From knowledge to mental liberation, stage 10
Astral plane and anthropocentrism
The astral plane is characterized by impetuous and unsteady motions; it is symbolized by the water element (see waters of chaos, sea of illusion). It derives from the earth element (*) and it originates watery emotions and seducing passion, which often lead man into uncontrollable situations (see the myth of Ulysses: the sorceress Circe seduced men and turned them into pigs; the enchanting sirens in the metaphor of the narrow passage of temptations placed between Scylla and Charybdis).
It is a primitive status of conscience and it is still the most populated area. It is superior to instinct but less precious. Instinct is a primary aspect of animal conscience, created to satisfy corporal needs. It is vitally important for survival and it uses self-gratification only to guarantee self-preservation of the individual and the species. Astral conscience, on the other hand, elaborates impulses and transforms needs into occasions for enjoyment, disguised as good reasons.
(*) Earth element and telluric conscience define the state of radical attachment to the corporeity that ties human conscience (which is a metaphysical aspect) to matter (which is a concrete aspect), linking its destiny to the physical part of its nature and of the planet.
The individual telluric conscience is linked to the destiny of the familiar nucleus, the nation and the race. Whilst the telluric conscience of the humankind is linked to the destiny of nature and the planet.
Astral conscience is the mind that lies to itself, creating dreams and delusions. Astral personalities are particularly emotional and they tend to make their inclinations extreme. They can be very dogmatic or very meek. With the words of a popular saying, they can be the devil and the holy water.
Astral personalities are ruled by irrational impulses; they are the domain of sensuality that turns into yearning for possession . In some cases they desire God and they use elaborate mental speculations to ensure the exclusivity of this relationship. In the best of cases, sensuality is turned into strong devotion towards the Ideal, to which they offer themselves unconditionally. Unconditional devotion in faith, sacrifice and martyrdom is shared by two categories which seem psychologically distant: religious people and soldiers.
The result of an unconscious conscience is a mind not able to develop a balanced sense of self-determination. This makes it difficult for the mind to perceive, recognize and accept all that looks different from itself. Its inability to include the new and different originates the sense of separation followed by egocentrism and egoism.
Inability to include, separation, egocentrism and egoism are aspects of the same cause, anthropocentrism.
Man at the center of the world
It is understandable that a living creature feels at the center of his world. It is a mistake, though, if he thinks he is at the center of the whole world.
The ‘great illusion’ is that (physical) man fancies himself at the center of the world, protagonist of the universe or privileged interlocutor of God. This is the matrix for imaginary cultures where truths that have been dreamt of become absolute realities.
It is more appropriate to say that physical man is the result of what he eats, that mental ability is the result of thoughts, that the depth of thoughts depends on the widening of the conscience and that his subtle identity is the reflection of the energy that animates him. This formula corrects many falsifications.
The development of inner potentialities starts by transcending our appearances, when we stop believing in the centrality of the body and the senses. Senses are necessary but they deceive the mind. The physical body is necessary as well, but it has its deceits, too. Hormones, for example, create emotional mirages that attract, exalt or depress the mind. At a certain point we must decide what we want to be and wonder if we depend on hormonal drives (emotions) or on the thought. Wherever we start from, in order to grow we must avoid astral mechanisms without giving in to pessimism; this area of conscience plays an important role in the natural and planetary balance (see «Aura and service to the humankind» part 2).
Effects of the word
Since the astral conscience considers itself the center of itself (egocentrism), it finds difficult to relate with what doesn’t belong or resemble it. This situation is characterized by a sense of separation that makes it refractory to the perception of external meanings, as if it was deaf.
Usually the value of an idea is given by the meaning it transmits, independently from the sympathy or aversion it can inspire in the listener (see ‘Realism of the initiatory path’). Its meaning can be more or less accessible and easy to understand. According to the cultural level and the intellectual abilities of the listener, it can be assimilated or misunderstood, independently from the attraction or rejection he can feel for it.
This principle is often disregarded by an emotional mind, which gives importance to what it likes or dislikes. The meaning becomes like a drop of water. It is absorbed if it is agreeable. If it isn’t, it slides down the wall of indifference, it falls and disappears evaporating in a deaf memory. In this case the saying ‘to turn a deaf ear’ is appropriate.
Such a mind is skeptical a priori, because it relies on itself and it is not keen on giving in to meanings alien to itself (like the superior mind does in the process of knowledge through contact). It prefers to interpret the meanings to suit its convictions. Therefore ‘even if it is not true, I believe it’.
In the astral conscience meanings don’t bring results; the tones of words, though, are very important.
Intellectual expressions can inspire astonishment and admiration but they don’t leave any impression. An emotional mind relies on sensations, therefore the tones of voice have a great importance, because they can exalt or depress emotions, independently from the common sense or the value of their meanings. They can drag crowds and hypnotize them, like great fibbers have always done. (See the metaphor of the Pied Piper of Hamelin).
By Athos A. Altomonte
In Italian there is a play on words that can’t be translated into English. ‘Possesso’ means ‘possession’, but the word split in two ‘pos-sesso’ gives the word ‘sesso’, which means ‘sex’.