An Exercise in Speculative Metaphysical
Author's note: (3 Jan 2010) This material dates back to 1999, when I still thought of things in terms of metaphysical laws or principles. I had been thinking for some time about constructing an ontology by which reality could be explained in terms ofa single overarching esoteric/metaphysical theory of everything. And while I do not deny the validity of this thesis in certain contexts, and pertaining to certain aspects of Reality, I no longer believe that such an equation can describe everything. Emanation for example requires a dichotomy of being (fullness) and nonbeing (lack). There has to be a withdrawl of plenitude so there can be somewhere for Being to emanate into. there also has to be a distinction between transcendent (Source) and mundane (end product). But Sri Aurobindo's concept of an Integral supramental transformation would render such distintions suprefluous. For that matter, there is no reason why one cannot imagine transcedent realities or realms in which there is no emanation, but only the fullness of Being. This is not to deny that even in these situations there would not be the spontaneous emerging or emanation of existence from nonduality, and its return back to nonduality. So the following thesis is not so much incorrect as it is in need of revision, qualification, and further elaboration of the above points. At present I don't have the time to work on this, so I have left it as it was in 2004, only updating some of the links. Eventually however these and otehr pages need to be revised to accommodate my more recent developments in gnosis.
Emanation In Relation To The Absolute
Before defining the laws of emanation, a basic proviso needs to be stated. And that is that emanation does not pertain to the Absolute Reality. Although even within the Absolute Itself there would seem to be stages of manifestation, progressive stages of self-focusing of the Absolute Consciousness, these stages or poises of the Supreme do not actually constitute distinct and seperate "planes". Rather, all of the stages of manifestation of the Supreme are complementary or non-contridictory with each other. Nor can there actually be a coming into (or a passing out of) being, because all aspects of the Absolute are eternal in any case, and at the level of the Absolute there is nothing else but the Absolute, so there is nothing for the Emanator to emanate into. Emanation can only occur within the realm of duality itself.
How then does one get from unity and plenum of Being, as represented by the Absolute or Supreme Godhead/Reality, to the duality of Being and Non-being, and the fact of seperate existence, as representative of ordinary (and not only ordinary, but also psychic, spiritual, and even higher) reality?
The answer - and on this point our various sources seem to be in full agreement - is that the Absolute Reality, the Absolute or Supreme Godhead, forms within Itself (all this is speaking metaphorically of course; remember that, ultimately, there is nothing else but the Absolute) a duality, a set of polar opposites. In this way the One becomes Two, and there is "room" for emanation.
Hence we have the division of the Tao or Tai Chi into Yin and Yang, the division of Paramashiva or Parasamvit into Shiva and Shakti, the division of The One into the Finite and the Infinite, the division of the Light of the En Sof into Hesed and Gevurah...., no matter how many examples are given, they all present the same basic principle, although often approached in different ways and from different perspectives. For example, the Tantric Shakti is by no means the same as the Taoist Yin (although both are identified with the female principel). But both Tantricism and Taoism agree that the One becomes Two, and that this is the beginning of creation.
Hence the dualistic perspective of the Manicheaeans and Gnostics for example - the Light or Spirit as the opposite to the Darkness or Matter, and creation coming about through a sort of admixture of the two - is not false, but simple corresponds to a "lower" or "more manifest" aspect of existence that the Monistic Realisation of the one ineffable and inconceivable Absolute.
It is at this same level that the process of emanation occurs. The pure Monistic teaching (for example Advaita Vedanta or Prajnaparamita Buddhism) is beyond emanation, but if the origin and nature of the cosmos and finite existence is to be taken into account (which most of these Monists are not interested in doing, because of their single-minded dedication to Liberation) then the theory of emanation has to be considered.
My own understanding of the original Polarisation of the Absolute - the One becoming Two - is that it is the polarisation of the Absolute or Supreme into the Absolute Itself, and the self-veiling of the Absolute. In other words, into infinite Being and infinite Non-being, or Light and Dark, Spirit and Matter, Abundance and Lack, Self and Not-self.
So we have the two polarities, the two aspects, each infinite. On the one hand, the Supreme revealing Itself as Itself; as infinite Consciousness, Light, Love, Power, Bliss, Divinity, Perfection, Creativity, etc; the pole of Absolute Spirit. On the other hand, the Supreme veiling or conceiling Itself; as infinite non-consciousness, deprivation, formlessness, receptivity, and non-being; what Plotinus would have called hyle. The Supreme in Its own transcendent nature is of course beyond, but also includes, both these poles, in total unity and harmony.
From the polarity of the Supreme revealing Itself as Itself, the Supreme emanates or radiates out as infinite plenitude all the gods, worlds, beings, and evolutions, into the Supreme veiling Itself as non-consciousness or hyle.
That radiation out from the positive to the negative pole of the Absolute constitutes the process of emanation, and it follows specific laws. These laws have been elaborated in a number of different occult and philosophical teachings: Neoplatonism, Kabbalah, Theosophy, and elsewhere. In the rest of this chapter I will present a brief and unavoidably incomplete definition of these laws of creation. Incomplete, because it would require a weighty volume, and many many philosophical statements and definitions, to do justice to this subject. The Neoplatonist Proclus for example wrote a large book, The Elements of Theology, which thankfully has survived to the present day, in which he attempts a comprehensive definition of the laws of Emanation. But even that work, invaluable as it is, is not complete, because it is only written from a specifically Neoplatonic perspective, and hence does not cover the other equally valid perspectives of different esoteric teachings on this subject.
In this section, then, I list some of the basic laws of emanation, briefly describing each, and giving quotes from different sources where relevant.
The Ontodynamics Of Emanation
Assuming the Emanation metaphysic to be valid, a number of specific ontological laws would seem to follow. I call them the Principles of Emanation, or Laws of Manifestation (a term also used by the New Age writer David Spangler in a slightly different context [David Spangler, Laws of Manifestation (Findhorn Foundation, 1975)]), because the define the unfolding or emanation or manifestation of reality from the original Absolute.
Nine such principles have been listed here. Many many more could be proposed, and ideally an entire self-consistent axiomatic philosophy could be written - along the lines of Proclus' Elements of Theology; Leibniz's Monadology, Wittgenstein's Linguistic Philosophy, and Whitehead's Process Philosophy - but I would prefer to avoid too much intellectualising. Where there is too much intellectualising the ratiocintational mind (which is the organ of the intellect) loses touch with the original higher gnostic light, and begins to churn out a vast quantity of mental verbage. Some of this may be valid, the rest not so much so, but in any case it just adds to the vast amount of words already in the world, and buries the original Truth behind the impulse under a mountain of distraction. But the true purpose of philosophy is not to produce more and more endless lower mental ideas, but to point the way to, and be a vehicle for, the higher Truth. That is why in I have tried to stick to axiomatic statements that have already been backed up by previous esoteric revelations, and by intuitive common sense. In some cases these statements are also independently supported by the philosophical implications of the new physics as well. Yet for all this, the following list is intended only as a tentative formulation, not a rigid creed.
so here we go ;-)
Principle of Authentic Reality
Principle of Distinct Hypostases
Principle of Qualitativeness
Principle of Downward Causation
Principle of nondifferentiated ground
Principle of non-diminishment
Principle of Reflection
Principle of Proximity
Principle of Fractalisation
Principle of Authentic Reality:
Only The Absolute Has Authentic Reality.
If you're going to start somewhere, you might as well start from first principles, or The first principle, and use that as the foundation for everything else. So, what is the most univer-sal mystical and esoteric teaching; even more so than emanationism? Why, the Reality of the one single Absolute Reality - call it Brahman or Tao or Shunyata or the One or God (in the mystic's sense of the word) or whatever, it's all the same.
As the only authentic Reality, all the other levels of being only have reality in asmuch as they partake of the nature of the Absolute. They are nothing but the different modes or aspects of the Absolute; which doesn't mean that they are unreal. Matter is not illusion, matter is the Absolute in Its mode as matter. Mind is not illusion, mind is the Absolute in Its mode as mind. And so on for every possible level and aspect and plane of reality. Real "pantheism" (or panentheism - for the Absolute transcends as well as includes everything else) does not deny the world, it affirms it. As the Taittiriya Upanishad (7th century B.C.E.) puts it:
He knew that matter is Brahman (the Godhead);
he knew that life (prana) is Brahman;
he knew that mind (manas) is Brahman;
he knew that consciousness (vijnana) is Brahman;
he knew that bliss (ananda) is Brahman
[Radhakrishnana, The Principle Upanishads, pp.554-558].
This is the One Absolute Reality - the only authentic Reality - in all things. (see also Monism)
Principle of Hypostases
Reality Consists Of A Series Of Distinct Hypostases, Which Exist In A Linear Causal Relationship.
The essential perspective of the Emanationist cosmology is that reality is hierarchical. It begins with the Source and proceeds through various stages of deprivation, down to matter and nonbeing. Emanationist Cosmology describes Reality in terms of a specific structure. The accounts of different emanationist metaphysicians are similiar enough for it to be possible to present a uniform account embracing all of them.
The Neoplatonic term Hypostasis can be used to define each of these particular structural components of Reality. Each Hypostasis is a qualitative unit of Reality, having a dynamic relationship with those Hypostases above and below it.
And this is the "guts" of emanationism; the essential definition of the emanationist cosmology. The hypostases are not positioned randomly, scattered everywhere so to speak, but rather are ar-ranged in a definite order, a definite sequence, with each higher member of the sequence logically implying the member that follows it.
So, to give the example, if we have a cosmology made up of Absolute Reality, spiritual reality (God and heaven), psychic or intermediate reality, and physical reality, cit follows that these must have a specific causal relationship. Each higher level logically preceeds the next level.
So the Absolute Reality or Godhead preceeds the Personal dualistic God, because the Absolute Reality is the ALL (which is why it's called the Absolute) - it includes everything, God and Universe - whereas God, the religionists constantly remind us, doesn't include the Universe; he's separate from it. So the Absolute or Godhead emanates the Personal dualistic God; the dualistic God doesn't emanate the Absolute Godhead.
And the Personal God, as the spiritual reality, logically preceeds the psychic or intermediate reality, because the spiritual reality is wholly of the nature of the Good, of love, compassion, forgiveness, etc, whereas the psychic or intermediate reality includes both positive and negative, good and evil. (The wrathful judgmental God of the fundamentalist actually pertains to the psychic, not the spiritual, reality). Also, the Personal God has the power of world-creation, whereas the "spirits" of the psychic reality don't.
And finally the psychic reality logically preceeds the physical reality, because it is beyond the limitations of space and time (for example in the astral body you can travel anywhere in the universe instantaneously, whereas in the physical body you can't).
Principle of Qualitativness
Each Higher Hypostasis Is Qualitatively and Ontologically Superior To That Hypostasis Below It, And Qualitatively and Ontologically Inferior To That Hypostasis Above It.
Or, as Proclus puts it: "Every productive cause is superior to that which it produces" [Proclus, Elements of Theology, Prop.7].
This is where metaphysics differs from science. The laws of science, which describe the physical world, are quantitative. They deal with quantities, with numbers and values denuded of any "sacred" or "spiritual" or ontological quality; lifeless, soulless.
The laws of metaphysics in contrast are qualitative - they deal with qualities, with realities that possess "spiritual" or ontological value, that have life and soul. In other words, greater and lesser, perfect and imperfect, good and evil, higher and lower, and so on.
And here it is the higher hypostasis that has the more "positive" quality. The religionist compares the perfection, infinity, and eternity of God with the imperfection and finiteness of Man. The mystic the all-embracing unity, blissfullness and freedom of the Absolute with the multiplicity, unsatisfactoriness, and limitation of mundane reality. The occultist and the depth psychologist the greater power, numinosity, and integrating quality of the inner psychic reality with the superficiality and emptiness of the outer mundane reality. Hence the relation of higher and lower, superior and inferior. Which in turn leads to the principle of Downward Causation
Principle of Downward Causation
Causation Always Proceeds Downwards - Each Hypostasis Is The Cause Of The Hypostasis Below It, And Is In Turn Caused By Hypostasis The Above It.
If the higher is superior to the lower, it naturally follows that the higher is the cause of the lower, and not vice-versa. In other words, Matter is caused by Spirit, Spirit isn't caused by Matter. Man is created by God (or a higher reality signified by the word "God"), God isn't created by Man.
This is the exact opposite of the materialistic position, which sees the higher realities as the result or by-product of the lower; what we could call "Upward Causation". According to this sceptical-materialistic version of science, physical matter, when it develops a sufficently complex structure, produces life (organic matter). Life in turn, when it becomes sufficently complex, produces mind and consciousness (through the nervous system and the brain). And mind or consciousness, when it becomes sufficently complex, (through the development of philosophy and religion) arrives at the idea or meme of a First Principle, a God or Absolute Reality.
But according to the emanationist cosmology, the opposite is the case. The Absolute Reality produces through emanation universal mind, which in turn produces Life-force, which in turn condenses into matter and, eventually, living organisms. This can be termed "Downward Causation"; the higher causes the lower. This is not to deny physical evolution (matter --> living organisms --> increasing intelligent organisms), but only to reject the sceptic's theory of the absolute primacy of physical consciousness.
Thus, according to thhis axiom, all causation follows a metaphysically or ontologically downward direction. Because of this, each higher principle is the Creator and Origin of the hypostasis immediately below it.
So we can refer to "the branch and the root", each higher stage being the "root" of the one it generates. In Lurianic Kabbalah
"the world of Emanation (Atzilut) is the root to the world of Creation (Beriah), its branch. The world of Creation in turn is the root to the world of Formation (Yetzirah), its branch, and so on"
[L.I. Krakovsky, Kabbalah - The Light of Redemption, p.86].
The same metaphor occurs in the Chandogya Upanishad, which says
"...with food (=earth) as an offshoot, seek for water as the root; with water as an offshoot, seek for heat as the root; with heat as an offshoot, seek for Being as the root....All these creatures have their root in Being..."
[Ch. U.: VI.8.6.; Radhakrishnan, The Principle Upanishads, p.457].
Thus "each preceeding world is the soul to the following one, which it animates and sustains" [L. I. Krakovsky, Kabbalah - The Light of Redemption, p 125]. Rather than a single God standing over the world, or a single soul within the body, we have be-hind God another God, behind the soul another soul, and so on upto the Absolute.
Hence there is a specific
Principle of Relation:
Each Higher Hypostasis Is Spiritual In Relation To The Hypostasis Below It; Each Lower Hypostasis Material In Relation To The Hypostasis Above It.
The relationship between the Hypostases is thus one of "body and soul", "spirit and matter", or "Creator and creature" [L.I. Krakovsky, Kabbalah - The Light of Redemption, pp 19], in that each higher level is the Soul, Spirit, and Creator of the level immediately below it; and the Body, Matter, and Creature (created being) of the level immediately above it. As the modern Lurianic Kabbalistic writer Rabbi Levi I. Krakovsky, puts it:
"Ain Sof is Spirit to Adam Kadmon, and Adam Kadmon the vessel for that Spirit. Adam Kadmon in relation to Atzilut is Spirit, and Atzilut is matter against Adam Kadmon. Bria (Beriah) is matter to Atzilut and Atzilut is Spirit to Bria...
And so on with Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah
[L.I. Krakovsky, Kabbalah - The Light of Redemption, pp 19].
Similarily, in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi, we read that
The Divine Names are active in relation to the a'yan al thabita (the archetypes of the phenomenal world), and these in turn are active in relation to the external world. In each case the higher is active in relation to the lower and passive in relation to the higher.
[A. E. Affifi, The Mystical Philosophy of Ibn Arabi, p.46]
Principle of Undifferentiation
Every Higher Hypostasis is Universal and Undifferentiated - The Field Or Ground - in Relation to its Subsequent Hypostasis
Every higher Hypostasis is universal and undifferentiated - the field or ground - in relation to its subsequent Hypostasis; the subsequent Hypostasis is defined and limited - the focus or figure - in relation to the preceeding Hypostasis.
This can be explained using examples from Buddhist psychological monism and European mid-twentieth century phenomenology, both of which postulate a distinction of figure and ground, or form and emptiness, equivalent to the modern scientific conception of particle and field.
The European Phenomenologists such as Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, and Maurice Merly-Ponty, rejected abstract philosophising in favour of the analysis of immediate conscious experience. They realised that awareness of a particular object or figure implied a background or horizon in which the figure was set [Steve Odin, Process Metaphysics and Hua-Yen Buddhism, pp.32, 36 (State University of New York Press, Albany, 1982)]. Hence the polarity of core/horizon, focus/fringe, or foreground/background.
The Buddhist philosopher Herbet V. Guenther applied these concepts from European Phenomonology to the traditional Buddhist distinction of form and emptiness (rupa and shunyata), pointing out that the objects one experiences exist within a field of consciousness. Therefore "attention can be directed either to the concrete, limited forms [=Rupam] or to the field in which these forms are situated [=Shunyata]" [ The Dawn of Tantra, p.27 (Shambhalla, Boulder & London, 1975)]. The yogic or intuitive experience (prajna) is therefore an act of "noetic reversal" whereby the attention is radically shifted from the core or form to the field or emptiness [Odin, p.37]
The Transpersonal psychologist John Welwood uses this same approach to offer an alternative to the established psychological theories of Freud and Jung, which, through their dualistic separation of Conscious and Unconscious, are unable to explain the meditation experience (since the meditation experience transcends such dualities) [John Welwood, "Meditation and the Unconscious", in The Meeting of the Ways - Explorations in East/West Psychology, ed. John Welwood, (Shocken Books, New York, 1979) pp.150-157]. He suggests instead that consciousness be understood in terms of "figure and ground"; the "form and emptiness" referred to by modern Buddhist writers such as Herbert Guenther and Chogyam Trungpa. In this interpretation, Conscious and Unconscious are not opposing tendencies, but rather the focal at-tention and holistic ground of the awareness [Ibid, p.160].
Welwood suggests that there are progressive levels of psychological ground, "fields within fields", culminating in "the basic open ground", i.e. shunyata [Ibid, pp.160-161]. But - moving from the psychological to the cosmological and ontological - I would suggest instead (or in addition) that each higher Hypostasis is the field or ground of the subsequent one, which is its focus or figure. And each subsequent hypostasis is an exclusive concentration or focusing on a single particular aspect of the preceeding. In this way the Universal becomes Particularised, becomes a focus or form, whilst rest of the Universal holds back and constitutes the Ground or shunyata.
But to say that the Higher Hypostasis is the universal field or ground, and that the subsequent Hypostasis is a focus or figure of this, implies a further axiom:
Principle of non-diminshment
The Emanator Is Never Diminished By The Process Of Emanation
Although the higher hypostasis gives rise to the lower hypostasis, the higher hypostasis does not suffer and is not diminished thereby. Emanation occurs sponataneously, as a natually and limitless outpouring. Just as - to use some Plotinian metaphors - the sun is not diminished by giving out light, the fire by giving warmth, or the flower by giving perfume - so the source or higher hypostasis remains unaffected whilst at the same time generated the creation below it.
Principle of Reflection:
Every Lower Hypostasis Is The Image Of Its Preceeding Hypostasis.
This is the other aspect of the theory of archetypes; that the pattern or blueprint of any mundane thing exists eternally in the spiritual world.
According to Plotinus, every lower or dependent hypostasis is the eikon, mimema or eidolon, the image or copy, of the preceeding hypostasis. Thus the Nous is said to be the image of the One, and the Soul the image of the Nous, and in general every lower reality the image of its higher, generating reality [John H. Fielder, "Chorismos and Emanation", in The Significance of Neoplatonism, ed R. Baine Harris, (International Society for Neoplatonic Studies, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, 1976), p.103]. This process of manifestation as imaging Plotinus refers to as chorismos. John Fielder explains that the notion of the image has four characteristics.
- First, an image is an image of something, so that the two are distinct
- Second, an image is the likeness of the original, so that for example as Plotinus points out the sensible world is the image of an eternal archetype of model [Ibid, p.104; Enneads, V.9.5 and III.7.1] (= the Principle of Chorismos or reflection).
- Third, the image is inferior to the archetype (= principle of qualitative gradation).
- And fourth, the image is dependent on the archetype for its existence, just as the mirror image lasts only as long as the object remains in front of the mirror [Ibid, p.105; Enneads, V.1.6].
This last point seems so striking that I was going to make it into a seperate law of Hypostatology; the Law of Dependent Being. Except that there are obvious exceptions to it; such as emanated beings (gods, angels, and so on) who attain a life of their own independent of their immediate source. Certainly, all those beings are still absolutely dependent on the Essence of being, the Godhead or Absolute, for their continued existence, but that is Monism, not Emanationism.
This idea of Chorismos or imaging was adopted by Ibn Arabi, who, as Henry Corbin explains, states that each lower plane of being, each Hadarat or "Presence",
"is the image and correspon-dence (mithal), the reflection and mirror of the next higher. Thus everything that exists in the sensible world is a reflection, a typification (mithal) of what exists in the world of Spirits, and so on, upto...the Divine Essence itself"
[Henry Corbin Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi, (Princeton University Press) p.225].
In Shaivite and Shakta Tantra, the "imaging" theme appears in a monistic context in the reference to Vimarsha, the Self-contemplating or Self-reflecting of the Absolute (which is Prakasha or Radiance) to Itself. In a tantric text called the Kamakala vilasa, it is said that "Vimarsha is the mirror through which prakasha reviews itself." [S. Shankaranarayanan, Sri Chakra, p.20]. Through vimarsha in turn the universe comes about. So the mirror in which the higher hypostasis reflects itself is it-self that same hypostasis.
Principle of Proximity
The Closer A Hypostasis Is To The Absolute, The More It Partakes Of Its Nature
Since the Absolute Reality - the Godhead, the Essence, the Tao, the Atman-Brahman - is the individual and cosmic reference point, it follows that there is a sort of ontological slope or ladder or pyramid.
At the top of the slope, or if you prefer at the base of the pyramid, is the Absolute. Immediately next to that is the first hypostasis (the Absolute, being Absolute, is even beyond all hypostases, although we could still call it a hypostasis). Since it is next to the Absolute, it is most like the Absolute in nature. Just as the colour indigo, which is nearest violet on the spectrum of colours, is most like violet.
And since the hypostases or levels of being only have reality in asmuch as they partake of the nature of the Original or Absolute Absolute, this first hypostasis is the most like the Absolute Absolute in nature. Indeed, it is so much like the Absolute that it can itself be called the Absolute, for it is the Absolute relative to all subsequent reality.
Next to the first hypostasis is the second hypostasis, which, although itself very Absolute-like in nature, is still not quite as Absolute-like as the first hypostasis, which in turn is still not quite as Absolute-like as the Absolute-Absolute.
And of course next to this second hypostasis is a third hypostasis, which, although also very Absolute-like in nature, is not quite as Absolute-like as the second hypostasis, which is not quite as Absolute-like as the first hypostasis, and so on.
So the further down the slope you go, or the further away from the base of the pyramid, the less Absolute-like the hypostasis. It is just like when you get closer to a fire, to feel hotter, further away and you're colder. It's the same with the chain of hypostases from the Absolute-Absolute. And this is the defining characteristic of the emanationist sequence of Reality. The Neoplatonists, the Kabbalists, the Theosophists and the rest; they are all in perfect agreement here. Reality has a specific ontological direction, a specific slope between Absolute Being, Consciousness, Perfection, Goodness, etc, at one end, and the negation of the qualities, total non-being, at the other. And the higher up the slope you go, the more Conscious, Perfect, Good, etc, things become. If you go the other way, well, that's "hell", which some Christian theologians now define as "eternal separation from God" (i.e. it's the other end of the spectrum).
From this comes
Principle of Difference:
Every Hypostasis Has Its Own Unique Characteristics, Which Emerge In That Hypostasis Due To Its Proximity Or Distance From The Superme Source Or Absolute
Each hypostasis has its own specific structure.
And as Proclus expresses it in his Elements of Theology (Prop. 19) the characteristic (or "primitive") quality "in any natural class of beings is present in all the members of that class, and is their common definition". This "common definition" is the characteristic of that hypostasis. Thus, (commentary on Prop. 20) Soul has certain qualities (e.g. activity), Intelligence certain other qualities (e.g. intuition), and the One other qualities again (e.g. Unity).
An obvious analogy is the spectrum of visible light is made up of distinct colours (as in the seven colours of the rainbow), so the spectrum of Reality is divided into fundamental and unique grades or zones or spheres of existence.
Were it not for this law of emanation, there could be no diversity in existence, but only a monotonous uniformity.
Principle of Fractalisation
Each Hypostasis Contains, As An Inner Octave, All The Hypostases Within Itself, But Only After Its Own Nature.
This Law of emanation is an established Kabbalistic theme. In Kabbalah for example, each of the ten Sefirot or Lights "is constructed of ten Lights, each of which in turn is composed of an equal number of Lights and so on ad infinitum" [Moses Luzzatto, General Principles of the Kabbalah, p.5]. The same theme appears in Theosophy, where each of the seven planes is divided into seven sub-planes, and in other esoteric teachings such as those of Gurdjieff. In modern science and mathematics we se eit in theory of fractals, according to which nature repeats itself on every scale of magnitude with the same basic pattern; for example, the branching and re-branching pattern of a tree's limbs or a river and its tributories.
Let us give an example of this law, using (for the sake of simplicity) the triad of Noetic (or pure Mental-Spiritual), Psychic, and Physical hypostases. Consider now the Physical hypostasis; this would contain as sub-hypostases the Noetic, Psychic, and Physical hypostases. But these are not the Noetic, Psychic, and Physical in their pure form. Rather, they are the "Physical"-ised version of the Noetic, Psychic, and Physical. They can therefore be given a double-barrelled name each: the Noetic-Physical, Psychic-Physical, and Physical-Physical hypostases.
But that is not all. Just as the Physical hypostasis is divided into Noetic, Psychic, and Physical sub-hypostases, so each of these is divided into sub-sub-hypostases. So we have the Noetic-Noetic-Physical, the Psychic-Noetic-Physical, and the Physical-Noetic-Physical sub-hypostases, and so on with the Psychic-Physical, and Physical-Physical sub-hypostases.
And so on indefinitely.
The subdivision-hypostasis approach can form the basis for a useful provisional classification for different states of consciousness and existence. I say "provisional" because all this metaphysics should not be understood as hard and fast dogma, but simply as convenient theories that will do until something better comes along.
So, beginning with a limited set number of fundamental principles (e.g. the Kabbalistic ten sefirot, or the Theosophical seven planes), which serve as the basic archetypes or paridigms, these can then divided into sub-hypostases. So rather than the Abhidharmma Buddhist approach of having to memorise the attributes and relationships of a long list of elements of consciousness (dharmas or chait-tas), all that is needed is an insight into these four or seven or ten or however many basic qualities, which, like letters in a word or sen-tence or page, can then be brought together into any number of combinations.
The fractal principle also means that every hypostasis is mediated by sub-hypostases. For unlike exoteric religion, which posits a vast ontologogical gulf between God and creation, and Monism, which says that there is only Reality, either God or an Absolute that includes both God and the world, the Emanationist hypothesis assumes that Reality consists of a vast ontological continuum or "Great Chain of Being", from the highest to the lowest, in which every level shades into the level above and below it. Take the duality between finite and infinite; or relative and Absolute reality; or creation and Godhead (all of which mean the same thing). This is linked by an intermediate principle, or a series of intermediate principles. For example the Shaivite and Shakta tantrics took Shankara's duality of Absolute and Infinite Nirguna Brahman and finite relative world-appearance or Maya, and inserted between these two a series of intermediate evolutes, the "pure tattwas", tracing the stages whereby the Absolute gradually limits itself and becomes the relative. Likewise Sri Aurobindo places between finite Mind and infinite Supermind the transitional stages of "Spiritual Mind": Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, etc. So there are no "gaps" anywhere in the spectrum of existence.
Yet at the same time, this "Spectrum of Being" is not continuous. Just as at the most basic level physical energy and matter is divided into bits or quanta, which cannot be subdivided (to attempt to do so only creates more quanta).