The cosmological side of Ouspensky’s teaching is a model of how One, the Absolute, creates a series of ‘worlds within worlds’, living beings of ever increasing complexity and density. It describes the eternal circulation of the pure light of consciousness descending into matter and ascending again from materiality to consciousness.
This process produces a scale of levels of materiality and the four states in which they are experienced — a ‘ray of creation’. Every stage of the picture on the left is a whole living entity, containing all the ones below it just as a human being is made up of organs, cells, molecules etc. — like a set of Russian dolls. This is a holistic view: each individual level is a whole or ‘holon’, a part of the one above it and containing all the one’s below it.
Ouspensky’s system regards everything in the universe as alive. ‘Life’ is seen as an animating intelligence — matter imbued with consciousness.
Human beings only see ‘life’ in things which live on a scale close to their own. It is not immediately obvious to conceive of a rock or a star as possessing a degree of sentient and intelligent life commensurate with its own space, time and level of energy.
In scales or worlds that we cannot directly experience, like the molecular world of our own bodies or the whole universe, we see only ‘matter’ — the world of atoms and elementary particles or the world of stars and galaxies. As yet, science has little conception of the meaning of the scale, perceiving these apparently distant worlds only as matter and energy in dimensions of space and time beyond the reach of living human senses.
As human beings, energy from all the levels of the universe flows continually into and out of us, whether we know it or not. We are, literally, one with everything, filled and sustained by the light of consciousness at every level of our existence. The chakras in the human body can be seen as a miniature reflection of the great Ray of Creation.
The human body/mind, born as part of organic life on earth is naturally subject to the 48 orders of laws which create and sustain this level of reality. Nevertheless, higher levels of reality are available to human beings once they realise that this body-mind is not all that they are. At each higher level of consciousness a number of constraining laws drops away allowing greater freedom and understanding.
Ouspensky’s system teaches that all the levels, all the worlds, are brimming with life and consciousness —where other entities consciously exist as living beings analogous, though different, to ourselves.
Science too is now attempting to produce its own unified models of the universe. One of these, the oroborus, an ancient image of a snake eating its own tail, describes a similar process of the eternal circulation and transformation of energy into matter. The horizontal arrows indicate the relationships found in science between the big and the small: for example, the sun works by nuclear fission so its ‘element’ is the nucleus. Where the ouroboros bites its tail, there is the creation of the universe from elementary particles, expanding and condensing to form the universe we now see.
Humans are almost exactly midway in size between the very big and the very small. Quite probably it is impossible to know the ultimate truth about the universe with only a rational mind but there is no need to despair. We seem to live in a very special place, and maybe it’s only organisms of about our size that can have our special kind of Consciousness, ‘able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth’ – to be able to contemplate the large and the small and themselves.
Eyes are our means of sight for the outer world. One develops an inner eye with true Knowledge. This is the highest state of human intelligence in which the Atman gets flashes of the true Knowledge which is not available by other physical senses. It depends upon the level of Consciousness. At the top, Consciousness comprehends everything, at lower levels according to its level.
HH Shantananda Saraswati 29 August 1964.