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June 19, 2014
OK, so maybe you’re “not inventing anything” when you point out that in a number of religions God (or the first person of God) is the Deity Absolute Creator, in your terms. And in your Preview, you give some good quotes and arguments demonstrating that Buddha’s “Unconditioned” nirvana consciousness and Lao Tzu’s all-inclusive “Tao” are equivalent to the Christian Holy Ghost and the Hindu Destroyer or Spirit of Destiny Consummation, as you call the third person. But where do you get the idea that Christ represents the Supreme Being (Allsoul or Worldsoul) comparable to the Hindu teaching of Krishna as the Paramatman (Supersoul)?
May 17, 2016
Chris - I responded to your question earlier, but recently I've updated my website to better address the subject of "panentheism" (all in God) and the concept of Christ as Worldsoul or Supersoul (see Preview pages 26-29). Some of the long history of this idea is summarized in the following excerpts from my book.
The idea of the World-Soul seems to have originated with Plato (429-347 BC), who probably derived it from the teachings of Pythagoras (570-495 BC) concerning the nature and relationship of living creatures and divine beings. Plato held that the World-Soul holds the same relation to the world as the human soul does to the body.
"Chrysippus (279-206 BC)... says that divine power resides in reason, and in the soul and mind of the universe; he calls the world itself a god, and also the all-pervading world-soul." De Natura Deorum - Cicero.
In Cicero's philosophy (106-43 BC), the doctrine of natural law is combined with the doctrine of natural brotherhood and equality, through the bond of the World-Soul. One of the momentous implications of this doctrine of "brotherly concern" is that the highest allegiance is not necessarily to the local state, but ultimately to the universal fellowship of the Allsoul of all humankind represented by all states.
The Greco-Roman Stoics conceived of individuals, as part of the World-Soul or Supreme Being, who makes the world, but not necessarily everything impinging on it. All things share in this divine World-Soul and contain a small spark of his divine fire (spirit). After death, the human soul returns to and is assimilated back into the World-Soul from whence it came. The popularity of the Greco-Roman Logos (universal reason) was due to the wide-spread desire to conceive of God as transcendent and yet immanent at the same time.
The Greco-Roman world-soul strongly influenced the teaching of Jewish philosopher Philo (20 BC - 50 AD) on the divine Word or Logos, who holds together the various levels of being that comprise the cosmic hierarchy. In the New Testament, the Logos was identified with Jesus Christ by the author of the Gospel of St. John, thereby laying the cornerstone for Christian metaphysics.
It is said that in his epistles, St. Paul (5-67 AD) uses the expression "in Christ" and it's various equivalents 165 times, to characterize an all-inclusive personality, in whom believers find themselves incorporated in a communal union with Christ. It is a 'real' divine connection (but not an absorption or obliteration), of which the church is an earthly imitation.
Justin Martyr (114-165) saw Christ as the Second God, Incarnation of the Logos, Cosmic Being, and World-Soul.
The Epistle of Diognetus (130-200) seems to be the earliest Christian writing to identify the Son of God as the Craftsman or 'Demiurge' (immanent World-Soul) who is second in Plato's version of the Trinity. "He sent the Craftsman and maker of all things." - Diognetus 7:2.
Christian concepts of the emergence and return of all beings from and to God through Jesus were held by early church leaders such as Clemens, Origen, Pseudo-Dionysius, etc. "Origen (185-254) accepted (Plato's cosmogony) that the sensible world is a reflection of the intelligible world, both being created by God on account of his goodness." The Platonistic Christian Cosmology - W. de beer - earlychurch.org.uk.
Plotinus (204-270) held that the universal All-Soul is indivisible, but in breathing life into bodies it is virtually multiplied into many individual souls, although it retains its fundamental unity, just as they retain their individuality as part of that World-Soul which includes all souls.
"This universe is a single living being embracing all living beings within it, and possessing a single Soul that permeates all its parts to the degree of their participation in it. Every part of this sensible universe is fully participant in its material aspect, and in respect of soul, in the degree to which it shares in the World-Soul." Plotinus: Union With The One - Webpage by P. Harrison (Ennead 4.4.32).
The Neo-Platonists believed that "the objects created by the World-Soul are themselves souls of various kinds, including those of men: and these souls are capable either of rising heroically to union with their source, or of sinking apathetically in their sins.
"For Augustine (354-430), Adam is more than the first human; he is the source of all souls... the entire human race was in Adam, the Christianized World Soul." Farabi's Virtuous City and the Plotinian World Soul - G. M. Bonelli, P.114/8.
According to the Jewish Kabbalah, every human soul is just a fragment of the great 'world-soul' of Adam, and part of the destiny of humankind is to effect the restoration of the original soul of Adam, who in this analogy represents the Supreme Being.
In his cosmology, John Scottus Erigena (810-877) consistently employed the Neo-Platonist concept of procession and return: all things proceed from God and return to God, and the link between the movement of all things and the absolute transcendence of the being of God is the supreme immanence of Christ.
According to Nicholas de Cusa (1401-1464) and Marsilio Ficino (1443-1499), the Universal World-Soul is God immanent in the material world, imparting motion, life, and order. Ficino explains that as the heavens exert influences and effects upon us, so we in turn can exert influences upon the World-Soul, and thus on other things in the universe.
In Giardiano Bruno's estimation (1548-1600), the creative power inherent in the individual soul comes from the Universal Intellect with which the World-Soul is fused.
Auguste Comte (1798-1857), the founder of Positive Philosophy, postulated "Le Grand-Etre" or Great Being of all Humanity, as God immanent in the universe. Comte defined the Great Being of Humanity as the continuous totality of all converging human beings - past, present, and future - capable of assimilation, by virtue of a real cooperation in furthering the common good. In Comte's estimation, humanity must be considered a single immense organism - an eternal "individual," growing through history - a Supreme Being composed of its own worshippers, whose necessary members we consciously are.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) held that: "The Supreme Being does not build up nature around us, but puts it forth through us... The Supreme Critic on the errors of the past and present, and the only prophet of that which must be, is that great nature in which we rest... that Over- Soul, within which each man's particular being is contained and made one with all others; that common heart." Emerson: Essays and Lectures edited by J. Porte, P.41 & 385.
The American philosopher William James (1842-1910) saw all life as an expanse of pure experience, parts of which are appropriated by individuals in any possible combination of overlapping and commonality. There may be centres of appropriation (oversouls) that include vastly more than we do, and there is probably one world-soul which appropriates all that of which humans are conscious, and more. This could involve a hierarchy of centres, each including and appropriating all that is appropriated by lesser centres.
In James view, a hierarchy of centres of increasing breadth of appropriation need in no way wipe out the individuality and independence of the other centres involved. As individuals they are simply partakers of and contributors to the whole community of personal appropriations, and are not encroached upon by the other persons.
The great Russian philosopher Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900) called Sophia (Wisdom) the World-Soul and the body of Christ.
Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), the father of Process Philosophy, saw the World-Soul as an abstract entity in the process of becoming real through the evolution of individual human beings toward closer and closer participation in the divine. In a process-oriented approach to theology, Whitehead proposed a model by which God is involved in an on-going ever-changing relationship with all creatures who come forth and return to God, as members of an all-embracing cosmic community.
Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) saw humankind evolving toward a "Supreme Unity" of not only the living but the dead, which will form the "Body of Christ" in a future state of access to collective human consciousness, while preserving individual personal identity. "Each individual will find, by conscious union with a Supreme Personal Being, the consummation of his own personality... the gradual incorporation of the World in the Word Incarnate." The Future of Man - T. de Chardin, P. 35/37.
As a student of Whitehead's Process Theology, Charles Hartshorne (1897-2000) argued that God must have an in-depth knowledge of the world in order for him to guide the individuals in it. This is precisely what only the inclusion of all persons in the gestalt consciousness of God, and the world as the metaphorical body of God (Oversoul of all souls) can fully explain.
For Hartshorne, the world is the body of God, and God is the soul of the world, but he maintained that God has an abstract existential dimension as well as a material experiential coordinate. God is both infinite and finite, eternal and temporal, individual and universal, one and many.
The essential unity of all souls with the Supersoul (Allsoul) is a fundamental postulate of the Hindu religion, which has long had a tradition that Lord Vishnu is the existential Supreme Being (God) and sustainer (preserver) of the universe, while Krishna is the 8th experiential incarnation of Vishnu. Thus, Krishna is the World-Soul or the Self of all men: "O Lord of Death, I (Krishna) am the Self seated in the heart of all beings. I am the beginning, the middle, and the end of all beings." Bhagavad Gita 10.20.
The genius of Hinduism is to combine many divergent practices and beliefs into one overall system - unity in diversity. "Truth is One, though the sages know it as many." (Rig Veda 1:164:46).
"The human personality can truly destroy individuality of creaturehood, and though all that was worthwhile in the life of such a cosmic suicide will persist, these qualities will not persist as an individual creature. The Supreme will again find expression in the creatures of the universes, but never again as that particular person: the unique personality of the nonascender returns to the Supreme as a drop of water returns to the sea." UB1283.5.
In the fullness of time, irrational monstrosities such as Hitler and Nazism, al Baghdadi and ISIL, etc. will fade in the memory of the Supreme - like a bad dream - submerged but never forgotten.
Samuel Stuart Maynes