6 April 2008

Dedicated to Arthur C. Clarke

On March 19, 2008 at the age of 90 years at his home in Sri Lanka, the great Science Fiction writer, Sir Arthur C Clarke died. As a young child I read many of his books and short stories and he (and other Science Fiction writers) powerfully influenced my spiritual impetus. In this respect the transformational movie, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, a 1968 science fiction film written by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke and dealing with human evolution has been hugely influential to many in a very similar way.



The reason why ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, is a particularly fascinating subject in relation to Arunachala, is because of the use of a ‘monolith’ as the transformative tool throughout the movie.

The word Monolith comes from the Greek; "Mon" means 'one' and "lith" means 'stone'. It can be a large block of stone or something such as a column or monument or something suggestive of a large block of stone, as in immovability, massiveness, or uniformity. Monolith can also be a geological feature such as a mountain, consisting of a single massive stone or rock, or a single piece of rock placed as, or within, a monument.

In the movie 2001, the stone is black and in alchemy all things that exist come from the black stone, or the 'prima materia'. The black stone is the stone of transformation and the stone of projection. The Philosopher's Stone. This is the object that can change or transmute mankind, according to alchemical lore. It is rare and, when it makes an appearance, it transforms the seeker.






The movie, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, has as its theme, man’s evolution, from ape through earthman to astral being. It starts in prehistoric times where mankind's ancestors are struck by inspiration after a silent black monolith appears in their midst. When the primitive ape-like species is presented with the monolith their curiosity and courage overcomes their fear; and when the innate characteristics of the ape interfaces with the monolithic slab, the species take a dramatic step in their advancement.

***The sun and the crescent moon aligned with each other is a symbol of Zoroastrianism, the ancient Persian religion which predates Buddhism and Christianity and is based on the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster (also known as Zarathustra). This particular alignment symbolises the eternal struggle between light and darkness.***



The evolutionary theme of ‘A Space Odyssey’, from ape through Earthman to astral being, continues millions of years later, when a similar-looking monolith dug up on the moon in 2001, starts to blast a strong radio signal to Jupiter. The culmination of the evolutionary theme occurs when the lone surviving astronaut of a space mission seeking the source of the radio signal has a rendezvous with another monolith and a hallucinogenic journey to the infinite beyond.

With his rasping, dying breath, the Earthman reaches out to the monolith, at last, with deep understanding and wisdom. The body -- container of man's spirit for millions of years, is cast aside forever. And the next evolutionary leap occurs -- the Starchild is born.



'The cyclical evolution from ape to man to spaceman to angel-starchild-superman is complete. Evolution has also been outwardly directed toward another level of existence - from isolated cave dwellings to the entire Earth to the Moon to the Solar System to the Universe. Humankind's unfathomed potential for the future is hopeful and optimistic. What is the next stage in man's cosmic evolution beyond this powerful, immense, immortal, space-journeying creature? "Then he (i.e. the Starchild) waited, marshalling his thoughts and brooding over his still untested powers. For though he was master of the world, he was not quite sure what to do next. But he would think of something"'
[2001 - The Novel]




Throughout the world there are representations of monoliths many of which have spiritual and transformative powers. The opinion of many is that Arunachala is the definitive, transformative monolith, but throughout the world there are other special, sacred monolithic places. For instance Uluru (previously called Ayers Rock) in Australia is a sandstone monolith; 1,143 feet high and 6 miles in circumference.





"This is the working of the ceremony to save the green ants, the aboriginal people and the dreamtime that holds the world together. The white people are too young to know this and too old to understand. Yet, you must listen to these words now and hear with your hearts, the singing of the mountain. The mountain sings. It sings like it has never sung before...it is singing now for you...for us...for every living creature on this beautiful Earth. The mountain sings its first and last song. The music comes from far, far away yet it is inside you...inside the mountain...inside the trees...inside the rising sun...inside the stars...inside the little pebbles in the river... inside the kangaroo...inside the green ants...inside your mother...inside your father...the song is singing by itself inside every living thing. Now, the mountain sings to keep the world alive. When you hear the song inside your hearts, sing back to the mountain. Sing back to the mountain...sing back to the mountain..."
[Invocation of a Chief Uluru Aboriginal Elder]

Thank you Arthur. Take rest now.
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3 comments:

R. Vivek said...

Great information about monoliths and how you tie it up with the film and Arunachala. Really enjoy your writing.

Anonymous said...

2001 - what a movie. Seen it so many times.

Helen Ziegler said...

This is a beautiful posting. Love it. 2001 also was a catalyst in my own spiritual journey so can totally relate to what you say.