For this you were called, created, formed and made…
The human mind has always sought to represent the invisible…
A feeling might be represented by high art, such as Michelangelo’s marble sculpture ‘Pietà’, in St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City.
To stand before the Pieta sculpture is to be drawn into the emotion of Christ’s mother, holding the crucified body of her son, Jesus Christ. There is sadness, but something deeper – understanding of what his role was in the world and the sacrifice involved for him and for her.
We could also say that it represents the divine feminine in all her forms, giving birth to life and taking back its used-up form to be ploughed back into the ‘earth’ – nature – and become the visible stuff of life, again.
When it comes to ideas, rather than emotions, we often rely on conceptualisations to convey meaning to the viewer.
The object, above, is a good example of an powerful image with a potentially hidden meaning. What appears to be a circle is, in fact, half of a sphere. Were it to be complete, we would not be able to see its interior, so the sculptor has created it as a ‘section’, giving us a semi-physical representation so that we may, more accurately, create a deeper visualisation within our selves.
There are astrological markings on the flattened circumference, indicating that this may represent the life of a person, ‘incarnated’ into the world of matter. That world is governed by laws that seem to constrain but really are the basis of its enduring construction. The outer ring may also indicate the strong inclinations of the personality, as it develops under the rules of the world: combining external and inner influences into a life that strengthens and energises the inner being, now enshrouded in organic matter – great Nature’s own contribution to the process under way.
The horizontal ‘horizon’ line is self-describing in the sense of a navigation tool but could also be used to indicate one of the mystical ‘directions’ that are the seeming boundaries of our brain consciousness. Temples of the Mysteries are aligned along an East-West axis, as are churches and other buildings dedicated to the sacred in mankind and Nature.
There are other ‘directions’. North-South is an obvious complement to the first, but there is also Above-Below. Taken together, these give us the three dimensions of space, forming an endless sphere in which we appear to live and have our daily being.
‘God is a circle whose centre is everywhere, and circumference is nowhere…’Meister Eckhart
Time is, subjectively, the ‘duration of consciousness’; but physics is discovering deeper and deeper relationships between all the spatial directions, which increasingly appear to be a continuum tightly bound to consciousness.
We should not be surprised at this, since the most dramatic finding of Quantum physics was that energy only resolved itself into either wave, particle or both when it was measured, i.e. observed.
The most important element of the sculpture in Figure 3 is the arrow or pointer that descends from the symbolically highest – the ‘extreme’ and apparent outer – to the centre of the whole figure. These seeming extremes should generate a strong feeling in us… The idea of something vital penetrating to the very centre of our existence – being the centre of our existence is designed to make us think about who we really are…
The human is born into the middle of this ‘world’. At birth, the physical separation from mother is mirrored in the developing consciousness, which comes to see and experience itself as separate from the world in which it awakens. The mind becomes subject, the world, object.
As Wordsworth wrote:
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;Ode: Intimations of Immortality (extract)
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
The mystical journey has one goal: to use our temporal maturity to undo the forgetfulness of this incoming; to place within our consciousness an indigestible seed of a return whose journey may be quite different from what we envisage…
Many diagrammatic forms have been used to describe this. The Kabbalistic ‘Tree of Life’, below, maps a descent of consciousness from divine to human awareness. As part of this, the ‘world’ of the eventually conscious is also brought into ‘existence’ via the work of two vertical pillars of Force and Allowance.
The stages in this descent were famously described by Isaac Luria, a noted 16th century Kabbalist, as ‘called, created, formed and made’ – the subtitle of this post. The ten spheres of coming into being are divided into four regions of descent, corresponding to the above.
To understand why we are ‘called, created, formed and made’ we need to comprehend the idea of tsimtsum, whose literal meaning is contraction or condensation.
In Luria’s Kabbalah, God began the process of Creation by taking away, not by addition. What was taken away was the undifferentiated divine and infinite light, and the taking away affected a region that came to be the universe we know. This allowed a ‘beam’ of new creative light to be allowed back into the target dark region in a specific way: Kabbalistically a four-step process through ten manifestations that allowed the entire Creation to form its own consciousness and see the majesty of the whole from an apparently external perspective.
Consider that carefully… For the culmination of the entirety of that is the completion of the human consciousness.
Many things are said here … many more are left unsaid.
This post also forms the orientation paper for our next Silent Eye Explorations (SE-Explore) zoom meeting on Sunday 20th November 2022 at 8 pm. These virtual meetings last 90 minutes and are an informal gathering of curious people and some established mystical teachers. All are welcome. There is no charge.
For more information and the link to connect to the next meeting, send an email with the subject line ‘SE-Explore’ to:
©Stephen Tanham 2022
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.
http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog