Origins of As Above so Below
The adage is traditionally attributed to the Emerald Tablets of Hermes Trismegistus. Nevertheless, all subsequent teachings that strove to explain man and his role in the universe acknowledged this truth. God creating man in his own image is a Biblical expression; self-government mirroring the government of a state is a Confucian one. This site hosts a compilation of some of the more profound expressions of as above so below.
As Above So Below As Within So Without
As above so below is often expressed alongside its synonym, as within so without. Teachings that expressed these instructions claimed it was impossible to study the universe without studying man, and vice versa, that it was impossible to study man without studying the universe. They stressed that, to study either man or the universe, one had to study both. This is one reason why ancient texts almost always dwell on both man and the universe alike. They rarely exclude the one or the other.
Man himself is obviously the nearest object to himself, far more observable than a microscopic atom or a telescopic galaxy. And yet, his inherent blindness to himself prevents him from seeing the obvious. Thus, to gain self-knowledge, man must often look outside of himself to another cosmos, and apply what he learns from the external to himself. Indeed, as above so below goes hand in hand with another ancient adage, Know Thyself.
As Above So Below Meaning
Teachings that instruct man to look without in order to see within point out another fact: man is an incomplete being, an unfinished world that only partially mirrors its neighboring cosmos. Hence, as above so below and as within so without outlines the direction of man’s evolution, the way to fulfill his potential and become a complete man— a complete cosmos. It is with this encouragement in mind that we have compiled this collection of sayings.