Summary: Part 10 closes out the essay by elaborating on the relationship between consciousness and power and discusses the opposite ways that power is used by scientists and yogis.
The yogic cosmology introduced in Part 9 has a genesis story that was discussed briefly in the Interlude, where the Brahmanda Purana was quoted. According to this “creation myth” the act that created the manifested world was an event in Pure Consciousness. This event was the separation of Shiva and Shakti, or consciousness and power, as traditionally translated. This separation forms the “cosmic observer” (Shiva) and the “cosmic observed” (Shakti or Prakriti).
Humans are considered miniature, self-similar copies of Shiva-Shakti since our existence manifests the observer/observed dualism. The Hindu and yogic cosmologies project the dualism that is the core of our immediate experience on the entire structure of the universe, where “universe” is taken to mean the four worlds described in Part 9. In this regard, recall that each state of the gunas had a corresponding state of consciousness.
One could eschew the Hindu cosmology as mere anthropomorphism. However, we have repeatedly stressed the role of yoga and samadhi in Hindu thought, so one should not be so quick to project our limitations on these ideas. Whatever their source, the Hindu ideas offer a view of the genesis of the universe whereby the vast power to generate the universe comes from the disequilibrium in pure consciousness, in pure Being.
Let us consider another quote of the Hindu genesis that emphasizes the role of the gunas in the process of creation. The following is an interpretation by Dr. G.V. Tagare of the Brahmanda Purana creation story:
“The eternal Brahman, the source of the Universe is beginningless and endless. It is the source of the beginning and the place of ultimate merging and rest (of the Universe). It is incomprehensible and beyond Sat and Asat. It pervaded the entire universe which was dark (unmanifested), as the gunas were in a state of equilibrium. At the time of creation, Ksetrajña [The Lord] presided over Pradhāna [gunas in perfect equilibrium] and agitated the gunas which thereby became uneven (due to loss of their equilibrium) and the great principle Mahat was evolved.” (Bracketed comments mine)
Some interesting points are noted. Brahman is clearly defined as infinite. Further, Brahman, infinity, is beyond being (Sat) and nonbeing (Asat). This speaks to why, in Part 9, I did not include Kaivalya as a state in the 4-world Hindu cosmology. The experience of Brahman, infinity, is an undefinable thing: beyond Being and Nonbeing. One can check out J.J. van der Leeuw’s wonderful little book to get more insight about Kaivalya.
The above quote emphasizes that creation comes about from an act of disequilibrium. The three gunas, satva, rajas and tamas (presumably at the cosmic or alinga level) were in a state of equilibrium, in equal measure and perfectly balanced against each other. Then, the act of creation was to disturb the gunas.
This mechanism for the origin of the universe is particularly apropos to the physics of structure formation, a really hard topic, which is the study of how spatial and temporal structures appear in non-equilibrium systems. In comparison to all the ballyhoo about multiverses and strings in theoretical physics, issues in condensed matter physics have much more substance and relation to everyday life. The Hindu cosmology is unambiguous that non-equilibrium of dynamical systems is the basis of all manifestation.
Shiva-Shakti: The Cosmic Observer and Observed
To understand what caused the disturbance of the gunas, we turn again to I.K. Taimni, this time from his opus “Man, God and the Universe”, where he describes the initial “creation of something out of nothing”. The first thing to manifest is called the Shiva-Shakti tattva.
“The Ultimate Reality…is a state of perfect equilibrium and balance. We know that when we want to disturb such a state we have to use force and the more stable the equilibrium the greater the force required for the purpose. But once this state has been disturbed, energy becomes available for work in the scientific sense of the term until the equilibrium is restored. … we see that the power needed for the universe must come from a self-initiated action of Cosmic Consciousness which by drawing apart the two poles from the one static Centre by the force of Divine Will creates the unlimited amount of power needed for the purpose. The potential power thus available can then be transformed and stepped down to lower levels through different kinds of spiritual, mental and material mechanisms, just as electrical energy generated at very high voltages in hydro-electric system is transformed into currents of lower voltages by transformers for ordinary use.”
This quote implies additional ideas not yet discussed in the essay that are now briefly presented. We saw that it is axiomatic to the Hindu mind that being = consciousness. We also know that the goal of samadhi is to experience perfectly undisturbed consciousness, and therefore, pure Being. It is this pure Being Taimni calls “Ultimate Reality”, but it is also called Brahman, and to the Western mind, infinity. In the diagram of the 4 worlds presented in Part 9, Brahman, infinity, is the point at the center of the circle.
It is interesting how the Hindu thinks of infinity. It is a state of perfect balance that is easily explained using the number line of integers:
-∞…-3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3…∞
If one were to sum the integer number line (or the real number line for that matter), it would equal zero. Everything would perfectly cancel. This is the Hindu concept of Brahman, or infinity, which contains everything within it in a potential state. It appears to be zero, but has within it everything. This also helps us understand the Hindu idea of “unmanifest” which refers to this condition. This is the condition of perfect equilibrium that precedes the advent of the Shiva-Shakti tattwa.
Waking Up To A Bad Dream
The act of creation, the Shiva-Shakti tattwa, the disturbance in pure Being, is something like waking up. When we wake up, the first thing that happens is we become aware of ourselves. This act precedes any other mental event, after which perceptions, memories, or goals flood into awareness. In some abstract sense, the creation of existence is analogous. The perfectly balanced infinity becomes aware of itself. Why this is so, how it happens, are beyond human comprehension in the vitarka state. You have to experience Kaivalya to understand the “why” of the whole process.
But the act of self-awareness becomes a state of non-equilibrium, a loss of perfect equipoise. It is disequilibrium in the perfect infinite balance. This is the disturbance that creates existence. Since the underlying substrate is infinite, the “force” this self-awareness can potentially generate is unlimited. It is this act, event, whatever you wish to call it, that is the act that disturbs the gunas. In this context, the gunas are analogous to the numbers on the number line. The gunas are the infinite possibilities contained in the infinite Being.
The “waking up” of infinity has two faces. One face is the awareness, the consciousness that is the very property of being. This face is called Shiva. The other face is the infinite possibilities contained in being, which is called Shakti. Thus, is born the observer/observed dualism at a cosmic level. Shiva is the meta-consciousness of all conscious beings that will exit. Shakti is all possible observed states: the material universe in all its grades across the four worlds. Shakti is the mother of Nature, the source of Prakriti, the grandmother of the gunas.
Then, as Taimni says, the separation of observer/observed, Shiva/Shakti creates a potential well. The energy of this potential leads to the generation of the four worlds in a fashion akin to a step-down transformer, where the power is distributed in the generation of the four worlds. The processes generating the four worlds are something like dispersion, diffraction and phase transformations, but to go into more detail will have to wait for another essay.
And here and now, we exist on the fringes, the periphery, of this whole process: small, small little creatures powered by some infinitesimal sliver of this enormous energy.
One final point to round out the story: The waking up of pure Being that generates the manifested universe will be followed in some 300 trillion years by the going to sleep of pure Being. This 300 trillion year cycle repeats endlessly, forever and ever and ever and ever…
For the hard noses out there that want a prediction if we are to consider Hinduism as a form of science, the Hindu account of the creation of the universe clearly implies our Universe has finite energy. Recall Bharkara’s quote:
“In this quantity consisting of that which has zero for its divisor, there is no alteration, though many may be inserted or extracted; as no change takes place in the infinite and immutable God when worlds are created or destroyed, though numerous orders of beings are absorbed or put forth.”
“Numerous orders of beings” is presumably a finite quantity; large beyond comprehension, perhaps, but finite nonetheless. That’s the funny thing about infinity: any finite quantity is irrelevant in comparison.
All Plugged In and No Place To Go
The Hindu cosmology makes a direct bee-line from the most abstract cosmic event, the creation of manifestation, to our immediate existence. Our very awareness is an infinitesimal quantum (a “monad”) of the exact same awareness that awoke at the moment of creation. Our material being, on all four worlds, is constructed from the same gunas set into play at that moment.
It is this direct link, connection, whatever you wish to call it, that allows our minds to be plugged into the vast power that underlies the universe. Of course, there are many intervening levels between our physical/vitarka consciousness and the cosmic levels described in Hindu cosmology. But the connection is there and we can tap that power through correct knowledge.
This is what science is: it is a set of processes that are able to tap this power by having correct knowledge. As explained previously, correct knowledge is defined as having the dynamics of our thoughts match the dynamics of some natural system. The resonance so created is a pale facsimile of the fusion of observer and observed that occurs in samadhi. The result, nonetheless, is the release of some degree of power. Again, sunlight versus laser beams. The power itself comes from the link between our puny physical being and the great cosmic Being that is the source of all things.
However, Western science does not know of the Hindu ideas. Western science is arrogant and self-confident, like a teenager, and wants go it on its own. The result of going it on its own, however, is that modern science is confused on all fronts: about what the mind is, about how the senses link to the mind and the objects of perception, about what math is and why it works to describe nature, and about why correct knowledge releases power in the universe.
Again I ask: who looks the barbarian in this picture?
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Correct knowledge releases power. The deeper issues are: why is the power being released? To what end is it used? What is the quality of the knower and the knowledge that is releasing the power? All of these have direct bearing on the fruits one shall reap from their labors.
The fusion attained in samadhi releases power in the form of the siddhis. However, the very nature of yoga precludes the use of siddhis in the worlds of the gunas. Instead, yoga goes for the “big money”. Yoga seeks nothing less than infinity. The goal of yoga is to experience the actual infinity that is consciousness per se. There is no comparison between the experience of the actual infinity of consciousness and any relative experience.
Experience in the four worlds is always of a relative nature, always that of limitation and conditioned-ness. Recall Krishnananda’s quote:
“…as long as we are in a world of relativity where everything is determined by everything else, … nothing can be known absolutely. …we cannot know anything unless we know all things.”
This insight really needs to be driven home. If we accept that existence in space and time is of a relative nature, then the above conclusion is inescapable. It is a logical deduction no different in form than 1 + 1 = 2. It is delusion and ignorance that prevents people from putting this fact before all others in regards to our corporeal existence. Any relative being implies the entirety of the universe, is dependent upon the entirety of the universe. We cannot live by “to a first approximation…” forever. By which I mean that, to a first approximation, we can look at isolated systems in nature. First approximations may have a limited operational utility, but at the intellectual level we are presently engaged, such sloppy thinking is not allowed. There is no isolated system in nature, not even the whole universe, as is believed currently in physics (the whole universe is dependent upon the unmanifest).
Because the relative is, by definition, that which depends on all other things for its own definition, there can be no freedom for any relative thing. The form of any relative being is conditioned by all other existing forms. The very idea of freedom in corporeal existence is also purely delusional. The concept of freedom is very much like the concept of randomness: neither can even be defined. If one tries to define “freedom”, the very definition cages the thing being defined. If something is truly free, it is unlimited in every possible sense. Again, Western people are either deluded or stupid with their preoccupation with “freedom”. The concept of freedom has the same form as the statement “sound of one hand clapping”. It is simply an absurdity to use the concept of freedom as if one knows what they are talking about.
From the yogic point of view, all relative things are a form of bondage, no matter how seemingly glorious and expansive they may appear relative to our human vantage point in vitarka consciousness.
On the other hand, there is only one Infinite. There is only one Absolute. This Absolute is consciousness completely absorbed in itself. Since there is only one instance of it, it is completely free. There is nothing outside of it or next to it to provide any limit on its Being. The Absolute, Brahman, infinity, is the only free thing that exists. But it is not really a “thing”. It is. It is Being. Being, Infinity, Consciousness, One, Absolute are all synonyms. Becoming, relative-ness, limitation, incompleteness, multiplicity, change, diversity, creature-hood, experience: these too are all synonyms. The Absolute is the goal of yoga. Anything else is just more of the same: limitation, change, incompleteness.
Therefore, any relative experience is downplayed in yoga as merely a stepping stone, and warned as a possible temptation that will divert the yogi from the main goal of fusion with infinity.
In yoga, performing samadhi on relative objects (sabija samadhi) is akin to “training wheels”. Sabija samadhi are just exercises to strengthen the yogi’s ability to perform samadhi in preparation for the ultimate fusion of consciousness with itself (nirbija samadhi).
Hence, yoga does not try to control the universe in any way via the siddhis.
What Goes Around Comes Around
It is not a moral decision that drives yogic practices to this conclusion. It stems from a technical understanding of how energy and information flow in the realm of relative-ness, in the realm of the gunas. The term “karma” is much bandied about in the West, but it is a technical term in yoga, much the same as “work” is a technical term in physics. Karma, at its most basic, is a generalization of Newton’s third law that for any action there is an opposite and equal reaction. This principle holds, according to yogic experience, at all levels of relative-ness, in all of the four worlds, and not only with respect to relatively insentient matter in the physical universe.
Because all relative things are connected in a vast incomprehensible network, a change at any point will ripple through all existence and generate a back-reaction effect called karma. No matter how seemingly small, the effect will feedback on the yogi and thereby impart vrittis into consciousness. Any vritti, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, will prevent the ultimate goal. Nirodhah is like sterility: it either is or isn’t. There are no shades of grey. Therefore, it is logical and methodological necessity that yogis do not use power to affect the manifested worlds.
Any artha released in the run-up to the final goal is only a stepping stone to the final goal. Artha released in samadhi is used only to move deeper into consciousness, to climb back up the potential well, to return to the state of equilibrium.
Yoga has no interest in changing or controlling the physical universe. Any attempt to do so will bind the yogi and prevent further progress. Even Jesus was smart enough to figure this out. But modern science has no interest in this way of thinking.
Therefore, in spite of its fantastically complex and complete understanding of the nature of the Universe, of mind and matter, of the hidden worlds of nature, yoga will never seek to control, manipulate or exploit the various arthas discovered along the path to the final fusion, Kaivalya.
Science lacks any framework to understand the relationship between consciousness, mind, and externals, other than burying its head in the sand and proceeding as if the problems don’t exist. Thus, the intellect conditioned by modern science stumbles like a blind man through mysteries that would paralyze the mind with breathtaking awe if they were even glimpsed. The few great mysteries science has tapped into, it understands like a blind man feeling his way through a room full of objects, like blind sages feeling the different parts of the elephant. There is no perspective, no context. Driven by the haughty egos of sensory-bound intellects, modern science is ignorant of the true nature of the forces it unleashes into consciousness. Where the yogi treads with infinite subtlety to avoid disturbing the forces of the universe and prevent the ripples of karma, science blindly rushes in whipping up a frenzy of energies. The result is samsara: the eternal wheel goes round and round, round and round, round and round…
Finally, we come to the end of this essay. Normally, as a scientist myself, I would write a bullet point summary of the main points covered in this essay. However, I will not do that. Instead, we can summarize rather succinctly using the classical calculus idea of integration.
If we integrate over historical time, all the efforts of all those who have sought to understand the profound mysteries of our existence here in Western cultures, we get a value that is a reflection of modern Western scientific knowledge. Compared to the Hindu ideas and methods we have used as a contrast agent, it would be a small value indeed. Science, as a social practice in the West, is an extremely dilute form of samadhi that requires the consciousness of thousands of individuals, integrated over long periods of time (long relative to a single human life), to produce the effects we have learned to date.
We do not know about the yogis. They keep to themselves. All I know is I have had some of the more elementary experiences that they teach. I then infer that the more advanced practices will work as advertised. This is analogous to when I was a freshman undergraduate. Although I knew nothing of advanced molecular biology, other than that it existed, I was confident that if I proceeded step-wise, I would eventually learn the advanced stuff. And that has come to pass, and is now how I earn my paycheck. I have no reason to think it will be different with the yogic methods and techniques. Therefore, I have no problem using their ideas as intellectual fodder to construct the arguments put forth here. From my limited experiences in altered states, I know that the yogis are more correct about the nature of the world than the scientists.
Be that as it may, what is common to yoga and science is the process of concentrating consciousness to release the artha of some aspect of reality. In the case of the science, enough concentration has occurred over time spans of millennia, and involved countless individuals weakly concentrating their minds while in the vikshepa state. The effort of science is simply inefficient compared to the yogic method of samadhi.
By seeking to understand the nature of the mind, and how reality appears in the mind, the yogis took the more efficient path to understanding. By refusing to accept the depths of human consciousness, and confine itself to the superficial levels of the sensory-conditioned intellectual realm, science has imprisoned itself in an inefficient means to understand truth.
The main point of this article is to recognize that science is indeed tapping the same processes tapped in yoga. When we ask the question: what is science? We can answer by saying it is an extremely diluted form of samadhi. It is an inefficient form of samadhi, haphazardly discovered over centuries. The result is an arbitrary, confused, and ill-founded understanding that, however, is effective enough to release power into the universe and into consciousness. We end with two clichés that serve to capture modern science as a form of samadhi:
The blind leading the blind…
A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing…
“He has been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put in phials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers. He told me, he did not doubt, that, in eight years more, he should be able to supply the governor’s gardens with sunshine, at a reasonable rate.”
Jump to the other parts of What is Science?