Whether or not mankind is conscious of it, the language of the symbol belongs to all peoples – from Panama to Africa, from Asia to Oceania, from Tierra del Fuego to the lands of the permafrost. Symbols are as old as mankind itself. They are felt or seen and are therefore not exhaustible by thought, but the forms and forces they represent become clear to us in meditation. The inmost consciousness of man knows no difference between the Jule fire of Iceland and the Vedic fire of India. It knows only the fire. It does not differentiate between the Christ child and the child called Horus by the Egyptians, Attis by the Greeks and Balakrishna by the Indians: it knows only the golden child. And which mythology does not include the tree and the serpent – whether the tree be called Yggdrasil or Ashwattha or the Tree of Life? The cosmic serpent broods on the cosmic egg in the cosmogony of the ancient Pelagasians. The Chinese and the Mexican give wings to the snake or dragon, and the Indians make it into the symbol of infinity.
You and I are also symbols, forms of the One. We must learn to see all forms – the stone, plant and animal, the wind and water, sun and lights, and the game itself – as symbols of that One, forms of its manifestation. We may ask ourselves where we come from and what we are and where we are being led, but the true answers we can find only by perceiving all together as one, expressed in numberless symbols, in the love of being and becoming, in the joy and force which we are and which contain and indwell all life.
You and I are symbols in this whole, but symbols behind which, in many series of hierarchies, other symbols arise, greater ones, nearer to the origins. We are moved by forces which work behind us: forces of nature, forces of the cosmos. And behind these and supervising them are the great mother-powers: wisdom, force, love and perfection. Behind these again, and more encompassing, eventually are found the trinity of being, consciousness and bliss supported by the original creative duality, the Two-in-One. This emerges from or merges into the One that has no name yet is called by a thousand names.
In our game all these symbols have regained their cosmic originality and are ready to share with us their thrones of consciousness and of bliss.
Besides the forces of the cosmos, we can find in ourselves transformer stations, so to speak, which convert the higher cosmic tensions into lower human ones.
Sri Aurobindo calls them the seven suns of consciousness. The Indian tradition calls them lotuses, chakras, or wheels.
We can recognize in the avatars the steps of evolution as a cosmic will manifesting in the play of self multiplication. Again it is the Indian tradition which has kept the memory of them for us.
There is God as fish, the first avatar. He is still entirely one with the element in which he lives, water, the symbol of the unconscious which continually changes its form. The second avatar is God as tortoise, which has already emerged from its watery element. The third, God as boar, is at home in the mud, the mixture of earth and water; yet with a gentle gesture he lifts earth matter out of the water so that something lasting may be developed in her. At any moment she can sink back into the unconscious unless the god supports her.
The fourth avatar is God as lion-man. The lion displays the courage of the hero and the nobility of the king, yet something animal is still mixed with the emerging human.
The fifth is God in the form of a dwarf, representing the mental being in its step-by-step way of thinking.
The sixth is God as law giver – Bala Parasuram – bringing order out of chaos.
In the seventh as Rama, the ideal hero, God is man searching for and finding his soul.
Krishna is the eighth, the great lover and the beloved of the Indian people, the god full of pranks and humor.
Then with Buddha the wise, the illumined and compassionate, we enter the light of history. Fulfilling this line of avatars is Sri Aurobindo, explorer, announcer and realizer of supermind which is the next step ahead for evolving mankind. In our game Sri Aurobindo is symbolized as the man-lotus.
Thrones and dominions are names of entities in the intermediary planes between the material and the divine worlds, which can intervene helpfully in our lives as from a fourth dimension.
The great meditations and samadhis are inner spaces and realities which we can visit and become.
The planets: Their forces symbolize special protecting angels of mankind, the fairy godmothers of our ancestors. And once they have been invited to be present at the birth of a child or at the opening ceremony of a new house they will never tire of bestowing their blessings.
Our attitude towards them is always more important than the actual place they occupy in our horoscope.
So it is also with the signs of the zodiac. The zodiac is a way, a path for the sun, a way and path for the consciousness of man. It is not of foremost importance under which sign you happened to be born, but it is important how far you have progressed from sign to sign. After each aeon, after each rebirth, the signs change their meanings; they become more benevolent and helpful, more encouraging but also more demanding, with each change, each evolutionary cycle, each great year of the gods.
“A lamp of symbol lighting hidden truth”
- Savitri, p.477