hierarchy of being

Hierarchy of Being, Simple and Complex

“That which engenders the world of sense cannot itself be a sense world, it must be the Intellect and the Intellectual world; similarly, the prior which engenders the Intellectual Principle and the Intellectual world cannot be either, but must be something of lesser multiplicity. The manifold does not rise from the manifold: the intellectual multiplicity has its source in what is not manifold; by the mere fact of being manifold, the thing is not the first principle: we must look to something earlier.

“All must be grouped under a unity which, as standing outside of all multiplicity and outside of any ordinary simplicity, is the veritable and essential simplex.

“Still, how can a Reason Principle (the Intellectual), characteristically a manifold, a total, derive from what is obviously no Reason Principle?

“But how, failing such origin in the simplex, could we escape (what cannot be accepted) the derivation of a Reason principle from a Reason principle?

“And how does the secondary good (the imaged good) derive from the Good, the Absolute? What does it hold from the Absolute Good to entitle it to the name?” ~Plotinus

Matter and Intellect Hierarchy of Being

Plotinus, while apparently having a significant amount of spiritual knowledge, has difficulty grasping the idea of something greater than intellect. That is not too surprising. So many people today think the same way. Many even think the soul is just a part of the mind or another name for the mind. It isn’t.

Plotinus has the relationship of matter and Intellect (thought) down correctly, but he can’t seem to get beyond that, accept on an abstract level. He doesn’t know that the true hierarchy of complex beings like man is: the physical body, intellect or mind, psychic body, spirit, and soul. Four levels, not two, not three. Four levels of being. Four dimensions of existence.

Hierarchy of Being

While Plotinus has an incomplete hierarchy, he does understand how the hierarchy works. The basic idea is that you can’t create or generate something greater than yourself. You can’t generate something with more knowledge than you have. Therefore, the generated must always be of a lower or equal level in the hierarchy of being. It can never be higher than that which generated it. So the intellect (mind) could not be generated by the physical body. It has to be the other way around. Thought generates matter. Matter cannot generate thought. And the mind had to be generated by something higher.

Plotinus doesn’t say, or even speculate, on what that is. It should be obvious, however, that what is higher than intellect is spirit and soul. So the idea that spirit and soul grew out of the body or the mind is just nonsense. The created has to be of an equal or lower level than the creator. Spirit is definitely a higher level than mind or matter. Matter is temporary, constantly changing, constantly being destroyed and replaced. Spirit is permanent. It doesn’t die, get sick or old, it doesn’t fade away. It can become dormant from lack of use and that is the state it is in when we enter the physical realm. Very few people ever bother to awaken the spirit and soul. The primary reason is simply that they have not been made aware that it is necessary or how to do it.

It is only logical, then, to say that the spirit and soul could only be created by something even higher. That something, that Ultimate Consciousness, is what most of us call God. That universal spiritual consciousness creates all spirits and souls. Individual minds—the intellect of man—is generated from the spirit and soul. The physical body is a generation of mind. Top to bottom. The real hierarchy of being.

Simple to Complex Hierarchy of Being

It is said that evolution goes from the simple to the complex. Simple single-celled life forms evolved into simple multi-celled forms like the sponges, then to forms with complex parts and organs with different functions. So it seems like the hierarchy of being is simple to complex. That is only true when you look only at the physical level. If you include the mental, psychic, and spiritual levels of being, you see that matter has fallen from the spirit level that is much higher than matter. In a way, the spiritual level seems simple, but that is true only if you look just at that one level. It is, in fact, the most complex level of being because all other levels are below it, within it.

History of the Hierarchy of Being

Material science tells us that man is a recent development, evolved from lower beings, most recently apes. But that conclusion is made by ignoring the higher levels, or by believing that mind and spirit were generated by the physical body. As already discussed, that is a false belief. In truth, we existed for a very long time as pure spirits before man became physical. We existed before there even was a physical universe of matter. When everything was spirit, we were. Spirits and souls are ageless, eternal.

The other levels are the result of the Great Fall caused by the fallen angels. Only then did the current hierarchy of being come into existence.

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I and ego

I and Ego, Not Perfect, But Necessary

“Let us then begin at the beginning and remind ourselves of a few of the trite and primary facts which all practical persons agree to ignore. That beginning, for human thought, is of course the I, the Ego, the self-conscious subject which is writing this book, or the other self-conscious subject which is reading it; and which declares, in the teeth of all arguments, I AM. Here is a point as to which we all feel quite sure. No metaphysician has yet shaken the ordinary individual’s belief in his own existence. The uncertainties only begin for most of us when when we ask what else is.

“To this ‘I,’ this conscious self ‘imprisoned in the body like an oyster in his shell,’ come, as we know, a constant stream of messages and experiences. Chief among these are the stimulation of the tactile nerves whose result we call touch, the vibrations taken up by the optic nerve which we call light, and those taken up by the ear and perceived as sound.

“What do these experiences mean? The first answer of the unsophisticated Self is, that they indicative of the nature of the external world. …It is immediately apparent, however, that this sense-world, this seemingly real external universe, –though it may be useful and valid in other respects—cannot be the external world, but only the Self’s projected picture of it.” ~Evelyn Underhill

The I and Ego

Underhill has it correct. At least when it comes to physical life on earth. Our first hint of conscious thought is always I. That is to say that when we first start thinking, everything is seen and felt as it relates to us. We have no other point of reference but Self. That ego, which so many silly schools have deemed something superfluous that needs to be destroyed, is something we are born with. It is also something we will die with. It cannot be totally destroyed, and those who waste much time trying to will make little spiritual progress. Yet this concept continues to be promoted. Why? Because it benefits the government, that’s why. It doesn’t benefit the individual who loses all interest in accomplishment of any sort. It doesn’t benefit his spirit and soul if he becomes indifferent to what happens to him. But it does benefit governments. It makes sheep out of people, the so-called sheeple. Governments love sheeple. They don’t rock the boat. They don’t protest. They do what the government tells them to do. They do what the corporations who own the government tell them to do. That is why the destruction of the ego is promoted. It is not a spiritual thing at all.

The World of Senses

Yes, the world of the physical senses is the world of I and Ego. But Ego is more than just interpreting the information coming from the senses. It is also the desire to know, to learn, to grow. Take away ego, or greatly suppress it, and you have no desire to grow, to change yourself, or to make the world a better place.

The world of the physical senses may be limited, yet important. We may not like it, but we do live in the physical world, and we must function in it. That means we have to use the physical senses, even if they are limited. Of course, what we know of the physical world doesn’t come primarily from those senses. It comes from the brain’s interpretation of the senses. It is in those interpretations that many fantasies become reality to us.

Beyond Ego and Senses

But the physical senses are not the only we have. We are also equipped with spiritual senses, though we rarely use them. That is because they don’t communicate with the brain, but with the soul instead. If the soul has not been awakened, then those senses are unused. Even when awakened, what they experience may not be communicated to the conscious mind. Exceptions sometimes occur through intuition. But the development of our spiritual faculties can increase the level of that communication. Of course, it does need that much-maligned ego to communicate with.

I and Ego Summary

I and Ego may be all about the physical world, but in a sense, our spirit and soul live in our physical body. So while we dwell here, I and Ego are necessary. You might be able to do without them if you completely withdraw and become a hermit or a monk. Otherwise, you have to function in the material world as well as the physical. I and Ego make it possible to do so. The ego must be controlled—preferably by your own soul—but it is needed.

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three kingdoms

Three Kingdoms of Man: Mind, Body, Spirit

“Thus we are to consider, and highly to know in the Light of Nature, the ground of the Kingdom of Heaven, and of Hell, as also the ground of the Kingdom of this World, and how Man in the Mother’s Body inherits three kingdoms, and how Man in this life bears a threefold image, which out first parents by the first sin inherited for us; therefore we have need of the Treader upon the Serpent, to bring us again into the angelic Image. And it is needful for Men to tame his body and mind, [or bring them under subjection,] with great earnestness [and labor,] and to admit himself under the Cross, and not to hunt so eagerly after pleasure, riches, and the bravery of this world, for therein sticks perdition.” ~Jakob Boehme

Light of Nature

To most of us, light is light. We don’t think of there being multiple types of light. If we do, it is artificial light and natural light that we think of. But there is a third kind. That is spiritual light. What Boehme is saying here is that natural light is associated with the physical world. So when spiritual people tell you to turn to the light, enter the light, he saw the light, or some such declaration, they do not mean this light of nature. They mean the light of spirit that comes to us through the spiritual sun.

Man in Mother’s Body

This statement should not be taken too literally. It doesn’t refer to man as a fetus. It means man in Mother Nature’s Body. In other words, it means physical man, the man of earth. This man is only a part of the complete man. We are very complex beings. In addition to the physical body and brain-mind, we have a psychic (or astral) body, and a spiritual body and soul. Those levels come not from Mother Nature, but from God. Continue reading “Three Kingdoms of Man: Mind, Body, Spirit”

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body as a tool

Body as a Tool of Mind and Soul

“The body is but the machine used by the mind. If it be week, the power of our thought may be largely used and almost useless is resisting its weakness. The mind is then the workman endeavoring to carry out his design with an imperfect tool. Eventually, this detective tool may derange and destroy entirely the workman’s power.

“Strength of mind and body is the cornerstone of all enjoyment and success. The weak body enjoys little or nothing. Our bodies are reservoirs of force. … What is most desirable for all to know is, how to retain the most of that force during our waking hours and if possible to increase it; because this force has a commercial value in dollars and cents. The weak and exhausted body is neither the body for ‘business’ of pleasure, and all business is best done when it is a pleasure to do it.” ~Prentice Mulford

The Body as a Tool

Yes, we can think of the body as a tool for the mind. It might be more accurate, however, to think of the body and mind more like partners who need to work together. Mulford notes that a mind cannot do its job very well with a weak or sick body. It is also true that the body can’t accomplish much with a damaged or weak mind.

But it doesn’t stop there. While Mulford may only be interested in the body and mind, there is also the spirit and soul to be considered. The spirit and soul certainly don’t need the physical body to function. They may use it, however, to help with certain things that they wish to do.

It is not true, however, that the body can exist without a spirit. It can exist without a soul, or at least without the divine soul which is the soul most people mean when they talk about the soul. We also have a mundane soul that is linked to the body. The divine soul, however, is very loosely connected to the body and will leave if the body and mind commit serious acts of violence such as murder.

So in short, we are complex beings and we function best when all the parts work together in peace and harmony. Body, mind, psyche, spirit, and soul all need to be friends and partners. When they are not, or one part is too weak or damaged to properly function, the whole being suffers. Continue reading “Body as a Tool of Mind and Soul”

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