At the heart of symbolism

Simplicity and complexity

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Simplicity and Unity

The World Egg symbolizes a latency state in the development of the Cosmos. It is often represented by a sphere for it spreads equally out in all directions from an original point symbolizing the Centre or Unity.

When the Cosmic Egg has completely hatched, the being feels lost in the middle of the manifested world, the Centre of which he cannot rediscover. He can only attain the Unity while finding a way going off beaten tracks. Indeed, Unity cannot be attained by reason alone, which consists in breaking down all its constituent elements in order to be able to study them separately. The Unity in its simplicity never lets itself be broken down. The separation of the constituent elements of a whole is an improper simplification. The whole is above all characterized by complex interactions between its so called constituent elements. The deep interdependencies among the constituent elements and the surrounding environment are what maintains the cohesion of the Cosmos and explains why its etymology is synonymous with order.

Unity can only be reached by following intellectual Intuition, beyond the sensitive intuition. It can only be reached through the direct and immediate Knowledge of the immutable principles, beyond the indirect and discursive knowledge of changeable elements that the reason vainly strives to master. To see everything in the indistinct state of the principial Unity is true Intelligence.

The human reflection is only a pale reflection of the supra-human Intellect. It is made in the image of the lunar light that does nothing but reflect the solar Light. The lunar light is an indirect and cold light without any possible comparison with the direct and warm sun Light.

The access to the Centre, Unity and Knowledge arises at the time of an illumination caused by a spark of the intelligible Light. In reality, the being does not attain the Centre, Unity and Knowledge; he becomes the Centre, Unity and Knowledge. The simple man no longer knows tensions or oppositions proper to the world of duality. He stands in the Centre where everything is unified, where he sees everything through the principial Unity. Simplicity means Unity.

Unity and complements

During the manifestation process, Unity hides behind multiplicity. A multiplicity made of complementary poles strongly inter linked and often perceived as opposites. Nevertheless, the poles cannot be implacably opposed for they could not be merged into the essential indistinct state, characteristic of Unity and Unity would be no more. Duality is incompatible with Unity.

The relation between complements and apparent dualistic poles finds notably an illustration in the various modes of orientation in the terrestrial world.

The being finds his bearings according to four cardinal points forming two couples of apparently opposite poles. In reality, they constitute two complementary axes:Complementary axes

  1. A first north-south axis drawn vertically;
  2. A second east-west axis drawn horizontally.

The vertical axis represents the communication channel between different levels; it is the passage between superior and inferior states and vice versa. The horizontal axis links states which are level; it is only a crossing point between these states.

These two axes meet in at a point of balance and reconciliation of apparently opposed poles. It represents the centre that contains the four compass points (or both axes) in an undifferentiated state and constitutes a reflection of the Unity into the terrestrial world.

Let us note that each axis links the complements light (south, east) and darkness (north, west).

1. Due to its verticality, the north-south axis establishes a hierarchy between the two complementary poles:

  1. North corresponds to night or polar orientation taking the polar star as reference point;
  2. South is associated with the daytime or solar orientation taking the sun at its zenith as reference point.

The polar orientation refers to the Cosmos (macrocosm) while the solar orientation takes the vertical of the observer's place as support (microcosm). As the being is an integral part of the Cosmos, it is obvious that the orientation related to the cosmic world is of superior order than the orientation related to the individual world. Just as the man and Cosmos, these two modes are complements and constitute one of the many facets of the harmony between macrocosm and microcosm as advocated by a number of traditions.

2. On the contrary, the east-west axis links level complements. In fact, east and west correspond to sunrise and sunset which are associated with a same orientation mode along the horizon.

The being concerned with the rediscovering of the lost Unity has firstly to be release from a dualistic perception of the world (four compass points). Then, his gaze will turn towards the complementarity of all things (two axes). At last, he will reach a unified vision of the world (centre of both axes). Afterwards, he will be able to attain the centres of higher order states and, finally, the Centre of all centres.

The Wise man who stands in the Centre, the balance point, the unified state no longer makes any distinction between the various orientation modes. He no longer needs to find his bearings for he knows everything through a global view. He is no longer a prey of tensions; his mind is in peace. The being re-established in the simplicity state has no reason to look elsewhere for what is here and forever.


  • René Guénon:
  • “The Great Triad”. Sophia Perennis Publisher, 2001;
  • Particularly, chapter 4 entitled “Yin and Yang”.
  • “The Symbolism of the Cross”. Sophia Perennis Publisher, 2002;
  • Especially, chapters VI and VII on “The union of complements” and “The resolution of opposites”.