by Master Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov
|Introducing the "Lecturer"
The Enclosure of the Zodiac
Index to Hermetic System Lectures
Ardue Site Plan
See also:The Ardue Cyber-Temple
Towards a Unified Cosmology
A Personal Library
Consciousness, Laws, and Influences
Man's Place in the World
The Holy Spirit
Cycles in Time
A New Theory of Mind
The Master's teaching is more than a body of doctrines: it is an organic whole approached from countless different points of view. By repeating certain aspects in a wide variety of contexts he constantly reveals new dimensions of the whole and, at the same time, throws new light on the individual aspects and on their vital links with each other.
Many of the lectures have been presented in a collection of booklets published in French by Prosveta S.A. English translations and a catalogue are available from PROSVETA, The Doves Nest, Duddleswell, Uckfield, East Sussex, TN22 3JJ. Tel: 01825 712988. www.prosveta.co.uk.
The Ardue Editor is grateful to PROSVETA for permission to publish this "lecture" which consists of the opening chapters of two of the booklets referred to above:
Everyone can make this discovery for himself if he meditates for long enough. If you meditate for a very long time on any given subject, you will find that a symbolic image will begin to take shape in your subconscious or your higher consciousness, the image of an object or a geometrical figure which corresponds in every respect to the idea, thought or truth that you have been concentrating on. This, incidentally, also explains our dreams.
A part of every man's being is in constant touch with the whole cosmos. We all live and vibrate in unison with the Cosmic Soul, the Universal Soul. We are all, therefore, in contact with the world of archetypes, principles, and laws. If we meditate on certain truths that exist on a far higher plane, something in the depths of our being stirs into life and a symbolic image appears in our mind's eye. The answer to a question that has been worrying you can also appear in the form of a symbol which you will need to interpret.
In order to understand how this can occur one must remember that human beings are built in such a way as to reflect the whole Universe. Everything that exists in heaven, hell, or on this Earth is reflected in man. Therefore, when an Initiate begins to meditate on a given subject, a process of distillation and crystallisation along certain lines of force is set in motion within him, producing on the screen of his subconscious or superconscious mind the image of a symbol which is a condensation, an abstract, of his meditation. It is Nature that provides him with the answer. If it were left to him to find the exact correspondence he would not be able to do so, for reality is far too vast and too diverse! Only Nature can provide the answer: for Her, it is automatic, a mathematical evidence.
Yes, it is Nature herself who sorts, distils, and condenses your meditation and then shows you the essence of it in the form of a symbol as though to say: "Here is the subject of your meditation, your thought, your feeling, or your inspiration. It is all summed up and expressed in this image". [A striking example is given in the section on Psychic Investigations of the Subatomic Realm in Genesis of the Cosmos. — Ed.]
Personally, for many years, in all my meditations and contemplations, I sought to rise so far above the world that I could embrace it all in one glance, that I might discover a synthetic view of the world and see it in its wholeness. The image that presented itself was that of a cone which, when seen in geometrical projection, becomes a circle with a dot in the centre. This is why I have always considered this figure to be a symbol of the Universe. The central point is identical with the summit, the apex: it is the cohesive centre which holds all things together and the vantage point from which the oneness of life can be perceived in the multiplicity of its manifestations. [Compare the "structure" of The Ardue Cyber-Temple. — Ed.]
It is important for us to study this question of symbols because symbols are the language of Nature and most people are totally incapable of deciphering this language. You will perhaps tell me that you have already read books about the interpretation of dreams. All right, but personally I don't put much faith in these books because the interpretations they give don't always correspond to the reality; in fact, they are often pure invention! Just because somebody dreamed of a snake or a precipice or of being chased by a bull and then met with an accident does not justify one in generalising the significance of those images. For others, the same dreams may not have at all the same meaning.
It is the same with medicines: if a certain medicine has cured one person it is then prescribed for everybody else... but it won't cure everybody else! This does not mean, though, that there is no absolute correspondence; there is a general absolute correspondence but there is also a relative, individual, correspondence, so one should know the general correspondence and, at the same time, take into account the individual shades of interpretation, and it is at this point that certain differences can be seen.
The images seen in dreams, therefore, are a language, but the language of images is still not the absolute language of symbols. The absolute language of symbols is the language of geometrical figures. Geometrical figures are, as it were, the framework or skeleton of reality whereas images still have a little spare flesh on them, a little skin and muscle. The forms seen in dreams still have some clothes on them. We have to learn to see the 'bare bones' of pure symbols, and to do this we have to look much further and much higher — to where they are stripped of everything extraneous, to where they have been reduced to pure abstractions: geometrical figures.
A symbol is like a human being: it is a skeleton, a framework, to which flesh, nerves, veins, arteries, fat, and skin have been added. But when a man dies all this begins to disintegrate and disappear until he is, once again, reduced to the essential skeleton.
In the old days, when the Initiates drew a vertical or horizontal line, a circle, or a dot, and then combined them to form a cross, a triangle, a square, a pentagram, a hexagram, or a serpent with its tail in its mouth, they were expressing an eternal science through each of these figures. The language of symbols, which is the universal language, represents the quintessence, the supreme distillation, of wisdom. Images are still on the astral plane whereas geometrical symbols belong to the causal plane. This is why crystals are considered to be symbols of the causal plane: they are an expression of pure geometry.
You will, perhaps, say, "But crystals are minerals and surely the mineral reign is the lowest reign in nature since it is the most densely material?" That is true, but that which is below is like that which is above, and crystals are a reflection of the causal plane. That which is on the lowest level, therefore — crystals, minerals, and rocks — reflect the highest level, the supernal world above. As I've often said: that which is below is like that which is above, but reversed.
Now, let us go one step further. When you concentrate or meditate in order to find the answer to a particular problem, you may receive the answer in the form of an image or a geometrical figure in your mind. But the reverse is also true, and I have often shown you how, if you take a symbol as a starting point, you can work back to the ideas and truths of which it is the concrete expression. This explains why he who is able to rise to the contemplation of a symbol in the world of archetypes can actually feel a multitude of movements and vibrations taking place in his soul and bringing into his consciousness the world of ideas and images which spring naturally from this symbol. The symbol, therefore, can be the starting point from which to rediscover the world it epitomises. This is why you find so many figures and pantacles [The word pantacle (from the Greek 'pan': all) refers to any form of talisman and must not be confused with the word pentacle (from the Greek 'pente': five) which is synonymous with pentagram. — OMA] in esoteric science. For the Initiates they are a means by which they can return to the regions epitomised by the symbols, renew their contact with them, and once again taste the full flavour of their existence.
Just as the divine world of thought, therefore, can be crystallised in symbols, so by diluting these symbols or, in other words, by resuscitating them and giving them new life in one's soul, one can explore and draw on the wealth contained in them. It is said that when Pythagoras wished to test those who asked to become his disciples, he put them in a small room with a little pitcher of water and a crust of bread and gave them a symbol to decipher: a triangle or a circle, for example. He knew that if one knows how, one can rise to a very high level and see what a symbol corresponds to in the world of ideas.
I have so often spoken about a seed! You have a tiny seed and, one day, it grows into a huge tree. The Sages and Initiates of the past recognised that everywhere in nature, even in the souls and the minds of men, could be seen the same process of growth and development, and so they too condensed a whole tree into one little seed. And where can we find these seeds? In symbols: a symbol is a seed. An Initiate plants this seed in his mind, waters it regularly, and the seed grows and grows until the Initiate can work and rejoice in the shade of its branches, gather its fruits, and collect and plant its seeds ... and the whole cycle begins all over again. The world of symbols is the world of life. Life works with symbols and manifests itself by way of symbols: every object is a symbol which contains life. To enter fully into life one has to work with symbols and, inversely, in order to discover symbols and understand what they contain, one has to live the true life.
Perhaps you are wondering what use a symbol can be. To that I can only say, "What use is a seed?" It is not possible to carry a whole forest or even one tree about with you, but you can carry some seeds. Symbols are seeds that you can plant, which means that you can work with just ten symbols and you will be in possession of all the sciences. Nor can you carry all the books and libraries of the world everywhere you go, but with only a few symbols in your head this becomes possible, because all the books of the world are summed up in a few symbols.
Thought, like nature, is governed by two opposite processes: condensation and dilution. You can condense a philosophical problem until you reduce it to a few words: a seed. You can also do the opposite and expand these few words, that seed, until it reaches to the confines of the Universe: and there you have the tree again!
Now, it is essential that you practise these two modes of action: condense and then dilute, crystallise and synthesise, and then reintroduce life, making it grow and become active. This is the twin process of 'solve et coagula': dilute and condense. If you want to see the full extent and refinement of their matter, you can dilute them infinitely until you can see them no longer, until they disappear into eternity: this is solve. And then, if you want to see them again, to make them reappear, you condense them, and that is coagula.
It is important to acquire a deeper knowledge of the language of symbols, for as it reveals the connections and correspondences between different things, it reveals also the underlying unity of life. For life has this very special characteristic: everything in it is ordered and put together to perfection, each part is in its own special place and functioning in coordination with all the other parts. When the binding link is broken, death results. And it is from this that I draw the conclusion that when a man exerts himself to discover the affinities and correspondences between things, when he arrives at the discovery that the cohesion of the entire Universe reposes, precisely, on these correspondences, he comes alive.
"But", you will say, "He was already alive...". No, you are confusing true life with vitality, biological life. Yes, of course, he eats and drinks and gesticulates, but life has many degrees and man does not yet know the higher degrees of life. It is when he begins to understand the remote, imperceptible, subtle and etheric correspondences between all things and all creatures of the Universe that man begins to know what true life is and can begin to live it.
The Hindu name for this fluidic matter is Akasha; others know it as Cosmic Electricity, the Primeval Serpent, or Fohat. But it doesn't really matter what we call it and it is totally impossible to define or name all the different forms it has taken since the beginning of the world. Every creature capable of thought, feeling, and movement that exists or ever existed is constantly impressing new vibrations on it. Its exact nature is extremely mysterious, and whatever is said of it will always be both true and false. But this we can say with certainty: it is capable of recording absolutely everything that happens in the Universe. The proof that everything is recorded can be seen in the fact that clairvoyants can read from an object events that have occurred in its vicinity; they can even read in it the destiny of someone who has held that object in his hands for only a minute or two. Of course, I'm speaking of authentic clairvoyants. The very existence of clairvoyance such as this is a powerful argument: if the scientists who put all their faith in materialism took it seriously, they would be obliged to modify their understanding of the nature of matter. [See, e.g., Introducing the Grid — Ed.]
This fluid, this Akasha on which everything is recorded, in which everything is reflected, reaches to the limits of the Universe. For us, these limits are represented by the belt of the Zodiac. The space that lies within that belt is the zodiacal enclosure, and it symbolises the space set aside by God in which to create the world. Initiatic Science tells us that the order in which the twelve signs of the Zodiac are placed (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces) reveals the sequence of the different stages of creation.
Aries is the first sign in the Zodiac, the sign that sets everything in motion. Aries is the indomitable irrepressible force bursting out like leaf-buds in spring. To this raw untamed force, Taurus adds its contribution of matter — but matter which is as yet formless, an inchoate mass of undifferentiated elements. A building site covered with untidy heaps of the raw materials needed to build a house is a good image of the stage in which Taurus is dominant. But all these elements have to be used to make something, so after Taurus it is time for Gemini to start organising all the disparate elements by establishing a network of communications: ladders, wheel-barrows, pulleys, and cranes, to move the material into place ready for the building to begin.
With Cancer, the time has come to lay the foundations: a solid base of 'reinforced concrete'. In nature this base is the central germ or core around which all the different elements converge and cohere. Leo then brings his influence to bear by introducing centrifugal force into the combined elements, and with the intervention of Leo comes a rise in temperature and more intense activity which culminates in an explosion, and the whole mass begins to glow and radiate in space.
When Virgo comes on to the scene she declares that it is time to order and organise all this, and she sets to work to put everything into its rightful place. But order is not enough: the aesthetic element of beauty and harmony is needed, and it is Libra who introduces this element. With Libra we have reached the seventh day (the seventh sign), and work pauses for a while, allowing the workers a period of rest and refreshment.
It is at this stage, in the prevailing holiday atmosphere, that some of the workers give way to sloth and indolence and the first signs of disintegration begin to appear. Scorpio comes on to the scene, upsetting the existing balance and introducing a climate of hostility; but he is followed immediately by Sagittarius with his gift for reconciling individuals with each other and with the heavens. Sagittarius channels all these seething energies and directs them upwards to the service of a higher order of activity (this is the symbolism of the bow and arrow held by the Centaur).
Once the world is properly organised and all its parts function smoothly, there is a tendency for things to crystallise and harden under the influence of Capricorn: life falters and begins to seep away. At this point it is the turn of Aquarius to set in motion the dynamic forces of the spirit, thus saving everything from destruction by 'over-materialisation'.
At last, the world knows peace with the coming of Pisces, and in this climate of peace and universal harmony, life becomes ever purer and more subtle until all things melt and flow back into the primeval Ocean.
Those who penetrate into the realm of the Zodiac become subject to the constraints of time (periodicity and cycles) and space (localisation within the zodiacal enclosure). Only pure spirits are free of the fetters of time and space, but as soon as they incarnate they enter into the zodiacal enclosure and are caught up in the magic circle of implacable destiny which shackles even the most luminous beings, even the greatest sons of God.
This reality is reflected in the human body in which the spirit is imprisoned: the whole body represents the circle of the Zodiac and each organ or member corresponds to a particular sign.
[The Editor regrets that the surgical operation of joining extracts from two separate pages into hypertext has proved to be beyond his competence. :-( ]
In order to free himself from the coils of the serpent which hold him prisoner, man has to free himself from the cycle of reincarnations.
At the moment of birth, a child's etheric body, which is as soft and malleable as warm wax, receives the imprint of stellar influences and, later, as the wax cools, this imprint can never be effaced. When a child first draws breath, therefore, the heavens put their seal on its etheric body and fix the horoscope in which the child's destiny is written. The only way for man to free himself from the limitations imposed by the stars presiding at his birth is by his conscious effort to restore the bonds that bind him to God, thus escaping from the law of necessity and putting himself under the jurisdiction of the law of grace. But this liberty to which we all aspire is obtained only at the very end, and this is why it is said to be the crowning glory of the spiritual life and Initiates are portrayed with a shining halo of light surrounding their heads to show that they have risen beyond the circle of earthly limitations.
Now let's look at the practical consequences of this reality, the zodiacal circle, in our everyday lives.
Suppose that you are walking through mountainous country with peaks and rocky cliffs all around you, and you shout aloud. What happens? The cliffs and mountains send your words back to you: the sound of your voice strikes against a hard surface and bounces back, exactly as a ball bounces when it hits the ground or, if you throw it against a wall, comes back to strike you. These are physical laws and physical laws reflect and reproduce spiritual laws. If you call out "I love you", you will hear the echo repeat "I love you, love you, love you". But if you shout, "I hate you", from all sides will echo the words, "I hate you, hate you, hate you!"
You must understand that in life the same patterns are repeated over and over again: man emits a ceaseless flow of waves, beneficial or noxious, by his thoughts, feelings, and acts, and these waves journey through space until they come up against the outer limits and bounce back to strike the sender in the form of rewards or punishments. This is the return shock, the rebound, and those who know this law take care to send out only waves of light, love, kindness, purity, and warmth; they know that one day, sooner or later, they are bound to reap the same blessings in return. They are happy, successful, fulfilled human beings and they think that God is rewarding them. Not a bit of it! God doesn't know anything about it. He is far too busy with much more important things: He doesn't have time to watch our doings and tot up the score to see whether we should be rewarded or punished. He has established a certain number of laws within and around us and it is these laws that reward and punish us.
The circle with a dot in the centre is the pattern on which everything in the Universe is built. Take any organism: at the centre is a nucleus which is surrounded by protoplasm and the whole is wrapped in an outer membrane. Take a fruit: in the centre you have a core or stone, then the surrounding juicy edible pulp and, on the outside, the skin or shell. Every living organism exists on the same pattern, with a centre or core, a surrounding space in which life circulates, and finally a skin which serves as a limit or boundary and enables the law of echo reflection to come into play.
Now it may well happen that the distance between the centre and the periphery is so great that the 'voice' has to carry a long, long way, and years go by before it bounces back from the outer boundary. But the fact that the rebound is not felt immediately must not mislead you into thinking that it will never come. It will! There's no escaping it. But it may come much, much later, perhaps in some future incarnation, because the outer limit, the wall against which it bounces, is so far away. And this is how we can explain the destiny written in our horoscope: it is the consequence of our past actions.
The atom and the solar system are identical in their basic structural design: a circle with a dot in the centre. The area surrounding the dot represents space. Without space, matter cannot exist, whereas the spirit does not need space. The power of spirit lies in the fact that it is a point without extent or dimension and it can, therefore, be actively present everywhere.
So everything that occurs travels out through the space occupied by matter until it bumps up against its outer limits and starts on the return journey to its starting point. Everything we do and think, therefore, comes back to us after travelling through matter to the outer limits of space and back. It is matter that reflects the echo; not the spirit. The spirit acts and matter reacts. Matter responds to an impulse. Its role is to stand up to the spirit, to oppose and limit the spirit, to imprison it, even. And the Zodiac is the belt, the wall, that surrounds and imposes a limit on our Universe just as the serpent of matter holds the spirit prisoner in its coils.