By: Ranilo Abando (Manila, October 22, 2020) ***
When we visited the Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia, I was able to see and touch some bas-reliefs of major stories from the Hindu scriptures. One of them is the Churning of the Ocean of Milk.
The story goes like this. The devas (gods) invited the asuras (demons) to help them recover the nectar of immortality, the amrita, from the depths of the cosmic ocean by churning the ocean itself. When the asuras agreed, the devas, pulling the serpent rope on the right side, and the asuras, pulling on the left side, began churning the Milky Ocean. In the spectacular scene, Vishnu, the preserver of the cosmic order, had taken the form of a massive tortoise (Kurma Avatar) in the middle of the Milky Ocean. His humped shell acted as a pivot for Mount Mandara (or Mount Meru), which served as the churning stick, while the serpent Vasuki was used as a rope for rotating Mount Mandara. The god Vishnu stood on top of Mount Mandara during the churning of the milky ocean.
Finally, while still churning of the ocean of milk, a pot containing the amṛita, the heavenly nectar of immortality emerged, resulting in fierce fighting between the devas and the asuras.
My interpretation of the allegory is the following:
The story has a complex metaphorical scene that was cleverly formulated to contain deep knowledge that can only be decoded by trained minds. Mount Mandara represents the tree of life, our own mind column. The tortoise represents the rigid “builder” aspect at the bottom of the lower mind, and it is the one that builds this virtual physical world. Vasuki, the world serpent, represents our lower mind which has significant chaos composition. The god Vishnu, standing on top of Mount Mandara, represents the main seat of consciousness (or main spirit). The milky ocean represents the turbulent commingling of chaos matter and “spirit” matter within the composition of the mind.
The devas are the good ones, coming from up the mind column, they are agents of enlightenment for humanity, while the asuras represent the dark side as they are agents that promote disorder and ignorance for humanity. Amrita, the nectar of immortality, represents higher knowledge, or in a more fundamental sense — the empowerment of the higher mind of a person. This kind of empowerment allows the person to avoid the need to enter the cycles of living in the virtual physical reality — thus, avoiding physical death. If a person will no longer experience physical death, then he is essentially immortal.
Churning the milky ocean is a metaphorical way of presenting the concept of producing more quantities of high-grade spirit matter by commingling chaos matter and existing spirit matter, and processing them. The processing of these commingled types of matter is accomplished by using the various aspects of the mind in various types of realities built by the mind column. The process, characterized by interactions and conflicts among different kinds of motivations – i.e. desires versus reason, self-interest versus compassion, order versus disorder, life versus death, enlightenment versus ignorance, the dark side versus the light side, etc. – these turbulent interactions eventually produce more ordered information in the form of memories and knowledge that could then be fed to the seat of consciousness, which then grows as a result.
That is why the dwarfs of Snow White are miners. The seven dwarfs metaphorically represent the various aspects of the mind column of the human spirit. The mind is like a miner who mines chaos matter, processes it, and produces from it new spiritual matter. It is just like extracting gold from worthless rocks. I suspect that the spiritual world actually originated from the primordial singularity of chaos below it. Paradoxically, it seems that spirit is actually ordered chaos ! Probably, that is the reason why the ancients often refer to the Ocean of Chaos as — the MOTHER. It is likely the medium that composes everything. I mean, Everything !
(Photo above) This is me at the Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia.
(Photo above) This is a steep stairway going to the location of the central tower at Angkor Wat. This stair symbolizes the steep and difficult journey to attain higher knowledge and awaken into activity one’s higher mind. The central tower of Angkor Wat represents Mount Meru, the metaphorical abode of the gods.