Destruction

 The Field not only creates. It also destroys. In the Hindu Vedanta of 3,500 years ago, three processes were outlined. These insights were anything but primitive. They were, in fact, characteristic of the Field as we are beginning to understand It today.

First, there was Brahman, the fount of creativity. All things emerge forth into the material world from Brahman. This is parallel to our view today that the material world, the explicate order, emerges from the unmanifest, implicate order, the Quantum Field.

Second, there was Vishnu, the sustainer. Vishnu holds material reality together. He is the process that sustains life and is the moving force behind all of life’s processes. In our modern world, scientists are still fervently examining reality to find the equivalent of Vishnu, to understand the forces that hold material reality together. This search has identified four forces at work in the universe: gravity, the electro-magnetic force, the strong force, and the weak interaction. Altogether, they amount to Vishnu, the sustainer, who keeps the world in place and going.

Finally, there was Shiva, the destroyer. Shiva’s job is to take material reality apart. He is constantly at work in the universe, removing items from existence, from cells to humans to planets and stars. Sometimes he does his job with incredible violence. The ancient Hindus couched their insights in vivid anthropomorphic imagery.

The three processes were embodied by giant, powerful gods, and a great body of literature was created around the exploits of these gods. The insights were passed through the Mithal, the realm of pure imagery, and turned into images, symbols and metaphors. This imagery was useful for the understanding and worship practices of the common people. Too often, we in the West have taken the Indian pantheon of gods to be a limited and primitive belief system. This is not the case. A serious look at Hinduism reveals that, beneath the vivid iconography, the brilliant thinkers of that time were examining the nature of the Cosmos, just as our scientists are doing today. They expressed the processes that they saw operating in terms of symbol and metaphor, which was the primary thinking and teaching mode, the means of passing on information and insight, for millennia before modern times. In our time, we have moved from metaphor to linear rationality to convey our insights. Both are effective means. We have to have a deep respect for those ancient Indian thinkers when we see the depth of their investigation into the nature of reality, couched in the language of their times.

The process of destruction in the system is scary. Most of the time, we avoid the subject until it is placed squarely in front of us by our experience. However, it is an integral part of reality, of the way that the Field unfolds the material realm. Every material object, animate or inanimate, that emerges from the Ocean of wave/particles is destined to return to that Ocean. Only the Field endures. Its creations are impermanent and transient, all of them. The explicate world is temporary. Only the implicate world of pure potential is eternal.

In the macro world of the Universe, destruction plays itself out in vivid, cataclysmic ways. When a star pulls gases and particles together and begins to burn, hydrogen atoms fuse to form helium nuclei. Temperatures reach 10 million degrees. Light and energy are released. The star will burn hydrogen for around 10 million years or so, changing hydrogen into helium. Finally, the hydrogen available to the star is used up. The star implodes and its temperatures reach 100 million degrees. Then the helium starts to burn, forming carbon. When the helium is exhausted, it compacts down into just carbon that is in fact a massive diamond. It is called a white dwarf. Its temperature reaches billions of degrees of heat.

If large enough, the star crushes the carbon diamond, and the carbon begins to burn. It burns for about a thousand years, producing oxygen. Then the carbon in turn is used up, creating silicon. The silicon burns for only about a week, creating iron. The iron won’t burn because it takes in more energy than it releases. The star’s temperature goes to around 10 billion degrees, making the protons so agitated that they collapse the structure of the star. The star cannot survive any longer. In a space of two seconds, the star collapses to a tiny point. Every atom and every particle is destroyed. The protons and electrons are fused together to form neutrons. This produces a pulsar or neutron star. The work of 10 million years is eliminated in two seconds. Shiva has arrived. This happens in our Milky Way galaxy about once a century. Throughout the universe it is happening continuously. Destruction is built into the very fabric of the nature of reality.

Our life unfolds in the midst of death. It is all around us. It is integral to the system. Death and destruction are necessary to the unfolding of the Field. New patterns of reality can only appear if the old and worn-out pieces of life are cleared away. The arrival of the new and fresh depends on this process. If we can assimilate the Field as our reality, and embrace all aspects of It, including death and destruction, perhaps we can face our own prospects with less fear. Perhaps we can live our lives with a larger awareness, and be grateful to participate, however briefly, in the miraculous pageant that is this Life.

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