What is a world picture?
It is an overview of the fundamental principles that form the basis for the whole of nature, living beings and the reactions and movements of the stars and galaxies. But how could a human being who is such a tiny microbe ever be able to get such an overview?
The cosmos or universe has neither beginning nor end. It extends infinitely. One will never then be able to attain an overview of something that extends infinitely. How can one reach the bottom of something that is bottomless? The claim that one has an overview of the universe can then only be made by fanatics.
Indeed, this is the ordinary modern view and even the view of materialistic science. But how could ordinary materialistically minded people ever be able to get any other view? They do not yet understand how to attune their senses, intelligence and capacity for understanding in such a way that they really can view the universe and thereby experience the solution of the mystery or riddle of life. It is not the meaning of life that the universe should not be able to be experienced. It is not the meaning of life that life itself, the beings' own identity, should remain mysterious. For Christ, life and its originator was not anything mysterious but crystal-clear reality. The fact that he was not able to reveal his great knowledge in any other way than a very childlike one was not due to himself but to the childlike and cosmically illiterate mankind to whom he had to speak. It is the same primitivity and cosmic childishness of mankind that have meant that the great world religions have not either been able to reveal the secret of the world picture in logical chains of thought discernable for the intelligence and thereby verifiable as facts for the intellect. Obtaining an overview of the universe is therefore not an impossibility. Why then cannot science - with its huge optical equipment such as telescopes, microscopes, electron-microscopes and its huge electronic brains - achieve this kind of survey? No - with the attitude of modern science and ordinary materialistically-minded mankind the mystery or secret of the universe is insoluble. The overview of the universe is therefore not a question of those phenomena that science is expert at researching.
The solution of the secret or mystery of the universe is not at question of size or weights and measures in the same way as the mystery or secret of the living being is not solved by knowledge of the same being's size, volume, shape and colour. Since the universe is infinite it contains all sizes. The ultimate solution of something that constitutes all sizes cannot possibly be expressed by a size. Neither can something that has all dimensions within itself be expressed by an ultimate solution in the form of a number. As long as one is only prepared for research into something that can be expressed in numbers or in weights and measures then one will find oneself on a path of science ending in a cul-de-sac. And one obtains absolutely no answer whatsoever to the really important questions about life itself - what is life, what is the living being, is it immortal, and what is the universe? So perhaps one will here ask about the purpose, if any, of the solution of the mystery of life. But to this one must then in turn put the question - how will we otherwise overcome all the misery, depression, sorrow and ill-health and the all-pervading "war of everyone against everyone else''?
None of these or similar questions of great importance can be answered by a result expressed in numbers. It does not help that one knows the speed of light, the distance between the stars, the structure of atoms and electrons, the rotations of the earth and the orbit of the sun in space and so on, when one is suffering from serious illnesses. This knowledge is not any comfort either in time of sorrow, nor is it of any help when one is depressed or tired of life. If answers in weights and measures were able to explain such problems of life for people then the earth would have long since become a world of angels, a world in which there was neither sorrow, screaming nor pain. But this is not the case. The world is experiencing a culmination of sorrow, death throes and fatal illnesses although people are masters of physical material pressing buttons to make thousands upon thousands of nature's horsepower work for them. But nevertheless this supreme knowledge and skill in the material field does not prevent people from being illiterate regarding the solution of the mystery or riddle of life.
So, in order to find the solution of the mystery of life itself, one must find one's way out of the blind alley of materialistic science. This is not meant as an underestimation of materialistic science but rather as a justification for it, because in a very ingenious way it solves those areas of the mystery of life for which it was designed and that are within its capacity. To demand that it should solve problems and riddles of quite another nature than weights and measures, volume, shape and colour is the same as demanding that it should be adept at giving information about things and phenomena that belong to quite another reality than that which can be weighed and measured.
What is then this other reality? It is that reality one arrives at when one understands that the universe is infinite both in time and space, and that it is therefore not accessible for any kind of weighing or measuring. It cannot therefore have any kind of time- or space-dimensional solution. Nevertheless, in spite of this, we are compelled to recognise that it does exist. So we are confronted with something that exists outside time and space. We have here the first meeting with a reality of quite another nature than the reality we can weigh and measure. Since this ''Something" is outside time and space it has only one single analysis, namely, that it constitutes "Something that is''. We have here thus arrived at a fixed reality that we cannot take away. We can also begin to discover something more about this reality, which is subject neither to time nor to space. We know that all creation and all movement occur in this "Something" in the same way as we know that it is only this movement or creation that acts on our senses. What we experience is therefore not this "Something that is" but something that is within this "Something''. By virtue of the fact that there is movement, it can influence the senses, which are also movement, and this results in what we call the experience of life. Life-experience is therefore in reality only a series of encounters or collisions between the energy of our senses and the energy of the surroundings. Since the movements differ in speed and strength, the collisions also differ in strength. It is these different kinds of collisions we experience through our senses and that become our joys and sorrows, our health and ill-health, our peace and lack of peace with the beings in our surroundings. In certain cases these sensory collisions appear as fixed substance, and in other cases as liquids, gases or rays. We thus form ideas about substance and matter at the same time as we ourselves become able to juggle with these substances and materials. We call this juggling "creating".
We have now seen that in this "Something that is" there is not only movement and the collisions and reactions of movements, but there is also something that experiences all this - us, for example. What or who are we? In order to arrive at an understanding of who we are we must recognise that we cannot be identical with our organism because it represents only movement, whether it is the smallest function of a gland or a vibration in the brain. The musculature and the skeleton also represent movement or vibration. We can, therefore, in our innermost Self or "I" experience not only movements but we can also initiate movement, which means, we can create. But, as we ourselves are not part of the movement, we cannot be weighed or measured. So we too exist outside time and space. We or our innermost Self is here neither male nor female, neither large nor small. neither evil nor good. So here we have no other analysis than the analysis of the universe itself, namely, "Something that is". We now know that that "Something" that is inside us is what we call our "I". It cannot have any beginning or end. It is, like the universe, an eternal reality. Our "I'' is therefore beyond movement and can experience and initiate movement in the form of creation. This creation makes it a fact that it exists. And we also know that without this "I" in our organism it is bound to die and decompose. The living being with its organism thus constitutes an I and a combination of movements and can react to movements from the outside and itself initiate movement. Here we witness that there is an originator behind the movements and that these movements cannot possibly form themselves into logical creation without the presence of this "I". Each of us constitutes a creator and the created, and thus represents two worlds, - the time- and space- dimensional one and the eternal one. The time- and spacedimensional world is our organism and the things we create. They are a manifestation or revelation of our I's existence beyond this creation. The fact that we are human beings is only a temporary combination of the substances, the energies and the movement created by our "I", but this combination is certainly not us. But then, what about the universe? It was also infinite, beyond time and space and "Something that is"?
Since the movements of the universe also appear as creations or logical combinations of materials so that they benefit and become a joy and a blessing for living beings, then they too reveal - just like the manifestations and creations of man - that they are the result of thinking. And just as the manifestations and creations of man reveal him as a living being, so the creations of nature or the universe likewise reveal the universe or cosmos as a living being. The universe is therefore an organism for an eternal "I" in the same way as our organism is for our "I". The universe is therefore the organism of a living being in which we and our organism are situated. And our daily experience of life is a question of harmonious or disharmonious co-operation between the energies of this great organism and our own energies or substances. Our happy or unhappy fate is dependant on this relationship. The experience of life is thus a product of our relationship to the structure of the universe in the same way as the life-experience of our micro-organisms corresponds to their relationship to the structure of our organism. We can, by our behaviour, be in disharmony with the structure of the universe, that is, in disharmony with God's organism, and our fate becomes unhappy, just as we can be in disharmony with the micro-individuals in our own organism and experience ill-health, a detail from the spectrum of unhappy fates. If we are in harmony with God's organism and the microbeings in our own organism then we have become the perfect man in God's image. This is the great goal of creation. The world picture in brief therefore means that the universe is a living being, an expression for the highest idea of the unfoldment of consciousness, physical and mental creation and behaviour. It is this living being that people for thousands of years have rightly worshipped as God. And as we are micro-beings in this Godhead, it is beyond doubt that our total physical and mental well-being is entirely conditioned by the extent to which we are a joy and a blessing for all other living beings. If we do not look after our physical organism and fulfil its essential healthgiving requirements of nourishment and hygiene, we, to a greater or lesser extent, destroy the life and well-being of the micro-individuals in our own organism whereby ill-health to a corresponding extent occurs. And if we feel anger and bitterness towards other beings and try to persecute them because we think they have wronged us then we are actually persecuting micro-beings in the organism of God. And God must start to "fight" us in order to preserve the health of his own organism. And the Godhead's fight against ill-health in his body or organism takes place with such accuracy and precision that "whatsoever a man soweth, so shall he also reap". Indeed "even the hairs of his head are all numbered", in the same way as it is impossible for "a sparrow to fall to the ground without it being the will of God". It is not so extraordinary that loving one's neighbour as oneself is the fulfilment of all the laws.
With this attitude to the universe we entered a road that did not end in a cul-de-sac but that was a through road direct to the understanding that the universe is the Godhead's non-time and space-dimensional organism in which we, as equally eternal beings, "live and move and have our being", and that the whole of our happy or unhappy way of living is entirely a question of anatomy. All living beings are organs of life in a greater organism. If we, by our thinking and behaviour, destroy life and promote depression in other living beings in the same organism then we create sick and unhealthy areas in the great organism in which we experience life. Here it is easy to see that the fundamental cause of all suffering in the world is a violation of the perfect anatomy by the power of which all life in the universe is tied together forming a unit. We have now seen a life-giving thought-process that shows us that we are eternal, contributing centres in this unit, and that the only way to total health and happiness is to be a joy and a blessing for everything with which one comes into contact. That was the world picture in brief.
This article is based on a lecture given by Martinus in 1955.
Translated by Mary McGovern.
© Martinus Institut 1981
Published with permission from Martinus Institute 2001-06-18