In the introduction to Volume 3 are presented the most advanced stages of the spiritual path for the adventurers of consciousness.
The conditions in which men live upon earth are the result of their state of consciousness. To want to change the conditions without changing the consciousness is a vain chimera.
(Mother’s Agenda Vol. I, Introduction page, 21 May 1912)
To fully understand this web page, it is recommended to follow the progression given in the tab Greek myths interpretation. This progression follows the spiritual journey.
The method to navigate in the site is given in the Home tab.
In the first volume of this study are presented several keys for decoding mythology as well as the general structure of Greek mythology, which includes two main branches:
- That of Pontos, which describes the phase of vital growth of humanity.
- That of Ouranos and his children, the Titans and Titanides, which encompasses the evolution of human consciousness and the forces contributing to it.
Two genealogical branches originating from the Titans are more specifically centred on the directions of evolution:
- That of Iapetus, which describes the ascension of the planes of consciousness in the mind. The theoretical aspects are broached by the children of his son Atlas, the Pleiades, while with the descendance of Prometheus are treated the experiences and challenges that the seeker can find within this development of the mind, considered here in its broadest sense under its dual aspect of separation and organisation on the one hand, and the intuitive on the other. A first branch, following that of Hellen and his son Aeolus, concerns the first phases of yoga, while a second branch, originating from Protogenia, illustrates the most advanced stages of the ‘adventurers of consciousness’.
- The genealogical lineage of Oceanos, which describes through different branches the objectives, obstacles and realisations of the process of purification and liberation in accordance with Nature.
Within the branch of Inachos, ‘the evolution of concentration’ or ‘the evolution of the inner being’, the myth of Perseus and the Labours of Heracles expose the theoretical aspects, while the asceticisms and experiences which lead to detachment, complete individuation, transparency of the being and to the Siddhis (powers) appear in the genealogical branch of Agenor through his children Europa and Cadmus.
The genealogical branch of Asopos, which describes the quest of ‘perfect equality’, presents the most advanced realisation in the process of liberation of Nature with the Aeacidae (the descendants of Aeacus, Achilles, Ajax and Teucer).
Finally, the branch of Peneus indicates numerous errors caused by the spiritual ego once a contact has been established with the psychic.
We have also seen that the gods of Olympus belong to the descendants of Titan Cronos. They are either brothers and sisters of Zeus, or his children by five goddesses belonging to five different lineages of Titans.
In the immediate descendants of Cronos, are the three sisters of Zeus, Hera, Hestia and Demeter, as well as his brothers Poseidon and Hades, the latter not being however a god of Olympus.
The three sons of Cronos divided the world amongst themselves, Zeus reigning over the sky – the supraconscient -, Poseidon over the sea – the subconscient -, and Hades over the underworld – the corporeal inconscient -, while the surface of the earth, the conscient level, remained their shared domain. As the subconscient is in relation with the vital plane and the inconscient with the body, Poseidon dwells in the ocean depths and Hades in the underworld.
Athena, the goddess who watches over the evolution of the inner being and is therefore ‘the master of yoga’ or ‘the inner guide’, was said to be borne by Metis, ‘divine intelligence’, and fathered by Zeus, ‘the supraconscient’.
Hera and Zeus bore Hephaestus and Ares, representing the powers which respectively shape and destroy forms with the creative impulses originating from the plane of the Titans.
Aphrodite guides ‘the love in evolution within man’.
Apollo and Artemis are expressions of the psychic being, respectively representing the force of illumination and that of exactness in action.
Hermes, the last of the gods to arrive on Olympus, is the son of the seventh Pleiad Maia and symbolises the plane of the highest mental Knowledge, the overmind. This is the highest plane still belonging to the world of duality. (In keeping with Sri Aurobindo’s nomenclature, we reserve the word ‘gnosis’ for supramental man rather than for the overmind.)
Finally we touch upon the genealogical lineages of the other three Titans, who, although they play more minor roles in mythology, are no less essential. These are:
- The lineage of Hyperion concerning the supramental plane, and his children Helios, Selene and Eos being respectively symbols of the Light of Truth, the true Self (the divine person beyond the impersonal), and of the eternally New. (See entries from 1 October 1958 and 4 October 1958 in Mother’s Agenda, Volume I.)
- That of Koios and his daughter Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis, which relates to the psychic being.
- That of Crius, which presents the divine aids supporting evolution.
In the second volume, the following were principally examined:
- The theoretical approach to the path of purification and liberation with the twelve Labours of Heracles, whose great-grandfather Perseus had struggled against the essential knot, fear. The first two Labours, that of the Nemean Lion and the Lernaean Hydra, illustrate the first great stage of yoga, the path towards detachment through the liberation from the ego and from desire. Access to the three last Labours, which are carried out in imaginary lands, can only be very vaguely approached by humanity in its current state.
- The first experiences in the ascension of the planes of consciousness:
- The work of the intellect in pulling itself away from illusions, which can only be vanquished when all fear ceases. This process is illustrated by the myth of Bellerophon, the grandson of Sisyphus who vanquished Chimera while riding the horse Pegasus.
- The progressive importance given to intuition and to the witnessing consciousness.
- The path till the first great experience of contact with what is Real, illustrated by the acquisition of the Golden Fleece by Jason and the Argonauts.
- the major risk of shutting oneself into a mental system that can result from it, that is to say the recovery by the mental ego of the spiritual experience (illustrated by the labyrinth built by Daedalus in which the Minotaur was held captive).
Let us remember a character of the lineage of Salmoneus, who is of particularly importance because he is present across all of mythology over the course of more than three generations. This is Nestor, representing the evolution of uprightness (alignment), or of sincerity and integrity.
- The main movements which accompany the work of the ‘inner guide’ or the ‘master of yoga’, embodied by the goddess Athena, one of the most essential of which is the struggle against false directions. These are developed within the lineage of the kings of Athens, and the most famous amongst them is embodied by Theseus, the redresser of the errors of the beginning of the path. He intervenes to put an end to the gravest of these errors in the crossing of the “intermediary zone” by slaying the Minotaur in the labyrinth.
- The first steps on the path of ‘exactness’, beginning with the wedding of Cadmus and Harmonia and their immediate descendance.
Dionysus illustrates a ‘sunlit path’ within this direction of purification and liberation, leading towards divine intoxication or ecstasy. This opposes the path which places effort and suffering in the foreground, considering them to be redemptive. This god is also associated with a path of ecstatic devotion, in which due to the physical proximity of the psychic and emotional centres the vital predominates (the Dionysian path can probably also by likened to true Tantricism, which accepts all obstacles to use them as tools for yoga and embraces the totality of life so as to participate in the joy of the divine game).
In this third volume we will discuss the most advanced stages of yoga, and through the lliad and the Odyssey the furthest limits attained by the initiates of Homer’s time. It is however imaginable that the most ancient civilisations may have attained even greater realisations at an individual level and that certain Greek initiates may have done so unbeknown to us, for we have no knowledge of the contents of The Telegony, the last manuscript of the Trojan cycle. According to the indications given by Sri Aurobindo, this is what is revealed in the Vedas. (See Sri Aurobindo’s The Secret of the Veda.)
Although the whole of mythology seems to have been elaborated in its totality at a single period, it is first and foremost the most advanced experiences which are recounted by poets, namely Homer. Later on other initiates progressively retraced the details of the path, probably constrained by the necessity of developing its bases and assisting less advanced seekers in their progression, or because true knowledge became forgotten through the recurrence of cycles. In fact, this pattern seems to repeat itself almost always at the end of great revelations or transmissions; an avatar, or divine incarnation, gives an impulse to the world that is ahead of its time, and is then made explicit by sages or learned individuals.
To be able to understand the stakes of the Trojan War, a clear understanding of its object and of the nature of the forces at play is necessary. Before beginning an analysis of it, we must complete one of all the genealogical lineages, following the progression of the seeker as closely as possible.
However, following this progression in an absolutely coherent manner would require incessant shifts from one genealogical branch to the other. The reader will therefore sometimes have a legitimate experience of being on a backward progression.
The following elements are broached in the first chapter:
- Within the frame of the process of purification and liberation (Oceanos) in the lineage of Peneus, which concerns the evolution towards ‘equality’, we will discuss the following points: the dangers of losing one’s way due to spiritual ego, as exemplified by Ixion, as well as the struggle to remedy this, illustrated by the war of the Lapiths against the Centaurs.
- In the process of ascension of the planes of consciousness (Iapetus):
- The genealogical lineage of Perieres, which through vital transparency and purification (Aphareus and Leucippus) allows an acquirement of a total vision and an intuitive discernment (Idas et Lynceus). Idas and Lynceus still belong to the realm of duality. The intuitive discernment represented by Lynceus must therefore disappear to cede its place to the ‘vision of Truth’ symbolised by Circe.
- The daughters of Aeolus, who highlight another major error hounding the most advanced seekers: the glorification of the human being.
- The lineage of seekers who ‘walk at the forefront’ (Protogenia), are victorious in the realm of mental silence (Endymion) and work towards realising a perfect sincerity (Thestios) and achieving joy (Oeneus the winemaker). Amongst the descendants of the latter appears the purification of the archaic vital (represented by Meleager and the Calydonian board hunt) and the acquisition of detachment (Deinanira) within an aspiration for non-duality.
At the end of the chapter are examined the last of Theseus’ exploits as well as the myth of Orion.
In the second chapter, the myths of Oedipus and of the Theban Wars outline the advanced processes of purification within the framework of the process of purification and liberation (Oceanos) and the descendance of Cadmus.
In the third chapter, the remaining genealogical lineages are examined, including:
The lineage of Tantalus, which exposes the results of the growth of aspiration in answer to the feeling of need and lack. When fear (Atreus) ceases, a powerful intelligent will in quest of freedom is developed. This aspiration however remains within the frame of a betterment of the old, as indicated by Agamemnon and Menelaus.
On the genealogical diagram number 8 we have depicted the descendance of Tantalus under the Pleiad Sterope solely to indicate that the Trojan War can generally only apply to a seeker who is already seriously settled into the plane of the higher mind with a consequent realisation in the realm of mastery – Hippodamia, the wife of Pelops, is a descendant of Sterope. This branch of aspiration or of the need generated by lack is independent of the mind however. In fact, Tantalus is not generally connected to any genealogical branch, except in later authors who describe him as a son of Zeus and Plouto, who symbolises wealth.
In the process of ascension of the planes of consciousness (Iapetus):
- The royal Trojan lineage originating from the Pleiad Electra, ‘the illumined mind’, representing the movement of the liberated seeker who through a lack of the right consecration carries on in the path of rejection of the external nature.
- Originating from the Pleiad Taygetes, the royal lineage of Sparta exposes the aims and the realisations of a seeker who has reached the stage of the intuitive mind, that of power and gentleness (Castor and Pollux) in view of a greater wisdom and freedom (Clytemnestra and Helen).
- The lineage of Maia, the highest of the Pleiades, marks the access to the overmind through her son Hermes.
- The lineage of Deion, which illustrates the most advanced realisation in the process of ascension, with Ulysses describing that of transparency and his son Telemachus establishing through integration the bases of the yoga of the future.
The heroes of the royal lineage of Arcadia, which addresses the endurance indispensable for the advanced stages of the path, intervene transversally in corresponding myths, for instance in the case of Atalanta, ‘equality’, and Auge, ‘a resplendent light’, who became one of Heracles’ later lovers.
Finally, within the process of purification the lineage of Asopos, which also applies to the most advanced seekers, establishes through a diving into the archaic depths of evolution and a deep purification combined with an attention to the slightest of the movements of consciousness, the essential movement necessary for the great reversal, and announces the yoga of the future through Achilles and his son Neoptolemus.
The last exploits or ‘free acts’ of Heracles concern the first elements of a theoretical approach of the most advanced forms of yoga, and are outlined in Chapter 5 following the description of the Trojan War.
The first chapters of this third volume therefore end the presentation of the ultimate development of the ‘ancient’ paths of yoga, which lead to personal liberation through mastery and progressive equality resulting in the realisations of the sage and the saint, who represent mental and vital liberations. But the latter did not include a transformation of the deeper levels of the vital and the body, which the initiates of ancient times consequently came up against. This led to a belief that a total union with the Supreme was only possible in the planes of the spirit, and therefore to a rejection of the external nature or a tendency not to be concerned with it, either by accepting it as it is, detaching from it, or more often by aiming at the highest possible mastery. But in this last case, it was always a matter of a betterment of present man in view of a constant striving for greater wisdom and virtue, rather than a transformation of his nature. As Sri Aurobindo tell us, “the initiates of ancient times thus satisfied themselves with the experience of the spirit in the mind”, which they accessed through renunciation, the liberation of desire and the ego and access to higher states or Nirvana. (There are states of Nirvana or experiences of self-dissolution on all planes, be it the psychic, the mental or the vital. But there also exists the possibility of attaining a superior principle of Existence (Sat), an impersonal Divine beyond the personal Divine. See entry from 30 October 1962 in Mother’s Agenda, Volume 3.)
However, some initiates were not satisfied by this partial liberation and these paradises of the spirit, refusing an individual liberation which would leave behind the rest of the world to its suffering.
It is therefore the reversal of ancient beliefs and practices, as well as the possibility of rendering human nature divine as a whole, which will be examined in this discussion of the Trojan War. The path of an evolution towards a greater freedom is what is at stake here, and is represented by Helen. The success of the Achaeans, ‘the will and concentration which surmounts all obstacles’, is a confirmation of this possibility. The new yoga which is suggested by this implies a radical reversal for those who have already been liberated in the realm of the spirit. Once this reversal has been carried out and the will to strive for a betterment of man in his current state has been given up (symbolised by the death of Agamemnon), the quest for new paths becomes possible.
These ‘returns’ come to describe accomplishments and then ‘reversals’ which must be carried out in different domains, but only the account of Ulysses’ return has been handed down to us through the Iliad. It illustrates the last stages of vital liberation and the realisation of a harmonious circulation of energies between spirit and matter. Here ‘transparency’ becomes an indispensable requirement for allowing the body to sustain the action of the divine forces in the last stage of yoga, which according to Sri Aurobindo is that of supramental ‘transformation’. In fact Sri Aurobindo describes the need for a triple transformation, one that is psychic, spiritual and finally supramental (See Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine, Chapter 25, The Triple Transformation).
While mastery is more easily attainable from ‘above’ by imposition of will to nature processes, it is however necessary to descend into the memories of evolution to transform those processes and change nature immutable laws, or those we believe to be immutable. In fact, the attainment of wisdom (a purification and the surpassing of the limits of the mind, opinions and preferences which permit its illumination) and of sainthood (a purification and mastery in the vital and a surpassing of all desire, all attachment, all attraction and repulsion) do not in themselves allow a complete transformation of the external self, the deeper vital and the body. Because it is a state in which the body no longer undergoes suffering, but instead becomes the master that is sought after. (See, amongst other sources, the entry from 25 October 1960 in Mother’s Agenda, Volume 1.)
Some of the ancient forms of yoga had as their aim the awakening of Shakti (the manifestation of a power of Consciousness and of supreme Force), rising upwards through the ascent of the Kundalini. When awakened, this force gives a feeling of great power, but when it rises from matter it is always veiled and there is always a risk of it being mixed with the ego.
Instead, if the force of Shakti is received from above it remains pure and can be brought downwards with sufficient care and steadiness so that it does not become darkened by entering the state of matter, and so that it can bring purification as it advances. This is the yogic method recommended by Sri Aurobindo. (See entry from 25 July 1962 in Mother’s Agenda, Volume 3.)
The path must therefore carefully avoid any situation that glorifies the ego, which can only lead to a fall back into animality or demonic powers. Instead, it must through a progressive and humble consecration prepare a conscious unveiling of the Divine in matter.
It could seem that the myths referred to in this volume are only applicable to a few rare seekers, but in fact a study of them can be precious to all seekers irrespective of their level, for the following reasons.
One the one hand, myths often describe processes of which only the last stage is explicitly illustrated. The work on fear, exemplified by the myth of Perseus, is a good example of this. On the other hand, the spiritual path is an approach carried out in recurring spiraling patterns, where the liberation from all limits is first acquired in the spirit (the liberation of superior intelligence from its enslavement to external nature), then in the mind (the liberation from prejudices, opinions, preferences, illusions, etc.) and the vital (the liberation from desire and what is closely associated to it: fear, attraction and repulsion, and the knot of the ego), and finally in the body with a liberation from the laws of nature. These experiences are often similarly ‘coloured’, even though their intensity, and therefore their level of difficulty, increases with their progression.