About twenty odd years back, I vividly remember sitting idle in my house, just brooding over something when suddenly, I had this strange feeling. For a few moments, I was no longer thinking like ‘myself’. My mind seemed to detach a bit and asked “who am I and what am I doing here?” It was kind of losing my identity and questioning my existence. Well, I came back to normal and again started thinking like ‘me’ or not thinking at all! Not that it was a profound life changing experience but that question does keep coming back to me. I am sure many of us are also plagued by the same question. What is it that got us here, in this form, in this time. What is the purpose of our existence and what difference does it make? I was born like millions of others, grew up to adulthood, got a job, started a family, got about with my daily chores, got through mental and physical upheavals etc.. But does it make any difference to this earth, the solar system, the galaxy or the Universe as a whole? Is the Universe affected by me being a CEO or a beggar or me committing a crime or a good deed? Now that is not exactly an ethical question but let us just consider it for the sake of argument.
We are much too insignificant in the larger scheme of things. The earth is not even a spec when it comes to our Galaxy, leave alone the Universe. And there are theories that there are parallel universes!! So why are we really here and what is our role in this universe? On the face value, our existence seems entirely inconsequential, devoid of any meaning except for the fact that we are too tied down with our own lives, our relations, things that we own and above all our identity.
With my limited 3-dimesional intellect, there are two ways to address these questions. First, through science as we know it and second through spirituality which also is a science but NOT as we know it. As we are all aware, conventional science has and is still trying hard to answer these questions. Genetic engineers have decoded the human genes and mapped our DNA and one day might be able to produce human clones. Haven’t they done the same with sheep? Astronomers and physicists have been trying to calculate the age of our Galaxy and the Universe and how everything came into being. New theories are being propounded almost every year and the old ones are being discarded. But they remain just that, theories with no definitive proof. And we have not got any closer to the question of why and how the nature got created the way it is and what we should be doing to have any discernible impact on the Universe as a whole. Clearly, conventional science has extremely limited capabilities. What is needed is something really out of the box, literally.
That brings us to the other side, spirituality. Neale Donald Walsch has tried to answer the question in his book “Conversations with God“. According to him, God, the super entity wanted to experience “itself”. Since God was all that was and there was nothing else, another reference point had to be created to experience “itself”. A simple example, if I want to experience myself, I would have to be someone else, another reference point, to really know or understand what am I like. Similarly nature, which we are a part of, got created through which that super entity is trying to experience itself. Drilling down further, the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedanta and the Upanishads have detailed explanations of this. Particularly interesting is the Samkhya philosophy of creation quoted below from the book “Meditation mind and Patanjali’s yoga”.
It says, there are two types of super entities called ‘Purusha’ which is pure consciousness or pure sentience, uncaused and eternal and ‘Prakriti’ which is unconscious primordial matter. Though Prakriti is uncaused, it is the cause of everything in this universe, the matter, the energy or even the mind. Prakriti has three constituents, Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas also called Gunas. Needless to say, all these exist at a very subtle level which we cannot perceive. These three Gunas have their own characteristics and are in perfect harmony and equilibrium before creation. The process of creation starts when Prakriti borrows consciousness from the Purusha and begins acting like a conscious entity. At this juncture, the equilibrium between the Gunas is lost and as a result Prakriti starts evolving and changing. The gradual transformation of Prakriti leads to the formation of manifold universe. According to this philosophy, there are as many Purushas as there are conscious beings. So the conscious beings are a combination of matter and consciousness.
Prakriti’s first evolved state is ‘Mahat’ or cosmic intellect. The next evolved state is ‘Ahankara’ or cosmic ego. There are three kinds of cosmic ego or Ahankara:
- Ego with preponderance of Sattwa.
- Ego with preponderance of Rajas.
- Ego with preponderance of Tamas.
The Ego with Sattwa or Tamas cannot evolve by themselves, they borrow their energy from the Ego with Rajas. From the Ego dominated by Sattwa evolved the Jnanendriyas or Sense organs, the Karmendriyas or the Motor organs and the Mind. From the Ego dominated by Tamas, evolved the five subtle physical essences or Tanmantras. The Tanmantras are the potential elements or the Generic essences of sound, taste, colour, smell and touch. From the Tanmantras evolved the five gross elements, Akasha(space), Vayu(air), Agni(fire), Ap(water) and Kshiti(earth). The five elements mingled together following certain permutations and combinations to become the manifold tangible universe as we know it.
It is all very interesting and intriguing when we think that we are a part of the same super entity, only in a gross form, trying to ‘experience itself’. All the Vedas, Upanishads and religions constantly exhort us to be one with God or that Super Entity and the cycle of birth and death is merely a journey towards that goal. So right now am pretty happy to be a part of that Super Entity!