Shaivism - Concepts and symbols - Great Work and the System of the Universe
Type of Spiritual Experience
This apparently simple set of paragraphs actually opens up a whole can of worms. The analogy.
If one develops a computer system, one has a model of what one wants to implement, one has a plan for its development and then as the plan proceeds one obtains the actual system.
The model and the system one can almost regard as one, in that the only difference between the model and the working system is that one is prior and the other after implementation. There is every reason to believe that there is actually one unified system for the universe and all that is happening is that it is being implemented all the time.
To use a visual analogy: The system for the universe is a railway train, the Great Work is the tracks along which it runs and the train simply moves along the tracks, changing and evolving all the time according to the track instructions.
Behind the train are all the old versions of the train – invisible to us. Ahead are all the future versions of the train – also invisible to us.
As Danielou states, both train and track are not disputed in Shaivism, but which is Dharma? Is it train or track or both?
A description of the experience
Alain Danielou – While the Gods Play
According to the teachings of Shaivism, one can decline to postulate the hypothesis of a god, either personal or impersonal, unique or multiple, but one can never believe that the universe is the result of chance, that it is not subject in all its aspects to certain laws.
It is in reference to this notion of a law which goes back to the origin of things, and in fact precedes it, that one speaks of the "primordial tradition." The expression "primordial tradition," however, has the disadvantage of placing the accent on the transmission of a certain knowledge rather than on its contents….
The notion of Dharma is the universal law that governs matter and life.
The potentiality and the limits of all knowledge, of all science, of all knowledge accessible to man at the various stages of his development is included in the plan for the species.