Tag Archives: Yin-yang

What Good Is Spirituality?


You can only know what it is to need to live a spiritual life if you have been to one of two places.  If you have somehow come to spirituality from a very good place in life then you know.  The other place is Hell ~ some of us have been there.  Working toward Spirituality on a daily basis makes life bearable for some, happier and more fulfilling for others, puts some others in touch with a higher plane, and for some others it stops them killing themselves.  For some of us Spirituality is a matter of Life and Death.

I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge.  It has not been in pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason.  It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

Some see The Raven as a metaphor for Death.

One can choose any path towards spirituality but the Buddha laid down some pretty sound ideas two and a half thousand years ago.

The Four Noble Truths;

  1. Life is difficult and shit happens.
  2. Craving for immediate pleasure makes more shit happen.
  3. Learn some self-control and life will become less difficult as you won’t drop yourself into the shit so often.
  4. Learn the true meaning of right and wrong and always try to do the right thing.

Of course this was not quite how Buddha explained it, but my version gives the essence.

The fourth Noble Truth is also known as the Truth of the Middle Path, or the Noble Eightfold Path.  You don’t have to be Buddhist to aspire to have the qualities described in the Noble Eightfold Path;

  • Right Understanding
  • Right Thought
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Right Effort
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Concentration

Any high-powered executive would give his eye teeth to be able to follow the precepts of the Eightfold Path.  Back in the day, if I could get half of those half right half of the time, I was King of the Hill.  Sadly, most high-powered executives will be far too busy working, or going on time-management seminars, to give the matter of Spirituality any study at all.

For some others, such as drug addicts, compulsive gamblers, alcoholics, neurotics, among others, working toward the Noble Eightfold Path is what keeps them alive.  These people often use a 12 step recovery programme to achieve spirituality ~ and the essence of these 12 step programmes is very close to the teachings of the Buddha.  The snag is that organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous are part-way to becoming a Religion, with all that implies.

However, if you are an alcoholic, drug addict…, then working toward spirituality by attending AA, NA meetings may just keep you alive.  Every little action in working towards Spirituality is very, very easy, and unless you are suffering from an extreme character disorder, feels perfectly natural.

The hard part is that the path to true Spirituality means that you have to keep doing it, every minute of every day.  The other hard part is that you will expose your soul to yourself.  If you like you may substitute ‘deepest subconsciousness‘ for soul.  What you will find down there are the good things, the ordinary things, the hurtful things, and the deepest, darkest, most evil parts of yourself.

Some of us didn’t want to go there.  Some of us made half-hearted efforts.  You know what?  Not doing your utmost means you only get part of the good stuff.  And, for some people that’s not enough to keep them alive.

That doesn’t mean that to do your utmost means you have to spend every second of every day actively working towards the Eightfold Path, or being involved in 12 step work.  What it means is that you have to want to believe, and when you do your 12 step work, or working toward the Noble Eightfold Path, it needs to be taken seriously and honestly.  Trust me, looking deep into the evil part of your soul isn’t something you can do for 12 hours a day ~ not unless you want to become completely insane.  All of us have a Mister Hyde.

Like everything in Life, true spirituality also needs balance.


balance as shown by yin-yang

Personally, I looked for balance in the philosophy of yin and yang.  This stuff apparently goes back about 3,000 years, and works on the premise that there are two sides to every coin.  Each of us has two basic halves, male and female, and these need to be kept in balance.  It’s more complicated than that ~ think of; night and day, sun and moon, winter and summer, fire and rain, life and death…

Without balance it’s very easy to go completely off the rails.

For example, my last divorce came about partly because my work / life balance was skewed in favour of work.  My ‘patch’ was Europe and North America.  I spent most of my time on aeroplanes, in hotels, in meetings, on more aeroplanes, trains, or in my car, and more hotels and more meetings.  What with that and the affairs and drinking my good lady soon became my ex.

The only way I know to begin to achieve any balance whatsoever is to practice the doctrine of ‘everything in moderation’.

This has been much derided, however ‘everything in moderation’ doesn’t mean everything.  Some things are just not on the list.  If you take drugs then stop.  If you smoke then cut down with the aim of stopping soon.  If you drink every single day then stop drinking completely.  If you drink a little too much then cut down, have at least two days a week when alcohol is off the agenda.  Sugar in any form is mostly not on the list.  Stay away from candy, cakes and cookies.

Tomorrow I will attempt to explain how to get started on your work toward Spirituality.  Every person on this planet could greatly benefit from doing some of this.

You may trust me on this one, you do not want to hear the Raven quoth ‘Nevermore.’

The Mystic Spiral


InfinityAn interesting philosophical point is; do spirals curve outward from a central point, getting progressively farther away as the line revolves around the point?  Or, do spirals curve inwards around a central point, getting progressively nearer until the curving line ends at the centre?  Or does a spiral begin and end in infinity?  More complex still, is a spiral all of those things at the same time, beginning and ending in the centre?  Add a vertical dimension and you have a conical helix.  What are the different properties of left-handed, and right-handed spirals?  What happens if you have two opposite-handed conical helix wound together?  As a matter of fact all of the above forms happen in nature.  As a matter of fact, all spirals embody a profound paradox, which may be why the form transcends mathematics and engineering into The Mystic Spiral.

split-in-two-nautilus-shellThe most common spiral seen in nature is a logarithmic spiral, (sometimes called the miraculous spiral), and although it’s simple enough to be made by a mollusc, the mathematics are beyond ordinarily complicated;

x(t)=r(t)cos(t)=ae bt cos(t)

y(t)=r(t)sin(t) =ae bt sin(t)

The thing about the miraculous spiral form is the gaps between the lines get bigger as the line rotates outward.  Good old Archimedes has a different spiral named after him.  In the Archimedean spiral, the gaps between the lines stay the same from the centre to the edge.  In 225 BC Archimedes even wrote a whole book about the spiral, wittingly entitled On Spirals, in which he proves that circles are square.

Roman ArmyMore or less at the same time as Archimedes, the Celts were going spiral crazy.  Not much of Celtic history is left after the ubiquitous Roman Legions had finished destroying their culture.  But, the Celts were adept stonemasons and metalworkers, so there are examples of their symbology scattered across the countryside and in museums.  Also, a hell of a lot of Celtic myths and legends have been passed down in the various languages and folk cultures of Britain.  There are still those who seek the meaning of spirals.

Three spiral patterns seem to have been especially important to these Ancient Britons.


  1. Single spiral.  This is one of Man’s oldest spiritual symbols.  It represents both solar and lunar, masculine and feminine energy.  Depending on how you look at it this either means the journey from outer consciousness to the inner soul, or spiritual growth outward from the centre to development and awareness.  Depending on how you look at it the spiral is either clockwise or counter-clockwise, going within and going outward.  The Golden Mean Spiral represents the shape of love in it’s simplest form, and this is no abstract form, in geometric terms this logarithmic spiral grows according to the Golden Ratio ~ Fibonacci numbers that are the natural numbering system of the cosmos.
  2. yin-yangDouble spiral.  A potent symbol of the Earth Goddess, the double spiral allegedly represents complete balance in all things, the equinoxes when day and night are the same length, man and woman together.  The double spiral is also the symbol for eternal life, of life, death, and rebirth.  The yin-yang symbol is a double spiral showing the balance of man and woman, sun and moon, finite and infinite, life and death, death and rebirth, Heaven and Earth, the relationship between the Mother-Goddess and her spouse, the interconnected nature of the physical world and the spiritual realm.  The double spiral teaches us of the dual purpose of Life, the journey inward towards your own essential soul, and the Grail Quest outwards into the world.
  3. triplespiralTriple spiral.  The triskele.  This is about the whole Maiden, Mother, Crone, power of the woman to create growth and change.  This is the triple Moon-Goddess, the Queen of Heaven, one of the primary dieties of neopaganism, as the maiden, mother, and crone are the three phases of the moon and also the realms of The Earth, The Underworld, and The Heavens. It also represents Land, Sea, and Sky, which is pretty much the entire physical realm as understood by our ancestors.  The triple spiral also counts the 3 phases of a woman’s 9 month pregnancy, (don’t ask me, I’m not a woman).  The female aspect of the triple goddess spiral is the balance to the male essence of The Beast.  The enchantment of the maiden is the waxing phase of the lunar cycle and it is the maiden who brings the rebirth of the horned beast  The mother represents knowledge and wisdom and is the full moon, her time is spring and early summer.  A woman does not need to have biological children to be the mother.  The crone is darkness, winter, death.

Some say that the Ancient Britons used the spiral as a mind-altering tool to free their creativity from earthly bounds.  I’d like to bet good money that alcohol was also involved.  If you stare at a spiral when you are drunk you can easily believe that you are no longer of this world.  I’d like to bet there was a lot of male ~ female interaction involved in the rituals of the Ancient Britons.

Spiral GalaxyNGC1365Not all spirals are of this world, be it physical or spiritual.  The reality we occupy is part of a spiral galaxy, but we cannot ourselves see the spiral form of the Milky Way because we’re inside the spiral looking at the nearest edges.  The thick band of bright starlight in the night sky is part of an edge of a line of an arm of the spiral.  Today it’s just about impossible to see the pinwheel of a distant spiral galaxy with the naked eye, and there’s no reason to believe the Celts could see things in the heavens we cannot, (without a telescope or binoculars).  The idea of a spiral probably didn’t come from things seen in the heavens.  However, given that the Earth is moving through space in a series of spiral ellipses at 1,339,200 miles per hour, there is no reason we shouldn’t believe that everything on the Earth is predisposed to think and feel in spirals.  Look up Speed of the Earth if you don’t believe it.

ModernVenusAphroditeThe weird thing is;  Spirals are the bedrock of both the physical and spiritual realms.  Everything from electrons to galaxies moves in spirals.  The symbolism of spirals can teach the manly man a lot about some of the most important aspects of his relationship to the female / feminine aspects of his life.  Spirals are a possible link into spirituality and growth from a man into a Renaissance Man.  All men with an ambition to understand, mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, astronomy, and engineering need to know about spirals and the helix.

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