The Beast Inside the Hallways of the Lower Mind

By: Ranilo Abando (Manila, October 13, 2020) ***

For today, I will discuss a topic that has preoccupied the ancients probably more than any other subject.  Their use of the serpent symbolism to represent the message is widespread.  You can find it in the great ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Canaan, India, Greece, Pre-Columbian Central America, South America, China, and Southeast Asia.  I have mentioned in previous posts that the ancients used the world serpent as a symbol of the natural tendency of the physical world towards disorder and deterioration, which is recognized in science as the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  However, there is a related variation or sub-topic to that serpentine symbolism that I would like to tackle in this new post.  It is about a creative-turned-destructive aspect of the human mind.

The Hydra

(An artist’s depiction of a Hydra is shown above)  According to Wikipedia:   The Hydra, is a serpentine water monster in Greek and Roman mythology.  Its lair was the lake of Lerna in the Argolid.  Lerna was reputed to be an entrance to the Underworld.  In the canonical Hydra myth, the monster is killed by Heracles, best known as Hercules, using sword and fire, as the second of his Twelve Labors.  The Hydra had poisonous breath and virulent blood.  It possessed many heads, the exact number of which varies according to the source. Later versions of the Hydra story add a regeneration feature to the monster:  for every head chopped off, the Hydra would regrow two heads.  Realizing that he could not defeat the Hydra by just cutting off its heads, Heracles called on his nephew Iolaus for help.  His nephew came up with the idea of using a firebrand to scorch the neck stumps after each decapitation. Heracles cut off each head and Iolaus cauterized the open stumps.  The Hydra’s one immortal head was cut off with a golden sword given to Heracles by Athena.  After defeating the Hydra, Heracles placed its hitherto immortal head under a great rock, thus completing his task.

Ravana, the monster in Ramayana Epic

Many episodes from the Ramayana epic of India are carved in relief on the walls of a great 8th-century temple that was cut from the solid bedrock of the terrain at Ellora, near Mumbai.  One relief, which is very dramatic and monumental, depicts an episode in Ramayana where the many-headed Ravana, the demon-king, attempts to shake and uproot the sacred mountain Kailash on which the god Shiva and the goddess Parvati are seated. Ravana was imprisoned within Mount Kailash, so he tried with his multiple  arms to shatter the mountain in a gigantic effort, while the god Shiva with a single foot steadies the shaking sacred mountain.

My interpretation and discussion of the myths in relation to the human mind:

I have mentioned in my previous post about a dissection of reality three of the aspects of the human lower mind, namely the thinker, the dreamweaver, and the builder.  Each of these distinct aspects of the mind has a different and unique way in which it process information, as I have briefly described there.  However, there is still one more aspect of the mind which I want to introduce to you.  This subject is one of the most written about topics by the ancients because it seriously affects our lives not only here in our present physical reality, but also in realities beyond it.  I call this aspect of the lower mind – the “beast”.

The “beast” aspect of our lower mind was originally evolved to ensure the survival of animal species, including our hominid ancestors.  This aspect of the mind is the one responsible in running the “programs” or “algorithms” that convert our basic inner will into survival motivations, such as desire for food, procreation, comfort, and social standing, as well as aversion to bodily harm, social isolation, and pain.

Then, an important change happened.  Humans were somehow able to awaken the thinker aspect of their minds, which gave them immense power over the animal kingdom and the world in general.  No longer do they need to rely on slow-to-develop instincts in order to survive.  Now, the thinker enabled humans to quickly innovate and change their behaviours to survive and propagate.  However, there is one problem, or rather, complication that resulted:  the old beast aspect in the human mind, which now execute human passions, remained active and its power is undiminished.  Many humans now desire not only basic food, sex, and social acceptance for survival, but also romantic relationships, institutional power, political influence, financial might, and intolerant pursuit of ideologies of various colors.

This situation often causes problems, especially when the thinker aspect is hijacked by the beast aspect, because it often leads to destructive and chaotic human behaviour.   In trying to avoid such occurrences, the thinker often clashes with the beast, which leads to inner conflict in us.  It is because while the thinker normally works to ensure human survival and propagation, sometimes it aspires for higher goals.  One of such higher goals is to grow the overall mind column into an efficient information processing machine, make it process as much information as possible in order to produce more refined ones, which it can then feed to the seat of consciousness in us.  The many-headed variation of the serpentine symbolism is symbolic of the many passions and desires that the beast aspect of the human mind is programmed to pursue, but which the thinker aspect of the mind must be determined to control if its higher goals are to be achieved.  The heads of the monster represent greed, hate, sadness, jealousy, fear, lust, etc.  The allegory of Heracles has a message for us on how to defeat the beast successfully:  Do not try to only suppress it, because metaphorically its heads will likely rise again.  Rather, burn it.  Meaning, understand the inherent true nature of the beast inside you and understand the consequences of letting it run out of control.  To understand it better, endure the sufferings that are consequential to letting it control your actions, but try to manage the scale of the experiences and make sure you learn from them.

(Thanks to for the illustration above of the Hydra serpentine monster.)

Published by rabando

I am a Filipino and a geologist by profession but I have also been an ardent searcher for answers to the fundamental questions of human existence ever since 42 years ago. It has been a long, lonely and difficult journey. Why are we here? Where did we come from? What on earth is this world where I found my self in? Surprisingly, I found out that the answers are right there under our noses. There just need to be some adjustments in the way people think.

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