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Mathematics and Mysticism


In his video Dr. Neiman explains how the Babylonian calendar influenced the Jewish lunar calendar. Because Islam is an Abrahamic religion, it’s safe to assume that their lunar calendar was also influenced by the same source. The same could be said for the early Christians who observed a lunar calendar before following the Julian solar calendar, adopted from the Egyptians and mandated by Julius Caesar in 46–45 BCE. However, this calendar drifted out of sync with the vernal equinox observed on the day of Christ’s resurrection. This was fixed in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, who established the lunar-solar Gregorian calendar that we observe globally today.

The Jewish Tora and Star of David.

Image of Christ on a stained glass window,

Photograph of the Islamic shrine, the Dome of the Rock, in Jerusalem.

Like the Jewish calendar, Buddhist traditions follow one as well. They also share an intercalary 13th month that they must add to align with the seasons. Just last Wednesday was Vesak or Buddha Day observed on a full moon, which celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha. It is interesting that the Islamic calendar does not observe seasons, enabling it to keep 12 months in a year with 29.53 days of a lunar cycle enjoying the seasons to drift back into what they were before every 30 years.

Painting of the birth of Gautama Buddha.

The Hindu calendar, like the Gregorian calendar is lunisolar, observing important holidays on the cycles of both the moon and the sun. The famous Festival or Color or Holi is celebrated on the full moon of the 11th month of the year while other holidays are observed on the winter and summer solstices.

Holi is a spring festival of colors. Ramnath Bhat.

Cambodia is over 3,000 miles from the heart of India, yet Hinduism spread into the lost city of Ankor Wat. A stone relief of the Hindu creation story, known as the Churning of the Ocean Milk, can be found there.

Holi is a spring festival of colors. Ramnath Bhat.

Churning of the Ocean of Milk (detail), Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia, 1116-1150 (photo: John Brennan, CC BY-ND 2.0)

The tortoise (Kurma) incarnation of Vishnu. Illustration to a 'Vishnu Avatara' series between circa 1860 and circa 1870.

Even though ancient astronomers did not have today’s sophisticated tools that enable us to peer into the depths of the universe, many cultures understood that this planet was just a tiny part of all creation. In fact, the Hindu and Buddhist belief that the universe is billions of year old and that there are different realms of existence seems to correspond with modern scientific theories of the Big Bang and, based on certain interpretations of quantum mechanics, the possibility of parallel or alternate universes.

Schrödinger's Cat, many worlds interpretation, with universe branching. Visualization of the separation of the universe due to two superposed and entangled quantum mechanical states. Christian Schirm

Important events of the Hindu and Buddhist cosmic calendar have many similarities to our earthy ones. The Kalachakra or Wheel of Time surround churning elements of water, fire, earth, and wind spins in an endless cycle of creation and destruction, observing 12 months, four seasons, and moon cycles that last for millions of years to the ratio of 4:3:2:1.

Print of the Kalachakra or Wheel of Time. Keith Lehman.

Time lapse of Tibetan sand mandala in Asheville, NC. Photographer and filmmaker Taylor Clark Johnson.

Chinese cosmological calendar at the National Watch & Clock Museum. Keith Lehman.

Japanese yagura-dokei clock at the National Watch & Clock Museum that calculates for a base 60-year cycle. Keith Lehman.

The base 60 counting system is evident in the Bhavachakra or the Wheel of Life found in many Buddhist temples throughout the world. Mara, the Great Illusionist, holds the Wheel of Impermanence that contains 6 realms in which all unenlightened beings dwell. The outer part of the wheel is surrounded by 12 Nidanas or life cycles that represent the stages of birth and death. Next are the 6 realms of the angry and peaceful gods, hungry ghosts, animals, devils, and humans. A Buddha stands in each realm as a guide to help the beings in each realm escape their sufferings. The next circle represents karma or the law of cause and effect that ceaselessly buffets us from one realm to the next. The hub and power source of the spinning of the entire wheel are the Three Poisons, ignorance, anger, and greed, represented as a pig, a snake, and a rooster.

Bhavacakra (Wheel of Becoming) - a complex symbolic representation of saṃsāra used in Tibetan Buddhism.

The Bhavacakra or Wheel of Becoming is a symbolic representation of the continuous existence process in the form of a circle, used primarily in Tibetan Buddhism.

The concept of life and rebirth is not exclusive to Asian religions as demonstrated in this French print and the image of Baby New Year and Father Time.

"Degrés des âges", bois gravé de François Georgin, imagerie d'Epinal, 1826. L'Atelier des icônes.

The American Legion Weekly‘s last issue for 1922 shows Baby New Year on the mark as Father Time closely waits for the last grain of sand to fall in the lower chamber of the sandglass before he fires the starter pistol. Artwork by Emmett Watson.


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