On planet earth, nature follows a cyclical path. During spring and summer, natural forces awaken and the landscape flourishes. In autumn and winter the world falls into a period of rest. Just as nature follows the wheel of the year, so the cosmos follows a similar cycle of awakening, growth and hibernation.
The cosmos we inhabit exists within the Absolute Reality and is created through an outpouring from the original source. When our universe enters a rest period this is known as a pralaya. Pralaya is a Hindu word. It describes the period when life disappears in its varied forms on each of the planets in the universe. The root meaning of the word pralaya is to ‘dissolve’ or ‘melt away’. The word also means ‘non-existence’ or ‘reabsorption.’ Pralaya involves the dissolution and destruction of the manifest universe at the end of each cosmic age. It is the vanishing away of matter into something new and impalpable. This dissolution provides a respite period before the age of the next universe begins. The destruction of the manifest universe has taken place many times in the past and will take place many times in the future. During a rest period, the cosmos disappears completely only to be gradually re-evolved at the beginning of a new cosmic cycle.
There are in fact three different types of rest or hibernation period experienced by life in our universe. The longest is the universal pralaya. This begins the moment the universe ceases to exist and enters into a winter-like hibernation before a new emanation gives birth to a new universe. During the universal pralaya, all living entities return to their original form as pure life force in the universal field until they are reborn as part of the next evolutionary cycle. Another type of pralaya is the solar pralaya. This takes place when the sun dies. Its vital force enters a rest period, extinguishing life on all the planets of the solar system. The third form of cosmic hibernation is the planetary pralaya. This is when a planet reaches the end of its life term and living consciousness prepares to move on to the next world.
All incarnated entities move up through the kingdoms of life which include mineral, vegetable, animal and human. When life is eventually reincarnated on a new planet, every living being moves one step further up the ladder of spiritual evolution. Ultimately humanity will reach a final pralaya where there is no need for rebirth into the material universe. This will take place when human beings have reached a stage of spiritual perfection. For each individual, spiritual perfection means true knowledge of the Absolute, perfect communion with the metaphysical source as a living reality. At this level of being, one ultimately understands the holographic nature of the entire manifest universe. We come to see the material world for what it is: something separate from the Absolute and therefore much less than true reality.