The Four Planes of Manifestation
By the late Tim Keen
I remember that when I first came to study
the Kabbalah, I found it very valuable, but confusing in its terminology.
Neither Dion Fortune, McGregor
Mathers nor Crowley seemed able to agree entirely on how the terms
should be translated. Now, many years later, I have come to the
conclusion that one of the crusty forms of the old order is the
use of Hebrew terms to describe concepts for which we should have
more expressive, meaningful modern terms. You can look at the
issue from many angles, but I am convinced that the New Age requires
the breaking of these forms. It is a fact that despite all the
so-called New Age activity, we still cling to repackaged versions
of old-age religions. We pursue Celtic, Egyptian, Greek, Qaballistic
systems - all of which are old-age forms. And I suspect that should
one of these priests of old be exposed to our modern version of
his religion, he would not recognise it. For the fact is that
we have imposed our modern ideas on these old-forms in order to
express concepts that are 21 st Century.
In the New Age, we shall require
to ditch these false images and replace them with new concepts
which are not faked up versions of old religions. It will not
be easy, but it will happen just the same; for future generations
will not look back to the Old Age, but wish to look forward and
base their ideas on images and concepts more in tune with modern
Modern occultism will need to
take just as much from the well-spring of psychology as was done
from the well-spring of the Hebrews, and it is quite clear to
me that the two don't sit easily side by side. When we throw into
the melting pot, the opportunities offered to path working by
computer induced virtual reality, we see that the old order is
being swept swiftly away .
With this in mind, I wish to
take an old concept "the four-fold world of the Qaballist"
and re-express this concept in ways that younger minds may find
easier to come to terms with.
The structure of the universe,
as it is taught in the western occult schools, is that it exists
in four layers. I should point out that this is only one way of
looking at things. This might sound dubious to a generation of
those educated in the scientific method, where all things are
measured just so, but there are precedents in the scientific world
for even such a view. You can regard an election as a particle
- or a wave. It depends on how you want to use the knowledge.
Both models are valid expressions of an electron's nature. Equally,
you can view the colourful world about you as being a mix of three
primary colours, red, blue, green, or indeed as a seven colour
model as seen in the rainbow. Both work as a model. So, whereas
some Eastern systems are based about a seven-fold model, the Western
mind seems particularly fond of the four-fold model, acknowledging
that three of those planes can be further expanded into fluid
and concrete modes thus making the bridge to a seven fold system.
So much for that. The real issue is just what is the nature of
these four planes or as they are sometimes called, worlds?
I tend to refer to the four planes
of existence as:
The Plane of Idea
The Plane of Realisation
The Plane of Formation
The Plane of Expression
Now I should clear up one matter straight away. All of these planes
are "in manifestation" in the sense that we are aware
of them. The Plane of Expression could perhaps be better written
as the Plane of Physical Manifestation, or the Physical Plane,
but it is of no great importance - it is just a question of getting
our terms correct and understood. These four planes of existence
occur both within the human consciousness and without in the universe
itself - or, if we like, in God's consciousness. For, as Dion
Fortune wrote; "The universe is really a thought-form of
The understanding of these planes
is not straightforward - when is it ever? - and I have found with
such things that it is usually best to start with that which is
familiar, in other words the human-consciousness side of the equation.
(This is sometimes referred to as the Microcosm or the Cosmos
as it is expressed by analogy within Man himself). Each of these
planes resides as the source to the plane below and ideas, if
you will, flow from the Plane of Idea down through the others
to the Plane of Expression or the Physical Plane.
Take the following seed idea
and plant it in your mind:
Ideas are realised into
Thoughts are formed in
Imagination is expressed
To take a specific example, let
us consider the invention of the wheel. Firstly, we have the idea
or principle of a wheel. This is nothing concrete, you understand,
it is a very abstract thing, hard for us to grasp. It might be
just a vague something which is there when we look at the way
we are moving a large rock by placing rollers under it and pushing
it over them. Could we fix the roller so that we might not have
to keep picking it up at the back? Then we might have this idea
condense out a bit into an actual thought. This idea might now
be realised as being a thing circular, but fixed in the centre.
Now we have, at last, got something
concrete. The idea is expressed or stated in some mental thought
that you might communicate. From this we might visualise, using
our imagination, an actual design. It is a slice through a log
with a big nail through the centre. It is still only in our imagination
- yet, it is in a Plane of Formation - we have given the thought
a form, but in our mind. From here, we would wish to make the
design, and express it in wood or some physical material. The
physical world is the plane in which all ideas must ultimately
be expressed or given expression.
This last point is a point of
great importance, for unless you actually bring an idea into "Earth",
as it were, it remains unexpressed and not fully in manifestation.
It is a duty of those who conscious' work the planes of manifestation
to bring these ideas into physical reality. For example, the ideas
expressed herein, would be of no value if I kept them to myself
and did not express them at least in speech or in some other physical
manner that others could interpret.
So, now you ihould have grasped
that the plane of idea roughly corresponds to the well-spring
tha lies behind thought. That thought itself is broadly equivalent
to your thinking mind, that the plane of formation is like your
imagination and the plane of expression is the physical world.
All of this seems fairly simple
and so it is. But now you must stretch your mind and try to grasp
what this means in the world "out there". Again, let
us try an example.
Let us suppose that there is
a concept, that we may call The Principle of Polarity. This principle
exists conceptually in the Plane of Idea. I am not going to detail
it at this stage, for to do so would bring it out of the abstract
plane of idea, into at least the plane of realisation. In fact,
we are unable to talk about the concept except in terms of those
more concrete planes of Realisation, Formation and Expression.
Let us now say that the great
cosmic principle is realised as follows: that things are manifested
in the manner of male and female complementaries. In the case
of animals, we have this concept formed through the male and female
genders of the species. The concept is formed in diverse ways,
but it is sufficiently well developed for us to recognise gender
when we see it in other life-forms. Life-forms, it should be said,
that are as diverse as fish, insects, plants and birds. In the
Plane of Realisation, then, we may say that we have the Principle
of Polarity as realised by Gender. This is still quite abstract.
Only at the next stage down do we get anything like a design.
At this level we may form many different designs, just as we form
many types of design for a wheel. Nonetheless, all of these designs
are follow a form which adheres to the principle realised in the
level above. In this specific case, we would have all species
of life-form which exhibit gender. Note that we are not talking
about the actual living things at this stage, but rather about
the species as a whole, such as elephants, finches, apes and so
At the next level down, the Plane
of Expression, we have the physical expression of Polarity as
displayed by these life-forms, in other words, the living animals
We have talked about the Principle
of Polarity but this is merely an example. What you must grasp
is that many such principles, emerging in the Plane of Idea, flow
down the planes and express themselves in the natural world. Be
careful, however, to draw a distinction between the natural world
and the man-made world. The latter is an expression of Man and
quite likely will express the deviation from Cosmic Principles
with which he suffers. Taking the original point a bit further,
it is worth realising that one of the main ways that Cosmic Ideas
are expressed is through the creation of a life-form. Life-forms
that become extinct are really nothing more than ideas whose time
has passed. The dinosaurs are perhaps a classic example of this.
In fact, it is true to add that it is not helpful to prevent a
species becoming extinct if it's time has come, for to do so will
hinder the expression of new ideas which are fundamental to continual
evolution. However, this truth is not to be confused with the
sorry fact that many species have become extinct before their
time due to the foolishness of Mankind, blundering about and generally
setting back the course of natural evolution.
One final point, of great practical
significance, is that not only can ideas be expressed in life-forms,
but also that life-forms can be used to express ideas. The creation
of a new species, such as through selecti~ breeding or genetic
manipulation, will create a form which will throw the idea up
the planes. This is really quite reckless in theory, but in most
cases, the life-forms that Man can produce are only slight deviations
(in terms of their cosmic principle) from what exists already.
Because of this, little damage is expected. However, as we become
more proficient the likelihood is that we will produce ever more
unique life-forms which will be more and more deviant from existing
cosmic principles. This is potentially very de-stabilising and
we would all do well to remember the old principle: As Above,
So Below and vice versa.
To summarise, then, we may view
the world about us as consisting of four planes beginning witha
Plane of Idea, which is very subtle, and ending with a Plane of
Expression, which is very dense. Each plane is more dense as we
go 'down' this stack, and each of these planes takes its influence
from the plane 'above'. There is a great deal more that can be
said about these planes and the way in which they relate to our
own selves. However, these are genuine subjects for meditation
and contemplation and it is hoped that we will all continue to
bring our minds upon these concepts and thus, through the application
of a gentle light, unfold the Truth, just as a flower unfolds
to meet the dawn.