Jem was confused. “Wait a minute…” he cut Alph off…

He thought of everything he had read, heard and learnt to that day… What exactly was Alph saying? He looked at his hands, he looked on the floor, then he looked across to his library and with a pensive tone he continued:

“There is what we call a pantheist view, according to which the universe is a ‘whole’ composed of infinite parts… Humans are a part of this whole… All things are born, they develop and then die. Nature manages itself, creating what it needs and eliminating what it doesn’t. The pantheists say the law of nature is what runs the universe, thereby denying God.

“On the other hand, there is a seemingly similar yet an entirely different outlook known as the ‘unity of existence’ or the ‘oneness of existence’ in Sufism, the esoteric teachings of Islam. According to this view, the cosmos is a whole administered by one consciousness and mankind is one part of this whole. The consciousness that administers the cosmos manifests Its properties and qualities through mankind. In other words, God talks and walks through man, or man is the conduit of God, and God is the essence of the cosmos.

“There are some who agree with this view. They say yes, the cosmos is the manifestation of God, but God is still beyond the cosmos, separating God from the rest of existence and pushing Him to the ‘unknowns’. So which of these views are you making a reference to?”

“People of truth have existed in every epoch… Every era bears a select few who inquire into the reality of things and actually find it and some who search and come close but die without discovering it… All of these people have relayed their findings to the extent they were able to attain the reality… But since people evaluate everything through their conditionings, they have filtered and interpreted these findings with their preconceived judgments, eventually losing their way in the bog of assumptions.

“Let me try and explain it like this:

“At one stage the cosmic consciousness was totally immersed in its own essence, so much so that even the functions denoted by the word ‘consciousness’ were at zero level. Then, from this stage of nothingness It assumed the Universal Intellect that was capable of ‘all’, that is, It created the ‘one absolute intellect’ so powerful as to be called God by people. Note that all of this happened within Its own existence, not outside of Itself! Then, the cosmic consciousness wanted to see everything. It imagined in multiplicity and thus created this world within Its imagination, such that when It wanted to observe Itself in this world, it created intelligent beings.

“This is an important note now: In respect of Adam who was created much later, this world is real, it exists. But in respect of the cosmic consciousness that created Adam, all of it is an illusion – it is a virtual reality. Nothing has a separate independent existence!

“Even the apparition of Adam in the world happened gradually and in two stages. When the cosmic consciousness wanted to see Its qualities and attributes in manifested form, It decided to do so through humans. At this stage the cosmos was already present, as thereby the cosmic consciousness was observing Itself in Its knowledge.

“After this the ‘first intellect’ or the cosmic consciousness created the worlds in Its imagination, which can also be called the Great Imagination, which in respect of humans is real. And so energy formed atoms, which formed cells, which multiplied and formed the body, and finally humans in the plural sense were formed.

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