A former student contacted me recently. He has a fascinating interest that he's pursued for many years: Attempting to reconcile ancient religions with modern physics. (+Stein Lightman
, I must remember to connect you two at some point). It would sound silly if it weren't for the many, often uncanny, connections. To think that an idea as 'new' as Multiverses has existed from a time when we were scarcely entering the Iron Age is remarkable.
Truth be told, a well constructed metaphor is a better 'fact' than anything science can construct. As a skeptic, this is a weapon I use often. The scientific theory is like a blind man poking at the elephant. It can prove that something exists, but it cannot prove the whole, only one more piece of it. The metaphor, on the other hand, is an infinite source of ideas. Perhaps, within that well of the ideas is the elephant, perfectly constructed. Even the blind man would be able to find it in his imagination, and it would be complete in a higher resolution than ten thousand years of scientific testing
It brings me to Sumeru, or Meru, which has been a topic of much thought recently. It is an ancient attempt to map the world fully, but what's most remarkable, is that in doing so it maps not only space, but time, dimension and spirit.
My student told me a children's song, it doesn't translate well (he said), but it roughly reads as:Meru rose into the sky.It pieced through every place and time.The rocks that fell from Meru's side.Are sharp and cut through everything.
He said this is the source of the belief that the Shōnin stone, or stones, are carved from the rocks of this mythic mountain. I do not know whether I should interpret that as a metaphor.