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Leibniz - The Best of all Worlds



Type of Spiritual Experience


The Great Work is the plan for the evolution of the universe.  As it unfolds there are winners and losers.  The losers and those who suffer will inevitably – as Voltaire did – say simplistically that how can it be the best of all worlds because we are suffering.

But Leibniz did not believe in a Father figure God, who looked after everybody and made sure everybody was happy and it was all joy and pleasure.  In fact, in another observation, we have a quote which shows he believes in adversity as a form of goad to get people moving and away from complacency.  His belief was in a universe in which there is constant creation and evolution towards a goal – an objective and since it was God’s plan and God’s objective and God’s strategy it could be no other than perfect.

The philosophy is remarkably similar to the Taoists – the ‘go with the flow’, don’t fight against the inevitable, go with the plan – approach to life.  It is not fatalistic.  Anyone who accepts the existence of the Great Work knows they have a destiny, a job to do and the last thing they should be doing is saying well it is all ordained by fate, I shall do nothing. 

There is also a hint of the Hindu philosophy in his approach.  There is creation, there is maintenance and there is destruction – the trimurti.  And very often creation of a new aeon or era, a new intellectual era cannot start until there is massive destruction of the old.  And in great destruction of the old, whether by massacre, murder, viruses or plagues there are also many many losers and much suffering.

But Leibniz was, as many have said, an optimist.  Not an absurd optimist, an optimist.   He saw a sort of spiral of evolutionary progress towards better and better aeons and greater unity of spirit.

God’s plan for our planet – the Great Work - was a good plan, a just plan, the best possible plan.

A description of the experience

G W Leibniz – Hauptschriften zur Grundlegung der Philosophie r A Buchenau and E Cassirer

We discover in numbers, figures, forces, and all measurable things of which we have an adequate conception that they are not only just and perfect but also quite harmonious and beautiful, in short, that they cannot be improved nor can anything conceivably better be hoped for.

To be sure, we cannot see such a harmony so long as we do not enjoy the right point of view, just as a picture in perspective is best appreciated only from certain standpoints and cannot be seen properly from another angle. It is only with the eyes of the understanding that we can place ourselves in a point of view which the eyes of the body do not and cannot occupy………………..

There is an infinite difference between our intellect and the divine, for God sees all things adequately and at once, while very few things are known distinctly by us; the rest lie hidden confusedly, as it were, in the chaos of our perceptions.

L Loemker – ed Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz:   Philosophical papers and letters 2 volumes 1956

……….we must also recognize that the entire universe is involved in a perpetual and most free progress, so that it is always advancing toward greater culture. Thus a great part of our earth has now received cultivation and will receive it more and more. And though it is true that some sections occasionally revert into wilderness or are destroyed and sink back again, this must be understood in the same sense in which I explain the nature of afflictions, namely, that, this very destruction and decline lead to a better result, so that we somehow gain through our very loss.

To the objection which could be offered, moreover, that if this were so, the world should long since have become a paradise, there is an answer near at hand. Although many substances have already attained great perfection, yet because of the infinite divisibility of the continuum, there always remain in the abyss of things parts which are still asleep. These are to be aroused and developed into something greater and better and, in a word, to a better culture. And hence progress never comes to an end


The source of the experience

Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps