Volume V - Spiritual Liberty
Part III: THE PHENOMENON OF THE SOUL
In the beginning, when there was no earth nor heaven, there was no other phase of existence than the eternal consciousness, which in other words may be called a silent, inactive state of life or unawakened intelligence that man has idealized as God, the only Being.
In the first stage of manifestation the unconscious state of existence turns into Ilm, consciousness. Every soul is a ray of the consciousness. The nature of the consciousness is that it is radiant, it sends out rays. These pass through all the planes until they reach the ideal manifestation in man.
In the Vedanta the soul is called by three names which denote its three aspects, Atma, Mahatma, Paramatma. Atma is the soul conscious of the life on the surface, Mahatma is the soul conscious as well of the life within, Paramatma is the consciousness that is the soul of souls, conscious of the Absolute within and without, the God of the knower, the Lord of the seer.
In the primal stage of manifestation the consciousness has no knowledge of anything save of being, not knowing in what or as what it lives. The next aspect of he consciousness is the opposite pole of its experience, where it knows all that it sees and perceives through the vehicles of the lower world but is limited to this. When it rises above this experience and experiences the higher world as far as the highest aspect of its being, as said above, it becomes Mahatma, the Holy Ghost that unites Paramatma, the Father, with Atma, the Son, as explained in terms of Christianity.
This whole manifestation is constituted of two aspects of the consciousness, power and intelligence, in poetical terms love and light. All power lies in the unintelligent aspect of the consciousness, and the wisdom of the Creator that we see in the creation is the phenomenon of the intelligent aspect of the consciousness.
All this creation is not created of anything that is outside of the consciousness. It is the consciousness itself which has involved a part of itself in its creation while a part remains as Creator, as water frozen turns into ice and yet water abides within and the ice lasts only for the time that it is frozen; when light reaches the ice it turns into water, its original element. So it is with consciousness; all things have been created out of it, and when their time of existence is finished all return and merge into it.
The consciousness has taken four distinct steps in manifestation, which in Sufi terms are called Ilm, Ishq Wujud, Shuhud. Ilm is the stage in which the consciousness acts as intelligence. Ishq is the stage when the activity of the rays of the consciousness has increased and this has caused confusion among the rays and made power out of the intelligence, which is will in simple terms and in poetical terms love. The third step of the consciousness, Wujud, is the creation of vehicles, such as mind and body, through which it experiences the life on the surface. And its fourth step is its conscious experience of life from the depth to its utmost height, which is called Shuhud, and this fulfills the purpose of all manifestation.
The divisions of one into many are caused by light and shade, and if we looked keenly into life, both within and without, we should realize clearly that it is one life, one light, which appears divided and made into many by different shades. Every luminous object under the shadow of a less luminous object turns darker in part, and this in terms of art is called shade. It is this secret which is hidden under the variety of things and beings.
Time and space are the cause of all creation and the source of all its variety. It is time that changes things and beings from the raw state to the ripe condition, from youth to age, from birth to death. Time brings rise and fall, and space gives success and failure. A person may meet with failure in one place and in another place with success, in one country he may rise and in another country he may fall. If one were to look closely into life one would see that all creation is changed under the influence of time and space whereas no change ever takes place in space or in time. It is in these that the mystery of the whole world abides.
The activity of the consciousness has two aspects, motion and stillness, which causes two distinct things, the expressive power and the faculty of response. From the highest to the lowest plane of existence and in the lives of all things and beings, we see these two forces working unceasingly. Each being for the other, and in the experience of expression and response lies the joy of both; in other words, the satisfaction of the consciousness. The sun expresses, the moon responds; the voice expresses, the ear responds. All the dual aspects of life, such as male and female, show these two aspects. There is not a single thought, speech, action, or event that takes place without the activity of these two; all happiness and success are in their harmony and every fall and failure are in the lack of it. The birth of every thing and being is caused by the meeting of their glance, and death and destruction are the result of their conflict, when either merges into the other and both lose their power.
There are two different ways in which creation takes place from the highest to the lowest plane: intention and accident. The former shows the wisdom of the Creator, who makes all things suited to their purpose; and accident is that which reveals a loss of purpose in things and beings. All the opposites, such as good and evil, sin and virtue, right and wrong, beauty and ugliness, are accounted for by the above two tendencies of the Creator that work throughout creation.
The whole creation acts under the law of attraction and repulsion. Attraction is the affinity which collects and groups atoms and vibrations and all things and beings; it is power, and repulsion is the lack of it. It is these two that uphold the universe; if one of them were to cease to exist the whole universe would crumble to pieces.
The life of the universe in all its workings is entirely dependent upon the law of tone and rhythm.
The pure consciousness has so to speak gradually limited itself more and more by entering into the external vehicles, such as the mind and the body, in order to be conscious of something, for the joy of everything is experienced when it is tried.
The first state of manifestation of the consciousness is of a collective nature, in other words a universal spirit, not individual. There is a saying of a dervish, 'God slept in the mineral kingdom, dreamed in the vegetable kingdom, awakened in the animal kingdom, and realized Himself in the human race.' Therefore the ultimate aim of the eternal Consciousness in undertaking a journey to the plane of mortality is to realize its eternal being.
Each of the said kingdoms has sprung from the preceding one, and each preceding kingdom has developed into the succeeding kingdom. In the mineral kingdom one sees by careful study how the rock has developed into metal, and from metal into a softer earthy substance, until it develops into the plant. And one sees how the development of the plant creates germs and worms, which we call lives, and how from their germ and worm state of being they develop into insects, birds, and beasts. This all shows that nature is working continually to rise to a greater consciousness of life, and finds its satisfaction at last when it has accomplished its journey by rising to its natural and normal state of being, which it accomplishes in man.