Faces of God – Part 1

“The language in which God wrote the universe is mathematics” - Galileo

Faces of God – Part 1

Galileo stated that “the language in which God wrote the universe is mathematics”. It rules both in the subtle worlds invisible to our eyes and in the material world; in the macrocosm and in the microcosm that is man. In the Kabbalistic teachings, there is the term macroprosopus [1] which is a compound of two Greek words “macro” and “prosopo” (person) and which translates as “the vast or great countenance”. Its counterpart is the Aramaic concept of Arikh-Anpin – the Longer Face, in its highest, or abstract, metaphysical sense, referring to the primal manifestation of the Infinity, the vehicle of Ain Soph, the crowning of the Tree of Life, and to Adam Kadmon, the prototype of the perfect, divine man, the microcosm that has connected Heaven and Earth. In contrast to him is Zair Anpin, the Lesser Face, the fallen and chained Adam of Eden (of whom all people on Earth are “descendants”) and who is also called microprosopus. Interestingly, the term microprosopus also occurs in teratology (from the Greek words teratos – monster and logos – science), which studies the causes and effects of abnormal development, and it is used to describe “a monster with a defective face” (from The Century Dictionary). Can we find a metaphorically expressed truth about contemporary man in these unpleasant words? If so, how does this “defective face” determine our awareness and knowledge of ourselves? Are we aware of our condition? Do we identify with our “human face”? Can “monsters” with defective faces transform and turn, like the Beast from a fairy tale, into beings with a perfect face? Finally, are we able to know the true “face” of God at our present level of development? And what is it?

In many languages, for example in Polish and English, there is a synonym for the word “face”, associating it with a number or counting. In Polish, the word is “oblicze”, in English – “countenance”. Whoever has come across numerology (Pythagorean, Kabbalistic or Chaldean) knows that it says that the world was created through numbers. Numbers are the original ideas from Plato’s teachings. They have their own character, soul and enormous power of influence, both on the subtle worlds and on the material world. In Hebrew, one and the same symbol defines both a letter and a number. Letters are inseparable from numbers and are the building blocks of all that exists.

In Sefer Yezirah we read that all revealed reality is based on ten primal numbers. But behind that which is revealed there is something we do not know; a Being that is unavailable to our imperfect senses. Some silent, invisible, powerful Consciousness that never directly shows itself to its earthly children. It hides so effectively that many of us – humans inhabiting the material world and clothed in physical bodies- deny Its existence. Nay! Even representatives of science deny this, and the view that there is a work without an author seems very illogical. However, for those in whom the divine atom in the heart is active, endowing the spiritual sense of intuition, it is clear that behind the revealed world there must be a Being invisible to us, who can be recognized by its fruits, by its works. And it’s they which are its faces, or perhaps masks.

For at this point the question arises whether in a world like ours, we have contact with the True God. Was this world founded on the initiative of the original Source of our existence? Or is it the work of a benevolent demiurge who, as Plato claimed, did not create it directly, but by introducing into the chaotic world of matter the world of ideas with which he brought it to order? Or maybe this world is not a product of a good being, but of an evil and satanic creature, as the old Gnostics claimed?

The latter concept may seem shocking, heretical and iconoclastic at first. However, when we think about the fact that we live in the reality of the food chain, in which one eats the other, then we can confront our “monstrous” face, then the idea may begin to grow in us that maybe there is something to it – perhaps we live in a world created by an imperfect being. Since, in order to survive, one has to rob another creature of life, we start to think that this idea must have arisen in the consciousness of someone in whom there is some fundamental lack. And since in the hearts of most of us there is a natural striving for good, a desire to be good and to do good, we feel that, after all, there must be a true God somewhere who is pure Goodness, pure Perfection, who has planted this striving in us.

Probably each of us encountered the appeal placed at the entrance to the temple in Delphi: “Man, know thyself, and you will know the universe and the gods”. It leads us to the clue that perhaps God (gods?) should not be sought in the outside world, but in the place where the sight cannot reach. Because looking outside „we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now we know in part; then we shall know fully, even as we are fully known” as the beautiful biblical Hymn to Love proclaims (1 Corinthians 13:12). In its earlier verses (9-11) we read more: „For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me”.

These words seem to say that man at the present level of development is not yet truly developed; he is imperfect, his evolution is not over yet and therefore he sees dimly, he does not see reality in its true essence, but only through the mirror of its material garment.

It turns out that getting to know yourself is not as easy as it may seem. Even when we try to get to know ourselves on an inner level, we cannot get rid of the habit of identifying ourselves with the image of ourselves in our head for a very long time. Instead of peace in the heart, we often find fear. Masks and beliefs about who we are embedded in us. The Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz wrote in his book “Ferdydurke” that “there is no escape from the mug (a social mask) but in another mug” [2]. Together, these masks create a false identity we call the “ego”. And one can say, following Gombrowicz, that “ego” – this false image of ourselves – we can really overcome only with another “image”, but not the one that is a product of our mind.

(To be continued in part 2)

[1] H. P. Blavatsky, Theosophical Glossary

[2] Witold Gombrowicz (August 4, 1904 – July 24, 1969) was a Polish writer and playwright. In 1937 he published his first novel, Ferdydurke, of which he said: ‘We live in an era of violent changes, of accelerated development, in which settled forms are breaking under life’s pressure […] The need to find a form for what is yet immature, uncrystalized and underdeveloped, as well as the groan at the impossibility of such a postulate – this is the chief excitement of my book”.

‘Mug’- in the original Polish version „gęba” is a metaphor for a kind of disguise, a form that one should not disregard.


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Date: August 2, 2021
Author: Emilia Wróblewska-Ćwiek (Poland)
Photo: Free-Photo`s on Pixabay CCO

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