Excerpts from Freddy Silva's book, Secrets In The Fields. © 1998, 2002. All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction.
"Know, oh, brother..., that the study of sensible geometry leads to skill in all practical arts, while the study of intelligible geometry leads to skill in the intellectual arts because this science is one of the gates through which we move to the knowledge of the essence of the soul, and that is the root of all knowledge'
- from the Rasa'il by the Brotherhood of Purity, translated by S.H. Nasr.
THE ORIGINS OF SACRED GEOMETRY
Our experience and our reaction to all things beautiful is made possible by our unique ability to subconsciously recognize geometric order from transitory chaos. At this level, the perfection inherent in a Greek temple or a painting by Da Vinci is not simply because it is made of a particular material or hue but because the harmonic proportions contained in their design are bound by the laws of sacred geometry, which is itself the embodiment of harmonic waves of energy, melody and universal proportion. What our senses respond to is the geometrical and proportional harmonies and wave forms created through the application of sacred geometry.
As stated in Islam, and echoed in all Abrahamic and Hindu religions, sacred geometry provides the means to see the vestiges of God and Its multiplicity in the universal order of things. Remarkably, the arabic religion still contains at its core one of the last unadulterated vestiges of primordial truth. Its mosques and art forms, as well as its latter-day architecture still incorporate many of the keys to the structure of the cosmos, symbols of the archetypal world as a creation of God.
Indeed, intellectual Islam is to be commended for the way in which it has preserved a mathematical philosophy "akin to the Pythagorean-Platonic tradition of antiquity but in a totally sacred universe free of the nationalism and rationalism which finally stifled and destroyed the esoteric traditions of Greek intellectuality." Therefore it is not by accident that we see in Islamic art the very symbols which reflect the heart of matter.
As the last of the universal revelations- or religions- it is important to note that Islam has served as the curator of sacred geometry rather than its originator. It's not certain where the terrestrial origins of this knowledge stems from but its forms are evident throughout the yantras and mandalas of Hindu, Tibetan and Buddhist art, Celtic carvings and book adornment, even in native North American sand paintings.
The earliest known proprietors of sacred geometry were the Egyptians who embedded its secrets in the ground plans of their temples, their frescoes and, most blatantly, in the Gizeh pyramid which single-handedly contains most of the fundamental universal laws that many a tortured schoolchild now attributes to Pythagoras. Although these enlightened people used geometry for all manner of terrestrial applications- hence the word 'geo-metry' or 'measure of the earth'- the aim was metaphysical in nature.
Because sacred geometry reflected the universe, its pure forms and dynamic equilibriums shared a higher purpose: the attainment of spiritual wholeness through self-reflection, thereby giving structural insight into the workings of the inner self. In other words, a way for the intuitive mind to find a reason for its existence: by journeying inwards, away from the three-dimensional world and towards fewer and more comprehensive ideas and principles. As the renowned geometer Robert Lawlor observes, " the implicit goal of this education was to enable the mind to become a channel through which the 'earth' (the level of manifested form) could receive the abstract, cosmic life of the heavens. The practice of geometry was an approach to the way in which the universe is ordered and sustained. Geometric diagrams can be contemplated as still moments revealing a continuous, timeless, universal action generally hidden from our sensory perception. Thus a seemingly common mathematical activity can become a discipline for intellectual and spiritual insight."
As a mirror of the heavens sacred geometry was liberally applied across the Egyptian landscape for millennia as a way to bestow universal order on Earth, as reflected in their Hermetic maxim 'As Above, So Below'.
Consequently the practice of maintaining concrete records of this knowledge for posterity was reenacted throughout Europe in fabulous structures such as Chartres cathedral, one of the most impressive hymns to sacred geometry, and whose dissection alone has filled entire books.
That this knowledge made its way as far north as the British Isles can be clearly seen in the ground plans and blueprints of megalithic monuments, mediaeval cathedrals, and the plethora of stone circles. It is clear, therefore, that whatever lies behind sacred geometry was important enough for scholars to go to enormous lengths to preserve it for future generations.
With the advent of X-ray photography science has discovered that the physical structure of elements are governed by a patterned array of intervals surrounding a central node. The general assumption that the nature of matter is fundamentally composed of particles is rapidly giving way to the concept that the underlying patterns of the material world are geometric wave forms. The irony here is that by choosing to examine reality through geometry many ancient cultures find themselves close to the stance now adopted by modern science, and vice versa.
Little wonder, then, that sacred geometry was so important to the temple builders. And since the universe was created by God it theoretically followed that to embed physical structures with the ratios of creation the universe could be mirrored. In so doing, temples became doorways into the inner workings of the physical world and the inner world of consciousness. This interface would enable anyone so predisposed to integrate oneself with the gods.
Sadly, as these temples have fallen by the wayside so too has our wonder of the unseen and our connection to it, presumably why the very fabric of our present society lies rudderless and bankrupt.
There are several major events which have led us to this sad reversal of thought. As Robert Lawlor understands it, "modern thought has difficult access to the concept of the archetypal because European languages require that verbs or action words be associated with nouns. We therefore have no linguistic forms with which to imagine a process or activity that has no material carrier"
The Renaissance saw the last great works based on sacred geometry which had been kept alive via Plato,and philosophies that survived suppression by the emerging Catholic Church. With the implementation of the Inquisition, the rise in secularism and a general move toward a rational and analytical view of the world, connections to holistic and metaphysical practices were severed. By the time Newton and the scientific secularism of the 17th century prevailed rational logic had gained such a dominance that all esoteric knowledge was inevitably condemned as occult (literal meaning, 'that which is hidden').