Centre Edge describes universal principles
Centre Edge is based on Indo-Tibetan Buddhist teachings about Mandalas. Mandalas in some form appear in every culture and religion, they are a universal pattern. This is often said. But when you step back and consider what that means, it is pretty amazing (at least to me!) There is a genuine universality regarding what these symbols are describing, one that transcends historical periods, worldviews or cultures. Carl Jung pointed this out and it is part of what led him to be fascinated by Mandalas. For Jung they are a way into the universal human quest for what he calls ‘individuation’, the journey to become fully human, fully all that we are.
But what does it mean, to me, or to you, as we live our lives, to say that the Centre Edge principles describe a universal human (some would say beyond human) experience? What does it mean that maps of both the mundane and the sacred, the collective and the individual, the inner and the outer world, all appear in similar forms and obey shared principles across different time periods and cultures?
The interconnection of all phenomena
A starting point is to consider that all experience, however diverse, confused or apparently chaotic, arises from a recognizable shared pattern and rhythm that anyone can come to understand more deeply. One implication of this underlying universality is that we start to see how all our experience, however fragmented or divided it appears to us, is in fact contained within an inseparable, continuous whole.
The centre of this undivided whole, as described in many different belief systems, is our basic nature of Awareness. This fundamental quality of Awareness is not to be confused with our narrow, confused sense of ‘I’, which often appears to be at the centre of our consciousness. As we begin to explore we can quickly see that any thoughts and ideas associated with that more egoic ‘I’ themselves appear and disappear within this much vaster, but intangible field of Awareness itself.
For example, we consider our past, present and future as distinct facets of time which appear to have reality and which we easily and naturally divide into three. If we stand in a room, we can easily imagine the past as behind us, the future as in front of us, and the present as where we stand. This can be useful and meaningful. At the same time we can also acknowledge that each of these times, or rather our thoughts and experiences about them are simultaneously aspects within one overall sphere of our present, immediate experience – where Awareness itself is at the centre.
We could equally consider the way we divide the world into likes, dislikes and things that are neutral that we ignore. Actually, we can consider any number of ways we separate out our experience, or our sense of ‘me’ and my world, into categories, dualities and fragments – all of which do and can have meaning. In fact dividing our world this way, according to our concepts, seems close to what it is to be human.
Centre Edge principles, in line with other traditional teachings, invite us to notice that in some deep, universal and very fundamental way, all these divisions simply exist conceptually within an overall, unified, inter related field of Awareness or experience itself. This field of Awareness is where all concepts arise, appear and then disappear again – creating, out of less than thin air, the divisions, fragments and rigid structures of our thinking. Thus Centre Edge work acts as a constant reminder, that our world is not just divided, it is simultaneously intrinsically whole and all occurring right now, right here.
Many people today are in search of greater wholeness. There is a contemporary crisis in wholeness as a subjective experience and also in terms of flow and harmony within groups, communities, societies and globally. Modern culture has become extremely unbalanced so that we now take as real the story of our separate individualities, and miss the simultaneous truth of our inseparability from, and connection to, one another and the wider world. Centre Edge is one way for people to reclaim a story and experience of the profound interconnectedness and inseparability of one thing and another.
Understanding why we don’t usually experience the world as an inter connected whole
Across all cultures deep experiences of a transpersonal or spiritual nature are related to a dissolution of apparent boundaries between self, other and world. This connects with an expansion of consciousness into vast space, and a profound sense of connection with, belonging within and relationship to a wider whole.
But most of us can acknowledge that we don’t actually experience the world like this at all, or certainly not day to day, moment by moment. Centre Edge principles describe an underlying truth about the world which is helpful in expanding and challenging our day-to-day assumptions around separation. But what does it have to say about how and why we tend to experience an apparently limited reality?
Here the universality of these principles (i.e. the way they apply to everything) allows us to contemplate an altogether vaster view, while exploring with honesty and curiosity how we narrow our experience down to a limited, small ‘I’. And why this ‘I’ then proceeds to spend a lifetime full of problems and with a sense of constraint.
While Centre Edge points to reality as having no boundary at the ultimate level, it has plenty to say about how systems (things, situations, people, states of mind) form, and continue, in recognizable structures. The recognizable structures of our life and world depending on a sense of boundary surrounding a central organizing principle of some kind. In other words the world of apparent separation, the sense of a separate ego-centred individuality, can also be described with the very same underlying principles. Centre Edge therefore offers a map describing both liberation and imprisonment, stuckness and freedom, and of the play between these apparently separate two.
Seeing how our central principles and boundaries keep current ways of being in place
For example we could look at our neurotic personalities as Centre Edge systems and begin to understand more about what actually keeps them functioning, what aspects of our self are allowed to show up in different situations, and why. What false beliefs or identities form the centre of my current personality? What rigid and cherished boundaries keep fixed in place my limited view of things?
Similarly we can investigate team or group dynamics in terms of what is at centre and what radiates out from there. We can consider the play between clear purpose and intention on the one hand and confusion and stuckness on the other. In both cases the same basic principles of Centre Edge are operating, but energy and communication flows quite differently. The underlying, universal relationship between centre and boundary may constellate quite differently in different situations.
Centre Edge as a life practice
In the end, Centre Edge must become more than a conceptual map – interesting though that certainly is, and more than a diagnostic tool – helpful though that is too. The conscious exploration of personal, professional and societal situations in terms of these principles can, over time, lead to a shift in one’s day today experience. This takes us back to the traditional use of Mandalas to support meditation and mind training. Potentially, if we pay enough attention and explore real world situations with open heart and minds, we start to discover for ourselves something about the eternal play between the apparently confused, world of human activity, and what all cultures have pointed to as a sacred, ever present state of full potential for human individuals and human cultures.
Over time Centre Edge will deepen our moment to moment awareness of how each and every situation of our lives unfold. It can strengthen our commitment to live, as best we can, lives of genuine meaning and service to those around us and the world in general.