Too metaphysical? Let's bring it down a bit.
Consider that in life we are surrounded by stimuli from without, conscious and subconscious thought from within. There is the perception of the senses, intellectual conceptualizations, and emotions somewhere in between. We imagine when awake and dream when asleep. Life is an immeasurable cacophony of things.
Arguably, the only reason we don't get utterly lost in the experience of life is that our brain filters most of it out. This is by biology, habit, and training. And the reason we know this is true is that there are times we cannot filter and are overwhelmed. Some forms of autism and other 'conditions' (for lack of a better word) put the individual in this unfiltered state all the time. Sounds become attacks and thoughts become cracks in the psyche. We make patterns out of static and connections where there are none. Every space is either filled in or collides with everything else.
On one hand, being open to all levels of reality can be an amazing experience, bringing wisdom and understanding beyond the limits of lifespan and physical reach. On the other, it's too much to process without limits, like trying to swallow the ocean all at once, truly beyond human capacities.
So how does one become more open to everyone and everything around them without drowning mentally and spiritually? Two things are vital: centering and shielding. Perhaps this is best represented by the circumpunct -- the point within a circle.
You have to be somewhere, not merely existing (being), but existing at some particular point in space and time (consciousness). You can only be clearly aware of anything in one or more specific places from which to have a viewpoint or experience. If you are not centered, subjective perception of reality becomes a blur.
Physically, this is known as grounding. Grounding is choosing to be aware of where your body is in a specific place or posture at a present moment. And it gives you a base of operations to safely stray from the physical into the emotional plane, or the unconscious, or the intellectual, imaginative, and spiritual. This roughly can be described as contemplation, but it's not always the casual, passive thing people think it is. It can be a vigorous journey, and you prevent yourself drifting into the static, chaos, or void by occasionally tugging on your tether -- going back to your physical grounding.
But that is not enough. You have to set rules, limits. You have to circumscribe a boundary inside of which you know you cannot lose track of reality, or "err" in terms of discernment of what is more and what is less "real". We must not allow every possibility to exist at once. Think of it as a chess game. Mediocre players may go to every single piece and look at every possible combination of moves and responses a certain number of moves ahead. Machines are built for that; humans are not. A skilled human player, through skill and perhaps intuition, knows which paths of possibility are unlikely or impossible to give an advantage. They explore only the ones that make sense tactically or strategically.
Now let's kick this up a notch, applying it to our Moral Science.
Moral grounding is the conscious embrace of our innermost values. In the Third Degree, every aspect of our being is challenged. The assaults around us have the power to take away all, even our very lives. And yet one thing cannot be taken away. Our Integrity remains intact, even into the next life.
The point and the circle are mutually necessary. The point determines where the circle will be. And if the latter is contained safely between the consistent, measured extremes of vice, it is impossible to morally err. A Volume of Sacred Law further demarks the radius of what is reasonable and what is not. When we rationalize instead of reason, or fail to self-examine or discern, we extend ourselves too far. Our measure of this must be honest both in perception and logic. When we let leave of standards for facts and arguments, we can accept implausible conspiracies.
Emotionally, we can give our fears more weight than our senses, mistrusting a loved one out of jealousy, or the whole world out of paranoia. We place our focus (foci?) outside our circle, in the void of unstructured possibilities, and therefore worries or internal realities created by our own brains fill in the undecipherable space. We then mistaken such things for revelations of all sorts, even though they have little more use than the shape of clouds or the voices and footsteps you think you hear in the rain. I would suggest a lack of center and boundary could be used to better understand many a pathology in the DSM.
Be it physical, neurological, moral, emotional, or any other condition or cause, we may be called upon to whisper wise counsel to those who have strayed from the path of virtue. If a soul is lost, it is often because they have no anchor, or adherence to a standard, conviction, or have lost the ability of will. If a soul is suffering or confused, it is often because they cannot filter out that which is unhealthy, or insensible, or simply an attack of the World without having the refuge of a circle. Whichever is the case, the lesson of the circumpunct can give it form to address it.
We may create further analogies of this ancient symbol in other realms of being and planes of existence, but I will leave that to the reader, or perhaps an article for another time.
Bro. Ken JP Stuczynski is a member of West Seneca Lodge No.1111 and recently served as Master of Ken-Ton Lodge No.1186. As webmaster for NYMasons.Org he is on the Communications and Technology Committees for the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. He is also a Royal Arch Mason and 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, serving his second term as Sovereign Prince of Palmoni Council in the Valley of Buffalo, NMJ. He also coordinates a Downtown Square Club monthly lunch in Buffalo, NY. He and his wife served as Patron and Matron of Pond Chapter No.853 Order of the Eastern Star and considered himself a “Masonic Feminist”.