09.10 – The incomprehensible comprehensibility and the comprehensible incomprehensibility of the universe

by December 12, 2012

“The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible,” wondered Albert Einstein. If the universe were just matter emerged by chance, why should it exhibit patterns that we can comprehend through scientific laws and mathematical equations?

Yet the same Einstein when perplexed by the incomprehensibility of subatomic phenomena lamented: “It was as if the ground had been pulled out from under one, with no firm foundation to be seen anywhere upon which one could have built.”

Is the universe comprehensible or incomprehensible? It’s both because it works, the Bhagavad-gita (09.10) indicates, under the supervision of Krishna. And he is both the supreme scientist and the supreme artist.

Science demystifies the unfamiliar, showing how the strange behaves according to familiar principles of knowledge. As the universe expresses the intelligence of the supreme scientist, to the extent we can comprehend that intelligence, to that extent the universe becomes comprehensible.  By acknowledging the scientific brilliance of Krishna, we comprehend why the universe is comprehensible.

Art, on the other hand, mystifies the familiar. For example, a literary masterpiece uses a known set of words to convey an unknown layer of meaning. As the universe expresses the intelligence of the supreme artist, it contains endless layers of meaning. Just when we comprehend one layer of meaning, new questions emerge, pointing thereby to deeper layers of meaning – ad infinitum. By acknowledging the artistry of Krishna, we comprehend why the universe is incomprehensible.

This incomprehensibility frustrates us only as long as we desire to control the universe by comprehending its behavior. Gita wisdom encourages us to instead see the universe as an arena for reviving our love for Krishna. Then we can relish both its comprehensibility and its incomprehensibility – for both remind us of the glory of our beloved.



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