The Yogic View of Consciousness 15: The Spectrum of Becoming

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YVC 15 Cover-01We near the end of our discussion of bindus by discussing how they are like a prism that breaks white light into a rainbow. The bindu disperses the unity of consciousness into seemingly infinite rainbows of consciousness, into minds within minds within minds, where each mind is a self-similar replica of the whole of Manifestation.

 

Contents for The Yogic View of Consciousness:

Intro Ch 1 Ch 2 Ch 3 Ch 4 Ch 5 Ch 6 Ch7 Ch 8
Ch 9 Ch 10 Ch 11 Ch 12 Ch 13 Ch 14 Ch 15 Ch 16 Ch 17
Ch 18 Ch 19 Ch 20 Ch 21 Ch 22 Ch 23 Ch 24 Ch 25 Ch 26
Ch 27 Ch 28 Ch 29 Ch 30 Ch 31 Ch 32 Ch 33

 

Last time we got to the heart of Taimni’s abstractions. He interpreted the ancient Hindu teachings using the modern vocabulary of mathematics by asserting that all the bindus were concentric with the Mahabindu. To repeat a snippet of the quote from last time:

“…it is possible for an infinite number of spiritual entities to function in the realm of the mind from a single centre. Each entity, whether He is a Solar Logos or a Monad, projects His own independent mental world and functions in that world although He is rooted in a common centre.”

The mind is a projection of the bindu. The mind is akin to a virtual reflection in a mirror. The source of the projection comes from the Unmanifest, and the Unmanifest comes from the Absolute. Manifestation is the diffraction of the Absolute through the bindu, where the One seemingly becomes the Many.

We can think of the Hindu triple ontology of Absolute, Unmanifest, and Manifest as the three possible conditions of consciousness:

  • Absolute = consciousness in perfect equilibrium.
  • Unmanifest = consciousness partitioned by distinctions that perfectly cancel out.
  • Manifest = consciousness in states of movement, or disequilibrium.

In Part 12 we drew on the metaphor of the ocean depths:

“An individual who is an ordinary swimmer who enters the waters of sea disturbed by a storm will see nothing but disturbance everywhere. But an expert diver can dive into the deeper levels of the sea and be in a perfectly tranquil environment in spite of the fact that a storm is raging at the surface.”

Water_16660306The wavy and turbulent surface is Manifestation. It is also the surface mind. The depths correspond to the progressively deeper levels of Manifestation that bleed eventually into the Unmanifest, all of which corresponds to the Unconscious aspects of individual minds. Finally, the bedrock of the Cosmos is the Absolute, which is also the bedrock of the Individual Mind.

Macrocosm Microcosm
The individual mind is a self-similar replica of the Universal Mind. Analogous processes occur universally and in the individual. Let’s consider how Taimni described this (Man, God, and the Universe [MGU] page 192):

“One very interesting phenomenon which we find in manifestation is the reflection, at lower levels, of the realities which exist on the higher. The same realities which are found on the higher planes are seen in expression on the lower planes. The same processes which underlie the phenomena of Nature on the spiritual planes are seen at work on the temporal planes. The same laws which govern the unfoldment of consciousness and evolution of bodies in the spiritual realms are seen to be applicable to the unfoldment of mind and bodies on the lowest planes. This important fact … has found expression in the well-known occult maxim “As above, so below”.

This idea is ancient in Western thought. It is the 2nd of the seven Hermitic Axioms: As Above, So Below. In the context of Western magic and occultism, “As Above, So Below” is often interpreted as the correspondence between the macrocosm (God) and the microcosm (us). Again, the framework is the two-level view of things characteristic of Western thought.

In yoga, as Taimni’s quote indicates, it refers to the correspondence of events occurring on all the Planes of Nature. As I said a long time ago in Beyond the Physical, nowadays this has a simple interpretation: the whole of Manifestation forms a fractal.

When we talk about Manifestation projecting through the bindu, the same general principle applies to the Mahabindu and all of Manifestation, to the bindu of our Universe, the bindu of the Galaxy, the Solar System, the Earth, us, and all creatures both great and small.

It is minds within minds within minds; bindus within bindus within bindus:

circs in circs in circs

Van der Leeuw’s One and the Many
How does the One create the appearance of the Many? Last time we discussed Nicholas of Cusa’s formula:

Maximum = Minimum = One

In the context of this rather queer equivalence, I made the off-the-cuff remark:

“One implies division. One can be subdivided. And here is the genesis of all Relativity.”

This is not my idea. I got it from van der Leeuw (The Conquest of Illusion, Chapter 4):

“When we consider the number one in arithmetic that number is a unity, it is entirely and homogeneously one. Yet we can also think of that number one as being composed of a vast number of fractions; we can divide it again and again into millions of fractions of different values until we are bewildered by the seemingly endless multitude of the parts. Yet, at the same time, the number one has not been touched at all in its serene unity; it is ever one, and yet at the same time it is ever these countless fractions; they are contained in it, hidden in it, present in it and one with it.”

The number 1 contains infinity in potential, in a way different from zero. Zero contains infinity in such a way that all parts cancel: this is the hallmark of the Unmanifest. The number 1 contains all fractions such that they always add to 1:

½ + ½ = 1,
1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3 = 1,
1/3 + 2/3 = 1,
and so on

The division may be “commensurate” as is ½ + ½ = 1. Or it may be “incommensurate” as for example: π + (1-π) = 1, where we get numbers that cannot be fully spelled out in decimal form and appear to be infinite to us.

Leibniz had insight on this aspect of the Manifest:

“Couldn’t God find a number capable of expressing exactly √2 or the length of the diagonal of a square?…If the order of things or divine wisdom demanded that God produce perfect squares, and he decided to meet the demand, he couldn’t avoid producing incommensurable lines, even though they have the imperfection of not being able to be expressed exactly—isn’t that right? For a square has to have a diagonal, which is the distance between its opposite angles…It is evident that the irregularity of incommensurable lines arises from the very essence of the squares, and mustn’t be blamed on God; it is evident that this incommensurability is not ‘a bad thing that God couldn’t avoid producing’. God could have avoided producing it by not creating figures and continuous quantities, but only numbers or discrete quantities. But that wouldn’t have been the avoidance of ‘something bad’, because the imperfection of incommensurables has been made up for by even greater advantages: it was better to allow incommensurables to occur so as not to deprive the universe of all figures.”

(Real-Life Dialogue on Human Freedom and the Origin of Evil translated by Jonathan Bennett.)

Thus, the diversity implied in 1 contains the rational numbers we can fathom, and the irrational numbers we cannot fully fathom. These are the infinite ways to divide the One into the Many.

Chasing Rainbows
One is a complete and utter unity. But in 1 is implied complete and utter diversity. But how does the One actually become the Many? Imagine it as a process analogous to how white light is dispersed to form a rainbow. Again we consider Taimni (MGU, page 5):

“The first of the natural phenomena which we shall briefly consider is the dispersion of white light by a prism… Those who have knowledge of even elementary science are familiar with the experiment in which a beam of white light is passed through a prism and the emergent beam allowed to fall on a white screen. The image which is produced is not that of the original beam but we get a band of colours which is called a spectrum. If the original beam of white light was derived from the sun then there is also an invisible spectrum on either side of the visible spectrum which is called infra-red and ultra-violet. What has happened is that the beam of white light has been dispersed or differentiated by the prism and all the vibrations, visible and invisible, have been separated from each other, according to their wave lengths, forming a continuous spectrum. By putting another inverted prism in the path of the emergent ray it is possible to recombine or integrate them again into the original beam of white light. So the whole process is reversible.”

If you’ve never seen a picture of this before:

prism-01

A prism works by refracting, that is bending, the light rays of different wavelengths as per the following animation (from the Wikipedia entry on Prisms):

prism anim

While Taimni’s intuition seems to be on to something here, we can up the ante and find a better metaphor that embeds more of the yogic view of consciousness.

Diffraction Gratings
There is another way to make rainbows from white light using diffraction gratings. A diffraction grating is a surface with hundreds or thousands of small grooves in it. Here is a microscope picture of a diffraction grating (pic from here). Notice how closely spaced the grooves are. There is less than one millionth of a meter between adjacent grooves.

Abb-3When you shine white light on a diffraction grating, it also makes rainbows, or more precisely, breaks the while light into its component spectrum.

Like its name indicates, a diffraction grating works by diffracting the light waves. Diffraction occurs when the light hits a physical obstacle.  Some of the waves cancel and others add together (e.g. wave superposition discussed in Part 13), and the net result is a series of rainbows, as shown by this diagram (from here):

GratingSurface

One of the big differences between a prism and a diffraction grating is that you get many rainbows coming off the diffraction grating. These separate rainbows, as you can see, are called “orders”.  The orders come about due to how the waves constructively and destructively interfere with each other.

Here is another picture of the diffraction orders (taken from here) that shows the orders more vividly:

SpectralRange

Taimni had the intuition that the prism could be used as a metaphor for the transition of the One to the Many by the refraction of white light into its component spectrum that we perceive as a rainbow.

If we use a diffraction grating as our metaphor, we get a harmonic series of rainbows coming out of the white light. This is very reminiscent of the definition of the Maya Tattva cited before:

“…it creates the finite: the illusion of multiplicity, differentiation in multiple objects and limitation of objects. This process of manifestation is based on a series of multi-levelled reflections (pratibimba), creating a series of octaves or intervals.”

This is to say that the different orders of rainbows, of spectra, obtained from a diffraction grating is analogous to the different states of the gunas, the different orders of beings that make up the Manifested reality.

The Bindu Disperses Consciousness
Somehow the bindu must act like a diffraction grating. The intellectual skeleton of the argument goes like this: The Absolute, pure, unmoving consciousness is analogous to white light. Instead of containing different colored frequencies of light rays, consciousness is more like how the number 1 contains all possible fractions. The dispersive media is consciousness itself. When consciousness encounters itself, it breaks itself into the infinite fractions implied by its unity.

How could this even begin to work? Consciousness, when it moves, must fold back on itself and create structures analogous to diffraction gratings. Remember the term “vritti”? It means a whirlpool in consciousness.

Let me be perfectly clear. I do not know exactly how this could work. But I have speculative ideas that I now offer.

The following image is taken from Besant and Leadbeater’s Occult Chemistry:

anu2As the label on the figure indicates, they called this the “anu”, also the ultimate physical atom, or UPA. Besant and Leadbeater claimed, by using siddhis they developed from practicing yoga, that this was the smallest physical structure that exists. For those interested in an extensive analysis of the UPA, Stephen Phillips has interpreted it in terms of modern string theory (specifically see here. For his full discussion, see here).

It seems to me that all the bindus, from the Mahabindu down, must be consciousness folded back on itself to make structures reminiscent of the UPA. This is not to say that Besant and Leadbeater’s UPA is the bindu, although it does not rule out the possibility either. What I am saying is that the UPA provides a model of a possible shape or structure that might act as something analogous to a diffraction grating for consciousness.

r9 UPAPure consciousness, the analog of white light, wells up from the center of such a structure and then projects out of it as a spectrum, a rainbow, whereby the diversity inherent in the One manifests as a projection of the Many.

But it is not rainbows that project out on this side of the bindu, but conscious experience.  The qualia that make up our experience of color, texture, the scales and harmonics of sound, the rainbow of emotions, the infinite diversity of thought, the myriad perspectives of buddhi, the infinite actions of atma, and the patterns of infinite Logoi making infinite universes.

I cannot but fall back on Leibniz immortal words from his Monadology when discussing this topic:

“If we could understand the order of the universe well enough we would find that it surpasses all the hopes of the wisest people, and that it is impossible to make it better than it is.”

Tangent on Quantum Mechanics
Because quantum mechanics is relatively new on the landscape of Western thought, I want to briefly comment on how it fits in to all the weird yogic ideas I’ve been discussing.

As we have seen and I have repeatedly stressed, yoga is a set of practices for exploring consciousness, finding the bindu, penetrating it, and becoming the Absolute. Yoga has had better things to do than become preoccupied with the game of mathematics and how it can be used to trace out the shadows appearing in consciousness in the paranga cetana state.

The West developed science, the game of trying to trace out the shadows on the cave wall of our consciousness.  The objects of perception appear to be quite solid and real, and it was perhaps natural to assume the outline of the shadows would be cut and dry.

However, quantum mechanics teaches that the lines tracing out the shadows are fuzzy.  We cannot quite grasp the form of what seem to be individual objects.  Furthermore, the seemingly individual objects bleed into each other, not randomly, but via complicated patterns of superposition, or what is nowadays called “entanglement”.

What is quite amazing is that over the thousands of year history of yogic experience, a picture of reality formed that is qualitatively perfectly consistent with quantum mechanics. Everything is waves and wave interactions.  Waves cancel and amplify. They are here today and gone tomorrow: transient, elusive, Maya.  Not just the objects of perception, but the mind itself is waves, vrittis, either in an active (kinetic) state or latent (potential) state.  One cannot put their finger on these things; they are ultimately elusive.

Quantum mechanics is only weird because of the historical trajectory of Western science that assumed the objects of perception were solid and real.  It is an uphill battle in the West right now for people to abandon the classical concepts of realism and accept the implications of quantum mechanics.  Again, I stress that classical realism is only a contingency of Western history.  There was and is no inherent necessity for the classical Western concept of “realism”.

Yoga never had a view comparable to classical Western realism.  It is closest to Western concepts of idealism. But as we have seen, even Western idealism is primitive in comparison to the yogic cosmology.

From the yogic view of consciousness, something like quantum mechanics is inevitable.  It is in the very nature of the way the One transforms into the Many, which has been explained here by analogy to the formation of rainbows.  What is being described is the general idea that when the Absolute reveals itself, it does so always and eternally as spectra, as “a series of multi-levelled reflections (pratibimba), creating a series of octaves or intervals..

In the context of the yogic view of consciousness, the following is all that can be said about the classical Western concept of realism:  get over it.

Classical Western realism is what Patanjali called “viparyayah“, which means (to use SwamiJ’s translation of aphorism 1.6 of the Yoga Sutras; see also aphorism 1.8): “unreal cognition, wrong knowledge, misconception, incorrect knowing, not seeing clearly.”

The disequilibrium that is Manifestation implies infinite spectra within spectra within spectra.  Like waves on the surface of the ocean, forming, lasting for a moment, and then dissolving back into their source. They only appear to be but in fact are always becoming.

There is another aspect that classical realism missed too: The whole thing folds back in on itself, as we now discuss.

Circle of Resolutions
Had people listened to Leibniz at the dawn of modern science, the theory of the relativity of space and time might have come sooner than it did. To again repeat the idea Leibniz conveyed to Newton via Newton’s crony Clarke:

“For my part, I have said several times that I hold space to be something merely relative, as time is, taking space to be an order of coexistences, as time is an order of successions.”

Similarly, Leibniz had insight about the illusion of Big and Small. He expressed this poetically in his Monadology:

“67. Every portion of matter can be thought of as a garden full of plants or a pond full of fish. But every branch of the plant, every part of the animal (every drop of its vital fluids, even) is another such garden or pond.”

Beings within beings within beings.

We can also get to this insight as another consequence of invoking Nicholas of Cusa’s formula:

Maximum = Minimum = One

We touched on this last time when speaking of delta as the absolute scale of this structure that is produced by diffracting the Absolute through the bindu. Using Cusa’s formula, delta is the Maximum, and the Minimum, and it is One.

When standing at any point in Manifestation, it seems to go off to infinity in both the large and small scales. However, if one was to increase their size to some ultra-large scale (or shrink to an ultra-small scale), Manifestation would again appear to go off to infinity at both the large and small scales.

This is to say, the orders of spectra emitting from the bindu, although they appear to form a linear scale of increasing and decreasing resolutions, would in fact form a circle:

circle resThe left picture shows a series of boxes, where each box is a scale of some significant natural phenomenon (electrons, atoms, molecules, cells, organisms, planets, stars, galaxies, etc.) suggesting how things seem to be bigger than us and smaller than us, forming a spectrum of scales of resolution that make up not only the physical plane, but all the planes of Manifestation.

The picture on the right is what is suggested by Cusa’s formula.  Here, all the boxes are equivalent.  Manifestation only appears to get bigger and smaller to us because of our relative vantage point.  In fact, it is a circle.  It folds back on itself so that exactly the Maximum is the Minimum.

It is closed in on itself.  There is nothing outside of it.  It has no outside.

Wrap Up
I’ve now said almost all of the main ideas I can about bindus.  The connecting point between the Absolute and the Relative that is the center of our consciousness is abstract.  There are infinite bindus; one for each mind.  They are all concentric with each other. The minds are nested one within another within another, making the circular system of scales of resolution I’ve attempted to depict above.

The bindus link all of Manifestation into one unified structure.  While all of this has sounded abstract and theoretical, it is ultimately practical knowledge. The picture of minds within minds within minds connected by bindus is necessary to explain how yoga works.  If reality was not structured as I have described, abstract though it seems, yoga would not be possible.

I don’t remember any promise from God that Reality would not be abstract.

 

Go to Part 16.

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20 thoughts on “The Yogic View of Consciousness 15: The Spectrum of Becoming

  1. kashyap vasavada

    Hi Don: Diffraction grating metaphor is pretty good in many different ways. For example, the spectra get weaker and weaker as you go to higher orders, although each spectrum contains the entire beam in some sense. Similarly our consciousness is some very small fraction of the supreme universal consciousness (say Brahman). No wonder it would take an immense effort to get to the supreme consciousness from our little consciousness by Samadhi! (like reconstructing the incident white beam from the spectra of one order). BTW did you get time to look at Tony Nader’s talks at Stanford. He says that he wants to develop mathematical theory of consciousness based on Vedic ideas. So far he has just presented preliminary ideas. He talks about observer, observed and observation . In the supreme these have infinite values, but when it comes to us these would have small finite values!

  2. kashyap vasavada

    Hi Don: I just noticed something. It is not correct to call different orders harmonics. With the usual definition of harmonics, frequencies are multiples of some fundamental. Here the frequencies are same in each order. This may be nitpicking but I thought I should point out.

    • Hi Kashyap!
      Thanks so much for once again catching my errors. I altered the text above to, I hope, be more accurate and not refer to the orders as harmonics. You of course are correct as the orders result from the constructive and destructive interference of the wave fronts. Thanks as well for the reinforcement of the diffraction grating metaphor. I think your insight is very good: the lower orders would correspond to “big” minds, and the progressively higher orders would correspond to progressively “smaller” minds, like us and ants! Still haven’t had time to look at Nader’s talk. Do you have the link to the specific talk? When I search him, he has several talks, and I’m not sure which one you’re referring to. Thanks, Kashyap! Best wishes! -Don

  3. kashyap vasavada

    Hi Don: There are series of U-tube talks at Stanford called “hacking consciousness” The two by Nader are;

    The second part has some more Hindu type stuff!
    Of course, I do not mean he has solved the problem!!
    Best wishes
    Kashyap

  4. Hi Kashyap

    Well, I had a chance to view Nader’s lectures. The first video was almost entirely background information with which I am pretty familiar. For people who don’t know much about neuroscience, it was a decent introduction. There are better introductions available. He tried to shield the audience in ways I would have not regarding some of the underlying technical details.

    One thing that bothered me was he never gave the names of the people whose ideas or research findings he was drawing upon. I do not agree with such omission and, as I try to do on my blog here (and of course always do in my mainstream science writing) is always make clear who discovered X, Y or Z, or first presented idea A, B, or C. Even if I am giving talks to laymen, I think it is always important to give credit where credit is due.

    The 2nd video gets more into his original ideas. My overall impression was that he is an MD and a PhD in the inductive neurosciences . These are the kinds of people I routinely deal with professionally. They have a much different mind-set than a typical physicist, mathematician, or engineer. The difference is people who live by induction vs. people who live by deduction. You will notice he was very good with lists and qualitative, descriptive knowledge, which is the essence of any inductive science, and makes up the content of biology in general, and medicine as well. Believe me, it is good that physicians can memorize long lists of things (drugs, diseases, symptoms, etc), even if there is no logic connecting the items of the list. However, such minds are not trained to be deductive or to find the underlying patterns amongst all the details.

    Although he claims to take consciousness as an axiom and deduce principles from it, it should be obvious to you, being a physicists, that he did not do this. He did not produce a mathematical model that can be solved and the solutions studied for predictions or insight about the system, etc.

    Instead, he ends up showing correspondences between various idea structures from Hinduism and things like the brain’s anatomy. These are really just elaborate analogies.

    I think my piece here on the Yogic View of Consciousness illustrates what happens when we try to intellectualize yoga. It very quickly becomes absurd relative to mainstream thinking. Alice in Wonderland and Alice Cooper become just as relevant as Cantor and quantum mechanics. To think that one can “squeeze” yoga into the limited concepts that make up mainstream intellectual academia, I think, misses the point of what yoga teaches. This is one of the reasons I write with humor, cynicism, and self-mocking; because I know the topic is greater than the intellect. I know I am playing the Fool to try to express these things intellectually.

    Nader was correct to state that consciousness can only be studied subjectively. But if that is the case, one should simply read Patanjali and seek to perform the methods described in the Yoga Sutras. Otherwise, one should be prepared to go down the intellectual rabbit hole and not take oneself too seriously.

    So, that is my impression. Not sure if it is what you were expecting or not. As always, please feel free to offer your thoughts as they are always enlightening!

    Thank you for pointing out Dr. Nader’s videos, Kashyap!

    Best wishes,

    Don

  5. kashyap vasavada

    Hi Don: I pretty much agree with you. He just outlines the problem, but other than saying that God is infinity and we are x,y,z, he does not get very far. One of the things he mentioned made me curious. He says that the 4 chapters of Patanjali correspond to 4 parts of brain. Do you agree with that? It would be surprising!
    Best wishes
    kashyap

    • Hi Kashyap

      I’m relieved to hear you have a similar feeling. I had written a few lines about the Patanjali thing but removed it out of politeness. Perhaps the best thing to say is that it is not at all true to the spirit of the Yoga Sutras. There is an irony when trying to intellectualize about the Yoga Sutras: the whole point of yoga is to still the mind. Being intellectual is quite the opposite of the goal and methods of yoga. Anyone who wishes to talk and think about yoga must be quite clear that they are not doing yoga! Finally, the correspondence he presents does not, I think, do much to shed light on how the brain works. On the other hand, if you read Yoga Sutras and see the central role of vrittis (vibrations) and gunas (dynamics) in Patanjali’s concepts of nature, I think the YS can shed light on basic processes that may help us better understand how the brain functions.

      Great conversation, Kashyap! Thanks so much! Best wishes, -Don

  6. Gosh. I’d like to agree. But don’t. I meditated for decades and don’t find any objective truths coming out of meditative experiences. Some useful subjective feelings for sure.

    How could we test your hypothesis that “the Yoga Sutra can shed light on basic processes of the brain functions”? You could get a noble prize if you could demonstrate.

    Did you see this article that stated: Deepak believes that the weirdness of the quantum world (such as Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle) can be linked to certain mysteries of the macro world (such as consciousness).

    Deepak’s use and abuse of quantum physics is what the Caltech quantum physicist and Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann calls “quantum flapdoodle,” which is when you string together a series of terms and phrases from quantum physics and assume that explains something in the regular macro world in which we live.

    Read the full article http://www.skeptic.com/insight/quantum-leaps/

    • kashyap vasavada

      @SKEPTICMEDITATIONS:
      Hi! I will address the physics part of your criticism. I will let Don handle the meditation part. You are assuming that quantum mechanics is completely detached from our everyday life. This is false. Just look at the lasers in supermarkets and your cell phone. Moreover if consciousness could have been explained by classical physics (science) it would have been done long time back. You have to admit that QM and consciousness are intriguing and all of us are trying to understand them. For meaning of QM there have been debates going on for some 90 years without any resolution. Just see what majority of physicists have concluded from Bell’s theorem and subsequent experiment. “The particles are in some kind of suspended state devoid of any specific properties until they are observed. Physicists have to give up concept of reality to save locality!” If this is not metaphysics then I do not know definition of metaphysics! We can weigh in great physicist Gell-Mann’s comments but we do not have to accept them in every field he talks about!!

      • KASHYAP VASAVADA: Thanks for your reply. I agree with you about the usefulness of physics and that it has practical applications in science and technology development. Consciousness is an intriguing concept. I agree philosophers and scientists should keep investigating the “hypothesis” of consciousness. But, as far as I understand the debate, there’s no agreement about what consciousness may be or if it actually is. The debates on free will, consciousness, souls, and gods appear to be unsolvable.

        It’s easy to toss out fancy sounding jargon about Yoga Sutra’s, consciousness, or quantum “flapdoodle”. It’s another thing entirely to provide something concrete and practical other than boosting “faith” from the flapdoodles. Critical thinkers, like myself, don’t find any practical value in the flapdoodle, other than touchy-feely-good for the already faithful.

    • Hi Scott

      Nice to hear from you! Thanks for weighing in on the discussion. I do very much enjoy when you contribute, even if we don’t always agree on things, which is great really because we it lets us reflect the rainbow of opinions!

      First, I want to underline what Kashyap said. The world is quantum mechanical. Period. The quantum effects are washed out in great big things like us, but physicists have done and are doing many very clever things to show that these effects are present in all seeming objects that exist.

      As to Nobel prizes, while you have been meditating for the past decades, I’ve been doing science, professionally. This experience has allowed me to see that, like everything in life, there is a mainstream, and there are the wild fringes. Often there is really great stuff on the fringes that gets ignored because it is not mainstream. There is nothing special about the people on the Nobel committee. They are people like everyone else, with their world view, and their limits and their biases and prejudices. I’ll give an example. Back around 1980, Stephen LaBerge proved that a person can communicate from the dream state with people who are awake. If this is not Nobel Prize material, I don’t know what is. However, very unfortunately, very few people are even aware of LaBerge’s amazing result. Here is another great example. Way back at the dawn of modern science, Leibniz understood the basic idea of the relativity of space and time. However, because he was German, and national pride played such a great role in the rise of science, Leibniz was ignored, and everybody (mainly the Brits, who, don’t forget, were the world empire of the time) made a religion out of Newton’s physics, a religion that persisted for about 200 years. Therefore the theory of relativity was held back for roughly two centuries, until all the pieces were in place and Einstein could stand up against the mainstream and make his theory stick. And speaking of the Nobel Prize committee, they refused to give Einstein a Nobel Prize for relativity because there was at least one member of the Nobel Committee who did not agree with the philosophical implication of Einstein’s ideas. If you don’t know, Einstein got his Nobel Prize for work on the photoelectric effect, not relativity theory.

      So, to state my point: what the Nobel Prize Committee thinks doesn’t at all matter to the progress of science. They are not a reliable authority in these matters. They are just a bunch of fawning fan boys on the side lines. That they give away a million dollars per prize is why people take them seriously.

      As to your lack of discovering “objective truths” from your meditation practices. I’m not telling you what to think, but just what I think. I think that just because I can’t do something, and someone else claims they can, that they are not necessarily wrong if I can’t do it. I can’t play Chopin on the piano but that doesn’t mean its impossible to so. I can’t enter Kaivalya at will, but I do not believe it is impossible because I cannot do it.

      Now, I have had many lucid dream experiences, and I have learned some “objective facts” from them. I have learned: (1) the bindu is real and is the “doorway” between the different states of the mind, and (2) the mind has different states, which I am explaining here as analogous to harmonics.

      Finally, with the “flapdoodle” stuff. Here, I agree with you, but with qualifications. Let me explain by analogy. Suppose you are a 2nd grade art teacher. You see that the kids in your class have all possible levels of art talent. Most are average. You have one kid that has a real inborn talent. You have a couple kids that stink no matter what they do. This is a general condition that holds across all the things people are or do. It is called a Gaussian distribution. It’s just how things are organized in the world. You have the average, and you have people better or worse than the average.

      Knowing this, we will not expect the kids that suck at art to make masterpieces. What is important is that they at least have the experience of trying. In a way, the fact that they are even trying is very good because they are very handicapped compared to the talented kid, to whom art comes naturally and easily.

      This is how I feel about the “flapdoodle” people. Not everybody is a genius. But at least some people try. That is the important thing, at least they are trying. If one encounters “flapdoodle”, and recognizes it as such, then that means you are beyond the “flapdoodle” viewpoint. That is fine. Just move on and find what is meaningful to you, and let the “flapdoodle” people do their thing. Live and let live, you know. If the “flapdoodle” person is sincere and really trying their best, then they will eventually learn from their mistakes and grow and become better for trying.

      In this regard, I think what is important is to recognize sincere vs. insincere people. This is a more important distinction. If we wish to consider examples, let’s pit Deepak vs say, Richard Dawkins. Deepak is sincere (and, when it comes to Hindu thinking, he really knows the material very well…he was trained as an MD so expecting him to be a great physicists isn’t realistic, similar to the Nader fellow above, who also strikes me as quite sincere in his efforts, although the fruits of his efforts are not relevant to where my mind is currently at). On the other hand, look at Dawkins. He is smug, closed minded, and acts like a know-it-all. These are red flags of an insincere person. That means he has a hidden agenda, and so, at least when I see such a person, I am highly skeptical of anything they have to say, because everything they say, one way or another, is meant to further their hidden agenda. Then it becomes politics and is not intellectual at all.

      I apply this logic to you, in fact. It is obvious to me that you are sincere with your questions and points of view. As I said at the beginning, I might not agree with everything you say, but your sincerity is apparent in how your convey your thoughts, and so am not only willing to engage you, but enjoy doing so.

      So, sincerity is really important, more so than the seeming truth or falseness of what is being said at any given moment. The content of a discussion changes over time. Whether a person is sincere or insincere is a deeper thing and doesn’t change so easily. A sincere person will grow and help others grow. That is good. An insincere person tries to use other people for their selfish ends, and that is bad in my book.

      Again, Scott, very nice to hear from you! Thanks for chiming in!

      Best wishes,

      Don

  7. @Don: Thanks for taking the time to respond to my comments. You’ve given me a fair and full response. I’ll briefly reply to three of your topics you mentioned above–

    1) Has LaBerge’s claim been tested by independent investigators? “Stephen LaBerge proved that a person can communicate from the dream state with people who are awake.” I’m assuming his findings have not been replicated under controlled conditions. It would be extraordinary if we could find some verification and corroboration among the field. I don’t think there’s a grand conspiracy to suppress the “mysterious powers of dream states”, etc. As you say above, Scientists are human, motivated for same reasons as everyone else. Surely scientists and researchers would love to be responsible for an extraordinary breakthrough, to be rich, famous, a legend and to help the human race and planet.

    2) I’ve had many “experiences” in meditation and altered states outside of meditation. Of course, I have no way of comparing my experiences with other peoples or the books except anecdotally. That’s part of the problem of subjective experiences. But some are studying fMRIs and so on, and trying. I no longer tell myself my meditative “experiences” are caused by something divine and then work backwards to justify my belief the experiences are from god or divine. My not believing is not an intellectual exercise: it’s holistic–emotional, physical, and mental–practical reasons. I see subjective “experiences” as valuable, as extraordinary as is nature, life, the universe. All subjective experiences are characteristics of a full human life and of a cosmos that I find more fascinating and much more mysterious than the answers proposed by yogis, mystics, or ancient books. Truth is stranger (and more mind blowing) than fiction.

    3) I’ll take your comment that I’m sincere as a compliment. But disagree in principle. “Sincerity” can be dangerous and is not a good measure. Fanatics are probably the most “sincere” people on the planet. They believe what they do with all their hearts and minds, often to the point of denying everything that doesn’t fit their “sincerely” held or felt worldview.
    I think your explorations of truth in your posts are more than sincere. I think what keeps humans humane and progressing as a species is to be “humble”, to realize we could be wrong and to continue investigating for truth’s sake, not clinging to our “sincere” beliefs. I agree with you that Richard Dawkins often comes across as arrogant, and is intellectually honest. However, I think he’s very “sincere”, in the fanatical-kind of way I mentioned above. Deepak is also sincere, the more he tries to justify his ideas using quantum flapdoodle he comes across as intellectual integrity dubious to those who are critical thinkers.

    Thanks

    • Hi Scott

      Thanks for the nice reply. Just some quick comments: (1) Yes, LaBerge’s experiment has been repeated many times. You should look up his work if you are interested. He has lots of stuff on the net. (2) To my knowledge, no one claims meditative experiences are caused by divine sources. Patanjali has a perfectly good theory of how meditation works. The central ideas are vrittis and samskaras. They go quite deep, but yogis think of it all as “gunas”, which is there term for “matter”. (3) I get what you are saying about sincerity being a double edge sword. As I indicated before, I was talking about the “good” side, which of course is never 100% good, recalling the yin-yang symbol.

      Take care, Scott and thanks!

      Don

  8. kashyap vasavada

    @SKEPTICMEDITATIONS:
    Hi! Thanks for the reply. My main point is that , although most of QM seems to be correct and it has given rise to multi billion dollar industries, there is no consensus on its meaning as far as our everyday life is concerned. You might know that Nobel laureates like Weinberg and t’Hooft are not satisfied with any interpretation of QM. So , even though I may not dare to argue about pure physics with them or Gell-Mann, arguing about interpretation is a fair game. Penrose and Hameroff , Stapp and some others have models saying that consciousness may have something to do with QM. All these questions are deep and subtle to say the least. The jury is still out on all of these issues. I would not call these debates flapdoodle!! As for *concrete and practical value* scientists can have difference of opinion. That is fine. In fact controversies are good for science in the long run. That is how science advances.

  9. @ KASHYAP: Yes. Agree let’s allow debate in the public arena about assertions being made: especially about science, opinions, everything, nothing is off limits. Flapdoodle was just a term made up by the author of the article. The author’s opinion of Deepak’s assertions using sciency sounding statements about physics and how the universe works.

  10. @Don: Thanks for your comments back. I could not find any “abundance”, nor even one instance, of repeated experiments on LeBarge’s claim of “telepathy”? I wonder why you didn’t just provide your source for your claim or share the best, most convincing journal studies? Or, am I miss understanding what you meant? Bottom-line is if you can share with me the peer-reviewed studies, I’ll check them out.

    • Hi Scott

      I am aware of his telepathy experiments. He showed me some of his data in person, in fact. To be honest, I was not convinced past the tipping point. It was provocative and suggestive, but not conclusive, in my opinion. But please be aware that, when it comes to reproducibility of his work, I am talking specifically about his experiments that allow communication between people who are lucid dreaming and people who are awake, not his telepathy experiment.

      Best wishes,

      Don

      • Thanks Don. That’d be interesting. I’d read your post and link to LeBarge’s”experiments that allow communication between people who are lucid dreaming and people who are awake”.

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