Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Egg

As it is Easter I have been reflecting on all things Easter. Naturally eggs came up. I have always wondered about the place of eggs in the Easter story. A Sunday School teacher once told me it is to represent the stone that was rolled away from the tomb. Others naturally point to its new life symbolism, and that Christ's resurrection is a new life and it offers us a new life too.

The egg is a symbol that occurs across many faiths and traditions, often featuring in cosmology or stories of creation as well. It seems to come into the Christian tradition from earlier practices, reinterpreted. Red stained eggs, to symbolise the blood of Christ, were used in the early Eastern church, and there are stories that accompany this. But we know that coloured and decorated eggs were also features of other and earlier societies as well, including in the ancient Indian Vedas, the source of yoga itself.

The Brahmanda is the "cosmic egg", the totality of the universe. "Brahm" means "cosmos", "expanding", "biggest" and "creator". "Anda" means "egg" (pronounced with a long first a - aanda). The cosmos is conceived of as a giant egg, a giant, expanding egg.

This has a rather lovely resonance with modern scientific cosmology.We now know that the universe is indeed expanding, knowledge which came out of Einstein's theory of general relativity, predicted by Alexander Friedmann and observed by Edwin Hubble, There is also the notion that there was at some time a point of singularity, a minuscule gravitational dot out which the expanding universe arose, expanding in all directions, and continuing to do so. In the Vedas that would be called the "bindu", or it might be the "anda" at its smallest.

Science has yet to offer an explanation for the big bang that set all this expanding off.

Brahmanda is seen as simultaneously the bindu, source of all, and the macrocosm, all that is manifest. The manifest arises out of and within the whole, which is Universal Consciousness, Awareness. Yoga's goal, the union that is right there in the name "yoga", is our ultimate recognition of our being one with that Universal Consciousness.

So the egg in yoga can also symbolise a new life, awake to the full grace of Awareness.

Hari Om Tat Sat.