One of the greatest paeans to recursion occurs in T.S. Eliot's monumental Four Quartets where at the end of this long, challenging group of poems, wherein he has created a veritable universe of ideas and images, and throughout which the end becomes the beginning and things constantly repeat, Eliot summarily states - - - with the utmost conviction but no finality - - - 


We shall not cease from explorationAnd the end of all our exploringWill be to arrive where we startedAnd know the place for the first time.Through the unknown, unremembered gateWhen the last of earth left to discoverIs that which was the beginning;At the source of the longest riverThe voice of the hidden waterfallAnd the children in the apple-treeNot known, because not looked forBut heard, half-heard, in the stillnessBetween two waves of the sea.Quick now, here, now, always—A condition of complete simplicity(Costing not less than everything)And all shall be well andAll manner of thing shall be wellWhen the tongues of flames are in-foldedInto the crowned knot of fireAnd the fire and the rose are one.

 
The entire Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot can be found online here.

One of the greatest paeans to recursion occurs in T.S. Eliot's monumental Four Quartets where at the end of this long, challenging group of poems, wherein he has created a veritable universe of ideas and images, and throughout which the end becomes the beginning and things constantly repeat, Eliot summarily states - - - with the utmost conviction but no finality - - - 

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

 

The entire Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot can be found online here.

Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries.

Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961)

(via quizkiddsmith)

                                     The Disutility of Perfect Maps
Perhaps the best description of a quantum mechanics system would not be a map at all but the system itself. In a way this is what physicists are after, the Holy Grail of physics, the thing-in-itself. But they can only go after it in piecemeal fashion. They smash atoms to find out what they are composed of. Like the child who takes a clock apart to see what makes it tick, they are left with a lot of bits and pieces and are hard-pressed to see how they all fit together. Their analytic approach destroys the very thing they are after. 
If only there were some way to apprehend the whole without taking it apart. This is a pipe dream, of course. Even were it possible it would bring us no closer to an understanding of how things work than we already are.  Lewis Carroll, in Sylvie and Bruno (1889), humorously broaches the subject when he describes a perfect fictional map with “the scale of a mile to a mile.” A character observes some difficulties with such a map, concluding with ”we now use the country itself as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.”  
The irony of this remark should not be lost on us. If there truly were no need for a map of reality we could save ourselves a lot of time and trouble and end our quest right now. But the search for adequate maps and the best logic framework to capture reality in some form close to its pristine wholeness goes on unabated. There must be a good reason this is so.

                                     The Disutility of Perfect Maps

Perhaps the best description of a quantum mechanics system would not be a map at all but the system itself. In a way this is what physicists are after, the Holy Grail of physics, the thing-in-itself. But they can only go after it in piecemeal fashion. They smash atoms to find out what they are composed of. Like the child who takes a clock apart to see what makes it tick, they are left with a lot of bits and pieces and are hard-pressed to see how they all fit together. Their analytic approach destroys the very thing they are after.

If only there were some way to apprehend the whole without taking it apart. This is a pipe dream, of course. Even were it possible it would bring us no closer to an understanding of how things work than we already are.  Lewis Carroll, in Sylvie and Bruno (1889), humorously broaches the subject when he describes a perfect fictional map with “the scale of a mile to a mile.” A character observes some difficulties with such a map, concluding with ”we now use the country itself as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.”  

The irony of this remark should not be lost on us. If there truly were no need for a map of reality we could save ourselves a lot of time and trouble and end our quest right now. But the search for adequate maps and the best logic framework to capture reality in some form close to its pristine wholeness goes on unabated. There must be a good reason this is so.

                               Stonehenge: Megalithic Symmetry
It may not look it now but in its heyday it was a marvel of symmetry. The ancients had a real feel for symmetry. Like the mandala, Stonehenge and other Stone Age structures like it, spoke to man of wholeness and integrity.

                               Stonehenge: Megalithic Symmetry

It may not look it now but in its heyday it was a marvel of symmetry. The ancients had a real feel for symmetry. Like the mandala, Stonehenge and other Stone Age structures like it, spoke to man of wholeness and integrity.

                             Attaining the Great Ocean in the Sky

                             Attaining the Great Ocean in the Sky

tensor-fasciae-latae:

Kolam: a form of sand painting that is drawn using rice powder by  female members of the family in front of their home. It is widely  practiced by Hindus in South India. A kolam is a sort of painted prayer -  a line drawing composed of curved loops, drawn around a grid pattern of  dots. Kolams are thought to bestow prosperity to homes.

tensor-fasciae-latae:

Kolam: a form of sand painting that is drawn using rice powder by female members of the family in front of their home. It is widely practiced by Hindus in South India. A kolam is a sort of painted prayer - a line drawing composed of curved loops, drawn around a grid pattern of dots. Kolams are thought to bestow prosperity to homes.

(via alfonsinalfonsina)


The number eight was important among Sufi mystics. “The octagon, with a ninth point in the center, is also central to the mystical symbology of Sufism. It is the seal or design which Ernest Scott says ‘reaches for the innermost secrets of man’. Meaning wholeness, power and perfection, this primary geometrical symbol is one which Sufis associate with Shambhala …”
The World of Islam: Faith, People, Culture

The number eight was important among Sufi mystics. “The octagon, with a ninth point in the center, is also central to the mystical symbology of Sufism. It is the seal or design which Ernest Scott says ‘reaches for the innermost secrets of man’. Meaning wholeness, power and perfection, this primary geometrical symbol is one which Sufis associate with Shambhala …”

The World of Islam: Faith, People, Culture

The Problem

The problem with calling the I Ching a mandala is that it is not easy to see how it is one. At least not initially. Unless you happen to be a polymath.

One way to grasp the assertion is to realize that the 64 6-line figures (hexagrams) which form the backbone of the I Ching constitute the entire universe of possible 6-line figures. As the I Ching is composed of all possible permutations of 6-line figures, it is in fact a microcosm which mirrors the macrocosm of existence. As such it is a structure that represents wholeness and all-inclusiveness.

There are many ways to sequence the I Ching hexagrams. But the book itself presents them in a fixed linear sequence, as do most of the other extant models. Some of these may be circular or square in form, but still only one- or at best two-dimensional.

It does not help that we know that any given hexagram can mutate into any other hexagram. There is no sequence that can possibly represent that fact. What is really needed in order to see the true mandalic nature of the I Ching is not a sequence but a pattern, a higher dimensional representation which when viewed by even the neophyte is plainly a mandala. What we need is a mandala of the hexagrams.

© 2012 Martin Hauser