Telemachus visits Nestor in Pylos (Book III)

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As the day rose, Telemachus’ boat approached Pylos. It was the city of Neleus and his son Nestor. On the shore, black bulls were sacrificed in honour of Azure-haired Poseidon. The Pylians were divided into groups of five hundred, with nine bulls per group.

Athena-Mentor coached Telemachus, who was intimidated, and encouraged him to question Nestor. Pisistratus, his son, welcomed them and placed them between his father and his brother Thrasymedes. When the ritual prayers for Poseidon were over, Telemachus asked Nestor, who had already ruled over three generations, for news of his father.

Nestor first evoked the death of Ajax, that of Achilles and Patroclus, as well as that of his son Antilochos. Then he recounted the convening of the assembly in Troy, the opposing opinions of Agamemnon and Menelaus on the appropriateness of an early departure because of Athena’s wrath, his crossing with Menelaus and Odysseus (Ulysses) to Tenedos, the return of Odysseus (Ulysses) to Troy to appease Agamemnon, his own departure from Tenedos with Diomedes and Menelaus, and finally his arrival in Pylos. He had not heard from Odysseus (Ulysses) since the latter joined Agamemnon.

Finally, he gave the news that came to him later: the return of the Myrmidons under the leadership of Neoptolemus, those of Philoctetes and Idomeneus, that of Agamemnon killed by Aegisthus on his return, the reign of Aegisthus for seven years and his death perpetrated by Orestes on the eight, coinciding exactly with the return of Menelaus from Egypt. 

Deploring the conspiracies of the suitors, he recalled how Athena had watched over Odysseus (Ulysses) and advised Telemachus to go to Menelaus, the last to return “from a world where there was little hope of returning once the winds have brought you there, a country so far in the sea that one did not know of any bird making the journey again in the same year.” In case Telemachus preferred the land route to the sea route, he proposed a chariot led by one of his sons. Then, as evening fell, he invited his guests to sleep under his roof. Mentor-Athena declined the offer for herself and then disappeared, turning into a gier-eagle to the astonishment of all. Nestor realized then that it was Athena who was helping Telemachus and told him so. He promised to sacrifice in honour of the goddess a one-year-old untamed cow with gold-plated horns. He asked Athena for a good fame for himself, his wife and children, which the goddess granted.

Everyone went asleep. Pisistratus, the last of Nestor’s unmarried sons, remained with Telemachus.

At dawn, Nestor sat on the seat where his father once gave advices that matched him to the gods. He was surrounded by his sons Echephron, Stratios, Perseus, Aretus, Trasymedes and Pisistratus. Telemachus sat down with them.

Nestor ordered then the promised sacrifice to be prepared and called the sailors from Telemachus’ boat. While his sons were busy, Athena came to enjoy the sacrifice. Thrasymedes struck the beast with his axe under the clamour of the daughters, daughters-in-law and Nestor’s wife, the old Queen Eurydice.

Telemachus, whom the pretty Polycaste, daughter of Nestor, had bathed and rubbed with oil, came back to share the feast.

Then, after they feasted, Nestor ordered his sons to prepare the chariot for Telemachus’ departure.

Telemachus’ journey began, accompanied by Pisistratus who had taken the reins. They stopped for the night in Pheres, where Diocles, son of Orsilochus and grandson of Alpheus, offered them hospitality.

Pylos “the door” is the symbol of the remarkable gateways of yoga. The first was the conscious entry into the personal yoga, when Neleus “evolution towards liberation”, Nestor’s father, founded the city of Pylos. We met this character, son of Tyro and Poseidon, in the study devoted to the first five sons of Aeolus. In the early days of yoga, he represented a powerful movement of evolution from the subconscious. It was to give rise to the emergence of a work of “rectitude” or “integrity” or “sincerity” (Nestor), one of the fundamental pillars of yoga that is always needed. This explains the very long life of Nestor who reigned over more than three generations.

Nestor’s wife, the aim of this sincerity, is logically Eurydice “the right way of acting” or “the right act”.

The spiritual power that has worked from the subconscious is honoured for its help throughout this phase, which has successfully brought the personal yoga up to the overmind (Blue-haired Poseidon). For in the yoga of the body, the shocks will no longer come from Poseidon but from Hades, no longer from the subconscious but from the unconscious.

The groups of five hundred Pylians symbolize the perfection necessary, in the world of forms, to pass the door of liberation in spirit and the end of personal yoga; the nine bulls per group symbolize the gestation time of this realization.

It is interesting to note that Homer did not situated this “gate” at the time of the great yoga reversal, the victory of the Achaeans in the Trojan War which is only the halfway point, but a phase of symbolic fulfilment later (ten years). This explains why Halitherses was able to predict the return of Odysseus (Ulysses) twenty years earlier, return which marks a second reversal (see the previous Book).

The struggles of the future, which present themselves before the pacified being, are consequences of both an extreme “sincerity” (which will be developed even in the body) and “a bold project”, i.e. great courage and acceptance of a very difficult yoga (Telemachus is placed by Pisistratus between Nestor and Trasymedes).

The seeker, in all sincerity, proceeds then to a recapitulation of the main movements of yoga which have developed since the first great reversal. We looked at them at the beginning of this chapter. It is necessary to recall the concomitant of these movements which must be carried out before the passage of this second gate, but also underline the amazing simultaneousness of their convergence towards this passage.

Homer takes the opportunity to stress the danger for the adventurers of consciousness to be misled during the investigation of the memories of humanity in the depth of the vital. It should be remembered that Menelaus had to interrogate Proteus “the first appeared”, “the old man of the sea”, and return “to the waters of the Aegyptus River”. It is therefore a question for the adventurer to relate his experiences in the depths of the human vital with the future yoga, how the former must warn the adventurer about the difficulties of the future yoga: Nestor incites Telemachus to meet Menelaus, the last having returned “from a world where one has little hope of ever coming back once the winds have got you lost”.

One can understand the second sentence “so far into the sea that we do not know of birds that made the journey back in the same year” as the extreme difficulty of being able to continue his quest in the same incarnation.

The inner master shows then so very clearly his support for the new yoga, that by his sincerity, the seeker decides to thank him for the “illuminations” of which he was the source and that have not been distorted by the mind; he also asks that “rectitude” or “sincerity” and all that follows from it be recognized as an essential part of the path, which is confirmed to him (Nestor understood that Athena supported Telemachus and promised to sacrifice to the goddess an untamed one-year-old cow with gold-plated horns, asking a good fate for himself, his wife and children. The goddess granted it.)

At this stage one must understand “sincerity” in the sense Mother used this word in the talks: “Sincerity is to bring all the elements of being, all movements (whether external movements or inner movements), all parts of being have an equal will to belong to the Divine, to live only for the Divine, to want only what the Divine wants, to express only the Divine Will, to have no other source of energy than that of the Divine. When you are absolutely sincere, you are in a constant effort to live in harmony with the highest ideal of your being.” (Cf. Questions and Answers 1950/51, December 30, 1950).

Or: “To be perfectly sincere, it is essential to have no preference, no desire, no attraction, no disgust, no sympathy or antipathy, no attachment, no repulsion. (…) As long as there are things that you like and things that you don’t like, as long as you have an attraction to some things and a revulsion for others, you can’t see things in their reality;” (Questions and Answers 1956, December 19, 1956).

Nestor’s sons “work towards exactness, sincerity” express “what increases wisdom” (Echephron), “what directs the yoga” (Stratios) “who presides over armies,” “what transforms” (Perseus), “what leads to liberation in the mind” (Aretus), “what builds courage for the yoga” (Thrasymedes) and “what brings peace” (Pisistratus).

The beginnings of the new yoga are then associated with the elements of truth derived from the work of sincerity done until then (Telemachus is bathed and rubbed with oil by the pretty Polycaste “many purifications”).

Then the seeker sets out in this new yoga, which requires a deep state of “peace” (Telemachus left, accompanied by Pisistratus “the soothed struggle” who took the reins).

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