Echoes of Vedanta in Modern Physics!

 

                              (Interactive session on 06.07.2016)

Keynote address by Prasanta Ray

(Other participant speakers: Mr. Birendra Lal Bhattacharya, Mr. Pranab K.Ghosh, Prof. Krishna Pada Sarkar, Mr. Asim Kr. Raha & Prof. D. K. Banwet)

Introduction & concluding remarks by Asish K Raha

 

 INTRODUCTION

 Vedanta (the end of the Vedas), comprising ancient Indian spiritual treatises known as the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, dwells primarily on Brahman or Pure Consciousness as the ultimate source of all existence that is phenomenal. Physics, on the contrary, is a science of the matter, having very little to do with consciousness. It seeks to explore and explain how the material universe has come into being by the laws of the nature (or laws of gravitation). Thus the subject and the object of Vedanta and physics are ex-facie antithetical and incompatible. Is it possible then to find the echoes of Vedanta in physics?

Secondly, while both Vedanta and physics seek to know the ultimate truth, variously called Brahman by Vedantists and ‘the theory of everything’ by physicists, their approaches are entirely different. The former deduces its finds from certain axioms or postulates while the latter proceeds on the basis of certain rational hypotheses, subjecting each inference to strict validation checks. Is it possible for physics with its usual, rigorous validation checks to corroborate some of the Vedantic postulates? Only if the answer is yes, the title of today’s deliberation will stand the test of our scrutiny.

Lastly, one of the postulates of Vedanta is that there is no demarcation between spirit and the matter, as materialization of spirit and spiritualization of matter continue ad infinitum by the will of Pure Consciousness or Brahman. Physics accepts the proposition that the energy converts into matter and vice versa, thus substituting the word spirit for energy. The moot question, therefore, is whether the energy is conscious or sans consciousness. In the event of the former, one may feel the echoes of Vedanta in modern physics. Otherwise not.

Before we address the above issues in our concluding remarks, let us broadly analyze the essence of Vedanta and modern physics, also known as quantum physics.

 

 Probable origins of the Upanishads and science

The Rishis (sages) of the Upanishads may have been impelled to undertake introspective search for deep truths (facts) by the thirst for knowledge and the need to banish worldly misery. The scientist too may have been similarly motivated. The latter sought knowledge and remedy in the spiritual world, the former sought the same in the phenomenal one.

 

Philosophy and methodology of the Rishis (Upanishads)

  • The apparatus of the senses plus mentation and cerebration via the mind and brain ― paroksha, mediate ― is not the only means of fact-finding re the ‘objective’.
  • Since every experience ― including facts of the ‘without’ ― eventually culminates in perception and understanding ‘within’, the ‘within’ may as well be addressed directly ― via meditation ― aparoksha, immediate.
  • Knowledge, so-called, derived from sense-mind-intellect perception is relative ― understood with reference to other things ― and not absolute.
  • Inference is unreliable as a fact-finding means. Direct experience is better.
  • There can be no such thing as ‘understanding’; only ‘familiarity’ is possible.
  • Mathematics may say ‘how’ but not ‘what’.
  • Gather experience ― anubhuti. To that end, do sadhana ― diligent self-effort. ‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’; there is no other way.

 

Vedanta ― Salient findings

[Since the very means of Vedanta involves realization or direct (aparoksha) apprehension and not (the common or scientific) perception and inference ― a lockdown, so to say, of the sense-mind-intellect complex ― it is difficult, nay, impossible, to convey such realizations via language, for language evolves from sense-mind-intellect ‘perception’ and ‘understanding’. That is why ― and also, perhaps, because of occasional sub-maximal realizations ― there are (at least, apparent,) variations and inconsistencies among different Upanishadic passages. That is why, truly, ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’ ― swanubhuti or self-discovery is essential. That is why, again, Upanishadic passages have for millennia been the subject of interpretation by intellectuals and sages ― giving birth to various ― six popular ― darshanas. Indeed, Vedanta itself has three schools of advaita, vishishtadvaita and dvaita. Here, we shall adopt advaita.

Yet, it is good ― probably a must to begin with ― to do shravana and manana on Vedanta darshana and Upanishadic passages, to gather meaning ― even if a bit error-fraught­ ― as possible and needed for an intellectual foundation ― intellectual ‘faith’ ― from which to embark upon nididhyasana, or contemplation-meditation ― again a must.]

  1. Perception via sense-mind-intellect ― paroksha, mediate ― distorts, cheats. So, ‘absorption’, ‘realization’ sans sense-mind-intellect ― aparoksha anubhuti ― im-mediate apprehension, is superior and necessary.
  2. Ultimate reality, Brahman, is ekam eva advitiyam (One with no second) ― from before space-time ― indescribable (anirvachaniya), undifferentiated, infinite, unchanging, birth-death-less, insubstantial, abangmanasogocharam ― beyond access of speech and mind ― not amenable to existential investigation.
  3. Brahman is ‘all-absolute’ ― sat (absolute existence), chit (absolute consciousness) and ananda (absolute joy). Adjectives do not, cannot, apply.
  4. Sarvam khalu idam Brahma ― all this is verily Brahman (as ‘appearing’ to sense-mind-intellect). (‘Tis but One ― Vivekananda).
  5. Brahman’s ‘appearance’ (via sense-mind-intellect), or manifestation ― fundamentally and comprehensively different from Brahman per se ― is phenomena, the world. Such appearance happens per the power of maya, an aspect ― so to say ― of Brahman. Maya ‘projects’ Brahman, or makes it ‘appear’, in ways that are delusive, pseudo. Advaita holds: phenomena is false, like the false perception or superimposition ― adhyas ― of a snake in a rope. Such snake is neither real nor unreal ― neither existence nor non-existence; the snake is unreal but the rope is real. Maya is agyan, ignorance, lack of knowledge, ‘unreal-real’. (If light exists and darkness is lack of light, can one say ‘darkness exists’? Nasadiya Sukta, Rk Veda, the ‘hymn of creation’: na asat asit na u sat asit tadanim ― then there was neither existence nor non-existence.)
  6. The utterly non-existent, asat ― like a barren woman’s child (advaita illustration) ― cannot become existent, nor vice versa ― a kind of inevitable ‘conservation’; infinitude cannot increase or decrease. Brahman being infinitude, its appearance per maya cannot be and is not equal to or more than Brahman ― it is ever less.
  7. Creation is thus not any kind of growth ― it is ‘more’ or ‘less’ ‘manifestation’.
  8. To ‘acquire’ gyan, knowledge, is to progressively lessen the ‘less’ till the One-and-only is realized.
  9. Creation is really like involution ― ‘less’ ― followed by evolution ― ‘more’ ― of Brahman. Involution is like (so-called) srishti, evolution is like (so-called) laya. The srishti-sthiti-pralaya cycle ― kalpa ― repeats ad infinitum. Evolution reaching consummation is total dissolution ― pralaya ― of (apparent) creation. (There can be localized pralaya ― Vivekananda).
  10. In ‘involution’, Brahman becomes (‘appears to become’) finite, temporary, change-prone, many, less conscious. In evolution, the reverse happens. Evolution encompasses sentient beings up to man (and beyond to superman, mukta-jiva, through sadhana) ― with Brahman becoming (‘appearing to become’) enduring, less change prone, more conscious. So, things are subtler, more energetic, more interconnected, more one, more ‘aware’, more conscious, in deeper layers of nature, which is towards the beginning of creation, nearer Brahman per se. (Can moksha or mukti be compared with micro pralaya?)
  11. Thus, somehow(?), from Brahman issued(?) first of all, agyan, maya, (veil of) ignorance, then space and time, and pran (energy?) and (insubstantial) akash (field’?), whence chronologically evolved ― rather, ‘appeared’, ― the subtlest, less subtle, gross, grossest… with jivas (sentient creatures) coming towards the end closer to recent times. At some time in this process sprang tanmatras ― rudimentary (virtual?) particles incapable of participating in processes.
  12. Since everything is only an appearance of the absolute infinitude ― Brahman ― therefore, everything is essentially Brahman-like, infinite, one ― there is really no plurality (advaita). (That is why a discerning man wants to go on living (sat), to know (chit), and to experience pure joy (ananad)). Nothing is ‘local’, everything is ‘global’. But, maya-bound, man ― the observer ― sees (specious) many by erroneously considering ‘forms’ (rupa) of Brahman to be distinct, stand-alone, things, entities, events, creatures; he then concretizes the (so-called) many by affixing nametags to such ‘things’ etc. in a process called namarupa ― ‘name-cum-form’. (Bohu rupe sammukhe tomar ― before you in myriad forms ― Vivekananda). (Un)real adhyas plus namarupa is maya at her hoodwinking best!
  13. All being essentially Brahman ― everything (of maya, phenomena) is made up of asti + bhati + priya + nama + rupa. Asti (existence), bhati (appearance to sense-mind-intellect) and priya (joyousness) are reflections of the intrinsic sat, chit and ananda, which is Brahman, and the observer gullibly adds namrupa to these to manufacture the spurious many.
  14. Thus ― in a most meaningful way ― it is the subject-observer who, at least partially, creates the so-called ‘objective’ world.
  15. Maya is ‘aghatana-ghatana-patiyasi’ ― skilful in making the (apparently) impossible possible.
  16. Space-time-causality ― desh-kala-nimitta ― is maya, illusory and delusive.

 

Philosophy and methodology of physics

  • There is the subject or ‘observer’, and the observer-independent ‘object’.
  • Space and time are sovereign, absolute, objective, and independent of and distinct from each other ― and the constant ‘setting’ or arena of phenomena.
  • There is (objective) causality in phenomena, and the purpose of science is to discover causal links and use them to predict or control (events). A particular set of facts invariably leads causally to another particular ― unfailingly causally-predictable ― set.
  • Inference is an infallible methodology.
  • It is possible to ‘understand’ ― and ‘explain’ ― things and events and their causal interconnectedness.
  • Perception via the usual apparatus of the senses plus mentation and cerebration via the mind and brain is the only ― and an infallible ― means of fact-finding re the ‘objective’.
  • Only that which is perceived or inferred from perception is fact, truth. Such perception and inference constitute the bedrock of scientific understanding.
  • Therefore, sharpening the powers of perception ― via instrumentation ― and sharpening logic, lead to more and better fact-finding and understanding. (So, optical- and radio-telescopes, optical- and electron-microscopes, particle accelerators/colliders, Hubble space telescopes, have been invented to peer deeper and finer into nature in incisive experiments).
  • Mathematics ― a highly refined and codified system of logic ― is an infallible and unique means of ‘understanding’ and predicting. Two classes of events following the same mathematics may be considered identical or similar.
  • Diligent experimentation and intellection is necessary. (That is how, Tycho Brahe (mapping the heavens) plus Kepler (discerning ‘laws of planetary motion’ in the maps) plus Newton (discovering universal gravitation from those laws) ― spanning 100 years in all! ― did long and incredible collective sadhana in physics/astronomy).

 

Physics ― Salient findings

  1. Experiment (experience) showed that observers moving at different speeds relative to light, all measure light’s speed at the same c ― thus, in a manner of speaking, light has no relative speed.
  2. The above characteristic of light forms the basis of Special Relativity (SR) ―
    • Space and time are not different ― it is one 4-dimentional ‘space-time’.
    • Simultaneity of events depends on observer’s speed. Space shrinks, time slows and mass increases as observer’s speed increases. Thus, observer plays a role in observation of the (so-called) ‘objective’.
    • In nature, light’s speed c is the maximum speed of any particle or wave. Even two speeds added cannot exceed c ― there can never be ‘superluminal’ speed. (For example, the net speed of a man running at 0.75c speed on a ship moving at 0.75c will be 0.96c and not 1.5c!)
    • E = mc2 ― energy and mass (weight) are inter-convertible ― germ of ‘atom bomb’. While conservation laws such as conservation of mass and of energy were known, now, it becomes conservation of mass + energy.
    • Questions:
      • The subject-observer plays a role in observation of the objective?
      • Space and time ― so different-seeming ― are together, one?
      • Mass and energy ― so different-looking ― are inter-convertible, one?
      • Inevitable conservation in infinitude of different entities taken together?
  1. After SR, General Relativity (GR) was theoretically formulated ―
    • An observer under gravitation is the same as an accelerating observer.
    • A ‘gravitating’ (weighty) body ‘warps’ the space-time around it ― much as a heavy ball warps the membrane on which it sits. Just as the depression of the membrane seems to attract balls rolling into it, and seems to make them orbit it, similarly, the space-time warp seems to create gravitational­ force that seems to attract, and seems to keep bodies in orbit; there is in reality no such thing as gravitational force of attraction.
    • Movements of and changes in massive bodies generate ripples in space-time. ‘Gravitation waves’ have been recently detected.
    • A massive body grows in mass by attracting more and more matter to it to eventually have super-high concentration of mass, which, in time, will punch a hole in space-time. The ‘black hole’ has been observed.
    • Questions:
      • Undulating space? Space and time are somewhat like ‘objects’ in some unknown setting ― and not really the sovereign ‘setting’ itself? Desh-kala(-nimitta) ― space-time(-causality) ― is maya, illusory?
      • (Gravitational) force (and particles too) are only a geometrical bending of space-time? From the insubstantial is born the substantial?
      • Holes in space-time ― are the (observed) ‘black holes’?! Local pralaya?
  1. Light behaves like waves by producing wave-like patterns when split and recombined, and also behaves like particles in photo-electric effect of light striking matter to emit electrons; so, light is both particle-like and wave-like ― ‘wave-particle duality’. Strangely, it ‘travels as waves and arrives as particles’.
  2. The above wave-particle duality forms the basis of Quantum Mechanics (QM) ―
    • Here, the mathematics of 2 + 3 = 5 does not apply. The newly-minted and somewhat wavelike mathematics of QM applies.
    • A particle of light ― ‘quantum’ ― is like a ‘wave-packet’, so to say. Actually, it is impossible to describe a ‘quantum’ ― it is totally ‘indescribable’.
    • Physics is of ‘observables’ and not of un-observables.
    • All measurement ― observation­ ― involves an unavoidable, irreducible minimum ‘uncertainty’ or ‘indeterminacy’; this has nothing to do with (defects in) the instruments of observation, it is a feature of nature itself. (Uncertainty in observed nature?)
    • In an experiment ― observation ― many outcomes are possible pre-observation, but one ― unpredictable ― outcome actualises upon observation. The individual outcome is unpredictable but the ‘probability’ or ‘chance’ of its occurrence is predictable. (Who chooses?)
    • Yet, collectively, observation by observation ― quantum by quantum ― the wavelike pattern builds up. (Like schoolgirls on a field ― being collectively aware ― running in randomly but forming a pre-planned pattern collectively?)
    • When quanta are allowed to go through either of two paths, they subsequently organize themselves in a certain way; when one path is blocked, the quanta reorganize in a totally different way, as if the blocked path does not exist. (An awareness of ‘road closed’ in the system?)
    • When the observer does not register which of two paths a certain quantum has taken, the wavelike pattern is produced; but when he does register the ‘which path’, a particle-like pattern results. If the registration of ‘which path’ is erased immediately after registration, the wavelike pattern returns. (‘Hide-and-seek’ between the quanta and the observer?)
    • When a (composite) particle with a fixed value of an attribute ― characteristic and definitive of such particles ― is split and separated (even by a hundred kilometres, conceivably millions), the values of such attribute on each component, measured independently of each other, yet always add up to such characteristic value of the composite ― even though the measured values of the components actualise only upon observation and not before. (A ‘superluminal’ communication not being possible, is there, then, ‘instant’ communication’ which is like another way of saying ‘oneness’?) This is known as ‘quantum entanglement’. (An abiding oneness or clairvoyant awareness?)
    • A similar thing happens when two particles interact and separate after such interaction; they thereafter become ‘quantum-entangled’ with each other (Like two becoming one?).

 

  • Questions:
    • Mathematics is just a tool of logic and not any uncanny insight? 1 + 2 = 3 is followed by cats and humans, but cat ≠ human!
    • “Indescribable’ ― anirvachniya?
    • Is ‘understanding’ then ‘familiarity’ only? Nothing can really be ‘explained’?
    • Physics is built on ‘observation’ of ‘observables’? On bhati and not asti?
    • ‘Objective’ scientific ‘observation’ involves ‘indeterminacy’ ― it cheats?
    • Bhati is distinct from asti ― and perhaps not like asti at all? Only deceptive appearances? Only ‘phenomenon’, ‘noumenon’ never known?
    • ‘Chancy outcomes? No such thing as (objective) causality?
    • Who chooses ― the observer? Unsuspected subject-object duet? The subject-observer, at least partially, creates the so-called ‘objective’ world?
    • Space-time-causality ― desh-kala-nimitta ― is maya, delusive?
    • ‘Particle-like’ and ‘wavelike’ behaviour of quanta depending on the kind of observation being carried out by the observer? A quantum versus observer ‘Spy v spy’? Maya is aghatana-ghatana-patiyasi?
    • Quirky ‘interconnectedness’, ‘oneness’, and mystifying ‘collective awareness’ in deep nature? ‘Global’ system-wide awareness?
    • ‘Quantum entangled’? Together? One? ‘Local’-‘global’?
    • Big Bang began in one particle. Is the whole universe then ‘entangled’ as one? Nothing is local? ‘Tis but One? ‘Before you in myriad forms’?
  1. SR and QM were (mathematically) united into Quantum Field Theory (QFT) ―
    • Space is not empty. It is filled with extensive gravitational fields, which go hand-in-hand with massive bodies. Space is also filled with ‘quantum fields’ in which are born (physics: ‘creation’) and die (physics: ‘annihilation’) particles. Energy input causes excitation of fields which excitations are particles.
    • ‘Quantum fluctuation’ born of unavoidable ‘indeterminacy’ shows up as phantom-like particles ― called ‘virtual’ particles. These are not quite particles for they cannot be detected as such.
    • Questions:
      • The field is ‘global’ even when the body is ‘local’? Can the body then be considered separate and distinct from its field? Is anything local?
      • The ‘insubstantial’ field (akash) to the substantial? Energy (pran) input?
      • ‘Virtual particles’ ― like tanmatras?

 

Issues to ponder

Vedanta-science comparison and contrast cannot be pushed beyond a point, and it has to be more in terms of discerning parallels rather than identities. This is because the two follow radically different methodologies ― because findings, even when similar, are never identical, as they cannot be, because experience sans sense-mind-intellect is most probably most unlike that via sense-mind-intellect. One really cannot say physics finding = Vedanta finding.

However, that these two produce parallels is a matter of great philosophical significance worth reflecting upon. If either was the only true procedure and the other false, then their findings should have been utterly and comprehensively different, but they are not; broad qualitative and philosophical correspondence is noticeable. Even physicists are beginning to bend their attention to Vedanta.

Shankaracharya has spoken of paramarthika (supreme, transcendental) gyan, vyavaharika (existential) gyan and pratibhasika (fake) gyan, and recommended vyavaharika gyan, not Vedanta, for workaday use. Neither Vedanta nor science needs to replace the other ― at least, as of now.

‘Science and religion will meet and shake hands. Poetry and philosophy will become friends.’ ― Vivekananda

 

 CONCLUDING REMARKS

 Our first poser relates to the cause of this phenomenal world. Is it Pure Consciousness, as Vedanta would put it or deterministic, insentient nature, as classical physicists generally believe? However, quantum physics has shaken the very root of classical physics. The genesis of the problem for physicists began in 1925 with the startling discovery of divergent functions of electrons by Erwin Schrodinger; one, like a particle when under observation, and at another time, like a wave when not under observation. Even though classical physicists like Einstein had stuck to objective reality and rejected the role of consciousness in the materialization of particles or collapse to their wave-like behavior, modern quantum physicists like Nobel-laureate Eugene Wigner by their pioneering researches have by now established that particles indeed have dual behavior, one, wave-like, and the other as the particle, and the cause of the collapse of wave-like behavior or materialization into particle form is a conscious observer. Granted that a conscious observer ought to be a materialized entity, there ought to be a second observer to materialize the first one, and a third observer to materialize the second one. In the process, we may come to the concept of the cosmic observer / consciousness that brought into existence entire creation. In the words of Wigner, who happened to be one of the founding fathers of Quantum Mechanics: “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness”. He in fact became interested in Vedantic philosophy, according to which, consciousness pervades the whole universe (refer: verse 1 of Isa Upanishad: Om Isavasyam idam sarvam) and the whole phenomenal creation that can be divided eightfold, viz. the earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, intellect and egoism is pervaded by the supreme soul or Pure Consciousness (refer verses 7.4-5, Bhagavad Gita). In that sense, consciousness is more fundamental than atoms and sub-atomic particles. This is where Vedanta and quantum physics appear to converge.

Some quantum physicists like Hugh Everett, however, posit that wave functions never collapse but split apart. In other words, the universes are constantly splitting apart into multiverses. Stretched logically, it would suggest that a person who has died in one universe might be alive in another. Above proposition of modern physicists also appears to agree with Upanishadic anecdotes of dead persons being alive on another plane.

Admittedly, the process and procedure of research by vedantists and physicists widely differ. While Vedantic logic is basically deductive, following a postulate or axiom pronounced by a realized soul, mostly sages, without explaining how that realization can be validated, physics, whether classical or quantum, is built on inductive logic, basing its finds on hypotheses. By way of illustration, let us take a few verses from the Gita, having scientific implication.

Verse 8.17: “Only those who know that Brahma’s (not Brahman) one day is equal to one thousand mahayugas or great time cycles (1 mahayuga = 12000 earth years) and one night equal to another one thousand mahayugas, are the knowers of the concept of day and night.”

The above verse from the Gita is axiomatic and smacks of relativity of earth time vis-à-vis space time without explaining how the said axiom was established. Einstein’s theory of relativity, on the other hand, was built on extensive and intensive researches with validation checks.

Verse: 3.27: “Actions are performed by the gunas (qualities) of prakriti (Nature). A man deluded by egoism thinks ‘I am the doer’.”

Neuro scientists will surely corroborate above postulate of Vedanta.

Verse 15.8: “When the soul departs from the body, or enters one, it takes along all the attributes of the gunas (qualities).”

The above verse from the Gita is strikingly similar in its content to the finds of Sir John Eccles, a Nobel laureate neuro-scientist, according to whom, consciousness leaves a dying person, floats around observing things and later attach itself to an unborn fetus to start a new existence (refer: How the Self Controls its Brain). Neuro-scientific researches have further revealed that the dis-embodied consciousness possesses visual, auditory, and olfactory senses and experiences a new perception of reality outside of one’s self, I-ness, or oneness. Above finds of neuro-scientists are still in the nature of hypotheses and not postulates, like in Vedanta. Nevertheless, the similarity or coherence in the finds of two opposite schools of thought cannot be lost sight of.

Let us now address the last poser: whether the energy is conscious or insentient, in order to settle whether the title of the current topic passes our scrutiny.

While classical physicists were generally reluctant to attribute consciousness to the Nature, Quantum physicists have different explanation for this phenomenon. To Stephen Hawkins consciousness is nothing more than an accidental byproduct of laws of physics (refer: The Grand Design). But to David Bohm, another well-known quantum physicist (refer: The Undivided Universe: An ontological interpretation of quantum theory), consciousness is present to some degree in all material forms. In his words: “everything material is also mental and everything mental is also material, but there are many more infinitely subtle levels of matter than we are aware of”. “”It could equally well be called idealism, spirit, consciousness. The separation of the two – matter and spirit – is an abstraction. The ground is always one.” Above views of David Bohm are in conformity with those of Eugene Wigner.

Viewed from the angle of pure physics also, it is inconceivable that any phenomenon such as consciousness can originate from a cause / source other than the Nature or Energy. Consciousness, therefore, can be taken as immanent or subsumed in the Nature / Energy. As a logical corollary to the above, one can reasonably infer that the Nature / Energy is sentient or conscious. Surely an insentient nature cannot produce consciousness, even accidentally. Once we accept the above proposition, Vedantic postulates will resonate with modern physicists.

 

 

 

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33 Responses to Echoes of Vedanta in Modern Physics!

  1. Kushal Shah says:

    Whether science and Vedanta are searching for the same ‘ultimate truth’ needs to be carefully thought about. It is not clear whether there is at all a single ‘ultimate truth’ and even if it exists, whether it is possible for a human to know/grasp/experience it as a whole. Ramakrishna used to say that most enlightened souls have merely touched the ocean of Brahman and Shuka perhaps tasted a few drops. And as there is another common saying, “hari ananta, hari katha ananta”. It seems to me that physics and Vedanta are actually pursuing very different aspects of reality. Physics is pursuing the ultimate truth of the matter aspect and Vedanta the consciousness/mind aspect. And these two aspects are actually very different in their manifestation even though they may have the same source (which again is not clear). Even if physicists are able to find a theory of everything (which I doubt they will), they will mostly know nothing about consciousness. And even if a Vedantin is able to experience Brahman, he will know nothing about matter. As Ramakrishna used to sing, “ke jaane kali kemon…”

  2. RKGupta says:

    An erudite explanation, my congratulations to the learned speaker, Mr. Prasanta Ray.
    I, however, wish to make a few comments. Does science defines ‘energy’? Energy is defined in the context of matter. In my understanding energy is a state of matter; it does not exist without matter. Even the well known formula e=mc2 contemplates that if m is zero, i.e. if there is no mass (or matter), there is no energy. This simply answers one of the posers that energy and matter are interconnected; rather, energy has no separate existence. While it is everyday experience that one sees energy being produced from matter but it has not yet been possible to produce matter from energy, though there are some experiments at huge costs but still this is hypothetical.
    Energy is the capability of the matter to do some work-that is change its position or of other objects. The question is who guides the matter to do so? It is common knowledge that atomic particles keep revolving in orbits around the nuclei. Science can explain this revolving but not who caused this revolving? Is it not that the matter possessed intelligence to let itself survive? And this intelligence is a sign of consciousness present in every particle of the universe. Nay it is the consciousness which manifests in different forms. Consciousness is the characteristic of the soul or the Brahman, by whatever name one may call. It is through consciousness that the Brahman manifests in various forms. The sequence of manifestation is from soul or Brahman to consciousness, from consciousness to intelligence (BUDDHI), from intelligence to energy and from energy to matter. This is the process of creation.
    Coming to the question of Maya, in my opinion it is wrong to define Maya as illusion. In fact we lost a lot of ground only by equating Maya to illusion. Maya is not illusion but ‘relativity’. What is seen by an observer is not seen by another observer, because they are relatively differently located, both cannot occupy the same place at the same time. This relativity is the fundamental characteristic of every particle in the universe. Every particle is revolving, nothing is static in the universe and thus there is a constant change in the relative position of every particle, vis-à-vis its own position and other particles. This is the relativity and because of this continuous movement there is always a change in perception, which has been called illusion. It is not illusion but different perception of different observers and they are right from their relative positions. At the human level it is the ego, being separate, having an individual personality, which gives rise to this relativity.
    As regards time and space, can both these expressions be defined? Only in a relative way. Each particle has its own time scale. The time taken by the smallest particle (if it can ever be found because what would find the smallest particle, something which is finer than that and that is not possible as it is the smallest particle) to revolve around its own axis is the fundamental unit of time and the time taken by larger particles or bodies like earth, moon or sun are their own time. Similarly space is also a concept, it depends upon the observer, his capacity to observe.
    Speed of light may not be surpassed by matter but the speed of thought is faster than that. Consciousness is still finer and all encompassing; it is the state of being. It may be said that the Absolute is absolute darkness, no manifestation of any sort and it manifested as an ocean of light or consciousness only one It desired to manifest.

  3. akraha1948 says:

    Guptaji, your observations are profound & thought-provoking, as always. In response, my observations are as under.

    “Energy is defined in the context of matter. In my understanding energy is a state of matter; it does not exist without matter.”

    I agree that mass and energy are closely related in physics, so much so that the theory of mass-energy equivalence has been formulated. At the same time, it is undisputed that energy cannot be created, nor destroyed. It can only change its form. However, it is also true that some quantum physicists of late are inclined toward the view that the ultimate cause of the material universes (or mass) at macro level and of particles at micro level is consciousness. The case in point is the view of Eugene Wigner, considered as a founding father of quantum mechanics. Now the question is, can we treat consciousness that causes materialization of particles, as potential energy? If the answer is yes, we can safely infer that energy in form of consciousness has caused matter. If the answer is ‘no’, we have to find the cause of the energy itself, kinetic or potential.

    “It is through consciousness that the Brahman manifests in various forms. The sequence of manifestation is from soul or Brahman to consciousness, from consciousness to intelligence (BUDDHI), from intelligence to energy and from energy to matter. This is the process of creation.”

    Upanishads describe Brahman as Satchidananda (Sat = Existence Absoulute, Chit = Consciousness Absolute, and Ananda = Bliss Absolute). Thus you will see that Brahman, often described as ‘Pure Consciousness’ by Vedantists, cannot be separated from said Pure Consciousness in that the former becomes the cause of the latter, as you have put it. Brahman is Consciousness per se, the cause of the individual consciousness. The sequence of evolution, as per Vedanta, was Brahman to Purusha (Soul) and Prakriti (Nature), and from Prakriti to Manas (Mind), Buddhi (Intellect), Aham (Ego), five senses of organ with their attributes, Pancha Bhoota or five elements viz. earth, water, fire, air and space or ether and so on. Consciousness does not figure there. Nor can it be identified with the Mind or Manas, a derivative of Prakriti or Nature. Pure Consciousness, on the other hand, was the cause of the Prakriti and the Purusha.

    “Speed of light may not be surpassed by matter but the speed of thought is faster than that. Consciousness is still finer and all encompassing; it is the state of being. It may be said that the Absolute is absolute darkness, no manifestation of any sort and it manifested as an ocean of light or consciousness only one It desired to manifest.”

    The mysterious phenomenon called ‘quantum entanglement’ has persuaded quite a few modern physicists like Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku etc. to think that the interface between two particles may be much faster than light.
    As for your observation that the Absolute is absolute darkness in unmanifest state is just one of the ways to describe Brahman. Swami Yogananda, the author of the Autobiography of a Yogi, has described the Absolute as Infinite Mass of Light, and not subject to laws of gravitation for reason of the infinitude of ITS mass. However, I personally agree that the understanding of the Absolute is bound to be relative, and the ‘certainty’ principle of classical physicists will not apply here.

  4. akraha1948 says:

    “It seems to me that physics and Vedanta are actually pursuing very different aspects of reality. Physics is pursuing the ultimate truth of the matter aspect and Vedanta the consciousness/mind aspect. And these two aspects are actually very different in their manifestation even though they may have the same source (which again is not clear).”

    Kushalji, quantum physicists, as you are well aware, have been delving into consciousness as the possible cause of the matter. Vedanta has graphically described the sequence of matter’s evolution from consciousness. You may of course question the methodology of the finding of a Vedantist, as it was entirely based on his/her cosmic vision through meditation. The procedure suggested by a realized Yogi to other initiates for realization of the Absolute Truth is again through meditation, and not through experiment or empirical evidence that a physicist looks for. Thus while the methods differ, the same Truth can be reached by a Vedantist and a physicist. As Sri Ramakrishna aptly observed, ‘Jato mot, tato path’ (As many views, so many ways).

    • Kushal Shah says:

      “quantum physicists, as you are well aware, have been delving into consciousness as the possible cause of the matter.”

      Asishji, here we need to differentiate between the actual work of major physicists and the philosophical inclinations of few physicists. What you are referring to belongs to the later category. But consciousness neither figures anywhere in any physics paper published on this subject nor is it under serious consideration as a cause of matter.

      “Vedanta has graphically described the sequence of matter’s evolution from consciousness. You may of course question the methodology of the finding of a Vedantist, as it was entirely based on his/her cosmic vision through meditation.”

      I certainly do not question the methodology but we also need to remember that the idea of matter evolving from consciousness is not a temporal description. Matter, mind and consciousness have been existing since eternity and will keep existing till eternity. So which of these came from which is not very important in my opinion since all three are equally eternal. In deep samadhi, a Yogi may loose awareness of matter and mind but that does not mean that matter and mind cease to exist at that time.

      “The procedure suggested by a realized Yogi to other initiates for realization of the Absolute Truth is again through meditation, and not through experiment or empirical evidence that a physicist looks for. Thus while the methods differ, the same Truth can be reached by a Vedantist and a physicist.”

      All that Yogis and physicists can realise/find are certain aspects of the absolute truth and not the whole truth in itself. Even Yogis have had widely differing experiences of what they think is the highest. And as I mentioned earlier, Ramakrishna himself said that each one’s realisation is according to his/her disposition and abilities. And Yogis and physicists are actually looking for very different things to begin with. So there doesn’t seem to be any good reason to believe that their experience/finding will ever converge.

      Thanks,
      Kushal.

  5. akraha1948 says:

    “we need to differentiate between the actual work of major physicists and the philosophical inclinations of few physicists. What you are referring to belongs to the later category. But consciousness neither figures anywhere in any physics paper published on this subject nor is it under serious consideration as a cause of matter.”

    Kushalji, may I remind you, even Einstein’s application for lectureship was rejected by a German university on the ground that his papers were more philosophical than physics. As for your contention that no physics paper on consciousness has been published, nor is it under serious consideration, may I refer to the paper of Saul-Paul Sirag, titled ‘Consciousness – A Hyperspace View’ which you can easily access through google. I don’t find anything philosophical in this paper. Besides, Eugene Wigner’s paper on consciousness, hypothetical though it might be, had nothing to do with philosophy.

    “Yogis and physicists are actually looking for very different things to begin with. So there doesn’t seem to be any good reason to believe that their experience/finding will ever converge”.

    If yogis and physicists from their respective domains are looking for spirit and matter respectively, I agree that their experience / finding will never converge. However, if they yearn to know the Truth, transcending their domain limits, they may eventually explore the Truth, and there is no reason why their experience or finding shall not converge at the end of their journey. Let’s take the examples of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda.

    Sri Ramakrishna was a worshipper of the Divine in form of Kali, and yet he was a non-dualist. To him all forms and formless infinity got subsumed in Kali. Vivekananda, as Narendranath, did not believe in Divine in any form and yet he was a dualist. He even ridiculed his Master’s concept of non-duality. However, through his personal experience by the grace of his Master, he experienced hard way what non-duality meant, as also the existence of non-dual Pure Consciousness in every form. Both the Master and his disciple were non-conformists per excellence, almost to a fault, in their search for the Truth. There is no reason why a physicist in their search for Truth can’t come out of their limited ambit. Is it not more important to know the Truth rather than sticking to one’s own ‘ism’?

    • Kushal Shah says:

      “may I remind you, even Einstein’s application for lectureship was rejected by a German university on the ground that his papers were more philosophical than physics.”

      Asishji, Einstein was actually not very good at mathematics. And lot of people have contributed to bring his work to the form in which we read today. As you know, Einstein’s philosophical views are still largely rejected by the physics community and the best example of this is his famous belief, “God does not play dice.”

      “As for your contention that no physics paper on consciousness has been published, nor is it under serious consideration, may I refer to the paper of Saul-Paul Sirag, titled ‘Consciousness – A Hyperspace View’ which you can easily access through google.”

      That seems to be an appendix to a book and not a paper published in a reputed physics journal. There is a huge difference between the two.

      “I don’t find anything philosophical in this paper. Besides, Eugene Wigner’s paper on consciousness, hypothetical though it might be, had nothing to do with philosophy.”

      What is purely hypothetical cannot be counted as physics unless it is convincingly demonstrated in some way. And hypothesis of the kind we are talking about mostly belongs in the domain of philosophy. With the advent of modern physics, the boundary between the two has surely become very thin but it nevertheless very much exists and must be respected.

      “Is it not more important to know the Truth rather than sticking to one’s own ‘ism’?”

      What can be known are only aspects of the truth and not the whole truth itself. What the Yogis know is also only a limited aspect of the Truth. And frankly speaking, most physicists don’t really care about the notion of “Truth”. All that they seek are models by which they can explain the way things work. Thats all. The idea of Truth has importance only in philosophy and spirituality. And in my opinion, the only real Truth is “Existence” and as you know, that is a matter of experience and not knowledge. So a physicist can be a Yogi but that still doesn’t make physics converge to Vedanta.

  6. Asim Kumar Raha says:

    Well, I am Asim Raha, based in Kolkata, mechanical engineer by profession, posting first time in this forum.

    Science / technology, as we know like an open book, ever expanding based on hypothesis, experiments & proofs. Vedanta on the other hand, in my mind, a different subject all together where the part of Parokshya knowledge is like an open book and being brought in this interesting discussion. One of the major issue brought in by Mr. Prasanta Roy in his talk on 16-07-2016 was the mechanism of creation of this Universe. Advent in Quantum mechanics, String theory or many more such will come up with time. Well, physics is having its role but I doubt whether it will ever be able to solve the mystery of MAYA. Till then the true essence of creation will be far reaching to physics.

    On the otherhand, when we read about SURYA VIGYAN & 16 of its kind of science being taught in GYAN GUNJ which is accessible only to Maha Yogis, it appears every thing is well known to them. The level of science is so advanced there, they can bewield Energy to create/ transform any thing from any thing. Such reference is partially available in “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Pramhansa Yogananda in a chapter : Perfume Saint. The Saint is Visuddhanandaji, the famous Gyan Gunj return Yogi, had his Ashrams in Benaras & Burdawan( West Bengal). Details are available in the books of Dr. Gopinath Kabiraj.

    What is astonishing that String theory ,, M-theory etc. are perfectly in order or in line with what the Gyan Gunj Yogis (super scientists) tells.

  7. akraha1948 says:

    Kushalji, I appreciate your substantive objection to consciousness in physics and articulation in putting across your views. If physicists can be divided into two classes, viz. experimental and theoretical, you no doubt belong to the former. However, I have a different take on the central issue: whether consciousness is relatable to matter. Let’s proceed seriatim with reference to some of your critical observations.

    “Einstein’s philosophical views are still largely rejected by the physics community and the best example of this is his famous belief, “God does not play dice.”

    Before any great scientific discovery, a scientist invariably works on hypotheses and may also bring out a concept paper that has been generally rejected by experimental physicists as philosophical, sans hard evidence or proof. Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity was no exception.

    As to his comment: “God doesn’t play dice with the universe’, it was only a sarcastic comment targeting ‘the uncertainty principle’ of the then modern physicists, better known as quantum physicists. Being a deterministic physicist, Einstein subscribed to certainty of physical laws all through. His reference to God is to be interpreted in the light of his sarcasm, more so because a God-believer does not subscribe to determinism but the choice of God which is uncertain and unpredictable. Thus Einstein couldn’t have been deterministic as also a God-believer. In any case, there was nothing philosophical about his above comment.

    “That seems to be an appendix to a book and not a paper published in a reputed physics journal. There is a huge difference between the two.”

    Admittedly though Sirag’s concept paper on ‘consciousness – a hyperspace view’ was annexed to a book captioned ‘The Root of Consciousness’, the said annexure received considerable attention from the community of scientists. Sirag was interviewed by well known scholars in different fora. As predictable, experimental physicists have rejected his concept in the absence of proof while theoretical physicists are deliberating on this concept paper. It is pertinent to mention that Sirag’s papers on Unified Field Theory have been published in The International Journal of Theoretical Physics, and also in The Bulletin of the American Physical Society. According to him, sans consciousness unified field theory shall not work. The first exponent of consciousness as the cause of the matter, however, was none other than Eugene Wigner, one of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics and a nobel laureate.

    “What is purely hypothetical cannot be counted as physics unless it is convincingly demonstrated in some way. And hypothesis of the kind we are talking about mostly belongs in the domain of philosophy. With the advent of modern physics, the boundary between the two has surely become very thin but it nevertheless very much exists and must be respected.”

    A glance at Sirag’s paper would convince one that it was wholly mathematical and least philosophical. Convincing demonstration happens through experiment only which usually takes a long time. A case in point is the prediction of the existence of quarks of various types, including a top quark by theoreticians as early as 1970. Initially though the idea of quarks was rejected by experimentalists outright, in 1977 they got the proof of its existence. Top quark was discovered two and a half decades later.

    Perhaps the same fate awaits the super-string theory, rejected as philosophical by experimentalists in the absence of proof. And the proof will not be forthcoming unless gigantic accelerators of the size we are not yet capable of building are in place to put this theory to test. Super-string theorists, however, claim that it has passed consistency tests which are purely mathematical and it also happens to be the theory that unifies General Theory of Relativity with quantum mechanics.

    “in my opinion, the only real Truth is “Existence” and as you know, that is a matter of experience and not knowledge. So a physicist can be a Yogi but that still doesn’t make physics converge to Vedanta.”

    Existence without identity is not conceivable. Both Vedanta and quantum mechanics cast a serious doubt about the existence / identity of the very particles that make a human and any other being or matter, quantitatively and qualitatively. Therefore, quite reasonably, both search for the ultimate cause that will eventually define ‘existence’. I agree that the method and the manner of search widely vary. But if Vedantists and physicists come to a common finding such as the one under examination that cosmic consciousness is the ultimate cause of the matter, I have no hesitation in concluding that Vedanta and physics have converged. To pre-judge such proposition as unrealistic is not reasonable.

    • Kushal Shah says:

      “If physicists can be divided into two classes, viz. experimental and theoretical, you no doubt belong to the former.”

      Asishji, I actually belong to something in between and that zone is called engineering. 🙂

      “His reference to God is to be interpreted in the light of his sarcasm, more so because a God-believer does not subscribe to determinism but the choice of God which is uncertain and unpredictable. Thus Einstein couldn’t have been deterministic as also a God-believer. In any case, there was nothing philosophical about his above comment.”

      I am not sure what Einstein thought of God but he certainly believed all physical laws to be deterministic. There is no other reason for him rejecting quantum mechanics so vehemently for so many years. And this ‘belief’ of his is in the domain of philosophy.

      “As predictable, experimental physicists have rejected his concept in the absence of proof while theoretical physicists are deliberating on this concept paper. It is pertinent to mention that Sirag’s papers on Unified Field Theory have been published in The International Journal of Theoretical Physics, and also in The Bulletin of the American Physical Society. According to him, sans consciousness unified field theory shall not work.”

      That is fine but it is still in the realm of philosophy and not physics. Till this idea or an offshoot is published in a peer-reviewed physics/math journal, it cannot be counted as physics.

      “Super-string theorists, however, claim that it has passed consistency tests which are purely mathematical and it also happens to be the theory that unifies General Theory of Relativity with quantum mechanics.”

      String theory as well as quantum theory have immense mathematical difficulties which are not easy to surmount. Scientists are also prone to making sloppy statements when dealing with popular media.

      “Existence without identity is not conceivable.”

      Thats a very deep point and deserves a dedicated discussion in itself! I am not yet sure whether to agree/disagree with the above.

      “Both Vedanta and quantum mechanics cast a serious doubt about the existence / identity of the very particles that make a human and any other being or matter, quantitatively and qualitatively.”

      What quantum mechanics does is only to change the way we think of particles. There is no doubt that the electron exists. Just that its not an eternal point like object that we thought it to be. It keeps popping in and out of existence.

      “I agree that the method and the manner of search widely vary. But if Vedantists and physicists come to a common finding such as the one under examination that cosmic consciousness is the ultimate cause of the matter, I have no hesitation in concluding that Vedanta and physics have converged. To pre-judge such proposition as unrealistic is not reasonable.”

      What does it mean to say that cosmic consciousness is the ’cause’ of matter? Both are equally eternal.

  8. RKGupta says:

    To both the learned friends I wish to submit that philosophically all physical laws are governed by the divine law of being ‘blissful’ and to ‘multiply’. These aspects reflect in the entire creation in various forms. The entire creation is impacted by two equal and opposing forces, one seeking to merge with the ‘origin’ and the other compelling to restrain it from doing so. It is reflected even in the minutest particle, leave aside the living creatures. ‘Consciousness’ philosophically is the state of realizing ‘thou art that’ (which is the state of being blissful) and matter is the state of being separate from that ‘wholeness’. This is why the entire creation is comprising of both consciousness and matter. I feel Physics has to grow beyond matter and understand the higher dimensions of existence. There is no conflict between spirituality and science, only one has to keep an open mind.

  9. akraha1948 says:

    “And this ‘belief’ of his is in the domain of philosophy.”

    Terming a belief, considered as irrational & dogmatic, as philosophical is pejorative & unwarranted.

    “There is no doubt that the electron exists. Just that its not an eternal point like object that we thought it to be. It keeps popping in and out of existence.”

    The question is whether this ‘popping in and out of existence’ is directly relatable to conscious observation. The experiments of quanta physicists, including double-slit experiments, have uniformly shown, on the contrary, that reality exists only when it is measured. In other words, particles have no existence as such, unless these are looked at. Whatever way one interprets those findings, it is in serious doubt whether electrons and other particles exist independently and irrespective of conscious observation, as classical physicists like Einstein once believed.

    “What does it mean to say that cosmic consciousness is the ’cause’ of matter? Both are equally eternal.”

    Purely based on experiments, if we ascribe materialization of particles to conscious observation without exception, applying inductive logic we can reasonably conclude that the cause of the matter is consciousness. However, above conclusion will surely change in case experiments lead us to contra finding or interpretation.

    • Kushal Shah says:

      “I feel Physics has to grow beyond matter and understand the higher dimensions of existence.”

      Guptaji, physics is a study of matter and I think we should leave it at that. For matters concerning the mind, we have the Yogic path and I don’t see any reason or need for these two merging into each other. But I agree that scientists need to slowly mature to accept the existence of reality beyond matter. As I mentioned earlier, physicists need to become Yogis but physics will always remain different from Yoga/mysticism.

      “The question is whether this ‘popping in and out of existence’ is directly relatable to conscious observation. The experiments of quanta physicists, including double-slit experiments, have uniformly shown, on the contrary, that reality exists only when it is measured.”

      Asishji, thats true only in the Schrodinger’s theory of quantum mechanics. Physicists have gone beyond that and in the current version called quantum field theory, there is no collapse of wave functions and hence no need of an independent observer. In the quantum field theory, particles keep popping in and out with some probability without any need for measurement. Schrodinger’s picture is a limit of quantum field theory in the same way in which Newton’s mechanics is a limit of Schrodinger’s equations. So an electron very much exists even when no one is looking at it!

  10. RKGupta says:

    “Guptaji, physics is a study of matter and I think we should leave it at that.”
    Kushalji my pointer is at this basic presumption. The question is whether matter exists without consciousness and if not is it not important to give some attention to consciousness also while studying the matter. It is in this context that the mind has to be kept open.

  11. akraha1948 says:

    “I agree that scientists need to slowly mature to accept the existence of reality beyond matter. As I mentioned earlier, physicists need to become Yogis but physics will always remain different from Yoga/mysticism.”

    Kushalji, here we are on consciousness as the possible cause of matter. If, according to you, consciousness is the exclusive domain of yogis or mystics, I would beg to differ. It is already a subject of neuro-biological research. Quantum scientists have been lending attention to it for about a century, in order to resolve the mystery of the existence of particles only when it is measured, not otherwise. It is immaterial whether in doing so a physicist is within his domain or crosses it.

    “thats true only in the Schrodinger’s theory of quantum mechanics. Physicists have gone beyond that and in the current version called quantum field theory, there is no collapse of wave functions and hence no need of an independent observer. In the quantum field theory, particles keep popping in and out with some probability without any need for measurement.”

    Quantum field theory (QFT) is as old as the theory of wave-particle duality (WPD). However, as per the current version of QFT beginning 21st century, virtual particles pop in and out of existence in a virtual world, mathematically, and it is not yet proved whether it happens realistically. It is called virtual particles as the particles are created and destroyed before these are measured. This new version of QFT does not negate the experimental find of quantum physicists that reality does not exist unless measured, measurement being a conscious act. In support of the contention that validation checks regarding linking of particles to consciousness still continues and is not discarded as obsolete, reference may be made to recent experiment (May, 2015) of a team of Australian scientists from Australian National University, led by physicist Andrew Truscott. In Truscott’s words: “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” Above find of the Australian physicists has not been seriously contested or questioned by any quantum field theorist, to the best of my knowledge. Apparently also, QFT is not antithetical to WPD. In view of the above, I find it difficult to accept your proposition that there is no need for measurement of particles that pop in and out of existence before these are measured. On the other hand, by measurement only you become aware of their existence, not otherwise.

    • Kushal Shah says:

      “The question is whether matter exists without consciousness and if not is it not important to give some attention to consciousness also while studying the matter. It is in this context that the mind has to be kept open.”

      Guptaji, it is certainly important to give lot of attention to consciousness. All that I am requesting is to kindly avoid putting the burden on physics. There are infinite number of interesting questions regarding matter itself and that is what physics is all about. Consciousness needs to be studied by another independent branch of science.

      “If, according to you, consciousness is the exclusive domain of yogis or mystics, I would beg to differ. It is already a subject of neuro-biological research.”

      Asishji, what neuro-biological research refers to as consciousness is very different from what the term means in the Yogic sense. The neuro community is only interested in brain states, which again is in the domain of matter.

      “However, as per the current version of QFT beginning 21st century, virtual particles pop in and out of existence in a virtual world, mathematically, and it is not yet proved whether it happens realistically.”

      Not just for virtual particles, this popping in and out holds for all kinds of particles including electrons and protons which are very much real and form the basis of all matter.

      “In support of the contention that validation checks regarding linking of particles to consciousness still continues and is not discarded as obsolete, reference may be made to recent experiment (May, 2015) of a team of Australian scientists from Australian National University, led by physicist Andrew Truscott. In Truscott’s words: “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” Above find of the Australian physicists has not been seriously contested or questioned by any quantum field theorist, to the best of my knowledge.”

      What Truscott was referring to in this statement is very different from what we are arguing about. The electron exists irrespective of whether it is being measured or not. What manifests on measurement is its matter wave or matter particle nature. The electron by itself is neither a matter particle or a matter wave (in Schrondinger’s picture) but has a reality deeper than these two possibilities. As QFT has shown, it is a probability wave which can display properties of both a matter wave and matter particle. So, the probability wave exists independent of measurement. But the other two properties depend on the nature of measurement.

    • Prasanta Ray says:

      There is this ‘uncertainty’ or ‘indeterminacy’ in measurement or observation. This is a fact of nature. But you have to observe to activate that ‘uncertainty’!
      ‘Popping in and out’ works like this : For a particle to be considered absent, let us say it’s momentum or energy — both subject to ‘indeterminacy’ — should be zero. But because of ‘indeterminacy’, you will not get zero value every time in repeated OBSERVATIONS; you will also get ( finite) values around zero! So, in some observations you will find the particle absent, and in others, present! But you cannot really say that particles are popping in and out.
      Who knows what happens when there is no observation? Physics says what will happen when you observe. This of course it does on the basis of a model, but physics will not venture to say that the model is ‘ correct ‘ — recall Einstein ‘s closed watch explanation.
      The fact that normal, reductionist, deterministic pictures break down in the super subtle world is what makes modern physics exciting and also makes it look a wee bit like a shadow of Vedanta! No?

      • Kushal Shah says:

        “But you have to observe to activate that ‘uncertainty’!… Who knows what happens when there is no observation? Physics says what will happen when you observe.”

        Prasantaji, we tend to laugh at those ancient civilisations which believed that earth was the centre of the universe. But now we have no hesitation in making humans the centre of the universe. Actually, we want to go one step further and say that the world perhaps does not exist if a human is not looking at it. It certainly makes no sense to me. Humans are just an evolved version of primates which have come from bacteria and which have in turn come from insentient matter. Observation has nothing to do with humans. The world was always under observation by the cosmic consciousness and will continue to be so even after all life in this universe has vanished. But this notion of observation surely poses serious philosophical problems for theories of particle physics and it is for this reason that most physicists have stopped thinking in this direction. All that they care about are coming up with mathematical models that make predictions which match with experiments. And the buck stops there.

  12. akraha1948 says:

    “The neuro community is only interested in brain states, which again is in the domain of matter.”

    Sir John Eccles, a neuro scientist and a nobel laureate, has dwelt upon out-of-brain consciousness extensively (refer: How the Self Controls its Brain). His experiment-based inferences are strikingly similar to the essence of Vedantic concept of consciousness.

    “Not just for virtual particles, this popping in and out holds for all kinds of particles including electrons and protons which are very much real and form the basis of all matter.”

    Your above statement is a bit confusing. It is one of the accepted positions in Quantum Mechanics that particles until measured are not identifiable as particles. Logically, therefore, prior to measurement, particles have only virtual existence. Besides, ‘popping in and out of existence’ (PIOE) theory posits that virtual particles are created and destroyed in no time. This is contrary to the axiomatic belief that matter cannot be created or destroyed. Can you please refer to the experiment that proves PIOE theory as real and not just virtual? To my understanding, PIOE theory just like String theory, is entirely mathematical.

    “The electron by itself is neither a matter particle or a matter wave (in Schrondinger’s picture) but has a reality deeper than these two possibilities. As QFT has shown, it is a probability wave which can display properties of both a matter wave and matter particle. So, the probability wave exists independent of measurement. But the other two properties depend on the nature of measurement.”

    When you talk of probability wave as pre-existing measurement, you are entering into a virtual domain, as such probability wave is nothing but an abstract mathematical wave having no experimental proof. It cannot also be subjected to experiment, for which measurement is absolutely necessary. Truscott’s experiment, on the other hand, realistically proves what he stated. viz.“It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it.” Pertinently, he does not exclude probability wave when he says: “reality does not exist”. His subsequent words: “if you are not looking at it” links existence of particles / matter to consciousness. Thus consciousness being linked to matter cannot logically stay out of the domain of physics.

    • Kushal Shah says:

      “Sir John Eccles, a neuro scientist and a nobel laureate, has dwelt upon out-of-brain consciousness extensively (refer: How the Self Controls its Brain). His experiment-based inferences are strikingly similar to the essence of Vedantic concept of consciousness.”

      Few neuro-scientists have surely shown interest in these topics. But these results are far from being accepted by the mainstream and again, perhaps not published in reputed journals. Anyways, thanks for the reference. I will surely take a look!

      “Can you please refer to the experiment that proves PIOE theory as real and not just virtual? To my understanding, PIOE theory just like String theory, is entirely mathematical.”

      Please see the book “An interpretive introduction to quantum field theory” by Paul Teller. The concepts of QFT are very very different from Schrodinger’s quantum mechanics.

  13. akraha1948 says:

    Thanks for the reference. I have since downloaded the compilation of articles by Paul Teller and will take time to complete the reading & grasp the contents, except the mathematical part. However, on a cursory reading, I’ve come across following concluding remark from Rom Harre in the 4th article in the book:“An interpretive introduction to quantum field theory” which appears relevant:

    “To summarize my argument: I want to claim that the real / virtual distinction is a substantial one, with physical and not just heuristic significance.”

    Besides, it is pertinent to mention that the book under reference was published about 2 decades back, and there has been considerable development since then in QFT as also QM researches. As for instance, in the last piece in the book, Simon Saunders observed: “We do not yet have a satisfactory measurement theory”. Surely Truscott’s experiment in May, 2015, brings about a change in that position.

    It is no body’s case that the quantum physicists of the day have been sticking to Schrodinger’s quantum mechanics in entirety. For example, present day physicists have gone beyond Schrodinger’s solutions of positive energy or locality issue. However, his cat paradox is yet to be resolved, and his experimental find that particles do not exist unless consciously looked at has been validated by the latest experimental research by Truscott.

    In the end, my understanding that QFT is mathematical, abstract and hypothetical, governed by uncertainty principle of Thermodynamics, and PIOE theory is visual and not real still remains unchanged.

  14. akraha1948 says:

    Kushalji, by mistake I referred to a wrong book – Philosophical Foundation of QFT, edited by Harvey Brown & Rom Harre, and not the one you referred. Sorry for the mistake. Soft copy of Paul Teller’s book doesn’t appear to be downloadable. Only after perusing his work, I’ll revert on the subject.

  15. Prasanta Ray says:

    As to the issues raised and discussed in the ‘concluding remarks’ of Mr. A K Raha and the comments of M/s Raha, Shah and Gupta, I am afraid I will have to expound my take on those at some length; shortcuts easily adopted may as easily misinform, mislead, obfuscate ― as may have happened with my (hurriedly penned) article. Many of the issues just cannot be answered without a fairly thorough examination of the very foundations of physics. Also, it would not do to pick individual topics; they are inter-related. A general approach would be fine, and also cover all the issues.

    Physics

    Preliminary

    At the outset, some overarching statements ― going to the very heart of physics ― would be in order ― to reveal what physics does and does not, how exactly it proceeds, and how ‘true’ are its findings. Contrary to common belief, physics has some critical deficiencies which cannot be wished away ― because they lurk in its very methodology. This has been alluded to in my article: that the methodology is ‘paroksha’, ‘mediate’. Good to bear this in mind.

    Yet, mystifyingly, physics does seem to drop pointers to Vedanta’s basic veracity! How on earth? Here are Vivekananda’s words (also quoted in my article):
    “The internal universe, the real, is infinitely greater than the external, which is only a shadowy projection of the true one. The world is neither true nor untrue, it is the shadow of truth. ‘Imagination is the gilded shadow of truth’, says the poet.” (Emphasis added).
    Read ‘physics’ for ‘world’ and ‘physics concept’ for ‘imagination’. Can physics ― and all science ― be taken as ‘shadow of Advaita Vedanta’?

    Tongue-in-cheek question: Will physics validate Vedanta or Vedanta physics?

    Two kinds of physics (science)

    Physics proper is confined to (a) empirical findings of facts using the sense-mind-brain apparatus ― often sharpened by instrumentation ― in ‘empirical physics’, and (b) direct logical (often mathematical) inferences therefrom, in so-called ‘theoretical physics’. Such mathematical inferences are reached via ‘mathematical modelling’ ― that is to say, evolving mathematical formulations by working which one can make correct predictions of ‘if… then’ kinds of results in controlled experiments. The inferences are then subjected to matching with empirical facts discovered in further experimentation. Often have such inferences been overturned by newer factual discoveries, the displacement of Newtonian gravitation by general relativity being a case in point. A theory remains as a hypotheses until fairly robustly ‘proven’ by facts to be accepted as ‘law’. Such brutal honesty makes physics (science) extremely liberal and acceptive.

    Scope of physics

    Historically, even the best of theories have failed, having been supplanted by subsequent factual discoveries. Such failure is as much a part of physics as are its successes in formulating theories. That physics theories have been supplanted is proof of the fact that physics is simply repeated attempts at improved mathematical modelling and nothing more. Even credibility is not involved; modern physics theories have been absolutely ‘incredible’ first and last! General relativity, that replaced Newtonian gravitation, is revolutionarily and comprehensively different from the latter in mathematics, concept and import. Physics is sort of ‘educated guesswork’ insofar as description of nature is concerned; it cannot really talk of the ‘correctness’ of it, or of ‘truth’. It cannot say ‘nature is like this’ but rather ‘it is as if nature is like this’. Thus, actually, to be rigorously correct, physics has no jurisdiction even a hair’s breadth beyond the ‘perceived’ and the ‘empirically-supported theorized’. It is not even the business of physics to aver that a certain theory is ‘correct’ or ‘true’! Its legitimate business is to go on making and improving ‘mathematical models’ ― period! Physics is a continuing serial with no end!

    Experimental ‘findings’ of the physics of the super-micro

    There is simply no question of literally ‘seeing’, ‘hearing’ or ‘feeling’ a super-microscopic (loosely-used word) thing like an electron ― for they are super-micro ― way beyond the reach of naked senses! Fine instruments are pressed into service ― and those instruments do not see, hear or feel ― eventually the observer-physicist has to do so. Which again the observer cannot do! Typically, in an experiment using instruments, a spot or fine ‘track’ is seen on a detector, or a ‘click’ is heard, a pointer points, and so on ― that is all! These spots, tracks, clicks, etc. are an interface with humans. Interface of what? Who knows what lies behind? Indeed, whether there is at all any such super-micro ‘thing’ or ‘process’ or ‘world’ remains an unanswerable question ― even after experiment! One may make a statement such as: ‘the quanta went through the pair of fine slits, thereafter collectively travelled wavelike, and then struck the detector behind to generate the wavelike (barcode-like) patterns on it’. But no, it should properly be: ‘the ‘supposed’ quanta (supposedly) went through the pair of fine slits, (supposedly) thereafter (incomprehensibly) collectively travelled wavelike, and (supposedly) then struck the detector behind to (supposedly) generate the wavelike (barcode-like) patterns on it’. The ‘meaning’ of spot or track is interpreted on the basis of a supposed model of the world out there! Can you really visualize one single electron’s movement ― travelling straight or wiggling wavelike? Not really ― so what on earth is a single electron’s ‘wavelike behaviour’? An (assumed) electron (presumably) interacts once with a detector leaving a sign, and is then (presumably) gone for good! When you don’t even see the electron ― or anything ― actually interacting or doing anything ― or have any real clue to what exactly happened ― how can you see that same electron again and again to be able to follow its movement? Talk of trajectories and orbiting and revolving and so on of electrons and so forth is really imagination! These statements are picturesque but not very legitimate! Its entirely possible that bare nature (if such exists) is completely different from what we ― or physics ― fancy it to be. (It is so, says Vedanta).

    I think Lewis Carroll had it right in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ ―
    Alice: “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary-wise; what it is it wouldn’t be, and what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”

    Is it like a born-blind feeling his way with prosthetic hand? Or is it like a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn’t there?

    All statements and mathematical formulations of physics ― all its concepts, such as ‘energy’, ‘matter’, ‘mass’, ‘quantum’, ’photon’, ‘gravity waves’ ― must therefore be understood in the light of this.

    So it is that one can say ― echoing Vedanta ― that in the physics of the super-micro, the physicist is really forever dealing with ‘bhati’ ― ‘appearance’ ― of an unknown and unknowable ― and supposed ― ‘something’, and never with ‘asti’ ― that supposed something! This hiatus is impossible to bridge in physics (science)! Vivekananda again, lucidly:
    “I see a black-board. How does the knowledge come? What the German philosophers call “the thing-in-itself” of the blackboard is unknown, I can never know it. Let us call it x. The black-board x acts on my mind, and the mind reacts. The mind is like a lake. Throw a stone in a lake and a reactionary wave comes towards the stone; this wave is not like the stone at all, it is a wave. The black-board x is like a stone which strikes the mind and the mind throws up a wave towards it, and this wave is what we call the black-board… There are two elements in the perception, one coming from outside and the other from inside, and the combination of these two, x + mind, is our external universe. All knowledge is by reaction… Similar is the case with internal perception. The real self within me is also unknown and unknowable. Let us call it y. When I know myself as so-and-so, it is y + the mind. That y strikes a blow on the mind. So our whole world is x + mind (external), and y + mind (internal), x and y standing for the thing-in-itself behind the external and the internal worlds respectively.” (Emphasis added).

    That’s it ― all knowledge is by reaction (interaction). All the readings, markings, signs, in the instrumentation of physics are interactions of something with the instruments. This is equally true of our senses (and even mind, intellect, says Vedanta). The issue that the markings and signs themselves then have to interact with the observer’s mind, consciousness, has of late been receiving scientists’ attention, and perhaps beginning to become a legitimate physics issue. If an instrument (supposedly) generates a picture of a molecule ― as is being claimed these days ― then again, it is not any molecule that the physicist-observer sees, but signs of something thought to be a molecule.

    And therefore it is that the yogi of Vedanta can advise ‘im-mediate’, ‘a-paroksha’, experience! Anything very wrong in that?

    Mathematics and its application

    Since mathematics is all over physics and physics is inconceivable without math ― all important matters in physics being based on and dealt with by math ― it is reasonable to ask: What exactly is mathematics? Mathematics is refined and codified reasoning or logic. The next question: What exactly is logic? Some quiet thinking will make it clear that logic is the discernment of patterns and repetitiveness in ‘perceived’ nature (natural events), classification, not more, not less ― it is experiential, born in empiricism. You may hasten to say that there is some logic that is inborn, a priori, but then:
    (a) Can you think of a logic statement that is not born of experience?
    (b) Would any logic develop if (perceived) natural events were random, non-repetitive?

    Math examples will help. ‘1 + 2 = 3’ is understood by our (repeated) experience of (collections of) discrete objects like apples for example. After assigning the words ‘one’ and ‘two’ to a single apple and a pair (‘one plus one more’), three is defined to be one more than a pair; that is why ‘1 + 2 = 3’. There is nothing a priori about ‘1 + 2 = 3’. That is how the series of natural numbers builds up. What if the object is not discrete ― say, like water? Well, then, a ‘unit’ of such objects is defined and then ‘1 + 2 = 3’ is applied to such units (as discrete objects). Example: ‘1 litre + 2 litres = 3 litres’ for liquids. Thus, math is, in a way, physics ― it evolves from empirical processes. Because a large number of things, entities follow the same math, say, ‘1 + 2 = 3’, we can forget the thing or entity and use the math ‘1 + 2 = 3’ as if it were independent, stand-alone. Even so, when applying the statement ‘1 + 2 = 3’ to any given thing, we have to quickly consult our experience to decide whether that math can legitimately be applied to it ― ‘+’ has various physical connotations (bringing together, mixing, etc.) For example, we cannot rush to say ‘1 litre + 2 litres = 3 litres’ in the case of gas (which is compressible and thermally expandable); conditions of pressure and temperature have to be spelt out before venturing to make any math statement with gas. In the chemical reaction ‘2H2 + O2 = 2H2O’, 2 litres of hydrogen + one litre of oxygen makes 2 litres of water vapour and not 3! Clearly, plus (+) itself is understood from experience: plus for water is different from plus for apples and both different from plus for chemical equations; plus for distances is of another kind. The same applies to ‘-‘, ‘x’, ‘÷’. And this is essentially how the entire huge and magnificent edifice of math is erected on a few elementary ‘quantified’ logic statements that are developed from, and understood with reference to, experience!

    Next question: What is applied mathematics? Let us take two aspects of the question:
    (a) How does math ‘describe’ or ‘explain’ or help one ‘understand’ (things, processes)?
    (b) What are ‘entities’ as per math definitions ― absolutely crucial to physics?

    First: mathematical description / explanation. ‘Understanding’ is experience, one thing ‘understood’ by reference to another, by cross-referencing ― by familiarity, by analogy. There is really nothing deeper to it! Science progresses through analogies. To ‘know’ one thing, you must have another thing! The apple can be understood because of (experience of) the pear. Now let us take light (a most useful example and central to modern physics). In order to find out what light is, it is not light per se but its behaviour that is (mathematically) studied! The premise is: if two things follow the same math in their behaviour then they are identical or similar. Is this premise tenable? ‘1 + 2 = 3’ is followed by humans and cats; so, are humans feline? Clearly, the very procedure of mathematical comparison ― again, crucial to physics ‘understanding’ or ‘philosophy’ ― is kind of deficient, queer ― isn’t it? Light’s behaviour follows the math of discrete things in some situations and of waves (of ‘nothingness’, no medium!) in other situations. So, obviously, the correct statement is that light is light ― neither particles nor waves nor both combined, unlike anything you knew. Indeed, the correct physics statement is: ‘Light follows this math in these situations, and that math in these other situations’! Physics has no jurisdiction to say anything more ― or less! Mathematical description ― and explanation ― is surely not ‘true’; there is much that is questionable! It doesn’t even seek to describe, it ‘models’ ― a significant difference. What about the wave-particle conundrum with light? Simple: because its behaviour is so comprehensively unlike anything previously experienced by us (physicists included), unprecedented, no analogy could be found! We have no direct experience of the super-micro world. (Even the assumption of a super-micro world is questionable!) Using language such as ‘wave-packets’, ‘wave-particle duality’, ‘waves when not observed and particles when observed’ or ‘travelling as waves and arriving as particles’ are desperate attempts to ‘look for’ analogies, to describe the indescribable!

    Realizing that knowing or understanding is based on analogy, question: Can the ‘One-and-only’ of Vedanta be ever ‘known’ or ‘understood’? Is it not obviously abangmanasogocharam ― ‘beyond access of speech and mind’? In fact, all our experience having been of plurality, we cannot even begin to even faintly visualize the One-and-only. (Can it be a matter of visualization at all?) Also, Ramakrishna’s statement that ‘you cannot describe the taste of the mango to one who has not tasted it’ is steeped in significance so profound that it can be game-changing, life changing! Come ― taste it! That’s it!

    Next: entities. What is a physical (mathematical) ‘entity’? In physics, all ‘functional’ words and phrases are rigorously and functionally defined within the parameters of physics. When a physicist makes statements on ‘interpretations’ or ‘connotations’ ― even sometimes of very common physical entities and events such as what exactly is ‘momentum’ and what does ‘interaction’ mean ― or on the philosophical implications of physics findings ― he strays beyond the rigorously defined into ‘un-physics’. Strange though it may seem, to try to extract (connotative or philosophical) meaning from results of experiments or mathematical formulations is to overstep the lawful boundary ― lakshmanarekha ― of physics! Such connotative statements are made by physicists partly as a physicist and partly as a thinking person ―they are physicists’ statements and not physics statements. Obviously, this characteristic gets amplified in statements of the kind in issue here ― namely, Vedanta-physics correspondence.

    Thus, our current exercise falls outside the ‘official’ pale of physics. That is why, I have stated in my article that physics-Vedanta comparison can go only so far and no further; they belong to comprehensively different planes, so to say; (supposed) similarities will be noted personally, and the ‘in principle’ similarities, such as they are, are astounding!

    It is generally known that Vedanta (probably) relates to an altogether special realm where unprecedentedly novel ideas and conceptualizations are involved that are not amenable to commonplace understanding. What is not known is that ― contrary to the normal thinking that physics makes things understandable through precise definitions and formulations ― there too ‘understanding’ is really not! At bottom, physics works towards functionality, not understanding.

    Rigorous functional definition has been mentioned above; but alongside has also been mentioned that such definitions are within physics parameters. This implies certain things:
    • that such definitions are of words, phrases and mathematical symbols and statements that enter, or participate in, or function in, physics formulations;
    • that such definitions are for functional use in physics and for purposes of physics; as such, the definitions may not always carry meaning or be amenable to any real interpretation elsewhere, or differ from their meaning elsewhere;
    • that other, non-functional, words, etc. used in physics are of no special meaning in physics; and
    • that definitions per mathematical formulations, and the mathematical formulations, are sometimes meaningless in real terms, even within physics ― they only need to function and that they do.

    The same word may have very different connotations in everyday use, in physics, and in Vedanta. For example, ‘shakti’ in Vedanta parlance is not at all the same as ‘energy’ in physics. Vedantic shakti is more like ‘capacity’, ‘capability’ or even ‘the power to ‘appear’ or ‘manifest’ or ‘bhati’, or simply ‘phenomena’ ― vide Ramakrishna’s statement ‘Brahman and shakti are abheda (same)’. So, great care needs to be exercised when using a word of one discipline in another.

    Physics (conventionally) sees all its entities as unconscious. Two basic physics concepts have (conventionally) been ‘matter’ and ‘energy’. Advaita Vedanta sees everything as conscious (or consciousness-imbued) in varying degrees. Two of its basic concepts are ‘jada’ (for the sake of simplicity, ‘unconscious’), and ‘chetan’ (‘conscious’), most meaningfully different from matter and energy of physics!

    Example is better than precept; so here goes.
    • Along with the physicist, we all think we ‘understand’ ‘speed’. But do we? Does speed reside in the speeding object like its colour does, or is speed spread over space and time like the spreading wake of a moving boat? Actually we, and physicists, understand a speeding thing and not speed per se!
    • There is this general relativity concept of ‘warped’ or ‘bent’ 3-dimensional space. We can visualize a bent 1-D thing like a wire; also a bent 2-D surface (of a sheet of paper or of the earth). Both need an extra dimension to bend into. How then can 3-D volume bend ― into which dimension? In the math of it, you simply add a dimension, say ‘w-’, to the x-, y-, and z-dimensions that we all know, and presto, you have performed the un-performable! You can, in this way, easily create multi-dimensional ‘space’, say 11-dimensional, in math! But can you ‘understand’ it? No, no understanding, physics is math only.
    • If, as physicists aver, the universe, including space itself, has been expanding since the big bang, what (non-existent) space has it been expanding into? In the math, you only deal with the ‘expansion’ per se and not with the physical possibility or impossibility of it!
    • Likewise, could the big bang have happened at some point in time when time itself was not? (Rgveda: ‘Then there was neither existence nor non-existence’).

    And yet, in spite of this colossal deficiency at bottom ― and through and through ― the physics definitions do function in physics, and that is what physics is concerned with ― vyavaharika, existential, utility! Physics is a tool. It advances prediction and manipulation; ‘knowledge’, such as it is, is on the existential plane and only for utilization; it is knowledge imagined ― ‘imagination’. But yet that imagined knowledge is the shadow of truth, as Vivekananda says.

    Multiplication is repeated addition, division repeated subtraction. 6 apples x 2 means 6 apples added twice to make 12 apples; no problem in this. Also no problem in 6 apples / 2 apples = 3, meaning 2 apples subtracted thrice from 6 apples to leave nothing. But, can 6 apples be added 2 pears times or subtracted 2 mangoes times? What then does mass x velocity (speed) = momentum mean, as in momentum = 6 gm x 2 km / hour = 12 gm x km / hour ― gobbledygook? And yet and yet, such gobbledygook functions on the existential plane ― and does so eminently ― and, to repeat, seems to give hints of deeper truths!

    And this is how physics-Vedanta comparison becomes possible, ‘doable’ ― and ‘advisable’. Doing wrong things to get right signals? How very odd ― but exciting!

    If the entity mass (loosely, weight,) is m, and the entity velocity (loosely, speed,) is v, then m x v (mv) is the entity momentum and m x v2 is (roughly) the entity kinetic energy. Question: Then, what about m x v3 or m3 / v2 ? (Off-the-cuff) physics answer: these are not entities! Who decides what (formula) is an entity and what is not? Are entities ‘out there’ in the objective world or are they our (‘in here’) (mathematical) creations? Seems to be our handiwork, doesn’t it? Let us listen to Einstein:
    “Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world. In our endeavour to understand reality we are somewhat like a man trying to understand the mechanism of a closed watch. He sees the face and the moving hands, even hears its ticking, but he has no way of opening the case. If he is ingenious he may form some picture of a mechanism which could be responsible for all the things he observes, but he may never be quite sure his picture is the only one which could explain his observations. He will never be able to compare his picture with the real mechanism and he cannot even imagine the possibility or the meaning of such a comparison.” (Emphasis added).

    Beautifully said! And how Ramakrishna-ish ― ‘Can a one-litre jug hold 2 litres of milk?’! How Advaitic (abangmanasogocharam)! Vivekanada goes a step further saying that the so-called closed watch itself is of our creation!
    “External nature is only internal nature writ large”.

    Logic is a tool with limitations. Let us listen to Holy Mother Sarada:
    “Does one get faith by mere studying of books? Too much reading creates confusion… Give up this dry discussion, this hodge-podge of philosophy. Who has been able to know God by reasoning? Even sages like Suka and Vyasa are at best like big ants trying to carry away a few grains of sugar from a large sea… Why do people argue? Even the wisest of men have not found God through argument! Is God a subject for argument?… Infinite is He. How much can you understand of Him?” (Emphasis added).

    Can’t simple faith sometimes be superior to highfalutin ‘reasoning’?

    Vedanta

    Vedanta basics

    There is a misconception ― resulting from conclusion too hasty ― that Vedanta is what the yogis or rishis experienced; it is not so! The Upanishads are statements ― unavoidably deficient on account of use of existential language for transcendental experience ― of yogis and rishis attempting to describe and explain their inner realizations, and Vedanta is how others interpreted such statements relative to their ― the others’ ― (existential) experiences. And that’s a most significant difference! (Of course, in all probability, some of the experiences of the yogis and rishis were less than supreme; and some interpreters themselves may have had some transcendental experiences).

    Another misconception: that Vedanta (darshana) simply swallows Upanishadic statements hook, line and sinker, without application of mind. In reality however, Vedanta, one of the darshanas (as mentioned in my article), evolved over centuries of serious reasoning and epistemological debate, with much semantics too. Pramana means not exactly ‘proof’ as commonly supposed, but, more importantly, ‘means of valid knowledge’, and Vedanta pramanas are:
    • Pratyaksha (direct perception),
    • Anumana (inference),
    • Upamana (comparison, analogy),
    • Arthapatti (postulation),
    • Anupalabdhi (non-apprehension),
    • Shabda (verbal testimony (of the reliable)).
    How refined and (western-looking)! Does it look like swallowing hook, line and sinker?

    What is ‘proof’? When can a (supposed) fact be said to be ‘proved’? This is how the Indian Evidence Act defines ‘proved’:
    “A fact is said to be proved when, after considering the matters before it, the Court either believes it to exist, or considers its existence so probable that a prudent man ought, under the circumstances of the particular case, to act upon the supposition that it exists.”
    Let us take note of the words ‘probable’ and ‘supposition’. What else can a layman do with averments of rishis ― and even with experimental results of physics ― except suppose the probability of an alleged fact?

    The crucial issue is that of ‘shabda pramana’. The testimony here is the rishis’ words: the Upanishads. It is correct to say that the Upanishads have been taken for granted, as sacrosanct; all reasoning has been applied to the interpretation and understanding of Upanishadic passages and thereupon build a model of nature and truth. (Again, a model). Other darshanas doing the same (sometimes including other texts such as the puranas) have formulated other models. Before realization ― what else can one ― the physicist and the Vedanta novitiate ― do, except build models? (Don’t we go by shabda pramana every day? Aren’t court proceedings based so much on it?)

    The word ‘absolute’ is necessarily used in dealing with Advaita. It means the utterly un-relative ― therefore, not referable to space-time, attribute-less, description-less, undifferentiated, changeless, illimitable, and so on. No word is sufficient for it. The utter description-less-ness necessarily precludes the use of adjectives. That is why the words ‘absolute existence’ (sat), ‘absolute consciousness’ (chit), ‘absolute bliss’ (ananda) have been used for Brahman the Absolute. The word ‘satya’ derives from the root sat; so does the word ‘sattwa’ (one of the three gunas, qualities, that make up nature, external and internal). (Loosely: a clay ‘dog’ is temporary and changeable, so it is not sat, Truth; but the clay may be! The dog is mithya, false!)

    A word on ‘logic’ in Vedanta (and other darshanas). In my considerably limited understanding of formal logic, inductive, deductive and abductive logic involve inference and consequence. In deductive logic, with a premise given, a deduction follows therefrom as a logical consequence, a certainty. In inductive logic, the inference can be drawn but not necessarily; it is not a certainty. In abductive logic, the inference is of a possible explanation of the premise ― a kind of reversal of the first two.

    In Vedanta and other darshanas ―
    • first, the subject-texts are interpreted as to their meaning, and
    • then (sometimes), inferences are drawn therefrom as to desirable goal/s and self-conduct enabling accomplishment of such goal/s.

    So, most probably it is not deductive logic operating when mulling Advaita Vedanta; study of Advaita does not involve consequences from the premise of Brahman. Also, inference as to self-conduct is really not a must, and may be personal; so, not much of inductive logic either. And as to abductive logic, can there even conceivably be any inference of Brahman?

    Why do the darshanas differ (even widely)? Because ―
    • the subject texts are different,
    • the interpretations of passages (words and phrases) are different, and very importantly,
    • the interpreters differ in depth and extent of transcendental experience.

    After all, as Advaita Vedanta holds, there is really no such thing as a ‘world out there’ ― it is all just a (false) ‘projection’ of the observer-subject’s mind, superimposition, adhyas ― ‘internal nature writ large’. As is the observer, so is the (so-called) world (as necessarily imagined).

    Time to turn to some salient Advaita Vedanta contents.
    a) The sense-mind-intellect machinery is error-fraught; so adopt aparokshsa means.
    b) Brahman, the Ultimate Truth, is shorn of attributes / qualities, is indescribable, is absolutely Absolute! Adjectives do not apply to it; they apply only to the relative, the describable. That is why, Brahman is not ‘existent-conscious-blissful’ but ‘existence-consciousness-bliss’!
    c) If we are using adjective, then we are not truly referring to the Absolute, Brahman.
    d) Brahman is before space and time (and causality). That is why, no statement of any language as known and used, can even remotely apply to it.
    e) The infinite cannot become more. It can appear as less per maya. So-called creation is involution of Brahman per maya ― delusion ― and evolution. You can cover what is there but you can’t uncover what isn’t!
    f) With the very onset of creation, a veil of agyan (nescience) appears; everything thereafter ― the phenomenological world ― is shrouded in that maya.
    g) All creation is really One-and-only; but it masquerades as many ― maya again! Per Advaita, being essentially Brahman, everything is at bottom conscious, infinite, eternal ― and one, not distinct.
    h) That which exists (asti) and its appearance to perception (bhati) are different. Appearance, bhati, is delusive, and that is what common perception (and physics) is limited to; that is phenomena, the world.
    i) Creation is not bringing new things into existence – for everything begins, subsists and ends in Brahman. Creation is changing of form (parinama) or ― per Advaita, false, seemingly changing, superposition (adhyas) ― vivartana.
    j) Creation first (seemingly) develops through finest, fine, grosser, grossest, with tanmatras and, later, sentient beings being created; and, after a period of subsistence, the reverse process (seemingly) takes everything back to Brahman. This is involution-evolution.
    k) Consequently, there will be hints of oneness and consciousness in finer layers of nature ― closer to creation’s beginning.
    l) Knowing the seer of the sight is incomparably better than knowing the sight. Also, the sighted cannot be known without knowing the seer!
    m) Acquiring aparoksha experience through meditative sadhana is the (only) proof of deeper truths, Vedantic truths. That is how the rishis’ realizations can be validated.
    n) Cause and effect are essentially mayic! There is no such thing as cause-and-effect ― that is delusion!
    o) Forms of the ‘One-and-only’ are speciously abstracted and name-tagged to create spurious ‘many’ from the One. This is called namarupa (name-cum-form), a delusion, maya. Aren’t Einstein’s man-made entities namarupa of physics? All actually being one single ‘entity’?
    p) The (so-called) aham or ‘I-sense’ is a myth! This creates the fake external-internal divide, the object-subject divide, the you-vs-I divide. In reality, ‘tis but one’ (Vivekananda).

    As to the issue of ‘cause’ of the phenomenal world, the (unavoidable) first question will be: What is the definition of the word ‘cause’ ― in the domains of physics and Vedanta, both?

    Some pondering will make it clear that the term is ‘understood’ from experience only ― from familiarity. While we laymen are familiar with everyday events and cause-and-effect among them, and the physicist is familiar with cause-and-effect among more remote events ― and sometimes with violation of cause-and-effect in chancy quantum-world outcomes ― what is the yogi familiar with on the yogic plane? Just as we laymen cannot understand the physicist’s familiarity and physics cause-and-effect, similarly won’t we and the physicist not understand the yogi’s familiarity or cause-and-effect, if any, in his plane? There are three things in science: the scientist, the apparatus, the experiment. The yogi is all of these, 3-in-1! Can we then hope to understand the yogi’s experience till we ourselves become yogis?

    The Vedanta-physics comparison is to get clues, that’s all. Also to take up Vedanta statements and apply our reasoning ― plus physics discoveries, as here done, ― to them, keeping in mind the limitations of reasoning and physics.

    Going by commonplace experience, a cause is said to be that which produces the effect. So, what does ‘produce’ mean? Analyzing in this manner, one would be justified in saying that, when a second event inevitably follows a first event, the first event is the cause of the second. Is there really any other factor beyond two events inevitably happening together or close together? Be that as it may, the concept of ‘cause’ in Vedanta could differ from that in physics. Vivekananda again:
    “Cause is never different from effect, the effect is but the cause reproduced in another form… The wave is the same thing as the water, the effect is the cause in another form…” and also: “Cause and effect are all Maya, and we shall grow to understand that all we see is as disconnected as the child’s fairy tales now seem to us. There is really no such thing as cause and effect and we shall come to know it. Then if you can, lower your intellect to let any allegory pass through your mind without questioning about connection.”
    So, it is all and always the cause only ― in varied forms or modes. It bears mentioning that, according to Vedanta, ‘desh-kala-nimitta’ or space-time-causality, is maya.

    Physics does not yet accept consciousness to be ‘functioning’ in physics as a factor. But some physicists do in their personal capacity! This is on the basis of queer happenings in the world of the quantum, briefly described in my article, where quanta, if any, seem to be aware of their systems and the observer; and where quanta seem to be entangled as one, not two! Here are a few quotes of eminent physicists:
    “It will never be possible by pure reason to arrive at some absolute truth.”
    “The smallest units of matter are not physical objects in the ordinary sense; they are forms, ideas which can be expressed unambiguously only in mathematical language.”
    “…reality is in the observations, not in the electron… What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning… “
    ― W Hiesenberg, Nobel physicist and a QM founding-father
    ‘…atoms with consciousness; matter with curiosity…’
    ― R Feynman, Nobel physicist
    “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
    “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
    ― Albert Einstein, Nobel physicist
    “The universe does not exist “out there,” independent of us. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to be happening. We are not only observers. We are participators. In some strange sense, this is a participatory universe.”
    “(The black hole) teaches us that space can be crumpled like a piece of paper into an infinitesimal dot, that time can be extinguished like a blown-out flame, and that the laws of physics that we regard as “sacred,” as immutable, are anything but.”
    “It from bit symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom — at a very deep bottom, in most instances — an immaterial source and explanation.”
    ― J A Wheeler, Princeton physicist
    “(It) takes place whenever the result of an observation enters the consciousness of the observer ― or, to be even more painfully precise, my consciousness, since I am the only observer, all other people being only subjects of my observations… This last step occurs when a correlation is established between the state of the last measuring apparatus and something which directly affects our consciousness. This last step is, at the present state of our knowledge, shrouded in mystery…”
    “It (is) not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness”
    ― Eugene Wigner, Nobel Physicist
    “From an inner centre, the psyche seems to move outward, in the sense of an extraversion, into the physical world…”
    — Wolfgang Pauli, Nobel physicist
    “There is no strict division between subjective and objective reality, consciousness and the physical universe are connected by some fundamental physical mechanism. This relationship between mind and reality is not subjective or objective, but ‘omnijective’. An omnijective concept of the universe is by no means new … There is a vast philosophical and metaphysical tradition behind the philosophy that the universe is omnijective The mystics tell us this is true. The idealists tell us it is true. Most exciting of all, the physicists tell us it is true.”
    — Michael Talbot, physics author
    “What the Scientist experiments outside… the Sage experiences within… Both encounter the same reality crisscrossed… we can never say that an atomic particle exists at a certain place, nor… it does not exist… a strange kind of physical reality between existence and non-existence… If we ask for instance, whether the position of an electron remains the same, we must say ‘no’; if we ask whether the electron’s position changes with time, we must say ‘no’; if we ask whether the electron is at rest, we must say ‘no’; if we ask if it is in motion, we must say ‘no’.”
    — Fritjof Capra, physics author
    “So Einstein was wrong when he said, “God does not play dice.” Consideration of black holes suggests, not only that God does play dice, but that he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can’t be seen.”
    ― Stephen Hawking, much-awarded astrophysicist

    Advaita from first principles?

    Now, a beautiful question: If there was no infinitude to begin with, could infinitude be built up from finites? The cool-headed answer is: No. For an infinitude of those finites would be needed ― and where would they have been to start with if not in infinitude? So, what is wrong in the Advaitic averment that infinitude is the beginning, middle, and end, of everything?

    Next: Can a finite thing be visualized without necessarily having to allude to infinitude? A finite something means visualizing its boundaries, which boundaries can be recognized only against a bigger finite background, which in turn would similarly call for an even bigger background… till? Infinitude? So then, what is wrong in the Advaitic averment that the finite, the relative, needs the infinite, the absolute to rest in?

    Next: If there was no consciousness to begin with, could it have been created or produced by unconscious matter/energy? Which one appeals more ―
    • that unconscious matter/energy combined to create consciousness; or
    • that the unconscious or less conscious emanated from pre-existing consciousness?

    Is the Advaitic averment that consciousness (apparently) begot the less conscious so far-fetched?

    Next: Could insentient matter/energy have caused the phenomenal world? Physics, or physicists rather, hints at such possibility. As discussed above, physics is experimental findings and immediate theorization thereon. Such findings and theorization have not yet quite homed in on the cause of the phenomenal universe; physics is for example yet in search of a ‘unified field’ or ‘unification of the diverse-looking forces’. (The immediately preceding question would be relevant here). But then: insentient matter/energy being a part of the world, within it, could it be considered to be the cause of the world?

    Issues and posers

    Some have been directly or indirectly dealt with above. Some are dealt with below.
    1. ‘Is the cause of the ‘phenomenal’ world Pure Consciousness… or ‘insentient deterministic nature’.
    a) Vedanta holds it is consciousness.
    b) Physics does not have any view. (But, see supra).
    2. ‘…it is inconceivable that any phenomenon such as consciousness can originate from a cause / source other than the Nature or Energy.’
    a) Advaita Vedanta holds consciousness to be the VERY BASIS AND SOURCE OF EVERYTHING! IT DOES NOT ORIGINATE IN ANYTHING. ALL THINGS ORIGINATE (SUBSIST AND EVENTULLY MERGE) IN CONSCIOUSNESS ― BRAHMAN (SAT + CHIT + ANANDA). Pragyanam Brahma ― Brahman is consciousness. A man ― as also all creatures ― in his deepest is that chit! Consciousness is the origin of origins!
    b) Per Advaita, nature itself ― which includes energy (physics ‘energy’ or shakti, see supra) ― is a (delusive) derivative (so to say) of consciousness, Brahman. No question of nature being the origin of consciousness!
    c) If (conceivably) consciousness originated in nature or energy, what did nature / energy originate in? Energy (as per physics) giving rise to consciousness, does not appeal to me; the reverse does.
    d) Consciousness IS NOT PHENOMENON! It is the heart and soul of all phenomena!
    3. ‘Surely an insentient nature cannot produce consciousness, even accidentally. Once we accept the above proposition, Vedantic postulates will resonate with modern physicists.’
    a) Yes, Advaita holds that everything proceeds from, abides in, and merges in, consciousness (Brahman).
    b) To me, it is more reasonable to accept that ‘insentient nature cannot produce consciousness, even accidentally’ than to accept its reverse.
    c) Whether, then, Vedantic postulates will resonate with modern physicists is conjectural now, though some eminent physicists seem to personally accept the Vedantic view (see supra).
    4. ‘…classical physicists were generally reluctant to attribute consciousness…’
    a) The issue of consciousness did not even arise during the classical phase.
    b) The issue of (conscious) subject’s participation in objective observation emerged from ―
    • (Relativistic) dependence of space-time on observer’s speed,
    • Chanciness of individual ‘quantum world’ observations, and
    • Mysterious seeming ‘awareness’ in the particles / quanta observed.
    No resolution to this conundrum yet.
    5. ‘…consciousness is nothing more than an accidental byproduct of laws of physics.’
    a) Does it mean that consciousness is not even a necessity ― it need not have been?
    b) Isn’t consciousness the absolute start-point and end-point of any thought, experiment, enquiry, perception, cerebration, understanding, statement?
    c) Isn’t the physicist, observer, theorizer, speaker, conscious, and necessarily so?
    6. ‘Everything material is also mental… (idealism, spirit, consciousness)’
    a) Echoes of Advaita Vedanta
    b) As per Advaita ― not ‘mental’ but ‘conscious’. The mind too is material (but more conscious than say a stone) and an object, not subject.
    7. ‘The separation of the two – matter and spirit – is an abstraction.’
    a) Vivekananda:
    “One party says thought is caused by matter, and the other says matter is caused by thought. Both statements are wrong; matter and thought are coexistent. There is a third something of which both matter and thought are products… As particles of matter combine in space, so mind-waves combine in time… “
    “Take a steel strip. Give it a hard blow and it will emit sound. Give harder blows and it will go white (light?). Strike it harder still and it will vanish… become mind…” (not verbatim).
    8. ‘Granted that a conscious observer ought to be a materialized entity…’
    a) The issue of the immediate observer’s consciousness being possibly involved in observation has been discussed elsewhere.
    b) I cannot answer the issue of second, third… observer. Seems too speculative at present.
    9. ‘…like a particle when under observation, and at another time, like a wave when not under observation… particles indeed have dual behaviour…’
    a) Just a picturesque statement. Replace ‘like’ by ‘as if’. Correct statement: ‘Is (presumably) detected as spots like those a particle would create, but the location of such spots, though individually unpredictable, can be statistically predicted by using the mathematics of waves.’
    10. ‘…the cause of the collapse of wave-like behaviour or materialization into particle form is a conscious observer…’
    a) Not a physics finding. Some eminent physicists do personally hold this view: ‘consciousness causes collapse of the quantum wave-function’ of the (pre-observed) particle ― Neumann-Wigner interpretation.
    b) An unknown ‘hidden factor’ was conjectured to account for the apparent ‘chanciness’ of quantum experiment results. Some physicists proposed that the observer’s mind or consciousness is that ‘hidden’ factor.
    c) Issue has not yet been resolved.
    11. ‘…wave functions never collapse but split apart… into multiverses… a person who has died in one universe might be alive in another… appears to agree with Upanishadic anecdotes of dead persons being alive on another plane.’
    a) This is the ‘many worlds’ interpretation originated by Hugh Everett. I think only few physicists favour this. But can it be ruled out?
    b) I think it is a bit like Sankhya darshana. Not sure at all.
    c) I don’t know about the Upanishadic anecdote, but can we legitimately rush to draw any conclusion on the Vedantic anecdote yet? Specially that of a dead man living elsewhere? The Advaitic view is that only the body perishes on ‘so-called’ death, but the other sheaths (‘koshas) ― pranamaya (vitality sheath), manomaya (mental sheath), vigyanamaya (intellect sheath) and anandamaya (blissful sheath) ― continue to ‘live’ in other lokas. This ‘living’ in sukshma sharira (fine body) is not easily comparable with the ‘many-worlds’ interpretation.
    12. ‘…pronounced by a realized soul… without explaining how that realization can be validated…’
    a) Aparoksha experience via meditation and sans sense-mind-intellect has been advised by the sages.
    b) Shruti (hearing, reading), yukti (intellection) and swanubhuti (one’s own experience) has been recommended.
    13. ‘The above verse from the Gita is axiomatic and smacks of relativity of earth time vis-à-vis space time without explaining how the said axiom was established.’
    a) (‘Day’ in) ‘earth time’ involves the revolving of the earth ― one revolution.
    b) ‘Space time’ cannot be referring to any such revolving ― of what? ‘Brahma’s one day’ in space time is a figure of speech.
    c) It was established via inner realization, yoga. ‘Yoga’ means to ‘yoke’ or ‘join’ the yogi’s inmost being, atman, to the universe’s inmost being, ‘paramatman’ (Brahman). Anything left after that?
    14. ‘…one can reasonably infer that the Nature / Energy is sentient or conscious.’
    a) As per Advaita, it is indeed so ― conscious in varying degrees. Everything is so.
    b) But can one really infer ― from what?

    Thing is, consciousness cannot be objectified, you cannot perceive consciousness, you can be it! Physics being always busy with insentient ‘objects’, can it easily involve consciousness in physics phenomena, experiments and theories? According to me, the incompleteness of physics is in its not factoring in the physicist-observer-theorizer! That is why it is the shadow of truth! And that is what the Vedantin feels about us, physicists included.

    Apologies for being slow, and thank you all.

    Prasanta Ray
    28/07/2016

    • Kushal Shah says:

      Prasantaji, thanks for the detailed description. I agree with most of what you have said. Might have missed a few minor points here and there since the comment was long and I hopped and skipped while reading.

      “However, his cat paradox is yet to be resolved, and his experimental find that particles do not exist unless consciously looked at has been validated by the latest experimental research by Truscott.”

      Asishji, it is not clear whether the cat paradox is more of interest in philosophy or in physics. My guess is that it is the former. As for Truscott’s results, I would again like to point out that ‘particles do not exist unless measured’ does not mean that they emerge out of consciousness at the time of measurement. What we call particles exist as probability waves (which is again insentient as far as physics is concerned) and they take the role of particles/waves depending on what we measure. If we do a certain kind of measurement, we will not see particles at all but only waves. And if Vedanta believes that consciousness exists everywhere, why should it be tied to observation by a human? A cat, mouse, plant or even bacteria would do. And in the absence of all these before the advent of life on this planet, there was the cosmic consciousness which observes all things at all times.

      “In the end, my understanding that QFT is mathematical, abstract and hypothetical, governed by uncertainty principle of Thermodynamics, and PIOE theory is visual and not real still remains unchanged.”

      QFT is one of the most successful experimentally tested physical theories ever produced by man. Please see Feynman’s lectures on Quantum Electrodynamics:

  16. akraha1948 says:

    “It is not even the business of physics to aver that a certain theory is ‘correct’ or ‘true’! Its legitimate business is to go on making and improving ‘mathematical models’ ― period! Physics is a continuing serial with no end!”

    Prasanta, you have succinctly defined the limits of physics. In your lengthy & thoughtful explanation of physics and Vedanta, bringing out their differences and similarities in essence, you have very correctly put your emphasis on consciousness, which is not a factor in physics though dwelt upon by some physicists ‘in their personal capacity’, but the essence of Vedanta. You have also extensively dealt with deductive, inductive and abductive logic which have been followed by Vedantists and physicists, and for that matter all branches of science and philosophy.

    It is pertinent to mention here that both Samkhya and Vedanta followed inductive logic to approach the higher truth from the lower one, i.e. from the 5 elements viz. earth, water, fire, air and ether, in that order, and then to mind, intellect and ego, before they reached the prakriti (conscious nature) and purusha (conscious soul) [refer Brihadaranyaka Upanishada]. While Samkhya stopped with Prakriti and Purusha describing both as Infinites, Vedanta went further deep into the root or the Ultimate Cause of all creations including prakriti and purusha and envisioned BRAHMAN. Did Vedantists invent Brahman by applying logic or realize the same through meditation? This is a pertinent question which needs to be addressed in the present context.

    According to Swami Vivekananda, Vedantists found Samkhya’s two infinites theory as fundamentally flawed, as surely there could not be two infinites. To be more precise, the word ‘Infinite’ means all-pervasive, implying thereby that nothing remains outside of it. Thus if we conceive a second infinite, we have to assume that the same is located outside the limits of the first infinite, which is impracticable. This was precisely the reason why our wise men chose to delve further in search of the cause of both prakriti and purusha. While the reason for search was entirely logical, the realization of Brahman was in spiritual domain, essentially through meditation. Upon realization of the ultimate Truth, entire creation in form of cyclical evolution and involution manifested in the yogic vision, the narrative of which is contained in the Upanishadas, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras.

    It was firmly believed by Einstein that once we could explore the Theory of Everything, the mystery of the nature and the creation will be unravelled / unfolded once for all. According to Stephen Hawking, super-string theory comes closest to the long elusive theory of everything. However, quite a few physicists question and seriously dispute above observation by Hawking. Be that as it may, the elusive theory of everything appears similar to knowing Brahman for the accepted proposition that after knowing it, nothing else will remain to be known. It is another thing whether it is at all possible for quantum physicists to discover the theory of everything, or whether there can be any such theory at all.

    Kushalji, since you do not contest my observation that PIOE theory is virtual and not real, there is no further disagreement between us. I am thankful for the video link to Feynman’s lecture which is quite educative.

    • Kushal Shah says:

      “since you do not contest my observation that PIOE theory is visual and not real, there is no further disagreement between us.”

      Asishji, PIOE theory is very much real. But I guess now we are in a domain where each term has to be carefully defined since what you call as ‘real’ may be different from what that term means to me. There is fundamental disagreement in our views primarily because I am more inclined towards Samkhya and you come from Vedanta. Now of course we can go into lengthy arguments on why one is right and the other wrong (or lesser truth) but such arguments can never be settled. So I have nothing more to say regarding this topic. Eagerly waiting for the next blog. 🙂

  17. Prasanta Ray says:

    Gratifying to see response in such volume. Proof that the topic is found interesting by many. I will comment on some comments, not all; sorry, there is no time.

    # ‘…whether the energy is conscious or insentient, in order to settle whether the title of the current topic passes our scrutiny.’
    — Already answered: per Advaita, everything is conscious to a degree.

    # ‘…the finds of Sir John Eccles, a Nobel laureate neuro-scientist, according to whom, consciousness leaves a dying person, floats around observing things and later attach itself to an unborn fetus to start a new existence’
    — Sounds too much like Vedanta ― a jiva (sentient creature) living in sukshma sharira (subtle body) after so-called death ― but I simply cannot comment, being ignorant of psychology and its recent findings, and of the details of the experiment/s leading to the findings. What beats me though is how did Sir John reach such startling findings? Are these corroborated by others? (Interestingly, Vivekananda has called psychology ‘the science of sciences’.)

    # ‘The separation of the two – matter and spirit – is an abstraction. The ground is always one.” Above views of David Bohm are in conformity with those of Eugene Wigner.’
    — If spirit means consciousness, then spirit is paramount. If spirit means the mind then I would want to refer you to Vivekananda’s words: ‘There is a third something of which both matter and thought are products…’ And, sarvam khalu idam Brahma’ ― all this is verily Brahman only, so says Advaita.

    # ‘Whether science and Vedanta are searching for the same ‘ultimate truth’ needs to be carefully thought about. It is not clear whether there is at all a single ‘ultimate truth’ and even if it exists, whether it is possible for a human to know / grasp / experience it as a whole. Ramakrishna used to say that most enlightened souls have merely touched the ocean of Brahman and Shuka perhaps tasted a few drops. And as there is another common saying, “hari ananta, hari katha ananta”…’
    • Science is simply proceeding step by step, depending on what is being unearthed by experiments. It would be presumptuous of scientists to announce search for ‘Ultimate Truth’ ― they usually make no such claims.
    • As regards the power of the human mind to grasp etc. well, Ramakrishna and Holy Mother Sarada have both categorically dismissed the possibility of reaching Truth through argument alone, vide their utterances quoted by me in my earlier comments. Stands to reason…
    • Also, “na yam atma pravacanena labhyo na medhaya na bahuna shrutena” ― Upanishads; meaning: This atman (= Brahman) cannot be attained by explanations, nor by intelligence, nor through much hearing.

    # ‘In my understanding energy is a state of matter; it does not exist without matter. Even the well known formula e=mc2 contemplates that if m is zero, i.e. if there is no mass (or matter), there is no energy. This simply answers one of the posers that energy and matter are interconnected; rather, energy has no separate existence. While it is everyday experience that one sees energy being produced from matter but it has not yet been possible to produce matter from energy, though there are some experiments at huge costs but still this is hypothetical.’
    • As per special relativity (SR), the mass of a material object increases with speed; the equation is m(rel) = m(rest) ÷ √(1 – v2/c2), where v is the particle’s speed, c is light’s speed, m(rest) is the ‘rest mass’ and m(rel) is the ‘relativistic mass’. So, if m(rest) = 0, then m(rel) also = 0. m in E = mc2 is the relativistic mass, and so, a material particle with rest mass = 0 cannot have any energy ― true. But then, if rest mass is zero, it cannot be a material particle at all, can it? There is no such material particle. Now, there are these ‘quanta’ ― loosely, ‘particles’ of electromagnetic energy; also called ‘photons’. Photons always travel at light’s speed and a photon at rest is unknown. These photons have zero rest mass (just for the sake of comparison with material particles), but do have momentum, p, and energy: E = pc. Thus photons are kind of pure energy ‘particles’.
    • As far as I know, photons (energy) sometimes vanish leaving (previously non-existent) electro-positron pair, material particles both. This is matter being created from energy. Also, in high energy physics, say, in cosmic rays and in the Large Hadron Collider, two material particles colliding at super speeds are found to (a) lose energy, and (b) generate (previously non-existent) new material particles: again a case of (lost) energy producing matter.

    # ‘It is common knowledge that atomic particles keep revolving in orbits around the nuclei. Science can explain this revolving but not who caused this revolving? Is it not that the matter possessed intelligence to let itself survive? And this intelligence is a sign of consciousness present in every particle of the universe. Nay it is the consciousness which manifests in different forms. Consciousness is the characteristic of the soul or the Brahman, by whatever name one may call. It is through consciousness that the Brahman manifests in various forms. The sequence of manifestation is from soul or Brahman to consciousness, from consciousness to intelligence (BUDDHI), from intelligence to energy and from energy to matter. This is the process of creation.’
    • ‘Revolving’ etc has already been commented upon by me. ‘Movement’ of an elementary particle is more mathematics than (perceptibly) actual. Elementary particles are dimensionless, mathematical points. So, can they ‘spin’? Also, ‘revolving’ (orbiting, around a nucleus) would need the physicist to continuously follow the electron, which is an impossibility. And yet, the math of electrons works fine even if orbiting and spinning are assumed!
    • ‘Who caused’ ― a ‘why’-question ― Not answerable in the present context.
    • ‘And this intelligence is a sign of consciousness present in every particle of the universe’ ― Mentioned in my article.
    • ‘The sequence of manifestation is from soul or Brahman to consciousness, from consciousness to intelligence (BUDDHI), from intelligence to energy and from energy to matter.’ ― ‘Soul to Brahman’ would relegate Brahman to second place which is not in tune with Advaita; Advaita holds atman (soul?) to be the same as Brahman, the Ultimate Truth, only thought separate through delusion, maya.

    # ‘Maya is not illusion but ‘relativity’. What is seen by an observer is not seen by another observer, because they are relatively differently located, both cannot occupy the same place at the same time. This relativity is the fundamental characteristic of every particle in the universe. Every particle is revolving, nothing is static in the universe and thus there is a constant change in the relative position of every particle, vis-à-vis its own position and other particles… It is not illusion but different perception of different observers and they are right from their relative positions.’
    • ‘Maya = relativity’ ― Not acceptable in Advaita. Per advaita, Maya is out and out delusion, if not illusion, like the false snake in a rope. Relativity of differently located observers is not at all an intractable issue, and so cannot lead to delusion. ‘Relativity’ of physics would indicate that space, time etc. are not absolute as was thought earlier…
    • ‘they are right from their relative positions’ ― Are these ‘positions’ the same as commonly-understood ‘physical’ positions (with coordinates x, y, z)? If so, where would there at all be a question of ‘illusion’? Everybody knows that objects look different from different physical viewpoints; that’s no big deal. But yes, the objective looks different to different observers because of their mental-intellectual-psychical differences; this (probably) accords with Sankhya and Vedanta as well.
    • ‘Nothing is static.’ Well, yes. The word ‘jagat’ (world, universe, wind) has the root ‘gam’ ― to go, to come, to move ― whence also ‘gati’. Thus, jagat is that which is always moving ― not static.

    # ‘As regards time and space, can both these expressions be defined?’
    — Very tough to define.

    # ‘Each particle has its own time scale…’
    — Special relativity (SR) talks of time slowing with speed; this has been mentioned in my article. What other time-scale that ‘each has’? Not clear.

    # ‘Speed of light may not be surpassed by matter but the speed of thought is faster than that.’
    • What is speed of thought? (Not known now in any scientific way).
    • “That non-dual Atman, though never stirring, is swifter than the mind. The senses cannot reach It, for It moves ever in front. Though standing still, It overtakes others who are running…. It moves and moves not; It is far and likewise near.” ― Upanishads.
    ‘It may be said that the Absolute is absolute darkness, no manifestation of any sort and it manifested as an ocean of light or consciousness only one It desired to manifest.’
    • In Advaita, no words apply to the Absolute.
    • ‘Darkness’ or ‘light’ have to ‘observed’ by some observer-subject; who is he in the Absolute? (But ‘darkness’, ‘light’ could be sort of ‘poetic’ words).
    • “At first there was only darkness wrapped in darkness” ― Rgveda. Here, ‘darkness’ is just a figure of speech.

    I add some observations on my own:
    • As per Advaita, consciousness cannot be ‘objectified’ –it cannot be detected, etc. by any instrument.
    • We implicitly assume an observer’s role but forgetting to study that very observer. Advaita says, deepest inside, we so-called observers are the Ultimate Truth.
    • ‘Acquiring knowledge’ from observations or experiments really means ‘uncovering’ knowledge inside us; When we read a book, does ‘knowledge’ emanate from its pages to us?
    • There is a limit beyond which we cannot ‘study’ (so-called) ourselves, for can the eye see itself? There is this beautiful and extremely significant question in the Upanishads: How will the knower be known? Touche!
    • But ‘conscious(-like) behaviour’ can be studied..

    Some Vivekananda quotes:
    • “Is religion to justify itself by the discoveries of reason, through which every other concrete science justifies itself? Are the same methods of investigation which we apply to sciences and knowledge outside, to be applied to the science of Religion? In my opinion, this must be so, and I am also of opinion that the sooner it is done the better. If a religion is destroyed by such investigations, it was then all the time useless, unworthy superstition; and the sooner it goes the better. I am thoroughly convinced that its destruction would be the best thing that could happen. All that is dross would be taken off, no doubt, but the essential parts of religion will emerge triumphant out of this investigation. Not only will it be made scientific, as scientific at least, as any of the conclusions of physics or chemistry, but will have greater strength, because physics or chemistry has no internal mandate to vouch for its truth, which religion has.”
    • “To get any reason out of the mass of incongruity we call human life, we have to transcend our reason, but we must do it scientifically, slowly, by regular practice, and we must cast off all superstition. We must take up the study of the superconscious state just as any other science. On reason we must have to lay our foundation, we must follow reason as far as it leads, and when reason fails, reason itself will show us the way to the highest plane.”

    Thank you all.

    Prasanta Ray
    30/07/2016

  18. akraha1948 says:

    “What beats me though is how did Sir John reach such startling findings? Are these corroborated by others? (Interestingly, Vivekananda has called psychology ‘the science of sciences’.)”

    Prasanta, Sir John Eccles was not a psychologist, nor did he have anything to do with psychology. He was a nobel laureate neuro-scientist and his findings, though inferential and hypothetical, were based on experiments. However, even physics to a large extent is hypothetical.

    Having regard to our topic: ‘Echoes of Vedanta in Modern Physics’ what is important is to examine whether any convergence of Vedantic philosophy with modern physics is at all possible. We understand that physics is a science of matter & not consciousness while consciousness is all-important in Vedanta. That said, is there anything wrong in examining the propositions of some nobel laureate quantum physicists like Eugene Wigner who have come to the finding, based again on experiments, that “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness”.Truscott’s experiment in May, 2015, also corroborates Wigner when he states: “Reality does not exist unless you look at it.” Even assuming that all those findings are hypothetical, doesn’t this new found emphasis on consciousness by leading quantum physicists justifies an analogy with Vedantic theory that looks strikingly similar.

    We may go at length to explain what Vedanta is and how the Truth is realized through experience / meditation. We may also go at length to explain what physics is and also how physicists should conduct themselves (in the Oft-quoted words of David Mermin: “Shut up and calculate”). But our focus here should be entirely on the aspect of convergence between physics and Vedanta. Keeping that in view, if you can throw some light, it will be interesting and topical.

    • Prasanta Ray says:

      # “But our focus here should be entirely on the aspect of convergence between physics and Vedanta. Keeping that in view, if you can throw some light, it will be interesting and topical.”
      — Who am I — mired as I am in darkness — to throw light? It is only the ‘illumined’ that can. I only hope I don’t deepen the darkness!
      — But what are eminent physicists saying?
      — David Bohm, FRS, physicist (in ‘Wholeness and the Implicate Order’): “Science itself is demanding a new, non-fragmentary world view, in the sense that the present approach of analysis of the world into independently existent parts does not work very well in modern physics. It is shown that both in relativity theory and quantum theory, notions implying the undivided wholeness of the universe would provide a much more orderly way of considering the general nature of reality…
      “(T)here is a universal flux that cannot be defined explicitly but which can be known only implicitly, as indicated by the explicitly definable forms and shapes, some stable and some unstable, that can be abstracted from the universal flux. In this flow, mind and matter are not separate substances. Rather, they are different aspects of our whole and unbroken movement…
      “Thus, in scientific research, a great deal of our thinking is in terms of theories. The word ‘theory’ derives from the Greek ‘theoria’, which has the same root as ‘theatre’, in a word meaning ‘to view’ or ‘to make a spectacle’. Thus, it might be said that a theory is primarily a form of insight, i.e. a way of looking at the world, and not a form of knowledge of how the world is.” Isn’t he echoing Vivekananda? Isn’t he speaking ‘Physicsanta’?!
      — Vivekananda: “There is a third something of which both matter and thought are products… As particles of matter combine in space, so mind-waves combine in time…
      “One atom in this universe cannot move without dragging the whole world along with it…
      “Modern science has really made the foundations of religion strong. That the whole universe is one is scientifically demonstrable…
      “Science has proved to me that physical individuality is a delusion, that really my body is one little continuously changing body in an unbroken ocean of matter, and… Advaita (Unity) is the necessary conclusion with my other counterpart, soul… (Incidentally, all molecules of the body get replaced / renewed every 7 years or so!)
      “Physics is bounded on both sides by metaphysics… it starts from non-reason and ends with non-reason. If we push enquiry far enough in the world of perception, we must reach a plane beyond perception…” Isn’t this showing up in physics? It is indeed… and how!
      “Religions are encumbered with such a mass of explanations which come from outside — one angel is in charge of the sun, another of the moon, and so on… Science means that THE CAUSE OF A THING IS SOUGHT OUT BY THE NATURE OF THE THING ITSELF… BECAUSE ADVAITISM HAS DONE LIKEWISE IN SPIRITUAL MATTERS, IT IS THE MOST SCIENTIFIC RELIGION… (It) even goes a little further than modern researches… and that is why it appeals to modern scientists so much… A man must have not only faith, but INTELLECTUAL FAITH too.” (Emphasis added).

      # “Even assuming that all those findings are hypothetical, doesn’t this new found emphasis on consciousness by leading quantum physicists justifies an analogy with Vedantic theory that looks strikingly similar.”
      — You said it! It does. If Vedanta were junk, wouldn’t physics findings have been radically different from Vedanta with not a whisper of even conceivable similarity?
      — Einstein: “A human being is a part of a whole, called by us ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings, as something separate from us — a kind of optical delusion of our consciousness… Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” So Vivekananda-ish! Advaitic! Mayavad-ish!
      “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” These kinds of sentiments inspired the rishis too!
      “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals
      himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”
      “The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. The religion which based on experience, which refuses dogmatic. If there’s any religion that would cope the scientific needs it will be Buddhism…” Vivekananda-ish (Buddhism in place of Advaita)?

      Cheers!

  19. akraha1948 says:

    Prasanta, based on a single quote of Vivekananda, you cannot surely make a proposition (though with question mark) like ‘Buddhism in place of Advaita’, considering that same Vivekananda has in different context described Buddhism as nothing but Vedanta and Buddha as a Vedantist. He had highest regard for Buddha calling him his ‘Ishta’ but had also been critical of Buddhism. We have to understand Vivekananda’s views in perspective.

    Secondly, we are not discussing religion which is ritualistic and within a narrow ambit. Vedanta, in any case, is not a religion. It is as vast as quantum mechanics.

  20. Prasanta Ray says:

    # “It is pertinent to mention here that both Samkhya and Vedanta followed inductive logic to approach the higher truth from the lower one, i.e. from the 5 elements viz. earth, water, fire, air and ether, in that order, and then to mind, intellect and ego, before they reached the prakriti (conscious nature) and purusha (conscious soul) [refer Brihadaranyaka Upanishada]. While Samkhya stopped with Prakriti and Purusha describing both as Infinites, Vedanta went further deep into the root or the Ultimate Cause of all creations including prakriti and purusha and envisioned BRAHMAN. Did Vedantists invent Brahman by applying logic or realize the same through meditation? This is a pertinent question which needs to be addressed in the present context.”
    — I am not well-versed in Sankhya, so wouldn’t want to make any serious comment on its procedures. (I know Sankhya is a great darshana and some of its concepts have been imported into several other darshanas, including Vedanta, and become part of darshanic parlance — eg, sattwa, rajas, tamas. So, Sankhya should be seriously studied, but somehow I haven’t done that yet.)
    — I think I have already mentioned that Sankhya, Vedanta and other darshanas are NOT what the rishis realized and tried to describe; DARSHANAS ARE OUR TAKE ON WHAT THE RISHIS SOUGHT TO DESCRIBE.
    — The rishis were trying to describe their transcendental — intuitive, sans sense-mind-intellect — experiences. So, in my view, there would have been no question of the rishis having to resort to any kind of ratiocination. If they too ratiocinated, (a) how would they be any different, say, from me, and (b) why would the Upanishads be so held in esteem by the best intellectuals of India over millenia? Brahman would then be only speculation — like in physics — and the Upanishads as fallible as my present comments! Brahman was not ‘envisioned’ or invented’; It was realized. That is why the rishis said things like ‘abangmanasogocharam’ and ‘na medhaya na bahuna shrutena’.
    — To speculate a bit, Brahman is realized in what is known as nirvikalpa (alternative-less) samadhi, and very, very few indeed can attain nirvikalpa samadhi and then come back to narrate their experiences. (Ramakrishna’s famous parable of the salt doll entering the sea to plumb its depth and then dissolving in it; how can the doll describe its experience? Very significantly, when the ‘I’ (of the doll) is gone, merged in Brahman, which ‘I’ will be the narrator?) Possible that some Upanishadic passages relate to experiences in savikalpa (with alternative) samadhi. That is why possibly it has been said that many of the greatest rishis only touched or sipped the ocean of Brahman, Ramakrishna has said that only Avataras and the like can come back and narrate the supreme experience of Brahman.
    — Some Upanishad quotes:
    – ‘Hear, ye children of immortal bliss! Even ye that dwell in higher spheres! For I have FOUND that Ancient One who is beyond all darkness, all delusion. And knowing Him, ye also shall be saved from death.’ (So: ‘found’, not ‘inferred’.) (Emphasis added).
    – ‘He who knows the Supreme Brahman verily BECOMES Brahman.’ (Here ‘know’ has been used for our sake. Simply ‘knowing’ would surely NOT be so life-transfiguring as BECOMING BRAHMAN! ‘Religion is BEING AND BECOMING’ — Vivekananda. Maybe such transformation can happen at the acme of gyana-yoga — said to be most difficult in the present age, kali-yuga.) (Emphasis added).
    — To me, therefore, Brahman was no invention, it was near-nirvikalpa-samadhi experience.

    # “…based on a single quote of Vivekananda, you cannot surely make a proposition (though with question mark) like ‘Buddhism in place of Advaita’, considering that same Vivekananda has in different context described Buddhism as nothing but Vedanta and Buddha as a Vedantist.”
    — No, I didn’t at all mean any value judgment here and no comparing either. Vivekananda has considered (Advaita) Vedanta a possible future religion — rather RELIGION; no location in space and time, broad as the sky, etc. Einstein thought Buddhism was a possible candidate. That is why I said Vedanta in place of Buddhism, etc.
    — Vivekananda revered Buddha — right. And who can forget the anecdote of Buddha showing up in young Vivekananda’s room (and probably merging in him)?
    — Though Buddha himself left open questions re God, Ultimate Truth, etc. yet he seemed to have discounted idol-worship, rituals, formal religious observances, and the like. This would make his advice a kind of reliance firstly on gyan, right knowledge, and then on (selfless) work, right conduct (which is the end of all Vedantic polemics). This shows up Buddha as a promoter of self-effort relying on the self only… Isn’t this close to Vedanta? Also, he said, ‘Be a lamp unto yourself’ — isn’t this quintessentially (Advaita) Vedanta: the Atman = Brahman?

  21. akraha1948 says:

    Prasanta, practically there is no difference between what you have said in your concluding para and my understanding of Vivekananda’s observation that Buddha was a Vedantist. Similarly there is hardly any difference between ‘vision’ and ‘experience’. The meaning of vision given in dictionary is ‘an experience in which you see things that do not exist physically when your mind is influenced by deep thought’. In your translation of ‘Shrinventu Vishve Amritasva Putrah…’, you have also used the word FOUND instead of ‘realized’: ‘Hear, ye children of immortal bliss! Even ye that dwell in higher spheres! For I have FOUND that Ancient One who is beyond all darkness, all delusion’.

    Samkhya is considered as the oldest Indian philosophy, sourced to sage Kapil. Vedanta is founded on Samkhya with the addition of the concept of Brahman or Pure Consciousness. Buddha did not refer to Brahman or Pure Consciousness, and, therefore, it can be reasonably stated that he was influenced more by Samkhya than Vedanta. However, when Vivekananda described Buddha as the greatest Vedantist, he did not distinguish Vedanta from Samkhya, taking the former as the logical corollary of the latter. Both dwell upon evolution and involution on spiritual as also material plane- rather from spiritual to material and vice versa. Only the starting point differs. Gita refers to & relies upon Samkhya, but is considered as Vedanta only because Brahman figures often in Krishna’s thought / pronouncement as the Ultimate Reality. Vivekananda found Samkhya’s proposition of dual infinities, Purusha and Prakriti, as fallacious and saw Vedanta as the obvious course correction with Brahman as the sole Infinity.

    • Prasanta Ray says:

      — Yes, general agreement.
      — Not my translation… These are Vivekananda’s words. But he was giving a talk and not giving exact translations. I thing he put together two shlokas, not too sure. He has used the word ‘found’. The word in Shw. Up. is ‘vedaham’ which I think means ‘I have known’, or better, ‘I have realized’. In either case, it is an intuitive discovery and not the result of cerebration.
      — Could Buddha be ‘infuenced’? His should — I think — again be intuitive discovery.

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