Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cosmic Truth

In an episode of that truly wonderful series, Cosmos, Carl Sagan tackles the concept of the birth and death of the Universe using allegories from Hindu mythology.

Hinduism is unique, according to Sagan, in that it is the only one of the world’s great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite number of deaths and rebirths. He elaborates:

[The Hindu religion] is the only religion in which the time scales correspond, no doubt by accident, to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long. Longer than the age of the earth or the sun and about half of the time since the big bang. And there are much longer time scales still.

There is the deep and appealing notion that the Universe is but the dream of the god, who after a 100 Brahma years, dissolves himself into a dreamless sleep and the Universe dissolves with him. Until after another Brahma century, he stirs, recomposes himself and begins again the dream -– the great cosmic lotus dream.

Meanwhile, elsewhere there are an infinite number of other Universes. Each with its own god, dreaming the cosmic dream.

Now some of that may have sounded like gobbledygook. But the underlying philosophy is quite profound. Listening to Sagan, I found it amazing that the ancients could conceive of such intricate notions as cosmic cycles and parallel Universes; notions that modern day physicists are still trying to grapple with. I doff my hat to the imagination and insight of these early cosmologists.

But marvel as I did at this divine interpretation of the cosmos, it is the next line that truly stunned me. A line, a sentence really, that truly captures the essence of all religion:

These great ideas are tempered by another, perhaps still greater -– it is said that men may not be the dreams of the gods, but rather that the gods are the dreams of men.

Much was lost when the ancient civilizations declined. It is one of the great tragedies of our time that the one truth that should never have been lost, was forgotten by all.


At August 5, 2007 at 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. The line about "the gods being the idea of man" really hits home.
I find it curious that all ancient religions shared similar, wrathful gods. Simailar bodies of thought --based more on fear of retribution than faith...


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