The Underworld

Indra, the supreme ruler of the Gods, speaks to the mother of Arjuna: "I shall give you a son to be famous in the three worlds, who shall accomplish the goals of the Gods." -- Mahabharata (Hindu text)

The three worlds is a Buddhist idea which originated in Hinduism and refers to three states or levels of awareness in a human being. In the state of psychological sleep also called darkness, one is only aware (and sometimes not even that) of what one is doing, there is no self-awareness. When trying to awaken one`s Higher Self, one sustains awareness of one`s self while also paying attention to the activity one is engaged in. In the state of being awake, one`s Higher Self is awake in the Divine Present and is aware and separate from the lower self. These three states are refered to as the Underworld, Earth and Heaven in most esoteric traditions.

The Underworld can also be seen as the lower functions or minds of a human being.

There are four minds or centres which control our ordinary actions: intellectual mind, emotional mind, moving mind and instinctive mind. -- Gurdjieff (20th c. Fourth Way spiritual teacher)
The four differents suites of the deck of cards, representing the four lower centers

When trying to be present and awaken one`s Higher Self, one needs to have an emotional awareness of the state of sleep that one is in, and one needs a strong impulse and desire to awaken from it.

To reach the real meaning of self remembering is possible only in very emotional states.
-- Ouspensky (20th C. Fourth Way spiritual teacher)

These emotions are functions of the king of Hearts, the intellectual part of the emotional center. When this part in a man is educated with the knowledge and tools to reach Divine Presence it is called the heart.

Through continuous prayer the words of the psalms are brought down into the heart, and then the heart, like good soil, begins to produce by itself divine flowers. -- Ilias the Presbyter, The Philokalia (Christian text)

In other words, through continuous effort in the heart, the heart begins to produce the state of Divine Presence. The heart is refered to as good soil, so the idea of Earth refers to the heart, trying to engage prresence. Heaven refers to the state of Divine presence of the Higher Self, the God within.

The kingdom of God is within us when God reigns in us. -- Theophan the Recluse, Philokalia

The Underworld contains hell but it`s more than that.

Greed and hatred are the hells. -- Huineng (6th Partriarch of Zen Buddhism, 7th c.)

Hell refers to a state of negative emotions such as hate, anger, iritation, selfishness and so on. All other human emotions, thoughts or activities that are not related to awakening, are also part of the Underworld.

One must not fall victim to the ensnaring world. The ensnaring world is where the five kinds of dark demons (yin demons 阴魔) disport themselves. For example, when meditating, one has chiefly thoughts of dry wood and dead ashes, and few thoughts of the bright spring (yang spring 阳春) of mother earth. In this way one sinks into the world of the dark (yin world 阴界). -- The Secret of the Goldden Flower, chapter 5 (Taoist text)
Once you have entered darkness, essence is disturbed and life is destabilized; in a single day you are born a thousand times and die ten thousand times. -- Liu Yiming 18th c. Taoist master)

In Chinese the Underworld is阴间, which means literally the world of Yin, while 阳世间 literally means the world of Yang, and is translated as the world of the living. The inner meaning of Yin and Yang is the state of sleep and the state of presence or true consciousness.

Ancient immortals used the term Golden Pill (Elixir) as a metaphor of the essence of true consciousness, which is fundamentally complete and illumined. Growing from one yang to gradually reach the pure wholeness of six yangs, going from vague to clear, the Gold Elixir develops naturally. 
 -- Liu Yiming
On the left the hexagram 'return' with one 'yang',
on the right the hexagram 'Heaven' with six 'yangs'; from the I-Ching.

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