Logic of Spirituality
We are all born in this universe, whether we like it or not. We did not
seem to have much choice in terms of the place where we are born, in the
selection of parents, type of bodies we want, male or female, choice of
siblings, etc. Decisions seem to have been made by forces beyond our
control. We continuously struggle hard throughout our lives, from birth
to death, from womb to the tomb, trying to acquire things we like and/or
trying to get rid of things we dislike; ultimately taking nothing with
us when we leave. That seems to be the tragedy of not only ours, but
also of every life form. In response to a question by a Yaksha as to
what is the greatest wonder in the world, YudhishhTara answers in
Mahaabhaarat, – we see everyday people being born and people dying, yet
everyone feels and acts as though he is going to live for ever – and
that is the greatest wonder.
What is life? Is there a purpose for this life? What is this Universe
that I have to deal with? Who am I? Where from I came and where am I
going? Is this universe a creation? Is there a creator? Why did he
create such a defective universe where everyone seems to be more
miserable than happy? Where is he now? Even if he wants to create, why
me? What is my relationship with Him? – these are some of the questions
a rational intellect cannot but ask at sometime or other during his
life-struggles. We will explore some of these questions here. We, being
the children of modern science, cannot accept unless it is perfectly
logical and of course unless it is provable, deductively or inductively.
Is this Universe a Creation? – Since universe exists, its existence is
not a question but we still need to know wherefrom it came – is it a
creation or is it a product of some random event? All Science can tell
us is that it is a product of a big bang of highly concentrated matter.
But that is not a complete answer, since we are still faced with
questions of, what was there before the bang, what are the governing
physical laws for the bang, what or who is the source of these laws,
what is the source of the matter that concentrated to give that bang, is
this a random process or is it a deterministic system with intelligence
behind all these effects. We have no answer from Science for any one of
these. We turn to religion to see if we can get any better answers.
All religions proclaim that universe is a creation and that there is a
creator, that we call God, who is in heaven. Every religion describes
Him as omnipotent and omnipresent, who is the Lord of this entire
universe, an originator, supporter and destroyer. A rational intellect
cannot easily accept such statements, which cannot be proved. Since He
is in heaven and not here and we don’t know where that heaven is and if
exists at all. Hence we have more non-believers than believers in this
age. Actually both are believers, one believes that there is God and
the other believes that there is no God. David Hume in “Dialogue
Concerning Natural Religions’ looking at so much evil seen in the world
raises concern about God– “Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”-From Dennis Book.
These are not invalid questions that can be easily brushed aside.
What constitutes a creation? Let us first address the question whether
this universe is a creation or not. Christian fundamentalists question
the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution in schools since it is
against their religious doctrine of creation. They want creation theory
(biblical version of creation) to be taught in schools where Darwin’s
theory is taught. If one looks carefully, ‘Evolution’ presupposes
‘Creation’, since something has to be there, to begin with, for it to
evolve. We cannot bring a big stone on the hill and say that is a
creation. But suppose, if one carves out of that stone a beautiful
image of Lord Ganesha, then we admire the beauty and say that is a
beautiful creation. Beauty and order in that image transformed a simple
stone into a creation. Order provides the beauty. Whether it is music
or dance, there is an order, which we call raga-s and taala-s or
repeated ordered patterns. In addition, we can predict what is going to
be next based on that order. In the language of thermodynamics, we call
this as ‘ a well-behaved system’. Creation of any order, according to
laws of thermodynamics involves expenditure of energy, i.e. work has to
be done to create that order. From these, we gather that for something
to be called a creation, a) it should be a well-behaved system, b) it
should be highly ordered system c) it requires higher energy involving
work. Now let us take a close look at the universe.
Universe is indeed a highly ordered well-behaved system. From atomic
orbitals to planetary motion, there is a perfect order, with electrons
orbiting around the nucleus and planets orbiting around the sun. One
can predict the position of the planets precisely where they are going
to be in future based on the mechanics of the moving bodies. A
scientist sitting in a corner of laboratory able to discover the
Universal laws of physics that are applicable to tinniest particles in
nature to gigantic bodies, galaxies and galaxies away shows that
universe is an ordered and thermodynamically a well-behaved system. If
this is a creation, to create such a ordered universe, the creator, if
there is one, has to be very highly intelligent and skillful.
Creation involves two entities: Any creation involves two essential
aspects. Suppose if I want to create a watch, I should have first a
know-how of how to create a watch, and second all the materials needed
to create. The first one is called ‘intelligent cause or ‘nimitta
kaaraNa’ and the second one is called ‘upaadana kaaraNa’. Actually I
should be not only a good designer but also good technician too to be
able to assemble things properly. The intelligent and the instrumental
causes are included in the first. The gears, screws and bolts that I
need are all the material cause.
Now extending this to Universe, if there is a creator, he has to be most
intelligent since he should know everything that exists in the universe.
All scientific laws that are discovered and that are yet to be
discovered are all within the universe. Hence he is called ‘sarvaj~na’.
He should have all the skills too, ‘sarvashaktimaan’. Now the problem
comes in terms of material to create the universe. Where can he go and
get material to create the Universe. In my case, I had the luxury of
going to shop and buying all the materials needed to create the watch.
If there is material available somewhere, then we ask who created that
material, etc. Only choice He has, is that he has to be material cause
as well. Hence it is unlike any other creation that we are familiar
with since both material and intelligent cause has to be one and the
same. Upanishad provide a simple example to illustrate this. It says
that just as a spider is both material and intelligent cause for the
creation of its net so is the Lord.
Where is that Lord Now? A typical question an atheist asks is ‘show me
where is that God who created this universe”. Since he is both material
and intelligent causes, he cannot be inside the creation, and he cannot
be outside the creation. He cannot be outside the creation, since
outside has to be created first for him to be outside. In that case the
so-called outside become part of the creation or inside the creation
only. This implies that creation has to be infinite.
He cannot be inside the creation also since he becomes limited by the
creation. Hence anything inside the creation cannot be the cause for
the entire creation. Only choice we have is He and the creation cannot
be separated. So where is He Now? – Everywhere – whatever I see, I
touch, I smell, I hear, I taste is nothing but He or Him only. He
pervades this entire universe – VishNu – (vyaapakatvaat vishNuH) -hence
he is ‘sarva vyaapaka’ –Omnipresent says all scriptures.
If He is everywhere, then why do we need a temple, asks a smart Alec.
True, in that case we should see His temple everywhere. Since we do not
have that vision of viswaruupa that Arjuna got with the grace of Lord
Krishna, we need to have a temple – so that we can gain that vision of
seeing Him everywhere including in the temple through shravana, manana
and nidhidhyaasana, by constant listening to the scriptures and the
teachers, constant reflection on the truths expounded in the scriptures
and contemplation on those truths. All the questions that have been
raised in the beginning have been logically answered in the scriptures.
It is our obligation not only to learn these but also pass them on to
our next generation. We do not want our children to come and ask –
“Dad! Am I a HinDu?” They should feel proud that they have come from
such a rich tradition with vast knowledge.
We have now understood that the universe is a peculiar creation unlike
any other, in the sense that both material and efficient causes are one
and the same. In taittiriiya upanishad Brahman is defined in both ways.
“satyam-j~naanam-anantam Brahman’ – existence-knowledge-infiniteness is
Brahman, thus defining the intelligent cause and “yatova imaani bhuutani
jaayante, yena jaataani jiivanti, yat prayam tyabhisam visanti| tat
vij~naasaswa| tat brahmeti.” that from which this world arose, is
sustained and into which it goes back- is Brahman. Just as all
ornaments arose from gold, sustained by gold and go back into gold –
implying that gold is the material cause for all the ornaments;
Law of Conservation: Before we proceed further we need to bring another
important law that we are all familiar with in Science. This is the law
of conservation of matter and energy. We may be surprised to learn that
this Law was given out by Lord Krishna himself. He says in Ch. 2
“naasato vidyate bhaavo naabhaavo vidyate sataH|” – that which is
non-existent never comes into existence and that which exists never
ceases to exist – this is an absolute universal law of conservation.
Krishna applies this not only to matter but even to subtler entities
such as individual souls when He tells Arjuna that you are grieving
unnecessarily since everything get re-cycled only and nothing gets
destroyed in any process involving change.
Applying this law to creation process, we can immediately see the
implications. Creation cannot be something out of nothing, since that
violates the law of conservation. It should only be a transformation of
that which is already there – just as the example we gave as carving of
Lord Ganesh’s image out of the pre-existing stone.
Creation as a phase-transformation: From thermodynamics we learn that
there are two types of transformations: reversible and irreversible
transformations. For example, ice melting into water is a reversible
transformation, while milk becoming curd is an irreversible
transformation. Vedanta provides a third alternative for creation.
Creation is an apparent transformation and not real transformation. In
Chandigya Upanishad it provides three examples to illustrate the point.
For our purpose we discuss here one example. ‘ekena lohamaninaa sarvam
lohamayam vij~naataa| syaat vaachaarambanam vikaaro namaadheyam|
lohamityava satyam|| Creation is just as gold transforming into many
ornaments. Here ornaments such as ring, necklace, bangle etc are all
different from one another, each with its own guNa, jaati and kriya;
attributes, family and function. Yet there are all nothing but gold.
Gold remains as one without plurality–ekam eva advitiiyam – inspite of
transforming into many varieties of ornaments. Law of conservation is
preserved in the transformation, which is only apparent, since from gold
point there is no real transformation. Transformation is only in terms
of name and form with attributes, such as thickness, diameter etc for
the ring. Gold will laugh at us if we ask when it became a ring or
necklace or bangle. It was gold before it became a ring, it is gold
even we call it as a ring and it will be gold even if the ring is
transformed into bangle. Hence upanishad declares ‘loham iti eva satyam’
–just as Gold alone is real or truth. The apparent transformation is
not a real transformation for one to be concerned about, unless one
takes it as real; and that can create problems.
Hence the Upanishad declares “what was there before creation is only
Sat, which is existence. It is one without a second.” That means it is
unlimited or infinite which is the same as anandam or happiness, since
any limitation causes sorrow. Upanishad goes on further to declare that
the existence is of the nature of consciousness –it says ‘tat aikshata’
– it saw. Since inert things cannot see, the statement indicates that it
is of the nature of consciousness. Since there is nothing else to see
other than itself – it is of the nature of self-consciousness – swayam
jyotiH. Hence what was there before creation was of the nature of
‘sat-chit-ananda swruupam’- of the nature of
‘existence-consciousness-bliss’. Since creation is only an apparent
transformation – it remains as such even after transformation without
undergoing any mutations. Hence what is there after creation is also
sat-chit-ananda swaruupam only.
Fundamental Error: Two things remain to be accounted for if everything
is of the nature of existent-consciousness, which is one without a
second. Contrary to the cause which is of the nature of consciousness,
the effect, the universe, is jadam or inert. How can consciousness
entity produce inert entity. Second if the nature of the source is
eternal unlimited happiness or ananda swaruupa, how came most us of feel
miserable most of the time. These two things are not unrelated.
Shankara accounts for these as due to adhyaasa or fundamental error of
superimposition. If one sees two moons in the sky, then the fault is not
with the moon but with the eyes that are seeing two when there is one.
What everybody seems to be searching for in all our pursuits is
happiness. If I am already of the nature of happiness and still I am
searching for it, it only means that I do not know that I am already
that what I am searching for. Ignorance of my own nature is the
fundamental problem. If the source of happiness is my own self, any
search for happiness outside is going to be a failure. Only solution to
the problem is to recognize my true nature – that is I am already that
what I am searching for – Hence upanishads declare – tat tvam asi – you
are that what you are longing for. Thus non-apprehension of myself
causes misapprehension of myself. When I don’t know who I am, I take
myself to be what I am not, and suffer the consequences of that
misapprehension. I take myself to be this body, this mind and/or this
intellect which are by nature limited or finite. I superimpose the
limitations of the body, mind and intellect on to myself and suffer
unnecessarily as a consequence of that superimposition. When I don’t
know that it is a rope (non-apprehension of the rope), I take it as a
snake (misapprehension) and suffer the consequence of seeing the snake
there. Since I am afraid of the snakes, my blood pressure goes up, my
breathing is rapid and I become nervous. Should I blame the rope for my
suffering? Should I sit down and do japa that is not a snake but it is a
rope etc., so that snake will disappear or should I take a stick and
kill that snake so that it would not bother anybody. How can snake, a
living entity, come out of an inert rope? Shankara says when I do not
know rope as a rope, I take it as a snake. When the light is shown on
the rope, I see the rope as a rope and the snake vision disappears.
Where did the snake go? There was never a snake to start with to go
somewhere. It was only in my mind and not out there. Just as an inert
rope did not create living snake for me to be afraid of, the
sat-chit-ananda swaruupa did not create a world of inert things for us
to explain how come etc. World is nothing but a mental projection with
me as one of the subjects along with other subjects and inert things.
Mandukya Upanishad says it is like my projection of the dream world with
dream subjects and objects along with myself as one of the subjects.
But all dream problems are real only for the dreamer who mistakes the
dream world of plurality as reality different from him. When he is
awakened he recognizes that all that he saw in the dream was only
apparent and not real. The truth is non-duality inspite of duality
just as gold is non-dual inspite of its existence as many ornaments.
Apparent plurality can cause only apparent problems and apparent
problems are only apparent and not real. Hence Shankara declares: na
yogena na saakhyena karmanaa no na vidyayaa| brahmaatmaikatya bodhena
mokshaH sidhyati na anyathaa|| Not by yoga, not by analysis, not by
action, not by studies one can gain the liberation. Only by learning
the identity of myself with the total self that one can gain liberation.
Lead me from the unreal to the real|
Lead me from darkness into light|
Lead me from death to immortality
Author: Dr. K. Sadananda
Disciple of H.H. Swami Chinmayanandaji