EQUATIONS OF MAYA
The Equations of Maya Copyright 1993 John Dobson
Originally appeared in Cosmic Beginnings & Human Ends: Where Science
& Religion Meet, Open Court Publishing Co., 1995
Modern cosmologists usually take non-existence for
granted and hope to get the Universe out of nothing. But must we assume that in the absence of the Universe and in the absence
of space and time there would be nothing? Or can we, without so rash an assumption, find clues to what might remain if instead
we take existence for granted but leave out space and time? Could what remains, through apparition or maya, appear as this
Universe? Can we, from what remains, get a Universe of gravity, electricity and inertia?
the one hundredth anniversary of the 1893 Parliament of Religions at which Swami Vivekananda (1) so eloquently proclaimed
that all religions are true and that the proof of one is the proof of all. He said:
"If the Parliament of Religions
has shown anything to the world it is this: it has proved to the world that holiness, purity, and charity are not the exclusive
possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In
the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others,
I pity him from the bottom of my heart and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written, in
spite of resistance: 'Help and not fight; Assimilation and not Destruction; Harmony and Peace and not Dissension'."
It was my hope in attending this present Parliament of the World's Religions, a hundred years after the swami's
ringing words were spoken, that the conflict between the various religions had been largely put behind us and that we could
now address the conflict between science and religion. It was my hope that the conflict between science and the church which
reigned in terror through the Spanish Inquisition might finally be put to rest. And I came here to say that if anyone dreams
of the exclusive survival of religion and the destruction of science, I pity him from the bottom of my heart. And likewise,
if anyone dreams of the exclusive survival of science and the destruction of religion, I pity him from the bottom of my heart.
In my mind, the proof of one is the proof of both.
Can we, by now, square science with religion? In particular, can
we square relativity and quantum mechanics with Swami Vivekananda's Advaita Vedanta? (3) Since there cannot be two worlds
- one for the scientists and one for the mystics - it must be that their descriptions are of the same world but from different
points of view. Can we, from the vantage point of the swami's Advaita (non-dualism), see both points of view? Swami Vivekananda
said that science and religion would meet and shake hands. Can we see things from his vantage point?
Since the notion
of maya or apparition as the first cause of our physics is central to the swami's Advaita, I have chosen as my subject
"The Equations of Maya". Can we find them in our physics? According to the philosophy of the Advaita Vedantins,
as the swami himself has said, there cannot be two existences, only one. And maya is, as it were, a veil or screen through
which that oneness (the Absolute) is seen as this Universe of plurality and change.
1: Swami Vivekananda was a Hindu monk whose friends sent him to the Parliament to represent Hinduism. He was a disciple
of Sri Ramakrishna who lived in a temple garden near Calcutta and who realized that all religions lead to the same goal. Sri
Ramakrishna was born in 1836 and passed away in 1886. Swami Vivekananda was born in 1863 and passed away on the Fourth of
2: The World's Congress of Religions: The Addresses and Papers Delivered Before the Parliament. New
York: John Williams, 1894.
3: Advaita Vedanta is a philosophy based on the notion that there can be only one existence
behind the plurality which we see. The word advaita means 'non-dual'. The word vedanta means 'the culmination
of knowledge'. It refers also to some ancient Sanskrit scriptures (the Upanishads) where this philosophy is discussed.
The Equations of Maya
First, we have to know what equations are. Second, we have to know what the Vedantins mean
by maya. And finally, we have to take a hard look at our physics to see if any of our equations can be taken as descriptive
WHAT ARE EQUATIONS?
So, what are equations? They are a kind of mathematical shorthand. They are just
brief statements, usually in symbolic form like 2 + 2 = 4. If you put that in English, it reads, "two plus two equals
four." There's nothing scary about it. But essentially, there are two kinds of equations: mathematical equations,
like the one just mentioned, and the equations of our physics. But mathematics is not about anything. Two oranges plus two
oranges equals four oranges is about oranges, but 2 + 2 = 4 is not about anything. Now physics is about something; it is about
how matter behaves. So the equations of physics are about the behavior of matter, and that's what concerns us here. Newton's
famous equation, f = ma, put into words, means that the force required to accelerate an object is proportional to the product
of the mass of that object and the rate of change of its velocity. That means that when you're pushing a car to speed
it up, how hard you have to push depends on how heavy the car is and how fast you have to speed it up. All that is contained
in that little statement, f = ma. It's just a kind of shorthand, and it's not scary.
WHAT IS MAYA?
talked a little about equations; now we have to talk about maya. What do the Vedantins mean by maya? First, we know from the
Upanishads (4) that it is made of three gunas: tamas, rajas, and sattva. Tamas has its veiling power, avarana shakti in Sanskrit.
Rajas has its projecting power, vikshepa shakti in Sanskrit, and sattva has its revealing power, prakasha shakti in Sanskrit.
Now this language, "veiling" and "revealing", is the language of perception, not the language of manufacture.
You can't make anything out of a guna as the Sankhyans (5) wanted to do. These three gunas, of which maya is said to be
made, are just three aspects of a misperception. They are not substances, like wood, stone, or gold, out of which objects
could be made. They are simply three aspects of an apparition. In order to mistake a rope for a snake, you must fail to see
the rope rightly; that's the veiling power of tamas. Then you must jump to the wrong conclusion; that's the projecting
power of rajas. You yourself project the snake. But the length and diameter of the rope are seen as the length and diameter
of the snake; that's the revealing power of sattva. If you hadn't seen the rope, you might have jumped to some other
But many of the Vedantins, when they write about the veiling and projecting powers of maya, leave
the revealing power out. You look in the booksÃƒÂ¢??you'll find they leave it out. But you cannot
leave it out or the theory would be lame and the Universe wouldn't run.
So we see from the Upanishads that maya
is made of three gunas, that it is a misperception, a kind of magic, and that the Universe is therefore apparitional, like
the snake for which a rope has been mistaken. But why does the apparition take the form of this Universe? Why do we see the
physics that we see? Partly it is the gunas and partly it is space and time.
Swami Vivekananda said in one of his lectures
(6) that the Universe is the Absolute seen through the screen of time, space, and causation (kala, desha, nimitta). He said
that time, space, and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen, and when It is seen on the lower side,
It appears as the Universe. So not only is the Universe apparitional, it's the Absolute seen through time and space, and
that allows us to understand why the physics of the Universe takes the form that we see.
Swami Vivekananda said that
he could write a whole book on a single statement of Sri Ramakrishna, and I could write a whole book on this single statement
of the swami.
Now Swami Vivekananda's statement that the Universe is the Absolute seen through the screen of time,
space and causation allows us to get some interesting information, albeit in negative terms, about what he calls the Absolute.
Since it is not in time, it cannot be changing. Change takes place only in time. And since it is not in space, it must be
undivided, because dividedness and separation occur only in space. And since it is therefore one and undivided, it must also
be infinite, since there is no "other" to limit it. Now "changeless", "infinite", and "undivided"
are negative statements, but they will suffice. We can trace the physics of our Universe from these three negative statements.
If we don't see the Absolute as what it is, we'll see it as something else. If we don't see it as changeless,
infinite, and undivided, we'll see it as changing, finite, and divided, since in this case there is no other else. There
is no other way to mistake the changeless except as changing. So we see a Universe which is changing all the time, made of
minuscule particles, and divided into atoms.
But because of the revealing power, the changelessness, the infinitude,
and the undividedness show through. The changeless shows through in us as our yearning for peace and security and it shows
in what we see as matter as its mass or inertia. The infinite shows in us as our yearning for freedom, and it shows in what
we see as matter as the electrical charge on the minuscule particles. And the undivided shows in us as love, and it shows
in what we see as matter as gravity and the attraction between opposites like positive and negative electrical charges. The
Universe is "wound up" against gravity only because the undividedness shows through. And it is "wound up"
against electricity only because the infinitude shows through. Gravity, electricity, and inertia are simply the nature of
the underlying existence showing through, just as the length and diameter of the rope show through in the snake for which
it has been mistaken. What we see as energy is simply the underlying existence showing through. Everything that happens, happens
because of that.
So we have seen, from the Upanishads, that maya is made of three gunas. The Sankhyans
call it prakriti, the first cause, and we have seen that the first cause must be apparitional. As Swami Vivekananda said,
the Universe is the Absolute seen through the screen of time, space, and causation. Here I need to say a few words about causation,
because what we ordinarily see as causation is not apparitional. It is transformational. Chevys do not arise by apparition;
they come from Detroit. Although, as we have seen, the first cause of our physics is apparitional, it leaves us with a Universe
wound up with energy, and the transformations run on of their own accord. Gravity arises by apparition, but falling is transformational.
The gravitational energy is transformed to kinetic energy without any change in the amount.
As you may know, philosophical
systems, in India, are catalogued according to their understanding of causation. The Sankhyans were Parinamavadins. They believed
in parinama, transformational causation, like making milk into buttermilk. The milk is transformed into buttermilk. The Advaita
Vedantins are Vivartavadins. They believe that the first cause is vivarta, apparition, like mistaking a rope for a snake.
Now these are very different things. When milk is transformed into buttermilk, it's a change that takes place in time.
It's a happening, and there's a shelf life on your buttermilk. There's a date on it. But mistaking a rope for
a snake is not a happening in that sense. It is not that you mistook the rope for a snake yesterday and now there's a
snake in your kitchen and you don't dare open the door. It's a mistake you are making now; it's something you're
Now the rules that govern transformational causation are very well understood
at the universities. The energy that goes into an operation at the beginning comes out at the end. Although the form of the
energy may change, you never get any new energy that way. It's like pouring gold. You melt it and pour it into a set of
forms. Then you remelt it and pour it into another set of forms. You never get rich that way. No matter how many times you
remelt it, you never get any new gold. Transformational causation is like that. What you put in at the beginning comes out
at the end. It is governed by the conservation laws. Whether it's matter, energy, momentum or electrical chargeÃƒÂ¢??whatever
you put in at the beginning comes out at the end. And since the Universe is made out of energy, the changes of which are governed
by these conservation laws, the Universe cannot have arisen through transformational causation. It cannot have come out of
But what I have referred to as apparitional causation is a very different thing.
When you mistake a rope for a snake, the rope is not transformed into a snake. It's just a mistake, and it's something
you're doing now. So the question is not: "How did the Absolute become the Universe?" That can't be answered.
The Absolute has not become the Universe. The question is, "Why do we see it that way? Why do we feel that we are bound?
Why do w continue to make this mistake? Why are we unable to see through the apparition?" And that can be answered.
December 14th, 1882, Vijaykrishna Goswami asked Sri Ramakrishna this question: "Sir, why are we bound like this? Why
don't we see God?" And Sri Ramakrishna answered:
"Maya is nothing but the egotism of the embodied soul.
This egotism has covered everything like a veil. 'All troubles come to an end when the ego dies'. If, by the grace
of God, a man but once realizes that he is not the doer, then he at once becomes a jivanmukta. Though living in the body,
he is liberated; he has nothing else to fear." (7)
What Is Egotism?
So maya, the first cause, is made of
three gunas and consists of seeing the Absolute through the screen of time, space, and causationÃƒÂ¢??and
we continue to see it thus because of egotism. What is this egotism?
Those of you who have read Erwin SchrÃƒ?Ã‚Â¶dinger's
little book, What is Life?, (8) may already see that egotism is a genetic invention to keep a living organism alive. The defining
characteristic of a living organism is that it must be able to direct a stream of negative entropy upon itself. It must find
and use a source of energy less scrambled at the start. Entropy is a measure of the scrambledness of the energy. Every living
organism scrambles the energy in its environment. Negative entropy is a measure of the usability (the unscrambledness) of
the energy. We get our negative entropy by eating and breathing. The plants get their negative entropy from the Sun. In most
transformational processes, the scrambledness of the energy goes up. The entropy goes up. It never goes down. At least locally,
entropy is going up; the Universe is running down. Every living organism must direct a stream of negative entropy upon itself
to stay alive; so life is impossible except in a situation that is going from bad to worse. If you want to enjoy the "good
old days", do it now! All living organisms live in this cascade of increasing entropy by directing streams of the increase
through their forms. And egotism is a genetic invention required by this necessity.
directives of the genetic programming are to direct a stream of negative entropy upon the organism and to pass on the genetic
line. And the egotism required for the fulfillment of these prime directives is what Sri Ramakrishna referred to as the "unripe
ego". The discrimination is made between the organism and its environment for the sake of fulfilling these directives.
Sri Ramakrishna, when speaking to men, referred to these prime directives as "woman and gold"ÃƒÂ¢??"gold"
for directing a stream of negative entropy upon the organism, and "woman" for passing on the genetic line. When
speaking to women, he said "men and gold". He often said, when speaking to men, "maya is nothing but woman
It should be noted that this languageÃƒÂ¢??"genetic
programming"ÃƒÂ¢??was not current in Sri Ramakrishna's day. So far as I know, some of the
first things that were published on the subject of genetics were Mendel's experiments, and I don't think they hit
the press until 1900. But if we translate Sri Ramakrishna's remarks into that language, they say very clearly that maya
is nothing but our genetic programming.
You remember that the question was not how the Absolute has become the Universe,
but rather why do we continue to see it that way. And the answer is that it is because of egotism, and that egotism turns
out to be nothing but our genetic programming. It is this genetic expectation that keeps the wool pulled over our eyes. It
is the expectation that by following the dictates of the genes we'll reach the peace and security of the changeless, the
freedom of the infinite, and the bliss of the undivided. But that is just a genetic mirage.
We are programmed to eat,
breathe, and mate. But not so fast! It goes in steps, and the male programming for passing on the genetic line goes like this:
In the absence of females, seek females; in the presence of females, select. In the presence of a selected female, start a
conversation. Ask her where she's from. Ask her where she's going. Ask her out to dinner. And the rest you know. We
are all descended from ancestors who were programmed this way and who passed on the genetic line. So much for that problem.
But how about our negative entropy?
We get our negative entropy by eating and breathing, and
we get it from the plants. The plants get their negative entropy from the Sun. They make reducing agents for their own use,
and dump oxygen out as waste. We munch down the reducing agents and huff and puff on the oxygen, and run around on the canned
sunlight. And we feel that we are the doers. It's just a genetic mirage. We are not the doers. It is just recycled sunlight.
Sometimes when you read in The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna that he says that we are not the doers, you might think that
he is asking us to pretend that we are not the doers. No, he never makes that kind of mistake. He is not asking us to make-believe
anything. He is asking us to discriminate between the real and the make-believe and to let the make-believe go.
wrote to Swami Yogeshananda that this earth can't bloom a flower. Without the Sun, no plants would bloom. Without the
falling hydrogen, no suns would shine. And without the entire Universe, no hydrogen would fall. I said that this whole Universe
blooms the flower. By this whole Universe, the robin sings. But by what blooms this Universe? It is the nature of the Absolute
showing through in space and time that blooms this Universe. It is the revealing power of maya. The dream is in the dreamer,
and the dream is alive.
So, it's the genetic programming that keeps the wool pulled over our eyes. But our genetic
programming comes in batches, and that gives us a loopholeÃƒÂ¢??a genetic loophole. No other animal
on the face of this planet has a childhood like yours.
We have a whole batch of programming for being
children, and another whole batch for being adults, and a third whole batch for being parents. But no one has a childhood
like yours. And we owe our childhood to our parents. Directing a stream of negative entropy upon ourselves and on our children
falls mostly to the parent batch. Passing on the genetic line falls mostly to the adult batch. But the children are free.
Children do not direct streams of negative entropy upon themselvesÃƒÂ¢??"Mommy does it".
And children don't pass on the genetic lineÃƒÂ¢??"Mommy does it". Children don't
follow the prime directives. If you ask a child what he's going to do, he says, "I'm going to play. That's
what kids do." As Sri Ramakrishna said, "The ego of a child is nothing like the ego of a grown-up man." You
see, they both make sand castles at the beach; then the kids run through them with their feet, but the grown-ups take pictures.
We owe our childhood to our sojourn on the beaches of north-east Africa, where we were probably marooned
on an island a few million years ago, and where, in the absence of the jungle, we were forced to eat at the beach. It was
there, when our body language failed in the surf, that we learned to talk. And it was there, to accommodate the change, that
we prolonged our childhood. (9) That is why our parenting batch is so different from that of other animals. And that is why
the curiosity and the wonder of our childhood never comes to an end. We are the children of children who never grow up. And
there is an escape route through this genetic loophole. Don't forget it! Children don't follow the prime directives
of the genetic programming. And neither did Sri Ramakrishna. Although he practiced all sorts of spiritual practices, his native
way to go was to think of himself as a child and of God as Mother.
THE EQUATIONS OF MAYA
We have talked a little
bit about equations and a great deal about maya. Now we have to take a hard look at our physics to see if any of our equations
can be taken as descriptive of maya.
First of all, let me remind you that the physics of the last centuryÃƒÂ¢??the
physics of Swami Vivekananda's dayÃƒÂ¢??was nothing like the physics of this century. In those
days it was taken for granted that the mix of the chemical elements in the Universe had been given at the time of creationÃƒÂ¢??if
there was a creationÃƒÂ¢??or had been around foreverÃƒÂ¢??if there was a foreverÃƒÂ¢??and
that if you just kept shuffling the mix long enough, it would come out in the present configuration again. The swami sometimes
referred to that view. Don't take it as "gospel truth"; he is just quoting the scientific view of his day. In
those days it was taken for granted that the Universe consists of real particles with real mass and real energy moving through
real space in real time. It was taken for granted that mass and energy were different things, that space and time were independent
of each other, and that if we knew the present position and momentum of the particles, we could predict the entire past and
future of the Universe. No one thinks like that now. There have been some major revolutions in our understanding of physics
since then, and they began just after Swami Vivekananda passed away.
In the winter of 1895-96, Swami
Vivekananda met Nikola Tesla and asked him if he could show that what we call matter is just potential energy. The swami said,
"I am to go and see him next week to get this new mathematical demonstration," (10) which apparently never came.
It is probably unfortunate that Tesla didn't get it shown, because if relativity theory had arisen out of a suggestion
by Swami Vivekananda, the history of modern physics might have looked very different. The notion that what we see as matter
is just potential energy was published as an appendix to Einstein's relativity paper ten years later, in 1905.
1905, Einstein changed our geometry from 3-D to 4-D. He put time into our geometry where it belongs. Time and space come into
the geometry as a pair of opposites, so that if the space separation and the time separation between two events, say here-now
and there-then, are equal, the total separation between those two events is zero.
Euclid assumed that space separations
are objective, but Euclid's geometry is a theoretical geometry about a theoretical space that does not, in fact, exist.
Space separations, and separations in time, are not objective. Observers moving with respect to each other measure different
distances between there and here, and different times between then and now. What is objective is the total separation, the
space-time separation, between there-then and here-now.
The equation looks very much like Pythagoras' equation
for the hypotenuse of a right triangle. In Pythagoras' equation you square the two sides of the triangle, add the squares,
and take the square root of that sum. But in Einstein's equation, to get the space-time separation between two events,
you square the time separation and subtract it from the square of the space separation, and take the square root of that difference.
(11) So that if the space and time separations between those two events are equal, the total separation between them is zero.
And that puts the separation between the perceiver and the perceived at zero, because always we see events away from us in
space by the trick of seeing them back in time in just such a way that the total separation is zero. That separation equation,
as I see it, is one of the equations of maya. If this Universe is apparitional, like a dream, then the separation between
the dreamer and the dream must be zero.
It was this change in the geometry that allowed Einstein to realize that what
we see as mass (matter) is just potential energy. E = m. That is the equation that Swami Vivekananda hoped to get from Tesla.
So now we see that matter (mass), as well as energy, is just the underlying existence showing through in the apparition. So
that equation, too, is an equation of maya. (12)
There are many things which are easier to see now than they were in
Einstein's day before the discovery of neutron stars and before the suspicion of black holes went public. It is easy to
see now that the gravitational energy transformed to kinetic energy in the fall of an object to the surface of a neutron star
would be a tenth of its rest mass, so that the energy released in the splash of a ten gram marshmallow on a neutron star would
be enough to vaporize a town. It is easy to see now that, falling to the event horizon of a small black hole, one third of
the energy would be released, and that all of it would be released if the black hole contained all the rest of the matter
in the observable Universe. It is easy to see now that as Einstein said in 1917, "There can be no inertia relative to
'space', but only an inertia of masses relative to one another." And it is easy to see now that that inertia
is related to their separation in the gravitational field, and not to their proximity to each other, as Einstein seems to
have thought. (13)
It is easy to see now that the Universe is wound up against gravity because the undivided shows
through in the separation. And it is easy to see now that the Universe is wound up against the electrical charges of the minuscule
particles because the infinite shows through in the smallness. (14) And we owe a great deal of these considerations to Einstein.
But there is another revolution that has taken place in our physics which is considered even more basic than Einstein's
change in our geometry. That is quantum mechanics.
Matter does not behave according to our
genetic expectations. Our genetic expectations are Newtonian. They assume Euclidian geometry, and they assume Newtonian physics.
They take for granted that space separations are real, and that causation is transformational. That is why so many people
have so much trouble "understanding" relativity and quantum mechanics. Our genetic expectations are offended. We
cannot easily accept the fact that it is impossible to know everything about a physical system, just as it is impossible to
identify the snake for which a rope has been mistaken. But there is this deep uncertainty lying at the bottom of our physics.
In the late 1920's, Werner Heisenberg pointed out that the product of our necessary uncertainty in where a particle
is and our necessary uncertainty in its momentum can never be smaller than Planck's constant over two pi. Also that the
product of our necessary uncertainty in when something happens and our necessary uncertainty in the energy of the happening
can never be less than that same amount. This is Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, which I take to be another of the
equations of maya. What it says is that if we see what we see through the screen of time and space, we cannot quite tell what
it is that we see.
Richard Feynman has said that every statement in quantum mechanics is a restatement of Heisenberg's
uncertainty principle. This quantum behavior is what keeps the electron from sitting down on the proton in a hydrogen atom,
in spite of the enormous electrical attraction between them. If we knew that much about its position, our necessary uncertainty
in its momentum would be so large that the momentum associated with that uncertainty would be enough to drive it off. That
is why we don't fall through the floor. If the electrons are pushed too close to the nuclei, they simply buzz harder and
keep us up. That's why the planets don't collapse. It's the uncertainty necessitated by the fact that the first
cause of our physics is apparitional.
These three equations, as I see it, are some of the equations of
maya. Einstein's separation equation sets the separation between the perceiver and the perceived at zero. The dream is
in the dreamer. We see the bright star Sirius eight and a half light years away from us by the trick of seeing it eight and
a half years ago. And the distance away comes in squared with a plus sign but the time ago comes in squared with a minus sign,
so that if the two are equal, the total separation goes to zero. Einstein's more famous equation, E = mc2, in which "energy
is set equal to mass," is the equation which Swami Vivekananda had hoped to get from Tesla, because, as he said, "There
cannot be two existences, only one." And Heisenberg's uncertainty principle includes the notion that the observer
is always mixed up in what he sees. There is no longer any talk of a Universe independent of the observer any more than there
is talk of an apparitional snake independent of the person who is seeing the apparition.
Whence and Whither?
a long time I have felt that the physicists were just on the verge of noticing that the first cause of our physics is apparitional,
that our physics is the physics of an apparitional Universe. I mentioned it to Johnny Carson when I was on his show a couple
of years ago. I said that when you mistake a rope for a snake, what you do is to look at it very carefully, and you notice
that it has these diagonal markings on its back. And you think, "It looks like a rope. Have we had ropes long enough
for the snakes to imitate them?" And you call it a rope-snake. Then you look carefully at the end where the rattles should
have been and you see hemp fibers. "Aha! Rope-snake hempii." There was so much laughter that I couldn't finish.
We were cut off by the music. But what I wanted to say was that when you find that the head end is also hemp fibers, you realize
that it really is a rope. I wanted to say that only this last step has not yet been taken by the physicists. Relativity and
quantum mechanics are not about an actual Universe. We already have the physics of an apparition.
There are some interesting
differences between the physicists and the mystics. The mystics take existence for granted, and want to get from here to there.
They want to see beyond the apparition. And the physicists are likely to take non-existence for granted, and want to get from
there to here. The Big Bang cosmologists want to get the Universe out of nothing. It's like asking us to believe that
nothing made everything out of nothing. But that's not what shows in our physics. If behind what we see there were only
a zero, then where would gravity come from, and electricity, and inertia? I have to side with the mystics. On observational
grounds I have to take existence for granted.
Another interesting difference is that the physicists are Parinamavadins.
They believe that causation is transformational and that the Universe is actual, whereas the mystics are Vivartavadins. Regardless
of what they write in their books or what they say from the pulpit, all the mystics and religious aspirants agree that faith
is at the root of spiritual experience. And that would not be possible unless the Universe were apparitional. If the milk
has been made into buttermilk, faith that it's milk will be of no avail; whereas, if you have mistaken your friend for
a ghost, faith that it's your friend ends the problem.
Here let me remind you that physics and philosophy are our
maps. They can be judged as true or false according to whether they correspond or do not correspond to fact. But mysticism
(or religion) is a journey, and about a journey one does not ask whether it is true or false, but only where it goes. Will
it take me to the goal?
Our problem is to reach the goal. To see beyond the screen. You remember that Swami Vivekananda
said that the Universe is the Absolute seen through the screen of time, space, and causation. It's no use asking how the
Absolute became the Universe. The Absolute has not become the Universe any more than the rope has become a snake. Our problem
is to see it straight. And you remember that Sri Ramakrishna said that maya is nothing but the egotism of the embodied soul.
And that is genetic. The prime directives of the genetic programming are to direct a stream of negative entropy upon ourselves
and to pass on the genetic line. That is why we feel ourselves to be the doers of action and the enjoyers of its fruits. It
is just a genetic mirage. The genes have us persuaded that by following their dictates we'll reach the peace of the changeless,
the freedom of the infinite, and the bliss of the undivided. They don't have it to give. We don't get the undivided;
we get a family. You must have noticed.
Our problem is to reach the goal, and not be hoodwinked by the genes. But this
is not a journey from one place to another in an actual world. It is a journey from one point of view to another. That is
why it is often referred to as an "inner journey". It is a journey from an erroneous point of view, dictated by
the genes, to a point of view from which we can see through the genetic mirage.
Counter-cheating the Genes
is important to remember that our problem is genetic. As James Burke says, "If you don't know how you got somewhere,
you don't know where you are." And as I say, "If you don't know where you are, how will you know where to
go?" In order to "counter-cheat" the genes, we need to know how they have cheated us.
In an apparitional
Universe, seen in time and space, there are only three drives to catch hold ofÃƒÂ¢??the drive for the
changeless which we see in matter as inertia, and in ourselves as our yearning for peace and security; the drive for the infinite
which we see in matter as electricity, and in ourselves as our yearning for freedom; and the drive for the undivided which
we see in matter as gravity, and in ourselves as our yearning for love and bliss. There are no other drives for the genes
to catch hold of; so they have caught hold of these three and persuade us to run after them in ways that get their genetic
necessities fulfilled, in ways that fulfill their prime directives. But the fulfillment of a genetic necessity does not confer
on the organism the fulfillment of the yearning that drives it. The yearnings have been borrowed by the genes. But the genes
have left some loopholes which we built in at the beach long ago.
All our spirituality began at that beachÃƒÂ¢??our
breath control, our speech, our music and our hymns, our worship, our mantras and our prayers. And there at the beach we built
in parenting and childhood and the ability to pass on what we know. And now we are smart enough to counter-cheat the genes,
to use the genes themselves to help us see behind the screen. Every human emotion can be redirected from the fulfillment of
a genetic necessity to the fulfillment of our spiritual quest. And remember, our childhood batch is unique; children don't
go along with the prime directives of the genetic programming. "The ego of a child is nothing like the ego of a grown-up
And let me remind you that space is not that which separates the many, but that which seems to separate
the one. And in that space that oneness shines, therefore falls whatever falls. And space is not that in which we see the
small, but that in which the infinite appears as small. And in that space that vastness shines, therefore bursts whatever
bursts, therefore shines whatever shines. And finally, time is not that in which we see the changing, but that in which the
changeless seems to change. And in that time that changeless shines, therefore rests whatever rests, therefore coasts whatever
Swami Vivekananda said that science and religion would meet and shake hands. I think that time has come.
4: The Upanishads are the philosophical sections of the ancient Sanskrit scriptures called the Vedas.
is one of the six systems of Indian philosophy. Sankhyans held that nature, prakriti, is one, and that souls are many. They
believed that prakriti is active and the souls are passive, but prakriti dances for the souls. The ultimate aim of Sankhya
is kaivalya, 'isolation' (of the soul from prakriti).
6: Vivekananda, Swami. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda
Volume 2. "The Absolute and Manifestation". Mayavati: Advaita Ashrama, 1948.
7: Nikhilananda, Swami, tr.
The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1942.
Erwin. What Is Life? Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press, 1967.
9: Morgan, Elaine. The Aquatic Ape New York:Stein
10: Vivekananda.Volume 5.
11: S2 = x2 - t2, where x and y are the space and time separations between
the two events, and S is the total space-time separation.
12: This equation is often written, E = mc2, where c is the
speed of light, 3 x 1010cm./sec. In Einstein's day the unit for energy was the erg, and the unit for mass was the gram,
and when we found out that mass and energy were the same thing, we had to know how many ergs make a gram. Now one gram is
the energy of an atomic bomb, and one erg is the kinetic energy of a two gram beetle walking one centimeter per second. So
E = mc2 says that, carefully handled, the kinetic energy of 9 x 1020two gram beetles walking one centimeter per second would
13: Gardner, Martin. The Relativity Explosion New York: Vintage Books, 1976. Page 123.
Just as the gravitational energy of the Universe would go to zero if and only if the dividedness went to zero, just so, the
electrical energy of an electrical particle would go to zero if and only if the size of that particle went to infinity.