Truth and Quests
This essay is dedicated to the Clear Light of Truth, the
The quest in the west for Tibet is the subject of Professor Jose Que's remarkable list (...of "what is thrown below") which includes the names of people (real and imaginary) who have set one foot or both upon that rainbow bridge between the two global localities. Ronald Coleman and Lowell Thomas laid a fanciful foundation for the early modern image of Tibet, along with Alexandra David-Neel and perhaps Arthur Avalon. W. Y. Evans-Wentz, whose early work was on the Fairy Faith in the British Isles, prepared the way for western students to approach Tibetan texts in translation. On another face of the die, in the same cast of time, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby make it to the High Lama for spiritual instruction, absconding with the material form of a small vial supposed to contain a magical potion, which leads them into a tangle of karmic adventures on The Road to Hong Kong. The Buddhist WAY may be understood as DHARMA. The study of modern linguistics in the west has offered a cogent reconstruction of language spoken by people from Central Asia around BC 6000, and although we do not know the structure of any language then used, most scholars agree that the hypothetical analysis of word groups and roots provides a solid methodological foundation for a systematic historical linguistics--Roots/Trees.
Jung's account of the Spirit Mercurius, frequently contained in a bottle--pyxis, ointment jar, such as that associated with Mary Magdalen, containing the Balm of Gilead with which even a sinner may anoint the suffering, and sometimes the bottle containing the jinn, genie..."I Dream of Jeanne."' If the tree is a birch or a pine, we expect the "little bottle" to be mycorhyzal Amanita muscaria, as in the lore cited by Wasson, Graves, Alegro, von Meier.
The Tarot major arcanum number XII, called "The Hanged Man." He is the thief, Prometheus, Tantalus, the sacrificial victm, the trapeze artist, merchant, master of letters and language, computer technologist, communications expert.
Counting from the Fool, Le Mat, the un-numbered card, sometimes given the token "0" or "XXII" (being the card that comes after the Spirit of the World as "Pervasive Space" according to Chapter 2 of Laws of Form read as an index of the major arcana, and as such representing a closure element, as "after twenty-one there are no more members of this set, and so we are enjoined to return to 'GO' the beginning bhümi.")
Has the Fool seen, from his precarious stance on the edge of the cliff, the VOID before him as future time? Or as a realm in which there is no time, that is to say, Eternity? The view into Eternity, from the edge of the cliff face of existence?
The North Face of the Eiger, famed in the lore of Clint Eastwood who performed a literary 90-degree turn to the north, facing the pole star as the Great Pyramid of Kheops at Giza, contemplating the North and the Land beyond the North, through Karma to the Crazy Wisdom of Padma Sambhava.
Does the Fool step off?
Only a fool would. But his foot is raised, as if acting. Suppose he steps backward. Then he becomes the Magus, the Master Magician, united in his being, ta da, ta da, ta da. A reversal of form at the interface with Eternity. Another way the children of the present generation might see it or remember having seen it, is in the encounter witnessed by Dr. Strange of Marvel Comics between Eternity and the Dreaded Dormammu. Alice goes through the looking glass and finds herself on the Queen's second square, presumably analogous to Hamilton's quarternions, since the first Queen's square would be Alice's imaginary state--and we see that eventually she does become "queened." Proceeding through the Tarot, however, we may imagine the Fool to be a key for us with respect to process--how we may proceed through the steps, the transformation operations. It is done with mirrors. Upon reflection, the "Fool" steps backward, and thereby becomes the "Magus."
Buddhism would seem to provide a counterpart in the model of the Bodhisattva path, following which one vows to work for the benefit and enlightenment of all beings as well as for himself without turning back--that is to say, without turning back again, having turned back from achieving one's own enlightenment, say gazing into the heart of the void in the space between the tips of your toes on the edge of the cliff. The edge of the cliff may, of course, be conventionally understood as indicating any distinction whatsoever, even that between "void and form" as considered in the Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita Hridaya sutra). The Tibetan Book of the Dead, in a new translation by Francesca Freemantle, with an introduction by Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, describes states of consciousness in which we do not have to make habitual distinctions such as that between life and death.
But the Tarot is a quite precise mathematical model, an array of the archetypes, with many internal, recursive clues as to its levels of content. Suppose we "take it seriously," just enough to see if we can see what the Fool saw. At the cliff-ford, Gawain falls in, with all his armour, and his horse (perhaps, like the magic horse of Monkey, in Arthur Waley's translation of the Chinese folk classic of Wu Ch'eng En, a water dragon in disguise, spirit of the river).
And here is Walter de Clifford, father of Fair Rosamund, the latter mistress of Henry II and for whom he had built the first Royal English Garden at Blenheim/Woodstock, more or less precisely situated on latitude North 51° 51' this being also the base angle of the Great Pyramid (see the measurements of Livio Catullo Stecchini in Peter Tomkins, Secrets of the Great Pyramid). The bower for Rosamund was constructed in the form of the Cretan labyrinth, which we recognize also as the Hopi symbol of the Emergence (see Frank Waters, Book of the Hopi). The rose in the center of the labyrinth is a well-known feature of early Cretan coins (The Search for Theseus).
The flower is also shown on the third eye of the Bull's head, the upper portion of Asterion, the Minotaur son born to Pasiphae, formerly matriarchal queen who mated with the god in the form of a great white bull thanks to a contraption built for her by Daedalus the first sculptor (kinetic: a cow on wheels, which permitted Pasiphae to enter and open a trap door?). The artist constructs the Beautiful, in St. Thomas' Integritas, Consonantia , Claritas. . . ad pulchritudinas tria requir untur, the Trikaya principle in application to esthetics. The flower gathered by Kore, perhaps Amanitas in pine mangers by the seashore. The flower of the Buddha's silent sermon: mudra, an iconic presentation of an example of the form.
And here on the list also we discover Samdup Melas, or Milas in the suspect lineage traced to Milarepa, Tibet's great 11th century ascetic saint, poet and sitdown comic. Samdup, certainly fictitious and also possibly apochyphal, is the Tibetan govenrnment abroad in the opinion of Hapi, The Adamantine Sherlock Holmes.
So the Fool backs up, through reflexion. Let us say contemplation (or in Heinz von Foerster's phrase, computing a reality), or even "meditation." The mirrors are inside. Having backed up, he sees his own reflection from the mirror like face of the void is reflected the image of the fool, the whole fool, tout entire. G. Spencer Brown relates this archetypal Fool to our word world, through the root wer, grouped with spin,whirl, maelstrom, we say. The fool turns, he is a turner, or one who is turned like Odysseus, polytropos, many- or much-turned, turned every which way. It is the oscillation of the Fool and the Magus which generate the archetypes of the Tarot as the natural numbers are generated by the oscillations of the Boolean pre-numerical states, in the binary form of on/off switches, or zero and one (0, 1) in computer notation. Before the numbers, however, come precisely five crossings from the void. To return to our counting, there is no counting with out time, and there is no time in which to count in Eternity, and so we find ourselves with the numbers in the first order of time, which we may interpret as the degree of indeterminany indicated by the second degree equations of the calculus presented by Spencer Brown in Laws of Form.
Letting the Fool, "number zero," be a token of the void, we come to understand that the fool who sees the reflexion and turns now sees another reflection, as it were from another mirror behind him on the cliff. Through this he may pass. If he pass through it by stepping backwards--that is to say, with a turning of direction of travel without a turning of direction in which he was facing--passing through the distinction the fool now sees he was the Magus. If the turning is one of facing, then the Fool sees his reflexion in the different direction from the same state as that on the edge of the void. But the different mirror/direction provides a different image--he sees through the glass, as in the two-way mirrors of casinos , voyeurs bedrooms--a clear vision of what he is by crossing. Then he crosses in that direction away from the edge, entering a space of the High Priestess. Looking back to the edge he sees he was the Magus in reflexion, the back of the Fool thinking to step into Eternity. Turning, through the other glass he may see the High Priestess reflected, and thinking to become at one with the image, steps into the magic mirror only to become the Empress. Turning to see the mirror through which he has just passed, The Fool now sees that in the second space it was the High Priestess, just as it is possible to view history with a different sense of clarity than the future. If he now sees through the glass into the next space, that of the Emperor, the image' becomes clearer when there is more light in that space relative to the space from which, through the double mirror, it is viewed. And so on... Counting the Fool's backward step or turn as ONE, now the Magus is transformed into the High Priestess (TWO, the second "crossing"), THREE to the Empress, as Queen of Mathematics, Arithmetic.
Ariadne, the fair maiden emprisoned, with goldy locks, her hair the clew for the hero, Rapunzel's rope ladder, key to the labyrinth, Ari- meaning "most high" or "Sacred," 'agni (Agnus, the lamb, Agni the fire god of Vedic India). tummo, the vital spirit.
Salacious etymologies: Try A- the combining form for "not," the Greek negative prefix, plus rythmos, for rhythm; metros to measure, count. Only counting in the world of Samsara, the temporal existence, IN existence, not in Eternity. Existence is the level of the algebra, the being and doing of it, constants of the arithmetic applied to variables such as those encountered in time--although the algebra itself is not in time, only representations of it, arrangements of tokens; the relationships are transcultural, inside Eternity still.
We may regard algebra as the crossing into existence, from the void to the form to the axioms to the arithmetic, to the algebra and then into the Crystalline "heaven," not technically a heaven at all because in time, the first order of time, with no duration, just the degree of indeterminancy which permits oscillation of all that is indicated on the level of the arithmetic, where we find TRUTH, as drus the tree, THE tree for the Druids, namely, the oak tree, such as the oaken yule log burned on St, John's eve (Midsummernight) in England. Zeus the Oak King. The truth tree, trunk (of the body, torso), "If truth is not absolute it is a lie."
Where does it lie? Or, what kind of lie, as in golf? What lies before the truth--or, upon what foundations is our sense of arithmetic to be most solidly constructed? The building of towers? Lighthouses? Milarepa working for Marpa--nine stories, for the numbers zero through---eight!?
The truth is ever a problem (probe lemma) for the actor who follows the path of the Karma, understanding action ultimately as compassion, and this way to be what happens: or more precisely, how one imagines it all to be in harmony with how it really is--the imaginary and the real as congruent.
The real is strictly meaningless. In the language of natural numbers--and at the same level we could consider any language in the formal sense, including but not restricted to spoken and written languages--ZERO is meaningless (with respect to positive and negative sign) and yet a real number, an essential form of the group, being the identity element with respect to the operation of addition. ONE is the identity element with respect to the operation of multiplication. The imaginary value, represented numerically as the square root of minus one and by the conventional mathematical symbol "i" is another form of unity, which, together with plus and minus one and zero, makes four: all essential on the plane of arithmetic.
Here the operations that went on between the void and the form (the first crossing) and the form and the form taken out of the form, or the axioms, are worked out in all possible ways for this order of being wherein we first encounter TRUTH.
The tau cross of St. Anthony, of the Hospitalers, whose monks ran the hospital for sufferers from skin afflictions at Eisenheim, near Colmar--for which monastery Matthaeus Gotthardt Niedhardt, dit. GrUnewald painted the great architectural altarpiece, with the Christus shown suffering from skin afflictions that have been identified clinically by contemporary dermatologists. St. Anthony of Padua, where there was the school of medicine, a bright light in the middle ages and a Sufi center. Mission San Antonio de Padua, in the wilds behind Big Sur, with a relic and a clue to the Amanita muscaria of the magical red cloak with the firey white spots. Skin shirt of Herakles, gift from Deinara stained with the spermatic poison of the Centaur Nessus, whom the hero had slain. Apotheosis, by the pyre, fire into heaven (Erkinger von Schwartzenberg, Prinz, paper for Erik Sjoqvist seminar, Princeton Department of Art and Archaeology, 1960)
The GOOD (or the "lie," the "false" vis-a-vis some "true.")
The Beautiful, to Kalon of Pound, the IMAGINARY The REAL
Let the REAL = 0, the TRUE = +1, the GOOD . -1, the BEAUTIFUL
Let the REAL = 0, the TRUE = +1, the GOOD = -1, the BEAUTIFUL = i
Kurt von Meier