Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Autumnal Openings: The One and the Many

Adolph Gottlieb Transfigurations III 1958 Anderson Collection at Stanford University
Zhou's Taijitu Diagram from Wikipedia "Taiji" Entry
 Fall is my favorite season. Leaves reddening into scarlet splashes. A mistiness in the air. Quietness budding within. If creation is a progressive emerging of diversity from singleness, an emanation of the many from the one, then autumn suggests an internal opening, a return from the manifold to unity; a journey back to the source.

The Neoplatonists embraced this rhythmic progression and return and so did many other philosophers and religious speculators across the world. Laya yoga comes to mind with its technique of awakening kundalini and raising energy through various chakras of the body to resorb the soul into Brahman or to unite Shakti with Shiva. Also, Neo-Confucianism, like that espoused by Zhou in his diagram above, where yin and yang emerge from the supreme pole (taiji). Or even the artist Gottlieb, an abstract expressionist, who hints at the transfiguration scene of the New Testament. Here Jesus ascends a mountain and transforms into radiant light and Gottlieb alludes to such a metamorphosis through his vivid shapes and brushstrokes. A human Jesus and a divine Christ.

Aside from comparative curiosity, how can an oscillating model of emergence and return guide us in our spiritual practices? I would propose that the two poles of experience, unity and multiplicity, are both essential components of spiritual experience: unity veering toward abstraction and the return of autumn; multiplicity toward relationship, the personal and the emergence of spring. Inward and outward motion; breathing in and breathing out. The Divine as internal wisdom and external love.