23 November 2008

The Cult of the Hill

“Of the outer symbol of Sri Arunachala on earth, Lord Siva says, “Meditate on the fact that in the heart of the Hill surges the spiritual glory, within which the whole world is contained.” It is in fact this holy Hill — the Mount Kailas of the south and the very embodiment of Siva.

In his article called ‘Physical Supports of Grace’, Arthur Osborne says that the Hill called Arunachala is verily the greatest of physical supports.Yet for those who are unable to live within sight of the earthly Arunachala, there need be no regrets, for the Hill itself is but a thought-construction same as any other. If we would grasp the inner significance veiled by the ‘dull’, outer form of its simple contours, we must search within the heart, and establish contact with that regionless bliss, void of all conceptions which the mind is capable of formulating. For Arunachala is the symbol of the void nature of the Self manifesting in so simple a shape as the ‘Hill of the Holy Beacon’.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said, “Is Kali, my divine mother, of a black complexion? She appears black because she is viewed from a distance, but when intimately known she is no longer so. The sky appears blue at a distance but look at it close by and you will find that it has no colour. The water of the ocean looks blue at a distance, but when you go near and take it in your hand, you find that it is colourless.”

And so it is with the ‘Hill of the Holy Beacon’; go near to it in spirit and it is without shape, without colour, without attributes of any kind. It is only distance which lends it the illusory qualities it seems to possess. Really, we impress the void — It essentially is with the attributes we seem ourselves to possess and then we imagine seeing what is not truly there. Thus it is our attributes we have to slough if we would come close to the sacred symbol and know its real significance, and our everyday life can help us insofar as we regard all things that occur to us in a new light. For instance, instead of viewing circumstances and conditions as isolated phenomena occurring to us for no reason at all, we should strive to regard each event as a stone upon the slopes of Arunachala; each trivial repetition of which event constitutes at last that sacred ‘mount of the spirit’ which is our true nature.

For when Arunachala has been truly built into the fabric of our hearts, we shall need to view each separate part no longer as a separate stone of the divine edifice, but as the structure entire in its sublimely simple shape of the ‘holy Hill’. And then, entering into the heart thereof with understanding, we shall know the whole as the embodiment of that spirit of grace and compassion which eternally enlightens our hearts. In this way it is possible for the less advanced of us to perform a spiritual discipline while living in the world even though far removed from the outer symbol of divine grace in Tiruvannamalai.

It is only when we realise that it is we who clothe the formless Arunachala with form, because we view it with the eyes of the body, that we shall begin to search within our hearts for the formless Reality which that form veils. It is the guru in hill form who is an everlasting beacon of hope for those who inhabit the earth (or body). As soon as the body is dissolved into a shining mist, so also does the guru’s Hill form dissolve, and we are no longer deluded by other concepts such as our own form or the Hill form — for these twain are no more. The underlying Reality shines forth as the pure and perfect void, conceptless and ever blissful.

As an aid to the realisation of this, it may help the devotee — if he be remote from the physical sight of the Hill — to create a mental picture thereof and endeavour through such a mandala to pervade the Hill and become one with it. Certain physical supports, such as a mound of actual stones taken from the Hill itself, may further the project and intensify the concentration, and also link the devotee in some subtle manner with the focus of spiritual peace abiding in Tiruvannamalai.

Yet all this is of no avail if it be not always borne in mind that these accessories are but props for exalting the consciousness to the pitch necessary for contacting the subtle emanations of grace, which spring from the spaceless Arunachala Siva, whose eternal abode is the Heart. For, all takes place in, and is supported by, the void, of which the Hill itself is the perfect and singular symbol.”

[By Kenneth Grant (born 1924) a British occultist and head of the magical order “Ordo Templi Orientis”]


Caroline said...

Kenneth Grant was a very interesting person, controversial too. I wonder if he has written any book on Arunachala?

Meenakshi Ammal said...

He has written articles - several I think, but as far as I know not books. But the types that were attracted to Ramana Maharshi had very diverse backgrounds. Brunton was interested in theosophy, Ganapathi Muni was a Shakti worshipper and one of the first English devotees to visit the sage was Humphries - who seemed to be some kind of humanist. Very interesting.

I think that Grant was borderline black magic and a contemporary of Alastair Crowley. Certainly would be interesting to find out more about him.