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The Archai Plane

The Noetic Universe Highest Noetic Plane (Divine-Archangelic)
Higher Noetic Plane (Arch-Archangelic / Archai)
Higher Middle Noetic Plane (Archangelic)
Middle Noetic Plane (Angelic)
Mental Plane (Abstract Mind)

The Arch-Archangelic hierarchies are created from the Divine-Archangelic Gods.  Here we have a further increase in the multiplicity of things, and a further decrease in the purity and infinity of consciousness.  Whereas the Divine Gods have a Cosmic existence, in that the boundaries of their beings are equal in vastness to the boundaries of the universe, the beings of Archangelic hypostasis for the first time begin to exist as seperate centres of consciousness distinct from (even if in total harmony and one-ness with) the rest of the universe.

But the appearance of individuality and multiplicity here also means the appearance of duality; the loss of the original Cosmic-Divine Unity.  Hence it is here that the principle of "maya" or duality first begins to act; maya being understood as the activity of consciousness that measures and divides.  Yet whereas standard Hindu monism, e.g. the school of Advaita Vedanta, only has a single maya-principle, the emanationist Vedanta of Kashmir Shaivism refers to a hierarchy of mayas.  The highest of these is called, logically enough, the Para-Mahamaya-tattwa, that is, the Highest Great Maya principle.  This represents the lowest sub-plane of Sadvidya-tattwa, the lowest of the Divine Planes.  Its realisation is the afore-mentioned Vidyeshwara state, the highest state where there still exists a subtle sense of self or seperateness (anava-mala).

Because this is the region in which there exist (through the activity of the anava-mala) seperate entities of pure Spirit, it could be considered equivalent to the uppermost part of the Universe of Beriah in Kabbalah; what we could call "Keter of Beriah", as in Kabbalistic metaphysics the Divine soul (neshamah) originates from Beriah.  Although I have not come across any descriptions of Keter of Beriah - the original Kabbalists prefer to consider the Godhead of Atzilut, whereas the modern Hermetic Qabalists seem to describe and deal with the Universe of Asiyah (or Universe of Yetzirah; depending on where you match the Kabbalistic terms) - it logically would slot in here.

A parallel with Kabbalah can here be found here in the post-Blavatskyian "Adyar" school of Theosophy, with its reference to the Anupadaka or Monadic Plane, so called because this region is the locus of the monads or original divine souls [A. E. Powell, The Causal Body, pp.8-10 (online external link part 1, Part 2; Link to Amazon com Causal Body and the Ego].  The concept of the monad is however ambiguous, because it can also be taken to mean the original individuation within the Absolute Itself.  A further complication comes about due to the fact that the Divine Soul could be interperted as standing behind, rather than above, ordinary consciousness [Aurobindo, Letters, vol 1,; Barbara Ann Brennan, Link to Amazon com Light Emerging].  But because the monadic plane as such is one of the seven planes to emanate from the Absolute or Parabrahman (ignoring here the complexities of Blavatsky's seven Kosmic planes), it has to be located here, rather than in the Absolute.

In Kashmir Shaivism this would constitute the Apara-Mahamaya ("Lower Supreme Maya") principle, where dwell the Vijnanakalas or "Units of Consciousness".  This is below the pure (= Divine) tattwas such as Sadvidya-tattwa, but above maya and the limitations of form.  Here we see the development of sense of seperate self (anava-mala) proper.  However, the vijnanakalas that dwell on this plane are still beyond birth and death, maya and karma.

Psychologically, the Archai plane of existence would be equivalent to the Post-Plotinian Neoplatonic hypostasis of Nous or Divine Intellect (and the corresponding Noeric Gods), which overshadows the human intellect (psyche) and may illumine it from above.  This seems similar to Sri Aurobindo's description of the state of higher Intuition beyond the ordinary and even beyond the Higher Mind, but beneath the Overmind (= the Divine Ontocosm) [Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine,, pp.946-950].

Blavatsky's sixth or Alaya plane, and the post-Blavatsky fifth or Atmic plane (the first of the sub-Divine or sub-Logoic or evolutionary planes [Powell, The Causal Body, pp.4-5]), might also be placed here.

Again, this would be the same as the Universe of Beriah in Kabbalah, so-called because it is outside the Godhead or world of Atzilut [Gershom Scholem, Kabbalah, pp.118-119] (or at least, Hokmah and Binah of Beriah, and the origin of the soul (neshamah) proper.

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page uploaded 20 April 1999, relocated to new directory 10 January 2009, last modified 14 January 2009