Let’s first talk about what science says about the creation of the universe. Currently, Big Bang theory is the most accepted scientific theory about the creation of the universe. It says that the universe came into being some billions years ago. Now, for it to come into being at some time, the universe must not have existed before that time. So, there was a time when this universe – the galaxies, the stars, the planets, the plants, the animals, the humans and all things – didn’t exist. Actually, Nothing existed.
But what was there before the beginning of the universe? It shouldn’t have grown out of nothing?
The #1 bestseller book (at the time of my writing) in the Physics domain at Amazon.com probably tries to answer this. The title of the book is “A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing”. The description of the book says that the author explains some beautiful and revolutionary theories which demonstrate that not only is it possible for something to come out of nothing but something will always come out of nothing.
Intellectually, I am very drawn towards this book. I mean it’s lovely to even read that a scientist says something will “always” come out of “nothing”. But no matter how much my mind feels stimulated to read the book and try to make sense of all such theories, which obviate the need of God for our existence, I haven’t read the book. As seems from the title and the description, the book probably supports the view that God does not exist and that we are all without consciousness and thus, just a bunch of electrons, protons and neutrons (and other 100 particles scientists have discovered in an atom).
(On a side note, I got to know that the book hasn’t defined “nothing” clearly. “Nothing” as used in the book is actually “something”. It’s confusing. Let’s forget about it! )
I don’t claim that the view expressed in the book is wrong. Rather, who am I to raise a finger against a renowned scientist. The reason I chose to not read this and other similar books is that it seems difficult for me to live my life within this model of life. It’s difficult to accept that we are just matter and the life is purposeless. It’s difficult to accept that all the virtues – courage, growth, compassion, kindness, caring, love – and emotions – happiness, joy, pain, sadness – are nothing but firings of neurons in the atoms of the brain.
It is difficult to accept that we are programmed robots with mind nothing more than an activity of a few atoms inside the head. All the creativity, ingenuity, pursuit of growth, imagination is nothing but an interactions between various atomic or sub-atomic particles.
In essence, it is difficult to accept that we all are actually dead matter living under an illusion of life. This view just takes a direct killing on all the emotions residing within our hearts and intend to make us emotionless robots who have been created just out of a pure co-incidence.
I don’t know about the correctness of the view. The kind of serious criticism that has been leveled against it makes me doubt about the logical correctness of the view. However, even if the model is correct, it does not serve me – it does not help me in living a happier life. Rather, it will discard happiness as another piece of firing of electrons or protons or whatever.
So, where do we go from here?
Gurbani (the sikh scripture) presents a model of life, which I have found to be very logical, consistent and very helpful in my everyday life. As far as my limited understanding goes, many other religions also propose a similar model. The model tells us about how and why this creation came into being and our true nature. Once we understand these three things, we can derive answers to probably all the big questions of our life, including but not limited to, what is the purpose of life and what is the key to happiness.
In this article, I will present a perspective about the beginning of the universe from my understanding of Gurbani.
BEFORE THE BEGINNING
So, what was there before the beginning of the universe?
So, per Gurbani, before the world was created, there was just God. Please pay attention to the singularity of the word “God” here. Gurbani is not saying “Gods” or even God and evil. Just one God.
Try to imagine the scenario before the creation of the universe. Imagine what would it look like when there was just God. Can you imagine?
It’s extremely difficult, if not entirely possible to imagine the scenario then. What most of us would be doing is that we would be imagining God in a samadhi sitting completely alone within some space. We can’t do this because in the beginning, all there was was God. So, even the space didn’t exist then. Besides, for God to sit in a space, space has to be bigger and thus, different from him. In such a case, it means that in the beginning, there existed God and something else called space. This is in logical contradiction to our premise that God alone was there. Besides, if you read the Gurbani lines carefully, they already say that sky, which also means space, didn’t exist then.
Now, it is indeed very difficult, probably impossible, for us to think of a scenario where even space doesn’t exist. Our minds are used to think in terms of three dimensional space and time.
AT THE BEGINNING
Let’s now talk about the situation at the beginning of the universe. What happened at the beginning of the universe?
So, Gurbani says that God created the universe when he so wanted. If we connect it to the scientific theory, then probably that is the time when the big bang happened. When God desired to have this universe, he created.
Now, why did he want to create it and how he created it – we’ll look at these questions in the next articles.
But for now, it is important to apply some logic and derive a very important conclusion about the universe thus created.
Everything in this world is God himself in different forms and shapes.
Does this conclusion seem startling or rather unbelievable? If yes, then read on.
We know that there was nothing but God at the beginning of the universe. So, everything has to come out of him.
I think some of you might say that we create computers, toys, buildings etc but it doesn’t mean that we create these objects out of ourselves. So, how can we say that everything came out of God?
The point is that there exist things outside of us i.e. metals, soil etc that we can use to build other objects. But what if nothing else existed but us? How would we create buildings then?
Similar was the case at the beginning of the universe: only God existed. So, everything he created was out of his own.
We can also say this same idea in other words:
Everything we see in this world is God manifested in different forms and shapes.
Gurbani supports this conclusion:
In the book series Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch, Neale explains this fact of “God himself taking various forms” using the word “individuation”, which means development of an individual from the universal.
Now, it is interesting to observe that fundamentally everything in the universe is God. Thus, everything is one and the same. However, when we see through our eyes or touch through our hands or smell through our nose or hear through our ears or taste through our tongue, we do feel many different things. Gurbani says he is one but still he is showing up as many.
Somewhere he is manifesting as beautiful flowers and somewhere very close to those flowers, he is manifesting as stings. Somewhere he is manifesting as beautiful lakes and mountains and forests. Somewhere, he is manifesting as pollution and dirt.
When we see around, all the diversity we see – Gurbani says, that behind it all, there is only one consciousness. That is probably the reasons why a lot of religions call this world fascinating and at the same time, call it an “illusion” or “Maya”. Illusion because it seems all so diverse but in reality, it is all one. It is indeed a fascinating illusion.
So, if we choose to believe in the basic idea that there was only one God before the universe who created the universe, I think we also need to logically believe that everything in this universe, including all human beings, animals and things, is God himself expressing in different forms and shapes. This same idea is also communicated when we say that we are all souls – a soul defined as part of the divine himself.