Esoteric cosmology

Esoteric cosmology

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Esoteric cosmology is cosmology
Cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

 that is an intrinsic part of an esoteric or occult system of thought. It almost always deals with at least some of the following themes: emanation, involution, spiritual evolution
Spiritual evolution
Spiritual evolution is the philosophical, theological, esoteric or spiritual idea that nature and human beings and/or human culture evolve, extending from the established cosmological pattern or ascent, or in accordance with certain pre-established potentials...

, epigenesis
Epigenesis
Epigenesis may refer to:* Epigenesis , describes morphogenesis and development of an organism* By analogy, a philosophical and theological concept, part of the concept of spiritual evolution* The Epigenesis, a 2010 album by Melechesh...

, planes of existence or higher worlds (and their emanation and the connections between them), hierarchies of spiritual beings, cosmic cycles (e.g., cosmic year
Cosmic year
According to Jeung San Do, the universe generates and cultivates life through a cyclic process of birth, growth, harvest, and rest . This is closely related to the fluctuation and interplay of the two polar energies, yin and yang and its cycle appeared in daily, yearly, and cosmically...

, Yuga
Yuga
Yuga in Hindu philosophy is the name of an 'epoch' or 'era' within a cycle of four ages. These are the Satya Yuga, the Treta Yuga, the Dvapara Yuga, and finally the Kali Yuga. According to Hindu cosmology, life in the universe is created, destroyed once every 4.1 to 8.2 billion years, which is...

), yogic
Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

 or spiritual disciplines and techniques of self-transformation, and references to mystical
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 and altered states of consciousness.

Such cosmologies cover many of the same concerns also addressed by religious cosmology
Religious cosmology
A Religious cosmology is a way of explaining the origin, the history and the evolution of the universe based on the religious mythology of a specific tradition...

 and philosophical cosmology
Cosmology (metaphysics)
Cosmology in metaphysics is the reflection on the totality of all phenomena. It contrasts with physical cosmology, the study of the origin of the universe in scientific terms after the Copernican Revolution....

, such as the origin, purpose, and destiny of the universe and of consciousness and the nature of existence. For this reason it is sometimes difficult to distinguish where religion or philosophy end and esotericism or occultism begins. However, esoteric cosmology is distinguished from religion in its more sophisticated construction and reliance on intellectual understanding rather than faith, and from philosophy in its emphasis on techniques of psycho-spiritual transformation.

Examples of esoteric cosmologies can be found in Gnosticism
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

, Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism , is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas...

, Nagualism, Nagualism (Carlos Castaneda), Tantra
Tantra
Tantra , anglicised tantricism or tantrism or tantram, is the name scholars give to an inter-religious spiritual movement that arose in medieval India, expressed in scriptures ....

 (especially Kashmir Shaivism
Kashmir Shaivism
Among the various Hindu philosophies, Kashmir Shaivism is a school of Śaivism consisting of Trika and its philosophical articulation Pratyabhijña...

), Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

, Sufism
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

, the teachings of Jacob Boehme, The Urantia Book
The Urantia Book
The Urantia Book is a spiritual and philosophical book that discusses God, Jesus, science, cosmology, religion, history, and destiny. It originated in Chicago, Illinois, sometime between 1924 and 1955...

, the Sant Mat
Sant Mat
Sant Mat was a loosely associated group of teachers that became prominent in the northern part of the Indian sub-continent from about the 13th century...

/Surat Shabda Yoga
Surat Shabd Yoga
Surat Shabd Yoga or Surat Shabda Yoga is a form of spiritual practice that is followed in the Sant Mat and many other related spiritual traditions...

 tradition, Theosophy
Theosophy
Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

, Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development...

, The Cosmic Tradition
Cosmic Tradition
The Cosmic Tradition is a series of six volumes, and also a cosmological doctrine, authored by Max and Alma Theon around the turn of the 20th century. The books, four volumes of which are available on-line in French, tell a creation myth and the early history of the world, in an elaborate...

 of Max Theon
Max Theon
Max Théon perhaps born Louis-Maximilian Bimstein, was a Polish Jewish Kabbalist and Occultist. In London while still a young man, he inspired The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor in 1884, but seemed to have little to do with the day to day running of the organisation, or indeed its actual teachings...

 and his wife
Alma Theon
Alma Theon , born Mary Chrystine Woodroffe Ware , was an occultist and clairvoyant, and wife and co-worker of Max Theon....

, Max Heindel
Max Heindel
Max Heindel - born Carl Louis von Grasshoff in Aarhus, Denmark on July 23, 1865 - was a Christian occultist, astrologer, and mystic. He died on January 6, 1919 at Oceanside, California, United States.- Early infancy :...

 (The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception
The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception
The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception or Mystic Christianity is a Rosicrucian text, written by Max Heindel - Western Wisdom Teachings :The first edition was printed in November 1909...

), elements of the teachings of Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo , born Aurobindo Ghosh or Ghose , was an Indian nationalist, freedom fighter, philosopher, yogi, guru, and poet. He joined the Indian movement for freedom from British rule and for a duration became one of its most important leaders, before developing his own vision of human progress...

, Meher Baba
Meher Baba
Meher Baba , , born Merwan Sheriar Irani, was an Indian mystic and spiritual master who declared publicly in 1954 that he was the Avatar of the age....

, the Fourth Way propounded by Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, PaGaian Cosmology and many current New Age
New Age
The New Age movement is a Western spiritual movement that developed in the second half of the 20th century. Its central precepts have been described as "drawing on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and then infusing them with influences from self-help and motivational...

 teachings, to give only a few examples.

Gnosticism


Gnostic
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

 teachings were contemporary with those of Neoplatonism. Gnosticism is an imprecise label, covering monistic as well as dualistic conceptions. Usually the higher worlds of Light, called the Pleroma
Pleroma
Pleroma generally refers to the totality of divine powers. The word means fullness from comparable to πλήρης which means "full", and is used in Christian theological contexts: both in Gnosticism generally, and by Paul of Tarsus in Colossians Colossians 2:9 KJV .Gnosticism holds that the...

 or "fullness", are radically distinct from the lower world of Matter. The emanation of the Pleroma and its godheads (called Aeons) is described in detail in the various Gnostic tracts, as is the pre-creation crisis (a cosmic equivalent to the "fall" in Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 thought) from which the material world comes about, and the way that the divine spark can attain salvation.

Hinduism



The Rig Veda is adored by Hindus as the most sacred scripture, and the Vedas have traditionally been lauded as containing the secrets of cosmogenesis
Cosmogenesis
Cosmogenesis is the origin and development of the cosmos. This term "Cosmogenesis" was used by Helena P. Blavatsky to describe the content of Volume I of her two-volume The Secret Doctrine, published in 1888; volume II was called "Anthropogenesis" or the origin of humanity.-Teilhard...

. The knowledge of cosmology
Cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

, of physical processes and particles, of the creative-destructive interplay of matter and energy contained in the Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

 is very abstruse, and thus is well beyond what the uninitiated will comprehend. Therefore, Vedic sages coded their knowledge in a simple form in which the underlying principles and processes could be taught and understood. The sacred words of Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

 are a representation of the creation and unfolding of the universe, the process of cosmogony
Cosmogony
Cosmogony, or cosmogeny, is any scientific theory concerning the coming into existence or origin of the universe, or about how reality came to be. The word comes from the Greek κοσμογονία , from κόσμος "cosmos, the world", and the root of γίνομαι / γέγονα "to be born, come about"...

. The nature of atomic and subatomic particles, gravity, electromagnetism, the cohesive forces of the universe, the wave function and entropy have all been anticipated and described in the words of the Rig Veda.

"The Vedic mantras are in the never-decaying remotest sky, wherein the deva
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

s reside. One who does not know that, what will he do with the Vedic mantras? One who knows that, the deva
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

s stay with him." (Rig Veda 1.164.39)

Kabbalah


Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

 combines orthodox Judaic, Neoplatonic, Gnostic, and philosophical (e.g. Aristotlean) themes, to develop an elaborate and highly symbolic cosmology in which God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

, who is ineffable and unknowable, manifests as ten archetypal sephirot, each with its own Divine attributes, and arranged in a configuration of interrelated paths called the Tree of Life
Tree of Life
The tree of life in the Book of Genesis is a tree planted by God in midst of the Garden of Eden , whose fruit gives everlasting life, i.e. immortality. Together with the tree of life, God planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil . According to some scholars, however, these are in fact...

. The original Tree gives rise to further trees, until there are four or (in Lurianic Kabbalah) five worlds or universes (Trees) in all, with the lowest sephira of the lowest world constituting the material cosmos.

This cosmology proved highly popular with occultists, and formed the basis of Western hermetic thought (e.g. the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was a magical order active in Great Britain during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which practiced theurgy and spiritual development...

 and subsequent organisations), where it is associated with a form of astral travel called "pathworking".

Neoplatonism


Although under Plotinus
Plotinus
Plotinus was a major philosopher of the ancient world. In his system of theory there are the three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. His teacher was Ammonius Saccas and he is of the Platonic tradition...

, Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism , is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas...

 began as a school of philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, the teachings of later Neoplatonists such as Iamblichus and Proclus
Proclus
Proclus Lycaeus , called "The Successor" or "Diadochos" , was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, one of the last major Classical philosophers . He set forth one of the most elaborate and fully developed systems of Neoplatonism...

 incorporate additional details of the emanation process in terms of the dialectical action of the hypostases
Hypostasis (Neoplatonism)
The word hypostasis means underlying state or underlying substance. It is the fundamental reality that supports all else. Neoplatonists argue that behind the surface phenomena that present themselves to our senses are three higher spiritual principles or hypostases, each one more sublime than the...

 and further subdivisions from Plotinus' original three hypostases. Each higher hypostasis constitutes a more sublime deific state of existence. There is also a tendency in later neoplatonic thought towards increasing transcendentalism and dualism. Although Plotinus saw spiritual ascent as leading ultimately to the One (The Absolute), in later Neoplatonism the best one can hope for is irridation of the Soul
Soul
A soul in certain spiritual, philosophical, and psychological traditions is the incorporeal essence of a person or living thing or object. Many philosophical and spiritual systems teach that humans have souls, and others teach that all living things and even inanimate objects have souls. The...

 by the Nous
Nous
Nous , also called intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, very close in meaning to intuition...

 above.

Neoplatonic ideas were later taken up by Gnosticism, Kabbalah, Christianity (Pseudo-Dionysius
Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite
Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, also known as Pseudo-Denys, was a Christian theologian and philosopher of the late 5th to early 6th century, the author of the Corpus Areopagiticum . The author is identified as "Dionysos" in the corpus, which later incorrectly came to be attributed to Dionysius...

), and, in the 19th century, Theosophy.

Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception


Max Heindel
Max Heindel
Max Heindel - born Carl Louis von Grasshoff in Aarhus, Denmark on July 23, 1865 - was a Christian occultist, astrologer, and mystic. He died on January 6, 1919 at Oceanside, California, United States.- Early infancy :...

 presents in his The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception
The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception
The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception or Mystic Christianity is a Rosicrucian text, written by Max Heindel - Western Wisdom Teachings :The first edition was printed in November 1909...

(1909) an evolutionary process of man
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 and the universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

, correlating science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 with religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

. This work of esoteric knowledge contains the fundamentals of the Rosicrucian Philosophy and also deals, among other topics, metaphysics
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 and cosmology
Cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

. The second part of the book contains the scheme of Evolution in general and the Evolution of the Solar System
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

 and the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 in particular, according to Heindel. In the field of cosmology (Cosmogenisis and Anthropogenesis) it teaches about the Worlds, Globes and Periods, Revolutions and Cosmic Nights related to life waves and human development and also the constitution of our solar system and of the Universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

: The Supreme Being, the Cosmic Planes and God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

.

Theosophy & Anthroposophy


H.P. Blavatsky in her Theosophical
Theosophy
Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

 writings presented a complex cosmology, in terms of a sevenfold series of cosmic planes and subplanes, and a detailed sevenfold system of cycles and sub-cycles
Round (Theosophy)
A round in the esoteric cosmology of Theosophy, Anthroposophy and Rosicrucianism is a cosmic cycle or sequence by which an evolving reincarnating being passes through the various stages of existence as the Earth, the Solar System or the Cosmos comes into and passes out of manifestation.-The...

 of existence. These ideas were adapted by later esotericists like Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, and esotericist. He gained initial recognition as a literary critic and cultural philosopher...

 (Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development...

), Max Heindel, Alice Bailey
Alice Bailey
Alice Ann Bailey , known as Alice A. Bailey or AAB to her followers, was an influential writer and theosophist in what she termed "Ageless Wisdom". This included occult teachings, "esoteric" psychology and healing, astrological and other philosophic and religious themes...

, and Ann Ree Colton
Ann Ree Colton
Ann Ree Colton founded the system of Niscience. Niscience is a word she coined meaning to know beyond academic knowledge. While the number of people who practice the techniques she taught and identify themselves as Niscienes is small, her influence is nevertheless significant, and her writings...

, and some of these ideas were included in New Age
New Age
The New Age movement is a Western spiritual movement that developed in the second half of the 20th century. Its central precepts have been described as "drawing on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and then infusing them with influences from self-help and motivational...

 thought.

Michael Sharp


Michael Sharp in The Book of Light elucidates a Kabbalistic cosmology where "consciousness is the root" of all things including (and perhaps especially) the physical universe and all its dimensions. According to Sharp, consciousness "unfolds" from the original, monadic I (the single point) to the current state of trillions upon trillions of monads which exist in multiple dimensions and in multiple universes. As consciousness unfolds through the twelve levels of The Unfolding, dimensions are added as a sort of epiphenomenon (i.e., they emerge because of the peculiar state of consciousness). First there is perspective, then chance, then time, space, etc. All told there are twelve "dimensions" of existence that correspond to the twelve levels in The Unfolding. Not all of these dimensions correlate directly to physical aspects of the physical multiverse but all of them are rooted in the changing composition (state) of consciousness.

Sharp's cosmology is particularly interesting because no matter how complex the universe gets, it is ultimately all an aspect or a state of the grand creator consciousness. It is also interesting because the cosmology does away, for better or worse, with traditional esoteric canon regarding "soul evolution" and replaces it with the collective alleviation of boredom. That is, it is not our purpose to advance towards God, work towards redemption, or redeem ourselves from sin. Like the artist who paints a canvas or the musician that plays a song, it is our purpose to create in an interesting and entertaining fashion.

Max Theon and the "Cosmic Philosophy"


The occultist Max Theon
Max Theon
Max Théon perhaps born Louis-Maximilian Bimstein, was a Polish Jewish Kabbalist and Occultist. In London while still a young man, he inspired The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor in 1884, but seemed to have little to do with the day to day running of the organisation, or indeed its actual teachings...

 developed a sophisticated cosmology
Cosmic philosophy
Cosmic Philosophy is the name Max Theon gave to the occult teachings given by his wife Alma Theon and himself. It is presented in the journal Cosmic Review, the six volumes of the Cosmic Tradition, and the Cosmic Movement they established in the first decade of the twentieth century.Apart from...

, incorporating Lurianic
Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria , also called Yitzhak Ben Shlomo Ashkenazi acronym "The Ari" "Ari-Hakadosh", or "Arizal", meaning "The Lion", was a foremost rabbi and Jewish mystic in the community of Safed in the Galilee region of Ottoman Palestine...

 Kabbalistic and other themes. This describes a number of divine and material worlds, and four or eight "states" (equivalent to the Theosophical Planes), each divided into degrees, each of which are in turn subdivided into sub-degrees. The details of these various occult worlds, their beings, recognisable colours, and so on, were all laid out, but very little of this material has yet been published.

External links

  • Puranic Vaishnava cosmology - planetarium
  • Planes of Existence - Kheper website
  • The Thirty-one Planes of Existence - according to Buddhist
    Buddhism
    Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

     cosmology
  • Sant Mat
    Sant Mat
    Sant Mat was a loosely associated group of teachers that became prominent in the northern part of the Indian sub-continent from about the 13th century...

     / Surat Shabd Yoga
    Surat Shabd Yoga
    Surat Shabd Yoga or Surat Shabda Yoga is a form of spiritual practice that is followed in the Sant Mat and many other related spiritual traditions...

     charts
- Sant Ajaib Singh Ji Memorial Site
- Genesis, Planes of Creation, Positive & Negative Powers
  • The Great Continuum Of Consciousness according to George A. Boyd
  • The Visible and Invisible Worlds according to Max Heindel
    Max Heindel
    Max Heindel - born Carl Louis von Grasshoff in Aarhus, Denmark on July 23, 1865 - was a Christian occultist, astrologer, and mystic. He died on January 6, 1919 at Oceanside, California, United States.- Early infancy :...

     & related Diagrams in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception
    The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception
    The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception or Mystic Christianity is a Rosicrucian text, written by Max Heindel - Western Wisdom Teachings :The first edition was printed in November 1909...