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A Note to the Vedantins

 

"What we need, you know, is to study, independent of foreign control, different branches of the knowledge that is our own, and with it the English language and Modem science."

Swami Vivekananda

 

There were some very sharp physicists in India maybe four or five thousand years ago, and they saw that the Universe is made of energy, Shakti. Their word for the Universe was Jagat, the changing. But since change is seen against the changeless, they saw that behind this Universe of change there must be an underlying existence, not in time and not in space and, therefore, changeless, infinite and undivided.

 

The question then arose: How to get from the changeless to the changing without changing it? And they said, "It can only be by mistake." So they studied mistakes. And they pointed out that in order to mistake a rope for a snake in the dusk there are three things one must do. First, in the darkness, one must fail to see that it's a rope. That they called the veiling power, Avarana Shakti of Tamas. Then, because of the darkness, one must jump to the wrong conclusion that it's a snake. That they called the projecting power, Vikshapa Shakti of Rajas. And finally, in the partial light of twilight, one must have seen the length and diameter of the rope or one never would have mistaken it for the length and diameter of a snake. That they called the revealing power, Prakasha Shakti of Sattva.

 

But, through the revealing power, the changeless, the infinite, the undivided must show through in the Universe of change. And they had words for that, too. Asti is the changeless showing through; Bhati is the infinite showing through; and Priya is the undivided showing through. And since that underlying existence cannot be in time and space, it would have to be changeless, it would have to be infinite, it would have to be undivided and it would have to show through.

And you don't have to be a Rishi with superconscious perceptions to notice all this. You have only to be alive and well, and awake. But it probably helps to know a little Sanskrit.

It's all there in the literature.

So much for branches of the knowledge that is their own. Now we'll introduce what Swami Vivekananda referred to as Modem science.

 

Although the concept of energy is very old in India, it had not arisen in European physics before Newton's time. It didn't arise until 1845 with Thomas Young's definition of kinetic energy as "mass times velocity squared." Some fifty years after that, Swami Vivekananda introduced the notion that the whole Universe is made of energy, that is, that what we see as matter could be reduced to potential energy. That notion went through Tesla and Milleva Einstein to the appendix of the relativity paper that she wrote for her husband in 1905. 

 

We know now that the whole Universe is made of hydrogen and that the hydrogen is made of energy. Now if, as suggested by those old physicists, energy is that underlying existence showing as changeless through the changes in time, then we have a possible explanation for the conservation of energy and its inertia. It's the changeless showing through. And if energy is that underlying existence showing as infinite through the smallness of the particles, then we have a possible explanation for the electrical charge of the protons and the electrons. It's the infinite showing through. And finally, if energy is that underlying existence showing as undivided through the dispersion of the particles throughout space, then we have a possible explanation for gravity and the attraction between opposites. It's the undivided showing through.

 

If there is such an underlying existence, which seems ever-so-much-more likely then the Big Bang suggestion that there is not, then it has to be changeless, it has to be infinite, it has to be undivided, and it has to show through. Does the changeless show through in the hydrogen as its inertia? Does the infinite show through in the hydrogen as its electrical charge. And does the undivided show through in the hydrogen as gravity and the attraction between opposites? Is that why the hydrogen falls together to galaxies and stars?

You don't have to be a Rishi with superconscious perceptions to notice all this. You have only to be alive and well, and awake. But it probably helps to have studied physics at some famous university.

 

John Dobson

Hollywood, 2001