Whosoever speculated on these four things, it were better for him if he had not come into the world —
- what is above?
- what is beneath?
- what was beforetime?
- and what will be hereafter?
— From the Mishnah (Hagigah 2:1)
All things have a root and a top; all events an end and a beginning. Whoever understands correctly what comes first and what follows draws nearer the Dao.
— From T’ai Hioh by Confucius
As above, so below.
— From The Emerald Tablet
I like these quotes because they show that Above, Below, Before and After are linked together. The first quote gives a warning about thinking about these concepts, but the second, encouragement. Above and below, or higher and lower, can be thought of as directions in space, but also as terms of hierarchy. Before and after can be thought of as directions in time, but also as beginnings and endings, causes and results.