Poetizing Spirit by Rod Hemsell

Poetizing Spirit

In poetry of the highest inspiration we may hear resonances of ideas that inspire in us the memory and vision of truths innate to our souls and minds, that make us think and see, beyond the normal range of intellectual knowledge. Both Sri Aurobindo, known as the great synthesizer of “eastern” and “western” thought, and Martin Heidegger, one of the most influential “postmodern” thinkers, heard those streams that flow from the great rivers of ancient myth, philosophy, mysticism and poetry. And both foresaw the advent of a new consciousness and a new type of human being. Written during the first COVID year, this booklet of reflections on some of their most inspired thoughts may open the reader to that subtle realm of intuitive vision where the spirit of poetry echoes in the riverbed of Time.


Book Details

Author: Rod Hemsell
Print Length: 88
Publisher: Auro e-Books
Contributor: Edith Stadig
Book format: Pdf
Language: English


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Contents

  • On Symbolism in the Teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
  • A Meditation on Sri Aurobindo’s Process of Transformation and Early Greek Thought
  • Poetizing Spirit – Part I
  • Poetizing Spirit – Part II
  • Being All-One (Hen Panta)
    • Procession
    • The stages of our descent
    • Mystic Island
    • Discovering another shore…
    • Another Time
    • Time and the River
    • The geography of destiny
    • The Stillness

Sample

Poetizing Spirit

ON SYMBOLISM IN THE TEACHINGS OF
SRI AUROBINDO AND THE MOTHER

1. The Meaning of Symbols

First we should ask ourselves how we think about symbolism. Does it seem to have much importance to us, either theoretically or practically? Are we aware of its prominent role in our use of language? What are the symbols with which we are most familiar and how do they affect us?

We can easily reflect on the practical aspect of familiar symbols such as traffic signs and the many commercial images that influence our behavior, such as product logos like “Apple” and “Toyota” and the Big Yellow M. All of us also probably respond in similar stereotypical ways to graphic designs like the Swastika, the Hammer and Sickle, the Star of David, and the Christian Cross. The similarity of all of these examples is that they are visual images associated with institutions that have had a certain degree of power over the lives of people and societies within the scope of recent history and to which we have all been exposed. Therefore we have some idea of their meaning. The simple formula that can be assigned to the relationship between the symbols and their meaning is A=B, or A represents B. The Big Yellow M represents the McDonald’s corporation, the Star of David represents Judaism, and so on. But what the symbol tells us about the thing it represents is basically nothing. We are able to associate the two because of direct experience or training and conditioning. If we eat lots of fast food we will surely know about the Big Yellow M, and if we are members of the Christian religion and have been reasonably well indoctrinated by it, the Cross will mean something more or less specific to us. Otherwise such symbols may simply represent an institution whose existence we are vaguely aware of but whose meaning we don’t really know much about. The Auroville symbol may mean a lot to some of us while to many people it will have no meaning at all.

On a deeper level, symbolism is a common technique or device used in novels and movies to represent things we especially value or fear, or which have a strong appeal to our feelings about ourselves and the world, such as Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, who represents hope in a future of justice and freedom, or the “ring” in The Lord of the Rings, which represents the hidden aspects of our nature which may either save us or cause us to fall. We can interpret many science fiction movies and novels as representing either a glorified view of technological civilization or a dystopian view of its inherent dangers and possibly disastrous consequences. Such symbolic representations can profoundly influence the emotions and ideas of people and society. For example, the mendacious behavior of the 45th American President with which the media bombards us every day must affect the morale of society in ways that are likely to be destructive of our faith in government and our way of life. It seems that in fact our values and freedoms are being stolen from us under the noses of our elected officials, with at least their tacit consent. (Unfortunately, this situation is not unique to either this country or this moment in history – ca. 2020, of course.) Whether or not this is the political reality, the construction is elevated to the status of a symbolic image that is constantly projected in various forms by the media – journalistic commentaries, comedy shows, dramas, and academic theses. It’s like Sita in her protective circle when the golden deer attracts her interest. Rama goes after it for her and instructs his brother, loyal Lakshman, to stay by her side. Hearing the evil magician, Maricha’s, simulated calls of distress, however, Sita in fear persuades Lakshman to go to Rama’s aid, thus failing in his commitment to be her vigilant guard, and allowing the demon, Ravana, through the ruse of his magician’s skillful fakery, to abduct the culture’s symbolic soul of purity, Sita. The dharma of the most righteous and noble representatives of society, its leaders and role models, is undermined by human weakness and evil intent. It’s one of my favorite symbolic tales from India. Each of us harbors all of these characters, psychologically, in ourselves, including the hero Rama who ultimately musters his army of vital forces to rectify the situation. That’s the truth of the symbol.

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