Seeing God Everywhere
One often hears it said that it is necessary to see ‘God everywhere’ or in everything’. For men who believe in God this does not seem a difficult conception; nevertheless there are many degrees involved, extending from simple reverie to intellectual intuition. How can one attempt to ‘see God’, who is invisible and infinite, in what is visible and finite without the risk of deluding oneself or falling into error, or without giving the idea a meaning so vague that the words lose all significance? That is the question we propose to clarify here, though this means returning to certain points we have already treated elsewhere.
First of all, we must consider in the things around us — and also in our own soul in so far as it is an object of our intelligence — the something that might be called the ‘miracle of existence’. Existence is miraculous: it is by a miracle that things are, so to speak, separated from nothingness; the gap between them and nothingness is infinite, and seen from this angle the least speck of dust possesses something of the absolute, of the ‘divine’. To say that one must see God everywhere means, above all, that one must see Him in the existence of beings and of things, our own included.
But phenomena do not possess existence alone, for otherwise they would not be distinct; they also possess qualities which are as it were superimposed on existence and deploy its virtualities. The quality which distinguishes a good thing from a bad resembles, though on a lesser scale, the existence which distinguishes each thing from nothingness;(1) in consequence positive qualities represent God, as does pure and simple existence. Beings are attracted by qualities, because they are attracted by God; every quality or virtue, whether it be the slightest of physical properties or the most profound of human virtues, transmits to us something of the divine Perfection which is its immutable source, so that, metaphysically speaking, we can have no motive for love other than this Perfection.
But there is yet another ‘dimension’ to be considered by the man who seeks the remembrance of God in things. The enjoyment that qualities afford us shows us that these not only exist around us, but also concern us personally through Providence; for a landscape which exists out of our sight is one thing, and a landscape we can see is another. There is thus a ‘subjective-temporal’ dimension; things recall God to us, not only in so far as they are good or display an aspect of goodness, but also in so far as we can perceive this goodness or can enjoy it in a still more direct way. In the air we breathe, and which might be denied us, we meet God in the sense that the divine Giver is in the gift. This manner of ‘seeing God’ in his gifts corresponds to ‘thanksgiving’, while the perception of qualities corresponds to ‘praise’; as for the ‘vision’ of God in existence alone, this gives birth in the soul to a general or fundamental consciousness of the divine Reality.
Thus, God reveals himself not only by the existence and by the qualities of things, but by the gift He makes of them to us; He reveals himself also by the contraries, namely by the limitation of things and by their defects,(2) and again by the absence or disappearance of something which, being good, is useful and agreeable to us. It will be noticed that the concrete opposite of existence is not nothingness — the latter is only an abstraction — but limitation, the limitation which prevents existence from extending to pure Being, from becoming God... Things are limited in very many ways, but above all by their existential determinations, which, on the terrestrial level, are matter, form, number, space, time. A clear distinction must be made between the aspect of ‘limit’ and the aspect of ‘defect’; in fact, the ugliness of a creature is not of the same order as the spatial limitation of a perfect body, for the latter expresses a form, a normative principle or a symbol, while the former corresponds only to a lack and merely confuses the clarity of the symbolism. However that may be, what God reveals by the limitation of things, by their defects and also, in relation to the human subject, by the privation of things or of qualities, is the ‘non-divine’, hence ‘illusory’ or ‘unreal’ character of all that is not He.
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All things are only the accidentalities of a unique and universal substance, Existence, which remains always virgin in relation to its products; it manifests, but is not itself manifested; that is to say it is the divine act, the creative act which, starting from Being, produces the totality of creatures. It is Existence that is real, not things; substance, not its accidents; the unvarying, not the variations. Since this is so, how would things not be limited, and how would they not proclaim, by their multiple limitations, the unicity of the divine Word, and thereby of God? For universal Substance is none other than the creative Word, the word ‘Let there be!’ from which all things spring.
To say ‘exist’ is to say ‘to have qualities’, but it is also to say ‘to have limitations’, even defects. We have already noted that things are limited, not only in themselves, but also in relation to us; they are limited and ephemeral, and at the same time they escape us, whether by their remoteness in space, or by the destiny that carries them away. This again allows us to ‘see God in everything’, for if God manifests His Reality, His Plenitude and His Presence in His act of giving, He manifests our relativity, our emptiness, our absence — in relation to Him — in removing, that is to say, in taking back what He had given.
Just as qualities express existence on the actual level of the latter, so too limitations express, in an inverse sense, the metaphysical unreality of things. Here lies a new manner of ‘seeing God everywhere’: for each thing, in existing, is by that very fact ‘unreal’ in relation to absolute Reality; we should therefore discern in all things not only the aspects of existence, but also the ‘nothingness’ of the world before God, or, in other terms, its metaphysical unreality. And it is existence(3) itself which furnishes us with the ‘substance’ of this ‘nothingness’; things are unreal or illusory to the exact extent that they are embedded in existence and that their contact with the divine Spirit thereby becomes more and more indirect.
Quality, we have said, expresses existence on the level of existence itself; and we could say, analogously, that a defect expresses limitation in a manner which is solely negative and accidental. For limitation stands in a certain manner between existence and nothingness: it is positive in so far as it delineates a form-symbol, and negative in so far as it disfigures this form in seeking to bring it back, as it were, towards the indistinction of the essence, but ‘from below’; this is the classical confusion between the supra-formal and the unformed, a confusion which, let it be said in passing, is the key to ‘abstract’ or ‘surrealist’ art. However, although form has a positive function thanks to its power of expression, it limits at the same time that which it expresses, and which is an essence: the most beautiful body is like a congealed fragment of an ocean of inexpressible bliss.
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To all these categories of existence, subjective as well as objective, we can add those of symbolism. Although every phenomenon is of necessity a symbol, since existence is essentially expression or reflection, we must nevertheless distinguish degrees of content and of intelligibility: for example, there is a difference that is one of degree — and not simply quantitative — between a direct symbol such as the sun and an indirect, quasi-accidental symbol; further, there is the negative symbol, the intelligibility of which may be perfect, but its content obscure; nor should we forget the double meaning of many symbols, though not of those that are most direct. The science of symbols — not simply a knowledge of traditional symbols — proceeds from the qualitative significances of substances, forms, spatial directions, numbers, natural phenomena, positions, relationships, movements, colours and other properties or states of things; we are not dealing here with subjective appreciations, for the cosmic qualities are ordered in relation to Being and according to a hierarchy which is more real than the individual; they are, then, independent of our tastes, or rather they determine them to the extent that we are ourselves conformable to Being; we assent to the qualities to the extent that we ourselves are ‘qualitative’.(4) Symbolism, whether it resides in nature or whether it is affirmed in sacred art, also corresponds to a manner of ‘seeing God everywhere’, on condition that this vision is spontaneous thanks to an intimate knowledge of the principles from which the science of symbols proceeds; this science coincides at a certain point with the ‘discerning of spirits’ which it transposes on to the plane of forms or phenomena, whence its close connection with religious art.
How, then, do things symbolize God or ‘divine aspects’? One cannot say that God is this tree, nor that this tree is God, but one can say that the tree is, in a certain aspect, not ‘other than God’, or that, not being non-existent, it cannot not be God in any fashion. For the tree has firstly existence, then the life which distinguishes it from minerals, then its particular qualities which distinguish it from other plants, and finally its symbolism; all of these are for the tree so many manners, not only of ‘not being nothingness’, but also of affirming God in one or another respect: life, creation, majesty, axial immobility or generosity. — We say, ‘not being nothingness’: but in a certain sense, God alone is ‘that which is not nothing’; He alone is ‘non— non—existence’ —two negatives at once, but having their precise function. Truths of this kind can give rise, indirectly and by deviation, to pantheism and idolatry, but that does not prevent them from being true and therefore, to say the least, legitimate on their own level.
Symbolism would have no meaning if it were not a contingent, but always conscious, mode of perception of Unity; for ‘to see God everywhere’, is to perceive above all the Unity — Atma, the Self— in phenomena. According to the Bhagavad-Gita, the cognition which recognizes in all beings an essence unique, imperishable, indivisible, although diffused in separate objects, proceeds from Sattwa (the tendency that is ‘luminous’ ‘ascendant’, ‘conformable to Being’, Sat); and the same text continues: ‘But the cognition which, led astray by the multiplicity of objects, sees in all beings diverse and distinct entities, proceeds from rajas (the “fiery”, “expansive” tendency).’ As for the shuttered cognition which, without going back to causes is attached to a particular object as if that were all in all, this proceeds from tamas (the “dark” and “downward” tendency). (xviii, 20 — 22.) It is necessary here to take into account the angle from which things are envisaged: the cosmic tendencies (gunas) are not only in the mind of man, they clearly enter also into his faculties of relative knowledge and the realms corresponding to them, so that reason can no more escape diversity than can the eye; further, to say that such and such a cognition ‘recognizes an unique essence in all beings’, amounts to affirming that these beings exist on their own plane. It is a question then of admitting not that there are no objective differences around us, but that the latter are in no way opposed to the perception of the unity of the essence; the ‘passional’ perspective (rajas) is at fault, not because it perceives differences, but because it lends them an absolute character, as if each being were a separate existence; so also does the eye in a certain way, precisely because it corresponds existentially to a ‘passional’ view in so far as it belongs to the ego which is ‘made of passion’. The Intellect, which perceives the unity of essence in things, discerns at the same time the differences of modes and of degrees as a function of this unity, apart from which the distinction between the gunas would be excluded.
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We have alluded above to the conditions of sensory or psychophysical existence; space, time, form, number, substance — modes which moreover are not all reducible to our plane of existence (since the latter could not be a closed system), any more than they enclose man wholly, since man extends towards the Infinite. These conditions denote so many principles which allow one to ‘see God in things’; space gives extension and conserves, while limiting by form; time limits and devours, while giving extension by duration; form both expresses and limits at the same time; number is a principle of expansion, but without the force of quality, or, it could be said, the virtue of form; and finally substance, which on the physical plane becomes ‘matter’,(5) denotes existence on such and such a level, hence the ‘level of existence’.(6) Form, in itself qualitative, has something quantitative about it when it is material; number, in itself quantitative, has something qualitative when it is abstract. The materiality of form adds size and so quantity to the latter; the symbolic character of number delivers it from its quantitative function and confers on it a principial value, hence a quality.(7) Time, which is ‘vertical’ in relation to space, which is ‘horizontal’, (although a geometrical symbolism is barely proper to a consideration which clearly goes outside the spatial condition), exceeds the limits of terrestrial existence and is projected in a certain fashion and within certain bounds into the ‘beyond’, a fact of which the connection in terrestrial life between psychic life and time already offers a foretaste; this connection is more intimate than that which links the soul with the space surrounding us, as is shown by the fact that it is easier to abstract oneself, in concentration, from spatial extension than from duration; the soul of a blind man is as it were cut off from space, but not from time.
As for matter, it is, still more directly than the subtle or animic substance, universal substance ‘congealed’(8) or ‘crystallised’ by the cold proximity of ‘nothingness’; this ‘nothingness’ the process of manifestation could never reach, for the simple reason that absolute ‘nothingness’ does not exist, or rather that it exists only by the way of ‘indication’, ‘direction’ or ‘tendency’ in the work of creation itself; an image of this is seen in the fact that cold is only a privation and thus has no positive reality, though it transforms water into snow and ice, as if it had the power to produce bodies.
Space ‘sets out’ from the point or the centre; it is ‘expansion’ and it ‘tends’ towards infinitude, without ever being able to attain it; time sets out from the instant or the present;(9) it is duration and it tends towards eternity; form sets out from simplicity; it is differentiation or complexity and it tends towards perfection; number sets out from unity; it is multiplicity or quantity and it tends towards totality;(10) finally matter sets out from ether; it is crystallization or density and it tends towards immutability, which is at the same time indestructibility. In each of these cases, the ‘middle term —what the respective condition ‘is’ — seeks in short the perfection or virtue of the ‘point of departure’, but it seeks it on its own level or rather in its own movement, where it is impossible that it should be attained: if expansion had the virtue of the point it would be infinity; if duration had the virtue of the instant, it would be eternity; if form had the virtue of simplicity, it would be perfection; if number had the virtue of unity, it would be totality; if matter had the virtue — immutable because omnipresent — of ether, it would be immutability.
If it be objected that, on the formal plane, perfection is attained by the sphere, we reply that formal perfection could not be restricted to the simplest form, for what distinguishes a beautiful form of complex character — such as the human body for example — from the sphere, is in no way a lack of perfection, the less so since the formal principle tends precisely towards complexity; it is only therein that it can realize beauty. But this in no way signifies that perfection could be obtained on this plane; in fact, complex perfection would demand a form which would combine the most rigorous necessity or intelligibility with the greatest diversity, and this is impossible because formal possibilities are innumerable to the extent that they get further, by way of differentiation, from the initial spherical form. In engulfing oneself in complexity, one can attain the ‘unilateral’ or ‘relatively absolute’ perfection of a given beauty, certainly, but not the integral and absolute perfection of all beauty; the condition of pure necessity is realized only in the spherical and ‘undifferentiated’ protoform.
What enters into space, enters also into time; what enters into form, enters also into number; what enters into matter, thereby enters into form, number, space, time. Space, which ‘contains’ like a matrix and which ‘preserves’, recalls Goodness or Mercy to us; it is for us like a ‘matrix of immortality’, death being birth into eternal Life; space conserves and is connected with love; time, on the contrary, ceaselessly throws us into a ‘past’ which is no more and carries us towards a ‘future’ which is not yet, or rather will never be, and which we do not know, save for death, the sole certitude of life; this implies that time is associated with Rigor or Justice and that it is connected with fear. As for matter, it recalls Reality to us, for it is that mode of ‘non-nonexistence’ which is everywhere apparent to us, in our body just as when we see the Milky Way; form reminds us of the divine Law or the universal norm, for it is either veridical or erroneous, exact or false, essential or accidental; finally, number unfolds before us the limitlessness of All- Possibility, which like the sand of the desert or the stars of the sky is not to be numbered.
However much space may limit its contents, it cannot prevent them from existing; and however much time may prolong its contents, they will one day cease to exist just the same. Duration does not abolish ephemerality any more than spatial limitations abolishes extension. In space, nothing is ever wholly lost; in time, all is lost without remedy.
Existence is manifested a priori by substance. The latter has two containers, space and time, of which the first is positive and the second negative; it has also two modes, form and number, of which the first is limitative and the second expansive. Number reflects space, since it extends; form reflects time, since it restricts.
If man could live a thousand years, he would doubtless end by feeling himself crushed by the limits of things, hence also by space, time, form, number, matter; by compensation, he would see in contents only essences. A child or indeed an ordinary man sees, on the contrary, only contents, without essences and without limits.
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These conditions of our existence on earth have, each one of them, two ‘openings’ towards God: space implies, on the one hand, the geometric point or the ‘center’ and, on the other, limitless extension, the ‘infinite’; likewise time implies the instant or the ‘present’, as well as indefinite duration, ‘eternity’; in space we are as it were between the center and the infinite, and in time, between the present and eternity, and these are then so many dwellings of God which take us out of the two ‘dimensions of existence’; we cannot prevent ourselves from thinking of them when we are conscious of these conditions in which we live and which so to speak live in us. The center and the infinite, the present and eternity, are respectively the poles of the conditions of space and time, but equally we escape these conditions by these very poles: the center is no longer in space, strictly speaking, any more than the geometric point has extension, and the absolute present or the pure instant is no longer in duration: as for the infinite, it is in a way non-space as eternity is ‘non-time’.
Again, let us consider the condition, form; in form there lie geometric perfection and bodily perfection, and both reveal God; the Creator manifests himself in the ‘absoluteness’ of the circle, the square, the cross, as in the beauty — the infinity — of man or of a flower; geometrical beauty is ‘cold’, bodily beauty ‘warm’. But strictly speaking, the ‘center’ of the formal condition is the void; elementary geometrical forms, starting with the sphere, represent the first ‘issuing forth’ of form out of the void, thus at the same time the first ‘expressions’ and ‘negations’ of the latter. The sphere is the form which remains nearest the void, whence its perfection of simplicity; the human body, in its normative beauty — and the varied modes which it comprises — is what approaches most nearly to plenitude, corresponding to the opposite perfection, that of complexity. Plenitude is that which brings together a maximum of homogeneous aspects, or which introduces totality into form: the sphere and man correspond, in formal mode, to unity and totality; what number expresses in abstract, separative and quantitative mode, form expresses in concrete, unitive and qualitative mode. Zero is to unity as the void is to the sphere; unity denotes God, while totality is equivalent to His manifestation, the cosmos.
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‘To see God everywhere’, is to see Oneself (Atma) in everything; it is to be conscious of the analogical correspondences — in so far as they are ‘modes of identity’ — between the principles or possibilities which, included first in the divine Nature, spread out or reverberate ‘towards nothingness’ and constitute the microcosm as well as the macrocosm, of which they create at one and the same time the receptacles and the contents. Space and time are receptacles; form and number appear as contents, although they are containers in relation to the substances which they coagulate or which they segment. Matter is, in a more visible way, both container and content at the same time; it ‘contains’ things and it ‘fills’ space, its contents are gnawed and devoured by time, but itself it remains quasi non-temporal, to the extent that it coincides with the whole of duration.
The problem of time is intimately linked with that of the soul and can give rise to the following question: what meaning must be given to the dogmatic doctrine of the soul held by Monotheists, according to which the soul is said to have no end, while having had a beginning? The metaphysical absurdity of an eternity created in time, or of a purely ‘unilateral’ perpetuity, is evident; but since theological orthodoxy excludes pure and simple absurdity, one must seek beyond the words and in symbolism for the explanation of a doctrine so contradictory. Let us say at once that Monotheism includes in its perspective only what directly interests man, so that it appears as a ‘spiritual nationalism’ of the human race; but, since the state preceding our birth on earth was as little human as are the animal or angelic states, it is treated as non-existent, exactly as are the souls of animals and of plants; hence, we are called ‘soul’ only from the moment of our human birth, or rather from entry into the womb. But there is something else of much more importance; the creation of the soul in time — that is to say its entry into the human state — expresses our relativity; by contrast, the celestial perpetuity of the soul, or its eternity with God, concerns its absolute side, the ‘uncreated’ quality of its essence; we are relative and absolute at the same time, and this fundamental paradox of our being explains what the theological doctrine of the soul contains that is illogical or ‘mysterious’ in its very formulation. It must not be forgotten, on the other hand, that creatio ex nihilo affirms, above all, a divine causality in the face of an ever threatening ‘naturalism’; and to say that the soul is ‘eternal’ can only mean, on the level of absolute truth, that it is ‘essentially’ the Self.
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The faculty of ‘seeing God in everything’ can be independent of all intellectual analysis, it can be a grace, the modes of which are imponderables and which springs from a profound love of God. When we say ‘intellectual analysis’, we do not mean speculations in the void: the ‘categories’ of which we have spoken are by no means ‘abstract’, but their perception evidently depends on a discernment which appears to be abstract from the point of view of sensations and which, though far from delighting in sterile dissections, is nevertheless obliged to ‘separate’ in order to ‘unite’. Separation and union alike are both in the nature of things, each, it might be said, on its own level; the eye, the better to see a mountain, needs a certain distance; this distance reveals differences; it permits visual analysis, but, at the same time, it ‘unites’ or synthesizes in furnishing the adequate and total image of the mountain.
To see God everywhere and in everything, is to see infinity in things, whereas human animality sees only their surface and their relativity; and it is to see at the same time the relativity of the categories in which man moves, believing them to be absolute. To see the infinite in the finite is to see that this flower before us is eternal, because an eternal spring is affirmed through its fragile smile; to see relativity is to grasp that this instant that we are living is not now’, that it ‘is past’ even before it has arrived, and that, if time could be stopped, with all beings remaining fixed as in a river of ice, the human masquerade would appear in all its sinister unreality; all would seem absurd, save only the ‘remembrance of God’ which is situated in the immutable.
To see God everywhere is essentially this: to see that we are not, that He alone is. If, from a certain angle, humility can be called the greatest of the virtues this is because it implies in the last analysis the cessation of egoity, and for no other reason. With a small change of viewpoint one could say as much of each fundamental virtue: perfect charity is to lose oneself for God, for one cannot be lost in God without giving oneself, in addition, to men. If love of one's neighbor is fundamental, on the strictly human plane, it is not only because the ‘neighbor’ is in the final analysis ‘Self as are ‘we’, but also because this human charity — or this projection into the ‘other’ — is the sole means possible, for the majority of men, of being detached from the ‘I’; it is less difficult to project the ego into ‘the other’ than to lose it for God, although the two things are indissolubly linked.
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Our form is the ego: it is this mysterious incapacity to be other than oneself, and at the same time the incapacity to be entirely oneself and not ‘other-than-Self. But our Reality does not leave us the choice and obliges us to ‘become what we are’, or to remain what we are not. The ego is, empirically, a dream in which we ourselves dream ourselves; the contents of this dream, drawn from our surroundings, are at bottom only pretexts, for the ego desires only its own life: whatever we may dream, our dream is always only a symbol for the ego which wishes to affirm itself, a mirror that we hold before the ‘I’ and which reverberates its life in multiple fashions. This dream has become our second nature; it is woven of images and of tendencies, static and dynamic elements in innumerable combinations: the images come from outside and are integrated into our substance; the tendencies are our responses to the world around us; as we exteriorize ourselves, we create a world in the image of our dream, and the dream thus objectivised flows back upon us, and so on and on, until we are enclosed in a tissue, sometimes inextricable, of dreams exteriorized or materialized and of materializations interiorised. The ego is like a watermill whose wheel, under the drive of a current — the world and life — turns and repeats itself untiringly, in a series of images always different and always similar.
The world: it is as if the ‘conscious Substance’ which is the Self had fallen into a state which would split it up in many different ways and would inflict on it endless accidents and infirmities; and in fact, the ego is ignorance floundering in objective modes of ignorance, such as time and space. What is time, if not ignorance of what will be ‘after’, and what is space, if not ignorance of what escapes our sense? If we were ‘pure consciousness like the Self, we would be ‘always’ and ‘everywhere’; that is to say we would not be ‘I’, for that, in its empirical actuality, is entirely a creation of space and time. The ego is ignorance of what is ‘the other’; our whole existence is woven of ignorances; we are like the Self frozen, then hurled to earth and split into a thousand fragments; we observe the limits which surround us, and we conclude that we are fragments of consciousness and of being. Matter grips us like a kind of paralysis, it imposes on us the heaviness of a mineral, and exposes us to the miseries of impurity and of mortality; form shapes us according to such and such a model, it imposes on us such and such a mask and cuts us off from a whole to which we are none the less tied, though at death it lets us fall as a tree lets fall its fruit; finally, number is what repeats us — inside ourselves as also around us — and what, in repeating us, diversifies us, for two things can never be absolutely identical; number repeats form as if by magic, and form diversifies number and must thus create itself ever anew, because the All-Possibility is infinite and must manifest its infinitude. But the ego is not only multiple externally, in the diversity of souls, it is also divided within itself, in the diversity of tendencies and of thoughts, which is not the least of our miseries; for ‘strait is the gate’ and ‘a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven’.
And since we are ‘not other’ than the Self, we are condemned to eternity. Eternity lies in wait for us, and that is why we must find again the Center, that place where eternity is bliss. Hell is the reply to the periphery which makes itself the Center, or to the multitude that usurps the glory of Unity; it is the reply of Reality to the ego wanting to be absolute, and condemned to be so without being able to be so... The Center is the Self ‘freed’, or rather that which has never ceased to be free—eternally free.
1 We speak here of nothingness as if it had some reality, which is metaphysically necessary in certain cases, although logically absurd. If there is no nothingness, there is nevertheless a ‘principle of nothingness’, a principle which—since nothingness does not exist —always stops halfway. This principle is like the inverse shadow of the infinitude of Beyond-Being; it is Maya which is illusorily detached from Atma, though not able to emerge from Atma, still less to abolish Atma.
3 Existence is positive and ‘divine’ in relation to existing things and in so far as it is cause, but it is limitative and demiurgic’ in relation to God, who, in the act of creating, limits Himself in a Certain illusory sense, if such an expression is allowable; we say, an illusory sense, since God is immutable, impassible, inalterable.
4 A man must be quite perverse to see no qualitative and objective difference between what is noble and what is mean, unless he takes his stand at the transcendent point of view of the non-differentiation of Atma, which is an absolutely different thing from a subversive and iconoclastic egalitarianism. However that may be, it is this science of qualitative phenomena which allows the aberrations of contemporary art to be ‘placed’ inexorably and the veil of its false mystery to be torn aside.
5 This fifth condition has sometimes been called ‘life’, doubtless to express the idea that inertia could not be absolute, or that the ether possesses a certain potentiality of life, without which life—’breath’ (or prana)—would find no receptacle.
6 The Sanskrit word for ‘matter’, bhuta, includes a meaning of ‘substance’ or of ‘subsistence’; matter derives from substance, it is a reflection of it on the plane of ‘gross’ coagulation, and is connected, through substance, with Being.
7 This is number in the Pythagorean sense, of which the universal rather than the quantitative import is already to be divined in geometrical figures; the triangle and the square are ‘personalities’ and not quantities, they are essentials and not accidentals. Whilst one obtains ordinary number by addition, qualitative number results, on the contrary, from an internal or intrinsic differentiation of principial unity; it is not added to anything and does not depart from unity. Geometrical figures are so many images of unity; they exclude one another, or rather, they denote different principial qualities; the triangle is harmony, the square, stability; these are ‘concentric’ not ‘serial’ numbers.
8 This ‘congealing’ does not reach substance itself, any more than, in the order of the five elements, ‘solidification’ — or the diversification of the element in general — reaches the ether which subsists in them. All the same this comparison is not adequate, since ether is an element and is not then situated on another plane, despite its ‘central’ position and its ‘virginity’, whilst universal substance is transcendent in relation to its productions.
9 In relation to the ‘point’ and the ‘instant’, the ‘center’ and the ‘present’ denote a perspective at once qualitative and subjective; qualitative subjectivity, because the subject is the Self. The objective terms—’point’ and ‘instant’— certainly imply this same ‘quality’, but the spiritual relationship — not the metaphysical relationship — is less direct and less apparent, precisely because the respective notions are detached from life.
10 In these two conditions, form and number, the respective points of departure — simplicity and unity — have a concrete existence, doubtless because these conditions are ‘contents’ in relation to space and time, which are ‘containers’; on the other hand, the points of departure of these latter conditions — the point and the instant — have respectively neither extent nor duration. None the less, spherical simplicity is not one form amongst others, since it is incomparable, any more than unity is a quantity properly speaking, since it is not added to anything; if there were only simplicity and unity there would be neither form nor number.