This is a guest post by my friend Bob.

The quality of numbers

Some numbers are more special than others. They have a special quality and we may feel happy, guided or comforted when we see them around. This has been observed all through the history of mankind and so they can be found on historical pieces of art, in fairy tales or in esoteric documents. In the field of numerology many procedures are developed to connect numbers to names, words and dates.

Various questions arise if one is interested in the quality of numbers. How do we gain understanding of them? Do people experience the same qualities with respect to the same numbers? If so, why is this? We will focus here on the first question.

The word “understanding” should be taken broadly. It is not just the mind that grasps intellectually, but also the soul that experiences qualities. Understanding of the quality of a particular number is similar to the understanding of the quality of a particular color. Examples of bordeaux-red works better than any crisp definition.
So, as a first attempt we focus on examples or stories about numbers that can be appreciated by everybody.

The quality of 7

The number 7 is widely recognized as having different qualities than other numbers. There are seven days in the week, seven colors in the rainbow, seven tones to construct musical harmonies or seven deadly sins. Why is 7 so popular?

In the previous posts Ela has carefully described how the numbers 1, 2 and 3 play a special role in the experience of ourselves in relation to the world. Just left to myself I feel one, united. There is nothing else than just me. As soon as I become creative I construct something out of myself that I can observe from the outside: a thought, a word, a story or a melody. Suddenly there are two: me and my creation, inside and outside. I can experience the relation: I like it or not, it is good or bad. Is it finished or is there still some polishing needed? In this last question there is already  the number 3 dawning: there is me, there is my creation and there is how it should be. Here three is being born.

Ela described how we develop from swinging between the opposites and trying to establish a balance gradually may construct something new. Something that is not just an intermediate, something that is just grey, but something that is entirely new, a new road, a new way of looking at the world, something that brings a new enthusiasm. A child is not just a mixture of the parents, but may also bring something that is surprisingly different and that astonishes the family.

From 3 to 7: the three friends

Now suppose we have three friends having a discussion. Sometimes two have a sharp argument while the third one is just observing. This may happen in three ways for all three pairs. Sometimes one is presenting a long monologue and the other two are just listening. This may also happen in three ways. And occasionally all 3 friends have a sharp debate in which they all actively participate. That is it. There are no more than these seven ways in which the debate can proceed. If all three friends are silent there is no debate.

From 3 to 7: the seven community types

In the middle ages new communities started to develop along the roads of Europe for three different reasons. Somebody might have founded a church (or a monastery) and various people felt attracted to it and started to build houses around as a result. It might also be that the road crossed a river and people started trading, thereby constructing a market place. And a third reason why a community was born is that somebody on a crowded place, e.g. on a crossing of two roads, started a pub. Others settled near it as they wanted to participate in the social life.

The characteristics of villages that arose out of a church, a market place or a pub are entirely different. At some moment the community around a market place founded a church as well, while others may have first created a pub next to their market. Also next to the churches, also pubs appeared to be attractive. Finally cities grew out of these villages that have all three of them: churches, markets and pubs.

It is not the intention to state that the above is in one way or the other historically correct. It is just arguing that once we accept that communities may be founded on religious, economic or social reasons, seven different types of communities may be found depending how they start.

From 3 to 7: the seven cells in a triangle

The two examples of the three friends and the seven types of communities are very similar and may be understood as being based on the same geometrical abstraction. Take a triangle and extend all three sides as far as possible, e.g. to the end of the piece of paper used for drawing the triangle. Now this piece of paper is subdivided into 7 different cells. The number 7 can be understood as born out of the number 3 as soon as the three are essentially different. If one is just a mixture of the two others, we will not find 7.

From 3 to 7: the Door story

Now a different example which can only be fully understood if the above is appreciated. It is based on an extension of the Door story: in passing a door we have three essentially different states of consciousness, before the door, at the threshold and after entering the room behind it. Different states of consciousness are distinguished here by their content. There is the world in which we are facing the closed door, there is the surprise moment of opening and experiencing the threshold and there is the different world behind it. It is already different as we have the two previous experiences, but also because the new room may be entirely different.

Why can we distinguish the above three states of consciousness so clearly? It is not just because of different observations, different impressions of the senses. It is also because of different emotions.

Opening a door, passing a threshold can be a big event or a great experience. It is our act of courage, the step itself and the new world that opens in front of us. This can be understood on different levels. On just the physical level of opening a door, but also on the level of the soul: we pass the threshold of making a decision. Before that we just play with the idea, we consider a possibility. After that we have internalized the decision. The decision belongs to us and we are committed to action. Then, distinguished from this, we act and open the door. Commitment and taking action are not the same yet. We may make decisions that are never executed, e.g. because the physical circumstances do not allow for it. The door might be locked, or even when we push it, it feels so alien that we change our decision.

Next to the threshold of decision making and opening the door there is a third threshold, a third door to pass. That is that we accept the world behind the door. We really enter the room and start to work and live there. This is also not just a natural consequence of the physical act of opening the door. The room behind the door may look so unfriendly that we decide to return on the threshold.

9 states of consciousness  …

So in the Door story there are three thresholds to experience: the decision, the act and the acceptance. But each of them can be understood as a door on its own. There is the Old World, the Threshold and the New World. Consequently, the total experience can be described in three triplets, 3 times 3, that is nine different states of consciousness:

1. We are in a room, there is a door, but we don’t pay attention to it. We just do our work.
2. We decide to open the door at some moment.
3. We live with this decision. As a consequence our work has a different color now, as we know that we have to finish it and will open the door.

4. We have finished the work and walk to the door.
5. We open the door and find ourselves at the threshold between two worlds
6. We enter the new room.

7. We start to work in the new room and wonder whether we like it.
8. We accept the room and decide to stay there.
9. We work now in the new room with the knowledge that we will stay here.

In studying the above nine states  we may observe that there is a sharp distinction between many of them, but not all. The states 3 and 4 as well as 6 and 7 are in fact just a continuation of each other. In the way it is described here, from the outside, a different perspective has been sketched, but in walking through the rooms and experiencing the thresholds, 3 and 4 as well as 6 and 7 cannot be distinguished internally.

that are in fact 7 different states

As  a result, we can distinguished seven different states of consciousness in the Door story:
1. Being in the World. We work in a room. It has a door, but this fact is not significant yet.
2. Awareness and decision to act. We decide to open the door.
3. Action in the Old World. We finish work and walk to the door.
4. Threshold. We open the door and experience the threshold.the
5. Action in the New World: We walk into the new room.
6. Acceptance (decision to stay). We accept to stay there.
7. Being in the New World. We work in the new room.

Finally

Like in the previous examples of the friends and communities we find a relation between 3 and 7. Three elements constitute seven states.

But what are the three friends in us, what are the three building blocks that constitute the seven states of consciousness that are distinguished in the Door example? There is no unique answer to that.

We may say that there is a past, present and future is this story, or there is us, the world around us and our interest to relate the two. A straightforward road through the triangle that has been sketched above and that passes the seven cells might be constructed but this will feel as an artificial construct. We have found thereby at least two essentially different ways to relate 3 to 7. There might be others.

What can now be stated on the quality of 7? If the world is constructed by three essentially different powers, then we may find groups of seven everywhere. These seven’s will not be just one more than six or one less than eight. Such a group of seven will feel complete, every aspect is covered. It is may be experienced as a harmonic wholeness.

Is this all there is, or can we continue and reason from 7 to other numbers? For sure this can be done and numbers like 12, 19 and 24 can be found, but then we should be able to distinguish more and more subtle differences between the states of consciousness. This is essential in grasping the quality of numbers.

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The image above shows a beautiful quilt by Inge Duin. See more of her works on  www.ingeduin.nl.

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Other posts on consciousness:

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Categories: ConsciousnessNerdyNumbersPatternsUnderstanding

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