Seen and Unseen

Ouroboros drawing from a late medieval Byzantine Greek alchemical manuscript, 1478; Source Fol. 196 of Codex Parisinus graecus 2327, a copy (made by Theodoros Pelecanos (Pelekanos) of Corfu in Khandak, Iraklio, Crete in 1478) of a lost manuscript of an early medieval tract which was attributed to Synosius (Synesius) of Cyrene (d. 412). Carlos adanero
Ouroboros drawing from a late medieval Byzantine Greek alchemical manuscript, 1478; US public Domain via wikimedia.

“There is a desire deep within the soul which drives man from the seen to the unseen, to philosophy and to the divine.”

-Kahlil Gibran

Most of us navigate our life based upon the seen world: high and low, north and south, cause and effect, young and old, black and white. In the unseen world the coordinates are different. Time moves along a horizon that stretches out from naivety to wisdom. Up and down are replaced by transcendence and return.

The unseen world is infinite. Some feel its currents pushing across their lives, like waves crashing across some lonely island. We think that we have sense of the coordinates, but then some unseen event rolls through our horizon, pushing us hither and thither.  We find ourselves caught in these waves, not knowing if we will make it up for air, much less back to shore. These pulsations seem ruthless, uncaring, as if they were no more sensible than the waves of the sea.

But to begin to understand the world as Self is to discover another truth. Mind and divinity form a circle: a serpent biting its own tail, continuously circulating around a truth that is veiling and unveiling itself, becoming known and unknown throughout the spirals of time. Self-awareness is awareness of this veiling and unveiling. Life is a process of unknowing and knowing.

Seeking such truth leads to the recognition of the eternal truth of the Self. Divinity is our origin. Not an origin that lies in the past, but an origin that lies in this very moment. All things aim to increase our capacities to reflect and self-reflect the divine.

True Self-reflection is reflection upon the divine. It is the most difficult of all tasks, a movement against the current.  It is a paradox.  God is the refiner in fire, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver” (Malachi 3:3 ). It is only within the veiling, that the unveiling can occur. And each rotation in the circle leads us closer to this realization.

We feel burn of the fire. But when the divinity revels itself, the burn transforms into the gentle warmth of the eternal. This is the creative paradox. The pulsations push us outward: an impulse, an insatiable desire to individuate and become our unique self. Only to realize that in the end that which appeared to be wholly other was really a not-so-wholly-other after all. For the individuated Self comes to realize that they are one with the Supreme Self. As it says in the Qur’an:”We know what his soul whispers within him, and we are nearer to him than the jugular vein.” (50.16)

One thought on “Seen and Unseen

  1. Very interesting. I have often thought about the ‘seen’ and the ‘unseen’ and the way in which they interact.

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