Is the universe conscious?

www.quora.com/Can-you-disprove-the-fact-that-the-universe-is-conscious/answer/Lonny-Wortham-II 

Can you disprove the fact that the universe is conscious?

[“Universe” is defined as “all existing matter and space considered as a whole”.

There are conscious beings within this universe.

They are part of the universe.

Therefore, the universe is conscious (with its consciousness manifesting in specific places such as the brain of a conscious being).]

 

LW. No. You are essentially asking whether or not we can disprove the existence of a pantheistic god.

We can not disprove that possibility. However; we can take a look at the logic that underlies your supposition. Continue reading

Overview of Western Philosophy – Part 9

(Read Part 8 of the series.)

A Return to Scepticism

The Scottish philosopher David Hume accepted Locke’s empiricism and also agreed with Berkeley that we cannot ever know that there is a world outside of and separate from ourselves. Indeed he claimed not to understand what people meant by the idea of ‘substance’. We only know about perceptions, colour, sound, taste and so on. If this thing called ‘substance’ is something else, we have no knowledge of it – why invent it? If we took away the sensible qualities of things there would be nothing left, would there? Why should we need anything to explain or support our perceptions and impressions? Questions about why they arise are unnecessary and the answers suggested to explain them are unintelligible. The idea of ‘mind’ is just as illogical. If we simply dropped both of them, we would have no need to try to imagine ways in which such supposedly different ‘things’ might interact, as Descartes had wasted so much of his time doing.

He was also sceptical of Descartes’ conviction of his own existence as a thinking individual and made his own attempts to find some irreducible ‘self’ of which he could be certain. He decided that, whenever he attempted to look for ‘himself’ he could only find thoughts, feelings and perceptions; never a ‘self’ that is the perceiver, feeler and thinker. And so he concluded that there was no such thing. One feels one wants to get hold of him and shake him and say: “Yes, when you look, all that you find are thoughts, feelings and perceptions but who is it who finds this? What is the ‘who’ that is doing the looking?” He also felt similarly about God. We may well feel convinced that there is a God – this is effectively the definition of faith, a firm conviction without any empirical evidence – but this is not the same as knowledge. Continue reading

Overview of Western Philosophy – Part 2

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(Read Part 1 of the series.)

Part 2 – Metaphysics

Metaphysics, as the study of the questions of ‘life, the universe and everything’ is known, fell out of vogue in the twentieth century, when the attitude arose that most of what had previously been thought to be intransigent problems were not really problems at all but arose through our inability to formulate the problem correctly. Once we used language properly, it was argued, the difficulties would disappear. Many recent philosophers have not even addressed the sort of fundamental questions that are being asked on this site. In this respect there is a similarity with science. There was a time when an enquiring mind could range over the entire domain of what is now thought of as ‘science’, becoming expert in many areas and making new discoveries. The amount of material that was written down and accepted as proven was minimal. Over the past few centuries, the rate of investigation and discovery has accelerated and it is now possible to conduct novel research in only a tiny area of specialisation. In the 3rd Century BC, Aristotle’s multi-disciplined enquiries have already been noted. By the 20th Century, most of the philosophy in England was devoted to analysing the meanings of sentences! Continue reading

The ego, the ‘soul’ and metaphysics – 6th and final part

EXPLANATION
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It was made clear at the beginning of this essay that what we mean by the “ego” (the “personality”), it being no more than a delusion, a false image or projection, cannot be a subject, except in a dream -and is itself a “dream”. We described the fight of the “ego” in its efforts at reaffirmation as an “unholy war”. That it is obviously the soul, the person, who is the subject of the delusion, the “dream” ; his/her’s the “holy war”, the suffering and the required effort towards reawakening (is not life itself a dream? –it is so for “fallen man”). The soul’s, the person’s destiny – and this is conditional according to the monotheistic religions – is to finally be “reabsorbed”, united or reintegrated , and thus liberated. Liberated not from itself (its Self!) by itself , not even from life, but from a false image of itself and of life (“the world”) due to ignorance (avidya).

It is thus through ignorance, passion and attachment, that individual man (non-gender term) has “become” an “ego”, a “dreamer”, until, or unless, he wakes up. Existence itself is a ‘becoming’, not ‘being’, according to Plato and all traditional thinking. This subject is otherwise inexhaustible, and here we may remember the saying of Râbi’a quoted at the beginning, as well as the utterances of so many other sages and mystics. Continue reading

The ‘ego’, the soul, and metaphysics – 3

2. And here we come to a necessary distinction: ego and ‘ego’, or self and ‘self’; the necessary, real or true ego, and the contingent ‘ego’, the ‘false ego’. Based on the previous considerations, it might seem that the latter is what is meant by the empirical, worldly ego, or ‘outer man’ of philosophical discourse (as in Frithjof Schuon), but that would be an error, since that ‘ego’ does nothing, being merely an impostor, or a mask, thus ultimately as unreal as the son of a sterile woman. What is real – though ambivalent, as will be shown just below in this same paragraph – is the soul (jiva in non-dualistic advaita philosophy), that is, the subject, one of his sides, as it were, facing the higher, spiritual domain and the other facing the outer world. This last, outer or ‘empirical man’, is the doer and the sufferer – this is the way he sees him/herself (cf. ‘Explanation’, p. 9, et passim).

Similar remarks can be made for now about individual and ‘individual’, the second term referring to a limited, narrow view, actually an ideology, that is, viewing the individual, and the individual viewing himself, as ‘self-sufficient’, ‘self-motivated’, independent and autonomous –in other words, the product or result of individualism (about which there would be much to say in psychological and sociological terms). The first (individual or jiva) is a metaphysical entity, rooted in being… but why ‘ambivalent’? The answer is that while the second, ‘individual’, stands for a psychological construct (as the ‘ego’, its equivalent term, is such, obviously), what can be said of it – namely, that this deluded ‘individual’, rootless, ‘for himself’ alone, happy may be at times, but mostly forlorn, and subject to all sorts of dis-ease if not despair(1)- is by and large the actual description of the ‘normal ego or individual’! And so a clarification is in place: Continue reading

Modern knowledge and the Vedas

Do the Vedas really contain any advanced knowledge as so many people claim they do?    QUORA

15.3.15 – I’d say the Vedas contain the most fundamental and ‘advanced’ knowledge there is, though mostly portrayed  in the form of paradox (analogy, metaphor, story, etc.), so that one has to crack the code in order to find the wealth hidden in them. That knowledge is not like empirical science, which is cumulative and provisional, and which could be said to be somehow contained in it, even if in embryonic or potential form. That knowledge or perspective is metaphysical rather than mystical. According to the Vedas there is one and only one reality: consciousness (brahman, the Absolute, etc.), which pervades the whole universe; it is immanent in it as well as transcendent… “the smallest of the small, the largest of the large”. It cannot be measured out or understood by the mind, for which it is ineffable, but it is that by which the mind comprehends… it cannot be expressed in words but by which the tongue speaks… it is eye of the eye, ear of the ear, mind of the mind, as expressed in the Upanishads.

Modern physics is having a hard time trying to explain away what consciousness is in terms of physical phenomena (neuronal activity in the brain), but consciousness is not just an irreducible phenomenon or datum; it is reality itself, everything being comprehended in it (theories, doubts, projections, emotions, things, thoughts, intelligence, observer and observed, you and I). The part (for instance, an ‘external’ observer) cannot understand the whole into which he/she is enclosed. For the Vedas, to repeat, reality is one, and contemporary physics is trying to find out in which way it is so (‘theory of everything’, ‘unified field’…). Not all physicists are reductionist, some of them having seemingly mutated into philosophers with a workable understanding of the core of Vedic teachings.

 

Mithya, Mythology, and Metaphysics – an exchage lll

I think that all these points or clarifications are important in our discussion, and are directly related to the 5 sections or categories listed above. We can see, in particular, how exoteric monotheism (The Old Testament of Christianity) tends to authoritarianism and rigid views… and persecution of ‘heretics’ and infidels. The same thing applies to Islam (Sufism is “for the few”, and it is peaceful). Pneumatic temperaments are a minority, the majority being either psychic or hilic (or a mixture).

3. “Can the knowledge of good and evil be viveka, the ability to distinguish ātmā from anātmā?” I think the answer is No, from what I said re morality vs. knowledge (jñana).

This leads me to what you write concerning Iswara (section 4): “Īśvara is pure limitless existence-consciousness together with its intrinsic potential for manifestation (māyā)”. It represents all cosmic laws and, clearly, is not the stern, authoritarian God of  Old Testament Christianity, or the God  of Islam, who appears as more generous and loving. Jesus, on the other hand, can be said to represent the logos (buddhi) of Neo-Platonism and Gnostic Christianity. Is Iswara not impersonal, unlike Krishna and Rama? One difference is that God’s laws are decrees and ordinances (commands), whereas Iswara’s laws are cosmic and impersonal; “it is what it is”, as you say; obedience has a different tinge in either case.

Coming to the nitty-gritty – for all the forgoing is as a preamble – I have to make a confession: I have been associated, perhaps for too long, with a Sufi organization led by F. Schuon, whose platform is traditionalism (called perennialism in N. America). The originators were R. Guénon and FS; important figures, among others: Ananda K. Coomaraswamy and Titus Burkhardt. You can check on this, but, evidently, there is an element of romanticism or nostalgia (for times passed), as well as anti-modernism (favoring, among many of its adherents, homeopathy, anti-evolutionism, and anti-Vatican II). Tradition did nothing wrong; the longer you cast your gaze back, the purer, uncontaminated it is (a sort of Arcadia). I don’t want to be ironic (nor repentant), but, simply, I took their views in that realm as quasi-ontological principles, with a heavy emphasis on the ugliness and deviancy of modern civilization. That can explain the quasi-traditional interpretation of the Garden I offered you, relieved by the metaphysical bent within it.

5. I accept the account you give of the Garden in terms of the significance of the serpent, with its promise of knowledge of “good and evil” (what you write about the “awakening of the feminine” is wonderfully inspiring). I think it is correct on the whole, and reminds me of some other instances in mythology to that effect (recently attended a performance of the Ring of the Nibelungs, by R. Wagner, where Faffner, a giant (a dragon or serpent in other Germanic stories), makes its appearance. This being is avaricious but has supra-human abilities, like understanding the songs of birds. The Titans of Greek mythology were also benefactors of mankind. So, knowledge? Yes, but it comes with a price… and a risk. The risk is that  serpents and dragons are ambivalent beings; they are not just friendly, or helpful to man; some danger may lurk hidden in them, like a poison, or a fiery breath. Myths have the characteristic of being polysemic (having several meanings)

The price to pay is that none other than a hero can conquer them before they release their boon/treasure.

Science and technology come at a price, which may be too high; time will tell. I am not in favor or against science and technology; it is here, and is still making in-roads, as something that had to happen: inevitable, given man’s abilities and ambitions: “to conquer Nature”, “discover its secrets”. How many are looking inside themselves, would be followers of Jesus, or of the dharma? A few are. The final point I wanted to make is to ponder on the meaning of the Greek word ‘hubris’, and I would leave you there. But before that, I would also make a plea for exoteric religion, including the bhakti way: from what we saw before, it is not all negative; it is, for a majority of people, the only way of advancement in a meaningful, spiritual way, and it brings cohesion, as well as beautiful art (painting, music, mystical poetry, etc.)

 

 

What is Death – part 6 and final (metaphysics or spirituality – non- duality)

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Meditation

‘There is doubt concerning a man who has departed. Some say, “He is”, and others say, “He is not”. Taught by you [Yama, god of death], I would know this. This is the third of my boons’.

‘Do not, do not insist: release me from this’…. Choose a hundred years, sons and grand sons… elephants, gold, horses… Naciketas, enter a great realm of desires: I will make you the enjoyer of your desires… but do not ask me about dying’.

Naciketas, the young seeker, will have none of that.

‘Since you, Death, tell me it is not easily understood, and no one else can be found who can teach this as you can, there is no boon to equal this’.

…………………………………..

‘Yama continues: ‘The wise one [inner self] is not born, nor does it die. [Hidden in all beings] it is not from anywhere, nor was it anyone. Unborn, everlasting, eternal, primeval, it is not slain when the body is slain.’  Continue reading

What is Death – Part 2

In the case of the human being, is death – whatever meaning we give to it – an ending, a transformation (in psychological terms), a recombination of parts (physics and biology), or a transfiguration, such as what is called reincarnation, transmigration  or metempsychosis (religious tradition)? Is it terminal, or a new beginning, a renewal – in someone of the senses enumerated above?

Or is death simply illusory? In the restricted sense we are now having in view (related to a human being), what is the meaning of ‘death’ – a question which, whether it has a precise answer or not, must have been asked countless times, at least ever since one or more individuals started to ask these kinds of questions, that is, to philosophize? It is frequently said that according to Plato philosophy begins in wonder. With such a broad view or approach of the problem we can appreciate how many possible answers, or rather areas of research and inquire are open to ourselves. We saw that, whether a (“short-lived”) event or a (gradual) process,  death can be defined in simple terms in what concerns the body, in fact the body of any organism, as was stated in Part 1. Going beyond this, and entering directly into the realm of philosophy – the philosophy of Vedanta in particular – the problem is also simplified by just saying that the only ‘things’ that ‘die’, or are annihilated, are forms, phenomena, which are impermanent. Essence or substance, being changeless, does not die. Continue reading