Mithya, Mythology, and Metaphysics – an exchage lll

I think that all these points or clarifications are important in our discussion, and are directly related to the 5 sections or categories listed above. We can see, in particular, how exoteric monotheism (The Old Testament of Christianity) tends to authoritarianism and rigid views… and persecution of ‘heretics’ and infidels. The same thing applies to Islam (Sufism is “for the few”, and it is peaceful). Pneumatic temperaments are a minority, the majority being either psychic or hilic (or a mixture).

3. “Can the knowledge of good and evil be viveka, the ability to distinguish ātmā from anātmā?” I think the answer is No, from what I said re morality vs. knowledge (jñana).

This leads me to what you write concerning Iswara (section 4): “Īśvara is pure limitless existence-consciousness together with its intrinsic potential for manifestation (māyā)”. It represents all cosmic laws and, clearly, is not the stern, authoritarian God of  Old Testament Christianity, or the God  of Islam, who appears as more generous and loving. Jesus, on the other hand, can be said to represent the logos (buddhi) of Neo-Platonism and Gnostic Christianity. Is Iswara not impersonal, unlike Krishna and Rama? One difference is that God’s laws are decrees and ordinances (commands), whereas Iswara’s laws are cosmic and impersonal; “it is what it is”, as you say; obedience has a different tinge in either case.

Coming to the nitty-gritty – for all the forgoing is as a preamble – I have to make a confession: I have been associated, perhaps for too long, with a Sufi organization led by F. Schuon, whose platform is traditionalism (called perennialism in N. America). The originators were R. Guénon and FS; important figures, among others: Ananda K. Coomaraswamy and Titus Burkhardt. You can check on this, but, evidently, there is an element of romanticism or nostalgia (for times passed), as well as anti-modernism (favoring, among many of its adherents, homeopathy, anti-evolutionism, and anti-Vatican II). Tradition did nothing wrong; the longer you cast your gaze back, the purer, uncontaminated it is (a sort of Arcadia). I don’t want to be ironic (nor repentant), but, simply, I took their views in that realm as quasi-ontological principles, with a heavy emphasis on the ugliness and deviancy of modern civilization. That can explain the quasi-traditional interpretation of the Garden I offered you, relieved by the metaphysical bent within it.

5. I accept the account you give of the Garden in terms of the significance of the serpent, with its promise of knowledge of “good and evil” (what you write about the “awakening of the feminine” is wonderfully inspiring). I think it is correct on the whole, and reminds me of some other instances in mythology to that effect (recently attended a performance of the Ring of the Nibelungs, by R. Wagner, where Faffner, a giant (a dragon or serpent in other Germanic stories), makes its appearance. This being is avaricious but has supra-human abilities, like understanding the songs of birds. The Titans of Greek mythology were also benefactors of mankind. So, knowledge? Yes, but it comes with a price… and a risk. The risk is that  serpents and dragons are ambivalent beings; they are not just friendly, or helpful to man; some danger may lurk hidden in them, like a poison, or a fiery breath. Myths have the characteristic of being polysemic (having several meanings)

The price to pay is that none other than a hero can conquer them before they release their boon/treasure.

Science and technology come at a price, which may be too high; time will tell. I am not in favor or against science and technology; it is here, and is still making in-roads, as something that had to happen: inevitable, given man’s abilities and ambitions: “to conquer Nature”, “discover its secrets”. How many are looking inside themselves, would be followers of Jesus, or of the dharma? A few are. The final point I wanted to make is to ponder on the meaning of the Greek word ‘hubris’, and I would leave you there. But before that, I would also make a plea for exoteric religion, including the bhakti way: from what we saw before, it is not all negative; it is, for a majority of people, the only way of advancement in a meaningful, spiritual way, and it brings cohesion, as well as beautiful art (painting, music, mystical poetry, etc.)



Mithya, Mythology, and Metaphysics – an exchange, ll


“All that now exists will die” (The goddess Erda, in Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold, 4th scene)

M: P, I have to commend you for the exacting work and research you have done on The Terrestrial Garden in such a short time. I am in substantial agreement, as you will see, with much of what you are saying, but take some exception with respect of part of the methodology (parallelisms mostly, rather than contrasts) you use, which has consequences to me either excessive or unwarranted. Also, agree that it is  “pointless to look for the single Truth in this story”. I start with some observations in the way of contrasts (rather than parallelisms or analogies): ‘unlike’, rather than ‘like’, realizing that I am not actually discovering anything new to you.
1. Mythology vs. Mithya

2. Monotheist exoterism (Moses, Old Testament) vs. Esoterism (Jesus,
New Testament)

3. Right and wrong (ethics & morality; or ‘moralism’) vs. sat-asat
(metaphysics or spiritual science)

4. (Christian) God vs. (Hindu) Ishvara

5.  a) Knowledge, empirical, religious, philosophical (‘categorial’) vs.
KNOWLEDGE (reality, realization)

5b) doctrine (theory) vs. method (practice)

1. We could consider, I think, The Garden of Eden, or Terrestrial
Garden, as a myth, like that of Prometheus, or the deeds of heroes –
as much in the East as in the West (puranas, sastras, sagas). They are
illustrative, imaginative stories applicable to man and society (or
collectivities). Not so mithya, which belongs to the spiritual or
metaphysical science of the Indian tradition exclusively, as you know
(that is, esoteric or sapiential: jñana). They (myth and mithya) are
quite different; though there is an overlap in the way we can make use
of them in order to bring out a deeper understanding of something
which may only be implicit in them. I think this is what phenomenological
analysis consists of (briefly, ‘the contents of consciousness’ – to be
elicited). Also, myth and mithya are in the same relationship as pratibhasika and vyavaharika – the first of each pair being merely illusory, subjective, imaginary. Continue reading

Mithya, Mythology, and Metaphysics – an exchange

(Under part 4 of my ‘Review of article on Shankara’ 9 ‘thoughts’ or
comments were made, the last one on May 8th, 2013. Following that,
Peter and I continued our dialogue, which took us in different
directions, resulting in a 12 page thread. We both thought that our discussion might merit publication in AV. Quite sadly, Peter passed away one week after he wrote his last reply within our exchange. This is the first part, to be followed sequentially).

Martin (M) – How interesting that myths (different from ‘mithya’) give rise to different interpretations, perhaps mostly due to one’s cultural background and held views on life, etc. When you say ‘literal’, in this context, I understand something like an interesting story, mostly for children; but if myths say something about man’s life, his struggles, aspirations, etc., how can they be just nice, imaginative stories? (‘literal’ x2 is for those who believe – in the recounting of The Garden of Paradise – that that is how it actually happened; I don’t count you among them, of course).

 About your points (Peter’s (P):

  1. Right, not unity, but union (Creator/creature, lover/beloved, etc.); therefore bhakti, with its bond of love and surrender on the part of the creature – which can lead to a state of unity (advaita) once Knowlege or realization has dawn. No?
  1. a) “with us” is not plural; it is first person singular when the subject is God, a king, or someone in authority speaking for the law or from a chair of authority, which is impersonal. If you have the KJ version of the Bible, it reads: “man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” Gen., 3, 22.

      b) P: “Before Adam was ‘one with’ God, (i.e. before he knew right from wrong), what was he?” My (M) answer: ‘one of us’ sounds rather sarcastic, No? Yes, man knew duality by his ‘individualistic’ act, but was not like God; this cannot be the meaning of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). With the New Testament, things are no longer oppressive, based on fear and ‘the law’: Jesus brings liberation through knowledge, love, and compassion, and man is seen as theomorphic (capable of assuming his divinity in Oneness). cf.  St. John’s Gospel and the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas.

  1. a) M: The serpent “presaging Jesus”? At one time Jesus said: “you must be wise as serpents”, meaning to discriminate between acts (and people), but, other than that, the serpent is ‘the Tempter’ and the representation of evil (egotism?), and henceforth there will be enmity between it and mankind (“it  shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen., 3,15).

        b) P: “what’s wrong with having the knowledge of right and wrong?”.

M: ‘Seeing’ duality everywhere*, precisely – the pairs of opposites – and thus becoming judgmental and stuck in that limited, constricted vision, the consequence being the loss of Paradise in union with God. “You will be like gods” was the promise of the serpent. Duality (plurality) pertains to the dimension of God or Ishvara (‘I’ and ‘other’, heavens, hells, etc.). Right and wrong belong to thinking (vritti/s), as you well know, and it can be a problem unless you just observe it as such (i.e., an object for Consciousness). Did the couple know that they were immortal? I don’t know, and probably they did not know either. Continue reading