The Principle of Rhythm (or Cyclicity)
The Principle of Rhythm embodies the truth that everything in the physical, mental and spiritual plane expresses itself in rhythm from action to reaction, from activity to inactivity with a to-and-from movement, a flow and inflow, out and in, a swing forward and backward, an advance and a retreat, a rising and a sinking, a giving and a receiving. The very essence of the play of Reality itself is always a spontaneous outpouring and an in drawing of energy and manifestation.
The Principle of Rhythm or Cyclicity is connected to the Principle of and it usually manifests between the two poles described therein. The swing of rhythm is not necessarily to the extreme poles, but simply toward first one pole and then the opposite one in varying levels and degrees.
We can observe this principle in the creation and destruction of worlds and universes, the rise and fall of the tides, in the rise and fall of nations and cultures, in the life history of all things, the beating of the human heart and the breathing in and out of the lungs, and especially in the mental states of living beings.
This rhythmic motion is not necessarily always in a straight line; in fact these motions are usually in cycles. Cyclicity is only a more complex form of rhythm and is dependent on the latter. Ciclicity happens when the action and reaction, the attraction and repulsion, arising from the conflict between the force of the rhythmic swing in a straight line on the one hand, and the attractive and repellent forces from without, on the other hand, tend to swing the movement in a perfect circle around a central point of motion manifesting the universal tendency to convert the straight path of the swing into a circular path or cycle.
Proof of this is the movements of small and large bodies in the physical universe, like the electrons around the atoms, the planets around the suns and the galaxies around the universe which perpetually revolve in a circle around some given center point continuing in cyclic revolution due to the Principle of Rhythm and Cyclicity instead of falling toward the center.
All living beings are born, grow, and die, and then are reborn, always completing a full cycle. And the same applies to all great movements, philosophies, beliefs, fashions, governments, all manifesting birth, growth, maturity, decadence, death and then a new birth. The cycle always completes itself, as it’s law. Also in the mind of beings the succession of moods, feelings and other states of consciousness manifest following the Principle of Rhythm and Cyclicity. In the Tibetan tradition, for example, it is said that if a member of one’s family died at a particular age, or at a particular time of year, then at that age or at that time of year all the members of the family are susceptible to death because of the tendency of events to recur in cyclic patterns.
It’s easy to observe how the Law of Rhythm has affected us throughout our lives, how a period of enthusiasm has been invariably followed by an opposite feeling or mood of depression. Likewise, periods of courage have been followed by equal feelings of fear and so on. For example we can notice that when we indulge to an extreme degree in a particular emotion or feeling, we have the tendency to fly to the opposite pole of that feeling or emotion.
In fact it’s only normal to feel these ‘ups and downs’ as an expression of the Law of Rhythm, and we shouldn’t aim at becoming like a stone, but as we will learn in chapter eight, an understanding of the workings of this principle, will give one the key to the mastery of these rhythmic swings of moods in order to avoid being carried away so easily by these ‘ups and downs’.
The only escape from Cyclicity is found in the process of transmutation into Spirality, and this is accomplished by advancing the central point of motion. On a universal scale the central point is advanced in the cosmos spontaneously urging forward the entire cosmic process, and thus converting the cyclic trend into a spiral trend, onward and upward, in advancing and rising circles toward progression, but even this progression is then reversed backward to its starting point with a process of regression and so on ‘ad infinitum’.
The Principle of Rhythm in Buddhism
The Principle of Rhythm in Buddhism is expressed in the concept of ‘impermanence’ and in the manifestation and re-absorption of enlightened forms. In Buddhism, in His first teaching after His Enlightenment, the Buddha explained the the Four Noble Truths. One of these four Truths is that ‘all compounded things are impermanent’. Here compounded means all that is not indivisible, in other words all that can be known in terms of subject and object is impermanent. The truth of the impermanence of self-perceived phenomena is another aspect of the Law of Rhythm which expresses always a flow and inflow, a swing forward and backward, an advance and a retreat, nothing is stable and nothing remains the same, all is in motion, all is impermanent. At the physical level, the birth and death of universes and their inhabiting beings is always found to be in cyclic trends as part of the impermanence of all phenomena. At the level of mind, Buddhism explains that there is always an empty gap of stillness between the movement of thoughts or ‘strings of thoughts’ which we call concepts, and that these two modes of mind‘s manifestation, stillness and movement, alternate in rhythmic fashion.
Ultimately, at the level of Enlightenment, the Principle of Rhythm is expressed in the spontaneous activities of a fully Awakened One, emanating for the benefit of others (without ever leaving the Knowledge of the Pure Ground of Being) and dissolution back to the Ground of Pure Being of mere potentiality in a ceaseless play of dissolution and expansion beyond divisive dualities.