The Golden Eye of Fiveness (3)

Figure One – the pentagram, emerging at the end of our search for perfect ‘fiveness’.

“It is highly dishonourable for a Reasonable Soul to live in so Divinely built a Mansion as the Body she resides in, altogether unacquainted with the exquisite structure of it…”

Robert Boyle

In Part One, and Part Two we looked at a the emergence of a special number, Phi, that allowed the division of any ‘whole’ – like a figure in a painting or a building – into a series of proportions that divided it, but also retained its original relationship to the overall dimensions. the original ‘parent’. The number cannot be written, exactly, because it is ‘irrational’ – really an infinite relationship whose digits never recur. But the table below shows its emergence, to three decimal places, from the Fibonacci series. See Part One for the details.

Figure Two: the Emergence of the Phi “Golden Mean” from the Fibonacci series

This magical number, often called the Golden Mean or the Golden Section, was named Phi after the Greek artist and sculptor, Phidias, best known for his design of the statue of Athena within the Parthenon in Athens and the celebrated status of Zeus at Olympus. Both works were famous for their beauty… and also a sense of ‘specialness’. The reason for the latter is less well understood, yet central to our final consideration of this essence of ‘fiveness’.

Figure Three: Reproduction of the Olympian Zeus in the sculptured antique art of Quatremère de Quincy (1815) Source Wikipedia. Public Domain. The original statue was 43 feet tall.

Phidias, or the school he belonged to, had discovered that the human body followed ‘divine proportions’ – all based on the magical number of Phi – approximated as 1.618.

In the human form, the primary unit of this ‘divided divinity’ was the vertical distance between the brow of the face (the top of the eye, as in ‘eyebrow’) and the tip of the nose. Taking this as a base, the the vertical distance from the brow to the crown of the head is Phi times the base unit -the brow to tip of nose.

Moving the other way, the Phi ratio applies between the nose tip to the base of the neck. Travelling down the body, the same ratio applies – but with increasing lengths – from the neck to the armpit, then the navel, to the reach of the fingertips, and, finally from the fingertips to the soles of the feet. Using this analysis, there are seven harmonic sections to the human body.

Phidias used these proportions to create his breathtaking art. His approach was copied by many throughout history, including Leonardo Da Vinci, who had also inherited a love of another symbol that encapsulated the uniqueness of this magical proportion – the pentagram.

Figure Four: The pentagram, the embodiment of the perfection of Phi in its human form.

The origin of the pentagram is lost in ancient history, but was known as an astronomical symbol around 6,000 years BC in the land that became Sumer – possibly to represent the visible planets: Jupiter, Mercury, Marks, Saturn and Venus.

Its rise in Western history is due to the adoption by the School of Pythagoras (approx 500 BC), who shaped so much of our philosophical thought. The Pythagoreans knew the mathematical properties of the Golden Ratio and its relationship to the pentagram. Pythagoras was said to keep his own small pentagram with him at all times.

To conclude this series of three posts. Let’s examine the pentagram in the light of what we have learned about the Golden Section –

This five-sided ‘star’ can stand alone, or can sit within either a pentagon or a circle. The simple iPad geometry app I’ve used to create these diagrams (Geometry Pad) allowed only one measurement to be shown while the snapshots were being taken. We need to combine the measurements shown in Figure Four and Figure Five.

Figure Five: the Phi ratio runs through the entire geometry of the pentagram.

Look at the line running from G to I. It has three divisions caused by the intersections with the other vertices. From Figure Four we see that the distance from G to the first intersection is 5 units. Figure five shows us that the next section is of length 3.095 units. Allowing for the slight inaccuracy of the graphics we can divide the smaller by the larger and get 1.618, which is the value of Phi – the Golden Section.

This is only one instance. The pentagram is entirely constructed from Phi and Phi squared. As we have seen, it is truly the glyph of the human, and its Phi-based symmetry is too closely allied to our proportions to be considered an accidental result.

The Vesica Piscis – birthing place of all sacred geometry

It is beyond the scope of this post but the pentagram first emerges – graphically – from the interaction of two circles, as above. First comes the point, then the line, then the triangle, then the square – then the pentagram. It occupies a very special place in Creation…

I believe we will go on discovering further depths to the pentagram in the years to come.

Other posts in this series:

One Two This is Three

©Copyright Stephen Tanham

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.

The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.

Steve’s personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com.

The Golden Eye of Fiveness (2)

Sunflower florets are arranged in a natural spiral having a Fibonacci sequence, with different values for clockwise and anticlockwise rotation. Image Wiki CC by SA 2.5 L. Shyamal – Own work.

In Part One, we looked at a very simple sequence of numbers that ‘orbited’ or homed-in on a certain value. Now we need to examine that value and look at the sheer magic of what it represents.

The ‘planet’ which has captured our spaceship emerges in the third line of black numbers from the Fibonacci sequence.

This new number was 1.618. It’s derivation is summarised in the diagram above, and described in the previous post. Simply: (red numbers) we add the two previous numbers to get the next. Next: (green numbers) we offset the first line of numbers one place to the right and, using a calculator to three decimal places, we treat the offset numbers of fractions, one number above the other. The third (black) line gives the calculator results, which stabilise at 1.618.

The ‘series’ that generates it – known as the Fibonacci series – came into existence at the time the world was abandoning the old and (by then) clumsy Roman notation (I, II, IV etc) and moving to the Arab-derived numerals that we use today.

The special number 1.618 is known by many names, such a the Golden Ratio and the Golden Mean. It is a number that shows us how we can divide something to protect its ‘wholeness’ in a harmonic way. By doing this, the divided figure will always exhibit pleasing proportions when placed next to (or within) the ‘parent’ figure. For example, Leonardo Da Vinci used it, extensively, in his most famous pictures.

But there are much deeper implications to this than something that looks or feels good, important though that is.

The materialist sees the world as having numbers by virtue of an ‘accident’ that they fit how we see and describe things. The mystic looks for the experience of ‘oneness’ with the processes that created the universe. You can’t find that experience unless you look for it. The universe owes us no debt of making it happen in our minds and hearts – the search must be ours… then the doors of perception will be opened.

Imagine that we have a strip of paper that we are going to divide by cutting with scissors. Let’s say the length of the initial strip is represented by the letter ‘A’. When we cut the strip we will have three values: the initial length (A); and the lengths of the two pieces we produce. We can name the two ‘child’ pieces (a) – the longest, and (b) – the shortest.

Under all circumstances, the original length (A) would be equal to the sum of the two children (a+b) . We can write this A=b+c, the most simple kind of ‘equation’ we could every want to see.

The miraculous Fibonacci number (given the name Phi in the 20th century) gives us the means to divide the original strip of paper such that the longer of the two child pieces bears the same relationship (ratio) to the original strip, as the larger child does to the smaller…

We can keep on doing this – cutting each successive larger portion – with smaller and smaller divisions of the original strip of paper. The whole ‘creation’ will be in harmonic proportions. This generation of smaller and smaller ‘harmonic’ children is called self-similarity.

Nature uses ‘Phi’ all the time. The recent science of Fractals shows how essential self-similar division is for nature to achieve its purposes. A tree is a fractal, for example, as are our lungs. Our blood vessels can carry oxygen to our cells because they follow fractal rules of becoming smaller and smaller within the finite space of our bodies. Only by using such structures can incredibly large processes fit into small spaces. The generation of Phi is not a fractal process, but it perfectly illustrates the marvel of the related fractal structures in nature.

Examples of this in nature include the petals of flowers, such as the sunflower, and the spirals of nautilus sea shells… But there are innumerable examples.

So, how would we actually work out the Phi-derived point of where to cut our twenty-unit strip of paper? We can arrange the self-similar formula so that we have a quadratic equation to solve, but where’s the fun in that!

Instead, we can look at the workings of the older graphical method carried out with the use of compass and straight edge. This brings home the inclusive and ‘connective’ nature of working by hand and is illustrated below:

The horizontal line A-B is the length of paper we wish to divide into the harmonic proportions given by the Fibonacci-derived Phi number 1.618. In this example, the length is 20 units.

To begin, we imagine we have turned the base line (A-B) into a square of four sides and select its right-hand vertical halfway point.

To shorten this, I have simply created point C at the correct half-value (10). The compass is placed on point C and set to the distance of C-B. We begin to draw an upward arc from B to the intersection with the hypotenuse A-C. We then set the compass to a base at the origin – A, and extend its pencil to the previous intersection with the hypotenuse. This time we draw downwards until the curve intersects with the original length A-B. The point of crossing is the length of the largest ‘child’ as above.

The length value, the golden ratio, gives us a new ‘longest child’ length of 12.36 units. We could cut at this point. The relationship of the larger child to the smaller is the same relationship as the original full length to the largest child.

This process could be repeated to infinity using the successive larger pieces. The entire family of larger pieces would inherit the divine proportions of the ‘mother’ length.

In the final post, next week, we will examine how the pentagram combines all the above properties into a single figure of dynamic value to mankind.

Other posts in this series:

One This is Two.

©Copyright Stephen Tanham

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.

The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.

Steve’s personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com.

The Golden Eye of Fiveness (1)

In the dream the Hermit was speaking. “I am the eye of fiveness,” he said.

I listened… dreams are not always this lucid.

“In the beginning was the division, not the multiplication; and the division contained what divided it, but in another form…”

I was listening, intently. The figure of the Hermit promised great insight…

No-thing can be a principle. It does not have to be nothing…” He paused, smiling. “But it does have to be a ghost…”

I wondered if you could blink in a dream… apparently not. He placed a dot in the centre of the sky. Then extended his arms into the shape of a draughtsman’s compass and drew, black on azure, a circle.

I smiled, understanding something, at last. “Ah, yes,” I said. “The dot is no-thing, but has existence – if only as a position. The dot is zero.” I paused, aware that my thinking was waking me up… I had to get to a point of…. memory or I would lose it all…

“The circle is everything and everywhere,” I said. “The circle – One – is the arena of existence!”

The way the Hermit faded indicated he was pleased. And then, like the Cheshire cat that left only a smile, he was gone…

That dream was many years ago. I was studying the pentagram and the way it was used in a magical school of the soul. I knew that the geometry – and hence the numeric basis – was closely linked to the organic life we all share.

But I wanted something deeper… and had asked for it.

I consider that my attitudes are roughly half ‘science’ and half mystical. That way, I avoid the worst excesses of both, such as mysticism’s inclination to be fluffy, and to espouse the most complex ‘magical’ theories, even if they are twice as forced as the simplest scientific truths.

Equally, science’s dogmatic adoption of the ‘we are the only truth‘ attitude is to be avoided. Consciousness is not rooted in numbers, but the human mechanism – the body and how it works – is.

So, if you’d like to join in, let’s go in search of what’s at the heart of the pentagram: ‘fiveness’. Stand up and take yourself into a different mental and emotional ‘space’. Tell yourself that you’re not doing something trivial, but something that’s a living key to how you are, or were, before the layers of civilisation, work and family walled us all in numbness.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Source: Wikki, Public Domain

Stretch out your arms and legs so you look like Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous picture of the ‘Vitruvian Man’. Each hand’s five fingers and each foot’s five toes make up four of the five points of your human pentagram. Your head – the controller, communications receiver and maker of your organic ‘me’ – forms the other. We may reasonably ask what is the fiveness of the head? The question may already have triggered an answer in your mind….

If you’ve never encountered the Fibonacci series, stay with me and I’ll do my best to explain it – very simply. It’s worth the few minutes it will take to understand it.

Fibonacci: Begin on the (Red) First Row by simply adding the previous two numbers to get the next in the sequence.

We begin with zero, then one, because the whole of metaphysics is based on their relationship. Zero is the potential for all numbers to exist. One is symbolically the ‘monad’ – the complete everything from which we come and to which we will return; but One is also the first number, so is doubly useful in this example. We could say that, in Nature, everything is a fraction, yet Nature knows no fractions… Mankind sees only fractions, yet contains the seed of that which caused that division in the first place.

From zero and one, the next term in the series of Fibonacci numbers is generated by adding the two previous numbers. So, (from 0+1) we get another 1. At this point the series starts to take shape, growing quickly as each new number emerges from the sum of the previous two.

The row of green numbers is exactly the same line of numbers as the red ones above. But they have all been shifted one place to the right. What we’re going to do now is to create a fraction (don’t panic – I’ll do the calculations!) from each of the sets of two numbers; one above the other. So the first one would be 1/0 which is an invalid number, since we cannot divide by zero in ordinary mathematics. The next one is 1/1, which is just 1. The next one is 2/1, which is 2. We can see from this that we are swaying from one ‘extreme’ to the other; between the numbers 1 and 2.

Let’s continue to work these numbers to see what it is that we are swaying around… This is a bit like finding you’re a spaceship being pulled into the orbit of an unknown planet… but this planet holds one of the fundamental keys to the Universe…

The ‘planet’ which has captured our spaceship emerges in the third line of black numbers from the Fibonacci sequence.

It takes only ten ‘terms’ of the fractions from the Fibonacci series to produce the hidden planet to which our spaceship is being drawn. If you have a calculator you can check the fractions which lead to it; 5 divided by 3, 8 divided by 5, etc. Each of these divisions gets closer to a number that emerges in the greyed out boxes of term ten, above. From there onwards, the number 1.618 is present in all the results, which continue to ‘sway’ around finer and finer divisions of this mysterious destination.

In fact, we can never get at the final answer, since it is what maths calls an ‘irrational’ number – one that isn’t really a number at all, but is only defined by (in this case) an infinite (never-ending) convergence towards smaller and smaller units.

In practical terms this doesn’t matter. The three decimal places of 1.618 will do us fine. To go beyond this would involve us worrying about one ten-thousandth of a unit, which would be needed in only the most specialised engineering application, such as space travel!

But enough of the maths! We’ve landed on planet Phi… This mysterious number is so important that, like its cousin Pi, it has its own name. Phi is also known as the Golden Mean, the Golden Ratio… and a host of other historic names. It has been with us for a long time.. and very few people know its full significance.

In the next post we’ll examine what it Phi really means; and why it makes the Pentagram and Pentagon such important geometric figures in any world where harmony is important… which is just about everywhere. We’ll also consider why Phi is truly the ghost in the machine

©Copyright Stephen Tanham

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.

The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.

Steve’s personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com.

Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee, part 29 – The Killing of Teachers

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Somewhat disappointed in myself for last week’s late arrival, I am here early, to give me time to chat to Rose. That darling lady, who runs the tea room, has watched and supported our craziness for some time.

Craziness? I don’t really think so … though, when I get off that train in London each Monday, and stiffen back into my world – what I now think of, in a dramatic reversal of attitude, as my other world – I feel I’m entering the real craziness; and that this gentle, if often dramatic probing of life and truth is the reality …

I’ve changed in all sorts of ways, some of which I haven’t told John about. I want him to notice, and I’m sure he does, but, I’ve toned down my formal dress and made plainer most of my accessories. In this there is a slight emulation of his simplicity – though I know that, in his former business world, he would have shared the crisp uniforms of indulgent excess … He’s never asked me to do this, but it’s a kind of respect for the transition he must have gone through when he walked away to do ‘his thing’ as he often puts, it; smiling mischievously at me.

Looking at the time, I finish my friendly conversation with Rose and pick up our coffees from the counter. I refuse her kindly offer of help, and take them to the small table in the sea-facing corner – the place of our meetings. He arrives as I put down the steaming mugs.

“Morning Alexandra,” he says, softly. Giving me a peck on the cheek.

“Morning John.” My smile is a beam. Life is good.

He launches straight in, “Hercules–Heracles, we decided, didn’t we? How are you getting on with him?”

I consider my response carefully. I’ve been doing my homework and it’s thrown up more questions than answers. “Twelve …” I let it hang in the air. I know it’s important.

“Ah yes,” he says, not mockingly. “Twelve – a fascinating number … four times three, and three times four.” He sips his coffee, watching me; and then, when I say nothing, he does one of his time-stopping things: he picks up three small packets of sugar from the bowl in the middle of the table, tears the heads off two of them in an exaggerated gesture, and smooths out the deliberately spilled contents across the inset glass top of our small, round table. The remaining packet he keeps in his left hand as he sips his coffee.

I can’t see her, but I know that, behind me, Rose is planning his slow death …

“Show me twelve …” he says, flickering his eyes at me, snake-like. For a second, I wonder how many other nieces in the world are treated like this? I stare at the surface of white sugar. What does he want?  Do I write the numerals 12 in the crystals?  No, he wants something deeper than that. I hold my chin in my hands, staring the sugar, while doing my best to empty my mind, letting the moment speak; enabling something that is already there to reveal itself … within that calmed now, it does, and with a smile, I draw a near-perfect circle in the white sugar.

I look up and he nods.  “How many now?”

“Not twelve …” I’m teasing him; and enjoying it. “But it could be twelve – or as many as you want there to be … the circle is infinitely pliable, after all.”

“Good answer,” he says, nodding down at the sugar. “A cycle of perfection and completeness, then, no matter how big its circumference?”

“Like the year – having twelve months and then beginning again …”

“With the four seasons?” he asks, reasonably.

Something tells me to draw a equal-armed cross in the circle. I do so, dividing it into four quadrants. “Spring, summer, autumn, winter …” I say.

John leans forward to hover his hand anti-clockwise over the newly quartered circle. “And who else might work here?” he asks.

I look down at the symbol I have drawn. I imagine it divided into the full twelve, with the quadrants superimposed as they are. Something pulls me to the answer.

“Why … astrologers, I suppose? They share the use of a seasonal circle, don’t they?”

“They do indeed,” he replies , then adds. “In a greater and a lesser sense,”

“Greater and lesser?”

“The twelve periods of the year, which we know as the signs of the zodiac; and the long ages of the evolution of life on Earth, which is known as the precession of the equinoxes, which takes twenty-six thousand years to transit the whole zodiac and just over two thousand years to transit each of the signs.”

“The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius …” I hear myself saying, smiling at a memory of a song from my uncle’s own youth that he used to sing to me as a child.

“Indeed,” he says, also smiling,”Though, in truth and mathematics, it has yet to dawn.”

“We’re still in the great age of Capricorn?” I ask, keen to show off my pub quiz sequence of the signs.

“Almost …” he fights a kindly smile. “Remember that the greater cycle goes backwards, so, if Aquarius is next, then we are in the age of …?”

“Oh, I see – so that would be Pisces?”

“Yes.”

“The age of the fish,” I add, grasping at some of the deeper pub facts.

“And the fish was one of the key symbols of?”

Suddenly it hits, me … This is not just an intellectual exercise. What he’s starting to describe is the happening of events on a vast scale, something like the wave that we discussed so long ago, that provides great energy and superhuman challenges … and the effects are repeated, at smaller and smaller scales as the same laws empower and challenge the evolution of more and more detailed forms of consciousness.

I cannot help say the word he’s expecting, “Christ …”

“Christ, a figure that some would call The Saviour of the Age … an age that is now coming to an end.”

I think of a single vast circle, containing within it many other circles which share the same sectors – the same seasons of energy and challenge as deeper evolution is urged forward. I think of all the circles centred on the same point in the middle, of a rippling outwards to form the ‘space’ within which it all happens, and then a return home to the centre, each circle playing its essential part, each circle as important as any of the others, despite its apparent ‘smallness’. He watches, perfectly still …

“So you lead with twelve … and Heracles?” He lets the silence be the question. Into that perfect space comes the sentiment for which I’ve been fishing.

“So the twelve labours are the generic – the cosmically derived – labours we must all face on the way to a higher level of consciousness?”

His reply is tinged with humility, “It is my belief that they were constructed that way … but the only way to test that is to bring them to life – your life …”

I sit back to think, and finish my coffee. While I am doing this, he leans slightly forward and asks, “What did Hercules do to deserve his labours?”

There are many answers, depending on the bias of the historian involved, but they all agree on one thing.

“He killed people close to him …”

He leans closer, and whispers, “In one very wise version, he killed his teachers …” He lets it hang in the air.

“Killed his teachers?” I sit there, mute. The thought of killing one’s teacher is appalling … and then I see, between the stark words, that there is another meaning to this. I want to share it with him, but he’s stood up and gone to fetch a pan, brush and wiping cloth from Rose, who is grinning at the counter, pleased at his seeming contrition.

When he comes back, I’m ready. In his hand, alongside the cleaning tools, is the remaining bag of sugar. I take it from him and look deeply into his kind eyes.

“Independence,” I say. “My journey and only mine …”

Matching his earlier violence, I rip the head off the sugar and pour it onto the drawn circle, scattering my symbolic atoms into the space of creation, freeing them from all conditioning patterns.

He says nothing, just bends to plant a kiss on the top of my head, then hands me the pan and brush.

“Your first labour, then …”

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Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.

All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.

Steve Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness; a place of companionship, sharing and the search for the real in life, using the loving techniques and insights of esoteric psychology. He retired from a life as an IT entrepreneur to establish the School in 2012, and, having persuaded Sue Vincent to . . .

Read more (500 words)

Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee, part 28 – A Shifting Perspective

Nine Deadly headless Greek

I was late into the coffee shop that Monday morning. My black briefcase was stuffed with information about the Greek myths that I’d printed from the internet. There was a lot on the net about the Labours of Hercules – or Heracles, to give him what I assumed to be his rightful name.

He was sitting at our usual table; two lattés in front of him, one of them half drunk, the other half cold. He smiled as I appeared in a whirlwind of apologies.

“Sorry,” I blurted out. “Nothing simple …”

He got the drift. “Morning Alexandra. One of those days where a series of small disasters conspire?” he said.

It was the perfect description, but I refused to go into detail. Our meetings were brief enough, without wasting time on trivial things. I looked across at his calm face. I had known him for a long time and our relationship had spanned many incarnations – from friend of the family to the present state of ‘mystical teacher’; a title he had always resisted, saying that he was simply sharing a journey.

“Particularly now,” he said, out of the blue, in the way he could, sometimes. “You were, perhaps thinking about the changing relationship we enjoy and our new agenda?”

I took a deep breath.  Sometimes, there was about him a sense of timelessness, as though the ‘now’ were filled with something far bigger than he was. Not that he cut a particularly imposing figure, anyway. He was of medium height and had lost most of the hair on the top of his head. The skin on the back of his hands had started to wrinkle with age and he didn’t walk with the same spring in his step that I remembered from my teens.  I supposed he was a perfectly average sixty-year old; but inside me, I hadn’t wanted that; hadn’t wanted him to age, since I had always looked up to the sort of person he had been to me – someone who was that bit different; someone who would cut through the sort of trivia that the rest of the world seemed to enjoy, and describe how you were feeling in a simple word or two – as he had just demonstrated.

“The Greek Myths?” he asked quietly. “You wanted us to explore the possible deeper meanings of the Twelve Labours of Hercules?”

“Heracles,” I interjected. “Hercules is an unnecessary westernised change.”

“I agree,” he said, easily. “Let’s use Heracles, then. I can see your homework–“ he pointed at my bulging briefcase. “–it looks like you’ve done a fair amount of research?”

I was both pleased and irritated by the mountain of information in the bag. “I have, but it’s all facts; whereas I have the feeling that what you want to steer me towards is of a different order to mere facts.”

He sipped his coffee and answered gently, “So tell me what’s wrong with facts?”

I thought carefully before answering. There was something fundamental to the understanding of myths in what was wrong with facts. “They don’t represent understanding,” I said. “Something else has to happen to facts to turn them into understanding.”

“Why don’t we just learn understanding?” he asked. It sounded such a reasonable question.

“Can you teach understanding?” I asked.

“You tell me – can you?”

I thought about this. What was the difference between the two? Education was filled with the cramming of facts into young heads; exams were all about their regurgitation. Did that produce understanding? I thought not; understanding was about something different, something ‘higher’ that used a working of the facts to produce something more fluid; more powerful.

“You can transmit facts,” I said, triumphantly. “You can’t transit understanding – that has to be earned by an alchemy of the consciousness which uses facts as fuel …”

He widened his eyes and smiled, “I’d say that was a very good answer.” He paused and seemed to be listening to the moment, again. “So what does understanding have to do with myth?”

I was on the trail of something. We could both feel it, even if he already knew what it was. I tried to find words that would express this glimmer I had glimpsed.

“Myth is like a machine – a living machine that works with the layers of the mind associated with understanding and wisdom.”

“I would agree,” he said. “It’s a bit like having a language that describes a language.”

“I’ve met that in the law,” I said. “There are constructs that are referred to as a meta-form whose job is to hold anything that belongs in that form.”

“A bit like an equation in maths?”

“Exactly so,” he said, smiling. “Though that might frighten most people!”

“Yes …” I thought back to the struggles I had endured with maths; and yet the concepts were so beautiful when you grasped them.

“But we don’t need to be that rigorous with myth,” he said, finishing his coffee. “We just need to ensure we speak the same language as the originators …”

“So what now?” I asked.

He looked at his watch. “So now you need to leave to catch your train.”

I groaned and looked at my own watch – an expensive Cartier in black and gold. He was right. In my intensity of thought, combined with my late start, I had run out of time. I slurped the rest of my coffee – now luke warm, and picked up the heavy briefcase.

“Facts are like that,” he said, looking at the overstuffed case under my arm. “It’s much better to carry understanding. That way, you can deal with any fact …”

I looked down at my uncle John. Since my father had died, prematurely, in my mid-teens, he had always been there – but never before like this … we were entering a new phase of working together in this unexpected realm. I leaned over and planted a quick and cheeky kiss on the bald top of his head. “Next Monday?”

He looked up, warily, laughing at my affection, but not wanting it to be misinterpreted. “Most certainly,” he said. “wouldn’t miss it for the world …”

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Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.

All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.

Steve Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness; a place of companionship, sharing and the search for the real in life, using the loving techniques and insights of esoteric psychology. He retired from a life as an IT entrepreneur to establish the School in 2012, and, having persuaded Sue Vincent to . . .

Read more (500 words)