The Empty Palace

Abraham was the first prophet of Judaism. According to the Midrash, a book of Jewish stories and aphorisms, Abraham was walking near the city of Ur when he saw an empty palace. For a moment he thought that the palace appeared before him like an illusion. Then he realized, of course, it was probably built by someone. In order for a palace to exist it must have been built. Likewise, Abraham reasoned that the world itself was made by something. This “something” is called God.

Do you think things can exist without having a beginning?

Shiva Nataraj

Shiva is one of the primary figures in Hinduism. He is often shown as Shiva Nataraj, or “Shiva, King of Dancers.” Everything in this image has a meaning. Shiva is shown with four arms, one for each of the cardinal directions. He dances with his left foot raised. His right food rests on a figure that represents illusion and ignorance. In his upper right hand he holds a drum that stands for the male-female principle. His lower right hand makes a gesture that means, “Be without fear.” Snakes, which stand for the ego, are seen uncoiling from his arms, legs, and hair. The skull on his head stands for his conquest over death. He is placed within an arch of flames; these stand for the endless cycle of birth and death.

Shiva’s right food is on illusion and ignorance. What is the symbolism of this pose?