Destruction - Creation

This is a statue of Shiva at the CERN institute in Switzerland - pretty much the world's leading research location.

Of all the Gods mankind's busy brain has created, Shiva is one of the best, as in, the most realistic. Nature is not just smiley faces and ice cream cones, nor is it only pitchforks and hellfire. It's a struggle, with ups and downs, creations and destructions, births and death. Shiva represents this well, as in some forms, he's munificent; in others, vengeful and cruel; he can be other Gods depending on the situation, and can take both male and female forms. In other words, Shiva is situational, flexible, adaptive to whatever reality is present.

Because this is our reality: It's impermanent, always changing, always in motion. We perceive this motion as "creation" and "destruction", but these are just our terms, human interpretations of cosmic motions. Flux is our permanent condition, and refusing to realize this - as most other Religions teach - only builds an internal tension that undermines a person's well being.

Remember! Form is emptiness, emptiness form. You can't really change anything, except how you perceive, but that is enough.

Here's another picture of this same statue. The text at the base is from "The Tao of Physics", by Fritjof Capra (great book, a little dated by now however):
Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, seeing beyond the unsurpassed rhythm, beauty, power and grace of the Nataraja, once wrote of it "It is the clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of."
More recently, Fritjof Capra explained that "Modern physics has shown that the rhythm of creation and destruction is not only manifest in the turn of the seasons and in the birth and death of all living creatures, but is also the very essence of inorganic matter," and that "For the modern physicists, then, Shiva's dance is the dance of subatomic matter."
It is indeed as Capra concluded: "Hundreds of years ago, Indian artists created visual images of dancing Shivas in a beautiful series of bronzes. In our time, physicists have used the most advanced technology to portray the patterns of the cosmic dance. The metaphor of the cosmic dance thus unifies ancient mythology, religious art and modern physics."


Anonymous said...

Hi Redshirt - Cat Lady from BJ here. First time visiter, and I love this image/post. Just curious as to whether you're a practicing Buddhist, and if so, which discipline?

I read The Tao of Physics and The Dancing Wu Li Masters back in the late 70's, and then found Joseph Campbell and have never seen the world the same since. Seems like you're a fellow traveller.

Redshirt said...

Hi Cat Lady,

Thanks for the kind words. I am not a practicing Buddhist, in that I belong to no formal organization or anything. But I do walk the path as best I can, always striving to do better of course.

I have read a great deal on Buddhism (and all religion), and if I had to choose a discipline, I'm not sure I could. I practice martial arts as well, and find the fusion of Buddhist thinking and practice with martial art training to be especially fulfilling. Ultimately, I'm not sure any discipline is required if meditation and Right Mind is practiced at all times.

Easier said than done of course.

The Tao of Physics really rocked my world when I read it first, probably back in 1992 or so. I've always been nuts of science, and when I first encountered Buddhist thought at Wesleyan U, I was electrified. Seeing them brought together was wonderful. I recently read a book by the Dali Lama on just this subject, which I recommend.

I too followed with Joseph Campbell, who, again, just blew my mind. I've had several moments in my life, that I cherish, where I've read or learned something and had the physical sensation of my eyes seeing something for the first time - the proverbial scales falling. Joseph Campbell remains my primary inspiration to this day.

If you liked this post, I'm sure there are a few dozen dozen others here you like. Check 'em out!