When the James Webb Space Telescope is launched into space later this year, it will carry 18 gold-plated hexagonal mirrors that will help astronomers see back more than 13 billion years—a time when the first stars and galaxies were forming from the darkness of the early universe. Those mirrors are made of beryllium, a relatively rare metal that is one-third the weight of aluminium but six times stronger than steel.
Looking back more than 13 million years is like attempting to see the origin of the Universe and what was there before the Universe. These questions are as old as those living in duality. Read on as the young Lord Rama asks the sage questions about creation and pralaya.
akash: San. m., n. (ambara) sky, space, an expanse; the element of ether, the subtlest form of matter. Space gives things form and keeps them discrete. Its quality is sound. ‘It is through space that sounds are transmitted and heard. Love and play are products of akasha and seeds sprout on account of akasha.’ ‘Akasha pervades the cosmos but remains unstained.’ (BG: 23:32)
ajnana: ignorance Bg 16.13-15, SB 1.13.45
satsang the company of God or his devotees, association with people of good character, a gathering of like-minded people; company with the goodly and godly; association with Truth.
sattva Hin. m. sattva San. n. sattvoguna (sattva+guna) San. m. one of the three constituents (guna) of nature (prakriti) – the quality of light, the illuminating aspect that reveals all manifestation. It is expressed as harmony, equilibrium, purity, goodness, virtue, honesty, nobility, forgiveness, compassion, charity, wisdom, happiness.
purusha – the dweller in the citadel of the body’, ‘he who fills the body of man’ – man, the self, the individual person. By implication, purusha is used as a name for God within, the eternal witness – Consciousness, the Self, the atman (V. 14, 406). ‘You are all limbs of that one body, the purusha, who is far more expansive than this universe, which is but a fraction of his physical manifestation.’ The whole of creation is the cosmic body of God, the supreme Person, who is expressed through the medium of each created object, thus having uncountable (‘thousands’) of heads, eyes and limbs. Purusha is also the masculine principle; in one sense, God alone is purusha and all of creation is female (prakriti); ‘manhood comes with the rejection of the dual’.
Question 133: Sir, what is the true form of the experiential world?
Answer: Ramji, the manifest universe that is perceived is just an idea, that is to say, it is just conceived, and ideation only is its cause. Just as a monkey builds a sand pile and imagining it as fire, tries to warm itself on it but gets no warmth because sand lacks heat, and the actions of the monkey are the result of its imagination, so is the world just ideational. The universe is void like akash.
Question 134: Sir, when the great cycle of the universe ends, the manifest universe resolves back in the Atma-like seed, and then the universe emerges again as a seedling out of the Atma-like seed and then again resolves back into it. This way the process of evolution and dissolution of the universe continues forever. Kindly explain whether this is the conviction of a gyani or that of an agyani (ignorant)?
Answer: Ramji, those who talk of the existence of the universe in an Atma-like seed at the end of a cycle are unwise because they compare Brahman to a seed out of which the seedling of the universe sprouts; the seed is an object of manifest senses but Atma is distinct from six senses including mind, and is more pure than akash. To compare Atma to a seed is not correct. Just as sunlight has no shadow and there is no darkness in the Sun, so the universe does not exist in Atma. Atma is Truth (Sat); how can the unreal (asat) universe exist in it ? The being of the manifest universe in the Absolute Atma is not possible.
Question 135: Sir, what are the types of causes ?
Answer: Ramji, there are two kinds of causes, viz samvaya (material or substantial) causes and nimitt (instrumental or efficient) causes. Something out of which a thing is created is said to be samvaya or the material cause. Someone who is instrumental in making something is said to be the nimitt (instrumental or efficient) cause. Atma is free from both types of causality. Atma can be nimitt (efficient) cause only if the agent (Atma) is distinct from the effect (universe). But Atma is one, and one only, and there is no entity besides Atma. How then can Atma be an agent, and of what?
Therefore, the universe is without a cause and it is perceived due to an illusion. It is a creation of an ideation. Abandoning the ideation, when you stabilise yourself in Atma, your illusion of the universe will vanish. It is not right to compare the creation of the universe out of Atma to that of a seedling out of a seed, because Atma is the supreme pure consciousness, and is free from all illusions. How can it be the seed of the universe!
Germination is a process of change in a seed and change is the cause of the seedling. But change is not a characteristic of Atma; hence it can neither be a material cause nor an efficient cause. It is Atma only perceived in a different form. There is nothing else besides it; neither ever there was nor ever there will be. As the waves in an ocean are perceived differently but are water only, so there is a variety of creations in the ocean-like Atma, which are nothing but aspects of Atma. The perception of the being of objects is only an illusion in the mind. When the illusion vanishes, Atma only is experienced. Liberation is not possible without the realisation of non-being of the universe. Cognition of a distinction between Atma and the universe is an illusion. Knowing so, stop the ideas of the universe, awaken your mind, stabilise yourself in the phases (bhoomikas – different states of the mind, different states of knowledge) of wisdom and attain to the state that is free from sufferings.
This was My reply:
The powers of man are limited by his experience and his knowledge. He is just a Pinda, while the Lord is Anda, the Force pervading the entire Universe. The Anda-Pinda Lingam symbolises this Body-Limb relationship, the Part-Whole aspect of God and Man. The Sada-Siva Lingam represents the ever-auspicious Atma, which is beyond all dual aspects and concepts, immanent in all beings and everywhere. It is not negated by time; it is Sada or always Sivam or beneficial, auspicious. The Jnana-lingam is the sign of the attainment of Jnana, when the last vestige of the delusion of “I” is wiped off; even the feeling “I know” is gone; then you are the Atma, pure and whole, entire and enduring – then Your condition is best represented by the symbol of the Atmalinga.
You have, each one, the tremendous sakthi (power) (strength) of the Atma in you. Some are able to draw upon it; others just know it is there; others are unaware of the method of tapping it or even of its existence. It all comes in time, through steady spiritual practice and effort. The child, in time, grows into the father; the father becomes the grand-father and he in turn ages into a great-grand-father. The spiritual aspirant rises up by step towards the highest bliss by adhering to the instructions of the Guru. (Prasanthi Nilayam: 22-10-61)
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST or “Webb”) is a joint NASA–ESA–CSA space telescope that is planned to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope as NASA’s flagship astrophysics mission. The JWST will provide improved infrared resolution and sensitivity over Hubble, and will enable a broad range of investigations across the fields of astronomy and cosmology, including observing some of the most distant events and objects in the universe, such as the formation of the first galaxies.
The primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope, the Optical Telescope Element, is composed of 18 hexagonal mirror segments made of gold-plated beryllium which combine to create a 6.5 m (21 ft) diameter mirror—considerably larger than Hubble’s 2.4 m (7 ft 10 in) mirror. Unlike the Hubble telescope, which observes in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared (0.1 to 1 μm) spectra, the JWST will observe in a lower frequency range, from long-wavelength visible light through mid-infrared (0.6 to 28.3 μm), which will allow it to observe high redshift objects that are too old and too distant for Hubble to observe. The telescope must be kept very cold in order to observe in the infrared without interference, so it will be deployed in space near the Sun–Earth L2 Lagrange point, and a large sunshield made of silicon-coated and aluminium-coated Kapton will keep its mirror and instruments below 50 K (−223.2 °C; −369.7 °F).
Om Hamsaaya Vidmahe
Tanno Hamsa Prachodayat
“May we realise Hamsa that is our own Self as the Swan. Let us meditate on that Paramahamsa, the Supreme Self. May Hamsa illumine us.”