Monday, January 26, 2009

Eat Pray Love: the Four Brothers

The Four Brothers Meditation included in Ria's post deserves some explanation. According to Ketut, the Indonesian medicine man (p. 251),

"The Balinese believe we are each accompanied at birth by four invisible brothers, who come into the world with us and protect us throughout our lives. When the child is in the womb, her four siblings are even there with her--they are represented by the placenta, the amniotic fluid, the umbilical cord, and the yellow waxy substance [vernix] protecting the baby's skin. When the baby is born the parents collect as much of these extraneous birthing materials as possible, placing them in a coconut shell and burying it by the front door of the family's house...the holy resting place of the four brothers, and that spot is tended to forever, like a shrine."

"The child is taught from earliest consciousness that she has these four brothers with her in the world wherever she goes, and that they will always look after her. The brothers inhabit the four virtures a person needs in order to be safe and happy in life: intelligence, friendship, strength, and (I [Liz] love this one) poetry. The brothers can be called upon in any critical situation for rescue and assistance. When you die, your four spirit brothers collect your soul and bring you to heaven."

These parallels between the bodily organs and spiritual virtues echo the Yogic tradition of the "gross body/subtle body" dichotomy (p. 144). I also love that poetry -- not just truth/beauty, or even the recognition thereof, but the expression of it -- is required for wholeness. I couldn't agree more.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the explanation, AB! It's great to read it again and I can't help but LOL about the the day that I texted you, "WHERE THE F. ARE THE BROTHERS?!!!"

    I think that counts as one of those "moments of great personal anguish in which I managed to burst out laughing!"

    And holy crap! The brothers ACTUALLY showed up! :)