The Colors of Asana

October 25th, 2009

A painting collected in Ajit Mookerjee’s 1971 Tantra Asana (also see previous post).

Gunatraya Chakrasana,  from a ca. 17th century Nepali manuscript (plate 95). Click for full version.

Tantra asana is a “yogic practice of transcending the human condition. Tantra itself is unique for being a synthesis of bhoga and yoga, enjoyment and liberation. There is no place for renunciation or denial in Tantra. Instead, we must involve ourselves in all the life processes which surround us. The spiritual is not something that descends from above, rather it is an illumination that is to be discovered within.

“Also fundamental in Tantrism is the notion of identity of the human body (anda), the microcosm, with the universe or macrocosm (brahmanda). Tantra holds that the body is the abode of truth, the epitome of the universe; and so man contains within himself, the truth of the whole cosmos. Therefore, the body, with its physiological and physical processes, becomes the perfect medium (yantra) to attain truth. ‘He who realizes the truth of the body can then come to know the truth of the universe’, says Ratnasara” (p15-16).

“Asana is visualized [in the painting above] as the pattern of forces sattva, rajas, and tamas [the three gunas], symbolized by the colours yellow, red and black along with the colourless white of cosmic consciousness — that principle which stays forever motionless, yet acts through its own radiation —, generates all forms of manifestation. The squares complete the suggestion that all this is ‘within'” (p136).

Compare with the coloration of the Classical four elemental processes (see previous post):

Color Classical Tantric
yellow water, liquefaction, movement, “the functional principle of the earth planet and all its creatures” (Benson, p33) sattva, essence, purity, calmness, creativity, “…the illuminating force which releases consciousness” (p17)
red air, rarefaction, animation, life force rajas, activity, atmosphere, motion, energy, dynamicism, passion, “…the activity of attraction and repulsion” (p17)
black earth, condensation, stability, corporeality tamas, inertia, inactivity, darkness, obscurity, “…the condensation of energy in matter” (p17)
white fire, combustion, illumination, invisible connective, the goal of nous “The trilogy becomes energized for the sake of creation. Dynamic forces are released strirring all latent existence in Brahmanda, the embryonic state of the universe.” (p17)

Mouravieff’s Correction

October 21st, 2009

A diagram by Boris Mouravieff from his 1958 monograph, Ouspensky, Gurdjieff and the Work (translated by the Praxis Research Institute).

Mouravieff corrects Ouspensky’s diagram (see previous post), “which is the most important diagram for all who begin studying esotericism. We can see at first glance that it is not complete, and in addition, it contains grave errors” (p27).

Mouravieff’s correction, p31.

In the corrected diagram above, “the [black] arrows represent the influences created in life by life itself. This is the first kind of influence, called ‘A’ influence. It should be noted that the black arrows cover the surface of the circle of life almost evenly.

“Their effect, as with all radiant forces of nature, is inversely proportional to the square of the distance; that is why man is mainly influenced by the arrows closest to him, so that he find himself drawn at any moment by the result of the present moment. The influence of the ‘A’ arrows on involving man is compulsive; driven by them, he wanders within the circle of his life from birth until death.

“The totality of these ‘A’ influences forms the law of accident, and human fate comes under its rule. But if we examine the diagram more closely we will see that each black arrow is neutralised or counterbalanced by another arrow elsewhere that is equal in force and diametrically opposite in direction, so that had the arrows been left to neutralize each other, the general result would equal zero. This means that, taken as a whole, the ‘A’ influences are of an illusory nature, though their effect is real, and for this reason involving man generally takes them for the only reality in life” (p31).

‘E’ represents “the esoteric center, outside the general laws of life” (p32).

‘B’ influences “are thrown into the turmoil of life by the Esoteric Center. These different influences, which have been created outside life are represented in the diagram by white arrows. They are all oriented towards the same direction. Taken together they form a kind of magnetic field.

“Since the ‘A’ influences neutralise each other, the ‘B’ influences form the only reality in life.

“A man taken in isolation… is represented in the schematic diagram by a finely partitioned circle the surface area of which is crossed by fine diagonal lines except for the small clear area. This means that involving man’s nature is not homogeneous; it is a mixture.

“If a man spends his life without distinguishing between ‘A’ and ‘B’ influences, he will end it in the same way as he began — that is to say, mechanically, moved by the law of accident” (p32).

“Every individual is subject to a kind of preparatory test in life. If he is able to discern the ‘B’ influences and their existence, if he enjoys the taste of gathering them and absorbing them, and if he aspires to assimilate them more and more, then his interior nature, which began as a mixture, will, step by step, begin to undergo a certain evolution. Then, if his efforts to absorb the ‘B’ influences are constant and strong enough, a magnetic center begins to form inside him. That magnetic center is represented in the diagram by the small white area.

“If, once born in him and carefully developed, that center embodies itself, then it will exert an influence on the action of the ‘A’ arrows which are, of course, still functioning. This will lead to a change of direction. This deviation may be violent. It normally goes against the general laws of life, provoking conflicts in and around him. If he loses this battle he will emerge with the conviction that the ‘B’ influences are only an illusion, and that the only reality is represented by the ‘A’ influences. Step by step, the magnetic center that has been formed inside him will be re-absorbed and disappear. After this, his new situation will be worse than it was before he had first begun to discern the ‘B’ influences.

“But if he wins that first fight, his magnetic center, consolidated and reinforced, will attract him to a man of ‘C’ influence — stronger than he is and in possession of a stronger magnetic center than his own. Thus, by way of succession, since the man he had met has a relationship with a man of ‘D’ influence, he in his turn will be linked with the Esoteric Center ‘E’.

“From then on, that man will no longer be isolated in life. He will, of course, continue to live as he did before subject to the action of the ‘A’ influences, which will still exert their dominance upon him for a long time; yet, step by step, and thanks to the effect of the chain of influences B-C-D-E, his magnetic center will develop more and more and to the degree that his magnetic center grows he will evade the domination of the law of accident to enter the domain of consciousness” (p32-33).

A diagram by R. G. H. Siu from his 1974 neo-daoist Ch’i.

“Wouldn’t it be interesting, if the world were structured according to the diagram [above]…

“Light itself consists of energy and ch’i.

“Quantum properties of Light are the refractions of its mass-energy component. Continua are the refractors of its massless ch’i.

“It’s no wonder that a Sanskrit root for Time is Light.

“Energy and mass, inanimate — we call it visible, existent, actual.

Ch’i, our animate — we call invisible and nonexistent, useful.

“Organism is the active unity. Serenity reflects the active harmony.

“Life is an ongoing metabolism modifying ch’i.

“Evolution trends toward ever greater elegance of function.

“Mental illness follows the uncoupling, shunting, or deranging of selected pathways. Death ensues upon the loss of such a metabolic capability, as remnants then revert to inanimate dust.

“The origin of Life does not lie in the synthesis of a specific molecule, which has been arbitrarily defined to be organic.

“Such a change remains inanimate.

“Life arose with the first separation of the ch’i from Light in an assimilable form.

“Every species possesses a characteristic range of capacities for transforming ch’i.

“Normal offspring are endowed at birth with the lower threshold values; the ability to absorb and transform ch’i then increases with experience and with maturity. There is a steady change in the amount and variety of ch’i available from outside sources; and this, in turn, transmutes the former baseline for metabolism, giving rise to yet another series of resulting ch’i. The new ch’i then serves as the raw material for the succeeding process. Each exposure to a novel form of ch’i increases the proficiency of the inherited metabolizing apparatus.

“The metabolizing apparatus thereby constitutes one’s personality; its metabolic scope prescribes the fullness of one’s livingness; the extension of its scope accounts for creativity.

“There is a wide assortment of means by which the ch’i may enter into the being of the living.

“Primitive forms are continually incarnated in the tissues of green plants in photosynthesis, and these subsequently enter through the mouth as food.

“More sophisticated forms come through the ear, eye, mind, and a multitude of diverse and simultaneous communication channels, as compatibility allows.

“There is no past ch’i or future ch’i.

“Just as former states of energy exist in energy, so former states of ch’i exist in ch’i. And just as later states of energy exist in energy, so later states of ch’i exist in ch’i.

“There is only ch’i with hysteresis and potentiality.

“Men speak of the id, the ego, and the superego.

“Id reminds us of the transporting of ch’i through multimedia among the organisms. Ego, of the processing of ch’i internally in organisms. Superego, of the forming of the virtual presences as higher forms of ch’i by man.

“Wholesomeness of living seems dependent on continuing adjustments of a multitude of delicate coherences with the Whole.

“When the animals evolved the talent to produce a virtual presence, they acquired a soul.

“Then there was a God to be adored.

“And an Adam was created.

“As production of virtual presences increases, man’s tie to the Real decreases.

“Soon, he praises innovation and inhuman courage. He invents thrills and excitements. He relies on myths and mysteries. He downgrades Nature with a reckless chisel.

“Life becomes the Grand Illusion.

“With facility in the manipulation of the virtual presences, the primal Superman was born.

“With perfection in the art, a second Lucifer took charge.

“It was then that man came to defy the Lord.

“The interminable conflict thrusting the virtual presences against the real intensifies.

“As the power of the virtual grows, human values ineluctably turn phony. As the rate of change accelerates they turn ephemeral. And doubt in self and gods both virtual and real then takes its toll.

“The twilight of a great civilization is at hand” (p16-20).