Friday, April 10, 2015

Out of the Intellectual Labyrinth

"The universe is the supreme manifestation of the sacred. This notion is fundamental to establishing a cosmos, an intelligible manner of understanding the universe or even any part of the universe.. We must remember that it is not only the human world that is held securely in this sacred enfoldment but the entire planet. We need this security, this presence throughout our lives. The sacred is that which evokes the depths of wonder. We may know some things, but really we know only the shadows of things." ............Thomas Berry

Recently there is great excitement in the theoretical physics community as to what to expect from the upgraded CERN particle collider. Ever since the Higgs event was observed in 2014 the power of the particle accelerator has been augmented to nearly twice the previous capacity. {The upgrade was intended to beef up its maximum collision capacity from 8 (TeV) to 14 TeV (TeV = Teraelectronvolts)}
minuscule percentage of even the science community understands the mathematical and inferential process of how a particle is found (The Higgs Boson has a lifetime of one ten billionth of a second). Yet this is carried to the level of human conscious awareness of the entire world as something which has an absolute attribute. Though falsification is an inherent part of scientific enquiry, the money that is spent on this project defies any rational justification given that billions of people in this world live in utter poverty.

The twenty first century science has reached the very limit of conscious sensory observation and now requires virtual language and tools to postulate and experimentally verify a new hypothesis. This too at a very exorbitant cost. Many scientist believe that we are in a dangerous territory as we are trying to simulate the near Big Bang energy levels. Stephen Hawking thinks so. and warns of the theory of a "Higgs Boson doomsday", where a quantum fluctuation creates a vacuum "bubble" that expands through space and wipes out the universe, This may not happen at present energy levels but we are trying to play God in this territory. Science community is averse to using the term God but today every scientist worth his name, ever since David Bohm, agrees that there is an implicate order from which all explicit manifestations occur. Without naming the author of this underlying principle, we need to be aware of the futility of how much an evolved intelligence can fathom the very fundamental source from which it has evolved.

This takes us to the ancient warnings inherent in trying to play God. The mythological Sumerian, Biblical tale of the "Tower of Babel" or the Vedic Puranic story of "Shiva and Bhasmasura" were specifically told to indicate the destruction of the self when trying to achieve the statehood of the Divine from within the physical, mental plane. The physical system, comprising of the mind and the body, is the support vehicle of the Divine spirit and when one tries to elevate the mind-body matrix to that of the all encompassing and omnipotent Divine level, the support system disintegrates. It is for this reason that in Kundalini Yoga and other similar spiritual exercises, the guidance of an accomplished Guru becomes mandatory.

For those who may not know about the two mythological references, I will briefly touch upon these stories. In the Bible narrative, after the great flood, men from the east settle down and try to build a grand city and a tower of immense height reaching the heavens. The city signifies the abode of the spirit and the tower signifies the intelligence with which one fathoms great mysteries. The great city and the tower signify, at the individual level, the physical and mental  capacities which have been invested in us through creation. When we overreach and extend our capacities beyond the intended level then the scattering or disintegration happens. This Bible story is taken from a Sumerian myth and also is mentioned in the Quran in Sura 2:102 mentions the name of Babil. In the History of the Prophets and Kings by the 9th-century Muslim theologian al-Tabari, a fuller version is given: Nimrod has the tower built in Babil, God destroys it,

The Babylonian mythology and Abrahamic religions try to convey the same deeper message.

In the Puranic story of Shiva and Bhasmasura, Bhasmasura is the Asura or the demon king who does a very devote penance to Lord Shiva and Lord Shiva appears to his devotee and asks him what boon he needs. The Asura asks for immortality which the Lord says he cannot give as this is an attribute of only the Divine. Bhasmasura then asks that whom so ever he touches on the top of the head should be turned into ash. The Lord grants him his wish but then Bhasmasura wants to try out his boon on the Shiva himself. The story ends with the clever ploy of Lord Vishnu who seduces him in the form of a beautiful maiden, Mohini, who asks the infatuated Bhasmasura that he take  an oath of allegiance to  Mohini, by placing his hand on his head, that she will be his only wife and Bhasmasura places his hand on his own head and is turned to ash.

Thomas Berry was a Catholic priest of the Passionist order, cultural historian and ecotheologian (although cosmologist and geologian – or “Earth scholar” – were his preferred descriptors). Among advocates of deep ecology and "ecospirituality" he is famous for proposing that a deep understanding of the history and functioning of the evolving universe is a necessary inspiration and guide for our own effective functioning as individuals and as a species.
The holistic vision of the universe and the place of human beings is very lucidly told by him in the quote I have referred above but the concluding part of the quote is of prime importance.
" ...........We may know some things, but really we know only the shadows of things."
This saying contains a great truth. All our knowing comes through perceptions and all perceptions are mental images through our sensory inputs. All our knowledge are these acquired perceptions and inter-relationships. All sensory inputs are generated through energy vibrations (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch). Hence perceptions of signature of energy vibration which Berry calls shadows cannot in themselves be devoid of subjective aberrations. To know things in totality or in its wholeness we have to move beyond the perceptive shadows into the very realm of fundamental structure of the cosmos.

I am not decrying the endeavour of the scientific inquiry and the seeking spirit of the human being but we need to tread with caution and not outstretch our limitations to the destructive point. Science today is caught in the freewheeling cycle of conjunctures and refutations and need to branch out into research in the area of planetary sustainability. I feel that further scientific research should increasingly be oriented towards grass root problems of survival of humanity and the planet.

Love to you all.


  1. Too much anything is harmful and it applies to scientific research too........Ego might not be playing a part in these researches but to aim for the ultimate like St. Augustine's life episode where an angel is trying to bring the whole ocean into the small hole is an useless endeavour. Enjoyed listening and reading!

  2. If There was a Mary Magdalene to listen to Jesus, I have one who can listen to me.
    The small shell with which we are trying to empty the ocean is our four dimensional mind.
    Thanks for being such a joy.