In 1973 I took a team of researchers from the Menninger Foundation to India to study the psychophysiologic prowess of yogis. . . I had taken an opportunity to visit the local Hindu temple in the town of Visakaputnum on the Bay of Bengal because I’d heard that it was unusually well-maintained. At the top of the temple there were some lofty looking gods and some other angelic-looking beings and then down in the center of the temple the gods became a bit more crude. And at the bottom level the gods had huge gnashing teeth coming out from the sides of their jaws.
As I was taking photos, and thinking “What are all these demons doing in this holy place,” an Indian in an orange robe walked up to me and said, in perfect Cambridge English, “I hope you understand that when the peasants around here come to pray, they think they are praying to those beings out there. But those of us who know something, understand that those beings are part of our own nature, and until we integrate them in ourselves, we can not be whole.” Straight Jung.
As the holy man said that, I got a mental flash of the pantheon of gods at Mount Olympus, Zeus at the top with some demi-gods and goddesses (mind, “occult fire”), and then the middle layer of gods rule by Poseidon (emotion, “occult water”) and lastly, the abysmal gods at the bottom ruled by Hades (body, “occult earth”). These are the “three worlds” referred to in occult mythology! Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades were said to be the three autonomous gods between whom the cosmos was equally divided. And since I had recently lectured in 15 cities in India on biofeedback and the central nervous system, and how to control it, I thought of the cortical brain (Zeus, mind, fire), and below that the limbic (Poseidon, emotion, water), and at the bottom the hypothalamus and pituitary, the body brain (Hades, body, earth).
And now, it is clear . . . that these levels of the archetypal gods influence (control?) the way in which we live our lives. That, of course, is what the holy man at Visakaputnum was talking about. Also, in reading Alice Ann Bailey material and Aurobindo’s books, and practicing what Aurobindo recommended, I began to realize that humans are vertical assemblies of subordinate selves, just like the temple. We extend all the way from Hades to Zeus as personalities, and transcend Zeus as SOULS. Zeus is immortal but not eternal. Sooner or later that archetype must be superseded.
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Excerpted from: Elmer Green, Self-Reliance: Now, Bridges 10, 2 (1999).