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Archive for the ‘geometry of spirit’ Category

trinity

In playing the piano, pressing one key is hardly making music. Intoning one note does little to  inspire. Pressing two keys is not much better, offering a musically lean sound; an incompleteness. It is only the intoning of three, a full chord ( the 1st, 3rd and 5th), that we move  toward music. Interesting, too, is that the chord itself is made up of notes a third higher up to the perfect 7th.

With chords in mind, we then sequence them and orchestrate their intersection to form musical phrases. So, until we reach the triads, we are missing dimensionality and fullness. One thinks of Bach and the exquisite, complex interweaving and harmonics that leave us  amazed – all of it an evolving musical phrase with roots in the Law of Three.

This reference to the mathematics of music serves as an experiential anchor for understanding the Sacred Trinity. A flight to thinking reductionistically in terms of Unity alone, is the intellectual equivalent of intoning a single note. This arguably diminishes the natural experience of the tri-fold movement that is so essential to music and, in fact, to the very structure of the universe: (e.g., the attraction of atoms to form molecules and molecules to form the complex chemistry of life).

Dualism, conceiving things in dyads, adds more dynamism but operates only along a tense two-dimensional polar axis: right – wrong, heaven – hell, love – hatred, light- dark, etc. The tension has no hope of resolution until arrival of  the 3rd. Mother and father join to conceive a child and thus family is born. In this example, the family is the arising 4th made possible by the triad ( Father, Mother, & Child). At the molecular level, two elements join to form a new molecule that has characteristics different from either of its constituent parts. With greater and greater complexification, as reasoned by Pierre Teilhard De Chardin, whole systems emerge. Each triad gives rise to a new entity, the 4th. The Law of Three is also at the heart of the thinking of Russian Mystic Gurdjieff who founded an entire system on the idea. 

In matters of mystical theology, this idea has great import. Reference to the “Heavenly Father” alone marks a first monotheistic step in human thinking about the sacred. Yet, the Father was still “ein sof, the unknowable One”, “the Other” and often fearsomely distant. Through the mystery of the Incarnation, we came to see the Father in the Son – the epitome of love and compassion. That relationship gives rise to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, completing the sacred musical chord. Once complete, consciousness moves inexorably toward greater complexity and the grand orchestration of the musical spheres carries us toward inner experiences that reason can never manufacture. Reason sets the table for epiphany but then must be transcended if we are to have the true knowledge of the Heart.

Trinitarian thinking is concordant with nature itself. Anything less weakens the spiritual engine driving us toward true knowing.

© The Harried Mystic, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Imagine a theological Sherlock Holmes: Seeing details overlooked by most.

There is a spiritual lesson in really seeing more of what is happening around us. Clear sight, the skill of tracking, is deep meditation. It cannot be accomplished unless we quiet all of our inner leaping.

One useful practice is to try to draw what we are seeing. Almost immediately, we discover that we are not really seeing but recalling an image of what we think we are looking at. In the act of really examining our surround, we can catch a glimpse of things as they are. In doing so, we set the stage for breaking through to a new relationship.

Martin Buber referred to I – It vs. I – Thou relationships. I -It is seeing inner facsimiles of objects, whereas I -Thou is inter- subjective and intimate.

We are all artists. The real question is are we rendering what is or what we think we know. Biblical knowing is about seeing from the inside-out rather than outside in.

The good news is that all we need is a pad and pen or pencil and we are off on an adventure of discovery. Looking with intent to really see gets us beyond vague sketches to catching the wisdom of actual detail.

Cultivating an artist’s eye opens us up to first seeing what’s there and then seeing into and beyond mere appearances. It is instructive that artistic realism preceded impressionism and expressionism. A jump straight to impressionism is not an act of deep sight but a crass short-cut, a pretense and an affectation.

Happy sketching!

© The Harried Mystic, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Threshold-at-Cong-Abbey

In a few days here in the Northeast, we have transitioned from grey tone days to brilliant sun and a small foretaste of Spring. It is fitting that this occurs in our physical space at the halfway point in Lent: a time of penitent waiting and of making ready for the celebration of the Resurrection.

Throughout all of nature, there is a profound and persistent contrapuntal harmony. With the predominance of dark matter in the known universe, the brilliance of the Suns we can see are framed in darkness to enhance their radiance. Like any fine painting, the frame is terribly important.

In the paintings of the Masters of Flanders, the play of light and shadow is central to the artists’ fascination. So too in our seasonal shifts, we are caught up in the dance of undulations: a perpetual journeying from form to form, mood to mood, dark to light. Crucifixion – Resurrection, grey skies- sky-blues, down, bored and lonely-elated, captivated and engaged with life and others.

This is the eternal rondo of life, the poetry of opposites that defines the essential fabric of the Real. This counterpoint, the stuff of waves, is present around and within. The contrasts and transitions enliven us and invite us to be open and be opened.

We are called to ride the waves with open hearts and abiding trust that the Christos speaks in these transitions. The soul is fed and attuned to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Let us rejoice in waiting for the next great contrast and the call to greater attention and deep appreciation.

© The Harried Mystic, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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It’s been about two months since I last posted. The time has been one of frequent travel, fashioning new material to spark fresh dialogues among clients, and a time, otherwise, for  fewer words.

Authentic writing needs fresh perspectives. It  is good for the soul to invite incubation. So, my last 60 days have been about emptying.

It’s been said that nature abhors a vacuum and moves quickly to fill it. Yet, there’s a lot of vacuum in the Cosmos. Maybe this simply isn’t so.

Nature does not abhor a vacuum so much as it finds its shape according to unseen patterns that make it up. Vacuum conjures up  a great and infinite emptiness. On the contrary, the Cosmic vacuum is a plenitude.

Overwhelmed by unimaginable distances, could it be that we mistake the vastness of the seemingly empty expanse of space for the fearsome darkness of “non-being”?

Space-time is an n-dimensional funky quilt that we can only marvel at as we gaze on it abstractly through the lens of mathematics. Nonetheless, the very fact that we imagine it  suggests our intuitive and playful sense of its underlying fullness.

When we silence the mind’s manufacture of crafted sentences and paragraphs, and even briefly hit the pause button, it may just be that we then unleash the deeper depths, wider views, richer hues, and that fertile vastness that buoys all our hopeful imaginings and heartfelt expressions.

I sing a song in praise of true away time, a brief silencing of  our own voice so the poet inside the silence is the voice more clearly heard.

© Brother Anthony Thomas and The Harried Mystic, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Don’t we love symmetry? The way we hang things on our walls, arrange furniture, and landscape our yards is a testament to our deep-rooted need for it. We are ourselves physical exemplars of symmetry: two eyes, two cerebral hemispheres, two kidneys, two lungs, two ears, two arms and legs, two chambers of the heart ( right and left atriums and ventricles), two nostrils, five fingers on each hand, on and on. In music, we tend to prefer balanced harmony over discordant sound (though 20th century music introduced the unusually effective and evocative discordant sound of twelve-tone music).

We also see symmetry throughout the natural world. Nature seeks out equilibrium. Symmetry and the aesthetics of beauty are intimately intertwined. Mathematics is no exception and the study of mathematical symmetry has been a passion of esoteric mathematics for a long time. These mathematical investigations have also gone well beyond delving into the world of three dimensions. In fact, in the 1800’s, mathematicians studying symmetry introduced a 128-dimensional structure considered perhaps the most complex example, called E8.

I have written before about the extraordinary capacity of the human mind to imagine abstract maths that are then later embodied in empirically verified phenomena. E8 is apparently no exception. The most recent issue of New Scientist (January 16-22, 2010, page 12) reports that physicists of the University of Oxford have identified the E8 signature in super-chilled crystals. It appears that the electrons in the crystals organize themselves in accordance with the relationships defined by the structure of E8.

Once again, human imagination precedes natural discovery. To have dreamt it in the 19th century, in the disciplined language of mathematics, only to find it in the 21st, attests to the extent to which mind is fed by universal archetypes that move toward final expression in consciousness. We make conscious what is already there at the heart of matter awaiting revelation.

The source of such revelations is intimate and infinite: an inexhaustible fountain of revelation.

© Brother Anthony Thomas and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

References:

Exotic Form of Symmetry Makes Real-world Debut

Mathematicians Solve E8 Structure

Mathematicians Map E8

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As we go ahead on our course in life’s spiritual voyage, we come to explore the multifaceted and multidimensional character of Spirit. We look at all of its diverse manifestations and forms, symbolic expressions, signs, and personal experiences. As we progress, as typified by our education, we dive into literatures that themselves present increasing degrees of complexity and nuance. We stretch as we go from our earliest studies of simple geometries to the more complex ones and then on to even more abstract mathematical imagining.

Often ignored in all this diversity and language and intellectual sophistication, is the lowly point. We hardly give the small dot on a page much attention ( unless, of course, it separates dollars from cents, pounds from pennies). So, what’s a point anyway?

In geometry, the “point” is an object in space  lacking in extent ( volume, area, length, etc.). In the Cartesian plot, it is  a unique position in space defined by paired values x and y. In any event, we spend most of our time thinking about trends, three points or more, and the geometric shapes. What, then, of the forgotten, lonely point?

In astrophysics, there is a vibrant dialogue that has been underway for some time on “gravitational singularity.” This also refers to a “point” where the “gravity well” runs so deep that objects, including light, enter but do not re-emerge.  Singularities are points of infinite density at the center of “black holes.” It is thought that our universe began as a singularity just prior to the “big bang.” In fact, you and I began life, in a sense, as biological singularities: single points that then became ever more complex through specialization of cells.

In turning to the matter of Sacred mysteries, there are striking parallels.  Out of the very simple comes complexity. From the still point at the center, humankind has evolved complex systems of expression to capture the naked singularity that cannot be so clearly seen, but that exerts such great power on our consciousness.

Alpha & Omega are points, not trends, not triangles, not cones, nor circles. Ultimately, we will all get to the point, and it will be a return.

Practically speaking, this meditation awakens a sense of the reason we meditate at all. To get to the point, the singularity, the origin and the destination.

I include here a relevant prayer and meditation from the Liturgy of the Order of the Christos [ A Celebration of the Cosmic Heart] incorporating poetry from a number of the Nag Hammadi texts.

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Glory be to you, O Father.

Glory be to you, O Word.

Glory be to you, O Grace.

Glory be to you, O Mother.

Glory be to you , O Most Holy.

We give thanks to you, O Light.

In whom darkness does not dwell.

Gloria in Excelsis Deo.

Who are you O Holy One that comes out of Light?

What mouth can speak your name, or mind conceive your nature?

You hold the whole of creation within the circle of your care.

You are the Center,

The Circumference,

The Origination.

The Destination.

Maranantha, AMEN!

© Brother Anthony Thomas and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Doughnuts!

At the center you’re on the edge.

Yes, that’s right. Whether you fancy Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Cremes, the true doughnut ( the one with a hole in the middle), is a fitting metaphor for the spiritual life. Forrest Gump’s good and ever wise mother notwithstanding, chocolates are not the most fitting symbol. What I am talking about is the geometry of the Spirit. When you travel along an edge of the doughnut, you are also moving around the center.

Mathematicians refer to the doughnut shape as a torus, and its shape is “liminocentric”. So, what’s the meaning of this obscenely multi-syllabic word? In the case of liminocentricity, traveling along an edge, or, an outside part of the shape, is paradoxically also traveling inside of it. Many who talk about this kind of shape refer to the “chinese boxes” by way of analogy, wherein a series of smaller boxes fit inside larger ones. To be liminocentric ( limen, denoting thresholds, and centric, for center) small and large details of the shape are also the same.

The term was first used by Psychologist John Fudjack in his 1995 paper, Liminocentric Forms of Social Organization. The word has caught on in circles as diverse as physics, art, and consciousness studies. So, what’s all the fuss about?

In living spiritually, thresholds matter a lot. The moments of insight are most often threshold moments: we feel on the verge of some discovery. Perhaps we see something with fresh eyes, as if for the first time, or we are challenged in a way that seems to pull us into a new, unfamiliar space. But in opening ourselves to it, we are somehow closer to the center of reality, nearer a compelling truth.

Moses’ metaphorical encounter with the “burning bush” was liminocentric. He was at an unprecedented threshold, having stepped on holy ground where nothing was as we generally experience it. A bush burns without being consumed, and his relationship with the One embodied in the heat of the flame is at once personal, transpersonal, and Other. According to the Jewish Study Bible, the voice of Yahweh signs himself by uttering the words,” I will be what I will be.” The  burning bush was wholly and fully present, and also alive to all possible futures at the same time.

Moses stood on a mountain facing an awesome and, no doubt, terrifying visage, face to face with the ineffable, and they spoke: A Divine Q&A. He stood on a precipice, an edge, a verge of unknowing, and, at the same time, entered into the Bridal chamber, was at the center, at-onement with the Intimate Mystery.

Mathematicians and astrophysicists have gone far in exploring the geometry of liminocentricity. In fractal geometric terms, it is an apt model for the topology of the universe. The torus shape is ubiquitous: storm systems, galaxies, and black holes. There is no finer meditation than to open one’s eyes to the shapes of nature all around.

As we perceive the varieties of beautiful forms, we come to fully experience the outward topologies in deeply personal ways. Consciousness, it seems, is shaped as nature is shaped. Gazing inward, we experience our own threshold moments in which we are traveling an edge, and yet are closer to the center. We are involved in something seemingly small in finite time and space, but mindful, as a result, of the incomprehensibly vast.

  • Being present at the birth of one’s child;
  • The moment of awe standing on the perimeter of a volcanic caldera;
  • Holding the hands of a loved one as they pass away;
  • Hearing a lover’s heartbeat while feeling one’s own;
  • Being really awake in that fleeting split second in between two thoughts and listening to true silence;

As I move through this last day of the holiday weekend here, I will be taking special notice of things liminocentric, and of those moments that are both edges and centers, and where the structure of small details mirrors the large.

In any event, my next doughnut promises to be a very special treat indeed.

© Brother Anthony Thomas and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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