Monday, NASA’s rover on Mars, Curiosity, celebrated its one-year anniversary on the Red Planet. At this same time, there has been much talk about a mysterious finding Curiosity has sent back to Earth. Last week, the Mars mission’s project scientist, John P. Grotzinger, told NPR “This data is going to be one for the history books. It’s looking really good.” Evidently, Curiosity has its own Twitter account and it added fuel to the fire when it tweeted, “What did I discover on Mars? That rumors spread fast online. My team considers this whole mission ‘one for the history books.’ ”
When the discovery will be announced no one knows, but in meantime, as you can imagine, it has got a lot of people guessing what it might be. Some folks have suggested that perhaps Curiosity found the remains of Jimmy Hoffa. More seriously though, on Wednesday, at a conference in Rome, Jet Propulsion Laboratory director Charles Elachi said the rover might have found organic compounds on Mars. Curiosity’s primary mission is to collect organic compounds (if it finds any), which contain carbon, and that, of course, is an essential element for life. Such a find would suggest that molecular life might have existed on Mars millions of years ago.
The eminent Buddhologist, Ven. Dr. Jedi Ching-Kulreet, has stated his belief that the Mars rover has found relics of the Buddha. He recalls that back in 2004, NASA/JPL released a photo that shows a mysterious Buddha-like image among some Mars rocks:
No, I don’t see it either. It must be like the 3-D autostereogram painting that transfixed Mr. Pitt on Seinfeld.
But Ven. Dr. Ching-Kulreet says there is some evidence that Buddha went to Mars. Theoretical evidence, that is. He mentions that in 1922, on the night of December 22, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), founder of biodynamics, renowned scientist and respected philosopher, gave his annual lecture. However, instead of speaking on the topic of the Christmas Festival, as he had in previous years, Steiner delivered a talk in which he announced that “Buddha became a Redeemer and Savior for Mars as Christ Jesus had become for the Earth.”
It is a rather complicated story, involving not only Buddha and Jesus, but also St. Francis of Assisi, a guy named Christian Rosenkreutz, as well as something called the “Mystery of Golgotha.” If you are really bored, you can read the entire lecture here.
Steiner summed up his theory more succinctly in another lecture, “The Mission of Gautama Buddha on Mars”:
A Conference of the greatest and most advanced Individualities was called together by Christian Rosenkreutz. His most intimate pupil and friend, the great teacher Buddha, participated in these counsels and . . . They decided Buddha should go to Mars and fix things . . . Buddha would dwell on Mars and there unfold his influence and activity. Buddha transferred his work to Mars in the year 1604.”
That’s pretty cool, especially when you consider by that time Buddha had been dead for over two thousand years. But, since we Buddhists are supposed to believe in rebirth and everything, I guess it’s not that fantastic.
According to Steiner, Mars was “the planet of war and conflict.” He maintained that “The souls on Mars were warlike, torn with strife.” You may ask yourself, as I did, how did Steiner know that Mars was warlike? There can be only one answer: he had been reading Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan, has already begun to tell the true story of Mars (it’s real name is Barsoom) back in 1912, when he published A Princess of Mars. This book told the tale of John Carter, a Captain in the Confederate Army, who was mysteriously transported to Mars and discovered “a dying world of dry ocean beds where giant four-armed barbarians rule, of crumbling cities home to an advanced but decaying civilization, a world of strange beasts and savage combat, a world where love, honor and loyalty become the stuff of adventure. The world of Barsoom.”*
In the first book of the Mars series, Burroughs related how Carter met and fell in love with “the Princess of Mars,” Dejah Thoris (actually a Princess of Helium). This was recently the subject of a documentary motion picture entitled John Carter.
I read three or four of Burroughs’ Mars books one summer when I was about 12. I was already a major Tarzan fan (still am), and this Mars series was exciting stuff indeed. I remember how in one, perhaps The Warlord of Mars, an evil Martian scientist powered a spaceship with a human brain. Or maybe it was a Martian brain. Either way, it was pretty far out with lots of swordplay and, if memory serves, all the Martians were naked.
Now, thanks to high-level contacts I have in the government, I have obtained an advanced photo of Curiosity’s discovery:
Yes, it is a rock formation in the shape of the Princess of Mars, Dejah Thoris. It has an amazing resemblance to the paperback cover of one of the Mars series illustrated by the great artist Frank Frazetta. Ven. Dr. Ching-Kulreet will be disappointed, but Sci-Fi fans, and anyone who loves the work of ERB, will rejoice.
As extra special bonus for all of you who have stayed with this post thus far, I am pleased to present the original artwork for the lost 1919 John Carter novel, The Buddhas of Mars.
Unfortunately, I am not permitted to offer any excerpts from the book. Suffice to say, though, Gautama was not the only Buddha on Mars – there was a whole bunch of them! Were they good Buddhas or evil Buddhas? Did they fight on the side of John Carter and his love, Dejah Thoris, or were they the gods of the evil Rajaks, a crossbred race of Red/Green Martians? Well, it’s not for me to say. All I can tell you is that this is a Mars that never was . . .
* Description of Barsoom from Tarzan.org, the official Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. website.