What is The Universe?

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The universe is a dream dreamed by a single dreamer where all the dream characters dream too.
Schopenhauer.

I want to know why the universe goes to all the bother of existing, why there is something greater than nothing.
Stephen Hawking

The universe is a living body, an organic unity.
Osho

The universe as a whole is controlled by an intelligent life-force that overcomes all other forces of nature.
Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, astronomers

The universe is a single unified field of intelligence that underlies and pervades us all, a unified fountainhead of all the diverse laws of nature. It is what I call Consciousness.
John Hagelin (Physicist)

Something unknown is doing we don’t know what.
Arthur Eddington (Physicist)

The Universe looks less and less like a great machine and more and more like a great thought.
Sir James Jeans

Intelligence permeates the whole universe.
Stanislav Grof M.D.

In the beginning, there is open space belonging to no one, and within that space is primeval intelligence, or vidya, so there is both intelligence and space. It is like a completely open and spacious room in which you can dance about and not be afraid of knocking anything over. You are this space; you are one with it.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

In the universe there is an immeasurable, indescribable force which the shamans call intent, and absolutely everything that exists in the entire cosmos is attached to intent by a connecting link.
Carlos Casteneda

We are all linked by a fabric of unseen connections. This fabric is constantly changing and evolving. This field is directly structured and influenced by our behaviour and our understanding.
David Bohm, Quantum Physicist

The Universe emerges out of an all-nourishing abyss not only 12 billion years ago but in every moment. The foundational reality of the universe is the unseen ocean of potentiality.
Brain Swimme, Cosmologist

The visible creation then, can not, must not … be anything but the exterior circumference of the invisible and metaphysical world.
Guillame Oegger

The entire universe is condensed in the body, and the entire body is in the Heart. Thus the Heart is the nucleus of the whole universe.
Ramana Maharshi

Science has explained nothing; the more we know the more fantastic the world becomes and the profounder the darkness.
Aldous Huxley

We are all both the centre of the Universe and its most insignificant part.
Riane Eisler

In the human face the anonymity of the universe becomes intimate.
John O’Donohue

The world you see is in truth a reality of convenience – in a sense the Universe will compassionately arrange itself into anything that you need it be to work out your preferences. You have an infinite choice of worlds to live in.
Thaddeus Golas

And it is here at the heart centre level…  [The seat of a vaster, deeper kind of compassion and love wisdom …. Where we can begin to glimpse the true nature of soul and where we can all feel our connection to everyone and everything] …that we can begin to grasp experientially the complex ideas from theoretical physics that describe how, when all is said and done, we are nothing but vibration in a sea of living, intelligent energy, – that though we are disguised as separate, solid matter, this appearance of solidity is only how we appear in the overt, concrete reality of manifest reality; at a deeper level we are nothing but interconnecting, interpenetrating energy fields, transcending time and space, each vibration containing everything in the universe, each subatomic piece of us a hologram of all that is. That is why we can experience direct knowing.
Belleruth Naparstek, Ph.D., Your Sixth sense, Activating Your Physic Potential.(Harper One, San Francisco, 2009)

And here is Hoyle again (The Intelligent Universe, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York, 1983)

The cosmic environment can be thought of at three distinct levels. The lowest …concerns planets and the general neighbourhood of stars. The middle level concerns galaxies, whereas the highest one is concerned with the laws that govern the nature of the universe itself. My view is that the struggle for survival has largely been won at the lowest level … the process of star formation has been established, with the microorganisms – the interstellar grains – actually setting the right physical conditions…. It is precisely because of this control by intelligence over the lowest level that life on this earth inherited such a comparatively placid and favourable home for its development…. A proper understanding of evolution requires … [therefore] … that the environment, or the variations on which it operates, or both, be intelligently controlled.
(My emphasis)

He concludes his book this way:

We are the intelligence that preceded us in its new material representation – or, rather, we are the reemergence of that intelligence, the latest embodiment of the struggle for survival.

So it is interesting, given today’s highly advanced scientific world, to be reminded that about twenty-seven hundred years ago a Geek neo-Platonist called Plotinus wrote:

The universe is a single living being embracing all living things within it, and possessing a single soul that permeates all its parts to the degree of their participation in it. Every part of this sensible universe is fully participant in its material aspect, and in respect to soul, in the degree to which it shares in the World Soul … [which] …encompasses heaven and guides it according to its will….

The One is in all things and yet not one of them. (Today, Ken Wilber says precisely the same thing!). It is the source of all things, not itself of all things but their transcendent Principle … the One is not Being, but the begetter of Being … [Consequently] … the source is not fragmented into the universe, for its fragmentation would destroy the whole, which would no longer come to be if there did not remain by itself, distinct from it, its source.

And that at that very same time, on the other side of the world, in China, Lao Tsu was writing:

There was something formless and perfect
Before the universe was born.
It is serene. Empty.
Solitary. Unchanging.
Infinite. Eternally present.
It is the mother of the universe.
For lack of a better name,
I call it the Tao.

It flows through all things,
Inside and outside. And returns
To the origin of all things.

Lao Tsu, The Tao Te Ching, translated by Stephen Mitchell, HarperCollins, New York, 1988

See also What are the Powers of the Universe