THE TEMPLE OF ASCLEPIUS – seven levels of healing

SOME BACKGROUND


Central to this painting is the entrance portal of a temple dedicated to the Greek god of healing, Asclepius. Flanking the gateway on the left and on the right are several figures of gods and men who each play a part in the healing process.
The painting is not intended to be a sequential or documentary portrayal of the pathway back to health, but rather a pictorial reminder of some of the aspects of ourselves which we need to understand and acknowledge in order to heal. To understand and appreciate the mural, it will be helpful to know something of the theory behind healing.


 

Because we experience the world around us via our senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch, we have come to associate our very being with sensation. We have come to regard matter and the electromagnetic energies as essential to our very existence. We identify so intimately with our body that we feel that we are the body and and that there is nothing more to us. When our bodies start to experience some symptoms of 'dis-ease' or trauma, we assume that the timely application of some chemical or physical remedy will heal the body and restore our health.

Since times of antiquity there have existed cultures who have viewed the world quite differently. Some have regarded the creation and our human experience of it as one of multidimensional consciousness, and believed that our temporary lifetime in the body is simply a single page in a series of never-ending chapters. When some problem occurred in the body it was presumed to be indicative of an imbalance or impeded flow of energy at some subtle level of our eternal being. Ancient healers believed that the quest to fix the malady generally required a deeper understanding of its cause in order to restore equilibrium and they did not rely simply on the alopathic treatment of symptoms.

In this mural I have attempted to portray the multidimensional nature of the creation and the many subtle layers which comprise man. I have used ideas, imagery and symbols from different cultures and times to illustrate the concept of integrated healing. The Chinese words for the science of physics, Wu-Li, means 'patterns of organic energy'.

Some of the most ancient writings known to us are the Vedas of India. Vedantic writings describe an in depth investigation into the fields of energy beyond the material.
Since western sciences have not been concerned with these subtle realms there are no suitable words in the English language to convey adequate meanings to the terms used in the Vedic Sanskrit.

The centre of my design, slightly masking the entrance to the Temple of Asclepius, features a subtle egg shape. These Sanskrit records describe the creation as the 'EGG of BRAHM'. In Vedic tradition the egg is polarized. The positive end, the broad top of the egg is pure spiritual light and this power is known in the Vedas as 'SHABAD'. Islamic and Sufi mystics call it 'KALMA' and the Christian mystics, the 'Holy Spirit. It is seen as the original creative power and corresponds to stage 7, the Soul region of healing. It sustains all, and is present in every atom of the universe. The narrow end, the negative or dark end is comprised of matter. This region is depleted of spirit which is why it is also known as the dark pole of creation. The material bodies in which we live derive from and return to the material at the dark end of creation. They are inert and are enlivened by the light of the spirit.

According to Vedic philosophy, the soul originates in the regions of pure spirit. It is seen as a drop separated from the vast ocean of Spirit.
Mind, the first covering over the soul starts at the level of BRAHM, that is the Universal Mind. Here the three GUNAS, or qualities of energy appear. They are: SATVIC meaning pure or truth, RAJASIC meaning active, exciting, and TAMASIC conveying the idea of lethargy. These qualities permeate the whole creation from here towards the dark pole, and at the body level they characterize different aspects of our being, our modes of activity, the types of food we eat and the effects they have on our daily well-being.
The material region and the forms of life which live there are composed of five elements each with discrete qualities. Four are known to western Alchemy, Earth, water, fire and air. The Vedas refer to a fifth quality, AKASH. Akash includes the faculty of discrimination and stores in a comatose way, the memory of lives we have lived and also most importantly, imprints of traumas which may have occurred in out extended family constellation.

In the Vedantic tradition, which is very poetic, these levels and qualities are termed rulers or gods. In the west they would be called the Natural Laws. The Vedantic gods inhabit the body and maintain its essential processes. They are Brahma the Creator (not to be confused with Brahm, the universal Mind), Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. They are in fact energies in the service of mankind which have been mistakenly worshipped as gods.

The four elements or qualities of matter are antagonistic towards each other and are held together only by the presence of Spirit. Brahma brings together the opposing elements and creates bodies which can be inhabited by the souls. While an entity is living, the sustaining aspect called Vishnu holds the elements together and when the spirit departs and death follows, the Shiva aspect of the power causes dissolution to take place. The elements dissipate and return to their own source, inert matter. It is, dust to dust'.

Each of these regions and powers are reflections of the next higher region, becoming dimmer and less potent with each subsequent reflection away from the source. When the sun is reflected in water, one can still see its shape and feel some of its heat. Then the reflection from the water bounces onto a wall, and the resulting glow is more diffuse and is weaker.




 

In this diagram the brown region is of matter, where individual separate identity is sensed as very real. The dark blue glow is the electromagnetic field, which is localized to the brown material body.
The purple region is that of the emotional body layer, which it in interactive with other beings beyond the mere physical region. It also manifests in the chakras, or plexuses, nodes of energy within the etheric circulatory systems within the physical body The grey layer also associated with the chakras, is the mental and intellectual layer culminating in the Universal Mind.
The pale blue layer is Soul or Spirit region, truly universal and giving life to all regions down to and including the physical body.

Stage 1 – THE EXTENDED BODY


In the diagrams above and below I have spread out the EGG of BRAHM like a Mercator projection map. This allows one to see how the mind and inner layers of consciousness can be universally accessible to all beings.
This Mercator projection concept suggested to me the Post and Lintel system, possibly the earliest form of building used by the megalithic stone cultures. I have based my design on this visual idea. It forms the bones of my design and and I have used this post and lintel format to present several different layers, from the material to the spiritual.

This rigid and formal structure represents the four material elements of Earth, Water, Fire and Air. When overlayed by an image of the perfect man and the other personalities, the post and lintel design also provides a framework on which to show how the linking of all beings at the levels of universal mind and of the other inner bodies is not only possible, but also inevitable.
The ordered framework represents the FIRST STAGE relevant to healing, the environment within which we live, which must ideally be toxin free, provide clean water, fresh air and wholesome sustenance. The square doorway portrays the structural integrity and biochemical order necessary to a healthy body.

 

Stage 2 – THE PHYSICAL BODY

Man is the pinnacle of creation, the perfect handiwork of nature in every respect. Man is pristine. Perfect health is our natural state. At this level 'dis-ease' or ill health is due to a deterioration of natural balance or malfunction of biochemical interactions or disturbance to structural integrity of the body. In the Vedic context the innate nature of all things is entropy, the progression from order to disorder and eventually to chaos. All structure requires the crystallization of order from natural chaos. Structure also requires the energy of conscious effort to remain structured.
In Classical Greece, when this natural state broke down and symptoms began to indicate disease, the man or woman who was ailing could proceed to a Temple of Healing, a Temple dedicated to the god Asclepius, where they could be diagnosed and over a period of time, receive integrated treatment of their physical body and of their whole subtle being.



Standing in the doorway of the temple, is the man of perfect health, the ideal state. In my design, in each hand he holds a Caduceus, which would normally have been engraved on the columns. He is both the healer and the healed.

In pale grey on the left is Thoth, the Egyptian god of magic, the arts and sciences and astronomy. According to legend, one day he thrust his staff between two fighting snakes and thereafter the snakes remained locked in restraint. Representing the opposing forces of Knowledge and of Wisdom, they have come to symbolize the balance a medical practitioner must maintain between the application of his acquired knowledge as suggested by the symptoms and the wisdom intuited by his subtle insight into the patient's inner well-being.
The staff, of either Thoth or of the god Hermes, his Greek version, bears a pair of entwined snakes and is called the Caduceus. The Caduceus has become the symbol of healing in modern medicine. I personally believe that there is no coincidence to the rather obvious similarity of the Caduceus and the double helix of the DNA structure.

The column bears the marble bust of Asclepius, the ancient Greek god of healing.



In front of the column stands a healer or physician applying a soothing herbal remedy and fragrant oil balm to a patient who is very obviously suffering some dire malady. The morbidity and stress of the ailing man is emphasized by the burden of his crown of horns. He carries in his hand the symbol of Mercury, indicating that his trauma may be caused by some biochemical imbalance. It is equally possible that he may be labouring under the weight of deeply ingrained flawed mental or emotional programming and a careful study of the state of health of the various levels of his psyche may be necessary before he may regain a positive equilibrium. His feet and legs locked in a matrix of stone, show that he may be acting out of complexes rather than mature reason.

In the doorway lies a man either ailing or injured. The figure who is assisting him to enter the Temple of Healing is not another man, but an aspect of his own self. This figure represents his intent and determination to help himself, and the motivation necessary to accept transformation. In my painting this figure portrays primarily the SECOND STAGE of healing, which implies some breach of structural or biochemical integrity that may have occurred, but his problems may also originate at some deeper level of his being.

 

Stage 3 – THE ELECTROMAGNETIC BODY



The perfect man is sheathed in the vibrant glow of a healthy and correctly polarized electromagnetic body. This is the THIRD STAGE of the healing process which may need to be addressed by the physician. The electromagnetic fields run, control and oversee the biochemical interactions in the physical body.

 

Stage 4 – THE EMOTIONAL BODY

On the far right of the painting is the figure of RAMA, hero of the great Indian epic, the Ramayana. An emotional ideal to a third of the world's population, Rama is the model man to young and old, to the man of the world and to the recluse as well. He embodies virtue and ardently applies it to life even in conflicting circumstances. Though stationed in the mundane he is at the core supremely above it. Rama's nobility exemplifies the potential of the perfectly proportioned emotional body, wherein emotion properly applied to life is a positive force for good and for health. The emotional body is the FOURTH STAGE. All kinds of emotional injury may occur in life, and the effects may well linger for many years. It may be difficult to positively identify what symptoms are due to emotional trauma, but when correctly diagnosed and reconciled, otherwise misleading symptoms may disappear. An emotional body free of residual trauma is vital to good health.

Rama bears on his sleeve the alchemistic symbol of family relationships and friendship between men. This refers also to the SIXTH STAGE of healing which transcends personal limits.




Stage 5 – THE INTELLECTUAL OR MENTAL BODY

Vedic belief is that above the level of universal mind, or ParBrahm, all is ONE, there is complete unity, there is no second. At the level of Brahm duality appears and persists throughout the extended creation in all forms of opposites. Its symbol is Yin-Yang.

Out of this duality arises the idea of you and me as separate entities. There follows comparison and thereafter ego. As soon as there are two sides to any situation as in the body for example, there is the distinct possibility of imbalance and obviously this concept is of great significance to the maintenance of health.
Mental concepts, beliefs and ways of expressing these, have differed greatly between both contemporary and ancient cultures, and between civilizations East and West. Today however the language of mathematics and relativistic theory in the west and the symbols of the introspective East are rapidly overlapping in both form and meaning.

Through weighing, measuring and calculating, Prince Louis de Broglie showed us that matter could be represented as waves and radiation by particles; that there might in fact be 'matter waves'. Erwin Schr๖dinger formulated the standing wave equations. He discovered that when a rope is fastened at one end and shaken up and down, waves would form and would appear to remain stationary. He called them 'standing waves'. Depending on the length of the rope, the number of waves would vary but there would always be a whole number of waves, never-half waves.
Waves dividing the orbit of an electron around the nucleus of an atom into segments would also always be of a discrete number, never half-waves or fractions of a wave. Even the so-conceived analogue world of waves appears to be digital!

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Eastern mystics through meditation, exploring the inner reaches of consciousness, saw by direct perception the same fundamental laws of nature.

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They realized and portrayed harmonics by showing with images and symbols that there can only be a whole number of petals around a flower, never half-petals. A very ancient oriental symbol, the YANTRA, is made up of inter-meshing triangles. The Yantra shows restraint. It means crystallization, order as opposed to chaos. The Yantra always implies structure in some mechanistic form, either physical or ethereal.

All these forms of wave propagation and structural integrity can manifest as harmonics and are to be found throughout the patterns of organic as well as inorganic energy. Maintaining balance in these fields within our subtle bodies, is vital to health and to the restoration of health. The beliefs we hold dear, the convictions ingrained into our subconscious all affect our mental well-being and our health.

In this painting the universality is portrayed by the all-seeing face of the Universal mind. The all-seeing nature of Universal mind is portrayed in this three-headed sculpture of Brahm, and in my rendering below.

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Stage 6 – THE SOUL BODY

I refer to the alchemistic symbol of family relationships and friendship between men on Rama's sleeve.

This hierarchical and collective consciousness is vital to the health of our interactive relationships within the community of our fellow beings. It is inevitable that we all communicate with each other and affect each other at many subconscious levels. This connection, the way mind extends from one person to another, is another level revealed by the Post and Lintel structure of the design.
Traumas which may affect us at this level originate from beyond the realm of personal input, such as toxins from our environment or imbalances in our electromagnetic bodies. We are intimately linked with the world outside ourselves by inter-connectedness. We are constantly experiencing an input into our consciousness via universal awareness, and by discovering and reconciling with hidden traumas from our past we gain a new perspective on mundane affairs and are freed from the idea of personal suffering.
The lintel in my post and lintel design, provides an inevitable link and communication between all the players, as is the case in the extended family constellation.

 

Stage 7 – THE SPIRITUAL BODY

The figure seated in meditation at the base of the Indian Tree of Life is tapping in to this universal field. Through meditation and contemplation one can tune in to the whisperings of the soul and the regions of the Ocean of Spirit.



The SEVENTH STAGE, that of the 'Ocean of Spirit' is quite impossible for the limited and essentially dualistic mind to portray or even to conceive.
We attempt to nourish the spiritual body by attending conscientiously to the needs of all the other bodies. In Vedic terms, imperfection is essential to the very existence of the regions below ParBrahm and that is just the way it is supposed to be.


We also nourish all the other bodies, by the practice of putting aside the tensions and dynamics of the six lower regions and relaxing into the non-judgemental, non-polarized realm of the pure Ocean of Spirit, where every event is neutral until we evaluate it and endow it with power either to hurt us or to heal us.
The essence of this region is Love, and the Vedas tell us that whereas 'cause and effect' rule the lower stages, the quality of this final region, the origin of all, is 'DAYAL' which means mercy and forgiveness.

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