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The inevitable drama

Updated on September 28, 2013

The concept

The concept I have recently come into contact with is the Hindu conception of the universe as a drama. This being contrasted with the common western view of the universe as an artefact - something made (deist) or something automatically and randomly self-constructed (agnostic/atheist).

I find this conception truly elegant and delightful. I urge you to listen to the lecture by Alan Watts on this subject for which I've posted a link here below. He makes a comparison between the two world views that is not only informative but moving and amusing also.

Alan Watts - in this instance, my inspiration

So... to analysis

What is really meant by this, at first, apparently frivolous suggestion that the universe is a drama? To think about this I am going to get you to use your imagination. Hypothetically, if you were God... what would you do? The analogy Alan Watts uses is too perfect not to use, so excuse me if I paraphrase in this next part...

Imagine, if you will, that you were able to dream anything you chose in perfect detail and complexity. Imagine that you could, should you wish it, dream 100 years in a night. 100 years of adventure or whatever you wished. What would you dream?

At first, no doubt, you would fulfil every wish and fantasy. You would go through every experience that you had ever wanted to have... and have them all. This might go on for a few nights. After a while, you might grow tired of this ultimately unfulfilling wish-fulfilment. You've already done it all by now. Nothing is new.

Ok - so now you say to yourself, "I'm gonna have a more intense dream with danger and action" - a dream in which it might seem you could be in real trouble but you know its a dream and if it gets too much you can wake up. This too might go on a while.

The enjoyment dulls however - you know what's going to happen each time and with no surprise your pleasure in the experience is hollow. So what next? Well - maybe you start to push yourself. What if you decide to really lose yourself in the experience? Wouldn't that be exciting? You keep pushing, and pushing... until finally you dream the dream that you are living the life you are living right now.

The universe seen from this perspective is not a "thing" made by the creator. It is the creator playing at not being himself. Every being, every planet, every grain of sand is a role that the Godhead is playing. Where the drama becomes truly fascinating is in those roles (such as mankind) where consciousness arises and the basic reality of the Godhead convinces itself that it is not itself. It loses itself in the drama of its conscious concerns; in the drama of conflict, and romance, and survival.

So each and every one of us is God - a sliver of the divine. What a poetic thought.

As a side note - this view neatly takes care of the so-called "problem of evil" that plagues western traditions. This is the problem of an all powerful, all good, all loving God not only making a mistake (in the creation of the rebellious Lucifer) but also continuing to allow suffering death and misery to occur. In the Christian tradition evil must necessarily be blamed on something other than God - I.e. the devil. The Hindu idea is quite different.

In this view, God is responsible for good and evil. This is not to say that God is capricious and inflicts evil on us for entertainment... because as all beings are the divine playing at not being God, the only being that experiences suffering is God. We are not separate. Then there is also the argument that says that Good without Evil would be meaningless, like a wave without a trough, an up without a down. Without its contrasting opposite Good would be a nonsensical concept. A mountain without a valley is no mountain at all - it is a flat, boring plane. Without Good and Evil... without conflict, there is no drama, no story... no interest.

Anyway... this concept struck me as very interesting and thought provoking. I'd be interested to hear what you think...


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    • Dan Barfield profile image

      Dan Barfield 4 years ago from Gloucestershire, England, UK

      Thanks for the comment Dan - you are right in that the western mind cannot be satisfied by an explanation of the universe that is supernatural.

      Where it gets interesting for me is that in this eastern tradition the myth about the nature of the universe is not taken to be "Truth" in a literal sense. Think of any analogy that you might use to explain a more complicated scientific state of affairs. The relationship between the Hindu myth about the universe and reality is the same as the relationship between the analogy and the actual scientific principle. They are not the same, but one is like the other.

      In this sense the myth does not reduce anything to a supernatural explanation because it does not purport to be a direct description of the thing itself - just a description of something you could compare it to, to make the thing easier to think about.

      At least... that's what I've got from it so far. I'm researching further :)

    • profile image

      Dan Romani 4 years ago

      Love the idea - it seems like a much cosier idea of imagining the Universe.

      Of course, that doesn't make it more right but it's all about choosing the story you like best because we can never know for sure and, as far as stories go, this is a good one.

      If you're interested in the origin of the universe (regardless of whether that interest is the result of a Western approach to the myth or not), the postulation of a dancing Shiva doesn't answer the question, it merely removes it to the realm of the supernatural - which is something that will never satisfy a western mind!