Joining Alcinous (Book VII)

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Nausicaa returned to her father’s mansion and went to his room where her old nurse Eurymedusa lit the fire.

Odysseus (Ulysses) arrived in the city, hidden by a cloud which Athena had covered him with. The goddess then took on the appearance of a Phaeacian child and crossed his path. As the hero asked her for direction, she offered to accompany him. She told him that Poseidon allowed the ships of her people to be as fast as thought to be “the smugglers of the great abyss.”

Then she explained the parentage of Queen Arete, niece of Nausithous:

Poseidon had married Periboea “the most beautiful woman”, daughter of Eurymedon. He was the king of the presumptuous giants and caused the downfall of his people as well as his own.

From their union was born Nausithous, who in turn had two children, Alcinous and Rhexenor. The latter just married was killed by Apollo, but he left a daughter, Arete, whom his brother married. Arete was loved by all, more honoured by her husband than any woman, and her goodness calmed down the quarrels.

Nausicaa had told Odysseus (Ulysses) that only the benevolence of her mother Arete would allow him to return to his home. Upon his arrival at the palace, the hero was amazed by the light that fell from above, like a ray of sun or moon. At each gate of the wall, two immortal dogs, ageless, gold and silver coloured, made by Hephaestus, watched over the king’s house. Golden ephebes held torches. Of the fifty servants of the palace, some at the millstone crushed the golden wheat and the others were engaged in weaving. The Phaeacians were unsurpassed in this art because Athena had granted them a righteous heart and skilled hands. Orchards full of pear, pomegranate, apple, fig and olive trees, as well as a vineyard and vegetable garden, produced fruits and vegetables all year-round.

Still hidden by a cloud, Odysseus (Ulysses) entered the great hall and saw the kings of Phaeacia drinking in honour of Hermes. Then he passed in front of King Alcinous and threw himself directly at the knees of Queen Arete, who spun on her distaff the beautiful dyed sea purple wool.

Then the cloud dissipated. The hero begged the congregation to bring him back to the land of his fathers and then sat in the ashes of the hearth.

Echeneus, the oldest of the Phaeacians, who knew so much of the past, begged Alcinous to offer a seat to their guest.

The king gave him the seat of his son, whom he loved the most. Then he acceded to Odysseus (Ulysses)’ request and decided to host a big party the next day, before his boatmen would bring him back to safety in his country.

As Odysseus (Ulysses) had not yet revealed his identity, he suggested that he might be an immortal sent by the gods for some new purpose, as they used to do in the past. The gods often shared their tables or passed them on the road for the Phaeacians were close to them, as were the Cyclops and the Wild Giants. But Odysseus (Ulysses) told him he was not an immortal, asked for food because he could not escape his human nature, and urged his guests to prepare his departure at dawn.

All went to bed except Alcinous, Arete and Odysseus (Ulysses). The queen questioned with winged words the hero, having recognized the clothes woven by his wives.

Odysseus (Ulysses) told her the end of his adventures since his stay with Calypso.

As Alcinous regretted that it was not his daughter who brought him to his palace, Odysseus (Ulysses) assured him that he wanted it that way.

So the king, telling him that he would have liked to make him his son-in-law, decided his return for the next day. His boatmen would take him as far as he would like, even beyond the Euboea that his people located at the end of the seas. Alcinous also warned him that he would be asleep during the journey.

Odysseus (Ulysses) prayed to Zeus so that Alcinous’ words would come true for the greater glory of the latter, and then he went to sleep in a bed prepared for him with purple sheets. 

“What continues the path with fire” and “the pure act” have long been prepared by a yoga “that takes care of everything, that neglects nothing”, that is, that puts consciousness in everything (Nausicaa with white arms had Eurymedusa as a nurse).

The master of yoga, an expression of the superconscious, makes it easy to establish contact with “what allows the passage”, offering for the last time his help in view of the realization of supramental Unity (Athena wrapped Odysseus (Ulysses) in a cloud because the Phaeacians did not welcome foreigners). By pure intuition, therefore undistorted, the seeker is informed that he is close to the “great abyss” that marks the boundary between the Overmind and the Supramental, a passage into another reality. Its crossing, still controlled by subconscious powers, is only allowed to those who can let the light pass through them without opposing any obstacle, without making any shadow (a little girl guides Odysseus (Ulysses) and tells him that Poseidon conceded “the great abyss” to the smugglers of her people). It is confirmed that the means of passage are no longer a matter of the mind and operate instantly (Phaeacian boats are “faster than wing or thought”).

The parentage of Arete indicated by Homer can be understood as the evolution over the ages of human access to the supramental “Power” which is that of transformation. We give our understanding below, with all reservations.

Eurymedon “a vast power” was the king of the Giants, associated to “the power of action” as were other primordial giants, the Hundred Arms (the Hecatoncheires) that characterized “divine omnipotence.” The latter were the brothers of the Cyclops “divine omniscience and omnipresence”, all sons of Gaia and thus brothers of the Titans.

Man’s abuse of these early powers, which wanted to govern by their own right and not that of the Divine, caused their downfall. Some even say that the King of the Giants Eurymedon raped Hera as a child and that he begat with her Prometheus: this legend would confirm that this is indeed a time before the entry of humanity into the path of mental awareness governing the being.

The subconscious turned then to the “incarnation” to realise Unity (Poseidon unites with Periboea “the most beautiful woman”, daughter of Eurymedon) and thus the highest achievement of the previous time.

This union allowed “swiftness on the path” which was then the key for the passage to Unity. But as we have seen, this passage depended on the powers of “vision” that appropriated the Supramental Truth (the Phaeacians, ruled by Nausithous “who sails swiftly”, were enduring the pressure and plunder of the Cyclops).

However, rapid progress along the way (Nausithous) brought about the development of a “powerful mind” or “powerful intelligence” (Alcinous) and a “breakthrough in the opposing forces” (Rhexenor), those blocking evolution. This breakthrough had to be stopped because it was first necessary to carry out the psychic transformation (Rhexenor, barely married, was killed by Apollo): the spiritual transformation (the second according to Sri Aurobindo) became then the goal of “the powerful intelligence” (Alcinous married Arete, daughter of Rhexenor).

Arete “who rises to the heights of the mind in a right way” is the symbol of the highest achievement which man can achieve with the mind, that of peace or perfect equality (never woman was more honoured by her husband and more peacemaker). But the mind cannot go beyond itself, so a reversal of the means will be necessary.

The seeker is dazzled when he enters this non-dual state of consciousness, having a first contact with the supramental light or true personality (a first ray of sun or moon fell from above). Only the indefinite enlargement of consciousness and the disappearance of the ego, in a perfect adaptation to the movement of becoming, can achieve this (two immortal young dogs, gold and silver, guarded the king’s home).

Never is the fulfilment of destiny (dharma) achieved with as much exactness as in this plane, and “the skill in divine works” as perfect, and the fruits of permanent realisations in the realms of true love, knowledge, unity, purity, divine joy, etc. unfold without interruption (never women were better than the Phaeacians for weaving, and orchards full with pomegranate, apple, fig and olive trees, as well as a vineyard and a vegetable garden which produced fruits and vegetables all year-round).

The adventurer sees in him the overmind realization (the Phaeacians kings drink in honour of Hermes). This is linked to the realization of a totally purified vital (Arete wound on her distaff the beautiful wools dyed with the purple of the sea).

Tuned to this new vibrational level, the seeker has achieved perfect humility, devoid of any trace of ego (the hero sits in the ashes of the hearth). With his earliest experiences of moving towards unity (in this life and perhaps in others), his present realization is confirmed (Echeneus “who performs the navigation”, the eldest of the Phaeacians, who knew many things of the past, asked that Odysseus (Ulysses) be honoured.) At the same time, he understands that the period of mastery is definitively over, since there is no longer any trace of personal will to accomplish it (Alcinous gave him the seat of Laodamas “the mastery of the people”).

The seeker knows that he can count on this “powerful intelligence” which is controlling the passage to bring him safely to the work of Supramental in matter (Alcinous decided to bring Odysseus (Ulysses) back to safety in his country).

One wonders why Odysseus (Ulysses) left Ithaca by the ordinary sea route to go to Troy, but had to come back by crossing the abyss of the sea with the help of the Phaeacians: the reason is that this return implies the passage through another state of consciousness in which the seeker perceives things differently although nothing has changed externally. It is the experience of the entanglement of the two worlds that Mother speaks of extensively in the Agenda, the experience of Unity in joy that does not erase the reality of the world but transcends it.

The seeker wonders, however, whether a significant change in the passage is not being prepared, initiated by the powers of the overmind, but he does not dwell on this hypothesis for long, although it is about to be realized (Alcinous hesitates to see in Odysseus (Ulysses) an action of the gods, which the hero denies, although the island of the Phaeacians was soon to be hidden from the eyes of humans).

This stage of yoga related to overmind realization, can enable the powers of this plane for “vision” and “action” (because the Phaeacians are of the same blood as the gods, Cyclops and wild Giants). These powers come from the Supramental but are still expressed through the overmind.

Then the seeker fully integrates his dual appurtenances to the dual and the non-dual in spirit, each of these two components doing its respective work (Odysseus (Ulysses) eats and asks his guests to prepare his departure at dawn). He realizes that he is ready for the transition to a different yoga, but he must first take stock of the last stage on the path (Arete recognizes the Phaeacian clothes worn by Odysseus (Ulysses) and asks him who he is and how he came to her. The hero then narrates his latest adventures). 

Through his “highest purified intelligence,” the seeker realizes that he can remain in the realms of the overmind, but he refuses to do so, following his never-denied aspiration for total divinization (Alcinous wishes to marry the hero to his daughter, but he absolutely wants to return to Ithaca). This “powerful intelligence” then sided with this aspiration, offering his unlimited help to ensure the transition (Alcinous offers that his people lead Odysseus (Ulysses) as far as he likes).

But the seeker who achieved transparency, (or is close enough because the suitors are not dead yet), is not ready to enter death with his open eyes, to cross the great abyss without dying. He has not yet reached in the body the immediacy, the consciousness “out of time”, therefore aimless and without object, which brings about the transformative action of supramental forces in the body. The transition therefore requires a certain state of “unconsciousness” (Alcinous mentions that the yoke of sleep will be imposed on the hero).

By analogy, although this corresponds to a more advanced period of yoga, long after the destruction of the “suitors”, Mother made it clear in the last years of her life that she could achieve the transition to the supramentalized man in a state of deep trance and that it was absolutely necessary to protect her body during this time. But those around her did not respect her demands.

By the ascending way (that of the ancient yogas), it is not possible to make the passage to integral Unity with open eyes, to enter alive into death, for the lower nature is not sufficiently purified.

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