Long before the cross was appropriated by Christianity and associated with the crucifixion, this ancient symbol had an entirely different meaning and significance. A human being with arms outstretched may be seen as a cross, a cross that symbolizes the creative process that men and women were put on Earth to administer. The area above the horizontal pole represents the heaven or invisible realm of Spirit, and the area below represents the Earth or visible realm of form. Human beings were creatively designed to be at the point where the two poles, vertical and horizontal, intersect, i.e. the “crossover point,” where they’re in position to bring the essences of heaven into manifest form on Earth.
In other words, the cross as originally conceived was a symbol of life. According to Wikipedia the cross “is frequently a representation of the division of the world into four elements or cardinal points, or alternately as the union of the concepts of divinity, the vertical line, and the world, the horizontal line.” Man (male and female) standing at the crossover point is the cross—the union of the divine and the world of form, heaven and Earth. In the usual representation of the cross, the downward arm is considerably extended, indicating the grounding necessary to walk, i.e. move effectively, on the Earth plane.
In an article published in Ontological Thought writer Ted Black puts it this way:
We begin to see, then, that heaven, the state of man’s fulfillment, does not come out of the environment, either descending somehow out of the sky or being laboriously built by the intellect of man out of nuclear reactors and scrap iron. Heaven, the expression of the beauty, the loveliness, the powerful creativity, of what human beings really are, comes into manifest form on Earth as there are people willing to offer themselves as the cross by which it may come.
So we have the vertical and horizontal components of the cross. The vertical represents the connection with what is higher, with heaven, with the invisible realm of Spirit and with the divine reality at the core of every person’s being. The horizontal represents the physical plane of the Earth and the world that human beings have created on this plane. If human beings were operating the way they were originally created to operate on Earth, the creativity and beauty of heaven represented by the vertical pole would move effortlessly through human beings functioning at the crossover point and bring a magnificent heavenly state into form on Earth. Vertical and horizontal would be one. But it’s quite obvious from even the most cursory observation of the human condition that the horizontal component has become disconnected from the vertical, resulting in a world of conflict, corruption and dis-ease.
Obviously what is required if the Earth project is to survive and resume its creative role in the cosmos is a reconnection of the horizontal with the vertical. This cannot be done by trying to patch up or adjust the horizontal. This includes all the efforts—political, scientific, humanitarian, religious—to solve problems and somehow fix the human condition. I recall a time many years ago when the picture on my television set was jumping around and I tried to stabilize it by adjusting the horizontal hold, only to eventually discover that it was the vertical hold that needed attention. Human beings have been trying to adjust the horizontal—fighting poverty and disease, preserving the environment, ending war, etc.—when it’s the vertical or spiritual component that has either been grossly distorted or ignored altogether. In other words, why not finally address the level of cause instead of endlessly treating symptoms?
The level of cause is only addressed when the horizontal is reconnected to the vertical. The only way this can happen for the whole body of humanity is as individuals connect with the vertical within themselves. This involves personal spiritual practice. Innumerable techniques for connecting with Spirit or God have been developed—meditation, yoga, communing with nature, chanting, rites and rituals. I suppose it could be said, “whatever works,” for any given individual. But if a solid and enduring vertical connection is to be made, consistency is required. That’s why I consider “spiritual expression” to be the most effective spiritual practice for connecting with the vertical: the expression of the highest and finest qualities of character in every moment, in every circumstance. When qualities such as integrity, dignity, nobility, serenity and thankfulness are consistently expressed in living, the horizontal world of form becomes firmly attached to the vertical pole of the cross and the beauty and magic of heaven flows easily and naturally through the divine/human crossover point to bless the Earth.
This is the living cross or cross of life that human beings were designed to manifest on Earth. We were created to be living symbols of the cross. To develop and keep this cross intact in oneself it is useful to be surrounded by other living symbols, people who consistently exemplify the qualities of divine character in their living. This is the beauty of an authentic spiritual community, where the people encountered on a daily basis are giving expression to the highest and finest qualities of character. These living symbols of the cross are a constant reminder to all others in the community to be the cross in their own living and all expressions of the cross of life are immediately reinforced and supported in the communal surround. This can happen in some measure in a virtual or online community as well.
In all of this it is absolutely essential that the vertical or spiritual component of the cross remain central in individual and collective consciousness. It’s so easy for the centrifugal force of the horizontal human drama, all of the glitter and glamour of the human state, to pull individuals and communities away from the vertical. Symbols that provide reminders of the vertical can be quite useful in this regard. In the city of Loveland, Colorado, where I lived for nearly twenty years, the tallest structure is a radio tower. I could see this tower night and day from the apartment where I lived, and I would frequently carry on a conversation with this tower, all for the purpose of reminding me to maintain the vertical connection in myself. Here on Sunrise Ranch, west of Loveland where I now live, several old cottonwood trees are the tallest things around and they serve as my interlocutors. Yes, this may appear a bit peculiar, but the basic imperative is to be in constant connection with the vertical and anything that facilitates this connection should be delightedly utilized.
As anyone who is spiritually sensitive knows, we’re living in a time of greatly intensifying spiritual current. The movement of the Earth through the portal that opened on December 21, 2012, brought a marked escalation of this current, which has its power source in unconditional love. This intensification is bringing pressure on all those whose identity is still at the material level, i.e. the horizontal arm of the cross. The continuing intensification may cause spiritual burnout or even some kind of psychosis if there’s not a firm grounding in or connection to the vertical part of the cross. It could be said that the increase of intensity must be matched by a deepening of verticality. In essence what this means is that personal identity needs to be with the source or cause of the intensity—ultimately the fire of divine love streaming down through the vertical component—rather than with the horizontal effects of the intensity. In short, one is not burned by this fire if one is identified with it.
This is how the cross of life is restored on Earth. As this restoration occurs the odious symbol of death called the crucifix that terribly distorts the meaning of the cross begins to dissolve. Jesus didn’t come on Earth to die but to bring life by constantly connecting his horizontal world of expression to the vertical part of the cross or “Father within.” He reportedly said at one point, “He that taketh not his cross and followeth after me is not worthy of me.” The beauty and intensity of life that he expressed through his cross of life—connecting the vertical and horizontal at the crossover point in consummate balance and symmetry—is accessible to anyone who will similarly activate his/her cross by bringing vertical and horizontal into proper relationship through the consistent expression of unconditional love in daily living. This was his challenge to the people of his time, and in the mounting intensity of this time it’s imperative that human beings everywhere take up the cross, resurrect the Christ spirit and thereby realign the planet with the cosmic cross.
image: Pavel P. (Creative Commons BY)