Symbolism of the Temple, Part 2
The Sphere represents the presence of the Infinite Light within which Creation takes place.
It is to the sphere that we must now turn. The cube speaks of the foundation of creation, of life engaging in ‘creation’, whereas the symbolism of the sphere is limited only by the imagination, which in its absolute sense contains all things and is often used to represent the Divine. As stated in Part 1, symbolically speaking, Creation may be considered as a cube within a sphere; the perfect form of the sphere representing the presence of the Infinite Light within which Creation takes place, and the symmetrical form of the cube describing Creation in the context of space-time!
The often quoted axiom “God is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere” has been attributed to many authors spanning millennia, including Hermes Trismegistus (Thrice Greatest Hermes). However, the significance of this axiom lies not so much in who wrote it – that, we shall never know for certain – but what was written, which describes an all-encompassing ‘something’ (we call God) that embraces all that is and all that will ever be, and is represented symbolically by a three-dimensional circle – the Sphere. Some believe that it derived from a Greek original circulating in Alexandria in the fourth or fifth century CE, transmitted to the Latin West via an Arabic intermediary, others think it is a fragment of Aristotle's lost volume On Philosophy, whilst some attribute the text to Hermes Trismegistus, and it is often listed as such with medieval Hermetica. One example being The Book of the Twenty-Four Philosophers, whose origins are unknown, but it was an influential Latin text in twelfth century Europe.
Because of its all-encompassing nature, the sphere suggests completeness, unity, and equality. It is then a symbol of the cosmos and the totality of all. The people of the Graeco-Roman world often referred to it as the “Monad” (from the Greek root monas meaning “oneness”). As “Monad” it describes the First, The Seed, The Essence, The Builder, The Foundation, The Space Producer, The Immutable Truth and Destiny – all titles that describe the activities of an active Creator who is the very essence of life.
The axiom “God is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere” engages the mind with a conundrum, the understanding of which does not lie in solving a theological or geometrical puzzle, but in understanding that as a symbol, ‘God is depicted as an infinite circle or sphere’, a ‘sphere of infinite light’, ‘an intelligible Sphere’, words that suggest that God, like the sphere, has neither a beginning nor an end. That God is infinite and eternal, and that everything is embraced under His immensity within a sphere of infinite light, in which ‘Creation’ and all things in it, have their being. The following text, taken from the first chapter of the Gospel of John, outlines an eternal puzzle for the carnal mind.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. [My emphasis]
Among the several inter-connected mysteries alluded to here, John, refers to Life and Light as being synonymous, that from a human perspective they are the same thing. How then do we reconcile our fragile nature with that of Light? Perhaps we should consider our nature as an analogue of Light. We might think for example that the energy of the Sun pours into space as particles of electro-magnetic energy called photons (light). That each single photon entering the gravitational field of Earth draws to itself matter and begins an evolutionary journey back to its source. Such would be a materialistic viewpoint, but when considered in spiritual terms, a photon of light may be likened to a conscious entity, a living soul, that will endeavour to return to its source – God. When considering this scenario we should bear in mind that there are potentially an infinite variety of life-forms that have their existence within Creation, concerning which St. Paul writes;
1 Corinthians 15:35-54
. . . . But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed - in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." [My emphasis]
St. Paul alludes to the understanding that not only do humans have a form that is mortal and corruptible (the body terrestrial) but that within that terrestrial form lies the seed or germ of another form that is immortal and celestial. The key to this puzzle rests in understanding what is meant by the idea of ‘archetype’ ‘antitype’ and ‘type’1. Within the sphere of light an invisible form (archetype) emerges and is quickened by the Light, which fills and surrounds it with its energy, animating the nature and qualities of the ‘archetype’. This energised form is an invisible ‘antitype’ that is reflected in the physical womb of the female, from whom emerges the ‘type’ (such as you or I) that will eventually evolve beyond the animal (terrestrial) state to manifest the qualities of being typified by beings such as Jesus Christ etc.
The ‘archetype’ may be compared to a blueprint, the ‘antitype’ to a model and the ‘type’ to a production. We may not understand the whys and wherefores of this mysterious process, for such are the ways of heaven, but it is true that the spiritual life is defined by it and depends upon it. However, it remains a fact that when we are born on this earth into the body of flesh, we start as creatures of sense and feeling, living the life of all mortal creatures, being impulsive and reactive as we engage in the like/dislike process of survival. For many, our success in this world is defined by acquisition, not just any acquisition, but the acquisition of resources that are clear and obvious signs of health, wealth, and power. ‘To Acquire’ is a natural and self-centred impulse that instinctively seeks to secure a good position in life; our reasoning powers and logical abilities have evolved to serve it and are shaped by it. Indeed, the modern world, defined and shaped by science, technology and politics, is nothing more than an expression of our instinct to survive.
We are after all mortal, subject to decay and ultimately, at least physically, subject to death, and we are clearly born in ignorance. As we grow, we slowly learn about the Laws of Nature and through them about Creation and if we are lucky, we may learn from our elders that a part of our being (the soul) is immortal and destined for a glorious future if it can rise above the material limitations of the physical world. This implies re-incarnation and an infinite memory bank (the Akashic Records ??), suggesting that although we were born in ignorance, it does not mean we were always ignorant. Plato discusses this in his book Meno.
“The soul, then, as being immortal and having been born again many times, and having seen all things that exist, whether in this world or in the world below, has knowledge of them all; and it is no wonder that she should be able to call to remembrance all that she ever knew about virtue, and about everything; for as all nature is akin, and the soul has learned all things, there is no difficulty in a soul eliciting out of a single recollection all the rest – the process generally called ‘learning’– if he is strenuous and does not faint; for all inquiry and all learning is but recollection.” (Jowett, Meno 81 c-d)
Whether one accepts the concept of re-incarnation or not is not the point here, what is significant is that the concept of immortality in any form is potentially life-changing in that it allows the mind to engage with, and consider the possibility of such a notion being true or false. However, our normal faculties – the five senses in conjunction with our capacity to reason, can go no further than presenting us with the proposition. The same applies to Plato’s concept of ‘recollection’. Consequently, the assets of Philosophy – Reasoning, and Logic – rather than being assets in the work of spiritual evolution, may become impediments to the soul’s ability to make progress on this journey of spiritual evolution; thus, another path must be found!
The notion of ‘evolution’ is relatively new to our society, but it is not a new idea in principle. The entire basis and fabric of the spiritual life rests upon it. It is taught in the silence of the cloisters that we are creatures of Light and that our existence here upon earth is to reveal, to unfold the divine potential that resides within us. However, like any seed, be it of a tree, a shrub, a creature such as a mouse, a fish, or a Human, it contains a biological trigger that must be activated. Ask yourself this question, what does any seed require to develop? I am not asking you to list what is necessary for life, such as a mate, water, food, warmth etc. I am asking what do you think a seed needs to develop. Reasoning and Logic would naturally inform you that a mate, water, food, and warmth, serve such a purpose within creation, and that survival seems to depend upon the instinct of Like/Dislike. Few people like pain and most people like pleasure, as could be said of health/sickness, cruelty/kindness, beauty/ugliness etc., all fit under the Like/dislike banner. But although they may serve the initial purpose of survival, they can only serve the ultimate purpose or evolution indirectly.
What is essential is Light, which is interesting, and in many ways strange. Firstly, in metaphysical terms Light is universal and omnipresent, it is also a synonym of Life, Consciousness, Being and Love, and is therefore not only omnipresent but conscious, which from a human perspective, being universal and omnipresent, it must embody wisdom and understanding. Secondly, if there is a quality that stands out from the rest, it is that Light is Love, it is conscious and empathic, not simply energy wandering around the universe in an aimless fashion. Thirdly, what is also strange about it is that because it is omnipresent and conscious it does not need to conform to reason, which is a function of mind in space-time that is inevitably rooted in past events, because the primary tool of reason is logic, which can only analyse that which has already happened; although it is a function that dominates our experience in the world.
Love, on the other hand, is a tool (in the shape of empathy) that has no barriers, being open to experience and encounter without judgement or caution. Being of the substance of Light it transcends nature and form, thus, there is nowhere Love cannot exist and although it may be true that Love/Empathy appears to let Severity reign, even to the point of cruelty, arguably, this must change as the objective of the soul is to transform the lower, dualistic nature of humanity into a higher, unified spiritual nature. In our present state of evolution it is clearly the unbalanced and out of control forces of Love (mercy) and Reason (judgement/severity) that dominate our world. This may well be the Will of God, after all how do we learn from our mistakes. However, it is a fact of life that experience will teach us eventually that love and reason must be applied intelligently, in conjunction with Wisdom and Understanding, if we are to make sense of this world.
The question ‘what does any seed require to develop’, is then more subtle than we might at first suppose. Given the analogue of the photon of Light representing the soul, being used in this paper, we must consider its primary purpose, which is ‘to become’. ‘Becoming’ is not a random movement, although it may seem that way to some, but it involves the movement of light with a spiritual purpose in mind, which is developing a Body of Light. As children of the world we instinctively played with the materials of the world; of which sand, water, stones and bricks come to mind, and we learned thereby how to handle and engage with the things of the world. So as children of the light we must also play with light. We must engage with Light and work with it – to become familiar with it and adjusted to its ways – if we are to become adept enough to create a body/vehicle of Light out of it. Why we should do this may be a mystery in terrestrial terms, but like the genetic coding in any seed, it is written that when the conditions are right it will quicken, and we will inevitably, and willingly, engage with our destiny.
The desire to create such a body emerges first and foremost as restlessness, an irrepressible biological ‘need’ that does not go away, it must be fulfilled! In truth the ‘need’ is divine inspiration – operating initially at the biological level – deriving from the source of all being that is God. Such inspiration emerges within the soul over time, much in the way a plant will flower and then seed when it has sufficiently developed. Creating a Body of Light involves great labour and responsibility, it is not called the ‘Magnum Opus’ for nothing and it can only be undertaken with divine agreement, which means it cannot be forced, and without which nothing of any benefit or value will be achieved. It requires the involvement of the whole chemistry of consciousness – thought, feeling, and image – under the control of a Will spiritualised by frequent Prayer & Meditation and refined by the study of the spiritual teachings and disciplines of the world.
The work takes place in stages:
1. Become aware of the instinctive animal nature; its constituents, influence, and dynamics. (The Senses and the chemistry of the body – Hormones etc.)
2. Become aware of the realm of mind and its chemistry (thought, feeling and image)
3. Become conscious of the presence of the spiritual nature; its constituents, influence, and dynamics - an ongoing process.
4. Develop a spiritual Habitus based upon an evolving understanding of our spiritual nature.
5. Learn various disciplines including Ritual, Prayer & Meditation, Visualisation and Concentration.
6. Study the spiritual teachings of the world, both ancient and modern, with special regard to the Judaeo-Christian spiritual teachings expressed in the Bible and related material.
Generally speaking, our life on earth is experienced through the medium of the body and the senses because the primary mode of our Life on earth lies in fulfilling the needs of the flesh. Life as we understand it was described in ancient times as ‘sublunary’ because, among other things, the Moon receives its light/life from the Sun, which suggests our sensory life in the body is a pale reflection of reality (stage 1 above). Thus, changing our way of life (Stages 2 & 3) and, modifying our behaviour based upon an evolving understanding of our spiritual nature (stage 4), conforms our life to a spiritual mode of being (Stages 5 & 6). Overcoming the nature of the sublunary world takes place gradually: Its gravitational pull is immense and only by a persistent effort of ‘will’ combined with an evolving understanding through study (above) and practising various exercises, including the following are we able to succeed.
The movement of Light: Controlled breathing requires our attention to be focussed on the breath. Attend to the breath as light, direct your attention to flow with the light/breath into the specified areas. Remember, Light is synonymous with Consciousness, Life, and Being, thus, by engaging with the breath as light and life we change the mode of the breath from serving the biology of the body with energy, to a psychic/spiritual mode, which stimulates the powers of ‘Mind’ to begin the process of transforming the physical body into a Body of Lig
ht. Being an organic process it takes time so be patient with yourself.
Breathing/visualisation exercises (see pages 83 - 87 of Notes on Meditation)
a, Feel: the breath flowing into the specified areas (e.g. Hands, heart, throat (Hod & Netzach, Tiphereth, Daath).
b, Imagine the force of the breath/light flowing into the specified areas.
c, Will/think the Light (LIFE-FORCE) flowing in conjunction with the breath into the specified areas.
d. Imagine pathways within the soul that function beyond the normal parameters of the mundane world (e.g. Tree of Life).
e. Spiritualise through Prayer & Meditation the interior processes that generally remain invisible to the secular mind (Thoughts, Feelings, Images and breathing).
Above all, enjoy!
To be cont. . . .
archetype, an original model after which other similar things are patterned.
antitype, also anti-type, "that which is prefigured," corresponding in form" (as the impression to the die).
type, something that represents an antitype.