Thursday, September 22, 2016

Essence of Existence is the Divine

"The splendor of the sun, which dissipates the darkness of this whole world, comes from Me. And the splendor of the moon and the splendor of fire are also from Me.
I enter into each planet, and by My energy they stay in orbit. I become the moon and thereby supply the juice of life to all vegetables.
I am the fire of digestion in the bodies of all living entities, and I join with the air of life, outgoing and incoming, to digest the four kinds of foodstuff.
I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas, I am to be known. Indeed, I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas." ............Bhagavad Gita 15 :12-15

When I read the above passage from Bhagavad Gita, I was astounded by the depth of knowledge it conveys as to the nature of reality. Ever since humans evolved there was a constant seeking to understand both himself and the environment around him. The more mysterious a perception humans assigned a Divine authorship. The evolution of mythologies, worships and rituals had their origin in this seeking. But there were wise men who were able to intuit the true nature of reality though they assigned a primal cause to a single Divinity which was called by different names; such as Brahman. The manifestation of this single Divine entity in many manifestations were also written into mythologies and worships.

Lord Krishna, who is the manifestation of the Lord Vishnu in the triumvirate of Saguna Brahma imparts very fundamental wisdom essential for a holistic perception of reality both in mankind as well as in the cosmological realm.
These verses from the Gita, which come immediately after the revelation of the Cosmic form of Divinity in chapter eleven, is from the chapter known as ‘Purushottama Yoga’ or ‘Realization of Ultimate Truth’  

The omniscience, omnipotent and omnipresence of the Divine essence is explained as being fundamental to all that is created, sustained and transformed. In these three acts of creation, sustenance and transformation there is a single source in action through a manifold laws which are inherent to this source. Many times the word evolution is misleading as this process has to fundamentally have a previous source with inbuilt mechanism to trigger this process so that a different entity can evolve. In truth what we are observing is emergence. This process is different in the sense that while there an original source, an emergent phenomenon employs not only this source but the entire energy in the system in which the new manifestation takes place. This is the reason that evolutionary through natural selection was not able to explain the sudden spurt of species and the quantum jumps in intelligence.

In the present age, through science, we are able to understand that there is no matter as such but matter is a derivative of energy. This energy is consciousness.

“Consciousness is that by which this world first becomes manifest, by which indeed, we can quite calmly say, it first becomes present; that the world consists of the elements of consciousness.” ..............Erwin Schrödinger, Nobel Prize-winning physicist.

 When we say consciousness, there is always a tendency to identify it with human consciousness. This is extremely limiting. Science again comes to our rescue in study of animals and plants as possessing extremely high level of consciousness.

Let me just quote a latest research findings about plant consciousness:
"Tree mothers' are a lot like human mothers, Trees talk often and over large distances.
You see, underground there is this other world. A world of infinite biological pathways that connect trees and allow them to communicate, and allow the forest to behave as if it's a single organism,
But their communication and comprehension skills go much deeper than that -- trees can also recognize their offspring, and nurture them both below and above the ground." .............At TED Summit 2016, forest ecologist Suzanne Simard.

"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………..” …………… Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics

May the wisdom of these verses from Bhagavad Gita and our scientific discoveries empower us to live a fully connected life to our fellow men and the cosmos.

Love to you all.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Everlasting through Divine Love

"In this vision he showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought "What may this be?" And it was generally answered thus: "It is all that is made." I marvelled how it might last, for it seemed it might suddenly have sunk into nothing because of its littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: "It lasts and ever shall, because God loves it." 
…………St. Julian of Norwich

St. Julian of Norwich was a fourteenth century Christian mystic and the above quote is taken from her book “The Revelation of Divine Love”. She was unique, being the first woman writer and woman theologian in an age dominated by the male church authorities. Because of her deep intuitive and contemplative thinking, she was able to comprehend a cosmic view of life and its existence within the universe.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the chapel and its annexe where St. Julian spent nearly thirty years without leaving her single cell abode. During her stay in this cell she had visions, which were internal revelations during her deep meditative state, which she wrote down as a book.

I was greatly impressed by the above quote because of its cosmological nature and being in tune with current findings in cosmological studies in science in the twenty first century.
All material manifestation in this universe, including all atoms, gases, planets, stars and galaxies, is only 4% of the universe. It is as small as a comparison to all that we can observe in this world and yet it this hazelnut comes out of the vastness of the earth. So also all manifestation in this universe comes from the vastness of the cosmos. The singularity that expanded in the very first zillionth of a second is the outpouring of what Julian calls Divine love. This can be seen from a scientific perspective as any singularity from which the universe had to evolve will contain an energy density inversely proportional to the volume of the singularity but as a singularity has potentially a zero volume the energy density has to be infinite. This is the reason why the laws of physics break down at the singularity.

Julian expressed this great concept through spiritual simplicity and further strengthened it through her expression “…………..I marvelled how it might last, for it seemed it might suddenly have sunk into nothing because of its littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: "It lasts and ever shall, because God loves it."
In modern scientific knowledge which talks not of energy but of information, the total information is only translated in the process of manifestation but never lost or diminished even in a Black Hole.

In Vedic cosmology, which is considered by some to be the closest to modern scientific timelines. It suggests that the Big Bang is not the beginning of everything, but is just the start of a present cycle preceded by an infinite number of universes and to be followed by another infinite number of universes.

How did this revelation regarding an infinite manifestation reveal itself to a lowly, scientifically and philosophically uninformed nun in a remote corner of England?

This reveals a universal, connecting medium or field and this can be called by different names such cosmic consciousness or Divine love. In order to reach this stage in a human life it is necessary to surrender oneself completely to the Divine powers that lies beyond the rational mind and sensory perception within the human soul. This is a travel inward and it is expressed beautifully in the following passage from the writings of St. John of the Cross.

“……….On this road, therefore, to abandon one's own way is to enter on the true way, or, to speak more correctly, to pass onwards to the goal; and to forsake one's own way is to enter on that which has none, namely, God. For the soul that attains to this state has no ways or methods of its own, neither does it nor can it lean upon anything of the kind. I mean ways of understanding, perceiving, or feeling, though it has all ways at the same time, as one who possessing nothing, yet possesseth everything. For the soul courageously resolved on passing, interiorly and exteriorly, beyond the limits of its own nature, enters illimitably within the supernatural, which has no measure, but contains all measure imminently within itself. To arrive there is to depart hence, going away, out of oneself,”

Swami Sivananda defining Cosmic consciousness says:

“Cosmic consciousness is perfect awareness of the oneness of life. The Yogi feels that the universe is filled with one life. He actually feels that there is no such thing as blind force or dead matter and that all is alive, vibrating and intelligent. ……………..He who has cosmic consciousness feels that the universe is all his. He is one with the Supreme Lord. He is one with the Universal knowledge and Life. He experiences bliss and joy beyond understanding and description. In the moment of illumination or great spiritual exaltation he has the actual divine universal vision. He is conscious of being in the presence of God. He sees the light of God's countenance. He is lifted above the ordinary plane of consciousness. He reaches a higher state of consciousness. He has a cosmic or universal understanding. He has developed the cosmic sense. The human soul is revolutionised.”

It is in this state of enlightenment that St. Julian had such a profound vision. Hence every little thing that we see is the manifestation of Divine Love and we are also part of this fabric.

Love to you all.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Functionality from the Formless

“A flower cannot be by herself alone. To be empty is not a negative note… A flower is empty only of a separate self, but a flower is full of everything else. The whole cosmos can be seen, can be identified, can be touched, in one flower. So to say that the flower is empty of a separate self also means that the flower is full of the cosmos.” ………Thich Nhat Hanh

In my teachings of the interconnectedness of the self with the fullness of the Macrocosm, one of the slides I show is the most beautiful picture of the Milky Way Galaxy adorning the sky over the Colorado desert and the short definition of the Japanese word yūgen (幽玄), a term that Japanese artists and poets have used to signify a deep emotional response of relatedness with the Universe. This is expressed by the great Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, in the quotation above. As I am deeply interested in human consciousness and the possible approach to comprehending the nature of its all-encompassing attribute through which humanity is in the present evolved state through science, especially physics and biology, I try to closely follow the thoughts and writings of leading scholars who have an integral approach in their research though they are investigating very narrow domains in their own respective fields.

World's smartest Physicist and String theorist, Edward Witten said: “I think consciousness will remain a mystery. Yes, that's what I tend to believe. I tend to think that the workings of the conscious brain will be elucidated to a large extent. Biologists and perhaps physicists will understand much better how the brain works. But why something that we call consciousness goes with those workings, I think that will remain mysterious..”
I am able to resonate with his thinking as I believe that String theory is a strong candidate for unravelling the fundamental working of the universe. It needs eleven dimension but we live in a four dimensional domain and our consciousness is conditioned in this framework. We have no access to the any reference framework that lies outside our four dimensional world. This is n undeniable fact.
Even in our four dimensional world view we are still struggling to unravel certain observation as to why, in any closed system entropy keeps increasing and why the arrow of time always points to the future. There are as many debates as there are deep thinkers in the academia.

Buddhism has always insisted on the limited capacity of the human mind when it is extended to grasp any deeper reality other than those that we perceive through our sensory organs.
Whenever any radically creative work is attempted, any concepts which are already available to the perceiving mind becomes an impediment.
Seymour Cray, the founding researcher of Cray Supercomputers, always believed that any prior knowledge is an impediment to radical new thinking, hence when an advance version of Cray supercomputers enter the design stage, completely new resources are put together with the proviso that none of the older design information should be consulted. This has enabled the most advance computers using a ground breaking architecture upgradable to 100 petaflops (100,000,000,000,000,000 floating point operations per second) per system.

The potentiality of the void is grasped at the individual level then the potentiality of the entire cosmos is opened to us.
“Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.”
Therefore benefit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.” ……….Verse 11 of Tao Te Ching

The universe evolved from the void and its macrocosmic functionality was contained in that very void from which it evolved. This understanding is sufficient to understand the futility of seeking any causality within the current framework of evolving consciousness. As the full potentiality of comprehension is inherently built into our consciousness, a transcendence beyond our limited rational consciousness operating through our mind is the need of the hour.
Imagine a cup that has an infinite capacity and totally transparent but appears to the person who is holding it as very limited because the portion that he wraps his hand around only gives him the feel of the presence of the cup. This false perception will lead him to refuse any nourishment beyond his apparent boundary.

It is only through our expansion of awareness beyond the limiting structures of our ego and seeing the interconnectedness of the entire cosmos that we can perceive that the entire universe evolves from our subjective perception.

For each of us to be meaningful in our existence, the subjective experience of all objective reality from the tiniest of organism to the galaxies, should be seen as an integral nature of our own existence.
This leads us to the experience of yūgen which is an inner emotional experience beyond the limiting mind.

Love to you all.