YANTRA AND SYNCRONICITY - MAIN TEXT
There is biological evidence that the human species is highly developed on the visual side of the senses.
In the "Human Biocomputer', Dr John Lilly writes:
"The numbers of neurons in the human brain are variously estimated at 13 billions (1./3 times to the tenth) with approximately two million visual inputs and one hundred thousand acoustic inputs."
The percentage of the visual inputs indicates that Nature has designed the human being to 'see' or perceive visually, in a higher proportion to the other senses. Thus if the visual inputs predominate, can this be seen as a revelation of evolutionary direction?
"Could there be an archetypal aspect to darkness that might account for our disdain, as well as the fear, the psychological shudder it can release? Does the human eye prefer light to darkness? Is the human being heliotropic, fundamentally adapted to light? Is visual perception its preferred sense as we witness in the embryo, where from its earliest weeks the rudimentary optical system begins to form before many others?"
Hillman, James, The Seduction of Black, Spring 61, Woodstock, Connecticut, 1977, p.4
This field of Information, the subject of this study, is what Ajit Mookerjee terms "VISUAL METAPHYSICS". In the most profound sense, the phenomena that we collectively call 'Reality' is subjectively and objectively 'seen'. Giordano Bruno said that:
"To think is to speculate with images."
In F.Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition.
This exploration concerns the 'reading' of metaphysical data in visual form.’Seeing’ and ‘reading’ are of course, used here, in a very specific sense. From the other extreme, this visual data has to be 'codified' in the first place.How did this 'codification' come about? This question, and its many answers, have a particular bearing on the Sacred Tarot, which is after all, a visual resource, and a pictographic Science.
We could refer to this science as 'video-data' or 'video-code.' All the roots of thse words, originate in the Sanscrit vidya - ‘seeing’.
In this exploration, two great areas of esoteric information that are transmitted through visual codification will be dealt with:
a) The Hermetic/Alchemical material, which is codified into the Tarot. And:
b) The YANTRAS of Buddhism, and Hinduism in Tantric Art.
Because most of the psychological information of The Work of Alchemy is available in visual form, we will call this a VISUAL TRANSMISSION.
Again, there are two distinct forms of visual transmission, which we will call:
The REPRESENTATIONAL, and:
Images, symbols, signs, ideographs and hieroglyphics abound in the collective culture of humankind. The Alchemical, Hermetic, Astrological and Mythological material of Middle-Eastern and Eurocentric civilizations, is on the surface, obviously representational.Or, our perceptions of these symbols, obviously represents something recognizable.
For the more abstract and non-representational images we have to look further Eastwards, to the Yantras and Mandalas of Hinduism and Buddhism, as two specifically defined aspects of visual transmission.
This process of perception through images or picture-forms, is our point of departure.
In Hermetic Wisdom, as in other Transmission Systems, there are various dynamics involved. On the one hand, we have the actual texts, which we could call the 'Literal Transmission.' This written form, as evident in 'Atalanta Fugiens' is always parallel to the visual transmissions, i.e. WORDS and PICTURES. We can assume from the evidence that there is a third definite stream of transmission - the ORAL. Oral Lineages and Fraternities, pass the information through word of mouth, or experientially, from Master to disciple, or student. A highly cultured example of this process is to be found in Tibetan Buddhism, and also in the Kabala. And in an important book, 'The Myth of Invariance', Prof Ernest G. McClain tells us that:
"...musical symbolism and mathematics were recognized spiritual languages that often were used to communicate fundamental spiritual ideas."
This is beautifully expressed in 'The Glass Bead Game' by Herman Hesse.
Besides the wealth of visual literature that has been transmitted through the Alchemical and Hermetic Emblem books, we also have that ultimate Key of visual meta-programming - THE SACRED TAROT. By creating analogies with the 22 Major Arcana, wide ranges of correspondences of the Hermetic Wisdom open up on many levels. Not only are there literal texts to draw from, codes embodied in visual structures, pictures, symbols, images and music - but there also exists an architectural transmission in the Masonic Brethren and the Medical Lineage of the Healers.
The visual transmission lineages of so-called "Western" or European culture, have deep historic roots. Our ideographic resources can be traced back to ancient Chaldean and Egyptian hieroglyphics, in some cases, as far back as 5,000 years ago. In dealing with the Tradition of the Image, and excellent example is found in Iamblicus describing an Egyptian initiation:
"At one point in his journey the candidate is stopped before 22 frescoes, paintings which picture the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot, and it becomes his duty to commit to memory these pictures as well as their symbolism, which is then explained to him."
Thousands of years later, this tradition which evolved into the Egyptian Tarot, still transmits the same images. In the early 17th century, in the Rosicrucian vision of an utopian city, CHRISTIANOPOLIS, by J. V. Andrea, we read:
"Teaching and study are everywhere helped by pictures."
Of vital significance is the clue gleaned from the Iamblicus quote, that the images are memorized. The images and symbols are externally stored in a system such as the Tarot or the I CHING in China.
But a new dynamic emerges when these images are stored internally, i.e. committed to memory. The visual data reacts with the archetypal psychic structures and processes of the initiate, and is thus integrated experientially into a symbolic and esoteric internal visual vocabulary.
In an initiatory context, the use of visual transmissions can be generally classified as an educational system. Because, in the inner life, this field of images is the language of the psyche, the symbolic matrix. As Lama Govinda explains:
"We need visual symbols in which the highest qualities of the enlightened mind are expressed."
This "need" is strong confirmation that dynamic psychological information emerges in visual form, e.g. dreams and visions. These are our spontaneous, autonomous visual productions. Outside of our subjective visual experience, is the objective visual transmission in picture form, which is presented in two contexts:
The REPRESENTATIONAL and the ABSTRACT.
The Hermetic Emblems, those of Alchemy and The Sacred Tarot obviously belong to the representational. It was through work with these images that C.J. Jung came to many of his great scientific conclusions. Images are also "worked" upon internally in the Buddhism of the Tantras, in the visualization practices and meditation on the YANTRA and MANDALA. The perceptions with we process these visual images have to be analysed in some detail.
The Mandala of Tibetan Buddhism (dKyil.Chor.lo) is only revealed at the climax of an initiatory context. It contains profound aesthetic visual codification. Though it is not a general rule, the transmission of arcane visual literature in the Eastern systems, tends to have a higher body of abstract visual literature, while there is a dominance of representational transmission in the Alchemical and Hermetic Emblem books. . [A detailed definition of the Mandala principle will be dealt with elsewhere.]
NB: See: Black Elk Speaks, for another Mandala vision and offering from the Gods.
A deep penetration of the Emblems of 'Atalanta Fugiens' by Michael Maier, reveals a structural 'sub-text' which is archetypal and therefore abstract. [This is illustrated in the section titled: ‘Why Zeus.’]
Often, identical geometrical forms emerge, with the same dynamics as the Yantra and Mandala principles of the East. The European abstract transmission rests on the Divine Mathematics of Euclid and Pythogoras.
By 'representational' we mean that which partakes of our subjectively recognizable universe. Representational forms are within the frame of reference of the material world, the concrete, named and labeled manifestations; images that are familiar grammar for our collective being. Relative to our existence in this world, our work and our play, our 'self-images', the artefacts of our material life, our cities with their buildings, the architecture and modes of transport, motor cars and planes, TV sets, home furnishings, paintings and sculpture, decorative objects, clothes and so on.
A rational inventory of the materialistic, utilitarian significance of the representational objects of our lives is not the logical motivation for research into visual transmissions. Our point of view is motivated by the fact that the "...highest qualities" of '...enlightened mind" are expressed within the visual material under consideration. From this perspective, the visual symbols and the processes by which they were and are formed, and the manner in which they were and are still being transmitted, demands deeper exploration.
There are various techniques by which these pictures are stored and these are essentially mnemonic in nature; they concern the Art of Memory in its deepest, most occult sense. de Rola in his 'The Secret of Alchemy' gives us an insight on how the Alchemical material relates to this visual science.
"If the approach to alchemy through its texts is indeed forbidding, the despondent seeker can find in alchemical art a way fraught with wonder, into the very heart of the subject. For in their images alchemists have spoken in ingenious and often very beautiful ways of things about which they have never written. This pictorial language, in which not a single detail is ever meaningless, exerts a deep fascination on the sensitive beholder. This fascination does not necessarily depend
upon understanding. If the reader will contemplate these images, that is to say, go beyond their surface, he will often perceive that they correspond to another timeless dimension, which we all may find deep within ourselves."
"These profoundly haunting pictures have a polyvalent symbolism and lend themselves therefore to various interpretations."
We continue with this long quote from Jung:
"In consequence of the collective nature of the image it is often impossible to establish its full range of meaning from the associative material of a single individual. But it is important to do this for practical therapeutic purposes, the necessity of comparative research into symbols for medical psychology becomes evident on these grounds also. For this purpose the investigator must turn back to those periods of human history when symbol formation still went on unimpeded, that is, when there was still no epistomological criticism of the formation of images, and when, in consequence, facts that were in themselves unknown could be expressed in definite visual form. The period of this kind closest to us is that of medieval natural philosophy, which reached its zenith in the seventeenth century, and in the eighteenth century gradually left the field to science. It attained its most significant development in alchemy and Hermetic philosophy. Here, as in a reservoir, were collected the most enduring and the most important mythologems of the ancient world."
In the last sentence, Jung gives a perfect definition of the inner nature of the Tarot. It is a reservoir! The therapeutic and medical significance of the visual material is a vast area of study not within the context of the present paper. What is evident in the above quote, is that while obstructions developed in the European symbol formation process, from the 18th century onwards, these blocks did not develop in the East.
From a Buddhist point of view, an image is actually a FORM. The Sanscrit word for 'form' is RUPA. Each image is labeled with a 'sound-form' (nama-rupa) which is the name of the image. The link between sound, form and image is the essence of Tantra Art. And it appears in the link between Alchemy and Music.
With our sense of sight, through the organs of the eyes, we perceive and define into categories, external forms such as chairs, pens, houses, or the organic forms of the stars, waves and clouds. The amazing mystery of this perception of external 'things' is the immense storage-system or reservoir for holding these images in the internal eye, and invoking them at will. This is obviously the point and the economics for committing to memory the 22 Tarot cards. A system of memory and storage was also used by Cicero:
"He inferred that persons wishing to train this faculty (of memory) must select places and form mental images of the things that they wish to remember and store these images of the things in the places, so that the order of the places will preserve the order of the things, and the images of the thing will denote the things themselves..."
In F.Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition.
Though rather complex, what we are leading into here, is that in the storage of these images there is a certain STRUCTURE, SEQUENCE, ORDER and DESIGN, by which effective retrieval can be achieved. This has very important psychological implications, as the mind can do "...millions of computations in parallel simultaneously." (Lilly). Debt is here due to John Lilly's term "...internal display mechanism". Having seen the external image, we now have a print, chemically activated within the neurons of the brain, stored in the 'reservoir' and projected onto the internal screen whenever necessary.
This area of research must be amplified in connexion with other transmissions of Memory techniques, such as ‘The Memory Theatre of Guilio Camillo.
These images are very subtle, the forms of dreams, fantasies and visions. These mental-visual forms are what has been termed 'Psychological furniture". These furnishings are brought into the empty room of the mind, and/or projected onto the blank screen.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE MICRO-MACROCOSMOS.
The Key would seem to lie with the idea of the macro-microcosmic doctrine, already met with as the 'co-incidence' between the psyche of the meditator and "...the physics and metaphysics of the world." Jack Burnham, writing about the Hermetic influences in the work of Marcel Duchamp:
"These branches of mysticism concur with a single hidden idea, namely that all the languages, arts, sciences, rites and communicated traditions of man have a common historical and ahistorical pattern derived from the unique composition of the human brain, and the brain in turn reflects the plan of universal organization. Once given the keys, an initiate into the hermetic arts, comprehends the range of psychological archetypes and the limits of human creativity with mathematical precision."
And in J.V.Andrae's 'Christianopolis':
"... a closer examination of the earth will bring about a proper appreciation of the heavens, and when the value of the heavens has been found there will be a contempt of the earth."
"...he who does not know the value of astrology in human affaris, or foolishly denies it,..."&c.
In: A. Debus, 'Chemical Dream.'
The Eighth Key of Valentius continues with this theme:
"Let me sum up in a few words what I have to say. The substance is of heavenly birth, its life is preserved by the stars, and nourished by the four elements; then it must be perished and putrified; again, by the influence of the stars, which works through the elements, it is restored to life, and becomes once more a heavenly thing that has its habitation in the highest region of the firmament. Then you will find that the heavenly has assumed an earthly body, and that the earthly body has been reduced to a heavenly substance."
In his ‘Earth Ascending’, Jose Arguelles gives some insight into the Buddhist view of The Hermetic Law:
"... in outlining the "Ten Aspects of Knowledge", the traditional Buddhist scheme for the organization of human intellectual endevour, Tai Situ Rinpoche, in a 1982 seminar, clearly indicated the feasibility as well as the logic, for considering the earth in just such a manner. I refer specifically to the second aspect of knowledge of which he spoke, "Astrology". Defined as the science of clarifying and determining the relation of the individual (human) body to the body of the planet, and the body of the planet to that of the solar system, and to that of the universe entire, this view of astrology clearly indicates in it what we have been defining by the term geomancy."
The suggestive teaching that the microcosmos and the macrocosmos are One was also developed by Paracelsus from hints in the Kabalistic books.
"They are one constellation, one influence, one breath, one harmony, one time, one metal, one fruit."
Each part of the great organism acts upon:
"...the corresponding part of the small organism in the same sense as the various organs of the human body are intimately connected with and influence each other."
"Every change that takes place in the macrocosmos may be sensed by the spiritual body that surrounds the minutum mundum. The force composing the one is identical with the force of the other."
From the French occultist, de Givry:
"The universe, or cosmos, is an immense organic being, all the parts of which are interlinked. It is the Macrocosm, or Great World, in contrast to man, who is the Microcosm, or Little World. All the parts of the Great World are subject to the same laws; they function in similar ways, and it is thus easy to arrive at comprehension of them by means of analogy. "Divine Analogy" the universal law which governs all beings. That which is above is like unto that which is below. The lower is like the higher. In consequence, whoever knows one part of the Macrocosm knows, by analogy, all the parts. He also knows the Microcosm, which is like the Macrocosm, and has a corresponding part for every part of it. The adept can thus arrive at a perception of hidden things not known to the vulgar by the synthetic method put at his disposal by the universe itself, and this method raises him to such a height of knowledge as makes him almost a god."
And in continuation, or conclusion:
"One can guess how seductive such a doctrine of analogy, symmetry and parallelism was for minds inclined to synthesis."
Jack Burnham places the seductive doctrine of analogy into the field of visual science and contemporary art/data trends:
"It would seem that the principle of double articulation, which is integral to spoken language is just as vital to the organization of a picture with a recognizable content. This also corresponds to the single most important law of occultism: 'What is below is similar (NOT EQUAL) to what is above, and what is above is similar to that which is below in order to ensure the perpetuation of the Unique Thing.' The Unique Thing being all forms of organic growth and morphogenesis, ranging from human life and human speech to the evolution of planetary systems. In other words the code of nature maintains consistency and flexibility by repeating itself from one level to the next."
The code of nature has a perfect proportion, which can be seen from the above digression into the doctrine of the Macro-Microcosmos, is deeply connected to the process of perception - seeing the visual data which is again codified and stored in various occult and visual systems. The cryptic transmission of perfect proportions, symmetry, parallelism, through the law of analogy and association are well documented in the metaphysical art of the East:
Ajit Mookerjee in 'Yoga Art':
"The yogi-artists work culminates in a simultaneous diagram of himself and the world within which he is a world. The mind of the yogi thus becomes a bridge between the physics of the atom and the orbit of the planetary bodies. It is in this sense that his art literally yokes together (the Sanscrit root of the word yoga, YUJ, means 'yoke') in fine fusion the polarities of the subjective and objective, the microcosmic and the macrocosmic, the analytical and the synthetic, the abstract and the physical; as it were, the male and the female principles in this great dance of creation."
It can thus be said, that our visual images, representational or abstract, transmitted through a tradition - or invoked from the collective reservoir of images - partake of the universal nature and comment on the stage or state of being in which we find our 'selves' yoked to the multi-dimensional display of phenomena. These visual forms of our psychic cosmos exist also in the realm of the imagination:
"They usually consist of webs of fantasy which yield no clear knowledge of their origin or goal." Jung.
As we are relating the fantasy forms to the macrocosmos, in which we as the microcosmos create our visual structures, we wish to discover the direction of the creative visualization process. Jung:
"The spontaneous fantasy products we mentioned above become more profound and concentrate themselves around abstract structures which apparently represent 'principles' true Gnostic archai."
Phillip Rawlson writes in 'Yoga Art':
"All meditative art reflects the realm of creative Imagination.High-grade visual ideas set into vibration within us archetypal images. Each one is radiant with its infinity of possible forms and mysterious instances."
"All have in common their aim to project onto their canvasses inner visions of true structures, Ideas at the roots of form."
The Gnostic archai, Ficino's Renaissance imagery, the storage of Tarot images, and the "high-grade" visual ideas of the meditative Tantric artist are systems which relate Man to the Universe, and connect the perfectly proportioned visual statements to the subconscious storage, and to the projected, consciously activated archetypal images. Two other views need exploring here.
The Zohar states:
"In heaven above, that surrounds the universe, are signs in which the deepest mysteries are concealed. These signs are the constellations and stars, which are studied and deciphered by the wise."
Robert Aiken writes:
"A Dr Salmanoff, French philosopher of medicine, comparing one day the atlas of space and an atlas of our brain, was struck by the identical arrangement of the cells of the cortex and the stars of galaxies."
[Robert Aiken, in his article 'Considerations' (The Co-Operator', Los Angeles).]
THE GRAMMAR OF ORNAMENT.
Note: My swirls of Jupiter, marbled paper and the backs of spiders at Stonehenge.
Arthur Koestler deals with similar material in his 'The Act of Creation' and 'The Roots of Coincidence'. In this view, the dynamics of structure or form, are REVEALED; Divine Analogies, synchronicity, coincidences, are now 'harvested' as information from the external phenomological 'play' of the world. This information is 'read' by the conscious mind. The chemist Kekule had a dream of dancing pairs, and from this deduces the structure of the carbon and hydrogen atoms of the benzol ring"
"I turned my chair to the fire and dozed, he relates. Again the atoms were gambling before my eyes. This time the smaller groups kept modestly in the background. My mental eye, rendered more accurate by visions of this kind, could now distinguish larger structures of manifold conformation, long rows, sometimes more closely fitted together; all twining and twisting in snakelike motion. But look! What was that? One of the snakes had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. As if by a flash of lightning I awoke... Let us learn to dream gentlemen."
The snake holding its own tail, is known as the Uroboros in occult symbolism, and is both transmitted by traditional symbolism and as in this example, is a spontaneously perceived structure. Another idea is in a novel by Kurt Vonnegut -'ICE NINE' - the dreaded molecular structure of which the scientists discovered in the structure of a pile of old cannon balls. Borjes, also writes of this mystic synchronicity in his amazing short story 'The Gods Script'. It could be said that one deciphers this information from life itself. As the great Paracelsus puts it:
"There are other invisible writings, secretly impressed on the leaves of Nature's book, which are not to be read or comprehended save with the eyes of understanding, being traced by the spirit of the living God on the hidden fleshy tablets of our own hearts... These internal and spiritual characters, constituting the interior writing, may also to the bodily eyes be the cause and origin of the things which do appear."
Camille Mauclair, in 'Esthique de Mallarme':
"The Universe is, as it were, a huge manuscript in which each object is a letter and the totality of which recounts the Divine...Human beings endowed with thought can become aware of this symbolic script through Art, Science and Religion; they can decipher divinity itself and gradually create it."
Through the visual material, in ciphered form, we decipher the visual forms perceived in science, codified in ritual and religion, and creatively expressed in the contemplative, mystic arts. The great 13th century mystic Raymond Lull is a suitable example in continuing the next phase:
"About the year 1272, he had an illuminative experience on Mount Randa, an island in Majorca, in which he saw the attributes of God, his greatness, his goodness, eternity and so on, infusing the whole of creation, and realized that an Art founded on those attributes might be constructed which would be universally valid because based on reality. Shortly afterwards he produced the earliest version of his Art, of which he made various versions, the last being the Ars Magna of 1305..."
We must consider the nature of this "illuminative experience" and in particular, the structure of the Art of Raymond Lull.
"The figures of his Art, on which its concepts are set out in the letter notation, are not static but revolving. One of the figures consists of concentric circles, marked with the letter notations standing for the concepts, and when these wheels revolve, combinations of the concepts are obtained. In another revolving figure, triangles within a circle pick up related concepts. These are simple devices, but revolutionary in their attempt to represent movement in the psyche."
This profound revelation on Mount Randa generated in turn, the emergence of Gnostic archetypes which were consciously connected to a tradition. The tradition here was that of the time - where Arabic, Jewish and Christian mystics were free to share Gnostic data in Moorish Spain. This Kabalistic and Alchemical knowledge was opening interfacing with Christian mysticism:
"For the Art was based on religious concepts common to all three great religions, and on the elemental structure of the world of nature, universally accepted in the science of the time."
The "...concepts common to all three" is again The Law of Correspondences, the Divine Analogies and this Raymond Lull worked out using the NAMES common to all three systems ( mantra as a science of sound?) and the concept of the Trinity.The essence of Raymond Lull surfaces again in the work of Hermann Hesse and his last novel 'The Glass Bead Game'.
"The Bead Game is a mode of playing with the contents and variables of our culture, a universe of possibilities and combinations available to the player..."
Both Lullism and The Glass Bead Game have their roots in the Science of Divine Analogies, the Revelation of Structures (Macrocosmic and Microcosmic) and the Law of Correspondence between these structures.
Raymond Lull was revealed a 'concentric" system, the circular nature of many visions is archetypal. Example: Edward Maitland:
"Once well started on my quest, I found myself traversing a succession of spheres or belts...the impression produced being that of mounting a vast ladder stretching from the circumference towards the centre of a system, which was at once my own system, the solar system, the universal system, the three systems being at once diverse and identical."
[The Edward Maitland material can be found in 'The Mystical Life', by Michael Whiteman, along with other similar material; and also in C.G.Jung's 'Psychology and Alchemy'.]
This vision is esssential in all its experiencial details with the Hermetic Macro-Microcosmic theology.It is also interesting to note that the structure of Ladder, Circumference, Centre and Spheres, in also contained in the so-called Tarochhi of Mantegna.
After the original experience, it seems we continue to create, or to generate, graphs of the original experience.Images of revelation of cosmic structure. The essential use of ritual, iconography, codes, ciphers, secrets, mnemonics - in religious usage - is to unravel these knots. The fabric of matter and the transitory tapestry of mortality is unwoven - to REVEAL, REVELATION, the Prima Mater, the Elixir, the Philosopher's Stone, the Immortality of the Gods, and so on. In meditation or ritual, we reconstruct, or REGENERATE, the cosmic archetypes within our individual psychic landscapes, and relate these experiences to the WHOLE.
It is now necessary [Why is it necessary? What is necessity?] to begin exploring the Visual Science known as YANTRA. From the foregoing material we can agree with C.G.Jung that:
"Creeds are codified and dogmatized forms of original religious experiences." What constitutes an 'original' religious experience? What is Religion? What is the difference between codification and dogmatization? Dogma and Code? Network these two words in a Thesaurus!
In our Christian Churches, we have long since lost the keys to the original revelations, or we have been conditioned into believing that such revelations are NOT our birthright. In this sense we are not directly and subjectively overcome by the cosmic structural aspects of the ritual. How may of us see "Transformation Symbolism" in the Mass? How many of us see the ritual as a dynamic revelation of the psychic process that we ourselves have to undergo? The microcosmic reflection of cosmic structures, operating within us, reflected in the Mass? How many of us see Christs as the Ultimate Centre of Integration, the Cross defining the Centre?
The varieties of religious experience and the problem of defining the word 'religion' are many.Let us start off with a definition of Jung:
"Religion appears to be to me a peculiar attitude of mind which could be formulated in accordance with the original use of the word religio, which means a careful consideration and observation of certain dynamic factors, or whatever name man has given to such factors in this world as he has found powerful, dangerous, or helpful enough to be taken into careful consideration, or grand, beautiful, and meaningful enough to be devoutly loved and worshiped."
The words 'religion' and 'yantra' are very closely linked. We have to turn to a definition of the term 'yantra' from Ajit Mookerjee in 'Tantra Art':
"YANTRA is essentially a geometric composition, but to understand its true nature one has to go beyond the notions of geometry into those of dynamics. A YANTRA then represents particular force whose power or energy increases in proportion to the abstraction or precision of the diagram. Through such YANTRAS or power diagrams, creation and control of ideas and physical forces are supposed to be possible. The dynamic graph of the diagram of forces by which anything can be represented - the picture of its functional constitution - is called the YANTRA of that thing. It is not an arbitrary invention but a revealed image of an aspect of cosmic structure."
Here we must remember we are dealing with 'visual data' - pictures and images of the cosmos. YANTRA is a Tantric term, and there are multiple definitions of all tantric terms, as there is for the word YANTRA:
"Apart from being terms for experiences they also serve by means of their specific affectability to lead people to, and finally evoke within them, these very experiences which those who had them consider to be the most worthwhile."
This definition of 'Tantric terms' by Prof. H.V.Guenther is very close to a way of seeing Yantra. We should not let the word 'affectability' upset us - 'responsibility' is the ability to respond, therefore 'affectability' is the ability to be affected. Returning to the earlier material, we can now see from another viewpoint that we are affected by an image with perfect proportions, i.e. a yantra can activate an internal projection process - "...in proportion to the abstraction of the diagram."
In an experiential sense, we use the term Yantra, when the experience has been a revelation of cosmic structure. Each yantra has its own area of "specific affectability," just as a mantra operates on a certain frequency of our vibrational spectrum.
YANTRA is FORM - but in this sense - the form that a certain energy or power takes, a "...dynamic graph" and NOT a condensation into a corporeal state.
The experiences which we undergo in a revelation, for example the circular revelations of Raymond Lull, mystic or otherwise, is a psychic process in which form in revealed. NOT static form, but the graph of energies. This image of cosmic structure is now documented and may become a form in the geometric sense, it has a dynamic quality, a ratio - even an architecture. It is, architectonic.
Great value can be obtained from researching this point in 'Psychology and Alchemy' by C.G.Jung, where evidence of the yantric nature of the structure of the psyche is abundant, as well as the general global documentation of the Jungian School of analytical psychology.
Here it should be noted that in chaotic states of the psyche, yantras do not crystalize, but only appear once the 'centre' is being defined and eventually 'reached.'Here we are again dealing with a polarity: the Centre and the Circumference, the stored image and the projected image, the microcosmic and the macrocosmic.
The defining of the centre is a process of integration, in which the dynamic factor is yantra, the revelation of structure. This I would term a religious experience in the light of the above definitions.
Some of this experience can be externalized in representational images, but the nature of yantra is usually abstract - or geometric. These are the 'revealed images of cosmic structure' - and when meditated upon produce certain psychic effects. In other words, they are 'milked' and by means of their specific affectability, lead people to, and finally evoke within them, the experiences of which they are a dynamic graph.They are abstract ciphers, YANTRA programmed to release revelations in a psychic structural sense. The representational aspect of yantra is the appearance of the deity - meditated upon which has a similar effect in re-activating the original effect/cause, now personified by a deity, and amplified by the codified data in the iconographic details and the structure of the ritual/sadhana itself. This is known as the YIDAM in Tibetan Buddhism.
In defining Religion & Yantra, we come to the conclusion that revelations of dynamic cosmic structure are codified in the High Mass of Christianity, Tibetan & Hindu sadhanas & pujas, Tarot pictures, The I Ching ideographs and so on.
In the astrological system of C.C.Zain, Jupiter is the Ruler of both Law and Religion. It would follow that Religion is also in this sense, DESIGN; the pattern of the Universe, the Macrocosmos, in relation to the relativity of the perceptions of Humanity - the Microcosmos. As Jupiter has dominion over good inspiration, it would seem that Religion, Inspiration & Revelation are closely connected to the Divine Mysteries of Cosmic Structure - the diagrams of which Eastern mystics have externalized as Yantra and Mandala.
In a political sense, Jupiter also rules the Church and the State, Popes, Hierophants and religious potentiates - institutes which have betrayed their original yantric function of being the Centres, the Castillia of the Glass Bead Game - where we store our images of Universal Beauty and structure - whether in visual form - and apply these Laws to the perpetual patterned revolutions of the Wheel of Life.Hierophants and Masters should help us to re-activate our inner psychic awareness of Cosmic Structure, and attain Bliss, Delight and Wisdom through this Revelation. The word 'psychedelic' means in essence - 'delight of the psyche.'
The dynamic factors of both 'religion' and 'yantra' lead us into the revealed images of our structural relationship to all other forms of sentient life.Here we approach ecology as another form of yantric pattern - the ecocycle has a structural reality that when imbalanced is actually an attack on religion as well. Thus we adopt a philosophy of HOLISM.
So powerful is the structured energy of a yantra, that when drawn out, they are worn as amulets by the Tibetans because they are so consecrated in a particular aspect of operation as to deactivate certain force fields and attract others.They are thus placed in vehicles, on animals, or in houses. Trungpa Rinpoche in 'Visual Dharma'.
The visual nature of data transmission also includes a great wealth of representational images, such as the YIDAM deities. This aspect of the Tibetan Tantra can be connected to the personified, anthropomorphic images of the kaballistical doctrines. To review this idea: in the Jewish work - The Zohar, this relationship between the body of Man and that of the natural Universe is expressed as:
"QUOD SUPERIUS, QUOD INFERIUS."
which means that what is Above is as that which is Below - the Divine Analogy again. The Macrocosmos, the universal man is to be studied through the Microcosmos, the finite man. Thus Deity is often referred to as:
The Vast Countenance, the Ancient One, The Aged Man, with even detailed descriptions of the hair of the beard of the Ancient One. That the finite Man is a miniature of the Whole, was a fact the Buddha also endorsed:
"Verily I declare unto you, that within this body, mortal though it may be, and only a fathom high, but conscious and endowed with mind, is the world, and the waxing thereof and the waning thereof, and the way that leads to the passing thereof."
Tibetan medicine also makes the Macro-Microcosmic connections. Thus of great importance in this context are the 'maps' of the psychic centres of the body, called 'Chakras' which themselves are YANTRIC, i.e. revealed images of cosmic structure.
This leads us into fields which I call 'meta-cartographic'. To explain: From 'Mount Analogue' by Rene Daumal:
"Along the path, glued to the window panes or hung from the bushes or dangling from the ceiling, so that all space was put to maximum use, hundreds of little cards were displayed.Each card carried a drawing, a photograph or an inscription... A diagram of a plant cell, Mendelieffs' periodic chart of the elements, keys to Chinese writing, a cross section of the human heart, Lorentz' Transformation formulae, each planet and its characteristics, fossil remains of the horse family in series, Mayan hieroglyphics, economic and demographic statistics, musical phrases, samples of the principal plant and animal families, crystal specimens, plan and elevation of the Great Pyramid, brain diagrams, logistic equations, phonetic charts of..."
If one contemplates the quality of the above quote from Daumal, the following stream of words can be evoked:
Map,chart,plan,cartography,diagram,graph,outline, document,inscription,record,sign,symbol,cipher,code,label, index,compenium,alphabet,patter,key - and also, yantra and mandala and so on.
These are all means of communicating the dynamics of cosmic structure - VISUALLY - whether in a relative map of any country, an anatomical chart, or psychogram.We can create meta-cartographic systems by the Law of Correspondences and Parallelism, and define the yantra of each system. The essence of communication is Mercury (Arcanum 1) which when fused to Jupiter(Arcanum 5), Pattern, Design or Law, gives us VENUS (Arcanum 6) - the number 6 - Art, Beauty and Creation, in the sense of Creativity.
Thus the term 'map' is inferior, for in visual terms, Art is the Supreme transmitter, diagram or meta-cartographic system. An emblem from Atalanta Fugiens, shows a picture entitled:
"Following in the footsteps of Nature."
Thus our aesthetic inspiration is drawn from Nature. G.de Givry writes:
"That is why all the alchemists stubbornly repeat so often that their sole master is Nature, that books are not necessary for perfecting the Great Work, and that it suffices for success to look with open eyes and imitate Nature."
Structural patterns, or yantra, surfaced in the field of CYMATICS and in particular in the work of Dr Hans Jenny of Zurich (or Basel:
This relationship between sound and image is beautifully expressed by Ajit Mookerjee:
"...every thought or every idea originates in Sound (NADA).The moment we think, an unheard sound is formed. As an idea appears in one's own mind, the sound that concurrently occurs is the ground of all forms."
"Every divine form posses a bija mantra or nuclear syllable. Even in its form as the smallest sound unit, the bija remains a microcosm and thus may represent the essential nature of a divinity."
We now have a new element. Our subjective representation as DEITY -YIDAM, can be related, according to the Laws of Nature, to the Great Whole. This can be reduced to an abstract diagram or pattern, containing the same information, visually - and finally, be condensed into a sound, or sacred syllable.
This point of origination is always in the Centre of the yantra - and the point is thus the most condensed form of visual data we can represent. This seed-dot, in visual terms, has /stored within it, the possibilities of radiation and projection.
The sound seed syllable is called BINDU and both always exist in the centre of the yantra, or within the chakras of the Yidam, the deity. Each Lotus that unfolds from this seed-sound, or visual dot, manifests a certain number of petals to indicate the frequency on which the outer form, or Rupa, will manifest.
What we are dealing with here, is the identical process when yantric structures emerge as Storage Systems ( The Seed Store) transforms into the visual display of fantasy process on the internal projection screen. As mentioned before, there is a proportional relationship (and therefore yantric) between the 'origin' and the 'goal' - not recognizable by the so-called conscious mind.It must be remembered, as Lilly suggests, that most storage systems are locked, especially those doors leading to taboo areas or the memory of a trauma - and that each has a key that unlocks, or unravels the operational potential of that storage space.
In different terms, this is the lock system between the conscious mind and the unconscious.We are suggesting from this material that it is the visual input and output that de-programmes these locks, more than other senses.
And naturally, programmes, as well, as is to be seen in the power of television in mass control.
The germ-seed, storage systems, thus equate to the unconscious, while the projected visual Form-Rupa, is the conscious Mind. YANTRA is the science of visual dynamics, whereby, intuitively we can compute, the structural relationships between 'above' (the conscious) and 'below' (the unconscious'.)
As Phillip Rawlson writes:
"The function of such diagrammatic imagery is to CO-ORDINATE, at various levels, images which suggest aspects of the One. That is their ultimate raison d'etre."
At this point in our argument, the material that has been gathered is very pertinent to the subject of VISUALIZATION, a Science that is more fully developed in Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana) than anywhere else I know of. But there are obstacles along the Way, especially in defining TANTRA which is the other word qualifying Tibetan Teachings, Virginia Whiles in a 'Studio International' article:
"Tantric imagery is a system of signs within a very specific semantic code, the function of which is essentially religious and spiritual. It follows a strict iconographical canon which involves the fusion of the collective and the individual consciousness."
We know that the iconographical details are connected to the science of revelation of Cosmic structure - YANTRA - that the codes, signs and details are all part of the Whole, documented visually. We also know that by compressing an image to its most nuclear manifestation, the seed, we can send this image into the storage areas of the unconscious, be it collective or individual.
In the technical visualizations, when the visual forms are invoke 'internally' - a text exists to prompt this process. These 'words' which are 'sounds' can be memorized and recited internally and thus invoke the corresponding visual images. This process usually moves from the representational deity to the abstract image, and finally to the nuclear seed form and then the FORMLESS state of meditation. On another level, the process may sequentially invoke archetypal forms, such as the circle, square and triangle - which in turn, construct the 'formal' yantra. Ajit Mookerjee, In 'Tantra Art';
"Tantric texts emphasize the necessity of inner visualization and the inner meaning of things.The vision which enables the artist to visualize reality is a supreme form of concentration. Sukracarya insists:
"There exists no form of concentration more absolute than that by which images are created. Direct seeing of a tangible object never allows of such an intensity."
On the Nature of Visualization:
"What is the purpose of these exercises" asks Lama Govinda: "The text says that these exercises can be compared to the drawing of a watercourse, by digging a channel or a ditch; in other words, they are meant to create the conditions, due to which the psychic energies are made to flow and can be controlled consciously."
It is necessary that we approach these Tibetan visualization exercises with the deepest reverence. There is much to think about in the above quotes of Sukracarya and Lama Govinda. In his book 'The Human Biocomputer' and also 'The Centre of the Cyclone', Dr John Lilly puts forward the theory that we are being nurtures and programmed by beings of a vaster computer set than our own. He suggests that they control the probability of our discovering and exploiting new science i.e. such discoveries as nuclear energy, Lsd-25, RNA, DNA and so on, that they test some human beings and care for others - and some of their programmes include our survival and progress.
This is an interesting thought and much evidence along those lines prevents us from dismissing these ideas completely. What I wish to indicate, is that the programme by which information of a deeply esoteric nature is embedded within a visual form, is also part of the 'Work' of these Higher Beings, or "Gods'.
And certainly this can be related to the Tibetan visualization exercises, though not only concrete deities are invoked but, from another level, forces within the psychic microcosmos are called up. These cosmic entities are part of the living, experiential vocabulary of Tibetan esoteric practice. Built into these visualization practices are sacred keys to the nature of existence, mnemonic devices to help us to invoke our divine foundation, symbols and ciphers of a deep ocean of programmed D.N.A. wisdom. The keys and the doors of the universal Mind - common to all and exploited by none - except those forces of ignorance which keep the keys from our grasp.
YANTRAS - SOME FINAL NOTES.
The view of reality, that we as "Westerners' share, say as represented by the average contents of the daily newspapers - is an extremely conditioned and subjective view. Collective beliefs, in the 'herd' sense - are kept without any scientific proof - e.g. racialism. fascism. In a larger sense, it is very unfortunate as prof H.V.Guenther has pointed out, that we equate "Western" or "European" consciousness with human consciousness. This form of imperialism is still continuing, with perhaps America replacing Europe as the centre of fascination. But, what is of note her - it that this position has been reversed by the influence of the East, and what may be more correctly termed the 'Third World" as a reaction to the process of colonialism of the past centuries.
Our logical, linear/serial and patriarchal way of thinking has produced rather savage effects on mankind as a whole. The reaction to this has been obviously necessary and it is this process of reaction that places our work in a difficult situation - that is, the refusal to change, deeper entrenchment of outdated methodology - and the dangers of destructive programmes. From the view of a vast process of transformation; de-"structuring' may be necessary in respect of our "ideas" and "concepts" of the world "we" (the conditioned collective) think is real.
We are also transforming our language to qualify and communicate this change. I am also convinced that this process is not even fractionally manifest, as yet, especially in the printed word - but I do suggest that due to new technologies such as Radio, Television, the Cinema and photography, home computing and holography, and other such electronic media - our collective visual vocabulary is being seriously extended, mainly in the area of storage/retrieval - receptor and transmitter systems.
Thus in approaching the East we are also attempting to explore an area of our own consciousness, ignored for centuries. We are re-discovering an aspect of our intrinsic potential which the flow of European history has staunched - and yet there may be an organic timing ( in the cosmic sense) in the meeting of the highly sophisticated logical/techno-logical aspect of the Western mind, with the well gestated, intuitive, holistic aspects of the East.
It is for this reason that some have considered that of prime significance in this meeting of cultures and layers of consciousness - is the visual, and not the literal tradition of the East - for example, the visual metaphysics of Tantra art, the Mandala of Tibetan systems, and the general YANTRA theories of kinetics and dynamics.
The Eastern visual sciences, which carry a deep documentation on the nature and structure of reality, in union with the pragmatic, logical sciences of the West - could be one layer of the germination of the 'New Age'.
The opposites must be balanced in harmony with the fulcrum, the centre, as the common point. We can not have day without night. As in Sri Yantra, we have two forces, the downward and the upwards, symbolized as masculine and feminine, bound in union around a common centre.
It is thus a major difficulty to introduce a subject so foreign to our serial manner of thinking, as that of yantra. There are still areas which one can only intuitively reach, in the experiential context of ones particular being. This process is not complete in myself - what is shared here is a facet of a structure. Each of us may report different facets. Collectively woven, these descriptions make a great tapestry of the Nature of our being.
I cannot claim any originality for the collection and quotations and notes gathered above.My educational qualifications are incomplete.But rather than be subdued into silence by the flaws and errors of my thoughts - I still write.It would be a terrible age if the first efforts of a struggling new form were crushed before reaching fuitition.Thus I ask forgiveness for whatever wrong ideas I have launched on the sea of collective thought; compassion for growth to take place, and a sense of the sharing with all sentient beings, whatever merit may arise from this process.
[This was dated: March - October 1977, and then the 15th June, 1978, at Cape Town, South Africa.Address of P.O.Box 15438, Vlaeberg, Cape Town 8018.]