Notebooks of Paul Brunton > World Idea
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.
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.
Philosophy offers as a first truth the affirmation that we live in a universe of purpose and not one of caprice.
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.
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 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.
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.(P)
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.(P)
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.
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.
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 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.
There is a mathematical order in the cosmos, a divine intelligence behind life, an Idea for human, animal, plant, and mineral existences.
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.
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.
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.(P)
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.
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.
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.(P)
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 whole universe is a symbol, whose meaning can be read only when we have learned the alphabet of philosophic laws and experiences.
The world is a spectacle presented for our meditation in depth. It is a clue, a pointing sign, and even a mystery play.
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?
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?
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."
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.
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.(P)
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.(P)
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.(P)
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.(P)
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.
We too are elements of the world like the mountains and flowers around us and need to understand it in co-operation with the need to understand ourselves. The two cannot be separated without loss to our own fullness of understanding and practicality.
"He who knows not the world-order, knows not his own place therein."--Marcus Aurelius
As knowledge of the true facts about the world in which we live becomes available (and I mean by knowledge not only scientific knowledge, but also spiritual knowledge and psychical knowledge), more and more the human race will discover that it has obligations to the cosmos, and that they cannot be ignored without retribution.
It is not possible, and it is not necessary, for any human mind to learn all the higher laws governing life. But it is possible to learn some of them and also the archetypal ways in which the World-Idea manifests. With them, one has something of a key to the unknown laws.
The Notebooks are copyright © 1984-1989, The Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation.