[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!
The same thing happening at the huge scales of a universe is exemplified by the cyclical models of the origin of the universe (known as Ekpyrotic Models). Does any ‘memory’ of the past cycle get carried onto the next cycle? Apparently not as per the present understanding of the Physics. Each creation can, therefore, be taken to be a fresh creation in its own right. (We shall discuss the Physics in simple terms in a separate essay).
So it is our own ‘mutually re-enforcing convenient belief system’ that makes us think that we wake up to be the same entities that went to sleep!
In the traditional teaching, mAyA is invoked almost axiomatically to explain the creation of the world. Our esteemed colleagues, Peter and Sitara were kind to make well thought out observations regarding mAyA in another thread. Howsoever an enticing edifice we may subsequently build starting with an assumption of the operation of mAyA, it still remains to be an ‘explanatory artifact’, a non-entity. I give below in a condensed form (freely rendered into English) the explanation given by Brahma Shri Kuppa V. Krishna Murthy from the Chapter 3: Creation (utpatti prakaraNa) of Yogavaasishta to give us a feel of what mAyA is and what it explains.
The sum and substance of the entire 3rd Chapter on Origination (utpatti) comprising nearly 7000 verses is that “Nothing is ever born”!
How is it then that I see a world?
Let’s say you are seeing a world and it is there now.
But you witnessed a world in your dream. The dream world was there then. What happened to it? It dissolved into deep sleep. What is it that is left after the dream dissolved? Only yourself.
Similarly, the wakeful world too dissolves at the end of a kalpa (period). Something remains after the wakeful world too dissolves. What remains will be “Beingness.”
You continue to exist after the dream world ended. But are you shaped out of the dream world material? No. No-thing of the dream world matter relates to you now. You are different from it in all respects.
Likewise, whatever remains after the wakeful world ends cannot be anything of this world. It cannot be the brightness or darkness of this world. It cannot be made of any material from this world. It has to be pure “Beingness.”
This pure “Beingness” is said to have created Hiranyagarbha because of mAyA. “mAyA” is none other than an imagination.
Let us try to understand what mAyA is using the quotidian experience of simple addition we carry out day in and day out.
We are all familiar with the arithmetic operator ‘+’ standing for addition.
What exactly does this sign ‘+’ do?
For example, let us say that there is one banana. I place another banana next to it. Then we can express it in the form:
1 + 1
This formulation introducing ‘+’ has not brought to bear any change upon the first banana or the second banana.
Next we write the equation:
1 + 1 = 2
How could we formulate the above equation balancing the left hand and right hand sides?
Wherefrom did the numeral ‘2’ get generated?
The two ‘1’s representing the first banana and the second banana on which ‘+’ has no effect, obviously, could not have generated ‘2’.
So the numeral ‘2’ must have got generated by the sign ‘+’.
But ‘+’ by itself all alone cannot generate ‘2’. It can generate ‘2’ only when it comes in-between two 1s.
It happens so because, though the ‘+’ sign has no effect on any of the 1s (called the operands), it has an effect on the ‘mind’ of the person doing the calculation.
The symbol ‘+’ produces the image of the numeral ‘2’ in the mind of the person carrying out the calculation.
‘2’ appears clearly as a numeral. How can we say that ‘2’ is imagined in the mind?
If ‘2’ is really an entity and not an imagination, it should relate to something or the other. But in the equation we have written, ‘2’ is related to neither the first nor the second operand. When the two bananas came together next to each other, the idea of ‘2’ got generated in the mind of the person. Therefore, the number two is an idea only. When we expressed the idea as a numeric character and scripted it, it appeared as ‘2’.
The long and short of it is that the number ‘two’ is only an imagined idea. The idea of two gets generated in the mind of an observer from the idea of ‘+’ sign. Therefore, we have to admit that the idea of ‘plus’ is also resident in the observer’s mind only.
The bananas are on the table. They form one set (shown in red color). The idea of ‘+’ and the number ‘2’ are in the mind of the observer. They form another set (shown in blue color).
[1 1] — The red set on the table.
[+ 2] — The blue set in the mind.
We mix up these two sets and write down the equation:
1 + 1 = 2
In order to find the locus of the force responsible for causing the mixing up of both the sets, let us examine the position prior to the origination of the idea of ‘2’.
There were two distinct entities, namely the bananas and the mind. Bananas are bananas and mind is mind. They were not related to one another and are completely independent of each other.
Only after the introduction of the symbol ‘+’, the mix up in the two sets has arisen. Hence, we have to conclude that the locus of the power causal for the mix up rests in the sign ‘+’ .
Thus, the concept of ‘+’ has caused two things:
i) Though it existed in the mind of the observer, it appeared ‘as though’ it was related to the ‘things’ being observed;
ii) It engendered the idea of the number ‘2’ in the mind of the observer, but it falsely projected the sense that the number existed in the things external to the mind.
Such false projections, when encountered in the world, are described as illusions, magic or jugglery. The simple arithmetic calculation is a very common example of such an ‘illusion’ that we come across all the time in our daily life.
Now applying the above logic, we are ready to formulate the expression for creation on the lines of 1 +1 = 2:
Beingness + thought = Hiranyagarbha (Creator)
Just as ‘+’ does not affect the first or the later ‘1’, mAyA too does not affect Beingness or thought.
The symbol ‘+’ is not any entity. So also mAyA is also not an entity.
Just like ‘+’ creates the idea of ‘2’ in the mind of the observer but projects it onto the things which are outside the mind, mAyA too creates the idea of a Creator in the mind of the seer and projects Him to be somewhere over there beyond one’s own mind.
The imaginary Hiranyagarbha creates further imaginary worlds.
When everything is so obvious an illusion generated within the mind but projected to be existing somewhere out there, how can we say that it is the same ‘me’ that wakes up the next morning?