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Hi I do not understand why there is no religion stacks exchange but this question is more philosophy anyhow.

Nondualistic eastern religions (Traditionally tantra movement, some Hinduism strands, probably Kabbalah but I only know it superficially, and more recently Yogananda/Eckhart Tolle and others) all posit the view of the universe that there is one god, one consciousness, or light that is perfect and encompasses all.

Matter is consciousness (or god/light) creating itself within itself and enlightenment is when a sentient being remembers (in an experiential way) their artificial separateness and reunites with totality.

This is a very prominent view in Eastern religions and spiritual movements and yet I cannot find a reasoning why consciousness or god or whatever this totality is labeled would want/need/have to create itself within itself. Some authors label is as love or play which does not go into why. Others claim this is how consciousness grows and evolves by giving sentience free will. Osho probably has the most satisfactory answer I've encountered so far in that he is honest that there is no explanation available to us and one of the reasons many masters never talked about it even positing it as so.

Looking into biology, astronomy or psychology I cannot find reasoning why a system (sentient as in a human brain or non-sentient like an ecological system) would self-limit to grow, or any other reason. The human brain expands neural pathways and in general common sense intelligence is increased through unification of previously separate elements. If there were an all encompassing consciousness I would think it would resemble a sci-fi cloud with infinitely fast transmission of waves that would never need to create matter.

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    All these non dual philosophies have different theory of creation. In Kashmiri Shaivism (non dual school) creation is by product of consciousness. Like, heat or power to burn is imminent to exist in presence of fire, similarly creation is imminent in presence of consciousness. – Mr. Sigma. Apr 17 '18 at 4:47
  • If the Ultimate Reality did not manifest in infinite variety but remained confined within its singleness, then it would neither be the Highest Power nor Consciousness but something like a jar. --Tantrāloka, III.100 – Mr. Sigma. Apr 17 '18 at 4:48
  • Like if an enthusiastic painter, painting is in very nature of whom is provided with painting brush, sheet, colors etc will start painting so consciousness which is all encompassing starts creation because creativity is in very nature of consciousness. – Mr. Sigma. Apr 17 '18 at 4:52
  • Created things would be unreal or have no independent existence. As Nagarjuna puts it, nothing really exists or ever really happens. That it seems to do so, Lao Tsu tells us, is a consequence of 'Tao being what it is'. The idea that God (Reality, the Ultimate) 'does' something is rejected. There would be no time or place to do it and no reason for doing it. All would follow from the identity or nature of Reality. Usually the space-time universe is seen as a playground and/or as a means by which 'God' may mirror His being and know Himself. The word 'God' would be optional here. . . – PeterJ Apr 17 '18 at 11:17
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From a monistic viewpoint there is no creation. The Ultimate Reality, give it what name you want, is not aware of any creation. Is the desert aware of a mirage? The mirage is only observed by the observer of the mirage, the desert is not aware of any mirage. you can only ask why within the framework of time, space, and causation. The Ultimate Reality is beyond these so asking why cannot be asked there. To infer that the Ultimate Reality has some purpose or goal is to infer that It is not perfect. The nearest you can say in terms of language is that it is all done in sport - for fun. The Brahma Sutras say verses 2.1.32-33 (https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/brahma-sutras/d/doc62753.html):

Adhikarana XI - Brahman’s creation has no motive behind except a sportive impulse

Sutra 2,1.32

  1. (Brahman is) not (the creator of the world) on account of (every activity) having a motive.

Granting that Brahman possesses all powers for creation, a further objection is raised against Its being the cause. Nobody engages himself in anything without a motive or purpose. Everything is undertaken by people to satisfy .some desire. But Brahman is self-sufficient, therefore It has nothing to gain by the creation; hence we cannot expect It to engage Itself in such a useless creation. Therefore Brahman cannot be the cause of the world.

Sutra 2,1.33

  1. But (Brahman’s creative activity) is mere pastime, as is seen in the world.

Even as kings without any motive behind are seen to engage in acts for mere pastime, or even as men breathe without a purpose, for it is their very nature, or even as children play out of mere fun, so also Brahman without any purpose engages Itself in creating this world of diversity. This answers the objection raised in the previous Sutra against Brahman’s being the cause of the world.

  • But there is a well-understood reason for appearance of mirages regardless of whether desert is "aware" of it, and it has nothing to do with goals or purposes or motives. And how can something one is "unaware" of be done "for fun"? If maya is supposed to be analogous to mirage then what is it in the nature of Brahman/Atman that explains it? – Conifold Apr 17 '18 at 21:20
  • @Conifold First, metaphors work one way. To say it is for sport is to say that we cannot say 'why'. Brahman is described as Nirguna (without qualities) and Saguna (with qualities). The Nirguna Brahman is not aware of the existence of the universe. See the link I gave the Introduction pp xv - xxvii – Swami Vishwananda Apr 19 '18 at 12:41
  • @Conifold - You could check out Aurobindo's 'Divine Life and the chapter on 'Reality and the Cosmic Illusion' for a good disussion. – PeterJ Jun 4 '18 at 9:51
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Maybe it's inherently interesting and important to create universes, if you have the power to do it?

That it would be intellectually interesting is probably understating the case a bit; but having the power, would it not also come to seem important, to create regions where infinite power/transmissibility were to be held back, if only to understand this 'part' of your power too?

For an infinite power, creating universes is the same thing as what it is (and does.) My thinking on this would be influenced more by Spinoza, but my sense is that the logic of omnitude sort of inherently suggests that everything will be done, since it is capable of being done, and so this (world/universe) too "must" exist.

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According to Prtyabhijna philosophy of Kashmiri Shaivism, Consciousness manifests because

  • It has potency to create. Ecstasy in consciousness manifests into creation.
  • No one obstructs it to create.

For the time being, I will quote Virupakshapanchadashika verse along with the commentary(partially presenting here) by Vidyacakravartin on the verse where the reason of the creation can be found.

2.9. That consciousness has the nature of recognitive apprehension, flows from its own ecstasy, is Supreme Speech, and comprises the collection of phonemes as abbreviated into the first and the last. [That consciousness] is in reality I-hood.
Commentary- [The assertion that consciousness] “has the nature of recognitive apprehension” means that it has the nature of recognitive judgment. That [consciousness] is properly referred to with [the pronoun] “that,” in the sense of something observable, because it is proven to everybody through their own experience. Consciousness is the abiding of the sentient being in its essential nature when there is the dissolution of all colorations by objects of consciousness. [The assertion that that consciousness] “flows from its own ecstasy” means that it bursts into manifestation continuously because it has no obstructions.

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Nice question but very difficult. I'd agree that Osho is good but I find Sri Aurobindo more helpful on this question since he is more of a metaphysician. A quite comprehensive answer (right or wrong) is given in a chapter of his 'Divine Life' called 'Reality and the Cosmic Illusion'. He examines the various forms this relationship might take and surveys what is said by the various sages and masters and to a large extent reconciles them.

Not everyone is a fan of Aurobindo, who is often accused of being more of a academic metaphysician than a realised master, but at least the accusation is a compliment to him as a metaphysician. I'd recommend his chapter on the realtionship between Brahman and the world of multiplicity.

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