Creation, as we understand it, is a cyclic phenomenon. It did not have a beginning in the sense that it did not come into being at any particular point in time. A beginning is a coming into existence of something that did not exist earlier. There was never a time that the creation was not; it has always been. Only, it is a cyclic phenomenon of creation, sustenance, and dissolution; from being manifest to becoming un-manifest and then manifesting again. This is like a seed becoming the tree that produces the seed that again becomes a tree, or like water rising to become the cloud that comes down as the rainwater that again rises to become a cloud, and so on. Similarly, this creation is also a perpetual cyclic phenomenon.
The purpose of creation as in ’why’ can be asked only provided there is a. beginning. Something that has a beginning is an effect and so there is a cause. Thus, if there were a cause, you could ask why it exists. There is no cause for the creation as such because it has no beginning and so one cannot question why it exists; we can only inquire into the purpose of a given cycle of creation. We can imagine that there have been countless cycles of creation. A cycle of creation from manifestation to sustenance to dissolution takes place over billions and trillions of years. That is the span of a cycle of creation. Why is the creation there at all? There is no answer to that. Yet we can ask what caused a given cycle of creation as in what caused the un-manifest to become manifest. The cause for a given cycle of creation can be understood through the example of the cycle of sleep and waking. When we go to sleep, we are in a state of being un-manifest, we are in the causal state. When we wake up, we are in the state of manifestation. Sleep surfaces into wakefulness, which goes back into sleep only to emerge again into wakefulness, and so on. This is the cycle of one’s being manifest to one’s becoming un-manifest and then, from being un-manifest, to becoming manifest again. You can ask what it is that makes you wake up from the state of sleep. “Is there something because of which I wake up?” The answer is yes. When you are in the state of deep sleep, all your unfulfilled desires lie dormant within you; it is those desires, which, when ready to express themselves, wake you up. This is the reason you wake up and it is this that causes the creation to be what it is.
Why is the creation the way it is? The answer is that it is the result of the total desires of all the living beings; it is as though they were all ’sleeping’ in the state of dissolution and then they all needed to wake up to fulfill their desires. The creation is as it is in response to the desires of all the living beings. It provides an appropriate field for the expression of the desire of every living being in this creation. Whatever be the basic needs of all the creatures, including the human being, there is a provision for the fulfillment of all those needs. The purpose of the creation, therefore, is to provide all the living beings with an appropriate field so that they can fulfill their desires. We can thus understand the purpose of creation to be a response to the needs of all the living beings.
What is our role in this creation? Well, as human beings, we are born with an agenda. Our birth is no accident. It does have a purpose. As far as the creatures other than the human being are concerned, the purpose of birth seems to be to simply to fulfill the basic instincts of eating, drinking, self-preservation, and self- propagation. That seems to be the purpose of their lives. But the human being is born with a desire to attain freedom. He cannot accept bondage; he wants freedom. And, therefore, the human being is born with an agenda. Our role would then be to live the kind of life that enables us to fulfill that agenda. For instance, if मोक्ष moksa or freedom is the agenda or the desire, our lives should. be compatible with the fulfillment of that desire. When can we gain freedom? That will happen when we gain self- knowledge. When will we gain the knowledge? That will happen when we have अन्तःकर्णसुधि antahkarana-suddhi or purity of mind. Therefore, our lives should become a process of progressively purifying the mind.
What is meant by purification? It means becoming free from self-centeredness; in having a pure mind, we become other-centered. That is a role in itself; our role is to become contributors to the scheme of things. We are all recipients of the collective contributions of others and it is only right that we should also make our own contributions to this scheme of things called creation. The spirit of contribution is conducive to the growth that is required for achieving the ultimate goal of freedom. We can thus look upon this as being our role.