Killing the Stymphalian Birds
The next labor of Hercules is the killing of the Stymphalian Birds in the sign of Sagittarius. There was a marsh in a place called Stymphalus and it was a putrid place that was inhabited with thousands and thousands of these birds. The leaders were three great big birds and there was a whole bunch of small birds. The marsh was putrid place and stunk up the whole countryside.
Hercules’ assignment was to go and rid the marsh of these birds. So he went looking for them and made a long search until he came to Stymphalus and viewed all these great birds and they were horrible looking things. They had iron beaks sharpened like a sword with feathers too that seemed like steel shafts and falling could cleave twain a person right in two and their talons matched their beaks in sharpness and strength. So people were terrified of these birds for if they landed on a person they would be ripped to shreds.
Three birds perceiving Hercules came after him and he pulled his great sword and wounded one of them but he did not quite defeat the birds. So he was trying to figure out how to go after them. He killed a handful of the small ones but pretty soon there were so many of the birds flying overhead that it darkened the sun and made it almost like night. Hercules concluded that were just too many birds to get rid of and thought, “What am I going to do?”
Notice before he comes back with a solution he always withdraws from the battle and thinks. The power of thought is the most powerful thing that the disciple has. So he sits back and thinks of how he can rid the land of these birds and then an idea came to him. He remembered he had two cymbals given to him by one of the gods, and these two cymbals when clanged together make a noise so horrifying that Hercules himself had to cover his ears with pads and bind up his ears as much as possible or else he would not be able to bear the sound.
So he goes back to the marsh where the birds are and begins to bang these cymbals as hard as he can and the sound was so horrific that even Hercules was affected but the birds had more sensitive ears and it was horrific for the birds so they began to fly away and as they flew away Hercules kept banging the cymbals until they were all gone, never to return. And so this is how he got rd of the Stymphalian birds. What do you suppose these birds were?
Audience: Bad news!
JJ: Chuckling, now remember all these things are problems that the disciple must get rid of in his own life.
Audience: Thought forms?
JJ: Pretty close, it is wrong thought of some kind and usually a wrong thought that is transmitted into sound for he defeated them with sound. Wrong thought transmitted into sound meaning wrong speech. No matter how far you get on the path it is difficult to speak in a way where we maintain harmlessness. I try to be as harmless as I can and it is amazing how many people I still offend. Joshua looks like a pretty harmless guy, are you still able to offend people?
Joshua: Oh yes!
JJ: James is a real harmless looking guy and we know James very well and I have never known him to say anything to hurt anybody but has anybody been offended to hear your speech?
James: Oh yes!
JJ: As harmless as you are – it is really hard to believe with James because he is really such a nice guy. Okay Adam is a nice guy and everybody is a pretty nice guy except for maybe Randy he is pretty ornery.
JJ: How about you Ren have you ever offended anybody?
Ren: I think mostly Susan.
JJ: Wives don’t count; they are offended half the time anyway aren’t they?
JJ: Adam you seem like the type of guy that wouldn’t offend anybody, have you ever offended anybody?
Adam: Oh yes!
JJ: It is interesting no matter how nice a guy you happen to stumble across that still encounter people who are offended. Even Annie – I think of all the people I have known in my life I would say the least likely to offend anybody would be Annie but she still manages to offend people! That is amazing isn’t it?
Even Jesus offended so many people that he said, “Blessed is he who is not offended in me”. Wherever He went He offended people and they crucified Him because He offended them too much.
The three main birds are represented in, talk of gossip, talk of self and casting pearls before swine. The rest of the birds are just the little chatter that people always talk so you have thousands of birds and then the three big birds. Gossip is a big one and I don’t think I have ever met anyone who does not gossip a little here and there and even Artie gives me a hard time saying, you are supposed to be a big time holy man or whatever and you still gossip. I mean who doesn’t talk about somebody right?
Audience female member: We call it information sharing and its important!
JJ: On the other hand you can say good things about people like my nephew here; he has a hell of a sense of humor!
Audience: Can you enlighten me on the casting pearls before swine?
JJ: Yes it does seems a little out of order here. Pearls before swine has to do with thoughts and thoughts are things. Once you have a concept or a thought and if you decide to give it to somebody before they are ready – that is the wrong use of speech. Gossip is wrong use of speech, glorifying your self is wrong use of speech and people really like to do that. We all have to check ourselves on that. Glorifying your own self like, boy I am really smart so let me show you how smart I am or how funny I am or whatever. Casting the pearl before swine is done with speech; in other words we give stuff to people before they are ready and they just don’t appreciate it. People use this idea a little bit too much. If some religious guy is talking to you and you do not agree with him he will complain that he is throwing pearls before swine and you are the swine.
Hercules went and clashed two loud cymbals to get rid of all the birds, what is this?
Audience: Send forth like an AUM?
JJ: It is a sound of some kind, what kind of sound?
Audience: irritating sound to them, repulsive.
JJ: It is the sound of spirit and matter coming together and producing the sound of silence from the soul. The vibration of the soul lifts us up and chases away all of the harmful thoughts that is represented by the birds. They go away and do not return. They are not killed, the gossip and wrong speech is still floating around somewhere because they did not get killed, they just left and they could come back unless we are able to reproduce the sound of the soul. The person who has achieved soul contact is able to cause them to flee away and not come back. You can’t stay in soul contact and have your thoughts directed towards the self and the lower desires and you can’t have your thoughts saying bitter things toward other people. Now you may talk about other people to some degree, there is a line to cross. You don’t say anything that is untrue about anybody, you don’t spread lies about someone and this type of thing.
I’ll end the discussion of this labor by reading the synopsis from the book. Consider the symbolic meaning as I read.
Within the place of peace the Teacher stood, and spoke to Hercules. “O son of God who art also a son of man,” the Teacher said, “the time has come to tread another way. At Gate the ninth you stand. Pass through and find the marsh of Stymphalus where dwell the birds that havoc wreak. Discover, then, the way to flush them from their long secure abode.”
He paused a moment. “The flame that gleams beyond the mind reveals direction sure.” he added. “The task awaits. Through Gate the ninth you now must go.”
Forward, then, went Hercules, the son of man who was also the son of God.
For long he searched until he came to Stymphalus. Before him lay the fetid marsh. A multitude of birds cawed raucously, a chorus menacing and dissonant, as he approached.
At nearer view he saw the birds. Large and fierce and hideous they were. Each had an iron beak that was sharpened like a sword. The feathers, too, seemed like steel shafts and, falling, could cleave in twain the pates of weary travellers. Their talons matched their beaks in sharpness and in strength.
Three birds, perceiving Hercules, swooped down upon him. He stood his ground, and warded off attacks with the heavy club he bore. One bird he struck resoundingly upon the back; two feathers plummeted to earth and quivered as they plunged into yielding ground. At length the birds withdrew.
Before the marsh stood Hercules, and pondered how he might achieve the task assigned, how rid the place of these predacious birds.
By many means he sought to find a way. At first he tried to kill them with a quiverful of arrows. The few he slew were but a fraction of the many that remained. They rose in clouds so thick they hid the sun.
He thought of setting traps within the marsh. Nor boat nor human feet could traverse the bog. Hercules paused. The words he then recalled of counsel given. “The flame that gleams beyond the mind reveals direction sure.” Reflecting long, a method came to mind.
Two cymbals had he, large and brazen, that gave forth an unearthly screeching sound; a sound so piercing and so harsh it could affright the dead. To Hercules himself the sound was so intolerable, he covered both his ears with pads.
At twilight when the marsh was dense with countless birds, Hercules returned. The cymbals then he sharply clashed, again and yet again. A clangor and a din so strident then ensued that he himself could scarce endure the sound. Such ear-assaulting dissonance had not been heard in Stymphalus before.
Bewildered and disturbed by such a monstrous noise, the predatory birds rose in the air with wildly flapping brazen wings, and screeched in hoarse dismay. Utterly confused, the vast cloud of birds fled in frantic haste, never to return. Silence spread across the marsh. The horrid birds had disappeared. The soft gleam of a westering sun was seen as it flickered on the darkening landscape.
When Hercules returned, the Teacher greeted him: “The birds of slaughter have been driven off. The labor is achieved.”
Copyright by J J Dewey
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