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

Traditional Teaching and Deep Sleep – III. mAyA & Creation

[The latter part of the article requires a bit of mathematical (or at least arithmetic) orientation in the reader. If you know the addition, 1 + 1, that is enough. Otherwise, it could prove slightly boring!]

We shall tackle now the question of how we wake up to be what (we think) we were before we went to bed.

I said in my previous argument that our waking up to a new morning and into an awake state is comparable to another cycle of creation.  So I suggest we examine how creation itself takes place.

From a scientific perspective, creation seems to be happening from ‘nothingness’ and dissolving back into nothing.  Vedantins prefer to call nothingness as ‘Beingness’ simply because even ‘nothingness’ has to ‘Be.’

If we go by what Quantum Physics tells us, what we may refer to as ‘nothingness’ is not just emptiness.  There is an enormous amount of energy in ‘Emptiness.’ Physicists have been able to measure this energy of empty space.

The energy within the empty space of the nucleus of an atom is the main reason for the weight of the nucleus (and hence of the matter we are all).  The energy of the emptiness within the intergalactic space is the reason for the expanding universe causing the colossal and mighty galaxies to recede from one another at speeds exceeding the speed of light. This vast energy is the result of constant creation and annihilation of virtual particles smaller than sub-atomic particles. Thus creation-dissolution is an ongoing unstoppable roiling and boiling process from emptiness to emptiness within emptiness!

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Traditional Teaching and Deep Sleep – II. Dreams

[The topic of Dreams is something I have not originally planned to include here in this series which was primarily designed to address the issue of Upanishadic support for considering deep sleep itself as Liberation (moksha).]

Part I

Please allow me here to take a short digression to discuss dreams because of a few questions raised by our esteemed readers.

Secrets of Sleeping Brain - Architecture of Sleep - Prof. M Walker, 2009

Fig. 1. Sleep Hypnogram (After M. Walker, 2009) – Click on the figure for enlarged view.

First of all, I would like to correct the misconception that some of us have that the moment we hit the pillow and get lost in sleep, we just flow through one continuous phase of dreaming, then deep sleep and, lo  behold, we get up refreshed in the morning. So, to this extent, the sequence of Awake state (A), Dream state (U), and  Deep sleep (M) corresponding to AUM as presented by Mandukya  Upanishad is awfully way out. ***  The Upanishad says that these three states arise in an everlasting turIya which is compared to the ‘silence’ at the end of AUM. ***  Several experimental studies carried out over a period of more than half a century demonstrate that the architecture of our sleep pattern is vastly different as experienced by us every night. A typical hypnogram (the nightly sleep cycle) we go through each night is shown in Fig. 1. (Please click on the figure for an enlarged view).

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Traditional Teaching and Deep Sleep – I

Part – II

In my Talk on “Inquiry in Science and Vedanta “, the slides numbered 50 and 51 are about  the three states of  consciousness — Awake, Dream and Deep Sleep. (The full PowerPoint Presentation can be viewed at : http://beyond-advaita.blogspot.in/ ). The three worlds are represented by the three distinct circles I, II and III and a ‘Me’ is shown by the circle IV in the Slide 50 (Fig. 1 below). In our normal understanding, we think that “I am a separate ‘self’ (individual) and I pass through three distinct worlds viz. the Wakeful world, the Dream world and the Deep Sleep world.” We also take that the worlds to be external to ‘me.’

Fig 1: The Normal Worldview – an individual “I” (IV) passes through three distinct worlds (I, II, III) that are external to ‘me’ during a day of 24 hrs.

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