“The Gods of Ganymede”
Many years ago, Toshiyori dreamt of an earth-like civilization on a planet light-years from our solar system, which its humanoid inhabitants referred to by a term rather like “Ganymede.” But for its name, however, this bore no relation whatever to the great Jovian satellite, with which we are all conversant. Indeed, its inhabitants, suburban communities, and fauna appeared indistinguishable from their terrestrial counterparts. So, the dream might have been quite unremarkable but for the fact that the inhabitants of this so-called “Ganymede” had placed in high orbit around their planet a framework containing two such enormous standing figures of ancient religious teachers as to be readily visible to the naked eye from the planet’s surface, even in broad daylight! Q.E.D., “the gods of Ganymede.”
Today, astronomers estimate that there are millions of “earth-like” planets relatively near us in the Milky Way galaxy. Simultaneously, physicists are beginning to consider ways of exceeding Einstein’s constant: A “warp drive,” which might enable us to visit planets light years distant within a few months of elapsed earth-time. It begins to look as though — if we somehow contrive to avoid the fate Washington’s politicians appear to be preparing for us — that we might, some day, go to the stars! If that happens, we would likely eventually encounter alien life forms, and perhaps even alien civilizations. Some of the latter might be, technologically, less advanced than ours, others more so. Scientists seem to imagine that any culture more evolved than our own would know, instinctively, that Earthlings would never exploit technology to dominate underdeveloped societies, and thus eagerly share their discoveries with us. Be that as it may, Toshiyori thinks it at least possible that alien species might be willing to discuss their philosophic and religious views with us. Such science-fiction writers as Frank Herbert, Roger Zelazny, Frederic Brown, and — of course — the late Ray Bradbury have already considered various aspects of this topic.
If, as we believe, the Buddhadharma is true, beings comparable to Sakyamuni may already have appeared on myriads of other worlds. This is to say that except the teachings of no self and dependent arising are universally true, they would be mistaken even here on Earth. Ergo, however little the enlightened teachers of other worlds might resemble our conceptions of the physical Buddha or Jesus, the core doctrine of non-duality must be everywhere identical.
Some day, if humanity survives, our descendants may actually travel to distant worlds. If that does come to pass, they might even reach a planet resembling — in some degree — the Ganymede of Toshiyori’s ancient dream. There, they would (he believes) discover that the orbiting “Gods of Ganymede” are really enlightened beings, virtually indistinguishable from those of Earth’s history, or from multitudes of others scattered throughout the entire cosmos.