Pondering the Dyad

I think that, of all the numbers I’ve encountered in the occult, and especially lately with my meditations on the Tetractys, the Dyad has to be the most confusing and hard to understand for me.  I mean, what’s so hard about it?  It’s just one more than the Monad, two, isn’t it?  Well…no.  Two Monads does not a Dyad make; two Monads are necessary, it’s true, but they are not sufficient to make the Dyad.  The Dyad is more than just a combination of two things, it’s a unity or union between two things.  You can’t analyze (take apart) the union without synthesizing (putting together) the ends, though it’s easy to see the two ends as separate and distinct from each other and, crucially though incorrectly, understand them as whole entities in and of themselves.  But consider:

  • What is music?  Music is a sequence of notes, yes?  But it’s also the rhythm, the timing, and the harmony produced between successive or concurrent notes that produces the music.  Music is not a just a sequence of notes, but it’s something more than that.
  • What is a fight?  A fight is the interaction between two fighters, yes?  But it’s also the flow, the connection, the respect or lack thereof between them where the fight itself takes place.  An individual fighter fights nobody on their own.
  • What is a sephirah?  A sephirah is an emanation of God that reflects one of His many attributes, yes?  But it’s also the connection and flow from God.  Without a connection, a sephirah has no means to be filled with God and becomes a husk.
  • What is love?  Love is the relationship and harmony between two individuals, yes?  But it’s not possible to have love without something to love, nor is it possible to love someone without reciprocity or knowledge and having love both around and in the recipient.  Without the connection, love devolves into lust or limerence.

The Dyad represents something that is not itself able to exist; it requires two, and the Dyad is the representation of the two co-existing.  That union is the Unit, the Monad present in a lower register, but the Monad is no longer in existence as soon as it makes existence, because then there is something that exists as Creator and something that exists as Creature.  The emptiness (and I’m using this in a Buddhist “interexistence” or “dependant existence” sense) that is formed between the two monads in the Dyad is the true Dyad, without which you just have a collection of monads.  I mean, consider the human body: the human body is a collection of organs, bones, and humours; going deeper, it’s a collection of molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles.  Yes, we are all just a collection of these things, but clearly there’s more to it than that to produce a cohesive unit, a complete whole.

Trying to comprehend the numbers on the Tetractys is different than simply counting how many spheres are in a rank, or the number One through Ten each dot represents.  If you do that, you’re just understanding each number as a collection of monads when there’s so much at work within each number.  It’s like, if you study energy work, if all you study is the seven chakras of the body, you neglect the fact that energy cycles throughout the body; focusing on the chakras alone treats the body as just the seven chakras when the body is a collection of major and minor chakras and all the medians and channels that connect them all.  Having a blockage of energy in the lower leg cannot itself be healed by focusing on any one of the chakras, but if you’re not trained to focus on the body holistically, then you aren’t going to be able to make much of an impact on the body.

I’ve noticed parallels between my lack of knowledge on the Dyad and one of the issues I currently have in learning aikido.  In my martial art, I’m starting to get the hang of the actual moves themselves, how to move my one-point around, how to roll the arm for a pin, how to step properly to allow myself enough safe space in attacking or being attacked.  Still, none of this is useful if I can’t apply the moves in practice against an opponent, and that’s where the matter of timing and connection comes in.  I can sense my own ki, and I can sense the ki of my opponent, but connecting the two together when the opponent is approaching to grab me is an issue.  Timing, the flow and blending of myself and the opponent, is something I’m still having to work on and it’s not clicking yet.  It’s not a matter of counting seconds or recognizing a limit of distance after which I can move my own body; I have to blend with the motions and ki of my opponent in order to make the technique work.  This timing, this connection between me and the other, is the “presence” of the Dyad in aikido; there is no such thing as attacker and attackee if I can’t properly engage or be engaged in attack.  It is only through the fluid and completely connected actions of myself and the other that aikido works, without which it’s just two people trying to put each other into pins and joint locks fruitlessly.

In the Tetractys, the rank of the Dyad is the first time we see a connection formed between two Monads.  It is the first time we have the opportunity for comparison or change between two otherwise indistinct and undifferentiated Monads; by the power of this connection, we can say that “this is and that isn’t” or “this changes into that”.  None of this is possible in the rank of the Monad, since there is by definition only ever One thing to compare or be compared to, and comparing something to itself is a tautology that makes anything and nothing true.  I mean, even the figure of the Monad itself, the circle with a point in its center, cannot itself be made by one thing alone.  It was made by an old-style geometer’s compass, making use of both its legs; one to stabilize it in the center, and one to give form around it.  With only one leg, it could only produce one point, but with two, it can make a shape, a circle, a neverending line enclosing an area.  It gives definition and the first possible comparison: what is in the circle and what is outside.  A point cannot be meaningfully compared to any other point without other notions of length or measure, but with a circle or a line (either being made from a connection between two points) we can do just that.

Aikido, at least in my style of Shin-Shin Toitsu Aikido (Aikido with Mind and Body Unified), there’re four principles of mind and body unification and five for the practice of aikido itself.  The last principle of the first set and the first principle of the last set are the same: “ki is extending”, meaning that ki flows constantly through ourselves and through the universe.  If we get in line with the flow of ki, aikido works; if we try to force things, aikido doesn’t work.  After this, to make aikido work, you need to know your opponent’s mind and respect their own flow of ki; you need to understand what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it, and act accordingly to respect their actions and make them go where you want them to go.  If you know how to move around their ki, you know how they’re going to move their ki, so you know their mind; if you know their mind, you’re connected with them and letting ki extend properly.  This is the essence of timing, and is moreover the essence of all connections: knowledge.  Dyad is knowledge.

Even in the Hermetic text of the Poemander, it makes sense.  In the beginning, there was only Nous, the Mind, single and simple.  Literally everything only began when the Nous produced the Logos, the Word.  The Word is Thought, which is produced in the Mind.  Prior to the Logos (if there can conceivably be a “prior” in a world that does not experience time), there was only Mind without Thought.  Once Mind produces Thought, the Mind has something to think about, something other.  Even if the Logos is the Nous, the two are still separate and, thus, the Monad becomes a Dyad.  It is by relation can we think, can we ponder, can we consider, can we reflect, can we know.  Knowledge of the Other leads to a union, and in union things can happen.  In union we become a unity, reuniting the Logos with the Nous once more.  Music is the knowledge of  how different notes strung together form a pleasing melody, or when played at once form a harmony.  A fight is the knowledge of how two people interact to blend together in action.  A sephirah is the knowledge of how the light of God flows from the Source through different channels into yet other channels, transforming from some one thing raw into some one thing manifest.  Love is the knowledge of two hearts and minds acting as one.

Knowledge is the root of all action.  Knowledge is the root of all transformation.  Knowledge is the root of separation.  Knowledge is the key to union.  It’s the things to be known that change from situation to situation, but in knowledge all situations become different manifestations of the same cause.  I may not yet have a solid knowledge (heh) of the Dyad just yet, but at least something’s been opened.


About polyphanes
I'm a software developer and Hermetic occultist living near Washington, DC, USA. I claim that I'm youthful, dashing, daring, and other things. I make things and chant stuff, and periodically write about them.

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