Sunday, January 24, 2010

In Harmony's Way

The day after I posted ‘A Higher Vision of Time’ (an extension of the Being and Becoming line of thought), while singing along to streaming radio, I began to think of how obvious disharmony and lack of rhythm is when considering music or dance. One either joins the song, with its particular measures, tones and rhythms or one is doing one’s own thing (out of whatever ignorance or lack of interest in finding some resonance with the song). When one adds one’s own contributions without regard for a song’s measure, tone, rhythm and progression, the result is typically unpleasant … a disjointed cacophony or chaos of sound or movement.

I had these thoughts in contrast to how entirely unobvious the need for attunement to and alignment with the real measures, tones, rhythms and progressions of our Earth, of our universe has become in our civilization. This need was clearly obvious to the sages of the ancient Vedic civilization. They fully recognized that the divine creator/creatrix of the Earth and the Cosmos could be approached, experienced, known and enjoyed via attunement to the Earth’s song and its particular measures, tones, rhythms and progressions. The Earth is, in a sense, a singer or dancer in a celestial symphony or musical – her core and axis of being is one with the core and axis of All Being (especially with the Sun of our Solar System) and hence her unique self-expression, her unique individuality, is never off-key, never out of step or out of harmony with the conductor or the other celestial singers/dancers.

Solar system model. (Credit: iStockphoto/Baris Simsek)
Such perfectly aligned individuality, presence, self-expression and voice is the true goal of yoga – i.e. to become a consciousness agent or instrument of the eternal or perpetual Self of All-Being, orbiting the luminous Truth of the Self rather than dark ignorance or a void. This is the true potential of the individual and the only means by which any sort of genuine human unity and solidarity with all of creation is possible.

Accordingly, Vedic sages were known as Rishi which the Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon [1] defines as ‘a singer of sacred hymns, an inspired poet or sage, any person who alone or with others invokes the deities in rhythmical speech or song of a sacred character.’ Many modern minds get horribly triggered or perplexed by the idea of ‘deities’ or gods, while in the Vedic mind deities were simply forces, phenomena or beings of our Earth and Cosmos that carry on or persist in perpetual tune with the One Song. Examples can be found in the Trimurti (three gods who are one) – Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer. Thus the triguna of creation, preservation and destruction (rajas, sattva and tamas) were recognized as individual divine forces of a unified divine movement, a unified evolution, a unifying consciousness-force. The Sun, the Earth, the Moon, and the planets in our solar system were also considered deities, for they indeed exist and evolve in perpetual tune with the One Song. Usha is an example of a deity who represents a perpetual or cyclical phenomenon. Usha is the Dawn – a Dawn from freefoto.comreal phenomenon and an important part of the real symphony of cosmic and earthly movement. She symbolizes the real shift from darkness to light and from ignorance to knowledge which unfolds in the due course of time, in due course of human evolution.

The god Shiva is sometimes depicted as Nataraja, with one leg in the air, hair akimbo, dancing within a circle, oval or womb of flames. Nata means ‘dance’ and raja (in this case) means ‘lord’ or ‘king’, and so Nataraja is most commonly translated as ‘Lord of the Dance’. The circle represents the body, movement and rhythms of the Cosmos; and Nataraja moves within and in perfect attunement to and alignment with That. His four arms represent the four Cardinal directions/points of the Earth; and his head and the heel of his right foot are in perfect alignment with the vertical axis of the circle. Nataraja dances the tandava – the universal dance of creation, preservation and destruction; and he stands victorious on top of a dwarf demon who represents ignorance of the cosmos and its movement.


Nataraja is one of many Vedic deities and characters who represent a force or being, or a force of Being that is in perpetual harmony with the Absolute – the One Self and all its multiple or relative expressions or tones. When I was contemplating the apparently unobvious need to attune and align oneself and the Earth collective to the measurements, tones, rhythms and progressions of our Earth song and the Harmonies of the Cosmos, the image of Nataraja, dancing within the 360° circle, popped into my head as a key to unveiling the obvious. Because clearly singers and dancers must learn to sing or move in harmony with, in tune with and in perfect time with the song at hand. As true as this necessity is for those who want to sing or dance well, it is even more profoundly true for those who want to participate in a divine unity and harmony on Earth.

In looking up the Sanskrit word nata, I found some intriguing definitions and expansions of the word. For instance vijaanatah (vijaya = ‘victorious’, nata = ‘dance’) means ‘one who is in complete knowledge’. Nata, in addition to meaning ‘dance’, also means ‘curve’ and ‘hour-angle’. An hour-angle, is a cosmological time-space measurement concerning the apparent 360° rotation (and curve) of the celestial sphere due to the Earth’s real 360° rotation in one 24 hour day. Also natanadi means ‘an hour of birth that is after noon and before midnight’.

This etymological escapade got me wondering if the English word ‘natal’ is actually descendant from nata. After all the architects of the Sanskrit language were well aware that we are all born into a cosmic dance, into a celestial song – a celestial body – that moves and perpetually curves around us, nurturing us towards fuller and fuller awareness and expression of our true nature. Perhaps even the word ‘nature’ hails from the same root as Nataraja. Nature is certainly a divine dance, well-choreographed by and fine-tuned to the rhythms of a divine harmony. In astrology, a natal chart shows the positioning of the 360° celestial womb at the time of birth. Such a 360° snapshot of the exact moment when an individual is born (or enters) into the cosmic harmony gives a real indication of what note that individual is to play out or carry within the whole. It is a snapshot of the same celestial womb, body of lights or circular song that surrounds Nataraja. The 360° progressions, harmonies and rhythms of that celestial circle, which some will recognize as the ecliptic path of the Earth, are the progressions, harmonies and rhythms to which Nataraja is dancing.

Another Sanskrit word that suspiciously contains nata and speaks of the perpetual dance of being and becoming is sanatana. Sanatana is commonly used in conjunction with dharmasanatana dharma, which means something to the order of ‘the eternal truth of being and becoming’. It is also translated as ‘the Eternal Way’. Sanata means ‘from of old’ and sanatana means ‘eternal, perpetual, permanent, everlasting, primeval, ancient’. Interestingly enough, the English word ‘senate’ actually comes from this lofty Sanskrit root. Dharma is often translated as ‘truth’ or ‘law’ but more specifically it is a stable truth or law that upholds and orders becoming (i.e. evolution). It seems to me that sanatana dharma could also be understood as the upholding LORD of the eternal dance, but as far as I can tell, no one connects the word sanatana to Nataraja, even though they share the root nata. The idea is the same. There is a perpetual and eternal cosmic curve of becoming (i.e. the 360° circle, cycle or orbit) which is stabilized, ordered and harmonized by a real force of Truth, a real Skambha or Cosmic pillar. The Vedic sages made it abundantly clear that the highest goal of humanity was to become a collective (sanga) of illumined travelers, knowers, singers or dancers of this 360° way of truth and harmony, which was also described as the 12 month sacrifice (yajña) or year which – if observed, seen and celebrated correctly – would generate knowledge of the divine and hence knowledge of immortality. Sri Aurobindo wrote much about this journey-sacrifice (adhvara yajña) towards divine consciousness in The Secret of the Veda. It is a journey towards discovering the ‘hymn of the soul’ that is in absolute attunement to and absolute harmony with the hymn of the Earth, the hymn of the Sun and our Solar System, and the Hymn of the Whole creation.
‘The sacrifice is also a journey; indeed the sacrifice itself is described as travelling, as journeying to a divine goal; and the journey and the sacrifice are both continually spoken of as a battle against the dark powers.' (p.183)

‘[The] part of the Angiras Rishis in the sacrifice is the human part, to find the word, to sing the hymn of the soul to the gods, to sustain and increase the divine Powers by the praise, the sacred food and the Soma-wine, to bring to birth by their aid the divine Dawn, to win the luminous forms of the all-radiant Truth and to ascend to its secret, far and high-seated home.’ (p. 187)

‘[The] gods are invoked for this great journey, adhvara yajña, the sacrifice that travels or is a travel to the home of the godheads and at the same time a battle: for thus it is sung, “Easy of travelling for thee is the path, O Agni, and known to thee from of old. Yoke in the Soma-offering thy ruddy (or actively moving) mares which bear the hero. Seated, I call the births divine” …. What path is this? It is the path between the home of the gods and our earthly mortality down which the gods descend through the [antariksha], the vital regions, to the earthly sacrifice and up which the sacrifice and man by the sacrifice ascends to the home of the gods.’ (p.188)

‘By the truth, in the revolution of the year, they broke Vala ....’ [RV X.62.2] (p. 177)

‘[The] secret eternal worlds have been closed to us, says the Rishi, by the movement of Time, by the months and years; therefore naturally they have to be discovered, revealed, conquered, created in us by the movement of Time ….’ (pp.179-180)
– Sri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda
The Vedic texts, and especially Sri Aurobindo’s translations of it, are an unparalleled resource to draw on for evidence that the Earth’s year is an eternal or perpetual path, which when traveled, known or observed correctly, will lead past all obstacles and Ignorance (Vala) to Truth-Consciousness/Unity-Consciousness. But no amount of study of Vedic wisdom can be a substitute for actually tuning in to and harmonizing one’s own consciousness and existence with the divine rhythms, tones, measures and progressions of the divine Earth and Cosmos. One literally tunes the instrument of one’s own being to the divine hymn of the Earth, to the divine harmonies of the Cosmos. The result is the realization of the hymn of the soul and an appreciation for how the soul, how the divine spark (Agni) expresses itself throughout all circumstances. One becomes, in a real sense, a Lord of the Dance. One knows the Universal Song that is being played out and can appreciate it and offer one’s own contributions to the harmony accordingly. [Note that in the image of Nataraja on the right (from wikipedia), his cosmic surround is perfectly divided by 12.]

As people take on and succeed in this task of tuning in to the real rhythms that underlie, inform and allow our material existence and evolution, appreciation will certainly grow for the depth of consciousness, the depth of gnosis of the Vedic Rishis; but the process of restoration, expansion and application of this consciousness, of this gnosis in our own age will take on an epic life of its own, centered here and now … not divorced from the past in any way, but also in no way dependent on the sacred texts of the past to validate our own experience of the Eternal Way (sanatana dharma) in the present. Our own living experience of the supramental divine consciousness-force that moves through all form and all time and space will generate its own field and monuments of gnosis, around which a new and much-improved civilization will form. [2]

The funny and intriguing thing is that people throughout the world do, albeit unconsciously, inharmoniously and ineffectively, hum along with the eternal song, travel along the eternal path. After all, all of us here on Earth without exception do share the same 360 degree ride or journey around the Sun. Accordingly, we recognize and celebrate yearly birthdays and anniversaries, as well as yearly holidays whose significance or origin is often tied to cosmological phenomenon. We recognize (and some celebrate) the change of seasons which are marked by the equinoxes and the solstices (i.e. the four cardinal points of the tropical zodiac). We measure the Earth’s body and cyclical movement in 360° and track our movement through the year in 12 stages or months. Some even study astrology and acknowledge the Earth’s movement through the Precession of the Equinoxes in 12 stages or astrological ages. These unconscious or partially conscious habits and practices we owe to our Vedic ancestors who over 5,000 years ago, knew and sang the Eternal Song, traveled and documented the Eternal Way that connects the individual to the whole. All these millennia latter we still manage to hum along or move along (however distorted, off-key, off-rhythm and tone-deaf) to the same underlying eternal measure.

Twelve spokes, one wheel, navels three.
Who can comprehend this?
On it are placed together
three hundred and sixty like pegs.
They shake not in the least.
(Dirghatama, Rig Veda 1.164.48)

Unfortunately, and somewhat ironically, most Indians who do remember and value their Vedic heritage enough to try to consciously hum, sing or move along with the Earth’s hymn, to celebrate the Vedic sacrifice and to resurrect the sanatana dharma, are typically some 23-24 days out of synch with the tune of the Earth’s year which is perpetually and perfectly marked out in 360° time and space by the equinoxes and the solstices. Few Indians can actually agree on what the true Vedic calendar/sacrifice/year/hymn is that should be celebrated or sung; and so their ‘singing’, or their celebrations of the Vedic sacrifice – of the year and of larger cycles of time (such as the Kumbha Mela) – are terminally ill-coordinated and inauspiciously disharmonious, not in keeping with the Earth’s own sacred or eternal measure and rhythm as set by the four cardinal points.

To be or move in perfect time with the Earth’s own song, its own perpetual and ancient laws and truth, one cannot drift one’s attention from, or drag behind the 12 month year which is absolutely set, fixed or stabilized by the four equinoctial and solstitial points. Yet post-Vedic astrologers, temple priests, yogis and cosmologists of our modern age – who imagine they are carrying on the Vedic Way in correct fashion – do drift and drag behind this true and stable measure. Therefore ignorance of the Eternal Way of Harmony, ignorance of Cosmic Dance remains and the ‘eternal worlds’ that could be opened for individuals and for a larger collective by being in proper tune with the months and years, with the real measures and rhythms of our evolutionary journey, remain closed for the vast majority.

It may sound far fetched to some readers that any of this matters at all. If so, just do an experiment and start singing out of synch, out of rhythm, and out of tune with a song and see what happens. It is not pretty. Add a few more out of synch and out of tune and disharmonious people to the mix. Then what? Quickly the lack of resonance, attunement and alignment becomes a problem … a noisy, unmanageable, unintelligible, unpleasant chaos. After this exercise (even if just in one’s own imagination), is it so hard to imagine that huge problems arise when humanity loses its consciousness of and alignment with the rhythms of the Earth and our Cosmic surround, or that greater unity and harmony arise when humanity attunes and aligns itself with the Earth’s rhythms.

As it is, multitudes of nations, religions, scientists, scholars, spiritual seekers and teachers sing countless conflicting, out of tune and out of time songs and the results are not good. Individuals and collectives express themselves with no real awareness or consciousness of a central shruti or unifying tone and no common rhythm. Our civilization carries on in its fragmented and fractious ways, oblivious that self-expression and individual or group action can actually be executed in harmony with a central pulse and fundamental song which are common to all beings on Earth and are the unifying force and field of our shared evolutionary journey in time and space. The vehicle or container of this shared journey is the Year – its unifying and compelling force/pulse/shruti is the Sun. The habit or custom of taking this common journey and common center for granted and not making efforts to harmonize ourselves according to its eternal, ancient and perpetual truth and law, is a habit of ignorance – a true and titanic blind spot of the modern mind.

Many in our era teach or preach of the need for global harmony and unity, but very few understand the real axis, the real upholding law or truth or ‘Lord’ of our collective existence and evolution in time and space. How can one teach of harmony and unity when one does not know the actual Song being sung? Until one knows the REAL common song or hymn that connects us to the cosmic harmony and hence to the divine truth-consciousness, there is only so much one can comprehend or transmit to others about the eternal, unifying and all-harmonizing Truth of Being and Becoming. [3] Just as real harmony is based on a real song and its real rhythms, movements, measures and tones … a real world sanga or harmonious world community must be based on the very real rhythms, movements, measures, structures, laws of our Earthly existence. No real sanga is going to emerge from any religion’s or any teacher’s philosophically, ideologically, academically, mentally, emotionally or faithfully contrived center or field. It has literally got to be the Real Deal if the center is going to hold, persist and transform our modern cacophonous, dog-eat-dog, free-for-all ‘global pillage’ into a well-coordinated, harmonious truth-consciousness global village. [4] Philosophically, ideologically, mentally or emotionally contrived fields always collapse in on themselves and/or dissolve via their creators’ own ignorance of what is real dharma or real upholding truth. In short, no idea of a Sun, or belief in a Sun, is going to uphold and harmoniously sustain a Solar System.

As I began winding down this article, a Sanskrit word for the year kept popping into my head – samvatsara. I noticed that samvat actually sounds something like ‘same vat’ in English, which is truly what the year is, i.e. the unifying container or vessel of our common experience. It turns out that sam means ‘together with, along with, together, altogether, conjunction, union, completeness, to join together, to place together’. Vat means ‘to surround, encompass, to tie, string, connect’ as well as ‘to divide, partition’. And sara interestingly enough means ‘course, motion, stretching out, extension’. The connotation is thus something to the order of ‘a unified, all-encompassing, all-connecting whole movement or course or extension of being’. The Vedic Rishis flat out knew that samvatsara – the year – was the Real Deal, the real unifying container, the real and unifying journey that joins together all past, present and future Earthly beings. Natural and geometric division and partitions of the year, such as the days, months and seasons, were an acknowledgement of unity, of the sacred way parts of the whole fit and move together … not a conspiracy of fragmentation.

Interestingly enough, the correct Sanskrit formation of the word sanga, which is commonly used to described as one’s spiritual community, is actually samgha, meaning it hails from the same root word as samvatsara as defined above. The suffix gha is something of an exclamation point, meaning ‘verily’, ‘surely’ or ‘indeed’, indicating that a samgha/sanga is that which is indeed or truly joined together or united.

After reading about and considering the depth of the Vedic Rishi’s gnosis of the very real eternal path towards a divine and terrestrial harmony, perhaps some can begin to understand how far off-center and out of tune our own consciousness and actions have flown or drifted from the Eternal Way and how important it is to begin a process of re-cognition of and realignment with our own material reality.


Endnotes

[1] The majority of Sanskrit definitions in this article were found in the Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon.
[2] The Mother’s Temple was intended to be such a monument of gnosis, but as discussed elsewhere [see www.matacom.com] it was distorted by those in charge of its construction.
[3] Andrew Cohen comes to mind here, but he is certainly not alone with regards to this limitation.
[4] I borrowed this ‘global pillage’ pun from the book Global Village or Global Pillage by Jeremy Brecher and Tim Costello. (1998, South End Press)

© Lori Tompkins 2010

Related Articles:
* Number and the Supramental Matrix
* The Simultaneity of Time, Spirit and Matter 
* Macrocosm, Microcosm & the Laws of Time and Space
* 'A Higher Vision of Time Is Needed...' (Quotes from PNB's Time & Imperishability and some commentary)
* The ALL-pervading Energy of Time - the New Time (Quote from PNB's The New Way, a study in the rise and establishment of a gnostic society).

* ‘The Geometry and Superstructure of Time’ 

* 'Time as a Power (not an Enemy) of Self'  

* Learning the One Song, Learning the Universe
* The Vedic Circle of 9 and 0

T O   S H O W E R   T H I S   B L O G / P O S T  with   W E B   L O V E 
S H A R E   IT  using  A N Y  of  the  I C O N S  below  

6 comments:

  1. Lori,
    You write beautifully as always. I loved your explanation of a natal chart. You take a complex subject and make it very approachable for many. Thank you, Mary Ellen

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  2. Thanks Mary Ellen for your kind comments.

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  3. This reminds me of Teilhard de Chardin's beautiful Hymn to the Universe.

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  4. Beautiful and eloquent
    To read between the lines, understanding metaphors, and moving in the direction of the inexpressible using the medium of language is the eastern path: thank you for this pristine piece

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  5. You're a real delight to read, Lori.

    One thing I've never been able to do is listen to music while reading. Listening while browsing the internet is fine, not that I do much of that, but to concentrate on reading requires full attention. This is the nature of the decision at hand now; to listen or read.

    It's not much of a contest if I'm honest; to read Sri Aurobindo's work now after 12 months' 'experience' of what it actually means should hopefully prove more rewarding than reading it 'blind' as it were. If I get stuck may I vent any Ignorance here? Hasn't stopped me so far.

    Yesterday evening I 'saw' what seemed to be a whiteboard with some black markings on it. They weren't script as such, the whole thing seemed more of a diagram than a piece of text. The markings were not placed randomly, there seemed to be some design or order to them but made no discernable sense at all. This occurred twice over a 10 minute period. Any ideas?

    Do you recall what it was you were singing along to, Lori? Just curious.


    "There may be trouble ahead, but while there's…" no, there's no music for now is there? That's right.

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  6. I am not sure I understand the choice/decision to be made. The reading of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Thea to me is like listening to the music of the Soul, of the Earth, of the Cosmos. When I started reading it I immediately felt that this was my song ... my consciousness heard and harmonized with their consciousness. Note that the Vedic Rishis or Seers were Singers ... they sang the eternal harmonies/Truths of Being and Becoming.

    Regarding venting I would say please no venting. I think that word invites jumbled thought; but maybe 2x a month feel free to share ... practice making sense, and being concise, so that others can understand and benefit from your learning and questions. Nothing too long ... a few paragraphs maybe, I limit it to 2x a month b/c I have a lot on my plate.

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