‘The whole purpose of understanding unity is to expand happiness, which is not a bad thing,’ says Lynch. ‘Transcendental meditation will get you to that field of unity, that state of infinite consciousness. Consciousness is tied in with intelligence, creativity, happiness, love, energy, power, peace... all positive things. That’s why I want to talk about them.’
‘The Creation is in the Creator, and the Creator is in the Creation, totally pervading and permeating all,’ is a teaching that lies at the heart of Sikh thought and life, and this symbol depicts the unity of God and creation.
This version of the Buddhist Dharmachakra (see above left) appears at the centre of the Indian flag. The impermanent things of life are the 24 spokes of the wheel, representing 24 hours in a day, while the spiritually permanent things, unity and truth, are represented by the centre.
A symbol in the Baha’i faith of the belief that all religions and humanity are united in one God. The lower line represents humanity and the world of creation, the upper line the world of God, and the middle line represents the manifestation of God. The vertical line is the Holy Spirit proceeding from God through revelation to humanity.
Eye of Providence
Imagery of an all-seeing eye can be traced back to Egyptian mythology. It also appears in Buddhism, where Buddha is referred to as the ‘Eye of the World’ and is represented by a triangle known as the Three Jewels. In Medieval and Renaissance European iconography, the Eye was an explicit image of the Christian Trinity, while 17th-century depictions of the Eye sometimes show it surrounded by sunbursts. In 1782, the Eye of Providence was adopted as part of the symbolism on the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States.
This ancient symbol, depicting a serpent or dragon swallowing its own tail and forming a circle, represents the idea of primordial unity. Jungian interpretation sees it as a representation of the undifferentiated, pre-ego state of a baby who believes itself united with the universe.
Nara period Japanese scholars believed the Chinese character for ‘Japan’, 倭, was graphically pejorative in denoting 委 (bent down) 亻(people). Around 757AD, Japan officially changed its endonym from Wa 倭 to Wa 和 (harmony, peace), which has the same Japanese pronunciation and – most importantly – is semantically flattering. The notion that Japanese culture is based on Wa 和 (harmony) has become an article of faith among the Japanese.
This ideogram for clasped hands is an ancient symbol of unity for the Native American Hopi tribe, who believe the return of the lost white brother of the Hopi, Pahana, will usher in a new age of peace. In the early 16th century, the Hopi believed the coming of the Spanish conquistadors was the return of this lost white prophet. Legend has it that the Hopi chief knew the Spanish leader was not the Pahana when he failed to respond to the nakwach. Instead of clasping the chief’s extended palm, he dropped a gift into it believing he was asking for a present.
Nkonsonkonson (chain link)
This West African symbol represents the chain of humanity in life and death, the sharing of one blood. It stands for unity, responsibility and interdependence, and represents the principle of umoja (unity) in the African American celebration of Kwanzaa. This week-long holiday, which has its roots in the black nationalist movement of the 1960s, is dedicated to the seven principles of blackness, umoja being the principle of striving for and maintaining unity in the family, community, nation and race.
This symbol represents the union of the male (lingam) and female (yoni) sexual organs. The lingam is the creative power of nature and represents the god Shiva. The yoni is the source of all that exists, the female counterpart without which the male aspect remains impotent. The lingam united with the yoni represents the abstract form of creation.
bese saka (sack of cola nuts)
This West African symbol of affluence, power, abundance, plenty, togetherness and unity symbolises another principle of Kwanzaa (see Nkonsonkonson, above). It represents ujamaa (cooperative economics) and the principle of building and maintaining businesses to profit from them collectively. The cola nut played an important role in the economic life of Africa. A widely used cash crop, it is closely associated with affluence and abundance. This symbol also represents the role of agriculture and trade in bringing peoples together.
Circle and dot
The astronomical and astrological symbol for the sun, and the ancient Egyptian sign for the sun god Ra in the hieroglyphic writing system, this can also be a stylised representation of an atom of hydrogen, the oldest, simplest and most abundant chemical element in the universe, and one that also makes up most of the mass of the sun.
To Christians, it often represents the unity of the Holy Trinity. In Buddhism, it symbolises the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. It is often associated with the number three. Pointing upwards, it symbolises fire and male power. Pointing down, it symbolises water, female sexuality, goddess religions and homosexuality.
This is a sacred Vedic syllable considered to be the most auspicious mantra and intoned at the beginning and end of most Sanskrit recitations, prayers and texts. It is taken to consist of three distinct sounds – a, u and m – symbolising the three major Hindu deities or the three stages of life: birth, life and death.
The Fock space representation equation was named after Soviet physicist Vladimir Fock, who introduced a highly complex algebraic system used in quantum mechanics to describe quantum states with a variable or unknown number of particles.
Roughly translated as ‘diagram of ultimate power’, this is the name for the Chinese symbol for the concept of yin and yang, which is used to describe how polar or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Similar patterns and symbols also form partof Celtic, Etruscan and Roman iconography.
This is the eight-spoked Buddhist wheel of Dharma. Based on a chariot wheel, it is a symbol of the Buddha’s teaching of the path to enlightenment and stands for the law and unity of Buddhism.
The Eternal Knot is one of the Eight Auspicious symbols in Buddhism that represents the unity between wisdom and compassion. It is a geometric diagram of right angles which symbolises the nature of reality where everything is interrelated and only exists as part of a web of karma and its effect. Having no beginning or end, it also represents the infinite wisdom of the Buddha. It is said to be a symbole of unending love and interconnectedness of all beings. Those wearing or displaying this powerful mystic knot symbol will enjoy good fortune