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The Original Archetypes

The first stage in the Chain of Manifestation is for the Supreme One Reality to become Many while still retaining the sense of Cosmic and Absolute Unity; a Multiplicity in Unity, so to speak.  Here we have the beginning of finite manistestation, of existence in a sense individualised or differentiated from (yet still identified with) the Supreme One Itself

Thus there come about the revealed or Manifest Godhead (as opposed to the Unmanifest Godhead of the Absolute); the Pleroma of the Gnostics; the Shuddha or "Pure" tattvas (evolutes) of Kashmir Shaivism; the Universal Man or Logos, and also (from a different orientation) the Universe of Lahut or Divinity, in Sufi teachings; Atzilut in the Kabbalistic tradition; or the Overmind in the teachings of Poet-Yogi Sri Aurobindo

H.P. Blavatsky refers to this as the Atmic region or Atala.

 "It emanates directly from ABSOLUTENESS and is the first something in the Universe.  Its correspondence is the Hierarchy of non-substantial [i.e. pure Spirit] primordial Beings....This Hierarchy contains the primordial plane, all that was, is, and will be, from the beginning to the end of the Mahamanvantara [Cosmic Cycle, Kalpa]; all is there....Here are the Hierarchies of the Dhyani Buddhas.  There state is that of Parasamadhi, of the Dharmakaya; a state where no progress is possible.  The entities there may be said to be crystallised in purity..."
["Notes on Some Oral Teachings, in The Secret Doctrine, Adyar Edition, vol V, p.539]

"No progress is possible" because these are, in Sri Aurobindo's phrase, "typal beings" [Letters on Yoga, Vol I, p.***]; they represent transcendent Spiritual Archetypes.  Yet even here there can still be transformation, for nothing in the Cosmos is absolutely static

The distinction between the Divine Many or Archetypal Hierarchies and the Supreme One or Absolute Godhead is described by many different esoteric writers.  Plotinus distinguishes between the One and the Nous, the former totally unitary, the latter containing the multi-plicity of Platonic Archetypes or Idea-forms in a state of eternity and bliss.  The Gnostics speak of Aeons or Divine Powers that emanate from the ineffable transcendent Spirit or "Fore-Father", to make up the Pleroma, the "fullness" or "completeness" of the transcendent Spiritual Universe.  The 5th/6th Century Christian Neoplatonist Dionysius the Aeropagate distinguishes between the Revealed and the Unknown Godhead: the three Persons of the triune God and the ineffable "supra-essential"  Unity from which they emerge.  A similiar idea is to be had in the various sects of Tantric and Tibetan Buddhism, with its iconography of the five Tathagata Buddhas that emerge from the original Dharmakaya or "Truth Body" of the Buddha, or the original Vairocona or Adibuddha.  The Kabbalists likewise distinguish between the quality-less En Sof and the the ten Sefirot or Divine Attributes which emerge successively from it and constitute the World of Atzilut; the Revealed Godhead as opposed to the Ineffable Godhead.  And Sri Aurobindo speaks of the difference between the infinite, unitary Truth-consciousness or Supermind (the Creative Absolute), which is total unity, and the Overmind which "takes all Truth that comes down to it from the Supermind, but sets up each Truth as a seperate force and idea" [The Hour of God, p.84].  This Overmind includes the "Great Gods" which oversee the Cosmos; hence the many Godheads emerge from the one Supreme Godhead.  Such examples could obviously be multiplied indefinitely.

The Emergance of the Original Archetypes from the One

The ten sefirot of Kabbalah, the Tibetan Buddhist Five Tathagata Buddhas, and Sri Aurobindo's four great Personalities or Powers of the Divine Mother [Sri Aurobindo, The  Mother, pp.26ff (Sri Aurobindo Ashram,  Pondicherry)] all constitute sthe emergence of the original archetypes from the Creative Absolute. In Kabbalah

"in terms of their origin in the En Sof the Sefirot are not differentiated, but in...their activity in the finite  realm of creation they are."
[Gershom Scholem, Kabbalah, p.100 (Meridian Books)].

Similarily, one could say that the Tibetan Tathagata Buddhas in their mandalic form represent the "Overmental" or Atzilut plane of existence; while in the Supramental or Absolute plane they would exist as a single totality, represented perhaps by Vajrasattva, "the imamnent, all-pervading reality of adamantine  voidness", "the universal state of the all-comprising essentiality" [Anagarika Govinda, Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism, pp.188, 198 (Rider & Co,  London)], who embodies the entire meaning of Vajrayana Buddhism and is therefore invoked at the  beginning of many Tibetan initiations [Lauf, Secret Doctrines of the Tibetan Books of the Dead, pp.103- 4].  Thus there is a consensus in the different esoteric teachings.  The terminology and details may change, but the basic principles always remain the same.

Sri Aurobindo explains that whereas in the Overmind and triple world of Mind, Life, and Matter these Divine powers appear as independent beings,

"they return in the Supermind into the One and stand there united in a single harmonious action as multiple personalities of the One Person, the Divine Purushottama."
[Sri Aurobindo, The Mother, p.64]


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material uploaded 27 May and 19 June 1998, this page 14 July 2004