As Above, So Below

solar-system A

When I was seven, I found out from my older sister’s science book that the solar system looks like this.

I thought to myself.  Ooooohhhh!  That’s awesome!  I was jealous because my science book didn’t have cool pictures like this.  All my science book had were pictures of katydids and stick bugs.  I read through the entire science text book in a matter of a couple of days hoping to find more interesting things.  I did learn about the nature of sunflowers following the sun around, and acorns which grew into acorn trees (but we have to call them oak trees to appease the indigenous population…I think…not sure).  I couldn’t wait to grow up and learn from the third grade science books.

As it turns out, this picture is all wrong any way.  I wasn’t missing much, that’s for sure.

When I was ten, I found out that the atom looked like this.

atom_structure A

I thought, woooooow!!!  So cool.

I found out that everything was made up of these atoms and the first thing I thought was, there’s so much space in between the nucleus and all the electrons.  How does it feel so solid when there is that much space?

As usual, I read through the entire book within a matter of days to see if I could find the answer to that and a host of other questions, and then spent the next ten months doodling on the edges making cartoons run around the pages as I’m flipping through them.  That’s what artists do when we’re bored.  We decorate our environment with our thoughts.

In this case, it was perfectly OK to draw all over the book.  This diagram is all wrong any way.

Fast-forward roughly ten years later and I’m flipping through a strange ancient text written by Hermes Trismegistus (aka his birth name Ningishzida) called The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus.  It was an amazing text.  I was hooked on Hermes’ mind.  I thought he was the sexiest man alive (well…maybe not alive since he’s been dead for quite awhile).

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m no Hermetic Babe.  It’s not that I don’t believe that what the Hermetics believe is incorrect.  Au contraire!  I think his teachings are very valid, and as far as ancient knowledge goes, it is no secret that we are now barely rediscovering lost information from distant past.  I just happen to identify more with Taoism because I am Asian, and the most wonderful thing about Taoism is that it does not preclude my learning about the way from other sources.  There is much to learn from the Bible and the Koran and the Vedas.  There is also much to learn from the ancient texts of Egyptian and Sumerian tablets.  I dig them all.

So, back to the Emerald Tablet.

green tablet

Due to the fact that it was written on a stone tablet, the work only had 14 lines.  However, those 14 lines are quite dense and takes awhile to digest.  Here is the Arabic translation, taken from the Kitab Sirr al-Khaliqa wa San`at al-Tabi`a (“Book of the Secret of Creation and the Art of Nature”), dated between 650 and 830 AD and attributed to Apollonius of Tyana.  This is as close as we mere mortals are going to get to the original text.

Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus

  1. It contains an accurate commentary that can’t be doubted.
  2. It states: What is the above is from the below and the below is from the above. The work of wonders is from One.
  3. And all things sprang from this essence through a single projection. How marvelous is its work! It is the principle [sic] part of the world and its custodian.
  4. Its father is the sun and its mother is the moon. Thus the wind bore it within it and the earth nourished it.
  5. Father of talismans and keeper of wonders.
  6. Perfect in power that reveals the lights.
  7. It is a fire that became our earth. Separate the earth from the fire and you shall adhere more to that which is subtle than that which is coarse, through care and wisdom.
  8. It ascends from the earth to the heaven. It extracts the lights from the heights and descends to the earth containing the power of the above and the below for it is with the light of the lights. Therefore the darkness flees from it.
  9. The greatest power overcomes everything that is subtle and it penetrates all that is coarse.
  10. The formation of the microcosm is in accordance with the formation of the macrocosm.
  11. The scholars made this their path.
  12. This is why Thrice Hermes was exalted with wisdom.
  13. This is his last book that he hid in the catacomb.

Immediately, several lines sprang up and grabbed me.  The first one is line 2:  What is the above is from the below and the below is from the above. The work of wonders is from One.  The next line which caught my eyes is line 10:  The formation of the microcosm is in accordance with the formation of the macrocosm.  There it is again!  Ningishzida had a tiny little tablet to write important stuff on, and this concept was so important that he wrote it twice!  Basically, what he’s telling us is that we only need to look at what’s around us to understand what’s above us.  All this sounds very similar to another famous quotation from the Christian Bible in the book of Matthew 6:10:  Let your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.

So this is the big secret…so big that people have been killed to try and silence this knowledge.  Entire libraries are destroyed to keep this knowledge from being common-place.  Holy books are wholesale hacked and slashed to remove this information from the general public.  The secret is:  As above, so below.

Ancient Taoist Sages take this one step further.  Since humans are a part of the universe, what is inside of us is also mirrored above and below; therefore, As within, so without.   This knowledge has always been within us.  We just need to look within to find it.  Taoists of ancient times understood the microcosm of humans mirror the microcosm of atoms and the macrocosm of the universe.  Lao Tzu’s prescription for the remembering of the knowledge has always been to look within to understand the external world, both great and small.

Tao Te Ching:  Chapter 47

Without going out the door, know the world
Without peering out the window, see the Heavenly Tao
The further one goes
The less on knows
Therefore the sage
Knows without going
Names without seeing
Achieves without striving.

~ Lao Tzu

So we look at the natural world and what do we see?  We see this:

Evian 064 vortex flowerfunnel cloudvortex seashellvortex cabbagedna vortexRose Of GalaxiesFibonacci spiral hurricane Sandy norway_spiral

All the most powerful, most stable natural structures are vortexes.  So why would we think that our solar system would be a flat spinning plate?  Why would we think our atoms would be flat plates consisting of a nucleus and some electrons spinning around it?

It doesn’t.  We do not live in a two-dimensional world.  In fact, we live in a multi-dimensional world, but we can only see in 3D because of our perceived limitations.  Our 3D bodies do no preclude us from seeing vortexes in the natural world, so when a vortex occurs, we see them as tornadoes, hurricanes, flowers, seashells, even whole galaxies.  From the micro to the macro, they are all vortexes.

Atoms look like this:


Our solar system looks like this:

All of Life, which includes the Universe and all her suns, is a swirling vortex of energy.  From atoms to galaxies, everything is swirling and generating energy at the vortex of the spiral.  There is energy swirling all around us and within us.  We just need to figure out how to tap into this energy and reclaim our birthright.

10 thoughts on “As Above, So Below

Add yours

  1. Yes. Indeed. Now, know that you are the Vortex – you are Ouroboros, that is you true Formless Form – and You’ll see and know Your Omnipresence. Pretty cool once You see Yourself again for the first time. Peace on Earth, Ik


  2. Dear Taoist Babe,
    I discovered this blog 3 days ago and have been unable to finish any work since. my sincerest thanks for that.
    I find the use of the phrase “as above, so below” to be one that follows me lately. I’m square in the middle of the North American continent, North Dakota (a.k.a. South Canada) and next door to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation. The recent encampments protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline has injected a great deal of Lakota knowledge and world view (cosmovisión as the Zapatistas would say). The Lakota phrase “mitakuye oyasin” translated as “all my relations” (more accurately: “all to which I am related”) seeps into the white language as the phrase “as above, so below.”

    However, I remember that the lines of the Tao Te Ching carry more nuance: “Therefore those who would be above
    Must speak as if they are below.
    Those who would lead
    Must speak as if they are behind.”
    – from ch.66 Stephen Addiss & Stanley Lombardo translation

    This sounds more like the indigenous perspective on leadership through service and less like a New Age slogan.

    And it comes to be that in the indigenous world of the Dakotas our equivalent symbol to the Taiji is the medicine wheel of the “Four Directions.” A black circle crossed through with straight lines to make four quadrants indicates the four cardinal directions. Each quadrant is then filled with a color: black, red, white, yellow. This indicate the progression of the directions through four seasons. Bison hide and rock allow for a two-dimensional image of a circle. But the correct understanding is a spiral outwards from yourself into all directions.



  3. Love this article Taobabe and have shared it with my martial arts group on Facebook. Really enjoyed the video representation of our universe as a swirling vortex.

    Once again thanks for sharing your writing!


  4. Always nice to see fellow seekers studying the dao.
    I would like to present a new lead to follow, if I may.
    Sorry for my bad American English.

    Ever notice and wondered why most of earth’s vegetation is green? In nature, the middle road is the easiest way to follow. Green is the middelst of all colors. Check your local rainbow.

    Greetings from Belgium,
    TIger in the Rain.


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