Neptune

Great Symbols Series @ Theosophy Trust


NEPTUNE


While the 'thousand-horned bull' was rising from the ocean and everyone fell asleep, Vasishtha (who had been allowed to see the miracle of creation by Varuna) left the mansion of Varuna, the cosmos, and entered the radiant light beyond and above the vault of heaven.

 While everyone sat by the seaside and basked in the dreaming light accompanying the rhythm of the deep, one individual slipped away into an ocean belonging to another world. He must have found a hidden estuary that led him far off from the crowd, one which no one else could see. And why he would have noticed it is a mystery, for the compelling body of lapping waters which stretched along the shore had hypnotized everyone else. But notice it he did, despite the graceful-limbed revellers who might have distracted him as they danced along the beach in worship of the worldly sea. He saw its slim channel opening behind his mind's eye, beckoning him to pursue its course. And he followed that stream, glimpsing now and then a liquid form shining with unearthly splendour in the distance and a triple-pointed spark of electrical fire rising from its midst.

 Even as he made this remarkable journey, his body remained at the seaside, his arms curled around his bare knees while his eyes gazed, unseeing, over the rows of incoming waves. He might just as well have been seated before a telescope looking through light-years of space at a dimly swirling planet which in reality had been travelling rapidly towards the throne of its spiritual ruler. For his inner journey to Neptune would have taken him away from a view of the distant planet bearing the name just as surely as it took him away from the insistent tides welling up in the earth-sea spreading before him.

 This does not mean there is nothing one can learn by studying the sea or the planetary orbs in space. Rather, their presence is so powerful a pointer to their true hidden nature that the ordinary senses can be overwhelmed and persuade the mind that reality lies in the appearance of things, that Neptune's realm really is this pounding, briny ocean, and that the blue planet which orbits in eighth place around our sun is actually Neptune, or whatever we mean by that name. But if it is true that the essential hieroglyph of reality can be read in the elements and the interrelating globular systems of manifestation, then the nature of the planets and their connection with the elements of our earth must provide clues pointing to an archetypal design traceable in solar systems, galaxies and in the subtle vestures of man. Thus, a planetary progression moving from the sun outwards can be treated as a series capable of explaining the psychological and spiritual worlds. One can examine the teachings from the Stanzas of Dzyan which say that eight houses were built by Mother for her Divine Sons, "four large and four small ones", and see that the eight globes (one of which was relegated to the position of sun) were born of the eternal substance-principle which is the basis of the Paramatman or Universal Soul. That these planets were all comets and suns in their origin implies that they began as the invisible sparks of primordial atoms in the Mother Deep and differentiated under the conditions of archetypal heat, attraction and repulsion (motion) to become invisible suns.

 Whilst modern cosmology asserts that differentiation in the physical solar nebula led to planets with different initial compositions, Gupta Vidya, the Secret Doctrine, teaches that differentiation takes place in invisible nebulae from which manifest all the globes, including the suns. Thus, suns, comets and planets are linked together on a precosmic plane wherein they share an eternal basis of origin, one which is transmitted through the essential substance and design of all their subsequent manifest differentiations. Mercury is different in composition from Saturn not only because it is closer to the sun but because it represents a particular expression of motion, of position and relationship in a design which is a wondrous symbol for the involution and evolution of the universal Self and each pilgrim soul. If one lets Mercury represent the initial step in the descent of spirit towards the earth, the giant outer planets signify the movement of the soul out of matter into a vaster awareness. If one begins with the outermost planet and moves towards the sun, the picture shifts to an initial macrocosmic involvement in stages of progressive formation, descending to highly differentiated life on this earth from which ascent into the realms of the innermost planets and the sun takes place. Put together, the macrocosmic and microcosmic processes cycle round the solar system, as it were, moving in opposite directions to one another, one of them prograde in its motion, the other retrograde: as above, so below, but reflected through a mirror. Similarly, the macrocosmic ocean linked to the distant blue planet of Neptune is reflected in the inverted vault of the earth's ocean basins out of which Neptune is imagined to rise, seaweed dangling from his trident and hair. By focussing upon this lower aspect of the god, people came to identify him with the ocean or with water itself, forgetting that his rulership had originally extended over the unlimited Cosmic Sea, from whose Waters of Space the offspring of the male spirit-fire and the female gaseous-water become the ocean on earth.

 The alchemists of medieval Europe recognized this truth and today a psychological expression of their recognition can be found in the teaching of Carl Jung and his followers, who thought that this cosmic ocean could be seen as a symbol of the human unconscious, from the deepest layers of the individual mind to the broadest depths of the universal soul. From this perspective, Neptune is a regent of heaven, of the 'Upper Waters', and his descent to the station of one who is merely a god of the earthly sea is a cosmic equivalent to the biblical myth of the Fall of Adam. Psychologically, this can be traced in man when the envelopment of each individual soul in matter is complete and the memory of one's collective cosmic origin has been obscured. In this immense journey the immortal soul passes from the swelling rhythms inherent in the electric potential of the Mother Deep through the dangerous corridors of astral waters, where serpentine waves undulate as shadows of spirit and cast their turbulence upon the beach of the conscious human mind. Neptune and his sea thus not only fall into the physical world but are intimately linked with the astral realm, its dangerous lightning-forked serpents and its endless capacity for inversion at its lower levels.

 Though Zeus reigns over the Fourth Race, it is Poseidon who rules.

The Secret Doctrine

 As Poseidon, Neptune was the spirit and titanic strength of the living race of Atlanteans. Plato tells of a division he made of Atlantis and of how, on one of the islands, he found a human couple made of clay (the first physical humans), through whom he begot Atlas. Like Vishnu Narayana or Idaspati of the Hindu myths, Poseidon crossed the horizon in three steps, giving his name to the third, which was the last island of Atlantis, and leaving behind him as Rama the mysterious legacy of Lanka. In his involvement with the world, he brought his trident with its "three teeth" from which the fangs of lightning exploded, connecting fire and water, heaven and earth. Like the caduceus, the trident bears down through the astral the serpentine waves of Divine Motion and then draws them up in its central rod, where the lightning virility of Mind spills over in its lower aspects into the liquid fertility of the sea. Thus, the astral deep over which Poseidon reigns is filled with nereids, tritons, oceanids and mermaids. Out of this brew Nature sculpted the human form and Poseidon sent the beautiful bull which the Minoan queen Pasiphae fell unnaturally in love with, to produce the Minotaur, a symbol of physical procreation, at the cost of the surrender of the spiritual powers of human intellection. The outer prongs of the trident resemble the bull's horns, the lunar ploughshares of ritual sacrifice. The central prong is the linga, the seed-bearing link between the creative forces of the divine and the human. When it rises from the astral sea, the seed of generation is transmuted into the creative powers of the becalmed mind. Knowledge of this vast potential enabled the Atlanteans not only to rule the earthly sea but also to control and direct many of the awesome powers inherent in its astral prototype. The horrendous abuse of these creative gifts resulted in the appalling karma passed down through successive generations of humanity from the Fourth to the Fifth Root Race.

 The legacy of Poseidon is indeed shadowy, suggesting to the mind lurking, watery forms signifying the trials and errors of Nature and the progeny of the unnatural abuse of creative powers. In the popular myths of the classical Mediterranean world, he was most commonly known for his licentious escapades, his moody imperiousness and his unpredictably imposing strength. But he was also closely associated with the dolphin, who, as Makara the Dragon, hovers upon the ocean and is intimately involved in the birth of the spiritual microcosm. All the wavy serpentine paths of the astral light, the Milky Way, the path of the sun to the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, as well as the circles of the sidereal year, are woven by this dragon, who is both the vahan or vehicle of Poseidon and one with him esoterically.

 Makara is identified with the five Kumaras, who are the fivefold Dhyan Chohans possessing the soul of the five elements in their natures, with water and etheric fire predominating. They plunge into the depths for their ecstatic devotions, remaining there while Poseidon or Krishna Avatar hovers above. Thus, the water over which he floats is a mirror of the mind, a Kumaric matrix in which the triune spark of spiritual consciousness takes birth. It is filled with potency, only waiting for the stroke of his magical trident to come to life in intelligent form. The world's oceans perfectly reflect this truth as they lie charged with extraterrestrial energy flowing into them from outer space, non-polluting, inexhaustible and free. The energy of the sun warms them, propels their waves, and works through the gravity field of the moon to create the tidal system, the weather, the seasons, and all the terrene cycles which permit continuous growth. They present to man on the physical plane a microcosm of a vaster cosmic ocean, wherein the energy of Fohat is stored and the potential for life-forms gathers in etheric shoals of archetypal possibility.

 At this juncture one can see a distinct overlap with the symbols and functions ascribed to Uranus. Indeed, Varuna, whose name can be found transposed as Uranus, is said to have been the progenitor of the Poseidon/Neptune of earthly myth. By confining his children in the womb of primordial matter, Uranus personifies the unmanifest creative powers of, and in, Chaos. But in the Iliad it is the Ocean, the Illimitable Spirit in Chaos, which, together with primordial matter (his spouse Tethys), gave to all things, creatures and gods their very being. And it is out of his Immeasurable Space that Neptune arises with his trident bearing the Fohatic spark of Eros. One can see that, while Uranus signifies the ideal purity of the unmanifest, Neptune reaches beyond him from above, as it were, transmitting the Desire which first arose in It in a series of triadic lightning charges on descending levels of manifestation. A spiritual and psychological planetary progression which began with the outermost planet would then find Neptune to be, in one sense, closer to the One Source of Life and, in another sense, more deeply involved in its more differentiated levels of expression than Uranus. Much of the symbolism associated with Neptune connects him strongly to Vishnu Narayana and Krishna, but one sees in this a marked resemblance also to Mahashiva,* the Mahayogin who bears a trident and dips deeply into the world before rising out of it. This evocative allusion is enormously strengthened by the identification of Neptune with Makara and the birth of the spiritual 'microcosm'. For this birth entails a death or dissolution of the phenomenal universe as it passes into the noumenal realm of the spiritual.

 When the Sun passes away beyond the 30th degree of Makara and will reach no more the sign of the Meenam (Pisces) then the night of Brahma has come.

The Secret Doctrine

 Like Uranus, Neptune does not have direct astral and psychic communication with the earth. Nor do the two planets depend upon our sun entirely, unlike the rest of the planets in our system. Indirectly, Neptune informs the earth through water and fire blended in the symbiotic relationship of the masculine and feminine principles in every aspect of life. Through pulsating waves whose perpetual undulation describes a motion expressive of eternal being beyond negation, Neptune communicates to the consciousness of the globe and all that lives on it rhythmic sparks of universal ideation garnered from the oceanic waves of a vaster and more etheric solar source than humanity can know of at present. These impulsions affect conscious life on this globe through the unconscious, welling up from its labyrinthine depths to affect the mind in ways sometimes inexplicable and explosive. They work through the invisible blendings of the masculine and feminine elements in man's psychic nature, his passions and fears as well as the evolving patterns of his thoughts. The irrational character that these effects can have tend to encourage fear of the unknown, which often results in the most peculiar forms of self-protective behaviour. A good example of this sort of response can be found in the events which led to the discovery of the planet Neptune in the last century.

 The courageous and compelling figure in the drama was John Couch Adams, who was born in Cornwall in 1819 as the son of a poor tenant farmer. When he was sixteen, he was thrilled to see Halley's Comet, and one year later he wrote a scientific paper on a lunar eclipse which was reprinted in several London newspapers. At the age of twenty, Adams obtained a scholarship to St. John's College in Cambridge, where he impressed everyone with his modest graciousness, total lack of class consciousness, and brilliance. In 1841 he assigned himself the formidable task of investigating whether an unknown planet beyond was responsible for the irregularities of Uranus. The problem was how to verify the presence of an outlying planet, pinpoint its position, and show that it was responsible for the perturbations of Uranus on the basis of mathematically theoretical deductions, an approach which had never been conceptualized as possible, let alone attempted by scientists before. Adams had to solve the standard gravitational problem in reverse. Given the irregularities in the motion of Uranus, he had to subtract the perturbations caused by its moons and by Jupiter and Saturn. From the remaining irregularities he had to deduce exactly where the disturbing force was coming from, how fast and along what path that body was moving, and how far away and how massive it was. The outer planet would also be orbiting the sun, so its distance and position relative to Uranus would always be changing, as would the direction and magnitude of its gravitational force.

 Adams calculated all the above variables to answer for all the perturbations recorded in the motion of Uranus at every point throughout its observed history. To handle all these simultaneous variables, he invented a new form of mathematical analysis and produced a preliminary solution confirming the existence of Neptune in the fall of 1843. At this point, fear of the unknown and extremely shameful forms of self-protection entered the scene through the strange behaviour of several scientists, including the Astronomer Royal of England, who perversely refused to believe that such a form of mathematical analysis could work or that an outlying planet existed. At every point he thwarted the recognition of the work of Adams so as to protect his own standpoint and the time-honoured approach to astronomical science based upon observable phenomena. Eventually, this snobbish gentleman succeeded in sabotaging England's opportunity of making sole claim for Neptune's discovery, and Adams was only eventually given credit for his work along with a French scientist who independently arrived at the same solution in 1846.

 The discovery of Neptune by purely mathematical calculation was the greatest triumph for gravitational theory since Edmund Halley had predicted the date of the return of the comet which was given his name. From that time, theoretical mathematics took the lead in the way in which astronomical research was pursued. The whole of modern science moved from a system of empirical data-gathering to one of broad conceptualization. It was as if, despite the disruptive and irrational Neptunian forces welling up through the subconscious natures of those who tried to block a recognition of the work of Adams, the planet was ready to be discovered, and the same meticulous clarity of thought and noble lack of self-interest which had characterized Herschel's discovery of Uranus prevailed. Once discovered, the effect of this distant giant was immediately felt by the human race. The forces operating within the collective and individual unconscious became more chaotic and pressing, bubbling up through man's subconscious mind, forcing him to attempt to come to grips with their tempestuous energy.

 It was only a matter of time before someone would try to make some kind of order out of this increased activity by putting labels on it and theorizing about its source. Psychoanalysis was just around the corner. On the other hand, the breakthrough in theoretical mathematics which permitted the discovery in the first place opened up a door, resulting in a loosening up of the patterns of thought that had bound the majority of thinking humanity up to that point. No longer would it be possible for scientific innovators to grapple with cause and effect in the physical and psychological realms without attempting to account for the impact of superior human intelligence as well as that of the massive sea of hidden psychic forces continually influencing conscious life. Of course, the empirical data-gatherers would continue with their busy work, but the real revolutions in thinking would be initiated by those capable of launching themselves on the Neptunian current, going beyond a mechanically conceived three-dimensional world into concepts of relativity and field theory which would attempt to include the dynamics of the observer as well as the observed.

 A century and a half after Neptune's discovery, the fecund and highly abstract metaphysical concepts brought to light by the nineteenth century Theosophical Movement and the rich ideational offspring of the theory of relativity have continued to loosen and expand the horizon of human thought. Certainly, empiricism continues to obstruct this inevitable burgeoning of consciousness, but even among the least intellectual circles, many people have assimilated ideas of relativity and holistic notions involving the complete man as well as his mental and physical environment.

 The stage is set for the closer contact with Neptune, which is slated to take place in 1989 and which will undoubtedly trigger a new wave of awareness concerning the microcosmic and macrocosmic realms, how they interact and how one reflects the other. Sensitive individuals will be aware of a fresh impulsion of energies and experience the challenge of trying to understand and gain greater control over them. Others will simply feel the added pressures and find that their attempts to manage them on a superficial level do not succeed in bringing them either comprehension or control. The door opened up initially through the alignment of the principles (symbolized by Herschel's superior telescope), and the clarity of vision brought to the discovery of Uranus was opened wider through the broader necessity of understanding the dynamics of that alignment and coming to take responsible control over the forces released with the discovery of Neptune. Now, when a closer contact with the blue planet is imminent, that necessity will become an imperative for those who wish to play a consciously creative role in evolution, rather than one where they are carried passively along the great waves of change which will sculpt out the future of the human race.

 The theoretical work of astronomers has led them to anticipate certain conditions which they believe closer contact with Neptune will reveal. The planet is so far away that very little is actually yet known about it. It is three times further away from us than Saturn, its orbit being so distant that it requires one hundred and sixty-five years to complete its rotation around the sun. In mass and size it is very similar to Uranus, the two planets appearing in certain ways to be more alike than any other pair in our solar system. Neptune is believed to have a dense rocky core of about fifteen earth masses, making up one quarter of its total mass. The rest of its known composition is largely molecular hydrogen and methane, which is responsible for its blue colour. In addition, it is expected that helium is present and that an ammonia cloud layer lies deep in the atmosphere of the planet, where the pressure is higher than on Uranus, while there may be thin argon clouds in the upper atmosphere. But it is not known whether Neptune's interior is hot or cold or whether it has a solid surface or a magnetic field. It is known that the planet emits three times the heat that it gets from the sun, but the source of this heat is merely speculated upon, some thinking that it may be caused by tidal friction produced by its retrograde satellite, Triton, which revolves around Neptune in a direction opposite to the revolution of the planet. About the size of our moon or larger, Triton is highly inclined and may provide a key to understanding a great disturbance which appears to have occurred at one time in Neptune's system and which may have been related to the origins of the planet Pluto.

 Being the only planet whose orbit overlaps another, Pluto may have once been a satellite of Neptune which escaped when the Neptunian protoplanet was losing a massive extended atmosphere. It may also have been ejected from the system when Neptune experienced a massive collision or when it captured Triton. The Secret Doctrine explains the retrograde motion of satellites such as Triton in terms of pregenetic battles fought by the growing planets in the solar system. Neptune's small satellite, Nereid, is prograde in its motion but highly eccentric in its orbit, which ranges from one hundred and forty thousand kilometres to nine and one-half million kilometres from its parent planet. The eccentricities of Triton and Nereid speak for a system that has evolved differently, and astronomers have speculated that perhaps Triton ran backwards into the outer envelope of Neptune, where it slowed down and was captured but not 'eaten up'. They have also considered the possibility that it may at some point in the future actually collide with Neptune, falling into it, as it were. In any case, Triton is the only large moon in the solar system to revolve in a retrograde direction, and it must have undergone a major gravitational ordeal before it was formed. It is hoped that some of Triton's mysteries will be yielded up to the camera when, after passing twenty-seven hundred miles above Neptune, Voyager 2 flies close to and behind the giant moon. Scientists also hope to discover the secret of the ring-arcs which have baffled observers for some time. Two separate sightings in Chile in 1984 confirmed that something at Neptune had blocked starlight, but instead of having done so in a continuum on either side of the planet, the blockage was intermittent. Along with a few earlier sightings, this led scientists to theorize that Neptune has 'rings' made up of arcs which are each a few thousand kilometres long. They have speculated that these arcs are confined by a satellite with an orbital inclination capable of generating co-rotational resonances which keep the arcs from lapping one another and making a continuous ring. There might be several very small satellites orbiting, say, seventy thousand kilometres out in a ten-degree inclination from the equatorial plane of Neptune, or there may be small shepherd moons at the Lagrangian points that balance and keep the ring-arcs stably intact. Hypotheses developed to explain the ring-arcs reveal an imaginative application of the dynamics of physics and a sophisticated respect for the economy that operates at all levels of natural law.

 Models containing redundancies or demanding more acting variables than others are discarded or treated as less probable than ones serving to explain with more elegant simplicity. The proof of these hypotheses will be tested when Voyager 2 begins its search of Neptune's ring-arc system twenty-seven days before the spacecraft's August 25 encounter with Neptune itself, and steps it up three days out from the planet with a 'ring movie' of pictures which will be radioed back to earth for thirteen hours. Camera-aiming instructions will be given from predicted positions by the mission sequence team, which has calculated relative angles, speed and light conditions with enormous care, hoping that youthful material caught up in the arcs will tell us something of significance when compared to satellites which may be as old as the solar system. Thus we may learn the possible history of the Neptune system and, by implication, the formation of the outer planets.

 How is this marvellous spacecraft going to reach a planet 2.8 billion miles from the earth? It is so far away that the human eye would have to be four times more powerful than it normally is in order to see it. It is so far from the sun that the light there is like twilight on earth, ten minutes after sundown on a clear day. The accuracy required of a spacecraft to get there is comparable to a golfer sinking a thousand-mile putt. To get there, Voyager 2 has had to pass quite precisely through the systems of Jupiter and Saturn, penetrate their mysteries and use their gravitational fields as assists on the next leg of the journey. This was particularly tricky at Uranus because the planet's magnetic field was only suspected. The spacecraft had to pass close to Miranda, the major moon of Uranus, and then swing behind the planet and its rings so that the radio transmission to the craft could pass through the atmosphere and ring system, revealing their structure and composition. The craft's fly-by was also tightly constrained by its need to use the gravity of Uranus to assist it on its way to Neptune, the weight of the instruments in the craft and its capacity for fuel making this assistance essential. To make it work, Voyager 2 had to hit a point in space at a point in time with phenomenal accuracy. To miss 'corridor centre' at Uranus by a mile would have created an error of four thousand miles at Neptune, and there would not have been adequate fuel to make more than a small adjustment with the craft's thrusters. As it was, Voyager 2 flew well within this corridor, passed above the cloud tops of Uranus, and the gravity of the planet bent the craft's trajectory by twenty-three degrees while increasing its velocity by forty-five hundred miles per hour. Thus began a journey of a billion miles and three-and-a-half years to Neptune.

 Once Voyager 2 reaches Neptune, communication with the earth will be stretched to its maximum capability. Radio instructions and data will have to be transmitted over a much greater distance, and pictures taken in the lower light will require long exposure, risking blurring due to the speed and close distance of the craft to its targets. Motion compensators will be activated, and small bursts of the thrusters will turn the craft slightly to send pictures back to earth before turning it again towards a new target. Given the limitations of the craft, which has suffered radio damage over the twelve years of its immense journey, linked receivers around the globe have been established to increase the earth's capacity to receive its information. Every known advantage has been pursued in relation to maximizing the ground crew's ability to control the craft and compensate for the narrow margins within which it will have to operate in the Neptunian system. At this point, the die is cast as far as the probe is concerned. Its capacity was determined long ago. All that can be done to enhance its performance must be done at the receiving end. Is it possible that a perverse twist of fate could frustrate this delicate communication, much as the perverse stubbornness of the Astronomer Royal obfuscated the enlightened discovery of Adams in the last century? A suspicion of theoretical mathematics as an approach to research is no longer prevalent in the world, but there still lingers a dogged sense that it is best used as a language to express collected observations. The distrust of that which is asserted long before there is tangible evidence to back it is deep-seated in the minds of materialistic human beings. The collective impact of such an earthbound consciousness could well affect the outcome of a planetary problem dependent upon calculations of the most abstract and theoretical nature. One can only hope that this foot-dragging mentality does not prevail and that, like the brilliant work of Adams which received recognition in the end, Voyager 2 will make its discoveries and communicate them successfully to the world.

 The possibility that collective human consciousness could affect the outcome of a Neptunian fly-by is linked up with the reciprocal exchange that takes place between the earth and other planets in our solar system in general, but in particular with the surge of Neptunian influence which took place after the planet's discovery and which will occur again with the closer contact we are about to establish. Humanity's increased contact with Jupiter has expanded consciousness to accommodate a larger design, while Saturn continues to test the human race until it abandons the inadequate forms of the past and begins to shape a new vehicle. Uranus stirs the sleeping chakras along the invisible spine, aligns the subtle lenses of man's sevenfold being, and links the immortal soul with the Divine Will of Maheshvara, the ONE SELF of ALL. Thus, the opening up of latent awareness is linked to the continuous, conscious resonance with the supreme, indwelling intelligence of the cosmos.

 The heightening of this greater awareness of the vital need for a resonant alignment with the Cosmic Mind has been abundantly noticeable since the passage of Voyager 2 through the Uranian system. With the approach to Neptune, all humanity can arouse a deepening sense of the divine within and an effortless shift towards a mystical letting go of the self-crippled personal image and pseudoidentity, derived from 'deficiency needs', wanton desires and immoderate wants. This involves letting what the telescope has seen, so to speak, reveal to our inmost consciousness the invisible cosmos with which we are linked. Contact with Neptune is an exposure to cosmic Light, a holding of the glimpse provided by Uranus, and a flooding of the lower vestures with its reality through the powerful channels of the unconscious mind. To contact Neptune is to come into coadunition with energies and beings from beyond our solar system and to attain access to the divine through a realization of the magnitude and grandeur of its service.

 Giving oneself over to the cosmos can be done only by fearlessly opening wide to the akashic depths which lie beyond the hypnotic phantasmagoria of the astral light. This is truly frightening, for our common experience in dreams and in waking life has taught us that the serpents coiled in the nooks and crannies of the psychic nature are potentially deadly. There are too many passions and terrors welling up unbidden from the unconscious to permit us to feel confident about the unknown or unsuspected aspects of our natures. Thus, men and women spend a good deal of time and energy protecting themselves from their true selves, and when they try to shift their sense of being to include the whole cosmos, they are apt to feel the same overwhelming apprehension about its dreadful unknown depths as they do about the inward recesses of the hidden self. But if one found the courage to begin the journey to Neptune whereon the great Cosmic Ocean awaits, one would best attempt the passage in stages. After assimilating the glorious vision of Jupiter, one can meditate upon Saturn as form, realize in the mind's eye the inner meaning of Shiva's trident, of the lunar crescent on his brow, his bull's horns, and the sacred linga of light which is his most abstract emblem, as well as the perpetually moving rings of fire surrounding his still-centred dance. Meditating deeply thus upon Saturn as Ideal Form, one can reach a point of dynamic control where the highest kundalini energy can be gently awakened through the telescopic chakras of Uranus to destroy the illusion of form. Then only can one sense a serene mystical oneness with the divine through Neptune's gate.

 Like the Voyager 2 spacecraft which makes this journey on the physical plane in our lifetime, humanity has made this journey on different planes in the past and will do so again in a much more conscious way in the future. But the advanced souls who have realized and sustained the realization of a mystical oneness with the cosmos represent the proverbial drops of rain before the monsoon. The journey they have made is hardly easy. It is fraught with dreadfully narrow margins and limitations born of the karma of each aspirant's particular circumstances. Like the scientists who designed Voyager 2, they too must eliminate from their craft every redundancy, every excess of fuel or weight or structural capacity that is not essential to reaching their goal. They have to hone their mental, psychic and physical vestures until they are perfectly in balance and poised for the long flight.

 Contact with Neptune now will undoubtedly affect the efforts of those who are striving to prepare and bring their subtle vestures into alignment for this journey. A few more drops of rain will surely fall. But the journey itself will have to be made by each and every individual who, through his or her own solitary longings, will learn the necessity of staging their progress precisely so that the lessons of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus are well assimilated before passing on. Some will experience at first hand the crucial role which the gravitation assist of each of these planets offers their passage. Without involvement in the intimate absorption of the fields of these planets, there could be no eventual alignment of stages, no alignment of planets, subtle vestures, hidden chakras, that would allow the cosmic energy to flow freely and give that extra spurt of courage needed for the next leg of the journey.

 If the gradual alignment is steady and true, the expanding consciousness of the individual embarked on the journey will be transmitted to his own lower vestures, which will gradually become more porous and deeply receptive to higher communication. Like the ground crew striving to enhance its reception of Voyager 2's information, the spiritual astronaut's vestures will gather in service of his aspiration and strain to echo his every realization. They will of necessity become extremely flexible and sensitive, for his realizations will be immeasurably broad and deep. In nearing Neptune's gate, he will not only begin to learn about the formation of the outer planets, but penetrate the mystery of Triton's retrograde motion, perceiving, perhaps, that its backward movement into Neptune's system represents the microcosmic cycle asserting itself in the vast revolving ocean of the macrocosm. He will see that its potential collision with Neptune would be an effect echoing the movement of the drop of the individual soul merging into the divine aura of the UNIVERSAL SELF. Nearing the gate, he will confront the energies and beings from other systems who reside there. Through communion with such entities, he will consciously embrace the reality of other systems and of systems without end, until he is overwhelmed with the realization of cosmos without end and with his sense of oneness with it.

 It is at this mystical juncture that the triune spark of consciousness raised up in Neptune's trident takes birth in the vastitude over which he floats. Rather than the pristine spark of self-awareness which awakened humanity eighteen million years ago, this triune spark represents the fruition of the whole journey of sacrifice into the lower waters of generation and the greater thrust upward and inward towards the akashic ocean of mankind's ideational beginnings. Reaching that great Cosmic Sea, consciousness becomes cosmic, the gates of Neptune are entered, and fire and water blend the individual with the universal, thus incarnating progressively the Logos in the cosmos, the God in Man.

 * The Upanishads view as a heinous sin the notion that Mahavishnu and Mahashiva, the Godhead and the Guru of Gurus, are different entities.