Sloka Two: Walking the Alameda
The distance from the sun to the center of our mother galaxy is estimated at about 25,000 light-years. From earth we observe, as if within a bubble extending to all directions, about 3% of the total 220 billion stars in our galaxy, and these are confined to the immediate region of the local Orion arm. The Milky Way is a concentrated band of stars that defines the narrow edge of this limb, seen from within. From the Orion arm we look out laterally along that band to observe the Andromeda galaxy which fortunately happens to be located at a minute degree of angular displacement from the band. Otherwise, it would be obscured by the concentration of stars in the local limb.
Both M 31 and our galaxy conform to the cosmic law of perspective (maya) but different perceptual laws. M 31 is about one-third larger than O 24, but far less dense, and it is perceived differently when you are there: 3-D perspective magnifies outwardly on M 31. Close up objects are three times larger than on earth. Objects and scenes in the middle distance on M 31 are six times larger, and everything viewed in the far distance becomes nine times larger. Also, due to the high porosity of matter on M 31—recently confirmed by detailed photographs showing the extraordinary packed grain of stellar distribution— it is possible to observe through the mass of the encircling limbs. In our galaxy, by contrast, some mysterious factor prevents us from looking through the arms.
Asuramaya and Jill, as they perceive each other up close, are three times as large as their human doubles. Asuramaya is about 16 and 1/2 feet tall, Jill just under 15. Looking out across the galaxy, they see objects in the middle distance, such as the mirrored version of Mount Kailash and Lake Manasovar, three times larger than the earthly counterparts: instead of 22,000 feet, Mount Kailash is 66,000 feet in elevation, more than twice the height of Everest. Looking into the far distance toward the neighboring Pallas limb, Andromedans see it as growing larger in the distance, rather than smaller—nine times larger than a close-up object.
It is difficult to describe such effects in a convincing way, but experiments in shamanic transport confirm Andromedan perceptual physics in many respects. In his later books, Castaneda describes moments of lucid dreaming in which the setting of the dream, although a familiar place, appears much larger, grotesquely magnified, looming over the observer. This does not mean that Carlos and his crew were bilocating to M 31 in these experiences. Rather, the perceptual "distortions" he recounts are actual properties of visual and spatial orientation on Andromeda.
upanishadically In Hindu religion, a upanishad was a written treatise recording teachings received “at the knees of the master”— orally/aurally transmitted. In sexual Tantra, "oral transmission" signifies acts of origenital adoration prescribed in suppressed and marginally pornographic Tibetan literature such as the Hevajra Tantra in its Chinese redaction and other variants. In a conventional sense, "at the knees" denotes the intellectual attitude that accepts a received teaching from an enlightened master (usually male, hence a guru figure) in humility and without questioning. In sexual Tantra, "at the knees" translates into "between the knees." It designates instruction received or inspired by genital adoration of a woman who embodies wisdom, the goddess attribute.
Although disgust for the female body, its biological role in rebirth, and its sticky and odorous secretions was widely endorsed in the Buddhist institutional tradition, Tantric teachings advise reverence for tabooed delights on offer between the knees.. Lakshimikara's Advayasiddhi 20, 21. 23:
10 If silence be the ground of seeing
From this earth which the Divine Twins have measured between them, upon which Vishnu has become spread out, which Indra,
This quatrain from one of the oldest written religious texts in the world attests to intimate experience of the Organic Light. The first thing one notices upon encountering the luminous "mother-power" of Gaia is that it does not radiate through space but wells up from material masses including the earth itself, as if seeping from the ground.
Shariputra received mind-to-mind enlightenment by eye-contact at the moment he heard the Buddha intone that single line that would become the Heart Sutra. He heard the words in the auditory sense and simultaneously saw the unvoiced intention of those words. Siddharta's glance, the look in his eyes at that moment, cued the immanence of the enlightened state to Shariputra, so that he heard the words and yet did not hear anything at all, form and void being simultaneous. When he realized that form to him was the Buddha's void, and his void was the Buddha's form, he realized the nature of mind in the perfect melt of the two. This was the paramount instance of mind-to-mind transmission by speech, the middle principle of the Buddhist trinity.
Subhuti, who transmitted the Heart Sutra, attained enlightenment through the principle of body in a most astonishing manner. One day when he and a small troupe of followers returned from begging in the local town, Subhuti remarked that there was something unusual about the way the Buddha sat during the practice of begging. "Fortunately, it was a happy day when Subhuti perceived something extraordinary im the World Honored One and praised him for it" (Commentary on the Heart Sutra, Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita Sutra, The Diamond Cutter of Doubts, in Ch'an And Zen Teaching, I, translated by Lu K'uan Yu, Samuel Weiser, 1970). Subhuti noticed a subtle difference in how the Buddha sat but he could not say what it was. He attained enlightenment when the Buddha explained what his friend had perceived. Expounding the exquisite syntax typical of non-attainment teachings, Siddharta revealed that Subhuti's keen observation of the Buddha's body language while he sat begging was a perception of laksana, posturing or pretense.
The Heart Sutra teaches that everything we do and think about what we do is a pretense, an empty act of posturing: the Buddha pretending to beg. Everything, not just what we presume ourselves to be or think or do, but all that we are and think and do. To realize this truth continuously is to attain the Diamond Mind of heart-awakening.
Mahakasyapa attained enlightenment by the third principle of the Buddhist trinity of body, speech, and mind, when Siddharta silently held up a yellow flower. This act was called the Flower Sutra. At that moment, Mahakasyapa understood that his mind, suspended in observing the act of perceiving the flower, was no different from the mind of the Buddha who observed him observing his own perception of Buddha holding the flower. Mahakasyapa realized that the Buddha intended his enlightenment in this way, mind to mind. This is the third known instance of an individual who attained enlightenment through direct interaction with the historical Buddha.
Philosophically, the Sanskrit apsara derives from ap-sarini, “moving in the waters.” According to Alain Danielou, apsaras represent “the unmanifest potentialities, the possible worlds, which exist in the Divine Mind but may never come to exist physically... They are the essences of waters, beings that take shape within the causal ocean... In later mythology they are represented as water nymphs, eternally young women who are the courtesans and the dancers of heaven. They are called the women of the gods (surangama), the daughters of pleasure (sumad-atmaja.)” (The Gods of India)
Their number manifesting in the human world is estimated to be 35,000,000.
Left: head of apsara with ornate headdress, from Ankgor Wat.
In their more serious moods, apsaras may appear as spectral women who receive the dying hero, as seen in the death of Allisandra de Monfoucon (next Sloka).
Conclusion of commentaries on Sloka Two. Return to contents.
Material by John Lash and Lydia Dzumardjin: Copyright 2002 - 2017 by John Lash.