Our capacity to detect anything is confined to a limited bandwidth of certain characteristics (in a so called world) using our sensory organs:
Eyes → light, colors, shapes, distances, sizes
Ears → sounds, distance
Skin → heat, pressure, itch, softness, roughness
Nose → smells
Tongue → taste
Mind (?) → time, imagining (thinking)
[Note: 1. The normally held view about our senses as given above is valid only in a broad way. Modern scientific research shows that quite a bit of collaborative overlap exists in their actual functioning. For example, eyes and skin also have a role in hearing; nose and ears (and even lungs) assist the tongue in tasting etc. Embodiment takes place from multi-sensory input. 2. Notice that we are not endowed with any sensory organ to detect 'time.']
Up in the heavens, galaxies are interspersed by huge empty spaces. Matter constitutes less than one percent of the universe – about one atom in ten cubic meters of space. Within an atom too, there is more empty space than substance. If the atom is magnified to the size of a football stadium, matter (nucleus) in it will be no bigger than a golf ball, the remaining space being just emptiness. However, many ancient Indian scriptures hold that there is energy aplenty in space. Physicists unhesitatingly agree. Evidence for energy in empty space comes both from Cosmology that deals with the astronomical objects of huge proportions and Quantum Physics which studies atomic- and subatomic-sized particles.
You are certain of your toothbrush being in the bathroom when you walk in there after a good night’s sleep. You have no doubt, the water comes to a boil in two minutes in the microwave for the delicious morning cuppa. You are pretty sure how long it takes you to drive to the office. That is all true. But the particles that constitute you or your toothbrush are not predictable with that sort of certitude where they will be at any given time or when they appear at a given place!
Quantum Physics studies how the tiny particles like electrons, protons and atoms that constitute everything behave. Quantum Physics sobers us down quite a bit when it is a question of being sure of things. It teaches us not to be so definite and deterministic. It comes out with mind-bending mathematics and unbelievable concepts almost bordering Vedanta. Dr. Niels Bohr, a giant among Quantum Physicists, famously said: “Anyone who is not shocked (by the concepts of Quantum Physics) has not understood it.”
For all that, Quantum Physics is not an esoteric theory. It comes with redoubtable experimental back up and unfailing proof. Continue reading →
Quantum Physics is the science of small particles. The strange and counter-intuitive phenomena it predicts often leave us stunned. It says that if two particles were together once, they never lose their connectedness even after they get separated. Each particle readjusts itself in response to any change in the state of its counterpart which might even be several millions of miles away. The readjustment is instantaneous and happens without any sort of messaging link between them. So if you met Dr. Singh once, you can never escape from getting affected by what happens to him, even if you run away to another galaxy!
“What?! ……. Sleeping? ……. No, he is in his office and very much awake.”
Dr. Singh’s Assistant, though a bit bewildered, sounded very confident in his replies. But I remained unconvinced.
If the probability of Dr. Singh being in New York is zero, and his being present in Delhi is one hundred percent, there must be some probability of his being in London in-between! Further, his Assistant asserts that Dr. Singh is awake. How does he know Singh’s state so definitely without actually seeing him? Don’t think that I lost my wits or I am an over the top Vedantin.
This Post responds to the Comments of 18th April made by Suka.
(Suka’s Comment in blue and my response in black).
S: Mithya is defined as sadasadbhyām vilakṣaṇam – meaning it cannot be categorically classified as truth or false. Mithya is vyāvahārika, experientially efficient, substantially unreal.
R: vyAvahArika and prAtibhAsika fall under mithya. Both vyAvahArika and prAtibhAsika are experienced in their respective spheres, and both derive their reality based on the Reality of the immutable substratum. Dr. Mani Dravid Shastri also suggests in his lectures on adhyAsabhAshya that, “mithya can be divided into two categories, namely vyAvahArika or empirical and prAtibhAsika or illusory.”
S: The argument tat pot is an illusion does not hold water, because pot does hold water.
R: “Holding water” too is as much an illusion as pot or water!!
This Post is once again in continuation to the discussions on my earlier Posts.
I shall try to answer the questions and clarify on some of the conceptual issues raised by our esteemed Colleague Suka in his Comments of the 15th of April.
That we have to necessarily use words to express ourselves is pretty obvious. But the words come with their own baggage especially when we use them in contexts that are non-quotidian and are hence liable to be understood or misunderstood in unintended terms. Therefore, it looks to me that I should begin with clarifying the meaning of some of the words, and many a time, this by itself, will have the potential to resolve some of the pending confusion.
Suka observed, inter alia, in his comments of the 15th April:
I) “Traditionalists (do not) consider neither māṇḍūkya bhāṣya nor vivekacūḍāmaṇi as authentic works of śaṅkara for this very reason.” [I guess “do not” is a typo.] Continue reading →
If our valued Readers are interested, I propose to start a New Series of Posts on some of the latest Scientific advances that could be of interest to our Community of Advaita Thinkers and Philosophers. These Posts will be infrequent and in the form of simple “Alerts” on the current research findings. What gets reported by me will obviously be constrained by at least two of my own limitations:
(i) The conscious and or unconscious ‘filtering mechanism’ exercised by my mind in selection of the topics; and
(ii) What research papers happen to come to my notice.
For the present, here is a sample Post to show how I propose to structure this venture taking selections from the works published during the last couple of weeks:
[If Dennis agrees and if there is sufficient interest, we may continue and improve upon this idea. Readers may like to send their views to Dennis (in confidence, if desired).] Continue reading →
Our esteemed colleagues Suka and Martin made certain important observations on the earlier Posts of mine on this subject. So I felt it may be better to respond to the points raised by them without any further delay before resuming my presentation with regard to Eka jIva vAda.
A: About the similarity between Wakeful and Dream Worlds:
Suka pointed out to the three distinct orders of reality distinguishable from the way we experience them and opined that dream and awake world cannot be treated at par. He said that a dream world was a ‘bhrama‘ whereas the awake world was ‘mithya.’
The quintessential teaching of Advaita is well encapsulated in the famous half-verse long apopthegm comprising eight words:
jIvah brahmaiva na aparah
(Brahman alone is Real; the world is unreal; and the individual (jIva) is in actual fact non-different from Brahman).
Thus the jIva-brahmaikya vAda (the Doctrine of the Identity of the individual and Brahman) effectively sums up the message of Advaita.
All of us are jIvas. Obviously then, without doubt, we are Brahman.
However, we outdo Brahman, if I may say so, with two additional qualities. These are (i) a delimited size, shape etc. (finitude in dimensions) and (ii) an ID (individual name, lineage etc.). Continue reading →