Mystics of every era have conjured images to describe the unity of all things, the connection that links all parts to the whole and offers a vision of divinity. To create this link, mystics have resorted to conjuring elegant images of a singularity that is capable of suggesting the totality. No image, however, especially in modern literature, has penetrated the collective imagination as much as the Aleph. That small shimmering sphere, which supposedly contained all of cosmic space, was shown to Borges (the character in a story by Borges) in a Buenos Aires country house by one Carlos Argentino. And although limited by the nature of language to describe the overwhelming simultaneity, Borges’ description will remain as a striking example of literature crossing over into poetic mysticism.

Borges was a collector of metaphors and images (like the Simurg bird) that evoked divinity. In the spirit of making universal connections and weaving together universal legends, it’s not a stretch to hark back to the history of Krishna, the eighth incarnation of the supreme personality of Vishnu.

Once, as the story goes, some children told on Krishna to Yosada, his mother, for “nosing the ground and eating trash as if he were a pig.” Yosada reprimanded Krishna when he said, in a sublimely mischievous tone, “It’s a lie mother. If you don’t believe me look at my mouth.” Robert Calasso writes a description of this mythic moment in his incredible work, Ka:

His mother watched him open his small lips whose cracks she knew one by one. She bent down to survey her son’s mouth and found an immense cow he was sucking on. Yasoda then flew into his mouth. Where the beginning of her son’s throat should have been she found Mount Meru and its infinite forests. Next to the mountain she saw islands and lakes that may have been oceans. Yosada breathed with an unknown peace, as if for the first time she was breathing the fresh air coming from her son’s mouth. The vision that most captivated her was the wheel of the Zodiac on which the world spun like a marbled strip. Yosada then went even deeper. She saw the spinning of her son’s mind, the lunar changes, the jumps of a monkey form one to the other side of the universe. She saw the three threads of wool that make up all existence and even produce other threads. In the deepness she saw the village of Gokula, which she recognized by its alleyways and the lay of the rocks, the cart tracks, the springs of water and the surrounding flowers. And then finally she saw herself, on the street, looking into the mouth of her son.

Krishna, through an epiphany, thus liberates her mother from the chains of the world, letting her see, for a moment, through the All-Seeing Eye. ––A sacred mischievousness that lets us see, yet again, the similarities of mystical experience across all the cultures of the world.

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Mystics of every era have conjured images to describe the unity of all things, the connection that links all parts to the whole and offers a vision of divinity. To create this link, mystics have resorted to conjuring elegant images of a singularity that is capable of suggesting the totality. No image, however, especially in modern literature, has penetrated the collective imagination as much as the Aleph. That small shimmering sphere, which supposedly contained all of cosmic space, was shown to Borges (the character in a story by Borges) in a Buenos Aires country house by one Carlos Argentino. And although limited by the nature of language to describe the overwhelming simultaneity, Borges’ description will remain as a striking example of literature crossing over into poetic mysticism.

Borges was a collector of metaphors and images (like the Simurg bird) that evoked divinity. In the spirit of making universal connections and weaving together universal legends, it’s not a stretch to hark back to the history of Krishna, the eighth incarnation of the supreme personality of Vishnu.

Once, as the story goes, some children told on Krishna to Yosada, his mother, for “nosing the ground and eating trash as if he were a pig.” Yosada reprimanded Krishna when he said, in a sublimely mischievous tone, “It’s a lie mother. If you don’t believe me look at my mouth.” Robert Calasso writes a description of this mythic moment in his incredible work, Ka:

His mother watched him open his small lips whose cracks she knew one by one. She bent down to survey her son’s mouth and found an immense cow he was sucking on. Yasoda then flew into his mouth. Where the beginning of her son’s throat should have been she found Mount Meru and its infinite forests. Next to the mountain she saw islands and lakes that may have been oceans. Yosada breathed with an unknown peace, as if for the first time she was breathing the fresh air coming from her son’s mouth. The vision that most captivated her was the wheel of the Zodiac on which the world spun like a marbled strip. Yosada then went even deeper. She saw the spinning of her son’s mind, the lunar changes, the jumps of a monkey form one to the other side of the universe. She saw the three threads of wool that make up all existence and even produce other threads. In the deepness she saw the village of Gokula, which she recognized by its alleyways and the lay of the rocks, the cart tracks, the springs of water and the surrounding flowers. And then finally she saw herself, on the street, looking into the mouth of her son.

Krishna, through an epiphany, thus liberates her mother from the chains of the world, letting her see, for a moment, through the All-Seeing Eye. ––A sacred mischievousness that lets us see, yet again, the similarities of mystical experience across all the cultures of the world.

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