Three simple symbols, the dot, line, and circle, don't seem to have much meaning in themselves. But in ancient philosophy, they are important symbols. I got a book for Christmas that I had been wanting to read for a long time, Lectures on Ancient Philosophy, which sounds boring, but trust me, it isn't! (Unless you're one of "those" people who finds things like The Lord of the Rings boring...) So here is the quote for today:
From Manly P. Hall's Lectures on Ancient Philosophy:
"The keys to all knowledge are contained in the dot, the line, and the circle. The dot is universal consciousness, the line is universal intelligence, and the circle is universal force--the threefold unknowable Cause of all knowable existence."
The dot is the first cause, the absolute, the "All" that everything else emanates and is created from. It is a simple substance that everything returns to when their life is complete. It is the highest degree of what is spiritual and is the highest degree of reality. When you look at "reality", what is simplest is most real, because all those things that are more complicated can be broken down into simpler parts (like atoms being broken down into protons, neutrons, and electrons, and protons and neutrons into quarks, etc.). But we're not talking about physical reality here. The dot represents something that is nonphysical and not constrained by physical substances and time. It is sort of a primitive "space" that physical things like matter and nonphysical things like spirits (whether you believe in them or not is besides the point) can arise from (think Neoplatonim--or don't if you don't know what it is).
The reason that this is represented as a dot is because the dot is the simplest symbol we can make (except for a blank page with nothing on it, which is more primitive than the dot, but forget about that for now). From this more complicated symbols can be formed (like a line: just line up some dots and there you have it).
The symbol of the line is the first "emanation" from the dot. It is the motion of the dot, and so introduces time into the picture. This can also be seen as intelligence (as seen from the quote) because thought is now possible. With the dot, there was only a simple consciousness, and moving through time, there can also be thinking. So if the dot is the spirit, then the line is the mind.
With time, there is also growth, but the line necessarily takes you further away from the dot, which is the more fundamental truth. The line, then, is a lesser degree of reality, and it is more complicated than the dot. If the dot were the sun, then the line would be a ray emerging from it, and what brings the source of life to creatures on Earth. It is a mediator between the physical world of creatures below (represented by the circle, as we will see) and the higher world of spirit above.
The circle is the limitation of the line. If you sweep the line out around the dot, it forms a circle with the dot at its centre and the line forming its radius. Like when the line is compared with the dot, the circle is a lesser degree of reality than the line. It is the symbolic of a limitation: it is the end of the dot's influence that it projected out in a line. And with the dot being spirit, the line mind, you can probably guess that the circle represents the body. This is the physical matter that we are made of, and there are no lesser degrees of reality after this (as far as we know...).
The circle is the result in the physical world of superphysical (i.e., spiritual and such) forces represented by the line and the dot. Eventually, matter will return to the simpler state that it arose from. Although this isn't science (at least, not what we think of as science in this day and age), the concept of entropy is similar to this: the third law of thermodynamics says that entropy (denoted by the symbol S) always increases, which means that there is a return to a simpler (more "disordered" state). In this case, it is the complicated forms in the physical world that return to a simpler state of existence. Manly P. Hall says that disintegration into simpler parts can be defined as "the urge of heterogeneous parts to return to their primitive homogeneity".
Another way to look at these three symbols is to say that the dot is the cause, the line is the means, and the circle is the end to any process. They are the seed, the growth and development, and the final life-form. Any living thing can be seen in this way: like a bird starting out as an egg (dot), which turns into a hatchling growing up (line) until it becomes a grown bird (circle) that was the original "plan" of the egg given in its DNA.
The trinity of the dot, line, and circle can be applied to many different areas, and form the basis of many traditions in ancient philosophy. One particularly interesting one is how it relates to philosophy, religion, and science--this will be the next quote of wisdom (another entry, or else this one would be far too large and then no one would read it!).
So there is a bit of what some people call "occult philosophy" to puzzle your days and nights!