I wonder, I wonder, what you would do if you had the power to dream at night, any dream you wanted to dream. And you would of course be able to alter your time-sense and slip, say seventy-five years of subjective time into eight hours of sleep.
You would, I suppose, start out by fulfilling all your wishes. You could design for yourself what would be the most ectatic life. Love affairs, banquets, dancing girls, wonderful journeys. Gardens, music beyond belief. And then, after a couple of months of this sort of thing at seventy five years a night you’ll be getting a little taste for something different and you would move over to an adventurous dimension where there were certain dangers involved and the thrill of dealing with dangers. And you could rescue princesses from dragons. And go on dangerous journeys. Make wonderful explosions and blow them up. And eventually get into contest with enemies. And after you’ve done that for some time you’d think up a new wrinkle. To forget that you were dreaming so that you would think it was all for real. And to be anxious about it. Because it’d be so great when you wake up. And then you say well like children who dare each other on things, how far out could you get? Or could you take what dimension of being lost, of abandonment, of your power, what dimension of that could you stand you could ask yourself this because you know you would eventually wake up. And I feel gone on doing this you see for some time you would suddenly find yourselves. Sitting around in this room. With all your personal involvements problems that. Talking with me. How do you know that that’s not what you’re doing? Could be.
Because after all what would you do if you were God. If you were what there is. The Self. In the Upanishads, as the basic text of Hinduism one of them starts out saying in the beginning was the self. And looking around it said “I am.” And thus it is that everyone to this day when asked who is there, says it is I, and they are to give whatever particular name you may have. For if you were God and in the sense that you knew everything and you were completely transparent to yourself through and through. You would be bored. Because, if looking at it from another way, we push technology to its furthest possible development, and we had instead of a dial telephone on one’s desk a more complex system of buttons. And one touch beep, would give you anything you wanted. Aladdin’s lamp. You would eventually have to introduce a button labeled surprise.
Because all perfectly known futures as I pointed out are past. They have happened, virtually. It is only the true future is a surprise. So if you were God. You would say to yourself Man get lost. And it strange that this idea is obscurely embedded in the Christian tradition when in the epistle to the Philippians, Sir Paul speaks of God the Son the last the Word of God who is incarnate in Christ and says “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God thought not equality with God a thing to be clung to, but made himself of no reputation, and humbled himself and was found in fashion as a man and became obedient to death.” Same idea. Same idea as the idea of the dream. And yet that very far out dream of getting as extreme as you can get.
And so this then is the basis of the Hindu view of the universe and of man. The Hindu looks upon the universe as a drama. The Westerner of course looks upon the universe as a construct, as something made. And it is not therefore insignificant that Jesus was the son of a carpenter. The Chinese looks upon the universe as an organism, as we shall subsequently see. But the dramatic idea is basic to Hinduism. Now you can speak about Hinduism on two levels at least. One I will call the metaphysical level, and the other the mythological level. If you speak on the metaphysical level, you can speak only in negative language. You can say what the Divine, the ultimate reality, is not. If you speak on the mythological level, you may speak of what the Divine is like because myth is not a falsehood as one uses the word in a sophisticated way. A myth is an image, a concrete image in terms of which man makes sense of the world. And thus the idea of God the Father or God the maker is a myth because it’s an image. And Christian theologians distinguish equally between two kinds of theological language which are respectively called cataphatic and apophatic. Apophatic language is negative, as when we say God is infinite and eternal. Cataphatic language is mythological, as when we say God the Father, God is love and all the positive designations. We are not saying God is a cosmic male parent, but is analogous with the Father. So is Hinduism. But what I’m going to speak to you and first of all is the mythological language of Hinduism. The idea of the universe as the big act. The universe is God playing hide and seek. With himself. For God is thought of fundamentally to the Hindu as the self. The Self. The cosmic I. And it is a basic proposition for the Hindu, that only the Self, the Godhead is real. There is nothing other than the Godhead.
So that the appearance, of the feeling that there are other things than the Godhead, is called Maya. Maya. We ordinarily translate that word illusion. But you must be careful about the word illusion. Illusion is related to the Latin ludere. And that means play. And this is why the analogy of the world is dramatic. It’s a play-in the sense of a stage play. Now when you go to the theater, you know what you’re going to see is not for real. Because what proscenium arch tells you that everything that happens on the far side of that arch is only in play. Not serious. But the actor and you will hope that he will be good at it is going to try and persuade you that it’s for real. So that he will so move you that you are crying or sitting in anxiety upon the edge of your chair. And so the audience is almost persuaded to be taken in.
Now what about if this would happen with the very best actor of all. The great actor. The audience would have cost be completely taken in. But in this case of course the actor and the audience are the same. The Self. The Self has thus the capacity to abandon itself, to forget itself, to hide from itself, and thus to make the most completely convincing illusion but in play and so the activity of the creative activity of the Godhead in India is and is called Lila, which means play. Our word lilt is related to it I think. But so also in the Book of Proverbs. You will find a discourse being given by the Divine Wisdom “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways before his works of Old. I think it’s the twenty second chapter of Proverbs in the course of wish. The wisdom says that. Its delight was to rejoice the King James Bible says in the presence of God and with the sons of men. But the Hebrew translated rejoice says play. Rejoice is a sort of dignified Elizabethen. But it says play. And Sir Thomas, aware of this, said that the divine wisdom was above all to be compared with games because games are played for their own sake. And not for any sort of ulterior motive. So also music is a kind of non-purposeful thing because you don’t either play music to reach a destination, nor do you dance to reach a particular place on the floor. It is the doing of it itself that is important because after all if the object of music were to gain a certain destination those orchestras that played fastest would be considered the best.
So the idea is that the that dancing and music more than other arts represent the nature of this world. That it is playful. That it is sport. That is maybe sincere but is definitely not serious. And as G.K. Chesterton well put it once “The angels fly because they take themselves lightly.” How much more so a lot of the angels. So if a beautiful lady should say to me “I love you.” And I were to reply, “Are you serious, or are you just playing with me?” that would be quite the wrong response, because I hope she is not serious and that she will play with me. I should say are you sincere or are you just toying with me because you see the word play has many different senses. A person who is playing the organ in church is certainly not doing something trivial. When you go to see a play called Hamlet you are not saying something trivial. When the concert artists plays Mozart he is suddenly entertaining you but it’s not a trivial entertainment. But on the other hand we would use play in a did it quite a different sense when we mean just fooling around. Doing it for kicks.
So it is fundamental, as a matter of fact, to both the Hindu and the Christian traditions that the universe is the play of God. But the Christian thinks of it in the terms of construction play. Like building with blocks. And the Hindu thinks of it as dramatic play of the actual participation of the Godhead in the creation so that every being whatsoever is God in disguise. Hinduism speaks of the Godhead as you use is the word Brahman. This is neuter form in Sanskrit from the root “Bri”. Which means to grow. To expand. To swell. The neuter form “Brahman,” does not have quite the connotation then you see of kingship that we will find attached to the Western idea of God, but is also referred to as Atman. And this word we translate ordinarily the self so you can have the power are. You put the M. in to connect the particle, Param Atman, which means a part of the supreme self. Or sometimes just the Atman alone, and that means the Self in you.
But the fundamental principle of Indian philosophy is Atman as Brahman and your self is the Supreme Self. Or it is expressed also in the formula tat tvam asi, colloquially translated “you’re IT. Or tat, that, tvam, latin to arm, asi, you are that, that thou art. Tat, of course is the first word uttered by a baby. Da da da da da da. And fathers flatter themselves that it’s saying da-da. It’s not. It’s saying “that,” and so is pointing to that-ness in everything. It’s so important to see this. Because everything is just that. I could say it in a negative way which you won’t appreciate it first perhaps. Everything is meaningless. Only words have meaning. Because they point to something other than themselves. The sound water is undrinkable. But it points to the drink of all reality. But you say though what is that pointing at the water and somebody says water is not being correct because what you are pointing at is not the noise water so it’s not water. It’s that. Does. And what is a kind of jazz, bloop bloop bloop bloop bloop bloop, and it’s just doing that. And you can get to see two people or a kind of jazz. They talk and communicate with each other but what does that mean? Well they get together and they make more people and they do this and they do that and they eat and they go on doing this but it’s just jazz. And you begin to see as you do that, everything is like music you see it’s all these complicated vibrations could get do on all kinds of ways that’s that or that in this that are also called in Sanskrit.
So anyway this is the fundamental notion that you are really what there is. The works. Only you’re playing hide and seek with yourself. And on a stupendous scale. Hindus measure time in units which in Sanskrit are called Kalpa. And a Kalpa is a period of four million three hundred twenty thousand years. And there are two kinds of Kalpa. One is called Manvantara, and the other is called Pralaya. Manvantara is the Kalpa in which the universe is manifested. In other words, in which God puts on his big act. And Pralaya is the Kalpa succeeding Kalpa in which the universe is unmanifested And the Godhead does not dream but is awake to its own nature. So that for these, are called respectively the days and the nights of the Brahman. And this goes on for ever and ever and ever and ever the days, the days and nights adding up into years and centuries and aeons. They speak of Crore, a Sanskrit measure. Crore sort of a word that really I think means umpteen. Crores of kalpas. And this is the in breathing and the out-breathing. As this is the word hangsah. In this word in Sanskrit hangsah, means a swan or a big water bird like a gander. And there’s a myth that there is in the beginning the divine bird which lays the egg of the world and the egg splits and the upper is the heavens and the lower is the earth. Now so when the worlds are manifested, the Lord breathing out says “hung,” and when the worlds are withdrawn the breath comes back. But if you say hung. Hungsah becomes a hungsah. That means, sah means that, the truth. I am, I am that. It’s like imagine when we get to the final moment in which the world is blown up. You know, imagine the countdown. This is the end. Somebody has pushed the button. Eight,seven, six,five four three two one.
What are you listening to? The sound of the waves. And you can sit and listen to the little waves on the seashore. You get back here into this kind of thinking and you’re hearing the ocean of the universe going. And that’s your breathing too it’s all one rhythm. So it may be that every star was once a planet populated by intelligent people who found out about the fundamental energy of the universe and blew themselves up. And as they blew up, they scattered all kinds of stuff out which became little planets, and in a long time life started all over again. Because the Hindu theory is very odd. Every cow but in a Manvantara period whether the manifested world is divided into four subdivisions of time, each one of which is called a Yugo. That means roughly an epoch or an era. And there are four Yugo’s, and they are named after the different throws in the Indian game of dice. That for such throws in the first is called critter. That means. Creta means to do this when we say something is done truly done. It’s the perfect throw of four. second is called Threta or which is the throw three. The next is called Vapira which is the throw of two. And the final one is called Kali which means the worst throw which is the throw of one. Now each of these periods of the Kalpa. Are of different lengths creator is the longest and Carly is the shortest and so arranged. So that when the world is first manifested as in those dreams that I were mentioning to you the world is in a golden age to begin with is perfect. And that is the longest period of time. Then when we get a little bit more adventurous you see, treta means that in this era a kind of disharmonious element enters into things it’s like a three legged chair isn’t so secure as a four legged chair it’s just a bit inclined to tip. And as it were there’s a fly in the ointment. The snake in the garden. Then comes Vapara in which the forces of Good and Evil are equally balanced. And finally Kali which is the shortest period where the forces of evil the triumphant, and the world is destroyed at the end of it. For then the Godhead appears in the form of Shiva who represents the destructive aspect of the divine energy. And is the creative Vishnu, the Preserver, Shiva the Destroyer. But Shiva is always the destroyer in the sense of the liberator, the guy who breaks up the ruts. And he comes on with a blue body and ten arms and a necklace of skulls. Indian gods have many arms because they are cosmic centipedes. They do all things without having to think about it, like the centipede doesn’t have to think about how to manipulate its legs. Like you don’t have to think how to grow your hair. And as Shiva dances what is called the Tandava, which is the dance of destruction at the end of the cycle, at the end of the Kalpa. You will see that his hands contain clubs and knives and bells but one hand is like that, and that gesture means, don’t be afraid, it’s a big act. It is all as it were the outflowing of your own consciousness, of your own mind.
Now then, the Hindu life is related to this cosmology. And they object of life is of course in the end to wake up from the dream. When you’ve had enough. And so the dreaming process is called sometimes Samsara. Samsara is the round. The rat race. And Samsara is divided into six divisions. But I’d better draw a map, I think. This is commoncosmology to both the Hindus and the Buddhists.