The Void and the Pleroma

Tomberg emphasizes that freedom is the key to understanding the role of God in history. Without this key, the alternatives are

  1. God controls every detail of history through compulsion
  2. God is powerless in history

These alternatives fail to take the fact of freedom into account.

The Void

Tomberg adapts the concept of tsimtsum, the withdrawal of God, from the Cabbala to explain creation. God, as Infinite, contains all possibilities as divine ideas and cannot be determined by anything external to him. The Void as an Idea can only exist potentially and not in actuality. As such, the Void is a “mystical space without his presence”. This space is where the objectivization of God takes place, that is, it is a self-limitation since no other being can limit him. Thus there are two moments in creation. The meonic element (the void) gives rise to the pleromic elements (the plenitude), and they are indissolubly bound to one another.

Note that these two moments follow closely what Vladimir Solovyov wrote in Divine Humanity. Solovyov identifies a third moment when Unity is restored, yet without destroying the pleroma.

This is the realm of freedom. The mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdom are ruled by nature’s laws. However, the human and angelic kingdoms are free. While plants and animals follow the cosmic law out of necessity, human beings are free to follow the cosmic law or not.

The Post of the Emperor

So the divine order (i.e., the Logos), may or may not be manifest, since humans are free to follow that order or not. The divine order includes the hierarchical principle. Therefore, the government of the city should likewise follow the hierarchical divine order. The absence of the Emperor in Christendom is contrary to the divine order. The post of the Emperor in our time is now hidden and can only be revealed by God.

Without the Emperor, the alternative to hierarchy is egalitarianism. That is why a liberation theologian like Leonardo Boff can reject the whole idea of the celestial hierarchy as described by St Dionysius the Areopagite. That can only be because of the lack of authority which is the “completely manifested divine name.”


It is interesting that Tomberg identifies the post of the emperor with a state of consciousness. This state is the complete synthesis of mysticism, gnosis, and sacred magic. This state he calls initiation. He goes further and identifies this state of consciousness as that in which “eternity and the present moment are one.” Specifically, it is the simultaneous vision of the temporal and the eternal, of that which is below and that which is above.

So the Emperor is not simply a political figure (temporal), but represents the authority of the initiate. Hence, we can regard these meditations as the preparation for initiation, for which we need to achieve that synthesis in consciousness. In seeking the Truth, we are given these criteria for something to be absolutely true:

  • It is of divine origin
  • It bears fruit in conformity with its origin
  • It is in accordance with the categorical needs of thought and experience