A couple of years ago I had surgery on my arm. I was housebound for twelve weeks. That may sound great, but in reality, it was very hard on me. I felt isolated and had a very hard time getting any work done. I had a hard time getting motivated to do anything at all. I spent a lot of time wondering why I felt so down, why it was so tough. I’ve been through creative periods where the is a ton of forward progress. Then things screech to a sudden halt as a result of a surgery or some other malady. Worse than that, there are times when I don’t really know why nothing seems to be getting done. It’s not like I’m sitting around doing nothing during those times. I’m still working but there’s no real progress. The trick seems to be balancing the momentum and the forward progress with times when I feel like I’m in the crapper. Why is that? Why can’t forward momentum be steady, especially when you have a pretty good idea where you’re going? And it always seems like that, doesn’t it? It always seems like “two steps forward, one step back”. What’s the problem?
Then I started thinking about some of the things I’ve been reading to keep my little brain occupied. I’m a seeker so I read all kinds of esoteric stuff. One of the things I’ve been reading is The Kybalion, an interesting little book first published over a hundred years ago. In it, the unknown author describes the grand scale of the universe and the principles upon which it operates. And he (or she) does it in a non-religious way. Pretty heady stuff for a book from 1908. The first principle states that “all is mind”; the universe is mental. I don’t see any way around that. Look around you and think about all the things that happen on their own, without any participation from you. Cells dividing and reproducing. Your heart beating. Trees growing. Tides coming in. Stars being born. Galaxies forming. Assuming that there is some kind of “creator”, and I don’t see any way around that either, there must be a mental process at work. How else could the creation of the universe have happened? How else could all these processes have begun? Let me say at the outset that the very existence of the human body is enough for me to believe that there is some higher process at work. How anyone can look at the delicately balanced complexities and subtleties of the workings of our biology and think there’s not some master plan is beyond me. I think that requires a mental suspension of the highest order. Our science, great as it is, has limits. It explains a lot but it can’t begin to explain love or courage. Or why we are almost universally moved by certain works of art. It can give us a deeper look into the process of how such things happen, but it can’t explain why they happen. Think about to any of the processes I mentioned earlier. And I don’t buy the argument that asking “why” is a meaningless question. We ask why because we were meant to ask why. It seems to me that no matter what science tries to explain, no matter how deep it delves into any process, at the end of the day the next question is always “why?” That’s where science ends and metaphysics begins. The next thing The Kybalion states is that there is always a correspondence between the laws and phenomena that govern all processes and planes of being. What in the hell does that mean? Here’s an example: a single strand of DNA contains the potential to recreate the entire organism it represents. It’s kind of like thinking about fractals. A fractal is a mathematical set represented by a geometric pattern that repeats endlessly. It can be perfectly reproduced on infinitely larger or smaller scales. No matter how far you zoom in or out, the pattern remains the same. (You can see some really cool examples at fractalfoundation.org.) Here’s another example. The human embryo follows the same mathematical pattern of development as a galaxy. To see this, all you have to do is look at a picture of an embryo next to a picture of the Milky Way. Forget about the content of the pictures and look only at the shapes. This geometry is evident in all creation, natural or not. Its variations are in the horns of a ram and in nautilus shells and artichokes and roses. It’s in grass and cloud formations and ocean tides. We use it to knit sweaters and build skyscrapers and send astronauts into space. Now I’m no mathematician, but I know enough to realize the implications of this. If the universe is the macrocosm, then everything contained in the universe is a microcosm of that. We’re each a little universe that’s mapped from the larger universe. The Kybalion states that by saying “as above so below, as below so above”. It means that the universe is a system and the same laws and phenomena operate on every plane of existence. So let’s apply that to the trouble we’ve all had with the ebb and flow of the creative process.
If the universe is mental, it means that the creation of everything began with an act of mental projection. What other materials could the divine mind have used to create? Nothing else existed. This, it seems to me, is a mystery that’s above our comprehension. It defies all laws that bind us because it’s the source of those laws. And because it created those laws, it must exist outside them. Take a breather and think about that. You can only create something outside of yourself. For example, you can’t create the space you’re in right now because that space already exists. You’re already in it! In the same way, creating the laws of the universe required a force that already existed outside those laws. The two biggest laws it created are time and space. Since it’s impossible for us to function outside those laws, we have no way to truly understand this. Every description of it is inadequate because we’re trapped in time and space. That means that we have to use language that implies time and space. In describing this force have to use words like “outside”, “create”, and “function”. We have no other way of saying it or even thinking about it. It’s impossible to describe something that “existed before time began”. The word “existed’ implies space, and the word “before” implies time. There was no time before time began. I have no idea what there was but there sure wasn’t time. And if there was no time, there was no space because it takes time to travel across space. See what I mean? It can make you nutty. This is one of the functions of archetypes. In part, they are spiritual and psychological containers that convey to us the meaning of ideals that lie outside our rational minds. If you’re a positivist, I’m sure that all this makes your blood pressure go up. But hey, it is what it is. The matrix of life that we witness around us shows us that the act of manifesting anything requires two forces, not one. The simplest example is the act of procreation. And as below, so above. So after that initial mental projection that created the universe, two forces had to combine to manifest anything. The problem here is that creation began with “one”, the divine mind. But if our observation is that “two” is required to bring something into being, where did the other “one” come from? How did “one” become “two”? Simple… kind of. Because we can’t really understand how this happened, let’s use the only language we have that’s capable of giving us some idea of what’s under the hood of the universe: mathematics. Don’t break into a cold sweat. It’s as simple as 1+1=2. All the “one” needs is another “one” identical to itself. Remember that the first principle of The Kybalion states that “all is mind“. Since the “one” is mind, it’s alive and can therefore initiate action. So it contemplates itself, reflects its own light, and casts its own shadow. Now we have two forces; one is the shadow, the “opposite”, of the other. You can call them positive and negative, yin and yang, male and female, giving and receiving. Hang it upon whatever framework you wish. If they taught math this way when I was in school, I would have paid more attention.
To be continued in Part 2…