Shapes & Consciousness

Symbology plays a significant role in how we communicate amongst ourselves. We use them to help convey an idea or story. I’ll explain how I use symbols to outline different levels of consciousness.

The first plane of consciousness is the uphill struggle fighting oneself. Humanity has been dealing with all these issues for many eons. This constant cycle leads us into insecurities, irrational behaviour, and inconsistent thoughts that push us into that struggle of climbing, falling, climbing, falling, etc. This type of repetition is an inevitable learning format based on the current cultural and environmental factors, even for those that don’t need it.

Sisyphus and his eternal struggle

We can equate this symbol to the journey that Sisyphus had to undertake when Zeus punished him for cheating death twice and then forced him to roll a boulder up a hill only for it to roll down every time it neared the top. He would be repeating this action for eternity.

Modern culture even describes tasks as “Sisyphean” when they are both laborious and futile.

This triangle plane is the hardest to break free from, as it deals with human aspects attached to everyday life. It controls those fundamental human requirements (food, shelter, sleep, etc.) we need to stay alive. We are most vulnerable and can be easily manipulated on this plane if any of these basic requirements are taken away.

The inner circle of three poisons

The Buddha Wheel of Life describes the first plane of consciousness; ignorance (or delusion), greed (or attachment), and hate (or aversion). These traits are represented by three animals, which are biting each other. Buddhism suggests that they are interconnected. Ignorance is the most challenging trait to break away from and is usually pictured at the bottom because it is fundamental to the other characteristics.

“For all evil things, and all evil destiny, are rooted in greed, hate, and ignorance; and of these three things, ignorance or delusion is the chief root and the primary cause of all evil and misery in the world. If there is no more ignorance, there will be no more greed and hatred, no more rebirth, no more suffering.”

This image shows how each poison perpetuates the other.

Ignorance – the pig represents the most potent poison that holds the other two together. The pig eats whatever it is given and is always throwing dirt over its head and cannot see what’s going on.

Greed – the rooster represents greed because he keeps a flock of chickens and enjoys strutting proudly about it.

Hate – the snake represents anger and hatred as it is literally filled with poison.

The second plane of consciousness, exposes the relationships we face with the three-dimensional space and the meaning of our existence (why are we here?). We can also look at the square in its 3D form – the cube or the box. A cube or hexahedron is a square in three dimensions with each face equal in size but what could it represent?

On this plane, we are fully aware of nature, the creations, and the space that we reside in. Yet, we struggle with our behaviours and are constrained by all the “boxes” of our physical or mental spaces. At this point, we want to improve our lives, where we aim to find contentment within the many boxes we are in. Some examples of boxes are the human box, the brain box, the home box, the earth box, and the eventual why-are-we-here box.

Physical box

We are concerned with enjoying the many boxes we have acquired while getting hold of more boxes. Our thoughts and movements are centred around the living conditions, rituals, and ideologies of the upper-class lifestyle. At this point, we look up to those who live this almost stress-free painting that is stretched across all forms of media.

Mental box

The mental programming we are slowly fed throughout our lives inhibits us from thinking clearly – how we should be vs who we really are. The mental baggage/ideologies might last a long time or even for the rest of your life. They can be quite difficult to exhibit properly when they are so ingrained into everyday living. There is a need for time without any distractions, to be able to remove yourself from the first plane of consciousness, to truly understand who we are. Almost like a mental reset. And this is typically achieved when you’re not worrying about food, shelter, or sleep – the triangle.

Existence box

The cube has a close tie with religion and is represented in both the physical sense and written form.

Islam has a cube, which is called Kaaba that is a holy mosque in Mecca, where pilgrims circle anti-clockwise seven times during the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages. In the Book of Revelation, a cube of approximately 1500 miles in length, width, and height descends from heaven as the New Jerusalem. This also ties in with Judaism, which has a cube made of leather called the Tefillin. Each tefillin contains scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah.

“Let us give the earth a cubic shape; for of the four species the earth is the most difficult to move and the most tenacious of bodies.” Plato – The Timaeus

The third plane of consciousness is an emotional sphere, dealing with how we react to ourselves and others. It is concerned with the whole, not the individual. This plane deals with concepts such as compassion, wisdom, and contentment. We look at the cause and effect of our thoughts and actions, similar to the interconnected nature of a spider’s web. If we pull one part of the web, it affects other parts.

We find balance, not just with all things, but ourselves. By this, I mean we look at our internal void that yearns to be filled, focusing on filling it with knowledge. We also become at peace with our situations and the things we have. We live in the moment and don’t compare ourselves to others. We free ourselves of the mental baggage that fills our void with squares and triangles. A circle or a sphere represents this void; much like a black hole, we need to stay around the event horizon by recognising its characteristics and traits.

In Buddhism, they might refer to this as “nothingness” – there is a table but also no table. We are in existence but also in nothingness at the same time. The void needs to be filled, but once we recognise it, the needs become almost unnecessary and nothing. This philosophy allows us to find peace with the nothingness (the void) inside us. Once we rid ourselves of the anxieties that provoke us into irrational behaviours (the first plane – triangle), we move beyond our need to understand our existence (the second plane – square). We can finally find time for conscious and compassionate outputs.

Once you’re on this plane, the new understandings of the metaphysical world become almost irreversible. Your perspective is altered, a permanent marker that makes you see everything differently. As if you can see different colours or words that are being expressed. At this point, it becomes complicated to go back to the first plane (greed, jealousy or ignorance).

The Flower of Life

Many cultures use this ancient symbol in ancient manuscripts, temples, synagogues, and even artwork.

The oldest known depiction was found in the Temple of Osiris and dated back to at least 6000 years ago and be burned into the granite rock. Leonardo da Vinci studied this symbol, using it in his artwork and understanding of the human body.

The symbol comprises of an overlapping circle grid based on circles centred on triangles or square lattice pattern of points. You could argue builds on the theory of going through the first and second planes to find the third plane.


The word mandala is Sanskrit for “circle” or “discoid object,” and a creation that monks spend many weeks or months on. This circular symbol represents the universe used in sacred rites and as a tool for meditation and defines a space for the gods, and serves as a collection point of universal forces. Humans are guided towards the centre through the cosmic processes of disintegration and reintegration.

What I find even more interesting is that the mandala of a Tibetan tanka consists of one or more concentric circles. This mandala surrounds a square, then triangles, and a further five circles containing symbols or images of divinities, most commonly the five “self-born” buddhas.

The fourth plane of consciousness deals with interdimensional interactions – the whole meets the many, meets the whole, meets the many, and so on. In essence, a complex web of infinite consciousness that forms every interaction, memory, emotion, thought across all lifetimes of yourself and others. Similar to quantum computing, where “eight qubits” are enough to simultaneously represent every number between 0 and 255. For a standard computer, “eight bits” represents just one number between 0 and 255. This plane expresses itself simultaneously through all the other planes.

Time and space are not constant but merely laid out all at once. All moments have already occurred, and we are just simply living them. Think of it as being on a “rollercoaster of life” you can’t change where the track is moving to; you can only react to what you are experiencing. This reaction is at the core of the fourth plane. The emotions you experience across the multiple lifetimes you live affect the multiple lifetimes of others that you interact with during these lifetimes, all at the same time. This is the most complex plane to understand, and I’m not quite there yet, and I may never get there.

Fourth dimension

Juan de Herrera was one of the first mathematicians to explain this dimension in “Treatise on Cubic Form”. Salvador Dali tried to paint the philosophical idea of a fourth dimension. Dali became entangled in translating scientific theories into beautiful surrealist paintings. He called this theory “Nuclear mysticism,” a juxtaposition of spiritual and scientific theories that show the relationships between quantum physics and the conscious mind.

The movie Interstellar (2014) contains a similar concept that showcases the Tesseract structure as a single location based on an emotional connection between a father and his daughter but spread across infinite time.

“The movie combines the scientific with the emotional consciousness of human beings. Dali uses a similar metaphysical connection of the laws of the Universe, based on the atom.

In this painting, he parallels the wonder of atomic structure as the centre of scientific discovery with the transcendence of Christ as the centre of the universe.”

What now?

I sit here contemplating the madness that engulfs us all at the beginning.

At first, we look at this emptiness with fear, and by putting material or activities into it, the real things that we can touch and hold, this is the “triangle”.

Once we realise the lack of progress with this triangle, we move on to the square. It helps us deal with our own space and awareness of being inside the square, being on earth and the grandness of it all. Humility graces my mind when I think of the square.

We push ourselves into the next plane, the circle. Here we are met with the oneness, being connected to everything; the trees, the water, the birds, the animals, the stars. We start to understand our formidable connection with creation. We look at life entirely differently; we begin to understand our actions and their effects. We start the process of empathy-giving and knowledge-finding.

We then take another leap and are met with the tesseract, and we are at the edge of my current understanding. This plane is where we begin to understand how our reactions affect the infinite universe, lifetimes, and people. We question how the actions and emotions we create have a chain reaction that ripple across multiple dimensions and the many lives we end up living. We start to see the lines connected in our lives and how they will affect us in future lives.