Non-dual Consciousness, which is Reality, is originally infinite, but through identification with it's objects the boundaries of consciousness shrink. This is an aspect of involution, A dimension of manifestation, which begins at an even more transcendent and ineffable level of the Manifest Absolute, is the sequence or gradation from the one Absolute Consciousness to the multiplicity of seperate entities and separate centres of consciousness. This is explained in Kashmir Shaivism, a more philosophical-cosmological form of Tantra than the more magical and occult-orientated Bengali Shaktism.
Consciousness begins as Absolute Consciousness, pure "I" or infinite Subject, which is the essential nature of the Absolute Reality. All manifestation then is a movement from that Infinite consciousness or Self to It's own Objects of Consciousness. Once Consciousness is caught up with it's Objects then Multiplicity arises, through the identification of the One Consciousness with each of it's infinite objects. There is a sequence of manifestation, which begins at an transcendent and ineffable level of the Manifest Absolute, and progresses through the Manifest Absolute to the wortld of Prakriti or Maya with it's multiplicity of seperate entities and seperate centres of consciousness. This is explained in Kashmir Shaivism and in the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo. Just as Neoplatonism and Kabbalah provide a terminology for the Vertical spectrum of being, so Kashmir Shaivism gives us a rich vocabuary for the consciousness-aconscious spectrum of being. Other esoteric eastern philosophies such as Samkhya and Advaita Vedanta are unable to reconcile the polarity of Subject and Object and hence devolve into dualism or acosmism respectively.
The following stages can be defined here
From Unmanifest Absolute to Manifest Absolute (Maha-Shakti)
From Manifest Absolute to bipolar Godhead ("Pure Tattwas")
Being bipolar Godhead to mala-encased self (purusha/vijnanakala)
From vijnanakala to reincarnating prakritic being (sakala)
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