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The Study of Symbols

by Adriano Nardi

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‘ order to achieve intuitiveness the use of symbols is necessary; indeed, every symbol offers the conscious eye the memory of the idea that was its foundation.'

It is useful to talk about this propaedeutic action represented by interpretation and use of symbols. It is important for any aspirant to the truth to acquire the ability to discover the idea hidden by symbols, since any form is the expression of an idea (just like man is); likewise, for any researcher it is fundamental to learn what this means, in particular for those who work in strictly symbolic fields such as Freemasonry. Indeed, the latter represents the most articulated symbolic container for the purpose of keeping the principles that make the body of Ancient Mysteries. In order to unveil what is veiled we must make ourselves suitable instruments. The only instrument that allows metaphysical aspects to become physical, viz. an event experienced in the conscience and not only theoretical, is the complex world called Psyche.

What does it mean to make ourselves suitable instruments?

It basically means to go from unreal to real. In other words to solve the problem of Illusion . The latter is the deformed and fragmentary perception of ideas and their unsuitable interpretation. Without going into the analysis of the various types of Illusion which man is subjected to, it is important to say that they are different depending on the focus of conscience of men. It follows the need to have at our disposal a faculty that can disperse, dissolve and devitalize the Illusion.

This faculty consists of the development of intuition.

Intuition is not the ability to understand other people's problems and to be able to distinguish between situations and attitudes; this is the prerogative of any man with a clear and analytical mind who is interested in understanding other people's problems.

To have a vision, to listen to the inner voice or to have a gratified reaction to a teaching is not at all proof of an intuitive activity.

It is not intelligent psychology, neither loving desire to help; these elements are determined by the relationship between a spiritually oriented personality and the soul gifted with group conscience.

Intuition is the synthetic comprehension that is a prerogative of the higher Self (the soul) and that is only manifested when it goes from its own level to the spiritual Self (the monad) and to the lower Self (the integrated personality that is coordinated and unified even if only temporarily ).

We can use the metaphor of an electrical circuit. Here the switch is the ‘door' for opening and closing it and it determines the passage of energy in the circuit; if the total mastery of the ‘switch' is accomplished only at the Third Initiation (real rather than symbolic) what must drive our commitment to work towards this accomplishment is the statement ‘even if only temporarily', referred to the occasional alignment of personality – determined by a mental direction, by an emotional orientation and a physical coordination.

The concept of alignment is very relevant; we will not talk about it any further for the moment. We only need to know that there are different methods for mental, emotional and physical levels; when they are properly used they determine the control of the level in question from the higher level (the only element that determines the hierarchy between planes, levels or bodies is the degree of vibration of relative energy).

Intuition produces three effects: illumination, comprehension and love.

Illumination as ‘light of the intellect' (clear vision) allows an inner recognition not in theory, but as a fact registered in our own conscience, our own identification with what we might call the ‘archetypal nature' of the world of ideas. It implies activation and vibration of the cerebral cells around the pineal gland, which used to be asleep and now respond by sympathy to the light of intuition, since the nucleus of every cell is a point of light.

The father of modern brain studies, Santiago Ramòn Y Cajal described nervous cells as ‘the mysterious butterflies of the soul, whose flutter of wings might one day reveal the secret of mental life.'

Comprehension implies the great ability to love maintaining personal detachment, which is not separation, sense of isolation and superiority. In other words to understand helps us to decentralize from ourselves as the fulcrum of all references. Intuitive comprehension is always spontaneous (our feminine side), whilst reasoning (our masculine side) that helps analyzing what we perceive, is not the activity of intuition.

Love that originates from the development of intuition is such an intense form of empathy that barriers, criticism and separation disappear. Love and affection in their purest form manifest themselves as a consequence generated by something deeper. It is the inclusiveness for the life and needs of all beings in any kingdom of nature.

We have now reached the purpose of our analysis; a method that allows the development of intuition is the study and interpretation of symbols.

Symbols are the external and visible forms of inner spiritual realities and the ability to discover the occult reality of any specific form is by itself the sign of the reawakening of intuition.

The study of symbols causes three effects:

• The first is the development of the ability to grasp subjective reality, going beyond the form;

• The second is to integrate soul-mind-brain and once done this, to allow the afflux of intuition;

• The third consists of the increase of tension in certain inactive areas of the brain, reawakening cells and energetic centers of the head.

The concept behind any symbol is always synthetic and it can be grasped with the thorough exam of its parts. It is suitable to continue analyzing until we are able to express the meaning, synthesizing it in only one idea or name .

The study of symbols must be three-fold: exoteric, conceptual and esoteric.

Exoteric interpretation involves the study of the form in the whole, the lines, the numeric meaning as well as partial forms, viz. the disposition of cubes, triangles or stars and their mutual relations.

The first approach to the symbol should put the researcher in the condition to perceive quality and nature of the reality hidden by the form and to a certain extent to identify with it. This is the symbolic interpretation and it requires basic exoteric knowledge that allows the reader to understand, for example, that one or more triangles express the Trinity or a series of three-fold aspects in the macro- or microcosm. It allows to understand that where the converging lines of any symbol meet and where most of them meet is a point of strength and light, a focal point where the mind can penetrate.

Once the form is analyzed, we observe the effect that the symbol has on ourselves, in terms of feeling, aspiration, and dream.

Then there is the conceptual study of the symbol, which implies the reaching of: the idea behind, expressed by the name that indicates the superior and abstract intention; the sense that surfaces from meditation, which indicates the goal expressed in terms of concrete mind; the essential meaning , integral or partial, which reveals an emotional quality and could be the desire that arises in us.

This stage is followed by the esoteric comprehension , viz. the synthetic recognition, the essential idea of the symbol. It is about observing the effect that the energy of the symbol has on us, the quality of the vibration caused in an energetic center, in our emotional sphere or just in the mind.

We might summarize the analysis of a symbol in the following stages:

• Exoteric analysis: line, form, color;

• Comprehension of its emotional quality as a sensitive response to the influx of its nature;

• Conceptual consideration of the idea hidden by the form, of the intellectual meaning that the symbol conveys;

• Synthetic perception of its intention, the place that it takes in a certain manifested order, its true unitary intention;

• Identification with the quality and purpose of the symbol enlightened by the mind ‘steady in the light'.

This last stage is both mental and cerebral.

The developments that the study of symbol implies are essentially three:

Analysis , with a progress of consciousness up to including the whole field that the symbol involves;

An intuitive perception of symbols;

The use of symbols on the physical plane , with the right adaptation to a known and determined purpose. This magnetizes the symbol with the quality necessary for the idea to manifest itself assuming a suitable physical form.

We must add that there is not a fixed interpretation for any symbol; indeed, it will have a particular meaning for every person, depending on the ability to penetrate it. A lack of interest for symbols suggests a low ability to interpret the forms of life and their meaning. On the other hand, an excessive academic interest can suggest a tortuous and complex mind that loves drawing and line, form and numerical relations to the detriment of its essential meaning.

The balance in the mind of form and concept, expression and quality, sign and meaning, is of vital importance for the development of the researcher.

In the conceptual study of symbols conscience is polarized in the mental body and the attempt of contact or involvement with the soul or Ego is not required. This is the distinction between the second stage of analysis of symbols and ordinary meditation . This second stage involves the art of visualization .

Once we have acquired familiarity with the form aspect of the symbol, we know its outline very well. We know that a particular combination of lines represents a certain idea or truth, or a teaching. This is impressed in the brain that draws from memory's reserve. To record old notions or knowledge about the images contained in a symbol it is useful to elevate the conscience to the mental plane and to focus it in the world of ideas. Concepts exist on concrete levels of the mental plane; they are the mental heritage available to reach meaning and essence. Perhaps the expression ‘ every symbol offers the conscious eye the memory of the idea that was its foundation ' will make it clearer.

Plutarch expressed an ancient truth when he said that ‘an idea is an incorporeal Being that doesn't subsist, but gives aspect and form to the shapeless substance and is the cause of its appearance'.

This means to allow a symbol to live and it is true esotericism. Indeed, as we interiorize ourselves, going from the form to the nature of the motivating idea, we discover a field of ideas similar to the idea hidden by the symbol. We then freely move in the field of related ideas and mutual explanation. We learn to recognize ideas and concepts behind every form; we think with clarity, discover where they lead and their function in the manifestation.

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This article comes from Esotericism Readings

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