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Is Plato's Pattern "Set Up in the Heavens" Also in Us?

A pattern within our unconscious may be the roadmap we seek.

Key points

  • Within a vision of wholeness may be a pattern guiding our evolution of consciousness.
  • Transformation is at the core of a pattern that keeps us moving along a trajectory intended to guide us from separation to union or wholeness.
  • Hidden in the cycles of nature is a transformative pattern that helps guide individuals from one stage of life to another.
Robert Atkinson
Source: Robert Atkinson

Imagine all things in the entire "Creation" making up an interconnected whole. Imagine a world in which the explicit purpose of life is to realize the wholeness of the entire creation, to serve the good of the whole, and to live out our lives in wonderment of and in harmony with that whole.

In this wholeness, everything would be so interdependent that apparent opposites – like yin and yang, feminine and masculine – become complementary, interrelated halves of the same whole, balancing, integrating, uniting, and transcending their assumed duality.

A vision of this wholeness is found in the Hermetic principle: "As above, so below; all things accomplishing the miracles of the one thing." This is the vision of wholeness that Plato offers us, too: "Perhaps there is a pattern set up in the heavens for one who desires to see it and, having seen it, to find one in himself."

Is this holistic view of correspondence, balance, and harmony between the macrocosm and the microcosm fleshed out anywhere else? What if there were even more ways we could discover a pattern designed to maintain the harmony of the whole that would also be found in ourselves?

Drawing meaning from existence and life on all levels is one of the main goals of all fields of knowledge. Deciphering the nature of life often comes down to two ways of seeing all life forms as either separate and distinct or as connected to the same tree.

A common way to find meaning and make sense of all things is to be able to make connections in apparent randomness. This is what patterns do.

Could the earliest Indigenous peoples have observed patterns in nature that gave them the wisdom to live by? They observed the cycles of nature, which do not occur in a linear fashion. They structured their rites of passage according to a similar cyclical pattern that helped guide individuals from one stage of life to another.

Built into their rites was a process leading to and through transformation to assist and enable the transition to the next stage of life. Arnold van Gennep identified this pattern as a core process, taking the one being initiated through the three phases of separation, transition, and incorporation. This ritual process was designed to guide the young person from a dependent state through independence and on to interdependence within one’s community.

Transformation is at the core of a pattern that keeps us moving along a trajectory intended to guide us from separation to union or wholeness.

It turns out that this central pattern of transformation can also be uncovered within the basic structure of the story itself. It is not just the beginning, middle, and end, but on a much deeper and more meaningful level, beginning, muddle, and resolution.

The muddles, or challenges we face, represent the core of the pattern bringing the process of transformation to its completion or resolution.

This hidden thread of wholeness connecting us all also runs deep in mythology and mysticism. In mythology, another version of this pattern was made popular by Joseph Campbell, who pulled together the archetypes of the world’s myths to form the pattern he called the monomyth, consisting of a journey of departure, initiation, and return.

In mysticism, Evelyn Underhill described “the mystic way” as a journey of spiritual transformation following a pattern that leads from awakening to purification to union.

Does this pattern of living into wholeness find its way into psychology? Carl Jung called this the “individuation process.” It consists of the conscious experience of the archetypes we are born with, embedded in our psyche or unconscious, bubbling up from within, released by life experiences, making us aware of their innate existence, and enabling the merging of opposites into a new whole. This involves great struggle and takes in the stages of the birth of the ego, death of the ego, and birth of the whole self.

What we end up with when we merge these ways of knowing and practices into one is a blueprint for living into the wholeness that brings with it a unitive consciousness. This blueprint consists of three main parts: Call to Wholeness, Path of Purification, and Return to Wholeness.

Could this pattern be part of our archetypal DNA, transform our lives, keep our focus on the wholeness of all things, and keep humanity on its evolutionary path, all at the same time? If such a universal, transformational pattern did exist, how might it change the way we live our lives?

We become aware of this universal pattern as we communicate more with the inner realm and as the eternal bursts forth from our unconscious, giving us a timeless understanding that countless others have experienced before us. When this happens, everything changes.

This universal pattern could be a roadmap for achieving the greatest expansion of consciousness that is humanly possible. Through it, we not only fulfill our innate potential but also, by naturally wanting to pass on its understanding to others, we would transform the world in the process.

Living into our wholeness includes wrestling with our demons, dancing with our angels, making plans with our inner guide, and connecting with our soul, all of which result in a deeply lived life.


Adapted from Atkinson, R. (2022) A New Story of Wholeness: An Experiential Guide for Connecting the Human Family. NY: Light on Light Press.

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