Chicago Nexus

Quarter II, 1979­80

Week I



Every person searches for ways to give significance to every day, mundane life expenditure. New poetry is needed to talk about the truth of everyday life. The task of our times is to recover the power of myth ­allowing it to redeem individual lives and, indeed, the lives of whole communities.

The intent of the Myth Conversations is to set up a dialogue between a particular myth and life situation with the group as participants. Personal examples are expanded, objectified and related to poetry. The Myth Conversation is out to transform life experience. It is not analytical, not rational, not an art form conversation. It does not focus on the self or subjective experience. Instead, the Myth Conversation sets un a dialogue between a particular myth and a life event. Life, therefore, gets remythologized, rather than demythologized.

This year's experiment with the myth is primarily focused in its use in The Voyage (retreat) and in corporate conversation settings, such as the mealtimes. With the new self­consciousness of our journey in The Way, it is essential to protect the Myth Conversation as something special. It is important to remember that other conversations presently in use by our corporate body ­ such as the New Testament/News Conversation at breakfast, etc. ­ are not the Myth Conversation, and should not be reshaped to become so

This quarter the Myth Conversation will provide the basis of Week II Conversations, which, in most settings would be used throughout Week II's during corporate meals; and in some settings, might be used during the evening meals of Week I's instead. During Quarter II the three myths chosen each week will fall under the rubric of Myths of the Past ­­ archaic, medieval and modern ­­ with the consideration of how such myths reveal the attempt of humankind through the ages to express the mystery of creation and the profoundness of the human journey. The conversation method, on the back of this sheet, forms the basis of all the Myth Conversations of the quarter. There need be only slight variations of the questions in relationship to each particular myth being used.

Chicago Nexus

Qtr. II, 1979­80


rational objective:

To set up a dialogue between myth and life experience.

existential aim:

To recreate the individual and community's story.

THE METHOD INTENT: To objectify the experience of a group, then recreate it through a dialogue with historical mythology.


INTRODUCT'ION "Living Mythology" (statement on profound function of myth)


Reading of one of attached myths




(story to experience)

1. Who are the characters of this story? What setting does it conjure up? What other mythology or historical events were YOU reminded of?

2. What questions about life and humanness is this myth attempting to deal with?





tied to myth)

3. What events in your own personal experience or that of your community seem to relate to this myth? ­What concern or insight do the Myth and your event share?

4. What new perspective does this myth give you in seeing through this event? How would you tell your own myth about it?



(retold myth grounded


  1. 5. Think again of the myth we read. In it, an ordinary situation was made the occasion for interpreting and significating life experience. What is being said in this story that is true for every community?

6. What does this imply about creating a mythology of The Way today?

CONCLUSION Re­reading of one key line from the myth read to ground

WEEK II CONVERSATIONS: Week 1 Quarter II, 1979­80
INTRO: Living Mythology awakens and maintains in the individual or group a sense of awe and gratitude in relation to the Mystery dimension of the universe­not so that one lives in fear of it, but so that one recognizes that he or she participates in it, since the Mystery of Being is the mystery of one's own being as well.



"The Self never has his work exhausted . From this very Self he projects whatever he wants." .


In the beginning this universe was Self alone, in the shape of a person. He, looking round, saw nothing but his Self. He first said, "This is 1"; therefore he became I by name. Therefore to this day, if a man is asked, he first says, "This is 1," and then says the other name which he may have. And because before all this, he, the Self, burnt down all evils, therefore he was a person. Verily he who knows this, burns down everyone who tries to be before him.

He feared, and therefore any one who is lonely fears. He thought, "As there is nothing but myself, why should I fear?" Thence his fear passed away, for what was there to fear? Truly fear arises from a second one only.

But he felt no delight. Therefore a man who is lonely feels no delight. He wished for a second. He became as big as a man and wife embracing each other. l~e then made this his Self to fall in two, and thence came husband and wife. "We two are thus, each of us, like one of the t·o halves of a split pea." Therefore the void which was there is filled by the wife. He embraced her, and men were born.

She thought, "How can he embrace me, after having produced me from himself? I shall hide myself."

She then became a cow, the other became a bull and embraced her, and hence cows were born. The one became a mare, the other a stallion; the one a she­ass, the other a he­ass and embraced her, and hence one­hoofed animals were born. The one became a she­goat, the other a he­goat; the one became a ewe, the other a ram and embraced her, and hence goats and sheep were born. And thus he created everything that exists in pairs, down to the ants. He knew, "I indeed am the creation, for I created all this." Hence he was called the Creation....

One should meditate upon the Self alone as dear.... They say: Men think, "Through the knowledge of Brahman we shall become infinite." Well, what did Brahman know by which It became all? This Self was indeed Brahman in the beginning.

It knew only its Self as, "I am Brahman."

Therefore It became all.... One should

meditate only upon the world of the Self. He who meditates only upon . . . the Self never has his work exhausted. From this very Self he projects whatever he wants.... In the beginning this was Self alone, one only. He desired, "Let there be a wife for me that I may have offspring, and let there be wealth so that I may offer sacrifices." Truly this is the whole desire, and, even if one wishes, one cannot get more than this.



Week II Conversations Week 1 Quarter II. 1979­80

INTRO: Myth has made places and objects real for people by making them transparently part of a universal framework. Primitive humankind understood every real object to be blessed, or mythologically significant.


In the morning they brought to Manu water for washing, just as now also they are wont to bring water for washing the hands. When he was washing himself. a fish came into his hands. It spoke to him the word, "Rear me, I will save thee.''' Manu asked. ''Where from wilt thou save me'?'' The fish replied, 'A flood will carry away all these creatures: from that I will save thee!"

Then Manu asked, "How am I to rear thee'?"

It said, "As long as we are small, there is great destruction for us: fish devours fish. Thou wilt first keep me in a jar. When I outgrow that. thou wilt dig a pit and keep me in it. When I outgrow that, thou wilt take me down to the sea. for I shall be beyond destruction.''

It soon became a large fish. Thereupon it said, "In such and such a year that flood will come. Thou shalt then attend to my advice by preparing a ship: and when the flood has risen. thou shalt enter into the ship. and I will save thee from it.'' So, after he had reared it in this way, he took it down to the sea. And in the same year which the fish had indicated to him. he attended to the advice oi the fish by preparing a ship: and when the flood had risen. he entered into the ship. The fish then swam up to him, and to its horn he tied the rope of the ship, and by that means he passed swiftly up to yonder northern mountain.

It then said, "I have saved thee. Fasten the ship to a tree. but let not the water cut thee oil: whilst thou art on the mountain. As the water subsides, thou mayest gradually descend!" Accordingly he gradually descended, and hence that slope of the northern mountain is called "Menu's descent.'' The flood then swept away all these creatures from the earth, and Manu alone remained upon the earth.

Being desirous of offspring, he engaged in worshipping and austerities. During this time he also performed a paka­sacritice: he offered up in the waters clarified butter,


She came to Manu. Manu said to her, "Who art thou?" "Thy daughter," she replied. "How, illustrious one, art thou my daughter'?" he asked. She replied, "Those offerings of clarified butter, sour milk, whey, and curds, which thou madest in the waters, with them thou hast begotten me. I am the blessing: make use of me at the sacrifice! If thou wilt make use of me at the sacrifice, thou wilt become rich in offspring and cattle. Whatever blessing thou shalt invoke through me. all that shall be granted to thee!" He accordingly made use oi her as the benediction in the middle of the sacrifice; for what is intermediate between the fore­offerings and the after­offerings, is the middle of the sacrifice.

With her he went on worshipping and performing austerities. wishing for offspring. Through her he generated this race, which is this race of Manu; and whatever blessing he invoked through her. all that was granted to him.



sour milk, whey and curds. Thence a woman was produced in a year: becoming quite solid, she rose: clarified butter gathered in her footprint. The gods Mitra and Varuna met her on the way.

The two gods, turning their gaze upon her. said to her, "Who art thou'?" "Menu's daughter," she replied. "Say thou art ours," they said. "No," she said,'.! am the daughter of him who begat me.'' They desired to have a share in her. She neither agreed nor disagreed, but passed by them.

CONCLUSION: "Whatever blessing thou shalt invoke through me, all that shall he granted to thee."'

Week II Conversations. Week 1 Quarter II, 1979­80

INTRO: Living Mythology has the overall function of conveying a sense of the significance of life and existence, and to convey that significance of life and existence to others.


(Song of God)
Then the prince looked on the array, and in both armies, he recognized fathers and grandfathers, teachers. uncles, sons, brothers, grandsons. dear friends, and many other familiar faces. When he saw all those ranks of kinsmen, he was filled with deep compassion. and he spoke despairingly:
Krishna, Krishna

Now as I look on

These my kinsmen

Arrayed for battle,

My limbs are weakened,

My mouth is parching.

My body trembles....

What can we hope from

This killing of kinsmen'? . . .

Rather than this

Let those evil men

Come with their weapons

Against me in battle:

I shall not struggle,

I shall not strike them.

Now let them kill me,

That will be better.
Having spoken thus, Arjuna threw aside his arrows .And his bow in the midst of the battlefield. He sat down on the seat of the chariot, and his heart was overcome with sorrow.. . . Then to him who thus sorrowed between the two armies, Krishna spoke. smiling, "Your words are wise, Arjuna, but your sorrow is for nothing

"He who dwells within all living bodies remains forever indestructible. Therefore, you should never mourn for anyone.... Realize that pleasure and pain. gain and loss, victory and defeat. are all one and the same


And Arjuna said. "But, Krishna. if you consider knowledge of Brahman superior to any sort of action, why are you telling me to do these terrible deeds? Your statements seem to contradict each other. They .confuse my mind.

'Tell me one definite way of reaching the highest good."

So Krishna declared, "Aspirants may find enlightenment by two different paths. For the contemplative is the path of knowledge: for the active is the path of selfless action. Freedom from activity is never achieved by abstaining from action. Nobody can become perfect by merely ceasing to act. In fact, nobody can ever rest from his activity even for a moment"

Now Arjuna said, "You speak so highly of the renunciation of action, and yet you ask me to follow the yoga of action. Now tell me definitely: which of these two courses is the better'?"

And Krishna answered:

Action rightly renounced brings freedom:

Action rightly performed brings freedom:

Both are better

Than mere shunning of action....

The wise see knowledge and action as one:

They see truly.

Take either path

And thread it to the end:

The end is the same....

"You must never tell this holy truth to anyone who lacks self­control and devotion, or who despises his teacher and mocks at me. But the man who loves me and teaches my devotees this supreme truth of the Gita, will certainly come to me.

"Have you listened carefully, Arjuna, to everything I have told you'? Have I dispelled the delusions of your ignorance'?"

then go into battle. Do this and you cannot commit any sin.... Poise your mind in tranquillity.... You have the right to work. but for the work's sake only. You have no right to the fruits of work. Work done with anxiety about results is far inferior to work done without such anxiety. in the calm of self-surrender. Seek refuge in the knowledge of Brahman. They who work selfishly for results, without self­surrender, are miserable " .


"Action rightly renounced

brings freedom:

Action rightly performed

brines freedom ''