Number and Spirit

By: Dr. Ragina Clarke (U.S.A.)

 "An equation for me has no meaning, unless it expresses a thought of God." So said the great mathematician Ramanujan, whose genius continues to inspire scientific thought internationally. For him, the understanding of numbers was a process of spiritual revelation and connection. In his investigations into pure mathematics, he drew extraordinary conclusions that mystified his colleagues, but were usually proven, eventually, to be right. He opened a universe of theory that still today is reaping applications. The landscape of the infinite was to Ramanujan a reality of both mathematics and spirit.

He would talk for hours on the relationship he saw between God, zero and infinity. He spoke of the quantity "2n-1", explaining that it stood for "the primordial God and several divinities. When n is zero, the expression denotes zero, there is nothing; when n is "1", the expression denotes God; when n is "2", the expression denotes Trinity; when n is "3", the expression denotes "7", the Saptha Rishis" (a group of seven stars called the Great Bear). And he continued with the idea that "Zero represents Absolute Reality. Infinity, or ‘ ’, is the myriad manifestations of that Reality. Their mathematical product, ‘ xO’, is not one number, but all numbers, each of which corresponds to individual acts of creation." For Ramanujan, numbers and their mathematical relationship were the measure of how the universe fits together. Each new theorem he explored was one more piece of the Infinite to fathom.

It is the purity of numbers that holds the key here - number is a universal entity that crosses language and cultural barriers - available to all in its constancy, its predictability, its infallible certainty. It is a numerical message we sent with the Voyager, in the hope it might be found by another world some millennia hence, knowing that in the power of numbers lay a prime communicator. For Ramanujan, it seemed that the designer of the universe had presented us with a cosmos that ultimately existed in that same purity and communication, the same Absolute certainty. Numbers for him were a reflection - and the substance - of that Absolute.

In his philosophical outlook, Ramanujan concentrated on the area of infinite series, and it was in this realm that he made his most valuable conclusions. He explored that depth of the unknown, utterly at ease with penetrating the mathematical secrets of the universe. For him, he was not simply arriving at formulaic results, and proofs were almost irrelevant to him. Rather, he was writing down the patterns and forms that would lead him ever closer to the spiritual Infinite Oneness of that Absolute Reality. He was an artist, a creator. His medium was number. To it he brought a total faith that nothing existed without the influence of All That Is, and he brought a willingness to take his gifts to the limit, wherever that might lead him to.

Imagine what Ramanujan would have done with a Crayon? It is like asking what Mozart might have done with a synthesizer. A question comes to each of us in the continuing experience of life - what might we do with our gifts if we use them, really sought to use them, take them as for as we could - man and woman each - and in turn through this expression of our talents, God’s gifts, contribute to the spiritual manifestation of life, and thus to the Absolute Reality? What might our children do, if we raised them to express their true selves this way? And another question follows - what if we do not? For what, then, is this physical existence intended?

Ramanujan’s numbers are an analogy for all of us, for those elements of universal truth that are there for each of us to find and accept, and finally to take us further into unknown realms, yet always signaling the presence of spiritual growth and fulfillment. Let us become aware of the signposts that guide our lives, that enter our vision - anything that leads us into the unknown, but at the same time opens up to us the variety and wonder of our own creative power. Let us receive these gifts, and with them, whatever they may be-and there is always a gift we have been given - let us allow the possibility of discovering our own route towards O and .