No Two Steps the Same
Twenty-two foundation letters: Engrave them, carve them, weigh them, permute them, and transform them, and with them depict the soul of all that formed and all that will be formed in the future...they are engraved with voice, carved with breath...they are set in a circle...they repeat in a circle...they form substance out of chaos and make non-existence into existence - (The Sepher Yetzirah)
The Tarot is the authentic Emerald Tablets of Hermes. It is the "Book of Life." Its 22 Major Trumps correspond to the Egyptian, Hebrew, Celtic and English Magickal alphabets, to the Kabalistic Tree of Life, the Chakra system, to the Alchemical Magnum Opus, to sacred Numerology (Pythagorean and other), the physical orbit and movement of the luminaries and planets, to the Precession of the Equinoxes, the Process of Human Individuation, the yearly maturation of the human-being, the Personality Types, the zodiac, the sequence of the historical centuries (1st - 21st), the Periodic Table of Elements and several other esoteric and exoteric phenomena.
No Two Steps the Same
When we remember that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained - Mark Twain
Card number 22, called the Fool (also il Matto), opens the Tarot as the sun opens the year. In fact, the word Fool is a corruption of Soel, Sol or Soleil, meaning the sun. The Jester, Trickster or Harlequin, with his coat of many colors, is a simulacra of the sun in its annual traversal of the zodiac. The Fool is a motif of profound antiquity and to understand, completely, this card’s geometrical, ideographic, numerological and cosmological permutations, is to know illumination. Seasonally and ritually, the card is connected with the Vernal Equinox. The image of the eagle which appears on the Fool’s bag, denotes Ahom, the first letter of the Egyptian esoteric alphabet, while his bag and rod represent the male phallus and testes which carry the seeds of new life. His plume, represents Ma'at (Mayat), the supreme goddess of the Egyptian Siderealists. (Feathers became the early writing stylus for it was sincerely reckoned that word (Logos) must serve truth and wisdom or "Maat"). The figure of Maat with her scales is still seen above the halls of Justice (so called) today. The card’s esoteric sigil is zero which connotes the sun.
The Fool's canine companion symbolizes Anubis, the jackal-headed god of putrefaction, decay and regeneration. He also represents temporality and mortality. Anubis' name means "Opener of the Ways." Like Cerberus, of later myths, he was guardian and gatekeeper who lead the seeker through the stages of his mystic journey, who warned of impending danger, and who bestowed magical gifts of protection and power. Like Virgil, Anubis guides the aspirant through the sunlit, moonlit and starlit climes, and also through the fearful landscapes where there is no light of any kind, through the stages of the Underworld, passed the "Devil's Gate," and through the terrible shadow-realms his charge may not be able to pass alone. Hand in hand, is how the ancient Egyptians showed the two, negotiating the intense trials that beset the spirit in search of self, the self in search of spirit. If the neophyte ever reaches the great scales of Maat, and the holy precinct of Osiris, it will be due to his ever faithful guardian and guide, sent him in his hours of trembling and exhaustion. The image of the guardian dog can also seen in cards 9 (The Hermit, Thoth Deck) and The Moon (Thoth and Rider-Waite). These are cards which denote the closure of cycles and rebirth.
One of the interesting
correspondences of this card concerns the
esoteric letter "A" (Aleph). This letter, or word, gives
us the modern alive and relates to
oxygen and breath. Now it happens that, ontogenetically, during the zero-year of the
human being, the fetus is dependant on the mother for everything that
constitutes life. However, when the infant emerges and takes its first breath
it becomes, existentially, an independent being. As Breath Therapists and yogis
know, the science of breath is integral to our spiritual development.
Our breath links the microcosmic self with the macrocomic "mother"
called Tarut, Maat, Nuith, Hathor, Isis, Mara, or Sophia by the ancients. Between
each breath, say the Sufis, man dies and is born again. Breath is our bridge
to life but is never a certainty. This particular precariousness is
connoted by the cliff-edge seen in the card. This pulsation of the lungs was
likened to a bellows and may account for the Latin meaning of the word Fool.
Interestingly, in this context the word respiration
comes from spiritus, or spirit, symbolized by the eagle long before the dove.
The sigil of the Fool is the enigmatic uroboric circle, the zero, a shape which encompasses the most area for the least circumference. His is the mystery of the "Squaring of the Circle," and circles circumscribe our entire lives. There is the circle of the zodiac into which we are born. We are born at a specific degree of this zodiacal wheel, and the symbol for a degree is, again, a circle. There are the months of the solar year, the days of the lunar week. The sun which animates and activates, and its consort the moon appear, in the sky, orbs of precisely the same relative size. On earth there is the circle of the horizon, in relation to which, we always occupy the hub, regardless of relative motion. The plains Indians saw this phenomena and wondered at it and called this circle the “Medicine Wheel.” All men and women stand at its center while their feet converge at the center of the globe, another sphere. The monk shaves his hair in a circle to represent submission to his god. The yogi makes a circle of the thumb and middle digit, to signify release from, and dominion, over the forces of time and space, of karma. Kings sealed word and deed by pressing their rings to a circle of wax, while visiting ambassadors would inscribe an imaginary circle around themselves to emphasize their neutrality. The hands of clocks rotate in a non-ending circle, while their inner machinery is composed of constantly rotating cogs. The atoms, stars and galaxies revolve in their respective orbits. Dervishes empty themselves of themselves by whirling anti-clockwise like the galaxies in their great celestial dance.
Our liminal and subliminal attraction
to the circle exists because it stands
for the single female ovum, the original cauldron of plenty, the original Grail
Chalice. The ancients knew the existence, shape and operations of both the sperm
and the ovum which, among many representations, they likened to a serpent and egg
and, also, as a cobra and an apple. Apples are fruits of the Tree of Life
as the ova are the fruits of the living tree, the female. The serpent
that bites into the apple (or tempts to do so) once simply connoted the act of conception.
This much was known to those of the Mystery School traditions before the
Judeo-Christian hegemony distorted the tale into the familiar
labyrinthine Gordian Knot of nonsense in order to diminish the importance of
the feminine power Cults of antiquity. Sexuality, in all its forms, was intensely
revered by the ancients. How spirit took form in matter via the female was the
actual foundation of most authentic magickal disciplines, mystery schools, and religions.
why a Magician will stand within a perfectly formed uroboric circle. Such a rite
signals his rebirth into a higher dimension of existence or understanding. He
becomes a simulacra of the living spermatozoon within the living,
all-protecting ovum of the Universal Mother Goddess. The Magician, her child, operates outside of linear or mundane time,
his consciousness being in accord with Natural Law,
not against it, which is the real reason why the magic circle cannot be broken
and not for the reasons speculated by would be occult-buffs.
The correspondence of the
ring to the ovum, as well as the female rites of initiation, is still subliminally heeded
when one slips a ring on a finger to signify betrothal and marriage. It is why
columns stand within circular fountains, why clock towers stand above round
civic plazas. A chain, made of links, symbolizes the bond of one life to
another, one ovum eternally linked to the next, via the temple of the female.
This is the original reason why the Church was called Holy
Mother and why priests dress in the robes of the female. It is why baptismal fonts
exist and why their waters are secretly salted to represent the uterine fluid.
Even the common conjuror’s top-hat from which emerge the plethora of
life-forms is also an ovum symbol, his wand being the inseminating male organ.
The Semitic women, during pregnancy, were known to draw a circle around
themselves. One might even
muse that calendrically 0 A.D. was the opening of an entirely new era of
experience and history. For many it was the only time when pure spirit
incarnated into the flesh. Is there another such event scheduled for the
Century, the number of the Fool
card? Are we coming full circle?
When this card falls for us in a traditional reading it represents beginnings, innocence, individuality, independence, freedom, and spontaneity but, negatively, autism, animism, mania and perversity. It allows us to experiment, flirt and dabble. We are introduced to new interests and people, and can have many varied and exciting meetings and experiences. However, these experiences will be inconstant and fleeting, so the card warns us to be wary of becoming too attached to expectations or certainties, of putting all our eggs in one basket, regardless of how good the situation initially seems. We are also warned to avoid loss of self, while indulging in the many new sensations that the world puts in front of us. For those without a strong core identity this will be a challenge. Such individuals become further and further divorced from their inner being, their characters becoming a chaotic medley of all their experiences and ideas without a central core. They do not, ultimately, benefit or mature after their excursions but, more likely, experience psychic and behavioral regression. The lower influence of the Fool immerses us in a moral-less, lawless world, in which we believe ourselves to be invulnerable, and above the normal rules. We think we are challenging ourselves by breaking all the taboos when all we are really doing is isolating good friends, damaging our reputation, causing future adverse karmas, and burning down important structures that may have taken a great deal of time and energy to create. Our care for the welfare of others around us also tends to wane under the influence of the Fool. The help and advice of others who have our welfare at heart goes unheard and resented. We even go out of our way to go against their counsel, and often live to regret it. Instead of listening to the wise, we pay more heed to the influence of negative or ambivalent personalities who make their appearance. Our reprobate qualities are reinforced and we can seriously hurt others and ourselves when the Fool's lower octave aspects are dominant. On the other hand, the card often appears when we are on the verge of beginning an important new cycle, or when we are experiencing a major rite of passage. To inherit the new and feel its freshness, we must first endure endings. These endings are usually of the roles we have long committed to, or been held to, by the projections and expectations of others, who are likewise caught within their circumscribed roles. The Fool represents either an in-between state between roles, or a more permanent exodus beyond them. The Fool is that instinct for development and progress in our hearts and minds, the need to know and experience more than what we have been used to. It is the spirit which resists conformity and the accepted patterns of existence that suit those imprisoned in their "one-size-fits-all" roles. Without this instinct there would be no life, no movement and no aspiration. The card, therefore, represents our journey toward individuation. To attain this state, habituation must be overcome. As the philosophers and poets, like Seneca and Gide, understood man cannot seek new shores by remaining forever on the old one.
Sometimes a man stands up during supper,
and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,
because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.
And his children say blessings on him as if he were dead.
And another man, who remains inside his own house
stays there, inside the dishes and in the glasses,
so that his children have to go far out into the world,
toward that same church, which he forgot.
Rainer Maria Rilke
The Child-Fool is our naiveté and sense of wonder, our exploration into the less traveled paths, and excitement from what we discover along the way. He is our symbolic vision and sees not with the eyes but through them. He dissolves the complex with his laughter and does not fear the catabolic forces of nature, the cycles and laws which he is obedient to. Inter-personally, the Fool represents the peculiar innocence and even ignorance from which we each seek to rise through leaps of faith. That faith is really in ourselves. It is the inner awareness that we are born to experience all that is, and the eventual realization that our inner being and the external world are not two separate things, but operate according to the same principles and ordinances.
The Fool is one who has resolved the metaphysical and epistemological conundrums which confound the philosophers and men of science. His spirit is not "trapped" in matter, for he understands that matter is spirit; so how can spirit be trapped by spirit? Maya (or illusion) is not Matter, but the absurd, omni-directional, and reflexive template imposed by men's minds upon matter, or nature. It is by this artificial mental matrix that men are contained and confounded, and not by nature. The Fool smiles at the absurdity of those who cannot see passed their own phrenic fallacies as they peer, with scientific hubris, into the voids.
Can nature possibly be as absurd as it seemed to us in these atomic experiments? - Werner Heisenberg
To avoid the truth that we are captured by our own projections, humanity has fashioned the pernicious and unsustainable lie that "base matter" is the prison of "spirit." Locked behind this folly men everlastingly batter the door to salvation forgetting, all the while, that the true key to freedom is held in their own clenched hands. The absurdity persists in their equally convoluted "Eureka" theorems, which lead nowhere but back on themselves, back to the original quandary which echoes perpetually through the sterile laboratories and seminaries - "What the hell is going on!?"
It is said that the Buddha himself was asked about this very question of liberation. He replied to the inquirers that, in regards the mystery of human liberation, there is both bad news and good news:
The bad news is that there is no key to the door of freedom. The good news is that the door was never locked - Buddhist Legend
With the Fool's mastery over time and death, over ignorance and fear, comes the state known as Eudemonia by the Athenian philosophers. It is the state of complete happiness. This is a happiness which is, however, not the mere opposite of sadness. Nor is it a state gained due to the temporary absence of sensational pain. No, it is more than that, and cannot be explained to those who know it not. The gentle smile on the lips of the Fool, and his upward-tilted countenance, are evidence that he is indeed the Eudemon; the supremely happy man.
Happiness is the indication that man has found the answer to the problem of human existence and thus, simultaneously, being one with the world and preserving the integrity of his self. In spending his energy productively he increases his powers, he burns without being consumed - Erich Fromm (Love, Sexuality and Matriarchy)
Do you deny me the entrance to heaven, I who have at last learned the mystery of myself – Egyptian legend
The Fool's litany is the Song of Innocence, a vision preserved by the world’s eternal children. Theirs is the circle of the bubble, effervescent and intensely fragile. Theirs is the ecstasy of the intangible. The Universe meets the Fool's simple needs because he refuses to live in excess. He is content to survive on the feast of his daily bread and asks for nothing more. He never thinks of, or begs for, the bread of tomorrow, of the week, the year or the lifetime. In this way he never knows want and his bowl is always full. With this reverent attitude he can keep his mind and heart alert, innocent, and receptive to the strange symphony of life, the beauty and perfection all around him and of which he is a part, rather than a spectator. He knows that only by living simply can many others be allowed to simply live. For the Fool, there is only the beginning, only the thrill of the first step, the first discovery. Yesterdays and tomorrows mean nothing. For him only the present exists because he is present. Each morning when he awakes, like a student at his first class, he prepares a blank mind for the day to write upon.
The man of Tao remains unknown. Perfect virtue produces nothing. "No-Self" is "True-Self." And the greatest man is Nobody - Chuang Tzu
Everything that is dead quivers. Not only the things of poetry, stars, moon, wood, flowers, but even a white trouser button glittering out of a puddle in the street...Everything has a secret soul which is silent more often than it speaks - Wassily Kandinsky
The spirit of the Fool was apparent in Lao Tzu, Blake, Dali, Gustav Dore, Lewis Carroll, Marcel Marceau, Buster Keaton and Jim Morrison. It lives in the John Cleeses and Jim Carys of our age. He is the Squire of Gothos, Crocodile Dundee, the Man With No Name, the original Lord of the Rings always leaving civilization better than he finds it. He experiences all yet lives no life but his own. A lover of riddles, puzzles and rhymes, he knows that answers can be prisons and questions curses. On his strange journey he walks one of two paths, one crooked or one straight, one of imagination or one of mania. His number is the master vibration 22 which represents the lowest or highest of karmic existences, either total mastery or total debauch. His number implies the formula of the circle, Pi, the so-called "irrational" number, which defies explanation yet is a fundamental principle of all creation.
The Fool is said to embody the other 21 cards, in the same way that zero contains in potentia all number. He is the uroboric serpent biting its own tail. He is the Alpha and Omega, and can be identified as the archetype, known in Buddhist philosophy, as the Bodhisattva, who enters creation, lives myriad lives, and finally transcends Avidya (ignorance) by ceasing to pursue the knowledge and answers which have enslaved him. He comes to see that the process, in time and space, of acquiring knowledge merely affirms, and perpetuates, his ignorance. He sees that he is an actor on a stage without script, company, or audience. He realizes that his very questioning perpetuates more questioning, and that his impassioned but narcissistic inquiry into ultimate "meaning" has left him erecting and nourishing an ego, which perpetually craves to reinforce its own nature, and bolster its own autonomy, rather than relinquish it. He comes to quietly understand how his precious thoughts, memories and ideas are not him, or are not his at all. They accompany him not to liberation, only to continued mediocre existences under the dictates of an ever mightier tyrannical ego which, with renewed vigor, sets about rearranging the physical world that once stood well beyond its control. Its sole purpose is to force the world of physical reality, or matter, into whatever malformed shape and contorted semblance it demands for its own contrived security and satiety. It dismantles and reassembles reality until a satisfactory counterfeit is made. Like a vast self-perpetuating organic computer, it methodically processes the data of experience and logs it all in its holographic data-base. Its ever-expanding, omniscient "fractal" memory is refreshed and updated every second of every day. There is no down time. The Creator of this sampled virtual universe, together with the "conspirators," who maintain the hierarchy, exist within the mindscapes as an aristocracy, overseeing the tribulations of those as yet unaware as to the origins of their supposed self-generated energies, drives personalities and aspirations.
You will feel like an onion: skin after skin, subterfuge after subterfuge, is pulled off to find no kernel at the center. Which is the whole point: to find out that the ego is indeed a fake – a wall of defense around a wall of defense…around nothing – Alan Watts (The Book: On the Taboo of Knowing Who You Are)
The first result of this illusion is that our attitude to the world “outside” us is largely hostile. We are forever “conquering” nature, space, mountains, deserts, bacteria, and insects instead of learning to cooperate with them in a harmonious order – ibid
Because this dark, perfidious operation proceeds infinitely gradually over immense expanses of historical time it is well concealed from the limited faculties of the myriad actors on its stage. Though the evidence is all around, and though the "engines" of the Beast throb and shudder everlastingly, the truth goes undetected by the hylic "Everymen" whose rapid arrival to, and departure from, the theatre of time and space prevents clear insight into the workings of the well-oiled machinery which operates behind the "Wheel of Samsara" (existence). Moreover, these erstwhile actors, caught in their mundane roles, perform better when they believe that they think with the mind, not for it. They offer their services in exchange for access to, and receipt of, the many endowments and powers that intoxicate their waking and sleeping dreams. Through its colossal adventure, the collective mind rewards those who serve its purpose, demoting, and conspiring against those who do not, or will not. It has fashioned both heavens and hells for this express purpose. The "Puppet-Master" covets those individual minds who can assist it in its super-secret agenda, its devouring of experience and framing of the world into its own monstrous likeness. The pawns who are recruited to assist in this conquest rarely comprehend what lies behind their personal ardors, their mistakes and discoveries, their rise and fall, or suspect that they are participants in a timeless transaction, mere bubbling test-tubes in a vast unholy laboratory, their personal value lying solely in their designated functions, and not in their selfhood. In the laboratory of the Beast, and in the social hive, we have our assigned duties to carry out, duties which are performed better when we believe ourselves to be operating under our own volition. Our periodic failures, during the vast experiment, are due to our supposed nemesis ignorance, while our periodic successes are, in total, our ticket to supposed salvation and enlightenment. This is the life-act which enslaves ephemerals and eternals, angels and devils all. The Escher- or Dali-Fools, who have looked behind the god-game, and who presume to speak or teach the truth do so at their own peril. Far from being rewarded or exalted, they are vilified, and branded "Renegade." Every attempt is made to silence their audacious voices, and confound their antinomian philosophy. They are the cracked test-tubes, or corrupted data files, to be trashed and deleted. The Beast attributes little actual value to the problematic individual, only to the species. It may experience the occasional "failure" on the ontological (individual) front, but the plaque of its phylogenetic (collective, historical) success is proudly posed above its penthouse desk, so to speak. Unhindered by the brave resistance and resignation of foolish iconoclasts, the mighty wheels of the demiurge relentlessly grind on. Slowly, through its particular form of osmosis, the worm-like mind ingests the stuff of reality, reducing it to processed dust in its "dark satanic mills." All the long while, during its Sisyphean Labor, the ego-tyrant fails to realize that the phenomena which it imagines as "external" and antithetical to itself is really an apparition, or epiphenomena, of its own convoluted processes and that, in its efforts to dominate matter, it has succeeded only in further enslaving itself. Its window to the world turns out to be a mirror. In Blake's terminology, Urizen's chains are his necklaces.
I am not denying that great gains have resulted from the evolution of civilized society. But these gains have been made at the price of enormous losses, whose extent we have scarcely begun to estimate - Carl Jung (Approaching the Unconscious)
The world, and its apparent content, is an image within our own minds that we condition ourselves to believe is an external reality. The principle incarnate architects and exponents of this lie enjoy titles like "philosopher," or "scientist," but they neither love wisdom, nor see further than their own perplexity, their own "Newtonian Sleep." The Fool is one who awakens to this paradox. He is awakened after hearing the ambient pulse and whirl made by the giant machinery of the omnipresent mind-game, the all-pervading, relentless and terrible rhythm unheard by those intentionally deafened by the clamor of thoughts, words, ideals and deeds. Upon his awakening, the Sage-Fool arrives at the peripheral wall which stands between the real and the unreal. He sits down in its shadow and remains silent, listening to it. There he puts an end to his struggle, his desires to own, command, understand or prize that which is unreal. The unreal, by being unreal, eludes ownership. It cannot be possessed, known, held or even destroyed. Only the mind which conjures the unreal, and desires it, can be silenced. The ego which adamantly and feverishly attempts, incarnation after incarnation, to find the world, and not its own countenance, framed in its ancient mental mirror, must eventually smash the glass, and end its vain quest, in order to really experience the nameless and everlasting Tao.
The stopping of becoming is Nirvana - Buddhist Adage
Who can free himself from achievement, and from fame, descend and be lost, amid the masses of men? He will flow like Tao, unseen, he will go about like Life itself with no name and no home. Simple he is, without distinction. To all appearances he is a fool. His steps leave no trace. He has no power. He achieves nothing, has no reputation. Since he judges no one no one judges him. Such is the perfect man: His boat is empty - Chuang Tzu (399 - 295 B.C.)
It is all too often forgotten that the ancient symbol for prenascence of the world is a fool, and that foolishness being a divine state, is not a condition to be either proud or ashamed of - G. Spenser Brown (The Laws of Form)
To be fully awakened, the Fool's knowledge, amassed through millennia, through ages in the Samsara (wheel of lives), is rejected and replaced with one simple truth: In the world of the spirit, in the place of the Tao, there is only one kind of work, one kind of deed, one kind of attitude, and that is non-activity. The accepted custom in the country of Truth is do, say, and think, nothing. The sage is silent, blank, inactive, dispassionate. He seeks nothing, for he is not empty. He resists nothing and, therefore, inherits no problems or obstacles. He also realizes that the way that can be sought is not the true way, the god who can be seen is not the true god. The enlightenment which comes after struggle or denial is not real, being merely the cessation of struggle.
The Tao-Fool does not seek to escape his ignorance but, instead, makes ignorance his reverend teacher. He is fully aware of his limitations, and never under-estimates his own ignorance. It is a virtue that makes him truly wise. Being as a blank canvas, he can read the inner nature of others who come in front of him, and his estimates are clear and true. Thus, he knows little of disappointment from deception or betrayal. All who come in front of him are seen for who they are, their true nature's naked before his deep and lustrous eyes. No masks, charades, games or camouflage conceals the face they think is hidden. Seeking nothing from anyone, the Tao-Fool is never dependant. Nor does he ever seek to make others dependent upon him. Thus, when he speaks, he does so without hypocrisy or care for what others will think of him. Their judgments are an anathema to him. Friend to himself, he needs no other. The "relationships" of the unawakened are to him a prison to be lamented and avoided. His silence and his darkness are companions and guides enough. While he quietly smiles, the clever and motivated over-achievers charge tragically about him infatuated by the chimeras of halos, transfigurations, bleeding saviors, badges for excellence, palaces in the sky, social and intellectual utopias and conversations with god. Their nirvana is but exhaustion, the cessation of a lifetime of infatuation and utter folly. Their religions, creeds and dogmas are founded not upon understanding, but upon their perplexity, expectation, and hubris. Their holy books, altars and idols are their jealous prison wardens. To them, silence and emptiness are horrific and morbid, and should be avoided at all cost, banished by the din of prayers, choirs or wars. Those who have been caught in the webs and "mind-forged manacles" (Blake) of the Adversary, who know little more than pain, sorrow, loss and struggle, are bound to imagine that their temporary release or unsustainable freedom is the highest Satori, and that anyone who throws them a coin is a saint. Their very attachment to what they attain becomes the tethers of further enslavement. Their tight fearful hold on what little love, light or truth comes their way, ultimately suffocates and destroys such gifts. We never guess that it is our propensity for holding on so tightly which pushes away what we most value and require.
The Pure Men of old acted without calculation, not seeking to secure results. They laid no plans. Therefore, failing, they had no cause for regret; succeeding, no cause for congratulations. And thus they could scale great heights without fear...They did not know what it was to love life and hate death. They did not rejoice in birth, nor strive to put off dissolution. Quickly come, and quickly go - Chuang Tzu
The Buddha-Fool carries no load, and does not care where his paths lead. He seeks no direction since he knows that all roads lead from, and back to, himself. The Christ-Fool can dine with the lepers or the emperors and teach both something new while, himself, learning what cannot be communicated. These Sage-Fools are the uncontained because they do not seek to contain, and are free because they do not aspire to possess anything or anyone. Like the invisible air, they exist above, below, on either side, behind and within all that can be apprehended by the senses and the brain. They have learned to inhabit the "negative space," and come and go through the portals between exhale and inhale, dream and nightmare, failure and success, laughter and tears. Though we never see them, they watch us as we sleep, and work, love and cry. They are ever near, always walking at our side tending our existence. They are our inwardness, the peculiar forgetfulness of self, which comes to some from time to time. They are that Beauty which is there when we are not, when the "I" is not. They are the Ancestors of all, but they belong to no one. They are the Shepherds of Being, and their omnipresent embrace is known as Compassion.
The gentleness of some is like the polished shell with silky feel, lacking the precious pearl within, oblivious to the brother's weal. When you shall meet someone who is strong and gentle too, pray feast your eyes, for he is glorious to behold, even the blind can see his qualities - Kahlil Gibran
To symbolize their expansive, but inexplicable state, the circle, the zero, the void were chosen as their talismans. Zero plus one equals one! So says the calculator and the left-brain. How many acknowledge the inherent paradox of this supposition? Zero (0), by definition, is No Thing. Therefore, how can something be added to No Thing and be said to quantitatively exist? To come out of Nothing, is to be nothing. Therefore, Being cannot be. Number cannot be. Life cannot be. On the other hand, if the Nothing is Something, what is the essence of the aforesaid "Nothing?" We cannot think of something which is nothing, yet we blithely accept the concept of Nothingness. If it were possible to "know" the Nothing, our knowing would have made it a Something which is, again, a logical impossibility. So why does mind entertain this strange, perplexing concept? Is the rational mind attempting to obscure something about itself, and its origins? To explicate this concept of No Thing we use the symbol of the circle which is, again, a something, in the same way as 1 is a something. So even when we attempt to symbolize Nothingness we have to use a something and end up back where we started. The moral of the paradox: all that mind thinks it creates is an illusion, since the mind itself, its thinking, and all it thinks it knows, especially about itself, is unreal.
What are man’s truths really? Merely his irrefutable errors – Nietzsche
The fool who persists in his folly will become wise - William Blake
Before the advent of Confucianism, Buddhism and even Taoism, the myths say that the earliest Emperors of China were powerful Shamans, able to travel easily between this world and others. They did so on the backs of swans and strange phoenix-like birds. As time passed, as our world became more complex and materialistic, these journeys became less frequent until eventually the high Emperors lost the secret of the portals. These doorways, like those of ruined houses, became silent, rusted and hard to open. What the Emperors lost remained known for a time to their "humble" advisors, until they too came to prefer mundane intrigues and the power available to them in this world. From them the elusive keys passed unseen to a few holy men and yogis, and finally, after they also succumbed to their own form of spiritual malaise, the discarded ancient key was picked up by the Tao-Fool who, with his canine companion, learned to come and go through the last of the subtle doors to other dimensions. Though this ragged, bare-foot harlequin may appear a resident of this world, the look in his eyes reveals that he is not a captive of one time or place. When we see him asleep under a tree we might wonder at the strange smile on his lips. Attempts to constrain him fail. Attempts to understand him prove futile. He remains outcast, for he laughs at the sorrows of the world, and when the world around him laughs, tears fall glistening from his eyes.
...Tell me, do you know anything about a man going around playing a harmonica? He's someone you'd remember. Instead of talking he plays, and when he better play he talks - Sergio Leone (Once Upon a Time in the West)
The Fool and the Universe, which houses him, exist and evolve contemporaneously. Before both is the beckoning precipice of oblivion into which they moment by moment step forth in faith. And step forth they must, for the strange fact is, that the pages of the great Book of Life turn in only one direction. Moreover, man is bound to read the Book of Life one chapter at a time. Each chapter is then read one page at a time, the page one line at a time, and the line one word at a time. We all read at a different pace, we all retain the “information” differently, and all experience what we have “read” in different ways. None of us know the end, only the place from which we have come, and to which we can never return. Once a page is turned it remains turned. There is no going back.
The Fool card's message is that on any circle movement is really an illusion. We are always, at every point, as far away or as near as we ever are from our conceived destination. Our destination is, in fact, where we are. On the circle of life we are only running away from ourselves and the very place we seek. The Fool instructs, by either dream or nightmare, that though lifestyle is in the doing, life is in the being; that when we are deeply open we will be deeply filled, that when we learn to listen we will be really heard, and that when we choose not to grasp we will find ourselves finally embraced.
live my life in ever widening circles,
Each superseding the previous ones.
Perhaps I shall never succeed in reaching
The final circle, but attempt it I will
And have been circling for a thousand years,
And still do not know: am I a falcon
A storm, or a great song?
~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~
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