Notes to Poem—
Cavern Garden: NGC 6357 Nebula

Peter Y. Chou

Preface: On August 22, 2011, a long-time friend sent me her poem "Bright Star" inspired by A Massive Star in NGC 6357— "Brilliant Blue-White Star / cocooned / in a translucent cavern / where fanciful cave animals cavort—" On seeing this image, it filled me with awe and wonder that it is now one of my favorite galactical images along with Horsehead Nebula (Composite Image) and the Ouroborus Nebula. On August 23 (1:30 am-5:30 am), with the aid of Penguin's Rhyming Dictionary, I grouped 25 sets of rhyming words. Then I wrote a 28-lines poem "Cavern Garden" on this "War and Peace Nebula" with a second stanza added the next day to 32 lines. Some of the animal images in this Nebula reminded me of a hawk and hare encountered on hikes and the dove symbolism and poem written earlier. Two of my favorite books are hinted in this "Cavern Garden" poem— "beautiful bell sings all is well" refers to Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince. "This universe is inside of Zeus" refers to Jean Renoir's Renoir, My Father where the famed film director tells about his artist father's belief that we may be inside some immense cosmic body. However I was not aware of links in this poem to Christ symbolism, Buddhist philosophy, and Hindu cosmology, until completing these Notes on December 12, 2011.

Commentary on Poem "Cavern Garden: NGC 6357 Nebula":

Massive star in "space cavern"
in NGC 6357 Nebula
Twinkle, twinkle, sparkling star
inside a cave you dwell so far
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star is a children's book (1994) by Iza Trapani. A little girl sings the traditional rhyme to the stars to grant her wish, and a star comes to her window to take her on a magical ride through the sky. The lyrics to the popular English nursery rhyme is from "The Star" by 23-year old British poet Jane Taylor first published in 1806. It is sung to the tune of the French melody Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman (oldest known publication 1761). Mozart uses this tune in Variations on "Ah vous dirai-je, Maman" (K. 265/300e, 1782). The central part of Nebula NGC 6357 shown at left, spans about 10 light years. It is about 8,000 light years from Earth toward the constellation of Scorpius. [Images: Star inside Cave,; Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star book,]

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
by Iza Trapani

Image of hawk sitting
on a colossal hare
A hawk sits on a colossal hare
whose ear glows with nearby flares
The Hare in the Moon or Moon Rabbit is legendary in Chinese folklore (poem). But here in NGC 6357 Nebula, 8000 light-years from Earth, there is a distinct image of a "Colossal Hare". On its back sits a dark bird that looks like a hawk. Since I've encountered a jack rabbit walking around Stanford's Lake Laguinta (8-20-2010) and a hawk that flew overhead hiking at Almaden Quicksilver County Park (8-29-2010) and (9-12-2010), these images seemed especially meaningful. The three flares of bright stars by the Hare's Ear may symbolize the Three Magi who journeyed to Bethlehem bringing gifts to the Christ Child. Since the Easter Bunny is linked to Christ's resurrection after three days in the cavern tomb, it may also represent the three days of the Dark Moon before its appearance in the night sky, a symbol of rebirth. [Images: Hawk on Colossal Hare,; Three Star Flares by Hare's Ear,]

Flares of Three Stars
by the Hare's Ear

Cat's Paw, Bear Claw surround your lair
with a white dove above in prayer

Image of Bear atop Cavern
in NGC 6357 Nebula
Cat's Paw or Bear Claw Nebula in NGC 6334 is a cloud of gas and dust that appears to be forming massive stars ten times the mass of our Sun. It is in the constellation Scorpius, 5500 light-years away. While I can't find images of cat's paw in NGC 6357, there is a bear image with a bright star as his eye. The "Bear" is below "Colossal Hare" and atop the "Starry Cavern". The "White Dove" image is above the Colossal Hare's ear to the left. There's a bright star near its beak and three flare stars by its tail. Is the Dove guiding the Three Magi to the Bethlehem Star and the Christ Child? [Images: Bear Atop Cave & Dove,]
Image of White Dove
in NGC 6357 Nebula

Within your mind reign peace & war
but in your heart so much much more

NGC 6357 Nebula
NGC 6357 is a diffuse nebula near NGC 6334 in the constellation Scorpius. This nebula was given the name War and Peace Nebula by the Midcourse Space Experiment scientists because of its appearance. They said that in infrared images the bright, western part resembles a dove, while the eastern part looks like a human skull. The nebula contains many proto-stars shielded by dark disks of gas, and young stars wrapped in expanding "cocoons". Covering a 400 light-year-wide area of the sky, this large, diffuse nebula accommodates an open cluster of stars called Pismis 24, home to some of the most massive stars ever discovered, with some exceeding 100 solar masses. Since we have associated the images of "Hare" and "Three Magi" with Christ, this "War and Peace" Nebula may be linked to Matthew 10.34: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." Our mind need to be peaceful in meditation (Psalm 46.10), then with the sword of discernment, realize the truth that will make us free (John 8.32). Christ, Buddha, and Shankara had compassion, but they also wish to wake us up to spiritual enlightenment. There is "so much much more" in our heart because sages discerned the soul inside the heart— "The soul, smaller than a barley grain and greater than the wide universe, is hidden in the human heart." (Katha Upanishad, I.2.20). (Image: NGC 6357 Nebula,

Tinkle, tinkle, beautiful bell—
cosmic music sings all is well

Silver Bells
Music & Lyrics
Silver Bells is a classic 1951 Christmas song, composed by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans— "Silver bells, silver bells, It's Christmas time in the city." Cosmic music refers to the passage in Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince: "You know, it will be very nice. I, too, shall look at the stars. All the stars will be wells with a rusty pulley. All the stars will pour out fresh water for me to drink... That will be so amusing! You will have five hundred million little bells, and I shall have five hundred million springs of fresh water..." (Ch. 26) "But I know that he did go back to his planet, because I did not find his body at daybreak. It was not such a heavy body... and at night I love to listen to the stars. It is like five hundred million little bells..." (Ch. 27) (Images: Silver Bells,; The Little Prince,
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Little Prince (1943)

This universe is inside of Zeus— the Milky Way his neuronic juice

Zeus, King of the Gods
Greek God on Mount Olympus
Professor John M. Cooper (Princeton) in a Stanford Discussion "Plato, Aristotle, & the Stoics" on "Mind of Zeus" (4-18-2003) said "Even the wisest of us cannot approach the cosmic mind of Zeus." After several Stanford professors asked him what the Mind of Zeus is like, Cooper got tired, "Let's get back to Aristotle, my mind can't function at the level of Zeus!" (PDF: Emotional Life of Stoics). Jean Renoir writes about his father: “Renoir imagined that the microbes of a bad cold, regarded their own solar system, the inside of his nose, as the center of the world. He suggested that we humans might be the microbes of some immense body, the substance and character of which are beyond our ken.” (Renoir, My Father, p. 187).
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Renoir, My Father
Lu Hsiang-shan (1139-1193), "Sage of the Elephant Mountain" made the bold declaration "The universe is my mind, and my mind is the universe." Mind of God: Plotinus, Enneads, V.1.6; Borges; Emerson. Erich von Daniken's Odyssey of the Gods (Oct. 2011) claims that the Greek Gods were extraterrestrial intelligences. (Images: Zeus with Thunderbolt,; Renoir,

Supernovas are synaptic fires— Each Big Bang dawn of desires

Supernova explosion
often outshines entire galaxy

Neurons and synapses in
cortex of a mouse brain
A supernova is a stellar explosion that is more energtic than a nova. Supernovas are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months. During this short interval a supernova can radiate as much energy as the Sun is expected to emit over its entire life span. In our Milky Way galaxy, there are 30-60 novas per year. Although no supernova has been observed in the Milky Way since 1604, supernovae remnants indicate on average the event occurs about once every 50 years in the Milky Way. Expanding shock waves from supernova explosions can trigger the formation of new stars. There are 100 billion neurons in the human brain. Each neuron has an average 7000 synaptic connections to other neurons. It has been estimated that there are 1 quadrillion synapses in the human brain. That's 1015. This wiring system surpasses by many orders of magnitude the complexity of even the most advanced supercomputers. The first time I saw a slide of neurons and synapses firing in the brain, it felt like bright galaxies in space or "a whole heavenly city gleaming". It's interesting that the Hubble Space Telescope estimates up to 500 billion galaxies in our universe. In Buddhist cosmology, rebirth begins with ignorance, sparked by volition, which lead to desire. Desire gives rise to clinging, which leads to becoming. Becoming leads to birth, which gives rise to old age and death. Perhaps the Big Bang is the dawn of desires for some Cosmic Being to create this universe for his or her playground. Lila in Sanskrit means pastime, sport, or play. Within non-dualism, Lila is a way of describing all reality, including the cosmos, as the outcome of creative play by the divine absolute (Brahman). Our Brain's Neurons Look Exactly Like The Structure Of The Universe; The Brain A Galaxy of Neurons; The Universe Is Between Your Ears, Brain Cell & Universe. (Images: Supernova explosion,; Neurons & Synapses,

Cauldron bubbles the play of Brahman
dancing with delight in a cavern garden.

Massive star in "space cavern"
in NGC 6357 Nebula
"Cauldron bubbles" is from Shakespeare's Macbeth, IV.1.21 when the three witches chant "Double, double toil and trouble; / Fire burn and cauldron bubble." "Cauldron" is a metaphor for synaptic firings in our brain's neurons as well as the supernovas of galactic fires in the universal brain of some Cosmic Being. "Bubbles" is a metaphor for our universe, since recent discoveries (12-13-2010) show that "the universe we see is merely a bubble in a much larger cosmos" (Lecture). Astrophysicists now agree with ancient Buddhist's view in "Diamond Sutra" that our cosmos is a "bubble""This world is like dreams, bubbles, shadows, dewdrops, lightning flash, and is gone!"
Yes— even this universe is ephemeral like a bubble!

Fra Angelico (1395-1455)
Circle Dance of Angels (1425)
The age of our universe is about 14 billion years since the Big Bang— a long time from the human perspective, but a bubble for a Cosmic Being (Brahman). The world is a mere spontaneous creation of Brahman. It is a Lila, or sport, of Brahman. It is created out of Bliss, by Bliss and for Bliss. Lila indicates a spontaneous sportive activity of Brahman as distinguished from a self-conscious volitional effort. The concept of Lila signifies freedom as distinguished from necessity. When I saw the bright star in the circle cavern of blue light, it reminded me of Gustave Doré's engraving depicting Dante's vision of the Empryean (Paradiso XXXI.1-12). Dante's love for Beatrice led him to the Celestial Rose of dancing angels. When visiting San Marco in Florence (August 1972), Fra Angelico's Last Judgment showed angels dancing in a circle inspired me greatly that I bought several postcards of this scene. After presenting a paper "Giotto & Halley's Comet of 1301" (painting) at CEMERS (Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies) at SUNY Binghamton (Oct. 1986), students performed a Medieval Mystery Play where Christ led his disciples in a Round Dance. Suddenly I realized that Fra Angelico knew about this sacred round dance in his painting. It also linked with Shiva as Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer (shown in a circle) who destroys in order to create, tearing down to build again (Dance of JesuShiva). The Trimurti of three Hindu Gods, Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer represent their cosmic functions in this universe. While children love to play with soap bubbles, so does the Absolute Being Brahman with cosmic bubbles of starry galaxies "dancing with delight in a cavern garden." [Images: NGC 6357 Nebula,; Fra Angelico, Dance of Angels, 1425]

                                                                                        Peter Y. Chou
                                                                                        Mountain View, 12-12-2011

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