Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation homepage > Notebooks of Paul Brunton > Category 26: World-Idea > Chapter 1: Divine Order of The Universe
Divine Order of The Universe
Meaning, purpose, intelligent order
Is life only a stream of random events following one another haphazardly? Or is there an order, a meaning, a purpose behind it all?
Philosophy offers as a first truth the affirmation that we live in a universe of purpose and not one of caprice.
We live in an orderly universe, not an accidental one. Its movements are measured, its events are plotted, and its creatures develop towards a well-defined objective. All this could not be possible unless the universe were ruled by immutable laws.
There is an invisible mechanism within the universe and an intelligent mind directing this mechanism.
The cosmic order behind things is a divine one or it would be supplanted by nothing less than chaos. It is creative, intelligent, conscious--it is MIND.
The universe could not exist as such if there were not some sort of equilibrium holding it together, some sort of balancing arrangement as in the spinning of the earth on its axis and the planets around the sun. A little thought will show the same principle in the just relation of human beings to the World-Mind and among themselves. Here it appears as karma.
If moon, earth, and planets came into existence, and were thenceforward directed, by mere chance or whim, there would be no pattern in their positions and no rhythm in their movements; that is, there would be no world-order. Were the sun and stars involved in the same caprice, we would not know when to expect daylight and darkness, nor where the North Pole would be found. But because there is a World-Idea, there is law, orderliness, and some certainty: there is a universe, not a chaos.
If there were no World-Idea, then would all things be governed by mere chance, then would all be in dense obscurity; all our lives would flit through past, present, and future in a haphazard way.
The universe would be without meaning and without purpose if it were itself without the World-Idea behind it.
If there were no World-Idea there would be no world as we now know it, for its elements would have interacted and associated quite irresponsibly by mere accident and chance. In the result the sun might or might not have appeared today, the seasonal changes would have no orderly arrangement nor food-crops any predictable or measurable probability; instead of man there might have evolved a frightful monstrosity, half-animal and half-demon, utterly devoid of any aspiration, any conscience, any pity at all.
Those sceptics who assert that the universe is meaningless are themselves making a meaningful statement about it. That is, they are unconsciously setting themselves up as being more knowledgeable about whatever intelligence lies behind the designs and patterns we see everywhere in nature.
The great worlds which move so marvellously and rhythmically through our sky, however, must leave the more reflective minds with a wondering sense of the sublime intelligence which has patterned the universe.
The materialist who sees in the course of Life only a blind, irrational, chaotic, and arbitrary movement, has been deceived by appearances, misled by the one-sidedness of his own psyche.
There is enough evidence in Nature and in humanity for the existence of a Higher Power. Those who say they cannot find it have looked through the coloured spectacles of preconceived notions or else in too limited an area. There is plenty of it for those who look aright, and who widen their horizon; it will then be conclusive.
There are orderly patterns in Nature which we can call "laws" in its timings, properties, measurements, and lives.
The cosmos exists in a great harmony for it obeys laws which are divinely perfect.
It requires deep thought to discover that the improvements in Nature's laws which can so easily be suggested would, in the long term, probably lead to worse results than those now existent.
There is an established order in the universe, scientific laws which govern all things, and no magician who seems to produce miracles has been permitted under special dispensation to violate that order or to flout those principles.
Consider how orderly is the periodicity of giant-dimensioned planetary travels as well as of microscopic atomic weights.
Can we rightly say it is mere chance that our earth rotates around the sun, and does so in a certain precise measured rhythm? Is there not evidence of intelligence here?
Wherever we search in the universe, whether among the stars or the molecules, its structure reveals both orderliness and intelligence.
In his essay upon history, Emerson wrote, "The facts of history pre-exist in the mind as laws."
The presence of these laws should not make us picture the universe to ourselves as if it were a kind of manufactory filled with the whirr of wheels turning mechanically and automatically--ugly, lifeless, and loveless--utterly indifferent toward the hapless individuals who happen to find themselves in it.
The elements which chemically make up the physical universe interact mechanically. But because it is a universe and not a chaos there is a directing Intelligence behind the orderliness of this interaction.
When the existence of the Power is granted and its reality accepted, it will be easy to grant and accept that causation is everywhere present. Life in the universe then becomes meaningful.
Because the universe is mental in origin and character, it cannot be devoid of intelligibility and purpose.
This far-stretching universe is the expression of a Mind and therefore it is under the rule of law, not chance, for all laws are the consequences of mental activity.
If the universe were obviously based on mere chance, if it were in a state of complete disorder, if the moon, the sun, and the earth wandered about at their individual will, and if no sign of organization appeared anywhere in it, then we might justly assert that there was no Mind behind it. But because we see the very contrary of these things all around us, because the energy out of which the universe is made is everywhere inseparable from thought, we can definitely assert that a World-Mind must exist.
Events may seem to happen at random, but it is not really so. They are connected with our own thinking and doing, with the pattern of the World-Idea and with the activity of the World-Mind.
Everything around us and every event that happens to us is an expression of God's will.
The forces in the universe and the figures on the universal scene are all connected with each other and are all related with the World-Mind. Nothing stands alone except in its illusory belief.
Ultimate ``rightness'' of events
If God expresses His will through, and in, the universe then why are the horrors we find there unbeatable by any of the tortures perpetrated by man? The wanton malignancy of certain parasites, ants, worms; the poisonous bites and stings of certain insects and reptiles; the dreadful fish like piranhas which strip unfortunate wretches to a skeleton in a few minutes; the infectious germs in jungle and city alike; the intimidating hordes of vermin which threaten to multiply and destroy other forms--are they all God's goodness?
Even believers may sometimes ask themselves the question: "Is God blind and unseeing to human suffering--so small an item in the vastness of His universe--or callous and indifferent to it?"
Those who see no sign of God in the universe, and leave it at that, are at least in a better position than those who think they can detect an underlying hostility in the universe.
The absurdity of life and the insanity of man cast doubt upon the sanity of their Source. But this is a surface point of view.
The order which has been established throughout the cosmos is a perfect one. If the human mind fails to see this fact, it is partly because human feelings, prejudices, aversions, and attractions sway it and partly because the World-Idea unveils itself only to those who are ready.
The universe is perfect because God is perfect. But it is for each man to find and see this perfection for himself, otherwise the trouble and tragedy in life may obstruct his vision and obscure his path.
If the Mind behind this universe is perfect, then the pattern of the universe itself must be perfect too. And so it will show itself to be, if we muster up the heroism needed to cast out our feeble, sentimental, and emotional way of looking at things, if we put aside for a few minutes our personal and human demands that the universe shall conform to our wishes.
The more intellectual they are, the more they feel that God has somehow blundered, that they could have made a better or kindlier job of the universe than he has, and that too much unnecessary suffering falls upon his creatures. The sage, however, with his deeper insight and his serener mentality, finds the contrary to be the case and is set free from such bitter thoughts.
It is preposterous presumption to look in the divine Intelligence for what can only be found in the limited and little human one. Men judge the world without knowing the World-Idea, certainly without conscious contact with the World-Mind.
The moment we establish a right relation with the Mind behind the Universe, in that moment we begin to see as ultimately good certain experiences which we formerly thought to be evil, and we begin to see as dreamlike many sufferings which we formerly saw as real.
The answer to those who admit they can understand and accept the existence of suffering when it is the result of karma caused by man's conduct toward man, but cannot understand and accept it when caused by Nature's havoc, by earthquakes and floods, by wild beasts and tornados, may not be a palatable one. It is that calamity and suffering, destruction and death, are ordained parts of the divine World-Idea, which needs them to ensure the evolution of entities. It is also that, after all, these things happen only on the surface of their consciousness, for deep down in the Spirit there is perfect harmony and unbroken bliss.
Just as we find strife, violence, and evil on the surface of human existence but divinity, harmony, and peace at its core, so we find cruelty, suffering, and malevolence on the surface of the world's existence but intelligent beneficent purpose at its core. It is ultimately an expression of God's wisdom, power, and love.
When I go into the innermost depths of my being I find that all is good. When the scientist can go into the innermost depths of the atom he will find that all is good there--and consequently in the entire universe constructed from atoms.
He looks at the universe with reverent eyes. What he sees is an infinitely variable manifestation of divine intent, divine Idea, hidden behind the conflict of opposites, the clash of yin and yang. The point of equilibrium brings the struggle to an end, revealing harmony instead.
The World-Idea is perfect at every point and every stage of its eternal unfoldment.
In glimpses of the World-Idea, human observational and intellectual beings discover an arrangement of things and creatures, of activities and circumstances, whose beauty and wisdom in one place evokes their constant wonder, but whose ugliness and horror in another place draws forth their strong protest. There is no answer to this enigma but simple religious trust for the shallow multitude and movement to another level by mystical experience for the serious seekers. In the first case there is the hope that in a God-governed world all is arranged for the best, while in the second there is the overwhelming feeling that it is so. The philosopher is also possessed of hope and feeling but, venturing into a wider area, adds knowledge.
We see the underside of the pattern only--and merely a part of it at that--and inevitably judge Nature to be cruel, "red in tooth and claw." If we could see the upper side and the whole of it, the pattern would show itself perfect.
From this ultimate point of view there are no sins, only ignorance; there are no clumsy falls, only steps forward to the heart's wiser levels; there are no misfortunes, only lessons in the art of disentanglement.
Pain and suffering belong only to this physical world and its shadow-spheres. There is a higher world, where joy and happiness alone are man's experience.
The structure and working of the universe may not be stamped with "goodness" as we understand it, nor with "perfection" as we envisage it. Consider them from all aspects, however, in a philosophical manner and you will find them essentially "right."
Because there is a Divine Mind back of the universe, there are Divine Wisdom and Goodness in the universe.
The universe of our experience is governed by justice and wisdom, by ultimate goodness and infinite power.
The universe has infinitely more intelligence behind it than the men who live in it. This remains true even though there is much that seems unnecessarily brutal and unacceptable to compassionate believers in a divine order.
Let evil appearances be what they are, the revelation of insight contradicts them and shows the divine presence throughout the whole universe and behind all happenings.
Even the violent, sudden, and unwanted decease of such a multitude of persons in war, pestilence, famine, or eruption has a positive meaning in the divine World-Idea and is not at all vain or useless.
The truth about cosmic laws is sometimes terrifying to our human fears, sometimes repulsive to our human feeling. It may fitly be called ugly at such times. But the infinite power behind those laws is always beautiful.
In spite of contrary appearances this is still God's world.
We live in an orderly world but not in a humane one.
We must find the faith and some of us even the certitude that if it had been possible to think a better cosmos into being, the World-Mind's infinite wisdom would have done so. We cannot believe in God without accepting God's universe also.
We must accept and submit to the World-Idea with its ascending hierarchy of creatures and pre-established order of things.
If we do not know why we are here, the Universal Mind does. We may and must trust it.
When Lao Tzu saw the wonders of the World-Idea he could not help writing: "The Supreme Essence nurtures all things with care and love."
Nature of the World-Idea
Whatever we call it, most people feel--whether vaguely or strongly--that there must be a God and that there must be something which God has in view in letting the universe come into existence. This purpose I call the World-Idea, because to me God is the World's Mind. This is a thrilling conception. It was an ancient revelation which came to the first cultures, the first civilizations, of any importance, as it has come to all others which have appeared, and it is still coming today to our own. With this knowledge, deeply absorbed and properly applied, man comes into harmonious alignment with his Source.
Thought is the product of mind. The unique, perfect, and all-harmonious thought evolving the cosmos is the World-Idea.
The World-Idea is self-existent. It is unfolded in time and by time; it is the basis of the universe and reflected in the human being. It is the fundamental pattern of both and provides the fundamental meaning of human life.
The World-Idea holds within itself the laws which rule the world, the supreme intention which dominates it, and the invisible pattern which forms it.
There is an infinite number of possibilities in the evolution of man and the universe. If only certain ones out of them are actually realized, this is because both follow a pattern--the World-Idea.
All the activity of this entire universe is God's activity. Everything is being carried on according to the pattern and the rhythm set by the divine World-Idea.
All the forms and developments, the creatures and objects which make the never-ending picture of the cosmos derived from the World-Idea; everything conforms to it.
Just as the World-Idea is both the expression of the World-Mind and one with it, so the Word (Logos) mentioned in the New Testament as being with God is another way of saying the same thing. The world with its form and history is the embodiment of the Word and the Word is the World-Idea.
The pattern of the whole universe is repeated in the pattern of the solar system, and that again in the atom's structure. There is no place and no being where the World-Idea does not reincarnate itself.
The World-Idea provides secret invisible patterns for all things that have come into existence. These are not necessarily the forms that our limited perceptions present to us but the forms that are ultimate in God's Will.
The deeper thinkers among our astronomers see no beginning and no end to the universe; it is to them a process and not a static thing. To this view a philosopher would echo assent, but in accordance with the World-Idea. Just as the wave of life prepares, enters, and leaves our human bodies, so does it prepare, enter, and leave each of the numerous universes.
The World-Idea permeates all existence, patterns all forms, and expresses itself in all evolution.
When the revelation of the World-Idea came to religious mystics they could only call it "God's Will." When it came to the Greeks they called it "Necessity." The Indians called it "Karma." When its echoes were heard by scientific thinkers they called it "the laws of Nature."
What we call here the World-Mind's master image is not quite different from, although not quite the same as, what Plato called the eternal idea and what Malebranche called the archetype of the universe.
Mahat, the divine ideation of the Hindu teachings, may possibly be correlated with the World-Idea, but I have not examined the doctrine. Nor do I know whether Plato's divine archetypes meet exactly the same definition. But I do know that all three constitute the world as seen by the Universal Mind.
Plato's doctrine of a timeless world of archetypal ideas which are copied imperfectly in the physical one may be compared with the doctrine of the World-Idea stated elsewhere in this teaching.
Jung's archetypes, as far as I know his thought (and I am not a student of much of it), apply to the unconscious of the human being. The archetypes of the World-Idea, if you wish to call them that, apply universally and are not concerned with the human species alone.
The Stoics pointed to Reason (Logos) as the divine spirit which orders the cosmos. Plato pointed to Mind (Nous) in the same reference.
There is a universal order, a way which Nature (God) has of arranging things. This is why what we see around us as the world expresses all-pervading meaning, intelligence, and purpose. But we catch only a mere hint of these veiled qualities--the mystery which recedes from them is immeasurably greater.
The intelligence displayed by Nature is an infinite one. This fact, once recognized, forces us to concede that there is a deeper meaning and a wiser purpose in life than our puny intellects can adequately fathom.
The World-Idea is secret, its activity is silent, but its effects are everywhere visible and audible to us.
Immanuel Kant referred to "the hidden plan of Nature." Thus, without benefit of any mystical revelation but with that of acutely concentrated deep thinking to guide him, he sensed the presence of the World-Idea.
It is safe to assert that nearly all the activities of the cosmos are beyond ordinary human sense observations. Without the aid of special apparatus or thinking power we are unaware of them.
The World-Idea contains the pattern, intention, direction, and purpose of the cosmos in a single unified thought of the World-Mind. Human understanding is too cramped and too finite to comprehend how this miraculous simultaneity is possible.
The World-Idea is the whole idea that no human mind can grasp in its time-long entirety and its spiralled cycles.
In some way that the limited mind of man cannot understand by its ordinary processes, the universe exists in the World-Idea out of passing time and in an unbroken Now.
The World-Idea manifests itself by degrees but the Idea itself is a perfect whole.
The World-Idea not only includes everything existent but also everything which is yet to exist.
We may think of the World-Idea as a kind of computer which has been fed with all possible information and therefore contains all possible potentialities. Just as its progenitor the World-Mind is all-powerful, all-present, and all-knowing, it is also possible to think of the World-Idea as being this all-knowing, omniscient aspect of the World-Mind.
What is most extraordinary about the cosmos is that although it is a coherent Whole, yet it is one that is greater than, and different from, the sum of its parts.
The World-Idea is forever realizing itself in the actual, a process which is ceaseless and infinite, without known beginning or known end.
The World-Idea works itself out in time, which is the form wherein the thoughts appear, and in history, which is the record of time.
In the larger workings of the World-Idea we may see the rise and fall of entire cultures, civilizations, religions, and even whole continental areas with their inhabitants and races.
The World-Mind's World-Idea unfolds with absolute regularity and perfect sequence.
The World-Idea is slowly expanding itself on earth, incarnating itself.
The World-Idea is embodied in the world itself.
All that we perceive of the universe in which we live incarnates some part of the World-Idea.
The universe is a system of geometric forms.
The connection between number and form is easy to see: the multiplicity of forms makes the universe. The harmony of all three is their divine ordering--a part of the World-Idea.
The two elements become the five, the five become the seven, the seven become the twelve. And so the universe grows up.
There is a mathematical order in the cosmos, a divine intelligence behind life, an Idea for human, animal, plant, and mineral existences.
We see the entire cosmos is ruled by rhythm; its operations are cyclic: consequently this must be expressed through number and order.
Both mathematics and metaphysics deal with abstract concepts. Neither a point nor a line is more than an idea; the points and lines we see are different from the mathematical definitions of them. Pythagoras gave a prominent place to mathematics in his philosophy and claimed that the universe was built on Number.
The geometrical orderliness of the World-Idea gives us assurance, restores meaning to the external universe, and extracts the hope that the anguish of these decades will be amply compensated.
Pythagoras pointed out that the universe is based on number. This would mean there is a mathematical foundation to the cosmic order. The most important of the happenings was the 26,000 year cycle whereby the celestial pole moves in a complete circle around the ecliptic pole.
The World-Idea must not be regarded as something inert, nor only as a pattern, but also as a force through which the World-Mind acts, and through which it moves the universe.
The World-Idea would be more correctly understood for what it is if regarded as something dynamic and not static. It is a mental wave, forever flowing, rather than a rigid pattern.
The World-Idea is all one projection containing countless different forms and stages of itself undergoing countless changes. It is not a single static rigid thing.
It is a paradox of the World-Idea that it is at once a rigid pattern and, within that pattern, a latent source of indeterminate possibilities. This seems impossible to human minds, but it would not be the soul of a divine order if it were merely mechanical.
The archetypes of the World-Idea are ever-new yet basically ever-ancient. The states of development, function, consciousness, appearing as mineral, plant, and man repeat themselves without end but the detail within them is less rigid.
The World-Idea contains within itself, like a seed, all the elements and all the properties of a universe which subsequently appear. In this sense they are predestined to recur eternally even when they dissolve and vanish. The ancient Egyptian text puts it: "I become what I will." The World-Idea is thus the pre-existing Type of all things and all beings.
There is an Order in the universe to which it has to conform. Yet it is not so rigid as the carrying out of an architectural plan. Nor like an architect-built world does it allow only for creation and maintenance; for it allows for destruction too. I call it the World-Idea.
If this universe was built, like a house, on a plan, its own life and the life of all things in it would be fated within iron walls. If, on the contrary, its course was an extempore and spontaneous one, with each phase freshly decided by the situation of the moment, it would be too much a matter of chance and fortuitous happenings. That would be as dreadful as the other.
It would be a mistake to believe that the World-Idea is a kind of solid rigid model from which the universe is copied and made. On the contrary, the theory in atomic physics first formulated by Heisenberg--the theory of Indeterminacy--is nearer the fact. It does not seem that Plato meant the same thing when he described his theory of Ideas as referring to eternally existent Forms, but mentalism does not at all liken them to goods laid up on shelves in warehouses. Here they are simply the infinitude of possibilities, varieties, permutations, and combinations of elements through which the Infinite Mind can express itself in an infinite universe without ever exhausting itself.
The notion that the universe is laid out on an architectural plan holds some truth but more error. Its truth appears in the geometrical pattern of the World-Idea, its error in the separate building materials theoretically involved. For of Matter there is none.
World-Idea is ultimate determinant
Nothing can come to pass that is contrary to the will of the World-Mind, or that is not already mysteriously present in the World-Idea.
All is formed according to the World-Idea, shaped and permeated by its expression of the Divine Will. All things which exist and all events which happen fulfil the World-Idea and are necessary to it.
In the ultimate sense, all history--whether planetary or racial or personal--is preordained. No chance event, no human planning can defeat the divine World-Idea.
The universe takes the pattern it does out of realization of its own inherent and latent possibilities. The Divine Will prevails everywhere within it, from atom to planet.
The World-Idea must subsist through all the spectacles of history, must remain the beginning, the middle, and the end of it all, must operate and dominate inside and outside men's will.
The World-Idea is what is ordained for the universe, its divine prescription.
In the end the World-Idea must triumph. Nature, whose guests we all are, issues her dictates and executes them by her own power.
All things must in the end as in the beginning conform to the World-Idea or there would be no order in the universe.
Universal laws will not suffer defeat.
All is known to the World-Mind--not only as it was in the past but also as it will be in the future. If it were otherwise then the World-Mind would not be able to maintain the universe in complete function and all its parts in complete relation, nor would it be able to move all the planets in rhythmic revolution. God could not be God if everything were not exactly knowable and every consequence predictable in advance. But that in its turn could not be unless everything were predeterminable too. This is contrary to common modern and Western belief that it is what we, as human beings, freely choose and do, and what we try to get in satisfaction of our desires, which determines what course the future takes.
If we all lived in a chaos and not in a cosmos, then it could be said that man's will was completely free. But in that case the sun's will, the stars' wills and the moon's will, would also have to be completely free. All things and all lives would then be subject to caprice, chance, and disorder.
The World-Idea is perfect. How could it be otherwise since it is God's Idea? If we fail to become a co-worker with it, nothing of this perfection will be lost. If we do, we add nothing to it.
No man can do anything to alter the World-Idea. It is God's Will in every possible meaning of the word.
The World-Idea will be realized anyhow, whatever human beings do or fail to do.
The World-Idea contains so many combinations of pattern and characteristic that the possibility of living human creatures duplicating one another during the same historic epoch is non-existent.
There is no thing or person, no creature or object, which has not its individual place in the cosmic pattern. Such is one item of this revelation.
Each item in the World-Idea is unique: nowhere is there another precisely like it.
The characteristics of a natural thing which it shares in common with similar things in its category are not alone: there are others which belong solely to it alone, for Nature produces no two things wholly alike.
Differences in function exist throughout Nature--variety is everywhere--but this need not imply difference in status.
Every imaginable kind of human comes sometime somewhere to birth.
No one else has a self like yours. It is unique.
Be it creature or plant, it seeks expression for those attributes of which its form is both symbol and meaning.
The amazing uniqueness of each human being's body extends not only to its measurements and its movements but also to its psychic aura; there is not one which is not special, different in some way or to some degree.
No two persons have the same appearance. Nor, if we could examine them, the same minds.
Not only are no two creatures alike, but no creature ever has two experiences which are alike.
Plant several seeds from the same plant. They will not grow up into identical plants but into individually different ones, no two roots, stems, or branches being alike.
What is the reason why each man and woman is unique? This solitariness is true not only of the body but also of the mind. No other man in this world today is like me. The true answer to the question is also the only possible one. The Infinite World-Mind manifests itself in an infinite variety of forms in the attempt to express its own infinitude. But since every form is necessarily limited, full success is necessarily impossible. The process of creation will be an eternal one.
No two men are ever alike, no two hands are ever the same. The Infinite Being tries to express itself in infinite individuality, just as it tries to reproduce itself in infinitely varied degrees of consciousness.
Each man is unique because the Infinite Mind has an infinite number of diverse ways in which to express itself.
On the ``why'' of ``creation''
By an act of faith we may accept the religious belief in creation, that God brought the universe to be, and it was. By an act of logic, we may think that the universe formed itself according to the mechanical laws of nature.
The Medieval concept of the universe as a drama being played out according to a plot, a first beginning and a final end fully revealed to man, is unacceptable. For the universe is beginningless and endless, its ever-changing activity moving too mysteriously for the finite brain of humanity to comprehend much more than just a significant hint.
Is the World-Mind having a game with its hapless creatures, or playing tricks on itself, or expressing its own irrationality and idiocy? My first Buddhist teacher jocularly suggested that the Creator must have been in a state of complete inebriation when He made this universe. But, of course, we have no right to demand that our small finite minds should have the secret revealed to them. They are incapable. Yet intellectual curiosity and spiritual aspiration for truth keep pushing us to seek answers for apparently unanswerable questions.
Radhakrishnan rightly says that the human mind, whether in his own country or in the West, has been unable to solve the problem of creation. But this failure was inevitable. The human intellect created the problem for itself; it is an illusory one: it simply does not exist in fact, in Nature. The problem vanishes when the intellect itself vanishes--as both do in the deepest contemplation.
Since no one could have been present before that Beginning which the West calls Creation, no one could directly know why the universe was manifested at all. But the intuitive intelligence of the sages penetrated to this idea, that the infinite potentiality and indefinite expansion or contraction of the universe expresses in space-time form and motion the infinity of the incomparable Void, the unique Reality.
This Universal Pulsation and Rest has repeated itself, in its own varied way, endlessly. So the great Revealers tell us. Why is not known, not even to them. All starts and ends in Mystery. For our own Revealers not only were in communion with levels of consciousness beyond the earthly one but had received visitation from others coming from higher planets.
If it be asked why the world was brought into existence, what can insight say, what can anyone say? That God made the human beings in order to be sought, known, loved, and found? That God made the universe as a mirror in which His image is reflected, and man as a mirror in whom His attributes appear? That man is a fragment forced by his innermost nature ceaselessly to desire reunion with his divine source?
Why creation of the universe? Alone, the eye cannot see itself; but with a second thing present, a mirror, it can do so. This universe is as a mirror to the World-Mind.
Through an unlimited variety of creatures, conditions, and objects, God is forever seeking to see his own attributes. Because God is infinite, this process of creation must likewise be unlimited in every way; it is "a becoming" and never achieves a final result. How could it?
The universe is beginningless and endless; it is its appearance which is intermittent and temporary. It cannot be said to have been created or to have needed a creator. That which has always been in existence, though intermittently in manifestation as man sees it, which has had no beginning or end, requires no Creator. There is nothing for him to create.
We reject all theories of the Divine Principle having a self-benefiting purpose--such as to know Itself or to get rid of its loneliness--in manifesting the cosmos. It is the Perfect and needs nothing. The cosmos arises of itself under an inherent law of necessity, and the evolution of all entities therein is to enable them to reflect something of the Divine; it is for their sake, not for the Divine's, that they exist.
But if the universe has no internal purpose for the World-Mind, it has one for every living entity within it and especially for every self-conscious entity such as man. If there can never be a goal for World-Mind itself, there is a very definite one for its creature man.
There is a rhythmic in-breathing and out-breathing that is God's relation to the universe. Only when we understand the foreverness of this relationship do we understand that there can be no ultimate purpose from God's point of view, only from man's.
It is not possible to answer the question "What is the purpose of creation?" But this will not deter the practical person and genuine seeker from continuing his attempt to fulfil the immediate purpose which confronts all human beings--that of awakening to the consciousness of the divine soul.
If there were really a purpose in the bringing of the cosmos into existence, there would have to be an ultimate end to the cosmos itself when that purpose was realized. But this is irreconcilable with the eternal nature of the universe.
The management of human affairs, the values of human society, and the operations of human faculties are basic influences which necessarily shape human ideas or beliefs about divine existence which, being on a totally different and transcendental level of experience, does not correspond to those concepts. The biggest of these mistakes is about the world's creation. A picture or plan is supposed to arise in the Divine Mind and then the Divine Will operates on something called Matter (or, with more up-to-date human knowledge, called Energy) to fashion the world and its inhabitants. In short, first the thought, then, by stages, the thing is brought into existence. A potter works like this on clay, but his mind and power are not transcendental. The Divine Mind is its own substance and its own energy; its thoughts are creative of these things. Not only so but the number of universes possible is infinite. Not only this, but they are infinitely different, as though infinite self-expression were being sought. The human understanding may reel at the idea, but creation has never had a beginning nor an end: it is eternal. Nor can it ever come to an end (despite rhythmic intervals of pause), for the Infinite Being can never express itself fully in a finite number of these forms of expression.
There is no once-for-all creation at a certain moment in time by a First Cause, but only the appearance of it. There is a series of appearances, as beginningless and endless as the unseen Mind Itself, which is the other aspect of World-Mind, and which is the Real behind all appearances. The creationist doctrine of Semitic and other later religions is not an ultimate one but an understandable one, given to the multitude as something comprehensible by limited mentalities. And we must remember that each "creation" is incomplete, partial, for humans know only their present level of experience and not what else is behind it.
The origin in time and early history of the world, the varied phases and permutations of its evolution, are concerns only for those who believe in causality as an ultimate truth and fact. There is certainly the appearance of causality in the world, but when enquired into it is found illusory. The notion seems impossible but Planck has scientifically shown that strict causal sequence does not operate in the realm of ultimate atomic particles of the physical world.
Philosophy does not accept the Semitic belief in a world created for the first time by a personal creator, and this is as true of the highest Greek philosophy as expressed, for instance, in Aristotle's work on metaphysics as in the highest Asiatic philosophy associated with Buddhism and Hinduism.
The word "creation" is inadmissible here for it signifies producing something out of nothing. No one, not even God himself, can produce something out of nothing. Therefore, the orthodox Christian idea of a mysterious creation is completely untenable.
That the existence of manufactured things indicates a manufacturer is sound logic, but to apply the same analogy to the world is not. For the world is something quite other than them; it is in a category not only altogether apart from them but altogether by itself.
There was never a time when the universe was created or fabricated by a Creator or Maker. This is a case of man making God in his own image.
Through successive cycles the universe comes and goes, is born and dies, as the World-Mind rethinks the World-Idea or lets it lapse.
The universe was never created for the first time for it has always and incessantly appeared and disappeared, activated and rested, come forth, evolved, and retreated into latency.
There has never been a time when there was not a universe, by which I do not mean our own.
There is nothing arbitrary in this "creation." It is really self-determined. Everything brings itself into existence under the necessity of its own being and the laws of its own possibilities.
Where a circle begins it also ends; the universe is like that: it has no real beginning or ending. It is not a creation in the Biblical sense but an intermittent continuation.
Aristotle: "The universe unfolds out of its own essence, not being made." We could add that its pattern unfolds too out of the World-Idea.
The universe has never had a beginning, and cannot have an end, but its forms and states may change and therefore must have a beginning and end.
It is more correct to speak of the universe's birth, not of its creation.
Universe as emanation of Reality
The universe was not made, in a workshop sense; it was emanated. It flowed out of the Original Source and it will flow back there at the appointed time.
The cosmos is neither a phantom to be disdained nor an illusion to be dismissed. It is a remote expression in time and space and individuality of that which is timeless spaceless and infinite. If it is not the Reality in its ultimate sense, it is an emanation of the Reality. Hence it shares in some way the life of its source. To find that point of sharing is the true object of incarnation for all creatures within the cosmos.
Two points should be clearly understood. First, the world of external Nature, being eternal, is not brought into existence by an act of sudden creation out of nothing. Second, this world is rooted in the divine substance and is consequently not an empty illusion but an indirect manifestation of divine reality.
A thought exists in intimate relation with the mind that produces it. The world-thought exists in intimate relation with the World-Mind, God. The world is not bereft of reality although it does not possess ultimate reality.
The world is neither a trap nor an illusion, neither a degradation of the divine essence nor an indication of the divine absence.
What is the meaning of the world? If it is nothing more than an illusion, it can have no real meaning at all. But if it is an expression of infinite intelligence it must be everywhere pervaded by immense meaning.
The truth is ever here, whether unwritten and bodiless or scripted and described. The image of it can be looked at by other generations long afterwards, but the reality of it remains always in the World-Idea and is never lost.
If the world is sheer illusion, how could man--himself a part of this illusion--ever know the Real? Were he merely an illusion he could see only further illusion. Were he part of the Real he could see only further reality.
Since our experience of illusion is itself in accordance with the World-Idea, why should we be afraid of admitting its existence? What we should be afraid of is letting it blot out Reality.
The whole universe is a symbol, whose meaning can be read only when we have learned the alphabet of philosophic laws and experiences.
Our world is but a fleeting symbol, yet we may not disdain it. For it is the arched entrance under which we must pass through to the infinite life.
The world is a spectacle presented for our meditation in depth. It is a clue, a pointing sign, and even a mystery play.
What is the universe but a gigantic symbol of God? Its infinite variety hints at the infinite endlessness of the Absolute itself.
The world stands for something else: it is, first, a token that God exists and, second, an image of God's being.
The universe is a cipher which needs to be decoded. The scientist does this on one level of investigation, the metaphysician on a different level; the religionist does not attempt the effort but reveres the cipher's Author.
Was it not Goethe who wrote: "Everything which happens is only a symbol"? Is not the whole gigantic cosmic effort in the end only a symbolic expression indicating that paradoxically it is and is not?
The more we learn about the universe, the more mysterious it becomes.
The World-Idea has been represented by diagrams (mandala and yantra). The World-Mind has been embodied in images and idols. These things can be and are used in religious worship and mystic meditation. The idol acts as a reminder to its devotee; he is not a fool to confuse the piece of stone with the power of God.
We live in what appears as a multiverse, a timed and spaced existence--in short, a finite one. But those who can pierce through to its secret--and some have done so--find that it is actually the Unconditioned revealing itself as if it were the Conditioned.
This universe appearing in time and space under innumerable forms, its particles and planets ever in motion, hides as its supreme secret THAT which is timeless and placeless, without shape, intangible and immobile. Is this not the greatest paradox, this solid something whose essence is No-thing?
Few men know God even when they see him, as they unrealizingly do when they look around at the world or even when they merely look at it.
The phenomena of the world-form tyrannously and completely masks its reality, so completely that only a dwindling number of people even suspect there is any reality behind it. Spiritual intuition has never been so dormant among the race as during the past hundred years. Form, which should have been a wicket-gate giving entry to its diviner significance, has become a prison in which they are held captive by their own obtuseness.
Chuang Tzu wrote: "There is great beauty in the silent universe. There is an intrinsic principle in created things which is not expressed. The Sage looks back to the beauty of the universe and penetrates into this principle."
These seeming shadows of the spiritual domain are more real than the tangible things which are everywhere taken for reality.
The question "Are inanimate things included in the infinite life?" must answer itself, if you take one of the meanings of this term as being the Great, the All. As a matter of fact, however, science now knows that there are no inanimate things. Its high-power microscopes reveal the presence of minute living cells in materials and substances and liquids which are seemingly dead, and its sensitive electrical instruments reveal the presence of energies in others, such as steel. In the end we have to come back to the basic idea that the universal existence is like (but is not actually) a dream inasmuch as it is all a series of mental experiences projected from one's own mind. And because even the inanimate things such as tables and houses which a dreamer sees are really his ideas--that is, reflections of his own mind and therefore of his own life-energy--consequently they are not really dead things. So too for the mountains and rivers in God's dream. From this standpoint there is no such thing as death, only life. But of course the life of a limited world is poetically like death when compared to the life of the divine world.
There is a marked intelligence within every atom of the cosmos and within every living creature within the cosmos. So far as the human mind shows forth its own native intelligence it reveals, however faintly, the presence of that master-intelligence out of which it spends itself.
The circling earth makes its way through space just as a man makes his way through city streets. It is an intelligent living entity.
If there is life in the plant kingdom, there must be consciousness also. What, then, is this consciousness? It is like that of a deep sleep. Nay, we may even go back further and assert of the mineral kingdom that there is life in it, too. For the cells of plants are built up out of the molecules. It is impossible for the human mind to conceive of what the mineral consciousness is like, but the closest description would be that of the deepest trance.
Whether in the fragile chrysanthemum or the sturdy redwood tree there is life, intelligence, and being. They are fellow dwellers on this curious planet just like all of us.
When we gaze observantly and reflectively around an object--whether it be a microscope-revealed cell or a telescope-revealed star--it inescapably imposes upon us the comprehension that an infinite intelligence rules this wonderful cosmos. The purposive way in which the universe is organized betrays, if it be anything at all, the working of a Mind which understands.
God's immanence is reflected throughout the whole universe. God's reality is indicated by the very existence of the universe. God's intelligence is revealed by the intelligence of the creatures in the universe.
To recognize that the order of the cosmos is superbly intelligent beyond human invention, mysterious beyond human understanding, and even divinely holy is not to lapse into being sentimental. It is to accept the transcendence and self-sufficiency of THAT WHICH IS.
Thought is the spirit of the universe, thoughts are the forms of the universe.
Everything in the universe testifies to a super-intelligent power being behind it.
We live in a universe that is spun out of the divine intelligence and sustained by the divine energy.
At the centre of each man, each animal, each plant, each cell, and each atom, there is a complete stillness. A seemingly empty stillness, yet it holds the divine energies and the divine Idea for that thing.
The Void which man finds at the centre--whether of his own being or of the universe's--is divine. It holds both godlike Mind and godlike Energy. It is still and silent, yet it is the source of all the dynamic energies, human and universal.
God, the infinite power, is everywhere present and always active. All beings draw their little power for the purposes of their transient self-centered lives from it. In the same way the infinite Mind provides the mainspring for the activity of each little egoistic mind.
The smallest one-celled creature is alive with an energy which comes from the universal energy that is the expression of the World-Mind.
The same energy which runs in waves or flows in streams of particles through the universe's atoms courses through man. In both cases it issues forth from a centre which is divine.
There is no moment when the unseen divine activity is not present in the universe. Everything is being carried on by the divine Power and divine Wisdom.
The secret stream of a diviner life flows ceaselessly beneath our mundane existence.
The cosmic order is divine intelligence expressed, equilibrium sought through contrasts and complementaries, the One Base multiplying itself in countless forms, the Supreme will established according to higher laws. The World-Mind is hidden deep within our individual minds. The World-Idea begets all our knowledge. Whoever seeks aright finds the sacred stillness inside and the sacred activity in the universe.
It is not only man that is made in the image of God: the whole universe likewise is also an image of God. It is not only by coming to know himself that man discovers the divine life hidden deep in his heart: it is also by listening in the stillness of Nature to what she is forever declaring, that he discovers the presence of an infinite World-Mind.
He comes to see the whole cosmos as a manifestation of the Supreme Being. It follows that involuntarily, spontaneously, he brings himself--mind and body, heart and will--into harmony with this view.
Each individual centre of life and intelligence is a replica in minuscule of the World-Mind itself.
Man and nature are metaphysically an appearance, physically an expression, and religiously a creative projection of God.
The World-Idea is slowly but rhythmically being unfolded from the Infinite Mind. Yet if we could speak in spatial terms of what transcends space, we could say that the Idea and its process of unfoldment occupy no more than a single point in that vast Mind.
Although the universe expresses Mind, it does not exhaust it. The universe is not the entire God-Consciousness.
If the Infinite Being is represented by an infinite number of atoms, ways, creatures, and relationships, both harmonies and oppositions, this is only to be expected. If it is itself inexhaustible, its manifestations must be the same.
The universe only partially expresses the characteristics of World-Mind. Its own tremendous spaciousness strives--but of course always strives in vain--to unfold the infinitude of World-Mind.
Not only man was made in the image of God, but also the universe. It is as geometrically infinite as God is absolutely infinite. There is no limit to the number of things in it, no limit to the differences among those things, and no limit to the space it occupies.
The number of objects and creatures, stars and suns is by a natural necessity infinite. Infinite being can only express itself infinitely. The worlds cannot be counted; the space which contains them cannot be measured.
We live in a universe which is only one amid an infinity of other universes whose patterns, as we find with individual living things, show infinite differences of detail while sharing certain basic general forms.
If there is infinite variety in the teeming life of the universe, this arises partly because of the need to satisfy the infinite number of possibilities through which the infinite life can alone express itself.
Descartes argued that the universe could not be infinite since infinity was an attribute which the Deity alone possessed. He considered the universe to be undetermined, indefinite.
The notion of infinity implies that it cannot be extended, and whoever understands this will not look in this world for anything which contradicts the implication.
It is quite logical that this vast range of the most varied forms should have come into existence. How else could Infinite Being express itself under the limitations of the physical world except so continuously, so endlessly and differently?
The infinite permutations of Nature are so vast and so varied only because they are an attempt to express the infinite being in terms of time, space, form, and motion. But such an attempt can never come to any finality; it is endless: a forever-turning spiral.
In the world's life there is every kind of joy and every kind of suffering, because there is every kind of creature. The world could not have been manifested at all if it had not manifested infinite variety as an expression of the infinitude of the divine power behind it. Surely this is what Plato saw when he described time as the moving image of eternity.
The tremendous monumentality of the World-Idea, the staggering breadth of its scope and variety are a mere hint of the divine wisdom behind both.
Somewhere in her writings Blavatsky says that the universe, however vast, is finite. But Epicurus, in a sharply termed piece of logic, tries to demonstrate that the universe is infinite. He says, "That which is finite has an end; who would deny that? Again that which has an end is seen from some point outside itself; that too must be granted; but the universe is not seen from without itself; we cannot question that proposition either; therefore since it has no end the universe must be infinite."
Each universe, however vast, is finite. But the possible number of universes is not. The Infinite Being, by some strange necessity (from the human standpoint, contemplating a fathomless mystery), forever sponsors fresh universes as old ones decay and disappear. In this way It seems (again from the human standpoint), by giving expression to an infinite number of universes, to be expressing Its own infinite nature.
The Notebooks are copyright © 1984-1989, The Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation.