Samudra and the Blue-Throated One

Kimberly Carson

--

Responding to climate crisis from disinherited levels of consciousness.

What mythic future is dreamt by our ancestors? Which archetypal patterns are sculpting our current epic? Might there be invaluable dimensions of intelligence and guidance we have lost access to given our modern preferences and proclivities towards materialism and rational thought, while devaluing the mythic, archetypal and trans-rational modes of perception? Are we losing out on invaluable and necessary capacities for continuing to dream a healthy future? As Einstein — as well as sages from many wisdom traditions remind us, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”.

As a student and teacher of the meditative, mystical traditions for close to 30 years, I wonder how this impacts our contemporary climate crisis and the intensifying cultural and political polarization around the world. Carl Jung told us that “Everybody acts out a myth, but very few people know what their myth is. And you should know what your myth is because it might be a tragedy and maybe you don’t want it to be.” Might making room again in our collective conversations for the inclusion of myth and archetype be the balancing medicine for the poisons of our time? Following is a true “story” that weaves a tapestry of rational and trans-rational, scientific and mythic, individual and collective experiences that reveals one example of higher orders of intelligence that may be ready to be reclaimed.

Samudra was the name given to a baby Asian elephant born on August 23, 2008 at the Portland Zoo. I was smitten by the baby elephant and its name and found myself invoking him in yoga classes I taught at Oregon Health & Sciences University when I wanted neuromuscular activation of heft and gravity. It surprised me how obsessed I was by this creature and why his name became almost a calling card in my yoga classes for over 10 years. For a good long while, I was less focused on the origin of the name as I was on the local baby pachyderm who had captured my heart.

“Samudra” in Sanskrit refers to large bodies of water like oceans as well as large vessels for soma (a psychoactive sacrament). As wisdom traditions remind us, however, name and form (nama and rupa) have equally profound teaching potential. At that point I had been teaching yoga and mindfulness for over a decade, yet my “ears to hear” were still relatively youthful. I had yet to recognize that the baby ears of the elephant were also pointing to the ongoing development of my ears to hear the archetypal myth that is unfolding.

A little more than a decade later, on the morning of September 3, 2019, I received an email from a beloved family member three time zones away. She awoke from a dream around 5am EST in which I had a newborn baby boy from a surprise pregnancy. The baby’s neck turned blue and I breathed into his mouth three times. In the dream, I said that this is how we know if he is doing okay. My relative didn’t have any insight about the dream but knew I should hear it. Later that same morning, a student told me about a dream she had woken up from around 2am PST. She found herself on the island of Bali and the seas were furious and people were dying everywhere. In the dream, she was in a hotel up on a rocky crag watching the seas rage. A powerful wave came and smashed the plate glass window of the hotel. As she felt the glass shatter on her back, she looked down and had her mother in her arms. She knew she needed to breathe into her mouth three times…

My rational mind was stunned. Why would two women on opposite sides of the country who don’t know each other wake from a thematically similar dream, at the same moment, and tell me about it on the same day? Clearly there was a hidden treasure here yearning to be discovered. Something in the words ‘blue throat’ caught my attention so I asked my husband who or what is the blue-throated one? I knew I had heard this phrase before but couldn’t place it. He said that Shiva (a Hindu god) was called ‘the blue-throated one’ and I hungrily began seeking illumination about these synchronistic experiences.

To my surprise, the story of how Shiva came to be known as “the blue-throated one” was a deepening of my simple-minded fascination with Samudra, the baby elephant. The Samudra Manthana (“Churning of the Ocean”) is an epic found in the Vishnu Purana, a major Hindu text. The story of the Churning of the Ocean describes the origin and price of the nectar of immortality. A simple version of the story is that a dispute arose between benevolent angels (devas) and power-seeking angels (asuras) after an elephant threw off a sacred garland which had attracted bees. It was only the promise of the nectar of immortality that got the warring angels to stop fighting and collaborate in pursuit of the nectar hidden on the ocean floor. The mining of this nectar involved churning the ocean much like butter is churned from milk. Although the churning released many treasures, it also released a lethal poison. This poison was wreaking havoc and many beings were dying. Several gods were called to help but it was only Shiva who was able to remove the poison from the ocean by drinking it. His wife grabbed his throat so the poison wouldn’t go further into his system. Although it didn’t kill him, the poison stained his throat blue. Hence, the blue-throated one.

My rational mind was at a loss. Not only was the blue throat expressed in the dream space, but also the raging oceans, and the immense loss of life. Neither of my dream sisters knew this story.

Clearly in some mysterious way, they did…

On July 16, 2019, I stumbled across an article in Scientific American on “Seabed-Mining Foes Press U.N. to Weigh Climate Impacts”. An extensive treasure of nuggets of precious metals, necessary for electric car batteries, had been found at the bottom of the ocean not far from Bali. Climate activists were deeply concerned that mining this treasure source of ‘clean energy’ would release large amounts of carbon as well as initiate unknown poisonous disruption of ecosystems.

The Samudra Manthana, the Churning of the Ocean epic was happening now. I shared the synchronicities with friends and students who I felt were able to hear the trans-rational story I was sensing. Multiple other synchronicities arose, as often occurs when the Great Mystery is trying to get our attention, to get us to recognize underlying continuities.

However, my attention shifted as it often does. The pandemic unfolded and I lost track of so much including an active reflection on Neelakanta ~ the blue-throated one.

And, as the Play of Consciousness does, it brought the Blue-Throated One back into focus. This began showing up everywhere… in my media feed, snippets of conversations, wherever the Great Mystery wishes is truly free game. Attention was being reoriented back to Samudra, back to the elephant and back to the Churning of the Oceans. I was curious why this was glimmering in my consciousness and then on August 29, 2022 the New York Times article hit: Deep-Sea Riches: Mining a Remote Ecosystem.

There it was. The story of the Churning of the Oceans is NOW, front and center in the New York Times. These “riches” are ancient shark teeth that have, over millennium, collected layer upon layer of metals necessary for electric car batteries. Cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, lithium and rare elements like yttrium are of immense value given the transition from fossil fuel to electric vehicles.

The mining, and thus churning of the ocean floor, is slated to begin in force in the next year or so. Current mining is already destroying ecosystems linked to innumerable ocean creatures. Given the radical interrelatedness of our biosphere, it will only be a matter of time before the effects ripple out in unanticipated ways. This mining is done in the name of clean energy, our contemporary version of immortal nectar, given our catastrophic climate crisis. The radical destruction of ecosystems is the poison, the cost of this nectar. This archetypal story is unfolding right before our very eyes.

Most significantly, the origin of this poison is humanity’s perceived separation. Our belief that we are separate from each other, and from the planet and from the oceans, is the fundamental poison, now and always. But poison has many vectors of activation. Because of our deep love affair with rational thought, our modern-day tendency is often to conveniently relinquish parables or teaching stories or myths to an elementary bookshelf where they cease being engaged and honored as we become adults. This is another dangerous poison with many vectors.

When we lose the understanding that the stuff of myths are archetypal energies that have both staying and repeating power, we lose the wisdom and guidance these ancestral stories impart, and we lose the recognition that these energies are playing out here and now. Rather than happening in some bygone epic, this is happening now. This is our present day, very challenging epic. We are the players on this stage. The authors of the NYT article have alerted us to this grave danger. How do we assume the role of Shiva and neutralize this poison? Can we open to unanticipated forms of help?

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This past includes our ancient cross-cultural heritage of archetypal storytelling. Modern storytellers and filmmakers help us recover these disinherited treasures (e.g., Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Avatar). Not only must we be reminded of the archetypes, we must recognize we are living the myths.

The archetypes are being reenacted through us. Will we linger in the battle? Will we focus only on the nectar? Will we at first ignore, but ultimately fear the poison? Breath in Latin is spiritus which means both breath and spirit. What threesome of spirit (inspire, aspire, conspire) is available? Will we breathe fresh breath into the story? Whose babies and mothers are at stake? This is our collective dream. Will we awaken to it?

As our recent modern sages, Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell implored us, we must keep an alive relationship with the realms of dream, myth and archetype or suffer irreparable damage. This is our epic. How will we respond?

As for the precious elephant that gave me the ears to hear, I have nothing but profound gratitude and love. Samudra is alive and kicking!

--

--

Kimberly Carson

Kimberly Carson, MPH, C-IAYT, is a student of the meditative mystical traditions and has worked as a mindfulness educator and yoga therapist specializing in the