Shards of Consciousness

Is 42 Really the Answer?

In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams had the the great supercomputer, Deep Thought, give the answer to life, the universe, and everything as 42. If you look at this from the viewpoint of Kabbalistic numerology, it actually makes some kind of sense as a description of the universe.

First, 42 is composed of the numerals 4 and 2. Since at least the time of the Greeks, the universe has been seen as composed of four elements - fire, earth, air, and water. In modern terms, these can be seen as plasma, solids, gases, and liquids - the four states of matter. In addition, it takes a minumum of four points to describe a three dimensional figure. So the 4 stands for the physical universe.

The 2 now, is the number of creativity. On the Tree of Life, the second station is Wisdom, the creative intelligence that has been called the Word through which all things are created. It is the archetype of all force. Another aspect of two is the male and the female, the yin and yang, force and form, the interplay between which leads to all things. Life is a dialect process, action and reaction, act and response. All action implies, and depends on something acted upon.

If you add the 2 and the 4, you have 6. Six on the Tree of Life is the number of harmony. The sixth station lies at the center of the tree. One of its attributes is the Dying God, death and resurrection, the incarnation of the divine in the physical world.

Multiply the 4 and the 2, and the answer is 8. One attribute of the eighth station on the Tree of Life is the intellect, the sensory-motor mind It is a shadow of the second station at a more material level, rationality rather than intuition, so we see the role of the intellect in understanding, and shaping the universe. In another respect, 8 is the cube of 2: 2 * 2 * 2. In the Kabbalah, in addition to the physical world being composed of four elements, existence itself consists of four interwoven worlds - the divine, the creative, the formative, and the physical. Since we started with a 4 and a 2, it would be fair to conclude that we are counting from the bottom of the Tree of Life, from the most concrete manifestation to the least concrete. The number thus embodies the physical world, the formative world, and the creative world. In a sense, the divine world, while underlying all others, does not in itself exist.

42 is also the result of 7 * 6, or 7 * 3 * 2. One aspect of 7 on the Tree is life, feelings, passion, and love. 3 is the root substance which is the archetype of form. The 6 gather all that comes before it and gives it the impetus to further manifestation through 7. So we have the roots of force and form energised by the desire for life.

In sum, Deep Thought seems to be saying that the universe in general, and life in particular, is rooted in a non-physical creative source intelligently organized and driven by creative passion. It has no other purpose than to exist.

Note: Hat tip to Aleister Crowley for his exegesis of Mother Goose. Now we know what happens when I have too much time on my hands. :)

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4 Responses to Is 42 Really the Answer?

  • WHOA!

    I saw your comment on Mr. Karr's site and figured I'd drop by and see what was happening here... Imagine my surprise when in the first post I find: Douglas Adams, numerology, AND to top it all off, an Aleister Crowley reference!

    "In sum, Deep Thought seems to be saying that the universe in general, and life in particular, is rooted in a non-physical creative source intelligently organized and driven by creative passion. It has no other purpose than to exist." - that bit just secured you in the top 5 list in google reader... ;)

  • Thank you, William. I thought it made an interesting combination, especially considering Douglas Adams' atheism. :)

    If we can't have fun with what we know sometimes, what good is it?

    I hope you keep finding worthwhile things here, and look forward to seeing you again.

  • Who said Adams was athiest? I thought Hitchhiker's guide was widely regarded as a Sci Fi religious text? :)

    #1134 | Comment by Ray on August 9, 2007 2:31am
  • Hi Ray,

    Religious and atheist aren't necessarily exclusionary, so it may well be. :)

    Regarding Adams' atheism, for the benefit of those who really aren't aware of it, here is a transcript of an interview he did with American Atheist.

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