What is the point of the physical universe if man’s destiny is ultimately to transcend it?
That is the point: otherwise, how will you transcend? The universe is needed to transcend. The misery is needed to transcend, the darkness is needed to transcend, the ego is needed to transcend – because only when you transcend there is joy, benediction.
I understand your question. It is a very ancient question, asked again and again and again – because it puzzles the mind. If God has created the world, then why has he created misery in it? He could have given you bliss as a gift. Then why has he created ignorance? Is he not potent enough to create enlightened beings from the very beginning?
He is, and that’s what he is doing. But even God is not potent enough to make impossibles happen. Only the possible is possible. You can only know what health is when you are capable of being ill; otherwise you cannot know it. You can only know light when you know what darkness is. You can know relaxation only when you know what tension is, you can know freedom only when you know what bondage is – they go in pairs. Even God is not potent enough to give you simple freedom. With freedom, in the same package, comes bondage. And you have to go through bondage to have the taste of freedom. It is just like if you are not hungry, you cannot enjoy food.
What you are asking is: “What is the need for hunger? Why can we not go on eating without hunger?” Hunger creates the pain, hunger creates the need, and then you eat and there is joy. Without hunger there will be no joy. You can ask the very, very rich people who have lost their hunger: they don’t enjoy their food, they cannot. It is the intensity of hunger that brings joy. That’s why once you have eaten, for six, seven, eight hours you have to fast to enjoy food again.
Existence is dialectical: darkness/light, life/death, summer/winter, youth/old age – they all go together.
You ask: “What is the point of the physical universe if men’s destiny is ultimately to transcend it?”
Precisely, that is the point. The universe is created for you to transcend. Otherwise, you will never know what transcendence is. You can remain blissful, but you will not know what bliss is. And to remain blissful without knowing what bliss is, is not worth it. And the knowing is possible only through the opposite -that’s why.
Osho, The Heart Sutra, Ch 8, Q 6