Arise, awake, and learn by approaching the exalted ones,
for that path is sharp as a razor’s edge, impassable,
and hard to go by, say the wise.
—Katha Upanishad 1.3.14
As June 21 draws near I confront my motivations for the journey ahead. This is Part II of a three part series on why I’m going on the Adventure. See Part I here.
Why the Gods?
Here’s the world I live in. We are on our own; we make our own Fate; the world is good or bad as we create it.
But it’s a haunted world.
Around us are the sources of wonder. Things so grand and vast that we remember how small we are. We remember that the quest for dominion is a doomed sortie, a fight against a superior force, Eternity. In quiet moments we reflect on this, and voices whisper to us the greatness of the living universe where we struggle.
Myth tells us these voices are the sound of the gods.
The gods did not make this world, and not one of them rules it. They are its executors, its functionaries, more to the point its soul and its face.
I am not convinced that’s wrong.
Can awareness be transferred, recycled, disembodied, left in the rain? If so, it can dwell in world around us.
The language of religion is one of humanity’s best technologies.
Classical philosophers saw fit to retain and use the language of myth + religion. They encouraged people to treat it as metaphor. This is because the language of myth, even when explicitly stated to be nonliteral, speaks to the core of the human spirit. It’s exactly why I just used “spirit” and not “the core of the human mentality.”
Meeting the gods isn’t about proving whether they’re real, though the quest may give me some insight into that.
The reason I want to meet the gods is because they represent what’s highest and best in us. To pursue them necessarily spurs the pursuit of our own divine nature.
I want to meet them because they inspire.
And most of all, I want to meet the gods because that’s the stuff of myth, and wherever the journey takes me that’s how I want to live.
Is prayer the right way to do this? Possibly. But prayer seems a lot like talking to yourself in the dark.
The object of the Great Adventure is to meet them in person. Knock-on-Mount-Olympus-style meet them. Oh Zeus isn’t here? No worry, I’ll grab a seat meet them.
Whatever sounds impossible is fertile ground for adventure. I’m putting the ideal over the acceptable. When Gilgamesh set out to find a cure for death, he failed—but what he achieved is epic.
If there are gods to meet then the mere act of living mythically, of following the quest to its final end, is the way to attract their attention.
If there are gods to hear us, I wish to be heard.
More: I wish to listen.
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