Story-Mythology Progressionism In Asia
The study of story-mythology details the many paths of humanity and gives one an opportunity to better understand the uniqueness of existence and physical universe plane reality. This subject area gives insight into the composite vibrational, emotional and spiritual experiences of a given people, culture and/or time-space. To examine the story-mythology of a given civilization is to enter into the poetic secrets of our species – and this information can help us better understand the beauty of physical universe reality. The heart of this subject can also help us experience the range and nature of human encounters – extending into how given cultures have responded to the particulars of their time-space experiences. This is so because the thrust of this discipline transcends any one strata and sheds light on the total forces operating in a given time space. The wonder of story-mythology has recorded every aspect of the human condition and stands as a record of information that can be used to reflect on the state of apparent reality and human postulation dynamics. The extended implications of this subject transcends any one culture or cultural group and can be observed as a major component in cultural dynamics . There are no historical records of any civilization that did not produce this form of ‘thought-construct’. Images and narrative story telling is at the heart of recorded documentation. To examine this subject then is to inquire into the essence of human consciousness and spirit. The geneses constructs that underlie story-mythology can give us an opportunity to better understand the dynamics of human evolution and transformation. The thrust of this paper will attempt to examine the fundamental categories of this subject – as it relates to the 1) particulars of specific-lineage Asian progressionalism 2) the particulars of composite Asian progression- ism , and 3) the ritual and ceremonial system of my music-system.
By the term story-mythology I am referring to the use of story dialogue and imagery as a context for transferring extended concepts about the ‘agreed reality’ of a given group of people (culture). This information in time becomes a reservoir of associations that progressively moves to reaffirm the vibrational and perceptual tendencies particular to that group – from a composite and/or specific cultural perspective. Story telling in this context encompasses the life-spectra of a given people and gives us an opportunity to have some understanding of what it meant to be alive in a given time period/area – from a three deminsional poetic perspective. For this inquiry I have established 5 categories of story mythology as a composite discipline – including 1) a cultures cosmology 2) social reality traditions 3) historical documentation 4) institutional ceremony 5) and secular traditions – For this paper I will seek to use these categories as a way to establish similarities and differences in story mythology. The first part of my paper will attempt to examine the dynamics of this subject as it relates to the uniqueness of composite Asian progressionalism – as outlined in the structural framework given to us by professor Norten in our class, Art in Asia . This approach is necessary and consistent with the general thrust of our classroom work. Because I am interested in what has been documented through the composite information complex of this planet region and what it says about the dynamics of ‘what has been experienced’ in the past. The second part of this paper will seek to calibrate this material into my own music/ritual system – which hopefully will involve ‘that which is to be experienced’( in the future). I have chosen this route because I feel the significance of story-mythology is directly related to the challenges of the coming millennium.
Before an examination of trans-Asian mythology can begin , it is necessary to first define the terms of this inquiry – and why. Because the dynamics of this subject transcends any one context and extends into many different areas ( and focuses). This is a subject that contains thousands and thousands of unique creative examples (and approaches) and the scope of this paper must necessarily be limited when viewed in the composite context of existing material. It is simply not possible to examine every story in any one continum – nor is it even necessary. My interest in this subject is directed towards 1) the dynamics of individual experiences 2) the dynamics of group experiences and 3) the dynamic implications of symbolic experiences. The term tri-centric refers to the ‘balance of constructs’ that will support a given inquiry – as it relates to locating what ‘quadrant’ a given story seemed to address. I have taken this route because of my belief in what I will call ‘universal experiences’ (experiences which are documented as common to every segment of our species). Tri-centric modeling will be used in this paper as a construct to better understand classical imagery, structure and ‘apparent change(transformation or transition). An approach of this nature is consistent with established story-mythology methodology – because the thrust of this discipline has sought to establish clear zones of associations (ie. imagery, value systems). I will seek in this paper to establish a concept of quadrant categories that gives insight into the use of form , drama and imagery as practiced through the summation tendencies of Asia extending into the pacific rim cultures (ie. Japan) . In this way it might be possible to build a context of associations that can be ‘reflected’ into my own work.
The dynamics of story-mythology is directly related to the vibration- nal essence of a given culture and permeates the life tendencies of it’s time space. In this context mythology helps to establish 1) the genesis creation mythology that establishes a cultures relationship with cosmic manifestation 2) the notion of value systems and human behavior 3) the aspirations of a given people( and the concept of evolution). It is this area of information that seeds a given culture with respect to it’s position as a species unique unto itself. The discipline of story -mythology provides a bridge-connection that connects perceived earth-reality to perceived cosmic-reality. With this information people are able to have a broad information complex that clarifies basic historical and spiritual questions that have been thought about since the beginning of recorded documentation : questions about our existence on earth and the phenomenon of living. Story-mythology in this context provides experiences of the ‘Gods’ in story form to be used as a backdrop to aid contextualization and alignment. This can be seen very clearly by examine the early stories of the forming Hindu period. Even at the beginning, the early stories established a spectra of images and characters that span the spectrum of personalities (and shapes) of the human family. Gods in the early stories show the composite connection of all things by taking on the shapes of humans , animals , and plants ( anthropo-morphic). This flexibility is not separate from the base tenet of the early spiritual story-myths – that being , the oneness of the composite universe( existence as an affirmation of the great spirit, and that everything was created from one source). Cosmology in this context establishes the ‘value systems of experiences’ that contexts and undergirds individual experience. The evolution of this discipline would also touch on what value systems are – and in doing so , the concept of virtues gives a code of conduit for everyday interchange and life experiences.
The creation of story-mythology establishes the poetic imagery of a given culture and defines it’s vibrational spectra. Cosmology in story form establishes the ‘experience-drama’ of a given virtue. The thrust of this discipline encompasses the composite experiences of a given culture and serves as a vibrational and historical aid that can be used to communicate the progressional identity of a people. The early Hindu myth stories reveal a rich image world that contains many different kinds of gods – with a spectrum of personalities ( including what we call ‘very positive’ images to ‘very negative images’). The character spectra of the myth encompasses the dynamics of human imagery and spirit. Chracterizations on this level become iconic in the Since that once established an image takes on a life of its own. The use of the color black as representing evil or ‘less good’ and the use of the color white as representing ‘good and/or virtuous’ are concepts established and supported through story-mythology. The concept of heaven and hell – with all of it’s related imagery is not separate from historical dimensions of ‘applied’ decisions. It is through the use of virtue-imagrey (story)-myths that a people are given the tools to establish decision making and vibrational alignment. What this means is that the thrust of story-mythology has helped to detail the composite aspirations of our species – from assisting in establishing the concept of reality to the ‘acsetete value’ of a given esetensial encounter(experience).
EARLY HINDUISM ( points of definition)
VEDIC CREATION MYTHS
The story-mythology that emerged in the Indus Valley evolved through the oral tradition transfer of information in the lands we now call Afghanistan, Java and India somewhere around ca.1500 BC. In it’s genesis state that material would come to form the vibrational identity of the emerging Hindu culture. The writings in the Rig Veda are generally considered to contain the first solidified platform of composite canon/hymns.to predate the emergence of Hinduism as a spiritual religion. This book contains more than a thousand hymns written in Sanskrit – documenting and establishing the imagery and experiences of it’s people and culture. The central focus of the Rig Veda is the myth of creation – in all it’s wonderful imagery. Centuries later , a second platform of writings/commentaries emerged in a book known as The Brahmanas. The early documentation also shows the influence of Mesopotamia.
THE RIG VEGA (collections of hymns composed in northwest India)
I. THE BEGINNING (genesis creation myth)
a. The early pre-Aryan creation myths begin with the emergence of ‘desire’ as a point of definition for the ‘opening’ into ‘manifestation and consciousness’.
b. Hymn: Indra, king of the gods/or Vishnu separated heaven from earth. Then, the sun rose and from that spot – A great pillar was erected to prop apart heaven and earth. That pillar is the ‘axis of the world’.
c. Hymn: The Myth Epiphany ( of the Linga)
1a. A flame appears as a pillar that Brahma and Vishu could not
find the end of. Then Shiva appeared and they both Bowed.
d. Story: The myth of the Pine Forest
1. Seven sages practicing asceticism in the forest.
2. Shiva went as a beggar with a skull and beggars’ bowl.
3. Shiva seduced their wives
4. Later Shiva returned everything back to normal.
a. Story: The birth of SHIVA
1. begins as an ‘outsider’
2. opposed to the ‘gods’ ( the other gods)
3. opposed to man
4. His father Rudra is ‘lord of the Beast, jungles and mountains’.
5. Shiva marries Sati (daughter of Daksha) who conducted a sacrifice but didn’t invite Shiva.
6. Sati kills herself in shame ( to create the first ‘suttee’ – or sacrifice by widows).
7. Rudra has an association with “death”.
b. Story: ‘the myth of the three cities’
1. tells of Rudras’ annilation of the cosmos
(his son wish for immortality was denied)
c. Story: The slaughter and revival of the god of desire.
1. Shiva refuses to remarry after Sati’s death.
2. But the gods wished him to beget a son to become a general
to fight against the demon Taraka.
3. The gods then sent Kama to shoot his flowery arrows at Shiva
(to break his ‘trance’)
4. Shiva opened his third eye and burned Kama to ashes.
5. Later Shiva revives him at the entreaty of Kama’s wife.
d. Story: The story of Skanda.
1. Shiva second marriage is to Parvati.
2. After many years of love-making Shiva was not able to produce an offspring.
3. The gods then sent Agni (in the form of a parrot) to interrupt their love-play.
4. Agni took the golden seed of Shiva in his mouth and placed it in the river Ganges.
5. The six Pleiades found the seed and brought forth a six-headed boy, whom they also nursed. This was the god Skanda.
III. EPIC AND PURANIC MYTHOLOGY
a. The god Yama – ‘king of the dead’
The brothers Yama and Manu ‘the ancestor of the human race’
performed the first sacrifice (through his daughter)
b. Story: The story of Vivasvat the ‘sun stallion.’
1. Vivasvat, the sun-stallion, married the daughter of Tvashtar, who bore him Yama and his sister Yami.
2. Tvashtar’s daughter then fled from Vivasvat’s excessive heat,
taking the form of a mare and leaving in ger place a woman identical to herself.
3. Upon this substitute Vivasvat begot Manu( then becoming aware of the deception, he took the form of a horse and begot the Ashvins upon the mare).
IV. POST- VEDIC PERIOD
a. Transition from the early period.
b. Shiva and Vishnu becomes the new Gods.
c. The two great myth sources of this period are
the Mahabharata and the Ramayana
d. Story: the myth of the dwarf
1. Krishna changes into a dwarf to beg the demons for
a share of the earth( he then wins the earth in three strides).
e. The earliest avatars were of animal forms
f. Immortality was desired by the Gods (soma)
g. The Krishna demon serpent story is a good one .
He danced on the head of the serpent.
h. The emergence of Ramachurama (Rama) and his wife Sita
i. Story: The story of the bow (from the epic Ramayana )
1. There was a huge bow on a wagon pulled by 159 men,
2. Rama’s father was tricked into passing him over as heir
3. Sita is carried off by a powerful demon, Ravana into the forest.
4. In a great battle Rama kills Ravana and rescues Sita.
5. Sita later proves her ‘purity’ by entering a fire and emerging unharmed.
V. KALI PERIOD
a. Krisha’s death begins the Kali period.
b. Buddhism was the greatest threat in the beginning – later
Krishna became an avatar Buddha himself.
c. This period is last of the ‘Four ages of the world’
1. earth destroyed by fire and water.
2. after which the Four ages will begin again (new cycle)
3. At the end of this period Vishnu will ride on a white horse
( later he becomes the horse) – influenced by Christianity.
4. A remnant of ‘good people will be saved and they will start the next cycle of life.
d. All Hindu gods have ‘vehicles- forms’ that they take
(ie. ‘white elephants of the clouds)
1. bay station
2. sacrificial goat
3. a wild goose
( these figures can also denote the ‘presence’ or ‘essence’ of the the Gods themselves).
The early Hindu myths are complex and dynamic. Complex in the sence that so many factors have been documented and then revised that it is difficult to know what anyone really believes. In the early writings, the gods are presented as very human like in their disposition and character. Mythology in this time period paints a picture of a race of gods who are constantly engaged with gamerey , sensual pleasure and aggression. The early pre-Aryan gods used their powers to promote and retard evolution on earth – depending on what is viewed as advantageous to their interest. Reading about the exploits of the Hindu deities is like experiencing a giant soap opera that constantly introduces new characters in different forms. In many cases, the resultant reality-context of humanity came about because of feuds between the gods – as opposed to thought out decisions on our behalf. I was surprised to learn that the early Hindu gods received their immortality by sacrificing the immortality of human beings. The genesis Hindu myths establishes a garden of deities who are constantly seeking to extend their powers in every direction. This is a world of deities who are locked into debate with events in the spirit and earth world. The gods in Hindu mythology have always existed and form a kind of class unto themselves. No human can become a god – you must be born into the class of Gods. In many cases the Rig Veda paints a picture of gods who have on going arch-enemies gods or demons to contend with- with events on earth becoming a resultant by-product of inter-deity power struggles. The ‘ocean of Milk’ story is one example of the early complexities that created divisions between the gods.
The emergence of demons deities- as a polarity component to the ‘positive’ gods – can also be viewed as dynamic in the sence that both groups are connected to one another by virtue of the orgin-bases of Shiva. Demons in the early writings have more flexibility than any one ascetic position. There are times when a demon deity will work on behalf on human concerns- all of these matters are relative. This is a world of broken agreements, old grudges and new alliances – and in every case the use of gods and demons establishes the beginning polarities of the myths (ie. good/bad, heaven/earth). For instance, the god Parashurama exterminated an entire class of warriors and then gave the earth to the priests to rule. In the end the composite evolution of the early myths would be consistent with the spread of humanity thru the Indus valley region. Mythology in this context would seek to portray the life of the people in all its diversity. It is this multiplicity that best characterizes the dynamics of Hinduism.
From the beginning, the early myths sought to express a dynamic universe that encompassed composite existence. The iconography of the early writings exposes us to a world of spiritual deities and elements. Gods of the Vedic religions can take on different shapes and purposes. The concept of avatar transformation establishes an extended platform that allows for creativity and continued cultural relevance. With this special feature, the early Hindu gods can be re-alligned to the dictates (or needs) of the time period. The god Vishnu is an example of this most special feature and he is documented in at least ten different forms. The summation image of early Hinduism establishes a fairy tale like world of gods and animals – in animate manifestation, in the experience of life. The thrust of this mythology establishes a platform of experiences that has served to provide a composite aesthetic foundation for its people. The concept of spirit-uality in the Hindu religion is broad enough to include a stupendous array of forms. In this context, the gods of the early Hindu hymns are divine and also like humans. It cannot be ignored that even the great god Krishna was capable of extreme violence and complexity. To read of his exploits is to learn of a great deity who did not come to the aid of his own family when they needed him, who hid the clothes of the village ladies who were swimming. These are spiritual deities who also seek love and companionship ( and marriage). This aspect of early Hinduism is especially dear to me. The early gods of this continuum are dynamic and vulnerable at the same time. This is the kind of role model that can help human beings evolve because we can identify with the experiences of this spiritual world.
VI. THERAVADA BUDDHISM
a. The founder of Buddhism , Siddhartha Bautama was born in
northern India in about 563 BC.
b. early texts: the ‘Tipitaka (Three Baskets)
Story: The immaculate conception of the Buddha
1. Buddha entered his mother’s womb (Maya) in the form
of a white elephant – or (later) as a ‘star with six rays’
2. his mother had premonitions of his birth
3. Buddha was born in ten months
4. the Buddha birth was through his mothers side undefiled
and with no pain to his mother
5. the udumbara tree then put forth it’s blossoms
c. evolution of Buddhist mythology
Story: the defeat of the Asuras
1. eternal enmity between the Devas and Asuras
2. The king of Tavatimsa (the god Sakka) did not want to
share his kingdom with others
3. Sakka got the Asuras drunk and hurled them to the steep
sides of Mount Sineru.
4. The blossomed of the Cittapatali tree signial to the Asuras that they were no longer in the world of the gods.
5. a battle on Mount Sineru – Sakka is worsted and flees.
6. Sakka fears for the Garudas (man/animal beings) and
returns back to his kingdom.
7. The Asuras fear reenforcements and flee
8. Sakka then sets guards in five places of his palace (with
images of the god Indra with thunder bolt in hand.
d. transition and evolution
Story: Mara’s futile attempts to prevent the Buddha’s Enlightenment.
1. Buddha sits under a Bodhi-tree before enlightment
2. Mara summons a force to advance against the Boddha
3. Mara himself rode a huge elephant to lead the charge
4. The Buddha’s gods and spirits desert him (through fear)
5. Buddha is triumphant by demonstrating the ‘ten virtues’
(later version: the earth itself speaks on behalf of Buddha)
The emergence of Buddhism would extend the tenet components and icononagraphy of Hinduism and Jainism into the changing reality context of the new world (into the solidification of the great Indian empire of this time period). The nature of this transition would see a realignment from deity-image worship to the dynamics of the individual. This change was consistent with the new influence from invading Aryan peasants – who in the beginning emphasized prayer and a more nomadic approach to life. The progressional development of this transition was not separate from the emergence of the caste system of social organization and the belief in the transmigration of souls or reincarnation. This change would be consistent with the axiom tenet structure of Buddhist thought. If early Hinduism could be viewed as a point of definition for creation-mythologies (ie. gods and hiarhchy of gods), Theravada Buddhism would realign that information from the point of individual vibrational dynamics. For example, the phenomenon of ‘desire’ mentioned in the early Hindu myths (as the ‘opening’ into manifestation) becomes the ‘negative-goal’ of the next era. In Buddhism the individual is asked to renounce desire – as a goal (this is the first step towards nirvana- or spiritual peace). Buddhism ask the spiritual initiate to learn meditation and free oneself from craving and/or worldly things . In the early period this form of Buddhism became known as Theravada (‘The Way of the Ekders’) . The doctrine of Buddhist belief extended to establish the Four Noble Truths and the ‘Three Jewels’ of Buddhism (referring to the profession of faith.
A. GENESIS MYTHOLOGY IS SEEDED IN THE THREE SOVEREIGNS
( Fu-hse; Shen-nung; Yen Ti) AND THE FIVE EMPERORS
( Huang Ti; Chuan Hsium; K’u; Yao; Shun)
This is the beginning of order from chaos.
a. Story: The transformation of Hun-tun (emperor of the Centre)
1. To repay hospitality Shu and Hu decided to bore the
necessary holes in Hun-tun body so that he could have the
seven bodily orifices that other men have.
2. on the seventh day of this ordeal Hun-tun dieds-simultaneously the world came into existence.
3. later: Chaos becomes an egg from which P’an-Ku was born.
4. P’an-Ku is represented in the beginning as a dwarf.
5. For 18000 years the distance between earth and sky grew
by ten feet – and P’an- Ku grew at the same rate( so that his
body feeled the gap.
6. After death P’an-Ku body became various natural elements
7. P’an-Ku and his wife represent yin and yang.
b. Transition into the physical world ( three schools of thought)
( suan ye, hun t’ien and t’ien kai or chou pei)
c. Story: ( hun t’ien school)
1. the world was an upright hen’s egg
2. The sky, was on the inside of the upper part of the shell.
3. The earth folated upon the primeval ocean ( lying on the
bottom of the shell)
4. (variations of this story establishes an axis for the revolution
of the sky- the Pole Star).
5. earth becomes still square and yin and the sky becomes revolving , round and yang.
d. Story: the Hill and River Classic
1. a monster named Kung Kung tried to seize power from Yao
( the forth emperor)
2. He failed and in fury impaled the north-west support
( which is the Pole Star)
3. The mountain broke, causing the sky to tip to the northwest and tearing a hole in Sky itself.
4. Earth tilted in the opposite direction and this is why water flows south-eastwards.
The traditional Chinese cults of the ancestors and a great variety of deities were influenced over the centuries by the philosophical systems of Confucianism, founded by Confucius (551-479 BC), and the emergence of Taoism, – founded by Lao Tzu. Buddhism as a spiritual movement came into China from India, as part of the dynamics of travel and resolidification. Later the Chinese would see the arrival of Islam and Christianity to their shores and a new generation of sects would emerge. This transition period is also a point of definition for the blurring of genesis Chinese mythology- because deliberate attempts were made to re-document and backdate the early literature ( including the burning of the early writings). The early tradition is viewed from the context of the teachings of the ‘Three Sovereigns’ and the ‘Five Emperors’.Written documentation in this time period was re-systematized to show ‘preplaned results’ and the early literature was ‘edited’ to bring it in line with the ‘fresh’ perspective of the new scholars. China is considered by many scholars to have created the highest level of government and/or civilization because of the unification (and practical co-operation) of its religious and secular organization.
As a way to search for fundamental categories of the Buddhist religion I have examined twenty four Jatika stories as a way to isolate basic historical themes. This approach is consistent with my hope to create a quadrant context of ‘experiences’ for my own work. A brief outline of those categories will be presented in this paper as a source for calibration (and as a point of focus to establish terms for new story models). In an attempt to establish a short-hand point of reference for research I have created twelve categories of experiences that are demonstrated in the Jakata writings selected for this paper. Those categories are: a) the search for truth b) the power of perseverance c) the power of sacrifice, d) the power of acceptance, e) the significance of correct responses, f) the significance of incorrect responses, g) the phenomenon of entrapment ,h) the act of selflessness ,i) evil plans ultimately will backfire, j) cosmic protection as a real life factor , k) miracle realization through experience, l) and symbolic truth as not separate from intention. All of the stories I have examined for this paper demonstrate some aspect of one or more of these attributes (categories).
(Two merchants travel with caravans across a desert. One, beguiled by goblins ,throws sway his drinking-water in the desert and is devoured with all his people and cattle: the other completes his journey safely.) lesson: JUDGEMENT
(Two princes going down to a haunted pool are seized by an ogre:
the third, by correctly defining ‘godlike,’ saves his brothers.)
Lesson: CORRECT RESPONSE
A King refuses to recognize his son by a chance amour: the mother throws the child into the air, praying that, if he be not the King’s son , he may be killed by his fall. The child rests in mid-air and the King recognizes him as his son.) Lesson: MIRACLE REALIZATION
A king, finding a grey hair in his head , renounces his throne to prepare as a hermit for death.) ACCEPTENCE
(Deer in a royal park, to avoid being hunted, decide that lots shall be cast to select a daily victim, The lot having fallen on a doe big with young, the king of the deer offers himself as a substitute at the block and saves not only his own life but also the lives of all living creatures.) Lesson: SACRIFICE
A mountain-stag, enamored of a doe, is by her allowed to fall prey to a hunter; the doe escapes.) Lesson: ENTRAPMENT
(A deer which would not come to be taught the ruses of deer, is caught in a trap.) Lesson: INCORRECT RESPONSE
( A tiger and a lion dispute whether it is the dark or the light half of the month which is cold.) SYMBOLIC TRUTH
An elephant, missing his playmate, the dog, refuses to eat until the dog is restored to him.) THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH
( how a bull drew 500 carts in order to earn money for his poor mistress.) SACRIFICE
(A hard-working ox is discontented with his own hard fare, when he sees a lazy pig being fattened up. Another ox explains that the pig is being fattened to be eaten; and the discontented ox accepts his position.) Lesson: ACCEPTANCE
(An uxorious fish being caught, fears his wife may misconstrue his absence. A Brahmin sets hm free,) CORRECT RESPONSE
A mosquito settles on a man’s head, To kill it, his foolish son strikes the mans head with an axe with fatal effect). Lesson: INCORRECT RESPONSE
To put a stop to sacrifices of living creatures, a king vows to offer a holocaust of such as take life, Sacrifices cease.) Lesson: SYMBOLIC TRUTH.
(A good king meets evil with good. Refusing to sanction war, he is captured and buried alive in a charnel-grove. How he escapes the jackals, acts as umpire for ogres, and regains his sovereignty.) Lesson: PERSEVERANCE.
(A drummer by too much drumming is plundered by robbers in a forest). CORRECT RESPONSE
(A woman’s husband, son and brother are condemned to death. Being offered a choice which she will save, she chooses her brother and gives the reason.) SELFLESSNESS
(A viper bites a man and refuses under threat of death to suck out the poison.) CORRECT RESPONSE
(The hypocritical hermit who stole the gold, but punctiliously returned a straw which was not his.) SYMBOLIC TRUTH
(A lion’s fatal passion for a doe.) SYMBOLIC TRUTH
(Being jealous of his elephant , a king seeks to make it fall over a precipice. the elephant flies through the air with its mahout to another and more appreciative master.) INCORRECT RESPONSE
(A stupid youth, being devoted to his teacher, props up the latter’s bed with his own leg all night long. the grateful teacher yearns to instruct the dullard and tries to make him compare things together. The youth sees a likeness to the shaft of a plough in a snake, an elephant, sugar-cane and curds. The teacher abandons all hope.)
THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH
(A jackal eats his way into a dead elephant’s carcass and cannot get out.) EVIL PLANS BACKFIRE
(A youth, who has learnt the charm for restoring the dead to life, tries it on a tiger , with fatal effects to himself.) SYMBOLIC TRUTH
V11. TIBETAN BUDDHISM
a. emergence of Bon Buddhist religion ( ‘sacred matters’)-pertaining to the lives of the gods.
b. emergence of Bon-po Buddhism (dharma or religious doctrine)
c. The life-story of Gshen-rab
Story: ‘The precious Treasury of excellent Sayings, Auspicious Rain for the wise’
1. After a series of reincarnations gShen-rab ( now, gSal-ba) is born.
2. He acquires his teachings in heaven( his brother Dag-pa
teaches doctrine on earth.
3. gSal-ba chooses the country and clan of his birth
4. he is transformed into a white syllable A and enters the
head of his father. ( at the same time he is transformed into
a red syllable MA and enters into his mother).
5. After nine months and ten days he is born as ‘the Lord of
Men, the Victorious one.
6. at young age begins to teach and spread the teachings of
7. is disturbed by a demon called Khyab-pa who first steals one of his daughters (later, seven horses).
8. Khyab-pa then creates obstructions that aSal-ba overcomes.
9. aSal-ba (now in Tibet) then teaches the people how to
10. Khyab-pa continues to be wicked (ie. burns books) but
aSal-ba ignores him and abandons worldly possessions.
11. seeing his hardships, Khyab-pa confesses his crimes and
becomes a faithful disciple.
12. aSal-ba spends the rest of his life in solitude and died
at the age of eighty two.
d. genesis story of the creation of human beings
Story: The Monkey and the Ogress
1. Avalokitesvara creates a monkey (or becomes the monkey)
to convert people in the land of ‘snows’(Tibet)
2. The monkey is approached by a rock-ogress disguised as a female monkey and asked to be his consort.
3. with permission from the Avalokitesvara the monkey
mated with the ogress and created six animal sons.
4. They were taken to Peacock Woods and left.
5. After a year these animals shed their hair and became
human and could then be converted.
Buddhism was brought into Tibet by the early Tibetan kings in the reign of King Srong-btsan sgam-po. By the thirteenth century the Tibetans had translated all the Buddhist literature of India, Kashmir and Nepal that was available to them. The Tibetans, like the Jains have a dynamic concept of ‘flexibility’ and was able to incorporate the new religion and reshape it to their needs. The Tibetan also took the Buddhist concept of the ‘endless series of world-ages’ and the concept of ‘change-cycles’ is part of the fundamental axioms of this religion. Also adopted from Buddhism is the idea of the Bodhisattva- the spiritual god who has not forsaken humanity but instead comes back to earth to help human beings. The Dali Lama is from this succession of spiritual masters.
a. expansion of Hindu, Brahmanistic influences
b. influence of the Jatika Tales
c. evolution of secular writings
d. early manuscripts: the traiphum (‘the three worlds- or regions) A treatise that focuses on ‘states’ of categories
1. the world of desire (earth, lower levels of heaven)
2. sixteen levels of heaven (material elements barely exist)
3. the four highest heavens (material elements do not exist)
e. extended explanation of hell (eight major levels)
f. the next level of life (the three realms)
1. animals, ghosts, and demons)
2. emergence of human beings from the four continents
( our species is from one of the continents)
3. The wheel-turning Monarch. The perfect ruler.
4. The realm of the ‘thewada’ (the creatures inhabiting the lower heavens and the higher regions of the human world, including tree tops and mountain tops).
The history of Thailand dates back to possibly the 13th century- but the historical records are not certain of the exact date. By the 14th century the first known Thai kingdom at Sukhothai would establish the platform for present day documentation. Historical records then speak of an Asian people who most probably migrated from China- certainly the vibrational tendencies of the Thai people are consistent with the influences we have come to view as trans-asian. Buddhism was brought into Thailand in the early period and was first practiced by the ruling classes. The main thrust of that interest would center on the Jatika tales ( stories of lives of the Buddha). This information would be transmitted to the people through the temple services and the acceleration of dynamic new art work. In time the thrust of the Jatika tales would see fresh translations that took into account the reality-spectrum of the Thai people and their unique culture. The major source of translated Buddhist doctrine can be found in the Traiphum ( which contains something like thirty different Buddhist sources). These writings are very extended and detailed in a way that gives insight into the vibrational tendencies of the Thai people. Every stage of existence is detailed in this body of writings- establishing a hiearchy of ‘matter’: from the modes of birth to the categories of birth. The Traiphum is unique in its attempts to provide extended maps of the world – and it’s geography. The evolution of this information would see the emergence of a unique form of cosmology-maps that give insight into a highly creative approach to art. It would not be an overstatement to write that the Thai people have a dynamic extreme use of architecture and timbre. This can be seen in their creative use of visual shapes and color ( even extending into their food). This is a culture of bright reds and yellows. There is a kind of exzagerated quality to much of Thai creativity that is special.
A. GENESIS MYTHS ( the Takamagahara/Yamato myths, the Izumo myths and the Himuka//Tsukushi myths)
1. heaven and earth originally was not separated
2. Three deities then came into being( starting with the Centre of Heaven Deity)
3. the next two deities represent creative energy or generative potency ( which gave birth to all things).
4. The forth deity materialize as a ‘reed-shoot’ ( symbolizing the
birth of all things from primeval mud.
5. Then came a fifth deity who symbolizes ‘heaven’
B. THE EMERGENCE OF IZANAGI AND IZANAMI
a.Story: The heavenly deities commanded Izanagi and Izanami to complete and consolidate the creation of land.
1. They were given the Heavenly Jewelled Spear.
2. They stirred the ocean with a chuning sound.
3. The ‘brine’ from this stirring created an island.
4. They then discovered that they were of different sexes.
5. ritual ensued but Izanami made the mistake of talking first
and the children of their off-spring were born defected.
6. They returned to heaven and was advised to repeat the ritual
but have Izanagi (the man) speak first.
7. They were then successful and had many children.
b. Story: Izanahgi in the underworld
1.. Izanami gave birth to the god of fire, Kagutsuchi-no-Kami (the god of fire)
2.Izanami dies from burns from the birth experience
3. Izanagi travels to the land of Yomi(death) to recover Izanami
4. Izanami tells him to not look at her while she seeks consent from Yomi.
5. But Izanami does look and sees maggots and snakes in her corpse and changes his mind.
6. Izanami angrily pursues him – she curses him with a 1000 deaths each day.
7. Izanagi answers with 1500 births each day.
The dynamics of story-mythology has long played an important role in Japan – and this is documented in the very early historical records.
This is a culture that has evolved many different myths and legends through it’s oral history and traditions. The early documentation paints a picture of a disciplined people who worked as farmers to establish a spiritual relationship with the land. Mythology in this time period was orally transmitted through the priesthood and through professional storytellers- who traveled into every realm of the early culture and spread the gospel. Later, a collection of the early myths would be compiled into three primary groups of writings – the Fudoki (topographical works), the Norito (Liturgical prayers) and the Kogoshui (an ancestral history of the Inbe, a great priestly clan officially in charge of the Shinto religion). The Meiji government (1868-1992) established an extended relationship to Japan’s major religion, Shintism, that was comprehensive and political. The thrust of that relationship would see the blurring of religion and politics as part of the cultural ‘pyche’ of the people. Mythology in this context would become a tool that seeded the historical backdrop of Japanese culture as well as authenticating the political position of the imperial family. The main body of story-mythology in this time period was the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) and the Nihonshoki or Nihongi (Chronicles of Japan) complete in AD712 and 720 respectively. The thrust of these writings establishes a dynamic world of gods and demons that provides backdrop to one of the most fascinating cultures on the planet.
In many ways Japan can be viewed as a symbolic culture that delights in dynamic imagery and gesture on one hand , while at the same time is balanced by a vibrational urge towards simplicity. This paradox can be traced to the values of Shintoism – which emphasizes the mysteries of supernatural and of the natural. There are three principle sources of story-mythology in Japan and each source is documented as having a regional bases: that being, the Takamga- hara of Yamato myths, the Izumo myths and the Himuka of Tsukushi myths. Later, attempts would be made to establish an ‘historical-order’ to this information, but this decision produced complexities in
their historical documentation. The concept of god that emerged in Japan has a uniqueness that gives insight into the vibrational dynamics of the culture. God in Japan is not a single deity that looks down from the heavens in the way Westerners view the concept , but rather the concept of Kami (god) is anything that is awe inspiring and thought to have supernatural powers or beauty. A god in Japan could be a mountain, tree, river, rock, cave, animal or human being. The picture that slowly emerges is a people in harmony with the land and the simple ‘wonder’ of life- as part of the mystical and vibrational position of the culture. This is a culture that has historically stressed the importance of discipline and symbolic gesture.
Buddhism spread into Japan by way of Korea in the sixth century and merged into the Shinto religion. In the beginning, Buddhist teachings were given space in actual Shinto shrines and this process of osmosis even extended into the ascetic teachings. This relationship continued into the 17th century when Shintoism was revived and made the state religion (after which, Buddhism was banished from Shinto temples). Japanese mythology is not directed towards a unified cosmological viewpoint that takes into account the composite planet as much as the particular history and progress- ionalism of the Japanese people- in their separate culture. Quite possibly this feature of Japanese culture is related to the complexity of their geographical position with respect to China. The history of the Japanese people is quite remarkable, especially considering the size of the country. Adaptation was a necessary survival position for this culture and yet, nothing can account for the dynamic spectrum of creativity that has emanated from this small group of islands. The best characterization of Japanese culture for me can be found on page 449 of ‘A HISTORY OF FAR EASTERN ART’ ( which has been our principle reading source). This is a culture that has demonstrated the ability to take in influences from all over the planet and create something unique- that is totally Japanese. This has been the case of artistic invention as well as in technology.
1. THE VELDIC ORIGINS OF KARMA (COSMOS AS MAN IN ANCIENT INDIAN MYTH AND RITUAL) By Herman W. Tull
2. STORYTELLERS , SAINTS, AND SCOUNDRELS
(Folk Narrative in Hindu Religious Teaching By Kirin Narayan
3. RELIGION AND RITUAL IN CHINESE SOCIETY
by Arthur P, Wolf
4. SHINTO AT THE FOUNTAIN-HEAD OF JAPAN
by Jean Herbert
5. EARLY CHINESE MYSTICISM
by Livia Kohn
6. THE JATAKA TALES
translated by Professor E. B. Cowell
by Richard Cavendish
8. A HISTORY OF RAR EASTERN ART
by Sherman E. Lee (our class book)