Sometimes it seems as though your life is – literally and figuratively – going in circles. You feel like you’re getting nowhere. You don’t know where you’re headed. You have no sense of direction.
I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song.
— Rainer Maria Rilke
Widening Circles as translated in A Year with Rilke | Joanna Macy
A true circle is just a two dimensional shape. Fortunately, we live in a three dimensional world. Even as you feel like you’re spinning around and around in circles, each revolution has a dimension of depth that could be leading you deeper into life.
Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Essays and Lectures | Ralph Waldo Emerson
The idea of going in circles can imply repeatedly doing the exact same things, in the exact same ways, with the exact same results, or continually starting and ending in the exact same place no matter what you do. The reality is that everything is always changing. In every moment, things are never exactly the same as they were in the previous moment. That includes you, too. The changes might be imperceptible, at a physical or psychological scale beyond our awareness, but change itself is inevitable. Even those things that seem to repeat endlessly (history, karma, the spinning of the earth, roundabouts, annoying people, songs in your head, etc.) are constantly changing from moment to moment.
Deus est circulus cuius centrum est ubique, circumferentia vero nusquam. (The nature of God is a circle of which the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere.
Deus est sphaera infinita cuius centrum est ubique, circumferentia vero nusquam. (The nature of God is an infinite sphere of which the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere.)
— attributed to Empedocles
Liber Hermetis Trismegisti as referenced in Psychology and Religion Volume 11: West and East | Carl Gustav Jung
There are, however, many ways to change. A generic definition of change involves us becoming somehow different than we were at an earlier point in time. Yet growth as a specific kind of change can require that we become not just qualitatively different but quantitatively more than we’ve ever been. To grow as human beings is to increase our depth, our dimensionality. It’s in growing our center – our sense of self – that we may eventually find “the center that is everywhere.”
A human being is part of a whole, called by us “Universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish the delusion but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.
— Albert Einstein
Letter to Mr. Robert S. Marcus on February 12, 1950 as referenced in Einstein Sleuthing | On Being: Nancy Rosenbaum