The encoding of wisdom in symbols
The modern era we live in allows for extensive knowledge sharing. We have computers, the internet, social networks, televisions, etc., all of which are ways to disseminate our thoughts and ideas to the public. But have you wondered how it worked in the days before these technologies?
Human history is also filled with stages around the world where libraries full of books, research, and advanced works were destroyed! How then was it possible to save this wisdom for future generations? Of course, knowledge has sometimes remained intact at some level via folklore, folk songs, etc. in India as in the rest of the world. But what is fascinating, in India, is that this has resulted in the encoding of wisdom in symbols, symbolic stories!
Today, when people think of Indian spirituality, they often confuse it with religion, they often think of various symbols like Shiva, Ganesh, and various gods, goddesses, etc... considering that it is the Hindu religion.
But in reality, few people realize that this is not the true source of Indian spiritual wisdom. It may come as a surprise to many of us, but the ancient Indian spiritual wisdom comes from texts called "Vedas", which literally means "Knowledge" or "Knowledge of the secrets of the universe".
These books are supposed to have been heard/received (i.e. Shrutis in Sanskrit) in their meditations by the Rishis, and they are writings on the five elements that make up the universe and life on earth. In fact, the whole concept of Sanatam Dharma is based on working on oneself while living in the material world, understanding these elements and how the whole creation is composed of them.
That is why you will see Indians worshipping trees, rivers, mountains, the sun, the moon, etc. The concept of temples/statues came much later, perhaps only two thousand years ago, in order to bring people together.
The detailed writings explain the mechanism of these elements to create and animate life, but most people forgot this source and over time began to believe more in other forms of gods and goddesses, mentioned in other books called "Puranas", "Upanishads", etc... in order to share the teachings on life with the sometimes more ordinary, less spiritual people, who did not know Sanskrit and did not have access to deep inner studies.
It was a time when technology did not exist, when people lived in small groups, in villages, without any access to the outside world, and when work was divided among people for a harmonious social functioning. These symbols were spoken to share knowledge with less spiritual people, telling stories through dance forms. All this was done to introduce the Dharma among people, that is, to give them a sense of responsibility through their various roles, while remaining detached so as to always remember the existence of a higher power, which many would call "God."
Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh - The Trinity
Often when people think of Indian spirituality, these three names come to mind. Did they really exist in physical reality?
Well, maybe or maybe not, because it doesn't matter when you want to learn from everything with receptivity. Brahma symbolizes creation, Vishnu symbolizes perseverance and Mahesh (i.e. Shiva) symbolizes transformation by ending an old cycle and beginning a new one. The ancients introduced these symbols to represent the natural cycles of creation and the magnitude of these was indicated by these symbols. What is interesting is that most people do not always know the full story that is shared about this.
In the scriptures, it is said that at the very beginning was "Shakti", that is to say femininity, receptivity, life force. Then she gave birth to Vishnu, the preserver (contrary to what most people think, Brahma did not come first). Brahma came out of Vishnu's navel on a lotus, as the stories and statues in today's temples show. Then Vishnu and Brahma had ego conflicts, wanting to prove that they were more important than each other. To solve this problem, Shiva's energy was revealed. They both realized that it was an endless beam of energy, that it was infinite! This is why Shiva is also known as Mahesh, the Supreme God.
Without the symbolic language, all this seems strange...
If we read all this as a story, then it may seem unrealistic and we may wonder why they encoded it into a story, instead of clearly revealing the whole truth... Why did the ancients have to symbolize these deep secrets about the Universe?
Well, this was done to protect them, because they knew that everyone would decode them according to their soul's readiness, to receive only what one is ready to receive. It was also done to help people remember them, because the human mind remembers more what is described in the form of a story, since we are very emotional and symbolic beings.
The mind tends to easily forget what seems only intellectual. However, over time, people have forgotten the deep encoded wisdom behind it, and what has remained are the rituals that were mostly fear based or led by priests for power for some, while there were also very good priests... As in all other traditions.
But what were the ancients really trying to say through this story? We need to decode it symbolically to connect to its deeper wisdom.
Opening the veil with symbolic language
Through symbolic wisdom, it becomes possible to revisit the profound ancient Vedic knowledge, to connect to our ancestral wisdom that never gets old, that always remains true in the Vedas when decoded symbolically.
The knowledge of the Vedas was not easily understood by the common man, it was not only spiritual but also very scientific. In fact, we can see today how science is discovering again what is mentioned in the Vedas. Thus, the representation of the concepts was done in a symbolic way in the form of stories to make it more accessible to everyone. The teachings have been simplified to fit into everyday life.
The symbols continued to be transferred through these stories and rituals from generation to generation, but as time went on, the symbolic essence was lost and the symbolic language was forgotten by humanity until today. This is changing today thanks to the UCM Teaching & Research Center, which is bringing back this source language through which the intelligence of the Universe communicates with us all via Dreams, Signs and Symbols.
Returning to the story of the Trinity, we can understand what the Rishis (the ancient scientists and scholars) were trying to say when we open the veil behind the symbols.
Everything begins with "Shakti", that is, love, receptivity, the feminine principle that exists in each of us. Everything that manifests indicates "Prakriti", that is, the nature of this principle in creation.
All the goddesses in the stories indicate what works well or creates a distortion when this principle drives our emotional world. Vishnu is symbolically responsible for establishing all the Divine Laws and Principles before anything is even created, to set expectations and goals, just as we do when we want to create a family or an organization.
In fact, everything starts in the world of concepts, of thoughts, as an idea first, before it ever takes a physical form. It is then that Brahma enters the scene through his navel on a lotus, i.e. the chakra of power, fire, which leads to motivation, to the will to create.
We see the lotus symbol in many traditions, as the lotus flower symbol represents the feelings of an initiate who focuses on Self-realization through deep inner work. A lotus blossoms in a muddy pond, symbolizing how true Self-realization takes place when memories of matter, the use/abuse of power in it are cleansed, memories where the power of emotions has been distorted in the world of matter, creating excessive fire. And when people enter ego-fueled consciousness, then the conflicts for supremacy begin. "Which is more powerful: the one who creates or the one who preserves?", all this is the game of the ego.
Often, as humans, we also become possessive of material things, forgetting the true intention behind it, which is to develop qualities by learning and experiencing in matter. As humans, we sometimes defy the divine laws and principles throughout our lives, in ignorance, feeding the ego and eventually becoming trapped in the conflict between good and evil, due to lack of knowledge. To free ourselves from this, Shiva is revealed. Shiva means to move from ignorance to knowledge, from being dead to being truly "Alive" in terms of state of consciousness and existence. Shiva reveals that we are in an infinite cycle of learning that will lead to many creations and the maintenance of learning, and then the end of this cycle to begin the next, for the continuity of evolution. Shiva thus symbolizes the state of being "Conscious". What begins must end one day, once its goal is reached, to give birth to a new cycle or stage of learning. Thus, Shiva brings here the symbolism of Detachment, his other Sanskrit name - Vairagi Yogi.
There is so much to say about this story when we begin to decode it symbolically. Indeed, we realize that it is not possible to understand Indian spiritual wisdom without the symbolic language! What a joy to share with you the ancient Indian spiritual wisdom, in the light of decoding the deep symbols that are also behind everything we experience every day... Everything that Life brings to us on the path can be understood, decoded and analyzed with the understanding of symbolic language. With this Knowledge that you can learn through the UCM Teaching and Research Center, you can rediscover what has been lost... Find the ancient wisdom, in your modern life. Therein lies the great story of evolution...