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  • Writer's pictureKarey Pohn

Artful Universe?

The gods, as previously mentioned, are seen as artists and the universe is the creation of their imagination, so in addition to being a divine game, the universe can also be viewed as a work of art, with everything existing in an interconnected seamless totality. Mahony (1998) relates that the Indo-European root *ar, meaning “fit together, unite,” from which the word art comes, is also the root of the rich multivalent Sanskrit word rta, which means “universal law” or “cosmic order,” and is the Vedic term for the absolute. Rta is the hidden structure on which everything is founded and that holds everything together. This “integral principle and ground of being on which that universe rests and from which all things arise” has been metaphorically described as a “cosmic wheel on which all things in the universe turn” (p. 3).

Vedic poets also associated Rta with tapas, the powerfully transformative “universal ‘heat’ or creative ‘fervor,’ the energy of which was understood to bring the world into being and which renewed life” (Mahony, 1998, p. 51). Jung recognized correspondences between tapas with his process of active imagination, although he advised against acquisitively going East (Coward, 1985). Einstein said that “imagination is more important than knowledge,” and the Vedic seers would agree, since they felt that imaginative humans—artists, priests and meditating sages included—also shared in this same imaginative power. The seers placed ultimate importance on divine and human imagination in the formation, transformation and reformation of the meaningful world (Mahony, 1998, p. vii). Rta, art, and the divine imagination are intimately connected. We can hear strains of Bohm’s implicate order, in Mahony’s elegant summary of the artful magic of maya:

We may say this of the creative process: the sublime, formless and unified artfulness of the universe first gives rise to the personalities of the various gods, and then the many gods formative actions create the diverse components of the objective world. According to this view, ultimate reality is a unified and sublime whole, the plethoral nature of which emanates or flows outward, forming the world as it does so . . . . such an emanation of the one creates the many… all things find their hidden model and from which all things emerge. (p. 53)
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