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Friday, February 27, 2009

The Lesson of the Lima Bean – CREDO LIII

In the winter of 1930, I spent a term at the Beaver School on Chestnut Street in Boston. I was eight years old, and my parents left me with my aunt and uncle in their handsome townhouse on Beacon Hill. I was bored with the curriculum, which involved a lot of playing with paper and paste and crayons, unlike the academic rigors of the Italian school in Rome. However, I learned one thing that has yielded me great insight as I have progressed with observing the hidden symbolic wisdom of processes. It was the lesson of a lima bean!

Each child was given a soil-filled paper cup and instructed to plant a lima bean in it upside-down. The cups were then lined up on the windowsill. Mine had the initials a.o. on it. We watered them, yet time passed very slowly. Eventually a little green shoot appeared in each cup. Then came the demonstration of geotropism. The teacher explained that it took extra time for the poor lima bean’s root to find the sun. We unearthed the beans and saw that the root had struggled by first plunging further into the dark earth before curling up and eventually breaking the surface to the warm air and light.

The symbolic metaphor for human consciousness is obvious and most profound in its implications. Fire is the element that shoots up as if wanting to reunite with its source, the sun. All vegetation from grass to trees needs sunlight and even grass grows vertically. So for us as human beings, the life that gives our bodies existence also yearns instinctively for its mysterious Source, whether we are conscious or unconscious of this. For most of us this can mean years of materialistic darkness. But we walk vertically and sleep horizontally. Physically our eyes see only one half of reality at a time – aha! So we have to consciously, perhaps, supply meaning to the half unseen. We need a mirror to see ourselves at all and two mirrors to see our backs completely.

In Istanbul, the delightful Sufi Sheik Muzzafer quoted to us: Allah says there are 77,000 veils between you and Me, but not a single one between Me and you.

Most of you are familiar with the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus? In it is the famous saying: As above, so below. Feminine wisdom, in terms of processes, also says, As below, so above! And as a Jungian I like to add, As within, so without! because no two people see the exact same thing. Each of us processes experience uniquely in terms of consciousness according to our charts, and now science tells us that each of us has a unique DNA which orders everything!

When I would go to the zoo in Rome, we bought a lump of stale bread to feed the animals and birds – and me. Yum! I remember asking my mother how come the same bread turned into fur and feathers, into elephants and me. My mother was stumped. Now we know. Perhaps this mystery of DNA sheds light on the bread and wine of the Christian Communion Service? Speaking of which, the climax of the Roman Catholic service is the revealing of the Monstrance. An ornamental golden radiant circular sunburst is raised, and its center is uncapped to reveal an empty white circle! The symbol in sacred geometry of Spirit Immanent. The mystery being that because pi never comes out, the area (pi r sq) can never be defined. I am curious to know if that is ever explained. Perhaps one of you could answer that? Jung’s definition of the psyche as a mandala or circular expression of the Self at its center yields the symbol for Spirit Manifest, which circle with a centerpoint, is also (aha!) the astronomical symbol for the sun and the metallurgic symbol for gold!! These are all little obvious matters that having eyes, we do not see.

Hagia Sophia, Holy Wisdom, Shekinah in the Old Testament in Proverbs ( 8:22–31) is described as co-creator of the earth, “full of delight,” and wanting to be friendly to mankind. So is Tara, the Buddhist feminine counterpart to Wisdom. Her Christian symbol is the dove. The title of my book The Dove in the Stone is taken from a Hermetic treatise. The alchemists had to conceal their knowledge that matter contained Spirit, because it was heresy to say this and they could be put to death! So now you have all these philo-sophers (lovers of Wisdom) looking for the Philosopher’s Stone – and She is hiding in every stone, giggling. It truly is a cosmic joke. Petrus Bonus wrote: To find the Philosopher’s Stone, look with the eyes but see with the heart.

I hope this cheers you up a wee bit coming at such a devastating turning point in history. My beloved Walter and I used to take our coffee cups out in the early summer mornings and look at the jeweled dew drops on the grass, and murmur “If you want to be rich, count your blessings!”


1 comment:

phoebe said...

Alice! So happy to read this here. A place to bookmark and dip into for joy and inspiration!

Much love,