The Noeric (Ideational) Reality

The Angelic Ontocosm


The emanation of the Angelic from the Divine
The Four Noeric Planes
Supercausal and Higher Angelic Octaves
Paramatman rather than transcendent heavens

With the Noeric ontocosm, the Universes of Yetzirah and Beriah in Kabbalah, the Malakut of Suhrawardi and Sufism, the Devachan of Theosophy, and the Spiriual Mental Plane of Aurobindo - we have a reality that is not so easy to grasp as the proceeding two Universes.  This is because the higher up you go, the closer to the Source you are, the more subtle things become.

The Noeric is not a "power" universe like the Psychic, or a "form" universe like the Physical.  Rather, it represents a right-knowing and a right-doing; a spiritual contemplative state.  One could call it a "spirituality" universe, or a "Truth/Love" universe.

Correlation between the Angelic Planes
The Mystical Ascent

The emanation of the Angelic from the Divine

Manifestation is a constant process of Self-limitation and Self-focus.  The seemingly limitless Gods of the Divine Worlds in turn generate a further and more separative, reality.  Thus the Kabbalists, Suhrawardi, Dionysius, and Rudolph Steiner, all speak of hierarchies of Archangelic or Divine beings.  Kashmir Shaivism refers to the "Pure-Impure tattwas" intermediate between the unitary Pure and the lower Impure Tattwas.

The Spiritual or Angelic Worlds thus constitute a scaling down of existence from the Divine plenitude.  If the Divine Reality can be defined as the Many existing within yet still subordinate to the One, the Angelic Reality involves the Many existing in a Multiplicity in Unity: Supreme One and finite Many being equally balanced.

Here we have the beginning of finite manistestation, of existence in a sense individualised or differentiated from (yet still identified with) the Supreme One Itself.  It is at this level that individuality and seperateness appear.  Yet only a few yogis ever manage to reach this high.  Even genuine ("Enlightened") teachers generally do not ascend higher than the Mental and Lower Angelic worlds, before moving "sideways" into the Paramatmic or Nirvanic realisation of the unmanifest Absolute.

Similarily, with the exceptions of Madame Blavatsky and Rudolph Steiner, most theosophical and occult clairvoyants and writers do not have anything much to say regarding the higher Spiritual ("vertical") realities, but are instead limited to lower and higher ("horizontal") octaves on the subtle Physical (Etheric) and the Psychic (Astral) levels of understanding.

The Four Noeric Planes

Following the four-fold division of planes I would suggest here four distinct planes of ascending higher gnosis.  (Sri Aurobindo however has three - the Theosophists three or four, depending on how you interpret their system).

The higher regions are beyond the reach of ordinary consciousness, they have been described by Mystics, visionaries, and adepts of many different spiritual traditions.

The lowest Noeric Plane, and the first higher Universe beyond the abstract mental plane, can be called the Angelic Universe.  This is equivalent in part to the Kabbalistic Yetzirah, the Theosophical Abstract Mind or Buddhi (depending on your interpretation - perhaps Buddhi-Manas wuld be best) , and to Sri Aurobindo's Higher or Spiritual Mind level.

The next Noeric Plane, can be called for the sake of convenience the Archangelic Universe, part of the Beriah of Kabbalah, and to Sri Aurobindo's Illumined Spiritual Mind level.

 The next Universe up towards the Positive (Divine) Pole of existence can be called the Arch-Archangelic, or just the Archaic (following Rudolf Steiner's sequence of Angel-Archangel-Archai).  Archaic in the sense of highest, rather than archaic earliest.  This is the locus of the Higher Angelic hierarchies from which originate the gnostic idea-forms that filter down into the angelic planes.  The hierarchies of this Universe have a greater demiurgic or Creative power than the Angelic hierarchies, and embody an even higher and more revelatory degree of gnosis.  This corresponds to the Sufi world of Jabarut and the Aurobindoan Intuition Spiritual Mind.

The highest Noeric Plane, which is directly adjacent the lowest Divine Universe can be termed the "Divine-Archangelic."  It is the intermediate region between the Absolute Cosmic Consciousness of the Divine Worlds, and the more limited consciousness of the lower planes.  It could equally be considered the lowest Divine plane, but in order to prevent the representation of the Divine Ontocosm becoming too "top-heavy" .  It would seem to correspond in part to the Theosophical monadic plane (although the monadic plane also refers to the Absolute Individual self beyond the manifestation), to Rudolf Steiner's Second Spiritual Hierarchy (three orders of demiurgic beings) and the Aurobindoan Intuition-Overmind.

Highest Noeric Plane (Divine-Angelic)
Higher Noeric Plane (Arch-Archangelic (Archai)
Middle Noeric Plane (Archangelic)
Lower Noeric Plane (Angelic)

Supercausal and Higher Angelic Octaves

The Divine Ontocosm can be subdivided not only "vertically", in terms of Divine planes of existence, but also "horizontally", in terms of octaves of increasing absoluteness on each plane; each octave reflecting a plane.

The same applies on the Angelic levels.  An illustration of this is to be found in the Sant Mat teachings of Huzur Swamiji Maharaj (1818-1878), who developed a cosmology based on the inner sounds - Shabda or Nada or Celestial Melody - heard during certain states of yoga, and very important in Tantra and other such traditions.  There are five such sounds, corresponding to five heavenly regions from the Sahasdal Kamal or heaven corresponding to the Crown Chakra, i.e. the Higher-Mental Plane, to the Sat Lok (Satya-loka) or Region of Truth, i.e. the Godhead or Absolute.

 "Each region has its own distinctive Sound and its own characteristic secret....It is via the Dhun (Sound) of each region that the soul can, by degrees, ascend from one region to another, up to the highest stage...." [The Sar Bachan, p.34 (Radha Soami Satsang Beas, 1974)]
So there would seem to be a distinction between a Divine Angelic octave, several higher "Higher Causal" octave, and finally a lower or more manifest "Higher Causal" octave.  (Since we are on the angelic level, there would not seem to be manifest octaves ("horizontally") below the Higher Causal).

The "Supercausal" Angelic octave constitutes the Godhead(s) of the Angelic Ontocosm; the Universal Divine Consciousness or Gorakhnathian Murti of this particular plane (or series of planes), and presumably the Radha Soami Godhead of Sat Lok, which is still described as a personal being, and hence cannot be the Absolute Reality.

The higher "Higher Causal" octave would represent the first appearance of maya or limitation and seperateness (the Divine reality being in principle beyond this), expressed most clearly in the Vidyeshwara and Vijnanakala principles of Kashmir Shaivism.  Perhaps the celestial hierarchies of Blavatsky would also go here.

And finally the lower "Higher Causal" octave constitutes the manifest Angelic reality with its diverse hierarchies and phenomena: the Angelic archetypes of Suhrawardi and Sufism in general, and the Radha Soami Sahasdal Kamal with its various hierarchies of "avatars...,prophets, auliyas (Adepts). and yogis" who "come from this region and return to it [after leaving their bodies]." [p.33]

Paramatman rather than transcendent heavens

Strangely, the existence of all these higher gnostic and heavenly regions is either not a part of the teachings of conventional Eastern mysticism, or else is considered by them to be irrelivent.

A good illustration of such a "conventional" mystical position is represented by the contemporary American-born Adept and teacher Da Free John.  According to Da Free John, the individual ideally develops through seven stages of growth, the so-called "seven stages of life": physical/bodily, sexual-emotional, intellectual, Mystical devotion and realisation, Yogic superconsciousness, subjective Realisation of the Absolute (or "radiant transcendent being"), and finally the "seventh stage of life", the objective Realisation of the Absolute in whatever phenomena arise.  Like most monistic teachers, Da Free John and his followers uncompromisingly reject the possibility of higher evolution beyond this transcendent state.

In Master Da's cosmology there are two structural dimensions of existence: the horizontal and the vertical.  The horizontal dimension is the centre of awareness, located in the heart.  The vertical dimension corresponds to the chakras along the spine, a vertical structure is evolutionary and dualistic.  As Master Da sees it, the evolutionary path, which involves the ascent of consciousness to the Radiant Source, the root of the vertical dimension, to the crown or infinitely above the head, is made redundant by the Realisation of the Divine Radiance in the "Transcendental Self-Realisation at the heart." [footnote in The Dawn Horse Testament, p.704 (1985, The Dawn Horse Press, San Rafael, California)].

Hence the Monistic Enlightenment of Zen, Advaita, Tibetan Buddhism, etc, which is absolutely valid in itself, is nevertheless not the same as the actualisation of higher Divine-Gnostic states of existence.  All such teachings actually pertain to the Unmanifest Absolute, not the degrees of higher and Divine manifestation.  Even when the monistic yogas have hierarchical degrees, these do not refer to supra-mental entities.  Advaita Vedanta for example refers to five koshas or "sheaths" that veil the light of the Supreme Self (Paramatman).  The higher three of these - the mental, consciousness, and bliss koshas - correspond to "horizontal" octaves of the Etheric-Physical level (the Gross and Subtle, the Causal, and the Higher Causal, respectively).  Beyond them is not the succession of Spiritual and Divine worlds of Light, but the immanent Unmanifest Absolute which transcends all the worlds.

Ultimately though, one should be able to realise both dimensions, not reject one for the other.

The Manifest and Unmanifest Omni-Cosmos
The Manifest and Unmanifest Cosmos

page history

page uploaded 19 June 1998
revised 20 July
revised again 20 April 1999