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Excerpts from The King and the Corpse by Heinrich Zimmer

From the self; Symbols are illimitable, inexhaustible, suggestive, instructive, metamorphosizing, transfiguring.

From the self; Interpretation of symbols require humility, open-mindedness, lucidity in thought, innocence

The King and the Corpse, pg. 2: The dilletante—Intalian dilettante (present participle of the verb diletarre, “to take delight in”) – is one who takes delight (diletto) in something. The following essays are for those who takes delight in symbols, like conversing with them, and enjoy living with them continually in mind.

The King and the Corpse, the take of abu kasim

The King and the Corpse, pg. 14: the ring of polycrates.

The King and the Corpse, pg. 34: “…to realize that completeness consists in opposites co-operating through conflict, and that harmony is essenially a resolution of irreducible tensions.”

The King and the Corpse, pg. 36: “…in the ancient mysteries of Isis and Osiris the initiate was required to pass through water, had to pass, that is to say, through the threat and experience of death, whence he would emerge reborn as a “Knower”, a “Comprehender”, beyond fear and released from all attachment to the perishable ego personality. This is the traditional way of initiation- a way attested abundantly in the mythologies and folk literatures of the world.”

The King and the Corpse, pg. 38: “In the picture language of folklore and myth, the symbolic figure of mount and rider represents the centauric character of man, fatefully compunded of animal instinct and human virtue. The horse if the “lower”, purely instinctive and intuitive aspect of the human being, the mounted knight the “higher” portion: conscious valor, the moral sense, will power, and reason.

The King and the Corpse, pg. 39: Footnote: “Now the Gods, ascending, knew not the way to the heavenly world, but the horse knew it” (Satapatha Brahmana

The King and the Corpse, pg. 42: “For how could the prince become the perfect king without understanding, from within, crime and the quality of the inhuman? How could the king preside as supreme judge unless capable of surmounting his most cherished personal feelings, his propensity for indiscriminate mercy and compassion? The innocent youth must consummate his initiation into the sidom through evil through the enactment of a crime; and thus symbolic, sacramental act will fit him to dispense not only mercy but justice- make him a real Knower, capable of controlling the forces of darkness. Lacking this, he would never have been competent to establish, preserve, or himself represent, the harmony of Tao. Ignorant of the dark, the young king would never have understood the interaction of darkness against light, the cooperative mutual antagonism of the two, which is universal in the cosmos as well as in society: the reciprocal play of day and night, growth and decay.”

The King and the Corpse, pg. 48: “On his quest to the higher realm the hero spends the ritualistic period of one year, which is the symbol of one life or incarnation, one complete cycle of existence- spring to winter, birth to death. During this eon he shares the life of the immortals. He is accepted by them as of their kin through the holy rite of hospitality, and this makes him, finally, one of their kind. He becomes established in, and imbued with, the qualities of their higher mode of being. The formerly dormant, divine essence within him thus being quickened, he acquires a dual character and is made an inhabitant of two spheres, the mortal and the divine. Such is the twofold character and double citizenship conferred on the perfected initiate by the ultimate sacrament of Assumptions, or Transfiguration, which both sumbolizes and brings to pass the Apotheosis of Man.

The King and the Corpse, pg. 48: Footnote: “This self gives itself to that self, that self gives itself to this self. Thus they gain each other. In this form he gains yonder world, in that form he experiences this world (Aitareya Aranyaka II. 3.7). – AKC.”

From the self: It is indeed true that life is suffering as stated by various ancient religious texts and spiritualists. What is the first feeling that arises in the heart of a seeker when righteous ways of being are presented as a solution to dispel suffering? It is defensiveness, the unconscious forces, the shadow self, blocks the heart from embracing a teaching. Only the few courageous rejoice when their mind is subjected to the virtuous ways of the saints. “Life is suffering, Samsara is suffering. Desire is the root of all evil” Statements of this nature create fear, guilt, shame out of which arises the need to establish oneself in Dharma. The realization of the inevitable suffering also becomes painful, the seekers seem more lost than found after hearing such truths. So what is it that shall precede such an intense shock to the psyche of the seeker? It is love. Buddha’s true teachings and the teachings of all masters are inherently based in forgiveness of all sins by the way of compassion. Compassion that arises through the direct perception of the potential of attaining Buddhahood in every sentient being. Masters perceive in this manner. A true guru is a necessity when a psyche begins seeking salvation. The shock of the dry, cold, and harsh truth, that desire is the root of all suffering needs to be absorbed by the seeker with the help of a Guru, a master saint, someone that has attained Buddhahood, someone who has walked the path. The blind can never lead the blind. Why are these teachings, renditions of the true teachings which were based in love and compassion, seemingly laden with fear and righteousness? I believe, after the physical death of a master the teachings need to be protected, this sense arises in the hearts of the unrealized initiates, and they begin the preservation processes which are important nonetheless, but the process of preserving the past is rooted in fear, and therefore, the language that is used reeks of it. The times when these teachings of the vedic and non-vedic spiritual traditions were being preserved were darker than they have been in thousands of years. Sri Yukteshwar Giri’s yuga cycle theory clarifies this issue. Kali Yuga was at its peak during these times, and it is only very recently that we are entering into Dwapara Yuga. The fear is furthered when these teachings enter the mind of a student who has not yet found a true master, a Buddha. Knowledge shall be wielded under the guidance of the wise, otherwise it can cause destruction. In it self, knowledge is an unconscious innocent force, the conscious will of man is what channelizes its potential for good or evil.

The King and the Corpse, pg. 60: Footnote: Saint John Chrysostom’s biography in The Golden Legend suggests nothing of the ominous line of the Gradual: “Blessed the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised them that alove him.”

The King and the Corpse, pg 61: “Saint John, the hero, prefigures the bold and paradoxical word of Martin Luther: Fortiter pecca! “Sin bravely.” No one but the sinner can become a saint; for it is only through individual experience, a process of personal sin, suffering, and repentance, that the power can be acquired to dispense the grace of God, to conjure with the blessed water of the Holy Ghost and the blood of the Lamb. Grace has to be won. And the very potentialities of our human nature that we term “devilish” are the eagle’s beating wings that carry us aloft towards the supernatural kingdom of grace.”

The King and the Corpse, pg. 63: “Such ignorance is basic- not only basic, actually salutary; for without it there can be no fructifying impact of experience, no “new thing”, to take root, grow up, and mature through life into wisdom. Only he who is honestly ignorant can grow really wise.”

The King and the Corpse, pg. 71: “…for a ring is a symbol of the personality, and to bestow a ring implies the surrender of one’s being. To bestow one’s ring is to bestow power, the authority to speak or act in one’s name. Thus a king will commit his ring to the officer empowered to issue commands and to seal acts in his stead, and a lady will give her ring to the knight who is her knight.”

The King and the Corpse, pg. 83: “this hopeless formula, the “Land of No Return” (Hamlet’s undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns) is of very ancient standing as a term for the kingdom of the dead. It derives from the Mesopotamian tradition, first appearing, as far as the extant records are concerned, on a greatly damaged series of cuneiform tablets (c. 2000 B.C.) recounting the descent of the Sumerian godess Inanna (+ Babylonian Ishtar) to the netherworld. S.N. Kramer, Sumerian Mythology, Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society, vol. xxi, 1944, p. 90

The King and the Corpse, pg. 83: Footnote: Jaiminiya Upanishad Brahmana 3.28.5: “Who having cast off this world would desire to return again? He would be only there!”

The King and the Corpse, pg. 85: “By not capitulating to the generating principle of the life that is bound with death, the hero disengages himself from the self-consuming cycle. And he becomes competent and eligible to carry back with him the mystical trophy that grants release.”

The King and the Corpse, pg. 96: “The aim of this re-creation is simply to let the old symbological personages and adventures work upon and stimulate the living imagination, to revive them, and to awaken in ourselves the old ability to read with intuitive understanding this pictorial script that at one time was the brearer of the spiritual sustenance of our own ancestors. The answers to the riddles of existence that the tales incorporate – whether we are aware of the fact or not – are still shaping our lives.”

The King and the Corpse, pg. 108: “And the world will not resign the child it has brought forth, will not relax its claim. It will insist upon its portion, even in defience of the transcendental sphere that has abstracted him and now holds him captive as its ensorcelled priest; for the two spheres – that of our common human knowledge and existence, and the higher one of the primal forces and their initiations – in mutual contrariety lay claim upon the human soul. And it is the central labor of the soul’s development to make actual the proper balance between the two, to give to each its due. Wherefore, if the soul, rapt into enchantment by an initiation into the mysteries of the divine and higher sphere, so renounces thw world of everyday that no longer stirs it to return, then that worldly sphere itself will send its summoner to rap at the door, shatter the supramundane spel, and rouse the enchanted one from his magic dream.”

The King and the Corpse, pg. 114: “For in the sphere of the superhuman the elect is not excused because of ignorance or good will. He is judged according to his adequacy and his acts. And since the powers of that sphere invisibly pervade everything in the visible world, everything the elect encounters is finally a test. Over and over again his decisions are his testing, and whenever he fails he dies, or he suffers what is equivalent to death. The superhuman, sheer life force is as revengeful as it is blind in its terrible onrush, the moment it feels itself disappointed and betrayed.”

The King and the Corpse, pg. 122: “The perfected human consciousness of the knight, joined to the sub- and super-human instinct of the king of beasts, proves stronger than even the titan of the wilderness, and prevail where human chivalry would have lacked both sagacity and strength.”


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