I had the great privilege of attending a fantastic but unusual weekend, the Korb Kroo mask ceremony which was held on the first weekend of the Thai New Year I had little idea of what I was going to see, but I learnt a lot and enjoyed myself.
The weekend was dedicated to Lersi – the fire eye hermit, the event was at a purpose built ranch (not monastery or temple) I was the only Westerner there, the entertainment was a bit of a jumble and the ceremonies and prayer were certainly strange at first. I’ll describe the weekend in part two but for now who is this deity if he’s not Buddha?
Who is this Lersi geezer?
I’d never heard of Lersi before or knew how much of a role he played but as I read up on the subject it became more and more familiar to me.
He has a few names from different cultures, Lersi – Ruesi and one I’ve heard of before Rishi. All are names or rather titles for the archetype of the Fire Eye Hermit, the wise old man as Jung calls him, the hermit, the ascetic, the number 108 is also linked to the name – more about that later.
It originally comes from the Sanskrit – Rishi which means: Seer or Prophet, maybe Shaman would be a good modern translation. Their abilities include ability to float, voice powers, talk with animals, read minds, teleportation, alchemy, ability to see past, present and future realms, mastery over the elements (e.g. cause fire to combust just be looking) and many more. In modern terms, psy-abilities, a medium into the spirit realms, chaos magician, mad scientist! the list goes on.
The Rishi is mentioned in the Hindu Veda’s the oldest Sanskrit texts, but they don’t mention any sort of origins. As Lersi is essentially a title for a state of mind, a state of being, a state of enlightenment, participating in this so called stairway to heaven, it’s something that’s been around since time immemorial, it describes the transition from a mundane mind through the various stages towards enlightenment, Buddha and Shiva transited as a Lersi on their way to becoming who they are.
The number 108 is also linked to the title as well, it’s said it represents the different names/levels/types of Lersi but it’s also a precessional number so it probably does have links to further back in time to when the seers of old first started to encode the Great Year of the earth’s wobble. The seminal book on this topic Hamlet’s Mill refers to the avenues of statues at Angkor in Cambodia, “108 per avenue, 54 on each side,” as examples of deliberate precessional encoding.
The Hermit is a global archetype, he appears in the tarot deck and other places, think of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda from Star Wars. This supports the idea that this figure/archetype has been around for a lot longer than modern Buddhism for example. Coincidentally my Tarot birth-card is The Hermit!
From the Tarot card interpretation:-
The Hermit indicates a need or desire to withdraw from the world. He is a wise old man, who has learned much about himself and his world through deep introspection and meditation. This card may indicate your soul may be craving a retreat in order to replenish and restore. By taking space and solitude, you will be ready to engage with and guide others when they most need you later on. The answers you seek will be found within you, not in any book or on any website.
A Lersi is this and more:-
A Lersi will have revoked all self centered thought, and has freed himself from all worldly attachments. This kind of Lersi will see the nature of reality with his eyes closed, he will have complete “Sila” (ascetic vows), know what actions are meritorious and which are causes of negative results. He understands the laws of karma completely and acts wisely in accordance, and therefore develops no negative causes/effects in his future existences.This eightfold Ruesi will have passed the Sodaban level of consciousness, have divine mind, eyes and ears.
3500 to 5000 years ago, the Lersi composed texts, prayers, incantations and spells to invoke the Angelic beings. This was due to the fact that the Lersi had practised training their minds and raised their consciousness to the Samabhabhati level of Jhana. They could see things on higher planes that the normal human cannot, including being able to hear sounds from other dimensions that any normal person will never get to hear. This made listening to the Angelic Beings accessible. when a Lersi enters meditation and Samadhi, he will naturally experience visions and sounds that are created for him as a communication means by the Angelic Being that wishes to communicate with him.
A Lersi is a hermit but also a teacher who passes on their knowledge, the main event as it were is the Korb Kroo mask ceremony it’s a lineage tradition of passing on the teachings and blessing of the previous monks to the next line of acolytes and followers.