Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation homepage > Notebooks of Paul Brunton > Perspectives > Chapter 27: World-Mind


All scientific evidence indicates that there is a single power which presides over the entire universe, and all religious mystic experience and philosophic insight confirms it. Not only is this so, but this power also maintains the universe; its intelligence is unique, matchless, incredible. This power is what I call the World-Mind.

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.

For us who are philosophically minded, the World-Mind truly exists. For us it is God, and for us there is a relationship with it--the relationship of devotion and aspiration, of communion and meditation. All the abstract talk about nonduality may go on, but in the end the talkers must humble themselves before the infinite Being until they are as nothing and until they are lost in the stillness--Its stillness.

We are frequently informed by religious and mystical sources that God is Love. It would be needful for those who accept this statement to balance and complete it by the affirmation that God is Pure Intelligence.

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.

If God were not a mystery He would not be God. Men who claim to know Him need semantic correction; this said, their experience may yet be exceptional, elevating, and immaterialistic. But let God remain God, incomprehensible and untouchable.

In the sense that the World-Mind is the active agent behind and within the universe, it is carrying the whole burden of creation; it is the real doer, carrying us and our actions too.

Swami Narayananda said, "God is the Subject of all subjects. In one sense He can never be known. It being the very Subject of all subjects how can we know it? To know means to objectify a thing, and the Supreme Subject can never become an object. In another sense, God is more than known to us. For it is our very Self. What proof do we want for our very existence?"

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.

Men of inferior intelligence quite naturally want a God who will be attentive to their requirements, interested in their personal lives, and helpful during times of distress. That is to say, they want a human God. Men of superior intelligence come in time to consider God as an impersonal essence that is everywhere present, and consequently embodied in themselves and to be communed with interiorly too. That is to say, they recognize only a mystical God. Men of the highest intelligence perceive that the "I" is illusory, that it is only ignorance of this fact that causes man to regard himself as a separate embodiment of the divine essence, and that in reality there is only this nondual nameless being. How impossible it is to get men of inferior intelligence to worship or even to credit such an Existence which has no shape, no individuality, no thinking even! Hence such men are given a figure after their own image as God, a deity that is a personal, human, five-sensed being.

All verbal definitions of the World-Mind are inevitably limited and inadequate. If the statements here made seem to be of the nature of dogmatic concepts it is because of the inadequacy of language to convey more subtle meaning. They who read these lines with intuitive insight allied to clear thinking will see that the concepts are flexible verbal frames for holding thought steady in that borderland of human consciousness where thinking verges on wordless knowing.

The Light of the World-Mind is the Source of the physical universe; the Love of the World-Mind is its structural basis.

The World-Mind is called Adi-buddhi in the Nepalese-Tibetan esotericism: meaning Divine Ideation, the First Intelligence, the Universal Wisdom.

The World-Mind eternally thinks this universe into being in a pulsating rhythm of thought and rest. The process is as eternal as the World-Mind itself. The energies which accompany this thinking are electrical. The scientists note and tap the energies, and ignore the Idea and the Mind they are expressing.

God-active, the Unseen Power, is (for us humans) the World-Mind. God-in-repose is Mind.

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.

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.

The point which appears in space is a point of light. It spreads and spreads and spreads and becomes the World-Mind. God has emerged out of Godhead. And out of the World-Mind the world itself emerges--not all at once, but in various stages. From that great light come all other and lesser lights, come the suns and the planets, the galaxies, the universes, and all the mighty hosts of creatures small and great, of beings just beginning to sense and others fully conscious, aware, wise. And with the world appear the opposites, the dual principle which can be detected everywhere in Nature, the yin and yang of Chinese thought.

Were the World-Mind beyond, because outside, the finite universe, then it would be limited by that universe and thus lose its own infinitude. But because it includes the universe completely within itself while remaining completely unlimited, it is genuinely infinite. World-Mind is neither limited nor dissipated by its self-projection in the universe. If World-Mind is immanent in the universe, it is not confined to the universe; if it is present in every particle of the All, its expression is not exhausted by the All.

The Intelligence which formulated the World-Idea is living and creative--in short, Divine. The so-called laws of nature merely show its workings.

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."

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.

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.

There is no power in the material universe itself. All its forces and energies derive from a single source--the World-Mind--whose thinking is expressed by that 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.

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.

Thus make it. Unseen itself, its presence is seen in every earthly form; unthinkable though it be, its existence is self-manifested in every thought.

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 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.

If the divine activity ceases in one universe it continues at the same time in another. If our World-Mind returns to its source in the end, there are other World-Minds and other worlds which continue. Creation is a thing without beginning and without end, but there are interludes and periods of rest just as there are in the individual's own life in and outside the body.

The one infinite life-power which reveals itself in the cosmos and manifests itself through time and space, cannot be named. It is something that is. For a name would falsely separate it from other things when the truth is that it is those things, all things. Nor would we know what to call it, since we know nothing about its real nature.

Modern man looks in all sorts of impossible places for an invisible God and will not worship the visible God which confronts him. Yet little thinking is needed to show that we are all suckled at the everlasting breast of Nature. It is easy to see that the source of all life is the sun and that its creative, protective, and destructive powers are responsible for the entire physical process of the universe. However it is not merely to the physical sun alone that the aspirant addresses himself but to the World-Mind behind it. He must look upon the sun as a veritable self-expression and self-showing of the World-Mind to all its creatures.

All the forces of the physical world are derived from a single source--the solar energy.

The statement "Light is God" is meant in two senses: first, as the poetical and a psychical fact that, in the present condition of the human being, his spiritual ignorance is equivalent to darkness and his discovery of God is equivalent to light; second, as the scientific fact that has verified in its findings that all physical matter ultimately reduces itself to waves of light, and since God has made the universe out of His own substance, the light-waves are ultimately divine.

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