Myth, Catharsis, and The Riddle of The Sphinx

A macroscopic view of myth (Gr: Μύθος) as logos (usually translated as “word”) reveals important associations, insights, and interpretations, all which deserve our attention and can assist us in our exploration of the human soul and its journey towards freedom. During the 9th – 8th century BC, Homer (in his poems the Iliad and the Odyssey) equates myth with speech and conversation, but also with advice, opinion, and promise. During classical times (5th and 4th century BC), myth continues to be treated as a story, as evident by the dramatic works of Sophocles and Euripides.

In the context of philosophy, myth becomes a powerful pedagogical and initiatory device, especially as it appears in the dialogues of Plato. In works such as Phaedo and Phaedrus, the philosopher employs myths to structure his arguments in order to equate knowledge with memory – not simply as remembrance, but also as a recollection from a previous incarnation. Continue reading “Myth, Catharsis, and The Riddle of The Sphinx”

The Guru On The Journey Of Self-Initiation

In the documentary Kumare, Vikram Gandhi dresses himself as a guru, speaks in a fake Indian accent, and builds a following of devotees. His teaching: he is an illusion and that the student has to make changes for themselves. The devotion to “Kumare” remains high until he reveals that he really grew up in America, and is not a guru (he’s a reporter for Vice). Then, half of his devotees walk out in disgust. Those that don’t, however, are the ones that see major changes in their lives — changes that they had apparently been unable to make before.

In the West, the guru is a controversial figure. Although many Americans reference their university professors and first bosses whenever possible, most utterly reject the notion of a guru. Conversely, some — especially in the fields of Yoga, Tantra, Sufism, and Eastern religion — actively search for a guru to almost blindly follow. Continue reading “The Guru On The Journey Of Self-Initiation”

Spirituality And Ritual Violence: An Explanation

“Violence,” says Rene Girard, “is the heart and secret soul of the sacred.” This is perhaps a shocking statement, and one that flies in the face of the modern tendency to sugar coat certain religions, and to equate spirituality with peace, quiet, and love of humanity.

Girard makes the above statement in his Violence and The Sacred, in which he explores the history of human sacrifice, in particular, as a social phenomenon that binds the community together, and that is both “a sacred obligation” and “a sort of criminal activity.” Although often being treated as an honored guest, or even as a son, during the period leading up to his murder, it is the outsider (often a captive from an enemy tribe) that is usually sacrificed.

Here, in contrast, we will look at violence, the sacred, and the insider, i.e., the member of the tribe. In other words, we will explore violence as an aspect of initiation, especially into manhood or into full membership of the cult or fraternity. Continue reading “Spirituality And Ritual Violence: An Explanation”