As we emerge in festivities and with an upcoming new year let us ponder over the triviality of our existence and go beyond the ritualism that we practice and make an effort in understanding reality, if at all it is real
In the 18th Century the Irish philosopher George Berkeley propounded the theory of subjective idealism in a paper which was named ‘’ the new theory of vision’’. He propounded through this theory that objects we see are nothing but perception of light seen in colour and shape. This thought process was further developed by the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in his theory of absolute idealism. According to Hegel, for human consciousness (which is the subject), the perception of the material world (which is the object) is based on a relationship between both, through the medium of thought. To make it simple, if you are standing on a floor and observing it, in your mind (observer/subject) the floor (observed/object) is a solid surface. If you are instantly hypnotized and told by the hypnotizer that you are on a pool of water, the mind perceives the floor as water. So here the thought creates the relationship between the object and subject.
This theory was further rationalised by the theory of transcendental idealism by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. In his treatise the critique of reason which he published in 1781,Kant argued that our experiences are structured by our minds. He wrote that ‘’ we never have direct experience of things and what we do experience is the phenomenal world as conveyed by our senses.
For any student of Vedanta, genesis of these thoughts can be traced to the philosophical ponderings of our seers, who believed that the sensible external world is a perception of the consciousness. According to A Parthasarathy from the Mumbai based Vedanta Academy (readers are recommended to read his book Vedanta Treatise ) perception is the interplay (identity or relation of Hegel ) of the internal world of consciousness (object) to the subject. Let me quote him “Let us examine the perception of a flower. As per Vedanta the quality attribute of the flower exist in the flower as an object. The thought of the flower exist in the mind as a subject. The union of the thought and quality of the flower produces it”.
Indian philosophers from time immemorial believed in the illusion of the world which they referred as Ma (not) Ya (that) meaning ‘’not that’’ we see. The best definition of this is seen in the second verse of the Chatusloki Bhagavatam (canto 2 Srimad Bhagavatam) which reads
Ru- thertham Yad Pratiyeta Na Pratiyeta Cha Atmani
Tad vidyad Aatmano Maayaam Yatha bhaaso Yada Tama:
It means - Besides the real existence whatever is experienced is not that is experienced by the soul but that experienced by you which is MaYa ,like a reflection in darkness-
It is this reflection (Abasa) in darkness (Tama) which later became part of the quantum string theory and was called as the holographic principle by Gerard Hooft, the 1999 Nobel Prize winner and Dutch Physicist. For him the whole universe is an holographic reflection of a two dimensional information structure painted over a space-time horizon. His theory was later interpreted by a physicist from the university of London named David Bohm who was a protégé of Einstein. Along with Stanford neurophysiologist Karl Pribram they developed a new way of looking at the universe. (Please read The Holographic Universe: The revolutionary theory of reality: Harper Collins 2011.) Their work explains on the quantum levels of existence distinct from the observed and experienced universe.
In 1975 , Fritjof capra , the Austrian born American Physicist wrote Tao of Physics, which is probably the first book written on ‘’scientific orientalism’’ exploring the parallelism between modern physics and ancient Indian wisdom . I quote from the book “Quantum theory reveals a basic oneness of the universe. It shows that we cannot decompose the world into independently existing smallest units. As we penetrate into matter, nature does not show us any isolated "building blocks," but rather appears as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of the whole. These relations always include the observer in an essential way. The human observer constitutes the final link in the chain of observational processes, and the properties of any atomic object can be understood only in terms of the object's interaction with the observer.” It is this dichotomy between the perceived and the real world , makes us think of a realm which is actually real and to which we are all part of . Our ancient rishis called this as Brahma ( Sarvan Khalidam Brahma ) embroiled in an expanding egg like formation (brahmandam). In reality beyond our perceived knowledge of our reality, we are scientifically proved to be part of the Universal energy level. We are only experiencing a state of differentiated identity from a common whole .The ancient Indian sankhya philosophers explained this as a differentiation of the prakriti from the purusha. According to them prakriti is a space-time conundrum which is maya which I and you believe is our world, where our feeling and aspiration (Kamaartha-moham) dwell. It is the place where we love and hate and a place we enquire and seek which in itself is not real but only a holographic projection. However it is for a moment of that experience that we are all here, beyond which I, you and all are just quantum states of consciousness . We are all like the series of pots emerging from an artful potter’s wheel, to be broken back to mud and re-emerge as another new pot.
As science and philosophy merges let us cherish, and celebrate the moment of life with mutual acceptance and respect. While reading stories of horror, of death, destruction , violence and hate , I feel let the humanity be taught the science of Vedanta and meta physics and made to realize that peace and love is what only that exists , the rest of the feelings being hallucinations and what that exists is one , which is complete and universal . I conclude this article by a verse from Isha Upanishad
Om shanti, shanti, shanti
Om shanti, shanti, shanti