William Edelen: A Mantis Experience…

Toward the Mystery

I recently spent two wonderful days at Ojai, California soaking up the spiritual center of the Krishnamurti home, library, and grounds, including the “pink moment” of the Ojai valley are sunset. For those of you who are regular readers of my columns or Symposium news letters known as “E Blasts From Bill,” you are well aware of the details of that remarkable visit. And you may remember what I described as a moment of mystery and magic. When I stepped out of my quarters to return  home, there waiting for me was a Praying Mantis. I have seen very few in my lifetime. My mind immediately went to all that I knew, and had read about this “manifestation of God come to Earth” in the thought and belief system of the African Bushman: A divine messenger.

When I returned home I went to my book shelves and pulled out A Mantis Carol by Sir Laurens van der Post. On the cover of this beautiful book are these words: “If you read no other book this month, this year, this decade, read this one. -The Christian Science Monitor (a paper many times voted one of the most outstanding newspapers in the U.S.) “Mantis” is the Greek word for “prophet” or “seer,” a being with spiritual or mystical powers. The praying Mantis shows the way.

In the Arabic and Turkish cultures a mantis points pilgrims to Mecca, the holiest site in the Islamic world. In Africa it helps find lost sheep and goats. In France, it’s believed that if you are lost the Mantis points the way home. “Follow Mantis” means putting that core aspect of yourself, your foundation of Spirit, at the helm and let it direct your intellect and ultimately your life.

“Meet the eye of a mantis and feel the presence of God. God looking at me through the eye of the Mantis.” The Mantis points the way and the path to relieving the “great hunger” in our lives. “The name of this great hunger was the hunger for love and for a way of life lived in love out of love for the love of it alone.” “This love, this calling for wholeness in life. The gratitude to life which comes flooding in over one as one experiences  again how pervasive and always  near is the mystery of love as though it were in the blood and bone of ourselves.” The Mantis became a symbol of meditation and contemplation.

In China the mantis has long been honored for her mindful movements. She comes when we need peace and calm in our lives. A list of praying mantis symbolism would include:  Stillness, Creativity, Patience, Calm, Balance, Intuition.

As we left the Krishnamurti spiritual center I thought how very mystical and magical it was to look into the eyes of a mantis and be told to recover a center for balance, to go within and meditate, to lead a life of calmness and wholeness… all being a part of the central message of Krishnamurti who said again and again he wanted to free people from their cages of conformity, moderation. fear… finding their security through groups and group identification… and lead them to a path of confidence and joy, living as the unique individuals they were meant to be. “Following Mantis means putting your unique spirit at the helm and letting it direct your intellect and your life.”

It is a timeless message for us that is in perfect harmony with the message of Krishnamurti. I had not seen a Mantis in years and years. And the fact that one was there waiting for me, as I departed the spiritual center of this rare and unique man, was for me magic and mystery that truly transcends language.