Published on May 23rd, 2014 | by Harmonist staff78
Gods in Goloka
By Swami Tripurari, originally published on August 11, 2009.
The idea that the cosmos corresponds with our psyche is of course an old one that is common to East and West. However, this notion faded with the Copernican revolution and Descarte’s scientific method. While there is considerable evidence that the heavens do influence or mirror our psyche, such evidence does not fit into a scientific world view where physical, verifiable evidence is the bottom line. Thus at one point astrology was abandoned by most thinkers of the West, and the evidence of the subtle planetary influence that astrology points to was ignored, even as Jung and others continued to heed astrology—although not fully understanding it.
The Bhagavata’s cosmology is an old one, one that did not even conform with leading secular thinkers’ understanding in India at the time that our sampradaya’s principle commentaries were written, what to speak of today’s thinkers. Today we know that the sun is fixed, not orbiting as it is described in the Bhagavata. And we have the math by which we have accomplished many things we have come to take for granted to prove it. So shall we throw out the Bhagavata’s cosmology?
In one sense it is non-essential. However, we do need a cosmology that corresponds with our world view, and that of modern science does not. It does not in the sense that modern science does not recognize that the universe has a purpose or intelligence, evidenced in the least by the subtle influence the stars and planets have on our lives—the extent to which the microcosm of our psyche corresponds with the macrocosm of the heavens. The fact that the Bhagavata’s cosmology differs in details from modern science is not of much concern; it is its notion that the universe is without purpose and intelligence that is disconcerting.
It is rational to conceive that the heavens have sway on earth and it is irrational to deny this. It is also less anthropocentric to think of the heavens in terms of deities and heavenly worlds within the mental realm than it is to think that reality is entirely subjective, or that it revolves around and is determined by each human individual, as postmodernism posits, leaving us with no objective, absolute reality. Indeed, is it not the height of human hubris to conclude that the source of all meaning and purpose in the universe is centered in the human mind, which is therefore unique and in this sense superior to the entire cosmos? In this sense the postmodern mind is more anthropocentric than the premodern mind that the modern mind sought to distance itself from! We are revolving, not evolving.
I believe that if one’s poetic notion of gods and goddesses is also derivative of a world view that ontologically distinguishes consciousness from matter, giving preference to the former, then one’s position is strengthened. However, it is then weakened considerably if from this position one also maintains that the dated cosmology of the Bhagavata disproves the insight of Copernicus and other similar facts
The heretical Copernican revolution, which eventually took humanity from an erroneous earth-centered cosmology to a sun-centered cosmology and all that follows in its wake, can, however, be superseded by a consciousness revolution: the idea that matter (sun and all) revolves around consciousness. In this consciousness revolution Sriman Mahaprabhu takes us to the consciousness of consciousness, wherein we find prema at the center. Incidentally, he appeared within the same decade that Copernicus first realized the truth of a fixed-sun-centered universe. As the sun appears to move from east to west, may the eastern dawn of the influence of Mahaprabhu reach high noon in the west with deep thinkers concluding that prema is the prayojana.
Now if we are to take part in this revolution we will not only have to think deeply, but more importantly, teach by example. Thus it is our individual spiritual practice that is most important. Leaving aside the physical reality, we enter the realm of ritual and then the realm of bhajana. These worlds have their own cosmology, and it behooves one who desires to enter them to acquaint oneself with it. Therein we find gods and goddesses that might otherwise be thought of as archetypical influences, natural laws, etc. We enter the world of mind (psyche/cosmos) and then transcend it altogether, landing at the feet of the source of cosmic intelligence. Deep within his world there is also a sun and moon, etc. along with their gods and goddesses, although there is, in one sense, no need for them—no need in terms of tattva, but they are needed in terms of bhava. Indeed, how could there be rasa-lila in Goloka without the full moon?