World this is merely a big Idea in our mind!

via Dr. P.E.S.Kartha published on October 9, 2006

World this is merely a big Idea in our mind!

Vedantic philosophies treat the world as illusory. Here is an attempt to visualize this complex concept and that of the ‘Nirgunopasana’ with the help of a reasoning based on scientifically acceptable tools and definitions



e have the propensity to bestow an aura of reality to every info byte that we pick up through our faculties of senses, such as seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. But how objective or truth-oriented are these pieces of senses-processed information? To answer this question, one must at the outset appreciate the inherent limitations that our sensory faculties suffer from. Indeed, they restrict the ‘frame of discernment’ of these five grand windows that our mind employs to ‘see’ the world. We may deduce from our experiential wisdom that many a time, the ‘first impression’ that the ‘seat of mind’ is gaining through these sensory inlets is not the right impression!


f we are inclined to disagree to this conjecture, let us, for example, look at the sky and reflect on the veracity of every object, phenomenon or event that catches our attention there. Even a school student would take pains to explain to us that our ‘sky-view’ is a mine field of deception! The images of the stars, that our retina catch, are of the ones existed millions or even billions of years before in the past and they may not be continued to be living at this moment! Even about our Sun, we are only sure that it existed 8+ minutes ago and not certain that it is present at this real point of time! Or if we are reluctant to suspect what we see with our own eyes, then it is time for us to begin believing that it is the Sun which revolves around us and not the vice versa!!


et us consider another common example. Look closely at the three familiar shapes that we commonly refer to as a point, a line and a plane. If we remember the descriptions in the school geometry texts, we know that a point does not have any of the dimensions such as length, width or thickness. In other words, a point, abstractly, is a 0-dimensional entity. Similarly, a line conceptually possesses only length, that is, it is a 1-dimensional entity and a plane, which by definition has only length and breadth and no thickness, is a 2-dimensional entity.


ow let us find out how far we can visualize these well-known ‘simple’ shapes. Make a point on a piece of paper. Now, suppose you take a look at it through a microscope. What would you see? A heap of atoms if your microscope is sufficiently powerful! Even if you imagine the size of the point to that of a single atom (remember that each atom is having dimensions of length, breadth and thickness, however small these may seem to be), you cannot get rid of the dimensional liabilities in a physical manifestation of the point, as it occupies space and the space that we are familiar with is three dimensional.   The same is the case with our attempt to ‘project’ a 1-dimensional line and a 2-dimensional plane into our ‘extra’ dimensional universe. That is, what we draw and ascribe as point, line and plane and what we define them are mutually different or unrelated. In other words, these ‘simple’ structural concepts are abstract vis-à-vis our universe and hence intangible and beyond our mind’s capabilities of imagination. It only means that we can visualize them only up to or less than the way four blind men felt and comprehended the elephant in the fable. There is no way that we can envision any thing in our mind that is outside the realm of the all invasive 3-d space as our intellectual horizon is restricted or enslaved in a 3-d frame. Here there is no prospect of thinking ‘outside the box’ since we are ignorant of any thing ‘outside the box’.


s a compensatory measure to such inadequacy of our mental prowess, all those abstract or non-figurative reflections on our sensory canvas from the realms of beyond are  depicted symbolically within the familiar attributes of our 3-d world. But in this process of morphing, their ‘avatar’ into our frame of understanding does not retain any resemblance with the original forms.


his paradigm swing from the intangible to the tangible holds out an interesting facet with regard to our behavioural pattern. That is, we consider the tangible, in truth only a mask of a different-dimensional intangible entity with the halo of reality. The obvious reason for such morphing process is to compensate our intellectual limitations and also due to the fact that the filtered out versions of the ‘extra-dimensional’ or the subtle forms are visible and accessible to our handicapped intellectual abilities. This ‘makes believe’ tendency, which is part of our cerebral make-up, can be explained as the hallucination that effectively enslaves us to the limited world-view and perception. The more accurate term is the one used in Hindu Scriptures that is ‘Maya’ which may be roughly translated as illusion in English. An example of this illusory effect is our perpetual confusion between the ego and the self, as the prime mover of our actions!


ero is another remarkable concept that all of us employ day in and day out. But very few of us have attempted to explore its exciting philosophical depth. Can we be able to appreciate the value’ of zero except when it is juxtaposed with a digit to indicate the place value?  When it stands alone, what does it imply?  Then it means the absence of something. As per the semantic definition, ‘some thing’ can be ‘any thing’, for example it could be an article, a quality or just a number. Now, it is uncomplicated to picture one orange or a dozen bricks. But then, how does one visualize zero apples or zero bricks for instance? More importantly, how does one compare zero cars and zero bulbs and develop an understandable image in his mind? At this point, many may tend to agree that we are dealing with abstract or intangible situations in such cases. Therefore the friendly neighbourhood Zero is another entity that beats hollow our famed power of visualization.


hen we think of zero ‘something’ we are unable to detach/disassociate its attributes of that ‘something’ from the ‘zero’. That enables us to see zero or absence of something in the light of the attributes of the latter and of course, in this process, we fail to notice the ‘singularity’ of the zero. That is, the zero of any thing is zero only whether it is the zero of apple or stars or rain, it is just the plane and simple zero, an absolute entity independent of any attribute of whatsoever of any thing. The central concept of the Godhead of the Sanathana Dharma that is built on the Vedic philosophies is the ‘Nirguna Brahma’ or the absolute truth which is beyond any form and attributes. This ultimate abstraction being unfathomable to our ordinary minds, we try to convert the formless ‘imponderable’ to mind-friendly, attribute-full, form-rich deities. Though this conversion is an announcement of our lack of ability, it certainly helps the average mortals like us to enter the spiritual dominion, nonetheless through the backdoor.


n this context, it is easy to understand that if we are blessed with the power of understanding this transition to zero, we are ready to open the door from the Sagunopasana (Worshipping the Godhead which has form and attributes) to Nirgunopasana (Worshipping the Godhead without form and attributes). But as we are entangled manifold in the confusion of materialistic dimensions and the resulting cobweb of experiences, it takes tremendous amount of individual effort to achieve that! But when it is achieved, one can claim to be climbing on the spiritual steps. In other words, when our intellect acquires the ability to appreciate the line separating the presence of something to its absence, we may say that it enters the realm of comprehending abstraction or an intangible entity. Or we pass the ‘entrance test’ to practice the ‘Nirgunopasana’.


he above line of reasoning also proves yet again that any thing from beyond the ‘shell’ of our 3-D space has to undergo a drastic localization process such as the translation into symbolisms to suit our restricted power of realization. It may be interesting to indicate another related aspect too here. We regularly see many printed pictures in books and periodicals. Each of these pictures is formed by the systematic composition or deployment of point sized individual ‘dots’. We know already that a point do not have any dimension. Therefore the group of dimensionless points or the printed picture also has to be dimensionless. That is, just like a point, a picture too must be invisible and intangible or indefinable to us.  However, as we have realized the point to a symbolic form of visible ‘dot’ with attributes of measurable dimensions, the picture becomes experiential to us through our senses. In alternative words, abstract ideas get ‘morphed’ in our minds so as to become visible to us. We experience this universe through the continuous processing of our minds. That is the reason why we use the word ‘Viswam’ -to denote the universe in Sanskrit, which approximately means that the world is a derivation of our thoughts. Once we are able to proceed in this manner, we are blessed with the understanding that the universe is nothing but ‘Maya’ or Illusion.


he line that separates the absolute from the non-absolute exists as the boundary between the classical science and the spiritual science, the latter being the core of a true religion.  The modern science led by Theory of Relativity, Quantum Physics, Nano Science, String Theory etc. and the various theories of spiritual sciences or Vedanta cross this ‘Lakshman Rekha’ frequently to exchange ideas with each other branch of ‘Vidya’  and grow as a result. This is not a new phenomenon but only a new version of age old exchanges. In fact, this is not surprising since the science at its infancy spent time at the lap of the religion. But what is surprising is another trend. Today’s rationalism based on (mostly irrational) negation, which in fact a corrupt version of the ‘anusandhanam’ (enquiry) of Sage Charvaka, agnosticism of Buddhism, or the atheist argument of Jainism, does not see or refuse to see this science-religion amalgamation at the apex, is in fact quite surprising!!

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