Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation homepage > Notebooks of Paul Brunton > Category 27: World-Mind > Chapter 3: World-Mind and ``Creation''
World-Mind and ``Creation''
How does God "create" the universe? Since in the beginning God alone is, there is no second substance that can be used for such "creation." God is forced to use his own substance for the purpose. God is Infinite Mind, so he uses mental power--Imagination--working on mental substance--Thought--to produce the result which appears to us as the universe.
Can anything be derived from something that is essentially different from it? This is impossible. Therefore existence cannot be derived from non-existence. If the universe exists today, then its essence must have existed when the universe itself had not been formed. This essence needed no "creation" for it was God, World-Mind, Itself.
The universe is the World-Mind coming out of itself and therefore making its manifestation out of its own substance--that is, Mind--just as the spider spins out a web from itself.
The visible cosmos has come into being out of the invisible absolute by a process of emanation. That is why the relation between them is not only pantheistic but also transcendent.
The creation is inseparable from its creator; indeed, they are but two names for one and the same thing, for God has objectified part of his own being as the universe which we see.
"I called the whole world His dream: I looked again, and lo! His dream was Himself."--fifteenth-century Persian mystic Sayyid Nimatullah
The World-Mind, limiting itself, shutting down its focus, produces what we know as the physical universe.
The fact that the cosmic existence is a beginningless and endless one eliminates the need of finding a Creator. It is itself a manifestation of an eternal principle, which is its own divine soul and not a second and separate thing.
When Prospero says, in Shakespeare's play, "We are such stuff as dreams are made on," he implies the existence of some greater Mind in which we are the dreams.
Any hypnotist may invent a seeming world for you but it will be gone in a few minutes or hours. Only the World-Mind can invent one that will last and outlast the whole human race.
Will the cosmic dream come to an end? If his personal life is a dream for man, is the universe a dream for God? The answer is that the World-Mind controls its dream, man does not.
Mind is the first and last Real, the Doer Maker and Destroyer. It imagines the world even as it creates it.
Philosophers devoid of reason find
This world a mere idea of the mind;
'Tis an idea--but they fail to see
The great Idealist who looms behind.
The universe is the imaginative construction of the World-Mind.
"The core and the surface of life are essentially the same," wrote wise old Lao Tzu.
Every form of existence can be reduced to a form of consciousness. The final essence of all these consciousnesses is God.
The tree of material objects and the tree of mental ideas rise from a common but unknown root--Brahman.
He who knows Brahman as the root and the universe as the branch of the tree of life fears not death, says an old Indian text.
The act of creative meditation which brings the universe into being is performed by the World-Mind. We, insofar as we experience the world, are participating in this act unconsciously. It is a thought-world and we are thought-beings.
Somehow, this infinite life germinates an infinite variety of minds and puts them through an infinite variety of experiences. However real they may seem through its mysterious working, they are all appearances only.
This play of mind upon mind will reach its end with the last act, and the world-dream will then begin to dissolve.
World-Mind is doing its works by providing the basic materials and necessary energies.
The One Mind appears both as the millions of little minds and as the mental images of things, creatures, or events which they come to know, see, or experience.
In the end all things finally come from World-Mind and for us come from mind, which itself comes from the same source.
The World-Mind is expressing through an infinite number of minds its own infinitude multiplied by infinity an infinite number of times.
Spinoza arrived at this truth by clear mathematical reflection, that "each particular thing is expressed by infinite ideas in infinite ways in the infinite understanding of God."
In all these studies the principal concept should be returned to again and again: the entire universe, everything--objects and creatures--is in Mind. I hold all the objects of my experience in my consciousness but I myself am held, along with them, in an incredibly greater consciousness, the World-Mind's.
The notion propounded by certain celebrated theologians and mystics that "God has need of me just as I have need of him" is a fantasy, a self-constructed opinion based upon an egoism which is unwilling and unable to let go of its own importance.
God does his own work. He needs no partner, no associate, no helper.
Eckhart's assertion that "Without man God would not know he existed" requires explanation.
It is not that God, the Unique, needs a second thing, a cosmos, in order to be Itself, but that our human thought about God is incapacitated by the utter void in which God dwells.
God needs no partner and has no enemy. For the power of God is not only above that of all other entities but it is the source whence they themselves derive.
It is the presence of the World-Mind which makes things happen according to the World-Idea: the former does not need to put forward each particular activity.
No engineer can form an engine merely by throwing together all the necessary pieces of metal, not even by throwing together all the finished parts. His mind and will must be brought to bear upon them. It is exactly the same with the universe itself. A universal intelligence, a World-Mind and its willed activity, must be active behind it, too.
Mind is not the final Reality, but a basic aspect of it. Will is another.
The self-sufficing World-Mind has nothing to gain for itself by this universal activity.
What could the Supreme Power gain by bringing the world into existence? It is not like the humans who have desires to be satisfied or limitations to be removed.
Those who point to the marvellous pattern of the universe as a proof of the existence of Deity, do well; but when they begin to render account of the reasons which induced Deity to turn Himself into myriad souls and to blind their divine sight by involving them into this material universe, it is time to put on our shoes and walk away. For no philosopher and no theologian, no occultist and no mystic has yet solved this supreme riddle in a truly satisfying manner.
World-Mind imagines and objectifies things and happenings, and man is within this space-time net. God is within the universe but unbound by its limitations. God is free in a sense in which no human being is free. For the conflict of motives which precedes every act of human freedom is entirely absent from the acts of God, which are truly spontaneous.
No one knows why the Infinite Power must go on incarnating something of Itself in the universe; everyone can in the end only accept the fact, for the question is answerless.
Why do I reiterate, "All is Opinion"? Because no one was or could have been present at creation--hence all theories of creation and of God are guesses only. Moreover, God is utterly incomprehensible to finite man.
All those who pretend to give answer to the purpose of life, and why the universe was created, may be answered with the words of India's oldest known book, the Rig-Veda: "Who knows exactly, and who shall in this world declare, whence and why this creation took place? The gods are subsequent to the production of this world: then who can know whence it proceeded? He who in the highest heaven is the ruler of this universe--he knows or does not know!"
The World-Mind is forever attempting to reflect its qualities and attributes in the universe but its success is forever only a very limited one.
When I say that God did not bring forth the universe by first arriving at the decision to "create" it and then deliberately carrying out this decision, but rather by inherent Nature and inner necessity, I mean that the universe is already and eternally within God. No decision was needed nor could there have been one, any more than a man may decide to be masculine. Bringing the universe out of Itself is a function, quality, or attribute--none of these terms is quite correct but a better is hard to find--an obedience to the law of God's own being.
The movement which brings the universe into being out of the World-Mind's stillness is a spontaneous, not a deliberate, one. It just happens because it is the very nature of the World-Mind to make this movement.
It is an inner compulsion rather than an inner necessity that moves the World-Mind to bring about these repeated reincarnations of the universe.
What I termed in The Wisdom of the Overself "an inner necessity" as being responsible for this self-activity of World-Mind in bringing forth the universe needs, I now see, some clarification if it is not to be incorrectly understood. It is the nature of World-Mind to be passive by turns, just as it is the nature of animals and humans to be active on waking, at rest when sleeping. In this nature, there is imbedded a desire to express something of itself in the cosmos. But this desire is not for its own benefit, for the Perfect has nothing to gain. In all manifested creatures, desire seeks self-benefit, obvious or hidden; not so in the World-Mind. Its activity exists only for the benefit of this multitude of creatures.
It is exempt from evolution and retrogression and ever will be what it ever was. Consequently it can have no self-benefiting purposes in the cosmic process.
If we try to consider the inner necessity which makes the World-Mind manifest Itself to Itself through an other, a cosmos, we find ourselves on the threshold of a mystery. How could compulsion, limit, or desire arise in the desireless one? Human intellect can only formulate such a question, but cannot answer it.
The moment we assert that this infinite Power has a motive in making the cosmos, a purpose in creating the world, in that moment we limit it and ascribe need or want or lack to it.
The World-Mind has the power of vigorous creativeness as an essential attribute of its nature. It will stop its work of sustaining the universe when it stops being what it is. There is no other purpose behind creation than that of continuing its own existence. To understand this is to understand that the question as to purpose is not at all applicable to the World-Mind but only to an imagined and inferior being, one which could start or discontinue.
Distinguishing World-Mind and Mind
It is not enough to know what World-Mind has put forth in this universe by its presence. We must also know, intellectually at least, what it is in itself.
Out of this vast void comes the universe. What then must be the ineffable and incredible Mystery hidden behind it from our sightless eyes?
Take the beginning and the end of the Greek alphabet and suppose that the first letter, Alpha, is the first faint stirrings of the universe. And take the last letter, Omega, to be the last vanishing trace of that universe. Imagine that Alpha is the reincarnation of the previous Omega, and you will have a key to what is really happening. But what is this mysterious invisible intangible source whence all this is derived and into which all this passes?
The notion of a Personal God includes a truth and an error. So far as there is a World-Mind, manifesting along with a world itself, the notion is true. But so far as there is only the Unique, the One without a Second, both are appearances, phenomena out of the Noumenon. In the case of the world, it appears in time out of the Timeless; but in the case of the World-Mind, all times are embraced in its Duration. Yet it too withdraws into its other aspect, Mind--only.
There has been so much friction and clash between the different religions because of this idea: whether God is personal or impersonal--so much persecution, even hatred, so unnecessarily. I say unnecessarily because the difference between the two conceptions is only an apparent one. Mind is the source of all; this is Mind inactive. Mind as World-Mind-in-manifestation is the personal God. Between essence and manifestation the only difference is that essence is hidden and manifestation is known. World-Mind is personal (in the sense of being what the Hindus call "Ishvara"); Mind is totally impersonal. Basically, the two are one.
On the two views of God--transcendence and immanence: One view conditions your conception of God, the other sets limits to him. But if you simultaneously affirm both one and the other point of view, you will be exempt from error.
As Mind, it is beyond all the relativities of this world, beyond time and space, human thought and human imagination. As World-Mind it is immanent in the world itself, the Lord of the All, the God whom men worship, yet cyclic in Its existences.
The World-Mind, however, has a double life. As Mind, it is eternally free but as the World-Mind, it is eternally crucified, as Plato said, on the cross of the world's body.
Manifestation implies the necessity of manifesting. But it might be objected that any sort of necessity existing in the divine equally implies its insufficiency. The answer is that the number One may become aware of itself as being one only by becoming aware of the presence of Two--itself and another. But the figure Nought is under no compulsion. Here we have a mathematical hint towards understanding the riddle of manifestation. Mind as Void is the supreme inconceivable unmanifesting ultimate whereas the World-Mind is forever throwing forth the universe-series as a second, an "other" wherein it becomes self-aware.
God-active, the Unseen Power, is (for us humans) the World-Mind. God-in-repose is Mind.
The creative power or energy which comes from World-Mind is not the ultimate essence-consciousness which is God.
It is needful to point out the difference between the divine essence and the divine energies. The latter may be several and varied, but the former is always single.
It is the difference between Mind as it is in itself, and Mind as it expresses through the cosmos.
It would, however, be a mistake to consider the World-Mind as one entity and Mind as another separate from it. It would be truer to consider World-Mind as the active function of Mind. Mind cannot be separated from its powers. The two are one. In its quiescent state it is simply Mind. In its active state it is World-Mind. Mind in its inmost transcendent nature is the inscrutable mystery of Mysteries but when expressing itself in act and immanent in the universe, it is the World-Mind. We may find in the attributes of the manifested God--that is, the World-Mind--the only indications of the quality, existence, and character of the unmanifest Godhead that it is possible for man to comprehend. All this is a mystery which is and perhaps forever will remain an incomprehensible paradox.
Mind active and mind in quiescence are not two separate beings, but two aspects of one and the same being as they appear to human inquiry. Mind active expresses itself in the heart of man as his higher self and in the universe as the World-Mind.
The World-Mind is a radiation of the forever incomprehensible Mind. It is the essence of all things and all beings, from the smallest to the largest.
Mind is the Real; matter is the appearance it takes on. The universe comes by degrees out of the ultimate Being, beyond which nothing is or could possibly be. It is Mind, measureless, with a Power equally measureless. World-Mind is this power in operation, creating, maintaining, and in the end destroying what it has brought forth.
If it be true that absolute divine Mind knows nothing of the universe, nothing of mortal man, then it is also true that the World-Mind, which is its other aspect, does know them.
The Notebooks are copyright © 1984-1989, The Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation.