A Humble Realization, Sept 19, 7:20am
(During the annual Boedromion Hellenic Retreat Sept 14-22 2019 )
The Abrahamic faiths , as generally conceived and practiced, got it all wrong about depictions of the divine, in the form of sculptures, paintings icons etc. There is no need here for me to touch upon the human trait of arrogant manipulation that all major religious movements without exception have engaged in.
Since 2015 I have been observing an annual personal retreat in honor of the Hellenic Demeter. This was spurred into existence once I completed my work on the Petaluma City Seal. My visit to Elefsina, Greece in 2016 further strengthened these efforts.
I realized this time how beautiful it is to have the capacity to perceive something in creation, or in the world around us, whether it be the sun, storms, forests or even anger, lust or sorrow and then recognize the beauty or the power behind them! This concurs with the experience of the Rgvedic rishis. Unlike reformist based religions, where prophets came to be, in order to change society, here it is an outcome of a genuine response, that comes from deep within, with no ulterior motive backing them. They were spontaneous. The truths evidenced were enhanced and clothed into legends and stories that indeed had a phenomenal reality and definitely a slim body of historical and geographical reality.
To be able to internalize these truths and stories and then manifest them in the form of artistic creations, solely points to the visualizing capacity of the people, of those days. Finally, to facilitate any one to reap the benefits, extract the wisdom, by simply looking at these creations and further more adoring them via rituals, not only solidified the connection between man, his nature and Nature, but also brought great meaning to life and death itself. The last mentioned truth was the core of the Eleusinian mysteries held each year in Greece. Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-143 BC) in his De Legibus of the Greek mysteries of Eleusis says “ Among the many excellent and divine institutions that your Athens has developed and contributed to human life, there is none in my opinion, better than these mysteries, by which we have been brought forth from our rustic and savage mode of existence, cultivated and refined to a state of civilization; and as these rites are called ‘ initiations’ so in truth, we have learned from them the first principles of life and have gained the understanding, not only to live happily, but also to die with better hope.”
I questioned myself therefore, as to how my insides respond personally to symbolic representations as expressed by the two glaringly different systems. Looking at Kwan yin and Mother Mary I do not feel the same. Although they both represent Compassion. When I look at Hermes, the messenger between the divine and man, in the Hellenic faith and any Christian saint that intercedes, I do not feel the same. On the other hand, when I look at Zeus and Indra, there is a basic, natural connection. When I look at the Russian goddess Makosh and the Hindu Lakshmi I feel that connection. When I gaze at the early morning sun, a divinity that makes itself present to my eyes, I can call out Surya or Helios with the same ease. Then linking it to the story of the Shinto Amaterasu, makes it so easy and natural. Hina of the Polynesians, Selene of the Greeks, Chandra of the Hindus are all evident even today as the Moon. Each winter the story of the Russian Sneguroshka, a recurring event in nature each year, makes more sense to me, unlike the birth of Jesus, a onetime historical event! Reading the Bible, both testaments or the Kuran or even the works of Lao tse and Confucius, the Zend Avesta or the Tripitaka, as good as they all are, they lack messages or the impact that my deep sub conscious receives from Native American stories about the Coyote, the Crow and the Corn maiden. These symbols and stories that truly reverberate with all cultures, keeps me solidly connected to all things in the universe not just between human to human.
Going along this line of thinking, I do not subscribe to the role of man as a " Steward".
By using this word, we imply that we are above creation like a ruler or a king is above in hierarchy. This word is a direct descendant of its Biblical usage and has a hidden sense of arrogance and dangers of abuse and misuse. It is a natural concept that arose out of the thinking that separates the Creator from the Created! It is this arrogance that has blinded us to the valuable teachings that nature has for us. Vedanta philosophy on the other hand clearly explains the role of the Creator and the Creatrix !
A humble approach in taking care of this world that is shared by others, is called for, as it is a healthier one. I would rather take the attitude that is inspired by Orissa's Navagunjara bhagavan, picture given below. Man is a part not apart from Creation.
Arjuna submits to Navagunjara by giving up his weapons.
A Flashback to a Conversation that took place in early Spring of 2019
Between a grandmother ( Vasanti) and her granddaughter
Question: Little one, since you know so much about the Greek gods, let me ask you
something. So, long ago, when those people looked at the sun,
what do you think they saw? Did they see the sun as we see it, as a shining
orb or did they see a person riding in a chariot drawn by horses?
Answer: They saw the sun as we see it.
Question: So, what do you think happened?
Answer: Oh! They saw much more. We have lost it.
Wisdom received from Priya, age 10.