John Dunn

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Promethean flame

Saturday, 30 Jun 2018

Sun image on Dr John Dunn. Hiranyagarbha is the cosmic egg, the golden womb from which comes all life, soul or Atman of all Creation, the Lord of all that moves and stands. Hiranyagarbha is the vivifying power of Surya, the Sun deity whose symbol is the swastikain either right or left-facing form.

Swastika, wooden disc with acentral hollow in which brahmines produced a flame by friction with the pramantha, a stick, symbolic of Swayambhu and penetration. Pramantha the ‘fire-drill’, the rotation that generates fire. Pramantha, which the Greeks conflated with Prometheus and man’s god-like Promethean power to intervene destructively in nature. This swastika too was the symbol of the vivifying sun to the Greeks - life-giving Apollo from whom Prometheus stole fire, who with the Muses made Parnassus the home of poetry, dance and music; in short, the seat of creativity and play.

The point is that Swayambhu is more original to the universe than any notion of abiotic or living principle. The inevitable limitations of materialism are swept away by Swayambhu the self-generating, self-evolving, self-existent, self-manifesting and self-born. It is this self-generating principle in man, the first art, the creative drive of the cave painter, the spontaneity of Dante’s child at play, that is the divine in man. It is the principle that man can create something from nothing. He can overturn the equilibria of Śūnya to create something new.

And in the generative act of creation lies the fecundity of the penetrative act. The cave painter intervened in the equilibrium of nothingness to break open the closed ring of 0. He entered the dark womb of the cave to render self-regulating stasis open to change. He breached the interminable cycle to create new life out of destruction.

‘Make it new’, for this is an assertion of your humanity. The act of giving rather than receiving. Unprompted, frivolous, playful giving, is the act of a sovereign mind.

And the precious flame of Prometheus remains a symbol of resistance to the gods, especially Zeus. Prometheus bequeathed to humanity the powers of understanding and creation. The myth shows us the significance of this through the eyes of the Olympian gods who were enraged. And whilst they tethered and tortured Prometheus, their cause for concern remains at large — it is us, exercising divine prerogatives.

Who are the gods who would have us tethered too? They are the gods of a transcendent, external world. And they would chain us to a rock of external reality which is opposed to the human thought which thinks it.

And the forgers of the chain of ‘truth’ and ‘knowledge’ were Plato and Aristotle, who directed man’s mind away from itself to things outside of itself.

And the theory which took precedence was Aristotle’s who held that truth was a judgment of the intellect. The intellect pronounced the judgment and, if it corresponded to external reality, it was true. This ‘truth’ lies in a relationship which transcends the mind’s knowing power and depends on the mind possessing the essence of an object external to it and pronouncing on it.

It was Plato who introduced the notion of a realm of realities which transcended human thinking power. Platonic mental realities were only copies of the Ideas which existed in a state of complete independence of man’s mind or thinking process. If man was to possess the truth, his concepts and judgments had to conform to the Ideas or their archetypes in the world. There was no freedom in this, no liberty or creative thinking. The thought of man had to be as sterile, immobile and static as the thing outside it. It had to remain an unproductive spectator.

Prometheus was punished for exercising his independence from the gods. Freedom from a mind-independent reality is our struggle too.

© John Dunn.

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