Eka jIva VAda – I Am Alone: Part VI

Understanding Perception:

We don’t ever see or experience a ‘world.’

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.’]

The Sights, Sounds, Touch, Smells and Tastes and Thought (= Time) together define what we perceive. (To ‘perceive’ is to be aware of directly through any of the senses).  Therefore,

Perception   =   ∑ (Seeing + Hearing + Touching + Smelling + Tasting + Thoughts)                                                   … 1.

(‘∑’ is read as ‘sum total of’).

The ‘raw’ input of perception through the senses and the observation of the thought-waves experienced as bodily, mental and worldly sensations are just vibrations and they do not convey anything by themselves unless a ‘meaning’ based on past knowledge or experience is ascribed to them. Let us call the information derived from assigning a ‘meaning’ to the raw data as ‘Cognition.’  (Cognition denotes the mental process of knowing, including aspects such as awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment).  A creature assesses the cognized information in terms of survival value for its body-organism either instinctively or by a process of conscious deliberation and utilizes the processed information in ‘Decision-making’ for an appropriate response.  The interpreted perception is its ‘world’ of operation.  Thus,

Cognition = {Perception + Meaning (of what is observed for decision-making)} = World                                     … 2.   

Each creature’s world will, therefore, be a function of the sensibilities of its sensory mechanisms and value judgments.

We shall confine our discussions here to Perception only and not to the cognized world.

[Note:  However, please note that the words ‘cognition’ and  ‘perception’  are used as if  they are synonymous by the earlier authors whose works I have quoted below.  This may be a bit confusing, but one can discern the appropriate meaning from the context.]

The ‘Oneness’ of brahman appears as multiplicity to our perception.

Let us call this manifested manifold as Creation.

Obviously then perception should be closely related to creation.

The important philosophical question of our concern is the nature of the relationship between Perception and Creation.

The first and foremost relationship could be that perception happens within a pre-existing creation. Then,

             Creation       ⊃     Perception               … 3.         

(‘’ is read as ‘superset containing’).

This is the principle behind the sRRishTi-dRRishTi-vAda.  It necessarily supposes the existence of Ishwara, the Creator, who was causal to the creation prior to our perception.  (Please see: Part II).

It also follows from Equation # 3  that creation may contain perceptions of several creatures (say, P1, P2, P3, P4, ……).

         Creation   =   P1  +  P2  +  P3  +  P4  +       … 4.

The Doctrine of Multiple Creatures (aneka-jIva vAda) will conform to the position in Equation # 4.

The other possible ways by which perception may be related to creation are:

         Perception      Creation                       … 5.

         Perception ↑     Creation ↑                      … 6.

        Perception    ≡    Creation                       … 7.  

        (dRRishTi      ≡     sRRishTi )

Perception is the cause for creation (Equation # 5) or they are both coeval (Equation # 6) or the perception (what is perceived) itself is creation (Equation # 7).

The modes of relationship given in Equations #  5 – 7 come under The Doctrine of Perception-based Creation (dRRishTi-sRRishTi-vAda). Though we find the principal seeds of dRRishTi-sRRishTi-vAda expounded in older scriptures, Prakasananda Saraswati is usually credited with the formulation of this concept as a formal doctrine in the 16th century.

Quantum Physicists who support Bohr’s concept of “Copenhagen Collapse” tell us that it is our perception which decoheres (i.e. reduces the possibility of existence from multiple states to a single state) a system giving raise to the observed outcome. Thus our perception creates the world we are in (Equation # 5 above).

Some of the Buddhist schools believe that cognition and the world are coeval (Equation # 6 above). Prakasananda Saraswati’s vedAntasiddhAntamuktAvalI talks of the possibility of co-evolution of perception and creation (dRRishTisamasamaya-sRRishTi) and cites the examples from ephemeral (prAtibhAsika) reality.   It says:

अत:  अविद्या   कल्पितस्य जगत: प्रतीतिसमकालीनमेव सत्त्वमुक्तम् रज्जुसर्पशुक्तिरजतगन्धर्वनगर स्वप्न   प्रपञ्चेषु तथा दर्शनात् |

“…. it follows that the world presented by avidyA is strictly contemporaneous with cognition of the world is also sound, for such is the experience in the case of the rope-snake, the shell-silver, castles in the air or the dream world.”

The concept that perception and creation are identical as expressed in Equation # 7 comes out clearly from several verses in Gaudapada’s  kArika on mANDukya upaniShad and also quite strongly from YogavaasishTa.

Before proceeding any further, it is profitable to remind ourselves first that what is perceived (the sum total “raw” perception before assigning meaning or interpreting or judging from the perspective of the imaginary separate self) ‘right here and now’ is brahman and brahman only and no-thing else, as many sruti vakya-s attest:

isAvAsyamidagm sarvam”  —  IsAvAsya Up. Mantra 1

(All this is covered (permeated)  by brahman)

sar vam khalvidam brahma”  — Ch.up,  3.14.1

(This entirety is brahman only)

Atmai’ ve’ dam sarvam” — Ch. Up. 7.25.2

(Everything is brahman)

neha nAnAsti kincana” —  Br.  Up.  IV.4.19,  kaTh Up.  II.i.ii

(There is no multiplicity here).

We have from Gaudapada kArika:

उभे ह्यन्योन्य दृश्ये ते किं तदस्तीति नोच्यते

लक्षण शून्यमुभयं तन्मतेनैव गृह्यते                                             …  IV-67.

(Both (the mind and the jIva (= all the objects perceived by the mind)) are objects of perception to each other. Which then can be said to exist independent of the other?  (The reply of the wise is in the negative).  Both are devoid of the marks by which they could be distinguished. For, either can be cognized only through the other.  – Translation by Swami Nikhilananda).

Sankara says in his gloss on the above verse:

हि घटमतिं प्रत्याख्याय घटो गृह्यते, नापि घटं प्रत्याख्याय घटमति: |

हि तत्र प्रमाणप्रमेयभेद: शक्यते कल्पयितुमित्यभिप्राय: 

(One cannot cognize a jar without the cognition of a jar; nor can one have a cognition of a jar without a jar. In the case of the jar and the cognition of the jar it is not possible to conceive the distinction between the instrument of knowledge and the object of the knowledge).

Shri D. S. Subbaramaiya observes (p: 251 of his book on Sri Dakshinamurtistotram, Vol I) based on the TIka of Anandagiri: “There being no proof whatsoever in support of the difference between the cognition and the cognized, this universe, animate and inanimate, which appeared in consciousness is nothing but cognition.”  He further quotes the following sloka from Prakasananda Saraswati’s vedAntasiddhAntamuktAvalI:

jnAna jneya pramedena yatha swapnam pratIyate

vijnAnamAtramevaitam tatha jAgrata chcharAcharam       —   19

Just as the dream world which is really nothing but cognition, appears in Consciousness, differentiated as the cognition and the cognized, so too, the world of waking consciousness, of things animate and inanimate (is nothing apart from cognition).

It is amply made clear that there is nothing like the cognized apart from cognition.

rajjuryathA bhrAntadRshTyA sarparUpam prakAsate

AtmA tathA mUDhabudhyA jagadrUpah prakAsate              — 21

As a rope, when vision is deceived, appears to be a snake, so, when the mind is deluded, Self appears to be this world.

Atmanyeva jagatsarvam dRshtimAtram satatvakam

udbhUya  sthitimAsthAya vinasyati muhurmhuh.                  —  22

In Self alone, as locus, all the world, whose existence is mere cognition, takes its rise, persists and perishes ever and again.

A close analysis of the Sankara’s commentary on the verses 64-67 in the fourth chapter of the Gaudapada kArika will lead one to conclude that it is more appropriate to say, as Shri Subbaramaiya concisely puts it:

दृष्टिरेव सृष्टि:

Perception is Creation.

From the above statement that perception is identical to creation, we can draw the following inferences:

i)  There is no time lapse between perception and creation. Therefore, creation (i.e. appearance of multiplicity) is not an effect of a process because any process implicitly and necessarily involves time. Hence, there is no creation. The absence of anything created is equivalent to saying ‘Nothing being born.’ It is then same as ‘ajAti vAda.’

ii)  When there is no other thing, it will imply that “I”, (as the Perceiver), am Alone.  This is also known as ‘eka jIva vAda.’ (In the status of perceiving, Atma = brahman who is otherwise actionless, gets the name jIva. Hence, IMO, it is more appropriate to call this as ‘eka jIva vAda’ and not ‘eka Atma vAda’).

[Note: In passing, it is interesting to note that statistical probabilities of prediction based on Quantum Physics lose their significance in an infinite universe and lead one to say that I am alone in the universe. Without getting too much into the nitty-gritty of the argument, the above conclusion can be illustrated in the following manner as presented by the Theoretical Physicist, Dr. Lee Smolin in his latest book, “Time Reborn – From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe”, 2013 (p: 229):

“Suppose that quantum mechanics predicts that outcome A is 99 percent probable and outcome B is 1 percent probable. Suppose you do the experiment 1000 times. Then you can expect that roughly 990 of those times A will result. You would feel safe betting on A, because you can reasonably expect roughly 99 outcomes of A for every 1 of B. But in an infinite universe there are an infinite number of copies of you doing the experiment. An infinite number of these copies have you observe outcome A. But there are also an infinite number of copies of you observing coutcome B. So the prediction of quantum mechanics that one outcome is 99 times more frquent than the other is not verifiable in an infinite universe.

“This is called the measure problem in quantum cosmology.  My view is that it’s not solvable. I prefer to take the fact that quantum mechanics works as evidnece that we live in a finite universe containing only a single copy of me.”]

2 thoughts on “Eka jIva VAda – I Am Alone: Part VI

  1. The latest Rupert Spira Newsletter (June 2013) received by me today has an Article written earlier in the year by Rupert. It’s titled “The Way of Beauty – An Introduction to the Nature of Perception.” The Link is:

    Rupert in his inimitable style establishes through pure deductive logic that we never really perceive a world out there nor any objects. It is all Awareness being aware of Itself.

    This reminded me of a sentence : “There are no nouns anywhere – it is a world of gerunds only” or something to that effect (I cannot recall immediately where I wrote it).


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