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Essays in Life and Eternity
by Swami Krishnananda


Chapter 42: Creation and Some of its Implications

On the Question of Creation of the Universe

All descriptions concerning the origin or creation of the universe are intended to clarify philosophical and psychological situations which arise due to an inborn belief that the world must have an origin, and must have a creator. This is a hypothesis which cannot itself be explained by any rational process of investigation. Why should it be necessary for the world to have a creator outside itself? Why should anyone create a problem and then try to find a solution for it? Has anyone seen God creating the world? But, how is it that people everywhere speak of the creation of the world as if they have witnessed God working at the beginning of things? The circumstance actually involves two facets, namely, (a) belief in the word of the Scripture, which narrates the story of creation by God; (b) a necessity felt by inductive logic and the natural manner of human thinking that everything that is visible must have come from somewhere and that all things must have been made by someone as a cause preceding an effect.

Taking the first issue; namely, the descriptions and explanations in the Scriptures, it is no doubt true that the Scripture of every religion, except those that do not bring in a God into the picture, speaks of God creating the world out of His own Will, not because He has a desire but it is His Nature automatically operating, as the sun shedding light without any desire to do the work of shining. Firstly, therefore, it has to be accepted that God creating the universe does not imply an action like some human being working, because God is timeless Being, and no action is conceivable where time is absent. Hence it is fallacious to take the creation theory literally, as if God is some large man thinking and working like man only. Creation is like the four-dimensional realm of modern physics appearing as a three-dimensional world of empirical experience. And no scientist will say that the four-dimensional existence has 'created' the three-dimensional world. The electrons or the atoms do not "create" the stone of which they are the internal constituents. This would land us on the question: Is the world really there? For, if a stone is really there, it should be visible to the microscope which sees only a pressure of electromagnetic force commensurate with the entire structure of the universe. In this light, the world and God would be two names for one and the same thing, and any question regarding creation by God would fundamentally lack scientific basis.

The renowned philosopher, Acharya Sankara, says that theories of creation are not intended to describe an actual historical process of the world coming from God, as if God started manufacturing things in some ancient time, but that these stories of the procession of effects from God at the top are indicative of a higher truth that God alone is, inasmuch as the logical relationship between effect and cause negatives any difference between the two, thus merging the effect in the cause, that is to say, leaving God alone to Himself with no world whatsoever as a product externally created. The infinity and the omnipresence of God, which is accepted by everyone, precludes the possibility of a world being there outside God. An appearance of a reality cannot be regarded as something created by reality. Hence all problems arising in respect of desire, playfulness, constraint and the like, on the part of God, get ruled out and the question contradicts itself, since the necessity for the world to have a cause outside it is a hypothesis characteristic of the three-dimensional way of human thinking in which it is shackled.

On the Question of Pain and Suffering to Created Beings

The idea of pleasure and pain is a product of what may be called parochial thinking, without the consciousness of any reference which one may have with other factors that range beyond human perception. Pleasure and pain do not exist as if they are things hanging somewhere in space. These are names given to conditions of experience undergone by a particular degree of consciousness when the atmosphere which it regards as existing external to itself in space and time is either reconcilable or irreconcilable with its present condition. It is a pain for a human being to be dipped within the bowels of the cold waters of the Ganga, but a delight to the fish swimming within it pleasantly. Man never thinks the same thought throughout his life. Today's pleasure is tomorrow's sorrow. These facts are not unknown in human history. Apart from the psychological considerations, there is a scientific and a metaphysical error in thinking that pleasure and pain are existent objects, as it were. A cool breeze in summer is pleasant, and the same thing is unpleasant in winter. A fourth or fifth cup of pleasant milk causes nausea. The rich people of the world know the sorrow caused by their wealth. People who crave for having children know the troubles of family life and social tension. Why go so far? Since pleasure and pain are conditions of particular circumstances of individualities in relation to reality outside, any excessive harping on the tune of life's sufferings may require a more impartial adjudication.

The horror of the big fish swallowing the smaller ones and the apparent unjustifiability behind the survival of the strongest, or, we may say, the fittest, is inseparable from the basic psychological defect which Alfred North Whitehead calls "the fallacy of misplaced concreteness," which means to say that human judgments of what look like local events and occurrences do not take into consideration their vaster relationship to the universe as a whole, such that every event is a universal event, and it is not the big fish that swallows the smaller one but the evolutionary impulse of the cosmos adjusting itself in terms of its internal components for a purpose that transcends an existing situation. Evolution is not a pain, even as no one regards as pain the growth of a child into a mature genius. The whole difficulty arises because of the thought that God is outside the universe and handles things as a carpenter operates on his tools. This unfortunate weakness of human thought raises the frightful bogey of questions which have as much reality and meaning as its own intrinsic worth. Evolution is not for anybody's pain or pleasure; because, there is no 'anybody' outside the process of evolution. The Infinite seems to proceed from the Infinite, and return to the Infinite, all which can suggest nothing more than that the Infinite is just what it is.

The Process of Action and Reaction

If we insist on finding a reason behind the sufferings of life, whatever be their nature and detail, it has to be accepted that the justice of the universe which is a single organism cannot permit illogical and, therefore, unjust occurrences within its internal constitution. Life in the world is seen to be a little complicated by the operation of the law of action and reaction. This is a principle according to which every action produces an effect with an equal force. Bondage is considered to be the reaction produced by actions which defy the fact of the unitary structure of the cosmos of which all individuals are inseparable parts. This principle of reaction to action arises only when this intrinsic inseparable connection of the individual with the cosmos is forgotten and the former indulges in attitudes or actions with the false notion that it is an independent actor or doer, consequently inviting the nemesis of reaction. The universe is the shadow cast by the wishes of its contents, and it is what these wishes are and what they sweep away from infinite existence with the winds of the forces moving towards their fulfilment. Since the acceptance of the fact of creation implies the fact of pleasure and pain in life and suggests a cause behind the effect, it would follow that there are endless causes behind endless effects moving in a cyclic fashion, which system operating in the time-bound world is called by different names by the religions of the world; and the Indian tradition calculates this cycle of an endless revolution by its concept of the Yugas or temporal ages known as Krita, Treta, Dvapara and Kali, in the descending order of knowledge and virtue. All this would explain why no man tied down to the present cycle alone can know why anyone has any particular experience, pleasurable or miserable, since the causes behind effects visible in the present cycle can originate from earlier cycles, and therefore it cannot be said that there is an undeserved pleasure or an undeserved suffering. Nothing can come from nothing, is indeed sound logic.

On the Evolution of Life

There is no precise saying as to when a lower species evolves into the higher one. Since personal agency in action cannot be attributed to sub-human species, all evolution below the human level is supposed to be a spontaneous fulfilment of the vast purpose of Nature. The progress of the sub-human organism, or the rise from the lower condition of the soul to the higher, is considered automatic as a spontaneous action of the universal Nature in the case of all beings who are free from the egoism of personal agency in action. Personal effort comes into relief only at the human level wherein consciousness becomes self-consciousness, an individual affirmative urge, whereby this centre of affirmation is severed from the supporting hand of the universal nature and self-effort on the part of one's own individual self becomes the well-known drudgery of life. The animal Nature when it rises to the human level will, in the natural course of things, take higher births, gradually, provided right thinking harmonious with the total universe motivates its thought and action. The sufferings of animals, as with sufferings of human beings, in whatever way they be called, are already touched upon in their essential causational circumstances, in what we have considered already above in a different context.

On the Conditions of Reincarnation

At the time of death, the individuality does not get dissolved, though the physical constituents may be separated and dissolved. What is it that takes rebirth? It cannot be the body, because it is discarded and it is dissolved into the physical elements of which it is composed. It cannot also be the Atman, because the Atman is a Universal Presence which cannot be said to be subject to transformation of any kind, such as transmigration. What else does transmigrate?

The peculiar thing called the individual is neither the body nor the Atman. It is a strange admixture of localised self-affirmation in terms of space and time, and this principle of self-affirmation is impossible to define except as a peculiar pressure-point or force which is generated by the influence of space-time upon consciousness which by itself is indivisible. This point of pressure spatio-temporally occasioned is in fact the centre of what is known as the psyche, often called the mind, sometimes known as the Chitta or the Antahkarana, in the Sanskrit language.

This pressure of consciousness causing the individual self-sense may be broadly understood as having three levels of empirical expression, viz., the conscious, the sub-conscious and the unconscious. Only the conscious level operates when a person is awake, the sub-conscious operates in dream, and the unconscious in deep sleep. The conscious impulses and activities of the individual are limited expressions of the desires which seek to fulfil themselves by way of contact with sense objects. When the pressure of desires is too much and they cannot be easily fulfilled under conditions prevailing in the waking state, they operate as reveries in dream as a sort of satisfaction of strong. impulses incapable of operation during waking state. But the desires of an individual are so immense and complicated that their satisfaction cannot be really achieved in a single life. Such unfulfilled longings get wound up in unconscious states, a specimen of which is deep sleep. It is the power of unfulfilled desires that acts like a projectile and drives like a rocket this complex known as the individual pressure-point in the direction of manufacturing a new apparatus for their fulfilment under expected conditions, this new apparatus being called the newly formed body. Here is the interesting background of what is known as rebirth.

As a realised soul has no desires, it has no rebirth. Hence the passing away of an ordinary person and the disappearance of a person like Lord Krishna have nothing in common. The energies which are elemental that go to contribute to the formation of a new body in the case of an individual with unfulfilled desires do not operate in the case of a realised soul, because rebirth is caused by the magnetic pull exerted by the desiring centre of consciousness upon the physical elements, the forces of Nature outside. Such a desire being absent in realised souls, they have no rebirth. They merge into Universal Being. The legacy which acts as the link between the here and the hereafter is desire, which causes reincarnation. The legacy so-called is a mysterious admixture of consciousness and desire, which is the causative factor behind rebirth. It is neither the physical body formed of the five elements, nor the Atman which is all-pervading. It is not true that in death the apparatus through which thinking and feeling act is destroyed; it continues in spite of the body being destroyed. The screen of the Television which projects the picture of individuality is the point of consciousness-desire, explained above, and it is not destroyed when the body is destroyed. It is true that, in a way, our waking life is also a reflection of some other anterior existence, which we do not remember now, since we are now in this world in a different space-time continuum, totally different from the space-time complex of the previous life. It has to be reiterated that death does not destroy the link between this life and the other life, because death is only of the physical body, and everyone knows well that a person is not exhausted by the physical frame only. There is something more in man than what appears to the eyes, or to any sense organ.

The modern theory of evolution from matter to plant, from plant to life, from life to mind and from mind to intellect is but a corroboration of there being a continuous link from one state of life to another. Else, there would be no evolution and there would be no meaning in any form of life at all. All this requires deep study, and a mere cursory reading of one or two textbooks may not be adequate. The principle involves vast areas beyond the ken of the studies provided in our modern colleges and universities.

The theory of Karma, or the principle of reaction, which conditions the notions of good and bad etc., is not supposed to apply to the sub-human species since they do not have the self-consciousness of personal agency in action and are just guided by the natural forces of evolution. Suffering cannot be attributed to an individual as long as it is free from personal agency in action. The sub-human species evolve in the same way as there is rise of life from matter to the vegetable kingdom, etc., as mentioned. This is not caused by Karma, but by the very pressure of universal evolution.

If there is no transcendent meaning beyond the present life of the human being, no one would lift a finger, or do anything in this life, unless he is an idiot of the first water, knowing well that the next moment death may overtake anyone, and no one can be sure that one can be alive after a few minutes more. Who on earth will try to do anything in this world if the next moment is uncertain, unless it is to be accounted for by an unconscious pull of the transcendent 'Beyond' which speaks in the language of Eternity that there is life beyond this medley of uncertainties, anxieties and insecurities here on earth? The very point that man is to be restrained from undesirable behaviour and action can have meaning only if there is something more than the meaning seen in earthly life. Else, what is the point of being good or exhibiting good behaviour? Why should there be morality, why should there be anything at all, since everything is going to be devoured by death the next moment? Reincarnation is demanded by the subjection of the finite to the inexhaustibility of the Infinite.