Q: According to science, there was a world prior to humans where there were no living, conscious things. If nothing can exist independently of consciousness like Advaita suggests, then how could there have been a world prior to a perceiver? If there was no sentient being to experience the Big Bang, how could it have possibly existed?
A: Your questions relate to the apparent creation. The final teaching of Advaita is that there is no creation – there is only the non-dual Brahman. This means that the entire teaching of Advaita is interim only since it takes place in what is only empirical reality.
Having said this, the traditional teaching says that the creation, maintenance and dissolution of the universe is ‘managed’ by Ishvara, using the ‘power’ of mAyA. This means that He governs all of the laws that relate to creation and the jIva-s who inhabit it. Now you have to realize that science has ‘advanced’ significantly since the time of the Vedas. While they speak of the raw elements being space, earth, water, fire and air, we have a somewhat more complex cosmology! And I don’t think it is particularly fruitful to try to map one onto the other. Science can never explain Consciousness so is of no value in trying to understand the nature of reality.
Wolfgang Smith [b 1930] is a nuclear physicist and mathematician who has also written on philosophy, religion, and metaphysics from the perspective of traditionalism or perennialism. As a young man, he spent two years in India and studied under Sw. Nikhilananda and also met Sri Anandamayi Ma. He took from the French philosopher René Guénon the idea of whole-s and how a (physical) whole is not just the sum of its infinitesimal parts – there is an Aristotelian substantial form inherent (in-forming) and causally related to the whole. A recent film about him (Wolfgang Smith) has recently been made: ‘The End of Quantum Mechanics’ (obviously all lay and not scientifically savvy people will not have a clue about what goes on in the discussions by several physicists in the film). Continue reading →
14. What are the benefits of meditation on the mind?
As we understand, mind is what the brain does. But as Neuroscience found out, the pulsing of the neurons as the brain acts has a feed forward and feed backward effect. The em field produced by the activity of the neurons affects the brain. Consequently, what we do mentally has an effect on the brain.
In fact, our scriptures hold that what we do mentally is much more forceful and effective than physical performance. Manasa Puja, or silent worship within our mind, is held far superior to pompous and ostentatious prayers. The mental worship in a way is meditation. Even in athletics and other sports, the candidates are asked to rehearse first mentally the subtleties of every fine move before they perform physically. I learnt a lot of my driving more by thinking before I got into a driver’s seat in a car. Continue reading →
11. So then, what is the Big Crunch and what will exist beyond it?
Aha, this question is much like the first one and, therefore, we are coming full circle!
One of the significant finding in astrophysics nearly a decade and half ago was that not only is the universe expanding, but it is doing so at an alarmingly fast rate. ‘Before this discovery, the forecast was surprisingly simple. If the gravitational pull of all the matter in the cosmos was strong enough to rein in expansion — like the Earth’s pull on a rocket that can’t quite reach escape velocity — the universe would eventually come crashing in on itself.’ This is described dramatically as the Big Crunch. This is something like the Big Bang expansion reversing itself. So the Big Crunch would have happened only if the expanding universe is held back in its tracks. Continue reading →
9. How does the theory of superimposition in Quantum Physics relate to theory of superimposition in Advaita Vedanta?
The concept of superimposition in Quantum Physics is just that – a concept. It is a good example of what I am speaking about.
We devised the concept of superimposition to explain to ourselves some observed phenomena because the observed things did not seem to fit into the simple cause-effect relationship for which our mind is accustomed to. Let me explain a little. Continue reading →
[An INTERVIEW BY Paula Marvelly – Sixteen searching Questions probing the Depths of Physics and Advaita Vedanta – Responses from Dr. Ramesam Vemuri – 2011] Part – 1, Part – 2
Part 3: Gamma wave synchrony, God Particle and Super String Theory:
6. Returning to the subject of the mind and the brain, what is gamma wave synchrony and how does it tie in with our view of the world?
You see, we are conscious of a world out there and we are also conscious that we are conscious. How does this happen? Where is the seat of consciousness? The ancient Indian sages postulated an invisible entity about the size of the digit of the thumb to be residing in the heart overseeing the bodily functions and also providing consciousness to a human being.
To the extent my knowledge goes, the ancient scriptures did not talk of neurons or equivalent units or the working of the brain. They did, however, talk of nerves. They conceived the nerves to be the conduits of not only the life-forces but also food and other material. They said that all these nerves join in the heart. The Western philosophers, however, use consciousness in a different way. They thought of a soul. Perhaps it was Descartes who identified the pineal gland in the brain as representing the soul. Continue reading →
[An INTERVIEW BY Paula Marvelly – Sixteen searching Questions probing the Depths of Physics and Advaita Vedanta – Responses from Dr. Ramesam Vemuri – 2011]
Paula Marvelly is a Web-designer, playwright and author in search of the Ultimate Truth for over two decades. As a seeker, she carved out a unique path for herself interviewing over fifteen living Advaita teachers from India, Europe and USA and studying the lives of over twenty enlightened women. Her two books published in 2003 and 2005 received rave reviews. Paula’s books are:
The Teachers of One: Living Advaita: Conversations on the Nature of Non-Duality, May 25, 200
Women of Wisdom, 2005 – The Journey of the Sacred Feminine through the Ages.
Paula now maintains a Web Magazine The Culturiumwhich explores the interface between spirituality and the cultural arts.
Part 1: Relation between Modern Physics and Vedanta:
1. How does Quantum Physics or modern Physics in general relate to Vedanta in answering the question about universe?Continue reading →
The unequivocal and uncompromising declaration of Advaita is that ‘Nothing is ever born; there is no creation.’
If so, what is ‘all this’ that we see?
Well, if such a question arises, the scriptures invoke the IkShaNa shruti – to explain creation. It is just a conceptual model – a fact which the shruti itself affirms. A throb in brahman is said to have engendered a formless Hiranyagarbha, as the Creator, whose thought then projects a world. Sage Vasishta explains very clearly in the Chapter on Origination in Yogavasishta that “Hiranyagarbha is born within the Supreme Self. He has no form. His body comprises his mind only. There is no physical body for him. The five fundamental elements are born from Hiranyagarbha through his mentation (thought process). Hence the five elements and the subsequent products arising out of them like the gross worlds do not have reality. They lack Beingness. They are not really born. They are like the horns of a rabbit.”
While answering the question of “What is this universe?” the physicists too figured out from their calculations a similar mechanism. What they find is that there is a high probability of a vacuum fluctuation in an absolutely quiescent thermodynamic equilibrium giving rise to a single conscious brain (mind) within it rather than the entire gamut of universes, galaxies, livable planets, living creatures. us and so on. Continue reading →