Sometimes, as the story goes, ideas will come from the most unlikely places. Answers to puzzles can come in a dream or while taking a shower. Insight and imagination seem to know no bounds when they present themselves to you. "Stones in the Sky" is in reference to watching an in-flight movie as I was flying from Bangkok to San Francisco in May of 2002. The movie was about ancient civilizations, and was narrated by Graham Hancock, a well known author who had co-authored a book with Robert Bauval, a Belgium engineer, on Egyptian architecture and its relationship to the Sphinx and the constellation Leo the Lion. In this in-flight movie Hancock showed how the ancient temples at Angkor Wat in Cambodia were built mirroring the position of the stars in the constellation Draco. Having spent the last three years in SE Asia I was dumfounded and excited to learn that a temple in the middle of the Cambodian countryside was constructed with the same wisdom that created the pyramids at Giza. I learned about the placement of these stones at Angkor Wat 35,000 feet above sea level in a Boeing 747, thus the title for my story, "Stones in the Sky." Little did I realize these stones in the sky would be the stones reaching to the heavens from the temple ruins of Angkor Wat.
It has always been fascinating to me how my life began to shift to SE Asia from California in 1998. My interest in Buddhist Temples took me around the countryside of Thailand always appreciating and always seeking the mystery that created such beautiful architecture. But always in the back of my mind there lurked a curious fascination with the teachings of Gotama Buddha and the secrets that seemed to be incorporated into all the temples. But knowing that Angkor Wat was designed on a star system similar to the pyramids of Egypt got me very curious because now I felt a deeper reason which drew me to SE Asia in the first place.
What was Angkor Wat? That became my number one question when I arrived in San Francisco, California. My stay was only for a few months before I would return to Thailand in late June, and in those few months I had expressed my new found insights and interests to several of my friends.
To my absolute astonishment a close friend had saved a rare book written in 1926 titled "Four Faces of Siva" by Robert J. Casey. The book had originally belonged to Frank R. Girard of the Bohemian Club of San Francisco who had also penned his name on the inside page. The book was presented to me to read by Dan Donahue of Santa Rosa, CA. The book is a detective story of a vanished race; i.e. the Khmer Civilization. After a two-month stay in San Francisco I returned to Thailand, and the in-flight movie on my return, believe it or not, was a sequel to the first movie I saw where Graham Hancock was again mentioning Angkor Wat. This time the movie was mentioning the placement of Angkor Wat in Cambodia as being 72 degrees separated from the Giza pyramids on the surface of the earth.
Concurrently, and coincidentally, I was finishing my review of the book " Galactic Alignment" by John Major Jenkins, an accomplished Mayan scholar. The message Hancock was delivering was that the builders of Angkor Wat seemed to have known of a solstice-galaxy alignment. Jenkins had shown how the end date of December 21, 2012 in Mayan calendrics was definitely associated with the solstice-galaxy alignment. In his new book "Galactic Alignment" Jenkins even mentions how this awareness of galactic center was known in ancient Vedic literature, but did not mention Angkor Wat specifically. What Jenkins does mention are the Laws of Manu which deal with the ancient Vedic doctrine of world ages - the yugas. Manu indicates that a period of 24,000 years consists of a series of four yugas or ages, each shorter and spiritually darker than the last. In Vedic mythology, a fabled dawn time existed in the distant past, when human beings had direct contact with the divine intelligence emanating from Brahma - the seat of creative power and intelligence in the cosmos. As the teachings tell, Kali, the creator destroyer Goddess, will appear at the end of the Kali Yuga to sweep away the wasted detrius of a spirit-dead humanity, making way for a new cycle of light and peace.
As I returned to my book, "Four Faces of Siva", I was reminded of how Siva was also the destroyer and giver God for the Khmers. It is said in this book that Yacovarman, the "King of Glory" who reigned over the Khmers from 889 to 909 AD was educated by Vamaciva, a Brahman of princely lineage. One may gather, as the book states, that the Brahman had no small part in the development of the aspirations that led to the building of the capital Angkor Wat.
So, combining my awareness with the research of John Jenkins, and through the serendipity of receiving the book "Four Faces of Siva", I could see the direct influence from the knowledge of the solstice-galaxy alignment as embedded in Angkor Wat, recognized by Graham Hancock, and originating from ancient India.
I had also brought a smaller book to Cambodia with me titled, "Khmer - The Lost Empire of Cambodia by Thierry Zephir. Published by Abrams out of New York in 1998, this small book was well documented and also had splendid photographs of the temples at Angkor Wat. Zephir teaches at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris on the art and techniques of Khmer bronzes. Knowing that bronze pieces came from this period put me on the path to see if I could find some replications.However, nothing could compare with the absolute mystery that was conveyed by Robert J. Casey in his book "Four Faces of Siva".
Once in Thailand I began in earnest to finish the book by Casey, and as I neared its completion I was caught up in a trance like state with his re-telling of lost legends of the ancient Khmers.What is so special in Casey's book is his including the recounted stories of what Angkor Wat was like through the eyes of Tcheou-Ta-Quan, who was in the service of the Emperor of China in 1296-1297AD. These stories are the only written records of the Khmer culture. The Khmers have completely disappeared from the face of the earth. Tcheou-Ta-Quan is the same name as Zhou Daguan.
Before I visit Angkor Wat, and see it with my own eyes in the beginning of the 21st century, I want to give my own impressions prior to seeing it, as well as offering my impressions after I see it. I come to Angkor Wat through my interest in the solstice-galaxy alignment, which I came to understand through studying Mayan research, as well as a fascination with the origins of ancient civilizations and their artwork.
Coupled with my interest in Buddhist cosmology it seems like a fitting journey to witness the ground plan that is dedicated to the stars, the Kali Yuga, and the rise of humanity into a New World Age. The mystery of the vanished Khmers that has for so long stumped archaeologists and scholars may be perfectly visible if seen though new eyes. For me it is an opportunity to experience the ruins of a culture that had the insight into the destiny of human civilization. And, like the great Pharaohs of Egypt, these Kings of the Khmer civilization were also tuned into a reality greater than that of which historians seem to attribute to them.
But, my impressions of Angkor Wat, before I visit it, are of course now colored by the insights recorded by Robert Casey. I had no idea of it colossal size, nor of the extent the Khmer civilization had spread through out the region of the Mekong Delta. Frankly, I knew nothing of this civilization and probably would not of ventured to Cambodia unless I had a reason which of course I now do. Based on the impressions I have read it seems that here is a series of temples that defy any understanding at all. The sheer size and decorative work carved in stone has apparently captured the attention of scholars ever since Henri Mouhot, a French Naturalist, set eyes on it in 1866.
I have gone though life having experienced the majesty of Notre Dame Cathedral and Saint Sulpice in Paris, Chartre Cathedral, and many other cathedrals in Paris and Lyon. I have been interested in the Mayan temples, but have never gone to see them, and I have never ventured into Egypt.
So, for me a visit to Angkor Wat is more than just a trip to see another ancient temple, it is a trip to experience a culture that I feel was connected to other ancient cultures, and all these monuments and temples in all these ancient civilizations had encoded in them a message or a recognition of a reality that I am just now coming to recognize. This awareness is based on knowing how we make our life passage in this universe, and the insights and enlightened states of mind that come about as a result of paying attention to our spiritual journey.
After pouring over photographs and historical interpretations of the Khmer civilization I now feel that none of these interpretations and photographic renditions or archaeological comparisons really give any clue to Angkor Wat nor the civilization that created these stupendous temples in the Cambodian countryside. From what I can gather it will be like looking at a fairy-tale city, and trying to determine if it is real or imaginary. But these impressions come from a book written in 1926. Seventy-six years later, and after two world wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the atrocities of Pol Pot in Cambodia with the "Killing Fields"; I wonder if there is any mystery and magic left at all. Has the modern world erased this magic and mystery of Angkor Wat and its surroundings only to replace the magic with 5 star hotels, resorts, and golf courses?
Will there be countless vendors hocking their wares on the grand boulevards approaching the temple gates to Angkor Wat, or will there be a respect for the majesty that once was as recorded by Tcheou-Ta-Quan in the year 1296AD? Have the archaeologist restored the temples over the last 75 years so an even more beautiful experience can be enjoyed? Like Casey said in 1926, it was inevitable that even little old ladies from Iowa would one day be able to easily travel to Angkor Wat without any of the inconveniences that existed in the days of jungle travel. I traveled in a modern jet aircraft directly to Bangkok, a journey unheard of in 1926, and a train through Thailand's eastern countryside to the Cambodian border where I would easily take an air-conditioned bus to Angkor Wat. Will that sort of transportation to Angkor Wat diminish the effects I will experience when I gaze upon the temple? Will I have to remain behind the temple gates after sunset to hear the ghosts of a 1000 years past? Will there be armed guards preventing my intuition to guide my steps as I try to listen to messages carried by the wind? Will there be anything remotely similar to the experiences Robert Casey conveys in his book "Four Faces of Siva?"
As the energy from the solstice-galaxy alignment becomes ever more stronger as we approach 2012, I feel fortunate that I can visit Angkor Wat knowing that here over a 1000 years ago was a civilization that honored their place under the stars, and built the worlds most profound temple. What is even more profound, it seems, is the complete disappearance of the very civilization that built these temples, with no trace of where they went, and no trace of their continuing their culture anywhere else. If there are any clues to this mystery I can feel a sense of wonder and expectation before I arrive at Angkor Wat. Perhaps something so profound of an experience may just take place for me which will trigger even more ideas as I journey ever closer to my quest for understanding this great civilization and its awareness of the galactic center.
Other stories related to the Khmer Empire.
Part II - Stones in the Sky - The 2nd Entering of Cambodia - July 27, 2002
Part III Section #1 - Stones in the Sky - The secrets of Angkor Wat - March 2003.
Part III Section #2 - Stones in the Sky - The secrets of Angkor Wat - March 2003.
Part IV - Stones in the Sky - Journey to Preah Vihear - May 2004.
Part V - Stones in the Sky - Journey to Beng Mealea - October 2004.
Apsaras and Devatas - Photo documentation of female divinities at Angkor Wat.