The Unseen Sea – 6: Of Fear and Trust

Part Six of The Unseen Sea

Grandad Lucca is walking on the shoreline with his grandaughter, Jessica. The beach is made up, mainly, of pebbles, twinkling black and white in the morning sun, but here and there are wide patches of sand. It is on one of these that Jessica pulls Grandad’s hand, urging him to stop.

“Grandad?” she says in that lovely, innocent voice. “Can we play the circle game?”

He looks at the shining face, set amidst locks of golden hair. It is far too early in her life to play the real circle game, and he doubts he will still be around when it is not.

“Yes, of course we can play the circle game!” he says, kindly. “Do you remember how far we got with it?”

Jessica runs to get a stick she has spotted. Using it, she begins to draw a remarkably good circle in the sand. As she is about to close the last quadrant of the circle he laughs and interrupts her.


“Don’t forget you need to decide if you’re going to start inside the circle or outside!”

She looks up, puzzled, for a second, then laughs with him, remembering. “I think you should decide, Grandad!”

He looks across the few feet and considers what to do next. The air has become expectant with potential. He knows there is something of great importance, here. “Well, then,” he says, shuffling backwards, stealthily, on the sand, and hoping his voice will hide the sly action. “as you are closer to your own circle, I think you should be the one inside it…”

Jessica looks down at the gap and puts the thumb of the hand holding the stick to her top lip, giving serious consideration to the decision. “But, Grandad,” she asks earnestly, “didn’t we say that once you were inside you had to stay there to be safe?”

He looks at her, his eyes brimming with love. “Well, yes, we did,” he replies. “But we can make up the rules for our own escape, surely?”

She thinks about this. “Why do we close it if we will want to escape, one day?”

It’s a really good question, he thinks. It’s probably one of the best questions she will ever ask. Grandad Lucca crosses the distance and helps her though the gap and into the circle, taking the stick from her as she crosses the invisible line of the undrawn arc.

“Because something special can happen only inside the circle,” he whispers to her. “and not outside it.”

Jessica angles her head, looking as though she knows something important is happening.

“What’s really inside the circle, then?” Jessica asks.

“Why, you are!” he says, laughing. He paces out the partly drawn perimeter. “But you must choose,” he says, holding out the stick so that she can take it, again, if she wishes. “for it will be your circle, and you must decide if you really want to be in there…”

Grandaughter looks up at Grandad. “And you will always be there?” she looks at the gap she knows must be closed. “On the outside?”

He watches as she uses the stick to close the circle, nodding.

“And you must always trust that,” he says, reaching through the invisible but present wall and taking her hand, in the way that only grandads can.

Although she is now inside the circle, the light in her eyes is joyful. She knows that grandads have been around for so long that they know everything… and she trusts that.

Three billions revolutions of the planet around the sun ago, LUCA realises she is alone…

End Part Six.

Read the previous parts of this series:

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five,

©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2016 images and text. All rights reserved.

The Unseen Sea – 5: Now you see me…

Part Five of The Unseen Sea

The square in the town is bathed in the kind of mellow light that you get only at the end of summer. Jessica is playing, walking toe to heel, following the lines on the old stone, flags, which were rescued and restored from an historic water mill by the local authority as part of its millennium celebrations.

Grandad Lucca sips his coffee; bought, by his daughter, Alexandra, from the Costa nearby after they elected to stay outdoors to take the last of the glowing gold in the rare pure-blue sky.

“She’s really enjoyed being here,” says Alex. “We should come up more often..”

“You know you should,” says Grandad Lucca, sipping his coffee, “and you know you’re more than welcome, anytime.”

Father and daughter say nothing, each enjoying their coffee as the sun overhead fills their exposed skin with warmth and life. Father closes his eyes for a few moments, enjoying the tap, tap, tap of his granddaughter’s footsteps on the stone. Eventually, he looks up to find out where she has got to.

“I can’t see her,” he says to Alex, his voice rising with concern; realising that there is another little girl in the square and he has been following her sounds, not Jessica’s.

His daughter, also caught napping in the perfect afternoon, flickers into consciousness at her father’s words and stands up, scanning, in the way that mothers do so well. “Oh thank God,” she says, “She’s stepping in parallel with that other girl over there–” she points to where her father, with less acute eyesight, can now make out the two dancing figures, mirroring each other’s movements.

All is well…


Consider the two images above.

We would say that they are different; that we are looking at TWO things, not one thing replicated. Yet, were I to show you the ‘wire frame’ original in the programme used to create it, you would see that they are, at that level, identical.

The difference arises because the second circle has a child in it, a child-circle that has a white interior instead of a black one. The black one is there, separate in its existence, within the top circle, but we don’t see black on black, because there’s no difference; just as we wouldn’t see white on white or any other, similar, overlay of colour.

We could make a differently coloured border, as in both bigger circles, which live within an orange boundary set on a white background – the WordPress page.

The orange boundary, in both cases, defines a ‘field’, something the mind uses all the time to screen out what it doesn’t want to concentrate on. Human civilisation has become adept at making such ‘fields’ useful. An example would be a book, whose field is the set of things contained within its turnable pages. On the screen with which you are reading this, the field is a white bordered column of text and images whose pages you can’t flick, but can scroll. They are made different to stand out. Often they are made complementary, such as black and white, for maximum contrast.

Within your chosen sensory field, there have to be differences or you won’t be aware of anything

How we see the world is the same. As children we have to learn to see the differences. Parents and teachers have to show us. It’s not that we don’t actually see that white on black circle, but we don’t have cognition in the brain/mind as to its separated meaning – until we’re taught. What we then see, is what we are taught to see.

Really, there’s all sorts of stuff ‘out there’. What we ‘re-cognise’ is what we’re told exists…

Billions of years ago, LUCA couldn’t see, hear, smell or taste, but she did have a primitive form of awareness. Most importantly, she also knew what was within her and what was outside. That awareness of outside was the start of an incredibly long journey of consciousness which resulted in Human Be-in-gs having the five senses we have, today.

But we’re still learning to see what’s out-there; and what relationship it bears to us… After all, ‘we’ all came from the same ‘soup’ in the first place.

So, if none of this is an ‘accident’, like that famous room full of monkeys typing Hamlet, what’s really going on…?

End Part Five.

Read the previous parts of this series:

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four,

©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2016 images and text. All rights reserved.

The Unseen Sea – 4: Nine Steps to Knowing

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Part Four of The Unseen Sea: adrift in the enneagram

I am not equating LUCA’s enduring sense of self-protection with our own consciousness as a living, brain-possessing being, with all its complexity of feeling, thought and emotion. But anyone drawing a line between the two would, in my opinion, be correct.

The ascent of the separated and self-determining cell created the entire future of the tree of biological life – and the consciousness that emerged as it evolved.  

The idea of ’emergence’ as a separate branch of science is now well established. It developed shortly after that of Chaos Theory, which showed us the anti-intuitive truth about how life becomes more sophisticated with time, and takes evolutionary leaps ‘far from equilibrium’. 

Emergence consists of a set of behaviours that arise when ‘lower level’ entities work together. The ’emergent’ behaviours look, and may be, in their own ways, intelligent. 

An example of an emergent behaviour is the way a flock of migrating birds are able to navigate and move as a single unit. The birds lose none of their individuality, but are strengthened by the unity within the group.

We may think that we have yet to see examples of emergent behaviour at the moral level. But they are not hard to find. Being of a ‘higher’ order, they manifest in a way which appears miraculous and leave their mark on all present. An often quoted example from the ‘Great War’ is the way British and German soldiers crossed their own front lines to play football together on the frozen mud of the French trenches during the Christmas of 1914. 

The authorities worked hard to prevent a recurrence of such unstructured peace. 

The Ego is an authority, too. 

Assisted by a knowledge of the enneagram, we can observe the behaviour of its falsely-premised existence and its continued control over the behaviour of its ‘host’: the truthful and honest world of LUCA’s evolved, physical body. 

How this ‘mini-tyrant’ has taken over our psychological lives is the story of the enneagram of personality – one of an interacting family of enneagrams that describe, and provide the keys to, our existence. 

The enneagram is, in its own way, both a cell and a member of an emergent body. The emergent body is a higher level of group consciousness on the Earth. The enneagram of the individual human has preset interfaces to this emerging ‘next step’. These are to be found at points three and six on its circumference, and their role will be unraveled as we travel  around the circle and through the story of LUCA. 

The enneagram is a servant of evolution, for it not only helps a woman or man to come to know themselves as they truly are – stripped of false personality – but also shows the role that our intelligence can play in the ‘unfolding of the now’, as we become conscious of the potential power of our own emergent behaviour. 

From her dramatic beginnings, LUCA’s story looks like a tree, growing upwards in complexity as the Life took on varied forms to suit its widening landscapes. 

We might, perhaps, think of another tree, one not of the physical, growing down in consciousness as LUCA’s life-tree struggles upwards to bring something to matter which it did not have before. Whether this was by design or accident depends on your viewpoint of separation

If you see our human life as separated from the order in the universe, then the random arising of LUCA may appeal. If you consider that all life is a wave, breaking, rhythmically, on a billion shores, then LUCA may be seen as a very special moment in the story of the whole of Life.

End Part Four.

Read the previous parts of this series:

Part One, Part Two, Part Three,

©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2016 images and text. All rights reserved.

The Unseen Sea – 3: the hand of time

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Part Three of The Unseen Sea: adrift in the enneagram

The busy square is suddenly hushed. He watches as the four-year old girl with the golden hair runs ahead of her mother towards him.

“Grandad! I beat mummy!” she says, gleefully, climbing on his knee.

The constant pain from the arthritis makes him wince – she is getting heavier, but he makes sure that his eyes, though wet, do not show this. Instead, the emotion they display is one of wonder at the demonstration of symbiosis of his inner thoughts with the unfolding of the world in front of him.

Jessica’s mother, the old man’s daughter, is suddenly there, before him, sharing the intensity of her father’s love… and his wonder at what the world has just brought in on the tide.

“She beat mommy, yes,” she says, wistfully, staring into the face of the invisible devil seen only by grandad and daughter, in the face of the golden rays of the little one… Then looking into her father’s adoring but pained eyes, she holds out her hands and says, “Come Jessica, give Grandad Lucca some peace.”

Four billion circuits of the Earth around the Sun prior to this, LUCA intensifies her self-wrapping, sealing closed her new world in the strongest proteins she has ever synthesised. Now, she is alone… For a moment, the molecular interactions with which she communicates are silent, while part of her becomes the movement of something dropping away…

The Imperative is silent… just for a second. Then the chemical pressure from inside the shell reaches dangerous levels and she realises that she can never exist alone, can never be without interaction with the outside world of the hot sea-bed and the bubbling gases from which she arose.

She forms a chemical breach in the newly wrapped wall of her shell and expunges the toxic waste that had threatened to eat into the integrity of her protein spirals. For a second longer, there is peace, again, but then the hunger begins in the pathways that feed and she punches another perfect and tiny hole in her shell and adapts it to be a mouth. Her existence is precariously balanced as she plays with the cycle of in and out; finally settling into a rhythm of chemical exchange – the new, in; the old, out. At the edge of chaos, there is, briefly, balance.

The Imperative is quiescent as this rhythm stabilises. LUCA has taken her first breath. It is not the breath that grandad Lucca takes as Jessica bumps off his knee; it is not the breath of disguised arthritic anguish. But it is the breath that followed the fear as the Imperative pulled the connecting cord in the molecular curve of LUCA’s spiral spine when cellular death threatened.

It will always be there, this fear. It will accompany the journey from self-replicating DNA molecules to golden-haired children playing in sunny squares amidst the verdant hills of the far future.

The Imperative does not need to understand the implications of time. Its very nature is the need for persistence… to Be.

Inside the shell of the cell, the need to Be changes from replication to protection against the out-there. What was continuous has now become potentially terminating. Life and Death have come knocking on LUCA’s shell. The price of separation is almost as great as the gain of independence.

One day a great man will write, “Fear is the mind-killer…” But that is far in the future, as is the mind, itself. But both are born of this separation, and the adjustment of the separated to that in which it now lives.

In the enneagram that is the all-mother named LUCA, three lines have appeared, connecting three points that look fundamental to the whole thing.

LUCA Base triangle

LUCA has turned away from the world in which she arose to form an island. Something impelled her to do so. The memory and constant presence of the Imperative controls all else, for now. What young Jessica has already learned as fear, was born, four billions circuits of the Sun ago, as the Imperative: 

Persist, at all costs, inside this shell;

Make it grow strong;

Add to the known;

Protect the separation;

Protect the Life;

Fear the unknown…

One day, something will arise with enough power to counter this, but that is far in LUCA’s future.

End Part Three.

Read the previous parts of this series:

Part One, Part Two,

©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2016 images and text. All rights reserved.

The Unseen Sea – 2: Kiss of the Planets

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Part Two of The Unseen Sea: adrift in the enneagram

LUCA didn’t know it back then, but her birth as the all-mother of organic life on Earth was witnessed by the entire solar system. The ‘positive’ energy behind life, a higher variant of light as we know it, and relayed by the Sun, began its spiral into the Earth, in an arc that took in the seven planets that were visible to the ‘ancients’. There were no ancients as we now think of them, of course, four billion years ago, but later, much later, they would come to be aware of a remarkable signature in the night sky.

The day sky was dominated by the life-affirming Sun, later identified as the centre of the harmonic system that contained the Earth as only one of its children.

In the warm womb of the deep ocean trench, Luca’s struggle for sustainable life was kissed with fire from the watery birthing-chamber of the deep ocean ridge – the place below which two of the Earth’s giant plates were colliding with a resulting volcanic outpouring – the energy of the Sun within the Earth.

But her elements – the ‘negative, receiving’ aspects of life – the physical chemistry that enabled something beyond the heat to instil life into Luca’s form – were kissed by something else. The night sky contained the signature of a circle of forces – a circle like a clock face with seven different energies, corresponding to the visible planets: Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Sun, Moon – and in that order.

Thus, the entire ‘Solar System’ became involved with the beginning of physical life on the Earth, and has been so ever since. The later discovery of the outer (non-visible) planets served to identify forces that worked on a ‘generational’ level, rather than a predominantly personal one.

Later, in the time of Pythagoras, these energies from the seven visible planets became identified with the musical scale, in the shape of the notes G, C, F, B, E, A, D. This repeating cycle began the days of LUCA’s life – and that rhythm has continued, and will continue, for as long as there is life on Earth. The properties of these ‘harmonic’ energies were therefore intimately interwoven with everything that life (LUCA) felt and did on earth from then on.

These energies are part of the circumference of the circle that is the enneagram, as we shall see in the next post, and they are the key to why the enneagram is so effective for self-change, if we have the real will to undertake such a task…

LUCA’s earliest experiences, for she could now, albeit very primitively, experience her own being as separate from that which surrounded her, had become enclosed in a combination of shell and rhythm. The proto-cell was born… and the days of her life were being counted.

End Part Two.

Read the previous parts of this series:

Part One,

©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2016 images and text. All rights reserved.

The Unseen Sea: Adrift in the Magical Enneagram

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Image Stephen Tanham

There is only one Life.

But there are a dazzling myriad ways in which it finds expression. Life is very simple to define at this symbolic level: it is the animation of matter, such that it exhibits awareness.

The scale of that awareness varies from the most primitive forms of single-celled response to environment all the way up to the conception of the ‘self’ – literally, that there is an “I” which is separate to the place in which it finds ‘itself’.

So-called ‘manifestation’ is simply an entry of the vivifying principle into the world of separateness; and so called ‘enlightenment’ is a (usually) step by step return to the revelation that nothing is actually separated at all…

Everything is in those three paragraphs–the whole mystery. But to see what lies beneath the words we have to go on a journey. We have to set sail on a voyage that is a mirror of how, where, and why life manifests as it does.

What it does is a given; it is not of ‘our’ choosing. We have to learn to live by the laws that our bit of life was given in our arising. This process, or better, perhaps, this pathway, is designed to bring us face to face with an increasing depth of truth; not science’s experimental truth (good though that is, in its place) but a truth that shouts out its bedrock existence in a way that removes all doubt – an experiential truth, a revelational truth.

We have largely forgotten this kind of truth, but our lives probably contained many instances where something glimpsed in our experience became an idea, then a distinct possibility, then matured into one of those “I told you so” moments. Life and truth are both like that; and it should not surprise us that they are twin sisters on our pathway.

Any modern system of true spirituality needs to harmonise itself with science; and science needs to stop being so arrogant and open itself up to the depths and wonders of subjective experience – consciousness, in other words; something it has no explanation for. We sent the scientists ‘out there’ to find the truth, somewhere back when the age of reason began its necessary assault on our carefully constructed lives. Now, we need to harvest the fruits and put them into the context of the whole human and the whole of Life.

Life began, science tells us, nearly four billion years ago, in the deep primeval oceans, probably near a volcanic vent on a ridge of the sea bed, where the energy gradient was vast. Gradients are important, because life does not thrive on stability – it thrives on the edge of chaos. On a physical level, we are biological machines that convert chaos into order, appearing to cheat entropy – the dreaded ‘heat death’ that the scientists loved to scare us with, not too long ago.

Life began with a stage of evolution that biologists think of as something called LUCA – the Last Universal Common Ancestor. As kids, we used to put soil into an old bottle, add water, and shake it violently in the bright sunshine to see if we could make ‘life’. Later on, watching Frankenstein films, we realised we were missing a lightning-bolt, or, if your chemistry set could be linked to your Meccano generator, an electric current…

The scientists couldn’t get it to work, either; even the really grown up ones. “Life will arise when the conditions are right.” they used to write.

Nope, zip, nada. Life didn’t do that.

In fact life began on the beautiful Earth only once, somewhere around four billion years ago, when a self-replicating set of proteins wrapped themselves in a shroud to protect itself from what had suddenly become the ‘out there’. Big step, that. So big it began not only life, but the gradient of awareness that became consciousness as we know it.

That  was LUCA and she’s been with us ever since. Every cell in the trillions that we possess is LUCA in one of her many variants. She’s wilful and beautiful. She is Life on Earth. And in her highest levels, when she’s not fighting to survive, she’s trying to get home…

Every cell is, essentially, a circle. Circles are important in the mystical, the esoteric (which just means ‘hidden’), where the spiritual principles are offered in symbolic form so that something ‘higher’ than the brain can latch onto them and do magical things with our consciousness.

The enneagram is a circle, too…

End Part One.

©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2016 images and text. All rights reserved.