Words of Wisdom #47 & #48

“The lazy term “evolution” makes us blind to the real complexities of the past”.

-Giorgio De Santillana

“To have confused the history of civilization with a process of gradual evolution has deprived us of any reasonable possibility to shed light on the nature of civilizations”.

-Giorgio De Santillana

The concepts of “evolution” and “progress” are strongly interconnected and used in a dogmatic and religious way to influence the worldview of the masses and especially of the young people: the educational system and the entertainment industry hammer these modern dogmas in our heads to make us believe that we started from the bottom of the barrel to then experience a gradual and constant evolutionary progress that will continue incessantly over time, taking into consideration exclusively the material and quantitative aspects of a civilization and totally excluding the spiritual and qualitative elements that give shape and dignity to the human being. Their purpose is to make us believe that the past was worse in every respect and all the more as we go back in time: they want to avoid at any cost the possibility that looking behind us we may recognize a model to follow and consequently turn with new eyes to the modern world that surrounds us. Instead we have to do it, because by understanding the past, our past, we’ll be masters of ourselves until death!

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The Mystery of the Labyrinth

The concepts of “labyrinth” and “realm of the dead” were interconnected in the eyes of our ancestors, both referring to the burial mound or initiatic cave whose entrance and main channel symbolized the vaginal channel whereas the last and deepest chamber symbolized the womb understood as matrix of rebirth: this sort of womb of the earth was the place where was accomplished the initiation ritual that allowed the individual to be reborn within the ancestry.

Representation of an archaic labyrinth (the word “labyrinth” may derive from “labra” [“cave, mine”]); the Chartres Cathedral’s labyrinth is composed of 274 stones, the number of days that make up a woman’s average pregnancy duration:
trojeborg_nordisk_familjebokRisultati immagini per labirinto di chartres

The Greek verb “muein” – from which comes the noun “mysterion” – originally referred to the attainment of the spiritual and initiatory center: in the ancient mystery religions survived the primordial metaphysical process consisting in reaching the center inside the labyrinth understood as burial mound, there where lies its fundamental “mystery”. This bond between the labyrinth, the burial mound and the cave (at the entrance of the Cumaean Sibyl’s cave described in the Aeneid is engraved the image of the labyrinth) is clearly unveiled by the decorative motif – common in archaic Greek and Roman art – known as “meander”, name that originally may have referred to the meanders of natural caves, i.e. the prototypes of the burial mounds.

“The meander is the figure of a labyrinth in linear form”.

-Károly Kerényi

Risultati immagini per karoly kerenyi

An example of decorative motif called “meander”:
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We find the figure of the labyrinth also in relation to ritual dances, for example when during a festivity dedicated to Proserpina, the Roman equivalent of Persephone, virgin maidens danced a spiral path called “Chorus Proserpinae”, holding in their hands a rope: is it possible that the path danced by the maidens was simbolically equivalent to the figure of the archaic labyrinth? What symbolized the rope that was used in that religious context? To answer these questions we can refer to the myth of Theseus, Ariadne and the labyrinth.

In the Iliad is mentioned the fact that Daedalus built a place for dancing to Ariadne, in all likelihood in reference to the same labyrinth where was imprisoned the Minotaur, to which was periodically sacrificed a group of young boys and girls: the third sacrificial group was joined by Theseus, that killed the monstrous creature and came out of the labyrinth dancing its spiral path. The killing of the Minotaur establishes the accomplishment of the initiatory rebirth that the other children were not able to conquer, and in this regard we must note that Theseus himself necessitates to be understood, like the innumerable heroes of the mythologies, in the perspective of a child close to his spiritual awakening.

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The name “Ariadne” comes from “arihagne”, “utterly pure”, characteristic that associates her to Persephone since death is source of purification; Ariadne and Persephone are equivalent figures and the first – according to an inscription in Linear B found at Knossos – was called “Lady of the Labyrinth” and had to receive honey as a gift, the same food that was brought as a gift by the divine child to nourish and placate the sorceress or priestess – originally the she-bear – who was inside the burial mound in view of the fulfillment of the initiatory process: it is no coincidence that in particular the chtonic deities were described by the Greeks as “honeyed” and “sweet as honey”.

Zeus Meilichios (according to a popular etymology the epithet “meilichios” would mean “sweet as honey”) was often portrayed in the form of an enormous chtonic serpent:
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Immagine correlata

The structure of the archaic labyrinth was unicursal, consisting of a single path leading to the center of the figure, without any possibility of getting lost inside it: then what symbolizes the thread that Ariadne gives to Theseus so that he can find the way back? It symbolizes the umbilical cord that binds the fetus to the placenta composed by the sum of one’s ancestors.

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Theseus enters the labyrinth, i.e. the burial mound, bringing with him the thread and simbolically becoming a fetus provided with the umbilical cord necessary for his own spiritual sustenance and development, and only when the symbolic pregnancy will come to an end he will be able to come out of the earth’s womb, reborn and initiated into the mysteries of the self.

Words of Wisdom #44, #45 & #46

“Fortune, is Zeus who assigns it to men, to the good and the evil, as he wants, to each one. To you he gave this fate, you must bear it”.

-Nausicaa to Odysseus in the Odyssey

“It is easy for the gods, that possess the vast sky, to do splendid or miserable a mortal man”.

-Odysseus to Telemachus in the Odyssey

“Not even you despise them, the gifts of the glorious gods, the ones that they offer us: we can’t choose them on our own”.

-Paris to Hector in the Iliad

In this consists stoicism, in the understanding of what is completely beyond our control and in accepting it as it has been destined to us, in any way it will affect our existences.

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Bhagavadgītā (Part 1 of 2)

The Bhagavadgītā is a Hindu sacred text consisting of a dialogue between Arjuna, a hero son of the god Indra, and his charioteer Krishna, an incarnation of the divine principle. The war between the Pandavas and Kauravas is imminent and the dialogue takes place in the middle of the battlefield, right before the beginning of the Kurukshetra’s battle; Arjuna is confused and torn by moral dilemmas after noticing that among the enemy army there are some of his relatives, teachers and friends: he then seeks advice from Krishna, which reminds him his duties as a kshatriya, i.e. as a warrior, through the exposition of spiritual and philosophical concepts.

Krishna assists Arjuna:
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The verses quoted in this first part mainly describe the doctrine concerning the immortality and cyclic reincarnation of the individual spirit, but also some concepts in relation with stoicism.

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 Second Chant:

12.”In truth, there was never a time when I was not, nor you, nor these rulers of peoples; and, in the future, will not come a time in which we will not be”.

13.”The soul incarnated in the body experiences childhood, youth and the old age; then it takes another body. The man that knows this doesn’t experience [any] bewilderment”.

The verses 12./13. begin to expose the doctrine concerning the immortality of the individual spirit and its cyclic reincarnation governed by karma, a necessary and inescapable metaphysical law according to which what we are now on the one hand is the result consequent to what we have been in our previous existences, on the other hand will contribute to determine what we will be in our future existences.

14.”Son of Kunti, the impressions of the senses [born] from contact with material things produce hot and cold, pain and pleasure, they come and go and are impermanent. Bear them, Bhārata”.

15.”Best among men, he who by them [impressions] is not troubled, [that remains] equanimous and firm in pleasure and pain is worthy of immortality”.

The verses 14./15. express a concept that we also find in the stoic doctrine: it is of fundamental importance to realize that all that doesn’t depend on us, like, indicatively, the sensations of hot and cold or pain and pleasure, must be experienced with firmness and imperturbability, without getting internally involved in a positive or negative way.

Bhārata, Mahabahu, Pārtha, Kaunteya and Paramtāpa are some of the epithets with which Krishna refers to Arjuna in the Bhagavadgītā.

16.”What doesn’t exist can’t come into being, of the being there is no cessation of existence. This ultimate truth has been unveiled by those who have seen the essence of things”.

In this verse is expressed the archaic sapiential concept according to which nothing is created from nothingness and nothing is destroyed into nothingness.

18.”These bodies of the eternal ātman, indestructible, immeasurable, are called perishable. Fight, then, Bhārata”.

In this verse the ātman, i.e. the individual spirit, is described as the metaphysical principle of life that resides in every being.

19.”He who believes to be killed and he who thinks of killing are both in error. That one [the ātman] can’t kill nor be killed”.

20.”It was never born and will never die. Having always been, it can’t cease to be. Unbegotten, permanent, imperishable, ancient, it is not killed even when the body is killed”.

22.”Like a man that lays the old clothes and takes new ones, so the embodied soul (dehi) lays the worn-out bodies and enters in others new”.

23.”The weapons don’t pierce [the ātman], nor fire burns it, nor waters bathe it, nor wind dries it”.

26.”If you believe that it is born and dies continuously, likewise, Mahabahu, you don’t have to grieve,”

27.”because, in truth, certain is death for he who is born and certain is rebirth for he who is dead. Therefore, for an ineluctable fact, you should not feel pity”.

The verses 19./20./22./23./26./27. proceed to expose in explicit terms the doctrine concerning the immortality of the individual spirit and its cyclic reincarnation.

38.”Equally impartial in pleasure and pain, in gain and loss, in victory and defeat, be ready then to fight; thus you will not be able to commit error”.

55.”When, Pārtha, a man eradicates all desires from his mind and finds his satisfaction in the ātman and for the ātman, he is said to have a stable intelligence”.

57.”He who has abandoned every attachment, who is not flattered by praises nor offended by reproach: that person possesses a stable intelligence”.

The verses 38./55./57. further praise the man who reacts to what doesn’t depend on him in a detached and impersonal way.

Third Chant:

34.”The attraction and repulsion to objects are inherent to the corresponding sense: no one should submit to these two because they represent the two enemies”.

39.”Knowledge is [so] wrapped by this constant enemy, Kaunteya, insatiable fire that takes the form of desire”.

The verses 34./39. proceed to exalt active impersonality as a means to achieve higher cognitive ways.

Fourth Chant:

5.”Numerous are my past lives and yours too, Arjuna. Except I know them all, whereas you don’t know them, Paramtāpa”.

In this verse there is a further reference to the cyclic and therefore eternal reincarnation of the individual spirit.

Sixth Chant:

40.”Pārtha, nor in this nor in the other world such a man is lost, because there is no author of fine and good deeds that incurs in a bad destiny”.

In this verse is reiterated that there is no permanent death for the honourable: an eternal rebirth awaits him.

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