World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson


The Microcosm

These passages describe the human being as a microcosm of the universe, having the essences of all things in him- or herself. As the microcosm, human beings have the foundation to know, use, and enjoy all things. Of all creatures, humans have the widest scope of thought and action, encompassing all things, knowing and appreciating all things, guiding and prospering all things, and transcending all things.

All that the Holy One created in the world He created in man.

Judaism. Talmud, Abot de Rabbi Nathan 31

We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in themselves, till it is clear to them that it is the truth.

Islam. Qur'an 41.53

One who knows the inner self knows the external world as well. One who knows the external world knows the inner self as well.

Jainism. Acarangasutra 1.147

The whole of existence arises in me, In me arises the threefold world, By me pervaded is this all, Of naught else does this world consist.

Buddhism. Hevajra Tantra 8.41

The illimitable Void of the universe is capable of holding myriads of things of various shape and form, such as the sun, the moon, stars, mountains, rivers, worlds, springs, rivulets, bushes, woods, good men, bad men, dharmas pertaining to goodness or badness, deva planes, hells, great oceans, and all the mountains of the Mahameru. Space takes in all these, and so does the voidness of our nature. We say that the Essence of Mind is great because it embraces all things, since all things are within our nature.

Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 2

Abot de Rabbi Nathan 31: Cf. Berakot 10a, p. 211. Hevajra Tantra 8.41: Cf. Samyutta Nikaya i.62, p. 679.

Man is the product of the attributes of Heaven and Earth, by the interac- tion of the dual forces of nature, the union of the animal and intelligent souls, and the finest subtle matter of the five elements.

Heaven exercises the control of the strong and light force, and hangs out the sun and stars. Earth exercises the control of the dark and weaker force, and gives vent to it in the hills and streams. The five elements are distrib- uted through the four seasons, and it is by their harmonious action that the moon is produced, which therefore keeps waxing for fifteen days and waning for fifteen. The five elements in their movements alternately displace and exhaust one another. Each one of them, in the revolving course of the twelve months of the four seasons, comes to be in its turn the fundamental one for the time.

The five notes of harmony, with their six upper musical accords, and the twelve pitch-tubes, come each, in their revolutions among themselves, to be the first note of the scale.

The five flavors, with the six condiments, and the twelve articles of diet, come each one, in their revolutions in the course of the year, to give its character to the food.

The five colors, with the six elegant figures, which they form on the two robes, come each one, in their revolutions among themselves, to give the character of the dress that is worn.

Therefore Man is the heart and mind of Heaven and Earth, and the visible embodiment of the five elements. He lives in the enjoyment of all flavors, the discriminating of all notes of harmony, and the enrobing of all colors.

Confucianism. Book of Ritual 7.3.1-7

In the begining the Self alone was here--no other thing that blinks the eye at all. He thought, "What if I were to emanate worlds?"

He emanated these worlds, water, rays of light, death, the waters. Water is up there beyond the sky; the sky supports it. The rays of light are the atmosphere; death the earth; what is underneath, the waters.

He thought again, "Here now are these worlds. What if I were to emanate guardians?" He raised a Man (Purusha) up from the water and gave him a form.

He brooded over him; when he had finished brooding over him, a mouth broke open on him the likeness of an egg. From the mouth came speech and from speech Fire.

Nostrils broke open, from the nostrils came breath, from breath the Wind.

Eyes broke open, from the eyes came sight, from sight the Sun.

Ears broke open, from the ears came hearing, from hearing the Points of the Compass.

Skin broke out, from skin grew hairs, from the hairs plants and trees.

A heart broke out, from the heart came mind, from the mind the Moon.

A navel broke open, from the navel came the out-breath, from the out-breath Death.

A phallus broke forth, from the phallus came semen, from semen Water....

Those deities [the macrocosmic beings], Fire and the rest, after they had been sent forth, fell into the great ocean. Then he [the Self] besieged him [the Purusha] with hunger and thirst. The deities then spoke to him, "Allow us a place in which we may rest and take food."

Book of Ritual 7.3.1-7: Cf. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 27, p. 311.

He led a cow towards them. They said, "This is not enough." He led a horse towards them. They said, "This is not enough." He led man towards them. Then they said, "Well done, indeed." Therefore man is well done. He said to them, "Enter the man, each according to his place."

Then fire, having become speech, entered the mouth; the wind, having become breath, entered the nostrils; the sun, having become sight, entered the eyes; the regions, having become hearing, entered the ears; the plants and trees, having become hairs, entered the skin; the moon, having become mind, entered the heart; death, having become out-breathing, entered the navel; water, having become semen, entered the phallus....

The Self considered, "How could these guardians exist without me?"

Again he thought, "By what way shall I enter them?

"If, without me, speech is uttered, breath is drawn, eye sees, ear hears, skin feels, mind thinks, sex organs procreate, then what am I?"

He thought, "Let me enter the guardians." Whereupon, opening the center of their skulls, he entered. The door by which he entered is called the door of bliss.

Hinduism. Aitareya Upanishad 1.1-3.12

Each man is a microcosm of the universe. Your body is made of all the elements of the world. Nature supplied all the ingredients that make your body, which means that the universe made you by donating itself. If nature demanded that you refund everything that nature loaned you, would there be anything left of you? You can feel that the universe gave you birth and made you, so nature is your first parent. Do you feel good that you are a microcosm of the universe? All the universal formulas can be found in you. You could accurately say that you are a small walking universe that can move, whereas the cosmic universe is stationary. Because you can move and act, you can govern the universe. The universe would want you to exercise dominion over it, so your first duty would be to love nature. Then, wherever you are, you can love the creation and appreciate it.

Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 9-30-79

Aitareya Upanishad 1.1-3.12: Vv. 1.1-4, 2.1-4, 3.11-12. The Purusha formed at the beginning of creation is the macrocosmic Person; his parts are then invested in man, the microcosm. Likewise, Hindu temples are built on the pattern of the human body: see Vacana 820, p. 211. For other accounts of creation out of the macrocosmic Person, cf. Rig Veda 10.90.6-16, pp. 868f. Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.7-9, p. 132; Okanagan Creation, p. 298. Sun Myung Moon, 9-30-79: Cf. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 27, p. 311.


Download entire book in ZIP format
Table of Contents
Copyright Information