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Before dying falsehood rises in full swing. Still people
understand only the lesson of catastrophe.
Will it have to come before they open their eyes to the truth?
I ask an effort from all so that it has not to be.
It is only the Truth that can save us : truth in words, truth in action,
truth in will, truth in feelings. It is a choice
between serving the Truth or being destroyed.
Message from the Mother on the 26th of November, 1972.
(Mother’s Agenda, Volume 13)
It is to be regretted that the last work of the Epic cycle, the Telegony, signifying ‘that which is to be born in the future’, has not survived. Said to have been composed by Eugammon of Cyrene in the mid-sixth-century BCE, this last part has only been preserved in very succinct summaries written by Proclus and Apollodorus. But the Knowledge of evolution never disappears, for it is recorded in the subtle planes and perhaps even in corporeal matter, which, at a certain level, forms a part of unity. Science is only just beginning to glimpse this truth.
The fact that this Knowledge has not remained as easily ‘accessible’ throughout all periods is probably due to the alternation of the forces of union and separation, which seems to be translated by the oscillation of consciousness from one side of the brain to the other. Over the last thirteen thousand years, we have descended more and more deeply into the process required for individuation to occur, also progressively losing our ease of access to Reality, Truth, the Tao, etc., whichever be the name we give to that which is Unthinkable. Knowledge has retreated into the background, where it is more difficult to reach it.
The end of Hesiod’s Theogony mentions the children of Odysseus (Ulysses) and Circe: Latinus, Agrius and Telegonus, ‘who ruled in the depths of the divine islands over the Tyrrhenians’. It also alludes to Nausithous and Nausinous, children mothered by Calypso.
No clue has reached us which could explain the meanings of the names Latinus and Agrios, sons of Circe, nor their royal standing in the Tyrrhenian islands. From their genealogical lineage, we can only surmise that they point to a perfecting of the ‘discerning vision of Truth’ which must accompany the work of Telegonus, ‘that which is to be born in the future’.
Regarding the prefix τηλε, it must be remembered that for the sake of general coherence, we have given prevalence to a sense of temporal distancing for Telemachus, although he most often represents a spatial distancing. The name Telemachus can therefore be understood as ‘he who stands away from combat’, which is to say one who has come away from duality, and who works through integration rather than through exclusion. It can also be understood as one ‘who carries out the work of yoga by widening his consciousness’ in matter, for he was Penelope’s son. Similarly, the name Telegonus can be interpreted as signifying ‘that which will appear most broadly’ within the spirit, for he was Circe’s son.
We have but little comparable information on Nausithous and Nausinous, the sons of Calypso. They represent the results of a lengthy period of integration which takes place before the entry into the new yoga: ‘an extremely swift evolution’, repeatedly underlined by the Mother, as well as an ‘intelligence of the path’. If we adopt the order of genealogical descendants given by Apollonius, which identifies Calypso as a daughter of Atlas, it would be a question of a work of perfecting the mental in the ascension of the planes of consciousness.
According to the summary which has reached our hands, the Telegony begins with the massacre of Penelope’s suitors, from the moment in which The Odyssey concluded:
The bodies of the dead suitors were burnt. Odysseus (Ulysses) offered sacrifices to the nymphs and then journeyed to Elis, where he visited Polyxenus. The latter gifted him a crater, upon which were told the histories of Trophonios, Agamedes and Augeas.
He then travelled to the province of Thesprotia and married queen Callidice, who bore him a son by the name of Polypoetes. He fought alongside the Thesprotes (or else led them as their king) in a war against their neighbours, who had mounted an attack against them. Ares forced Odysseus (Ulysses)’ men to retreat. Athena then rose in opposition to her brother, but Apollo intervened to reinstitute peace. When Callidice died, Polypoetes inherited the throne, and Odysseus (Ulysses) returned to Ithaca.
During this time, Circe was raising her and Odysseus (Ulysses)’ son Telegonus on her own on the island of Aeaea. Following the counsel of the goddess Athena, Circe revealed to Telegonus his father’s name so that he could go in search of him. She gave him an extraordinary spear with a poisoned ray’s sting at its end, and which was crafted by Hephaestus.
Telegonus set out accompanied by a group of sailors, but a storm buffeted them to the shores of an island, which unbeknownst to them was Ithaca. They turned to pillage to collect enough food, stealing from livestock which belonged to Odysseus (Ulysses). Odysseus (Ulysses) then intervened to defend his property, and an armed conflict ensued. Telegonus wounded him fatally with his spear, thus carrying out Tiresias’ prophecy, which had foretold that Odysseus (Ulysses)’ death would come to him from the sea. As he lay dying, Odysseus (Ulysses) recognised his son Telegonus. After lamenting his error, the latter carried his father’s body to the Island of Aeaea, accompanied by Penelope and Telemachus. Circe then burned the corpse and made the others immortal.
Telegonus then wed Penelope, and Telemachus entered into a union with Circe.
At the beginning of this new stage directed towards an integral union that goes beyond personal yoga, the seeker opens himself to multiple possibilities (Odysseus (Ulysses) meets Polyxenus, ‘he who experiences a great number of strange things’, in Elis, province of Olympia, the symbolic city of seekers who have accomplished the personal yoga and have reached the overmind).
Then, a warning is given by the anecdote of the two famous architects Trophonios, ‘he who nourishes the evolution of consciousness’, and Agamedes, ‘he who has a strong intention’, who had stolen from the property of King Augeas, ‘a dazzling light’. (Polyxenus gifted a crater to Odysseus (Ulysses), upon which were told the histories of Trophonios, Agamedes and Augeas). This myth has been discussed earlier on in Chapter 2, in a variation of the anecdote in which the king was named Hyrieus, and in which the two architects had surreptitiously pilfered from the king’s treasures before being found out and killed.
Here, it is a question of the temptation suffered by those who have a great capacity for organising Knowledge – a capacity originating from the work of yoga, for they were sons of Erginos – and who make use of it for their own gain, that is to say at this stage, for the aim which they consider to be the best, who make use of the ‘lights of truth’ received from the psychic being or the Absolute. The work of yoga must in fact no longer be led by the adventurer, even if it concerns the highest Knowledge or liberation, but by and for the Divine alone.
The seeker then sets as his aim a deepened work of exactness and accuracy, which continues psychic transformation (Odysseus (Ulysses) wed queen Callidice, ‘the beautiful and truthful manner of acting’). It is a yoga which closely follows ‘the inner intuitions originating from the greatest heights of the spirit’ (the union takes place in Thesprotia, the region in which ‘that which speaks according to the gods is brought to the forefront’). The fruit of this union is Polypoetes, whose name appears to signify ‘one who makes numerous realisations or creations on the plane of the spirit’ (Callidice bore Odysseus (Ulysses)’ son Polypoetes).
Then, the seeker enters into an inner conflict, a pretext for repositioning the higher forms of aid which had accompanied the yogic process till this point (Odysseus (Ulysses) had led the Thesprotes in a war against their neighbours who had attacked them, and the gods became involved in the conflict).
While the spiritual power acting through the renewal of forms strives to maintain itself, it comes up against the opposition of the master of yoga, before the psychic light finally establishes peace (after Ares had forced Odysseus (Ulysses)’ troops to retreat, Athena rose up against him, but Apollo appeased their quarrel). Thus begins to be realised Hera’s premonition that the children of Leto would rise to be greater gods than her own children. In the new yoga, there would in fact no longer be the need for the destruction of forms for this evolutionary progress to be accomplished.
When the right action is acquired, the creative capacities already present in the right action become fully ‘inspired’ (when Callidice dies, Polypoetes becomes the king of the Thesprotes).
At the same time, ‘the discerning vision of Truth’ originating from the supramental light consolidates the foundations of the future discernment in every detail, without the seeker being able to link it with the work of transparency which has generated it (Helios’ daughter Circe raised on her own her son Telegonus, ‘what will be born faraway or in the far future’). This takes place in a small and isolated region of consciousness, the first to be completely ‘clarified’ (on the island of Aeaea). While Telemachus represents that which will develops in the future as a consequence of the work of transparency oriented towards ‘the global vision of a greater freedom’ or ‘the vision of the framework’ in the intuitive mind – for he is a son of Odysseus (Ulysses) and Penelope, a descendant of Taygete -, Telegonus represents that which will appear in the future as a consequence of the work of ‘transparency’ carried out with the aim of ‘the discerning truthful vision in all its details’ – for he is the son of Odysseus (Ulysses) and Circe.
Once this ‘truthful vision in all details’ has been sufficiently developed, it must recognise the work of transparency which has produced it (following Athena’s counsel, Circe disclosed to Telegonus his father’s name so that he could go in search of him).
The adventurer acknowledges that the work of transparency is accomplished when he recognises as a continuation of this work the first emergence of a new yoga which has forced him to halt, and which is confirmed by his vision of Truth (Odysseus (Ulysses) was fatally wounded by Telegonus before being able to recognise him, and his remains were set fire to by Circe).
Transparency having been realised, which is to say the end of psychic and spiritual transformations, supramental transformation can begin in the body. What has been realised in discerning truthful vision must henceforth strive for a widened vision (Circe’s son Telegonus wed Penelope), while that which was realised in the widened evolutionary vision must henceforth strive for a perception of details in truth (Penelope’s son Telemachus entered into a union with Circe).
These crossed unions, with the son of one union marrying his father’s other wife (or partner), express the need for perfect transparency to allow the free circulation of divine energies in the body. The divine Force (Shakti) must be able to work freely within the body, either from above or from below according to the needs of transformation and the resistances faced.
The protagonists finally access non-duality (Circe grants immortality to Telemachus, Telegonus and Penelope).
This last work of the cycle, therefore, introduces the most advanced phases of yoga. Although we lack a sufficient number of elements from ancient Greece to deepen an understanding of these phases, we may perhaps find more material within the Mahabharata and the Vedas, and even within the texts of ancient Egypt engraved in stone.
For while Victor Hugo wrote about Homer in his work William Shakespeare (first part, Book II, Geniuses), that ‘the world is born, Homer sings. He is the morning bird of this dawn’, we can now inversely understand that Homer was the last light of a world which was being plunged into darkness.
In The Iliad and The Odyssey, Homer therefore particularly insists on two advanced stages of yoga, which are translated by reversals in consciousness.
He first affirms that the truth of evolution must be sought in complete acceptance of incarnation in which spirit and matter are united, rather than in a path which demands the renunciation of the world and aims at liberation alone in some removed paradise of the spirit, on earth or in death. This is the first great reversal indicated in The Iliad by the Trojan War.
He then specifies that wisdom, sainthood or genius are not the highest pinnacles of humankind. The adventurer of consciousness must go beyond these to carry on with evolution. If man must grow within the mental, he must then exceed it, not only through a deepened purification of the heights of intelligence but also through the purification of the roots of evolution. This is the second turning point described in detail in The Odyssey.
A ‘perfect transparency’ must be achieved from the top to the bottom – Odysseus (Ulysses), originating from the overmind through his mother, works through the intuitive mind, incarnated by Penelope – to allow the action of divine forces for the transformation of man into a divine Man, within whom spirit and matter are one, upon this Earth and not in some paradise of the spirit after death.
Through Odysseus (Ulysses)’ numerous adventures in Egypt, Homer suggests that this vision of evolution was already present amongst the initiates of ancient Egypt, a vision which probably also echoed that of the Rishis of the Vedic periods, which Sri Aurobindo refers to as ‘the ages of Intuition’.
What then can be understood about these paths, which, in our days, must hold a privileged place to accompany evolution, if it is true that man must henceforth consciously participate in the evolutionary process?
Homer does not seek to cancel out the ancient paths of yoga, even though the seeker sometimes seems to cross periods of doubt, such as when Achilles defiles Hector’s body. For the path implies accomplishments which must then be exceeded to reach the next stage. We cannot, in fact, annul reason as long as illusion remains unvanquished (Chimaera), abolish an ego (the Nemean lion) which has not yet been properly built up, or vanquish desires (the Lernaean Hydra) which maintain their hold even more strongly when they are constrained or repressed, or renounce effort if we have not yet allowed it to bear fruitfully (Sisyphus).
Homer, therefore, bases himself on the general structure of the ancient paths of yoga to propose a higher synthesis. He insists on the necessity of rendering the mind spiritual, which implies both its purification and the ascension of the different planes till the overmind to achieve perfect individuation followed by a clarity ‘above‘ (liberation in the Spirit). But he also insists on the purification of the lower nature and the liberation of the ways of nature to obtain transparency ‘below‘ (the liberation of Nature). Through different means, he indicates that progression on the two paths must be undertaken in a parallel manner.
Without developing them further, he integrates the theoretical foundations, experiences and errors articulated by other thinkers, such as the struggles against illusion, fear, desire and the ego, and the numerous traps in which the mental is likely to fall (for instance, the errors corrected by Theseus, the lack of consecration of Minos, the perjuries of Laomedon or the errors illustrated by the suitors and their servants, etc.). He underlines the fact that ‘adversity’ is most often induced by the subconscious (Poseidon, ‘the earth-shaker’). The latter strives for the same goal as the spiritual forces which appear to us to be favourable, suggesting that the presence of obstacles is the best means for progress.
Therefore, he does not propose a specific path, but rather a map of the territory over which each seeker must mark out his or her own path to actively participate in the process of evolution.
Almost three thousand years later, Sri Aurobindo proposed, in the words of today and integrating the experience of past millennia, a ‘map’ similar to the one bequeathed to us by Homer.
We do not have the pretension of summarising this here in the space of a few lines, but only wish to prompt the reader to turn his attention towards this prodigious work.
Taking up what Homer left off, he defines in great detail the widening movement of the mental through the ascension of the planes of consciousness, and the process of liberation in the spirit and in nature.
He also gives primary importance to the contact with the inner Divine, which is at first manifested by a quest for beauty, harmony and greater knowledge. This contact allows for the purification and orientation of the external nature, ‘bringing right vision into the mind, right impulse and feeling into the vital, right movement and habit into the physical — all turned towards the Divine, all based on love, adoration, bhakti‘, to obtain ‘the realisation of the psychic being’, or the submission of the external nature to the soul (Letters on Yoga Vol. III, Chapter Five ‘The Psychic and Spiritual Transformations, Psychicisation and Spiritualisation’, p. 2337). This ‘psychicisation’ leads not only to exactness but also calls for an opening towards the heights and a union with the Divine in the spirit, followed by the descent of a higher spiritual principle once this channel has been cleared.
Sri Aurobindo recommends that the path which aims chiefly at the ascent of the Kundalini be avoided, for it carries great risks as long as the ego remains present. He also recommends that the intellect be rendered more supple, clear and disciplined till a purified intuition can take over.
Following the detailed description of the different paths of yoga, he encourages each person to follow the one which corresponds to his or her nature, and for those who are more intensely engaged, to progress on all sides at once through an integral yoga applied to the being as a whole, without lingering for too long on any specific method. Like Homer, he does not grant a privileged place to any specific form or process, leaving to each one the responsibility of finding his or her way of yoga, for ‘religion and yoga are not situated on the same plane of the being, and the spiritual life can exist in its purity only if it is free from all mental dogma’ (Mother’s Agenda, Volume 1, 29th April 1961). As his yoga excludes retreat from the world, renouncement is not necessary, but detachment remains indispensable:
‘There are many things belonging to older systems that are necessary on the way – an opening of the mind to a greater wideness and the sense of the Self and the Infinite, an emergence into what has been called the cosmic consciousness, mastery over the desires and passions; an outward asceticism is not essential, but the conquest of desire and attachment and a control over the body and its needs, greeds and instincts are indispensable. There is a combination of the principles of the old systems, the way of knowledge through the mind’s discernment between Reality and the appearance, the heart’s way of devotion, love and surrender and the way of works turning the will away from motives of self-interest to the Truth and the service of a greater Reality than the ego.’ (Sri Aurobindo himself wrote The Teaching of Sri Aurobindo in 1934, as part of a booklet entitled The Teaching and the Ashram of Sri Aurobindo, reprinted as Sri Aurobindo and His Ashram, first edition in 1948 by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry).
His yoga essentially rests upon an aspiration – reflecting both the need for ‘something different’ and a will for transformation – as well as upon sincerity and ‘surrender’, a term which refers to notions of consecration, letting go, submission to the Absolute and self-giving.
He reveals the later phases of yoga situated beyond those described in the Telegony: in the first place, the end of the spiritual transformation, which is ‘the established descent of the peace, light, knowledge, power, bliss from above, the awareness of the Self and the Divine and a higher cosmic consciousness and the change of the whole consciousness to that’, and then the supramental transformation which is the divinisation of the whole nature (Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, Vol. 3 Part Four, ‘The Triple Transformation: Psychic – Spiritual – Supramental’, p. 2337).
The evolutionary process as a whole is illustrated within his poem Savitri.
Finally, he sketches characteristics of supramental Man for centuries or even thousands of years to come, as well as the conditions for the establishment of the first communities of beings who will have reached this degree of evolution.
But humankind cannot directly access the stage of supramentalised Man, which, by definition, no longer undergoes the processes of ordinary Nature such as birth and death. Therefore, the first step is that of realising an intermediary being, which the Mother refers to as the Superman (See Mother’s Agenda, Volume II, 18th July 1961)
which must in no way be confused with Nietzsche’s superman. It is no longer a question of a bettered man, more saintly, wise, or gifted with great genius, but of a being who through evolution and transformation will succeed in manifesting supramental consciousness and powers.
It is this passage which has been described in the thirteen volumes of Mother’s Agenda. It begins by stating the need for the renouncement of the serenity of total detachment and the attitude of authority conferred by a complete union with the Divine, obtained from the inner vision of truth. For, as explained by the Mother, ‘I have renounced the uncontested authority of a god, I have renounced the unshakable calm of the sage, to become the superman. I have concentrated everything upon that (…) absolute calm implies withdrawal from action, so a choice had to be made between one or the other (…) And actually, to do Sri Aurobindo’s work is to realize the Supramental on earth’. (See Mother’s Agenda, Volume I, 10th May 1958)
Having been Mother’s confidant for a great number of years and being familiar with Sri Aurobindo’s works, Satprem attempted to impart the first keys for this transition in his work On the Way to Supermanhood.
Having given up the wish to change the world before having changed himself, and having chosen the path of the world rather than an escape into the kingdoms of the spirit, the seeker will first acquire the ability of retreating within, of ‘taking a step back’ to position himself within a silent clearing where the habitual mechanisms no longer have a hold, and thus of being able to ‘disidentify’ himself. This disidentification is practised on numerous paths and through a variety of methods.
The seeker will then be able to attentively observe the most minute occurrences and vibrations without automatically having to ‘rectify’ them, which is to say without instantly covering them up with the filter of his hopes, desires, preferences, morality, beliefs, attractions or repulsions, and habits. He will then progressively become able to perceive ‘the law of the rhythm’, which is that of exactness, and will access a new understanding through the most minute details of daily life.
Satprem also notes, in a few brief expressions, certain keys which complete or explain the work of transparency represented by Odysseus (Ulysses), and on which he too particularly insists:
- ‘Everything contribute to the right direction’: there are no obstacles, negligible or negative things or contrary circumstances, but only unconsciousness.
- ‘Look at the Truth that is everywhere present’: coexisting with its distortion. There is a true vibration present in each thing.
- ‘From inner towards external’: the seeker learns to see that all inner disturbance provokes a disturbance in matter and that inversely, matter responds to inner truth with harmony.
- ‘Each second completely and clearly’: the seeker must nourish his inner fire, his intensity of presence at each instant, and his transparency.
Following Sri Aurobindo, who expresses that the way is a path of ascension followed by integration in the depths to bring about the descent of a light attained in the heights, Satprem explains that this is a path of descent which constantly demands ‘clarification’, of a very humble functioning distant from the great illuminations and revelations of the path of ascension. For, he tells us, we have been falsely led by the tradition of the visionary, by the partial truths gained by our efforts, our virtues and our meditations, which imprison us more surely than does anything else (see Satprem’s On the Way to Supermanhood). It is through our blind groping, stumbling and errors that we progress.
He insists upon the fact that there are no useless or unimportant occurrences, incidents or encounters, similarly as does the Mother, who affirms that what we consider to be negligible is often of greater importance than so-called great events.
The further the seeker advances, the more he becomes conscious of a ‘response’ in daily events and of an Aid which has never done him wrong and knows where he is headed.
His need for truth increases in proportion to his feeling of being stifled. In Satprem’s words, ‘The fire is formed by the particles of consciousness we put into unconsciousness‘ (Satprem, On the way to Supermanhood, Ch. XIV ‘The victory over death’), till the seeker enters into a marvelling at precision, everywhere and in each second, and gets in touch with the Harmony of the new state through the aid of the power of Truth which presses upon the world.
Over the thousands of years spanning from Homer to Sri Aurobindo, we can behold with wonder that the same vision of evolution has been followed from one age to another. The accomplishments presented in this mythological system can undoubtedly seem so distant that discouragement can take a hold of us even before we set out upon the path. But, children would never begin walking if their aspiration for growth did not outweigh all else. Likewise, let us refuse any half-heartedness, and allow this need to carry us forward and kindle the inner fire within us. We have the great privilege of being aware of the direction of our evolution, of having access to the keys to it and of knowing what awaits us on this path. The length of the road to be travelled is therefore of little importance when we are accompanied by the words of these visionaries, based upon their experience and promising us a world of joy.
Although at times Earth can seem to have been abandoned by the gods, and man given up to his demons and governed by inconscience and falsehood, we must never forget that obstacles are also acts of grace, and must work in truth and for Truth, trusting in Sri Aurobindo’s words in The Hour of God:
‘Nor let worldly prudence whisper too closely in thy ear; for it is the hour of the unexpected, the incalculable, the immeasurable’.