“A physical body cannot move continuously by any factor other than the cyclic motion. Only this can exist indefinitely as sole, and continuous, because the cyclic motion is the only perfect movement –and not the linear one. The linear cannot exist indefinitely, as there is no such thing as a linear eternity. In the linear movement, there is a beginning, a middle and an end, and everything stops moving at its end. On the contrary, the above are intangible in the cyclic motion because we cannot define a point as a beginning or as an end, as both are identified within it.”
(Aristotle, Physics, 265a8, 265a17, 20-35)
“Among those which move, only the one that moves cyclically is perpetual, in such a way that it is always perpetual within itself. And this is what makes motion perpetual: the body which moves cyclically, and its movement makes time continuous.”
(Aristotle, On Generation and Corruption, 337a30)
The regular, rhythmic, and exact repetition of the phenomena in life and Nature was always generating admiration and awe in the human mind. The cyclic reappearance of the seasons, the cycle of birth and death, the perpetual movement of the celestial bodies around their orbits, kept astonishing man and made him think and form various theories, which became the foundation of astronomy, cosmology and meteorology. These theories soon acquired more aspects leading into metaphysical quests about the man himself, his soul, the cycle of death and re-birth, as well as the Cosmos in general.
The man wondered whether there had ever been an absolute beginning and if the Cosmos is going to come to an ultimate end. Or, whether the cosmic process had no beginning nor end, but it consisted of endless cyclic phenomena. Gradually, ideas were born within the human mind about the existence of law, order, and harmony in the universe, and that everything is subject to the law of cycling and recycling. He thought of the cycle as a symbol for the Deity and he placed the Divinity at its centre. Symbolism is the language of the Mysteries; in fact, it is not only the language of Mysticism and Philosophy but of all Nature, for every power active in the universal procedure is manifested to the limited sense perceptions of man through the medium of symbol.
The cyclic motion is taking place Macrocosmical and microcosmical, in the universe and in man. There are cycles within cycles, smaller or larger, encircling others or encircled by others in a way which reminds us of the decorative Chinese balls, the one being within the other. There are teachings among many traditions – Greek, American Indian, Hindu etc., about the periodicity in life – personal, family or community, even the periodicity in our everyday life, the periodicity in death and re-birth, in the appearance or occurrence of natural catastrophes or diseases, and so on. On planet Earth, we are subject to the so-called Yugas: Race yugas, civilization yugas, religious yugas, continental yugas.
They are formed, they rise, they flourish and then, having reached their nadir point they decline and gradually disappear providing room and space for the next ones; either for another race or a civilization, a new religion – as so many old ones are not existent or semi-existent today, while others have appeared and still flourish – or for a new continent as is the case with parts of today’s continents after Atlantis and of Lemuria disappeared. These traditions describe the several cyclic periods as ending either with a geological catastrophe, or a deluge or extended volcanic explosions, all of which have caused a major destruction followed by a re-birth of life on this planet.
In all the above, the height achieved by the new humanity, the new Root-Race or subrace or civilization, as defined by the law of the rising tide in every cycle. This is because the physical evolution is always accompanied by a spiritual one, and the world of intelligence is evolving along with the physical one. In esotericism and occultism a cycle does not denote only a closed up circuit or a sphere, nor a geometric shape or a circle, but an eternal, unlimited motion which extents and moves in such a way that it forms a spiral going upwards. In ancient times, the spiral motion of the universe had always been a study subject in the Mystery schools and only the advanced minds could understand it. This teaching used to be one of the most important in the esoteric philosophy in which the spiral motion was considered as the cornerstone of all existence.
Herbert Spencer said in his First Principles (ref. Manly Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, part 1, Introduction), that in every manifestation of being there is a fundamental tendency from simplicity to complexity, and when the point of equilibrium is reached it is always followed by the process of dissolution; that disintegration takes place only that reintegration may follow upon a higher level of being. Also, according to the alchemists, the ideal transmutation takes place via dissolution and condensation in a series of gradual stages, which are forming a cyclic procedure. This procedure does not follow a steady movement around a centre, though, but a spirally moving process aiming at the evolution of the life current, the Spiritus Mundi, through successive forms of existence. The universe we can perceive by our senses is perpetually moving through spiral orbits. This cyclic spiral motion was soon thought of as a basis for the theory about the incorruptibility of matter, which is not lost but transformed to energy – another form of matter at another level of being.
The Grand Life Cycle is the prototype of human, animal, plant, and even mineral life. It manifests, creates, and then returns within Itself. Everything appears and then disappears in its source, to re-appear once more but on an upward spiral movement. We appear in birth, we disappear in death and reincarnate in a new life cycle, in another family, another country, perhaps in another race but always in an upwards evolutionary scale. The cyclic evolutionary course of every human being manifests the rhythmical, spiral pulsation of life in him or her, and the same applies to every other being within the cosmos: a chemical atom, a planet, a solar system, a galaxy. As Aristotle said (On Generation and Corruption, 338a5): “If the birth of a being is absolutely necessary, it must draw a circle returning to itself because absolute necessity is present in the cyclic motion.”
There are many mathematical analogies between the universe and the human body as far as the cyclic motion is concerned, which applies to everything, even the transition of the equinoxes. For example, a Platonic year consists of 25.920 solar years. Human breath is estimated to follow the same number within a 24 hour cycle. The cycle of day and night of 360 minutes is equivalent to the 360 degrees of the Platonic year cycle or of the transition of the equinoxes. The sun needs 72 years to move to the next degree of the Zodiacal Cycle or cross the 1/60th of the Platonic year. The human heart beats 72 times per minute, which gives us the 1/60th of the hour cycle. Similar mathematical analogies can be found at other levels of our everyday life, which connect universal life with human life, proving to what extent we humans or the microcosm, are tuned to the periodicity of the Macrocosmic or universal cycles through our autonomous nervous system.
Sometimes, while watching the cyclic motion in our life as well as in the Cosmos, we usually get the illusionary idea that all repetitions are due to what we call “time”. We say, for example, that the cycle of the sun’s dawning and the setting is a matter of time. But, as Aristotle points in his work on Generation and Corruption (337a20, 30): “Time is a means of calculating a kind of movement and therefore a means to calculate the cyclic motion. Time cannot exist without motion”.
Everything is due to the cyclic movement of a physical body or of every being’s awareness. All human beings follow a life cycle, and so does every atom of their body as well. As children of the Cosmos and its cycles, we have physical bodies formed by cells – which in themselves are miniature physical bodies. We have an organism hosting billion and trillions of micro-organisms, which are parts of our bodies as we are parts of Earth’s body which hosts us, the animals, the plants, and the minerals. All the above run through their own cyclic life’s movement, but that has nothing to do with time.
On concluding, I would say that generally, cycles and their movement, either Macrocosmic or microcosmic, and despite their volume, can be taken as aspects of the pulsating activity and repose of the Cosmic Mind which fills the universe and is the universe. Plato said that god or Nous had formed a Circle picturing himself and the soul – the Anima Mundi, because the circle is the most perfect of all shapes. In the Secret Doctrine, within the circle or the disc is shown as the point or the first manifestation of the triple Logos. In accordance to the cyclic movement of the Divine mechanism and the Logos, everything moves rhythmically following the Divine Plan and purpose.
The cosmic law of eternal motion becomes the link which connects the Plan with the eternity of Being, and no one can be or travel through life outside this Spiritual cycle. Because, as King Solomon said in one his verses:
“The wind blows to the south and then turns to the north.”
“Round and round it goes, ever returning to its source.” (Ecclesiastes, 1:6)
Aristotle – Physics, Cactus, Athens, Greece 1994.
Aristotle – On Generation and Corruption, Cactus, Athens, Greece 1994.
HPB – The Secret Doctrine, vol. I, Pneumatikos Helios, Athens, Greece 1990.
Manly Hall – The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Jubilee edition, The Philosophical Research Company, Inc, Los Angeles, Ca, USA, 1988.