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Eternal Law

Three Views of the World

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saraswatip8.jpg

shrI sarasvatI
(Font of Learning and Arts)

yA devI sarva bhUteSu lajjA rupeNa saMsthitA
namastassai namastassai namastassai namo namaH

Again and again I bow to the devi who abides in all beings as modesty.

Universe I am trying to understand is as complex as you and I are, but not any more complex than that. "tat tvam asi", "you are that", Svetaketu's guru tells him (Chandogya Upanisad 6.8.7), or "that thou art" as some render it to give it a religious flavor. Here, that refers to brahman, the Vedic universe. If I am that, then that must be like me. This is my inspiration for the model of the universe. Not surprisingly, vedic lore tells us that brahmA created the universe from his own body, It may be more accurate to say that he became the universe than to say he created it.


Any thoughts about the world inevitably turn to pain and suffering in the world as gautama buddha realized. People often ask - why does the creator permit so much suffering? This is a difficult question to answer, but here is my attempt to answer.

It is not so much that the creator allows suffering, but rather the creator accomodates all possibilities. Creator's infinitude, by definition, has to accomodate all possibilities. Any other way, would require him to impose artificial constraints. Then our lives would be less than full and this creation would be less than whole. It is the fullness of the universe that lets us have freedom to create joy through right actions or produce suffering through improper actions. Let us see how suffering is seen in the world that is modeled here.

One consequence of the world as a coin is that it gives rise to three apparently conflicting and irreconcilable world views. This world, like any coin, has two faces and an "inside". You get two different views of the world depending on which face of the "coin" you are looking at. And you get yet another view when you split the coin to take a look inside. Here is a short version of three views of the world..


(1)View from the material plane - World in tension

This is a world at war. In this world, people see each other by the tips of their personalities. X blames Y for his misery and is out to get him. U thinks the only way to get ahead in this world is by stepping on V. V finds yet somebody else to blame for his unhappiness. Religions thrive in this world. They have raised the blame game to an art form; rather they have made it a science, well pseudoscience really,  by inventing an all-purpose blamee, the Devil. No one in this world ( i.e., with this world view) likes to take take responsibility for himself.

(2)View from the middle of the coin - saMsAra

In this world view, we are all responsible for ourselves, each one by himself. In the long run, when the whole story is written, the consequences of our actions are ours to bear and ours alone to bear. There is no need for an all-purpose blamee. What matters here most is karma. It matters in the material plane also, but in an indirect way as we will see in karma and saMsAra.

(3)View from the plane of satchidAnanda - mAyA

In this world view, there is no pain and there is no suffering. This is the plane where the being is self-conscious and joyous. Since there is no pain, the question of whether to blame others or yourself becomes irrelevant.

One moves from the world in tension - the world of pain and suffering, to the world as saMsAra, where pain is felt but recognized as arising due to karma, and on to the joyful world of mAyA which is free of any suffering and pain, through personal growth. This is why personal growth is a worthwhile pursuit. Personal growth, in turn, is achieved through good karma or meritorious actions.

It should be noted that these three views of the world come about because the Eternal Law itself manifests in three forms.

One consequence of this structure of the world is that we are able to experience it and understand it in accordance with our focus. Some are focussed on the material plane and understand the world from this point of view. Rare amongst us are able to focus their attention on the other plane BC and see the world in a different light.  Most of us fall somewhere between these two levels and thus understand the world from where we stand. The teachers of vedAnta recognize these differences as adhikArabheda or the differences in our ability to understand the world depending on the prequisites we each meet for understanding.

 

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