Part 11 of the serialization of the presentation (compiled by R. B. Athreya from the lectures given by Swami Paramarthananda) of upadesha sAhasrI. This is the prakaraNa grantha which is agreed by most experts to have been written by Shankara himself and is an elaborate unfoldment of the essence of Advaita.
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 Universe is overwhelmingly empty!
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!
Unconvincing? Do not blame yourself. Continue reading
“Is Dr. Singh there?”
“Sure, he is.”
“Is he not in New York?”
Not in London either?”
“No, he is definitely here in Delhi.”
“Is he sleeping?”
“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.
Q: How do you explain two enlightened people (in the advaitic sense) that have different teachings? For instance, I think someone like Greg Goode and Swami Dayananda would disagree on many things despite both arguably being enlightened. For example let’s take Greg’s essay on idealism (http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/teachers/idealism_greg.htm).
I don’t think Swami Dayananda-ji will agree with the core position that an object doesn’t exist unless perceived. In fact I have asked Swami Tadatmananda this question (in the form of ‘does a rock exist before someone sees it?’) and he answered in the traditional sense saying that it does. From your point of view does this still fall under the umbrella of differences in teaching style? I also believe we could get a debate between the two on the topic of Ishvara and freewill. Continue reading
Q: Can one ever KNOW that reality is non-dual?
(i) YES, The moment you can grasp tight your reflection in the mirror!!!
(ii) No, you cannot know it like you know the salary you get.
(iii) Yes, you cannot ever NOT know it; what all IS, is your perception alone.
(iv) No, if you place yourself aloof trying to know it as a distant object.
(v) Yes, you know It in your deep sleep.
(vi) No, if you want to measure and compare to duality. Continue reading