Ginsberg on Blake continues – 99

Allen Ginsberg 1989 Naropa class on William Blake’s The Four Zoas continues from here

AG: And what’s really interesting is that as it is brought forth later on in the prophetic books, it finally becomes a great mandala – the mandala of the city of Golgonooza –  very similar to the Buddhist mandala, which has north-south-east-west, gates on each side, colors, and beasts – lions and what-not, guarding the gates.  They aren’t the same, but here’s the city.  Here’s the mandala of the City of Golgonooza, according to Damon – reconstructing it from The Four Zoas  and from, I guess, Blake’s paintings, and from Milton and from Jerusalem.  Precisely the same form as the traditional mandalas.  In this case, Urizen – eyes – reason is in the … which is that?  South.  Emotions – nostrils – Luvah, in the East.  Imagination –  Eden, ear, Urthona – North.  Body – generation, tongue, Tharmas – in the West.

Tibetan mandala of Avalokiteshvara (c.1700-1799) in the collection of the Rubin Museum, New York City

(And here’s) the Buddhist system, similar to that, in a nutshell.  I worked out the other day.  Remember, we were talking about it at the beginning?  Let me see.  East would be the Vajra family – silver, white, winter, dawn, water, mirror-like reflective wisdom, pacification.  South would be Ratna, yellow, autumnal, mid-morning, earth, equanimity, expansion and richness – South.  North would be Karma, green, summer, after sunset, dusk, wind, fulfillment, destruction.  West would be red, Padma, spring, sunset, fire, discriminating wisdom, details, magnetizing.  That is a list of the Buddha family, like the Zoa family.  Their colors, their seasons, their directions, their time of day, their element, their peculiar quality of wisdom, and their Buddha activity.

And in the center if the mandala..  Blake has a center for his mandala and the Buddhists have a center for theirs.  That was an interesting thing – I was talking to Reginald Ray, who is a Sanskritist and Vajrayana scholar, asking him, Was there any correlation between the Buddhist and the hermetic mandalas or circles?  And I said there were Four Zoas, and he said, who is in the center is important (and there are Five Buddha Families, so who is in the center is important) – I haven’t worked that out but it is Los‘s palace in the center, according to this mandala.  Or Luvah is in the center – emotion is in the center.  So you have to work it out and I haven’t worked it out in three dimensions that you can put on a blackboard.  But there is a correlation and there are I suppose many kinds…. (tape ends but then resumes) –   … Luvah in the center.

And in the Buddhist system, I think, it depends.  Sometimes, depending on the situation, it depends who.. It can vary who is in the center, but very often it’s empty blue sky, Vajra color sometimes.  Or sometimes it’s earth and practicality, Buddha-nature, in the center. Just dull earth in the center, ordinary mind, dull earth.  And then the other qualities of expansiveness and richness, or intellect, or emotion, or hard work, are on the sides and dull earth in the middle – ordinary mind, no.. nothing spectacular.
But the direction and the colors are different in these two systems, I noticed, when I was checking them out.

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately fifty-eight-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately sixty-three-and-a-half minutes in

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.