Thinkers have tried to probe the mystery of creation from time immemorial. Scientists have expounded numerous theories and amassed enormous amounts of data to support their theories. However, a comprehensive explanation of the origin of creation still eludes us. This rises the question:
Can the process of creation be measured and explained by mere physical instrument, however sophisticated ?
Is there a deeper underlying principle behind all creation that is available only to subjective investigation.
The Mystery of Creation presents a rigorous introduction to Vedantic discussion on creation. The many articles raise exciting possibilities that can transform one’s understanding of the origin and the purpose of existence.
The quest to solve the riddle of the universe is one of the oldest pursuits of man. The question is not merely academic, for its solution has enormous implications about the purpose and goal of existence.
We have religious answers, based on revelations of the prophets. We have scientists’ theories, opening vast, but inconclusive possibilities. We have the philosophers’ speculations, thought-provoking, yet again, inconclusive. The question remains and the search goes on, each hoping to discover the key to life’s mysteries.
An intriguing fact exists that there are people with astonishingly clear and rational minds who claim to have solved the riddle. If looking for proof, we can see it in such people’s lives, evidenced by a joyous and vibrant peace possible only in one who has understood a timeless truth. But when we seek explanation from them, the answers are nearly unintelligible— fascinating, yet confounding.
Many seekers demand logical explanations of creation. They argue the logical fallacy of an imperfect finitude, the world, emerging from a perfect finitude, God. Their demand for an easy explanation is not dissimilar to a child demanding a quick explanation of relativity!
Vedantic masters reply that knowing the truth of creation
is tantamount to knowing the truth of God. The knowledge is
subtle, not rational, for it crosses beyond the boundaries of cause and effect. It can be fathomed only by a contemplative mind. To the elementary student who demands a cause-effect explanation, the answer is, ipso facto, impossible. But to the contemplative student, the answer becomes self-evident.
Vedanta thus characteristically dismisses the interest in creation. And yet, Vedanta never retreats from a sincere question. Vedanta skillfully meets the seeker at his own level of interest and guides him into a contemplative inquiry. So it is with the question of creation.
The Vedantic explanation of creation is a difficult one. It cannot be accepted or dismissed quickly. This issue is designed as a take-off point for serious students. It offers no easy conclusions, nor is it an exhaustive coverage of the subject. We have extracted discussions on creation from several noted authors to serve as an introduction to the topic. The discussions are hard, often dry and technical, yet probing and subtle. The more technical discussions have been placed in the beginning, the more general at the end.
In Part One, Swami Chinmayananda defines the mechanism of creation and summarizes several of the prominent Eastern schools of thought. He explains the nondual (Advaitic) school’s analysis of creation through the concept of Maya and superimposition. Eliot Deutsch, an eminent scholar of Eastern thought, gives a philosophically terse and thorough presentation of Vedantic analysis and logic. Swami Nirvedananda of the Ramakrishna Mission explains different Vedic mythological explanations of creation and concludes with the Advaitic view that the mystery can be fully understood only by realizing God.
Part Two contains comparative views of the universe. The author of Space-Time is Fritj of Capra, a scientist who has delved deeply into Eastern philosophy concurrently with science and has correlated many of the ancient truths with modern scientific findings. Dr. Capra explains how the new theories of relativity are shaking Western assumptions of the absolute nature of time and space and are substantiating the ancient Eastern views. Next the dualist and qualified nondualist schools of Vedanta and their contrast with the nondual school of Advaita are briefly outlined. Lastly, a Vaisnava Puranic creation story is recounted, bringing out the devotional flavor characteristics of the Puranas.
Part Three discuss the larger implications of the Advaitic view of creation. Swami Nikhilananda of the Ramakrishna Order explores how one’s understanding of the origin of the universe affects one’s response to life. Dr. Radhakrishna, the great statesman and philosopher of twentieth century India, explains the Advaitic view that the world does not have absolute reality, but warns against concluding that the creation is therefore without value or relevance. The universe, he writes, “is in essence the ultimate reality itself.” This is in striking contrast with the following article by Nisargadatta Maharaj, an Advaitaic sage who recently lived in Bombay. Their conclusions that a Godly bliss pervades all life is the same, yet Nisargadatta Maharaj attempts to lift the listener out bodily consciousness altogether by negating the existence of the creation.
The issue finally concludes where it began, that a logical sequence of cause and effect between the infinite and the finite cannot exist, and, in Swami Iswarananda’s words, that “the question of how the world came out of Brahman will become meaningless when the truth of the unborn Brahman is realized.”
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