(The principal of a large school in Bombay gave us a list of frequently asked questions by 13 year old children in her school and asked us whether we can prepare answers in the light of a spiritual perspective. When we looked at the question we found that they are not mere “kid-stuff.” Most of them are either fundamental and existential questions related to world and God or psychological problems faced by most of us. This series is an attempt to answer these questions from the children’s perspective in the light of a spiritual vision of life. We don’t know how far we have succeeded in communicating to the children. Nevertheless, we hope these answer may be of some help to teachers and parents who have to deal with children. There are around thirty questions with answers given in the light of a spiritual vision of life. We will post these questions at regular intervals.)
What is the Universe? What is Beyond the Universe?
The Universe is the limitless extension of space and time filled with numberless planets, stars and galaxies. The blazing sun we see in the morning is only one among many millions of stars we see in the sky. The sun we see in the sky is the nearest star to us. The other stars we see in the night-sky, which are also like our sun, are so far away from us, it takes many thousands of years for their lights to reach our earth! The planetary system, of which we are apart, with the sun at its centre and the twelve planets whirling around, is only one among many millions of planetary systems in the universe. Our solar system is part of the milkyway galaxy with many thousands of such planetary system. And the milkyway galaxy is only one among many thousands of such galaxies. There may be earth-like planets in other solar systems or galaxies, with possibly more advanced civilizations than us.
When we contemplate on this vastness of the universe it makes us humble, because physically, we humans and our earth are utterly insignificant specks in the universe. But spiritually, in the consciousness of our spiritual self, we have the capacity to embrace the universe and identify with it. Similarly, our earth, is physically a speck of dot in the universe. But according to The Mother, our earth is a spiritually significant planet, because it is created with a divine plan and a divine perfection as the goal of its evolution.
Is there something beyond the universe? Only God knows! We humans can only guess, speculate, imagine, which may be more or less true depending on how much our mind is receptive to the God’s mind and also how much He prefers to reveal the mystery beyond the world to us. Many philosopher, scientist and seers have talked about this subject. Here is a brief summary of their insights and conclusions.
According to modern science universe came out as a “Big Bang” from a mysterious state called “Singularity” which is beyond the universe. In this singularity there is either no space and time or they exist as a seed or potentialities like for example the tree exists as a potentiality in the seed. There is a somewhat similar conception in Indian philosophy. According to the Indian tantric philosophy, universe comes out of a spaceless and timeless point called “Bindu.” All the principles which make the universe and the human being like space and time and matter, life and mind, exist as a seed, potential or an idea in the Bindu. In the process of creation they proceed from bindu and take from as the universe.
So Universe is a harmony of certain cosmic principles which unfold in an infinite extension in Time and Space. Beyond the universe, there is perhaps a state of timeless and spaceless being or consciousness which is a greater infinite than the universal infinite. Sri Aurobindo talks of a double infinite, an infinite extension in space and time which contains the universe and a greater spaceless and timeless Infinite beyond the universe. This timeless infinite is perhaps the consciousness of God, the creator of the universe.
In this consciousness beyond the universe, all the principles which constitute the universe and the human beings, exist as Ideas. But these ideas in the Mind of God are not like human ideas. In the human mind, ideas float like ethereal abstractions. But the ideas in the Mind of God are divine Idea with a creative Force inherent in them, which make them Real. The moment they are conceived. These spaceless and timeless divine Ideas take form in Space and Time as the Universe. We can find a very rough reflection of this divine creative act in the process of Imagination. For example if you want to visualise the universe, in your mind with closed eyes, what you do? You have now some conception of what a universe is. Before you activate your imagination, these conceptions of universe exist as spaceless and timeless ideas in your mind. By your imagination you give form to these ideas, by visualizing within your mind infinite space and time and planets and stars whirling in it. The creation of universe is also something similar; it is a creative imagination in the mind of God.