Empedocles - The Clepsydra
Type of Spiritual Experience
This must be the most misunderstood and misquoted passage of all Empedocles' fragments. Aristotle was the first to misunderstand. And the misinterpretations have become worse ever since.
The following is Empodocles' attempt to describe the Chinese system of meridians and the corresponding Indian system of nadis. What fascinates me is that he clearly got the information first hand, but had great difficulty in explaining it.
All the words used are related to spiritual concepts not physical ones.
It is essential that you use the concepts links to understand the passage, to help I have put the concepts in brackets in the text for you to follow.
Simply put, Empedocles is saying you can't get a spiritual experience if you are full of hot air - an intellectual masculine character who thinks all the time, the only way to get a spiritual experience is use the feminine aspect in you to unblock the spiritual door [the neck as he calls it] and then you will get your experience - the water will flood in
A description of the experience
Empedocles - The Clepsydra
Thus do all things draw breath and breathe it out again. [breath, spirit input, spirit output]
All have bloodless tubes of flesh extended over the surface of their bodies; and at the mouths of these the outermost surface of the skin is perforated all over with pores closely packed together, so as to keep in the blood while a free passage is cut for the air to pass through.[meridians, trigger points]
Then, when the thin blood [blood] recedes from these, the bubbling air rushes in with an impetuous surge; and when the blood runs back it is breathed out again.
Just as when a girl [feminine], playing with a water-clock [water clock] of shining brass, puts the orifice of the pipe upon her comely hand, and dips the waterclock into the yielding mass of silvery water -- the stream [rivers and streams] does not then flow into the vessel, but the bulk of the air inside, pressing upon the close-packed perforations, keeps it out till she uncovers the compressed stream; but then air escapes [perceptions] and an equal volume of water [spirit input] runs in, -- just in the same way, when water occupies the depths of the brazen vessel [pitcher or jug] and the opening and passage is stopped up by the human hand [portal], the air outside, striving to get in, holds the water back at the gates of the ill-sounding neck, pressing upon its surface, till she lets go with her hand.
Then, on the contrary, just in the opposite way to what happened before, the wind rushes in and an equal volume of water runs out to make room. Even so, when the thin blood that surges through the limbs rushes backwards to the interior, straightway the stream of air comes in with a rushing swell; but when the blood runs back the air breathes out again in equal quantity.
The source of the experienceEmpedocles
Concepts, symbols and science items
Masculine and feminine
Pitcher or jug
Rivers and streams