<< Previous : The Argonauts and the death of the giant Talos
Subsequently the heroes were “terrified by a night that can be qualified as sepulchral: this sinister night was pierced neither by stars nor moonlight. It was only a black gaping void emanating from the sky or from I know not which darkness risen from the deepest abyss.” (Argonautica, Canto IV verse 1695).
Jason invoked Apollo and tears flowed in his anguish. The god heard him and drew his bow which lit everything around with a dazzling brightness. A small steep island appeared which they called Anaphe, the Island of the Apparition.
This experience of “sepulchral night” and “dazzling brightness” are the most significant experiences that a seeker can live through during this first major experience of the opening of consciousness or enlightenment.
Apollonius does not give any more details. Bypassing the rule that I had set for myself of not voicing my own experience I will base myself on it in this case as this testimony could perhaps give a better sense of it. It must however be noted that there can be a wide variety of experiences depending on the centers which are touched and open at that time. Sri Aurobindo specifies that this first experience can be an opening of the spirit or of the heart or both.
This “sepulchral night” was for me only one of the first manifestations of a powerful experience which lasted a week and then gradually subsided during the span of about two to three weeks.
This “night” is so particular that it is very difficult to portray. It did not last long, about two hours, and is completely independent of external activities: I was working in my office when it engulfed me, but I had the luck of having an isolated desk and no one disturbed me that morning. It was neither a state of trance nor any state obtained by concentration or meditation.
I was suddenly plunged into a parallel reality superimposed on the ordinary reality and equally informed by sensation and sight. There was no pain, no suffering, no fear, no anxiety, yet I gazed upon an absolute nothingness where there was not a breath of life, not even the slightest hope that this “void” would become animate. There could be no trace of despair, since there were no emotional feelings. I no longer had sensations and therefore had no impression, neither of heat, cold, life, death, shadow or light. In this space there was no thought, no life, no time. Paradoxical as it may seem I was both fully present in my office environment and in the presence of this “void”, dark but not black, which evoked the distinction made by Hesiod between Erebus (Erebos) and Night (Nyx) at the beginning of the event. It was like a bottomless abyss that filled one with a feeling that was unlike anything known. I had the feeling of balancing miraculously on a very narrow ridge which looked over the abyss, and it was imperative that I went forward along this ridge because the stakes were considerable.
This state could be defined as immersion in absolute negation, but a negation of what? It is not yet known, but the dazzling experience that follows gives an immediate insight into its opposite.
Satprem on his side narrates this experience in the following way: “suddenly I found myself in a tremendous darkness – we call it “night”, but our night is bright when compared to this blackness! Absolute blackness like the essence of black, which did not resonate with any vibration which would allow one to say “it is dark”: it was not black, it was THE blackness, like death, without any vibration, without a spark of black. A density of suffocating blackness. It was suffocating, one was there like one is in death – and in fact, it was death. And then, I felt (I say felt but it was not vague at all, it was very real, just that I could not see: I thought, I touched), I felt that I was suspended in an abyss, both feet on a tiny ledge a few centimetres wide, against a wall – a great wall, vertical, black like flowing basalt – which plunged into an abyss. (…) I had to cross to the other side. (…) Falling there was worse than death, it was death within death.
(…) And then … silence, crushing, massive, like a world of absolute negation, implacable, where one must not be, one cannot be.” (By the body of the earth or The Sannyasin. Satprem. Robert Laffont).
This sepulchral night is probably the one that Sri Aurobindo calls in Savitri (Book II, Canto VII), “the night of the grey Python”, the reverse symbol of the light of Apollo.
“He was alone with the Night of the grey python.
A nameless Nothing, dense, conscious, dumb,
Who seemed alive, but without a body and without mind,
Thirsty to annihilate all life
To be forever alone and naked.”
In my case the hours and days that followed were marked by different experiences in a very particular atmosphere.
To begin with the sensations:
- that of a great clarity in the mind that gave me a sense of light, hence the name given to the experience: It was accompanied by intuitive perceptions associated with a feeling of absolute certainty.
- that of being like a veritable bulldozer, being filled with forces in harmony with external reality and which gave me the feeling that nothing was impossible.
- for the first time in my life the feeling of being very temporarily free from ego which was replaced by an another I, grander, more joyful, fearless, with a strong sense of “presence” in the world.
- that the source of my actions was within rather than outside myself.
Then the events seemed to occur with miraculous synchronicity in expression of a general harmony. For instance if I needed to meet someone I would soon come across him on the street.
These forces from the higher planes naturally also enter the vital which caused with the greatest of intensity tears of gratitude and joy and other excesses of vital energy that I mastered with difficulty. When we see how a few drops of this force in 1968 in Paris brought down barricades we can guess what a small stream of it can cause in an individual. For the experience for me was more or less of the same type but in different degrees of intensity.
During some of the most intense days I was given the opportunity to live some other experiences, especially “revelations” in the form of powerful dreams, auditory and visual messages which gave me some broad guidelines about the “task” to be fulfilled in this life without defining the specific points exactly. This will be the reason for the death of Pelias on Jason’s return to Iolkos, the end of one “who progresses in the shadows.” For example I was told “that there are two children yet to be born” and each was the subject of an enigmatic sentence which became clear to me only over the years: I think that with this decoding of Greek mythology the first child is born. I also received some information about the structure of the Caduceus and the future transformation of energies in the Tree of Life which was necessary for this decoding task.
I know of very few accounts of this experience which allow for a broader understanding. It must however be noted that this is a brief “encouraging” response and not an end in itself.
It must also be noted that most narratives of spiritual experiences were narrated by men in an era in which mental vibrations favoured them. This influence which focused on the separating aspect and thereby on the logical mind was required for individuation. But in men it also favoured experiences of opening of the consciousness grouped under the term “enlightenment”. On the other hand women do not seem to usually go through these great experiences of the enlightenment of the spirit first. If the ways which provide access to the Consciousness specific to men are indeed those of the mind and the vital those specific to women are firstly those of the body and the psychic (the non-emotional heart, the soul) which open to Joy.
If as many foresee humanity is going through a turning point in which the forces of union and therefore the intuitive mind will regain predominance then the path of women will in turn be privileged. But we must take into account that this change occurs over several hundreds of years.
It will therefore be necessary for women’s particular paths to be clarified and included in mythology as well.
The contact that was established is etched forever in the internal memory. There will remain a point of certainty, the memory of a state which had already been glimpsed a long time ago by Phrixus, and the seeker will not rest until he can live permanently this state in which “That exists”.
The name given by the Argonauts to the island rising steeply from the sea, “Anaphe”, comes according to the text itself from the verb meaning “to shine, to appear”, and therefore means “what shines in the heights”. It is also translated as “Apparition”. Another translation more in line with its deeper meaning would be “that which appears in the light”, “which reveals or unmasks”.
Through its character structure this name expresses the evolution of a penetration of higher consciousness into the being making it radiate.
The last part of the story narrated by Apollonius is about the yoga which develops after this first major experience, but the author does not give any details.
When the Argonauts had undone the moorings to set sail again Euphemos remembered his dream. While asleep he held in his hands the lump of earth offered by Triton: it was watered with drops of milk and then transformed into a girl. Under the effect of an irrepressible desire he united in love with her but repented at once, imagining that he had been having intercourse with his daughter. But she reassured him saying: “My friend, I am of Triton’s blood and the Nurse of your children: not your daughter, but a daughter of Triton and Libya. But entrust me to the daughters of Nereus so I may live in the sea near the island of the Apparition, and I will later on rise towards the rays of the sun to welcome your nephews.”
On Jason’s recommendation Euphemos threw the lump of earth into the sea. At once arose an island, Calliste, “the very beautiful”, sacred nurse of Euphemos’ sons. They would first live in Lemnos of the Sintians and then Sparta before rejoining Calliste.
The spiritual power represented by Triton left a symbol of incarnation in the consciousness of the seeker (the gift of the lump of earth retrieved by Euphemos).
Euphemos, son of Poseidon, is “one who pronounces auspicious words”. He shows a “positive” vision of long-term evolution. As a premonition of times to come his dream first relates the need for a period of purification in physical incarnation (when matter, the body, has been fed by drops of milk). Then will come a new human consciousness which will not be the result of the seeker’s own asceticism (he will not feed the young girl with his own milk) but which he will consider as the goal. He will unite with her and this will lead him to limited expressions of the supramental light (the rays of the sun).
Meanwhile this “new consciousness” will have to be entrusted to forces that are at the root of conscious life (daughters of Nereus) and the feeling or memory of this first great experience will have to be maintained.
In other words it is not only personal asceticism which can generate the transition towards “Supermanhood” because to access this new state the seeker must have given up his entire yoga to the hands of the Absolute.
The meaning of the term “Superman” as used here is the one given by Satprem in his book On the way to Supermanhood. This author names thus one who is imbued with the “new consciousness” described in detail by the Mother in the Agenda of the year 1969. It refers neither to the seeker who has reached the level of the overmind nor to the Superman of Nietzsche who wants to be an improvement of the existing man. This new awareness will prepare humanity for the supramental transformation.
The seeker at once casts this “renewed matter” in the flow of life, which allows an initial materialization of the “task” to be accomplished, of his “life goal”. The “very beautiful” island is thus very real and is the anchor on which the seeker will be able to rely for the continuation of his progress in yoga.
The sons of Euphemos (they who go in the right evolutionary direction) must first live on Lemnos. We must remember that it is there that the Argonauts were united to the women who had killed their husbands. It is therefore an in-depth purification of false spiritual forms and the archaic “capturing” movement at the root of the ego (the Sintiens are the “preying birds”). This is basically a reunification of polarities and the realisation of human unity.
Then they will have to experience a revival (Sparta, “sowing”) before rejoining the “very beautiful” island which was renamed Thera “the exact movement of inner evolution”.
But Apollonius tells us that these events came “long after Euphemos“, that is to say long after the seeker received the premonition.
The heroes had to undergo no other trials before their arrival in Greece.
And to conclude his narrative, Apollonius adds:
“May these songs from year to year always be sweeter for men to sing“.
Next : The death of Pelias and the games given in his honour >>
<< Summary and Introduction : Jason and the quest of the Golden Fleece