Further Implications of the New Paradigm: On Yugas and the Shift, Emanationism, Panentheism, and Child “Development” as Spiritual Devolution
Emanationism and the Cyclical Nature of Time and Change
Emanationism is another important non-Western perspective that comes out of the new consciousness research, the new physics, and quantum theory. Like the Lamarckian view of evolution and the subjectivity-as-primary postulate of Reality, it, also, is ridiculed and pooh-poohed by the many self-ordained “rational” men of science. But like the others, it, too, is given new credibility and life through some of those same “inconvenient” findings of science which overturn common-sense materialism and neo-Darwinism.
Emanationism is a view of our changes over time that suggests that we devolve from an original pure state to increasingly diffracted, diffused, and more impure states of being. It asserts that, rather than evolving to higher forms, we descend from a highest form to lower and lower forms as we get farther from an original source. On Emanationism, Wikipedia says,
Emanationism is an idea in the cosmology or cosmogony of certain religious or philosophical systems. Emanation, from the Latin emanare meaning “to flow from” or “to pour forth or out of”, is the mode by which all things are derived from the First Reality, or Principle. All things are derived from the first reality or perfect God by steps of degradation to lesser degrees of the first reality or God, and at every step the emanating beings are less pure, less perfect, less divine. Emanationism is a transcendent principle from which everything is derived, and is opposed to both Creationism (wherein the universe is created by a sentient God who is separate from creation) and materialism (which posits no underlying subjective and/or ontological nature behind phenomena being immanent).
The importance of such a distinction in the views of the nature and direction of Reality might not be obvious. But it is supremely relevant to just about everything we think of as advance or development: In spirituality or spiritual growth, it determines whether or not one can pile up spiritual “accomplishments,” ladder-style, step-by-step and analogous to the way one acquires credits toward a scholastic degree, or whether one needs to let go and stop trying to control one’s development and instead place the source of one’s plan for eternity outside of the ego. It has much to say about the so-called “advances” of civilization and points to an idea that these accomplishments take a much higher toll than they provide benefits; the net result being that we continually retreat, not advance, with technological and cultural elaboration.
It has something to say about our development in life and whether we lose more than we gain as we get older, alongside the measure of perhaps the most important things of life. It might say something to a physicist pondering the Big Bang and its aftermath as well about where one might look for the more optimal state of the Universe — something we approach, an Omega Point, or something we left behind, an Origin or Source. For the traditional Western view in each case sees all growth and development as linear; whereas the Emanationist view in each case sees Reality more like the ways indigenous folks and our progenitors saw it: Reality as a cycle, with times of decline followed eventually, and fortuitously, by eternal returns to states of renewed vitality.
If this sounds strange, keep in mind that this is the central idea in the concepts of being “born again,” of rebirthing, and of renewal of any sort that is sought in any endeavor, spiritual/psychological or secular. Keep in mind that Emanationism is in line with right-brain or “organic” thinking, which sees progress as growing outward in all directions at the same time from a Source which is also then the End Point.
Whereas a traditional view of progress has it being linear and in line with left brain thinking which posits everything in cause and effect relation from a dim, unforeseeable beginning to an incomprehensible Omega Point at the opposite end of Infinity … which is a mathematical impossibility, by the way, so even it, though linear, is not logical.
So while such an idea as Emanationism might sound strange these days … thus reinforcing my argument for the overweening success of the theory of evolution … yet it was one that was common among ancient philosophers. It was and is a common “primitive” — a better word is primal — depiction of the way things work. It is a cornerstone of ancient Gnostic teachings. A good deal of ancient Greek philosophy is presented this way — for example, the writings or Plotinus and Proclus. It is the perception of Hindu cosmology, even up to this day, with the belief in a system of yugas or ages — each one being a decline from the previous one. Strangest of all, it appears in a physical form (almost as if it had to come out somewhere, even if only “reflected”) in the theory of cosmic origins put forth by the scientific community called the “big bang” theory. People this very day have this conception in mind in thinking there might be some renewal on the horizon at the end of the Mayan calendar or coinciding with some other celestial or macrocosmic shift.
However, generally speaking, in this philosophical conception, the Universe is seen as “running down” over time — that is, in a spiritual or moral sense, not a physical one like the scientists’ refracted formulation. Consequently, the current age, which we think of as the height of evolution is, in Hindu cosmology, the Kali yuga, the lowest level of decline, of degenerate morals, habit, and custom that is possible before the starting up of the cycle all over again from the “top” … which, keep in mind, is also the beginning or “bottom.”
Karl Christian Friedrich Krause and Panentheism
And this viewpoint is expressed magnificently as recently as the early nineteenth century by philosopher Karl Christian Friedrich Krause with such import and power that it led to an entire movement outside of Krause’s Germany in the country of Spain during the mid-nineteenth century and after his death.
Of Krause, Encyclopedia Brittanica reports,