"For now Prince Rupert's tears of glass
As explained in chapter five, "saffron" and "sabbath" represent eastern and
western religions. It would seem Rupert is here acknowledging that (Ego)
religion (seeing the world through the eyes of a dogmatic Christian or Moslem)
has brought him pain. But note it is not the eyes that are the problem but the
eyelids. When the eyelids are shut (the "saffron sabbath eyelids" of religious
dogmatism), Prince Rupert is blind to spiritual reality.
"Without demolishing religious schools (madrassahs) and minarets and without
abandoning the beliefs and
ideas of the medieval age, restriction in thoughts and pains in conscience will
"Scar the sacred tablet wax
On which the Lizards feed."
It is Prince Rupert's tears that "scar the sacred tablet wax". His ego induced
pain is causing him to doubt the validity of "sacred" texts.
"Subjects vegetate in subjection, virtuous people in virtue, liberals in
humanity, without ever putting to these
fixed ideas of theirs the searching knife of criticism. Undislodgeable, like a
madman's delusion, those thoughts
stand on a firm footing, and he who doubts them -- lays hands on the sacred!
Yes, the "fixed idea," that is the truly
"...but I found myself sitting on a pleasant bank beside a river by moonlight
hearing a harper who sung to the harp, & his theme was,
The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water,
& breeds reptiles of the mind."
- William Blake
"A Memorable Fancy"
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
The "man who never alters his opinion" is driven by an ego that breeds
"Lizards" of the mind, defense mechanisms, ego defenses. In terms of religion,
these ego defenses "feed" on the "sacred" nature of religious dogma. To the
believer certain beliefs are "sacred". The ego's opinions ("Lizards") "feed" on
ideas that are, like the ego, not to be questioned.
"Ego, is the absence of true knowledge of who we really are, together with its
doomed clutching on, at all costs, to a cobbled together and makeshift image of
ourselves, an inevitably chameleon charlatan self that keeps changing and has
keep alive the fiction of its existence."
"Emptiness is not nothing; it is the absence of self (ego or center or point of
reference) or self-effacement, self-extinction. It is openness. Intellectually,
we are open
when we do not cling to a yes or no, when we do not insist on defending an
(from our military bunker -- the ego);"
"For, as all exponents of the Perennial Philosophy have constantly insisted,
obsessive consciousness of, and insistence on being, a separate self is the
most formidable obstacle to unitive knowledge of God. To be a self is, for
original sin, and to die to self, in feeling, will and intellect, is the final
- Aldous Huxley - The Perennial Philosophy
"Burn a bridge and burn a boat
Stake a Lizard by the throat."
Bridges and boats represent contact with the outside, the sensory world. The
Lizards that must be killed are ego constructs/defenses.
"Inwardly or outwardly, if you encounter any obstacles kill them right away. If
you encounter the Buddha, kill
him; if you encounter the Patriarch, kill him; ...kill them all without
hesitation, for this is the only way to
deliverance. Do not get yourselves entangled with any object, but stand above,
pass on, and be free!"
In total, the chorus is Rupert's
statement of resolve and outlines what he intends to do to reach his goal.
"Polonius pontificates. He purports to know
answers when he has none. He claims to have truth when he himself
obscures it. He feigns expertise by virtue of his authority. But his real
interest is power."
Polonius, an advisor to the Prince, here represents unwanted advice from the
intellect which, in the interest of the process underway, needs to either leave
or subordinate itself.
"Intellect is good and desirable to the extent it brings you to the King's
door. Once you
have reached His door, then divorce the intellect! From this time on, the
intellect will be
to your loss and a brigand. When you reach Him, entrust yourself to Him! You
business with the how and the wherefore. Know that the intellect's cleverness
belongs to the vestibule. Even if it possesses the knowledge of Plato, it is
of the palace."
- The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi, p. 222
As a literary device, Polonius is similar to the supporting cast in Act One of
"The literary critic
Maynard Mack compares Lear's task to a
Medieval Morality play: "Lear, flanked in that opening scene by 'vices or
the one hand, virtues and truth-speakers on the other'--stirs memories of a far
ancient dramatic hero, variously called Mankind, Everyman, Genus Humanum, Rex,
Vivus, Rex Humanitas, Magnificence, etc. He is about to endure an agon that,
infinitely more poignant and complex than theirs, has its roots in the same
conception of psychomachia, interpreting man's life as "the arena of a Holy War
between the contending forces of his own nature . . . [They] are in some sense
as in the Morality plays) extensions of himself, who will struggle to assist or
"Now bears Prince Rupert's garden roam
Across his rain tree shaded lawn"
We learned in chapter five that, in the "real" world, the "bears" (Russian
bear) represent the Mongols of the 13th century. The "bears" are also literal
"From Tunis and Egypt came the Emperor's strange animals. He had humped camels
with saddlery of red leather from Tafilet, the Sultan's elephants who trumpeted
through the park in the sultry noontide,, snarling Berber lions, leopards,
rugged bears, lynxes, an odd strutting giraffe, ostriches and parrots. And when
he set out with his beasts, the impenetrable dust rolled over the sycamores."
- The Infidel Emperor
by Paul Wiegler (p. 153)
In terms of the inner journey underway, the "bears" (which, significantly,
Rupert does not characterize as the enemy) are a foreshadowing of the powerful
force which will obliterate Rupert's ego. "His rain tree shaded lawn" is the
cozy comfortable area of the psyche inhabitated by Rupert's ego. His ego is
"rain tree shaded": free from scrutiny, the harsh glare of the sun, the truth.
The "bears" are also the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.
"Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season? Or can you guide the Great Bear with
- Job 38:32
Mazzaroth is the Hebrew word which means the 12 signs of the Zodiac.
"The two Bears Ursa Major Ursa Minor and the whole Northern Hemisphere sky, are
seen to revolve
around a star that doesn't appear to move; Polaris, the North Star; located at
the tip of the
tail of the Little bear or Little Dipper and the orientation of the bear
dramatically through the course of the night.
With the exception of Polaris, the seven stars making up the Little Dipper, or
Lesser Bear are
much fainter than the seven star making up Ursa Major, the Big Dipper - which
is the most
prominent group of stars in the sky.
Perhaps more than any star other than the Sun; Polaris has been regarded as the
star in the heavens.
The polar star is the visible point in the sky where the axis mundi connects
the Earth with the
heavens. It is a cosmic pillar or column, the peg in the sky or the nail of
of India called it the Pivot of the Planets. A symbolic representation of
Spirit as the axis
mundi or center of the world.
The supreme deity of many culture was generally considered to have its throne
at the North Star.
According to Siberian traditions this represents the Great Celestial Shaman.
The ancients considered the structure of the universe to be in correspondence
with the structure
of the body. The universe was the "macrocosm" and the body was the "microcosm".
Hence the top of
the head (brahmarandra) corresponded to the top of the universe (North Star).
(macrocosmically) through the heavens (often numbered as seven) to the highest
corresponded to ascension (microcosmically) of the kundalini to the sahasrara.
The susumna nadi
(microcosmically) corresponds to the envisioned macroscopic world axis (fixed
at the North Star)
which is trunk of the "world tree" in some mythologies."
"During his or her state of sublime "ecstasy", a shaman is able to travel out
of his body and
between the levels of a 3-tiered Universe of upper, middle and lower "worlds".
"World Tree" found mentioned in many of the worlds' mythologies is often
represented by a cross
and used as the symbolic link between these worlds. In some traditions it is
also expressed as a
ladder, a river, an ocean or mountain. Above the world tree, and a symbol of
its' enduring axis
is the Pole Star ("Polaris" the fixed binary of Ursa Major) known to the Greeks
as Phoenice, or
"The 7 stars resident there have also given rise to other titles such as the 7
Bears, while in northern regions it became known as the Wagon or Arthur's
the term is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word "cheorl" a peasant who became a
free-man, but it
also means a spinning wheel or spiral.
In ancient Egypt it was associated with
Set, Typhon or
the Dog of Set who ruled the circumpolar regions. Much later it was named
"Charles' Wain" after
Charlemagne the first Holy Roman Emperor (800-814AD). "
"The name Ursa Major, according to The New English Dictionary, "appears to
arise out of the
verbal association of the star name Arcturus with Arturus or Arthur, and the
association with Arthur and Charlemagne..." In Welsh lore, the constellation is
seen as a symbol
of the Celtic King Arthur; his name, it is claimed, is derived from Arth-Uthyr,
bear". So it was that the early Britons saw Arthur's Chariot in the great
slow wain his course doth roll in utter darkness round the Pole..." Furthermore
it has been
suggested that this constellation, with its circular route, may have led to the
notion of the
round table (The Zodiac)."
The "bears" of Ursa Major also refer, oddly enough, to the constellation Libra
and, therefore, may also allude to the state of balance achieved in the
"When the pans (of Libra) are in
balance (at the equinoxes), the pointer on the scales, or the sword which is
identical with it,
becomes the symbol of the changeless Centre. The polar axis which stands for it
points to the
Great Bear which, in Ancient China, was called the Jade Scales. Sometimes,
however, the two
pans of the celestial scales were represented by the Great and Little Bear."
"Lizard bones become the clay --
And there a Swan is born"
The death of the ego will result in a rebirth or revealing of the Self. This
idea of something beneficial coming out of destruction is also suggested by the
"corn" that is predicted to grow over the "tarnished devil's spoons".
"Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth
and dies, it remains by itself alone;
but if it dies, it bears much
- Jesus (John. 12:24)
"When a seed falls into the ground, it germinates, grows,
and becomes a tree: if you understand these symbols,
you'll follow us, and fall to the ground, with us."