For the last week, the concept of the “Great Chain of Being” has continued to arise in my awareness and I thought it prudent to share some of my thoughts surrounding this idea.
Traditionally, this concept is thought of as a linear hierarchy which ranks the various forms of creation into categories representing increasing “closeness” with God. It is also an idea which was applied to the natural world during Aristotle’s reign of thought, with the categorizing of organisms based on particular, physical traits.
This “chain of being” has provided a cosmology for Christians for well over a thousand years, providing a context of power, delineating how it flows from God all the way down to animals, plants, and minerals.
Upon further study of this idea, it had occurred to me that this hierarchy was painting an incorrect picture of creation. Specifically, it begins with the idea that God is “outside” of creation, which begins the entire story from a state of inherent separation and error.
A more holistic vision of creation placed God not only in the center of Creation, but as being the very element of everything which is created. God is both transcendent and imminent, both beyond and within all that exists.
A helpful way of visualizing this is to imagine a series of concentric circles, with God at its center and each proceeding circle representing not a FORM of creation, but an inherent PRINCIPAL of creation. This imagery is meant to display the interdependent and integral elements of creation, rather then an hierarchy of it.
Think also a prism as light passes through it. There is not one colour better then the other, but each colour plays an integral role in the nature of the light itself.
“The circle of creation has no end. 7 Its starting and its ending are the same. 8 But in itself it holds the universe of all creation, without beginning and without an end.” – A Course in Miracles – Chapter 28 – II. Reversing Effect and Cause
I feel that it is helpful to remember that any idea of hierarchy is misleading. As it is taught in A Course in Miracles;
T-1.I.1. There is no order of difficulty in miracles. 2 One is not “harder” or “bigger” than another. 3 They are all the same. 4 All expressions of love are maximal.
If there is not an order of difficult in miracles, then this means that there is also no order of difference between forms of creation, because in their very essence God is fully and forever present. It is only our split mind which has created differences (excuses), preventing healing and wholeness to be realized.
Moment of Truth – [Prayer/Meditation]
God is my center, my source. God lies in the heart of everything, fully and forever present.