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The many emerged from the One

The many emerged from the One, and it has not been a happy experience. The One was divine.

The many brought into the picture the human. The experience of human mortality, finitude, and imperfection has produced only pain and suffering and, to make matters worse, these are inseparable from the human condition.

The only solution is to reverse the process. The divine somehow seems to have become human, and so what is now human must somehow go back to being divine.

The many must resolve back into the One. This journey back to the Source reclaims that freedom, perfection, immortality, and infinitude that were apparently lost.

In the language of Vedanta, it is examining the ‘many’ to eventually discover it is really the One. It only feels like many because we are not looking at it deeply enough.

When the evolution of the material universe is viewed from a spiritual perspective, life acquires meaning and purpose, and the path to freedom and fulfillment becomes clear.

When we look deeply at everything around us and see that every material particle is really a combination of the basic elements, and when we never forget that they all derive their being from the Atman, the world changes for us.

As the Vedantic text Drig-drishya-viveka points out, every entity has five characteristics:

  1. it exists,
  2. it is cognizable,
  3. it is [meaningful and hence] attractive [in its own way],
  4. it has a form, and
  5. it has a name.
Of these, the first three — corresponding to sat, cit, and ananda—belong to Brahman, and the remaining two belong to the world.

The same idea is reiterated in the Panchadashi:
‘Brahman’s nature is existence, consciousness, and bliss. The world’s nature is name and form.’
What this means, in effect, is that we are seeing the One all the time—but the One appears divided because it is covered by name and form. Reminding ourselves often of this fact is helpful. If we do it vigorously and consistently enough, the way we look at ourselves and at the world will change. For one thing, we will begin to respect even the material universe, seeing in it nothing but the Divine covered by name and form. Every element that composes this world will become sacred.

Source - Looking Deeply at the Elements by Swami Tyagananda