“People have thousands of different ideas about the world but not one general idea
which would enable them to understand one another and to determine at once from
what point of view they desire to regard the world.
“It is impossible to study a system of the universe without studying man. At the
same time it is impossible to study man without studying the universe. Man is an
image of the world. He was created by the same laws which created the whole of the
world. By knowing and understanding himself he will know and understand the whole
world, all the laws that create and govern the world. And at the same time by studying
the world and the laws that govern the world he will learn and understand the laws
that govern him. In this connection some laws are understood and assimilated more
easily by studying the objective world, while man can only understand other laws by
studying himself. The study of the world and the study of man must therefore run
parallel, one helping the other.
“It is necessary to understand from the very outset
that there are many worlds, and that we live not in one world, but in several worlds.
This is not readily understood because in ordinary language the term ‘world’ is
generally used in the singular. And if the plural ‘worlds’ is used it is merely to
emphasize, as it were, the same idea, or to express the idea of various worlds existing
parallel to one another.
Our language does not have the idea of worlds contained one
within another. And yet the idea that we live in different worlds precisely implies
worlds contained one within another to which we stand in different relations.
“If we desire an answer to the question what is the world or worlds in which we live, we must first of all ask ourselves what it is that we may call ‘world’ in
the most intimate and immediate relation to us.,
“To this we may answer that we often give the name of ‘world’ to the world of
people, to humanity, in which we live, of which we form part.
But humanity forms an
inseparable part of organic life on earth, therefore it would be right to say that
world nearest to us is organic life on earth, the world of plants, animals, and men.
“But organic life is also in the world. What then is ‘world’ for organic life?
“To this we can answer that for organic life our planet the earth is ‘world.’
“But the earth is also in the world. What then is ‘world’ for the earth?
” ‘World’ for the earth is the planetary world of the solar system, of which it forms a
“What is ‘world’ for all the planets taken together? The sun, or the sphere of the
sun’s influence, or the solar system, of which the planets form a part.
“For the sun, in its turn, ‘world’ is our world of stars, or the Milky Way, an
accumulation of a vast number of solar systems.
“Furthermore, from an astronomical point of view, it is quite possible to presume a
multitude of worlds existing at enormous distances from one another in the space of
‘all worlds.’ These worlds taken together will be ‘world’ for the Milky Way.
“Further, passing to philosophical conclusions, we may say that ‘all worlds’ must
form some, for us, incomprehensible and unknown Whole or One (as an apple is one).
This Whole, or One, or All, which may be called the ‘Absolute,’ or the ‘Independent’
because, including everything within itself, it is not dependent upon anything, is
‘world’ for ‘all worlds.’ Logically it is quite possible to think of a state of things where
All forms one single Whole. Such a whole will certainly be the Absolute, which
means the Independent, because it, that is, the All, is infinite and indivisible.
“The Absolute, that is, the state of things when the All constitutes one Whole, is, as
it were, the primordial state of things, out of which, by division and differentiation,
arises the diversity of the phenomena observed by us.
“Man lives in all these worlds but in different ways.
“This means that he is first of all influenced by the nearest world, the one
immediate to him, of which he forms a part. Worlds further away also influence man,
directly as well as through other intermediate worlds, but their action is diminished in
proportion to their remoteness or to the increase in the difference between them and
man. As will be seen later, the direct influence of the Absolute does not reach man.
But the influence of the next world and the influence of the star world are already perfectly clear in the life of man, although they are certainly unknown to science.
Chapter 4 In Search of the Miraculous P.D.Ouspensky