heart.
Carl Jung’s work with alchemical archetypes, which touches on only one very basic level of the Great Work, was attended by strange occurrences around his house, visions, voices, knockings, and an eventual psychotic breakdown during which he was unable to function. This breakdown lead to the creation of the now well known Liber Novus (Red book), but we must remember that this work was considered by his estate to be so challenging to his legacy as a scientist that it’s taken nearly 80 years to see publication. Until 2001 they would not let anyone see it.
“Our Rabbis have taught, four entered into the Pardes. They were Ben Azai, Ben Zoma, Aher, and Rabbi Akiba. Ben Azai gazed and died. Of him it is written, “precious in the eyes of HaShem is the death of his pious ones”
(Tehilim 116, 15). Ben Zoma gazed, and went insane. Of him, it is written, “have you found honey, eat your share lest you become full, and vomit it up.” (Mishlei 25, 16). Aher became an apostate. Rabbi Akiba entered, and
exited in peace.”
As our Italian friend Captain Nemo has pointed out:
“People love to forget that Nature does not need us, that she is without space and time, and that her teachings are always actual and a mystery to us.”