The Balance of an Idea: Multiformity and Realisation

Once again I will remind that it is advisable to have first read the previous two posts (“The House of Stone and Light” and “The Balance of an Idea: Mandala and Pyramid“) before diving into this one, as some concepts presented here probably won’t be understandable without reference to concepts presented earlier.


I trust that, by now, the essential problem of the mental-rational consciousness structure (particularly in its later stages of self-articulation) is apparent. While powerful in its focus, it is also negligent of vast domains or other dimensions of reality. Given it’s shape and focus, it is inherently sectoralising or compartmentalising, but then holds what it beholds as being all reality. In this bias, there is a certain latent tendency also toward totalitarianism.

We can, perhaps appreciate this problem of comparmentalisation and sectoralisation better by comparing, once again, the “shape” of the modern mind with the mandala structure (towards which the new “integral consciousness” is presently stumbling, fumbling, and groping). Here once again is the premier symbol of the mental-rational consciousness, which people associate with Freemasonry or the “Illuminati” (ie, the European Enlightenment),

Perspectivism: The pyramid of vision

Perspectivism: The pyramid of vision

By way of contrast, we’ll reference the mandala symbols of the Sacred Hoop of the North American Plains Indians along with an illustration from the German mystic Jakob Boehme

Sacred Hoop Symbol

Sacred Hoop Symbol

Jacob Boehme

Jacob Boehme

The triadic or pyramid structure is now seen as being a constituent part of the mandala, but not identical with it. This is what I intend to be understood by “sectoralisation” and also as the problem of reductionism. While the “cone of vision” or perspectivising mode of perception is quite valid, in claiming exclusivity it induces a condition of dismemberment and dissociation from the whole. It is an over-specialisation in one direction or dimension of reality which recalls to mind the title of one of Herbert Marcuse’s books, One Dimensional Man. To cite William Blake, once again, the mandala represents “fourfold vision” , while the pyramid represents “single vision”.

You will also note the position of the eye in both instances. In the one, it is at the apex of the pyramid. It is not only a very hierarchical position, but also a domineering one. In Boehme’s illustration, the illuminated and illuminating eye is at the centre of a cross formed by the German words for the four primal elements — earth, air, fire, water. The eye now sees in all four directions, and yet, at the same time, it also occupies the vertex of four distinct triads. This is the paradoxical character of Boehme’s “eye”, in that it is both whole and yet single. The eye is both at the same time, both holistic and yet also partial.

It is this that underlies Arthur I. Miller’s Deciphering the Cosmic Number: The Strange Friendship of Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung. The “cosmic number” of the pyramid-form is 3, and things are clustered in 3s: “length, breadth, depth” (the three dimensions of space); “thesis, antithesis, and synthesis” (dialectics), “liberty, equality, fraternity” of the French Revolution, (or contrariwise, the fascist’s “work, family, nation”). With Einstein’s “discovery” of the fourth dimension, time, the “cosmic number” is now 4, which has become a problem for the mental-rational consciousness. The shift in the cosmic number from 3 to 4 is at the root of a lot of the “culture war” of our time and of intimations of a “new age” in the process of unfolding.

Miller, I think, intuits this very well. As an historian of the mental rational consciousness or modern intellectual history, he followed up his Deciphering the Cosmic Number with Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time and the Beauty That Causes Havoc. Picasso was the artist of the fourfold vision, or what Gebser referred to as “the aperspectival“.

(By the addition of time as a dimension of reality, also, we are leaving behind the long age of the the dominance of the Greek philosopher Parmenides and entering the age of his philosophical foe, Heraclitus).

It is also of interest to note that the centre of the cross formed by the Sacred Hoop is not occupied by an eye, but by the voice that befits cultures that are largely ear-oriented or oral. The ear is the organ of knowing, rather than the eye. This is represented in the phrase “to speak from the centre of the voice” is to speak from the centre of the Sacred Hoop, and thereby integrate the four directions. Speech — grammatical, articulating speech — rather than the eye is central to both the Sacred Hoop and to Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality“.

The mandala is, in essence, a map of the idea. Ideas are real entities. They are multidimensional or multiform entities.  Grammar is, in effect, a mandala and is generative (the fuller meaning of which we will touch on later). That an idea has an implicit multiform or multi-dimensional and fourfold structure you know, but perhaps have not reflected on much. But when we speak of it “all coming together” (which is the meaning of “conceive” — to grasp together or “coming together”) in that “Eureka!” moment is when the idea is “conceived” in its essential wholeness and in respect of all its aspects, and those aspects achieve balance.

An idea has an implicit fourfold structure for one simple reason: the realisation of an idea is the meaning of history. History is the story of realisation. In order to become real or “get real” (as we understand “reality”) something must “take time” in order to “take place” at all. “Taking time” and “taking place”, as the meaning of realisation or actualisation, (or “eventuating”) is owing to the fact that “real” refers to the matrix of time and space. Time and space are fourfold: times past and future, and spaces inner and outer. In terms of the Sacred Hoop, for example, the times are symbolised by the cardinal points East and West (the path of the sun from dawn to dusk), while the spaces are symbolised in the cardinal points North and South.

So the mandala is not just a model of reality. It is a map of the “idea” of reality itself as it manifests or achieves self-realisation in time and space. Once conceived, an idea seeks full realisation of all its dimensions or aspects in time and space, and becomes “concrete” or mature only when it comes to its fullest expression in time and space, or what is called “fulfillment”. It assumes “factuality” only when it acquires a past and a future and is also represented as “value” and as a “fact” — objectively.

Any great idea has an implicit fourfold structure. We can describe these aspects in terms used by Rosenstock-Huessy — trajective, prejective, subjective, objective. Distortion or perversion of the idea occurs when one of these aspects is suppressed or inhibited from realisation. An idea, being an energetic entity, must be realised in all four directions of reality. For this reason, we have arts and sciences, politics and religion. For this reason, we have four types of grammatical speech — dramatics and epics, lyrics and analytics; or imperatives and narratives, optatives and indicatives. It’s “the whole idea”.

The self-realisation of an idea may take generations working in a great division of labour identified as “periods” in which one aspect of the whole idea is articulated. “Man”, as such, is an idea in the process of self-realisation. In a sense, Gebser’s four (or five) “consciousness structures” corresponding to civilisational types are aspects of the idea of Man in process of self-expression or self-realisation, and as the limit of his self-understanding at any particular time in history. Rosenstock-Huessy put it more imaginatively perhaps when he suggested that “man is God’s poem”, and the final lines have yet to be written. The real maturation of the idea depends on its being successfully articulated in all four directions of the cross of reality. “Realisation” has no other meaning.

So… so much for Fukuyama’s “end of history”, which would imply the full self-realisation of the idea of Man, and that’s simply not the case.  It would mean that the “idea of Man” has arrived at its final form.

The purpose of the ego function is to articulate and distribute the idea in the four directions — backwards, forwards, inwards, outwards — which is also the function of grammatical speech, and those functions become expressed as arts and sciences, politics and religion. The ego nature in its grammatical or distributive function (ordering or patterning of the idea) resembles, in that respect, a prism, and it exists (when functioning properly and not narcissistically)  in order to guide or induct the idea into realisation,


Here again you have that peculiar pyramid structure, while others insist, rather, that the “true self” resembles not a pyramid, but a diamond — multifaceted.

“In the beginning was the Word [Logos]” is not intelligible at all if one treats it as an historical fact. That will be the topic of the next post. Great things are possible now for the human species, if the human species doesn’t flub it totally, which, unfortunately, it presently appears hell-bent on doing.


13 responses to “The Balance of an Idea: Multiformity and Realisation”

  1. abdulmonem says :

    Thank you for another searching dive in the ocean of meanings. It is certainly helpful in the cultivation and use of our inner intuitive resources, not forgetting to pay tribute to all those who have led the way and touched our souls, particularly the last three prophets, who have given us a clear picture of the divine, to help us navigate in this murky, polluted waters of our providing earth. The voice is just an external manifestation, like speech and its grammar and the real mandala is what is behind and the behind as you described in your dream is formless, keep dissolving, de-structuring, morphing. It is a flow that cannot be imprisoned in shapes, because it can take all shapes, that is to keep the human free from all types of imprisonment, and to make him feel free to choose any mandala that suits him, the north American plains Indians chose the sacred hoop symbol of the four colors that remind of the four elements out of which god made everything it is simple and highly indicative, providing that the mandala chosen, should not veil him, from the indescribable nature of the divine. You have already distinctly described the dilemma of our present time who jailed its humanity in the one-eyed vision of the tower of Egypt or in the blind ear vision of the tower of Babel.
    It is clear we are living in a world filled with psychic attackers of all sorts, bad and good, non-bodied or embodied, but what is unfortunate is the bad attackers are stronger than the good ones, one only have to read, the economic hit man of Perkins, who turned lately into good attacker, to realize that and to appreciate the truth Of Yeats saying that conveys to us a prophetic description of our time, the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full with passionate intensity. It is frightening to see the truth of the faith under attack and skeptic unwise questioning, while the truth of the senses and that of reason are left without any question, on the contrary are left to govern the human scene and crowd out the truth of intuition, the basic tool of all knowledge, while it is scientific, philosophical, artistic or spiritual. What we need is the integrative truth that combines the sensual truth with that of reason and the truth of the faith, the truth that brings us nearer to the infinite, metalogical truth of the divine. This is the true mandala that saves our civilization from definite destruction. All crooked civilizations have ended in the lap of destruction, and no crooked civilization can escape that fate. The ever widening sphere of knowledge and the expansion in the human consciousness herald the critical path of humanity, even the people of the plants coined the term, entheogen, to enhance their awareness of the withinness of god, that is to help them move from the enclosure of the state of limiting and narrow vision of reality to the state of ever-expanding potentiality that incorporate limitless possobilities. Any way out of this hell, any artistic or philosophical or scientific creations cannot arise without the flashes of the divine intuitional radiations. It is time to sober up and to leave the hole of the single vision cavern and to avoid falling in any trap of limited vision and to realize that knowledge is a god creation phenomena and not a human creation phenomena and let us leave the trap of Descartes and ego-consciousness and let ourselves get exposed to the divine radiations in the hope of obtaining an intuitional flash that may help us get out of this miserable hell that is surrounded by lascivious entertainments and sports, clean streets, nice homes and abundance of all sorts. It is a misleading picture, that reminds me of the surrendered Goethe, none are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. We start free, painting our life in tones, only to get enslaved, forgetting the flow of life tone, and then we realize the futility of our toneless life, we start to work to be free again. Nothing moves haphazardly, all steps are counted for those who know, hurrah for the honestly meek.

  2. abdulmonem says :

    I am sorry for the repetitions of the comment , I do not know what happen.

    • alex jay says :

      It was worth repeating! : )

    • Scott Preston says :

      I tidied it up for you.

      And I have to say, it’s impressive how you’ve knitted together the themes from about 25 different postings in that comment. We’ve traveled a long ways together, Abdulmonem, since Muntadar al-Zeidi’s brilliant gesture of defiance against Bush about 5 years ago. It seems to me you’ve woven together 5 years of TDAB and The Chrysalis in your comment.

  3. LittleBigMan says :

    “The purpose of the ego function is to articulate and distribute the idea in the four directions — backwards, forwards, inwards, outwards — which is also the function of grammatical speech, and those functions become expressed as arts and sciences, politics and religion.”

    Concise, clear, and profoundly meaningful. It seems to me then that “choice” is the only distinguishing element between different ideas.

    ““In the beginning was the Word [Logos]” is not intelligible at all if one treats it as an historical fact.”

    I have had a difficult time understanding that statement, and I realize it was precisely because I was treating it as “an historical” or chronological point of view. I’ll eagerly look forward to your next post on that 🙂

    • LittleBigMan says :

      Sorry, I meant to say that “choice” is the only distinguishing element between different ‘ideas’ that make up each separate “ego function.”

  4. LittleBigMan says :

    I’m thinking that the exact topology (i.e. shape) of don Juan’s “luminous shell” and the precise position of the “assemblage point” are unique to each individual – like fingerprints. And both are part of the “ego function,” and a main reason why many – if not all – of our life experiences repeat over and over.

    To “cleanse the doors of perception,” is to alter the topology of the luminous shell and the position of the assemblage point.To live the life of a “man of knowledge” is to change the ego function. It seems to me then that a man of knowledge is capable of reverse engineering the idea that has become manifest as he/she. And that is quite a feat.

    It seems to me that within the manifestation of each probable self, things don’t seem so random or probabilistic. They are precise and fixed once consciousness settles on an idea.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I’m thinking that the exact topology (i.e. shape) of don Juan’s “luminous shell” and the precise position of the “assemblage point” are unique to each individual – like fingerprints. And both are part of the “ego function,” and a main reason why many – if not all – of our life experiences repeat over and over.

      Except don Juan insisted to Castaneda that the assemblage point was in the same position for all human beings — that is, all except those who have learned to shift the point (ie sorcerers and shamans), and that it changes position also when people are in deep dream. Because the assemblage point is in the same position on the edge of the luminous sphere, human beings perceive the world in much the same way — or rather, construct a consensual world from the elements of the assemblage point.

      I should explain to those who don’t know Castaneda’s writings, and who might wonder what the hell we’re talking about.

      Castaneda’s teacher, don Juan Matus, was a “seer” or “brujo” (sorcerer). He explained to Castaneda that to a seer, the true human form appears as a luminous egg or sphere, golden or amber in colouration, with fibres of light shooting out of it in every direction. In former times (he explains) this luminous sphere was certainly more like a luminous egg, and that is interesting because that is how William Blake illustrated the true human form as well,

      There does, in fact, appear to be something in Blake’s illustration of the luminous egg that resembles the description don Juan gives of the assemblage point, just below the name “Adam”.

      Now, this “assemblage point” is described as located on the circumference of the luminous egg or sphere, located outwards about an arm’s length from between the shoulder blades. Don Juan was able to manipulate this assemblage point and thus alter perception of reality. It is called “the assemblage point” because the elements with which we construct our perception of a physical world are collected or assembled through this point. A sorcerer can shift this assemblage point to align with other energy fields and so come to perceive and experience an entirely different world. In fact, don Juan insisted that these worlds of possible experience were “infinite” which, of course, sounds a lot like probable worlds theory in physics.

      Apart from Blake’s illustration, I don’t know of any other corroborating description of the true human form as being a luminous egg or sphere. But there are a couple of descriptions of something akin to a “cord” said to project backwards from between the centre of the shoulder blades of the astral body when people describe their out of the body experiences.

      Learning to shift the assemblage point at will is described as a matter of acquiring and storing “personal power” and disciplined use of energy.

      Since I have not seen the luminous egg or the assemblage point attached to its surface, I never speak of them, although they feel “intuitively” familiar. But I have to admit, the uncanny similarity between Blake’s diagramme and Castaneda’s description is very intriguing.

      • LittleBigMan says :

        Thank you for the clarification, Scott. The subject of “ego function” as the intermediary (or a kind of a translator) for consciousness to use to express itself in physical terms is a quite interesting subject that you have brought up. manipulating function parameters can change the output (i.e. physical expression). And that is a very interesting topic. The ego function may be don Juan’s “human mold.”

        Just some thoughts…..

  5. abdulmonem says :

    Ibn Arabi spoke of god as the diamond that radiates its creativity across everything and he said that the human, being the image of the divine, is also is a diamond ( the luminous egg) that radiates in all directions, however the human radiation is constrained by his finiteness which it can be expanded through his faith, preparedness, receptivity and the honest work, that is why there is initiation, the mage and the sage. The human is the assemblage point of the divine, the non-local soul, the life flow that move everywhere, in the center and on the periphery. There is always the intended meaning by the speaker and the assigned meaning by the listener and that as the grasp differs among the listeners the delivered message differs according to the speaker., that is why there are so many interpretations. Take for example O Gorman interpretations of the four-fold vision where he puts creation on the top and death at the bottom,Blake the intuition on one side and Heidegger the reason on the other. It is the human himself with the faculties provided to him with the support of the unseen provider is the prophet for himself and no body will be responsible for his words and actions but him. Everybody paints his canvass in whatever colors he wants, that is why I go for the integrative consciousness that combines the sensual, the mental and the faith (intuition) together, as the tool for the real understanding of things. May we open our our physical eye,our mental eye and our spiritual eye before we depart. Death is a good messenger for those who pick the message. I trust in the message and do not occupy myself whether the messenger is send by god or not.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I didn’t actually read the Gorman article. I just linked to the page because of Blake’s illustration of the fourfold. After reading Gorman’s article, I’m not sure what to think of it, or even if I understood it (or if I even wanted to understand it). It ends in strange conclusions, even though I applaud his straining towards a fourfold logic, following the suggestion of someone named Greg Ulmer

      “The assignment is based on Greg Ulmer’s mystory, a method of research that generates knowledge by combining four modes of conventional discourse: academic, popular, professional, and autobiographical”

      Now, that’s an interesting approach, as it comes close to what I’m planning to post next on the perfection of an idea in time. Here Ulmer is referring to four modes of discourse — academic, popular, professional and autobiographical. But actually, the four modes of discourse are the imperative, the optative, the narrative, and the indicative or (as mentioned earlier): dramatics, lyrics, epics, and analytics (or in Jung’s terms, thinking, feeling, intuition, and sensation).

      Heidegger’s fourfold of gods, mortals, sky and earth also isn’t a true fourfold in Blake’s pattern. Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality” is closer to Blake’s meaning.

      Gorman’s bound to go off course if he doesn’t treat Blake’s illustration for what it is — a mandala of the human form.

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