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INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
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Joe Corbett has been living in Shanghai and Beijing since 2001. He has taught at American and Chinese universities using the AQAL model as an analytical tool in Western Literature, Sociology and Anthropology, Environmental Science, and Communications. He has a BA in Philosophy and Religion as well as an MA in Interdisciplinary Social Science, and did his PhD work on modern and postmodern discourses of self-development, all at public universities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Kosmic Ontology and the East-West Quaternity
The Kosmos is a fourfold hierarchy of being and consciousness that repeats in self-similar resonance at the micro and macro levels.
Based on the writings of Plotinus and the early Church fathers, the neo-platonic Greek and Christian doctrines of a metaphysical Trinity is well known. Less well known is that this Trinity is actually a Quaternity. Officially since 1950 in the Catholic Church, Mother Mary has been recognized as the fourth ontological foundation of the universe, and Plotinus actually divided the third term in his trinity (World Soul) into upper-mental and lower-material aspects, yielding a fourth from the three. Thus, the so-called Trinity is and always has been, in fact, a Quaternity (just as the doctrinal trinity of the AQAL is and always has been, in fact, a qauternity of Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and JUSTICE).
This Western quaternity, moreover, corresponds to the structures (if not always to the details) of the Eastern ontological conception of the universe in both the Hindu and Buddhist worldviews. Remarkably, through metaphysical contemplation Western and Eastern seers were able to discern what modern science has only recently begun to understand as the ontological structure of the cosmos. The dark energy vacuum, the dark matter informational reservoir, the quantum realm, and the manifest physical universe of concrete objects are the ontic-structures that, as I will argue here, the sages of old were intuiting through an inner exploration of their own consciousness, finding within themselves what was outside and above them.
In this essay I will not repeat the scientific basis for the structure of the universe which I presented in my previous essay on States of Consciousness and the Structure of the Kosmos. Instead I will show how each of the four categories in the Western and Eastern cosmologies may fit into the cosmic ontology we now know to exist as solid scientific theory and fact.
Beginning with Plotinus, the whole of the kosmos is an emanation from the supreme One, which is infinite in being and beyond all description. The One is the Unus Mundi, the Unity without forms or divisions within itself, and yet as the Source of all forms and divisions, it is the Unmoved Mover. In the Christian tradition this is the Father, the supreme God of all creation, and the Creator Himself who is Uncreated. In Hinduism this is Purusha, or Brahma, the Cosmic Man and supreme Self. It is pure consciousness without form and unchanging (turiya). In Buddhism this is the Non-dual state of consciousness, the Buddha nature of sunyata or emptiness, the Kosmic Mind without form, the pure state of empty Suchness, and the Ground of Being. All of these are the descriptive intimations of the dark energy vacuum, which exists everywhere as the Ground of Cosmic Being, but mostly in its pure empty form within the deep intergalactic voids of space as a boiling sea of pure energy pushing the entire universe apart and expanding its horizons at an ever accelerating rate.
The first to emanate from the One is Nous, which is Logos, Reason, or the Word, the primordial patterns and Forms that constitute the Kosmic Mind. This is the realm of the archetypal Ideas, the Forms of forms. In Christianity, the first Idea in the Mind of God, the first to emanate from the Father, is the Son, the Christ who gives meaning and order to the world. In Hinduism this corresponds to Buddhi, the intellect that awakes and observes without itself getting caught in the flux of arising forms. In Buddhism it is the Causal realm of the Witness, or Samadhi, which does not itself act but contains actions, and does not itself have thoughts but contains thoughts. This corresponds to the dark matter informational storehouse or Akashic field, which clumps together with regular matter through gravitation, and records the patterns of interaction that occur between the unmanifest One (the dark energy vacuum) and the manifest universe for later retrieval, adjustment, and modification, in a continuous feedback loop of information exchange between the manifest (creation, the many) and the unmanifest (source, the One) universe.
The second emanation of the One is from the Nous itself, and it is the World Soul, an intermediate realm between the Kosmic Unconscious realm of archetypal Forms and the world of matter. This is an active realm that animates the world and breathes life into it as a vital part of the Life of the Kosmos itself. It is the Anima Mundi. In Christianity this is the Holy Spirit, the intermediary between the Father and the Son that breathes life into the universe through the Form of Christ, filling the kosmos with divinity. In Hinduism it appears as the Manas, the maya generating mind of the active senses, but also as the three gunas of nature in its display of creative-destruction. And in Buddhism the World Soul appears in the subtle realm of dreams and etheric forms that can serve equally as guides and malevolent demons. This is the quantum realm of potentiality and non-locality, of sudden and unexpected arrivals through synchronicity and morphic resonance. It is the interface between the manifest and the unmanifest universe where the exchange of information between the two occurs, and where the Ideas and Forms of the Kosmic Mind storehouse are translated into the material world.
The final emanation is that of matter itself, which is the lower aspect of the World Soul, so it is more like a derivative than an original emanation. But it serves in a sense as the final, solidified, concretized resting state of the One, and more importantly as the starting point for a return to the One. In Christianity this is woman, derived from the rib of man (sorry ladies), but also Mother of Christ, Nature, the creation from which man reborn returns to the One, the Father. In Hinduism this is Prakriti, governed by the guna forces of domestic matter and beholden to the soap opera of maya. In Buddhism it is the gross realm of waking consciousness, deluded and filled with suffering. Welcome to our manifest universe of tiny, starry, romantic candle-lights in a vast sea of energetic darkness.
While the details of each of these categories varies slightly across the different traditions East and West, the overall structure of what they are pointing to is the same, that of a Great Chain of Being. The Kosmos is a fourfold hierarchy of being and consciousness that repeats in self-similar resonance at the micro and macro levels. As the Kosmos is constructed from stage to stage of its existence, so human beings are constructed at the level of their self and psyche. Ending up at the lowest rung of this Kosmic emanation, it is the task of man, and woman, to ascend back up to the Source, to the One Self from which we come, and from there to behold the Majesty of the infinite expanse which is the Ground of our Being.
Perhaps in this context what it means to be liberated is to escape the karmic rebirths of the informational fields stored in the dark matter, and to be released into the infinite expanse of deep intergalactic space towards who knows what new horizons, free of all matter forms and their archetypal patterns (Forms). At this point, one can only speculate. But I think time has shown the “speculations” of the ancient seers to have been very prescient, indeed.