DEMYSTIFYING THE AKASHA Consciousness and the Quantum Vacuum
Ralph Abraham and Sisir Roy
Abraham and Roy 1
Perhaps we should waste no time in explaining what we mean by the word consciousness, as it is a diﬃcult word, and occurs so frequently in this work. Besides its more common meaning of individual mental awareness, it may also include the personal unconscious system, and the collective mind, conscious and unconscious. It is this latter meaning that we generally intend by this word.
Models for consciousness mostly use the apparatus of mathematical physics: curved spaces, continuous ﬁelds, dynamical systems, and so on. The ﬁeld metaphor for consciousness has a long history in India, where the ¯ak¯a´sa (akasha), or ether, is one of the ﬁve elements of the material world. In the medieval literature of Kashmiri Shaivism, the metaphor of spanda, or vibration, is fundamental to a model of consciousness with many tattvas, or levels or categories, and implies an awareness of the ﬁeld concept. There is also an ancient awareness of the etheric ﬁeld in the West, as for example in the apeiron of the Greek philosopher Anaximander (6th C. BCE).
In the West, the ﬁeld model – initially popularized by Madame Blavastky (1877), Teilhard de Chardin (1955), Fritjof Capra (1975), Itzhalk Bentov (1977), Rupert Sheldrake (1981), and others – has become widespread. Up to 1991, all of these developments have involved only continuous ﬁelds and their vibrations, like water waves, good vibrations, waves of consciousness, and the like.
Meanwhile, after the revival of ancient atomistic thinking in the quantum revolution around 1900, quantum ﬁelds have entered the conversations of mystics as well as scientists, such as Fred Alan Wolf (1981), Amit Goswami (1986), and Ervin Laszlo (1987). Speciﬁcally, it is the quantum vacuum ﬁeld or zero point ﬁeld of quantum ﬁeld theory that has come to the fore as a favorite metaphor in consciousness studies, and even identiﬁed explicitly with the akashic ﬁeld in a series of books by Ervin Laszlo since 1987.
In this book we have repurposed a mathematical model for the quantum vacuum, originally due to Requardt and Roy (see Chapter 6), as a model for consciousness. Although we have taken this model from the physics of the quantum vacuum, we do not mean to suggest that the quantum vacuum is identical to the ﬁeld of consciousness. But, we were attracted to this model for its potential to incorporate several eﬀects.
First of all, we wanted our model to be compatible with the so-called paranormal phenomena of individual psychology – telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and so on – as the tendency of science to reject the extensive research results on these eﬀects is partly due to the incompatibility of older models for consciousness. This historical incompatibility is particularly troublesome in the case of the time-dislocation phenomena – precognition, presentiment, and retrocausation – as we explain in Chapter 5.
Secondly, we wanted to contribute a new insight to the infamous mind/body problem –
2 The Digital Akasha
following a suggestion of the late Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1968) in placing consciousness external to physical spacetime.
Thirdly, we wanted to incorporate the entanglement of consciousness (analogous to the nonlocality of quantum physics).
DEMYSTIFYING THE AKASHA Consciousness and the Quantum Vacuum Ralph Abraham and Sisir Roy
Finally, we wanted to build upon the extensive philosophy of the West (the esoteric tradition of the soul and spirit from Plato to Jung, see Chapter 1) and the East (the tattvas and spanda of Kashmiri Shaivism in the Sanskrit tradition, see Chapter 2).
Our model, incorporating these several eﬀects is fundamentally digital, and thus falls into the category the digital philosophy (see Chapter 3).
We discuss the background data (philosophy, quantum concepts, and parapsychology) in Part One. Then in Part Two, we present our model step-by-step.
All these threads are brought together in the Conclusion. Our main discussion, on the construction of continuum spacetime from the discrete akasa, is meant to be potentially compatible with process physics, as well as with general relativity.
The Sanskrit word akasa (ether or space) derives from a (towards) and kasa (to be visible, to appear). Akasa is the subtle ”background” against which everything in the material universe becomes perceptible.
PART ONE: Historical Models
We are concerned with models for consciousness. The word ”model” has many meanings. In the most general sense, it may mean metaphor, analogy, cognitive scheme, and so on. At the most concrete, it may mean a physical object, or graphical representation,, or perhaps, a computer simulation. The word ”consciousness” likewise has a spectrum of meanings. In Part Two, we will present our model for cosmic consciousness in the largest sense. It includes a computer simulation.
Our model is novel in existing outside of space and time, and also in being digital. In Part One we locate these novel features in the context of the history of thought, and explain some of our motivations. In Chapter 1 we review the historical approaches of Western philosophy involving the concept of a continuous ﬁeld of consciousness – soul, spirit, and so on. In Chapter 2 we treat likewise of the approaches of Eastern philosophy – ¯ak¯a´sa, cakra (chakra), ko´sa (kosha), tattva, and so on. In Chapter 3, we outline the parallel history of digital ﬁelds, and in Chapter 4, the quantum vacuum. Finally, in Chapter 5 we review the scientiﬁc literature on paranormal phenomena, including the various theories of continuous mental ﬁelds that have evolved in that literature. Chapter 1. Consciousness Models, Western
In the philosophical tradition of the West (from Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Europe), consciousness models involve hierarchies of continuous ﬁelds, such as the intellectual sphere, or the world soul. In this chapter, we trace a concise chronology of the world soul.
The individual soul is an ageless idea, attested in prehistoric times by the oral traditions of all cultures. But as far as we know, it enters history in ancient Egypt. We will begin with the individual soul in ancient Egypt, then recount the birth of the world soul in the Pythagorean community of ancient Greece, and trace it through the Western Esoteric Tradition until its demise in Kepler’s writings, along with the rise of modern science, around 1600 CE. Then we tell of the rebirth of the world soul recently, rising from the ashes of, again, modern science.
1.1. Ancient Egypt, 2500-600 BCE
We take seriously the possibility that ancient Egyptian culture began around 10,000 BCE. Thus, tentatively, we may regard it is the Ur source for the soul concepts of the Western Esoteric Tradition, including the Greek and the Indian roots. We begin our story of the history (as opposed to the prehistory) of the soul in 2500 BCE, with the Great Pyramid of Cheops.
This world is alive in its entirety and infused with divine spirit.3 ... [Spiritual elements or bodies of ancient Egypt include the Ba, the Ka, and several others. The Ba, or soul, is] the animating principle, the vital or divine spark that viviﬁes all sentient creatures.4 ... [The Ka, or double, is] the power that ﬁxes and makes individual the animating spirit that is Ba.5 ... If during life on earth, the Ka has degenerated to the point where it has been divested of all virtue, of everything truly human, then it does not reincarnate, and the Ka disperses into the various lower animal and vegetal realms. ... It may be this understanding that lies behind the curious doctrine of metempsychosis in which the deceased may be reborn as an animal or even a bush or tree.6
Recent studies of the Pyramid of Cheops and the pyramid texts give an idea of the journey of the soul in the reincarnation process. ”After death, the Pharoah’s soul was said to become a star, to join with Orion in the sky.”7 Alexander Badawy determined in 1964 that the two shafts, cut 200 feet from the King’s chamber to the surface, were aimed at the Pole star, and Orion, in the year 2600 BCE. And according to Robert Baumol, the two shafts from the Queen’s chamber to the surface were aimed at Orion and Sirius in 2450 BCE.8 The supposition is that these shafts were to facilitate the journey of the Pharoah’s soul to its home in the sky, after the death and internment of his body in the pyramid.
1.2. Ancient Greece, 600 BCE – 500 CE
Ancient Greek philosophy evolved in part from Ancient Indian, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian roots.9
1.2.1. Anaximander of Miletus, 610-546 BCE
Anaximander was inspired by Mesopotamian ideas.10 The apeiron is a cosmological theory created by him in the 6th century BCE. His work is mostly lost. From the few extant fragments, we learn that he believed the beginning or ﬁrst principle (arkh¯e) is an endless, unlimited mass (apeiron), subject to neither old age nor decay, which perpetually yields fresh materials from which everything which we can perceive is derived. The apeiron was never precisely deﬁned, and it has generally been understood (e.g. by Aristotle and Augustine) as a sort of primal chaos. It embraced the opposites of hot and cold, wet and dry, and directed the movement of things, by which there grew up all of the host of shapes and diﬀerences which are found in the world. The primeval chaos idea may have derived from Hesiod’s Theogony11 or from the Orphic trinity, Chaos, Gaia, Eros.12
1.2.2. Pythagoras of Samos, 572-512 BCE
Pythagoras of Samos was born around 570 BCE. He traveled and studied in Egypt and Babylon. Initiated into the mysteries of several traditions — Egyptian, Babylonian, and Persian — he returned to Greece and Magna Graecia in southern Italy and carried on with the reforms set in place by the Orphic religion, which became the most important religion of ancient Greece. He is reputed to have been a student of Anaximander. Pythagoras synthesized spiritual and natural philosophy into the framework for classical Greek culture, including the metaphysical and sacred aspect of Number, the One (monad, unity), and its emanations. He introduced the terms philosophy and cosmos. He created a school around 520 BCE in Croton (southern Italy) that emphasized communal living, gender equality, vegetarianism, mystery initiations, Orphic poetry, harmonics, music therapy, the monochord, geometry, arithmetic, and cosmology. The school was destroyed by a rejected and disgruntled follower who led a popular revolt against the community around 500 BCE. Among the important followers of Pythagoras were Philolaus (474 - 385 BCE) and Archytas of Tarentum (428347 BCE), an important inﬂuence on Plato.
The Pythagorean doctrine is based on these three principles:
1. Ideas: matter is attracted to absolute forms, or ideas, which have an existence of their own. Mathematics is the study of these forms. 2. Souls: an animal has an immortal soul, which reincarnates (transmigrates) after death, until a state of perfection is attained. 3. Harmony: ideas and souls are related by sympathy, resonance, or musical ratio.
We may recognize the Pythagorean theory of reincarnation as derived from the Egyptian. The idea of the world soul evolved in this community. The Pythagorean emphasis on the number One suggests an inﬂuence of Indian monism.13
1.2.3. Heraclitus of Ephesus, 535-475 BCE
Heraclitus was a pre-Socratic philosopher from the coast of present-day Turkey. He is known for the aphorism, everything is in a state of ﬂux. Everything is in ﬂux, but while ﬂowing, maintains identity. Similar ideas are found in Indian philosophy some centuries later. He was an important inﬂuence on Plato.
1.2.4. Socrates, 479-399 BCE
Socrates was the agent of a major shift in which classical philosophy turned from nature (or physis) to human life. Also, he is considered among the ﬁrst to emphasize the concept of the world soul. He is known primarily from his portrayal in Plato’s dialogues.
1.2.5. Plato, 429-347 BCE
Plato synthesized Socrates and Pythagoras. First he became a follower of Socrates. He had the genius to grasp Socrates’ meaning, and to present it brilliantly in a series of ten dialogues. Around 390 BCE, Plato had visited Western Greece (Southern Italy and Sicily), encountered Pythagorean communities, met Archytas of Tarentum, the great Pythagorean, and adopted Pythagoreanism as a second inﬂuence. Platonism consists in the joining of these two streams, the Socratic and the Pythagorean. In 387 BCE, Plato created his school in Academe, a suburb of Athens.
Plato expanded the teaching of Socrates on the perfection of the soul into a complete system. In this system, morals and justice were based on absolute ideas. Wisdom consists of knowledge of these ideas, and philosophy is the search for wisdom. In fourteen more dialogues, Plato elaborated this uniﬁed system. His monistic cosmology, emanating from The One, or the Good, derived from Indian sources14.
Plato’s theory of soul is set out primarily in six of the dialogues: Phaedo, Republic II, and Phaedrus, of the middle group of dialogues, 387-367 BCE, Timaeus, around 365 BCE, which divides the middle and last groups, and Philebus and Laws, of the last group, 365-347 BCE.
The development of the individual soul is given in the three dialogues of the middle group, Phaedo, Republic II, and Phaedrus. The Phaedo is a long and detailed examination of the individual soul, its immortality, and reincarnation, supposedly given by Socrates on the day of his death sentence. The Republic describes Plato’s mathematical curriculum for the Academy: arithmetic, plane geometry, solid geometry, astronomy, and music. At the end is the Tale of Er, which details the reincarnation process of the individual soul, as told by an eye witness. In the Phaedrus, Socrates and Phaedrus discourse on love, and on rhetoric. To understand divine madness, one must learn the nature of the soul. Soul is always in motion, and is self-moving, and therefore is deathless. Then begins the important metaphor of the chariot: two winged horses and a charioteer. This metaphor of the soul is used to explain divine madness, and the dynamics of reincarnation.
The world soul is developed in the three later dialogues, Timaeus, Philebus, and Laws. The Timaeus is a discussion among four persons: Socrates, Timaeus, Critias, and Hermocrates. It begins with a review by Socrates of a discussion on the preceding day. This concerned the constitution of the ideal State and its citizens. Then Critias tells the famous story of Atlantis, which was told to his great-grandfather by Solon, one of the seven sages. Then Timaeus is asked to begin the feast with a description of the creation of the Universe. He tells how God, because he was good, made the world after an eternal pattern. He brought order into the world, and soul and intelligence. The world is composed of ﬁre and earth. Being solids, these two elements require two more, water and air, to bind them. The world is a sphere with the soul in the center. The gods made man and the lower animals, and God made the human souls of the same four elements as the body of the universe, along with part of the soul of the universe. Then he set in motion the process of incarnation and reincarnation of these human souls in mortal bodies. The created gods make these mortal bodies of the four elements. As a person becomes a rational creature through education, his human soul moves in a circle in the head (a sphere) within his mortal body.
The Philebus is a lecture by Socrates on wisdom and pleasure. Along the way, he introduces the world soul as the source of individual souls. The Laws is the last of Plato’s writings. It is a long dialogue of three older men, and is unique in that Socrates is absent. The actions of the world soul are discussed in detail.
The relation between Platonic philosophy and India has been studied for many years by Thomas McEvilley, and occupies four chapters in his book, The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies.15
1.2.6. The Stoics, ca 300 BCE
From Plato and Aristotle and their followers came the Stoics, for 500 years the leading school of Greek philosophy. Among other ideas, they further developed the logos concept of Heraclitus, Aristotle, and Philo. This became an element in the Neoplatonic cosmology of Plotinus. Logos has many meanings. Cognate of the verb legein, to say, it may mean language, speech, expression, explanation, formula, purpose, rational basis, plan.
Following Aristotle, the Stoics adopted two principles, or archai: one active, the other passive. These are body and soul, or matter and logos.16 For the Stoics, logos makes the world by giving form to matter in a dynamical process. Like Plato, the Stoics believed that the cosmos was a living being, with a world soul.
1.2.7. Plotinus, 204-270 CE
The main stimuli for the Neoplatonism of Plotinus were Plato, the Middle Platonists, and to a lesser extent, the Stoics. From Plato came Plotinus’ main cosmology of the three primal hypostases: the One, the Intelligence (or Intellectual Principle), and the World Soul. For Plotinus the logos was a supplementary structure that intertwined the three hypostases. He deﬁned it as ”a power that acts upon matter, not conscious of it, but merely acting upon it.” This Neoplatonic cosmology, further developed by Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus, and others, may be regarded as the main trunk of the Western Esoteric Tradition.
1.2.8. Proclus, 412-485 CE
Proclus came to the Platonic Academy as a student, studied with Plutarch and Syrianus, and stayed for life. He was an outstanding mathematician as well as philosopher, and was the last of the great Athenians. His version of the Neoplatonic cosmology is rather ornate. He has, as Plotinus, the three hypostases: the One (En, the Henadic Realm), Being (nous), and the Soul. The nous is divided in three parts.17 The World Soul (including individual souls) is placed between the Soul hypostasis and Nature (including embodied individual souls).18 Proclus had a strong inﬂuence on Renaissance Neoplatonism.
1.3. Middle Ages, 800-1400 CE
During the MIddle Ages, philosophy prospered in the intellectual milieu of Islam, especially in the Suﬁsm movement.
1.3.1. al-Kindi, 805-873 CE
al-Kindi was an Islamic heir of Plato and the Neoplatonists. For him, the world soul was an emanation from the One, as light from the Sun. His astrological work, De radiis was an important inﬂuence on the western scientists Roger Grosseteste (1168-1253), Roger Bacon (1214-1294), Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), and John Dee (1527-1609). De radiis presented an astrological theory based on rays from the planets. Everything radiates, and space is full of these radiations.
1.3.2. Suhrawardi, 1153-1191 CE
Suhrawardi restored the ancient Greek philosophy of light, and early Persian angelology, within Islam. He connected Plato and Zoroaster.19 He was greatly inﬂuenced by Proclus.
1.3.3. Ibn al-‘Arabi, 1165-1240 CE
Ibn al-‘Arabi, representing the high point of Suﬁ philosophy, was much inﬂuenced by Neoplatonism, and perhaps by Hinduism as well.20 Among his principles were the Oneness of Being (as in Anaximander and Parmenides) and the Creative Imagination (similar to the emanations of Plato). 1.3.4. Roger Bacon, 1214-1294 CE
In De multiplicatione specierum, around 1267, Bacon presents a doctrine of the physics of light. He was inspired by Plotinus, Al-Kindi, and Roger Grosseteste. This doctrine survived for three centuries, and ended with John Dee. The word species meant the likeness of any object, transmitted through any medium.
1.4. Renaissance, 1400-1600 CE
Renaissance Neoplatonism began with a revival and expansion of the Greek idea of the World Soul. But the Renaissance ended with a rejection of the concept.
1.4.1. Ficino, 1433-1499 CE
Ficino’s originality derived from the syncretism of Pagan and Christian elements eﬀected under the impulse of Plato, Plotinus, Proclus, the Hermetica , the Areopagite, Augustine, and Aquinas, to name only his primary wells of inspiration. Among the facets of this syncretism were:
• orphic music, music therapy (Ficino’s personal practice), • astrology (astrological psychology), • magic, psychology.
He was heir to the long line of astrological magic — Synesius, Proclus, Macrobius, and Al Kindi — and was followed by Bruno and Agrippa. His cosmological model combined Neoplatonic and Christian elements, and set the foundation for the whole of Renaissance philosophy. It is summarized in the Table 1.1. The One is the undivided source of everything. The Intelligence, or Cosmic Mind, contains Plato’s ideas, the archetypes and blueprints for creation. The Soul has three parts (rational, sensitive, and vegetative) and gives rise to individual minds, both human and angelic. Reason communicates between the Intelligence and the Soul, and Spirit (astral matter) intermediates between the World Soul and Nature, the created universe of matter, energy, and life.
Ficino’s astrological magic, psychology, and medical practice were based on his understanding of Spirit, and its relation to the stars and planets. They have a contemporary revival in the work of James Hillman and Thomas Moore.
============================================ TABLE 1.1 Ficino’s Cosmology
Collective Individual Individual Discarnate
Embodied The One (to en)
The Intelligence (nous) Reason Ideas
The Soul (psyche) Angels Individual soul (incl. mind)
Spirit (pneuma) Stars Individual spirit
Nature (physis) Matter Body
1.4.2. Gilbert, 1544-1603 CE
It is to Gilbert that we owe our concept of a continuous physical ﬁeld. The case of a magnetic ﬁeld, the ﬁrst ﬁeld of physics, was presented in his book, On Magnets, in 1600. He inﬂuenced his contemporaries, Kepler, founder of the universal gravitational ﬁeld, and Galileo, the ﬁrst modern dynamicist.
1.4.3. Kepler, 1571-1630 CE
In his work on elliptical orbits of the planets (especially Mars), Johannes Kepler proposed a theory of universal gravitation, the second ﬁeld of modern physics. In his explanation of noncircular motion, he actually changed the word spirit (as in angelic inﬂuence) to force (that is, mechanism) in the manuscript for his most important work, Astronomia Nova, of 1609. And here we may locate the death of the world soul, concomitant with the birth of modern physics.
1.4.4. Galileo, 1564-1642 CE
As a youngster, Galileo worked with his father, Vincenzo, on experimental aesthetics. This early deviation from the received wisdom of the ancients became his normal mode of working. It was apparent in his kinematic experiments at the University of Pisa around 1589, which contradicted Aristotelean dogma and caused him to be expelled from the faculty in 1591. His experimental method became the paradigm of modern science. Later he came into conﬂict with the Roman Church for his support of the Copernican model, and also for his atomic theory, again contradicting Aristotelean dogma. In his writing there seems to be no Pythagorean nor Neoplatonic elements: he is totally modern.
1.5. Modern Times, 1900 CE
The individual soul has been with us at least since 2500 BCE. But we have argued that the world soul emerged into documented literature with the Pythagoreans, around 500 BCE, and died with Kepler, around 1600 CE, along with the birth of modern science. It has been missed. The support for our common sense of the coherence of all and everything has been lacking since modern science became our theology and cosmology. Calls for a renewed foundation for the cosmos are now multiplying, as the books of Teilhard de Chardin, Rupert Sheldrake, and others, testify.
1.5.1. Vladimir Vernadsky, 1863-1945
The biosphere concept was created by Lamarck in Paris in 1802, and named by Suess in Vienna in 1875. With the concentric spheres (lithosphere, aquasphere, biosphere, atmosphere) in place, it was only a matter of time before a sphere of consciousness was acknowledged by the scientiﬁc community. This was provided by the Russian geochemist Vladimir Vernadsky. He put forward the idea in his Paris lectures of 1922, which was then further developed and popularized by Eduard Le Roy and Teilhard de Chardin in 1927. Vernadsky’s book Biosfera, written in Paris in 1926, became a classic of wholistic science. The third edition, written in Moscow in 1943, included a new section, Some Words about the Noosphere. The idea diﬀused widely through the book by Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man of 1955.
1.5.2. Merleau-Ponty, 1908-1961
Since the Renaissance, there has been an enormous development of Western philosophy, yet little that we might regard as following directly in the tradition of Ficino. One exception, however, is the French phenomenologist, Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The ﬁnal essay of his career (of 57 pages), The Intertwining – The Chiasm, has been inﬂuential on the frontiers of cognitive science. In it, he introduces a medium, a continuous ﬁeld called ﬂesh, between the mind and the body, and that provides a reciprocal connection for perception.
It is this Visibility, this generality of the Sensible in itself, this anonymity innate to Myself that we have previously called ﬂesh, and one knows there is no name in traditional philosophy to designate it. 21
This is similar to the spirit, interpolated between the soul and the body by Ficino.
1.5.3. Sheldrake, b. 1942
In his ﬁrst book, A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Formative Causation of 1981, Rupert Sheldrake begins with a consideration of unsolved problems of biology, in the areas of behavior, evolution, the origin of life, parapsychology, and so on. He delineates three levels of wholism: mechanism, vitalism, and organicism. We may relate these, respectively, to Nature, Spirit, and the World Soul levels of the Table above.
Building on the twentieth century organismic ideas of Whitehead, Smuts, Waddington, and others, Sheldrake poses the existence of non-energetic ﬁelds, called morphogenetic ﬁelds, that direct the emergence of form in complex systems of all kinds. In the contexts of physics, chemistry, biology, and the social sciences, these may be called morphic ﬁelds, mental ﬁelds, family ﬁelds, and so on. Although non-energetic, these ﬁelds may have measurable eﬀects on energetic systems. Sheldrake describes the eﬀect of a morphogenetic ﬁeld on an energetic system metaphorically as morphic resonance. His hypothesis of formative causation proposes that these ﬁelds evolve from unknown seeds called morphogenetic germs. Then they evolve their structures from previous similar systems; the past intervenes in the present; morphogenetic ﬁelds have memory.
In terms of the premodern cosmologies described above, we may locate Sheldrake’s morphogenetic ﬁelds in the World Soul, while the morphogenetic germs reside in the Intelligence. The entire paradigm is organismic.
1.6. Maps of Consciousness
Collecting all this information from Ancient Egypt to Modern Times, we have constructed a map of consciousness according to the Western Esoteric Tradition. In summary, we have a scheme of concentric spheres as it were, more-or-less as given us by Plato. Precipitating from these global realms we also have bits and pieces corresponding to individual living beings. All this extends the notion of space into higher realms, while the ordinary notion of Time prevails throughout.
The extension into higher realms, in all of these maps of consciousness, follow a common structure, the metaphor of a hierarchy of levels of consciousness. The theologian Paul Tillich explains this commonality as a universal tendency of mind.
The diversity of beings has led the human mind to seek for unity in diversity, because man can perceive the encountered manifoldness of things only with the help of uniting principles. ONe of the most universal principles used for this purpose is that of a hierarchical order in which every genus and species of things, and through them every individual thing, has its place. This way of discovering order in the seeming chaos of reality distinguishes grades and levels of being.
Ontological qualities, such as higher degree of universality or a richer development of potentiality, determines the place which is ascribed to a level of being. The old term hierarchy (holy order of rulers, disposed in rank of sacramental power) is most expressive for this kind of thinking. It can be applied to earthly rulers as well as to genera and species of beings in nature, for example, the inorganic, the organic, the psychological. In this view, reality is seen as a pyramid of levels following each other in vertical direction according to their power of being and their grade of value. This imagery of rulers (archoi) in the term hierarchy gives toa the higher levels a higher quality but a smaller quantity of exemplars. The top is monarchic, whether the monarch is a priest, an empreror, a god, of the God of monotheism.22
The One may be regarded as outside of space and time, while the other global realms may be regarded as continuous spaces. As our model, the digital akasha, is discrete rather than continuous, we cannot refer to this Western philosophical tradition from Anaximander to Sheldrake for inspiration.
Meanwhile, the ideas from Indian philosophy that found their way into the Western tradition via Pythagoras, Plato, and Plotinus and were rapidly developed there, continued to evolve in India well into the Middle Ages, reaching eventually a great richness and maturity. We now turn to the Eastern tradition to excavate these richer models.