The Light and the Eye of the Cobra – River of the Sun 2015…

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The water was soft on his skin. He was used to bathing in the river at sunset, but there was something special about today. He looked across at the glittering image of the sun as its reflection folded on the water, bouncing the golden light across the gentle waves at him. A boat had just sailed by and he felt the lapping waves caressing his thighs. It tickled and he giggled to the river.

His reverie was disturbed by the sound of his Grandmother’s voice.”Wash, Amkhren, stop your daydreaming!”

He smiled his cheeky smile back at Snefer, sole guardian to him since the death of his parents many years ago, in the fire that had destroyed their home while they slept. The name, which he had given her, made her smile, though he was too young, yet, to know the kindness behind such tolerance. The name derived from a present from his father, which he still kept. His father had travelled in his own youth – selling his beautifully hand-woven carpets, which he would pile onto his faithful donkey, before leaving for days or even weeks. He always came back with tales of his adventures, and Amkhren’s delight had been to sit, balanced precariously on his knee; and listen . . .

One day, his father had returned with a carved wooden object – a present to his son. He took it from his bedroll and presented it, smiling as he did so. He had carved it out of a block of wood. It was like one of the drawings his father had shown him of the fabulous white pillars that legend said graced the upper parts of the river, just before it spread and flowed into the sea. The wooden carving had a square base, whose four corners rose in two stages, to meet at a single vertical point. The angle of the climbing sides became shallower half way up and this gave the whole things a comic element. His father had said that the place it was located was called Sneferu, and it was known as the bent pillar. The day after that, Amkhren had pointed at his grandmother and said, “Grandma is bent, too! Can we call her Sneferu, like the carving?”. His father had looked at his own mother and smiled in that mischievous way that his young son had inherited. Then he had said, “Well, we don’t want to anger the Gods, so let’s shorten it to Snefer!”

She had sighed, inside, on that day. But now the memory of that time brought back such happiness that old Snefer didn’t mind at all. She looked at the boy, who had finally taken off his loin-cloth and was washing himself. Her heart burned with feeling for him – the sole survivor of a family that had known how to love and to laugh, together. The sight of him always drove away the aches and pains that had begun to afflict her ageing frame . . . and the sad memories.

The sound of footsteps behind her made her whirl in alarm. After that, she could only drop to her knees in the sand.

“High Priestess, forgive me!” She bowed her head to the mud. Before her was one of the most beautiful and stately women she had ever encountered – Neferaset, the woman who led the worship at the Temple of Isis on the island of Philae, across the river a mile or so away. Alongside her brother, Anzety, they were the most powerful of the bright people.

“Do not be frightened, old woman,” said the glowing one, bending down to take the hands in the dust and pull Snefer up to her normal, if bent, standing position. “We are not in the temple, and, if I choose to leave the sanctuary of the island and walk along the river, I am going to meet strangers . . .”

Snefer kept her head bowed. But spoke, “My grandson is bathing in the river. Forgive his rude nakedness.”

Neferaset looked beyond the bowed woman and saw her relative. He was talking to another boy who stood ahead of him in the deeper water.

“And who is that with him?” she asked.

“There is no-one with him, High Priestess . . .”

Neferaset frowned, then moved the sight into place to gain more distance; and blinked her eyes, focusing on the two boys in the shallows. One was plainly visible, his naked form dancing in the water. But he was definitely speaking to another boy – one who stood motionless before him and had a bright but much less distinct outline . . .

Amkhren was delighted with his new friend. As golden as the ripples on the river, he had appeared before him in the beautiful sunset, smiling. He had asked Amkhren’s name, but refused to give his own. Now, the other watched, while Amkhren bathed, as though the act of seeing someone so vividly alive fascinated him. Amkhren was about to press for his name, again, when he heard his grandma calling from the bank.

“Amkhren, put on your garment and come here at once!”

Amkhren, saddened, but obedient, spun back to say goodbye to his friend; but the other boy was gone. He peered deep into the waves in case his friend had swum off, but there was no trace of the other. A second, and sterner call from Snefer dragged him from his searching. Panting, he retrieved his rags and tied them across his wet waistline. Only then did he look up to locate the old woman. She was standing, with her head bowed, next to another woman. This was a day of surprises! He looked harder, narrowing his eyes to carry his vision deeper into the tableau. Then, he stopped walking and his mouth fell open. There on the raised bank, his grandma was talking, though her head was bowed, with the High Priestess of Isis – a woman he had once stolen a look at from the sanctuary of a hastily built log raft, which had floundered shortly thereafter.

The day had been baking hot and Amkhren had walked along the river bank, far from where Snefer had said it was safe for him to travel. He had gradually been extending his exploring, because he knew that the Island of Philae lay somewhere beyond the next twist of the river’s course. On that day, he had caught sight of a temple procession on the sacred isle and had thrown caution to the wind, and trusted his life to a few logs hastily lashed together with the stalks of reeds in the way that his father had shown him, so long ago.

Before the raft had fallen apart, he had caught sight of the winged one, as he thought of her. She had shone in the sun in her finery and splendour. All around her there was total silence, total reverence. Beside her, another of equal stature walked, but this one was a man, tall and purposeful, yet with a hint of gentleness to his bearing.

The reed bindings had given way, the logs parted and, plunging into the river with a cry, he was forced to cling to the largest as it rolled. Gone were the wild thoughts that someday he would find a way to return to Philae to serve them. Choking on the inhaled river water, he clung desperately to the remains of his capsized raft and forced his legs to kick, pushing the log slowly towards the far bank.

Now the Goddess stood before him. Disguised, yes, but it was her . . .

Amkhren took a few more steps and fell to his knees, prostrating himself in the dust.

“I feel I know you, boy?” said the shining one.

“Oh, you couldn’t know us, High Priestess – we are just beggars in your world,” blurted out his grandma, her head still bowed.

Amkhren’s mind raced. Should he tell her of his moment on the raft? Surely it would be to invite death . . . and yet, he didn’t want to miss the only chance that his life might contain to reach for that impossible goal.

“The river has many secrets, High Priestess,” he managed, somewhat proud of his utterance.

“And dreams, perhaps?” the tone of her voice was soft. There was deadliness there, too, but her knives were sheathed.

She knelt down in the dust of the bank and, with gentle hands that yet contained more power than he had ever felt, pulled his head up to stare back at her almond eyes.

“And what does this young man dream of?” she asked, running a painted finger up the side of his jaw…

Seed Thoughts…

  1. The Outer is reflected Emotion…
  2. The Inner is reflected Form…
  3. The Outer reflects the Inner and the Inner reflects the Outer…
  4. The Principles: work not for themselves but for others.               The Companions: work not for others but for themselves.
  5. The Red, The White and The Green…
  6. ‘For the Druids physical death represented the mid-way point in the very long life of a Soul.’

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Greeting the Sun…

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Reading and Meditation to greet the sun…

THE ASSEMBLY OF THE WONDROUS HEAD

 

  1. …And then Bran the Blessed commanded his head to be struck off. ‘Take the head,’ he said ‘and cross over to the other side, carry it to the White Mount in Lugdunum, and bury it there facing South.’…
  1. … ‘You will be a long time on the road, feasting seven years in Harddlech with the Birds of Rhiannon singing to you, and the head will be as pleasant company to you as ever it was’…
  1. …‘At Gwales in Penfro you will be fourscore years, abiding there with the head, uncorrupted, until the Western Door be opened when you must make your way to Lugdunum to bury the head.’…
  1. …And the Head of Bran the Blessed was struck off, and the Company made their way towards Harddlech and the head went with them and there they sat themselves down and began to feast on meat and drink…
  1. …And even as they began to eat and drink there came three birds which began to sing them a certain song, and of all the songs they had ever heard each one was unlovely compared with that song…
  1. …And far must they look to see the singing birds over the deep, yet the song the birds sang was clear to them as if they were close by them; and at that feasting they were seven years…
  1. …At the end of the seventh year the Company set out for Gwales as instructed and there was for them there a Fair Royal Palace overlooking the sea, and in it was a Great Hall…
  1. …The Company went into the Great Hall, and two doors they saw open to the North and South and a third door to the West stood closed. ‘See yonder,’ said Manawydan, ‘the door we must not open.’…
  1. …And that night the Company were there without stint and were joyful and despite all the suffering they had endured no memory of it came to them nor any memory of any sorrow in the world…
  1. …There the Company passed Four-Score Years and none of them were aware of having spent a time more joyous and delightful and none of them grew any older than when they had first come there…
  1. …Nor was it any more irksome to them having the Head there than when Bran had been with them alive. And because of this the Company was renamed and was called the Assembly of the Wondrous Head…
  1. …’And after Four-Score Years Heilyn son of Gwyn said, ‘Shame on my beard if I do not open the Western Door to know if that which is said of it is true.’ So he opened the door and looked on the West and when he looked the Company were conscious of every loss they had sustained, and of every friend and kinsman they had missed and of every ill that had come upon them as if it had just befallen them. From that same moment they could not rest until they set out for Lugdunum and on reaching White Mount they buried the head which deed is one of the Three Happy Concealments for no plague can come to this Isle whilst it is buried here.

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Get thee behind me, Satan . . .

Fragment of Gospel John
Fragment of Gospel of John (Wikipedia)

We are in the final stages of preparing for our last talk of the year at Glastonbury, working with the Glastonbury Reception Centre, who have been our hosts for the full six talks which have run, bi-monthly in that lovely Somerset town. Thursday will see us, once again, returned to a winter landscape, allowing a wonderful contemplation of the full year which has just passed.

This pre-Christmas talk is entitled, “The Secret Language of Esoteric Christianity” and examines the very deep interpretation of the Gospels put forward by Maurice Nicoll, who studied with both Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, and was asked by both to prepare a detailed interpretation of these sacred works from the perspective of the thinking of the Fourth Way, as Gurdjieff’s teachings became known after his death. During his life Gurdjieff never compared ‘the System’, as he called it, to Esoteric Christianity, but close to his death, he said that the two were, in fact, very close in method.

It took Nicoll the last ten years of his life to prepare the two volumes – ‘The New Man’ and ‘The Mark’. They provide a very radical view of Christ’s mission, and one that can be uncomfortable to read; as it challenges the somewhat sanitised and moralistic nature of our relationship with this received wisdom in its conventional form.

Such sayings as “The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother, the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law” (Luke 12:53) should make us think very deeply about what might be hidden in such very specific wording . . .

On Thursday, we will be considering three of the parables and using them to uncover a language of meaning that is consistent across each. There are so many revelations as one considers each tale in the light of this deeper and profound approach. One of the parables we will not have time to cover is the narrative (quoted here from Matthew XVI 24-25) where Jesus says to Peter, his disciple “Get thee behind me Satan, thou art a stumbling block for me: for thou mindest not the things of God but the things of men”.  Now, in the context of a modern interpretation, where the word Satan is equated with the Devil,  this is an astonishing thing to say to anyone, let alone a close disciple.

The build-up to this is Peter’s insistence that Jesus is surely not going to die as others do. Nicoll proposes that the word Satan has a different context and really means mixing up the levels of meaning. It is accepted that the parables were capable of being read on at least two levels – the literal and something higher. Many of them, such as the the Pool at Bethesda, make no sense at all in the literal, and require much deeper probing if we are to tease out a profound and mystical meaning. We will be considering this story on Thursday. For now, and by way of the revelations that such probing can produce, let us consider the background to Jesus’ apparent attack on his friend.

Jesus goes on to say, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it”.

In the original texts, the word used here for ‘life’ was actually ‘soul’ and, strangely, if you ask people to quote the verse, they often use the word ‘soul’ in place of ‘life’.  Presumably, the church, having immortalised our ‘souls’ by placing them out of reach of all but priests, found it difficult to maintain the analogy with such contents of the actual Gospels.

As we are, according to the story, dealing with men who originated as humble fishermen, we have to question how Jesus taught them. We know nothing of the inner work he carried out with the disciples, but we can infer much from the implied dual meanings of the words of the Gospels.  The concept of levels of meaning was dear to the hearts of Gurdjieff and his followers, and not just from a neo-Christian perspective. He taught that it was vital to separate things so that they could be compared on their own levels – and to mix these risked enormous confusion.

One such example from the Gospels is the use of the word ‘Pharisee’ – apparently Jesus’ favourite targets. He was certainly direct in what he said, but did he really pick on a religious group so singly and savagely?  Or perhaps he meant the Pharisee in each of us – the one who made visible worship to show to others how much he/she was worthy of their admiration; and how much they adhered to the letter and the law of their worship? If this were the case, then what a powerful metaphor it created in a single word . . . of such impeccable and higher logic are great and secret languages woven.

Returning to our theme of laying down one’s ‘life’ or ‘soul’. If Jesus was seeking a way to convey the ‘me-ness’ of a person, then the word ‘life’ might not be specific enough. Life is more easily equated with the difference between a living and a dead thing. The animation is Life, mysterious and difficult to define though it may be. The interior life of a person is the garden of study for all philosophical systems, and it is reasonable to surmise that the word ‘soul’ was used to describe this. In our modern world, the birth of psychology has seen this notion replaced by the term psyche, but the meaning is very similar except that, from Greek times on, great scholars viewed the soul as containing all the interior experience of a person, including what we now call the spiritual, rather than just that belonging to the physical.

If we re-examine the notion of laying down a life in this context the quotation from the Gospel of John becomes:

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his soul for his friends.”

Here we have a very different metaphor; that a ‘man’ would die, not to his organic life, but to the current level of his interior state – something that few psychologists would dare approach. And yet, this teacher of fishermen, two thousand years ago, said it plainly. In laying down his ‘soul’ in this way, he approached the kind of conscious love that mystics attribute as the supreme teaching of all avatars who come into Life to teach in this way.

Could the phrase of Jesus: “Get thee behind me . . .” not indicate a simple layering from front to back, of the interior higher state having precedence?

In this context, Jesus goes on to speak of the difference between servants and friends. Servants are those who obey because of authority and without understanding. Friends are people close to us, perhaps Companions of the Way, for whom we are willing to lay down our present state of ‘me-ness’, sacrificing and risking all, in the centurion-like faith that such a ‘death’ of state renders us a vessel for inner re-birth. The centurion most certainly made a friend of his servant, thus transferring him between levels of his interior life.

In our talk on Thursday, we will approach more of this secret language and open it to discussion and examples from all our lives. It will be a rich and rewarding forum.

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The Seeds of Heaven

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A month from now, on the 4th December, the Silent Eye will be giving its last talk of our year in Glastonbury. It has been both a wonderful and a challenging year, and we have learned as much about ourselves as we have about the culture and interests of Glastonbury.

For the December 4th talk, we have chosen to close our year with the subject of Esoteric Christianity. We are using the works of Maurice Nicoll; particularly The New Man, first published in 1950, to illustrate a dramatic perspective on the deeper meanings of the Gospels. This talk will focus on the secret language and metaphors used by those who documented the life of Christ.

Nicoll died in 1953, three years after the publication of The New Man. His was a long and dedicated life, during which he left behind a lucrative Harley Street psychiatry practice to work with G. I. Gurdjeiff at the famous Institute for the Harmonious Development of Mankind, which operated in an old priory, just outside Paris. When Gurdjieff closed the Institute, in 1923, Nicoll returned to England to work, once again, with P. D. Ouspensky, who he had known prior to meeting Gurdjeiff. Nicoll was tasked by Ouspensky to use what became the last decade of his life to document the ‘secret language’ of the Gospels.

Nicoll’s work, published in two books, The New Man and The Mark, preceded the use of typical 1960s and 70s ‘sensational’ headlines, such as Eric von Daniken’s “Was God an Astronaut”. Although Nicoll’s work was entirely revolutionary in its implications, his was a much quieter technique, one that used his psychologist’s mind to deconstruct the writing in the Gospels to uncover a consistent and hidden set of metaphors used within them.

When the New Man was published, in 1950, he gave it the modest subtitle “AN INTERPRETATION OF SOME PARABLES AND MIRACLES OF CHRIST”.

One example of Nicoll’s work is his conclusion that the Gospels use three different words for Truth.

Truth is at the centre of our search for meaning. All serious students of the spiritual are faced with this quest at some time in their lives. Often, our lives are marked by a long climb to some degree of comfort and material success; but ‘getting there’ can leave us feeling that something significant is missing.

We can have simple truths, such as the fact that it’s now a certain time of day, according to GMT. This is relative only in the sense that it relies on a shared convention. Such a simple ‘truth’ is an everyday part of our outer consciousness. It’s really just a fact. Facts are useful, but they don’t contribute much to our consciousness of higher things, in the way that, say, understanding does.

Understanding is something higher because it knits facts together into a kind of pattern – and that pattern lets us see something bigger – some sense of an underlying working that has larger implications. This was always there, but hidden from us until we had the ability to see (and feel) the whole. Facts are rigid things (stone); understanding is fluid, it can flow round a problem and yet retain its coherency, its spirit, helping us find new ways that actually extend our breadth of that understanding.

I can write down a set of Health and Safety rules for display in my office. These will make perfect sense and yet they are not the ‘spirit’ of safety. Such a thing would require a commitment to it, and an adaptability to probe what might be dangerous in new and evolving situations. This level of understanding could never be written down as a list.

Facts are a poor substitute for understanding; and yet they need to be written down because understanding cannot be transmitted. We can receive facts from others – the whole of education is based on this – but unless that set of facts takes root, like a seed in good soil, the plant of understanding that should mature may wither.

In his ground-breaking book, The New Man, Nicoll proposes that the Gospels (and other parts of the Bible) use the word ‘Stone’ as the literal truth – the set of facts, much in the same way that the Old Testament references ‘Tablets of Stone’ for the Commandments. These are really only lists of instructions at the level of the literal fact. For many people, this is sufficient. It is an important principle that writers of spiritual works must also be able to create simpler and easily digested snapshots of what they are trying to convey. This principle is used throughout the history of myth, for example.

In many ways, these seeds, although literal, are of the greatest importance, because they have the potential to connect the ‘higher’ to the ‘lower’. They have, in other words, the potential to be a seed. But only something that comes from a higher perspective of understanding has this power. Knowledge, alone, does not.

Nicoll proposes that Jesus’ lifetime was entirely about the connection of the higher to the lower. The higher being the Spirit; the lower, the personality, which itself grows as a result of our reactions to life but can never know the world of the Spirit unless the latter ‘reaches down’ into our reactionary world, infusing it with a seed of Being beyond the fact. In this process three words are used for Truth – Stone, Water and Wine. We have discussed stone above.

In our Glastonbury talk on the 4th December, will we be following this stem and exploring how the stone of fact becomes the plant of understanding and beyond, in a marriage of something profound, for which the wine is a fitting symbol.

The talk will be hosted by the Glastonbury Reception Centre.

Welcome!

We all seek the magic in life; that rich awareness that sees each moment in vivid colour against a backdrop of eternity. For each of us there is a path that can lead us to a greater understanding of ourselves and our place in the timeless universe of being.

The Silent Eye is a modern Mystery School that teaches one such path, combining ancient esoteric teachings with the methods of modern psychology to gently guide the student towards the  inherent magic of life.

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The Silent Eye was founded in 2012 to provide a unique path to self discovery and development using a combination of esoteric psychology and magical guided journeys. These components are not chosen at random, but have been carefully synthesised to suit the needs of the modern student of the Mysteries living in an age of great stress and world upheaval. They deliver a very liberating personal path, one that is imaginative, but not fanciful.

The approach is based upon a magical and psychological journey, and uses daily exercises through which we can mindfully examine our attitudes to life and how our vital energies are stolen by mechanical behaviour. Meditation is important, too and The Silent Eye aims to build a Temple of the Moment into the student’s everyday consciousness in addition to a contemplative approach.

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