image: Wikimedia commons (link).
The previous post discussing the significance of the Moon Festival explains (following the incisive and inspired analysis of Alvin Boyd Kuhn in Lost Light) that the moon is used in ancient myth and ancient wisdom the world over as the symbol of the body, which is illumined during the night by the light of the unseen sun, which is analogous in this particular metaphorical construct to the light of the divine, invisible spirit-fire.
That and other posts have explained that the crossing down to the "lower half" of the year was analogous to the incarnation of the soul within the human form. The lower half of the year is the half of the year in which night-time dominates over daylight -- when nights "cross over" to begin to be longer than the daylight hours, on the way down to the very lowest part of the year, the very "pit" of the winter solstice.
This toiling across the lower part of the year, from the "crossing down" point at fall equinox to the "crossing up" point at spring equinox, was used to convey subtle and powerful truths about our human existence. This incarnate life, in other words, was analogized by the lower half of the year during which night dominates.
During the night, we cannot see the sun. But, we can see the reflected rays of the invisible sun (the sun being invisible to us at night-time).
We can see the reflected rays of the invisible sun shining upon and reflecting out of the body of the moon. The moon actually has no light of its own, but it shines with a glory of light transmitted to it from the invisible sun.
In this way, the moon helps us to better understand our condition, for we are in a body that the ancient myths and metaphors associate with the moon, and yet we too are made alive by a light from the invisible and divine realm of spirit.
We are crossing through the lower-valley, the valley of night and of the shadow of death, where the reality of the spirit world is hidden from our plain sight. And yet we are not without access to the power and the glory of the unseen world: just as the moon at night is illuminated by the rays of the invisible sun, we and everyone we meet in this incarnate world have access to the light and warmth of the divine rays which come to us from a world which we cannot presently see (at least not with our physical eyes).
But, although like the moon in having access to the divine light of spirit, our situation is unlike the moon in that our access is to a divine light that is in fact within us and not completely external to us (unlike the case of the actual moon in the heavens, which does receive light from an external sun outside of itself). The moon metaphor is helpful in that the sun is invisible at night, as is the source of the invisible divine light to which we have access (we cannot physically see the divine world, just as we cannot see the sun at night).
But our connection to the Infinite is in fact internal and not completely external.
This is a very important point, and one that the ancient scriptures take great pains to explain and portray to us: the divine is within, and is not separate from you, not external to you. In the New Testament scriptures, for example, Jesus is portrayed saying, "For behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21) and Paul's letters declare, "Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you" (2 Corinthians 13:5).
As we have seen in many other discussions of this subject, this same message can be found being conveyed by various different sacred metaphors in myths the world over -- see for instance the specific discussion here, and a host of other related posts listed here.
For instance, in the image above depicting an important episode in the Mahabharata, Kunti is reciting a mantra to summon the divine Indra, who appears to her in an instant (and who is depicted here with a halo, which ties in to the metaphor of moon and sun discussed above). Kunti is depicted with her hands together in the Anjali mudra, the gesture of namaskaram: the acknowledgement of deity.
But note that this gesture is an acknowledgement of deity both in oneself and in another.
Thus the artwork above contains the message that Indra appears to Kunti instantly because Indra is always present with Kunti -- and what is true for her is true for each and every man and woman in this incarnate existence. We have an ever-present and unbreakable inner connection to the divine Infinite.
As Alvin Boyd Kuhn explains at great length in a very early passage in Lost Light (beginning around page 45), it is very important to understand what this means and what it does not mean. To acknowledge our own divine spark is not to deny the existence of an external divine Infinite. Alvin Boyd Kuhn explains:
Ancient religion was suspected of having left the monotheistic God out of its picture. It did not leave it out, but it had the discretion to leave it alone! The sage theologists reverenced it by a becoming silence! [. . .] But the pagan world provided a contact with a god dwelling immediately within the human breast. [. . .] And this implied no spirit of vaunting humanism or affront to deity. It was just the recognition of deity at the point where it was accessible. The real heresy and apostasy, the gross heathenism, is to miss deity where it is to be had in the blind effort to seek it where it is not available. [. . .] The kingdom of heaven and the hope of glory are within. They lurk within the unfathomed depths of consciousness. Divinity lies buried under the heavier motions of the sensual nature and the incessant scurrying of the superficial mind. 45-46.He goes on to argue that the externalization that took place through a literalistic interpretation of the ancient myths and scriptures moves all deity to someone or something outside of us, and thus "has left the rest of mortals unsanctified" by cutting us off from our own divinity (47).
This may seem like a philosophical, theological, or intellectual discussion -- but it has tremendous practical application and consequences.
Because it leads directly to the problem of the "Two Visions" which the Lakota holy man Black Elk described, between the vision of grasping and grabbing and chasing after the external (which leads to destruction of the earth around us, and ultimately to our own self destruction) and the knowledge that what we are really seeking is already available to us, all along (a vision of plenty, a vision of security, and a vision of peace and harmony).
Look again at the assertions that Alvin Boyd Kuhn articulates above. He says that externalizing the divine cuts us off from our divinity (the quotation is halfway down page 47). In the very next sentence he states that this externalization robs humanity at large of its birthright.
Cut off from accessing our inner connection to the infinite, we pursue it externally instead. And, I believe, under the vision of scarcity and lack that stems from the very concept we are here discussing, there is the urgency that we have to "race to get it" before someone else does -- leading to exactly the mindset of "little islands" amidst a "gnawing flood dirty with lies and greed" that Black Elk warns us against, the mindset of "everybody for himself," rushing down "a fearful road."
This is exactly the mindset that we can see running absolutely rampant to the point of literally threatening to tear the world apart around us right now -- the mindset that seeks to reduce humanity into little islands in the midst of a gnawing flood, to the point that they have no ability to band together to stand up for the dignity that is ultimately rooted in the acknowledgement that each and every man and woman you meet contains the spark of infinite divinity within and thus has infinite worth.
Examples are so numerous they hardly need to be listed here -- most readers can think of dozens without even trying. But for the sake of illustration, one might think of the blasting away of any attempts by communities to restrict the rush towards genetic alteration of the food supply: this is akin to the gnawing flood of lies and greed that seeks to isolate individuals into little islands, hanging on for dear life ("if you don't like it, then don't buy it, little individual island -- but you have no right to hold hands together with others and raise your voices together to make demands for your community or region regarding genetic modification of the crops, or the chemicals used on those crops and what they might be doing to bees or water tables or anything else").
If these crops or the chemicals that they are designed to have sprayed over them cause harm to men and women and children for the sake of "lower input costs" (and higher profit margins), then the vision which Black Elk warns us about is plainly taking place before our eyes: a rushing after getting more and more, regardless of the cost to others -- everybody for himself, rushing down a fearful road (a "race to the bottom").
Another example are wars of aggression waged under false pretenses in which thousands of men, women and children are killed, injured, or have their homes destroyed. Men and women in the United States and western Europe need to examine the available evidence very closely and objectively in order to determine whether or not they have been supporting or participating in criminal wars of aggression for the past fourteen (or more) years.
I would submit that the willingness to excuse, overlook, or attempt to justify the unjustifiable killing of other men, women and children in wars of aggression can be directly connected back to the denial of the inherent divinity present in each and every human being and the infinite worth and sacred nature of each and every man or woman regardless of where they live.
And also to an artificially-induced insecurity that comes from artificially externalizing something to which we already have access, something so profoundly valuable that Alvin Boyd Kuhn describes it as the "birthright" of humanity at large: its own divinity. And by externalizing what is internal, this error sets humanity off on a tremendous chase, a running after external answers, which then manifests itself on just about every other layer of the human experience.
The cutting off of humanity from deity "at the one point where it was accessible," to use Kuhn's phrase above, is what starts the whole wheel spinning in the wrong direction -- and it seems to be spinning faster and faster as (to use the metaphor of Black Elk) the flood eliminates the last interconnecting land forms between the "little islands" and leaves everyone isolated in the midst of the dirty rushing tide.
But, as I have said in previous posts on this subject, the good news is that this disconnect from what we actually need the most -- this cutting off from our most precious birthright, our constant connection to our own divine inner spark -- is in fact an artificial disconnect.
We are never actually disconnected from our own inner connection to the Infinite. What can be artificially induced by slight-of-hand or erroneous hermeneutics can be "un-induced" and corrected, as if in a flash.
We can wake up in an instant to our own actual connection to divine wisdom and knowledge, and to our connection with every other human being and indeed with the earth and with all of nature around us.
This may, in fact, be what we are here in this incarnate life to do: to wake up to that inner connection to the Infinite, to raise the awareness of and reflection of the divine within ourselves and as much as possible in others around us.
Indeed, the ancient scriptures and myths of humanity seem to say that this is precisely what we are down here to do in the first place (or a very big part of what we are here to do).