Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Geometry of God

'God is ever doing Geometry.' - Plato

'Form follows function.' - Louis Henri Sullivan

'If you want to make an apple pie from scratch...first you have to create the universe.' - Carl Sagan

The square and compass with the letter 'G' in the center is easily the most recognizable and universal symbol of Freemasonry. But even many Masons themselves do not readily understand its meaning. Indeed, Freemasonry is synonymous with mystical architecture, science, philosophy and allegory. Its lexicon of symbols, words and ritual elements serve to reveal (re-veil) deeper truths, thus obscuring those truths even when making them plainly obvious. So what is the truth revealed within the square and compass?

Long ago, men looked up to the stars and marvelled at the workings of the heavens. They feared the dying winter sun and they placated their gods of storms and earthquakes with virgin sacrifices and blood offerings. Of course, our ancestors could be written off simply as ignorant or superstitious. But this supernatural order of theirs was no more or less than a paradigm encompassing their own role in the natural order. They both recognized and unconsciously projected their own patterns of mind into the world about them. The mystical man is an innocent not yet divested of his own connection to nature. Man in the Garden walks with God.

In 585 BCE. Thales of Miletus posited that all things were made of a single substance (he assumed this substance was water). Importantly, he reasoned that the processes of change, or the principles of motion, might arise from within the substance itself.

Whether there are gods or natural forces at work behind the universal curtain, it is the question of will that has driven debates of God's design and man's personal consciousness. Who is behind the scene? Indeed, perhaps all any man can do is observe the effect of the forces (or gods?) for how can a man, as small as he is, look upon the face of God? And, as a man, could he recognize it if he saw it?

Whatever it is that drives the change in the cosmos must then be the very will of the universe. It is the initial cause, the archetype (blueprint) for what will come to be. Today, science seems to agree with Thales in that the universe is a singularity (perhaps not H2O). Still, it is the causal dynamic, the finger on the trigger, or the seed that proves elusive.

Following Thales and others of like mind, the Greek philosopher Pythagoras opened schools of study and learning. Pythagoras looked to mathematical congruence and geometric forms to uncover the Divine. The knowing of one thing would reveal the other. It was the Hermetic maxim...'As Above...So Below.' The macrocosm was revealed in the microcosm. Math was no less a philosophy or mystical approach than a hard science. It was also a very useful tool.

As every Master Mason should already know, the square and compass together represent the width, breadth and depth of all creation that may be so 'formed' or 'encompassed' by such as four corners and squares or circles and compasses. And there, in the center (though not always symbolized by a 'G' or a star), rests the will, the seed, the Light, the Supreme Being that is the mind within the form. Perhaps there is no true distinction between mind and form, between body and soul. And so, the square and compass is All.

The earliest philosphers came to understand geometry as sacred, for with these mathematical tools Order became apparent amidst the seeming chaos of nature. The face of God could be approached at last. This form of gnostic 'knowing' of the Divine was immediately anathema to early Church authorities. And because there was no clear separation of Church and State, these philosophies and sciences were demonized and considered heretical.

Ancient Freemasonry represented one form of philisophical preservation and inquiry. The Mystery Schools were just that, centers of learning. Men of reason were drawn to tenets of freedom, inquiry and a personal relationship with the Divine, free of the abuses of the times and the Inquisition of the Church.

The Square and Compass of Freemasonry represents the succinct ideology and the most sacred wisdom of the Order. The 'G' that sometimes stands for God also represents the natural order of Geometry. What or who that god is is not for me to say. For we all have our own distinct paradigms in which we find our own personal meaning and place. Perhaps it is All a Mind or just simply a mathematical Order. Respectfully, I dont see much of a difference either way.

Sacred math and geometry were not only for the Greek minds. Jewish scholars passed the oral and written traditions of the Kabbalah from generation to generation. Within the Kabbalah can be found the exposition of entire worlds from the simple interactions of numbers.

The Great Philosophy points to a Stairway to Heaven. Indeed the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, made of its ten primary sephiroth (each an Archetypal next step) is a kind of Jacob's Ladder for man to approach the Ineffable. For centuries, men sought to master those very steps whether it was their purpose to reach to God or to understand how the Universe came to be.

When one draws together these philosophies, one arrives at a concise and illuminating explanation for the creation and workings of the cosmos. A simple interaction of space and form beginning from the singularity of 1 leads to a progression of forms, solids, forces and dynamics. This principle remains sound even within biology as the single fertilized egg replicates in accordance to a precise set of parameters set forth by dna. Going back much further evolutionarily, we find the simplest of early forms...and finally single cells.

And so, perhaps, the Universe began most simply as an undivided whole. Now it is still one, just as the human body might be, but it is somehow more as well...revealed unto itself. For every passing moment it becomes more defined. It grows. Perhaps it learns. How much it knew in the beginning or started with may always evade even our most far reaching philosophies. Yet those philosophies are our eyes to see the invisible webs of order...the very Order at the center of the square and compass.


Kenneth said...

Good reading

Yale said...

Is the Lost Word to be found in TGNOS via ? Not Likely. Otoh, When removing superfluities correspond to going away from old habits and filling in gaps correspond to adding new better habits, maybe.

Fraternally, YSYL

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