Archive | March 2020

Coming to Terms with Enantiodromia

Excess of sorrow laughs, excess of joy weeps.

William Blake, The Proverbs of Hell

Enantiodromia is a term coined by Carl Jung in homage to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. It has been described as the coincidence of the opposites (coincidentia oppositorum) or the conjunction of the contraries (coniunctio oppositorum). (An example of that might be Heraclitus’s “the road up and the road down are the same”, or “Dionysus and Hades are the same”).

The conjunction of the contraries occurs because energy is polarity, and an intensification of energy also intensifies the actions of the polarities. It is the characteristic dynamic of Late Modernity and “the New Normal”, in fact, and it is implicated, too, in what Jean Gebser calls “the double-movement” of disintegration and re-integration.

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The Four Beasts of Revelation

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”

The Revelation of St. John, 4:6-11

We will discuss today the relationship between John’s vision recorded in the Book of Revelation as it also pertains to William Blake’s own mythology of the four Zoas of ‘Albion divided fourfold’ and to his “fourfold vision”. John describes four “living creatures” (plural Zoa, singular Zoon) surrounding the Throne of God in his vision, in effect forming a mandala. To gain insight into the meaning of John’s vision — a vision of the Logos — you need also recall a passage in the New Testament: “the body is the temple of the living God”.

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The Silence Before the Dawn of Time

Yogananda, author of the famous book Autobiography of a Yogi, remarked therein that to arrive at the place where speech arises is the same as enlightenment. This is apt to be grossly misunderstood by those who, from this remark, devalue speech, which attests to ignorance. “Right speech” is also one ideal of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. Speech is not to be devalued or desecrated since it arises from this place of origin.

This place from which speech arises (as the Logos or the Word) is both “vital centre” and yet “ever-present origin”, as Jean Gebser relates. This is what Nicholas of Cusa intended also to be understood by his description of God as “a circle whose circumference is nowhere and whose centre is everywhere”. That is much the same way Heraclitus (“the Greek Buddha”) also described his understanding of the Logos.

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