The Definition of Pure Knowledge
Empirical knowledge is rooted in the vibrations of consciousness, which create a dichotomy between subject and object, or knower and known. Pure knowledge transcends this dichotomy.
Pure knowledge arises when the field of pure consciousness knows itself, by itself, through itself alone. It consists of the unity of knower, known, and process of knowing. Pure knowledge can thus be said to be a “three-in-one” reality.
It is one thing, which nevertheless has three aspects. Of these, the knower is of primary importance, while the known and the process of knowing are of secondary importance. This follows from the fact that without a knower, nothing whatsoever could be known.
The Definition of Veda
In the ancient Vedic tradition of India, the type of pure knowledge that arises when the field of pure consciousness knows itself, by itself, through itself alone, was called the Veda—a term that literally means “pure knowledge”. However, the traditional definition of Veda is given below:
“Veda is defined as Mantra and Brahmana.” (Apastamba Srauta Sutram 24.1.31)
Commenting on this traditional definition, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who is most widely known for teaching the practice of Transcendental Meditation around the world, but who was also a profound Vedic scholar and seer, explained:
“Mantras are the structures of pure knowledge,…Brahmanas are the internal dynamics of the structure of pure knowledge…Because Mantras and Brahmanas both together constitute the Veda, the word ‘Vedic’ is meaningful for both aspects of Veda—Mantra and Brahmana. (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Introduction to Maharishi Vedic University.)
In this traditional definition, the knower is implied. It corresponds to the field of pure consciousness, which conceives its own structures and dynamics.
The knower and process of knowing, on the other hand, are spelled out. The known corresponds to the structures of pure knowledge, while the process of knowing corresponds to the internal dynamics of those structures. Pure knowledge, or Veda, is the unity of the three.
The Self as the Knower
The Veda represents the transcendental field of pure knowledge that is cognized by the Self, in the Self, and through the Self alone. This cognition extends from point to infinity in all directions.
This is because there are two aspects of the Self, which can be called the point-value of consciousness and the infinite-value of consciousness. In Sanskrit these two aspects of the Self are called the jiva (point-value) and the atman (infinite-value) respectively.
The jiva represents the individual self, while the atman represents the universal Self. The one eternal Self, otherwise known as the jiva-atamn, is the non-dual union of the two. It represents the non-dual union of the individual self (jiva) with the universal self (atman). In effect, the individual self merely provides an individual point of view for the universal self.
Even though the individual self has the form of an infinitesimal point, it nevertheless has the potential for infinity. It has the potential to realize its identity with the universal self.
“The jiva is extremely subtle like the point of a hair divided and subdivided many times, yet it has the potential for infinity. He (the jiva) should be realized (as the atman).” (Shvetashvatara Upanishad V.9)
When the jiva (individual self) realizes its identity with the atman (universal self), then it becomes the jiva-atman, which can be described as both “smaller than the smallest and bigger than the biggest”—simultaneously.
The Self and God
In this realization, one finds the essence of God, the Supreme Being, who acts as the source of innumerable jiva-atmans—or innumerable Selves.
Just as a ray of the sun can be reflected in a tiny mirror to give an impression of the sun, so also, a ray of the Supreme Being can be reflected in a tiny point to give an impression of God. In this sense, each jiva-atman, or each Self, can be viewed as a ray of God, the Supreme Being, whose omniscient awareness embraces innumerable such rays.
The Supreme Being can thus be described as the Supreme Self—who acts as the source of innumerable Selves, each of which presents a reflection of the whole, as experienced from an individual point of view.
Whereas the Supreme Being is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, the Self is not. It is limited in its knowledge, power, and presence. Nevertheless, each Self shares in the essence of God in the sense that it is endowed with a portion of God’s knowledge, power, and presence. Like the rays of light emanating from the sun, the rays of light reflected from a mirror have the potential to burn.
But the power to burn possessed by a mirror is much less than the power to burn possessed by the sun. Nevertheless, each Self, each enlightened soul, aspires to become like God. Each Self aspires to “grow up” to become like its Father.
This means that each Self aspires to grow in knowledge, power, and presence, by expanding its comprehension to embrace a larger and larger portion of all things that exist.
The ancient sages thus held that to know God, the enlightened soul must become like God, for like is known by like alone.
“If then you do not make yourself equal to God, you cannot apprehend God; for like is known by like. Leap clear of all that is corporeal, and make yourself grow to a like expanse with that greatness which is beyond all measure; rise above all time, and become eternal; then you will apprehend God…make yourself higher than all heights, and lower than all depths;…grasp in your thought all this at once, all times and places, all substances and qualities and magnitudes together; then you can apprehend God.” (Corpus Hermeticum, translated by Walter Scott, Shambala, 1993, p. 221.)
However, this aspiration is never-ending. No matter how all-embracing the soul might become, it will never become “equal” to God. No matter how much knowledge, power, and presence the enlightened soul might obtain, the reality of God, the Supreme Being will always be greater than that.
The quest for God-realization is thus endless. Nevertheless, at a certain point in the evolution of the soul, the distinction between God and the Self becomes a matter of metaphysical hair-splitting.
This hypothetical union between God and the Self is achieved when the soul develops the ability to comprehend all that exists in the created universe, as well as that which lies far beyond the created universe, in the bosom of the infinite. That is the goal of the path of immortality, which can also be understood as the path of gnosis—the path of pure knowledge.
The Divine Messengers as Fully Realized Immortal Souls
Those great souls who have achieved that goal, and who thus manifest the glory of God in their presence, more closely resemble immortal gods than mortal men.
That is the status of the divine messengers. They are fully realized immortal souls, who have the ability to ascend and descend the divine ladder at will.
Although the divine messengers possess glorious spiritual bodies, which are invisible to our physical eyes, they also have the ability to incarnate into any physical body. Whether they remain in their spiritual bodies, or incarnate into a physical body, depends upon the nature of their mission, as well as the time and circumstances associated with it.
With respect to human beings like us, the essence of that mission is always the same—to reawaken in human consciousness the light of pure knowledge and lay out the path that leads back Home, to the abode of immortality deep in the bosom of the infinite.
The Crystalline Structure of Pure Knowledge
When one obtains gnosis, by realizing the Self, then one experiences the non-dual union of point and infinity—as well as the unity of knower, known, and process of knowing. It is only then that the “structures” of pure knowledge become cognized.
These structures are transparent crystalline forms of pure intelligence, which exist between point and infinity. The ancient sages thus declared:
“When mental activity disappears, then knower, knowing and known become merged one into another, (and display the form of) a transparent crystal, which assumes the appearance of that upon which it rests.” (Pantanjali Yoga Sutras I.41.)
The crystalline structure of pure knowledge rests upon and within the unbounded continuum of pure consciousness. Because both are transparent, the crystalline structure assumes the appearance of that upon which it rests—namely, the unbounded continuum.
This crystalline structure represents the “ideal form” of the Self, which serves as the “rational” basis of creation. It is the thing that is known, when the field of pure consciousness knows itself, by itself, through itself alone.
The crystalline structure of pure knowledge travels with the enlightened soul—the awakened point-value of consciousness—wherever it goes. It constitutes the “discrete” or “rational” form of the Self, which can be described as the immortal body of the Self.
In the Vedic tradition, this immortal crystalline body was called the vajra-deha—the diamond-body, because it resembles a flawless, transparent diamond. The immortal diamond-body is not a created form of existence. It eternally exists as the ideal and self-referral form of the Self, and all souls, no matter what their status, possess diamond-bodies, whether they are aware of it or not.
With respect to the category of space, all jivas (individual selves) possess crystalline forms of pure existence, which are but categorical appearances of the atman (the universal self). The sages thus declared:
“Since the atman appears in the form of jivas in the same way that space appears in the form of space-cells, which are composite things like jars, therefore with respect to categorical appearance this is the illustration (to be taught). (Mandukya Karika III.3.)
These “space-cells” are actually “crystallographic cells”. They play the same role with respect to the immortal diamond-body, as do biological cells with respect to the mortal physical body. Just as each biological cell contains the structure of DNA, which encodes the blueprint of the mortal physical body, so also, each crystallographic cell contains the structure of pure intelligence, which encodes the blueprint of the immortal diamond-body.
In the final analysis, this represents the unmanifest blueprint of creation, which is cognized by every enlightened soul as that which is “known” in the Self. With this cognition, mortality becomes clothed with immortality, and victory over death is achieved—all in accordance with the Scriptures:
“When our mortality has been clothed with immortality, then the saying of the Scripture will come true: “Death has been swallowed up; victory is won! O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?” (First Corinthians, 54-56.)
Upon realizing the immortal diamond-body, the soul becomes equipped with the vehicle—the merkabah, or divine throne-chariot—which is capable of ascending and descending the divine ladder, while maintaining its ideal and archetypal form at each stage of ascent and descent.
The Spherical Dynamics of Pure Knowledge
In addition to the Self, which serves as the knower, and the crystalline structure of pure knowledge, which serves as the known, there are also the spherical dynamics of pure knowledge, which serve as the process of knowing.
These dynamics consist of ten spherically symmetric wave fields, centered on each and every point-value of consciousness. These wave fields constitute the ten life-breaths of the immortal soul. In the Vedic tradition these were called the ten pranas, each of which was assigned a name based upon its particular function.
“Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana, Samana, Naga, Kurma, Krikara, Devadatta, and Dhananjaya are the ten pranas.” (Bhavana Upanishad 17.)
These are not physical wave fields. They are metaphysical wave fields—literally wave fields of pure consciousness.
The waves of consciousness do not travel locally at the speed of light. Rather, they travel non-locally at the speed of thought—which can exceed the speed of light by many orders of magnitude.
These waves, which collectively represent the process of knowing possessed by each enlightened soul, uphold the communion of souls throughout the vast realms of creation, and even beyond creation.
This communion is pure harmony—the music of the spheres. It makes manifest the essence of divine Love, and unites all things into a single harmonious whole.
All enlightened souls share in this harmony, for they are all but rays of the one Supreme Being, and are united one with the other, and with the Supreme Being, through the agency of Love—the agency of divine relationship. The Hermetic sages thus declared:
“Among those that dwell in that world above, there is no disagreement; all have one purpose; there is one mind, one feeling in them all; for the spell which binds them one to another is Love, the same in all, and by it all are wrought together into one harmonious whole.” (Hermetica, translated by Walter Scott, Shambala, 1985, p. 281.)
In effect, the waves of consciousness are what bring the field of pure consciousness to life. As vibrations of consciousness, they uphold the relations between subject and object, or knower and known. However, when these relations are cognized on the level of pure consciousness, they are subsumed in unity—such that the relations become virtual.
The virtual relations among the diverse souls in creation, which share in the experience of non-local unity, presents the very meaning of the term “uni-verse”—that is, unity in diversity.
The Two Types of Gnosis
There are actually two types of gnosis obtained by the enlightened soul. The first type, which reveals the transparent crystalline structure of pure knowledge, is devoid of all the qualities of the senses.
It represents an abstract form of pure intuition, which reveals the unity of all things directly and immediately, without any intermediate mental or sensory representation.
In the Vedic tradition this type of gnosis was called jnana (pronounced as “gyana”), which is derived from the verbal root jna = to know.
The second type of gnosis, which reveals the dynamics of pure knowledge, is filled with all the qualities of the senses.
This represents a visionary form of pure intuition, which reveals the diversity of all things, by means of mental and sensory representations.
In the Vedic tradition, this type of gnosis was called vidya, which is derived from the verbal root vid = to see.
Both words mean “pure knowledge”, corresponding to the Greek term gnosis, and both types of pure knowledge are obtained on the basis of pure consciousness. It is just that one is devoid of the qualities of sense, while the other is filled with the qualities of sense.
Mystical Visions of the Cosmos
Both types of pure knowledge are involved in the mystical visions of the Cosmos, which are obtained as the soul ascends and descends the divine ladder.
By means of jnana, the soul apprehends the underlying unity of all things, along with the abstract and transparent crystalline structures of pure knowledge, and by means of vidya, the soul apprehends the virtual diversity of all things, endowed with all the qualities of the senses.
However, the “qualities of the senses” cognized in this manner do not inhere in the physical organs of sense. Rather, they inhere in the Self—the field of pure consciousness.
Because the Self is all-pervading, that is, because it extends from point to infinity, it can be said to have heads, eyes, ears, etc. everywhere. But these are not physical organs of knowledge and perception. They are simply the modes of knowing, seeing, hearing, etc. that are inherent within the Self—that is, within the field of pure consciousness.
Regarding this extraordinary type of knowledge and perception there is the following Vedic passage:
“Its hands and feet are everywhere, its eyes and head are everywhere, its ears are everywhere, it stands encompassing all in the world. Separate from all the senses, yet reflecting the qualities of all the senses, it is the Lord and ruler of all, it is the great refuge of all….Grasping without hands, moving without feet, (the Self) sees without eyes, hears without ears. He knows what can be known, but no one knows him.” (Svetashvatara Upanishad II.16-19.)
By virtue of such extraordinary means of knowledge and perception the enlightened soul has the potential to “know” and “see” what is there at a far distance in the heavens, while remaining here on earth.
Contrary to what many might believe, the enlightened soul has the potential to mount the divine ladder and ascend into the heavens, while its physical body remains here on earth.
In other words, it is not necessary to physical die in order to ascend the divine ladder. It can be done here, even while alive on earth. The Hermetic sages thus explained:
“Man ascends even to heaven, and measures it; and what is more than all beside, he mounts to heaven without quitting the earth; to so vast a distance can he put forth his power. We must not shrink then from saying that a man on earth is a mortal god, and that a god in heaven is an immortal man.” (Hermetica, translated by Walter Scott, Shambala. 1985, p.205)
This is the mystical journey that every human soul is destined to take—either in this life or another. Even if the journey is not completed in the short span of a human life on earth, nothing is lost. When the physical body drops away, the soul retains whatever stage has been achieved, and continues on its way.
Although the journey has a well-defined end, far beyond the boundaries of the finite universe, in truth it is never-ending—for no matter how much knowledge, power, and presence the soul might obtain, the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent reality of God will always be greater than that.
by Robert E. Cox