The Soul As An Image Of Nirvana – Myth And Legend

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I found this to be an interesting tale and well deserving for a post here on the blog. The story goes that once a great king of India asked some fundamental questions about the basic teachings of the Buddha. The text is preserved as a dialogue between King Milinda and Nagasena, a representative of Buddhism. I might add  that according to Buddhist tradition, King Milinda (c.155 b.c.) was a local ruler of a province in India that had been part of the conquests of Alexander the Great. Archaeological evidence indicates that Buddhism had reached some degree of official status under King Milinda. Popular Buddhist legend recounts that in his constant search for new truths, King Milinda asked a number of questions about how man should live a good life and meet a good death.. Here is the story:   

King Milinda said: “I will grant you, Nagasena, that Nirvana is absolute ease, and that nevertheless one cannot point to its form or shape, its duration of size, either by simile or explanation, by reason or by argument. But is there perhaps some quality of Nirvana which is shares with other things, and which lends itself to a metaphorical explanation?”

“Its form, O king, cannot be elucidated by similes but its qualities can.”

“How good to hear that, Nagasena! Speak then, quickly, so that I may have an explanation of even one of the aspects of Nirvana! Appease the fever of my heart! Allay it with the cool sweet breezes of your words!”

“Nirvana share one quality with the lotus, two with water, three with medicine, ten with space, three with the wishing jewel, and five with a mountain peak. As the lotus is unstained by water, so is Nirvanan unstained by all the defilements. As cool water allays feverish heat, so also Nirvana is cool and allays the fever of the passions. More over, as water removes the thirst of men and beasts who are exhausted, parched, thirsty and overpowered by heat, so also Nirvana removes the craving for sensuous enjoyments, the craving for further becoming (the craving for reincarnation), the craving for the cessation of becoming (the craving for the end of reincarnation). As medicine protects from poison, so Nirvana protects from the torments of the poisonous passions. Moreover, as medicine puts an end to sickness, so Nirvana to all sufferings. Finally, Nirvana and medicine both give security. And these are the ten qualities which Nirvana shares with space.

Neither is born, grows old, passes away, or is reborn; both are unconquerable, cannot be stolen, are unsupported, are roads respectively for birds and Arhats (Someone who is or is becoming a Buddha) to journey on, are unobstructed and infinite. Like the wishing jewel, Nirvana grants all one can desire, brings joy, and sheds light. As a mountain peak is lofty and exalted, so is Nirvana., As a mountain peak is inaccessible, so is Nirvana inaccessible to all the passions. As no seeds can grow on a mountain peak, so the seeds of all the passions cannot grow in Nirvana. And finally, as a mountain peak is free from all desire to please or displease, so is Nirvana.”

“Well said, Nagasena! So it is, and as such I accept it.!

from Buddhist Texts, Throughout the Ages. (New York: Harper & Row 1964), pp.97-100

Ganesh And The Contest For Guardianship Of The Gunas, Myth And Legend

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“The Ganas approached Brahma with their problem, but he was unable to solve it, so he sought the help of Vishnu to persuade Lord Siva to appoint a new Ganapati (Leader of the Ganas). Lord Vishnu suggested that the Ganas select either of the two sons of Lord Siva as their Guardian: Kartikaya or the pot-bellied Lambodar, also known as Ganesha. In order to find out which of the two sons would be worthy of assuming the title of the Ganesha, the gods and subgods decided to hold a contest between the two. A day, time and site for holding the contest were decided.

On the appointed day, everybody came to watch the contest. Vishnu was appointed judge, and Lord Siva and Divine Mother Parvati were present, occupying the central seat. At the appointed time Vishnu announced the task to the audience and to the two brothers: they had to go all around the existing universe and come back to the starting point as soon as possible. The one who came back first would be appointed Ganesha, the patron of all the Ganas. After hearing the terms and conditions of the task, Kartikeya took his fast-flying peacock and flew off into space so as to travel the universe as quickly as possible. Meanwhile Ganesha remained seated on his rat and did not move. Lord Vishnu, seeing Ganesha making no effort, urged him to hurry up. At Vishnu’s constant insistence that he join the contest, Ganesha smiled and paid his homage first to his father and mother, then to the other gods and subgods, and finall took off on his rat. All the Gods and subgods were astonished when they saw that instead of heading for outer space, Ganesha simply rode around Siva and Parvati, his mother, who represents the primordial Prakriti, the cause of all existing phenomena. After thus circling Siva and Shakti, Ganesha came back to his starting point, bowed down to his parents and declared: ‘I have completed my task. I have gone all around the universe.’

‘It is not true.’ exclaimed the gods and lesser gods. ‘You did not go anywhere. You are lazy!’

Ganesha stood before Lord Vishnu with folded hands and said, ‘I know you understand what I have done, but to make everybody understand I will say this: I HAVE completed my task of going all around the universe, because this phenomenal world of names and forms is but an expression and manifestation of the Divine Mother and my Divine Father. They are the source of everything that exists. I have gone around the source, which is the Truth, the essence of all exsitence, all phenomena. I know this Samasara is an ocean of relative existence, that it is all illusory – and it makes no sense to leave the Truth behind and and go all around the illusion. My brother is still busy going around the illusory world of relative existence. When he reaches Truth, he will also reach the same Truth, which is the only Truth – all else is illusion, including you and me.’

This statement ignited a spark of true understanding in all the Ganas, who were astonished and delighted at its wisdom. Applauding his refined judgement and enlightening performance, they accepted the coarse-looking, pot-bellied Ganesha as their patron. As Vishnu was putting the mark of victory on the forehead of the elephant-headed Ganesha, Kartikeya came back sweating and breathing fast. He became angry and challenged the victory of Ganesha. The gods then told Kartikeya about the subtle sense and wisdom of Ganesha and said, ‘You went after matter, which is illusion; you went around the phenomenal world, which has a relative existence, and so you could not perceive the Truth directly.'”

– from TOOLS FOR TANTRA by Harish Johari ISBN 9780892810550

The Prostitute And The Monk – Myths And Legend

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A story from Indian mythology.

Long long ago, on the bank of a river, there lived a monk. Right across the street from him, lived a prostitute. The monk always hated the fact that he had to live next door to the prostitute. He took every opportunity to rebuke her about her profession. He would take every opportunity to show her what a horrible person she was. In his …mind, he always compared himself with her and took big pride in the fact that he was accruing so much good Karma compared to her.

The prostitute was a humble girl. She always respected the monk. She tried not to talk back when he was yelling at her. She felt bad about the choice of profession she made, but was not in a position to get out of it. She would always try to listen when the monk prayed, hoping that listening God’s name would help her wash off some of her sins.

The monk kept on his routine of massaging his own ego by comparing himself to the prostitute. Eventually he got so obsessed that he kept a jar with him and for every one person who visited prostitute, he dropped a pebble in the jar.

The prostitute kept her own routine. She was also watching what the monk was doing. She had a jar too. And every time the monk prayed, she put a pebble in the jar.

One day there was a big flood on the river. Both the monk and the prostitute were washed away and were dead. Upon their death, their souls stood in front of God of death.

To everyone’s surprise, the God of death ordered the prostitute to go to heaven and the monk to go to hell. The monk could not believe this. “What an injustice. You can still find a jar in my house. I have kept count of how many times this prostitute sinned. How can she go to the heaven? There must be some mistake.”

The prostitute also added humbly “I think the monk is right. I don’t deserve to go the heaven. But he does. I have a jar where I kept count of the number of times I heard his prayer. He prayed a lot. So I think he should go to heaven and I should go to hell.”

The God of death smiled and said “The judgement is correct. It does not matter what word is in your mouth. It matters only what is in your heart. The monk’s heart was filled with prostitute’s sins while he was saying his prayers. While the prostitute’s heart was filled with love of God while engaged in lifestyle of sins. The heart that has love of God goes to heaven and the heart that judges others and is filled with jealousy goes to hell.”

Lessons From The Bhagavad Gita – Myth and Legend

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“The man who sees me in everything
and everything within me
will not be lost to me, nor
will I ever be lost to him.He who is rooted in oneness
realizes that I am
in every being; wherever
he goes, he remains in me.When he sees all being as equal
in suffering or in joy
because they are like himself,
that man has grown perfect in yoga.”
―Bhagavad Gita

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Shri Krishna said:
“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.”~Bhagavad gita as it is 18.61

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A small lesson on wisdom

 

A man renowned for his knowledge loved to converse with the wise men of his country . One day a boy was brought before him.

“This child has great learning,” he was told.

“And who has he studied with?” The man was informed that the source of the child’s wisdom was natural.

Immediately the man questioned the child. The boy’s answers were simple, elegant, beyond ordinary comprehension. Hungrily, the man continued his questioning. However, the child grew bored.

“Let’s play a game,” he said. “You hide and I will find you.”

The man laughed. “It is better if you hide first and I will find you. After all, I am knowledgeable in six kinds of magic.”

“No, You go first,” insisted the boy.

The man snapped his fingers, disappeared, and entered another world. the boy sighed, “It’s not fair. Come back. You’re not supposed to hide in the other world.”

The man reappeared. The boy vanished, leaping into the heart of the man.. The man looked everywhere. He couldn’t find the boy.

“Where are you?”

“I’m here.” The boy’s voice was near but muffled.

“I can’t find you.” So the boy reappeared saying, “I was in your heart. If you do not look in your own heart first, then you will not find wisdom.”

-Anon 


How To Love Well – Inspirational Quotations

Forty Rules Of Love

This is a delightful book full of spiritual insights into how to live life. Each new chapter begins with the letter b and the story falls into five parts. Part one is Earth; the things that are solid, absorbed and still. Part two is Water; the things that are fluid, changing and unpredictable. Part three is Wind; the things that shift, evolve and challenge. Part four is Fire; the things that damage, devastate and destroy and finally the culmination of both stories are within part five, the Void; the things that are present through their absence.

“How can I love well? With The Forty Rules of Love, you can pour out your heart, break out of your stuck places, mysteriously fall in love, and find the deep joy of freedom.”

— Jack Kornfield, author of The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology

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Rule  10: “East, west, south, or north makes little difference. No matter what your destination, just be sure to make every journey a journey within. If you travel within, you’ll travel the whole wide world and beyond.”

Shams Tabrizi

From The Forty Rules of Love

Rule 20:   We were all created in His image, and yet we were each created different and unique. No two people are alike. No hearts beat to the same rhythm. If God had wanted everyone to be the same, He would have made it so. Therefore, disrespecting differences and imposing your thoughts on others is an amount to disrespecting God’s holy scheme.

Rule 21:  When a true lover of God goes into a tavern, the tavern becomes his chamber of prayer, but when a wine bibber goes into the same chamber, it becomes his tavern. In everything we do, it is our hearts that make the difference, not our outer appearance. Sufis do not judge other people on how they look or who they are. When a Sufi stares at someone, he keeps both eyes closed instead opens a third eye – the eye that sees the inner realm.

Rule 22: Life is a temporary loan and this world is nothing but a sketchy imitation of Reality. Only children would mistake a toy for the real thing. And yet human beings either become infatuated with the toy or disrespectfully break it and throw it aside. In this life stay away from all kinds of extremities, for they will destroy your inner balance. Sufis do not go to extremes. A Sufi always remains mild and moderate.

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Rule 25: Each and every reader comprehends the Holy Qur’an on a different level of tandem with the depth of his understanding. There are four levels of insight. The first level is the outer meaning and it is the one that the majority of the people are content with. Next is the Batin – the inner level. Third, there is the inner of the inner. And the fourth level is so deep it cannot be put into words and is therefore bound to remain indescribable.

Rule 26: The universe is one being. Everything and everyone is interconnected through an invisible web of stories. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in a silent conversation. Do no harm. Practice compassion. And do not gossip behind anyone’s back – not even a seemingly innocent remark! The words that come out of our mouths do not vanish but are perpetually stored in infinite space and they will come back to us in due time. One man’s pain will hurt us all. One man’s joy will make everyone smile.

Rule 27: Whatever you speak, good or evil, will somehow come back to you. Therefore, if there is someone who harbours ill thoughts about you, saying similarly bad things about him will only make matters worse. You will be locked in a vicious circle of malevolent energy. Instead for forty days and nights say and think nice things about that person. Everything will be different at the end of 40 days, because you will be different inside.

Rule 29: Destiny doesn’t mean that your life has been strictly predetermined. Therefore, to leave everything to the fate and to not actively contribute to the music of the universe is a sign of sheer ignorance. The music of the universe is all pervading and it is composed on 40 different levels. Your destiny is the level where you play your tune. You might not change your instrument but how well to play is entirely in your hands.

Rule 30: The true Sufi is such that even when he is unjustly accused, attacked and condemned from all sides, he patiently endures, uttering not a sing bad word about any of his critics. A Sufi never apportions blame. How can there be opponents or rivals or even “others” when there is no “self” in the first place? How can there be anyone to blame when there is only One?


East Meets West – Tales From All Traditions

Maha Kumbh Mela, 2013

The city of Allahabad ( City of God in Persian ) in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state prepares for the Hindu festival of Maha Kumbh Mela, 2013. The ancient name of this city is Prayag and is believed to be the spot where Brahma offered his first sacrifice after creating the world. It is one of four sites of the mass Hindu pilgrimage Kumbh Mela. The Prayag (Allahabad) Kumbh Mela is the largest and holiest of all melas and is believed to be the most auspicious, though the exact origin of the Kumbh Mela is very hard to pinpoint.

kumbh melaThe Purna (complete) Kumbh or Maha Kumbh, the biggest and the most auspicious fair, falls once every 12 years, and is always held in Allahabad. The most recent Kumbh Mela was in 2001 in Allahabad and millions of pilgrims took a holy dip in Sangam on the auspicious Mauni Amavasya on the 24th January 2001.

Kumbh Mela derives its name from the immortal – Pot of Nectar – described in ancient Vedic scriptures known as the Puranas. Kumbha in Sanskrit language means ‘pot or pitcher’. Mela means ‘festival’. So ‘Kumbh Mela’ literally means ‘festival of the pot’. Though the festival is a primitive one, it’s origins can be traced back to the ancient event of ‘Sagar Manthan’.

Tens of millions of pilgrims are expected to visit Allahabad to bathe at the Sangam – the merger point of the Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers. The main bathing date for the 2013 Allahabad Kumbhmela is 10th Feb.2013.

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The Cathedral du Notre Dame, du Paris

Notre Dame du Paris
Notre Dame du Paris – click to see BBC report

Overview

For centuries it has witnessed the greatest events in French history: 80 kings, two emperors, five republics – and two world wars.

With her original 13th-Century rose window, the cathedral was pillaged and nearly demolished in revolutionary France. Now her famous gargoyles stand guard against evil spirits.

This great Paris cathedral has seen crusaders and kings praying before battle and She survived. This month sees the start of a year of special events celebrating the landmark 850th anniversary of “Our Lady of Paris”.

Foundation

The first stone was laid in 1163, though it took a further 180 years to complete. The principles of sacred geometry used in the Cathedral of Chartres took root here too. Yet, as the magnificent structure took form, history was already playing out in her shadow. Crusaders prayed beneath the world’s first flying buttresses as they set off on holy wars.

Our Lady of Paris

Within these walls, in 1431, a sickly boy of ten, King Henry VI of England, was crowned King of France.

And in 1804, to the sound of the 8,000 pipes of the cathedral’s Grand Organ, Napoleon was crowned emperor.

Music

Music is integral to the life of this cathedral – in the archives, medieval manuscripts reveal it always has been. Recently discovered manuscripts of centuries-old music and chants have been made ready.

Fittingly, then, the great sounds of Notre Dame will be at the heart of the anniversary celebrations.

Throughout 2013, three choirs will bring to life some of the earliest sounds of Christianity.

Choir director Sylvain Dieudonne has said that, “in 1163, when they started building the cathedral, Paris became a centre of great intellectual, spiritual and musical development.

“The musical school was hugely influential,” he said. “We know from the manuscripts we have recovered that it influenced music across Europe – in Spain, Italy, Germany and in England.”

The Festival

The year-long festival would not be complete without a celebration of the architecture. And to mark 850 years, they will be improving the lighting.

The building was not originally designed to include the flying buttresses around the choir and nave, but after the construction began, the thinner walls grew ever higher and stress fractures began to appear as the walls pushed outward. In response, the cathedral’s architects built supports around the outside walls, and later additions continued the pattern.

Today the cathedral stands as a gothic masterpiece.

As this Christmas marks the 850th anniversary of this venerable church, it heralds the start of a year-long celebration of her influence and history in France. For western visitors, this home of Christian traditions will come alive with their performances.

 

 

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Goddess Or Demon? “Lilith” – Myths and Legends

 

 

 

The Lilith teaching is actually used to divide the relationship between man and woman and destroy the institute of marriage which God intended for all creation. The Lord did not create two separate beings in the book of Genesis but one. Adam existed as a dual being until  God caused him to sleep and divided Him into another separate creation, creating Eve in Genesis 2. Man is neither complete by himself nor is woman, but the two come together to create the original creation. The story of Lilith is intriguing, but also dark. Lilith, the first wife of Adam, spoke the truth when she said, “I am equal to Adam in every way.”  She suffers a dreadful fate from a  wrathful God and vengeful men. She will be forever known as the demoness, the dark one. The seducer of men and young boys.

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The Story Of Lilith

From Ancient Israel: Myths and Legends by Angelo S. Rappoport

Queen of the demons is Lilith, long-haired and winged. She is supposed to have been the first wife of Adam. She had been one of the wives of Sammael, but of a wild, heroic and passionate nature she left her spouse and joined Adam. From their union issued the demons or Shedim, who rode about in the world as wicked spirits, persecute and plague men, and bring upon them illness, disease, and other sufferings.

Lilith, like Adam, had been created from the dust (Adamah) of the earth. But as soon as she had joined Adam they began to quarrel, each refusing to be subservient and Submissive to the other. “I am your lord and master,” spoke Adam, “and it is your duty to obey me.” But Lilith replied: “We are both equal, for we are both issued from dust (Adamah), and I will not be submissive to you.” And thus they quarrelled and none would give in. And when Lilith saw this she spoke the Ineffable Name of the Creator and soared up into the air. Thereupon Adam stood in prayer before the Creator and thus he spake: ” O Lord of the Universe, the woman Thou hast given me has fled from me.”

And the Holy One, blessed be His name, sent at once three angels whose names were Senoi, Sansenoi, and Sammangelof, to fetch and bring Lilith back to Adam. He ordered them to tell her to return, and if  she refused to obey then a hundred of her offspring would die daily. The three afore-mentioned angels followed Lilith, and they found her in the midst of the sea, on the mighty waves (which were once to drown the Egyptians).

They communicated to her the command of the Eternal, but she refused to return. And the angels spake to this rebel, this she-demon: “We will drown thee in the sea.” But she made answer: “Know ye not that I have been created for the purpose of weakening and punishing little children, infants and babes. I have power over them from the day they are born until they are eight days old if they are boys, and until the twentieth day if they are girls.” And when the three angels heard her speech they wished to drown her by force, but she begged them to let her live, and they gave in. She swore to them in the name of the living God that whenever she came and saw the names or images or faces of these three angels, Senoi, Sansenoi, and Sammangelof, upon an amulet or cameo in the room where there was an infant, she would not touch it. But because she did not return to Adam, every day a hundred of her own children or spirits and demons die.

The legend of Lilith and the message of the three angels is found in several sources of Rabbinical lore in some of which it is quoted from the Alphabetum Siracidis.

The book known as the Sefer Rasiel describes the formula to be written upon amulets or cameos and to be placed in the rooms where there are new-born babes. It refers to Lilith as the first Eve, and conjurers her in the name of the three angels and the angel of the sea to whom she had sworn not to harm the babes in whose rooms she found written on paper the names of the three angels.

Lilith is thus a female night demon, and is also known under the name of Meyalleleth or the howling one.

The she-demon Makhlath (the dancer) and her daughter Agrath4 are two female demons who live in strife with Lilith. Lilith is accompanied by four hundred and eighty hosts of evil spirits and destroying angels, and she is constantly howling. Makhlath is accompanied by four hundred and seventy-eight hosts of evil spirits. She and her daughter Agrath, from the Zend word Agra = beating, are in constant enmity with Lilith.

Constant war is waged between them, and they meet on the day of atonement. Whilst they are thus engaged in quarrel and strife, the prayers of Israel ascend to Heaven, whilst the accusers are absent, being otherwise engaged.

Agrath commands hosts of evil spirits and demons, and rides in a big chariot. Her power is pararnount on Wednesdays and Saturdays, for on these days Agrath, the daughter of Makhlath, roves about in the air accompanied by eighteen myriads of evil spirits.


1. Niddah, 16b; Erubin, 100b.

2. Alphabetum Siracidis (Sepher Ben Sira), edit. Steinschneider, 1858. See on Lilith. Gaster, in Monatsschrift fuer Gesch. u. Wissenschaft d. Judent., Vol. XXIX (1880), pp. 553-555.

3. Elia Levita, Tishbi s.v. Lilith.

4. Pesachim, 112b; Numbers Rabba, 12.

5. Yalkut Chadash, s.v. Keshaphim, No. 56.

6. Pesachim, 112b.

Source:  Lilith  from Ancient Israel: Myths and Legends by Angelo S. Rappoport

In Search Of The Beloved – Myth and Legends

The myth of Cupid and Psyche is analogous to the story of Krishna and the Gopis.  We learn through the Krishna Myth, that he plays hide and seek with the gopis and no matter where they search for him, he cannot be found. They cannot see him. The gopis become afraid and almost mad for him. They cannot stop thinking of him and become absorbed in thought, thinking of the time they shared with Krishna in great love and affection. Also we read in the myth of Cupid and Psyche a similar situation occurs, where Cupid is invisible to Psyche. She yearns for her kind and gentle husband and finally finding her beloved, she drops hot wax on his shoulder because she is surprised by his great beauty. Best read the story for the full picture.


Cupid and Psyche

“Love and the Soul (for that is what Psyche means) had sought and, after sore trials, found each other; and that union could never be broken. (Cupid and Psyche)”
― Edith Hamilton, Mythology

Once upon a time there was a king with three daughters. They were all beautiful, but by far the most beautiful was the youngest, Psyche. She was so beautiful that people began to neglect the worship of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Venus was very jealous, and asked her son Cupid (the boy with the arrows) to make Psyche fall in love with a horrible monster.

When he saw how beautiful she was, Cupid dropped the arrow meant for her and pricked himself, and fell in love with her. Despite her great beauty no-one wanted to marry Psyche. Her parents consulted an oracle, and were told that she was destined to marry a monster, and they were to take her to the top of a mountain and leave her there.

The west wind took her and wafted her away to a palace, where she was waited on by invisible servants. When night came her new husband visited her, and told her that he would always visit her by night and she must never try to see him. Although her invisible husband was kind and gentle with her, and the invisible servants attended to her every desire, Psyche grew homesick. She persuaded her husband to allow her sisters to visit her. When they saw how she lived they became very jealous and talked Psyche into peeking at her husband, saying that he was a monster who was fattening her up to be eaten and that her only chance of safety was to kill him. Psyche took a lamp and a knife, but when she saw her beautiful husband, Cupid, she was so surprised she dripped some hot wax onto his shoulder, waking him.

He took in the situation at a glance and immediately left Psyche and the magnificent palace she had been living in disappeared in a puff of smoke.Psyche roamed about looking for her husband, and eventually in desperation approached his mother, Venus. Still angry, the goddess set various tasks for Psyche, all of which she passed, with a bit of help from ants and river gods. At last Cupid found out what was going on, and he persuaded Jupiter to order Venus to stop her persecution of Psyche. Then they were married and lived happily ever after – and it really was ever after since Psyche was made a Goddess.The similarity to modern day fairy stories such as Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella is obvious.

– source. Bingley

photo source Top Left – Art.com