The Great Divide - Part II

'A cosmological revolution is in full swing, but it has by no means run its course: a theory that would unify the many aspects and dimensions of experienced reality within a single and consistent framework still eludes contemporary scientists. . . .
'We need to go beyond the grand unified theories of contemporary physics and follow up the attempts of leading-edge transdisciplinary thinkers to move beyond the universe’s physical dimensions in search of a unitary concept of the experienced orders. The task is to seek the integrated, essentially unitary dynamics through which the physical universe could bring forth the orders that underlie phenomena in the transphysical domains: the domains of life, and of mind and consciousness. This awesome task requires a fresh approach.' 
Ervin Laszlo, The Creative Cosmos

In this essay I intend to present just a few examples of the way a cosmology or a philosophy can escape fossilisation. In point of fact, it will become clear that only a culture, a civilisation rooted in the cosmic harmony can indeed escape the dogmatism that must perforce accompany a system without such an in-built mechanism. There are two aspects to note. One is that a certain stable constant exists which when discovered serves as an axis similar to those proper to every planetary and stellar object; indeed, proper to the centre of our galaxy and universes beyond. We could almost state that the Axis is the basic premise and truth of existence in a material creation. Without this ‘centre that holds’, there can be no formation of a cosmos; at least as we are able to discern from observation of our particular dimension.
An axis is the pole whereby that which is static becomes dynamic. It does so by involving certain cosmic ‘directions’. There are two such directions in our manifest universe, contraction and expansion. When we speak of ‘the other side’, we actually mean the intensified compaction of its essence, beyond the reach of our present mathematical aids, in an ever increasing drive as if in a descending movement. The borderline or threshold is the barrier beyond which that ‘drive’ cannot pass without, it would appear, disappearing into nothingness. But since our world is born of fullness, this never occurs. Fullness is thus the unalterable upholding quality or principle of our universe.
When this compacted essence meets or crosses that threshold, it turns back upon itself. The result is the emergence of a pulsating point born of this intense contraction in its self-generated drive. That threshold is the direction of expansion. Contraction and expansion wrap around each other, in a sense, and an axis is born. These conjoined directions stabilise each other everlastingly – a steady state as it were. Thus there is no material aspect involved, measureable with our current tools. Nor is it exactly an energy. The ‘substance’ of an axis is simply the marriage of two directions which can be described as contraction and expansion. The ancients did not rely on measuring devices to plumb the depths of Reality and its true nature, as we understand the term; they experienced the creative process in their innermost beings. The result is the record they left of those experiences, the Rig Veda. Naturally its hymns are incomprehensible today; they belong to another world, another time, another poise of consciousness.
The lived experience in the human consciousness of the conjoined directions is a new balance; that is, when the proper balance or harmonisation occurs an axis can emerge, be this macro- or micro-cosmic, the result of a cross-sectioning of these basic cosmic directions. The Rig Veda hymn, Nāsadīya Sūkta (RV X, 129), translated by Raimundo Panikkar as the Hymn of Origins, states in verse 5
A crosswise line cut Being from Nonbeing.
What was described above it, what below?
Bearers of seed there were and mighty forces,
thrust from below and forward move above…

Who really knows? Who can presume to tell it?
Whence was it born? Whence issued this creation?
Even the Gods came after its emergence.
Then who can tell from whence it came to be?

And the Rishi concludes with these inimitable, profound words,
That out of which creation has arisen,
whether it held firm or it did not,
He who surveys it in the highest heaven,
He surely knows – or maybe He does not!   
The origins of material existence in this view would not be a ‘big bang’ but rather the combined directions similar to the breathing mechanism with its own contraction and expansion, born of a primordial Pulsation (tapas) which lies at the root of all motion. However, we experience breath as a contiguous rise and fall. In the creation of a cosmos they are simultaneous. In the Rig Veda the axis that is formed of these intertwined ‘directions’ is known as Skambha, the cosmic Pillar, support of the worlds and the fulcrum of creation. Panikkar defines it in the Glossary to his book, The Vedic Experience, as ‘The cosmic pillar, understood to be the stable center of the universe (axis mundi) and its hidden support.’ (All India Books, 1977.)
Being creation’s ‘centre’ this axis or skambha supports movement, essential to all consolidated bodies in this universe whose essence is perforce movement. In point of fact, it would be the first stirrings within that original ‘something’ that ultimately creates an axis which in turn becomes the binding energy of that particular body. The ancients on the subcontinent called that first stirring OM – the primordial sound at the Origin and which reverberates endlessly in the great diversity that is the universal manifestation. Science calls it, or seeks to discover this secret ‘something’, by other names – the Big Bang for one. The two are hardly comparable, we must admit; OM creates or reproduces that stirring vibration every time it is sounded with the correct intonation and within the correct context. We can hardly expect ‘big bang’ to do the same!
Again we must not miss the forest for the trees. Whatever the origin the result is a constant unfolding or ‘becoming’ of that original Being of a compressed pulsation. Thus, Becoming is truly the grace we are granted to escape fossilisation, once we realise that we are only more and more complex displays of that original creative Sound.

Universal harmonies
It is possible to state that each consolidated body in our universe strikes a particular note in this immensity, and its axis obliges that body to mark out a certain tempo as in a musical composition. But all have their origin in OM – however we wish to call it. In other words, using the Becoming of that ‘sound’ we can not only find our way to Being but we can discover just what our ‘note’ might be in the grand scheme of things.
Encouraging the observing Eye to seek and dwell on the ‘first moment’, as science does, is to move farther and farther away from the means not only to discover that ‘note’ but to take our place in the cosmic design, fully conscious of what we are meant to contribute. Therefore the ancients in the subcontinent focussed on the method to bring the human being to the point where he or she could join the cosmic symphony in full awareness of its overall Harmony embracing both the vast and the small in a sublime experience of Oneness. They provided a background for the process which reproduced both Being and Becoming close at hand. They did not extend the eye of perception beyond their recognised ‘field’ so that a certain intense concentration (tapas) would come about that could provide each individual with the energy demanded to undertake the sacred ‘journey’, as it was known in the Vedic Age. The parameter for the process was our solar system. It was viewed as a single ‘family’, and as we are creatures born of the Sun’s third ‘offspring’ our experience of life in all its aspects must be coloured by our position within this family unit, as it were.
There is a certain temporal aspect to the issue: contemporary science uses evermore complex instruments to peer through the folds of space in the effort to reach that First Moment, that Big Bang and the beginning of Time. In other words, it is a penetration into the past. There is no other way for science to proceed because of the POISE it has adopted, – almost an obsession with the known, with what has been and will never more return. This is a positioning external to the fact. It might be argued that quantum physics proceeds in the opposite direction and hence into the minute present; but experience records that the phenomenon observed cannot be separated from the action of observation. While this indicates a certain desirable unity, it more likely indicates that this method of discovery is also inadequate; and though the timeframe is shortened to the extremes our observational techniques permit, simultaneous identification is withheld, the keystone of the Vedic experience.
Extension beyond is simply another manifestation of the belief in an Afterlife that religious adherents cling to in the expectation of salvation. The scientist of course does not dwell on the future, heavenly or otherwise, which to him and his kind cannot be known or proven. On the other hand, religions put all their cards only in the basket of that future condition, whose reality, if any at all, can only be speculated on and never proven as science demands. It must be believed. There is no factual proof of the existence of ‘heaven’ of whatever sort. It is a condition which can be known only by crossing the threshold of Death. And as we experience Death today, we cannot then consciously re-enter life to factually prove what that heaven might be and if it truly exists.  At the time of death the human being experiences the same contraction to a ‘point’ as described in the passage across the border of our material dimension. But our transitional stage of evolution makes the passage an experience of nothingness not Fullness, ergo …‘dust unto dust’.
Thus the unknown future blocks the aspirant’s path with only faith to sustain him through life’s tumultuous avenues of pain and suffering. The scientific method, on the other hand, would appear to be far more concrete and believable, because one is constantly dealing with the known, the accumulation of past experience, be this for the individual as in psychoanalysis, or for the theoretical physicist and scientific cosmologist who peers into space, carrying his perception deeper and deeper into the past and to that First ‘Bang’.
The Vedic practitioner, in contrast, does neither. Its initiate does not extend his perceiving eye into the past or into the beyond and the future. Moreover, and this is important to note, the only ‘telescope’ used for the purpose of discovery rather than an extension outward carries the aspirant deep within to that inner most point of the Soul. This reveals the different poise adopted – neither into the known past, nor beyond and into the unknowable future. The inner point is the temporal Present; it is attained through centering of the consciousness on the axis of being that comes through a perfect balance in time and space. In that innermost dimension the truths of the cosmos are unveiled through the lived experience, as the Rig Vedic Hymn of Origins reveals.

© Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet

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