Front Matter – Doctrine Of The Subtle Worlds


A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the California Institute of Integral Studies in Partial Fulfillment of The Requirements for the Degree of Doctor Of Philosophy with a concentration in Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness, California Institute of Integral Studies

Committee Chair:
Brian Swimme, Ph.D.
San Francisco, CA

© 2003 Eric M. Weiss


This dissertation is dedicated to the one, infinite, eternal Divine Being that each of us is, and in whom all of us live, move, and have our being.

May the iron cage of the dark ages be dissolved.
May the light of the Divine shine on and through human beings.
May the biosphere on Earth, and all the realms of the universe be illuminated by that light.
May all beings find their way home.
May all beings enjoy eternal bliss.


I want to acknowledge first of all Sonia and Stuart Sapadin, without whose unfailing faith and support this essay could never have materialized. My wife, Julie Ann, has suffered and celebrated with me at every stage of the process, and her extraordinary patience and unfailing joy have nourished me at every step of the way. Brian Swimme has been an incomparable mentor, giving me the recognition and encouragement that led me to believe that I could actually pull this off, as well as significant intellectual guidance and valuable feedback. Michael Quinlan, Paul Bogle and Sean Kelly have been especially helpful, not only by their deep friendship, but by their willingness to argue with me, to teach me, to learn from me, and to engage with my ideas as they developed. My ongoing conversations with Mary Schmitt, Christian de Quincey, Victor Goulet, Jeff Karan, Kirby Knox, Scott Leebrick and Thomas MacFarlane have also been important in shaping my thoughts. My profound thanks go out to all of these people, and to the many other teachers and friends who have accompanied me on this phase of my journey.


This dissertation advances the Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds, which holds that the physical world is a small cross-section of the real world, and that the real world is composed of several different, separate but partially overlapping realms of being, each with its own unique characteristics, and each inhabited by various beings such as angels, demons, and disincarnate human beings. This Doctrine was held by all premodern civilizations, and has, in modern times, been advanced in Theosophy and in the cosmology of Sri Aurobindo. This dissertation introduces the doctrine, explores its presentation in Sri Aurobindo, and then uses elements of Alfred North Whitehead’s philosophy of science and elements of his later metaphysical scheme to first outline Whitehead’s revolutionary understanding of time, space and matter, and then, in terms of that understanding, to demonstrate a meaningful relationship between the Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds and the world as it is understood by modern science.

© 2009 Eric Weiss. All rights reserved.