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Physics and Metaphysics

The ancient Samkhya and Vedanta philosophies discuss the aspects of origin of universe and evolutionary rationality of creation. The whole argumentative approaches of various Indian belief systems, in some way or other, are based on these philosophies.

Vedanta maintains that Brahman is the immaterial Existence; and being simple and non-material It has to be all pervading and the only One Reality. The problem arises, then, about explaining 'our existence, our identity.' The question is asked, "If Brahman is the only One Reality, how does one perceive and explain these plants and animals, we and all other people; in short this universe?"

The simple and apparently clever answer to this question is, "If and when you perceive the universe as real, the explanation based on Maya theory should suit you. A time will come when you shall reach the state of higher consciousness when this multifarious reality will vanish, and you will perceive the same as none other than Consciousness, Brahman, Atman, or Self, or God."

Maya Theory

Before everything there exists Reality as Absolute Consciousness. The Will to become many is the beginning of manifest universe. The Will evolves as Illusion: the Maya. Absolute Consciousness, Brahman, willed to become many; this is Maya. Maya is the cosmic illusion that creates ignorance and veils the vision of the Only Reality. Due to the power of Maya, the Same Oneness is perceived as manifold universe.

Will is the material and compound manifestation of the same Reality. Desires, thoughts, and tendencies are particular mode of existence of the Will.

The Will gets modified into

a) The Supreme Intelligence-mahat,

that subsequently evolves into

b) The Primal Matter-akasha; and

c) The Primal Energy-- prana,

These are finer aspects of the matter. They may be perceived to evolve into or as subatomic particles. Subatomic particles are units of matter smaller than an atom, otherwise known as elementary particles. These particles are the basic units of all matter and energy. Many subatomic particles have been identified. These elementary particles are also the fundamental units of electromagnetic radiation, which includes radio waves, visible light, and X-rays. This progress in physics has proved energy to be another mode of existence of matter.

These basic particles further rearrange as five elements of Indian belief system: Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. Various combinations of these elements result in the formation of three qualities, Gunas: sattva, rajas, and tamas. Desires are various combinations of these Gunas. Desires and tendencies (or mind in general), therefore, can be equated with another 'energy form of matter', which one may label as thought-waves. Its objectification, at still grosser level, produces manifest universe of various combinations of "name and form" nama-rupa; for instance: stars, planets, oceans, trees, animals, human beings, and so on.

The Play of Subatomic Particles

On the basis of Vedanta philosophy Swami Vivekananda describes these subtleties as follows:

"... But the one idea here is that it is from the finer that the grosser has come. Gross matter is the last to emerge and the most external, and this gross matter had the finer matter before it. Yet we see that the whole thing has been resolved into two, but there is not yet final unity. There is the unity of force, prana, there is the unity of matter, called akasha. Is there any unity to be found among them again? Can they be melted into one? Our modern science is mute here, it has not yet found its way out; and if it is doing so, just as it has been slowly finding the same old prana and the same ancient akasha, it will have to move along the same lines."

"The next unity is the omnipresent impersonal being known by its old mythological name as Brahma, and psychologically called mahat. This is where the two unite. What is known as your mind is only a bit of mahat caught in the trap of the brain, and the sum total of all minds caught in the meshes of brains is what you call the samashti, the aggregate, the universal. Analysis had to go further; it was not yet complete."

Every action involves the participation of consciousness. We may not be able to recognize or understand it; and the recent dilemma of 'particle and wave' (quantum) physics has brought this point in sharp focus even amongst the highly 'objective and rational' scientists in physics.

If we reason on these lines, whole of the Upanishad and Yoga may be understood on the basis of present day science of particle physics. We also get an idea of tremendous energy stored in the subtle or purified mind. We can also understand the terms like akasha (primal particle), prana (primal wave energy), and mahat (cosmic Intelligence) forming the subtler and subtler chain in the process of evolution and involution of matter.

To develop the capacity to understand the world of "name and form" as illusion is the goal of human evolution. It is possible to dissolve any form into its basic components-the subatomic particles. The person, the wall, the table and every other living and non-living form can be reduced to this denomination: the subatomic particles. They may be like luminous waves. That is why, probably, all the mystic experiences are described as bright and wavelike.

This was how Sri Ramakrishna described his initial mystic experiences, (second description is of Sri Krishna & Arjuna in Gita):

1. "...The whole scene, doors, windows, the temple itself simply vanished. It seemed as if nothing existed anymore. Instead I saw the ocean of the spirit, boundless, dazzling. In whatever direction I turned, great luminous waves were rising. They bore down upon me with a loud roar, as if to swallow me up. I lost all normal consciousness and fell to the ground. How I passed that day and the next I know not; round me rolled an ocean of unspeakable joy such as I had never experienced before."

2. Sanjaya describes the Vishwa-Rupa (universal form) of the Lord, "Rajan, if one thousand suns simultaneously light the sky, the brightness produced will be less as compared to the effulgence produced when Sri Krishna showed His Vishwa-Rupa to Arjuna." [Gita, XI: 12.]

Overcoming Maya

"Vedic seers tell us that there are three forms of spiritual meditation, which are known as sthula-dhyana (gross), tejo-dhyana (subtle), and sukshma-dhyana (subtler). In the first, which is considered the lowest, visions of deities or of other figured entities are perceived. Sometimes voices giving definite messages are heard. In tejo-dhyana, which belongs to a higher rung on the ladder of spiritual practice, figures and persons disappear and the mystic beholds only various and fleeting lights and colours, or hears great musical strains. In the highest stage of sukshma-dhyana the seer experiences only contact with and merges in a tremendous Reality."

"Vedanta considers that in the highest spiritual consciousness there cannot be any visions, any image and the like, and when one attains it, one realizes the truth, that the Thing-in-itself in man and the Thing-in-itself in the universe are not two but one and identical."

Initially the vision may take the form of a synthesized unity. Multiplicity that one perceives or imagines is resolved in one form. All the modifications of mind-stuff are controlled and the mental energy is fully concentrated on one single form or an idea so that the mind-stuff takes that particular form and has only that vision. Thus the person is said to experience savikalpa samadhi (altered state of consciousness with duality). In this way one sees the form of his/her Ishtha-deva-- the chosen deity. One gets the vision of only those souls who have in their lives realized such altered state of consciousness - those who have realized the purest forms of subatomic particles. Later even this form is transcended and the person goes beyond mind itself and merges into the Absolute Consciousness. He becomes the Reality. Sri Ramakrishna used to have these two kinds of states of samadhi. In one he was able to perceive the holy form of his chosen ideal-The Mother, and at other times he used to perceive the reality as formless effulgence-nirvikalpa state of samadhi.

The question is whether the brain has capacity to pierce through the grosser form of a structure to be able to visualize the form in its most original components-the subatomic particles. Raja-Yoga answers--Yes. It is possible to increase the power of the mind manifold, as if to effect the fission or fusion at atomic level by concentrating it through Yoga and other spiritual disciplines. We see examples of great Yogis and saints such as Sri Krishna, Sri Ramakrishna, Jesus Christ, and Lord Buddha, Swami Vivekananda, and many others who were capable of such a concentrated penetration to realize the energy contained in an atom as well as the beauty of subatomic play.
This essay is based on many hypothetical assumptions; the purpose is just to stimulate imagination in scientists of various fields of sciences.
C S Shah
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