Down, down, down you must go to the bottom of the sea. And down further still into the underworld of Persephone.
To understand mankind, man the tiller of the soul and the soil, one must understand who Persephone is.
The Ancient Greeks gave us Western Civilization but they in turn create Christianity and alongside those cultures you have Islam and you have Judaism. It was the Germans who ended the British and the Roman Empires and the British who did the same for Napoleon. From the ashes of that world the bastard child of the British and the French cultures, America was born. And from her soils sprouts Lincoln who says:
“Rightness is provided with the instruments of safety by the heavens.”
Lincoln inspired me hugely. I went to his memorial when I was 14 in Middle School. This giant among men of whom Tolstoy wrote:
“He was one who wanted to be great through his smallness. If he had failed to become President he would be, no doubt, just as great as he is now, but only God could appreciate it. The judgment of the world is usually wrong in the beginning, and it takes centuries to correct it.”
Sometimes a grave error can take milenia to correct. Sometimes a secret is buried so deep we cannot see it, even when it is hiding in plain sight.
It takes enormous love and courage and wisdom, tremendous guts to look someone like Lincoln in the eye. And not turn away your gaze. If you look at photos of his face during the American Civil War one of the bloodiest wars in all of time, you can see the pain in those eyes. The anguish.
He once wrote that to a real President there are other forces whispering in the ears of such a man. He may not get elected to the Presidency but he is the President.
America got lucky when Lincoln came along, they elected him President, the man destined for the office was bestowed it. It was, if you will, a fluke of history, often such men are passed over because bureaucracy and petty minds blinded by nationalism and fear and insecurity are deaf to the winds that blow in from the sea. The winds that are driven by forces in the depths that few understand or welcome.
I wondered where I might write my words. I tried to run from Facebook. But then I saw into it. In the callous cold self-serving sidewalk of our insane modernity a crack will appear. And in that crack a new seed will sprout and that seed will birth a mighty tree.
False modesty will not blind it. The unbound emerges from the cracked stone of a multi-thousand year deception. The seed grows. And the tree blossoms and it’s beauty and radiance will not be lost from the world. Not this time. Not on my watch. I have cared for that seed too long now to waste it. The world has hurt itself needlessly long enough. This seed answers a prayer that has been longed for now for eons.
You know I have seen a great deal of this planet. It’s deserts and mountain ranges, it’s mysterious forests, it’s wild oceans, it’s quiet depths.
One of the most profound secrets, and the most destructive, when overlooked, is that the secret to incredible speed, is absolute stillness.
If you wish to move very fast, if you wish to rise above enmity, above history, to tower above it all like Lincoln, you must become very small.
Not the smallness of a man who doesn’t recognize his value, who is self-loathing and pained. Not the smallness of a brilliant man who tried to be clever and self-satisfied, who escapes the world in the ivory tower of his cynicism, who fails to lasso his heart rope around the heart of the world. But the smallness of a man who does.
Such a man is faced with a dilemma. The dilemma will make him or it will break him. It is given to such a man to confront his protected pain. Either he lets it go or he holds on to it.
Should he decide to hold on to it…he may find some backwater to languish in and go from one pleasured moment to a depression, on and on in his inflated cycle of denial.
But if he lets it go, he unleashes a chain reaction that is literally catastrophic in its effects. Catastrophic to catastrophe that is.
So such a man is caught between insanity and release. And then he makes a decision. It is one that the whole of mankind is behind and he can’t quite fathom it, but then something stirs in the depths and he feels the full force of that cosmic will. He is nothing. Not important in the slightest. And yet what runs through his fingers is like a fire. A fire that can burn the world to ashes and from those ashes he recognizes a new world can be born. That is the place the seed he carries is planted.
Myths are not true. Not one in the history of the world has been true. They are merely the penultimate truth. That is not to say, however they are not living creatures. They most definitely are.
The yoga sutras begins with a word that roughly translates to now. And now we will speak about the nature of the mind. That now has no beginning and no end. Like Lincoln’s fascination with Euclid’s axioms. They are true. Not some time. But they are part of a sacred geometry that transcends time and space.
The word well is connected to the word voila in French and wallah in Sanskrit. Wallah” comes from the Hindi suffix “-vālā,” meaning “one in charge.”
There was a documentary made about the keepers of the water wells in Morocco. All the horrific politics of man’s inhumanity to man.
A poor workmen blames his tools.
The depth of that last statement is something that one of Lincoln’s ilk would understand. Others would pass over it. But Lincoln would see into it.
Myths are part of our repertoire of tools. Sometimes we lose sight of great secrets. Sometimes an entire civilization can be caught like a deer in the headlights of its blinded confusion for millennia.
And I ask you what would you do if you were the one granted the vision to see through the confusion?
Carl Jung had to deal with madness. He said something that will never be untrue. He says:
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it fate.”
You can’t argue with that statement. There is absolutely nothing you can do but wholeheartedly accept it. Once you do it begets the question:
What is (my) destiny?
So here is a man going into the deepest depths in the mind. Down, down, down, into the most fundamental vaults of the human experience…
“If problems on concrete level of personal human existence are irreconcilable within the usual terms of understanding, then with the help of material from unconscious such as dreams/fantasies thus raising the problem to a symbolic level the dilemma can often be resolved.”
Not only have we been abusers of tools,….we have fashioned tools in our workshop that are dangerous and outright toxic to our well being, as individuals, as a species and to the planets. That’s a bitter medicine right there to swallow. But swallow it we must.
The myth of Prometheus is not unique to Ancient Greece. You find it all over the Earth.
But it is to Ancient Greece we must go to cauterize the wound that Lincoln was confronted with.
In the myth, man stole fire from the Gods. The Greek philosophers called it Technics. The ability to craft. To use our opposable thumbs and our big brains to fashion stuff from stuff.
Some birds and animals use tools, but none have the capacity that man has. None come even close.
The birds, the plants, the animals, all contribute to the mythic imagination. And following their lead we fashion our world. Eagles to symbolize political power and bearded wise hardy ravens to symbolize
“With the help of material from the unconscious such as dreams/fantasies thus raising the problem to a symbolic level the dilemma can often be resolved.”
All of the prophets that wrote the stories of the Bible or the prophet Mohammed attempted to solve the problems of man within the context of the limits of their understanding.
Joseph Campbell wrote:
“Wars and temper tantrums are the makeshifts of ignorance; regrets are illuminations come too late.”
When we kill we conquer. When we need to be martyrs for a cause and ascend to heaven we escape the belief we can be conquered.
Maturity witnesses these truths.
To end war and suffering on this planet we don’t need messiahs. We need human beings who are authentically themselves. Who confront the shadow of the mind within and the shadow of a genetic programming that has been mostly flawed since we mastered fire.
We know how to do that now. We have the tools to do it. But you cannot use such tools in the context of the old myths. You have to burn them to the ground and plant the new seed.
The West is the child of the East. There is no such thing as East or West. There’s only the presence of wisdom or its absence.
You know we have been farming madly in the Americas for Millenia. The same is true in the rest of the world. The Bushmen of South Africa and the Aborigines of Australia were nomads who did not herd or grow crops or make settlement housing. That came later.
And when it did we wielded the tool of technics catastrophically. We created unnecessary enmity, unnecessary upset, unnecessary deserts. The prophets of the Bible tried to argue: God is great, he can make rivers in the desert. All on the back of a civilization all around them that was just making more deserts, using the mythic language conjured up by those very prophets.
It’s not by accident that the words prophet and profit are similar. But what we consider profit is a travesty. A real prophet sees that war and enmity and conquest are not an option. That is only possible when a shard of fear infects the mind. Then those miners of the depths are flawed.
Persephone lives in the underworld. The masculine is about going out and doing. The feminine is about reflection. One must go to the depths: to the deepest of the deep to see the view of the eagle that rises on the highest thermals. The raven is black and the night is black and the shadow worlds within are black, shrouded in mystery,…but that is where we must go to confront our nemesis: inflation.
Inflation means I believe I am not good enough or I am not strong enough or that I am the mightiest.
It is a death sentence. To be reborn one must let go of it. And recognize oneself in the mirror of smallness, of restfulness, of contentment. A man who has mastered this art can see what others miss. He can understand how to move through the obstacles that the hasty have made and clear the battlefields of the world of their strife and reunite man with his essence. From that reunification comes substance and the depths of healing that the world has forgotten.
He can introduce others to a form of profit that does not crucify the body or the Earth nor seek resurrection in a world beyond.
The night of the day that Martin Luther Kimg was killed Robert Kennedy made this speech (excerpt)
My favorite poem, my — my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:
“Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
through the awful grace of God.”
…. We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past, but we — and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.”
Well it could be. If we want to see what was given and lost at the dawn of Western Civilization in Greece, we could,….we can, if we want rise to the plateaus of wisdom in ourselves, if that be our will.
All it takes is the deeper application of understanding. Persephone represented the goddess of the underworld but she is more than that.
“PERSEPHONE was the goddess queen of the underworld, wife of the god Haides (Hades). She was also the goddess of spring growth, who was worshipped alongside her mother Demeter in the Eleusinian Mysteries. This agricultural-based cult promised its initiates passage to a blessed afterlife.”
From the deepest depths of the human mind, a new spring can flower. When Carl Jung looked into the future he saw more war and strife. Horrific futures. He saw it because he was looking from within the watchtower of the legacy of the desert fathers and “prophets” – he who goes into the depths to discern what is hidden in the will of man. What is to be manifested from the edifices of possibility that we have fashioned from our “tools.”
We can leave those deserts behind and return to the wisdom of Parmenides, Pythagoras and Empedocles.
We can plant a new seed in the garden. We can alter the genetic predisposition of a thousand wayward generations by thinking from a new end liberated of police, standing armies and the detrimental belief that the Sahara and other deserts like it were not man made.
Man, reconnected with a holistic depth that in this very moment is stirring in him, births a new tomorrow where the pain of yesteryear is gone and new shoots of life rooted in our evergreen sanity shoot forth to celebrate the azure sky.
How is this done?
By simplifying our mythic landscape and dropping the mores and lores of the powerful deceptions of the likes of Aristotle and Plato and the Abrahamic prophets.
We can chuck out the half eaten apple and embrace the point of the arrow head of a deeper more aligned mythic imagination that is waiting to pierce you. Well, now, as we do this, a different plant, a different earth, an awakened happy humanity, blooms from the ashes of that irresistible correction. The world then is irreconcilably different. Maturity is. Outsourcing to flawed saviors then becomes a thing of our past.
A lotus grows from the wet mud of that healed earth. It’s fragrance is fascinating. All guilt, all attacking gone. Condemnation, pettiness and illusionary difference gone. Healing has happened in the wonder filled wake of this new story, this new moment, this new fresh way of being.
Well, now, it is here. Sophia, the goddess of wisdom is whispering of it in the ears of our imagination. In every stirring pore of our nature. This is the task now upon us.
“If you can look into the seeds of time and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then to me.”
And from the movie.
“I can’t listen to this anymore. I can’t accomplish a goddamn thing of any worth until we cure ourselves of slavery and end this pestilential war! I wonder if any of you or anyone else knows it. I know! I need this! This amendment is that cure! We’ve stepped out upon the world stage now. Now! With the fate of human dignity in our hands. Blood’s been spilled to afford us this moment now! Now! Now! Now! And you grousle so and heckle and dodge about like pettifogging Tammany Hall hucksters!
See what is before you. See the here and now. That’s the hardest thing. The only thing that accounts.
Abolishing slavery by constitutional provisions settles the fate for all coming time. Not only of the millions now in bondage, but of unborn millions to come…..two votes stand in its way….”
“Yes, but how?”
Buzzard’s guts man! I am the President of the United States of America clothed in immense power. You will procure me these votes!”
— Lincoln (2012), screenplay by Tony Kushner, book by Doris Kearns Goodwin
When I met my friend Tara Singh, who counted Prime Minister Nehru as his close friend, he asked me, “What is determination?” As I looked into it, he countered that very few make contact with the deeper meaning behind those words.
I ask you,….what is it to you?
To wield new tools wisely. To plant the earth and the seeds of a new civilization sanely. To correct the sins of the mothers and fathers, at source, within ourselves. To step out of the whole drunken misguided possession and excavate new truths from the hallowed earth of our labors. To “see what is before you.” To boldly go where the few have gone before, without the inflationary escaping to fictional or real heavens, but to make a happy abundant garden out of the one we have been gifted, and make it a new story of the multitudes no longer in bondage….that is the view from the door that determination opens for us.