Most esoteric cosmologies only consider a single parameter of existence or manifestation - the emanation from the Unitary Infinite Noetic Absolute down through all the planes to formless matter or Hyle. But there are other dimension/parameters from the Absolute to Relative Phenomena as well, and thus, conversely, from the Relative to the Absolute. Each of these sequences begins from a different aspect of the Absolute. Whilst still within the Absolute Itself, all these dimension/parameters are unitary. But when they are projected down into finite or relative existence, distinction appears.
I suggest here at least five parameters (more could perhaps be added)
In the Noetic Absolute (the most manifest Absolute, lucidy and comprehensively described by Sri Aurobindo under the term "Supermind") these polarities exist in harmony, as different aspects of the One, which emerge from the One. It is only when creation takes place that this harmony is lost.
So we need a sixth parameter to take this into account, as well as a seventh to distinguish between teh Unmanifest Absolute or Shunyaya in itself, and everything else. This gives us the following diagram:
(The Manifest Absolute)
The Many within One:
These aspects within and of Unity, expressing absolute Harmony and Perfection
Aspects that are polarised (yin-yang) and dualistic.
These constitute the dimensions of Kosmic and phenomenal, dualistic, involtionary-evolutionary existence
The dynamic side of this is the play of consciousness, involution and evolution, the working out of the infinite possibilities of the Unmanifets and Manifest Absolute within the infinite Kosmos
Within the Absolute Reality things are simple (Absolute Unity, Inifite, timeless spaceless conscioousness, etc). But in and as the Kosmos, complexity appears, as the purpose of phenomal existence is for the infinite possibilities within the Absolute to be allowed individual expression. The various spiritual worlds and hypostases that are described in detail in various esoteric philosphies constitute intermediate grades from Unity to Multiplicity and Duality
The Kosmos thus comes about through the emanation of - to use Meher Baba's simple but evocative terms - Everything into Nothing. This is the process of emanation from the supernal Godhead (the Dynamic Absolute), which proceeds from positive (everything) to negative (nothing) - i.e. Inward to Outward, Spirit to Matter, (Divine) Individual to Undifferentiated Universal Nature - through a series of stages, which can be called Worlds (Kabbalah olam - worlds), Planes (or Prakritic Planes - Blavatsky), Hypostases (Neoplatonism), Realities, Descents (of the Supreme) (Sufism - tanazzulut), etc.
Initially, the Godhead takes the form of the highest manifest archetypal Divine reality, in which the Everything predominates. From this in turn, through a process of involution, there emanates further but still transcendent manifestations. These in turn gives rise to further manifestations, which although very elevated are still limited in relation to the original Divine Universe. This process continues until finally the cosmos of Spiritual, Psychic and Physical universes, which are more under the sway of the Nothing (i.e. ignorance, lack, and imperfection). Even the lowest and most limited of these, the Physical plane, includes not only the familiar mundane physical reality but countless other realities as well, so that the number of worlds and states of existence is beyond comprehension.
Some mystics (e.g. Rumi, Theon, etc) refer to veils or boundaries between these worlds or ontological gradations. Especially at the higher levels or gardations, one could replace the term veils (which implies a passive material quality) with shaktis (which implies an active dynamic quality), thus incorporating the Tantric theme, which makes more sense here then the Sufi or Advaitin-type (kosha) concept of veils.
Although this is all very complex, from another point of view, all these planes or universes are actually equivalent. As expressed in Prajnaparamita Buddhism, there is no difference between form (manifestation) and emptiness (
shunyata - the Absolute). But from another point of view they represent an actual veiling of the Divine Light and Consciousness; it is this veiling that constitutes relative mind and matter.
One way to map all this would be as a sort of multi-dimensional grid. The following diagram can serve as a simple illustration, incorporating only three parameters (because this is all that can be immediately visualised by the human mind, which only thinks in three dimensio0ns). Each parameter consitutes a distinct spectrum of consciousness.
Adding the remaining two would give a five dimensional "matrix' that represents a static backdrop or overall structure or "map" of planes of consciousness. And each of the five (or however many) parameters of delimited existence is not a simple spectrum but has numerous aspects and ramifications.
As each axis in this diagram, each spectrum and subspectrum, is based on a polarity or duality (e.g. spirit and matter), it is tempting to consider one end as "yin", and the other "yang". Hence we have in each case a positive or yang and a negative or yin pole. This gives the following diagram:
The reasons for this attribution is as follows. When we consider the traditional Chinese correspondences for Yin and Yang, we find that "spirit" (or "heaven" is yang, and matter (or "earth") is yin. In addition, yang is "inner", yin is "outer"; and yang is the sage ("superior man", hence the enlightened individual) and yin is the "crowd".
Note that negative here doesnt mean "evil". These are complementaries, not dualistic contradictories. Harmonious evolution (syntropy) occurs when yin and yang are in a mutually beneficial relationshhip, and entropy and disorder when they are not.
Although various schemas give four, seven, or ten planes of existence that comprise the manifest or prakritic Kosmos, I have adopted here an eight-fold division, which integrates Theon's Tradition (the predecessor of both Theosophy and Sri Aurobindo's cosmology) with the I Ching trigrams to provide a mathematical arrangement whereby each plane can be associated with a hexagram.
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