The Land of the Laestrigones (Laestrigonians) or the Illusion of Nirvanas (Book X)

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On the seventh day, they approached the land of the Laestrigones (Laestrigonians), the high village of Lamos, the high Telepyle. There, when one shepherd came home, another came out, and they greeted each other. A man who would not sleep would earn double wages, one by grazing the oxen, the other by leading the white sheep, “for the paths of the day rub shoulders with those of the night.”

A steep, circular cliff surrounded the port, and at its entrance, the steep shores met, leaving only a narrow opening between them. The fleet entered and anchored inside the port, but the hero’s ship remained outside. In this port, there was never the slightest swell, nor the slightest wrinkle, but a white calm.

Odysseus (Ulysses) climbed a rocky mount from which no trace of oxen or men’s work was visible. Then he sent two companions and a herald in reconnaissance. They first saw a Giant, the daughter of King Antiphates, who came to draw water from the Fountain Artakia (Source of the Bear). Then, on her instructions, they went to the royal mansion and were terrified by her mother who was tall as a mountain. She called her husband, all set to kill them, and made one of them his dinner. As the two survivors fled, Antiphates mobilized his people of giants. Thousands of them threw rocks at the boats of Odysseus (Ulysses), destroying the fleet and killing the crews they harpooned and took away for their feast.

Then Odysseus (Ulysses) cut the ropes holding his boat outside the harbour and managed to escape.

We have already encountered a similar story in the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece narrated by Apollonius of Rhodes. It was about the novice seeker who had been misled by illusions from the subconscious he had made his own (the Argonauts became friends with the “deceitful” Doliones, the children of Poseidon). However, he had managed to overcome what was holding him prisoner, before coming to grips with the “illusions” without having done any conscious work in this direction (they had killed the aggressive giants of the Mount of Bears, and then a number of Doliones they had not recognized in the dark night). The story shew that the path is also made of mistakes, even in spite of the seeker.

Here, it would be an even greater illusion, that of the white paradises of the Spirit, the empty and motionless Nirvanas of the impersonal where nothing happens. Not illusion as a false realization but illusion in the belief that this state is the ultimate realization. This achievement was the goal of the ancient yogas, so it has been supported over time by mental and spiritual justifications that have erected impassable walls around it.

But why then creation if the only realisation is to get out of it!

This accomplishment is described here as a death trap for the yoga of the seeker from which the latter has no chance of escaping if he fully commits to it.

Lamos seems to be the name of a son of Poseidon and would therefore refer to a subconscious structure (the city) linked to a certain realisation. But it is also a realisation of the highest mind, “a door at the end,” or “a door marking an accomplishment,” Telepyle.

The Laestrigones (Laestrigonians) country seems to indicate “a false or distorted harvest” (λαις+τρυγαω).

The description of the shepherds that follows seems to indicate a realisation close to the origin of duality where the seeker realizes that the paths of good as well as those of evil have an identical function.

There, when one shepherd came home, another one came out, and they greeted each other. A man who sleeps would earn double wages, one by grazing the oxen, the other by leading the white sheep, “for the paths of the day rub shoulders with those of the night.”

There are several references of Savitri that echo this proximity.

In ‘The Kingdoms and Godheads of Greater Life’ (Book Two, Book Six), are described the beings of the greater life, our brighter doubles:

“For Heaven or Hell, they must fight:

Warriors of good, they serve a prominent cause,

Or form the army of evil paid by Sin.

For evil and good perform equal functions

Wherever Knowledge is the twin of Ignorance”.

But it is above all the Book Six of Book Seven, Nirvana and the Discovery of the Absolute that denies everything, that can be compared to this passage of the Odyssey.

“The bearer of the day must walk in the darkest night.”

And further on:

“This world is a vast totality in one piece,

Deep solidarity joins his opposing powers;

The peaks of God look back at the silent Abyss.

Thus man who evolves to the most divine heights

Debate again with the animal and the Djinn;

The human deity with stargazing eyes

Still cohabiting with the beast of origins.

The top joins the bottom, everything is on the same plane”.

This is also expressed in the Rig Veda “Night and Day both breastfeed the Divine Child.”

The location of the city has all the characteristics of a trap. The entrance to the harbour is through a narrow opening between steep shores and the harbour itself is surrounded by a steep and circular cliff. Once the narrow exit is blocked, it is impossible to escape.

It is a certain caution, probably an inner warning demonstrating skill in divine works that warns the seeker to keep a certain distance, not to fully identify with this experience, even if he commits almost all of his yoga practices to it (The fleet entered and anchored inside the harbour, but the hero’s boat remained outside). It is as a detached observer that the seeker observes the experiment (Odysseus (Ulysses) climbed a rocky hill).

The waters of the port were perfectly immobile (In this port, never the slightest swell, nor the slightest ripple) because Nirvana, according to Sri Aurobindo’s description in Savitri, is a place where “Neither notions nor concepts could take shape, the perceiving was not there to structure the outline of things, (…) no thought arose. Emotion was asleep (…), all feelings set at rest, calm or dead. (…) Nothing inside was responding to outside contact. There was no strong initiating will.”

Therefore, in this realization, there is no longer a will for progress, no more the feeling or the need for yoga (no trace of oxen or men’s work was visible).

The yogas that made this possible have been consolidated for millennia and appear as Giants. The first realisation contacted came from something “that is inexpressible”, the daughter of King Antiphatès.

The translation of “Artakia source” into the Source of the Bear results from the insertion of the letter T – origin – in the word bear αρκος arkos. It would therefore means “The source of the Force”.

This realization is totally opposed to any quest for a transformation of matter, for Death proclaims at the beginning of the same Savitri Book, “For the empty Eternal can only be true”.

When the seeker manages to extract himself from this state, many of his practices and supports were questioned (Thousand Giants threw rocks at Odysseus (Ulysses)’ boats, destroying the fleet and killing the crews they harpooned and took away for their feast).

Then Odysseus (Ulysses) sharply cut the ropes that held his boat outside the port and managed to escape.

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