“The living entity is ignorant of his origin. He does not know why this material world was created, why others are working in this material world and what the ultimate source of this manifestation is. No one knows the answers to these questions, and this is called ignorance. By researching into the origin of life, important scientists are finding some chemical compositions or cellular combinations, but actually no one knows the original source of life within this material world.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.25.33 Purport)
1. What is my origin
I may not be able to trace it out, but at least let me contemplate. This goes beyond the mother and father. Obviously, I entered this world through the womb of the mother. From observing others and studying modern science, I understand that the union of a man and a woman has the opportunity to put a new person on the path to entering this world.
But where was I prior to this birth? Did I exist? If I just came from nothing, does that mean I am nothing? If I learn about my past life, what about before that? Just exactly how many lives have I lived, and was I always a human being?
2. Why was this material world created
The mountains, the skies, the oceans, the hills, the trees, the sun, the moon – so many aspects to nature. Birds fly away from their nest and inherently understand how and where to return. They don’t rely on a navigation app housed on a smartphone. They don’t get directions from other people.
Dogs understand when an intruder is near and can start defending immediately. A cat can chase away a mouse, and a lion scares everyone away in the jungle. The human being is supposedly more intelligent. They can apply discrimination, learn tendencies, conduct studies, develop solutions, and think rationally. Yet they cannot do many of the things the untrained animal is expert at.
Why was all of this created? We know that there had to be a creation. We have yet to see something manifest from nothing. There must have been a time when no creatures were present. It’s like that chicken or the egg question. Going beyond the origin, what is the purpose? Whoever created everything, the original entity, must have had a reason.
3. Why others are working in the material world
We are here and we each have our tendencies, but why? How come I have to go to college, get a job and then start a family? Why do beavers build dams? Why do birds fly south for the winter? Why do large populations tend to form around bodies of water? Why do people feel sad upon death? So much is going on that we take tendencies for granted; there has to be an initial cause.
4. What is the ultimate source of this manifestation
Someone created everything. We can wonder why, but how about finding out who? Is it a person? Is it a bunch of chemicals? That doesn’t seem right, since chemicals reacting requires some kind of external force. Even when human intervention is absent, there is nature making things move. Who is the original mover, so to speak?
Speculation can go on, but the truth is that no surveillance footage exists of the beginning of time. Moreover, even if it did there would be several issues, such as verifying authenticity and believing that indeed no other living entities were around.
The best answers come through the Vedic tradition. Not a claim based on sectarian allegiance, the very name means “knowledge.” There is at least an attempt to discuss these issues, to give mankind as much information as they can understand, as time and space are infinite. Who can actually understand infinity properly?
The origin is personal at the full realization. He creates, maintains and destroys effortlessly. He does so to allow individual souls, jivas, to play in a temporary world. Sort of like falling asleep and having a dream, a spark of the spiritual energy, an amsha, spins on the wheel of suffering, enduring the cycle of birth and death known as reincarnation. The different tendencies are due to variety in desire. For every desire there is a corresponding body type; hence variety in species up to 8,400,000 in number.
न त्व् एवाहं जातु नासं
न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः
न चैव न भविष्यामः
सर्वे वयम् अतः परम्
na tv evāhaṁ jātu nāsaṁ
na tvaṁ neme janādhipāḥ
na caiva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ
sarve vayam ataḥ param
“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.12)
I can trace out many past lives for myself and others, but I will never know the actual origin. This is due to the way time is infinite in both directions, past and future. From the Bhagavad-gita I can confirm that there was never a time that I did not exist. Neither will there be a time when I cease to be.
The full past may never be known with full certainty, but the future can be influenced. Through devotional works, through knowledge combined with renunciation and directed along the bhakti path I can escape the cycle of birth and death for good. The dream comes to an end, and upon waking up I have an eternity of bliss in front of me, spent in the company of the all-attractive one, who is also the origin.
Not just for sense enjoyment task,
For more important questions to ask.
Like what exactly origin of mine,
And from what at beginning of time.
Explain tendencies in others now,
World into manifestation how?
Vedas of all giving picture clearest,
To full understanding nearest.
Categories: the four