Reflections on Sri Aurobindo's Aphorism 71 & the Gnostic Circle

by Rose Marion Williams October 2010 Orlando Fla.

Aphorism #71
'A thought is like an arrow shot at the truth;
it can hit a point, but not cover the whole target.
But the archer is too well satisfied with his success
to ask anything farther.' 

Sri Aurobindo wrote this aphorism in the early 1900s.

This is what we, especially ones who consider ourselves to be on a spiritual path, do when we hit the target with what we think of as the truth. Many get their complete satisfaction from the one hit and, as Sri Aurobindo wrote, do not look any farther. The object of this statement, as the Mother expounded on it, is to raise above the one arrow that was shot and see the whole target which is Truth itself.

Many have formed entire religions or devised whole philosophies from their one hit at a truth or a half-truth and called it realization. Thus, roping in as many followers as they can in order to crystallize this form and call it Truth. Then, when someone else comes along with their own hit at the truth, they become closed to any ideas that deviate from their own. When this happens, usually, neither are able to take in and assimilate the others ideas for one or both of them might have to break down their cemented mold and admit the possibility for change. Most often, there is no room for wideness, expansion, discussion or discernment to explore another part of the larger truth.

In my studies over the years I have read many renditions of people's truths but have found only one course of study which covers the whole target of spirituality. That is: the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo. Briefly, this yoga was clearly and extensively documented in the many volumes he wrote, such as The Synthesis of Yoga, The Life Divine, Savitri, hundreds of letters compiled into several books plus the articles he wrote in the early 1900s published in The Arya, a philosophical monthly. Later, in 1926, he retired to his room to do an intense yoga until his passing in 1950. His process of the Integral yoga during those years culminated with the Supramental Manifestation in 1956. As a brief explanation of his yoga he wrote the following in The Object of Our Yoga:
'The world is a movement of God in His own being: we are the centers and knots of divine consciousness which sum up and support the processes of His movement. The world is His play with His own self-conscious delight, He who alone exists, infinite, free and perfect; we are the self-multiplication of that conscious delight, thrown out into being to be his playmates. The world is a formula, a rhythm, a symbol system expressing God to Himself in His own consciousness, -- it has no material existence but exists only in His Consciousness and self-expression; we, like God, are in our inward being That which is expressed, but in our outward being terms of that formula, notes of that rhythm, symbols of that system. Let us lead forward God's movement, play out His play, work out His formula, execute His harmony, express Him through our self-fulfillment; to this end we who transcend and exceed the universe, have entered into universe-existence.
        'Perfection has to be worked out, harmony has to be accomplished, imperfection, limitation, death, grief, ignorance, matter, are only the first terms of the formula – unintelligible til we have worked out the wider terms and reinterpreted the formulary; they are the initial discords of the musician's tuning. Out of imperfection we have to construct perfection, out of limitation to discover infinity, out of death immortality, out of grief to recover divine bliss, out of ignorance to rescue divine self-knowledge, out of matter to reveal Spirit. To work out this end for ourselves and for humanity is the object of our Yogic practice.'
In these words he uses: 'the terms of the formula'; 'notes of the rhythm'; and 'symbols of that system'. These terms became the foundation for the design and blueprint formulated and laid down first in the Matrimandir: the Mother's Temple. This was seen during the first 17 days of 1970 by Sri Aurobindo's collaborator, the Mother, of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India. Her vision was that of the inside chamber of a temple, the Matirimandir, the Mother's Temple. It was designed to be a focus of energy which would hasten the Supramental Manifestation that is the Spiritualisation on earth. This temple, if built properly, would equal the impact the Pyramids had on the earth 12,000 years ago in Egypt.

At that time, the pyramids were built in order to align certain cosmic energies as a focus for the transformation of the initiates in that time. Whereas, the pyramids were built for a small group, who were able to be made ready to receive and to withstand those higher energies for their own individual spiritual fulfillment, the Mother's plan was for the upliftment of all humanity. But mankind was not ready for this modern edifice and so the plan was pirated and perverted by the very architects of the Ashram, who she put in charge of the actual physical building. The design and especially the measurements by the Mother were so important that she had the engineer, not the architects, put them down in a blueprint, for it was symbolic in every part down to the very last millimeter. She emphasized that these measurements were for the inside of the temple and that the globe would be translucent not transparent. The present construction, Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet has labeled 'the Shadow Temple', for the temple that has actually been built is also the symbol of the thing symbolized, the shadow of the real temple. But from the moment the Mother's design was documented, the symbol was born and it lives on; it can be embodied and lived as a focus for the Supramental to manifest on earth in each of us. Everyone who pictures it, can carry it within themselves everywhere they go.

As Robert Wilkinson wrote in a letter: ‘The formula (of the Matrimandir) remained a mystery until 1975 when Thea, Third in the Line, unveiled the Supramental knowledge contained in the Mother's plan for her temple and published her discoveries about the nature of Time (the months and the years) in a cosmological framework known as the Gnostic Circle.’ This formula was revealed by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea) after the Mother's passing which she developed in a different form documenting it in the Gnostic Circle. (See diagram below from The Gnostic Circle, do not reproduce without permission of author)
The Gnostic Circle, as discovered by the author, is based on two ancient symbols, the Zodiac, a circle of 12, which she then expanded further by incorporating the Enneagram, a circle of 9. They are both all about time combined in one Truth that has been carried over the centuries, possibly over millennia, in the form of a Symbol; teachings that were passed down through secret groups and Mystery Schools of the past. Many since that time have shot their arrows hitting part of this target but were satisfied with their partial understanding of it.

Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea) is the only one who has seen that whole target and has been able to give it a language which can be understood by those who want to understand. Others have explained the Enneagram and the use of it in their own way, such as, Gurdjieff/Ouspensky's, In Search of the Miraculous. But Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet has defined it and expanded on it in such detail through The Gnostic Circle that there is nothing left to explain. Now, the burden of true understanding lies with the student.

During the study of the Gnostic Circle as a symbol, there is a process which one must go through in order to get it. On the first reading, it is found to be a very interesting concept which explains astrology in its global aspects, the solar system, the universe, as well as the individual's life in the cycles of time thus making all the necessary facts and diagrams available to study the work with. (see diagram above)

On the next reading, the student goes deeper into the blueprint where one tries to remember/memorize the specific points, the many functions and mechanics depicted in this construction. One's gaze must first see it as a whole then as your eye travels around this symbol one sees all the straight lines with their numbers, following them up and down 1>4>2>8>5>7; another formation in the separate inner triad of 0>3>6>9; then the enclosure of the concentric circles 1-2-3-4-5-6-7. Further addition of the central point and the inner circle brings the number to 9 as she explains, is the number that represents material creation, the cell or matter; 9 is the number of completion. At the apex of the triangle, this 9 point is aligned with the 0 point, which represents spirit, the Seed/potential. From the beginning of the circle the 0 point of spirit travels around the circle, developing the seed only to meet the 9 point of material manifestation just as from conception an embryo gestates and is born completing circle. This in effect, is not a final ending, rather it is a point of transition to start another round towards a new level of becoming. For in the Gnostic Circle we are not working in linear Time where the end is a cut off point. We are working here in circles, cycles of time, just as the Moon circles the Earth with out fail and the Earth rotates every day from Sunrise to Sunrise, never ending its orbit of the Sun from year to year. This work is used for the measurement of time in order to understand the cycles of our lives.

Continuing to look at the Gnostic Circle, as seen below, the next step in the study is to begin to see these circles and lines in motion for they are actively moving energies, circles going round and round in their calculated timings; lines going up and down in their progressed order. Now, again seeing it as it emerges from a two dimensional flat figure circling to its three dimensional global movements, much like a gyroscope, dynamic, alive, it is then a symbol of perpetual motion. As your perceptions slowly change, you are able to transform your vision of this phenomena from out there to in here, embodying it and realizing that it can be lived. A living symbol, a Book of Knowledge, for that is exactly what it is. As Sri Aurobindo has written, 'A symbol is the thing that is symbolized.' Sri Aurobindo once posed the question: 'What is there new that we have yet to accomplish?.... 'In a word, godhead; to remake ourselves in the divine image.' When I look at the Gnostic Circle I see it as the image of God.

In order for me to reach this depth of seeing, I have had to take many steps over many years, in the process, breaking down multiple barriers or veils within myself to be open to that Point of understanding, still knowing that I have a long way to go. During this time, I have focused on the Gnostic Circle as a way of healing first by seeing this blueprint as the tapestry of my life and then further learning how to analyze, then redesign it. You can see how the tapestry of your own life works if you will look at the diagram of the Gnostic Circle below. Starting with all the concentric circles/cycles of time you will also see the 360 straight lines fanning out from the center marking out segments of time. These lines are like the warp threads strung on a loom, the loom of your life. As the days go by the weft thread fills in with the lessons learned day by day with relationships and events, big and small; good and bad. The colors weave in and out; but one thread is steady and unchanging like the drone note in a musical chord, holding the underlying timbre of your life; others vibrant; some intertwining for long stretches; some brief; some knots occur as it weaves its way around and around. This tapestry is a record of every minute of your life, imprinted year by year.

Now, for the healing process: The events themselves in one’s life can not be erased, however, they can be healed. The Mother said in the Agenda: ‘The past can be completely purified and abolished, on condition that one does not keep making it into a perpetual present. I have said it there in one sentence, but I didn’t want people to believe that they can continue making the same stupid blunder indefinitely and have the Grace indefinitely annul all the consequences. It isn’t like that! The past can be cleansed to the point where it has no effect of any kind on the future, but only on condition that you stop the wrong vibration in yourself, that you don’t reproduce the same vibration indefinitely.’

I have found that by following the threads back through the past as Reshad Feild has said, 'can be redeemed'. We can look at these events, review the negative painful, hurtful events. We can review the rules and regulations embedded in our psyche that we may still live by which are no longer helpful to us, for these often distort our thinking, our relationships, our actions and reactions. When we go back and detect these knots and blockages we can then change our perceptions, releasing the chains that have molded our character; who we think we are and who we think we should be. Lessons learned as children were necessary to socialize us once born into the world. Many that were helpful to us in the past are now hurtful to us in the present. It is possible to change the past in this way by redeeming it and in many ways, the harm it is doing to us even now. As Sri Aurobindo once wrote: 'What was once a helper, is now a hurter.' What do we need to leave behind or release from our past? For by changing the past we are actually able to change the future by not living with what William Blake called, 'Our mind forged manacles'.

‘It is possible by a certain psychological discipline to remove this veil of separative consciousness and become aware of the true Self, the Divinity within us and all.’ Which is not to say the psychology as it has been seen with the influence of Freud and Jung. It is the psychology based on the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo.

For me, at first, this process started with the intellect while slowly over time, taking it in piece-by-piece, until a fuller understanding was reached; was embodied and lived as a Book of Knowledge, pages turning one after the other. This is a process which does not happen in a day, for it is perceived only in flashes as each piece comes into play, one piece or flash after another. It is much like the ocean's waves coming onto the shore, receding each time but coming closer until the waves reach their peak at high-tide. The ocean does not stay at high-tide but then as the waves recede we can wade out into the water and become a part of it. We can become the Gnostic Circle, use it, live it, to become an element in the Supramentalisation of the Earth, of humanity. We cannot sustain our high-tides of realization but with each influx it raises us up in a spiral, ever widening to higher levels of understanding. Even with this, I know that I still have a long way to go.

'From Truth to greater Truth.'