Chapter 1; Mars-the energy of the Will
“If I had a hammer…”
This chapter is about the streams of energy which the red planet Mars represents. These are the “launch pad” or “spring board” energies which initiate projects and objectives. And these streams may indeed be part of actual cosmic particles which bombard the earth from the direction of the planet Mars. These streams of energy relate the Human Will to the Physical Body. In history this energy was traditionally depicted as the energy behind war – literally – the arts of Mars were Martial Arts. On a deeper level the power of Mars is what instigates action in the body -wether the action is violent, aggressive or even graceful and artistic. These traits of activity come through the agency of the human Will. Mars is the energy which works with the human Will. Mars is about the power to actually DO things – to make them happen – and not merely think, imagine or dream about them.
In this chapter about The Doing Energy of Mars we look at how our course, physical energies can be trained and channeled, monitored and refined through physical techniques.
The Ancient Greeks used the term “Askesis” or “Practice/Training” for this first initial step into taking control of the energies which reside inside yourself. In other words we learn through physical training how to harness or get comfortable with – controlling or allowing these Mars energies to move through us. And these energies are not always present in the same quantity or quality. Some days you simply cannot get anything DONE! and also some projects seem to resist completion and the stereotype of the temperamental artist who can only paint when in the “right mood” has some truth to it. So the art of training depends on TIME. This is to say you must choose a time to train and some time periods are better than others. Compare an early morning training session with a noon time training session in any sport or even creative writing activity and see what your conclusions are. And people vary dramatically. So timing is important and in your own life if you want to accomplish the cultivation of any kind of skill your must literally make or create a time to give to practice. Consistent rhythmic training sessions are a key to steady improvement.
In Ancient India in the language of Sanskrit the word “Gutarsta”is used to describe a kind of Yoga in which the physical body is the primary tool. I first came across the term in Theos Bernard’s “Hatha Yoga”, later one of my own yoga teachers -Tim Geoghegan – made clear to me it’s importance.
In various Yogas Systems world wide, physical postures are used to prepare and purify the body, its organs and fine vessels called nadis and/or the chakras or energy wheels located along the spine. But this purification was not only physical. It signified a purified Will. After all the original intent of Yoga was Enlightenment and that requires a purified Will and Intent. One had to be able to concentrate- and not only that -but concentrate with a pure intention. Mars energies, the energies of the Will can be directed toward purification.
Physiologists, particularly Dr. Rammurti Mishra, in his “Essentials of Yoga” have corresponded chakras as identical to locations of certain nerve ganglion along the spine. So most physical Yogas like the Hatha Yoga postures many of us are familiar with – are usually seen as a preliminary purification exercises to a much deeper spiritual process which occurs through mental exercises done in meditation. In the idea of Gutarsta Yoga we have the concept that the training and experiences encountered in the body itself can be used as a complete path to enlightenment by leading to the purification of the actual self. But physical proceeds psychological in the Gutarsta systems. And with the physical exercise or training it is easier to monitor and observe the changes or weakening and strengthening of the Will.
I was taught that a good example of Gutarsta was the arduous physical training of Indian Wrestlers. Here physical prowess and strength and Will is connected not only to a spiritual path and a state of mind but even extends to the community. Goethe put it well when he wrote, “The strength of the individual is the strength of the community.” Joseph Alter’s book entitled “The Wrestlers Body” depicts this community relationship of the wrestler very well. In this book we see the physically fit wrestler as an example to the young men of the community, he is in Persian tradition called the Pahlavan. The Champion. He lives in the community and occupies the place of local hero and mentor for the young men. This same concept can also be seen in some of the older martial arts world- wide where the teacher occupies a significant place in village life as a teacher of Life Skills as well as more esoteric skills. I have found it helpful to organize all physical training-both the health oriented- Yogic and self defense oriented- Martial- with the view in mind that one of the more significant aspects of both trainings is their effect on the community and the role of the practitioner in the community. And a word of caution here is necessary. That community relationship can be a destructive as well as a creative one. There are indeed bad teachers and evil and abusive relations within communities. It is not simply a situation of hearts and flowers and “all is well”. The application or aim of the developing energies of Will are just as important as the development of the Will itself. And the point of the practice is not only to keep oneself spiritually pure but also to be sure – as a result – the community is kept clear of Evil.
Gutarsta when combined with the energies of Mars is about making a direct connection between beliefs (which can be a purely mental yoga) and body (which requires physical self defense skill). In this connection the two aspects of Will and Body affirm each other. This principle of connecting belief to the body is the link to Gutarsta training in martial arts and even other arts and crafts. And the result of this connecting of beliefs and body is a new awareness of and control of – the body. This development makes the Will more resolute in the person and the person has more faith in themselves.
In medieval Europe this idea of unified belief and hand work gave the concept of describing objects made by hand as “Goods”. In other words hand crafted objects, wether artistic or tool oriented or both – resonated with the beliefs of the artist that produced them. A cup made by a potter was a direct reflection of his beliefs and his own personal “vibe”. It was not just the usefulness of the object but the “vibe” which gave the cup value. Together the structure of the cup and the “vibe” gave the cup its actual Beauty. At that time this same point of view was applied to dance and all other arts and crafts as well.
This approach of attempting to fully embody belief and Will into a physical craft or art in its more extreme form can also still be seen in Traditional Yoga and Martial Arts today. Some of these are taught in a very highly specialized way based on ancient cultural norms, superstitions or laws of human relationship which are no longer applicable. An example of this is the old Guru-Chela relationship of Yogis in India. In this relationship not only does the student become the apprentice to the Guru but also the servant. And this-in its time- was an acceptable social norm. The family practically lost their child to the Guru. And this relationship could go on for years or even a life time and when the Guru died the Chela would then become the Guru and would themselves have a Chela to teach.
This sort of tradition does not often address present needs. We live in a very different time. In my own life I have found it is important not to get distracted by the details from a culture-especially if it is a Traditional Art- some details can actually obscure the truth rather than shed light on it. An example would be a Yoga technique designed for a young person preparing for the Priest hood may not be relevant to a modern mature adult whose life is entirely in “the real world” rather than the monastery. Teaching such a technique for money can bring great confusion to the young student for many reasons. It is important in modern times for the student to know what is relevant to modern life and what is important to their own path without getting lost in ancient cultural details. That being said some people need these cultural details to understand something about themselves. But that is a separate and highly individual issue hinging on Karma or the mystery of personality which will be dealt with in Chapter 2.
During my research I have discovered lesser known Physical or Mars oriented Yogas which are also compatible with this idea of “Gutarsta”. They are however simpler and more effective than many techniques found in Hatha-Yoga systems. They are more practical Physically and psychologically for modern people than many of those techniques I was exposed to from Indian and Chinese tradition.
I found these Yogas which I would call “Mars Yogas” came from Persia and probably originated in Egypt. They are exemplary of the primitive source Yogas for much of what was later spread in history across Asia. Evidence suggests these Yogas were carried by the Scythian culture as far back as 1180 b.c.e. from Persia toward the Caucasoid Mountain range.
Supporting this view are the burial mounds of the Scythians which have yielded archeological information (see Renate Rolle’s “The Scythians” and “From Scythia to Camelot” by Malcor). These texts, when coupled with the descriptions in texts given by Idries Shah, G.I. Gurdjieff, Count Walewski, Ottoman Hanish, Murat Yagin and Charles Muses all support the idea of a source of both ancient yoga, dance and other movement at a kind of Monastic Retreat or Village Compound, known as the Sarmoun Monastery.
I link the word “Sarmoun” to the horse culture called “Sarmatian” which eventually conquered the Scythians around 600-550 b.c.e. Herodotus called them the “Sauromatae”. They appear to be the predecessors of who became known as the Sarmatians. It was the Armenian mystic Gurdjieff who said some of his teaching was from “The Sarmoun Brotherhood.” According to Charles Muses (in a personal correspondence) it was the “same secret brotherhood” who taught Gurdjieff and later Stefan Walewski and Ottoman Hanish, the latter two brought these specific Yogas into Western Europe and eventually into the U.S. Hanish started an organization called the Mazdaen Temple in the early 1900’s. Since his death it has become franchised by some enterprising individuals and there was a web site the last time I checked. Walewski’s personal text of these Yogas was called “Caucasoid Yoga”. This text was passed to Charles Muses who issued it with his Falcon Wing Press then passed it on to someone else. Borderland Science still sells photocopies and I believe a new edition has appeared. Gurdjieff brought approximately fifty Sacred Dances into Europe with him and they duplicate some of the same postures and come from the same regions. The works of these men appear to me to be representative of the teachings of the Sarmoun Brotherhood. I believe they are also representative of the Sarmatian Physical Culture path which was preserved among the tribes in the Caucasoid mountains.
These yoga exercises, because of their ancient sources, simplicity of structure (due to being carried in a Nomadic Horse Culture) and al-truistic philosophy form the core of what could safely be called “The Scythian Way” or more accurately “The Sarmatian Way”. The word Sarmatia or Sarman all pertain to Sauron the meaning of which is “reptilian” or “scaly” and refers both to the scale armor they wore and their own ancient myth that they came from the marriage of Hercules with a Serpent woman.
In light of this information about the Sarmatians and Scythians I later came across another interesting facet in the Austro-Hungarian Genius of the last century- Rudolph Steiner (18—1925) who made some very interesting statements about one “Scythianos” the prophet of the Scythian culture, a high “Adept” who stands between and communes in the spiritual world with Christian Rosenkreuz (Esoteric Christianity) and Gautama Buddha (Esoteric Buddhism). It is the Prophet of the Scythians, says Steiner, who understands the mysteries of the physical body and so the Resurrection Body. What intrigued me personally about this figure was that he represented a bridge or mid point between Christian and Buddhist teaching — particularly the esoteric aspect.
This aspect is particularly interesting in light of the popularity of both martial arts and Buddhism in the modern day West which has moved more toward Buddhism than Christianity.
It is with the intent of trying to get a clear picture of the teaching and personality of Scythianos that I have tracked down and assembled what seem to me to be the most practical and essential physical or Mars Yogas and martial arts techniques which remain to this day educational, useful and even essential. All of this to simply say, this text is for the people who do not want to waste time and energy on more abstracted Traditional teachings which often are full of uncultured behaviors and decorations which can actually obscure the teaching. Many so called “Martial Arts” are exemplary of this. Much of the training is more about behavior-how to dress, how to bow, which titles to use with the teacher and senior students, various kinds of protocol – – – than it is with practical techniques. The result of much of the modern martial arts training is closer to ‘LARPING” than reality. LARP being an abbreviation for “Live Action Role Play”.
So following the stream of thinking about these Mars Yogas – these practical yogas which give quick results – let us look at some of the following techniques…
1. Practical Exercises from Count Waleski’s notes on Caucasoid Yoga;
Begin your day by learning to open the left nostril fully, in order to breathe with the psychology of a poet, by laying on the right side with the head propped up by the right hand which is on the temple, thumb behind the hole under the ear. Experiment for several minutes.
Change sides and learn to breathe with the right nostril and psychology of the warrior. The nostril opens in about 3 minutes. One can get the ability to change the nostrils at will eventually -through feeling the sensations in them. The point of this ability is to develop the feeling in the head which serves then as the command to open the nostril. This gives one a kind of emotional control or ability to choose a mood of introspection or extroversion.
This exercise is initially used to find out your mood. Before you walk into your day reactively and create your own domino effect with other people check your mood. After all one’s mood affects everything one does. There is also some strictly scientific evidence which indicates one’s moods actually attract one’s future because your moods effect your DNA. Bruce Lipton has started the pioneering research on this subject. Though his work is controversial I believe it is worth considering. One simply cannot deny that how your respond to your environment will result in some kind of reaction eventually! You yourself are both magnet and creator of your environment and the future of your children. “Even…”, as the Cherokee say, “to seven generations”. This orientation to the present and future is the core philosophy which emanates from the Sarmoun Teaching. As my friend John Root says, “The means IS the end”.
2. Body Contraction and Release for developing the Will.
After finding out what nostril you are breathing in-the left being the poet and the right being the warrior —- while in a standing position beginning with your feet and while maintaining continuous breathing – contract the muscles of your feet and toes and go up your body – contracting every muscle you can-even the muscles of you face and jaw. Hold the contraction while still breathing for ten seconds then relax. Let yourself relax then and catch your breath. Rest for about twenty seconds. Then try again. Try to contract everything—progressively – even more intensly for another ten seconds. Then relax and let your blood pressure return to normal and shake your limbs and body. Wait another twenty seconds. When you are ready and rested and stable – do it again. Do this three times. This exercise allows you to use your Will to locate and voluntary contract even the smallest muscles fibers. Each time you do it you will locate even more muscle activity. Eventually you will discover new ways to contract your muscles and your posture will change significantly as well as you learn how to apply your Will- your Mars Energies- to your body. This exercise will also dissolve anger and frustration which often show up first in the jaws, the neck and the butt. Most of us know what it is like when someone is “ a pain in the neck” or a “pain in the ass”!
If you want to synchronize your Willfullness- or brain frequency- via your muscular contraction and release-rhythmically -with the resonant frequency of the earth (Hertz frequency of the atmosphere between 6.8 and 7.5 Hertz) -then do this contraction exercise with a seven second inhalation during contraction—-hold for one second—-and a seven second release of the contraction. Try it 12 times. If you need more energy and better concentration do the exercise facing the sunrise. This is an old yogic remedy for depression. Doing it for 40 days will radically change your life and permanently change your emotional state to a positive one.