Advaita VedantaAtmanBrahmanBrahmandaMundaka UpanishadQuantum

Upanishads and Quantum Philosophy Compared | (Conclusion)

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Consciousness multiplies to manifest into the universe of differences where to quote Schrodinger it “finds itself immediately connected with, and depends on, the physical state of a limited region of matter, the body”. Following the Vedantic lines, he compares the world with a dream wherein mind dons several roles. In a feast, for instance, enjoyed in dream, mind becomes three-in-one i.e. the food enjoyed, the enjoyer and the process of enjoyment, all that vanish while waking up. Dream is the half-conscious mood wherein mind gets multiplied and acts as the many. Sankara’s mayavada, says that life itself is a dream the soul or atman falls into from the state of undifferentiated consciousness, the Brahman. If this is so, the atman which is Brahman split is bound to return to the totality just as the dreaming mind returns to the wakened mood. The Atman-Brahman evolution and involution, according to Vedanta, thus determines the infinite process of creation. It is the reality of monism which stands above and beneath all the pluralities. “The only possible alternative”, as Schrodinger points out, is simply to keep to the experience that consciousness is singular and that “there is only one thing and even in that what seems to be a plurality is merely a series of different personality aspects of this one thing, produced by a deception (the Indian MAYA), the same illusion … produced in a gallery of mirrors and in the same way Gaurisankar and Mt Everest turned out to be the same peak seen from different valleys”.26 Schrodinger continues:

You may suddenly come to see, in a flash, the profound righteousness of the basic conviction in Vedanta; it is not possible that this unity of knowledge, feeling and choice which you call your own should have sprung into being from nothingness at a given moment not so long ago; rather this knowledge, feeling and choice are essentially eternal and unchangeable and numerically one in all men, nay in all sensitive beings … This life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of the entire existence, but is in a certain sense the whole … This as we know, is what the Brahmins express in that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear: Tat tvam asi, this is you. Or, again, in such words as ‘I am in the east and in the west, I am below and above, I am this whole world.

He further writes:

To divide or multiply consciousness is something meaningless. In all the world, there is no kind of framework within which we can find consciousness in the plural; this is simply something we construct because of the spatio-temporal plurality of individuals, but it is a false construction. Because of it, all philosophy succumbs again and again to the hopeless conflict between the theoretically unavoidable acceptance of Berkeleian idealism and its complete uselessness for understanding the real world. The only solution to this conflict, in so far as any is available to us at all, lies in the ancient wisdom of the Upanishads.

As described above, matter is an intermediary stage, a product of motion. This is more comprehensible in the micro world where high velocity particles come out from nowhere like rabbits from hats and disappears in no time. Thus the micro world is not stationary even for a single moment. The apparent stability of the macro world too vanishes when consciousness is steadied or when one attains samadhi or the state of balanced intelligence. Sanskrit words for world are jagat which means the moving and loka meaning visible. India’s ancient science believed that the world is visible or loka because it is moving or jagat. Movement or speed, it like modern science believed is the reason of visibility. According to Vedas and Upanishads the micro and the macro worlds are in constant motion. In fact everything is in a cosmic dance which the de-cohered consciousness can’t perceive. Gaudapada’s karika on Mandukyo Upanishad explains the speed-visibility relation that results in appearance. The S-matrix theory is a symbolic representation of the cosmic dance involving a network of interacting particles in a perfect rhythm. Hindu philosophy compares this rhythm with Lord Shiva’s cosmic dance. According to the S-matrix the rhythm is visible but not the cause of the rhythm. It is here that one stands puzzled before the unknown and the enigmatic face of the nature.

Upanishads and quantum physics hold more or less the same view on the ideas of unity and the ultimate reality. Upanishads deem, Brahman or pure consciousness manifests as world. The quantum thought, though do not mention Brahman or the ever expanding entity, points to consciousness as the governing element of the cosmos. This idea of philosophy and physics is again supported by biologists and the new generation integral psychologists. According to Heisenberg, physics can go only so far and no further in its objective study of nature because it collides with an ultimate barrier set up by nature itself – taking into account the limitations imposed by sensorial apparatus. Beyond, there remains a whole realm of ‘reality’ that can never be investigated by scientific observations. Physics has to presuppose the existence of a background or substratum that shall for ever remain outside the scope of its probings The realm of the ultimate is beyond the ken of sense perception. Upanishads believe that an intellect enlightened by the practice of concentration or meditation can know many unknown things. This is not revelation or trance as often misunderstood, but the awakening of extra sensory perception which lies dormant in every individual.

The Seers or the rishis attain this state, disciplining body, senses and mind. They are able to find union with the ultimate or the cosmic consciousness. Hence the word Yogis or ‘united ones’. Convinced of the idea of world’s illusoriness, the quantum physicist sees every thing as transient and unreal. Having seen everything as ever changing, he is still in search of reality. Neither matter nor energy nor particle is real according to his world view. Space and time, previously considered real and eternal, were later proved to be with beginning and end and hence finite. Hence the relevance of the question ‘what is real in the universe?’. Some physicists including Einstein believed that ‘field’ is real. But Einstein himself later opined that ‘field’ is not real and that space is really real. But all these opinions are not beyond ambiguity. Naturally the question that can anything changeable and finite be real, still remains unanswered. Again the modern science is not prepared to look beyond its own arena and enquire what is spoken of reality in other systems. In fact its uncompromising arrogance even after its having accepted the idea of scientific indeterminacy still keeps itself shut of from knowing the real. Even after its having been on with the study of consciousness it is still not ready to accept a universal consciousness that remains latent in all cosmic entities. In fact it is this consciousness the Upanishads call Bodha or Brahman or the real vitality or energy ( Chaitanya). Unfortunately science is still far behind the idea of Brahman the Advaita Vedanta or the ‘final knowledge of pure monism’ speaks of. So long as science keeps itself shut off from other systems and distances itself away from a religion which is scientific it can only continue to be lame. Such an attitude can lead only to utter confusion. Despite the entire existing disagreements one could find certain similarities between the cosmological explanations of the Vedas and modern science. There is the reference of the cosmic egg as the potential universe and it’s bursting in the Vedic literature.

True, the ideas of the Big-Bang and Big-Crunch of physics cannot be equated with the involution and evolution of the Hindu thought. Even as science finds itself perplexed amidst many of its findings like multi-universe, the steady state, oscillating, bouncing, and cyclical nature of the cosmos, scientists still cannot deviate from the Big-Bang because of its zeroing in on the ‘zero volume singularity’ which they believe expands and shrinks. The idea of the brahmanda which is the entirety condensed, or the ‘cosmic egg’ which too like the ‘zero volume singularity’ manifests and withdraws, no doubt holds some parallelism with modern physics though the both are definitely entirely different. The only question is regarding the cyclical and liner nature of evolution. True, within each cycle of manifestation and withdrawal one sees something liner i.e., the long line between the two points. But one may also doubt whether in the long and unending line there is no manifestation and withdrawal. It may sometimes be safely concluded that the long line has in it unending number of cycles which again consist of the line between its two points. It is both cyclical and liner, a paradox that cannot be solved. According to Hindu thought there was no time when there was no creation.

It never believed that universe has a date of birth as given by the Big-Bang exponents even as they came across planets and great walls which are older than 13.7 billion years, the age they ascribe to the cosmos. According to the upanishadic thought universe was, is and will be a continuous process. What is seen is only the infinite stretch of manifestation and withdrawal taking place simultaneously and continuously. Within the seeming destruction there is creation which again holds in it the former, or they are inseparable, taking place simultaneously. The creation and destruction are thus mutually embedded in each other. What one sees is the great cosmic dance wherein creation and destruction, birth and death, pleasure and pain – all merge together into an unbearable ecstasy. This philosophy is seen at its best in the image of Nataraja, the cosmic dancer or Siva, the auspicious. Thus writes an admirer of Indian philosophy and art:

Whether he be surrounded or not by the flaming aureole of the tiruvasi (prabhamandala) – the circle of the world which he both fills and oversteps – the King of Dance is all rhythm and exaltation. The tambourine which he sounds with one of his right hands draws all creatures into this rhythmic motion and they dance in his company. The conventionalized locks of his flying hair and the blown scarfs tell of the speed of this universal movement, which crystallizes matter and reduces it to power in turn. One of his left hands holds the fire which animates and devours the world in this cosmic whirl. One of the god’s feet is crushing a Titan, for “this dance is danced upon the bodies of the dead”, yet one of the right hands is making the gesture of reassurance (abhayamudra), so true it is that, seen from the cosmic point of view and sub specie aeternitatis, the very cruelty of this universal determinism is kindly, as the generative principle of the future. And … the King of the Dance wears a broad smile. He smiles at death and at life, at pain and at joy alike … his smile is both death and life, both joy and pain. … From this lofty point of view, in fact, all things fall into their place, finding their explanation and logical compulsion. …The very multiplicity of arms, puzzling as it may seem at first sight, is subject in turn to an inward law, each pair remaining a model of elegance in itself, so that the whole being of the Nataraja thrills with a magnificent harmony in his terrible joy. And as though to stress the point that the dance of the divine actor is indeed a sport (lila) – the sport of life and death, the sport of creation and destruction, at once infinite and purposeless – the first of the left hands hangs limply from the arm in the careless gesture of the gajahasta (hands as the elephant’s trunk). And lastly as wee look at the back view of the statue, are not the steadiness of these shoulders which uphold the world, and the majesty of this Jove-like torso, as it were a symbol of stability and immutability of substance, while the gyrations of the legs in its dizzy speed would seem to symbolize the vortex of phenomena?

Indian scriptures thus point to the cosmic central point, but with circumference everywhere and center nowhere. Indeed this center is an enigma and the only conclusion one can come up with is that this primordial and ultimate substance of the universe is omnipresent like a sea which is microsmically present in each of its drops. Suffice it to say, the part is the whole and the whole is in the part, or microcosm and macrocosm are one and the same. Science too, as cited above, presents a parallel and some time the same view about the macro-micro relation. Universe is thus a beginningless, unending, and continuous phenomenon with its processes of evolution and involution getting on simultaneously. It may not be fully right to opine that both science and religion speak the same, but it is also not right to hold that they differ widely. In fact there are many areas where the both come in rendezvous. Also this rendezvous is highly desirable. Discussing on the World Wars Mahayogi Sri Aurobindo cited the meeting between a matured science and immatured philosophy as one of their leading causes. If both of them were equally matured and happily blended the result would have been desirable. Science devoid of the spiritual values can turn arrogant making men blind and an unscientific religion can only breed credulity. Hence the need of a scientific religion and a spiritualised science. A harmonious blend of the both can do a good deal for the progress of civilization. And progress it would, if the both positively interact.

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