Eternal Regret (Part 2 of 2)

“What is eternal is circular, what is circular is eternal”.

-Aristotle

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The traditional European vision of life and time is circular, without a beginning and an end: a circle that repeats its course eternally. In this regard we can remember that for the ancient Romans the particle “an” meant “circum” (“around”) and from “an” derive the Latin “annulus” (“ring”), whose shape symbolizes the eternal circularity of time, and “annus” (“year”), that was therefore understood as a circle without beginning and end, not as a finite line, and consisted in an annular temporal cycle destined to repeat itself perennially.

The Sun, the Moon, the Seasons, the Ice Ages and even the Civilizations, their manifestations are marked by cyclical rhythms and the same universal cyclicity applies to men and animals. All that exists moves in circular and eternal cycles, this being also the meaning of the swastica (some of its appellatives are “wheel of time”, “wheel of life” and “wheel of destiny”) in all its forms and representations: its four branches symbolize the eternal cyclicity and rebirth that mark all that has life in the Universe.

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-Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn and again Winter.
-Night, Morning, Day, Evening and again Night.
-New Moon, Rising Moon, Full Moon, Waning Moon and again New Moon.
-Spiritual Life, Rebirth, Life, Death and again Spiritual Life.

“The archaic time is the universe, and like the universe it is circular and definite. Classical antiquity didn’t believe in progress, but rather in eternal returns”.

-Giorgio De Santillana

“The concept of time of our ancestors was very different from the modern one, linear and monotonous. They made of time a structure, a cyclical time, where past and future called each other”.

-Giorgio De Santillana

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Plato and Aristotle defined what we have described above as the state of Becoming (state to which belong our body and identifiable with the Moon and the four branches of the swastica), characterized by mobility, mutability, temporality and multiplicity, equivalent to the Indian concept of the Saṃsāra; its inevitable opposite consisted in the state of Being (state to which belong our spirit and identifiable with the Sun and the central point of the swastica), characterized by immobility, immutability, eternity and oneness, equivalent to the Indian concept of the Nirvāṇa. The Becoming would be the opposite and reflection of the Being and vice versa, two faces of the same reality just like the waves and the sea are a single mass of water, whereby one can not exist without the other: there are no waves without sea and there is no sea without waves, the waves are just sea but despite this they exist as waves, analogously we are simply part of a single living organism, the Universe, but despite this we live our individual existences as human beings. The Being is the One of Plato and the Unmoved Mover (“that which moves without being moved”, a concept equivalent to the wei wu wei [“action without action”] of Taoism and to the axis mundi [some examples: the motionless axial center around which revolves the Earth, the motionless Pole Star around which revolve the circumpolar constellations, the motionless Sun that by means of its gravitational attraction forces the planets of the Solar System to accomplish their motions of revolution around it]) of Aristotle.

Center/Being and Circumference/Becoming:
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Note: the ancient sacred groves, like the Roman lucus and the Celtic nemeton, at whose center there was a circular clearing that allowed the Sun’s rays to penetrate, were a physical image of the metaphysical principles of the center and the circumference. 

“For those who listen not me, but the lógos, is wise to agree that everything is one“.

-Heraclitus

“And from all things the one and from the one all things”.

-Heraclitus

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Therefore two faces of the same coin which complement each other harmoniously, the Universe understood at the same time as container and content, as matrix of all that exists and all that exists, space and matter being synonyms and existing each to the extent that the other exists, the same identical reality observed from different perspectives: then exists really only the Becoming, independent and unbegotten, or only the Being, past and future being nothing but illusory representations created by the mind to compensate the ungraspability of the instant? It seems that the answer, paraphrasing Plato, is this: the Becoming is the moving image of the Being.

The concepts of “past” and “future” exist, if understood respectively as imaginary projection in the past and imaginary projection in the future, but past and future in themselves don’t exist, except in our minds because of the fact that we have been subjected to a sort of metaphysical fall that made us transit toward a temporal existential condition, and a deep comprehension and experience of the eternal, atemporal, motionless and immutable present instant has been precluded us. Maybe we are able to experience eternity, understood as atemporality, only when we remain enthralled by what I would define as platonic ideas, realities having a metaphysical, immutable, eternal, atemporal and archetypical existence, in opposition to the realities having a material, mutable, transient and temporal: it’s in the latter that, although without reaching the ideal perfection proper to the exemplary model, the platonic ideas manifest and incarnate themselves.

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“Wanting to prove, starting from the idea [in itself] that the ideas [in things] are not at all ideas [in themselves], is worth less than wanting to prove starting from the non-idea that the ideas [in themselves] are not the idea [in itself]. Wanting to prove starting from the horse [in general] that [a white] horse is not [a] horse [in general] is worth less than wanting to prove starting from the non-horse that [a white] horse is not [a] horse [in general]”.

-Zhuangzi

Risultati immagini per zhuangzi painting

If you’ve ever been in a condition of momentary metaphysical astonishment, enchantment and serenity, characterized by the sensation of being outside of time and followed by a sort of awakening that leaves you with an unusual melancholy and the regret for having lost that particular condition, then you have probably experienced a platonic idea, a metaphysical intuition (the word “metaphysics” means “the science of what goes beyond the physical”) that manifests itself almost unconsciously, without having a real awareness of it.

Part 1: Eternal Regret (Part 1 of 2)

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Eternal Regret (Part 1 of 2)

Eternity (the term derives from the Latin locution “ex” (“outside”) and from “ternum” (“triad”), i.e. “outside the triad [of time]”: past, present and future) consists on one side in a perpetual flow of time, without beginning and end, on the other in the atemporal point that we call instant (the Parmenidean being is nothing else than the instant), which is outside time and coincides with the present moment, that we can’t experience. An instant proceeds without interruption towards another instant, they add up over time but they remain elusive for us: it is we who are in motion while the instant is immutable, even if it seems to shift, exactly like the apparent motion of the Sun. So the elusive and uninterrupted flow of instants constitutes the course of time, which is an illusion, since there is nothing but eternity, whereby:

“Time is the moving image of eternity”.

– Plato

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Once we managed to fathom eternity, both as infinite temporal duration and as timelessness, whereas today we are only able to speculate about it, only able to see the door of eternity from a more or less favourable position, with the silly illusion of being able to reach its handle. The same applies to the concept of infinity, we are no longer able to inwardly realize and fathom the infinity of the Universe, and only a finite space is within the reach of our minds.

It’s exactly here that lies the meaning of what Mircea Eliade called “nostalgia for paradise”, this being nothing but the nostalgia for the Golden Age (i.e. the primordial state of being in which we fathomed eternity, since gold is a symbol of the metaphysical concept of the atemporal being that is not subject to the laws of the temporal becoming), the aspiration to regain an existence outside of time, as when men were unaware of it and, consequently, free from the terror and anguish of history. Here lies one of the deeper meanings of all religions, one of their most important functions – achieved by means of initiations, rituals, festivities and ceremonies – being that of creating the momentary illusion for which we would once again be living that lost primordial condition to which we can not help but aspire, as a heartbreaking necessity that, if not satisfied, leads us to despair.

If every now and then you find yourselves immersed in similar thoughts then maybe you will suffer, consequently, a sort of metaphysical vertigo and desperation: it’s the only way you have to find the answers you need, the only way to reawaken yourselves!

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