Ares, Aphrodite and Hephaestus

Ares, Aphrodite and Hephaestus

…the minstrel struck the chords in prelude to his sweet lay and sang of the love of Ares and Aphrodite of the fair crown, how first they lay together in the house of Hephaestus secretly; and Ares gave her many gifts, and shamed the bed of the lord Hephaestus. But straightway one came to him with tidings, even Helius, who had marked them as they lay together in love. And when Hephaestus heard the grievous tale, he went his way to his smithy, pondering evil in the deep of his heart, and set on the anvil block the great anvil and forged bonds which might not be broken or loosed, that the lovers might bide fast where they were. But when he had fashioned the snare in his wrath against Ares, he went to his chamber where lay his bed, and everywhere round about the bed-posts he spread the bonds, and many too were hung from above, from the roof-beams, fine as spiders’ webs, so that no one even of the blessed gods could see them, so exceeding craftily were they fashioned. But when he had spread all his snare about the couch, he made as though he would go to Lemnos, that well-built citadel, which is in his eyes far the dearest of all lands. And no blind watch did Ares of the golden rein keep, when he saw Hephaestus, famed for his handicraft, departing, but he went his way to the house of famous Hephaestus, eager for the love of Cytherea of the fair crown. Now she had but newly come from the presence of her father, the mighty son of Cronos, and had sat her down. And Ares came into the house and clasped her hand and spoke and addressed her:

Come, love, let us to bed and take our joy, couched together. For Hephaestus is no longer here in the land, but has now gone, I ween, to Lemnos, to visit the Sintians of savage speech.

So he spoke, and a welcome thing it seemed to her to lie with him. So they two went to the couch, and lay them down to sleep, and about them clung the cunning bonds of the wise Hephaestus, nor could they in any wise stir their limbs or raise them up. Then at length they learned that there was no more escaping. And near to them came the famous god of the two strong arms, having turned back before he reached the land of Lemnos; for Helius had kept watch for him and had brought him word. So he went to his house with a heavy heart, and stood at the gateway, and fierce anger seized him. And terribly he cried out and called to all the gods:

Father Zeus, and ye other blessed gods that are forever, come hither that ye may see a laughable matter and a monstrous, even how Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, scorns me for that I am lame and loves destructive Ares because he is comely and strong of limb, whereas I was born misshapen. Yet for this is none other to blame but my two parents—would they had never begotten me! But ye shall see where these two have gone up into my bed and sleep together in love; and I am troubled at the sight. Yet, methinks, they will not wish to lie longer thus, no, not for a moment, how loving soever they are. Soon shall both lose their desire to sleep; but the snare and the bonds shall hold them until her father pays back to me all the gifts of wooing that I gave him for the sake of his shameless girl; for his daughter is fair but bridles not her passion.

So he spoke and the gods gathered to the house of the brazen floor. Poseidon came, the earth-enfolder, and the helper Hermes came, and the lord Apollo, the archer god. Now the goddesses abode for shame each in her own house, but the gods, the givers of good things, stood in the gateway; and unquenchable laughter arose among the blessed gods as they saw the craft of wise Hephaestus. And thus would one speak, with a glance at his neighbor:

Ill deeds thrive not. The slow catches the swift; even as now Hephaestus, slow though he is, has out-stripped Ares for all that he is the swiftest of the gods who hold Olympus. Lame though he is, he has caught him by craft, wherefore Ares owes the fine of the adulterer.

Thus they spoke to one another. But to Hermes the lord Apollo, son of Zeus, said:

Hermes, son of Zeus, messenger, giver of good things, wouldst thou in sooth be willing, even though ensnared with strong bonds, to lie on a couch by the side of golden Aphrodite?

Then the messenger, Argeiphontes, answered him:

Would that this might befall, lord Apollo, thou archer god— that thrice as many bonds inextricable might clasp me about and ye gods, aye, and all the goddesses too might be looking on, but that I might sleep by the side of golden Aphrodite.

So he spoke and laughter arose among the immortal gods. Yet Poseidon laughed not, but ever besought Hephaestus, the famous craftsman, to set Ares free; and he spoke, and addressed him with winged words:

Loose him, and I promise, as thou biddest me, that he shall himself pay thee all that is right in the presence of the immortal gods.

Then the famous god of the two strong arms answered him:

Ask not this of me, Poseidon, thou earth-enfolder. A sorry thing to be sure of is the surety for a sorry knave. How could I put thee in bonds among the immortal gods, if Ares should avoid both the debt and the bonds and depart?

Then again Poseidon, the earth-shaker, answered him:

Hephaestus, even if Ares shall avoid the debt and flee away, I will myself pay thee this.

Then the famous god of the two strong arms answered him:

It may not be that I should say thee nay, nor were it seemly.

So saying the mighty Hephaestus loosed the bonds and the two, when they were freed from that bond so strong, sprang up straightway. And Ares departed to Thrace, but she, the laughter-loving Aphrodite, went to Cyprus, to Paphos, where is her demesne and fragrant altar. There the Graces bathed her and anointed her with immortal oil, such as gleams upon the gods that are forever. And they clothed her in lovely raiment, a wonder to behold.

  1. xiaoyaoxingzhe
    March 13, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Thomas Taylor said, in his translation of Description of Greece by Pausanius

    “If the reader carefully attends to this theory, when he reads Homer, or the fables of any other ancient theological poet, and is able to apply it properly, he will find that the theology of the ancients is founded in a theory no less beautifully connected than astonishingly profound; no less enchanting than scientific; no less true than marvellous and mystic.”

    Thank you for this, and for the key for beginning to understand the meaning of this myth which you kindly provided elsewhere (Q. 72) on this site!

  2. xiaoyaoxingzhe
    March 23, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    Here is a bit more, apposite I think, from Thomas Taylor, commenting (in his Hymns of Orpheus) on the observations of Porphyry (in quotes):

    Whatever nature binds, nature again dissolves; and that which the soul conciliates into union, the soul disperses and dissolves. Nature, indeed, bound the body to the soul; but the soul ties herself to the body. Hence, nature frees the body from the soul, but the soul by the exercise of philosophy, separates herself from the deadly bands of the body.
    And again, in the next sentence, “Death is of two kinds, the one equally known to all men, when the body is separated from the soul; but the other peculiar to philosophers, when the soul is separated from the body: nor does the one always attend the other.” Now this two-fold death we must understand in the following manner: that though some particular body may be loosened from the soul, yet while material passions and affections reside in the soul, the soul will continually verge to another body, and as long as this inclination continues, remain connected with the body. But when from the dominion of an intellectual nature, the soul is separated from material affections, it is truly liberated from the body; though the body at the same time verges and clings to the soul, as to the immediate cause of its support.

  3. April 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Hmm, well, having opened a can of worms, xioayoa…thank you for some supporting quotes that cause me to look more deeply at the text of Gene Wolfe’s Latro novels and consider.

    Apologies for having nothing in particular to add to the matter at hand other than appreciation, however. Somedays it’s spice…

  4. xiaoyaoxingzhe
    April 11, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Here is a quote from Proclus:

    “Autumn belongs to Aphrodite because during this season seed is thrown to earth, and the task of Aphrodite is to mix fertile germs and lead them to communion with the cause of becoming.”

    It appears that this quote, especially the latter half, relates the myth above even more closely to the Short Catechism and its repeated discussion of seeds, but the seasonal reference should probably be considered as well. Can anyone help me out?

  5. April 11, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    You wrote: especially the latter half …

    Yes, seed is sown earlier in the season, but autumn (which indeed belongs to the Beloved Aphrodite) is the time of ripening of the form (or “communion with the cause of becoming”).

  6. xiaoyaoxingzhe
    April 12, 2010 at 1:50 am

    Considering your last paragraph in the discussion of “form”, it would seem that it is no coincidence that the mythological daughter of Ares and Aphrodite is Harmony.

    And you refered “autumn” to “water”. Does that mean “cold” relates to “winter” (duh 🙂 ), “air” relates to “spring” and “fire” relates to “summer”? It seems so obvious now that it is hardly worth asking, and yet I hadn’t made those connections before.

    But I will ask this: Aphrodite is autumn; is it important which “gods” the other seasons relate to? (Important in the sense of opening up the theory).

  7. April 12, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    The assignment of elements and elementary qualities to specific seasons (and parts of the Magnum Opus) varies depending upon what aspect of the truth of a thing one is trying to bring out.

    Autumn is thus often related to Earth (cold and dry). Winter is often related to Water (cold and wet). Spring is often related to Air (hot and wet). Summer is often related to Fire (Hot and dry). As, for instance, in the Donum Dei:

    …the year is divided into four parts, and so is our blessed work. The first is Winter – cold and moist, the second is Spring – hot and moist, and flourishing. The third is the summer time – hot and dry, and red. The fourth is the harvest – cold and dry, which is the time of gathering of fruit.

    Or, slightly more convoluted, as found in Aurora Consurgens:

    For three months Water preserves and nourishes the foetus in the womb [in Winter – jR], Air nourishes it for the second three [in Spring – jR], Fire guards for the third three [in Summer – jR]. The infant will never come to birth [i.e. ‘ripen’ in Autumn – jR] until these months are expired, then it is born and quickened by the Sun, for that is the quickener of all things that are dead.

    So, here, though Earth is reserved for autumn, we are also reminded of Fire. Why? Because Autumn is a time of both slowing (the leaves are falling, trees are becoming bare) and quickening (everything is coming to maturity and ripeness).

    Never be caught by any system. Flow with the symbols.

    Autumn (as earth), in between Summer and Winter (fire and water), shares to some degree in the nature of both. Early Autumn shares some of the fiery heat of Summer, while late Autumn shares some of the cool water of winter (before it is too cold). Thus, it shares something with Spring which is also between Winter and Summer.

    Harmony indeed!

  8. xiaoyaoxingzhe
    May 2, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Why is it sometimes said that there are two Vulcans, an internal and an external?

  9. May 8, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    There is a fire in the earth, and there is a fire in the sun. The one is indicative (in the WORK) of the transformative energies existing within a given practitioner like spiritus/vitality, while the other is indicative of the transformative energies existing without the practitioner like the baraka/grace of a Master Alchemist, or the transformative potential within a situation or exercise. These are seen as different in their relation to the individual practitioner, yet each share the nature of heat (which is indicative of their unity). The skillful application of the external fire can serve to modulate and refine the manifestation and sublimation of the internal fire.

  10. brkkuroi
    October 24, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    I would like to make some comments about the above passages , hopefully get some feedback…
    First of all, Hephaestus, in my understanding.represents the demiurge who “makes” and “unmakes” the world or in other words “binds’ or “loosens” the bonds that keeps the “things” of the world together. Hephaestus, as the demiurge, does not “create the world” out of nothing so much as takes the things that surrounds us and “melts” them down to their essence( Hephaestus is a blacksmith) which is the prime matter. Abul Qasim al Iraqi explains the material as being like a magic pocket which contains virtually everything in the world around us, “Materia prima is to be found in a mountain which contains a measureless quantity of uncreated things. In this mountain is every kind of knowledge that can be found in this world. There is no knowledge, understanding , thought, interpretation consideration…” and Al Iraqi goes on to list virtually every phenomenal reality that can be thought of ; experienced, expressed etc.The heat which Vulcan uses melts metal, and in that “molten state” the metal can be formed or reformed into virtually any object you can think of. In this process Venus and Mars are “unwilling” accomplices. When I first read this passage,I thought of Empedocles distinction of the forces that maintain- and destroy- the world as being Love and Strife. I found through a little bit of research that Love does correspond to Venus while Mars corresponds to strife.In addition, I found this in Empedocles,” In anger(Strife) all are diverse in form and separate, but they come together in Love and are desired by each other.” In other words, mars represents the desire to remain separate, apart etc. while Venus represents the urge to merge, to lose the separate identity etc. It would also seem to me that Mars represents Fire (a traditional association) while Venus would be associated with Water and with desire( specifically the desire for generation but generation could also be re-generation.) Venus is often represented as arising out of the waters or the ocean. In that sense, mars would represent the heat that creates coagulation and “fixes” things while Venus would represent the force of dissolution. The “seed”, which is connected with generation, is also,potentially connected with re-generation. The “seed’ is identified, elsewhere on this site, with the essence of the mind i.e. “freed from husks.” When I think of a seed, I think of something very small that can be planted in the ground, and then grow into a tree. The fruit which is produced contains the essence of the tree which is the seed. Similarly, all of the many things which appear to have grown up around us actually exist , in seed form, within the mind.(nous) Also, Mars, according to Burckhardt, represents the Active Imagination while Venus is related to the passive imagination, and according to Burckhardt,” the passive imagination(of Venus) is related to the active imagination of Mars as is wax to a seal.” In that sense, the passive imagination would also represent those aspects of the world that “attract” and appear to be external to us when the source of those “imaginations” i.e. the world which is around us is found within us in the active imagination and ultimately within the Nous. Venus, in that sense could, represent those myriad desires and fantasies that, to use Shakespeare’s phrase that lead to ” the expense of Spirit in a waste of shame.” At the same time the harshness and precipitate nature of mars and of the passions can lead to that very condition as well. Vulcan represents the wise use of the Fire ( and of the “molten metal”. “molten metal could be like mercury in that it is both metal and a liquid.) Vulcan is “lame” which means he cannot move as fast as Mars but for that very reason he can use the Fire in a way that is measured way and corresponds to the balance (mizan) that is a part of the nature of all things. The seed which finally ” comes to communion with the cause of coming” in the Autumn makes me think of the line from the Bible, “Verily, verily I say unto you except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and dies it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit.” In other words, in order for a “seed” to grow into a plant it has to shed its “husk” and “die” in order to bear much fruit. Autumn is traditionally associated with death but…also with the communion and consumation of all becoming.

  11. October 25, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    My Dad was always warning me about taking such huge mouthfuls of food at dinner. He said one day I would choke and end up face down in the soup. But he wouldn’t let me spit it out, said it was a waste of food.
    No, he would tell me to take my time, chew slowly, carefully … and then swallow.

  12. brkkuroi
    October 26, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Xiaoyao, I understand and completely agree with both your father’s warnings AND his remedy!

  13. October 26, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Whosoever undertakes this study without having awakened to a new sensitivity that can place itself in contact with the spiritual stream which gave life to the Tradition in the first place, will succeed only in filling his [or her] head with words, symbols, and fantastic allegories. It is not a question of intellectual understanding but of a different way of thinking and feeling . . . a different way of perceiving and knowing.

    The Hermetic Tradition

  14. brkkuroi
    October 27, 2014 at 11:39 am

    I understand your point. The “symbols, words, and allegories” are indicators or “fingers pointing at the moon.” It is too easy to drown in a morass of metaphors and lose contact with the “One Thing Needful” And if you do have contact with the “One thing Needful” it is possible to understand, intuitively, how and when the different metaphors apply and when they don’t.

  15. October 27, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    All very true. So, how does one foster contact with the one thing needful?

  16. brkkuroi
    October 28, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    “So, how does one foster contact with the one thing needful”. The word ‘foster” indicates that contact with the “one thing needful” is already in some way present but it is a matter of “fostering” i.e. helping to develop, nurture etc that contact. Looking over both my posts and your responses over the past year’s time, I think I can see a pattern, and the pattern(or rather MY pattern) is summed up by this short sentence from Mary Atwood,” Intellectual seekers get quickly deeper but have more to overcome.” The first thought that came to me when reading your pithy post was:”Turn the Light around.” So… since I know the phrase, and I have read The Secret of the Golden Flower as well as similar materials concerning the Nous from the Eastern Orthodox Church the question is simple: Why haven’t I done that? I certainly have made “stabs’ in this direction, but I feel that my situation is a bit like the man in A Perfumed Scorpion who orders curry and rice. First, the curry is ready , but the man(being impatient like most of us) can’t wait so he gobbles down the curry. When the rice comes next, he asks for more curry but since he doesn’t want to let the rice go cold( and still being hungry…) he eats the rice and so on…ad infinitum! I know from past observation of my own journey, that I will “consume” the “hot products” i.e. the curry or any emotionally intense experience whether “religious” or not or the “cool products” i.e. the rice or “cool” and “detached” intellectual materials.
    I remember, for example, that I completely MISSED the intent of the translation of Cleary that refers to the subtle relationship between the intellect and the emotions( though you were kind enough to point out that fact….) I could go on about this…but that would be part of the problem! There is a difference between “knowing about”( the discursive mind) and KNOWING(Nous). I guess what I am now understanding is that the “discursive mind” doesn’t have to be “destroyed” or “removed” (as is often the case with various cults) but put into its proper,subordinate, relationship with the Nous but …again, there is a difference between “knowing about” and KNOWING

  17. October 28, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    The “first thought” was from your Nous, the second from your conscience. Both of these are aspects of that inner teacher that can help you along the way. Your intellectual mind need not fear, it will be given much tastier food to deal with (unless it lies in the camp of those who would “rather be a king in hell than a Servant in Heaven”). Shah’s story of the king’s falcon and the ruined castle inhabited by owls points directly at this situation.
    We all of us are like one who stands at a window looking out at the brightly-lighted busy street. If we should happen to turn around and look behind us, toward the interior, all seems gloomy and dark, impenetrable. Gradually, however, as our eyes adjust to a different light, we begin to discern a much more subtle garden, with paths and fragrances and movements we simply could not perceive with our eyes, nose and ears full of loud, flashy, polluted, frenetic activity.
    Leave aside a little while each day in which you can quiet down and begin to look inward; allow that subtle world to begin to open toward you. This, of course, is only a beginning. All those things you have read about will eventually come to be experienced in a different way, and you will be called upon to remember and employ postures, alignments and attitudes which at the moment are only theoretical, like that indication on a map that only comes to full five-dimensional life as you reach that spot and are standing there looking at it.

  18. brkkuroi
    October 29, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Xiaoyao, you have given me a very valuable “seed”, and it is now up to me to HELP (because I cannot do it on my own) to create the conditions in which it can develop and be “fostered.” I am reminded of a funny story about the movie comedian W. C. Fields. Fields had a very, very quick and perceptive mind but he was also, alas, an alcoholic. Fields took it into his head that he was going to be a gardener and and “get closer to nature” so…he planted flowers in his garden, and after waking up past noon after an all night bender, Fields would as he was strolling or rather ambling through his garden , take a cane to the flowers and shout “Bloom , damn you bloom!” Well, hopefully, I do not approach this work in the “field” in Fields’ manner! Your above post was absolutely brilliant and very perceptive, and I appreciated it very much.

  19. brkkuroi
    December 4, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    When I first began reading- not raeding- the posts here at Al Kemi Notebook, I thought that I would have to read the WHOLE corpus of materials that were recommended-although I realize the word “recommend” is probably too strong and not accurate. What I have discovered is that the desire to “master the corpus”-whether this desire is conscious or subliminal, and in my case, it was both- constitutes a subtle trap. The problem is that the desire to “master the corpus” can become like Borges’ library in which one book leads to another book and another book….and ad infinitum, and then we – or rather I because I am only talking about myself though others may have the same problem- have gone( to use Omar Ali Shah’s perceptive phrase) not “a bridge too far” but ” a book too far.” Although I am grateful for the treasure trove of books represented and for the reading I have done so far have begun to realize that each book is a “leaf” or a page from One Book that contains all the others. I have spent the last month gradually, slowly reducing my mental “chatter” (slowly…gradually because “greed” and “impulsiveness’ in whatever form it presents itself -which would include the “desire to reform- is self defeating…although it may be difficult to perceive this self defeating quality without… first eliminating the greed and impulsiveness..so it IS a self perpetuating loop!) So…I am currently approaching these matters in a slower and hopefully more respectful manner..the same way that a craftsman respects his tools!

  20. December 8, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Think of it as a banquet to which you (and many others) have been invited. The food has been selected for its nourishment and benefit to you, but represents an ancient cuisine, the cooking of which is all but forgotten. The taste is a little strange, at first, but there you are, seated at the table.

  21. December 8, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    How would you act? You would certainly not think the host expects you to gorge yourself on every offered delicacy. No, you would taste, consider, comment, reflect, then taste again, growing in appreciation and developing a cultured knowledge of the fare.

  22. December 9, 2014 at 10:00 am

    With plenty of water to cleanse and refresh the palate between mouthfuls?

  23. brkkuroi
    December 9, 2014 at 10:06 am

    In addition, I am reminded of a tree that needs water. In order to gain access to water, the roots have to grow to ‘find” the Source of water. This is a natural and not contrived process,for the tree, and yet it is part of the Wisdom of Nature that comes from “being a tree.” Similarly there is this passage found in The Sufis::” When the lion is sick, he eats of a certain shrub and cures himself. He does this because the illness has an affinity for a certain plant or the essence of it. The cure is always known to the disease. Release this knowledge and you will know more than the doctor who can only recall facts and memories which seem to apply.There is a difference between hopeful assumptions and positive knowledge. And every case of sickness is slightly different.” This process eating the “certain shrub” is natural and not contrived process and is part of the Wisdom of nature which come from “being a lion.” Human beings are neither trees nor lions(although we share much in common with both) but what I am now trying to do is become aware of my “need ” for water-as with the tree- and my “need” for the “certain shrub” as with the lion but , in addition, I like your analogy of the banquet because I can see that the way in which you conduct yourself at a banquet, the recognition of the Host and the adab that is a part of “tasting” is itself a part of the nourishment of being a “human being” The first two analogies of the tree and the lion had already occurred to me but your metaphor of the banquet has forced me to think a little bit more deeply so I thank you for that.

  24. December 11, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Interesting how you both came up with “water” independently. And here is a quote to take that a little further:

    The stage of ‘Water’, also symbolising purification in some traditions, takes place when the teacher is in position to amalgamate the watery (that is the mobile and purified) element in the postulant with ‘water’ in another sense. This latter water is a finer substance of a spiritual kind, partaking of the nature of energy. When this is possible, a certain kind of ‘mobility’ can take place. In procedural terms, it means the stage when the higher elements of the mind and individuality are connected through the intermediary of the teacher.

    -Idries Shah, Sufi Thought and Action, “Sufi Spiritual Rituals and Beliefs”

  25. December 13, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Thankyou Xiaoyao, May I question you?

    Does this ‘Water’ correspond to the conscious element in the Body, refined from the common sense?

    E.J. Gold Speaks of ‘waking the machine’ (Practical Work on Self), by simply watching, recording, and refining away its habitual link with the sensorium.

    Along this path of inner refinement is it apparent to a teacher when certain criteria of self-to-self discipline have been met, also what role does a teacher play once this first step has been reached?

    Sincerest thanks, Otove

  26. December 15, 2014 at 12:46 am

    Dear Otove,

    Nice to hear from you!

    As you will appreciate, even without invoking quotes from other websites, there are many concepts that can be encompassed by the term “water.” The “Water” entry in the Cyclopedia introduces that range and would be worth another read after we first have a look at your own question and you have meditated upon it for a while.

    I chose the quote in the comment above because the two senses in which the author is using the term “water” is actually defined in the quote itself, so there is no need for confusion:
    a) water = the mobile and purified element in the student
    b) water = a finer substance of a spiritual kind, partaking of the nature of energy.

    “Mobile and purified”. How are these two concepts related? In alchemy one is supposed to dissolve. Dissolve what? The accidents, scoria and superfluities that make us believe that “I” am separate from the world, an independent unit sufficient unto myself. When these attitudes, biases and fixations dissolve, even if temporarily, we are then in a position to be more flexible, to be open to new impacts, and to grow into new areas previously blocked from us. If in this more “watery” state we direct our aspiration vertically (Thy Will) as we should, rather than horizontally (my will) as we usually do, then we may open ourselves to the action of “Water= a finer substance of a spiritual kind”, sometimes called Grace, or Baraka.

    Along this path of inner refinement is it apparent to a teacher when certain criteria of self-to-self discipline have been met, also what role does a teacher play once this first step has been reached?

    Yes, any teacher worth her salt will be acutely aware of the state of her student, not least because of having trodden the very same path herself. As to what role she might play, this again is answered in the quote: “the higher elements of the mind and individuality are connected through the intermediary of the teacher.”

    What is interesting is that the form of your question shows that part of you knew this already. But the part that knew is not the part that puts together words, and so that knowledge came out in a somewhat garbled form in the question.

  27. December 15, 2014 at 3:56 am

    Thanks Xiaoyao for your patience and charity.

    The, ‘part that questions’ clearly needs more exercise/growth/integration, and you have very kindly reinterpreted my garbled questions accounting for that immaturity.

    The other part of me, however, feels that a greater humility and sincerity are are required/owed, to break through this long and frustrating cycle of questioning.

  28. December 15, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    There you go again 🙂
    Integration is exactly right, but it is “the part that speaks” that needs integrating with “the part that knows.”
    Maturing is again right, but it applies to all of us all the time.
    Questioning, too, need not (and should not) be frustrating, as it is an important means to achieve this integration. It is, however, a skill which benefits from practice and also from review (eg, Hmm, I asked that question and suddenly I have a lot of useful information. But then I asked this question and there was no reply, or it was deleted. What was the difference? Could I have asked the second question in a more concise or cogent way? Did I consider the question first so that it asked exactly what I wanted to ask?)
    Humility and sincerity are not virtues, but postures bringing one into an alignment that allows “something” to work.

  29. brkkuroi
    December 16, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Mulling over earlier responses on this page, it occurs to me that “the teacher’ could correspond to the “teacher within”. The “mobility’ which is the salient characteristic of water in the reference from Shah given above could be contrasted to the “fixed” nature identified with “earth”-also found in Sufi Thought and Action. The “fixed’ quality of earth would refer to the fixed prejeudices, complexes, old and moldy ideas and grab bag of conditioned responses which give people very little real freedom but certainly give the illusion of freedom…a freedom which is based on capriciousness (self will) and thus “superfluity” rather than necessity. When there is a NEED, it seems to me, a question will be answered or to use that hackneyed phrase “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Shah also made the point that anything can serve, depending on the context, as a teacher depending on the preparedness of the student, the context, and the availability of the teaching. My reference to water above was based on this idea of ‘necessity” in that a tree will seek out water if it needs the water, and it will find that water based on a kind of inner wisdom that is natural to a tree. This does not mean that there is “only an inner teacher” and no outer teacher. On the contrary, it seems to me, that it would mean that only at the time and the place when the potential student has achieved some “mobility” from his own fixed ways of thinking is it possible to truly “meet” a teacher and for that teacher to provide materials. It seems to me that one of the problems with the english language is sometimes we spend so much time focusing on the Subject(the Teacher or the Pupil) or the Object(The Teacher or the Pupil) that what is forgotten is the verb “teaching”(the Action) which defines both the Teacher and the Pupil. As for the question of questions, Otove, I am in complete sympathy with your queries. It seems to me that trying to integrate (as Xiaoyao suggests) this inner knowledge “the part that knows” with the “part that speaks” is by no means an easy process. I am still struggling with it myself…but it is for this reason that I liked the analogy of the banquet which is based on adab(conduct) and anytime human beings are dealing with another…questions of adab have a way of cropping up. Learning the proper adab IS it seems to me a part of what humans need to learn…to find Living Water. I like the way Shah uses the word “conduct” in his works by the way. Conduct can refer to 1)the act of guiding or commanding 2) to behave or 3) the way in which electricity or other forms of energy are “conducted” through a medium.

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