Once I saw two suns in the sky
and asked a passerby which is real.
It was around 5 pm circa 1993 when I left the Computer Lab at Foothill College in Palo Alto.
At Middlefield Road near Charleston Road, I saw two suns halfway up in the sky, something I've
never seen before. Was I experiencing double vision? I asked a passerby whether he could tell
me which is the real sun. Six years ago, I went to a lecture by an astronomer on "Atmospheric Optics".
He showed photos of multiple suns in the sky called
"Sun Dogs" (scientific name parhelion,
plural parhelia, for "beside the sun"). It is an atmospheric optical
phenomenon associated with the reflection or refraction of sunlight by small ice crystals
making up cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. Sundogs typically appear as a bright and sometimes
colorful spot in the sky at a position 22o to the left and/or right of the sun.
However, the two suns I saw were not near the horizon or at sunset, so I can't be sure
whether it was a normal "sun dog".
He shook his head "I don't know"
and ever since I'm still wondering
"Philosophy begins in wonder" writes Plato in Theaetetus 155d. Since Pythagoras coined the
word "philosopher" as "a lover of wisdom", I've been wondering whether the double sun I saw
will lead me to wisdom. At the conclusion of Theaetetus, Socrates said
"you know what you do not know". The Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn taught that
enlightenment is keeping a "Don't Know Mind". He told the students that everyone's
"Know Mind" is different but everyone's "Don't Know Mind" is the same. The Buddhists
teach that Enlightenment is experienced by an "Empty Mind", "No-Mind", or "Don't Know Mind".
It just dawned upon me that the passerby shaking his head "I don't know" is not some
ignorant guy on the street, but Buddha signaling "Neti, Neti" ("Not this, Not this")
and telling me to keep "Don't Know Mind" for enlightenment.
O glorious Sun
In his poem "O Sun of Real Peace" (1860), Walt Whitman writes:
O vision prophetic, stagger'd with weight of light! with pouring glories!
you light up the world at sunrise
sweeping away the darkness of night
Omar Khayyam (1048-1122) began his Rubáiyat (Verse I):
Wake! For the Sun, who scatter'd into flight
The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
Drives Night along with them from Heav'n, and strikes
The Sultan's Turret with a Shaft of Light.
(translated by Edward Fitzgerald, London, 1st edition 1859)
giving shape and form to all things
Without sunlight, things will not be visible and assume shape and form as Plato
wrote in Republic, VI, 509b: "The sun, I presume you will say, not only furnishes
to visibles the power of visibility, but it also provides for their generation and growth
and nurture though it is not itself generation."
O bountiful Sun
Walt Whitman writes in "Song of Myself" (1855),
Sun so generous it shall be you,"
you embrace all with warmth to kings and paupers alike
The sun's impartiality is told to spiritual aspirants to keep a non-judgmental
mind and treat everyone with love. In Mahipati's
Bhakta Vijaya II.41:
"The sun shines in every vessel. Just as water is to a cow and a tiger,
so Thou, O Lord of the Yadavas, art alike to every being."
We also find in Matthew,
"That ye may be the children of your
Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil
and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."
giving us illumined freedom
Rabindranath Tagore writes in Fireflies (1928):
"Let my love, like sunlight, surround you
and yet give you illumined freedom."
O kind Father Sun
you impregnate Mother Earth
Emperor Julian (332-363 AD) writes in Oration to the Sovereign Sun:
"It is, indeed, my opinion, that the sun is the common father of all mankind;
for as it is very properly said, man and the sun generate man"
with spermatic rays of light
bringing life to everything.
My first draft of this poem had Father Sun impregnating Mother Earth
"with photosynthetic rays" which sounded too scientific & technical.
So it was revised to "with rays of energy" which sounded like a cliché.
Then I recalled all the tiny sperms swimming on the title page of Whitman's
1860 edition of Leaves of Grass,
so "spermatic rays of light" won out.
Emerson wrote in his
Journal (March 1841):
"Away with your prismatics, I want a spermatic book. Plato, Plotinus, & Plutarch are such."
I've cited both Plato and Plotinus in this poem as sages who have discerned the Real Sun.
O creative Sun
Marsilio Ficino wrote to Lotterio Neroni (Florence, 19 December 1479):
"For the Sun, to be is to shine, to shine is to see, and to illuminate is to create all that
is its own and to sustain what it has created. Of its very nature, by being it shines effortlessly
within; just as effortlessly, by shining it illumines without, and by that illumination creates
and sustains all that is its own."
building block of the elements
air, fire, water, earth, aether
Since the sun is mostly hydrogen (73.46%), it is the building block for the elements
in the Periodical Table of Elements. There is 0.77% Oxygen and 0.09% Nitrogen in the sun,
so the major constituents of air in the earth's atmosphere is present in the sun.
There is 0.16% Iron, 0.12% Sulfur, and 0.07% Silicon in the sun, representing elements
of earth. Water as H2O, of course would be instantly vaporized in the sun's
extreme heat, but its constituents hydrogen and oxygen are abundant in the sun. The sun
is all fire with a surface temperature of 5500oC, and we feel its heat despite
its distance of 93 million miles away from Earth. In addition to the four classic elements
of the Greeks, there is also a fifth element,
Aether one of the first-born elemental
gods. He personifies the "upper sky, space, and heaven". He is the pure uper air that the
gods breathe, as opposed to normal air breathed by mortals on earth. He is called the god
of the "Bright, Glowing, Upper Air".
the tabernacle choir in you.
Robert Fludd (1574-1637), in Philosphia sacra (1626) shows God placing his
tabernacle in the sun at the beginning of creation, and thus illuminating and breathing
life into the entire cosmos. Marsilio Ficino closed his Letter to Lotterio Neroni
(Florence, 19 December 1479) with "that supercelestial One who has set His tabernacle in the Sun."
Scientifically, we may look at the tabernacle as the Periodic Table of Elements. Since the sun is
mostly Hydrogen, the first element with atomic number of 1, it is "that supercelestial One"
the primordial building block for the rest of the Table of Elements whose song is this universe.
No wonder they worship you as Ra in Egypt
Ra was the Egyptian sun god who was also often referred to as Ra-Horakhty, meaning Ra
(is) Horus of the Horizon, referring to the god's character. He has the head of a falcon
and the sun-disk of Wadjet resting on his head.
The early Egyptians believed
that Ra created the world, and the rising sun was, for them, the symbol of creation.
The daily cycle, as the sun rose, then set only to rise again the next morning, symbolized
renewal and so Ra was seen as the paramount force of creation and master of life. For the
Egyptians, the sun represented light, warmth, and growth. This made sun deities very important
to Egyptians, and it is no coincidence that the sun came to be the ruler of all. In his myths,
the sun was either seen as the body or eye of Ra.
The story of creation related in the Pyramid Text tells that Ra had 4 children:
Nut (sky), Shu & Tefnut (together the Air), and Geb (Earth). Nut and Geb created 4 children:
Set, Osiris, Isis, Nephthys. Isis and Osiris created Horus. After this poem was written, I found
"Hymn to the Sun" in Papyrus of Ani (1250 B.C.) in my library.
After typing the three pages of text, I realized that modern scientists are more knowledgable
on the elemental composition of the sun, those ancients surely know more than we do about the spirit.
So perhaps if we show similar reverence to the sun, we may experience something golden, beautiful,
and transcendental. Besides, the ancients always worshipped the One and now we
know that the Sun is made of mostly Hydrogen, whose atomic number is One
the building block for all the elements in the universe.
Suriya in India
In Hinduism, Surya means "the Supreme Light" and the Sun, in general.
God Surya has hair and arms of gold. Surya drives through the heaven in his
triumphal chariot harnessed by seven horses, which represent the seven rainbow
colors or the seven chakras of the human spine. Surya Namaskara or the
"Sun salutation" is a 12-step yogic meditation prayer to the sun. One of the mantras
often recited to praise Surya may be found in the
Rig Veda, Book 1 Hymn 50:
"His bright rays bear him up aloft, the God who knows all that lives,
Surya, that all may look on him. Swift and all beautiful art thou, O Surya,
maker of the light, illuming all the radiant realm. Looking upon the loftier
light above the darkness we have come to Surya, God among the Gods, the light
that is most excellent."
Apollo in Greece
In Greek and Roman mythology, Apollo has been associated as a god of light and the sun,
truth and prophecy, archery, medicine and healing, music, poetry, and the arts.
As the patron of Delphi (Pythian Apollo), Apollo was an oracular god the prophetic deity
of the Delphic Oracle. As the leader of the Muses, Apollo was the patron god of music and poetry.
Hermes exchanged his lyre for Apollo's caduceus. In Hellenistic times, during the 3rd century BC,
as Apollo Helios he became identified among Greeks with Helios, god of the sun, and his sister
Artemis similarly equated with Selene, goddess of the moon. The Greek vase shows Apollo Helios
driving his Sun Chariot. An interesting etymology of Apollo is given in Harold Bayley's
The Lost Language of Symbolism (1912): "The knowledge that ap is equal to ob
enables us to reduce the name Apollo into Ap ol lo, the 'orb of the Lord Everlasting'.
Shelley sings in Hymn of Apollo:
"I am the Eye with which the universe
Beholds itself and knows itself divine,
All harmony of instrument or verse,
All prophecy, all medicine are mine,
All light of Art and Nature: to my song
Victory and praise in their own right belong."
Ap must be the root of the Greek apo, meaning "far away", and it may also be equated
with our up and upwards, both meaning towards the orb: it is also the foundation of
optimus, the best, and of optimism or faith in the highest. "High" may similarly be
equated with towards the I or Eye. Country people pronounce up "oop", and the child's
hoop may have been so named because it was a circle like the Sun. Op is not only the
root of hope and happy but it is also the foundation of optics, optical, and
other terms relating to the eye or eyeball. The word eye, phonetically "I", may have arisen
from the fact that the eye is a ball like the Sun, and this idea runs through the etymology of
"eye" in many languages. Ops or Opis was one of the names of Juno, the "unique, ever-existent O",
or, as she was sometimes known, Demeter, the "Mother of brilliant splendour". Ops was the give
of ops, riches, whence the word opulent; plenty is fundamentally
opulenty, and the Latin for plenty is copia. A synonym for
plenty is abundance. The syllable Op, meaning Eye, occurs in many place-names,
notably in Ethiopa and Europe. Cox translates Europe as meaning "the splendour of morning",
and the word is alternatively rendered "the broad-eyed". But the two syllables of Europe
are simply a reversed form of the English surname Hooper, the Eye or "Hoop of Light"
the Sun. (pp. 304-305)
O giver, sustainer and destroyer of life
In Hindu cosmology, Brahma is the creator God, Vishnu, the preserver God,
and Shiva, the destroyer God. Our sun gives life during photosynthesis of
plants and grass. It sustains life when animals consume the plants. But
the sun also destroys life when it evaporates water causing droughts and starvation.
Its harmful ultraviolet and cosmic rays cause skin cancer. Its extreme heat
has resulted in dehyration and death during hot steamy summer days.
But Rumi says the sun in our sky
is a metaphor for the Real Sun
"The sun casts light on things, and one can see things that are of no use. The real sun is that
which casts light on things that are of use; the sun in the sky is metaphoric and secondary to
the real sun. You too, in proportion to your own partial intellect, have your heart set on the
real sun and seek its light of knowledge in order to see something intangible and in order for
your knowledge to increase. You have expectations of understanding and comprehending something
from every master and every friend. So we realize that the sun is something other than the
physical sun: it is something from which revelation of realities and truths comes. We realize
too that this partial knowledge in which you take refuge and pleasure is secondary to the great
knowledge of which your partial knowledge is but a 'ray'. This 'ray' calls you to the original sun
of great knowledge. These are they who are called unto from a distant place."
Rumi (1207-1273), Signs of the Unseen: The Discourses of Jalaluddin Rumi,
What? The sun Copernicus placed
on the royal throne is not even real!
At the centre of all things resides the sun. Could we find a better place
in this most beautiful of all temples, from whence this light illuminates
all things at once? Rightly is it called the lamp, the spirit, the ruler
of the universe. For Hermes Trismegistus it is the invisible god.
Sophocles' Elektra calls it the all-seeing. Thus, the sun sits on its
royal throne and guides its children, which circle it.
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)
De revolutionibus orbium caelestium (1543)
A. Cellarius, Harmonia Macrocosmica
Amsterdam, 1660. From Alexander Roob,
Alchemy & Mysticism, Taschen, 1997, p. 59
Reality proclaimed the rishis does not change in time and is
ever-present in waking, dream, and deep sleep then it is real.
Paul Brunton (1898-1981), The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga (1941), p. 303:
"For, as the ancient Indian philosophers not mystics have rightly said:
that is real which can not only give us certainty about its existence in its own right
beyond all possibility of doubt and independently of man's individual ideation but
which can remain changeless amid the flux of an ever-changing world. Such a
reality is, after the pursuit of ultimate truth, the foremost pursuit of philosophy,
whether it be labelled 'God', 'Spirit', 'Absolute', or otherwise."
Shankara (686-718) writes in Vivekachudamani 400-406:
"The world of appearances is a mere phantom; there is but one Reality.
It is changeless, formless and absolute. How can it be divided? (400)
There is but one supreme Reality. It is the very self of unity.
It cannot possibly be divided into many. If multiplicity is real, and not
merely apparent, why does no one ever experience it while in deep sleep? (404)
The universe no longer exists after we have awakened into the highest
consciousness in the eternal. At no time either past, present or future
is there really a snake within the rope or a drop of water in the mirage. (405)
The scriptures declare that this relative universe is only an appearance.
The Absolute is non-dual. In dreamless sleep, also, the universe disappears. (406)
Shankara's Crest-Jewel of Discrimination
translated by Swami Prabhavananda & Christopher Isherwood
Mentor Book, New York, 1947, pp. 92-93 (Online E-text)
Disciple: What is the nature of Reality?
Maharshi: (a) Existence without beginning or end, eternal.
(b) Existence everywhere, endless infinite.
(c) Existence underlying all forms, all changes, all forces, all matter and all spirit.
The many change and pass away (phenomena), whereas the One always endures (noumenon).
(d) The one displacing the triads, i.e., knower, knowledge, known. The triads are only
appearances in time and space, whereas the Reality lies beyond and behind them. They are
like a mirage over the Reality. They are the result of delusion.
Disciple: What is reality?
Maharshi: Reality must be always real. It is not with forms and names. That which
underlies these is the Reality. It underlies limitations, being itself limitless.
It is not bound. It underlies unrealities, itself being real. Reality is that which
is. It is as it is. It transcends speech, beyond the expressions, e.g., existence,
Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950), Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
recorded by Sri Munagala S. Venkataramiah,
Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai, India, 1968, pp. 29, 123
Our sun will die in the future
cooling and fading as a white dwarf
Astrophysicists have determined that our sun is a middle-aged star,
4.6 billion years old. The Sun does not have enough mass to explode as a supernova.
Instead, in about five billion years, it will enter a red giant phase, its outer layers
expanding as the hydrogen fuel in the core is consumed and the core contracts and heats up.
The Earth will be swallowed by the Sun owing to tidal interactions. Following the red giant
phase, intense thermal pulsations will cause the Sun to throw off its outer layers, forming
a planetary nebula. The only object that will remain after the outer layers are ejected is
the extremely hot stellar core, which will slowly cool and fade as a white dwarf over many
billions of years. This stellar evolution scenario is typical of low- to medium-mass stars.
(Wikipedia on the Sun)
not existing when we dream and sleep,
not being ever-present, it is unreal.
Our sun exists only when we are in the waking state and not in our
dream or deep sleep states. Since our sun will not exist 5 billions
years from now in the future (time) and not present in our dream or
deep states, it does not fulfill the requirement of reality as defined
by the rishis of India.
O then, show me the Real Sun
that Apuleius saw shining at midnight
"Listen then, but believe; for what I tell you is the truth. I came to the boundary
of death and after treading Proserpine's threshold and before returning I journeyed through all
the elements. At midnight, I saw the sun shining with brilliant light. I approached the gods
below and the gods above face to face and worshipped them in their actual presence. Now
I have told you what, though you have heard it, you cannot know. So all that can without
sin be revealed to the understanding of the uninitiated, that and no more I shall relate."
Lucius Apuleius (123-180 A.D.), The Golden Ass, Book 11.23
translated by E.J. Kenney, Penguin Books, London, 1998, p. 209 (E-text, Ch. 48).
Dante praised as Sun of endless spring
Dante's arrival and departure from the Sun covers Cantos IX-XV of Paradiso
and he sings of the sun's glory in these verses:
And now the life-soul of that holy light
turned to the Sun that fills it even as
the Goodness that suffices for all things.
How bright within themselves must be the lights
I saw on entering the Sun, for they
were known to me by splendor, not by color!
And if our fantasies fall short before
such heights, there is no need to wonder; for
no eye has seen light brighter than the Sun's.
And Beatrice began: "Give thanks, give thanks
to Him, the angels' Sun, who, through His grace,
has lifted you to this embodied sun."
However, Dante saves his highest praise after leaving "matter's largest sphere" (Primum Mobile)
and arriving in the Empyrean (spiritual realm of pure light of the Real Sun of endless spring):
and bearing of a guide whose work is done,
began again: "From matter's largest sphere,
we now have reached the heaven of pure light,
light of the intellect, light filled with love,
love of true good, love filled with happiness,
a happiness surpassing every sweetness.
Into the yellow of the eternal Rose
that slopes and stretches and diffuses fragrance
of praise unto the Sun of endless spring,
Mandelbaum's commentary: "The Sun the warmth and light of whose love causes the Rose
to flourish in the eternal spring of Paradise, is God." (p. 420)
Philo called the Sun behind the sun
"But God is the archetype on which laws are modelled: He is the Sun behind the sun,
in the realm of mind what that is in the realm of sense, and from invisible fountains
He supplies the visible beams to the sun which our eyes behold."
Philo of Alexandria (20 B.C.-50 A.D.),
The Special Laws, I.279 (translated by F.H. Colson)
Philo, Volume VII, Harvard University Press
(Loeb Classics), Cambridge, MA, 1937, p. 263
"Just as the sun at dawn illumines the physical world, so the Sun behind the sun, the mystical
Light of the World-Mind illumines man's mental world at the same time, penetrates it through and
through, provided he is present and passive in consciousness to receive its power."
Paul Brunton (1898-1981), Wisdom of the Overself (1943), p. 231
The Real Sun is the door to wisdom
Sun as the door: A symbol of the Higher Self as the means by which the lower
consciousness shall rise to union with the higher.
"When he departs from this body he mounts upwards by those very rays (the rays of the sun
which enter the arteries of the body), or he is removed while saying Om. And quickly as
he sends off his mind (as quick as thought), he goes to the sun. For the sun is the door
of the world, an entrance for the knowing, a bar to the ignorant."
Khandogya Upanishad, VIII.6.5.
(G.A. Gaskell, Dictionary of All Scriptures and Myths, Julian Press, NY, 1960, pp. 730-735)
the Grail vessel breathing life into the cosmos
The Grail is the vessel of Joseph of Arimathea used by Christ at the Last Supper with his
disciples, from which Joseph caught the blood of Christ at the crucifixion. Von Schroeder
interprets the Grail as a "vessel of the Sun". In Vedic scriptures the sun and moon appear
as divine vessels, the sun as a pap bowl, the moon as a vessel for soma considered to
be life-giving or life-maintaining. Merlin, in the poem of that name, says of the Grail:
"All these men call this vessel / from which they have this grace the Grail."
In a special sense, the soul is that wondrous vessel which is the goal of the quest and
in which the life-giving power inheres, whose final secret can never be revealed, but
must ever remain hidden because its essence is a mystery. (Emma Jung & Marie-Louise von Franz,
The Grail Legend, 2nd Edition, Sigo Press, Boston, 1986,
pp. 33, 106, 113, 118, 141). In the Renaissance, the translations by Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) of the
Corpus Hermeticum revived the cult of the sun based on the ancient
Egyptian mysteries. For Ficino, the sun embodied, in descending order, God,
divine light, spiritual enlightenment, and physical warmth. In this illustration,
Fludd shows God placing his tabernacle in the sun at the beginning of creation,
and thus illuminating and breathing life into the entire cosmos.
(Robert Fludd (1574-1637),
Utriusque Cosmi, Vol. 1, Oppenheim (1617).
From Alexander Roob, Alchemy & Mysticism, Taschen, Köln, 1997, pp. 56, 273
the fiery chariot of the Soul
Mosaic Pavement (Beth Alpha Synagogue in Northern Israel, 6th century).
This mosaic of the Hellenistic period represents the Sun, personified as Helios on his
chariot. He is surrounded by the twelve zodiacal signs. The four figures at the corners
personify the four seasons. (James Wasserman, Art and Symbols of the Occult,
Destiny Books, Rochester, VT, 1993, pp. 18-19). "Since soul guides the sun on his course... This soul, whether we take it to bring
light to the world by driving the sun as its car, or from without, or in what way
soever, each of us should esteem a god, should he not?"
(Plato, Laws, X, 898e, 899a). "The sublimity and perfection of the macrocosmic sun is clearly revealed when royal
Pheobus sits at the very centre of the sky in his triumphant chariot, his golden
hair fluttering. He is the only visible ruler, holding in his hands the royal
sceptre and governing the whole world." (Fludd,
Mosaicall Philosophy, London, 1659)
The Real Sun flashed out when Archimedes leaped out of his bathtub shouting
"Eureka!" running down the street having found a way to assay real gold.
Archimedes (287 B.C.-212 B.C.) the Greek mathematician
and leading scientist of classical antiquity discovered specific gravity in his bathtub (circa 250 B.C.).
King Heiro II of Syracuse provided a metal smith with gold to make a crown. The king suspected
that the metal smith had added less valuable alloy to the crown and kept some of the gold for
himself. The crown weighed the same as other crowns but due to its intricate designs it was
impossible to measure the exact volume of the crown so its density could be determined.
The king asked Archimedes to determine if the crown was pure gold. One day while taking
a bath, he noticed that water spilled over the sides of the pool, and realized that the amount
of water spilling out was equal in volume to the space that his body occupied. He realized
that a given mass of silver would occupy more space than an equivalent mass of gold. Archimedes
first weighed the crown and weighed out an equal mass of pure gold. Then he placed the crown in
a full container of water and the pure gold in a container of water. He found that more water
spilled over the sides of the tub when the craftsman's crown was submerged. It turned out that
the craftsman had been defrauding the King! Legend has it that Archimedes was so excited about
his discovery that he ran naked through the streets of Sicily shouting "Eureka! Eureka!"
(Greek for "I have found it!" Also motto on the
California State Seal).
Such "aha moments" come to a detective finding a clue that solves a mystery or to a scientist
hitting upon a solution to a long perplexing problem. When the mind takes such a leap, one is
experiencing a taste of nirvana used by
the Buddha to describe the perfect peace of the mind that it is "the highest happiness"
(Dhammapada). When Pure Mind is experienced you are golden!
The Real Sun lit up Edison's mind when he discovered
carbon as the best filament for his incandescent light bulb.
Cartoonists often show a light bulb above or inside someone's head when they come up with a new idea
or solve the problem to some mystery. Such flash of insight implies an inner light shining
within us in making such discoveries.
In 1879 Thomas Alva Edison invented a carbon filament that burned for 40 hours.
In 1880 Edison improved his light bulb using a bamboo-derived filament that
lasted over 1200 hours. Historians Robert Friedel and Paul Israel list 22 inventors
of incandescent lamps prior to Joseph Wilson Swan and Thomas Edison. They conclude
that Edison's version was able to outstrip the others because of a combination of three
factors: an effective incandescent material, a higher vacuum than others were able to
achieve and a high resistance lamp that made power distribution from a centralized source
economically viable. Another historian, Thomas Hughes, has attributed Edison's success to
the fact that he invented an entire, integrated system of electric lighting.
U.S. Patent #223898: Electric-Lamp.
Issued January 27, 1880 to Thomas Edison.
The Real Sun shined on Beethoven while composing his Ninth Symphony
Symphony #9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral"
is the last symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven. Completed in 1824, the Choral 9th Symphony
known works of the Western repertoire, considered both an icon and a forefather of Romantic music,
and one of Beethoven's greatest masterpieces. Symphony #9 incorporates part of An die Freude
("Ode to Joy"), a poem by Friedrich Schiller (1785), with text sung by soloists and a chorus in the
last movement. It is the first example of a major composer using the human voice on the same level
with instruments in a symphony, creating a work of a grand scope that set the tone for the Romantic symphonic form.
Beethoven's friend, Anton Schindler, said: "When he started working on the fourth movement the struggle began
as never before. The aim was to find an appropriate way of introducing Schiller's Ode. One day Beethoven entered
the room and shouted 'I got it, I just got it! Then he showed me a sketchbook with the words 'let us sing
the ode of the immortal Schiller'". However, that introduction did not make it into the work, and Beethoven
spent a great deal of time rewriting the part until it had reached the form recognizable today. When Beethoven
added "Ode to Joy" to the end of his 9th Symphony, he echoes
"Hymn to the Sun" in Chapter 15 of
The Papyrus of Ani (1250 B.C.): "All the gods are in joy when they see you as king of the sky."
on Klee when he said "I am a painter"
"I now abandon work. It penetrates so deeply and so gently into me,
I feel it and it gives me confidence in myself without effort.
Color possesses me. I don't have to pursue it. It will possess me always,
I know it. That is the meaning of this happy hour: Color and I are one. I am a painter."
Paul Klee (1879-1940), Diaries of Paul Klee: 1898-1918 (Tunisia, April 16, 1914)
and in the eyes of those deeply in love.
The moment Dante saw Beatrice he was smitten with love at the age of nine
(La Vita Nuova). He would dedicate his life to her in his magnum opus
Commedia (1321). The eyes of Beatrice would guide Dante as they ascend
through the spheres to paradise. The smile of Beatrice's eyes would propel
Dante from one planet to the next during their ascent. Verses from Paradiso:
The eyes of Beatrice were all intent
on the eternal circles; from the sun,
I turned aside; I set my eyes on her.
In watching her, within me I was changed
as Glaucus changed, tasting the herb that made
him a companion of the other sea gods.
and saw such purity within her eyes,
such joy, that her appearance now surpassed
its guise at other times, even the last.
that you may satisfy your mighty thirst,
you must drink of these waters." So did she
who is the sun of my eyes speak to me.
The Real Sun is timeless, boundless,
"Hymn to the Sun" The Papyrus of Ani (1250 B.C.), we find passages
alluding to the sun that is eternal and timeless:
"I have arrived at the land of eternity, I have joined myself to the land of everlasting,
and it is you who commanded it for me, O my lord... May you permit me to reach the eternal sky,
the country of the favored; may I join with the august and noble spirits of the God's Domain...
my arms are upraised in adoration at your setting, for you are he who made eternity. I worship
you when you set in the Primordial Water, and I set you in my heart which is not inert, O you
who are more divine than the gods."
center & circumference
According to the oldest symbolism, the circle enclosing a dot represented the primal
womb containing the spark of creation, like the bindu within the Yoni Yantra of Hindu
tradition. (Barbara G. Walker, The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, 1986, P. 15).
The central dot is the sun with the planets circling around it as the circumference.
Plotinus (204-270 A.D.) alludes to this symbol in describing the Real Sun in The Enneads I.7.1:
"Existing beyond and above Being, It must be beyond and above Act, Mind, or Intellection.
That only can be named the Good to which all is bound and Itself to none. It must be unmoved
while all circles around It, as a circumference around a centre from which all the radii proceed.
Another example would be the sun, central to the light which streams from it and is yet linked to it;
try as you will to separate the sun from its light, for ever the light is connected with the sun."
This sigil for the sun may also represent the eye. Emerson opens his essay on "Circles" (1841)
with: "The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second;
and throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without end. It is the highest emblem
in the cipher of the world. St. Augustine described the nature of God as a circle whose centre
was everywhere and its circumference nowhere." And Emerson says in "The Over-Soul" (1841):
"The soul circumscribes all things." Emily Dickinson understood this well
when writing to Thomas W. Higginson (Letter #268, July 2, 1862):
"Perhaps you smile at me. I could not stop for that My Business is Circumference."
Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851), Ch. 26: "The great God absolute! The centre
and circumference of all democracy! His omnipresence, our divine equality!"
light & shadow
The Sun & its shadow complete the work.
The Sun, the bright torch of Heaven does not penetrate dense bodies,
That is why there remains shadow on the parts turned away from it;
Although the shadow is the most insignificant of all things,
It has been of much use to the Astronomers:
But Sol & its shadow gives more gifts to the Philosophers
Because it means the completion of the art of making gold.
Michael Maier (1568-1622):
Atalanta Fugiens (1617)
Emblema XLV: The Sun & Its Shadow
Illustration from Gardening: Maitreya 3,
Shambala, Berkeley, 1972, p. 97
The sun and its shadow: In the midst of the symbolism of Sol, we learn that not only is it associated
to the Deity and the creative source of fire and life, but it also has many parallels with hell and
the devil. We learn that there is a Sol niger, a black sun; there are not only bright sun rays
but also dark sun rays. Thus one of the alchemical texts says that you must extract the sun ray from
its shadow... Jung ends his section on Sol, saying that Sol is the principle of consciousness. Since
the ego is the center of consciousness, that makes Sol the ego... So the sun as the symbol of consciousness
represents both the ego and the Self. The reason for that double representation is that the Self cannot
come into conscious, effective existence except through the agency of an ego. Needless to say it can
come into plenty of effective existence without an ego but it can't come into consciously effective
existence without the agency of an ego. That's why it is unavoidable that the symbolism of Sol, as the
principle of consciousness, represents both the ego and the Self.
Edward F. Edinger, The Mysterium Lectures, Inner City Books, Toronto, 1995, pp. 87, 93-94
Gnostics on the Shadow: "They are all mistaken, because they are not acquainted with
the origin of chaos, nor with its root... How well it suits all men, on the subject of chaos,
to say that it is a kind of darkness! But in fact it comes from a shadow, which has been called
by the name darkness. And the shadow comes from a product that has existed since the beginning.
It is, moreover, clear that it existed before chaos came into being, and that the latter is
posterior to the first product... after the natural structure of the immortal beings had
completed developed out of the infinite, a likeness then emanated from Pistis (Faith), it is
called Sophia (Wisdom). It exercised volition and became a product resembling the primeval light."
On the Origin of the World (II.5 & XIII.2)
Nag Hammadi Library, Edited by James M. Robinson
HarperSanFrancisco, 1988, pp. 171-172
the philosopher's stone of alchemists
to transform base metals to gold.
Splendor Solis ("Splendour of the Sun")
is a 1532 alchemical text on spiritual transformation.
The 22 images may be related to the Tarot's major arcana or the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
The final Image #22
"Sun rising over the city" symbolizes the awakened mind of enlightenment.
Emblema 1: A coat of arms with ornate foliage, has a shield
bearing the image of the Sun. Above this another Sun shines down.
Commentary: The first illustration introduces us to this facet of the work,
through picturing a shield bearing the Sun disc, with the actual Sun shining above.
this is a picture of the alchemical work of incarnating the spiritual in material form;
it brings the Macrocosmic Sun into the lower world (symbolized here by the emblazoning
of the image of the Sun on the shield). The shield is the blank tablet of matter,
the ground into which the alchemist must lead the spiritual.
Splendor Solis (1532)
Emblema 1: Splendor Solis Coat of Arms
translated by Joscelyn Godwin
Phanes Press, Grand Rapids, MI, 1991, p. 18
I'm surprised that Adam McLean, the foremost contemporary scholar on alchemy did not
comment further on the image of these two suns in the first figure of Splendor Solis (1532).
Here's my interpretation: The inner sun is the philosopher's stone sought by the alchemist
to turn base metal (ego consciousness) to gold (cosmic consciousness). This is the supercelestial
sun that Socrates gazed at according to Ficino. That's why the inner sun in the shield appears
more radiant than the outer sun that is above. Dante refers to "altro sole" (second sun)
in Paradiso I.61-63:
and suddenly it seemed that day had been
added to day, as if the One who can
had graced the heavens with a second sun.
The Real Sun is brighter than a thousand suns
"See now the whole universe with all things that move and move not, and whatever
thy soul may yearn to see. See it all as One in me. But thou never can see me with
these thy mortal eyes: I will give thee divine sight. Behold my wonder and glory.
When Krishna had thus spoken, he appeared to Arjuna in his supreme divine form.
And Arjuna saw in that form countless visions of wonder. If the light of a thousand
suns were to appear in the sky, its splendour would not excel the radiance of the
Supreme Spirit! And Arjuna saw in that radiance the whole universe in its variety,
standing in a vast unity in the body of the God of gods."
Vyasa (c. 500 B.C.), Bhagavad Gita, XI.7-13
translated by Juan Mascaró, Penguin Books, Baltimore, 1962, pp. 89-90
outweighing ten thousand eyes
"It is indeed no trifling task, but very difficult to realize that there is in
every soul an organ or instrument of knowledge that is purified and kindled afresh
by studies of philosophy when it has been destroyed and blinded by our ordinary
pursuits, a faculty whose preservation outweighs ten thousand eyes, for by it
alone is reality beheld."
Plato (428-348 B.C.), The Republic, VII.527e
translated by Paul Shorey, Collected Dialogues of Plato
edited by Edith Hamilton & Huntington Cairs, Princeton University Press, 1961, p. 760
Socrates gazed at it all day & night
"Socrates started wrestling with some problem or other about sunrise one morning,
and stood there lost in thought, and when the answer wouldn't come, he still stood
there thinking and refused to give it up. Time went on, and by about midday the troops
noticed what was happening, and naturally they were rather surprised and began telling
each other how Socrates had been standing there thinking ever since daybreak. And at
last, toward nightfall, some of the Ionians brought out their bedding after supper
this was in the summer, of course partly because it was cooler in the open air,
and partly to see whether he was going to stay there all night. Well, there he stood
till morning, and then at sunrise he said his prayers to the sun and went away."
Plato (428-348 B.C.), The Symposium, 220d
translated by Michael Joyce, Collected Dialogues of Plato
edited by Edith Hamilton & Huntington Cairs, Princeton University Press, 1961, p. 571
Marsilio Ficino comments on this story of Socrates in his
The Book of the Sun (1494), Ch. XIII:
That the Sun is not to be worshipped as the Author of all Things.
When he was in military service Socrates often used to stand in amazement watching
the rising Sun, motionless, his eyes fixed like a statue, to greet the return of the
heavenly body... Socrates in his state of ecstasy had admired not just the visible Sun,
but its other, hidden aspect. For since novelty alone encourages admiration, why would
Socrates be so amazed at what he saw everyday, whose movement and all power mathematics
and physics have for a long time comprehended? According to Plato, he called the Sun not
God himself but the son of God. And I say not the first son of God, but a second, and
moreover visible son. For the first son of God is not this visible Sun, but another
far superior intellect, namely the first one which only the intellect can contemplate.
Therefore Socrates, having been awakened by the celestial Sun, surmised a supercelestial
Sun, and he contemplated attentively its majesty, and inspired, would admire the
incomprehensible bounty of the Father. Socrates was most likely in a yogic state of
during his sun trance. From a 14th century Sanskrit text Drg-Drsya-Viveka XXVI:
"Nirvikalpa Samadhi is that in which the mind becomes steady like the unflickering
flame of a light kept in a place free from wind and in which one becomes indifferent
to both objects and sounds on account of his complete absorption in the bliss of
the realization of the Self."
The Real Sun lights up the dream world when our eyes are closed,
dims its glow while we rest in deep sleep, opens our mind at dawn when we wake.
"In the state of deep sleep, when ego disappears, the body also becomes unconscious.
The state in which there is the half manifestation of the ego is called the dream state,
and the full manifestation of the ego is the state of waking."
Bharati Tirtha (c. 1328-1380), Drg-Drsya-Viveka, X
Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Mysore, India, 1964, p. 13.
An earlier account of the states of consciousness is given in the
Mandukya Upanishad (circa 500 B.C.):
The waking state of outer consciousness enjoys the world of gross objects.
The dream state of inner consciousness enjoys the realm of subtle objects.
The deep sleep state of silent consciousness has no desires and enjoys bliss.
The fourth state of pure consciousness is Atman symbolized by AUM.
"A" the waking, "U" the dreaming, "M" the sleeping states, are but
manifestations of the fourth state of supreme consciousness,
the Silence behind the A-U-M, the real eternal Self.
Adapted from Juan Mascaró's translation of Mandukya Upanishad,
The Upanishads, Penguin Books, Baltimore, 1965, pp. 83-84
This "fourth state" turiya or Pure Consciousness
is the essence or substratum of the waking, dream, and deep sleep states. It is unchanging and timeless.
Therefore it satisfies the condition of Reality defined by the rishis and sages.
Shankara (686-718), Atma Bodha 36:
"I am verily that Supreme Brahman alone which is Eternal, Pure, and Free,
One, indivisible and non-dual, and of the nature of Changeless-Knowledge-Infinite."
The Real Sun is seen when we make our eyes sunlike
then we see the First Beauty
"This is the only eye that sees the mighty Beauty. If the eye that adventures the vision
be dimmed by vice, impure, or weak, unable in its cowardly blenching to look upon the
uttermost brightness, then it sees nothing even though another point to what lies plain
to sight. Never did eye see the sun unless it had first become sunlike, and never can the
soul have vision of the First Beauty unless itself be beautiful. Therefore let each become
godlike and beautiful who cares to see God and Beauty. The Primal Good and the Primal Beauty
have one dwelling place, and thus, always, Beauty's seat is There."
Plotinus (204-270 A.D.), The Enneads. I.6.9
The Essence of Plotinus, Compiled by Grace H. Turnbull,
Oxford University Press, New York, 1948 (p. 50)
whose roots and fruits are everywhere
Marsilio Ficino writes in
The Book of the Sun (1494), Ch. VI: Praises of the Ancients
for the Sun, and How Celestial Powers are all Found in the Sun
"In Egypt, on the temples of Minerva, this golden inscription is found:
'I am all those things which are, which will be and which have been. No one
has ever turned back my veil. The fruit I have borne is the Sun'. Whence it
appears that is, of divine intelligence is both flower and fruit...
Heraclitus called it the fountain of celestial light. Most Platonists located
the world soul in the Sun, which, filling the whole sphere of the Sun, poured
out through that fiery-like globe just as it poured out spirit-like rays through
the heart, and from there through everything, to which it distributed life,
feeling and motion universally." Perhaps the Real Sun's
roots and fruits are hinted in Rilke's poem
"Archaic Torso of Apollo" (1908):
We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned low,
gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.
Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:
would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.
translated by Stephen Mitchell
The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke (1982), p. 61