or example, the Greek Stoics (circa 200 BC) observed that the planets and stars of the heavens seemed to travel in recurrent paths around the earth.(4) This observation lead them to postulate that this occurred because time, itself was cyclic. They reasoned, albeit incorrectly, that since the motions of the planets were cyclic, the whole of creation was cyclic. Since time was cyclic, all the stars and planets must return in an endless loop to an initial starting point such that the world would renew itself endlessly. Nemesis, Bishop of Emesa in the 4th century remarked, “Socrates, Plato and each individual man will live again, with the same friends and fellow citizens. They will go through the same experiences and the same activities. Every city, village and field will be restored, just as it was. And this restoration of the universe takes place not once, but over and over again–indeed to all eternity without end.”
This bit of mistaken logic was responsible for the Greek insistence upon the concept of ‘recurrence’ rather than ‘reincarnation’. Eternal recurrence was a favorite topic of the German philosopher, Nietzsche (1849 – 1900). Nietzsche wrote in THE GAY SCIENCE (published 1882, 1887), “What if a demon crept after you one day or night in your loneliest solitude and said to you, ‘This life, as you live it now and have lived it, you will have to live again and again, times without number; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and all the unspeakably small and great in your life must return to you, and everything in the same series and sequence…'”.
This concept, though less popular today, has continued into modern times as shown by the writings of G.I. Gurdjieff’s student, Ouspensky (1878 – 1947) (5).
If Ouspensky, Nietzsche and the Stoics would have taken the time to see whether or not, recurrence could explain the particulars of the manifested world, they would have found that the ‘arrow of time’ points only in one direction. (6) Irreversibility, not reversibility, is the general rule. Photons, or particles of light, flow outward from the sun, we never see them flow from outer space into the sun. Heat always flows from a higher temperature to a lower one, never the reverse. All living forms are born, mature and die; when was the last time you saw a crone suddenly appear from out of the ground, get younger and enter into a womb. Although cycles exist everywhere, a recurring universe does not fit the facts. (7)
All genuine esoteric schools teach that it is impossible to study the universe without studying man; it is impossible to study man without studying the universe. Man is created in the image of the world since his presence results from the same laws which created the world. By knowing and understanding himself he will know and understand the laws governing the world and vice versa. Some laws are more easily assimilated by studying the objective world, other laws are more easily assimilated by studying one’s inner subjective world. The study of the world and the study of man must proceed in parallel in the aim is to finally perceive the unity hiding in the diversity.
Students of both science and religion feel compelled by a source less inner drive and curiosity to find answers to questions concerning a place for a Creator and the structure, origin and demise of the universe. Questions such as: Where do the laws of nature come from? What are the fundamental laws of nature? What is the universe made of? What limitations have been placed upon the manifestations of the universe? How did the universe come to be? What happens at the end of time? Is there a Creator? What is man’s purpose?
My goal is to guide each of you in finding personal, pragmatic answers to these questions; answers useful for escaping the limitations of finite exist