A New Frame of Reference:
The Earth-being & the Function of Humanity within It - 9
Many years ago, while looking at a map of the world,
I was struck suddenly by the fact that what is usually called the European continent, west of the Urals in modern Russia, could be considered a miniature of the much larger Asian continent to which it is attached. I realized that the shape of the landmasses at the earth's surface could be related in an archetypal manner to the basic cultures having developed in these geographical areas. I saw Europe protuberating from Asia somewhat as, in a California navel orange, a small replica of the main fruit emerges out of it as a newborn from a maternal womb to which it would remain attached.
The homological relationship becomes obvious when we see that the three basic Asian peninsulas — Indo-China, India and Arabia — are matched in Europe by Greece, Italy, and Spain. Indo-China is prolonged by Sumatra, Java and Bali, somewhat as the Greek peninsula leads to a chain of islands extending as far as Rhodes which could be considered a miniature Australia. On the south of India we find Sri Lanka; on the south of Italy, Sicily. Even the Italian river Po and the plain it crosses can be compared to the Ganges and its region. North of these plains we find in Asia the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau, and in Europe the Alps and Switzerland. Farther north the plains of Germany match the Gobi and Mongolian deserts. China in the east corresponds to Poland and western Russia, and in the west, Afghanistan and Iran to the massif central
in France. The shape of Asia Minor reminds us of the rectangular north-south Brittany. The Rhone valley separates the Alps from France's ancient central mountains, as the Khyber Pass separates Tibet from Afghanistan. On the southwestern slopes of the Auvergne mountains an ancient culture many thousands of years ago decorated caves with magical drawings, and southwest of Persia (now Iran), Mesopotamia (now Iraq), Syria, and Palestine were the scene of important historical, cultural, and religious developments. Later on in southwest France a culture, tragically destroyed during the thirteenth century A.D., gave rise to new concepts of interpersonal relationships.
The remarkable fact is that the cultures which developed in the three peninsulas of Asia have characteristics which match those of the corresponding European peninsulas. The central ones, Italy and India, became the sources from which new religious movements flowed in all directions. The Indian emperor Asoka spread Buddhism just as the Roman emperor Constantine spread an) institutionalized Christianity. Buddhism took new forms in China, and Christianity became more individualistic in Protestant Germany. The eastern-most peninsula of Asia, Indo-China, was the seat of remarkable artistic developments (such as Angkor Wat) and so was ancient Greece. Java likewise matches Crete in this respect. On the other hand, rugged desert Arabia has been inhabited by a proud race which can be significantly compared to the Spanish people which also conquered large areas of the world in which older cultures were disintegrating. As I wrote nearly forty years ago in Modern Man's Conflicts
Indo-China with her highly developed art and music, and Java with her rich culture, reminds one forcibly of Greece and the earlier Cretan civilizations. India has been the center of religious doctrines for Asia, just as Italy has been for Europe. The ancient city of Nasik, sacred to Rama, stands (near Bombay) where Rome is in Italy; Benares, where Florence grew. Curiously enough the Arabs settled in Spain (Arabia's structural equivalent in Europe), and both Arabia and Spain are rugged lands, angular shaped, with fanatic, intense, proud populations. As significant are the historical-cultural correspondences between the nations which grew respectively in Persia and in France (Zoroastrian civilization matching the old Celtic culture), in Mongolia and in Germany (military and mystical peoples avid for space-conquest in an organic sense), in China and Russia (lands of the "good earth" and of robust peasantry long controlled by a small aristocracy). (P. 176)
In another sense, of real historical-cultural validity, we might say that Europe is to Asia as the conscious and intellectual part of man's total psyche is to the vast collective unconscious. The conscious is a differentiated organ of the unconscious, in the sense that the brain and the cerebrospinal nervous system constitute differentiated organs of the total human organism. Religion is the progeny of the collective unconscious (Asia); science, that of the rational conscious (Europe).
In such a parallelism differences are as significant as similarities. We spoke of Italy and India, Switzerland and Tibet as occupying similar places in the two geomorphic structures. But we should notice at once the fact that the Alps describe a convex arc of mountains above the Northern Italian plains, while the Himalayas describe a concave arc over the plains of Northern India. If we consider the two mountainous masses of Switzerland and Tibet as the "geo-spiritual" centers of their respective continents, we get the idea of the European center radiating outward, while the Asiatic center is focused inward; and we see how well this describes the difference between the European and Asiatic types of spirituality. Another way of looking at the Eurasian landmass is to see it as one shape extending from 10° longitude west (West Ireland) to 170° longitude west (Eastern tip of Siberia). Dividing into two this span of 200 degrees of longitude, we find 90° east as the pivotal meridian; and it passes through Calcutta, Tibet, near Lhasa and near the highest mountain of the globe, just west of the Gobi desert and the Mongolian People's Republic, through a most important part of Siberia (Sibirsk region) and along the great lenisi river which may become a great trade-route in the future. Around the pivot of this 90° east meridian we might see soon the total population of the Eurasian world almost evenly divided; even now the combined population of India, Persia and the U.S.S.R. balances approximately that of China, Japan, Indo-China and Indonesia. And there is a general similarity of position between the Scandanavian peninsula and Kamchatka, the British Isles and Japan — the correlation between the last two island-groups being particularly significant in terms of world-history and racial background. (pp. 177-178)
It is now usual to speak of seven or eight continents, but I believe this does not provide a sound basis for a geomorphic interpretation of the meaning of landmasses and cultures developing upon them. Asia, Europe and Africa actually constitute one vast, spread-out geomorphic whole I call Eurasiafrica
. This whole is polarized by the Americas whose overall geometric shape suggests two inverted triangles. The planetary function of these north-and-south triangular masses may be to establish in biospheric and cultural terms a basic dynamic relationship between the north and south poles — the north pole acting as a positive area releasing the global magnetism which may result from the dynamic relationship between the sun and the core of the earth.
The northern span of the two continental masses, Eurasiafrica and the Americas, encircle the Arctic regions, the extensive coast of Canada and Alaska confronting the vast expanse of northern Siberia and Greenland. A chain of undersea mountains in the mid-Atlantic is an eloquent witness to the fact that the two landmasses were once united in one vast continent (perhaps the fabled Atlantis) which, by breaking apart, engendered a basic bi-polarity. The Eurasiafrican Mediterranean sea, on whose shores various cultures grew and the conflict between Islam and Christianity has been and still is staged, polarizes the Gulf of Mexico, which is as filled with islands as the Eastern Mediterranean; and Central America (Mexico included) has been a fertile field for the rise of important cultures and religions. Horizontally elongated Cuba parallels Crete.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1986 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
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