Many / One

A database of 11,000+ illuminated guiding quotations in 40 categories from 600+ inspired books by our most brilliant and influential authors.
Compiled by JoAnn Kite

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The Manifold and The One
Agnes Arber
The author, an award-winning English botanist, quotes from mystics of all faiths who have struggled to examine the paradox of the Manifold and the One. Her conclusion, thus supported, is that everyone may come to know for him/herself that the One IS the Manifold and the Manifold IS the One.

1 "Men and women of many different periods, races, and religions have felt themselves to have entered in varying degrees into a mystical Union in which they knew the Manifold as the One; and they have attempted to recount what they then realised."

2 "Long ago, in the Rg-Veda, we find the idea of Purusa (the one great person), the Supreme Reality, which is both transcendent and immanent."

3 "God as Unity is the folding together in one embrace of all the multiplicity of the universe, since all is in Him; while as Manyness He is the unfolding and differentiation of the Oneness of the universe, since He is in all."

4 "In living organisms the final cause of development is an immanent, internal directiveness toward a goal."

5 "That comprehensive Unity which is the final goal is inextricably involved with the Many."

6 "Dionysius the Areopagite speaks of the One as containing all things 'in Its all-embracing Unity…combining even opposites under the form of oneness.'"

7 "One spirit works not only through the moving of the whole universe, but also through the flying of a mosquito, or the waving of a fan."

8 "Heraclitus, Descartes, Dionysius, Ibn al-Farid, Aquinas, and Nicholas of Cusa carried over into modern thought the idea of a unity inclusive of the full complexity of manyness….In the history of religious thought, both in the East and in the West, there have been periods in which the conception of Oneness played an essential part."

9 "The conviction that there is a Unitary Whole revealing itself to us as a Manifold….is something deep-seated in the human mind, which has come to the surface recurrently among people of the most various races and schools of thought."

10 "We may know – not as a mere static dictum but as a winged intuition, carrying an infinitude of significance both for mind and heart – that the One IS the Manifold, and the Manifold IS the One."

11 "This oneness IS and always has been."

12 "That one Whole underlies the obvious multiplicity of the universe is a postulate deep-seated in man's mind."

13 "If you want to follow the doctrine of the One, do not rage against the World of the Senses. Only by accepting the World of the Senses can you share in the True Perception." Anonymous 7th century patriarch of Zen Buddhism

This body of quotes compiled by JoAnn Kite