Here is a compilation of quotes about immanence from the writings of Roberto Assagioli. The articles Roberto Assagioli about panentheism and What is reality, also contain many important insights into immanence.
“We have already referred to the two main aspects of divinity: immanence and transcendence. They are both real and necessary, but taken individually they are one-sided: they need to be integrated or merged. When the aspect of immanence is given the upper hand there is the danger of diminishing or debasing the idea of the Divine and all its manifestations. Thus in the aesthetic field, when this aspect of expression and form prevails we have the graceful, the pleasant, the elegant, and the cold perfection of the Parnassians and the Neoclassicists.
In the religious field we have sentimental mysticism and the personal love of God become human: too human. In the area of thought we have the deification of human beings as human, as it is expressed in certain idealistic trends. When there is an exclusive emphasis on the transcendent aspect, on the other hand, there is too great a dualism: nature and God are placed in opposite corners and an artificial opposition is created between them – between creation and Creator. There is then too wide a gap between humans and God.
What is needed is integration – a synthesis between the two, and in order to achieve this in practical terms, we must accentuate the aspect most needed in ourselves or in the age in which we live. The prevailing tendency today is clearly on the side of immanence. It is the age of science, an age which to all outward appearances gives us an expandable sense of the sublime.
As the prevailing trends are extroversion and the search for truth and beauty, as well as for power, both in the external world and in nature, the need today therefore is to accentuate the other aspect: we personally and humankind in general need to be called back to a sense of the transcendent, to feel again that shiver caused by mystery and by a sense of the infinite.
Here too I would recommend The Treasure of the Humble by Maeterlinck. The chapter on silence helps us to re-evaluate and stand back from the pettiness and bustle of the outward-facing lives almost all of us are caught up in. A renewed and long overdue sense of transcendence will take us straight to the great Reality; it will enable us to perceive the beauty that is above all forms, the beauty of which Plato spoke in his matchless prose – the eternal Beauty which exists eternally within itself, in its own absolute and perfect unity.” (Transpersonal Development, 2007, p. 249)
“The highest form of inner seeing is illumination, which can be called the revelation of the Divinity immanent in all things – the Presence of God in manifestation, in nature, in every existing being.” (Meditation Group for The New Age, p. 63)
“Recognition of the “Presence” can be reached in various ways and in different degrees, or stages. Essentially, it is realisation of the Universal Life, or Reality, pervading both the external world and every human being. In philosophical terms this permeation can be called the immanence or manifestation of the Reality, which in its essence is transcendent; in religious terms it has been known as the omnipresence of God” (Meditation Group for The New Age, p.66)
“Finally, there is love of God, or whatever designation may be preferred to represent Universal Being or Beingness: The Supreme Value, Cosmic Mind, Supreme Reality, both transcendent and immanent. A sense of awe, wonder, admiration, and worship, accompanied by the urge to unite with that Reality, is innate in man.
Present in every age and every country, it has given birth to the many varieties of religious and spiritual traditions and forms of worship, according to prevailing cultural and psychological conditions. It reaches its flowering in the mystics who attain the lived experience of union through love.” (The Act of Will, 1974, p. 95)
“In general terms we can say that intuition is a flash of illumination on a particular aspect or manifestation of Reality. Enlightenment, on the other hand, is broader and longer-lasting. It is a vision that shows the essential nature and synthetic unity of all Reality, or of significant aspects of that Reality. It is the perception of a light that is different from its physical counterpart, a light emanating straight from Reality itself.
This type of enlightenment may be regarded as a revelation of the divine immanence, and as a revelation of the unity of Universal Life expressed in myriad forms. The most effective description is the one contained in the Bhagavad Gita, which refers to it as the ‘revelation of the Universal Form’.
Many poets have experienced this enlightenment and have attempted to express it. The greatest among them is Dante. His ‘Paradise’ is full of expressions of light. At the beginning of the book he states quite clearly that he has had the indescribable experience of the supreme light, the light that shines in the highest heaven, closest to the Supreme Reality, God.
The glory of him who moves everything
Penetrates the universe and shines
In one part more and, in another, less.
I have been in the heaven which takes most of his light,
And I have seen things which cannot be told,
Possibly, by anyone who comes down from up there;
Because, approaching the object of its desires,
Our intellect is so deeply absorbed
That memory cannot follow it all the way. (Translation CH. Sisson, Pan Classics)
This manifestation of light takes on various aspects in the conscious mind of the person to whom it is revealed. These aspects are not separate but interpenetrate and merge with one another to varying degrees, some aspects prevailing over the others, depending on individual differences between those who perceive it. Sometimes the dominant factor is beauty, as with Rabindranath Tagore; in other cases it is the cognitive aspect that occupies the conscious mind, e.g. Plotinus and Meister Eckhart.
For Christian mystics, as well as for Eastern ones, this phenomenon involves feelings of love and reverence. For others the main emotion aroused by enlightenment is one of joy reaching the point of ecstatic bliss. I would nevertheless repeat that we are dealing with a situation in which one aspect is being stressed above others: in general they are all present to some degree. Dante gave fine expression to the way in which they blend together.” (Transpersonal Development, 2007, p.66-67)
“‘Eternal now’ is a paradoxical expression only be appreciated intuitively, but it provides us with a key to a fundamental truth, and that is connected to the relation between the transcendent and the immanent, being and becoming. Both of these should be present, conscious and at work in us.” (Transpersonal Development, 2007 p.77)
“But spiritual enlightenment is more than this. It is like a ‘flash of lightning’, the perception of immanent Light in the human soul and in the world of creation. There are many testimonies to this – that of St Paul on the road to Damascus, for instance – while in Buddhism, particularly Zen Buddhism, one aims, through special discipline, at producing this sudden enlightenment or revelation of the transcendent reality.
Dante’ s ‘Paradise’ might be called the poem of Light. The famous verse:
Intellectual light, full of love;
Love of the true good, full of happiness;
Happiness which transcends any sweetness. (Translation: C.H. Sisson, Pan Classics I)
This is a wonderful expression of the intimate relationship between light, love and intelligence (from intelligere meaning ‘to understand spiritually’ ).” (Transpersonal Development, 2007, p. 88)
“The eighth group of symbols, which has much in common with human experience, is indicated by the words ‘evolution’ and ‘ development’. In a sense we might say that these words are synonymous. To develop, which literally means ‘ to become disentangled’, refers to progress from the potential to the actual.
The two main symbols of development are the seed and the flower: a seed has all the potential it needs to become a tree, and a flower, from its closed bud, opens up and enables the fruit to form.
We have grown so used to this that it no longer surprises us when an acorn, by some miraculous process, becomes an oak, or when a child becomes an adult. But where actually is the tree in the seed? Where is the oak in the acorn? Aristotle spoke about ‘entelechy’, and others have spoken about ‘models’ or ‘ archetypes”. One has to admit some pre-existent reality, an immanent Intelligence guiding the various stages of development from the seed to the tree, from the germinal cell or cells to the complete organism.” (Transpersonal Development, 2007, p.89)
“The fourth way is one of the best known – the Aesthetic Way. It can be called the realization of divine immanence through beauty. It has been said that beauty is God’s signature. The wonder of beauty in nature and in living creatures is an indication of something infused in the form, of something higher of which the forms are indications. This way has been expounded best by Plato. He speaks of the “Ladder of Beauty”; first one admires the beauty of physical forms; the one rises to the realization and admiration of inner beauty, of the higher, inner qualities or virtues. From that one reaches towards the idea of beauty, the source of all beauty, which in itself is independent of all forms, but “informing” itself in all beautiful forms.
This kind of realization is spontaneous in all who have the aesthetic sense more or less developed. Artists try eagerly, sometimes desperately, to reproduce it in their creations, paintings, sculpture and music. But its “essential” spiritual nature is not obvious and is not easily recognized, and distortions often result from these efforts. They are attempts, however, more or less successful, to catch something which is not material, which is not the form but gives this sense of beauty to the form, and therefore this is a way to spiritual realization. For some it is the only way to reach towards a transpersonal reality. (Much more could be said about this aesthetic sense, but this is on only a very brief panoramic view).” (The Seven Ways to Self-realisation)« Back to Glossary Index