Cause of Universe – How Did it All Begin? (98)


Lesson 98 shows the cause of universe is both efficient and material cause. It is called maya when unmanifest (before universe began), and ishvara when manifest. In both cases, the one cause is “all knowledge, all power”.


  • Arjuna’s question was how to gain final and permanent fulfillment:
    • Krishna answered, 4 areas need to be re-assessed:
      1. Psychological.
      2. Discovering nature of individual.
        • sat-cit.
        • cit: Consciousness, which is sat (real, unborn, eternal).
      3. Discovering Cause of Universe
      4. What is my role in this world?
  • Important clarification: Even if mind inside cup knows what illumines it is the reality of everything, it still experiences relative limitation (of the cup), as long as it’s alive.
    • Wise cup:
      • Experience of limited body-mind like anyone else.
      • From knowledge aspect, knows oneself as free of limitations/karma.
      • The limitation of body-mind only goes upon death.
    • Unwise cup:
      • Experiences oneself as limited body-mind.
      • Intellectually says “I’m free of body-mind”, but the ignorance (which will cause rebirth whether cup likes it or not), hasn’t been removed.
  • If we stop at Category #2 (Nature of individual), doubts will persist, because we’re still facing a vast universe. Thus we need to address Category #3.



How to demonstrate cause of universe?

  • Open possibility with a dispassionate inquiry:
  • Human body:
    • EG 1:
      • Human Body is made of billions of cells working together right now to perceive this moment and interpret it into a meaningful event.
      • Neurons in brain coordinate every fraction of sec to keep us informed and respond accordingly.
        • We don’t participate in moving neurons in brain.
      • Clever placement of organs in body to accomplish functions. EG: 5 fingers/toes.
      • Even more advanced capacity is for brain to use inference.
        • Inference: Deduce improbable causes. EG: Smoke = fire.
    • EG 2:
      • Biologists view: life emerged 3.5 billion years with single cell > multi-cellular organism > gradually able to see, digest, emote, desire > endowed self-reflective capacity, meaning can (a) think and (b) self-conscious of thinking process belonging to “I”.
  • Laws and Orders Governing The Universe:
    • Physical orders:
      • They govern position of stars, galaxies and planets. Meaning celestial bodies are meaningfully arranged to make life possible.
        • Sun EG:
          • Helps sustain living bodies:
            • Position of sun in relation to earth, just right to make life possible. Neither far/close.
            • Sun provides light + helps vegetable kingdom to create energy in food through photosynthesis.
            • Living bodies/organs on earth designed, so can absorb this energy by consuming plants.
              • Meaning there are also laws which CONNECTS things together. EG: Human is dependent on air/food.
          • Helps evaporate ocean water and form clouds, which bring rain.
            • Rain water essential to sustain human body and plant kingdom.
      • Apparent paradoxes and chaos: dual-nature of electron.
        • Can’t categorically state whether electron is particle or wave. Because depends on intention of observer.
          • Behaves as:
            • Particle when ascertaining it’s position.
            • Wave when ascertaining it’s speed.
          • Therefore non-definitiveness of any object at quantum level, also part of ORDER.
    • Biological Orders:
      • Biological determines nature of living organisms, including: structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution (EG: African elephants migrate June-Nov for hospitable loc), taxonomy (classification).
      • Sub-orders:
        • Biochemical Order: Establishes chemistry of life.
        • Molecular Order: Coordinates interactions between biological molecules.
        • Cellular Order: Enables building block of life, the cell.
    • Physiological Orders: Arranges organs like kidney, liver, respiratory/circulatory systems.
    • Ecological Orders: Overseas how various organisms interact and associate with environment.
    • Genetic Order: Connects bodies with past generations.
    • Psychological Order: Determines emotions.
    • Epistemological Order: Makes it possible to know or not-know. Makes information meaningful, like philosophy.
    • Exclusively Covered in Upanishads/Bhagavad Gita:
      • Order of Dharma (Order of Ethics):
        • It’s what makes me understand what is right and wrong. Can’t physically observe, but senses by all as:
          • I and others don’t want to be hurt.
          • I want others to speak truth to me. They expect the same from me.
        • PURPOSE: Provides basis how human is to transact with all other Orders.
        • Because humans are given freedom to choose what action to put out, must also come with:
      • Law of Karma (Consequence):
        • Gives feedback whether my action was in harmony/discord with dharma.
      • Law of Karma/Dharma more difficult to appreciate then Physical Orders.
        • To understand them in context of your life, just extend how Physical Orders operate, onto them.
          • EG: Biological order connects all variables taken place since 14 billion years ago, to produce species of today.
          • In same way, person today is a consequence of connection of countless actions of past (this and past life).
    • OBJECTION: Common misconception is: Universe is Chaotic.
      • Reason for misconception is not knowing about Law of Dharma/Karma (cause-effect).
        • EG: Cyclone is not a “calamity”.
          • It too has order, since it’s caused by past events identified by meteorologists.
            • They can predict when cyclone occurs, direction it’ll take, speed it’ll travel, duration it’ll last.
            • Thus predictability implies presence of order.
    • Conclusion:
      • Extraordinary ingenuity of intelligence needed to coordinate all these Orders simultaneously for every object.
      • This isn’t matter of believing in an INTELLIGENT CAUSE of the universe, but understanding it’s right here, right now.
    • Dilemma with SCIENCE to answer cause of universe:
      • Science says, key to understanding universe is in knowing about physical, chemical, biological laws.
      • But where laws came from, science hasn’t answered. However Upanishads/Gita answers:
        • Cause of the universe is in form of all-knowledge, all-power. Let’s see how this is so…

WHERE is the cause of universe?:

  • Easiest way is to postulate the CAUSE (God) elsewhere, in another location.
    • EG: General understanding is:
      • Creator (pot-maker) is away from the created object (pot).
        • Similarly, when humans can’t directly perceive creator of universe, assumption is He is away, like the pot-maker.
  • 4 logical problem saying God (or Creator) is away/heaven:
    • If heaven is INSIDE the universe, then it is within time/space. Then who created time/space for God to be seated in?
    • If heaven is OUTSIDE the time/space universe, then can’t call it a place with a location, nor can I ever get there in future, since future is within time.
    • If God in physical place, implies God is entity with form. Then what form should be give him? M/F?
    • If God within time/space with form, then can’t be omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipotent.
      • Because to be all-knowing, you must be everywhere.
  • Proper understanding of Cause of universe:
    • From which time/space/objects come.
      • Meaning, cause has to exist before time/space/objects.
        • It’s illogical to say: God (Creator of everything) is sitting in time/space. Yet time/space is yet to come. Then where was He before time/space came?

WHAT exactly is the Cause of universe? It is both efficient and material cause:

  • Anything put together has 2 causes:
    • (a) Efficient/Intelligent cause (nimitta kāraṇa): Maker with knowledge/skills of everything.
    • (b) Material cause (upādāna kāraṇa): Material from which object is made.
  • Let's apply to pot-object, for context:

    • Efficient cause: Pot-maker, has limited knowledge.
    • Material cause: Clay.
  • What about entire universe?
    • Efficient cause: all-knowledge-power because universe excludes no material & no talent.
    • Material cause: But where did all-knowledge find the material for universe?
      • Ruling out impossible options:
        • Can’t say material is gotten from elsewhere because everything yet to be created.
        • If material already exists, then two problems:
          • (a) creation is already there, which contradicts scientific fact there was no creation at one point.
          • (b) somebody already created the material.
            • Meaning there is another God, who created material for “this” God to use. Then which God is true?
            • If there are two God’s, immediately puts both in time/space.
            • Then who created the time/space to accommodate both Gods?
              • Meaning there is a third God.
              • Creates ad infinitum.
      • Therefore the only logical possibility:
        • Material cause is not distinct from efficient cause. Both causes are one.
          • They’re inseparable because it’s impossible to think of material without presence of an intelligence which put the material together.
  • This One Cause (which is both efficient and material cause) is called, Īśvara. (Referred to “God” in English)

WHERE is Ishvara?

  • While pot-maker CAN be away from pot… in Ishvara case… both material/efficient causes are inseparable.
    • Meaning we can’t have the material universe without Ishvara being there also.
    • Thus Ishvara is everywhere. Everything is pervaded by the One cause.
      • Just as clay (cause of various pots) – pervades entire pot-form.

What makes us miss Ishvara?

  • Because all attention goes on material-objects and Physical Orders, we miss out on the intelligence which puts them together.
    • EG: Sun evaporates water > clouds > rain > falls on mountain > creates river > provides drinking water for animals/humans > able to think about the cause of universe.
      • This perfect relationship between each, implies intelligence.
  • Meaning, Ishvara is “seen” by recognizing the obvious intelligence present everywhere, at every level. EG:
    • Why do we put thread around tree?
      • Acknowledging the intelligence which makes the form what it is. And to that intelligence, I do namaskara.
    • Why put tilaka/tika on forehead?
      • Don't forget to recognize presence of Ishvara in THIS form.
        • Where there is body, that's exactly where intelligence of Isvara abides.
          • Thus have to be respectful of body, look after it.
  • If you don't know Ishvara, then becomes me VS them. Have to change world to suit me. In constant battle.

If Ishvara pervades everything, I should be able to see Ishvara?

  • Problem: I only see mountains, trees, beings.
  • Analysis into mountain:
    • It’s not really a mountain. Only a name given to something which is stony and large.
    • Mountain nothing but rocks, earth, trees – put together in form of a “mountain”.
      • Thus “mountain” is just word + more words.
        • EG: Word “rock” is actually: minerals > atoms > particles > quarks > space.
    • Thus “mountain” is not as real as we think. It’s just names within names, forms within forms.
    • Same applies to human body.
      • Body = muscles, blood, nerves > cells > molecules > atoms > particles > quarks > space.

What enables successive assemblies of each name-form?

  • Bhagavad Gita says the “putting-together” principle is not an object, but all-intelligence.
    • Meaning the one all-intelligence pervades each successive assembly of sub-atomic particle, atom, molecules, cells, liver, human body.
      • Applies to sentient & insentient: mineral, rock, plant, animal, star, planet, galaxy.
        • Meaning the intelligence is also in the insentient. So there’s no such thing as insentient when seen through eyes of wisdom.

Eyes of wisdom have 3 levels of depth:

  • Common man:
    • Subjective:
      • We superimpose our opinions onto world.
        • EG: What's out there is rope, but what you think is a snake.
          • Thus all decisions are made according to snake, and not rope.
        • Makes everyone have different opinion about ____.
        • Can’t be totally free from this. But can habituate to hold back from reacting.
          • EG: Rope is “Covid”. But the Snake is “It’s a lie, It’s the best thing ever, It’s made in lab, hundreds of other opinions”.
    • Objective:
      • When I discover it’s actually a rope, that’s objectivity. Bit I doesn’t question the rope further.
  • Scientific:
    • Rope is empirically true, but it’s further categorized into yarn > fibers > protons-neutrons.
    • Level of quantum physics.
      • Requires thinking/logic. Being more alert to reality.
  • Upanishads:
    • Look into ANY object (including particles), and ask:
      • Where did they all come from before Universe began?
      • How did they ORGANIZE themselves so that atoms become cells, cells becomes human/fish body?
    • Hence, these eyes recognize only Isvhara’s all-knowledge, in-and-through all manifestations, including the observer.
    • How to understand Ishvara in all manifestations? Discussed next…

Upanishads Example How One Entity is Efficient & Material Cause:

  • Spider: intelligent designer of web, and material cause of it’s intelligently made web.
  • Dream: Person has both intelligence & power to project a dream world. (Efficient cause).
    • What about material from which dream objects are made, like: space-time, events, people, mountains, rivers? Also comes from self.
    • Conclusion:
      • Person becomes Ishvara of the dream world. Becomes both, efficient & material cause.
      • Similarly, Ishvara is both the efficient & material cause of entire universe consisting of infinite names-forms.


What about efficient & material cause before the manifest universe?

  • What caused the Big Bang? No answers.
    • Hence there must be a cause.
  • Upanishads/B.Gita reveal the same all-knowledge-power was present even before the manifest universe.
    • It remained in un-manifest, undifferentiated potential called māyā.
    • Means all-knowledge-power manifests itself as names-forms during Creation. And remains present even in
  • Example to maya / Ishvara name relationship:
    • Woman has potential to manifest a child. She is called māyā. When woman manifests child, she is called ishvara. But is actually the same woman.
    • In same way, all-knowledge-power in potential = māyā. In manifest = ishvara.

How to show all-knowledge-power was TRUE even BEFORE universe?

  • Something cannot come from nothing.
  • Look at reality now. Everything is constantly shifting from unmanifest to manifest condition. Nothing is static. EG:
    • Yesterday's dream was manifest. It's no longer present.
      • While you (Ishvara of the dream) are still present. And you are still here, while the dream tonight is yet to occur.
    • Tomorrow is yet to come (unmanifest). When tomorrow comes, it’s manifest and today will be unmanifest.
      • Intelligence governs how the objects will manifest tomorrow, according to Law of Dharma/Karma.
    • Therefore, What keeps track of karma for every species, bird, fish, bacteria, season, etc? What connects the manifest names-forms to unmanifest potential?
      • Answer is: All-knowledge-power.
  • We can apply above logic to beginning of universe when time began…
    • There must’ve been all-knowledge-power, even before Big Bang, to form a material universe governed by intelligent orders.
    • It’s because of these orders that physicists/cosmologists can only describe what happened 10-43 seconds “after” Big Bang.
      • Called “Planck time” when diameter of universe was 10-33 m (Planck length).
  • Summary:
    • There have been infinite cycles of creation and dissolution of universe.
    • Meaning the current 13.7 billion universe is only story of present cycle of creation.
    • Therefore Creation is cyclical:
      • What came first is linear thinking. EG: What came first, tree or seed?
        • In reality, there was an intelligence in potential, from which seed/tree came.
  • Quiz:
    • What connects unmanifest yesterday to manifest today? All Knowledge, All Power.
    • What connects unmanifest tomorrow to manifest today? All Knowledge, All Power.
    • What connects unmanifest creation to manifest universe? All Knowledge, All Power.


  • In this session we shown presence of all-intelligence manifesting as Laws and Orders in the universe.
  • But this doesn’t make universe absolutely real. We will explain relationship between world and Ishvara in next session.

Source: Living the Vision of Oneness (CH1/2), by Neema M.

Recorded 20 Oct, 2020



  1. Phew, that was a heavy session. to paraphrase, this jagat comes from Ishwara who is the efficient and material cause. when unmanifest, ie a woman, its Maya. when manifest The woman is Ishwara and the baby Jagat. This jagat exist and does not exist. Like a dream, the conscious experience we have through the 5 senses gives the impression that the world is real, This reality is REAL only because we can see, touch, taste it when the senses are interacting with jagat. But when we go to sleep, the conscious experience (consciousness) is withdrawn into the dreamworld. so in the dream another reality comes to play. The dreamer does not know (is not aware or is conscious) of another world, ie waking world exist until he wakes up. (part 1 of 2 )

  2. Part 2
    in deep sleep, both dream and waking realities do not exist. the one common factor in all 3 realities is awareness. This awareness is only “conceived” by the mind which is experienced by the “waker”, in the waking state. Without the mind, all REALITIES vanish. I make a distinction between awareness and consciousness just to clarify. There is no seperate word for each in vedanta. The mind can be negated, so from the perspective of awareness, all knowledge and all power, the mind is not real. In vedanta we are using what is not real to find out what is real. This leads me to ask why ? Why go round in a circle. My limitedness could be the cause of my question, and i know that I do not understand the magnificence of all this. the one that created this vast universe and all the laws that function is far superior than my small mind.

  3. I have been plagued by the same question as Sukhthave.
    It keeps recurring.
    If the creation is cyclical and infinite, why keep taking a journey who’s end goal is only to lead us back to where we already are?
    I also know that this question only occurs because of my lack of assimilated knowledge.
    Could you be patient enough to explain it to me again please Andre??

    1. There’s two paths for jiva to pursue (in any creation cycle, in any world):

      1) Path of dharma:

      Living in harmony with laws/orders of the universe (as we explained at start of lesson). Especially in harmony with dharma/karma.

      Being good, doing good.

      But eventually, the person’s mind is refined just enough to ask: So what. I’ll die and be reborn again, only to do the same thing over and over again.

      This is Arjuna’s question to Krishna at Kurukshetra. Arjuna said, I will not be fulfilled whether I win or lose this war.

      Thus Krishna expounded….

      2) Path of moksha:

      Even though a person can actually live a wonderful life on earth or even higher worlds, it is still subject to limitation.

      Hence this path puts an end to limitation altogether. Even heaven (where joys are much subtler and there’s no death), is a limitation as it’s still limited by time and form, and eventually person returns to Earth when punya-karma is exhausted.

      Moksha puts end to being reborn as a limited entity.

      Then what remains after death? The same self that you are now, except without the superimposition of the limited body-mind. Self doesn’t incarnate into a thought of itself as a body-mind with a story.

      What remains? Self whose nature is consciousness (cit), which is eternal (sat) and is limitless, whole and complete (ananda).

      This means, everyone who is alive TODAY has not attained moksha in previous life. That’s why scriptures stress, the highest purpose in life is to pursue liberation. All else is incidental.

      Just like going from place A to B is the goal. But all the stops in between like filling the petrol, starting a relationship, repairing the car… is all incidental. The driver never loses sight of B.

      However life is lot more complex, that’s why we derail ourselves into sense-objects… life after life after life…. cycle after cycle.

      Krishna in BGita says: It’s better to be dead, then to be alive and NOT know your truth. Because once ignorant jiva dies, one is born into a new body, and process of limitation begins yet again!

  4. Than you Andre.
    Wonderful explanation.
    It is so clear when I read your words.
    Now I have to absorb it so they become my words.
    I will read many times.

  5. Andre.
    Re listening to your talk, I asked whether Maya was an attribute of Brahman.
    You said she was not an attribute because the nature of Brahman is limitless, so Maya is not apart from Brahman.
    I understand it like this:
    Infinities can be contained within infinities.
    The set of whole numbers contains the set of odd numbers and the set of even numbers, but all are infinite and not separate.
    There is no greater than and less than.
    Q. Is this a valid way of understanding, or have I misunderstood something.
    It seems clear to me, so I have to check if my thinking is right or wrong before I continue enquire.

    1. It’s the same question as asked by M in class, “Where does all-knowledge, all-power comes from?”. I’m yet to come to that section.

      Consciousness & limitless intelligence is One reality.

      Suppose you go outside and something blows on your cheeks. To explain it, we invent the word “wind”.

      To explain “wind”, we invent another word “weather”.

      Is “wind” and “weather” two different things, or they comprise the one total reality?

      In same way, the scriptures invent two words “maya” and “brahman” so that student doesn’t reject either, but understands they both comprise of One reality.

      If think about it, the “wind” ultimately resolves into “weather”. The weather can be without wind, but wind can’t be without weather. Yet, they are inseparable.

      Cause is the weather, effect is the wind. They are both needed for enjoyment of a lovely bright, sunny day.

  6. Thank you Andre, I get it sometimes and at times I fall onto doubts. Its all simple and very complex at the same times. somebody asked Sadguru the purpose of life and there is a short video on his reply. I agree with you that we are or are coming into existence in this life after countless past lives of which we have no memory of, I read a lot and also watch historical documentaries, I always wonder if I as one of the characters in history. Born, live and died in that period in history. What meaning would I make of that life. We need to be alive and fully be in the present and live a dharmic life and whatever comes,( trials and tribulations,) face it with courage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *