Thursday, February 28, 2008

Brahma Breath: The Cyclical Universe

Both the religious dogma of the biblical Genesis & the scientific dogma of the singular Big Bang always seemed equally absurd to me, in the sense that the entire universe supposedly began at a certain 'discernible' point.

I always struggled with what existed before, which had to be- nothing! Then, the question is how everything came from- nothing! There is really no adequate explanation that our monkey grunts can properly convey. We can say "God did it." or "There was the singularity" but these are just phrases that help us box up The Unimaginable in a comfortably managed package. We try to intellectually deal with the infinite nature of the universe... as long as it's confined inside definite, finite parameters!

The human mind, trying to imagine the state of reality before the beginning of the universe, is easily overwhelmed by this incomprehensible and eternal mystery.

I am definitely of the school of Giordano Bruno who accepted that, as far as human perception is concerned, the infinite worlds inhabiting infinite space. Outside of human perception, however, I am not qualified to speculate - being that I'm only human.

What I find endlessly interesting is the continuing correlation between modern scientific interpretations of the cosmos with ancient metaphysical concepts. I read this Wired interview with physicist Neil Turok in which he makes the following case:

"...the Big Bang represents just one stage
in an infinitely repeated cycle
of universal expansion and contraction.
Turok theorizes that neither time
nor the universe has a beginning or end. "

The further explanation he gave, no matter how scientific, is really just weaving a story around this central concept. Ultimately, Mr. Turok makes yet another excellent point when he says "I feel that the main role for these scenarios of the early universe is to stimulate our thinking. I don't necessarily believe any of them."

Reading these theories about the cyclical nature of reality reminded me of the Hindu idea of the cosmos as going infinite cycle of inward & outward "breaths" that are quite literally the fractal fluctuations of an infinitely complex reality:

Carl Sagan on Hindu Cosmology:

"It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond, no doubt, by accident, to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma 8.64 billion years long. Longer than the age of the earth or the sun and about half of the time since the big bang. And there are much longer time scales still.

There is the deep and the appealing notion that the universe is but the dream of the god who after a 100 Brahma years… dissolves himself into a dreamless sleep… and the universe dissolves with him… until after another Brahma century… he starts… recomposes himself and begins again the dream… the great cosmic lotus dream."

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