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Thursday, July 07, 2016

The soul "expands another orbit on the great deep"

Thomas Moore writes "Circling" for his Soul & Spirit blog at Patheos in which he talks about Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay Circles (1841).

Moore writes, "We live in circles, even if we prefer the illusion that we are a series of straight lines. Evolution, personal and social, is a stone falling into a still lake. Sometimes the circle feels as if we are chasing our tail, what the old magus called uroboros, the snake that eats its tail. It’s frustrating because, believers in straight lines, we think we’re getting nowhere. But read Emerson’s essay. Circling is the path to self-discovery."

Moore shares:
"I also remember my dear friend James Hillman who always recommended staying with or in the circumstances that are difficult, instead of trying to find a way out of them. He didn’t mean to surrender or succumb but to find a way through life’s challenge. Then you are not escaping or denying or avoiding.

Often, when I mention the beauty of circling, someone will say, “I’m all right with spirals.” Well, of course. Spirals get you somewhere. They are straight lines with circles around them. But they are not circles." 
Moore states, "The feeling of being stuck and going around in a circle may be maddening but it’s the perfect preparation for the kind of advancement that Emerson describes. All right, it’s not really advancement and yet it is a positive development." This positive development is transformation.
"The life of man is a self-evolving circle, which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outwards to new and larger circles, and that without end. The extent to which this generation of circles, wheel without wheel, will go, depends on the force or truth of the individual soul. For it is the inert effort of each thought, having formed itself into a circular wave of circumstance, as for instance an empire, rules of an art, a local usage, a religious rite, to heap itself on that ridge and to solidify and hem in the life. But if the soul is quick and strong it bursts over that boundary on all sides and expands another orbit on the great deep, which also runs up into a high wave, with attempt again to stop and to bind. But the heart refuses to be imprisoned; in its first and narrowest pulses it already tends outward with a vast force and to immense and innumerable expansions." 
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, Circles