‘…You may as well know now you are far more likely to see the spiritual than you are to read it. The spirit came first and we learned to see before we learned to read. It is nigh on impossible to alter the ramifications of all that and no one really wants to but it is easy to forget. You can look at something for years without seeing it…’ – The Initiate
In the West we are accustomed to regarding pictures as illustrations of the words used to tell stories. Our earliest reading is accompanied by pictures which frame, direct or manipulate the ideas contained within the words we have just read and our judgements about the skills of the illustrator are formed by and depend on just how closely the depicted image comes to how we have envisaged the related story in our minds eye…
But it was not always this way.
Many of the oldest stories, by which we mean the myths, are tales told to elucidate sacred icons and while it is undoubtedly the case that a picture paints a thousand words it may not be possible for a single word to paint a thousand pictures.
This means that many of our oldest stories are in fact no more than interpretations, which is as it should be and really can only ever be, but it also means that in the absence of the icon to which these interpretations refer there is something missing.
The picture itself!
But the picture itself is not the whole story either because even with the icon and the interpretative story or indeed a number of different interpretative stories and their attendant glosses… there is still something missing and that something is known as context and, what is more, that context can only come from individual lookers and listeners which means… you, but only if you do indeed take care to look and to listen.
To listen properly involves being silent.
To look properly involves using more than the eyes.
This ‘set up’ and its corresponding ‘state of affairs’ really is fundamental to most of what passes for our experience here on earth and one of the gravest errors it is possible to make is to let another person define our experience for us.
All the sacred texts teach this by leaving room for interpretation and by using icons or pictures as the sources of their inspiration.
After all one may spend a lifetime considering the arguments of a thousand and one savants on the likelihood or otherwise of, let’s say… reincarnation without ever being convinced one way or the other and yet, alternatively, one may also be lucky enough to catch the merest glimpse of a series of temple panels which taken together accurately depict the same concept… and instantly know it to be true.
But don’t take our word for it… go out and discover it for yourself!