The Impact of Martinus Cosmology: An Informal Study

Introduction

It is very difficult to gauge an estimate of how many people outside of Scandinavia are familiar with Martinus’s works – and it is even more difficult to find out what any of those people think about those works. Still, I put out a short survey asking people about how Martinus’s works and ideas had impacted on their lives and in this short article for the general reader I share what I found. 

In short, respondents talked about how ‘invaluable’ Martinus Cosmology was for them, and how it simplified their spiritual journey. 

Whilst this was only an informal study conducted for this website, its results suggest interesting avenues for further, more formal research. 

Current literature on Martinus’s influence

Whilst the academic research literature into Martinus Cosmology is very small, it does provide some indication of how many people have been interested in this work and what might account for the relatively small size of that interest up to now. 

One study explicitly talks about the numbers of people showing up as interested or at least aware of Martinus’s works. Bertelsen describes how difficult it is to estimate numbers, but highlights how around 400 people attended Martinus’s 70th birthday celebration, 1200 people his 90th, and how about 1400 people attended his funeral in 1981 (2016). Hammer (2009) also affirms the 90th birthday and funeral attendance figures. Bertelsen also quotes a Danish newspaper estimate from 2005 that about ‘2,000 people at that time participated in study groups based on Martinus Cosmology’ (2016). 

In terms of wider interest, Hammer speaks of Martinus as having gained some ‘celebrity’ in Denmark and as being ‘so well known in his own country that his name is a household word among “spiritual seekers”‘ (2009). Martinus Cosmology also shows up on the radar of the Danish Pluralism Project, a collective research project which was launched in 2002 at Aarhus University. This perhaps gives a further indication of what Hammer writes about Martinus Cosmology, how ‘From the 1970s and beyond, Martinus Cosmology has entered into the common cultural pool of resources from which modern “spiritual seekers” can pick and choose’ (2015). 

We can conclude from these studies that interest in and awareness of Martinus Cosmology is very likely to be much bigger than extant studies have been able to record, but that further research and data collection is needed before anything reliable can be said about it. 

A number of reasons for the lack of data about interest in Martinus Cosmology have been suggested. First, as noted by Bertelsen (2016), because Martinus Cosmology does not involve any kind of membership, it is not possible to estimate the size of interest via this route. 

Second, as also noted by Bertelsen, ‘Martinus wished that his person or work should not be made into an object of any association, new religion, sect, or global organisation’, which contributes to his work maintaining a relative anonymity. 

Third, it may well be that the issue of language presents as a factor. As Hammer points out,  Martinus’s analytic style ‘makes few concessions to the more casual reader’ (2015). Certainly, when placed next to some of the more popular forms of contemporary spirituality found in mainstream bookstores, Martinus’s texts present a more challenging read. 

Given this context of few studies into the issue and the possible reasons for low exposure outside of Scandinavia, it is perhaps particularly difficult at this time to expect large respondent numbers to any survey on the impact of Martinus Cosmology. 

Study Method and Results

The study centred around asking four basic questions: 

1. Generally, how important or valuable has Martinus’s work been to you?

2. Can you think of examples of any personal problems or issues or concerns you had that reading Martinus’s works helped with?

3. How have Martinus’s ideas influenced you in your life or your spiritual journey?

4. Is there anything else you can think of or that you’d like to add about how valuable or useful Martinus’s works have been to you personally?

Using a strategy of convenience and snowball sampling (which involves asking people you know for participation), and messaging via Facebook, two respondents provided written responses. Results were anonymised for this report. 

Importance and value

Responses indicated the very high value (‘It is absolutely invaluable to me’) and importance that Martinus’s work had for people. Martinus’s work was considered to help make sense of life and to provide hope. One respondent wrote how ‘I dread to think of life without it’. It was also seen to possibly help ‘save people from falling into depression and despair’. 

Personal Support

In terms of what personal support respondents felt it provided to them, a key theme was that Martinus Cosmology provided inspiration and courage to deal with the most challenging situations in life through forgiveness. Particular support in the areas of helping to understand sexuality, relationships and marriage, as well as parenthood, also emerged. 

Influence on the spiritual journey

Both respondents talked about how Martinus Cosmology helped them connect with prayer and connection to a higher power. Respondents also talk about how, in using Martinus Cosmology, there is felt to be little need to rely on special meditation techniques. Instead, acquiring a simpler, but also broader understanding of what is ‘good’ or ‘right’ through Martinus Cosmology seems to have helped respondents gain a simple focus for their spiritual life. 

Further comments

Both respondents emphasized that Martinus Cosmology helped them gain a greater awareness of how they behaved with regard to what Martinus calls the microcosmos, in addition to the mesocosmos and microcosmos. In other words, how they behaved with reference to their own bodies, their fellow beings and the world around them. Tolerance as a behaviour featured prominently in their responses, and one respondent mentioned how Martinus’s analyses helped validate adopting a vegetarian diet. 

Conclusion

Whilst this study had only a few respondents, such that it is not possible to make any general claims for its results, it does show how, for those that did respond, Martinus Cosmology offers a highly valuable resource for making sense of the world and one’s own life in it. 

Further research is needed to investigate more into what that value could consist of, and how prevalent it is amongst groups of people interested in Martinus’s teachings as well as society at large. 

References: 

Bertelsen, H. (2016) ‘Chapter 32: Martinus Cosmology’, in Bogdan, H. and Hammer, O. (eds) Western Esotericism in Scandinavia. Boston: BRILL, pp. 254–263.

Hammer, O. (2009) Danish Esotericism in the 20th Century: The Case of MartinusHermes in the Academy: Ten Years’ Study of Western Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam. Edited by W. Hanegraaff and J. Pijnenburg. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Hammer, O. (2015) ‘Martinus Cosmology’, in Handbook of Nordic New Religions. Leiden, The Netherlands: BRILL, pp. 58–61.

Latest videos on racism, Martinus Cosmology and more

My new project of short videos on introductory topics and questions related to Martinus Cosmology is going really well, and I’m really pleased there has been a growth of interest in the subject.

Check out the latest videos on my YouTube channel. And please get in touch if you’d like any questions or issues addressing in the videos or on this site.

 

What is Martinus Cosmology? A quick overview for the curious

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Reading time: 4 minutes

In a nutshell

I’m sometimes asked what is Martinus Cosmology and how is it different to other spiritual writings. In a nutshell, Martinus Cosmology is nothing more than the cosmology set out by Danish spiritual writer Martinus (1890-1981). In this usage, “cosmology” means the science or theory of the universe as an ordered whole, and of the general laws which govern it, to follow the definition in the Oxford English Dictionary (second edition). Also, ‘a particular account or system of the universe and its laws’. So Martinus Cosmology is the particular account of the universe given by Martinus.

Quick Overview

At a most basic level, each and every person has their own cosmology. I have my account of the universe, you have yours. This or that scientist, theologian or football player has theirs. It is easy to imagine that some of these accounts of the universe are more detailed and comprehensive, and coherent, than others. It is in this regard that it is best to think of Martinus Cosmology. Martinus went to great lengths to give as detailed an account as he could of the universe that he saw and experienced. What resulted was a complete description of all the basic laws and principles, and all the facts and details, that he saw the universe consisted of. This is Martinus’s “world picture”.

According to this world picture, the universe does not create itself out of nothing. Nor is the universe a purely physical, mechanical entity. It is on the contrary, like we find in many religious accounts, a spiritual universe. However, the description of the universe according to the religious systems is not complete or useful for scientific purposes, says Martinus. It relies on many outdated concepts and symbols, which are by now less useful. As a result, Martinus set out to create a new picture of the spiritual and physical universe, one that could be relevant for the people of today and that also took in all the details and realities of the modern world. What is more, he felt that there were many aspects of the universe that were not described quite accurately, or well-enough, by this or that religious system. So Martinus’s cosmology set out to address this need.

Martinus Symbol 11 - The Eternal World Picture, the Living Being 2, the Eternal Godhead and the Eternal Sons of God
© Martinus Institut 1981. Reg 11. Martinus Symbol 11 – The Eternal World Picture, the Living Being 2, the Eternal Godhead and the Eternal Sons of God. www.martinus.dk

Martinus’s Innovations

Martinus broke new ground when he published his main and secondary works, including Livets Bog (The Book of Life) (1932-1960) and The Eternal World Picture (1963-1981). First, he created a new language and set of descriptors that could account for what we might call physical and spiritual realities. With new concepts and ways of discussing reality and the universe, people could now talk about spiritual subjects without referring to this or that religion. In this regard, Martinus forms part of that early twentieth-century group of thinkers who paved the way for a spirituality independent of religion, of which we are today the inheritors.

Second, he created a very easy to read symbology. With about one hundred colour and black and white symbols, Martinus illustrated the many principles behind the universe in a way that everybody could understand. In this regard, Martinus made thinking about the universe more accessible. Martinus felt that everybody should be able to engage with high-intellectual thoughts about the deep structure of the universe and that it shouldn’t only be philosophers, mystics and spiritual adepts who should consider such things. Instead, he was much more interested in promoting a more open spirituality, whereby people didn’t have to rely on others for their spiritual nourishment.

Third, Martinus set out to provide a comprehensive world picture; a picture that could include an account of everything from the creation of physical phenomena and consciousness to suffering and joy. He wanted to account for everything we find in life, from abortions to zoos, as well as all the basic principles and processes underpinning the whole universe.

Finally, Martinus wanted to create an eternal world picture, or something that would be as valid today as in a thousand years’ time. In another sense, a picture of the reality of the universe and being that is not only valid for us, but for valid for all beings. Here, Martinus is perhaps offering a candidate for a universal language. Readers will have to determine for themselves whether they feel Martinus has achieved that, and in what ways it could be argued either way. Nevertheless, it was Martinus himself who claimed that his picture of the world was eternally valid.

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