A far-reaching science and a vast body of philosophy is contained in this figure The circle symbolizes the universe and the dot represents Cosmic Intelligence who sustains and animates it. Look at it and you will see that the central point is at exactly the same distance from every point on the circumference; and it is this that enables it to maintain the circle in perfect equilibrium. A ceaseless ebb and flow that exists between the centre and the periphery, communicating life to the whole area enclosed by the circle. The fullness of life is there: vibrating, palpitating, digesting and eliminating, breathing and thinking…Astrologers have always used the circle with a dot in the centre to represent the sun and this figure can be seen in every sphere of nature from the solar system to the atom. The dot represents the spirit, the prime mover, the space between the dot and the circumference represents the soul where currents between the spirit and physical are exchanged and the circumference represents the body, the physical limit. And now if you look at the structure of an eye, the inside of fruit or a tree, you will recognize the same pattern, these same three divisions: the spirit, the soul and the body.
– Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov, “The Symbolic Languages of Geometrical Figures
Ramadan starts tomorrow (pending if the crescent moon is sighted tonight of course) marking the holiest month for Muslims worldwide.
When Ramadan ends, the Islamic calendar then celebrates one of it’s most important holidays of Eid al-Fitr, the breaking of the fast. When I was growing up, the fast was explained to me as a spiritual exercise in which we need to forget about mundane matters for a little while and think about deeper spiritual matters in that time instead. I was also told that the fasting was also to help us feel and understand what those who are less fortunate than us must feel when they are hungry and this is to instill a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood which is to extend to all members of the human family, that we have a duty to be each others keepers and feed those who are hungry and share with others what we have (hence the insane amounts of food which are distributed at mosques and street vendors every evening during Ramadan around the world when the fast breaks at sunset to anyone who shows up, Muslim or not).
It made me think about the other Pillars of Faith within Islam. For several years now, my brother and I have been asking my dad if he wants to do the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina all Muslims are supposed to undertake if they have the means. He keeps saying no. Mostly because my dad is not super-religious at all but keeps his spirituality private but I also suspect being alone in Saudi Arabia wouldn’t be fun for him either at his advanced age. I wouldn’t be against accompanying him for the pilgrimage to see first-hand what the experience would be like.
Some of my elder relatives have done the Hajj. When I asked one of my great-aunts about it, she would always inevitably tear up and say that she never felt closer to God than during the Hajj, that the whole experience shifted her perception of life and creation, that she really felt that sense of brotherhood and sisterhood with the rest of humanity, with everyone dressed the same in the white shroud (again to stress the equality of each human life and to signify no rank, no hierarchy, no caste, no chosen tribe, no separateness, that we are all in this together), everyone doing the same rituals (like the throwing of the stones to the devil), and the 7 rotations around the Kaaba, the centre of Islam, everyone coming together in unity irrespective of color, culture, race and gender and the overwhelming sense of peace it brought her.
I bring up the Aivanhov quote because that’s what the centrality of the Kaaba and Mecca reminds me of, as well as the rotations around it and the way that Muslims around the world, regardless of location need to pray towards Mecca. To me it’s symbolic, not literal.
I do however find the idea of pilgrimages to be a beautiful one, whether it’s the more established one like the Hajj or Hindus making their way to Varanasi,
I know at some point I need to make my way towards the Rila Mountains in Bulgaria for the August full-moon sessions of Paneurhythmy, a form of dance and solar yoga which the followers of Aivanhov and Peter Deunov follow. It takes place near the Seven Lakes of Rila.
Not a lot of people know about Paneurhythmy but several years ago but each year, more and more YouTube videos are going up. I have no idea when I’ll go but one of my contacts there once told me, “Don’t worry about when you come, Rila is always here for you.”
Other pilgrimages follow no rule-book or formula but instead are highly personal, simply places that they are compelled to go to, rituals they need to do for whatever reason, places which may very well be in the middle of nowhere and have no meaning to anyone else. To me it’s all good. Like anything else in life, it’s intention here which counts. It’s not the idea of going through the motions of certain rituals but rather what you bring to them which changes everything and your experience of it.
It’s the journey which got you there which counts, not the end destination.