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The myth depicts some other mistakes that the seeker must become aware of even though he does not have to correct them at this stage as the Argonauts sail off the coast. Some of these are the attraction for an arduous path that is expected to please the Divine, the trust in the predominant efficiency of the mind, the projections and the blocked energies.
The Argonauts reached the land of the Chalybes whose inhabitants did not care to toil the land or graze their cattle or grow honey-sweet fruits but extracted iron ore without ever taking rest. Amidst the dark flames and smoke they wore themselves out in this laborious work.
What is denounced here is an excessive investigation into the depths of the subconscious – nowadays called the inconscient – which leads to a hardening of the soul (Chalybe signifies “hardened iron, steel”) in place of a healthy concern for a regular and conscientious work of yoga carried out in a gentle manner. It is an arduous journey grounded in one’s own effort and will, the polar opposite of “the sunlit path” which presumes surrender. However the author does not indicate that we cannot expect any results from it as the Chalybes were extracting ore.
They did not care to toil the land: the seeker does not work on his nature in the way he should for the purpose of purifying and perfecting it with the aim of union. In other words they were not concerned with the labors of Demeter, “the mother of union”. Nor did they care to graze their cattle or grow honey-sweet fruits: the seeker’s concern is no longer even the vigilance for the correct development of the potentialities of one’s being, and even less so is the search for what can bring psychic joy.
Then they sailed past the coast of the country of the Tibareni. In this land, when women bore children to their husbands the latter were the ones to moan and whine complainingly, lying dejectedly on their beds with bandaged heads while their wives took good care to feed them and prepare childbirth baths for them.
In this story an inversion of the goals and the labours of yoga are being highlighted: the seeker takes a means or his discipline of yoga to be his aim.
For example he gives increasing importance to the framework of his meditation or to a discipline like Hatha Yoga, he refines it, makes it the highest priority in his life, and brings to it all kinds of justifications and attention to nurture it. He focuses on his practice endorsing it with his own vision of the goal.
While a new dynamic of the being is coming forth (the women who are giving birth) the active part of the mind is ineffective (the bandaged heads) and the seeker complains, imagining that he has worked very hard and deserves care and reassurance. It is actually a sort of blackmail towards the Divine which continues for a long time in yoga as a sly way of satisfying the ego: if I am a good disciple in my chosen practice, I very well deserve this or that.
All the attachments to the labours that should be practised with flexibility and given up as soon as the inner being feel it should come to an end can be included in this category. This is the case for example with attachment for the sake of principle to virtues, renunciation, non-violence, and so on (Tibareni probably signifies “to carry a heavy load on the spirit”).
Undoubtedly the path of renunciation was necessary in ancient forms of spirituality the sole aim of which was to attain a paradise of the spirit. But renunciation cannot have the same role today in the context of a spiritual path which aims at the blossoming of all of life’s potentials in Truth. It can and should undoubtedly be a temporary stage; it should prepare for a return to life on the path of non-attachment which is far more difficult to achieve.
One must always remember that yoga is constituted of reversals and what helps at one stage of the journey becomes an obstacle for the next.
Since the Divine is patient with the seeker he nonetheless receives “the bath of childbirth”.
After that the heroes travelled past the land of the Mossynoeci whose customs were different from those of other people: “Whatever it was right to do openly before other people or in the market place, all this they did in their homes but whatever acts we perform privately they performed out of doors in the open streets without shame. They did not even feel restraint at coupling in public and with no consideration for those present they would, like feeding swine, lay with the women upon the ground.
Here again there is an inversion, no longer between the practice and the goal but between inner and the outer reality. It seems that what is narrated here refers to seekers who divulge their inner life and experiences in public including a demonstration of their powers (their coupling), whereas the inner experience must be kept a secret for a long time so as to retain its power. On the other hand they carefully conceal the acts that do not conform to what they claim to have achieved.
This story might also indicates seekers that pretend to be free through the satisfaction of all desires.
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