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Fly Me to the Moon

Urban Sadhu Exploration June 2024

śrī krishna sharanam mama 

Meaning: I take refuge in Lord Krishna. – Austin Sanderson 

No matter what culture you are from or who your ancestors were, they all have looked up at the night sky and wanted to explore the heavens. Well, welcome to the 21st-century race into space ... let the destruction of the universe begin!


This race is not a search for a deeper understanding of our universe but a race to turn space into the next frontier for the travel industry, with concepts such as “10-minute space vacations,” “orbiting space hotels,” “lunar vacation time shares,” and “human Mars colonization.” At the forefront of all is not NASA but three billionaire tycoons, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson, who have a combined net worth of $400 billion. (To put this in perspective, note that Norway in 2021 had a GDP of $482.4 billon.) All three men have decided to put vast sums of their money and time into chasing their space travel dreams and turning the heavens into a cosmic cash machine for corporate profit. The space companies founded by the three billionaires all have slightly different goals and varying visions of how to achieve continued capitalistic growth out of the untapped resources within the ever-expanding universe. As earth’s resources are depleted, Bezos, Musk, and Branson are leading the pack in the race to space.


NASA, on the other hand, may not have the loftier position it once held toward space exploration. In NASA’s own words, it hopes to facilitate “exploration, science, and commercial activities for all of humanity to enjoy.” In the name of science and knowledge NASA is looking to understand questions like: are we alone in the universe? how was the universe created? and where does humanity fit into that creation?  But from NASA’S statement, humanity fits into the universe as a capitalist, NASA is also looking to answer the question, “can we make a buck?”. The differences between the profiteers and scientists are slim to say the least, but how else is NASA going to compete with the three richest men in the world and their vast amounts of wealth? Their answer is to  embrace an attitude of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”


The question is, how do we mindfully and consciously increase our knowledge of space and the universe without exploiting it? Yogis have not only looked toward the external universe for wisdom but also looked turned inward for spiritual wisdom. One story from the Bhagavad Puranas (stories of Krishna as a child) expresses this concept of the universe and the vastness that is both within and without.


One day all the small toddlers of the cowherds were playing outside, when one mother screamed, “Krishna is eating dirt!” Yasoda, Krishna’s mother, picked Krishna up and scolded him, “Boy, why are you eating dirt? Open your mouth.” Yasoda had no idea that the toddler Krishna was an avatar of the Lord Vishnu, the God of preservation and sustainability, and to her shock and amazement, as the child opened his mouth she saw the whole eternal universe, heavens, and the regions of the beyond the beyond. She witnessed the orbit of planets, stars, the tracks of the cosmos, the moon and stars, and all the zodiac signs hanging in the heavens. She saw the vastness of space, with no beginning and no end and yet she understood the universe’s complex laws of time and space and the rise and fall of matter and consciousness. She understood the nature of the Divine itself.


Yasoda exclaimed, “All of the universe is inherent; I bow down to God that is Krishna, and I take refuge.” Yasoda understood that the universe was inside Krishna and that Krishna was the universe; the microcosm and the macrocosm are one and the same.


Other mystic traditions have also expressed that the universe can be understood by looking inward. In Luke 17:21 Jesus, when asked where heaven is, replied: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God [the universe] is within you.”


Yoga from its early beginnings has never been about denying science or demonizing the fact-based truth rooted in scientific study. Yoga has always treated science as confirming what ancient wisdom has always taught, that the universe is both within us and without. In the book Meine Weltansicht (translation: My World), Erwin Schroedinger (1887–1961), an Austrian theoretical physicist, wrote: “This life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of this entire existence, but in a certain sense the whole; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. This, as we know, is what the Brahmins (Hindu priests) express in that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear; tat tvam asi, this is you.” Or, again, in such words as “I am in the east and the west, I am above and below, I am this entire world.”


Schroedinger’s statement is reflected in the Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.11: “All this that is in front is but Brahman (eternal universal Divinity), the immortal. Brahman is at the back, and also on the right and the left. It is extended above and below, too. This world is nothing but Brahman, the highest.” 


Science and metaphysical studies can and should be seen as related methods of seeking higher wisdom. As we race into space, we have to acknowledge that it is in our human nature to seek and explore. However, throughout human history, far too often in the name of scientific advancements and profit, humans have sought, exploited and destroyed ecosystems and indigenous cultures and wiped out entire species of plants and animals in the process of exploration on earth. If we take the same approach to the space, we are bound to repeat the same mistakes. Only with a higher intention of Self-inquiry can we explore space in a conscious way so that history will not repeat itself. By removing capitalistic profit-making greed from space exploration we can begin to approach the stars with a reverence for the Divine, the same way we take refuge within for all eternity.

Austin Sanderson – Urban Sadhu


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