The inevitable drama
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...