"All of us are standing in the mud, but some of us are looking at the stars."
- Oscar Wilde
"Mud is a foreign element; it is not a natural ingredient of water. Likewise, all finite ideas associated with the Self are foreign to It."
- Swami Nikhilananda, Self-Knowledge
R.-Vivekananda Center, 1989, p. 122-23
The "mud" is how we experience the world, the intrusive sensory stimuli of the world or what, in Hinduism, is called "Maya."
"Maya is simply the physical world as we know it, with all its distractions,
desires, and pains. The Hindu tries to see beyond the physical world to
the spiritual which lies behind it and is ultimately considered more
"What is important for now is the understanding that all our experience is an image of reality constructed in the mind. Because our perception of the world is so different from the actual physical reality, some people have claimed that our experience is an illusion. But that is misleading. It may all be a creation of my own mind, but it is very, very real - the only reality we ever know. The illusion comes when we confuse our experience of the world with the physical reality, the thing-in-itself. The Vedantic philosophers of ancient India spoke of this as "maya." Often translated as illusion (a false perception of the world), the word is more accurately translated as delusion (a false belief about the world). I suffer a delusion when I believe that the manifestations in my mind are the external world. I decieve myself when I think that the tree I see is the tree itself."
"Maya is the world of duality, which is delusion in the sense
that it blinds us to the essential unity of all that exists as part of Brahman, the godhead.
Campbell (1968) elaborates:
'Duality...is an illusion of the sphere of space and time (maya): both our fear of
death (mara) and our yearning for the pleasures of this world (kama) derive from, and
attach us to, this manifold delusion..."
The "zebra" (black and white) represents the appearance of duality and the ride is seen as "empty" because...
"...every manifested being or thing, precisely because of its
temporal existence as a phenomenon, is noneternal. It is in consequence maya or
illusion; and therefore it would be foolish to search for the cosmic Real in such
phenomena. Whatever makes an appearance in the fields of the Boundless, whether a
collection of galaxies or an atom, whatever it be which is thus an object or a form, and
no matter how short or how long its life term, is nevertheless an appearance, a
phenomenon, and therefore is de facto empty in the sense of nonreal."
"...the basic insight of
Buddhism - sunyavada, the realisation of emptiness or void. Simply, reality is
emptiness, void of conceptualisations, empty of form. Form is, in fact, "our" projection
onto this emptiness; indeed, it is the illusory nature of form that makes it amenable to
manipulation by the magician."
"Here, O Shariputra, form is emptiness, and the very emptiness is form;
emptiness does not differ from form, form does not differ from emptiness;
whatever is form, that is emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is form.
The same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness."
- Buddhism. Heart Sutra
This is the classic statement of the
via negativa, as the seeker gradually strips away all relative phenomena,
descending ever deeper into darkness. Through such an emptying of the
soul, perhaps the Absolute may be found. Cf. Chuang Tzu 2, p. 181."
The cage is painted, cloaking it's true nature. The physical world (maya) becomes a cage when we do not see it for what it is.
"spoke to the paybox
Glove which wrote on my tongue"
"No one should drive a hard bargain with an artist."
- Ludwig Van Beethoven
"Bartok stood on 54th and Broadway and begged for money to buy a cup of coffee the same week his music was being performed at Lincoln Center. "Why cannot we find places for musical artists" Why does the world love its stupidity?"
The plight of the artist whose work is frequently guided by economic necessity. The paybox glove is a very distracting outside stimuli that discourages (obscures, cloaks, "gloves") the imagination, the inner voice (intuition).
"Pushed me down a slide to the arena,
Significantly, the narrator pushes himself "down", back into the material world, the arena of the Cirkus. The word "Megaphonium" suggests pandemonium and the "mega-phoniness" of the proceedings, another reference to Maya.
"In his cloak of words strode the ringmaster
Bid me join the parade..."
As discussed in chapter three, the ringmaster is Hermes - also known as Mercurius.
"Mercurius is the mediator and agent provoking the first stage of unification between the Yin and Yang forces, expressed as the marriage of Sol (spirit) and Luna (soul). "As the little star near the sun, he is the child of sun and moon,"10 i.e., the consciousness born of their union.
Mercurius is therefore "both masculine and feminine and at the same time the child born of their union."
The third King Crimson album belongs, appropriately, to Hermes.
"As a special force of union between opposing cosmic principles and as an aspect of their manifestation as dualistic tendencies in human consciousness, Mercury -- by standing in-between and uniting -- forms a triadic or triune structural dynamic and is often symbolized as such. Hermes-Mercurius is referred to as "All and Thrice One" (omnia solus et ter unus); "triple in name, one in essence" (triplex in nomine, unus in esse); the "three-headed Mercurius" or "three-headed Hermes" (Hermes tricephalus); the "union of three" (triunus); the triune "Mercurial Fountain" (fons Mercurialis); "a three-headed snake" (serpens Mercurialis); and as "triple natured -- masculine, feminine, and divine."
Alchemical lore also warns of another, darker aspect of Mercurius. Besides its role as spiritual unifier, Mercurius duplex is also conceived as duplicitous; shifty; wily; poisonous ("a spreading poison that has brought death to many"); "a child of chaos";22 "many sided, changeable, and deceitful"; "inconstant"; "good and evil"; "dark and light"; "visible and invisible"; "coarse and fine"; and related (through Saturn) to the devil."
And while it was apparently Night who bid the narrator to "face the east", to cultivate his intuition and look "inward" to psychic reality, it is Hermes, the ringmaster, who bids him to "join the parade", to get caught up in the delusion of the world and look "outward" to physical reality. Here we see the conflict between the psychological functions of Sensation and Intuition.
"Mercury, who says one thing but is secretly thinking another."